My unanswered questions – by Said Ghazali

At the conference on Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations – from Camp David to the present day, held at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem last Tuesday, my two questions were left unanswered. Anybody could guess what they were?

Of course not, has anybody got possessed by any supernatural intellect power to read what’s in my mind? But those former Palestinian and Israeli officials who attended the conference read what’s in my mind.

They weren’t supernatural aliens.

One of them, the moderator tried to prevent me from asking questions. When he failed and I asked my questions, the speakers whose eight eyes were in direct contact with my eyes didn’t answer them. It is important to note that I’m not a party liner. I came to listen to their views to understand better why the Palestinian-Israeli conflict revolves in the orbit of failures.

The failure is the opposite of success.

The conference could be also called the “confession” conference. or the “mud-smearing” conference. But, even if some speakers confessed they had committed their mistakes, so what? If they didn’t conclude a good lesson from their failure, so why hold a conference of this sort? To tell the truth, the emotions were running calm, despite one or two speakers who failed to suppress their frustration and anger. At least one of the speakers apologized for raising his voice.


Now, I take you to watch what I watched on Tuesday 19, 2010, the same day the conference was held in East Jerusalem.

On the Youtube website, four American policemen were beating up a university student for asking John Kerry if he was a member in ‘the Skull and Bones’, a secret society founded in 1832 at Yale University — which was behind the success of some U.S presidents.

I thanked Allah, who is the same God of the three monotheistic religions, that I was in a hotel in East Jerusalem listening to “civilized Israelis and Palestinian politicians” and not in a college in the United States watching the American security police beating a student. He was shouting: “What crime have I committed, to be arrested?” But, within seconds, he stopped shouting and started wailing. Oh, God, the stupid American policemen beat the poor guy, in front of John Kerry himself. Of course, Mr. Kerry didn’t answer the his question.

But Nabil Shaath and Itamar Yaar behaved nicely. It is true that they didn’t answer my questions. But, I wasn’t beaten.

In fact, I was mistaken to rule out beating in Jerusalem. There were no guards during the conference. There was no need, for they weren’t many Palestinians who had the courage to ask provocative questions. The civilized Israelis among the audience only worried about terror, so, there is no conflict, and the Palestinian officials didn’t say a single word which hinted at any support for terrorism. They sat calmly listening to the curses against the Palestinian terrorism.

The few Palestinians among the audience who attended the conference were smart and civilized; they don’t ask provocative questions which crossed the stereotype of permissible thinking – their mindset.

What’s their mindset? Everyone has his or her own mindset, but there is a closed mindset and an open mindset. I continue my answer.

I wasn’t beaten, because I was a tactician. Nabil Shaath left the podium, and sat on his chair at the table facing the audience, his name was printed in front of him. I was standing in the second row.

I told him I believed every word you’ve said. I have no doubt of your national commitment; I’ve no doubt that the PA wouldn’t offer any compromise, after the tons of the compromises. He began to suspect my intention. After I finished asking the question, his hand was shaking.

This is a clue for the first question to Nabil Shaath. Can you guess what is it?

I looked at Itamar Yaar, and said: “Look, a previous speaker [former Negotiations Support Unit employee Yasser Dajani] said the PA had carried out very successfully their security obligations, but why…. this is the clue for the second question. Can you guess it?

If you hear them — if you hear our leaders and their leaders, our intellectuals and their intellectuals — speak, you would admire what they say. They speak in similar language and repeat almost the same words: peace, coexistence, democracy, human rights, security, new opportunity, good moderates, and bad radicals.

They are against violence. But if you watch their actions, or if it happened to be a victim of their actions, you might see the opposite: their talk about security means destroying the security of others, their talk about self-respect means insulting others.

Peace and prosperity to Israel means security and economic lion’s share to Israel officials and to their own people, let me say in the short run, because they don’t have a vision.

Peace and prosperity to Arab and Palestinian leaders means security and economic lion’s share to their regimes only, without their own people, not in the short and the long run. They have no vision either.

