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Jerusalem and the Unraveling of 'the Peace Process Industry'

By Mazin Qumsiyeh

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 25, 2011

Dedicated to our friend Anna Aschenbach who died shortly after suffering a stroke while receiving an award from the International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) yesterday. Anti-Zionist feminist and humanist from Connecticut.

Al-Jazeera just announced the release of 1600 internal and classified documents that reveal devastating information on the nature and scale of concessions offered by Palestinian negotiators.  The Guardian reported that " The overwhelming impression that emerges from the confidential records of a decade of Middle East peace talks is of the weakness and desperation of Palestinian leaders, the unyielding correctness of Israeli negotiators and the often contemptuous attitude towards the Palestinian side shown by US politicians and officials. " I think that it spells the end of the peace process industry an 18 year sham that facilitated colonization and enriched a few individuals while destroying our lives.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad maybe the guy salvaged from the process as he can claim only overseeing the institutions to serve the Palestinian population in the ghettos and concentration camps in the rest of the West Bank.  The gates to areas like what remains of Bethlehem district (13%) are for now open (yes there are literal gates).  The message sent over the past few years is that life is bad for those who resist, easier for quiet Palestinians, and very good for collaborating Palestinians.  There are thousands of "general managers" and other office holders in the Palestinian authority.  There are tens of thousands of uneducated individuals (selected for being uneducated and for passing security clearance by Israeli and American officials) who serve in the many security divisions of the Palestinian Authority. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer here but this still meant that on average the GDP is higher in the Palustans today than 8 years ago (though per capita not higher than 1999).  In Gaza the situation is worse economically as the whole pie is smaller (mostly humanitarian aid and tunnel trade) and thus while the rich there are still rich and the poor poor, their poor are far poorer than our poor.

I as a Palestinian and millions of other fellow Palestinians are denied the right to enter Jerusalem whose character is being transformed as the talk about more talks goes on!  I managed to enter Jerusalem many times like thousands of Palestinians do without seeking permission from the occupying army.  Years ago, I taught high school in Jerusalem and I know the city very well.  This youtube from a recent visit gives you a glimpse  I was both saddened and yet strangely energized by the visit.  The relentless effort to transform the city to make it "Jewish" (whatever that means) involved relentless efforts at ethnic cleansing.  Just in the past two years, over 10,000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem had their residency rights revoked.  This is done under 101 pretexts ranging from marrying someone from outside the city to getting a job in another city or renting or buying a peace of real estate outside the city.  The latest bizarre situation is ruling that four elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council must renounce their election or face deportation.    One was already deported (for not showing allegiance to the Jewish state that illegally occupied annexed, and colonized his city).  Three others have spent 205 days now in a tent in the yard of the Red Cross Building in Silwan. Yes, as I saw the amazing popular resistance carried out by all natives of Jerusalem against the colonial occupiers, I was uplifted in my spirits.  It is just sad that many world governments continue to be silent on this.

There is a clear diplomatic impasse here which will get exacerbated now that the papers on the negotiations have been revealed.  Everyone had a "plan" before and the question is will these plans change:

1) The Zionist leaders have a plan to recognize Palestine as a state in so-called "provisional borders" which will become permanent borders but without recognizing any of the basic Palestinian rights (right to return, self determination, freedom etc).  The discussion between extremists like Lieberman and more moderates like Kadima is what are the dimensions of the Palestinian population warehouses (as a friend calls them).  This is intended to solve the demographic problem for the state of Israel and get the pressure off for Israel to take care of millions of unwanted non-Jews in the Jewish state. The size of these warehouses range from Lieberman's 42% of the West Bank (itself with Gaza are 22% of historic Palestine) to 60% (Netanyahu's maximum) to 92% (some Labor and Kadima ideas).  In other words will the Bantustans end-up occupying 9% or 18% (at best) of historic Palestine? It will of course have no control over its borders or its air space or its natural resources or its tourism industry. But the right-wing racist government in Israel is ultimately self-destructive.  The world is wising up.

2) Mr. Mahmoud Abbas plans to continue down the line of working with Western governments and Western-backed Arab leaders to maybe have them apply just a little bit of pressure on Israel to end its settlement activity.  After dropping the ball on the International court of Justice ruling on the wall and dropping the ball on the Goldstone report, the leadership introduced via to the UN Security Council and the US may or may not veto it.  Abbas says publicly that there may be more "initiatives" coming but ultimately he is tied by Oslo agreements and the maximum he could ask for is 1967 borders with some 3-5% territorial swap (which happen to be the best areas of the West Bank) and certainly he is not going to be allowed to demand the internationally recognized rights of refugees to return to their homes and lands.  The leaked documents at best weaken that branch of Fatah led by Abbas that compromised basic Palestinian rights.  They could even lead to the demise of this authority whose terms had expired anyway. Of course there is a remote possibility that Abbas will manage to avoid both assassination and irrelevancy by coming clean with his people and offering a new real innovative approach (like dissolve the PA and call for an anti-Apartheid struggle led by new leaders).

