Alternative Palestinian Agenda

 

Saber Al Sabbar

 

The Patience of the Cactus

A
P
A
In the Media

 

Wisconsin Public Radio Interview
with Nasser Abufarha
June 13, 2002

Hi, I'm Jean Feraca, this is Ideas in Action and we're going to discuss an alternative peace plan for the Middle East. It is the conceit or brainchild of a Palestinian, his name is Nasser Abufarha, he's a graduate student in anthropology at Madison and is a member of the Alternative Palestinian Agenda. He is also a native of Jenin and maintains a residence there.

Welcome

Nasser: Thank you, thank you for having me

Jean: I'm trying to imagine how you could manage to be so level headed and high minded in developing these ideas when you actually saw the rubble of your own home town on television.

N. well, I've seen the rubble of my home town on television and I've lived also the experience of occupation, I've gone to school in Jenin under the occupation and I've gone through various harassment procedures under Israel, under the IDF, but we choose to live and if we choose to live we need to focus on how can we structure the relationship between us and the Israelis who are both integral components of the same space today.

J: Not everybody chooses to live. I mean, what could be more of a contradiction to that, as a general statement, when day after day we hear reports of suicide bombers.

N. Well yes. We hear reports of suicides bombers, but I call these suicide bombers dying to live too. Because nobody is born to give up all life, people are in a constant struggle to improve their lives. I mean their perception is that they are sacrificing their lives to improve the lives of their people. That's where the suicide bomber comes from. But in general there has been a quest for peace both among Palestinians and Israelis and that's why both Palestinians and Israelis were engaged in a peace process throughout the 90s. That came from public demand on both sides to bring about a peace process. Now of course we know that the peace process failed. There are reasons why this peace process failed and it was bound to explode when people were promised peace and they did not get peace.

J: Why did the peace proposals fail?

N: It was removed from peoples' concerns and peoples' livelihood. It was focused on forging a deal between power structures and that deal did not focus [……….] on the issues of conflict and issues of concern for Palestinians and Israelis and how can we address them and resolve them. That focus was missing from the picture, [each side focused on how they could gain more from the deal for their side] rather than on how can we resolve the conflict itself. And in itself, we Palestinians are a greater disadvantage in terms of power structure. So the Palestinians were not able to gain more than the Israelis were willing to give them.

J. In your view, what is your understanding of the needs of both sides and how does your peace proposal address them?

N: We have to look at the historical context of the conflict and the historical context starts in 1948 with the creation of the Palestinian refugees in the process of creating Israel. That's where the conflict started: the majority of the Palestinian population was exiled into the neighboring countries, were never allowed to return throughout the history of the state which is the last 54 years. Later on the remainder of the territories of the West Bank and Gaza were occupied and then the Palestinian population was subject to occupation. So we have on the Palestinian side the occupation as an issue, we have the Palestinian refugee as an issue, we have the demographic crisis in Gaza, where most of the residents are refugees who were driven out of their homes in 1948 and resettled in the Gaza Strip, this has caused a demographic crisis in the Strip.

J. Demographic crisis in the sense that there are just too many people for the area.

N. Too many people. 4,000 per sq kilometer. And we have the issue of the Palestinians in Israel who do not enjoy democratic and civil rights equitable to the Israeli Jew. And they comprise 12% or 13% of the Palestinian population. Those are the major concerns of the Palestinians.

On the Israeli side, we have number one the security concern, number two is normalization and acceptance, to be normalized and accepted as an integral society of the region, as part of the Middle East region. These can be resolved together, and we cannot -- the previous processes tried to focus on some of these issues in isolation. We hear a lot of talk about the settlements as if the settlements were the only issue, or ending the occupation in isolation of how it would resolve the conflict. Ending the occupation, if it will not resolve the conflict, I don't think it will be feasible to end it.