Both have expressed no willingness to understand that peace and prosperity means promotion of bilateral people-to-people, government-to-government, institution-to-institution relationships with each other, without ceding their sovereignty or backing off from their principle stands.

Earlier, I read a letter sent by the Mufti Haj Amin al Husseini to a Bedouin chief in Jordan in which he condemned the atrocities committed by Mussolini in Libya in 1931. The Mufti hopped up quickly from one position to its opposite, thinking that the Palestinians salvation would be achieved by Britain, Germany, and Arab and Islamic countries.

I started reading “Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace” by [Israeli “new” historian] Avi Shlaim.

According to the book, King Hussein conducted secret negotiation with Israel for three years [1963-1966]. In 1966, Israel raided Samuo village in the West Bank killing 15 Jordanian soldiers, and five civilians and wounding many.

King Hussein felt betrayed and humiliated. His regime was shaken by riots and demonstrations that swept the West Bank.

He sent his Bedouin soldiers to fight “the Jews in Jerusalem” and killed three Palestinians and wounded many. My memory recalled at least one image: One man with a head wound was running in Damascus Gate, chased by the three Bedouins wearing their traditional Bedouin Uniforms. His blood was streaming over his face.

But, the king didn’t know what to do. The enemies were Syria, Egypt, Fatah, and the Palestinians in the West Bank, who shouted in the streets of Jerusalem: “Nasser, destroy Israel with your rockets”.

The king asked the Americans to help, they gave him sweet words.

Within few months, he signed a secret defense treaty with Gamal Abdul Nasser, even without reading its terms. In the end, he lost the West Bank in the 1967 war.

The Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser [this is not from Avi Shlaim’s book] fought Israel by Ahmad Sai’d’s fiery statements. Sai’d was an Egyptian radio broadcaster in the Arabs’ Voice Radio who defeated Israel by the volume of his voice.  “Carry your bags and leave Palestine, before you perish,” he said. It sounds better in Arabic “Ihmelo Hakaibekom wathhabo Min Falsteen, Kabla An Yateekom al Fahana.”

The Syrians lost the Golan Heights, because they were busy in many things and had no time but to get themselves prepared for the war. Even they hadn’t had enough time to get their anti-aircrafts artillery out of the warehouses.

The PLO emerged after the Arab regimes’ scandalous defeat as the savior for the Palestinian and Arab masses from the Arab Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean. The PLO didn’t seriously get prepared for the liberation of Palestine, either. The talk was cheap. e PLO followed the footsteps of Haj Amin al Husseini. The PLO leaders were childishly overjoyed by the overwhelming support they received from the Arab masses after the 1967 defeat, and the masses slept in their poverty swamps dreaming of the new savior — the PLO.

The meeting at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, 19th 2010 was held to mark the 10 years failure of the Oslo accord, as its headline said: “From Camp David 2000 until Today”. It was attended by some of the former Israeli and Palestinian officials who were involved in laying down the foundation of the Oslo Accords. All agreed that the Oslo Accord collapsed. They blamed themselves, including the USA which was blamed for its biased and not professional sponsorship of ending the conflict.

By the conclusion, the participants, who had their two coffee and light food breaks, were cheerful and optimistic. They didn’t lose hope. But they didn’t pinpoint the real reason of their failure. Therefore, I wasn’t cheerful and optimistic like them. They didn’t give me the chance to elaborate my point.

I was not one of their birds, I was flying out of their flocks.

My conclusion is that the former Israeli and Palestinian officials marked the 10 years of failure by adding another failure on the mounds of the previous failures.

They had big names and big political and security jobs. They are Ron Pundak, Afif Safieh, Nabil Shaath, Yasser Dajani, Itamar Yaar, Gershon Baskin and Hanna Siniora. I’m not interested in specifying their former positions.

Those interested in getting the background information, they can Google their names.

If these people sit tomorrow around a table and renegotiate the conflict, they will commit the same mistakes.

