Friday, January 13, 2006

The Election Dance-in the Guardian

As Eid comes to an end, election campaigning has swung back into full gear here with the big day less than two weeks away. Check out my


Blogger ratttu said...

Kudos on the article! I remember the phone messages-propaganda technique from the 2001 elections. I picked up the phone and someone said 'I am connecting you with Prime Minster Barak'. A few seconds later and sure enough the sound of Barak's recorded voice, spitting the words in his usual charming manner. I hanged up.
Happy to hear it was a quiet Eid.

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan Edelstein said...

Great article. Do you really think The Promise has a chance to cross the threshold? And shouldn't you have put the Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa list (i.e., the PFLP) in the "Middle Runners" category rather than "Say Who?"

7:04 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

Hi Jonathan. Re "Promise": no, they are not strong enough. Dr. Eyad himself told me he created the group to make a point (as opposed to forming a coalition with one of the other independent groups like Mustafa Barghouthi's or Salaam FAyyad's). But it does well for pluralism. I thought about including Abu Ali Mustafa as Middle Runners, but their presence as candidates is barely visible here in Gaza, thus "say who" (but I see your point, they are well-known as a group, just not as candidates)...

10:32 AM  
Blogger lisoosh said...

Laila - very interesting article, I'm amazed those automatic dialing machines have reached you too but if there is money to be made, why not?

Where can I find out more about all those other parties that you mentioned?

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan Edelstein said...

The PFLP seems to be stronger in the West Bank, particularly among Christians and in the cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah. I believe both those cities now have PFLP mayors in coalition with Hamas. That's probably where they'll get most of their votes (an-Najah gives them 6.8 percent, PCPSR closer to three).

I guess the question of whether they count as "middle runners" or "say who" depends on whether you're writing about Gaza only or all Palestine.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I guess I was surprised to see that people like Hanan Ashrawi, Mustapha Barghouti and Eyad Sarraj can't get together and form one party...I mean I have a lot of problems with the Democratic Party here in the U.S. but I still work with them because otherwise, we'd have a one-party fascist right-wing state (which might happen anyway, but a lot quicker if the Democratic Party totally fractured).

3:54 AM  
Blogger piccolomondo said...

Raising Yousuf and educating us... thanks for the comprehensible 'tutorial'!

5:01 PM  
Anonymous MJ said...

I am responding to a post that has already been pushed way down the page, so I hope it is all right that I am putting this here instead.

Sarah asked you why Israel shouldn't encourage its citizens to live and promote tourist areas anywhere in the pre-'67 borders.

I respectfully submit that you glossed over that question, never really answering it. Instead, you spelled out the "right of return" issue.

I would not presume to say what you were really thinking, but I could not help but think of the Jerusalem Post's Editor-in-Chief's Friday column.

He spoke to Hamas member Ziad Dayyeh, who said:

"No Muslim can recognize a Jewish right to sovereignty in Palestine."

He defined Palestine as "all the area occupied in 1948."

Laila, was this the true answer to the question? I am not trying to start any nastiness, but if this is the general consensus among Palestinians, what chance is there for peace?

2:29 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

Lisoosh: I'm trying to figure out what the websites are of the various groups, because I'm having a hard time myself figuring out exactly what each list is promising to do (well, unless I listen to thos damned trolleys all day long!). I'll let u know waht I find out though.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

Dear MJ,

The answer to the question was in my previous post.

The question of Israeli sovereignty is irrelevant in this case-Israel has a legal and moral obligation to allow the refugees which it displaced the choice to return. Period.

If you insist on using the refrains in the article, then perhaps we should focus on the sentence that follows the one you quoted:

“If Israel wants a single state in Palestine, where all the people are free to choose their government by elections, we are ready for that." If anything, this is what Palestinian people ideally want-and I say that mindful that I in know way claim to know what most palestinians want. A one-state solution, with free and fair elections for all.

As it stands, it is not an issue of sovereignty-Are you saying sovereignty trumps all-even basic human rights? Should, then, have Nazi Germany’s democratically elected, and sovereign government, should have been left alone to exterminate the Jews? I certainly hope not.

To draw on Umkahlil, why shouldn’t Palestinians have roots going back for generations be asked to forget about their inalienable right when young men and women, whole families, perfectly comfortable in North and South America, may immigrate to Israel. Certainly, the injustice and inherent racism in this policy should be plain to anyone.

