Israel controls Palestinians physically, but Palestinian fanatics control their minds
By Ray Hanania
When you say the name Amira Haas, the reporter for the award winning English language Israeli newspaper Haaretz, you immediately think of a courageous Israeli who is willing to stand up to the rising rightwing hatred in Israel, at great peril.
But few people talk about the peril that confronts her not just from the Israeli side, but from the Palestinian side, too.
So many were surprised when she wrote that she had been invited to be a speaker at a forum hosted at Birzeit University, the Palestinian university in the West Bank village of Birzeit adjacent to Ramallah where I also have also lectured several times in the past, and she was asked to leave by some of the organizers and students gathered to protest her presence because she signed in as a representative of Haaretz Newspaper, which they criticize as being a part of the “Zionist entity.”
I know, you can’t make this kind of stupidity up. (Read Amira’s article — a premium article.)
Haas, one of the most sympathetic pro-Palestinian writers out there, recognized the mindset of some of the students who wanted her gone, and the fact that Birzeit has a “law” that bans any Israelis from entering the university, and she left on her own. The rumors started (on that unreliable place called the Internet) that a “pro-Palestinian Israeli writer was attacked by Palestinians at Birzeit.” So Haas wrote a column explaining that she had actually left and no one attacked her.
She wasn’t angry, either, I guess, at the notion that a Palestinian Institution that protests the segregation of non-Jews by Israel would implement a similar policy to give non-Jews a “safe haven” from Jews, who are Israeli.
Amira Haas wrote in her column Sept. 28, 2014: “I am writing about this incident precisely because I did not take it personally. I do not take personally the fact that some faculty members were hiding behind hypothesized angry students and a law that many others seem to be unaware of. In my opinion, it would have been more dignified to tell me explicitly: We do not differentiate between those who support the occupation and those who are against it, between those who report on policies to forcibly evict the Bedouin or those who carry out that policy; for us, there is only one place for every Israeli Jew – outside.”
She called it an “isolated incident”
She then concluded, “I understand the emotional need of Palestinians to create a safe space that is off limits to citizens of the state that denies them their rights and has been robbing them of their land. As a leftist, however, I question the anti-colonialist logic of boycotting left-wing Israeli Jewish activists. In any case, such leftists do not seek kosher certificates while opposing the occupation and striving to put an end to the Jewish regime of privileges.”
Birzeit University quickly issued a statement stating that the University itself distinguishes between those Israelis who are enemies and those who are friends, but it said nothing about the “law” or the policy that many students enforce on the rest of the student body and the University.
In other words, the truth is the University doesn’t really support the ban against pro-Palestinian Israelis but they can’t do a damn thing about it because many in the student body are extremists who not only reject Israeli occupation of the West Bank, but their anger has turned into hatred that also rejects peace based on Two-States and anyone who is an Israeli Jew.
The incident is pretty sad, and I would not be so understanding as Amira Haas, who I have never met.
The incident explains clearly why Palestinians are helping to erase themselves from Palestine. It helps explain why Palestinians have been losing the conflict with Israel since the 1920s. It explains why the illegal racist and terrorist Israeli settlements continue to expand in the military occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. It explains why when Israel’s military massacres thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, they have a hard time getting the world that cares about the Rule of Law and fights War Crimes and War Atrocities to do anything about it.
Palestinians are occupied by Israel physically, but their minds are being occupied by fanaticism that is growing in strength and power, fueled on by the rising extremism in the Arab and Muslim Worlds.
That’s not to say that the Palestinian fanatics embrace the religious psychosis of al-Qaeda or ISIL. They don’t. Palestinians are extremely angry because they continue to lose when confronting Israel’s illegal acts and its misconduct. They can’t seem to win and it is very frustrating, so they take out that anger in two ways.
One is to make stupid policies that make them no different than the very Israeli fanatics they condemn. Birzeit University’s prohibition on Israelis entering the campus is stupid. The University should repeal the idiotic ban, whether it really is a university law or just a “practice” enforced by fanatics on the campus.
It’s a disgrace and it is an embarrassment to the Palestinian people’s struggle for independence. More importantly, it is a disgrace to the Palestinian claim that we are not like the Israeli extremists. That we WANT a Palestinian State where “Muslims, Christians and Jews” can live together in peace and Democracy, the long held mantra of Palestinian activists that in reality has no substance at all and is a phony for many Palestinian activists.
The truth is that the rise of Palestinian and Arab extremism has become more of an obstacle to Palestinian independence than Israel’s far right wing policies of apartheid and racism and their own hatred of non-Jews.
Have we Palestinians become the Israelis we hate?
I don’t hate all Israelis and neither do most Palestinians. Palestinians are angry. Events haven’t turned the way they had hoped. Peace has been a failure, in fact a ruse used by Israel fanatics to steal more land and prevent the return of Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes in 1947 at gunpoint by foreigners who were Zionist Jews. But there is a growing movement of true hatred that drives the extremists in the Palestinian community. They have always been around but in recent years as times have become more desperate, they have found a stronger foothold.
The majority of Palestinian and Arabs are moderate but they fear and are reluctant to stand up to the growing extremism.
These extremists attack American Organizations and libel activists who support Two-States and compromise.
These extremists dominate Arab conferences and silence and bully and boycott any Palestinian who dares to speak out against their insanity.
These extremists enable the violence and the terrorism that is spreading through the Middle East at a frightening pace.
These extremists prevent a good university built in the hometown of one of the most brilliant Palestinians to ever live, Ibrahim AbuLughod, from being a center of educational brilliance that inspires students to greatness and achievement, rather than to smother freedom and encourage more fanaticism.
AbuLughod, who was my mentor in America and nurtured me into Palestinian activism in the early 1970s and 1980s, would be shamed by the conduct of the rising influence of these extremist students, especially since Birzeit was his home town.
But Amira Haas did no favor to the movement to achieve a peace based on Compromise, to force Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967, but being so wishy washy in responding to the real problem. It wasn’t about how she was told she couldn’t speak. It was that she was told she couldn’t speak that needs to be corrected.
But sometimes, even the “leftists” like Amira Haas who recognize the injustices that have been heaped upon the Palestinian people, and the libels that have been thrown their way so easily by the powerful Israeli lobby, hesitate to speak out against the core problem that is destroying the moderate movement that they, and I, so love.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political writer. He was the former spokesman of the Arab American Congress for Palestine, which was founded by Ibrahim AbuLughod in 1972, the former president of the Palestinian American Congress, and a former Chicago and national board member of ADC serving between 1980 until 2010. He is the managing editor of The Arab Daily News www.TheArabDailyNews.com.)