Nabil Shaath repeated that the Palestinians will never seek violence to settle the conflict with Israel. Itamar Yaar answered that while the security situation in the West Bank is somewhat better than before, the overall security situation — as far away as North Korea — is much worse, and Israel’s fears are still there. Israel, ever since the armistice line agreements with four Arab countries in separate negotiation in Rhodes between February to July, 1949, stated its concern of reaching a lasting peace with Arabs over the Palestinian cause — only, after Israel feels secure. Israel is still not feeling secure.

I raised my hand to ask a question, and the organizer let me ask. My question was answered by Run Pundak. He didn’t convince me. I didn’t convince him of my view, even when I backed it with the story of the Bedouins.

For those who interested to know it. I repeat what I told Mr. Pundak: One tribe’s leader complained to a tribal judge against his neighbor who was also a tribe leader. The last one attacked his neighbor and got the horses. The Judge said in Arabic: “Iza Fi Hail Rijet al Khail”- meaning “if you have strength, the horses will be regained”.

The second time, the moderator tried to stop me, claiming that I had already asked one question and I have no right to ask another question. I replied that I’m the only person, among 50 or 60 Israelis and internationals there, who represent the opposition.

He let me ask the questions. The second question was left unanswered. During the third session, the moderator was a Palestinian. He allowed me to ask a third question, but the former Israeli moderator tried to stop me from asking it.

“Why do you stand against my questions?” I protested.

The audience laughed. I asked my question and got no answer.

The Mufti negotiated with the British, by begging them to cancel the Belfour declaration. He begged the Arab countries, and finally sought the salvation from Germany and Italy and got the 1948 Nakba [catastrophe]. King Hussein negotiated secretly with Israel between the years and got the Samou raid, and lost the West Bank.

So, what’s the problem?

It is the mindset. Israel only trusts its security forces. The Arab leaders like to sit in their tents and talk about peace. Their main concern is to safeguard their positions as heads of their tribes.

Instead of Quraysh, Mudar, Abs, Ghatfan, Khuza’a, Qays and Yaman, their names have been changed; they are now Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority.

Israel and the Arab tribes have one thing in common – their static mindset.

Both sides, even when they talk about peace and prosperity, they don’t want to know that peace and prosperity means bilateral peaceful/friendly relationship between states on equal grounds. They only believe master-slave relationship or enemy-enemy relationship.

The Arab leaders are the slaves of Israel. The Arab peoples are the slaves of their leaders. This is the key idea, which explains the static mindset for understanding everything going on in politics, media, intellectual spheres in Israel/Palestine and everywhere.

The peoples are just like their leaders because they represent a mindset, mindset of a slave.

This static mind exists almost everywhere in our universe.

For those who interested to get more on this subject, they can read what the harvest of peace, democracy and coexistence in the bludgeoned Iraq and Afghanistan.


So, What were my unanswered questions?

(1.) I wanted to know Israel’s position about withdrawing fully from the occupied Palestinian territory to the pre-1967 borders.

(2.) I asked Nabil Shaath to respond to my recollection of the Village Leagues (so-called “independent” Palestinian local leadership, well-placed mukhtars and appointed mayors, and those who follow them, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and elsewhere. They agreed to ally themselves with the Israeli administration, mainly for self-interest, including personal gain, and were later formally organized into Village Leagues and armed by the Israeli civil administration in 1982, to enforce the rules of the occupation and to threaten those who challenge their Israeli-given authority. The Israelis hoped for the creation of a “moderate” Palestinian leadership that would be willing to negotiate an Israeli-approved version of “autonomy”. But, they were viewed by most other Palestinians as corrupt, dishonest, thugs — and of course as open “collaborators”. A Village League head in Hebron once explained that he was working against terrorism, communism, and for peace, democracy and better relations with Israel. According to some, the Village Leagues began to disintegrate as early as 1983, but others think they lasted into the late 1980s even into the start of the first Palestinian intifada — almost until the Olso years).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *