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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2007 arrow June 21, 2007

June 21, 2007

On June 15, 2007, OPEDNEWS.COM published my interview with Dr. Mona El-Farra:

From Gaza with Love and Words Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword,

NOT because Rob, the Editor agreed with it;

But, because he disagreed with Dr. El-Farra's one state position.

Rob is a good Jew and the first Editor to give me a chance; he has also taken a lot of flack from his congregation for his steadfast upholding of FREEDOM of SPEECH and the independent thought of his writers.

Dr. El-Farra's commentary published yesterday by the Austin American Statesman is the lead article today.

What follows that are the views of an Israeli and Palestinian who are Co-CEO's who work in respectful harmony at IPCRI/Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information in Jerusalem.

Respect and Harmony is a necessity to birth reconciliation;

And only through reconciliation can we begin the world again.

In clean up position is an email from ISM: International Solidarity Movement that underscores:

The root of the violence in the Holy Land:

Is THE OCCUPATION which has entered its 40th year!

Palestinians Must Have Hope to Move Forward
Mona El-Farra, SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR
 http://www.statesman.com/opinion/content/editorial/stories/06/20/20elfarra_edit.html

June 20, 2007

As a physician from Gaza, I have treated far too many Palestinians wounded by Israeli troops. Now a day has come that I thought I would never see.

Throughout our 59-year struggle to obtain our freedom, we Palestinians debated strategy and tactics. Political factions competed for popular support. But never would I have believed that we would turn guns against each other. What brought us to this point?
 
In 2006, Hamas won free and fair elections on a platform that promised clean and efficient government. But Israel and the West meddled with our democratically elected choice by imposing devastating economic sanctions. How would Americans feel if a foreign power expressed its dissatisfaction with your elected government in this way? Our economy and our livelihoods have been destroyed, reducing many of us to poverty.

At last, we exploded with a desperation born of decades of oppression, lack of opportunity and loss of hope. We brutalized each other over the crumbs of power. The shame is ours — but the responsibility is shared between reckless Palestinians and external powers that turned the screws on our people.

Israel might have removed its soldiers and settlers from Gaza in September 2005, but it still controls Gaza from the sea, air and land. The borders are mostly closed according to the whim of Israel, transforming Gaza into an enormous open-air prison for its 1.4 million people, half of whom are children. Too many of these youngsters suffer from the stifling effects of violence and hunger. Their future is dangerously circumscribed by the chaos and uncertainty that envelops us.


To thrive, Palestinians need access to the sea and to commerce. Most importantly, our people must be imbued with a sense of hope.


Sanctions imposed after the election of Hamas made hard lives harder, but we must not forget that even under the "moderate" leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas we did not control trade in and out of Gaza.


"There is a seeming reflex," United Nations peace envoy Alvaro de Soto said in a report, "in any given situation where the UN is to take a position, to ask first how Israel or Washington will react rather than what is the right position to take."


Washington's bias toward Israel is significantly responsible for the appalling situation in which we find ourselves.


Yes, we Palestinians must accept blame for our perilous situation. However, Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr has correctly declared, "If you have two brothers, put them in a cage and deprive them of basic and essential needs for life, they will fight." The fact that we would sink to this level is perhaps the surest sign of the terrible damage meted out to us over the years by dispossession and occupation.


When one is in a hole, it is imperative to stop digging. If we are to win our freedom, surely it will not be done with one brother digging the grave of another. The violence, therefore, must stop. That is our first responsibility as Palestinians and we must meet it immediately. And the United States and the international community must end the sanctions that deprive us of our basic needs and our hope for a better future.


The Israeli leadership brandishes our plight as evidence that we cannot govern ourselves nor be trusted as "peace partners." White South Africans similarly claimed that black South Africans were incapable of self-governance. In the last years of apartheid, more than 250 blacks were killed in black-on-black violence each month. Yet decency and equality eventually prevailed in South Africa. Apartheid was vanquished and the world learned that black-on-black violence was an outgrowth of apartheid — not an indication that black South Africans were incapable of self-rule and undeserving of rights.


We, too, have the right to be free. But we must first free ourselves from fighting over the scraps of power.


