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Meshal’s Triumphal Welcome in Gaza

khaled meshal gaza speech

Khaled Meshal speaks before hundreds of thousands of Gazans (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters)

A few days ago, Khaled Meshal made a triumphal, first-ever visit to Gaza to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hamas’ founding and the movement’s “triumph” in Operation Pillar of Cloud.  Hundreds of thousands of Gazans greeted him as he delivered a hardcore message of defiance to Israel.  He avowed, in a statement that likely deliberately echoed the Likud motto, that the resistance would liberate every inch of Palestine from “the river to the sea.”

I am not about to defend the extremism or intransigence of Meshal’s message.  But I will explain the important aspects of this speech, his visit to Gaza, and what they portend for the future.  First, while Meshal may’ve delivered an unyielding speech, he is known as a far more moderate and flexible leader than his Gaza-based Hamas counterparts.  Mahmoud Zahar, for example, the Hamas foreign minister, has refused to participate in any public events with Meshal.

That means to me that there was a certain element of political theater in Meshal’s speech.  He was in a sense coming into the lion’s den in Gaza.  A place that had just successfully resisted an Israeli onslaught and won major concessions from Israel in the ceasefire agreement.  He could not very well sound like Mahmoud Abbas or Salaam Fayyad before such people.

There were several important aspects of this speech that should be noted.  In what must’ve been a shocking moment for many who attended, the flags of Fatah joined those of Hamas in the crowd.  Instead of warring with each other, the rivals buried the hatchet, at least for the day if not longer.  Meshal made a point of affirming it is critical that Palestinians unite and solve their differences.  This may signal the resurgence of a move toward a national unity government, a goal that has eluded both factions for the past six years, since Fatah launched a failed coup attempt at the behest of Elliot Abrams and the Bush administration in 2007.

Several observers have commented on Meshal’s future ambitions.  It’s fairly clear that there is substantial resistance to his moderate course among the Gaza Hamas leadership, including Haniyeh and especially Zahar.  The group’s ultimate leader announced a few months ago that he would be stepping down from his position.  Egypt allegedly requested that Meshal remain Hamas’ leader for the time being.  But he won’t stay forever.

If Hamas and Fatah can mend fences there will be new Palestinian elections.  It is quite possible that Meshal might run for president of the PA.  Replacing Abbas, someone who’s outlived any usefulness he ever had, would breathe new life into the PA under a unified banner.

All of this is deeply alarming to the Likudist government, which sees Palestinian unity as a dagger in Israel’s heart.  The loss of a quiescent PA under the Fatah-led rump regime would be a major blow to the Occupation.  Israel wants either to maintain the status quo of Israeli domination of a feeble PA or to negotiate an agreement that offers little to the Palestinians and much to the Israelis.  With Meshal leading the PA, the Palestinians would likely present a far tougher negotiating position.

It is not Meshal’s terrorist past or his rejectionist rhetoric that Israel fears.  It is his status as an effective leader who might actually deliver a real peace deal, but one which would demand more compromises than Israel is willing to make.

If Israel and especially the Obama administration were far-sighted and pragmatic they’d realize that a PA under Meshal, that represented all the Palestinian people, would be a political entity that could negotiate a real, lasting peace agreement with Israel.  They would free Marwan Barghouti from an Israeli prison so that he could become prime minister under Meshal and lead a true unity coalition.  But they are neither pragmatic nor far-sighted and will not rise to the occasion.

If Obama continues to reject Hamas, he runs the risk of maintaining a U.S. policy that becomes so out of touch with reality on the ground that events take their course without this country being able to play any meaningful role.  This is precisely the posture we were forced to adopt during the Arab Spring.  Our former strongmen allies fell and we were so neutered by our support for discredited oppressive regimes, we couldn’t take up the cause of democracy and reform as we should.  This will happen with Hamas as well unless we change our tune.

There will be those among the pro-Israelists here who will quarrel and say that anyone who has called for the liberation of all of Palestine and said Israel was illegitimate is someone with whom peace is impossible.  To them I say, Yitzhak Shamir once bombed the King David Hotel and assassinated Count von Bernadotte.  Begin once massacred Palestinians at Deir Yassin.  Sharon slaughtered Palestinians at Kfar Qassem and encouraged the Sabra and Shatilla massacre.  Yitzhak Rabin called for breaking the bones of Palestinian protesters.

Politicians say lots of things which they may or may not mean when they say them, while their future actions belie those earlier statements.  What interests me is not the boilerplate praise for the resistance, but the concrete evidence that he is a leader who understands the need for flexibility in resolving the conflict.

A final important note on a major mistranslation of one particular phrase in Meshal’s speech as covered by the Observer and the Guardian.  It was especially disconcerting that this error was reported by Harriet Sherwood, who is an otherwise excellent Guardian Israel correspondent.  Their original reports quoted  Meshal saying:

We don’t kill Jews because they are Jews. We kill the Zionists because they are conquerors and we will continue to kill anyone who takes our land and our holy places … We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone.

As Electronic Intifada pointed out, the Arabic root for “kill” and “fight” are similar.  But any Arab speaker would know that the specific form of the word Meshal used in the speech meant the latter and not the former.  In fact, the Guardian corrected the mistranslation and noted the error.  Though the original version will doubtless be heralded by MEMRI and all the other hasbara outfits that live for this stuff.

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{ 113 comments… add one }
  • mary December 10, 2012, 2:43 AM

    I have always admired Meshaal and wished he was in the prime minister’s position instead of Haniyeh, who I think is utterly politically tone deaf at the most crucial times.

    Public rhetoric by Hamas is almost always fiery and extreme, and I think this is because of the fractiousness between the various political parties – they all want to make a show of strength and dedication to Palestinian liberation. In actual reality, the stances taken by leaders such as Meshaal are realistic and pragmatic.

    Please, let’s just get rid of the PA. I doubt Meshaal or Haniyeh would want anything to do with that quisling arm of Israeli tyranny anyway.

    • Bob Mann December 10, 2012, 5:32 AM

      You admire Meshaal and you want to get rid of the PA?

      That is pretty stunning.

      • mary December 10, 2012, 8:18 AM

        Why is it stunning, Bob? Because Meshaal does not recognize his country’s occupier’s “right to exist” in his homeland?

        http://www.redress.cc/palestine/jhalper20120219

        “When a Palestinian leadership assumes the prerogative to negotiate a political resolution yet lacks any genuine authority or leverage to do so, and when, in addition, it fails to abandon negotiations even after they have been exposed as a trap, it comes dangerously close to being collaborationist.” – Jeff Halper

        • Bob Mann December 10, 2012, 8:38 AM

          “Why is it stunning, Bob?”

          Because he wants to liberate all of Palestine, including what is present-day Israel. Previous statements seemed to indicate that he was comfortable with having a Palestinian state comprised of Gaza and the West Bank, but this statement seems to contradict that notion. And in the pursuit of liberating all of Palestine, he is endorsing violence as a method for achieving that goal.

          Based on what he is saying here, even if Israel were to end the blockade of Gaza, remove all settlements from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (the Jewish Quarter and all), and aspire to no territory outside of the 1967 borders, the fight to liberate Palestine would still continue, possibly violently.

          What possible hope is there for a peaceful solution with that approach?