Now you tell me, if you insist on dealing in polarities and polemics, if the general consensus among Israelis is that Palestinian rights are not equal with those of Jewish rights, what chance is there for peace?

4:14 PM  
Anonymous mj said...


I admit I purposely ignored the rest of that quote in the JP because a one-state solution is impossible. It would be the end of Israel. Good news for your side, perhaps, but not for ours.

I have been studying the "right of return" issue. And I have to say that your people have absolutely no "right of return." Why? Because they forfeited that right by VOLUNTARILY leaving Israel during the period when statehood was established.

I'm not suggesting that Israel didn't force out ANY Palestinians. There was a war on, after all. In order to protect the State of Israel (legally established through the UN vote, remember), it was necessary to expel those who were a dangerous threat to the new country. What other country in the world wouldn't do the same?

But even I was astounded when I found just how much of the exodus was brought about by the various Arab states who told those people to leave so that they could drive the Jews into the sea, and afterwards they could return to their homes.

The problem? Those Arab countries did NOT drive Israel into the sea. They lost the war- but never took care of those Palestinians whom THEY had caused to become refugees.

I certainly don't want to hijack your blog, but if I may offer just a few of the many quotes out there by ARABS that prove this:

Abu Mazen wrote in an article entitled "Madha `Alamna wa-Madha Yajib An Na`mal" [What We Have Learned and What We Should Do], published in "Falastineth-Thawra" [Revolutionary Palestine], the official journal of the PLO, Beirut, March 1976, "The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland...The Arab States succeeded in scattering the Palestinian people."

Khaled al-`Azm, who served as Prime Minister of Syria in 1948 and 1949, wrote in his memoirs (published in Beirut, 1973), that among the reasons for the Arab failure in 1948 was "the call by the Arab Governments to the inhabitants of Palestine to evacuate it and to leave for the bordering Arab countries, after having sown terror among them...Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave...We have brought destruction upon a million Arab refugees, by calling upon them and pleading with them to leave their land, their homes, their work and business..." (Part 1, pp. 386-387).

On 6 September 1949, the Beirut Telegraph carried an interview with Mr. Emile Ghoury, Secretary of the Palestine Higher Committee, in which he said: "The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the act of the Arab States in opposing partition and the Jewish State."

"We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down." -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said, as quoted by Nimr el Hawari (the former Commander of the Palestine Arab Youth Organization) in his book 'Sir Am Nakbah' ("The Secret Behind the Disaster"), 1952 (Nazareth)

"The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die." (Ralph Galloway, UNRWA, as quoted by Terence Prittie in The Palestinians: People History, Politics, p 71) [Though not a quote from an Arab, I still find it relevant. mj]

"Since 1948 Arab leaders have approached the Palestine problem in an irresponsible manner.... they have used the Palestine people for selfish political purposes. This is ridiculous and, I could say, even criminal."
-- King Hussein of Jordan, 1960

"Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return of the refugees... while it is we who made them leave.... We brought disaster upon ... Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing pressure to bear upon them to leave.... We have rendered them dispossessed.... We have accustomed them to begging.... We have participated in lowering their moral and social level.... Then we exploited them in executing crimes of murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon ... men, women and children-all this in the service of political purposes." -- Khaled Al-Azm, Syria's Prime Minister after the 1948 war.

The Jordan daily Falastin wrote on 19 February 1949: "The Arab States which had encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies, have failed to keep their promises to help these refugees."

One refugee quoted in the Jordan newspaper, Ad Difaa (September 6, 1954), said:
"The Arab government told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in."

I apologize for taking up so much of your time and comments space with so many quotes. There were so many, these are just a small sample. I know you are very busy but I hope you will take the time to read them. If you are interested, here is where I found them: independence refugees arabs why.php

I realize these are all pro-Israel sites, but there should be no problem verifying any of these quotes in any library of your choosing.

I thank you for allowing me to post this. And I do hope you will let this comment go through, even though it is at odds with your remarks on this subject.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous mj said...


I'm sorry, I forgot to mention one thing in my previous overlong comment. You and many others repeatedly ask why Jews from North and South America, Europe, etc. should be allowed to settle in Israel. It's very simple.

Israel is a legal, autonomous state, established by the United Nations. It therefore has the right to pass its own laws, and one of those laws is that any Jew in the world is welcome to immigrate to Israel and become a citizen.

