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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

'Palestinian' 'Moderate' Sari Nusseibeh shows his true colors

Israelis and much of the West tend to think of 'al-Quds' University President Sari Nusseibeh as a 'moderate' and as one of the 'Palestinians' we can talk to. Here's why:

Nusseibeh was not politically active during much of the Oslo Peace Process but was appointed as the PLO Representative in Jerusalem in 2001[8]. During this period Nusseibeh began to strongly suggest that Palestinians give up their right to return to their 1948 homes Right of Return in exchange for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip[9]. A number of Palestinian organizations have strongly condemned his views on this issue[10].

Criticised the militarization of the intifada in January 2002, called for the renunciation of suicide bombings and the establishment of Palestine as a demilitarized state: "A Palestinian state should be demilitarized - not because that's what Israel demands, but in our own interest"[11].

In 2002 Sari Nusseibeh and former Shin Bet director, Ami Ayalon [now a minister without portfolio in the government CiJ] published the The People's VoiceIsraeli-Palestinian civil Initiative that aims to advance the process of achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and a draft peace agreement that called for a Palestinian state based on Israel's 1967 borders and for a compromise on the Palestinian Right of Return. The People's Voice Initiative was officially launched on June 25, 2003.

In a November 30 interview with al-Jazeera in Arabic, Nusseibeh made an outrageous statement that was ignored by the media here - after all, they wouldn't want to spoil the 'peace party' - and it took Campus Watch and San Francisco blogger Cinnamon Stillwell to bring it to light. Stillwell links to a MEMRI video translation (which unfortunately has not been put on YouTube so I cannot embed it) in which Nusseibeh practices a time-honored 'Palestinian' tradition: giving one's real opinion in Arabic while acting like a 'moderate' in English. Here's part of the transcript:
The Right of Return is one of our rights, but unfortunately, we are living in a world that demands – if we want to make any progress – that we choose some of these rights, at the expense of the full implementation of the rest. The question that should be discussed by the Palestinians – and all the Arabs – is whether we really want a two-state solution or not.


What I am saying is that the implementation of the Right of Return should be carried out within the framework of the future Palestinian state.


The Israelis now living in the territories of the future Palestinian state should return to living within the borders of the state of Israel. No Jew in the world, now or in the future, as a result of this document, will have the right to return, to live, or to demand to live in Hebron, in East Jerusalem, or anywhere in the Palestinian state.


If this cause is the cause of the refugees – so be it, but then the Palestinian people should make a clear decision that it does not want a state. If that is the case – so be it, and all we should demand is the refugees' return and equal rights. I was the first who demanded that.

In other words, Nusseibeh the 'moderate' is not committed to a 'two-state solution.' If the 'Palestinian people' would rather have a 'right of return' than a state - with the result that the Jewish state would be overrun demographically - Nusseibeh is okay with that. He just doesn't believe that the 'Palestinians' can successfully demand both a 'state' and the right to return to the rump version of the State of Israel that would remain once a 'Palestinian' state reichlet is established. But that's not the worst of it.

As to his views on the ethnic makeup of the future 'Palestinian' reichlet, which clearly show him to be a racist, Stillwell points out some of the hypocrisy of Nusseibeh's stand in insisting that the 'Palestinian' reichlet be judenrein:
If one follows the logic of the anti-Israel crowd, "No Jews Allowed" is a perfectly acceptable stance. Why else would the presence of Jewish "settlers" living among Palestinians be deemed a justifiable cause for murder? Nusseibeh's remarks are indicative of the bigoted approach the international community (including the Bush administration) continues to promote with its ill-fated push for a Palestinian state.
Here's what Campus Watch did with this:
Key to the interest of Campus Watch in this case is that Al-Quds has partnered with several American and Canadian universities to offer programs, classes, and research opportunities. The schools involved include the University of Michigan at Dearborn, Northeastern University, York University in Ontario, Brandeis, and George Washington University. Al-Quds also receives U.S. government support.

This afternoon, I sent the email below to the heads of each of these schools. If they reply, we'll make their remarks available; they may choose to speak through the media. Most important is that they not stand for such blatant anti-Semitism from the head of an institution that is supported by the schools they lead.
Dear President X,

I am the director of Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has released the translation of a November 30, 2007 interview in Arabic of the president of Al-Quds University, Sari Nusseibeh.


In this interview, President Nusseibeh states:

The Israelis now living in the territories of the future Palestinian state should return to living within the borders of the state of Israel. No Jew in the world, now or in the future, as a result of this document, will have the right to return, to live, or to demand to live in Hebron, in East Jerusalem, or anywhere in the Palestinian state.

Given that X University has close relations with Al-Quds (link to university web page ), I wondered if you had any public comment on the remarks of President Nusseibeh.

Thank you very much,

Winfield Myers
Campus Watch
The only response thus far has come from James R. Russell, Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University:
James R. Russell, Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard, sends the following comment for posting:

I, James Russell, Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University, have read the statement by Sari Nusseibeh in his official capacity as President of Al Quds University: "No Jew in the world, now or in the future... will have the right... to live... in East Jerusalem" and so on. In response I declare that I refuse to teach or collaborate in any way professionally with any person having any connection whatsoever to Al Quds University, which must be regarded as an anti-Semitic and racialist entity. Furthermore I will oppose by every possible means, including prosecution under the laws of the United States, any association or cooperation of Harvard University with Al Quds. I urge all scholars and teachers of good will to join me.

I would not hold my breath waiting for other academics to join him.

Given that US tax dollars support al-Quds and that Condi Rice knows what it's like to be barred from living in neighborhoods because of one's race, I wonder if Condi Rice's State Department will have anything to say about this.



At 12:03 AM, Blogger Nadine said...

I think you are too harsh on Sari Nusseibeh. He is operating in a context where it is very dangerous for any Palestinian to depart from the Palestinian party line at all. Sari Nusseibeh has some protecton because of his family and his high profile, but it still is a risk.

Nusseibeh was trying to suggest that the Palestinian give up on the "right of return" to Israel in order to actually achieve a state next to Israel. In Palestinian politics today, this is not only a moderate postion, it is far left Peace Now position. That it should come hedged with statements about the "right of return" being a Palestinian right and the Jew-freeness of Palestine is to be expected. That demands nothing that is not already conceded. In all the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, I never once heard any Israeli suggest that the future Palestine would have a single Jewish citizen.

At 12:42 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12:43 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Of course not. Jews are not racists. We can't demand a religiously homogeneous state because that would be bigoted and narrow-minded.

But the Arabs can be racist and this is a progressive position. Their judeinrein position after all, is embraced by the Israeli Left.

12:42 AM

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