Friday, March 10, 2006

Meeting Ismail Haniyah

In between planning Yousuf’s birthday (the party finally happened yesterday!) and dealing with a spell of constipation he got along with a nasty cold (all I’ll say is-the miracles of olive oil never cease to amaze!), I was too pre-occupied for any serious writing last week. But I did manage to meet with our Prime-Minister designate, Ismail Haniyah.

It happened sort of by coincidence. I met up with the wonderful Helena Cobban, longtime journalist and writer, currently a columnist for the Christian Science Monitor, and also author of one of the first comprehensive books on the PLO. She emailed to tell me she was in Gaza for a few days.

It was a sort of weird convergence of threads in the Palestinian tapestry, or at least my budding family’s own tapestry. You see, she covered the fall of the Tel-Zaatar camp to the Israeli-Syrian-backed Flangist forces in 1976. The camp happened to be where Yassine and his family lived before fleeing to Baalbeck’s Wavel camp, (and where his uncle went missing after the massacre, and remains missing till this day).

So we met up, and chatted and lunched it up in our house as if we were old friends or family. We also drove around with the Hamas elected Munipality head of Dair al-Balah to take a look at some of the institutions Hamas has built there.

The next day, I went to the parliament to meet up with MPs during a break from their grueling and heated two-day session (convened by videoconference due an Israeli-imposed travel ban), with Gaza legislators linking-up to fellow MPs in the West Bank through a large screen wrought with technical difficulties, all of which highlights, to quote my colleague Khalid Amayreh, “Israel's complete control of nearly all aspects of Palestinian life…it is easier for most Palestinians, including public officials, to travel anywhere in the world than to commute the 20-minute-drive between the Strip and the West Bank”.”

In the corridors, I met Helena again, this time about to informally interview Ismail Haniyeh, who had just slid into his office from a swarm of television cameras. So I joined her to assist in translation (though she hardly needed it-she speaks super Arabic) and later warded off his assistant who insisted I take the entire box of tissues instead of just one in a show of hospitality.

My first impression of Haniya (besides his towering height) was his warmth and casual demeanor. I also couldn’t help noticing his eyes. Don’t ask me why I was gazing into Ismail Haniya’s eyes- I guess I always believe that eyes can tell you a lot about a person. They are these soft emerald-grey-green colour that somehow leave you at ease when you talk to him. He doesn’t speak much (any) English. Helena just said she wanted to interview him for 10 minutes and he said, jokingly, “ok, ahham ishee inrakiz 3al ’10 minutes’” (ok as long as we focus on the 10 minutes part).

Nothing he said was particularly groundbreaking, which I expected. But it was interesting to get to know him a little bit better, and compare him to some other Hamas leaders I've met in the past, such as Ismail Abu Shanab, Rantisi, and Ahmed Yasin. He was markedly more pragmatic and soft-spoken, I think i'd compare him most to Ismail Abu Shanab. Some highlights:

Asked about whether he thought Hamas could get the job done, vis-à-vis internal reform and rebuilding:

“Hamas has lived through all of Palestinian societies conditions. We have succeeded in the past in this respect, and we are confident we can succeed in this new challenge, in organizing the ‘Palestinian house’. We have in the past been successful in reaching internal agreements with other factions despite the tense internal political climate. We held our guns when all other factions didn’t. This does not mean there are no challenges-internal and external. The responsibility is huge and not a simple one. That is why we hope to form a national unity government that together can help realize the desires of the Palestinian people. Our people want internal security now”

Haniya then added then he saw that the PLO was one of the most important accomplishments and that he considered Hamas now a part of the it. He also said that “Hamas has relationships with many EU countries” already, but did not elaborate on which ones when pressed.

When the issue of borders and recognizing Israel came up in conversation:

“Why are answers needed over and over again for questions which have been responded to? We ask that the international community demand that Israel recognize the rights of Palestinians for once and to recognize a Palestinian state. Then, for sure, we will have a response to this question. We cannot separate ourselves from the reality of occupation. AT the same time, we hope to become less and less dependent on them.”


