A Tale of Moderators and Moderates

A funny thing happened on CiF recently when Ghassan Khatib – a member of the Palestinian People’s Party – wrote a reply to an article published a few days previously by the Canadian-Jewish journalist Jesse Rosenfeld. At first glance, Khatib appeared to be presenting a more moderate stance than that of Rosenfeld with regard to the Palestinian approach to bringing an end to almost a century of conflict and veteran CiF watchers will not be surprised by the fact that this did not go down well with some of the CiF regulars. Poster Abtalyon put it in a nutshell, but his/her post was for some reason deleted by the moderators.

25 Feb 2010, 2:20PM
Ahalan, Ghassan Khatib:
Welcome to CiF which occasionally serves the London Branch of the Hamas Supporters Club.
So different from your gentlemanly discussions with Yossi Alpher at Bitter Lemons, eh?
I bet you didn’t think that you would be attacked and accused of being a quisling and a betrayer of Palestinian rights by those who consider themselves the elite supporters of a Palestinian State.
Well, now you know that from a lot of comments here, not every so-called “peace activist” actually wants peace.

To what was Abtalyon referring? Well there was this:

25 Feb 2010, 1:00PM
In his CiF article the other day, Jesse Rosenfeld wrote:
Israeli invasions of PA territory have increased since the summer, hitting Ramallah regularly for the past few months to arrest popular struggle leaders and international solidarity activists, and raiding the offices of grassroots anti-occupation movements. While usually it is impossible to go more than two blocks in the West Bank Palestinian political centre without seeing armed PA forces, when the Israelis come into town, they are ordered back to their barracks and are nowhere to be seen. I witnessed this countless times while living in Ramallah.
And these kind of disgusting, deliberately humiliating incursions into Palestinian areas by the Israeli Occupation Forces have been going on (with the explicit collusion of the PA) for a number of years now. That’s not to mention the innumerable extra-judicial executions of Palestinians by the Israeli forces that have also taken place.
Is this acceptable to you? Does this aid Palestinian statehood? I’m sorry, Ghassan Khatib — but (to put it as diplomatically as I am able) the phrase ‘Uncle Tom’ springs to mind.

The historical revisionists who abound at CiF got their two pence worth in too:

25 Feb 2010, 11:22AM
Palestinians are the only people who have to guarantee the security of their oppressor.
Jubilation1 It’s a shame that you haven’t accepted one of the many peace offers made to you i the past if you are suddenly realising that what Israel has been saying for decades is the only solution to the problem. What a waste of sixty years of development of your state.
When has Israel made a serious peace offer? They have continued to steal and loot Palestiona property and land and it seems they have no intention they will stop until they have created greater Israel.
By the way, Israel owes my ex-wife two residential homes, one business and quite a few acres of land Israelis have stolen from her family. Like Jews that have been robbed, she too would like her property back.

25 Feb 2010, 11:47AM
The author ignores the fact that Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, who are constitutionally opposed to any negotiation or peaceful settlement. This, as much as Israel’s continued beligerence to all, is an insurmountable obstacle to a resolution to the I/P problem.
but hamas is willing to negotiate a peace, as the saudi plan clearly indicates. one should not get too hung up on historical constitutions.
wheel chair bound sheik yassin was prepared in the first instance to negotiate a ten – twenty year peace without giving israel the recognition it so desperately needs. so hamas is willing to walk towards a settlement even if israel is not. this has been an offer that has existed even until today .
the problem today is that israel is led by a populist nationalsitic, fundamentalist religious ideology that is driving policy of expansion and denial to the palestinians.

25 Feb 2010, 11:58AM
OZKT29B wrote:
The author ignores the fact that Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, who are constitutionally opposed to any negotiation or peaceful settlement. This, as much as Israel’s continued beligerence to all, is an insurmountable obstacle to a resolution to the I/P problem.
Another lie. Hamas proposed a cease fire for a long time which Israel didn’t accept. Israel only accepted a cease fire when they started planing the assault against Gaza in order to have a pretext.
Contratry to what OZ writes, it’s the Israeli who elected political parties which are not interested in peace and which opose any solution that doesn’t reflect Israel’s readiness to use violence against the Palestinians. Israel’s government is constitutionally opposed to any negotiation or peace.

25 Feb 2010, 12:05PM
Having established themselves on the foundation of obliterating the Palestinian society, they, the Israeli governments, cannot be the ones to now negotiate peace.

