Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Palestinian-American Community Rejects Peace

My communications with Hussein Ibish, of the ATFP, regarding retaining Jewish settlements in Yesha in the context of a Palestinian state, have recently received a plug in the comments section of a post at, resulting in a steady stream of visitors. The author, Jonathan Zasloff, a self-described "progressive American Zionist (who of course is furious and outraged at the current Israeli government)", attempts to wean a commitment of support from Ibish and, separately, the ATFP (he appears not to understand that Ibish IS ATFP) on a Jewish-American/Arab-American coalition in favor of the Nusseibeh-Ayalon People’s Voice Agreement of 2002.

I don't know Jonathan Zasloff, but it appears he has little understanding of the dynamics within the Palestinian-American diaspora, and it's role and influence in West Bank Palestinian life and centers of power - Fatah and the PLO. In my extensive personal experience with Palestinian-Americans, they constitute, in general, a community more extremist, Marxist, pro-Islamist and obstinately against the prospect of comprehensive peace with Israel than all but the most militant West Bank enclaves, and equal, or more extreme, to Hamas itself. Any moderation or accommodation to Israel's existence, much less a negotiated two state solution, is simply anathema. We're talking basic Arab Populist Opposition Politics 101 - the less you have to lose, the more extremist and flamboyant with other people's blood you must be, and the Palestinian-American community, far removed from the bombs and bullets, has very little to lose.

That's precisely what makes Hussein Ibish and the ATFP so unique; an oddity created largely by the Bush Administration's State Department, under Secretary Rice, preserved in concert with what is essentially an American sponsored Abbas-Fayaad dictatorship, secured through massive infusions of cash and military aid. Don't take for granted that Ibish is playing with his life discussing, as he does, a pragmatic, two state end of conflict resolution. Yet, what makes Ibish an exceptional Palestinian visionary in Western and Jewish eyes is precisely why peace with the Palestinians in the West Bank, much less the Palestinians in Chicago, remains improbable.

The basic conditions of the Nusseibeh-Ayalon plan - territorial exchange, dividing Jerusalem, compensation for the refugees - have long been accepted by successive Israeli governments, constituting the basis of the 2000 and 2008 offers to the Palestinians. Both offers were rejected by the Palestinian leadership because compromise on any vital issue is unenforceable on the Palestinian "street", and more likely to end in intra-Palestinian bloodshed and purges than final status peace with Israel. Sari Nusseibeh, perhaps the most dovish Palestinian in a position of influence, and the coauthor of the "People's Voice" agreement, has recently had to go into hiding for penning, in his latest book, a sentence which accepts that a Jewish Temple once stood on the Temple Mount. Such is the state of total rejectionism on the Palestinian side, cracked open, slightly, in the form of ATFP and the Abbas-Fayaad axis, with American money and weapons, and Israeli resolve in the face of Palestinian violence and general Arab aggression.

Those Jewish-American Zionists who expect the Palestinian-American community, comfortably insulated from the consequences of provocation and radicalism, to join with them in supporting a peaceful two state solution, at a time when Israel is under increasing international isolation and opprobrium by even its closest allies, while the forces of resistance heap gains and victories against the Jewish state and American regional influence and credibility, need a reality check. Ali Abunimah has dedicated his life to raising international pressure against Israel's very existence; he's not about to pull Zionist chestnuts out of a fire he spent a decade igniting, in favor of a two state solution he would personally shoot in the head were he given the power to do so. The Palestinian-American community has the least to lose through protracted war, whose long term outcome is perhaps favorable to maximalist Arab demands, and nothing to gain by endorsing peace, short of the label "collaborator".

1 comment:

  1. as usual I'll read your piece in print-out so this is just to congratulate you on your new picture - truly great, really beautiful and insinuating high romance - It looks kind of French but not really so - very intriguing - good luck

    (my moniker got stolen over at Ibrahim's so I am back to total anonymity - too much of a happy loner for all that social stuff


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