Remember, the original UN vote called for a 2-state solution. The Arab states ignored this and tried to destroy the Jewish population instead. Had they not done this, had they accepted partition and their own state instead of telling all the Palestinians to leave so they could wage war, there wouldn't be any refugees today.

I beg your indulgence for one more quote. This is the last one, I promise:

Harry C. Stebbens, who was in an official position in the British Mandatory Government in Palestine in 1947-48, wrote in the London Evening Standard (Friday, 10 January, 1969): "Long before the end of the British mandate, between January and April, 48, practically all my Arab Palestinian staff of some 200 men and women and all of the 1800 labor force had left Haifa in spite of every possible effort to assure them of their safety if they stayed.
"They all left for one or more of the following reasons:

1. The Arab terrorism engendered by the November, 1947, U.N. partition resolution frightened them to death of their imaginative souls and they feared Jewish retaliation.

2. Propagandists promised a blood bath as soon as the mandate ended in which the street of all the cities would run with blood.

3. The promised invasion by the foreign Arab armies (which started on May 14, 1948, with the Arab Legion massacre of some 200 Jewish settlers at Kfar Etzion) was preceded by extensive broadcasts from Cairo, Damascus, Amman, and Beirut to the effect that any Arabs who stayed would be hanged as collaborators with the Jews.

"The Palestinian Arabs were the victims then, as in 1967, of their own propaganda, and having on the average no stomach for violence they ran. I have met many of my Palestinian Arab friends since in Beirut, Damascus, Amman, and in the Persian Gulf states, and they have all without exception gladly told me that they had wished they had listened to me and stayed - as did some 200,000 who became and still are the most economically advanced Arabs in the Middle East."

6:16 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

If anyone actually read the preceding comments by MJ: Note the typical tactic used to attempt to derail actual debate: Focus on an irrelevancy. Whether or not Arab regimes encouraged Palestinians to leave their lands in the '48 war has no bearing on the right of those refugees to return today.

If I flee my home because of misinformation or propaganda, it does not mean that I have abandoned my legal title to my home.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

Rattu, finally got the websites of some of the lists, some have english links:

قائمة التغيير والإصلاح – حماس /Hamas

قائمة حركة فتح /Fateh

فلسطين المستقلة /Independent Palestine

الطريق الثالث Third Way

قائمة وعد Wa'ad/'Promise'

قائمة البديل The Alternative

قائمة الجبهة الشعبية PFLP

11:21 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

Ditto Elizabeth.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But do any of you actually care though that if the refugees actually ever went back it would be at the cost of another group people the vast majority who had not even been born in 48.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last comment how many serbs have gone back to kosovo germans in kallingrad it has been 60 years the israelis should accept some blame and it can be negotiated but they are never going to commit national suicide its easy for people in new york like you elizabeth because what ever happenes with regrad to the right of return you life will not be disturbed what guarentees can you give the israelis that their live would not be destroyed if the right retrun was implemented

7:44 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

You see, there is the problem. Why do you continue to believe the myth that return means "national suicide"? How the return of refugees "cost" another group (i.e. the Jewish Majority)? So it comes down to your life being "disturbed". But its perfectly ok to ignore the "disturbance" of those refugees for 50 years now.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Most of the Palestinian refugees and their children who are living in N. America are not going to go back...they have it pretty good here since we have concepts such as equal rights under the law, etc. unlike Israel...

What do you mean by "their life will be destroyed"? This kind of hysteria always happens when there is an ethnic influx into a society...people in New York a hundred years ago didn't like all the Eastern European immigrants (many of whom were Jews); the Irish and Italians hadn't been too popular either, yet all of these groups are now essential parts of New York. Because these groups absorbed the ideals of the U.S. (as Arab Americans also have more recently). Of course you are going to have trouble getting Palestinians to convert to Judaism but that's the problem you have when you create a nation based on a can mandate loyalty to the Constitution as a principle of citizenship (of course you don't have a constitution in Israel, come to think of it) but you can't tell people what religion to belong to because that's personal identity. This is the problem you have in Israel. You want everyone to be exactly alike and that isn't the way the world works.