25 Feb 2010, 12:58PM
Bass46 – “… Israel killed 1400 civilians…” So, in the IDF operation in Gaza the IDF succeeded in killing no Hamas terrorists???
The IDF weren’t differentiating.
Definition of “terrorist”
Anyone shot by an IDF bullet.

25 Feb 2010, 1:07PM
It is a democracy, but democracy can work only when the people are well educated and not religiously fanatical, and people who vote for Hamas are not.
The settlement movement have no influence in Israel then? They are as big a bunch of religious nuts as you’ll find.
The Palestinians have one of the most progressive attitudes to education in the middle east but the very first thing Israel blows up are it’s schools.
Religious fanatics are on both sides, not one. This is just another excuse to do nothing and keep taking land.

The one-staters were there too:

25 Feb 2010, 11:29AM
I agree that Palestinians must avoid resorting to terrorism at any cost. The use of terrorism only invites a grossly disproportionate response and further hardens the hearts of Israelis. Palestinians should do all they can to win over at least some Israelis. Without the support of average Israelis the Palestinians will continue to suffer. I also disagree with the author’s support for the inconceivable “two-state solution”. Palestinians and Israelis should share all the land like and live side by side as equals.

25 Feb 2010, 11:47AM
I agree that Palestinians must avoid resorting to terrorism at any cost. The use of terrorism only invites a grossly disproportionate response and further hardens the hearts of Israelis. Palestinians should do all they can to win over at least some Israelis. Without the support of average Israelis the Palestinians will continue to suffer. I also disagree with the author’s support for the inconceivable “two-state solution”. Palestinians and Israelis should share all the land like and live side by side as equals.
Ultimately, I agree with you on this. However, I see the two-state solution as being a stepping-stone to the ultimate goal of a secular, federal, multi-racial and multi-faith state in the region. With the present level of distrust between Israeli jews and Palestinian arabs I don’t think such a situation is currently possible. The main priorities right now should be ensuring a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and re-assuring Israel that such a state is not a threat to her. The ultimate goal of breaking down sectarianism and racism in the Middle East is a long-term one and highly unlikely until several generations have passed.

25 Feb 2010, 12:48PM
osekar the more peaceful Palestinians are the more they will be used as a door mat of Israel. the only way they can get nationhood is to fight for it
Peace would be the better option if they were given the choice but we all know, if the Palestinians don’t resist they will be completely dispossessed.
Actually, Palestinians ought to demand Israeli citizenship of the occupied lands and put Israel in a dilemma. Israel wanted Palestinian land for a greater Israel but they don’t want the Palestinians, hence the slowburn ethnic cleansing. If Palestinians demand Israeli citizenship and full rights, that will give Israel a headache because Israel doesn’t want another 4 million muslim and christian citizens on top of the million or so they have now. Israel’s real problem is how to get rid of 4 million people, those 4 million should make it clear they are staying and going nowhere else. The Palestinians could end up making 40% of the population, that will give them power.

Then we had a supporter of a convicted terrorist and the resident down-player of terrorism against Israelis:

25 Feb 2010, 12:01PM
Mustafa and Marwan Baghouti have different approaches to the problem of the colonisation of Palestine.
But both offer a more convincing programme of resistance than Abbas and co. And both will integrate Hamas; this is essential.

25 Feb 2010, 12:11PM
Israel is not South Africa, even if its racism is similar.
Peaceful protest (and this includes protests by Israelis at Sheikh Jarrah) has been made unlawful. Cameramen are killed, journalists imprisoned.Even a celebrated cartographer has been given a banning order in case he publicises the annexations.
Although Mandela eventually broke through the Boer oppression; it’s hard to see Israel allowing any moderate who refuses to accept the colonisation being given freedom.
And Marwan remains in his Israel Robben Island.

25 Feb 2010, 5:24PM
## removing Israel from existence. ..undoing Israel’s existence .. undoing Israel’s existence in the process massacring Israel off earth ..##
No wonder Finkelstein calls it the Holocaust industry when one of the most powerful countries in the world is threatened by a few guys with beards and rifles and Israel’s existence is called into question ( repeatedly ) This is a disgusting misuse of the victims of the Nazis and you have done this before.
Why cant we let them rest in peace rather than using them every time some guy gets bumped off by a travelling circus of concerned Europeans! 🙂

And of course there are those who can’t actually construct a valid argument, so they just toss around accusations about the misuse of objections to anti-Semitism.

25 Feb 2010, 11:52AM
Palestine’s strongest weapon is peace.
Israel’s strongest weapon is the blame of anti-semitism of anyone questioning the jet-fighters and the napalm and so on.

