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WATCH: Why does a Palestinian speak at a J Street conference?

A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak at J Street’s Making History conference. The first panel they wanted me to join was about the Palestinian perspective. I was also asked to moderate a session on Palestinian citizens of Israel. I had no hesitation when I accepted both requests. I was happy that a large Jewish crowd was interested to learn about the Palestinian perspective and to pay attention to the Palestinians citizens of Israel.

American Jews hear much about Palestinians but many have not had the chance to meet them directly and ask about their views, beliefs and passions. These panels are important if we are to correct stereotypes about the Palestinian community. Even lefty Jews must not just speak about us or “learn” about us, but speak directly with us and learn about our lives from us.

Therefore, it is essential for more Palestinians to come to these kinds of events. I know that some Palestinians criticized us for speaking at J Street. However, shifting public opinion and spreading awareness about the Palestinian cause will not happen without engaging Jewish and Christian communities.

I have attended the J Street conferences for the past 3 years and have met many Jewish, Arab and international activists who work tirelessly to end the occupation. I am not always in agreement with J Street. I spoke at the panel of my disappointment at J Street’s decision not to support the September 2011 Palestinian statehood bid at the UN. Last year, I wrote about feeling that J Street wasn’t open to hearing other voices, and too focused on the two-state solution. However, I was encouraged to see some changes this year.  J Street was willing to invite speakers who do not support the two-state solution or didn’t fit neatly within their political views. For an organization that supports an open conversation within the Jewish community, it is vital that they don’t silence those who disagree with them.

J Street’s efforts are remarkable, but it is organization swimming against the current. The two-state solution is losing momentum on every side. Many Israelis see no harm in the current status quo. Palestinians are shifting toward the one-state solution and America has not been leading the peace process for over a decade. The challenges before J Street and two-state solution supporters are monumental.

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    1. palestinian

      @Tal ,I expected that question.Did your grandparents took permission from the indigenous population before they immigrated/invaded Palestine ?Were they part of the Zionist movement?Did you meet my forefathers ?

      Your last paragraph says that you believe that Jews have the right to live in Palestine (for being Jewish),so back to fairytales.As I said previously to Ayla ,we (indigenous population and colonists) arent equal in this conflict ,you have no right to the land,we decide who has the right to immigrate to Palestine not the colonists.Remember you are part of the Zionist colonial project,you inherited the loot ,you dont own it…I hope you got my point.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Sinjim

      @Ayla: I reject the notion that in order to speak to Palestinians and Jews, one must say one thing to one group and something else to the other. It’s that soft bigotry of low expectations rearing its head again. If one can’t be consistent in one’s principles, then one is just pandering. I refuse to believe you can’t stand up before a Jewish audience and credibly speak to them about the right of return, the plight of the refugees, the plight of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, the plight of the people of Gaza.
      .
      The bottom line is that Aziz, despite his supposed disagreements with JStreet, offered that group nothing but words of love and respect. In contrast, he offered nothing but vitriol and misrepresentations in the pages +972 for the Palestinian civil society groups who work on the ground and in the diaspora.
      .
      Aziz has positioned himself as the Reasonable Palestinian in contrast to all the other anti-peace radical palestinians out there. This was a panel titled Palestinian Perspectives, yet it focused only on the one slice of Palestinian society that liberal Zionists don’t find uncomfortable. The rest of us were left outside in the cold, and that’s the whole point. That’s the Reasonable thing to do.
      .
      You’ve indicated you’re OK with this, presumably exactly just as Aziz is OK with Palestinians being indefinitely imprisoned without charge or justification. That’s the price of the “goal” that we all supposedly share, right? We Palestinians just have to grin and bear it. For the sake of peace.

      Reply to Comment
    3. AIG

      Palestinian and Sinjim,
      .
      Your position is very similar to a Jew demanding that the 6 million Jews murdered in Europe be resurrected before there is peace. Because how can there be peace without justice? And doesn’t justice mean bringing back to life the 1.5 million Jewish kids murdered by the Germans?
      .
      After a certain point, things are not reversible. That is the case of the Palestinian refugees. They are not going back to their original villages and cities, it is just impossible. I know you don’t want to accept this, but you are exactly in the same position as a Jew demanding the resurrection of the victims of the Nazis.
      .
      I can make all the arguments you are making. Who are the Germans to say that the Jews cannot be brought to life? They are the oppressors. What about the rights of the dead? Don’t they have the right to life?
      .
      The arguments are all neat and tidy, but in the end all they amount to is denial of reality and that has consequences. The issue of the refugees should have been solved in 1948, but the Arab world was unwilling to negotiate anything with Israel for decades. In 1948 Israel was very weak and that was the time to get it to make concessions for a peace agreement. But since the Arabs then insisted like you now that Israelis are colonialists that have to go, they gambled on an all or nothing solution. And sometimes these gambles go bad and you end up with nothing.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Henry Weinstein

      @ Palestinian
      Factual question: which Promi… Sacred Land is described in the Holy Scriptures (Torah & Bible)?
      Existential question: on which ground do you deny Jews the right to live on their Sacred Land?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Henry Weinstein

      To Sinjim, for information: my answer to your “But not a single one of you has an answer” has been at last published (3:30pm).
      Good read!

      Reply to Comment
    6. Leen

      I must say to Palestinian, I must say, I wouldn’t have a problem with Jews living in the holy land, only on certain conditions ofcourse, that the right of return is honored and upheld, first to deal with that, then we can move on to Jewish immigration. Secondly, both must be treated equally, no discrimination, no nothing, and no racist supremacist or separatist attitude can be tolerated within the holy land. We would be equal citizens, nothing less, not oppressor and oppressed, or colonizer and colonized. Though, I do still believe Jerusalem should be granted autonomy on religious basis (similar to the Vatican).