J. What about the city of Jerusalem

N. The city of Jerusalem is of concern and it actually shows how the issues are interconnected - Palestinians and Israelis, there is a great attachment from both to the city of Jerusalem. From Palestinians, and Arabs and Muslims, and for the Israelis and Jews.

J. I think the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is better understood than the Palestinian connection. Can you explain that to us? What sort of stake do Palestinians have in Jerusalem itself?

N. Jerusalem itself number one historically has been our cultural center. And … we have been denied access since occupation. We had some access in the early 70s, but for most of us, during the Israeli occupation, most men cannot travel to Jerusalem without a certain permit and that permit is subject to the Israeli [approval]. The rest of the Arabs are not allowed to Jerusalem, the rest of the Muslims who… Jerusalem holds the holy site for them, are not allowed to visit Jerusalem, especially the Muslims of the Arab states.

So we have denial of accessibility to Jerusalem and Jerusalem is not only housing historical sites or religious sites for Muslims and Christians and Jews alike but also it is a city that has historically been a cultural center for us.

J. In what sense a cultural center, what do you mean by that?

N. Well it housed most of the museums, it housed newspapers, most of the cultural production in Palestinian literacy were housed in Jerusalem and it has been the place where intellectual life has flourished throughout the history of Palestine.

J. So your plan, first of all is posited on the interdependence of these two groups, which is something that they themselves don't recognize or would like to deny.

N. Would like to deny. The fact that we both live in Palestine/Israel, we share the space and they cannot deny that, they see that before their eyes and that is where the whole thing came to me in traveling throughout Palestine/Israel. We live among each other, we may be separated: there are areas [that are] majority Palestinian and areas that are majority Israeli but we do share the same space, we do call the same space our homeland. We call it Palestine, they call it Israel, but it is really the same space. And since this is the reality, we cannot escape that, … we have to devise ways of how to share the space and live in the space peacefully.

J. So the idea of creating a geographical boundaries, which is the way we have defined creating the state of Palestine, the state of Israel, in your view isn't going to work because first of all in establishing the state of Palestine you contribute to the insecurity of the Jewish state.

N. Yes, as an independent state, and visa versa.

J. Yes, so what is the alternative?

N. The alternative that I'm proposing is to reconfigure the space into two states Palestine and Israel where Palestine would [comprise of] the areas that are currently predominantly Palestinian, inhabited by Palestinians, and Israel would be in the areas that are currently predominantly inhabited by Israelis. But both states are in a federal union whereby each state would have sovereignty over territory: its own laws, its own cultural expression, so you preserve the identity aspect of both people which is very strong for both the Palestinians and Israelis because it has been challenged for both the Palestinians and the Israelis. But at the same time the federal union would address issues of common interest, at the top of it is security. The Jerusalem and Bethlehem area would be, under the proposal, a separate district from either state, would have its own council, would run its own affairs, and the federal government would be housed in Jerusalem. This way Jerusalem is still the capital of Israel, Jerusalem is still the capital of Palestine and both Palestinians and Jews live in and have equal say in its affairs. …the Palestinians have their cultural expression and identity expression sovereignty in their Palestine and Israelis have cultural expression and Jewish identity, Jewish identity, in Israel, and both people, after a period of normalization that takes place, both people, later would have access to the whole country.

J. What about the right of return?

N. The right of return is addressed in the context of the new territorial configuration that is proposed. There are areas that [were] taken away from the Palestinians in 1948 and are still not settled by the Israelis and I will give an example of that: there is the Gaza Strip, which we talked about 4,000 per square kilometer, and the area between the Gaza Strip and Ber Sheva which is about four times as big as the Gaza Strip, and is inhabited by 20 per square kilometer. So that is a fertile area, largely vacant.

J. I thought it was a desert.

N. The desert is yet south. Between the Gaza Strip and Ber Sheva is not a desert it's actually very fertile fields that are being farmed by large Israeli corporations. And so those areas can certainly accommodate for resolutions and can certainly relieve some of the refugees suffocating in the Gaza Strip. So under the new territorial configurations that I propose, I allocate such areas to the Palestinian state to absorb the Palestinian returnees.