Like oppressed people everywhere, we yearn for our rights. Out of this ugly period, we must promote a new vision of equality for all peoples living on this land, regardless of race or religion.


El-Farra is a physician in the Gaza Strip. 

To read my article, From Gaza with Love and Words Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword:

http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_eileen_f_070614_from_gaza_with_love_.htm



GERSHON BASKIN, THE JERUSALEM POST
 Jun. 20, 2007
 
Copyright 1995-2007 The Jerusalem Post -
http://www.jpost.com/


The tragic events of last week in Gaza provide us with a new opportunity to reconsider the future of our region and the chances for some kind of future accommodations between Israel and the Palestinians.  There is no doubt that many of the readers of the Jerusalem Post will see the brutality of the Hamas takeover as the final proof that the Palestinians will never live in peace with Israel. The Hamas victory in Gaza provides us and the more moderate Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and the allies of peace around the world to reexamine the current reality and to put us on a new course that could bring us towards peace and stability.

Gaza is lost, for the time being. The Palestinians of Gaza, both the supporters of Hamas and their opposition have to live with this new reality. Gaza will be detached from the world. Israel and Egypt have both sealed Gaza's borders, but sooner, rather than later, the world, and Israel, will have to consider how to deliver food and medical supplies in order to prevent a colossal humanitarian disaster. At the same time, Israel and the world should consider how to save the West Bank from a similar fate.  An Iranian-Hizbollah supported Hamas entity on Israel's border is a danger to the stability of the entire region and threatens not only the immediate neighborhood.  Both Jordan and Egypt are threatened by the Hamas victory. Israel and Palestine are the backyard of Europe and the local threats extend to there as well.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has taken the first positive steps by dismissing the unity government headed by Ismail Haniyeh and appointing Salam Fayyad to head a non-Hamas government made of professionals and moderates. Abbas has also called for international forces to be stationed in Gaza.  It is unlikely that the international community will heed that call, but the Arab League could be called on to station forces in Gaza and Israel should agree to that proposal.

Abbas now has an opportunity with a new government to re-enlist the diplomat and financial support of the international community.  The focus should be on creating a new reality in the West Bank that includes non-interrupted permanent status negotiations with Israel on the creation of a Palestinian state, first in the West Bank and later in Gaza (when the reality there changes for the better).  Abbas should be encouraged and pressured to implement sincere governmental reforms including the Palestinian security forces and the collection of all unauthorized weapons in the West Bank.  New Parliamentary elections should be conducted in the West Bank with the participation of political parties that accept the previous agreements between the PLO and Israel and renounce the use of violence.

In order to encourage positive Palestinian steps, Israel must show its peaceful intentions by announcing a freeze on the separation barrier in all areas beyond the green line, freeze all settlement building, remove checkpoints and road closures within the West Bank and return to the new Palestinian government the $700 million of tax revenues held by Israel.

The Palestinian and Israeli peoples have lost all trust in peace and in peace processes.  The fall of Gaza has only strengthened those sentiments amongst all Israelis.  Dramatic steps are necessary from both sides to rebuild any public support, on both sides, for peace.  While both peoples desire peace, they have little faith that peace is possible. Certainly, any positive step on one side should be strengthened by positive steps on the other.  Personal security, which is at the top of the agendas of both sides, can only be promised when it is mutual.  While Israel is the stronger of the two and could be expected to take first steps, with the great instability and internal conflict within Palestine, it is unlikely that the Government of Israel will be forthcoming prior to seeing some concrete Palestinian steps towards peacemaking. One step that should be easy for Abbas to take is a renewed declaration and policy to outlaw all forms of incitement against Israel and Jews. This could be strengthened with the appointment of a professional committee to reexamine Palestinian text books and to make a commitment to teach the students of Palestine that Israel has a right to exist.  Israel should do the same and the Israeli Ministry of Education should issue a declaration that Israeli schools should also teach that the Palestinian people have a right to a State that will live in peace next to Israel replacing the Israeli occupation.

The recent developments enable the European Union to also consider dramatic steps that could contribute to a peace process and to the end of the spread of Islamic political radicalism in the region. The EU has always searched for its role and has been shy in the face of US hegemony on political processes in the region. The EU has the possibility to provide the people of Israel and Palestine with a powerful incentive, strong enough to rekindle a belief in peace and the desire to work towards that goal: EU membership.  Israel and Palestine could be offered to enter into a process of membership in the EU, which like Turkey could take ten years. The offer would be conditional on fulfilling the Copenhagen guidelines for membership - democracy, respect for human rights, economic and legislative reforms, and the resolution of and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Membership would granted only as a package deal - Israel could not join without Palestine joining. Both sides would have to make great efforts to fulfill the conditions but the potential rewards could provide enough hope and promise to finally motivate the Israeli and Palestinian publics to support the kind of concessions that are necessary to reach and to implement peace agreements. The dream of becoming part of the new Europe, with stability and security and open borders has the potential of providing the light at the end of the tunnel that Israeli-Palestinian peace alone apparently could not do. 


The writer is co-CEO of IPCRI, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information.


<http://www.jerusalem-times.net/main.asp?edition=586>


This Week in Palestine ... Behind the News with Hanna Siniora

June 18, 2007

The damage that many Palestinians feared -  took place, no excuses; we all share in the blame. Hamas heavily tarnished its image, as a democratically elected movement, by resorting to brute force to resolve the power struggle resulting from its sweeping electoral victory in January 2006. Up to the military putsch that led Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, the movement had the democratic and moral high ground. The impatience of its radical elements and its alliance with extremist regional partners might bring about the possible demise of the first Arab Islamic party that came to power through the ballot box.

Hamas now, although it has military supremacy in Gaza, has lost the support of civil society in Palestine. The public was horrified at the barbaric atrocities committed by the military militias. Hamas has undermined the democratic process and allowed a combination of forces, internally and externally, to seek its elimination.

President Mahmoud Abbas was constantly blamed for indecisiveness, but Abbas knew that whoever resorted to force will lose legitimacy and the backing of his people, as well as the Arab world and international community. Hamas radicals have committed political suicide by allowing civil war and usurping power by force. President Abbas with the backing of the majority of his people was finally forced into action.

Abbas dismissed PM Ismail Haniyeh and appointed a new cabinet headed by Dr. Salam Fayyad to repair the damage that divided the future Palestine into two entities, Gaza under the military domination of Hamas, and the West Bank under the legitimacy of the presidency and the PLO. PM Salam Fayyad emergency government, according to the basic laws of the PLC, have a  mandate of 30 days that can be renewed up to 90 days by avoiding a constitutional showdown with Hamas majority in parliament. Ninety days are not enough for the emergency government to repair the damage of the past fifteen months. President Abbas and legal experts have to look for legal means to extend the mandate of the emergency government, at least, up to the end of the presidential term in 20 months. This the period necessary for Fayyad to deal with the political and economic damaged, also in order to repair and stabilize the internal collapse. PM Fayyad immediate concern and full attention should be focused on preventing the collapse of the security in the West Bank, institutionalizing the security force to serve the nation and not individuals and parties, provide the basic needs and services to the Palestinian people in Gaza, irrespective of the illegitimate Hamas control, to work on  preserving relations with Gaza despite the political nuances. The Palestinian economy should receive the primary attention, plans prepared while Fayyad was Finance minister should be implemented, as international sanctions are being lifted.

Hamas as emotions simmers down has to revert to rational behavior, should remove weapons and masked militias from the streets of Gaza and observe and implement the rule of law. Assassinations of political and security rivals should cease immediately. As soon as possible Hamas should accept the dismissal of Ismail Haniyeh and his cabinet to begin to seek reconciliation. Hamas has two alternatives to preserve its place as a political movement. In the first place Hamas future is not as a military force, its strength is political, it has to renounce violence to prevent Gaza from sinking deeper into violence, otherwise it will give the hard line military in Israel the perfect excuse to try to eliminate the Hamas movement by force, already such plans are being discussed by the new Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.

