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Finally, a Palestinian "Peace Now"?

Hurriyah Ziada.

What if a group of youthful Palestinian activists, fed up with Hamas and Fatah for leading the Palestinian Arabs over and over down bloody, self-defeating dead ends, were to emerge as a new political and social force—something like a Palestinian "Peace Now"?  The Washington Post thinks it has found them.

Relevant Links
Soul-Searching Blogger  Phillip Weiss, Mondoweiss. A “progressive” Jewish campaigner against Israel wonders if, maybe, he was once too tough in criticizing the Washington Post‘s Joel Greenberg.
Misreporting the News Critics say that the Washington Post mischaracterizes the Arab-Israeli conflict because of a fundamental flaw in its starting premises.

Palestinians are once again experiencing the futility of the rejectionist strategy.  Their effortless victories in UNESCO, with more predicted in the General Assembly, seem only to stoke their frustration.  Their expectation of Security Council recognition for a Palestinian state is about to be dashed.  Imagine the possibilities, then, in a Palestinian movement revolted by the old militarism, religious fanaticism, and bloodlust; exasperated with Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas for placing a wreath on Yasir Arafat's grave—of all places—to mark the festival of Eid al-Adha; and challenging Abbas's decision to spend lavishly on violent Palestinian inmates released from Israeli prisons in the Gilad Shalit exchange.  Imagine their compatriots in Gaza, though necessarily more cautious, offended by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh for telling Eid al-Adha worshippers that "sacrifices—not only [of] sheep"—are "a way in which we praise God."  Couldn't a Palestinian "Peace Now" emerge from recognizing, finally, that neither depraved violence nor an automatic UN majority has brought the Palestinians what they want?

Sure enough, the Washington Post recently ran a feature about an avant-garde group of activists on the West Bank and Gaza—non-Islamist men and women in their 20's, born in the first intifada and teenagers during the second, who are disillusioned with both Fatah and Hamas and uninspired by symbolic victories at the UN.  Post reporter Joel Greenberg, a veteran Israel-based advocacy journalist, came upon this "still-undefined, embryonic group of a few hundred."  The paper's headline writers billed them as a "new political and social force."  Has Greenberg found the future Palestinian leaders who are ready for painful concessions in order to achieve coexistence with the Jewish state?  

As a narrative hook, Greenberg focuses on attractive 22-year-old university student Hurriyah Ziada, who is "active in protesting the Israeli occupation of the West Bank."  Does this mean that Ziada wants to push Israel back to the 1949 armistice lines?  No, she thinks this is "inadequate."  What she wants is a single Muslim-majority country from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, its population swelled by the "return" of some 750,000 Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War plus millions of their descendants living in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq.  And the six million Jews who are presently Israelis?  Ziada would munificently grant the new minority "equal rights" in Greater Palestine.

Instead of rolling his eyes at this warmed-over rejectionism, Greenberg deems Ziada's vision of the disappearance of Israel a "human and civil rights" breakthrough, resembling the "American civil rights movement" and the "struggle to end apartheid in South Africa."  Why would he attempt to sanitize the old Palestinian Arab agenda and present it as something progressive?  

Greenberg's attitude is less mystifying in light of his record.  He so opposes a Jewish presence beyond the Green Line that he once served as a spokesman for Hamoked, yet another EU-funded NGO promoting Palestinian interests in the "occupied territories."  He served in the IDF (though he reportedly refused reserve duty in Lebanon), but his soft spot for the Palestinian narrative has long permeated his reporting.  He describes Arab opposition to the "occupation" as "bombing and shooting attacks on Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza."  He expressed this blinkered view of who was under attack even when Israelis within the Green Line were targeted daily in 2004.  And while no one denies that the Arabs in Judea and Samaria feel "occupied," the possibility that the land is disputed seldom appears in Greenberg's stories.

As for Ziada, Greenberg tells us that her father belongs to a "militant leftist faction"; her brother is a "member of Fatah's armed wing."  The apple does not fall far from the tree.  Ziada rules out any compromise with Israel: "When I have kids, I don't want them stuck in the West Bank.  I want the right to move freely. I want to go to Jerusalem, the city where I was born, and to the village my family was kicked out from in 1948."  Perhaps Ziada is disingenuous—or perhaps the 22-year-old does not recollect that West Bank and Gaza motorists could drive unimpeded throughout Israel before the suicide bombings of the second intifada.  Moreover, if, as she claims, she was born within the Jerusalem municipality to parents who were legal residents, it is puzzling that she lacks the blue Israeli ID card that would permit her to move freely about the country.  She tells Greenberg her family was "kicked out" of the subsequently "destroyed" village of al-Falauja.  But they might be living there still had an earlier Palestinian leadership not rejected the UN's 1947 Partition Plan—and had gunmen from al-Falauja not laid siege to neighboring Jewish communities and attacked Haganah convoys delivering food and water to them.

In undertaking their "creative nonviolent action" (i.e., violent confrontation with the IDF), Greenberg says Ziada and her activist comrades must overcome a "wall of apathy": The older generation is "exhausted," while most of her peers are "alienated from established political movements."  In fact, however, Ziada's "new" ideas meld perfectly with the standard Palestinian mindset.  In an October 2011 poll by Nabil Kukali's Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, a staggering 89.8 percent of respondents said they would rather have "no peace deal" and no "independent state" if it meant giving up the "right of return."  Far from uncovering a new political and social force among the Palestinians, Greenberg's story demonstrates that across the generational divide, Palestinians remain appallingly unrealistic and intransigent.  The reason is stark: The moderates have been assassinated, leaving Fatah and Hamas in charge.  Sadly, in opposing the "limited political horizons of the Palestinian leadership," Ziada and her comrades are pushing Abbas and Haniyeh not toward reconciliation with the Jews but in the direction of war without end.

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George on November 14, 2011 at 8:35 am (Reply)
The easiest way to kill this nascent movement would be for the United States or Israel to support it, monetarily and otherwise, through public or non-public channels. Let this fantastic initiative grow organically, and don't give the hardliners a reason to sway the fence-sitters to their side (as per the recent Western support of the Iranian protests).
Cynic on November 14, 2011 at 8:40 am (Reply)
Re the following: "What she wants is a single Muslim-majority country from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, its population swelled by the "return" of some 750,000 Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War plus millions of their descendants living in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq." This is laughable in light of what the Palestinians are currently doing to their "refugees" in the Balata camp in Nablus on the West Bank, who are confined to a restricted area where they have none of the rights local Nablus residents enjoy.
Jacob Silver on November 14, 2011 at 10:46 am (Reply)
"Refugee" means someone who fled. Let's accept the 750,000 figure (which I think is a bit high). The average age of that group would be about 70. Perhaps 300,000 survive. They could easily fit into a Palestinian state on the West Bank. As part of a peace deal, Israel could accept a token few of that number. Of course, many of them now live with their families, most of whom are their descendants. Their descendants are not refugees and, therefore, are not entitled to repatriation. If the Palestinian state wants to take them all, I am sure it would receive many good workers. Also, when we talk about refugees, remember that there were 800,000 Jewish refugees from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and other Arab states. So, lets not talk of the "injustice" of the Palestinian refugees. If we are playing the numbers game, the Jewish state suffered a greater injustice.
wayne on November 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm (Reply)
When the notorious anti-Israeli agitators calling themselves "Peace Now" are held up as good guys, it's had to see how it could go uphill from there.
Nate on November 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm (Reply)
Here's a refugee idea (it wouldn't be accepted by the Palestinians but might at least shame their Western apologists): Accept the right of return for the actual refugees of 1948 but not their descendants. In exchange, the Mizrahi Jews get a right of return as well. The Jewish refugees from Hebron, etc. also get a right of return--but not their descendants. No property is "restored," nor can it be passed down. People over 70 don't have kids or blow themselves up, and of course the Mizrahis wouldn't leave. Moreover, the message is this: We fought each other a long time ago, and this is a mostly symbolic and humane way to end it. What it would really do is force the fellow travelers to answer questions like, "Why are the Palestinians the only people in the world who inherit refugee status?" "Why is this ethnicity to be treated so differently?"
Cynic on November 15, 2011 at 8:02 am (Reply)
Nate, you ask why the Palestinians are the only people who inherit refugee status and why this ethnicity is treated so differently. With hindsight can be answered as the world's attempt to use the Palestinians to grind down the Jews, finally. Every time the Arabs have hurt themselves in actions against Israel, the West has come running with financial help and anti-Israel rhetoric, displaying hypocrisy and bigoted behaviour with their double standard for Israelis. To get some perspective on the problem, read this, by former Sudanese slave Simon Deng: He, too, questions the preferred status of the Palestinians over all other ethnic groups. He says, "There are peoples who suffer from the UN's anti-Israelism even more than the Israelis. I belong to one of those people. By exaggerating Palestinian suffering, and by blaming the Jews for it, the UN has muffled the cries of those who suffer on a far larger scale."
Andrew on November 16, 2011 at 12:55 pm (Reply)
Elliot Jager's article drips with so much sarcasm and cynicism that it is hard to take it as serious journalism. All his articles are slanted with a pro-Netanyahu bias, elevating the current Israeli government and its policies and diminishing Palestinian claims or legitimacy. His attack on Joel Greenberg is the latest attempt to slant the truth. Greenberg's article fairly notes the woman's one-state goals (which I abhor, incidentally) and her parent's prior anti-Israel work. But even this isn't enough for Elliot Jager.
A Human on November 17, 2011 at 7:48 am (Reply)
There is some misleading information in the article:
--"What Ziada wants is a single Muslim-majority country . . . ." Ziada, according to the the Washington Post article and other interviews with her, asks for one democratic state that includes Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
--Why she doesn't have a blue ID card: Palestinians who were born in Jerusalem before the 1990s did not get blue ID cards.
--Freedom of movement: Palestinian are not allowed into East Jerusalem, which according to International Law falls beyond the green line (i.e., is part of the West Bank).
--Her village, which was destroyed in the 1947-48 war: According to the new Israeli historians, the Haganah had a clear plan to "kick out" and destroy Palestinian villages, under than name of Plan Dalet.
--The Arab countries did not start the war. The Haganah started Plan Dalet during the early 1940s. The Arab countries interfered in 1948, after the massacres against Palestinians started.
Cynic on November 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm (Reply)
Massacres against Jews the region started in the 1920s. "Palestinians" only came into being after the 1967 war. East Jerusalem is accepted as Palestinian by those opposing Israel but was Jewish until the 1948 war, when Jordan invaded and occupied it. The green line is the armistice line established when the fighting stopped in 1948 and is not an international border.

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