      @AIG, you forgot one tiny, tiny thing. Germany has been paying reparations to Jews and Israel because of the Holocaust. Jews are also allowed to return to Germany, to live, and if one of your parents or grandparents is German, you are also allowed to adopt German citizenship, which can never be withdrawn unless you become a naturalized citizen of another country. Anyone who denies the Holocaust ever took place or even comes close to that is automatically jailed in Germany. The Holocaust is very much entrenched in the German consciousness.

      Can we say the same for the Nakbeh?

      Seriously, Israel can start by respected humanitarian law through respecting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which were drafted as a result of the Holocaust) and the Geneva Conventions. Currently, Israel is in violation of many articles of UDHR and the GC.

      Reply to Comment
    7. AIG

      Leen,
      .
      I didn’t forget anything. The fact that Germany has paid reparations only makes your point weaker as Palestinians refuse reparations in lieu of the right of return.
      .
      Furthermore, the German Jews were already citizens before the war, so Germany is not giving them anything because of the war.
      .
      And who denies what you call the Nakba? Israel refused to accept the refugees after the 1948 war because it would have been suicide to accept them.
      .
      As for your harping on humanitarian law it is quite laughable given the fact that not one Arab government lives by these laws or even attempts to do so including the two different governments of the Palestinians. So you are arguing for laws that you do not plan to follow anyway, just like Assad demanding the Golan back based on international law while never dreaming of implementing it inside Syria. When Hamas acts according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let me know.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Miki

      @SINJIM – as usual, well said!! And also well done for having the patience and fortitude to continue to even bother to argue with normalisers like Abu Sarah.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Leen

      AIG,
      Actually as it was outlined in Article 11, Resolution 194
      The main Article of Resolution 194, for the purpose of this article, is Article 11 which deals with the return of refugees.
      Article 11 of the resolution reads:
      (The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

      This is currently not upheld by Israel.

      I usually don’t like to compare the Nakba and the Holocaust together, because they are different in many ways and similar in other ways. But since we are on the subject, the refugees were also ‘citizens’ of said country and fled/forced out because of the oncoming troubles.

      And please, we are discussing Israel here, not other arab countries. Stop trying to direct the conversation on something else, because you want to distract the conversation from the fact that Israel violates many, and I do mean, international laws, including…

      Article 13 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights
      1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
      2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
      Presently as this stands, meaning all internally displaced refugees and externally have every right to go back to their country of origin. Israel currently do not respect these two articles.
      Article 11 of Resolution 194
      The main Article of Resolution 194, for the purpose of this article, is Article 11 which deals with the return of refugees.
      Article 11 of the resolution reads:
      (The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.
      This has not been uphold by Israel either.
      Article 12 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
      No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.
      Again, this is not upheld by Israel.
      Fourth Geneva Convention
      Article 45 This provision shall in no way constitute an obstacle to the repatriation of protected persons, or to their return to their country of residence after the cessation of hostilities.
      Israel is in violation of this.
      Fourth Geneva Convention
      Article 49
      The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
      Israel is also in violation of this with its settlements.

      Reply to Comment
    10. palestinian

      Ya Leen ,I would love to see a mutli-religious Palestinian society but I object a binational state which I used to support (because its the only solution that implements our ROR without asking anybody to leave).
      After living in a mutli-cultural city(as they prefer to call it) for 2 months where people have one thing in common which is that they have nothing in common (beside artificial values,humanity,running after money bla bla bla )I discovered I dont fit in those communities,I want to live in a country where Touqan family is a well known family not Cohen family ,where a taxi driver keeps insisting on you to take a cigarette (although I cant stand smoking around me),thats how I choose to live, a warm Arab Middle-Eastern oriental Palestine not a deformed pseudo-European state.

      Reply to Comment
    11. AIG

      Leen,
      .
      First of all, the law you quote states that only refugees wishing to live in peace would be allowed to return. Given that the Palestinians did not want to negotiate a peace puts them possibly outside the law.
      .
      You did not get my point about international law. International law is not the word of God. It is a system I may choose to follow if I think it is in my interests. And if very few people in my neighborhood follow it, and I have no guarantee that if I act according to it others will also, I have no desire whatsoever to participate in this farce of a system. So you can keep quoting international law till the cows come home, but since it is a system I don’t believe in, you are wasting your time.
      .
      The way I see it, you are using international law in an hypocritical manner. Lead by example. Make the West Bank and Gaza shining examples of how a country run by international law looks like, and then let’s talk. Otherwise, why should I believe you will abide by international law?

      Reply to Comment
    12. directrob

      Do not forget that the absentee laws that deprived Palestinians of their possessions are not valid under international law. That implies that refugees that own land or other possessions in Israel can claim compensation for the use of their possessions and can also reclaim their possessions. In practice that means that they are owed much more that the current economic value. In build up areas that can mean spectaculair amounts of money for the ground alone. The same is true for the West Bank.