Anonymous Jennifer said...

It sounds encouraging. Sort of. I suppose there is not much to do but to wait.

On a brighter note I contacted the Qattan Centre and will be sending them one of my books for teens for their library. (The Secret of Shabaz)
They asked me where I'd heard about them, and I replied that it was from your blog!

4:52 PM  
Blogger Fatima said...

Very interesting. On a side note, I'd love to see a blog about olive oil. :)

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Shaden said...

Ping Back:

"Laila el-Haddad of Raising Yousuf has met Palestinian Prime Minister Mr. Ismail Haniyah talking about her first impression she says:

My first impression of Haniya (besides his towering height) was his warmth and casual demeanor. I also couldn’t help noticing his eyes….They are these soft emerald-grey-green colour that somehow leave you at ease when you talk to him"

6:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok here we go. I hope the Americans can kill as many of you rabid creaturs as possible.

9:11 PM  

We must pray for peace, God is very angry. We are all his children. The Hurricanes, volcanoes, tsunamias, eartquake, etc are going to get worse. Please Pray for Peace....

Look below at some of the chastiments. 1/2 the world is going to be destroyed. You are my sister and he is my brother. God is cleansing the earth of all evil.
Please pray for Peace,

On July 16, 2000, part of Christina’s experience read as follows:

Christina then witnessed tornadoes and exclaimed: "The water is going over so much, destroying so many." She was shown volcanoes and given to know that these would be happening in places unaccustomed to volcanoes. She then saw earthquakes, lightning and witnessed the stench of death in many places. She understood that these calamities will be multiplied throughout the World as the Hand of God draws closer to the Earth. At the same time she was shown a large Hand first in slow motion and then speeding up as It approached the globe of the world.

Click here for Calamities that have occurred in the United States of America

Below is a list of the international disasters that have occurred this year and that we have been able to get records of to date. The site will be updated occasionally.

The entire list that have occurred since the July 16th, 2000 message have been split into segments according to their year. You may visit those segments not represented in the below list by clicking on the following years:

* 2000 * 2001 *

The Current year's list of International Disasters

Tajikistan: Floods 09-Aug-02
Cambodia: Drought 09-Aug-02
Nepal: Floods 09-Aug-02
India: Floods 09-Aug-02
Tajikistan: Floods 08-Aug-02
Nepal: Floods 08-Aug-02
Kenya: Drought 07-Aug-02
Korea (DPRK): Floods 07-Aug-02
Tajikistan: Floods 07-Aug-02
El Salvador/Honduras: Dengue 06-Aug-02
Philippines: Floods 05-Aug-02
Peru: Snowstorms 05-Aug-02
Peru: Snowstorms 02-Aug-02
Philippines: Floods 02-Aug-02
Afghanistan: Locusts 02-Aug-02
India: Drought 01-Aug-02
India: Floods 31-Jul-02
India: Floods 26-Jul-02
South Asia: Floods 26-Jul-02
Venezuela: Floods 26-Jul-02
Nepal: Floods 26-Jul-02
Nepal: Floods 26-Jul-02
Southern Africa: Food Crisis 26-Jul-02
Iran: Earthquake 25-Jul-02
China: Floods 25-Jul-02
Venezuela: Floods 25-Jul-02
Zimbabwe: Drought 24-Jul-02
Nepal: Floods 24-Jul-02
Asia: Preparedness 23-Jul-02
Peru: Snowstorms 23-Jul-02
Peru: Snowstorms 22-Jul-02
Sri Lanka: Drought 19-Jul-02
Bolivia: Snowstorms 19-Jul-02
Russian Federation: Floods 19-Jul-02
Peru: Snowstorms 18-Jul-02
Peru: Snowstorms 17-Jul-02
Bangladesh: Floods 17-Jul-02
Nepal: Floods 16-Jul-02
Micronesia: Storm 16-Jul-02
Peru: Snowstorms 16-Jul-02
Philippines: Typhoon 16-Jul-02
Zimbabwe: Drought 16-Jul-02
Russian Federation: Floods 12-Jul-02
Ethiopia: Drought 12-Jul-02
Southern Africa: Food Crisis 12-Jul-02
Bolivia: Snowstorms 12-Jul-02
India: Floods 11-Jul-02
India: Earthquake 11-Jul-02
India: Floods 10-Jul-02
Bangladesh: Floods 09-Jul-02
China: Floods 05-Jul-02
Russian Federation: Floods 05-Jul-02
Micronesia: Storm 02-Jul-02
China: Floods 02-Jul-02
Russian Federation: Floods 02-Jul-02
China: Floods 28-Jun-02
Southern Africa: Food Crisis 28-Jun-02
Russian Federation: Floods 27-Jun-02
Iran: Earthquake 27-Jun-02
China: Floods 27-Jun-02
Russian Federation: Floods 26-Jun-02
Iran: Earthquake 25-Jun-02
Russian Federation: Floods 25-Jun-02
Iran: Earthquake 25-Jun-02
Iran: Earthquake 24-Jun-02
Russian Federation: Floods 24-Jun-02
Caucasus: Floods 24-Jun-02
Iran: Earthquake 23-Jun-02
Iran: Earthquake 22-Jun-02
Iran: Earthquake 22-Jun-02
Honduras: Rains 20-Jun-02
El Salvador: Dengue 19-Jun-02
Yugoslavia: Floods 16-Jun-02
Southern Africa: Food Crisis 14-Jun-02
Honduras: Rains 14-Jun-02
Nicaragua: Floods 13-Jun-02
Ghana: Floods 12-Jun-02
China: Rains 13-Jun-02
China: Floods 12-Jun-02
Syria: Dam Collapse 10-Jun-02
Southern Africa: Food Crisis 07-Jun-02
Syria: Dam Collapse 07-Jun-02
Chile: Floods 07-Jun-02
Nicaragua: Floods 07-Jun-02
Nicaragua: Rains 06-Jun-02
Syria: Dam Collapse 06-Jun-02
Colombia: Rains 05-Jun-02
Syria: Dam Collapse 05-Jun-02
Chile: Floods 05-Jun-02
Madagascar: Cyclone 03-Jun-02
Nicaragua: Rains 03-Jun-02
Southern Africa: Food Crisis 31-May-02
Jamaica: Floods 03-Jun-02
Haiti: Floods 31-May-02
Nicaragua: Rains 31-May-02
Madagascar: Cyclone 29-May-02
Chile: Floods 28-May-02
Jamaica: Floods 28-May-02
Southern Africa: Food Crisis 24-May-02
Tonga: Hurricane 24-May-02
Ecuador: Floods 23-May-02
Madagascar: Cyclone 21-May-02
Southern Africa: Drought 17-May-02
Madagascar: Cyclone 15-May-02
Paraguay: Floods 15-May-02
Costa Rica: Floods 14-May-02
Kenya: Floods 13-May-02
Southern Africa: Drought 10-May-02
Madagascar: Storm 10-May-02
Zimbabwe: Drought 08-May-02
Vietnam: Fires 06-May-02
Bangladesh: Storms 03-May-02
Georgia: Earthquake 03-May-02
Georgia: Earthquake 02-May-02
El Salvador: Earthquake 30-Apr-02
Ecuador: Floods 30-Apr-02
Georgia: Earthquake 26-Apr-02
Afghanistan: Floods 25-Apr-02
Vietnam: Fires 19-Apr-02
Ethiopia: Floods 19-Apr-02
China: Storms 18-Apr-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 17-Apr-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 15-Apr-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 14-Apr-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 12-Apr-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 12-Apr-02
Ecuador: Floods 11-Apr-02
Papua New Guinea: Landslide 10-Apr-02
Vietnam: Fires 09-Apr-02
Central America: Drought 05-Apr-02
Papua New Guinea: Landslide 04-Apr-02
Ecuador: Floods 03-Apr-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 01-Apr-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 01-Apr-02
China: Earthquake 31-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 30-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 28-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 28-Mar-02
India: Earthquake 28-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 27-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 27-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 26-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 26-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 26-Mar-02
Djibouti: Toxic Waste 25-Mar-02
Ecuador: Floods 22-Mar-02
Central America: El Nino 21-Mar-02
Philippines: Earthquake 15-Mar-02
Ecuador: Floods 15-Mar-02
Madagascar: Storm 12-Mar-02
Micronesia: Storm 11-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 11-Mar-02
Ecuador: Floods 11-Mar-02
Philippines: Earthquake 08-Mar-02
Djibouti: Environmental 08-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 07-Mar-02
Tajikistan: Earthquake 07-Mar-02
Philippines: Earthquake 06-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 06-Mar-02
Malawi: Floods/Drought 05-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 05-Mar-02
Malawi: Flood/Drought 05-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 05-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 04-Mar-02
DR Congo: Volcano 04-Mar-02
Tonga: Storm 04-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 04-Mar-02
Malawi: Flood/Drought 04-Mar-02
Bolivia: Floods 04-Mar-02
Afghanistan: Earthquake 04-Mar-02
Tonga: Storm 28-Feb-02
DR Congo: Volcano 28-Feb-02
Bolivia: Floods 27-Feb-02
Bolivia: Floods 25-Feb-02
Bolivia: Floods 24-Feb-02
Bolivia: Floods 21-Feb-02
Bolivia: Floods 20-Feb-02
Indonesia: Floods 19-Feb-02
Iran: Earthquake 18-Feb-02
Indonesia: Floods 15-Feb-02
Guatemala: Volcano 13-Feb-02
Peru: Floods 11-Feb-02
Indonesia: Floods 08-Feb-02
Peru: Floods 08-Feb-02
Turkey: Earthquake 07-Feb-02
Tonga: Storm 07-Feb-01
DR Congo: Volcano 06-Feb-02
Nigeria: Explosion 06-Feb-02
Mexico: Volcano 06-Feb-02
Indonesia: Floods 05-Feb-02
Nigeria: Explosion 04-Feb-02
Indonesia: Floods 04-Feb-02
Turkey: Earthquake 04-Feb-02
Turkey: Earthquake 04-Feb-02
Nigeria: Explosion 04-Feb-02
Turkey: Earthquake 03-Feb-02
Indonesia: Floods 02-Feb-02
Indonesia: Floods 01-Feb-02
Nigeria: Explosion 01-Feb-02
DR Congo: Volcano 01-Feb-02
Indonesia: Floods 31-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 30-Jan-02
Nigeria: Explosion 30-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 30-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 29-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 28-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 28-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 27-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 26-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 26-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 25-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 25-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 25-Jan-02
Mauritius: Storm 25-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 24-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 24-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 24-Jan-02
Senegal: Floods 24-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 23-Jan-02
Mauritius: Storm 23-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 23-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 23-Jan-02
Tonga: Storm 23-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 22-Jan-02
Mauritius: Storm 22-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 22-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 21-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 21-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 21-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 21-Jan-02
Mauritius: Storm 21-Jan-02
Rwanda: Volcano 21-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 21-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 20-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 20-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 19-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 18-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 18-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 18-Jan-02
DR Congo 18-Jan-02
Iran: Floods 17-Jan-02
DR Congo: Volcano 17-Jan-02
Iran: Floods 14-Jan-01
Malawi: Floods 14-Jan-02
Tajikistan: Earthquake 11-Jan-02
Vanuatu: Earthquake 04-Jan-02
Madagascar: Storm 04-Jan-02
Vanuatu: Earthquake 03-Jan-02

11:41 AM  

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