          • mary December 10, 2012, 12:34 PM

            Bob, why would they continue to fight if they had all of that? Do you think it’s possibly because Israel would renege on those terms? If you do, you’ve got a point.

          • Davey December 10, 2012, 7:22 PM

            I don’t “get” the argument about mere talk. Likud announces it will have sovereignty from the river to the sea. Isn’t that as provocative and violent as Meshaal’s remark? Explain the difference, please.

          • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2012, 10:11 PM

            @Bob Mann: And you’re saying that Israel doesn’t endorse violence as a method for achieving its State objectives? So if Israel endorses violence & uses it far more lethally than any Palestinian, why should Palestinians see the Israeli government as a legitimate partner. My view is that if Israel wishes to demand that Hamas renounce violence then Israel should do the same. If it doesn’t, then it & anyone like you who defends it is a hypocrite.

        • herenothere December 11, 2012, 4:14 AM

          Basicly the problem with supporting Mashaal is that by do that you are supporting ethnic cleansing.

          • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2012, 2:13 PM

            Meshal has NEVER said he wanted Israeli Jews to leave or would expel them. Never. His quarrel is with the type of State Israel is.

            By supporting Bibi or anyone to his right you’re virtually supporting the same thing.

      • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2012, 10:21 PM

        @Bob Mann: Not stunning at all.

        • Bob Mann December 11, 2012, 9:27 AM

          You’re not stunned that one of your readers would express admiration for Meshal?

          Especially in response to your post about his speech which you yourself said contained a message of extremism and intransigence?

          That seems strange to me.

          • mary December 11, 2012, 10:48 AM

            Just call me an extremist, Bob. I’m no less an extremist than Avigdor Lieberman.

          • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2012, 5:49 PM

            @Mary: I think you’re far LESS an extremist than Lieberman.

          • Bob Mann December 11, 2012, 7:59 PM

            That strikes me as really surprising. Again, I realize there has been a relatively radical change in your perspective from the earlier days of the blog, but to call someone who outwardly admires Meshal, especially in light of his most recent speech, “far less” of an extremist than Lieberman is really surprising. Your views on Hamas are not entirely clear to me at this point.

          • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2012, 1:03 AM

            @Bob Mann: For you perhaps it’s a “radical change.” For me, it’s been a gradual evolution. Basically, for me being a democratic state is more important than being a Jewish state. I don’t see this as so radical.

            And I haven’t even given up on the fact that any Israeli state that does become a democratic state will still have to acknowledge the importance of religion (of all citizens) in a very significant way. It just won’t privilege one religion over another. Nor will it privilege religion over the political system.

          • mary December 12, 2012, 3:06 AM

            What I find so interesting in Bob’s perceptions is that he seems to think respecting the Palestinian perspective on 65 years of occupation makes me an extremist. I am always amazed at the skewed worldview of staunch zionists, who seem to think that the occupied should totally submit to their occupier and that any word or action indicating resistance is “extremism,” or “terrorism.”

            Bob, if someone, say the Chinese, moved into your neighborhood, barged into your house one night and kicked you out into your garage with a blanket and said don’t even try to get back into your house, we’ll kill you, what would you do? And then what would you do when you found the Chinese guys had parked their car in your garage and you had to take your blanket and sit in the street? Would you quietly comply and feel grateful that you still had a street to sit in, or would you go to the nearest gun shop?

            And what would you think if the Chinese guys living in your house told you that maybe they might give back some of your backyard – maybe – but you have to promise that you will say the Chinese guys are the legal owners of your house and you forfeit any right to take it back or ever live in it again? And you have to say to the world that you agree that the Chinese guys have the right to live in your house and say it’s OK if they let you have a small shack in your own backyard, but you can’t have the gun, and the Chinese guys will decide who comes to see you, and what can be brought in and taken out. And will you agree that the Chinese guys had the right to kill your children because you got pissed off and threw a rock through the window of what used to be your house?

            Bob, do you know what empathy is?

          • Bob Mann December 12, 2012, 3:33 AM

            Mary, if that happened, I would probably move somewhere else and try to build a life there. Your hypothetical scenario is fairly similar to what happened to my parents, except the folks involved weren’t Chinese.

          • mary December 12, 2012, 6:24 AM

            Sure you would, Bob, which is what the Israelis think they have the right to force the Palestinians to do. And what you are doing is defending this, and calling the people who rightfully own the land and want it back “extremists.” Do you think it is right to steal and take over another’s home? How can you possibly think that wanting one’s rightful property back makes one an extremist?

            This is what makes Israel the extremist – that the thief believes he has the right to steal, and to continue to steal while engaging in political theater dropping bombs on unarmed people. And the thief makes a show of wanting to “negotiate” to return some of what he has stolen, as if he has the right to keep any of it, but is utterly insincere and continues to steal. That is very extreme.

          • Bob Mann December 12, 2012, 1:41 PM

            The people I am calling extremists are those who support violence to liberate all of historical Palestine, including what is currently Israel. If you can put whatever analogies aside for a moment and just think about that, I hope you will understand the reasonable nature of the position. Your position would justify any Palestinian killing any Israeli in an effort to liberate the land. I do not believe that this stance is worthy of support.

          • mary December 12, 2012, 2:00 PM

            My position does not “justify any Palestinian killing any Israeli”, Bob. I think that this discussion has gone far enough.

          • Davey December 12, 2012, 2:44 PM

            Bob — sure, you would move, and so would lots of others. But you are not a population: Some part of the population didn’t have the means of moving elsewhere (remember: Their property was stolen!) and another part refused to do so. I can’t begin to share with you how I feel about those families who stayed and reared generations in “refugee camps” (crummy towns) getting by with handouts and such and yet organizing resistance to Zionism again spanning generations. To do this, to hold on for all this time, is so impressive to me, more impressive than the gd “making the desert bloom” bs always touted. The first takes commitment, the second takes money.

            As for the justification for violence: Personally, I can’t do it and wouldn’t allow it. However, I do understand. I understand Zionist violence in all its smug self-righteousness and I understand Palestinian violence in all its harrowing forms. Israel can target and kill any Palestinian it wishes with complete impunity and even kudos from MSM: Palestinians should have the same license, should fairness become the overriding principle.

          • Bob Mann December 12, 2012, 3:18 PM

            I agree. But I would encourage you to re-read and reflect on what you have written here, as well as the full text of Meshal’s speech if you can find it. I will do the same.

          • Bob Mann December 12, 2012, 3:31 AM

            Do you still consider yourself a Zionist?

          • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2012, 1:45 PM

            Yes, but like no Zionist you’d be familiar or comfortable with, likely. My Zionism does not require an exclusivist Jewish state. It even could survive in a single unitary state as long as there were guarantees for all ethnic groups enshrined. Zionism, at least as I define it, is not racist, intolerant or authoritarian. It does not privilege Judaism nor Jews though it does guarantee them a place in their own nation.

          • Bob Mann December 12, 2012, 3:19 PM

            I’m very comfortable with that kind of Zionism. I wish that people who speak so hatefully about Zionism on this site and others would take a moment to read what you wrote here and understand that your version is just as Zionist as any other.

          • Davey December 12, 2012, 9:34 PM

            Bob — I am familiar with Richard’s ideas of Zionism. His Zionism has some history but it is not the ideology at work in Israel under that rubric today. The revisionists have triumphed mightily and that is what I mean by “Zionism.” If we loathe Israel today for what it has become, we are not wrong in attributing this to Zionism. If there is another form of Zionism, I’d ask where it is active in the world today?