Secondly if sane forces in Hamas prevail, it should avoid further radicalization and military confrontation, to prevent being snuffed out by force. The Algerian experience should be fully understood by Hamas and Fateh, everybody loses in a civil war situation The Palestinian supporters of Hamas as well as the Palestinian people at large will become the victims, if the present rift is allowed to deepen. The national aspirations of the Palestinian people for self determination and independence will receive a major setback and the suffering will escalate.

Now, Hamas has to work in earnest with the special Arab League committee that was set-up recently to repair relations and heal wounds. Hamas have to consider seriously early elections to avoid a constitutional impasse, in order to regain public confidence. If Hamas is so sure of public support, it should stop the process of early elections. In addition, the release of the BBC journalist from captivity should be one of its first acts of restoring law and order in Gaza. Hamas, if it is serious to show that it supports the recent statement of Ismail Haniyeh that Hamas accepts a Palestinian state in the borders of June 4, 1967, should release the captive soldier Gilad Shalit, via the good offices of President Abbas, it will help it to reverse negative public opinion worldwide.

The President, should be firm and resolute, he was forced to act, but should keep in mind that he was elected to look after the welfare of his people, all his people. Abbas has to work toward reestablishing internal dialogue, economic reconstruction, massive reform and an end of occupation. This is a tremendous agenda, no one except the President has this mandate, let us all support him and pray that he may succeed.

Mr. Hanna Siniora is the Palestinian Co-CEO of IPCRI - the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information  www.ipcri.org <http://www.ipcri.org/>



Date: Jun 19 2007
From: ISM Media Group


Statement from Hisham regarding factional infighting and upcoming Freedom Summer Campaign

"In ISM, we have the respect and protection of ALL the Palestinian factions. In the last few days, I had a lot of phone calls from Europe and the United States, asking if we are still having the summer campaign or not. My answer was, "yes we need you now more than ever!"

Salaam for everyone,

It is no secret what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank now. As Palestinians, we have been through worse situations. In 1982 something like this conflict also happened in Lebanon between the Palestinians.


Also in 1999, there was a conflict between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, most of the Hamas people were put in prison.

Because we have been through this before, we know that we must get through it again, together as one people, Palestinians.

Recently, this conflict appeared with Palestinians fighting for control in the Gaza Strip.

Some think it is a conflict of who wants the control and power in the Gaza Strip, others think that it happened because some people want to fight the corruption in the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, others still think it is a result of pressure from other countries.

The result of this conflict is that Gaza is under the control of Hamas and the West Bank is under the control of Fatah.

As Palestinians, we believe that Hamas and Fatah are not representing the will of all the Palestinian people and because of this, we come to the big question. Why is Gaza under control of Hamas and the West Bank under Fatah if we do not feel they represent all the Palestinians?

The answer to this question is that nobody can deny that we are still currently under occupation.

Because Hamas and Fatah are the only strong military groups in Palestine, it is easier for them to enforce their will upon the entire population. All of this happened while we are under occupation.

The history of the Palestinian people shows, and we teach this in ISM training, that the majority of the population wants to live honorably and in a non-violent way. Even if part of the population supports military resistance to the conflict, it is only because we see the violence and injustice of a military occupation on a daily basis.

We must know that the Fatah and Hamas groups are part of the Palestinian people and as I wrote above, sooner or later they will sit together and they will solve the differences between them. This is the only way, they have no other choice because we will never become a divided people.

In ISM, we have the respect and protection of ALL the Palestinian factions. In the last few days, I had a lot of phone calls from Europe and the United States, asking if we are still having the summer
campaign or not. My answer was, "yes we need you now more than ever!"


We do not want the internal Palestinian problems to overshadow the daily injustices of the occupation.

That's why we need you here for the summer campaign, to show solidarity at demonstrations against the wall which is confiscating land and destroying livelihoods, to video tape and intervene in settler attacks against Palestinians, to monitor detentions and abuse at checkpoints, to document what you witness through reports, photography and video and to create fun projects for children. The Popular Committees in the regions have requested your presence here in Palestine because you are still very much needed.

We hope that the conflict between Palestinians will end soon but we need the non-violent resistance to continue until the occupation ends.

All of you are welcome in Palestine.


I LOVE YOU ALL
Hisham


   
 
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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



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