      Reply to Comment
    13. “Israel refused to accept the refugees after the 1948 war because it would have been suicide to accept them.”
      .
      The Haganah drove these people from their homes because it was considered impossible to establish a Jewish homeland with them present. Today I’ve been looking at some of the expulsion orders that were issued for different villages and towns. Yitzhak Rabin wrote, “The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age” – an order that I always find especially harrowing, as I know some Lydda refugees and I’ve heard what that order meant for them. One elderly woman described to me how people drank their own urine to give them the strength to keep walking. The state was built on happenings like this. You ask who denies it. The Israeli education system, for a start. Open a textbook, and you won’t find the Nakba in there. There used to be a mention of it (in a 2007 edition of an Arabic-language book aimed at eight and nine-year-olds) but it was expunged by the Education Ministry under Gideon Sa’ar. In 2009, the phrase ‘ethnic cleansing’ was removed from a twelfth-grade Hebrew-language history textbook after an Education Ministry investigation. When Sarid proposed the inclusion of two poems by Mahmoud Darwish in the curriculum, back in 2000, his proposal led to a vote of no confidence that the Barak government only just survived. Dispossession and loss are recurring themes in Darwish’s work, and these aren’t welcome topics in Israeli classrooms. Nakba denial is pervasive enough to wobble the Knesset. If you want to see it in an even more aggressive form, you have only to look at the efforts of Im Tirzu. This is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be talked about openly – but it won’t happen at J Street.
      .
      “I didn’t forget anything. The fact that Germany has paid reparations only makes your point weaker as Palestinians refuse reparations in lieu of the right of return.”
      .
      The refugees have never been offered reparations, so they’ve never had the opportunity to refuse them. You also misconstrue what they’re really asking for: the freedom to choose. Contrary to popular myth, millions of people are not going to flood back to Palestine en masse – even those who are most impoverished. They’ve formed new lives for themselves. Belonging is a complex thing; you can have an allegiance to more than one place. They won’t all uproot themselves from what they know and love now just like that, and they aren’t trying to recreate the past. But there is a significant difference between choosing not to go back and being forcibly prevented from going back, even for so much as a visit. To receive the choice is to receive some freedom, and they have a right to that.
      .
      Israel actively encourages Jews to come and live in Israel under the Law of Return, providing generous financial incentives to the guy with one Jewish grandparent or the girl who converted last week. The average J Street attendee can look forward to a whole package of oleh benefits if they decide to move. The elderly lady I mentioned before doesn’t have that. Sinjim doesn’t have that. They don’t even get a corner at J Street – its ideological outlook means that it excludes large numbers of people who have been directly affected by this conflict.

      Reply to Comment
    14. AIG

      Vicky,

      Really, the “new historians” led by Benny Morris have documented the things you quote. Any person mildly interested in the subject can find their books in any library in Israel.
      .
      And you are under the illusion that if the Nakba was taught in Israeli schools it would change anything. Just as American kids do not care what happened to Native Americans, neither do Israeli kids. They are busy SMSing and listening to their music. They just do not care what happened 62 years ago. They remember the second intifada and the rockets.
      .
      The refugees were not offered reparations because it never got to the situation where they were in principle willing to discuss this. No Palestinian leader has ever said “let’s discuss reparations instead of the right of return”, they just say that the right of return is sacrosanct. As for the freedom to choose, you don’t really expect Israel to agree to anything without knowing exactly what the consequences are? The Palestinians should say how many want to return as part of the negotiations.
      .
      I don’t understand your point about the Law of Return. Israel has a right like any country to decide on its immigration policies. You may not think they are fair, but you don’t get to decide them since you are not a citizen of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    15. AYLA

      @Sinjim–I agree: we should never say different things to different groups. However, when you make the same argument to different audiences, the nuance and emphasis of that same argument changes; you frame it differently. For example, if Aziz were speaking to a Palestinian audience, he wouldn’t say he was for Israel’s interests. This wouldn’t be because he was hiding something or talking out of both sides of his mouth; simply, he says this to JStreet because he’s about to say many things that Israel and AIPAC deem anti-Israel, so he’s countering his opposition to begin with, which is what one does when one is making a good argument. Otherwise, we just preach to the choir, which is what many activists do. I’m always trying to figure out how to reach outside of my own bubble with my own arguments, and when I do, I always make the core (with whom I agree) angry. I don’t care because it’s a waste of my energy if the only people listening to me are people who already agree. And it’s a tough crowd out there.
      *
      I don’t know how on earth you can say that Aziz is “Palestinians being indefinitely imprisoned without charge or justification.” It’s a rather sick charge, given his personal losses due to inhumane injustices in the prison system. I also don’t know where you’re getting that “that’s the price of the “goal” that we all supposedly share.” Overall, I find you reading into a lot of things and extracting things that don’t resemble what anyone is saying, let along thinking or feeling. If you want to quote me back to myself, then I’ll learn how to communicate better, and/or you can try to read with a bit more benefit of the doubt.
      *
      You also can’t say it’s Aziz and “the rest of us (Palestinians)”. I know plenty of Palestinians involved in the i/p dialogue who are in Aziz’s camp, including two people who voiced their opinions on this thread. Each individual on any side has subtly differing opinions, so of course I’m generalizing when I say there are two camps, but to be sure, the camps are not Aziz vs. the Rest of the World.
      *
      Aziz and Barghouti both criticized JStreet and Israel and the Occupation and the system and etc. at the JStreet conference. They also set the people asking questions straight. It seems that a few nods early on re: having Israel’s interests in mind along with Palestine’s really colored the way that you heard what they said. They also said that many Palestinians were already on to One State, and etc., indicating that there were many well-repesented Palestinian Perspectives not represented by the three of them.
      *
      It is true that they were offering Palestinian perspectives (plural, not singular) within a certain spectrum of perspectives. I think this is bound to happen when people with more radical perspectives wouldn’t even want to speak to JStreet, and if they did, it wouldn’t be to encourage dialogue, but to give a speech bashing Israel. People can give those speeches, and write those editorials, and many JStreeters will actually read and listen with interest, but it wouldn’t serve the purpose of the conference. Personally, I find JStreet to be, often, weak and boring (Settlements are bad; Two States are good…). However, knowing how things work in the U.S., I appreciate that they are doing what they have to do to have a true impact, and grow their audience and membership so that more people will learn enough to want to learn more. Should their vision for this region be The Vision? No. For one thing, they’re American, so, No. Can they influence people in a way that makes your vision more possible? Yes.