Similarly in the Galilee where Palestinians are still the vast majority. In the landscape there, there are a number of the Palestinian villages, sites, that were destroyed in 1948. So these areas where Palestinians still comprise a majority in the population are proposed to be reconfigured under the Palestinian state and in those areas the returnees would be accommodated by redevelopment of the villages in those areas and more settlements in the urban areas. Because in the Galilee, in the areas that we are proposing to reconfigure under Palestinian sovereignty, there are 72 Israeli towns that house 33,000 and there are 54 Palestinian towns that house 470,000 people. So if you look at the map yes there are a lot of towns, but if you look at the demographics which I did through studying the statistics from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, it shows that the majority is still Palestinian in that region.

This reconfiguration allows the majority of Palestinians to be under a Palestinian state, and yet it allows Israel to become more Jewish than it is right now because right now Israel has 20% of its population Palestinian. Under this new configuration, most of these Palestinians would fall under the state of Palestine.

J. How is this proposal the product of a student of anthropology.

N. (laughing) Actually this proposal is what brought me back to anthropology. I came up with this proposal actually through my own experience. I've been an activist all of my life, I've lived under Israeli occupation as I said and I've gone through beatings in my high school, I've gone through beatings at checkpoints and in the Israeli jails and so on. I've come to the states, I've become a student activist, I led the GUPS, the General Union of Palestine Students in the Michigan area. And then became a human rights activist after my graduation and then during the Oslo times I started traveling to Palestine and my own experiences in the travel to Palestine/Israel and encounters with various Israelis… it had an effect on me, myself.

J. In what way?

N. It's… who is the Israeli today, who is the Palestinian? I mean the main thing that I've come to realize, that has had an effect on me is that we are not in 1948 anymore, we are not in the history anymore, we're in the year 2000 and 2002 and the Israelis are no longer an immigrant society in Palestine, no longer a colonial settlement in Palestine, but rather there is a new emerging native Israeli identity that is an integral component of this space…

J. And this has to acknowledged.

N. And this has to acknowledged.

J. Are Palestinians ready to do that?

N. I think a lot of Palestinians are because the polls showed a consideration for a bi-national option in December at 22%, a recent poll showed it at 30%. So Palestinians are acknowledging that, acknowledging that in their support of a bi-national option, which is what I'm proposing, or their previous support of a two-state option. Not all of the support for the two-state option was an acknowledgement of that, but some of that support was in terms of a "stages" program that was "OK we will take whatever we can now and we will liberate the rest of it later."

J. Which is exactly what the Jews fear.

N. Which is exactly what the Jews fear and that will continue to be the case as long as we are in a process that tries to silence some of the other issues because the majority of the Palestinians are the exiled Palestinians. When we resolve the occupation, which is the West Bank and Gaza, that's one third of the Palestinian population. And most of those who are fighting for Palestine are the exiled Palestinians who are in refugee camps. And as long as this is trying to be shoved aside silenced and the Palestinian who was exiled has no space or no consideration in the process, he will continue to see that his only option is liberating Palestine because that is the only way he is going to be included. So, I mean, it's a matter of shifting the discourse to focus on the answer. To comprehensively address the issues in all of the conflict.

J. With us, Nasser Abufarha, he's a graduate student at the UW Madison using this hour to present a well-thought through peace proposal, and alternative peace proposal for the Middle East conflict. I'm Jean Feraca, what do you think? You can join in by calling 1-800-642-1234 or in Madison 263 1890. This is the Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio.

Sid joins in from Madison, hi Sid.