25 Feb 2010, 1:20PM
Israel’s strongest weapon is Plutonium,
next are F 16, Apache, Heckler & Hoch,
White Phosphorous in no particlar order.
So it’s Peace versus US backed military conscripts?
Another story going nowhere, the Palestinians have no voice

that can be heard above the cries of anti-semitism.

25 Feb 2010, 1:58PM
Whats the point? We know yours…and we know that stating anything else is clearly anti-semitic.
But in the spirit and all that…Step 1 could be halting the ‘settlements’ by ultra-fundamentalists and stopping the construction of the wall that solidifies the existence of the Palestinian ghetto.

It is interesting to see that just as so many of the CiF crowd are convinced that they know more about Israel than Israelis do, they also seem to think that they know more about what is good for the Palestinians than a Palestinian and that the ‘moderate’ face of Palestinian politics as presented by Khatib is rejected by so many.
As for the article itself, it was also interesting to note the points upon which Khatib agreed with the extremist Rosenfeld and where he voiced disagreement because these points illustrate exactly the problems which Israel is up against in its attempts to reach agreements with the Palestinian leadership which will put an end to the conflict. Ghassan wrote “We prefer peaceful resistance, which the government has been strongly advocating. The prime minister, Dr Salam Fayyad, has regularly joined the protesters against the Israeli wall.”
The reality is of course somewhat different; during Fayyad’s recent visit to Bil’in a section of the anti-terrorist fence was damaged by protestors. One would expect a statesman to express his objection to such criminal damage, particularly as his own security forces are not only incapable of preventing terror attacks on Israeli citizens, they are even on occasion actively participating in them. Fayyad’s attitude to a solution to the conflict was amply illustrated in his recent appearance at the Herzliya conference.

“This was not an extremist speech or one seeking conflict. Fayyad is probably the most moderate guy in the PA leadership. He was doing about the best he could. But that’s the point. He has no base of support, isn’t a member of Fatah, and doesn’t really represent Palestinian thinking. He is in office for one reason only: the Western donors demand it. Fayyad, and arguably the PA leadership as a whole, don’t want a new war with Israel. But Fatah will sponsor one if it thinks such a step is advantageous or needed to out-militant Hamas.

Equally, Fayyad couldn’t go any further than he did because he knows that his Fatah bosses, Palestinian constituents, and Hamas enemies would throw him out if he offered the slightest concession to Israel and demanded any less than everything they want.”

Khatib goes on to state that “Rosenfeld is right to point to the seriousness of Israeli violations in recent weeks. We welcome any effort to draw the world’s attention to the facts.” There are, however, facts which Khatib seems rather less interested in highlighting, such as the recent ‘explosive barrels’ attack on Israeli beaches, the continuing rocket attacks on Southern Israel and crossings into Gaza and the recent riots in the Old City of Jerusalem. Neither does Khatib seem willing to address the thorny subject of his government’s continued incitement and lauding of terror as illustrated by the fact that the Palestinians recently named a square in Ramallah after a terrorist who murdered 37 Israelis or the Palestinian PM’s official visit to the families of the terrorists who murdered an Israeli in a drive-by shooting.
Then there is the continuing problem of anti-Israeli incitement in Palestinian schools which Khatib claimed had stopped as far back as 2003 in an article he then wrote. The European Union Tax Payers’ Alliance seems to be of a different opinion however as it has produced a report entitled ‘Palestinian Hate Education since Annapolis’ and is investigating the use of EU funding for anti-Israeli and antisemitic text books. Incitement is also still a problem in PA mosques where as recently as a month ago a preacher in Khatib’s home town of Nablus (Schem) stated that “For the people who laid traps for the prophets of Allah – arrested them, killed them, and deceived them – it is a thousand times easier to lay traps for the followers of these prophets. Our mutual enmity with the Jews is a matter of faith more than an issue pertaining to occupation and land.”
The issue of putting an end to Palestinian incitement is of course one of the initial clauses of the Roadmap, but in another recent article elsewhere, Khatib complained only about Israel not fulfilling its obligations under the Roadmap; no mention of his own government’s failure to meet even the first clause of that agreement.
Khatib claims that “The world should judge Israel not by what it says but by what it does.” Wouldn’t it be helpful to see the world, the readers and editors of CiF and indeed Khatib himself applying the same standard of expectations to the Palestinian Authority? Maybe then we would see the emergence of some real moderates together with whom it would be possible to make progress.

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