      Reply to Comment
    16. AYLA

      @Palestinian–I kind of can’t believe I’m going to get into this, but…: are you saying you believe that Jews have no true history on this land? And regarding the fairytales, I’m curious: do you believe in the idea of Holy Lands at all? Is Mecca holy to Muslims? Is this land holy to Christians and Muslims? If so, you’d be hard-pressed to make an educated argument that this land is not holy to Jews. None of that makes anything about the Occupation okay. But you’re hurting our ability to end the Occupation when you deny Jewish connection to this land (See! They say we have no right to Exist! etc…).

      Reply to Comment
    17. Leen

      Whoa there, you do realize the refugees where civilians, were not part of any factions, resistant or military groups? In fact Deir Yassin before it was brutally massacred, was actually a Jerusalem village that was neutral on the whole Zionist/British/Palestinian/Arab thing going on, and look what happened to them… the rest is history.
      Resistance fighting from refugees only came around after 1967. That resolution was drafted in 1948.. So your claim that these refugees did not want to live in peace is false, unless you can provide me academic resources that says otherwise.

      AIG, I’m glad to see you atleast admit that you have no intention of honoring human rights. The world needs more people like you.

      Also, West Bank and Gaza are occupied and under blockade. If occupation ceases and Israel pulls out from West Bank and removes the blockade, then we can start talking about what human rights are currently being breached by those territory. And also, who exactly is ‘you’?

      Reply to Comment
    18. Henry Weinstein

      Hey you Sinjim & Palestinian, I posted things – answer & questions – to your criticisms. And I’m still awaiting your intial reply!!
      Is this thread a space for debate or a self-centered diary for you??

      Reply to Comment
    19. Sinjim

      @Ayla: You know what I had written out a really long comment responding to you, but it’s seriously not worth it. Partly because this conversation has officially become boring, and partly because I want to see if anything comes of this alliance with self-identified Pulitzer Prize nominee Ray Hanania (link: http://www.kabobfest.com/2010/01/ray-hanania-was-not-nominated-for-a-pulitzer-prize.html).
      .
      I will only say that Aziz explicitly said that “it’s OK” for Palestinians to be imprisoned by Israelis because that’s the “price of freedom” or some such nonsense. He said this shortly after declaring he is pro-Israel, and he said this knowing full well that Hana Shalabi is dying in your jails, Ayla, knowing full well the number of Palestinians who are rotting in your prison cells without charge or on charges they’re not guilty of.
      .
      Don’t tell me that this sort of rhetoric is necessary in order to connect with Zionist audiences. And, friendly advice for the future, don’t throw the suffering of another Palestinian in the faces of your Palestinian interlocutors, especially when you’re wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Cortez

      Ayla – “I kind of can’t believe I’m going to get into this, but…: are you saying you believe that Jews have no true history on this land? And regarding the fairytales, I’m curious: do you believe in the idea of Holy Lands at all? Is Mecca holy to Muslims? Is this land holy to Christians and Muslims? If so, you’d be hard-pressed to make an educated argument that this land is not holy to Jews. None of that makes anything about the Occupation okay. But you’re hurting our ability to end the Occupation when you deny Jewish connection to this land (See! They say we have no right to Exist! etc…).”
      .
      Its not that Jews don’t have a connection to the land, it is that they …specifically Eastern European Jews…don’t have a supreme exclusive power to control the land based on religious ancestry. They immigrated to the land with different language, culture and even a different form of Judaism and forcibly removed many of the indigenous residents on the basis of religion, culture and ancestry. That is pure fact.
      .
      The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if the conflict would even exist which I doubt, would be very different if the situation had involved (a) Palestinian Jews (those Arab and Sephardic Jews) asserting control over “Palestine” and (b) without the exclusion of the other religious and indigenous groups. The blatant and cruel colonialism aspect would be missing along with cultural and linguistic disconnect that you find in the current situation. You might have something like Lebanon or Syria or Egypt or something even more favorable…and it would be your run of the mill country with a minority ethnic group (they don’t have to be minorities if they recruit) running the show. That includes an assortment of other problems but nothing like this.
      .
      And if there is a sole “Jewish claim,” then Palestinians would therefore be included since somewhere around 90% of Pals (if I believe DNA test and archaeologist) are of Israelite descent…making them halachically Jewish under today’s Jewish law. However, there has never been an effort to include Palestinians in any shape or form in the larger dream of zionism and judaism religiously.
      .
      In addition, Palestinians have a claim to the land that includes Jews, Muslims and Christians, or conversely Arabs, Europeans or other ethnic groups present before 1948. It acknowledges that many people have connections to the land.
      .
      Jews have a connection but its one that includes Palestinians…

      Reply to Comment
    21. @Sinjim
      “Aziz explicitly said that “it’s OK” for Palestinians to be imprisoned by Israelis because that’s the “price of freedom” or some such nonsense”

      If you want to claim that you are an expert on nonviolence then you better start reading those who were successful at it. My comment is in line with the words of Martin Luther King jr and Gandhi. I hope you’ve heard of them and that you learn from them if you believe that nonviolence is the way forward. They always said that If you choose nonviolence, you need to know the cost and be willing to pay it. If you go to protest, you need to know that you might be poisoned. Unless you willing to make that sacrifice then stay home. Are seriously thinking you can do nonviolence and have Israeli soldiers hug you and kiss you? You seem to have no conception of what is nonviolence.

      Anyway, I would ask you to quote me instead of adding words to my mouth about Nakba and refugees. Don’t add words to what I said. It is disingenuous to claim that I said things that I didn’t.

      Now, for your claim that I don’t represent Palestinians. Lets remember that over 80% of Palestinians supported president Abbas’s bid at the U.N bid for a Palestinian state within the 1967 border. According to you, these people have no right to express their opinion. shame on you for trying to silence the voices of majority of Palestinians.