Sid: Good morning. Thank you for your program. I think this proposal is very interesting and whenever I ask supporters of Israel to come up with some sort of plan they always evade it, but it seems to me we should have a number of plans on the table and so we can have some concrete proposal based on some real suggestions. My question to you is: many of the critics now say that Israel is moving toward some sort of apartheid state where the Palestinians will be put in reservations like they were in South Africa or reservations like in America or ghettos. How will you deal with the great gap between the haves and the have-nots and prevent the Palestinians from becoming in a ghetto where they will have insufficient water, they really won't have the same economic resources or the ability to move around the country, because the supporters of Israeli say whenever the Palestinians want to move around they will be a security threat. So how would deal with those questions?

N. I think the Palestinians have dealt with this by refusing that arrangement, that apartheid arrangement through the Oslo process. I think the Oslo process was exactly bringing this arrangement: canonization of the Palestinian areas into some 60 pieces scattered throughout the West Bank, isolated from each other where Palestinians are, have to go through Israeli checkpoints between Area A and the next Area A or Area A and Area B and so on. And that's what brought the escalation of the conflict in the last two years when Palestinian at first thought this was an interim arrangement and that interim arrangement continued to be the case and the current is a reaction to that and I think the Palestinians are not putting up with it and not accepting it. We are engaging in… what we are proposing is to shift the discourse, to look at Palestinians and Israelis in a comprehensive, and absolutely what we are proposing not in any would canonize Palestinian areas or Israeli areas. This is what the previous Israeli government tried to do and they are still trying to do it, but I don't think they are successful or that this can be lasting.

J. Thank you Sid. Open lines for anyone else who wants to join in. We are talking about an alternative peace proposal that has been put forward by a UW graduate student in anthropology, Nasser Abufarha who is a native of Jenin…

Doe joins in next, from
Williams bay.

Doe: Hello, I just want to say that I am a Jewish American who has lost life-long friends because of my views, but I still hold them and I want to thank you for yours and I want to know how I can help.

N. Thank you. You can look at our website www.ap-agenda.org and there are campaigns and ways to help in disseminating this proposal and spreading the word and bringing it to discussion among Jews and among Israelis and among international circles as well. So we would appreciate your help in any way, please check us on the web. Thank you

J. Thanks Doe for the call, again we have open lines…

I'm impressed with the open letter that you wrote that acknowledges first of all the legitimacy of the Israeli state, but also appeals to Israel for the same kind of recognition, and I'm wondering how you are going about promoting this proposal and whether or not you are connected to the leadership in Palestine.

N. I am connected to some elements of the leadership, but not Arafat's leadership, and I don't think either the Palestinian or Israeli leadership, the current power structure, would be interested in such a plan.

J. Why is that?

N. Because number one the Israeli leadership have a desire, have a ideological commitment to an exclusive Jewish state. That is the premise of the original Zionist idea… so the idea of giving up that is not a matter of discussion for them it is a matter of how to contain the Palestinian population. And to maintain that.

J. The impasse we seem to have reached is… we always hear from Sharon that there can be no peace negotiations until there is an end to the violence. From the other side we hear… well I'm not sure what we hear exactly…

N. Well that there can be no end to the violence without end to occupation.

J. Yeah, and how do we get out of that impasse.

N. By bringing a vision that can comprehensively lead to a resolution. What people were saying before is, through the 90s and the old peace process, is that we could not necessarily see the light at the end of the tunnel. Today they can't even see the tunnel

(laughing)

And that is where we need to be creative and come up with ideas to bring to people as alternatives. A friend of mine yesterday passed me an article from the Jerusalem Post [showing] that the people on the Palestinian side who support the notion liberating all of historic Palestine has risen to 52% and it's bound to rise this way but also the people who support a bi-national state has risen also to 30 some percent. Unless people see a comprehensive vision of how all their concerns can be addressed they will not engage in a process to implement it.

J. They prefer to fight, their dug in.

N. They prefer to fight if the fight becomes their only means of communication they would fight. From the Arab perspective they are fighting for their own survival. What we need to do is to bring this vision that shows them, to show the Israeli that there is a way a secure and strong Israel through peace, and same thing for the Palestinians, there is a way to address all of your concerns through peace.