          • Deïr Yassin December 13, 2012, 1:17 AM

            @ Davey
            “If we loathe Israel today for what it has become”
            I would add that what Israel has become is only a logicalevolution of what it has always been. That “other form of Zionism” has been non-existent since the establishment of the State of Israel.
            I’m reading a book by Shlomo Sand (2006): not the “Invention of the Jewish people” that made so much noice but really doesn’y say anything that hasn’t been said before: that the Jewish people – just like ALL peoples – are ‘invented’ or due to a historical process. If I translate the title it goes like “The Words and the Land. The Intellectuals in Israel”, and it’s very interesting. I just started a chapter on the intellectuals from the Hebrew University: Magnes, Buber etc.
            Highly recommendable.

          • Richard Silverstein December 13, 2012, 12:16 AM

            your version is just as Zionist as any other.

            90-95% of contemporary Zionists might disagree with that statement, many vehemently. I’m glad it’s not a problem for you. But it IS a problem for anyone who adheres to classical Zionism.

            For that reason, it’s not at all surprising that anyone supporting the Palestinians would treat Zionism as the monolith its mainstream adherents would prefer it to be. I don’t have problems with people attacking Zionism, because they’re attacking Zionism as defined by Bibi, the settlers, etc. That’s the Zionism that almost the whole world knows. I don’t expect most people to know that there were streams within Zionism that weren’t chauvinistic, militaristic, racist, homicidal, transferist, etc. And I would never argue that my version of Zionism should be mistaken for the views of the majority or the mainstream. That’s why I think it’s not terribly useful to think anti-Zionists are doing or saying anything wrong or extreme in criticizing Zionism.

            Of course, that wouldn’t be the case if the criticism became anti-Semitic or eliminationist.

          • Bob Mann December 13, 2012, 3:23 AM

            Please don’t let Bibi and the settlers define Zionism. That may, regrettably, be “the Zionism that almost the whole world knows”, but the people who comment on a site that you run ought to by familiar with your version of Zionism. Certainly, if they are regular readers of your blog, they would know that you are someone who has gotten very angry when called an “anti-Zionist” and has explicated the strain of Zionism you adhere to, one that has nothing to do with Bibi or the settlers.

          • Bob Mann December 11, 2012, 11:19 AM

            “I’m no less an extremist than Avigdor Lieberman”

            Well said.

          • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2012, 2:07 PM

            You’re forgetting the speech contained elements that were quite pragmatic including reference to resistance only being a means & not an end to ending Occupation, and his praise for the UN strategy and diplomatic initiatives in general as long as they’re productive. This alone was a huge opening to the west & U.S., testing their sincerity in reciprocating in kind.

          • mary December 11, 2012, 2:25 PM

            Perhaps he understands more about zionism than you do, Bob.

            I will let you think I’m a full blown extremist, Bob, by telling you that I admire Meshaal and almost all Palestinians for their restraint and forebearance. Seeing what Israel has done to the Palestinians and their homeland has made me hope that Israel will collapse as a Jewish state and that this hideous occupation will come to an end. I honestly don’t know how my Palestinian friends can endure what they live with every day under Israeli occupation.

            I absolutely am awestruck by your apparent blindness to the extremism that has driven Israel’s hegemony since 1947, the racism, the greed, and the murderousness. Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the First Intifada, where Israel broke the arms, legs and hands of Palestinian prisoners as a matter of policy. Yet you call Hamas extremists. You really need to sit down and think.

  • shmuel December 10, 2012, 5:37 AM

    According to your above electronicintifada link, Mashal said:

    “Resistance for us is a means and not an end. I am speaking to the whole world through the media. If the world finds a means, without resistance or bloodshed, to return Palestine and Jerusalem to us, and the right of return, and to end the Zionist occupation then we welcome it. We tried you [the world] for 64 years and you have done nothing. So if we resort to resistance do not blame us. If we found another way without war we would have seized it, but the history of nations shows that there is no victory or liberation without resistance, without battles, without sacrifice. ”

    So what does he really mean? Does he want to fight Jews/Zionists/Israelis without killing them? What? Only maim them a little?
    He nowhere distinguishes between pre and post ’67, so how can he get “Palestine and Jerusalem back” without killing the “occupiers”? Does he think that 7 million Jews are going to get up and be transfered to all over the world?

    So this is the moderate voice of the Palestinians?

    Only the extreme right in Israel have ever talked about transfer, but here is a “moderate” being more extreme than any Israeli except Kahane and Zeevi – god help us from the extreme Palestinians!

    • mary December 10, 2012, 8:04 AM

      I find nothing wrong or extreme in what he said, and the Palestinians have every right to fight in any way they can, that is not violating international laws, to regain and return to their homeland.

      What he said is no more extreme than this:

      “Ben-Gurion “had a dream” to annex southern Lebanon to the “Jewish
      state”, and to establish a Christian state north of the Litani
      River. At the beginning of the 1948 war, he stated:
      ‘The Muslims rule of Lebanon is artificial and easily undermined. A Christian
      state ought to be set up whose southern borders would be Litani River. Then
      we’ll form an alliance with it.” In the coming years he
      repeated this idea, and according to Moshe
      Sharett, Moshe Dayan
      (who was Israeli’s chief of staff in the early 1950s) responded favorably to
      this idea and who according to Sharett said: “In his [Dayan] view, all we
      need to do is to find a Christian Lebanese officer, perhaps no higher than a
      captain, and win him over or buy him with money, so that he would declare
      himself the savior of Maronite population. Then the Israel army would enter
      Lebanon, occupy the territory in question and establish a Christian government
      which would form an alliance with Israel.” Sharett himself considered
      this an “awful” idea. (1949,
      The First Israelis,
      p. 10 & Righteous Victims, p.
      497)

      What’s ironic that this “awful” idea was precisely executed thirty years later by Manahem Bagin and
      Ariel Sharon during the Israeli invasion and
      occupation of Lebanon between 1982-2000.”

      http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Famous-Zionist-Quotes/Story695.html

      “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation,
      land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services
      to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”– David
      Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From
      Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar,
      Delacorte, New York 1978.

    • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2012, 10:20 PM

      @Shmuel: You yourself must know that the claim that “only the extreme right” have ever talked about transfer is false. That was certainly true back in the days when Kahane and a few crazy zealots were doing the talking. But now transfer-lite is part of Lieberman’s party platform and mainstream hawks like Moshe Arens and others proffer a version of a one state solution that would involve forced expulsion in order to gain the proper majority of Jews necessary to guarantee a permanent Jewish majority.

  • pabelmont December 10, 2012, 8:21 AM

    While people get unpleasantly excited by expressions of maximalist ambitions (even when made by people without the means to carry them out — Hamas), the very same people often do not get unpleasantly excited by the similar (but opposite) expressions by people with the undoubted ability to carry them out (Israel). Shame where shame is due.