3) Hamas has a plan to essentially hold on to Gaza and hope the now clear failure of the "peace process" gives them more popular support among Palestinians. By controlling the launch of home-made projectiles from Gaza, they could hold on for years waiting for change in powers.  Iran and Hezbollah are also hoping the continued disregard for international law by the world powers validates the strategy of relying on military strength and "resisting" to get rights.  Their arguments in the absence of meaningful enforcement of international law vis a vis Israel is difficult for others to refute. But many moderate and secular people here wonder what kind of a future will unfold under regimes that do not separate state power from religious authority. And even in Gaza, people would not vote for a party that will offer only vague notions about "Islam is the solution" without a clear strategy or vision for the future.

4) Left Parties have partial and unformulated plans.  Many still cling to old rhetoric and old divisions and are not able to think innovatively to design a strategy to recapture their popular support that declined in the past few decades let alone articulate a clear unified vision for goals and ways to get to these goals.

5) The US (and by extension subservient EU) have a plan to support the compromising section of the Palestinian authority but only to the extent that the strong AIPAC (Israel lobby) approve of.  The leaked documents show that the ceiling for the PA demands must always be continuously lowered to accommodate Israeli society's increasingly fascist government demands.  Recognizing Israel is not enough anymore, the PA must also recognize the racist NATURE of Israel (as a JEWISH ZIONIST state) and renounce internationally recognized rights like the right of refugees to return.  If they do that, will they be then required to recognize that God is indeed a tribal God with his chosen people and that the Goyim are sub-human and not deserving of even the Bantustans that they are allowed now to live on?

6) The Civil Society around the world which supports human rights has a plan of Popular Resistance, Media work, boycotts, divestments, and sanctions to arrive at justice and ending apartheid.  As the pressure builds to isolate the apartheid (aka Hafrada in Hebrew) regime, these activists believe more Israelis and others around the world will come around to see that giving back what was stolen is the only real road to peace (at least partial restorative justice). It is an uphill battle because of all the brainwashing that goes on by subservient media and essentially a populace around the world that is largely apathetic.  But the vocal minority that always changes things is getting more vocal.

As I say in my lectures: collectively all humanity has a choice and it is not between one-state or two-states, colonialism or an Fundamentalist state structure (whether Islamic Jewish, or Christian).  The choice is between having a set of International laws and human rights that apply to everyone (beginning with the 7 million Palestinian refugees and displaced people) OR a law of the jungle where "might makes right."  The latter choice is a lose-lose scenario since we are in an era where biological, nuclear and chemical weapons are easy to come by and can destroy civilization.  The former choice requires we begin by educating our selves on our own civil society power.  Simon Bolivar, the visionary revolutionary who pushed for independence and unity of countries in South America once said: “They have succeeded in dominating us more through ignorance, than through force”.  Indeed. La Luta Continua.


Mazin Qumsiyeh 


Invitation and schedule of events

Dear friends:

First a note of thank you to the many colleagues who made the speaking tour in Italy very productive (Roma, Bologna, Genova, Pistoia, Foligna, and Firenze). 

The next message will comment on the beginning of reshaping of the Arab world that started from Tunisia (most mainstream media did a terrible job with the exception of outlets like Al-Jazeera).  But in this short message I want to:

1) Invite you to come to Palestine this summer beginning July 8, 2011.  We believe at least 1000 Europeans as well as many others will come to show solidarity and to say enough is enough.  More details will be forthcoming at

2) Let you know of a rough outline of my upcoming speaking tour to London, Paris, and the U.S.  In this tour I will be speaking mostly about my new book "Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment".  In the book and in talks I explain why we are so optimistic about the furure in Palestine "the Holy Land".  Email me if you are along the route and can help either with logistics and with arranging other talks or promoting the event.  I look forward to seeing you.

Southampton, UK: March 1, 18:00 University of Southampton

Paris, France: March 2 - EuroPalestine

Paris/London: March 3

London, UK: March 4 - 18:30 The City Circle

Denver: March 6 - 15:00 Sabeel Colorado

Denver: March 7 (in planning - University of Denver)

Boulder: March 8 (in planning)

St. Louis (potential): evening of March 9

St. Louis (potential)/Louisville: March 10

Louisville: March 11 (in planning)

South Bend: March 13 (in planning)

Grand Rapids: March 14 - Calvin College

Grand Rapids: March 15 - Senior Community

Travel by air: morning of March 16

Cleveland: afternoon of March 16 - Case Western Reserve Univ.

Cleveland: March 17 morning - Case Western/Wooster (potential)

Travel by air: evening of March 17

Philadelphia: March 18 (in planning)

New York City: March 19 - Left Forum

NYC/New Jersey: March 20 - Left Forum/Open

NYC/New Jersey: March 21 - Columbia Univ.

New Jersey: March 22 - Drew Univ.

Connecticut: March 23 - Gunn Library, Washington CT

Connecticut: March 24 - (in planning) Uconn, Yale, CCSU

Rhode Island: March 25 - (in planning) Brown University

Boston: March 26

Boston: March 27

Boston or Portland ME: March 28

New Hampshire: March 29 - New England College

Boston: March 30

SF Bay Area: April 1

SF Bay Area: April 2

SF Bay Area: April 3

Sacramento: April 4

Salt Lake City (potential): April 6

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home   




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