J. We have Dick joining in from Fish Creek.

Dick: Can you hear me? Yeah, basically I agree with Nasser's sharing Jerusalem, I wrote a letter to the Clinton administration shortly before they gave over power about shared city of Jerusalem where Israelis and Palestinians would share the government. Since then I sent a letter to the Bush administration about the Israeli/Palestinian state in general suggesting that the UN should step in and develop a corridor from the Gaza Strip through Jerusalem which would have a shared administration but oversight with the UN… connecting various parts of the West Bank… continue up to the North and that would be the basis for managing the formation of a Palestinian state in which the Palestinians would get the Golan Heights and the connected parts of the West Bank and have access to Jerusalem and also the Gaza Strip and would be administered by the UN many Arab countries partaking in the troops so there could be a managed oversight because the Israeli and the Palestinians haven't been able to manage the situation.

J. OK so Dick is calling for intervention in essence. They can't figure this out themselves, they're on a suicide course.

N. But we can. I would say that we can figure this out by ourselves, our power structures are not in tune with the people. The Palestinians and Israelis have made a choice for peace, their desire for peace is still there, the failure of the old peace process does not mean they have necessarily given up on peace. But what we need to do is shift that discourse. Now people understand on the Israeli side that their desire for peace was not met with a genuine peace process that was trying to resolve the conflict. The failure of the government to bring peace, the failure of Arafat's leadership also to bring peace…

J. What was wrong with Barak's proposal? Why did the Palestinians reject that?

N. A lot was wrong with it. The Barak proposal did not allow, as the previous caller talked about the apartheid nature of the state, it did not allow for a continuous viable, specially viable or as far as economic resources, or as far as a politically viable state in the West Bank. The areas were disconnected from each other…

J. A kind of an archipelago as I understand it… little oases isolated oases of Palestinians within the Israeli state.

N. Within the Israeli state and the rest of , the 95% deal that we all talk about that was given to Arafat in Camp David was in reality a 40-50-10 deal, which was the Palestinians have real sovereignty over 40% in these isolated spots, but the rest, the 10% to be annexed the settlements and the rest of the 50% were between forest reserves or security zones or land to be leased in the Jordan Valley to Israel.

J. But you know Dick's idea that the UN has a role in resolving this conflict, I think is a very new notion. I'm mean we've seen the problems that are coming from India and Pakistan right now and it seems to me that we have a strengthening international community that sees its role as an intervention role when a conflict becomes potentially dangerous for the rest of the world.

N. Yes, and I don't object to that. I think the UN has a role to play and it has been playing a role in it, and it is part of the conflict in itself because it was the body that partitioned Palestine in 1948 and never secured that partition or the premises of that partition which was adopted in resolution 181 at the time. But would I say that should an international involvement, and it is a conflict with huge international implications and ramifications, but not an involvement that would impose something foreign to both Palestinians and Israelis. This involvement needs to support the genuine initiatives for peace on both sides.

J. But again since you already acknowledged that the presence leadership seems to be committed to extreme positions that are mutually exclusive, how would you do that?

N. We are going on a grass route, we are advocating for our opinions and our views on both Palestinian and Israeli grass roots. There are also movements on the Israeli side, Yossi Beilen has broke off from Peace Now and just founded a new peace coalition. He was the architect of the Oslo process, which, he felt he was used by the government to the wrong ends. And similarly the people who started the peace process on the Palestinian side were undercut by Arafat and the deal that he made with the Israelis in Oslo. People like Dr. Haider … Shafi who was the head of the Palestinians delegation to the Madrid conference, and the rest of the delegation, 20 people, most of them were undercut by that leadership and they're, again on the Palestinian side, are trying to form coalition and trying to bring alternative leadership. This is what we are working on, we think we have our promise in those initiatives on the ground and where people no longer have faith in the player on either side to bring about peace, we think there is a vacuum for genuine people who are responding to people's desire for peace to gain support.