    As to a second point: In the days when 2SS was widely spoken of, yes back then, it made sense to criticize leaders of both sides who failed to teach their constituents the need to accept disappointment in a negotiated outcome. Today there is nowhere any hope or belief in 2SS — except in the fairy tales of the American media and pols) and it no longer seems (to me) to be objectionable for Meshal to speak of Palestine from River to Sea. What harm does it do, and to whom? Does it make Israelis more intransigent? Couldn’t be. does it make Palestinians less willing to make an acceptable (“just and lasting”) peace? None has been on offer for 45 years and the settlement program bodes ill for any at all.

    • bluto December 10, 2012, 10:05 AM

      very well said

    • Bob Mann December 10, 2012, 11:10 AM

      Both approaches are an affront to peace.

      Interestingly, those who do promote peace and compromise are called “Quislings”, be they on the Palestinian or Israeli side of the fence.

  • Bob Mann December 10, 2012, 8:22 AM

    1. The so-called quote from Ben-Gurion is fake. You really shouldn’t be disseminating false quotes.

    From Wikipedia:

    The quote “We must use terror, assassination . . .” is false. It does not appear in the source cited (Michael Ben-Zohar’s biography of B-G), but only in secondary sources which purport to quote it from there. It does not appear in the Koenig Report either. There are plenty of revealing and outrageous quotes by Ben-Gurion, and other Zionist leaders. We don’t need to add false, and easily disproved ones; and doing so will only serve to discredit the genuine quotes too.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:David_Ben-Gurion

    2. I cannot believe you find nothing wrong or extreme in what Meshal said. Can you seriously mean that?

    • mary December 10, 2012, 12:41 PM

      Well, Bob, you yourself said there are plenty of other quotes, so you still get my point whether this quote was false or not.

      No, I don’t find anything wrong or extreme in Meshal’s speech, especially when I compare it to the lunacy coming from Netanyahu and his friends. Palestine has the right to exist. Its people have the right to fight for the return of their stolen homes and/or to be compensated for their loss. Under international laws those who are under occupation have the right to resist that occupation, including armed resistance. The Palestinians have no obligation to “recognize” that their occupier has forever stolen their homeland, and to make such a demand is lunacy. Why, Bob, do you think it is OK for Israel to steal Palestinian land but not OK for the Palestinians to even dream of getting it back?

  • Tibor December 10, 2012, 9:15 AM

    I actually agree with your (Richard) general appraisal that part of the extremism is political theatre and underlying it there is hope for positive outcomes. There is perhaps a meaningful likelihood that Gaza will go the way of the West-Bank (and before that the Israeli Arabs), namely a period of warring and trying to achieve ambitions by force that is followed by reconciling with realities and looking for some modus vivendi (the history of the world is loaded with examples here).
    Despite the rampant negative propaganda, often from outsiders who sit comfortably in their armchairs in London or Oslo and yell to the Palestinians: fight, fight, don`t relent and don`t yield anything to the “horrible Zionists”, the people on the ground are in a better position to appreciate the prospects of improvements in their everyday life through cooperation (which is usually denigrated too by the outside Palestinian “fans”).
    The upheaval in the region also pushes in that direction. If all Arab countries around are stable and doing well that is one thing but if not – and that`s what we have now – then your appraisal of your own position must become brighter.

    • Castellio December 10, 2012, 10:48 AM

      I don’t understand your last paragraph… what might you mean?

      • Tibor December 10, 2012, 2:13 PM

        Just plain logic – it`s all relative and in more than one way. If you in the West-Bank or Gaza and watch what goes on in Libya, Syria, Sudan, even Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and now also Jordan and you know that when you play it peacefully your situation is more stable than theirs would not it suggest a certain course of action. But there is another aspect too. There are huge problems for minorities in the Arab world – Christians for instance are often in fear in Egypt (the Coptic), they had huge problems in Sudan and in Iraq they have been all but wiped out (killed or left). In Israel Christians have nothing of that, so would not that play a role in the mind of a Christian Arab in Israel in regard to wishing the status quo to continue.

        • Castellio December 10, 2012, 5:00 PM

          You truly beggar the imagination, Tibor.

          First, I hadn’t a clue that is what you were trying to say. Secondly, if you really think that Arabs are about to look around and then say “Hey, we are best off in a Gaza without trade, regular heat, clean water, only occasional bombing…”

          I don’t think going through the history of minorities in Arab Middle Eastern nations will be appreciated by you, but let me just point out the following: many Lebanese Chrisitans are now aligned with Hezbollah, and it has to do with Israel’s regular bombing of their nation; and there were both Copts and Muslims at the demonstrations against the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. I guess I could add that the Palestinian Christians inside Israel have spokespersons in both Europe and the US claiming that they’ve become endangered by the actions of the Israeli state, and the days under Muslim rule are now part of a golden past.

          Does it suit you to think that the Lebanese, Egyptian and Palestinian Christians are all anti-Semitic; or would you entertain the idea that the racist supremacism of Jews in Palestine is bringing about a polarization with Jews on the one side and everyone else on the other?

        • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2012, 9:56 PM

          @Tibor: It warms the cockles of my heart when the pro-Israelists are so solicitous of the welfare of the Arab world. Offering the benefit of their centuries of wisdom on these subjects is the height of magnanimity.

          You actually have the temerity to claim that if Palestinians, who’ve suffered decades of mayhem inflicted by Israel, would play nice with Israel then they would live in a more stable world than the rest of the Arabs. That’s like saying if the Yankees played in Pittsburgh they’d be a terrible team instead of a perennial favorite. Of course they would, but so what? It’s a total non sequitur.

          Using the fact that Christian Palestinians don’t live in fear for their lives while Christians do have such fears elsewhere is also no argument at all. The minority that suffers most in Israel is not Christians, but Muslims, whom you’ve conveniently left out.

          • Deïr Yassin December 11, 2012, 3:23 AM

            “The minority that suffers most in Israel is not Chrstian but Muslim”
            Richard, I’m not sure neither Azmi Bishara nor Ameer Makhoul do agree. I think they’ll say that as soon as you stand up for your rights as Palestinians, Christians and Muslims are equally discriminated and harassed.
            I also remember having read on various occasions that Christian Palestinians are treated harder in Israeli prisons – a fact noticed by Muslim and Christian prisoners – because the Israelis tend to see Christians as potential partners. This has been confirmed by Chris Bandak who was released during the prisoner exchange last year and expelled to Gaza.
            And I wonder if Tibor includes Paul Salem Sweilem, a Christian, killed during the last attack on Gaza…..

          • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2012, 6:01 PM

            Yes, I agree, but I was speaking of purely religious oriented harassment. I think Israel is harder on religious Muslims than on religious Christians. But in terms of political oppression, every Palestinian suffers equally.

          • Bob Mann December 11, 2012, 3:33 AM

            I am also curious to know what evidence you have to support your claim in the last sentence:

            “The minority that suffers most in Israel is not Christians, but Muslims”

            I am not sure you are aware of this, but Christian clergy in Jerusalem are often spat at by yeshiva boys.

          • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2012, 5:59 PM

            Bob, the evidence of Muslim oppression in Israel is one of the major themes of this blog. Yet you ask for evidence? Mosque arsonist, Death to Arab slogans, prison for imams, rejection of appointment of Muslim clerics by State bodies, demolition of mosques. Need we say more?

          • Bob Mann December 11, 2012, 7:56 PM

            All of what you describe has happened to Christians as well. In fact, it was not long ago that a church in Jerusalem was burned to the ground in a primarily ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. There are also extensive reports of harassment of Palestinian Christians by Jewish Israelis, some of whom have been known to spit on Christian clergy members.