      As Ayla said, I explained that not all Palestinians support two-state solution. The difference between me and you is that I believe that your views should be represented while you think that mine don’t. You are part of a minority, I believe. you seem to have a problem with freedom of speech and with those who disagree with you on how to be a “good Palestinian representative”. Well, I support a Palestine where all Palestinians entitled to freedom of speech. Sorry that you disagree.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Sinjim

      @Aziz: Now you’re just making stuff up.
      .
      Thanks for the condescension about King and Gandhi. I know who they are, and I have read their words, which inspire me. That has nothing to do with the fact that you said “it’s OK” that Palestinians are imprisoned. Around minute 42:45 in fact, since both you and Ayla have claimed I’m lying. You said “it’s OK.” Talk about the cost that Palestinian heroes pay, talk about what the Israeli government does to them, talk about how this is what happens whenever a people rise up against an inherently oppressive and racist system of government, and you could count me among the people who have nothing but praise for you. You did none of that. Instead, you called yourself pro-Israel and brushed it all aside by saying “it’s OK.” No, what’s happening to Hana Shalabi is not OK, what’s happening to Bassem Tamimi is not OK, what happened to Amir Makhoul is not OK.
      .
      Let me say that I might have been wrong about what you said about forgetting the past. If I jumped to conclusions on that, I apologize. Yet that doesn’t change the fact that you literally said nothing about the effects of the victims of the Nakba, the refugees, or about Gaza. You and Barghouti are guilty of this. The Palestinians outside the West Bank were completely absent from your talk, and were mentioned only because Zionists asked about them.
      .
      As for representing Palestinians, firstly, let me say that the 80% figure is only of Palestinians under occupation. As far as I’m aware Palestinians in refugee camps and elsewhere in the diaspora weren’t polled, once again demonstrating how sidelined so many Palestinians are.
      .
      Secondly, I was among the Palestinians who supported the bid. Despite my distaste for him, I appreciated what Abbas had to say about the Palestinian experience at the UN. So you don’t know the first thing about me, Aziz.
      .
      Thirdly, and this is something that you’ll never admit to your Zionist audiences, when Palestinians say they accept a two-state solution, they do not mean a compromise on the right of return or the Jordan Valley or the presence of foreign troops in the state. The phrase “two-state solution” means something completely different from what you let your Zionist audiences believe. I am more than happy to support a two-state solution in the Palestinian vision with a full right of return, full sovereignty over all of the West Bank, E. Jerusalem, and Gaza, and equal rights for all Palestinian citizens of Israel.
      .
      Fourth, I never once said that Palestinians who disagree with me have no right to voice their opinion. I said that you represent only one slice of Palestinian society, and that the panel titled Palestinian Perspectives didn’t mention or discuss at length any of the Palestinians outside of the West Bank, i.e. the majority of Palestinians regardless of their political opinions. That doesn’t mean I want you to shut up, for godssakes. I mean, you accuse me of putting words in your mouth, and then here you are doing exactly that with me.
      .
      This is exactly what you did when you took to this website to attack the Palestinian call for a non-violent movement of boycott, divestments, and sanctions. You never addressed their actual points. You set up strawman arguments and then knocked them down to the cheers of various Zionists in the comments. Here you claim, like the Reasonable Palestinian that you are, that you support free speech and close by telling me, the radical anti-peace palestinian, “Sorry that you disagree,” even though I don’t.
      .
      Congratulations, you have reached new heights of Reasonableness! Would that all Palestinians become as Zionist as you!

      Reply to Comment
    23. @Sinjim
      You are funny and I occasionally enjoy it. Not today thought.

      you say that I do represent a segment of Palestinians and you agree that I have the right to say my opinion and you are not trying to shut me up then you call me a Zionist to discredit my views. … Can you see a contradiction?

      you are using quite a few fallacious arguments “Ad Hominem”and “Fallacy Of Extension”… just naming a few. you continue to attack me instead of my positions and when you attack my position, you exaggerate and distort what I say.

      I really want to discuss the issues with you but I cannot do it when you are using fallacious arguments.

      For example,

      I compared Palestinian prisoners to Gandhi and you took out of it that I am fine with them being in prison. Can’t you see the context?

      Reply to Comment
    24. Palestinian

      @Ayla, in Christianity Jesus was born ,baptized,raised up ,crucified and murdered in Palestine ,does that mean Christians from Honolulu can invade ,massacre ,steal ,occupy and humiliate us ? Is that your “personal” “innocent” American Jewish zionist narrative that you consider different from the elder zionists’ ?!

      Reply to Comment
    25. AYLA

      Cortez–like I said, not an excuse for anything. Can we try to discuss one specific point without conflating and making so many gross assumptions?
      *
      Palestinian–also like I said, not an excuse for anything. It sounded like you were denying the history, and I was checking that. Not sure who you’re quoting when you put “innocent” in quotation marks? Given your loose reference to the Elders of Zion, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion, I’ll end this discussion.
      *

      Reply to Comment
    26. AYLA

      The time is now for Palestinian justice on this land. In fact, the time is now for many scales to tip on this earth, and it’s up to us which way they tip. We can fight together, or against each other. If we fight against each other, we will all lose; I’m sure of it. If we fight together, we can all live on this land together, in the ongoing process of democratic equality. We’ll also be richer for each other’s cultures and histories, within which there is a lot of shared culture and history as well as a lot that is gloriously different. I don’t blame any Palestinian for not wanting to fight with an American Jewish immigrant to Israel. And yet. I pray that more and more–born here, not born here, diaspora Palestinians and Jews–will join this fight, together, if not for our sake, for the Land herself.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Palestinian

      @Ayla,you don’t like people denying your fairytales and hasbara , this is your problem not mine .I didn’t know Israelis have a culture ! Anyways stay away from mine and stop stealing what’s not yours .Good luck

      Reply to Comment
    28. Leen

      @Palestinian, I understand where you are coming from. To be honest, I am still wishy-washy over what solution do I really support, in terms of peace, equality and justice, it is a bi-national state, in terms of what is possible in this day and age it is another thing.
      I too lived in a multi-cultural city for 3 years, and my family is both German and Palestinian, so maybe I come from a different stance. Though I am not saying that the country would be come another-pseudo european city (I honestly don’t believe so because based on demography alone, there are 4.5 million Palestinian refugees who do have the right of return, and overall there are 11 million Palestinians around the globe… also 50% of Jewish Israelis are of Mizrahi and Sephardic descent, therefore I would say the middle easternism pervades all other ethnicities).
      Though I never said immigration would be unrestricted to the land, because every country has its own restrictions. Though Palestinian refugees take precedence over all.