J. We're talking to Nasser Abufarha, a graduate student at UW Madison with us to talk about an alternative peace proposal which he has developed and is organizing. He's a member of the Alternative Palestinian Agenda…

Donald joins us from Milkwaulkie

Donald: Good morning. I agree with your speaker that I would like nothing better than to see the two countries try to resolve these issues by themselves but what I've seen in the last few months, it's almost going to be impossible without outside UN type support to mediate these problems. What I see is I think Israel expects the United States to back them up in no matter what they do, I mean they literally expect the United States to come in there with military equipment and military people if necessary in case the people that support Palestine and the Palestinians get involved like Syria and Lebenon and all that. And I really worry that, unless the United Nations comes in and makes a solid effort to negotiate between these two countries. I realize Israeli doesn't like that idea and I know Palestinians are uncomfortable with that but I'm afraid that things are just going to continue to worsen and put world peace at jeopardy. Thank you for taking my call.

N. Thank you Donald and I agree with you. The conflict has escalated to a stage that it is putting world peace in jeopardy and regional peace in jeopardy. And actually is has become detrimental to US interests in the region itself because this escalation of the conflict is now threatening regimes that as least the United States cares about, in Saudi Arabia, in Egypt, in Jordan and so on. Yes, I don't think the Palestinians object to intervention by the international community or the UN. Actually the Palestinians have been calling for international protection. However our concern would be should those international peace keepers come to be placed to monitor Palestinian population in the cities or placed at disengagement border lines so they protect both people from intervening with the other population. And that is where Israel does not accept to bring them - at borders. Actually Israel is not responding to its own people: their call to put a fence at the border, because if they put a fence at the border that means they are recognizing a border and they don't want to do that because we know that there are Israeli leaders who say they are not "occupied territories" they are "disputed territories."

J. Christina joins us from Manasha.

Christina: Hi thank you for taking my call. I'm a Jewish American and although I disagree with your guest's plan, I wish to express some gratitude and some support just for opening up dialogue between our two people which I think is extremely crucial to solving this conflict.

J. What do you object to in the plan?

Christina: Um, at this point I don't feel that a joint government between Israel and the Palestinians will work out, um, there is too much distrust on both sides and recently so I do feel the Palestinians should have their own state, but I do think it is going to take a long transition time for both side to gain trust of the other. Maybe this plan might work some time in the future but right now, especially Sharon and Arafat…[cut off]

N. …. if we grant Palestinian statehood that gives them the right to form alliances with Iran with Iraq with countries that might be a threat to Israel's security.

J. And to build up a military

N. And to build up a military. What we are saying in this proposal is that we want alliance with you, with Israel, we want a joint government, so you have a say in our alliances, we have a say in your alliances. You have a say in what militarization, we have a joint military actually. But what kind of development takes place in Palestine we have a say on, same [for] Israel. We jointly address our concerns together on how we share this space because at the end of the day we are sharing the same space today.

J. Thanks Chrisina. Steves comes next in Madison.

Steve: I'd like to give some kind of historical perspective if I could…

J. Aiie (laughing)

Steve: Um, Cromwell attacked Northern Ireland I think in 1690 and we're still experiencing the fragmentation and the effect of that attack today, between the Irish Republican Army and England and the six colonies of Northern Ireland. I would like to know if you think the situation in Israel is going to take that long and if not, can you give me some perspective on why it won't take that long to resolve the current dilemma in the Middle East.

N. Well I hope not and the reason why I think it is not, is that we don't just look at what we hear on the media about the Palestinian Israeli conflict, there is a Middle Eastern trend that is emerging in Israel that sees itself as part of the Middle East region and sees priority of Israel to normalize as a regional country. That trend exists, cultural communication and commonalties with Palestinians will bring room for greater cross cultural communication.

J. As an anthropologist, I want to ask you how you imagine breaking through, resolving perhaps, the tribalism on both sides that seems to be at the heart of this conflict. That is the Gordian knot that doesn't seem to resolve itself. I remember reading a letter from an Israeli soldier who has refused to continue to fight, who talked about on the one hand the principles that he learned from his Jewish heritage of social justice and so forth. And on the other hand his tribal identity which reinforces the notion of the other as subhuman. And the conflict of these two loyalties in a way, am I loyal to my principles, and you're proposal comes out of an enlightened sense of what is possible and what is fair. On the other hand what keeps the conflict going is these tribal feelings.

N. Yes that's… the image of the other, the construction of the other in both societies, the image of the Palestinian in Israeli culture, the image of the Israeli in Palestinian culture, all of these are subject to this process of resolving the conflict and are at the heart of it. How we perceive Israelis and how our perception of an Israeli actually defines an Israeli and visa versa: how the construction of the image of the Palestinians has its role in defining self for the Palestinian. What I through my research of both Palestinian and Israeli society, I see commonality and cross-cultural communication, and I also see an attempt by the government to undermine this [bastard] development because there is also ideological commitment to the idea of exclusiveness…

J. And the other as enemy.

N. And the other as enemy and that's what maintain their program, by having this security threat by the Other and to keep him an enemy. But there are also developments on the ground, there is a new generation of Israelis who are called the post-Zionists, they were first called the New Historians and now they define themselves as Post-Zionists, who have … a different narrative of the state of Israel, a different definition of the state of Israel, critical of the state of Israel being exclusive as a Jewish state rather than a state for its citizens. That is more of a Middle Eastern trend and it is effected by the culture of the Middle East. If we look at Israeli society how it is developing today, we find in dance they have Middle Eastern trends, in paintings, in music, even in cinema the young producers have Middle Eastern effect on their production… so that in itself shows that the Israeli is developing as a Middle Eastern…

J. So in spite of the conflict there is an intercultural synergy that we don't see, we don't hear about.

N. We don't hear about it, exactly, but this debate is going on in Palestine and in Israel and it is communicated to some level, not as much as we would like it to be communicated, a cross-cultural between Palestinians and Israelis.

J. Ok we go to Michael in Lake Superior.

Michael… my concern is that Arafat is the most consistent individual in this process since its beginning. I think it would be a terrible mistake on the part of the Palestinians to remove him or dilute his position in any way. And I think that that's exactly what the Israelis and the United States want because that would simply destabilize the position of the Palestinians…

J. OK let's get a response to that.

N. I think that Arafat has destabilized himself. He does not hold real support on the ground. When he came to Jenin after the destruction of the Jenin refugee camp, the media did not report that the people of Jenin burned the stage that Arafat was supposed to speak from and he ended up just looking at the camp from the helicopter. Arafat's option that he talks about, trying to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, does not gain today more than 12% in Palestinian politics [sic]?

J. Who would take his place?

N. Well that was the question when the PLO was barred from the Madrid conference and the Palestinian civil institution produced a collective leadership of 20 that went to Madrid and was representative of the Palestinian people. A similar process will take place and can take place where we would have a collective leadership representative of our civil institutions and that itself can carry on until there is a structure built around it.

J. We have a caller who wants to know how you are promoting your proposal and I'm sure people are interested in engaging in that process, how would they do that?

N. Again we need all the help that we can to bring it to discussion. We are doing forums, we've done a forum at UW, we are doing a lecture series on the subject of prospects for resolution in Palestine/Israel next Fall. I'm going to speak about it at the University of Michigan next Fall, and I'm going to be speaking about it in Milwaukee hosted by Peace Action

J. When is that?

N. July 17th

J. And how to people find out more about that, from the website?

N. From the website

J. Which is www.ap-agenda.org. I'm Jean Feraca, thank you so much for being with us, Nasser Abufarha.

N. Thank you for having me.

 

 

 

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