            I would also add that a “Death to Arab” slogan is not an example of “Muslim oppression” but rather an expression of hatred that impacts all Arabs, be they Muslim, Christian, or otherwise.

          • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2012, 12:56 AM

            @Bob Mann ONE church was burned while MANY mosques have been burned, many Muslim cemetaries desecrated. As for the spitting, yes of course the Haredim spit on Christian clergy. They’d spit on imams if they could get away with it without causing a riot. There are far more Muslims than Christians so they may be more circumspect.

            And those settlers who write “death to Arabs” next to “Muhammad was a pig” don’t hold Islam in special contempt??

          • Bob Mann December 12, 2012, 3:25 AM

            I think Christian Palestinians and Muslim Palestinians are treated similarly poorly. The nastiness tends to be directed at Arabs regardless of their religion.

            You cited “Death to Arabs” as an example of Muslim oppression not “Muhammed was a pig”. Obviously the latter remark is directed at Muslims, but the first one could equally apply to Christian or Muslim Arabs.

          • mary December 11, 2012, 3:56 AM

            I think Tibor was fantasizing about Israeli domination of Arabs, and how those “pet Arabs” would be so happy for Zionist patronage and would be the envy of all the other great unwashed savages in the middle east.

          • Davey December 11, 2012, 4:24 PM

            Right — it’s not a moral argument certainly. Pals have been playing nice with Israel for decades: In my view, the PA is a sort of Judenrat for keeping calm while land is confiscated and rights stolen. Yeah, I’m one of those armchair fighters living abroad. Absolutely. But I’m not a fool.

  • bluto December 10, 2012, 10:03 AM

    “They would free Marwan Barghouti from an Israeli prison so that he could become prime minister under Meshal and lead a true unity coalition”

    This is the most important sentence Mr Silverstein has ever written, IMHO. This is the key to ending Israeli ‘Divide and Conquer Strategy’ and an end to quislings like Fayyad (Eliot Abrams’ choice as next Palestinian Quisling) or Abbas, the used up current-Quisling

    Marwan Barghouti speaks English and is the true Israeli nightmare – if he succeeded Mashaal, or heaven forbid, was elected Palestinian president within Israeli jail (something Shimon Peres is already on record as saying would be sufficient for his release) – this would effectively turn into his role as 1st president of the One State, one man on vote from the river to the sea

    • Deïr Yassin December 10, 2012, 10:45 AM

      Why is speaking English important ? A part from the fact that MEMRI couldn’t mistranslate his statements :-)
      Marwan Barghouti speaks fluently Hebrew, isn’t that much more important ?

      • bluto December 10, 2012, 11:14 AM

        [Because English is the international language – which is also good thing for us Americans who barely speak American (or only a smattering of a few others). We don’t get ‘MEMRI translations’ of him on the news – IOW]

        Attempts of me trying to be funny aside – I think Barghouti might be the better president than Mashaal – and of course Barghouti’s Hebrew is important (and even more so if he ends up a One State president).

        But hey – I’ll take Barghouti as a PM in a pinch or to spring him from jail – ha. He can be the President to follow Mashaal, if need be –

        Speaking of language – have you seen Avigdor Lieberman at the Saban Forum (google if interested – it’s available at Mondoweiss – Lieberman starts at around minute 13:00)? – he’s speaking in heavily Russian-accented English and does not quite strike the ‘Southern California red-tiled roof Jewish-neighborhood sunny slickness’ of a Netanyahu

        Lieberman comes across as a crude thug – comes across as an obvious ‘OTHER’ for Americans/the world – unlike Netanyahu. For this reason I think Avigdor Lieberman would be the ‘Perfect Storm’ PM of Israel as Apartheid is being dismantled. The face of Israel Apartheid personified – being an illegal settler himself.

        People would ‘BDS’ Israel just to get rid of Lieberman – as such he is my dream candidate to be at the helm presiding over the dismantling of Apartheid. The poster child of Israeli Apartheid

        I can just literally see PM Lieberman banging his shoe on the lectern at the UN, red-faced and angry, yelling at the world while Apartheid is being dismantled from underneath his unshod foot

        • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2012, 10:02 PM

          You are so right. Making Lieberman PM would be like making Jorg Haider President of Austria. It would mark the death knell of Occupation (at least).

  • Deïr Yassin December 10, 2012, 10:18 AM

    @ Richard
    Mahmoud al-Zahar was at the Rafah-crossing with Ismail Haniyeh receiving Khaled Masha’al when he arrived in Gaza (just behind him in this photo) and is quoted by Ma’an (and France24 and others) on Masha’al’s return to Palestine as a victory.
    http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=545819
    I’m not too surprised though: Al-Zahar has been somewhat out of line often lately: when Khaled Masha’al confirmed the Hamas support for PA’s UN-bid, al-Zahar said the contrary, and when Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Al-Nunu, and the deputy chief, Abu Marzouq, denounced the dragging of a body through the streets, al-Zahar dismissed the criticism.

    Concerning the translation: this has become such a frequent ‘mistake’ that it can’t be a mistake any longer. Palwatch ‘mistranslated’ the exactly same word – not the verb but the derived verbal noun ‘muqâtalah’ as ‘killing’ instead of ‘fight’ in a speech by the Mufti of Jerusalem at a Fatah-meeting back in january . The verb ‘qatala’ (to kill) and ‘qaatala’ (to fight) are indeed from the same root but the present tense and the derived nouns are so different that this must simpy be deliberate. I heard the sentence in Masha’al’s speech and no mistake is possible. I wonder who did that translation in the first place. MEMRI is offering its services for free……

    • Bob Mann December 10, 2012, 11:09 AM

      Curiously, you do not criticize the use of Zahar rather than al-Zahar throughout the original blog post. For some reason, you thought that disqualified me from speaking on any topic related to him.

      Incidentally, I appreciate you correcting the record here to indicate that he was indeed present at the arrival of Meshal (whose name is apparently also spelled wrong in all posts written at this site).

      • mary December 10, 2012, 12:51 PM

        Bob, Arab names are written phonetically, hence Mishal, Meshal, Meshaal, Mashaal. Just as Morsy, Morsi, Mursi. There is no right or wrong way to spell them.

        • Deïr Yassin December 10, 2012, 1:17 PM

          @ Bob Mann
          YOU’re the obsessive nitpicker around here. So if you’re capable of nitpicking in various comments on whether Khaled Masha’al has ever been to Gaza or not, when he left the West Bank, went to Kuwait etc, you should at least do your nitpicking-homework all the way through. The ‘al’/’az’ in Al-Zahar’s name is at least as important as the year Masha’al left for Kuwait…… but you didn’t get that ironic hint, did you ?

          Yes, Al-Zahar was present when Masha’al arrived in Gaza but I think Richard is right about what he wrote. I hope he has further informations, because I realized that no pictures have been taken of Masha’al and al-Zahar together since then. They didn’t drive into Gaza in the same open car, that may of course be a coincidence, they didn’t pray together during the rally. As al-Zahar is a hard-liner, he’s maybe not too happy about Masha’al’s new line, leaving Syria (another topic where al-Zahar has expressed a different point of view) for Qatar etc.
          I’ve always appreciated Masha’al and I’ve had personal sympathy for al-Zahar- in spite of the fact that I don’t share his world view – because he’s had great personal loss, and because I know from someone who knows him as a friend and a collegue (Al-Zahar used to be a surgeon) that he’s a very kind man.

        • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2012, 10:00 PM

          I have to admit that I am sometimes loose about transliterations from foreign languages. Others have told me that the precise spelling, for example, of the title of my blog should be “Tikkun” Olam, not Tikun, as I spell it. There are certain academic rules for transliteration which I admit I don’t follow.

          But unlike some, I don’t think this is a hanging offense.

          Thanks for correcting my error in Al-Zahar’s last name. That again derives from my lack of knowledge of Arabic.

  • bar_kochba132 December 10, 2012, 11:07 AM

    Quote:
    ———————————————————————————————————
    That means to me that there was a certain element of political theater in Meshal’s speech.
    ———————————————————————————————————

    Ah, yes, the return of the old “Orientalist” view that says “you know Arabs, they don’t really mean
    what they say.”
    Is it logical to say that Mashaal is lying to his own people, but is telling the truth in supposedly “moderate” statements to Western reporters? But who is he going to have to
    live with in the end? The reporters, or his own masses? After the 20th century’s history of totalitarian
    propaganda, can’t you understand when YOU are the one being lied to?

    • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2012, 10:06 PM

      @bar kochba: No dingbat. Not “Arab,” but politicians. Apparently, you never saw the memo that every intelligent person in the rest of the world has read, saying that politicians are wily and cagey about what they say, what they do, and they mean.

      I didn’t say Meshal was “lying.” Any more than Bibi was lying when he “endorsed” a two state solution. Are you claiming that Bibi actually does favor a two state solution? And if not, what was he saying that was any different than the statements Meshal made?

      20th century totalitarian propaganda?? Gimme a break. More of the Hamas=Nazis lunacy. You’re a broken record.

  • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy December 10, 2012, 12:53 PM

    Artticle says:
    “If Obama continues to reject Hamas, he runs the risk of maintaining a U.S. policy that becomes so out of touch with reality on the ground that events take their course without this country being able to play any meaningful role.”

    I thought that the US Foreign policy in the Middle East has been so out of touch with reality since it has been taken over by the Isreal Lobby decades ago…..am I missing something here?!

    • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy December 10, 2012, 12:59 PM

      To add to the above: If the risk is to be surprised again in the future, so what would the result be? That the US might not have its only Unsinkable air carft carrier? What are the risks of keeping an Israel Lobby-designed US Foreing Policy? How can Obama or any other US President go against the Israel Lobby given the status of the American Democracy?

    • Tibor December 10, 2012, 1:58 PM

      Everything, Dr Soudy, you are missing the whole thing. It is misconceptions of this type that have derailed the Arab world for so long. Try to keep a more open mind here – not for the sake of the US or Israel but for those that you care about.

      • mary December 10, 2012, 3:17 PM

        What a bizarre comment, Tibor. What misconceptions are you claiming Dr. Soudy has? That there is something called the Israel lobby? And that it pours money into the pockets of the US Congress to compel it to protect Israel’s interests, even to the point where Americans’ interests are subordinated?

        Not only does Israel occupy Palestine, it occupies Washington DC.

        • Tibor December 10, 2012, 3:28 PM

          So it seems Mary you share the same misconceptions. Believing that the entire political establishment in the US is “for sale” and it is all about money represents a very shallow way of thinking.

          • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy December 10, 2012, 3:50 PM

            Your comments really make me laugh. You provide no substance AT ALL in what you write. Both Mary and Ari Brand (below) have asked you to provide a substance to your comment if you can!

            My comments above are questions that I would love for Richard to answer. Why does the US need to play a meaningful role in that part of the world or any other part for that matter? Why not leave the people who live there to manage their own lives? Why does America support Israel even if that harms the US interests and increases anti-Americanisms? I would love to hear answers to my questions..

          • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2012, 9:45 PM

            @Tibor: Perhaps you’ve not heard one of the wisest sayings ever coined on this subject from Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

            Actually, it’s quite true. But I think Mary was focused more on Israel than on the entire gamut of U.S. politics. Special interests own the Congress. That’s common knowledge. Even more so after the Citizens United decision. But on Israel, the Congress and president are virtually in lockstep & their views aren’t parallel to those of the rest of the country. Not that the rest of the country is anti-Israel. Just that they’re far more skeptical than the pols in DC.

          • mary December 11, 2012, 12:15 AM

            In a sense they are indeed for sale, Tibor. It’s called lobbying. A representative of a special interest group, foreign country, citizen organization, whatever, goes to Washington and visits the offices of its representatives in Congress or the Senate, and persuades them to provide their support to that group.

            AIPAC is only one group that does this for Israel. There are others.

            An appalling example of their power is their reaction to the publishing of the Goldstone Report. Within one hour after receiving it, the vast majority of Congress took a vote condemning it. The report is about 500 pages long; obviously, they could not possibly have read it.

  • Arie Brand December 10, 2012, 3:00 PM

    I have another Ben Gurion quote for Bob Mann and he can perhaps tell me whether it is correct or not (if it isn’t it is so common sensical that it should be). It allegedly comes from The Jewish Paradox by Nahum Goldmann (founder and long time -1948-1977 – president of the World Jewish Congress) – a book I don’t have a copy of:

    “One day, or rather night, in 1956 I sat up at his house till three in the morning. … That night, a beautiful summer night, we had a forthright discussion on the Arab problem. ‘I don’t understand your optimism,’ Ben Gurion declared. ‘Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwiztz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it’s simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out.’ ” [p. 99]
    “That was Ben Gurion all over: he had told me that so as to show how well he knew in his heart that Israel could not exist without peace with the Arabs, but his stubborn, aggressive, unbending character prevented him from following what his own intelligence told him. The best proof of that is that having lost his grip on power his intelligence reasserted itself; he even became a ‘Goldmannite’, declaring that all the occupied territories except Jerusalem should be restored.” [pp. 99-100]

    • mary December 10, 2012, 3:27 PM

      What I was trying to point out is that what has come out of the mouths of Israeli leaders is far and away much more extreme than what Meshaal has said.

    • Bob Mann December 10, 2012, 5:21 PM

      That quote does appear in Goldmann’s memoirs, I believe. Here is a favorite Ben Gurion quote of mine:

      “We do not wish, we do not need to expel the Arabs and take their place. All our aspirations are built upon the assumption — proven throughout all our activity in the Land — that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.”

      In any case, I don’t want to stray too far off topic exchanging Ben Gurion quotes. I would love to get other people’s thoughts on Meshal’s recent speech. Some have said here that there was nothing wrong or extreme in his remarks. Would you agree?

      • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2012, 9:43 PM

        @Bob Mann: Ben Gurion’s memoirs or whatever you quoted from are one thing. What he actually DID in 1948 is another thing entirely. Words are cheap. Deeds are the currency of the realm.

      • Deïr Yassin December 11, 2012, 3:43 AM

        @ Bob
        You forgot to date your Ben Gurion-quote. It was in a letter to his son Amos in 1937, the exactly same year he stated in a speech, accepting the British proposal for partition of Palestine:
        “The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce Transjordan, one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today but the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people, and no external factor will be able to limit them”.
        In the twenties, BG even wrote a book with Yizthak Ben Zvi claiming that the Palestiian fellaheen were the indigenous descendants of the Jews who stayed in Eretz Israel.

  • Arie Brand December 10, 2012, 3:09 PM

    What exactly is Ibrahim Soudy missing Tibor?

  • Arie Brand December 10, 2012, 5:35 PM

    Look Bob Ben Gurion was making Meshal’s point for him. So the quote fits perfectly in this thread.

    Anyway, I think Meshal’s is an ambit claim to start negotiations with. I must say though that I have never quite understood why “the whole world” now accepts it as self evident that Israel can retain the 26 % of the then Mandate territory it acquired in the war of 1948. To retain land acquired through war is against international law even if the other party is the aggressor (which is by no means certain in this case).

    • Bob Mann December 11, 2012, 3:35 AM

      So, to clarify, you are suggesting that Israel has no right to exist as a country even were it to withdraw from the West Bank entirely? I don’t want to misrepresent your views. Is that a fair and accurate statement of your opinion?

      • mary December 11, 2012, 4:14 AM

        Actually, Bob, if one were to follow the law, it possibly doesn’t. But that is purely academic because Israel exists and will continue to do so in some form or another. Personally, I don’t think countries who have acquired land by conquest in modern times (20th century – present) have a right to exist, especially when they continue to annex land and thumb their noses at international laws forbidding it. I don’t care what kind of holy book or ancient texts they wave at the world, what kind of sad history they have. A civilized world must have some boundaries as to what countries can and cannot do, but it seems that Israel has exempted itself from any such boundaries while demonizing the people it is so busy killing and stealing from. This is not only mendacious, but it supports the beliefs of its society that it is entitled to do whatever it wishes in order to reach its goals, including bombing civilians, assassinating persons without legal process, and exerting financial and political influence outside its borders. It shamelessly peddles hasbara on US university campuses and raises money for the IDF on US soil. It gifts US politicians with gifts of money and cushy “junkets” to vacation spots in Israel. What would people think if, say, China did these things?

      • Arie Brand December 11, 2012, 2:25 PM

        Bob, who said that Israel has no right to exist as a country? I was talking about the 26% of the pre-1948 Mandate territory Israel acquired through war ON TOP of the 52 % it had been allocated in the UN partition plan. That UN partition plan was, as some have argued (eg Francis Boyle), itself of dubious legality and outrageous unfairness (more than half of the territory to then one third of the population that had mostly only recently moved in) but that is what the then “world community” decided. That extra 26 % is another matter. It is always conveniently overlooked on the Israeli side that even an acceptance of the 1967 borders implies a huge concession by the Palestinians.

        • Davey December 11, 2012, 5:14 PM

          I believe it’s 56% by partition and 22% that is “extra” gravy from the 67 banquet.

          • Arie Brand December 11, 2012, 6:56 PM

            Over time I have seen different figures quoted. Here is one from a website called eHow:

            “At the end of WW II, in November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved the partition of the Palestinian territory between the Arabs and the Jews coming to Palestine from Europe in the wake of the Holocaust. The Jews were to possess 52 percent of Palestine, though they made up only 31 percent of the population.

            Read more: Partition of Palestine & The Causes of WWII | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_7391948_partition-palestine-causes-wwii.html#ixzz2EnnPeoGH

            Wikipedia mentions that in the original plan it was 56 % but it also mentions that there were some changes after this and fails to report how the percentages were then.

          • Davey December 11, 2012, 10:37 PM

            It’s small potatoes for discussion, but I have seen 56%/22& pretty much consistently, though I have no idea if it is correct.

    • Arie Brand December 11, 2012, 3:37 PM

      I wrote that Meshal’s claim was an “ambit claim”: “Ambit_claim In negotiation, an ambit claim is an extravagant initial demand made in expectation of an eventual counter-offer and compromise.” (Wikipedia) This was somehow changed into “ambitious claim”.

      • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2012, 5:32 PM

        Sorry. Will change that back. I’d never heard the phrase.

        • Davey December 11, 2012, 10:39 PM

          Obviously, the same root. “Ambit” – an intereting word.

  • Robert Mullen December 10, 2012, 10:34 PM

    In my more demented moments I consider that negotiations may lead to peace or to a path worth pursuing that goal. In my occasionally less demented state it seems to me that is not going to happen in my lifetime (which will be used up sooner than I would want) as: The present administration and possibly its successors A.) Do not want peace; B.) are not about to give up a square millimeter of occupied territory; and, C.) Do not want peace. The left wing be damned. Sorry.

    • Daveu December 10, 2012, 10:51 PM

      That’s right. Look at the words, then look at the actions. Israel intends to be co-extensive with the whole of Mandate Palestine and Israel intends to obliterate the Palestinian life in this area, whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes. It makes no difference what is said and never has. Nothing could be more obvious. Any native Palestinians who would not lean toward violence or strong passive resistance, at least, is probably not breathing. How can anyone with a conscience not reach out to help these people so utterly punished and undone by Zionism. Zionism has become, if not always was, the most vile ruthless specious nationalism of our time, and as execrable as any historical nationalist precedents. It deserves active opposition of any kind. Israelis will need de-Zionizing. What is there to argue about? Look at a map.

      • Bob Mann December 11, 2012, 3:37 AM

        I’m sorry but are you suggesting that “anyone with a conscience” must reach out to help Palestinians even if they lean toward violence?

        What do you mean when you say Israelis will need “de-Zionizing” ?

        • mary December 11, 2012, 4:22 AM

          D’oh, Bob, are you seriously saying that it is not human or normal, or not justified, to respond to violence with violence with violence? Would you not reach out to Israelis, who sure as heck are very violent??

          Dezionizing is a great idea and it is the only way Israel will survive in the long term, IMO.

        • Davey December 11, 2012, 10:04 AM

          “De-Zionizing” would mean the separation of the mythology of a “chosen” people from actual claims to other people’s actual property, the re-education of those people who think that rights are created by fantasies and contrive to build a real nation on the mythology without regard to the occupiers and indigenous peoples of the projected state. Jews never owned more than 8% of Palestine ever: The rest was seized from other people entirely. Reparations are due.

          • Bob Mann December 11, 2012, 10:39 AM

            I really don’t think you have any understanding of what Zionism is.

          • Davey December 11, 2012, 4:32 PM

            Zionism is today incarnate in Israel — the exclusive right of the Jewish people to the whole of Palestine. It has religious and political branches and long arguments about this and that, but it is now an ethnic nationalism reigning over Palestine and any peoples subject to it. Bob, what did I miss?

    • Castellio December 11, 2012, 1:09 PM

      I take your latter thoughts to be an accurate assessment, Robert.

      Wihtin that context one would have to say that the early Zionists were right: the Palestinians, the historical majority population, are now hoping for maybe 10 percent, in real terms, of their native land. The Zionists assume the next chapter will be no different from the preceding chapters over the last 100 years until, at the end of the book, Israel decides to open a Museum commemorating its once vibrant Palestinian population, labelled in Hebrew, English and Russian.

  • Davey December 10, 2012, 10:54 PM

    Daveu is Davey

  • Tibor December 11, 2012, 8:13 AM

    @Deir Yassin
    Regarding the relationship between Israel and the Christian Arab citizens in it I think you need to distinguish between time periods here – it is in the recent decade or so that things changed meaningfully (and for the better). The real and immense plight of Christians in Iraq following the 2nd Gulf war and the Arab Spring in its Egypt segment where Moslem extremists harassed the Coptic, made a palpable difference in this regard – it downed on Christians how precarious is their situation in the increasingly Islamist environment in the Arab and that it is only as long as the “Israel status-quo” is retained that they face no likewise threat and dangers (in fact even in the PA itself many Christians left Beit-Lehem, not because of Israel, but harassment by fanatic Moslems).
    Regarding Azmi Beshaara and like-minded Christian Arabs as Ameer Machul, who were indeed vehemently anti-Israel, those events were mainly before the last decade. But I agree that it is still an intriguing question why was that so in those times? My guess for that comes from the psychological realm. Some Christian Arabs families, in Nazareth and Haifa mainly, were some kind of elite in pre-Israel Palestine- highly educated and very rich (owned a lot of properties – and in fact some still do). Overnight, in 1948, they felt as being “dethroned” – a new “elite” arrived, which, unfortunately, often made the grave error of looking down on Arabs as a whole. That was an insult they could not bear and so responded accordingly. With time, mainly so in the recent decades, many in Israel, Jews and Arabs, matured in that regard.

    • Deïr Yassin December 11, 2012, 10:56 AM

      @ Tibor
      Neither your stuff on the Christian Arabs in Israel (who mostly call themselves Palestinians !) not your crap about the Christians in Bayt Lahem convince anyone. It’s simply pure BS that you must have picked up on through Zionist brainwashing or maybe you’re just parroting the OP-Ed by Michael Oren in the WSJ on the-joy-of-being-Christian-under-jewish-rule …. If you want any response, Ma’an News published plenty of reactions, also by Israeli Christian Palestinian ciitizens.
      So Azmi Bishara, Ameer Makhoul and blahblah was mainly before the last decade and now everything is fine ? When did that decade start ? And when did Judge Salim Joubran refuse to sing the Hatikva ? When was his daughter held up at the airport for hours ? Last decade ? Scandar Copti refusing to represent Israel at the Oscars, when was that ?
      If Christians are leaving Bayt Lahem, it’s mainly because of the Wall which makes their life impossible, and Christian villages have been very touched by land confiscations in the area. Why don’t you google Wadi al-Makhrour, Cremisan, Beit Jala, Al-Walajah, Aboud, and tell us what you’ve learnt ? Or see that documentary on Christians in the Holy Land by Bob Simon, the one Michael Oren tried to stop CBS from airing . And it’s really not going far enough, in fact it’s still full of pro-Israeli bias, such as claiming that the Wall is built on the Green Line, but for Amarican MSM, it’s a beginning.
      Don’t waste your hasbara on me.

      • Tibor December 11, 2012, 12:28 PM

        @Deir Yassin
        OK, I give up. Just an anecdote. Ameer Machoul (whose name you raised) created in his student times a lot of troubles (which he continued to do all his life up until the last decade or so) and at some point was brought before a university disciplinary committee. The verdict: one semester away. I was on that committee…

        • Deïr Yassin December 11, 2012, 3:37 PM

          Oh, poor Israel. Ameer Makhoul created a lot of troubles ? He didn’t play the role of the Happy-Christian-Arab that you’ve set up for him ? His brother created lots of trouble too, didn’t he, when he proposed that bill about closing down Dimona. Wasn’t he the first one ever to speak about Dimona in the Knesset ? Long live Issam Makhoul, a proud Palestinian trouble-maker !
          And here three proud “Christian Arabs” from Nazareth: Samir, Adnan and Wissam Jubran. How come they claim to be Palestinians !
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OegFKCgRdU

        • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2012, 5:47 PM

          @Tibor: Yes, Makhoul “created a lot of troubles.” He was the equivalent of the uppity Nigra to use the Southern vernacular. He wanted full rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel. That IS troublesome!

          • Bob Mann December 11, 2012, 7:50 PM

            Ameer Makhoul admitted to contacting a foreign agent, conspiring to assisting an enemy in a time of war, and aggravated espionage for Hezbollah.

          • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2012, 12:58 AM

            @Bob Mann: I don’t give a friggin’ crap what he “admitted to.” No Palestinian tortured & imprisoned by Israel for security offenses has free will to do anything. They can “admit” to being the Dalai Lama for all I care. Nothing is reliable in this system of “justice” including admission, confessions, etc.

            You ask me to go easy on you & then try to pass off nonsense like this as legitimate argument?

          • Bob Mann December 12, 2012, 3:30 AM

            OK – but I would appreciate it if you would keep our private correspondences private.

          • Deïr Yassin December 12, 2012, 12:14 AM

            @ Bob
            Yeah, and you claim you’ve been reading Richard’s blog for years, but you still don’t know anything about the Israeli judicial system, what a plea bargain is, and why Palestinians accept to plead guilty.
            What a joke !

    • mary December 11, 2012, 11:18 AM

      You utterly amaze me, Tibor, you are just beyond the pale. You assert that Christians in Jerusalem feel safe in Israel from “fanatical Moslems.” Then, in your next breath you say the Christians were “out-classed” by upper crust Jews and chose to leave Palestine.

      Come up with some links. I just can’t wait to see them.

    • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2012, 2:11 PM

      It is a LIE to call Bishara or Makhoul “vehemently anti-Israel.” If you mean they oppose a Jewish supremacist society & State, yes of course they do. But that doesn’t mean they oppose Israel. In fact, they’re in favor of a truly democratic Israel, but not a religious-dominated State. Watch your overwrought claims & make them factual & provable.

      Christians in the Arab world is NOT the subject of this blog & discussions of it, outside of Israel-proper, are off topic.

      And please stop psychologizing or analyzing the Christian Arab community in Israel or societal developments within the Palestinian community. Your analysis sounds half-baked.

      • Tibor December 11, 2012, 3:09 PM

        OK, I understand. It seems that I have no choice but to start my own blog on Israel. See you there…

  • Randy December 15, 2012, 7:58 PM

    Does anyone have a link to an accurate English translation of the full text of Meshaal’s speech ? Thanks !

  • mary December 15, 2012, 11:26 PM

    Richard Falk’s excellent piece on Meshaal’s visit:
    http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/hamas-khaled-mashaal-and-prospects-for-a-sustainable-israelpalestine-peace/

    “There is posed a fundamental question: what is the true voice of Hamas? There seems to be a sharp contrast between the fiery language of Mashaal’s words spoken at the anniversary demonstration in Gaza and his far calmer and accommodating tone in interviews and other statements in recent years. The more hopeful understanding would suggest a gap between the emotional occasion of the speech and the more rational views consistently expressed elsewhere. Such an explanation is the opposite of the Western insistence that only the rally speech gave expression to the authentic outlook of Hama. In contrast, I would accord greater weight given to the moderate formulations, at least for exploratory purposes. Put differently, in Gaza Mashaal was likely expressing a maximalist version of the Palestinian narrative relating to its sense of legitimacy while in more reflective arenas, ever since the entry of Hamas into electoral politics back in 2006, its dominant emphasis has been on pursuing a political track that envisioned long-term peaceful co-existence with Israel, a sidestepping of the legitimacy issues, at least once the occupation was definitively ended and the rights of Palestinian refugees was recognized in accordance with international law.”

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