      Reply to Comment
    29. AYLA

      Palestinian–I sympathize, too, with where you’re coming from regarding the land, and its character, you wish to inhabit. I’m curious about what it is that I’ve said that you deem “hasbara” (I’d be so fired as a hasbarist 😉 ). If by any chance it’s the link I attached, I urge you earnestly to get clear about what is pure propaganda, because it undermines the true, strong, crucial argument for Palestinian rights. As you well know, you don’t need propaganda; your true history and story–including the story unraveling every day, today–is strong enough to defend your right to return and to justice and equality on this land. I say this even though you discredit my history; this does us no good. You are actually bolstering the argument against your rights when you incite propaganda. Also when you incite propaganda, many tune out the entire Occupation. The truth is all you need; it’s on your side.

      Reply to Comment
    30. AYLA

      Sinjim–I completely reject that friendly advice, as I am free to empathize and align myself human to human, but I agree that your and I grow boring quickly, as we fall into the same basic argument over and over, and I appreciate the link on RH ;).

      Reply to Comment
    31. Richard Witty

      I don’t agree with Ayla on the right of return.

      There are two bases of assertion that the right of return is a right.

      1. Law of title to land and property. Those that were forced from land that they held some ownership to continue to have property claims that can and deserve to be made. To make them, Israeli law would have to change, specifically the 1950 law that expropriated “abandoned” property to the state (then distributed to national land trusts and then leased and sold to private Jewish only parties).

      That would take a new knesset law to pass. Only revolution (and likely violent) would get that passed absent a comprehensive and confident peace.

      The prospect of that revolution is REMOTE. BDS won’t accomplish it even with universal international pressure, which also won’t happen.

      2. Geneva Protocols grant of right of return to residence.

      That is a more questionable claim, as it is not clear what the legally intended shelf-life of that claim was/is. In 1950, the law should have clearly applied.

      Three generations later, the right to return to jurisdiction of residence (changed) from a war in 1948, is not clearly the intention of the original law. It would amount to a “new” law in effect, again similarly requiring legislation and ratification, this time internationally.

      There is a clear demand for return, but there is no obvious confident right to return incorporated in law that I’m aware of.

      The truth of Palestinian experience and need is undeniable, but that is a different effort and claim, a present to the future claim for justice – meaning the right to a decent life, and less so a past-based claim of Geneva protocol right of return.

      The present-future assertion of right (as Aziz clearly emphasized) has a much higher prospect of intra-Palestinian justice, prospectively affording an economic democracy as a primary component, rather than the restoration of prior intra-Palestinian class relations as a past-based right implies. (returning the status to prior relations).

      It is also unjust to present living Israselis, who are also entitled to equal rights and claims before the law.

      They are not interlopers, but residents, citizens, present tense.

      Any assertion of democracy or justice worthy of the name affirms their legal and community rights and aspirations as well, so long as they are not suppressive (which they are currently).

      Reply to Comment
    32. Sinjim

      @Aziz: I was only quoting your words at you. You talked at length about the duty that Palestinians under occupation have to engage in non-violence and to a certain extent I agree with you. But then you mentioned the Israeli reaction and called it “OK.” No, it’s not. It is expected because Israel is a racist and oppressive state, but expected is not the same as OK. You chose to talk about spoonfuls of water, instead of talking about what Israel does to Palestinians and what people in America can do about it. Don’t put that on me.
      .
      As for your Zionist credentials, once again this is based on your own words. You are the one who said you’re pro-Israel. That’s not an accusation I made up. And anyone who says they’re pro-Israel is a Zionist by definition. Of course there is a segment of Palestinians who hold this view, Ray Hanania being one of them, and of course you can believe and say whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot be criticized for your actions and your words.
      .
      I mean, you say I’m against freedom of speech for calling you out and then say I’m guilty of the fallacy of extension? Come on. You’re doing the exact same thing you’re accusing me of.
      .
      But seriously what were the main points of your talk? Palestinians do non-violence in large numbers, and everyone must do something to end the conflict for the sake of peace. Oh and you warned the Zionists about the looming one-state solution if Israel doesn’t get serious about the two-state solution. Ok, then what? Did you discuss what Palestinians hope to achieve with non-violence? No. Did you discuss in concrete details what people in America can do to stop the conflict? No. Did you discuss the plight of the refugees or the people of Gaza? No. Did you discuss the needs and desires of Palestinians wherever they may be that are being strangled by Israel’s policies? No. Did you discuss how the corruption and authoritarianism of the PA, with the backing of the Israeli political order, is getting in the way of Palestinians’ ability to practice non-violence? No. You presented a talk composed almost entirely of platitudes that every liberal Zionist in the world would be more than happy to support.
      .
      Not a single person who listened to you and Dr. Barghouti came away with a clear range of options for what can be done to end the conflict. And not just end it but make sure that the Palestinian victims of Israel receive their overdue justice. It seems it was more important that everyone leave the talk with a sense that we all reached a mutual agreement, no matter how insignificant, and in that sense it was no different than the peace process that JStreet wholeheartedly endorses.

      Reply to Comment
    33. palestinian

      @ Leen , Jewish Arabs (or as they do intend to call them mizrahi Jews) were de-Arabized long time ago with very few exceptions,and remember they aren’t Palestinian, the Moroccan culture isn’t the Palestinian culture. We Arabs “in general” have the tendency to de-Arabize ourselves,so wait till we become pseudo-Arabs/Palestinians within less than 2 decades in a binational state (the process already has started in the vast majority of Arab countries).We will be 3rd class citizens following the 2nd class non-ashkenazi Jews (excluding the elite ,just like in any nation under occupation).We will be the best cheap labor option for the rich Jewish Russian businessmen,so instead of “importing” their “legal slaves” from Thailand ,the slave will be a Palestinian (made in the holy land :)) ,just like those who work in the settlements and inside 48 land (including Palestinians holding the Israeli passport).That doesnt mean that at least 30% of the Palestinians wont get higher education, good positions…. but we (as a whole)will always be in the economy class while we know who is gonna be in the first class…just like today in whats called Israel ,its gonna be similar with different demography and percentage.The areas in whats today the West Bank will be heaven for poverty and conservative people.Tel Aviv , Herzliya and Haifa will be the economically active cities with Jewish dominancy and high percentage of Palestinian (Arab/Aravim) workers .The Arabic language will descend from level 2 to level -2 .

      @ Ayla ,I thought you wanted to “end the discussion”(in case it was a discussion).What you call history is your hasbara,I do agree you would fail as a hasbarian ,you need more intensive courses,its for free 🙂
      First ,I have to thank you for your sincere “compassion” (tears) but the last thing I need is a Jewish American colonist to impose her fairytales that were/are used to destroy my people.If there is a chance we can talk then forget about your fictional connection to my homeland.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Kolumn9

      They really should have had some balance when they invited you by also inviting a Palestinian spokesman for Hamas so that he can serenade all the Jews in the room with his proposal for a slightly different one state solution.

      Anyways, hope you had a good time in the States.

      Reply to Comment
    35. aristeides

      It would do the Zionist lobbies a great deal of good to have a respectful exchange of views with a member of Hamas.

      Reply to Comment
    36. Leen

      @Palestinian, to be honest, I don’t necessarily foresee the same future as you do, mostly because if we are going to contextualize Palestine, Arab culture and so on, the Arabic language is becoming a very important language in the global context. Hebrew isn’t important globally quite honestly. If anything, the Arab culture/language will take precedence over the Hebrew culture… plus I also think that there would not be immigration from Jews either (Certainly the non-religious would decrease, and the religious do not necessarily partake in society for society to be de-arabized). If anything, I think Palestine would be a mix of UAE/Turkey/Lebanon.

      What I’m saying this is a very abstract argument based on little facts. It can go both ways on how the future society would be. Plus you never know, 100 years from now on there is a good chance society would be globalized, or China’s emergence of the world player, ethno-cultural characters of states become less important and would be built on economic means. YOu never know.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Richard Witty

      Directrob,
      No authoritative international legal entity that I’m aware of, has ruled that the right of return applies to the great grandchildren of those that were displaced and/or not permitted to return.

      Did you read the citation that you provided?

      It all refers to recent events, not 64 years past.

      Did you address my comment about the basis of right of return, whether it means the legal right to assert property title claims, or literal residence?

      Reply to Comment
    38. Henry Weinstein

      Sinkim & Palestinian
      I was talking to you, when I posted my comments.
      But you don’t care, you have in mind only the will to spread your truth.
      Or it’s like to play War Games on line, the way you write: Fire! Fire! Fire!
      Ok, you are free to do this as long your brain and body enjoy it.
      But I posted things to your attention. I take the time to do it.
      You are free to take no notice, to pay no attention.
      It happens in the real life, when you talk to someone and realize he or she don’t care at all, to listen what you are saying. He or she does only want to hear himself or herself.
      I don’t trust people who refuse to talk with me, to answer to me, to answer to my answers. I don’t trust people who select their cible, Aziz on this thread, their only purpose being to hit their target.
      It’s quite visible, on this thread.
      You say White, I say Black.
      You say Black, I say White.
      The real world has no importance, no meaning.
      Only your words are important for you, have a meaning – that is to say for your pleasure.
      You are just here to denigrate Aziz’s post, just like Hasbarah Trolls spend their time to denigrate most of +972 Israeli leftist posts. Same inquisitory mentality. Abstract intellect. Formalism. Bigotry.
      Dead words trying to prevent something new to arise.
      Seems a lot of people don’t want to think, to talk.
      No no no, the “One-sided Show must go on”!!
      .
      Without me, folks.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Henry Weinstein

      Sinjim, not Sinkim. Sorry.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Sinjim

      Henry, I was already engaged in a very long and drawn out argument with Ayla and Aziz. I didn’t feel like starting another long and drawn out argument with you as well. I didn’t realize you would take it so personally that you would start accusing people of bigotry because they didn’t answer you.
      .
      But since you’re so offended, I’ll respond. The notion that Israel has refused to negotiate seriously with Palestinians because there is no democratic Palestine makes no sense to me.
      .
      There have been democratic leaders among the Palestinians. And they’ve all been rejected by Israel. Have you ever heard of Mubarak Awad? He was a Palestinian grassroots non-violent who currently lives in exile because Israel kicked him out in the early 90s. Do you know of the Tamimis? All the grassroots leaders from this family have either been killed or sit behind bars. Israel and its ally the United States have deliberately helped Abbas and Fayyad and the PA stay in power because, as with all other Arab countries, they support “stability” over democracy. These guys wouldn’t last a day if it weren’t for the outside, non-Palestinian support they receive.
      .
      This isn’t to absolve the anti-democratic currents that run through Palestinian society nor to deny that there are some Palestinians, such Aziz himself, who really support the likes of Abbas and his ilk. However, let’s not pretend that Israel has ever wanted a democratic Palestinian leadership, that seeks to represent all Palestinians no matter if they’re live under occupation or in exile.
      .
      Palestinian democracy requires standing up against Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah and Hamas parties, and the Palestinian Authority as a whole. It doesn’t involve praising these corrupt politicians as fools or praising their collaboration with the occupying power. I see none of that from Aziz. His views are the very opposite of “subversive.”
      .
      For the record, some of the most active non-violent activists that Aziz was praising had some very harsh words about his talks. They were very annoyed by what he and Barghouti had to say. They are people who risk life and limb going up against the Israeli war machine for the rights of their Palestinian brothers and sisters everyday of their lives, and I respect and trust their very real-world opinion. Much more so than any of the people who post on this website, you and I included.

      Reply to Comment
    41. Richard Witty

      Sinjim,
      I know this doesn’t matter to you, but it does impact the effectiveness of dissent.

      That is that when I encounter condemnation of dissenters for not being sufficiently in solidarity, it makes me conclude “why bother”.

      And, then I have to go back to square one of what are my convictions, and I remain committed to a peaceful application of mutually healthy two-state approach, towards good neighbor to good neighbor.

      The dehumanization that describing an Israeli as “enemy” represents, is the exact oppossite of my objectives in dissent.

      I want to respect and I want to be respected.

      If there is no prospect of that, then every effort is just of Sisyphus pushing a boulder to the top of the hill.

      Reply to Comment
    42. Tal

      Although this is not a symmetric conflict because the Israelis are the oppressors, @Palestinian’s contempt and disregard to Israelis/Jews connection to this land is a mirror of right wing zionists claim that “Eretz israel kula shelanu”.

      Reply to Comment
    43. palestinian

      @ Leen , UAE ?that literally artificial international “oil-derived” zone with zero culture! Some people in Lebanon are still suffering from post-occupation syndrome with severe symptoms of Arabancais.Turkey is an asio-european country ,Palestine isnt.I want to preserve the Palestinian cultural character of the land and I “refuse” globalization the way you mentioned it.Thats exactly what I dont want to become,an international citizen.

      Reply to Comment
    44. Leen

      @Palestinian, I was referring to the make up of the country and not the cultural (formed on the fact that every emirate has a autonomy), which is why I included Turkey or Lebanon. I wasn’t saying it would be literally the exact same thing.
      Like I said, we can discuss this for hours and days, but the fact remains we seriously have no clue how it would be. It is an extremely abstract discussion.

      Reply to Comment
    45. palestinian

      @ Leen , we will be the Arabian South Africa ,but instead of 10% (colonists and their descendants)we will have the honor to have 34% (and not any 34%),if 2% can run 300 million people ,imagine 34% !!in brief no .

      Reply to Comment
    46. directrob

      Richard, what in your eyes is an authoritative international legal entity?

      Reply to Comment
    47. Richard Witty

      Ratified UN resolution (by both general assembly and security council).

      Every other assertion by human rights committee, or even ICJ are recommendations of law, not law yet.

      Reply to Comment
    48. Henry Weinstein

      Sinjim, thank you to answer and for taking the time to answer honestly and with substance. I would much prefer to discover and read viewpoints and analysis published by the democratic leaders you cited than to see Haneen Zoabi performing her talk-show to entertain the Israeli Far Right – how I could take seriously someone whose only political message is to say she is against Israel being a MK in Israel: I have nothing against her, but she is a living advertisement to vote Likud and worse.
      .
      But you clearly misunderstood my starting position, my intellectual departure – and it’s worth to scrutinize this misunderstanding. I wasn’t describing Israel the state, i.e the Israeli leadership, Sinjim, I was speaking explicitely from the point of view of the Israeli people, the Israeli Jews, the civil society. And I was thinking how to convince a majority of them to vote in the future for reformist leaders, instead of voting for far right nationalist & religious leaders.
      For instance, Haneen Zoabi has nothing to say to Israelis apart she is against Israel, there is nothing behind her criticisms, no substance. One can spend its life to denounce injustice and inequality – and Israel is not the only society which should do much better in this world -, but if one don’t propose political solutions, new perspectives, the voters have no rational reason to trust your side, and to change their minds about the status-quo, even if you are pretty and funny.
      I cite her only because she is becoming a mascot on +972, and I deplore this. I would much prefer to read and hear independent Palestinian thinkers than the daughter of a rich family playing a role of composition.
      But I suppose most of them are trapped in the anti-normalization line, “don’t talk to Israelis unless they join the struggle against Israel”. Dead-end line.
      .
      There is also another important aspect in my previous comment: I spoke explicitely about the importance of freedom of expression & human rights, beyond voting for political parties, democratic elections. I live in a secular République which guarantee to its citizens freedom of association, France. And it’s quite recent, 1901. Democracy is a big word, but the freedom to vote for politicians is not enough: see the Israeli system.

      Reply to Comment
    49. Sinjim

      Henry, I understood what you were saying, and I stand by my answer to you. If Israelis want to see a democratic leadership from the Palestinians, they should pressure their government to stop ensuring violent and authoritarian repression of Palestinian democratic actions, which are by no means in short supply.
      .
      The rest of your comment, unfortunately, is full of mischaracterizations and personal attacks. Attacking Zoabi for her family relations is not legitimate. She voices the concerns and criticisms that many, many Palestinians have of the Zionist state, and yes, as an elected official she represents the people who elected her — Palestinians. I applaud her and wish her nothing but success.
      .
      Beyond your criticisms of Zoabi’s person, I have no idea what you’re trying to say. I think you’re saying that you want to hear from Palestinians who agree with your worldview, but frankly, I’m not sure that’s what you’re saying, especially in regards to “independent Palestinian thinkers.” What does that even mean, and why are you telling me this? Do you want me to refer you to some of these “independent thinkers”? Are you asking me if they exist? Are you saying they don’t exist and lamenting it? None of this clear from your comment.

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