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many refugees are in north america i would think not too many.My point about the right of return is this first of all for the israelis that live in kirat gat lod ramle ashquelon west jerusalem and so on would lose the homes they have know and you would create another bunch of refugees.And you think if there was return that somehow their would not be bloodshed these people have hated each other equally for the past 60 years and you think that somehow they would create some fantasy state where they all live together.Quite a few palestinians do not even except the israelis at all for them they are all colonalists with zero rights who should all go back to europe so can you really blame them for not wanting to live in a state with a palestinian majority.And i am the first to say that palestinians do not have equal rights israel but how the do you know that a state with a palestinian majority would not have more unequal laws worse that israel has i mean isnt islam the offical religion of the palestinian authority . By the way i checked out the villiage where yur husband came from in palestine remebered and it said that kiryat atta was build on its lands.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous mj said...

Laila, it seems you (Palestinian people, not just you personally) want to have your cake and eat it too. Your side started the war (rather than accept the 2-state solution the partition plan provided) told the civilians to leave so they could drive us into the sea, LOST the war, and now want all the civilians to go back. If this was any other country/people, I think you'd find it ridiculous. You can't have it both ways.

***There is a price to pay for starting and losing a war, and it's the responsiblity of the aggressors- here, the Arab states who admitted the Palestinian refugee problem was their fault and their responsibility- to absorb the refugees.

There is no historical precedent for what you want. On the contrary, there have been many instances of populations that were FORCED to resettle elsewhere (not voluntarily like the way most Palestinians left). Just a few examples:

(There are many web sites that detail this matter- I have chosen only 2
from which I am quoting several paragraphs in this post)

1. In the ill-fated Munich Pact signed with Hitler in 1938, Britain's Chamberlain surrendered to Germany's demand to annex the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia, inhabited by Germans for centuries. The Nazis soon occupied the whole country, and then invaded Poland.

Liberated by the Allies in 1945, the Czechs regained the Sudetenland, expelling 2.5 million of its ethnic Germans to Germany as authorized at the Potsdam Conference.

There is a parallel between the German Sudets and the Palestinian refugees - except that the latter refuse to accept the universal code that aggressors must pay for their acts.

2. The exchange between India and Pakistan in the 1950s was overwhelming in magnitude: 8,500,000 Sikhs and Hindus from Pakistan fled to India, and roughly 6,500,000 Muslims moved from India to Pakistan.

Contrary to Arab attitudes, Pakistani President Mohammed Ayub Khan, at a Cairo press conference in 1960, announced that he had directed his people to deal with their own refugees, without "substantial support from Muslim brethren over the world"; ***he suggested that Pakistan's settlement of its nearly seven million refugee-, from India might act as an example for the "three-quarters of a million refugees from Palestine" in the Arab countries."***

And these are just 2 examples among the stories of the almost 200,000,000 people who have become refugees in this world since 1933. (Other examples include the Greece/Turkey population exchange and the post WWII forced resettlements of Finns and Hungarians, to name a few).

Not to mention Israel. Israel - tiny, arid, and practically devoid of natural resources - has done its utmost to take in and rehabilitate refugees, multiplying its population by eight between 1948 and 2000. Many of these new arrivals were Jews who had survived the horrors of the Holocaust. Another 800,000 had fled anti-Israel hostility in their native Arab countries, where their property, valued at tens of billions of dollars, was confiscated. Many Jews were flat-out deported from Arab lands at the time of the creation of Israel (one example: Iraq).

Why is it that tiny Israel could absorb all those refugees and build a country, but the many Arab states could not (would not) absorb the Palestinian refugees, even after admitting it was their fault that they were refugees and admitting that they had not fulfilled their responsibilities in absorbing them?

Why have all these other refugees worldwide (Pakistan, India, etc.) built new lives and countries, while the Palestinians remain refugees 60 years later? It's ridiculous that many of these refugees are now the GRANDCHILDREN of the original refugees! This has not happened anywhere else in history!

It's like I quoted in another comment- the Arab world keeps you all as refugees for their own purposes, leaving you there like a festering sore to throw in the face of the UN and to take attention away from their own badly run countries. Once more- had you accepted the partition plan and not started the war, there would not be ONE REFUGEE TODAY.

Laila, I don't suppose I'll change your mind about any of this, but I do thank you for allowing me, the other side, to have my say. It's to your credit as a journalist and a human being that you at least listen to what the other side has to say- you might still disagree, but at least you hear the other side. Thank you. I think I'm all talked out on this subject.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Hmm. Interesting idea that if you lose a war that you start, you have no right to return after you're defeated and kicked out by the winning power.

The Jews lost their rebellion against the Romans, who then kicked them out. I guess that means no Jews have the right to go back to Israel.

8:23 PM  

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