Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Interview with Bradley Burston of Israel's Haaretz Newspaper

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JAN. 2010 -- Interview with Haaretz Columnist Bradley Burston

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tragedy in Wonderland, the fatalism of the rejectionist ideology

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It's one thing to be optimistic. But when you replace optimism with fatalistic hope, it is irresponsible and even selfish.

How else do you describe the bizarre, although articulately expressed, assertions by Ali Abunimeh, the presumed successor to the late great philosopher Edward Said, that Israel is "failing?" Published on Abunimeh's web site "The Electronic Intifada," where Abunimeh pines for the days when Palestinians were willing to sacrifice everything by using inadequate violence to respond to Israel's military violence, the column makes the seemingly bold claim that Israel is a "failed" state.

That kind of rebellious declaration, or rhetoric, does make the Palestinian sheep that follow him blindly cheer for optimism. But it isn't optimistic at all. In fact, attempts to rally the Palestinians with empty claims are undermining Palestinian ability to overcome the occupation.

The fact is if Israel is a "failed" state, then what is Palestine? What is the Palestinian achievement? What is the Palestinian strategy/ What is the means by which Palestinians might exploit this national failure by Israel?

The sad truth is that Palestinian extremists have been feeding false hope and useless rhetoric that instead of moving Palestinians to overcome the occupation have deluded them into believing that the continuation of the occupation is good because it will miraculously vanish because "Israel is a failed state."

Never mind that the movement Abunimeh cheers like a scene from the film "Lord of the Flies" amidst the bonfire of his vanities is an empty movement with only one goal: keep the conflict going because there might be some miracle. Because that is what Palestinian extremists need, a miracle. And they don't mind waiting through three more generations of Palestinian refugee destitution in the hopes it will arrive. Someday. Not now, of course. But someday, in the distant future.

People who are desperate and denied leadership will consume anything for hope. Alixirs. Promises of dreams that in reality are nightmares. False hope is always what false leaders offer to the hopeless. Because feeding hopelessness preserves the leaders of the "leaders."

They can't tell the people the sad and pathetic truth that after 62 years of fighting with false hope and lies and alixirs, the Palestinian people are no closer to statehood than they were in 1948. The rejectionists used to blame that failure on the late Palestinian President Yasir Arafat. Never mind that Arafat was the only Palestinian to achieve any significant objective, raising through revolution the Palestinian people out of the abyss of darkness and forcing the world to recognize that we in fact do exist. But that revolution in the hands of extremists and other false Palestinian prophets is non-existent. They wish for it, which is why Abunimeh's Electronic Intifada is an online altar to a power long lost.

There have been two Intifadas. The first was powerful and pushed Israel to the negotiating table that it falsely claimed it hoped to sit at with Palestinian peace partners. The sacrifices of the first Intifada, led by Palestinians at the grassroots level of the occupation, had a goal: to resist the oppressive Israeli military occupation and to push Israel to a solution to end the occupation and allow creation of a Palestinian State.

The second Intifada was started not by Palestinians but by Ariel Sharon, an Israeli terrorist in a three-piece suit who rose from the infamy of the Qibya massacre of Palestinian civilians in 1953 (and later was also involved in the Qafr Qassem massacre as a military supervisor in 1956) to become Israel's most vicious prime minister. It was hijacked from the hapless Palestinian people by the terrorism of Hamas, a religiously fanatic militant organization that Sharon and Israel helped midwife into being in the 1970s.

Abunimeh, who comes from the same corrupted Palestinian elite who destroyed Palestinian hopes and dreams in the pre-1948 years, pines for another Intifada, a violent and unnecessary option that would heap huge suffering upon a Palestinian people already max-ed out in suffering. The last thing the Palestinians need is another violent struggle against Israel. After two failed struggles and limited success from a revolution, Palestinians need leaders who can bring the conflict to an abrupt end and achieve at least some form of genuine statehood sovereignty. The only way to do that is to negotiate a real peace that establishes Palestine as a state in the last remaining land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

There is still hope for that two-state settlement, but that hope is exactly what pushes the rejectionists to mislead Palestinians into believing that somehow Israel, which has its military boot on the necks of Palestinian Nationalism, is in fact a "failure."

The only answer is peace. But that is why the rejectionists and their disciples continue to push for conflict. Their goal is the same goal that was sought by Hamas when Arafat and the late Yitzhak Rabin sought to negotiate a final peace agreement. Hamas and Abunimeh want the option of peace to be erased forever. If they can just get rid of the slim hope for peace through negotiations and compromise, then, maybe, Palestinians will stop trying to compromise and instead go all out in a new Intifada, one in which the leaders, sheltered in their luxurious homes in the decadence of the West that they so despise, can cheer on each and every Palestinian to martyrdom. Every Palestinian Martyr becomes another opportunity to push palestinians away from hope and in to the hands of all out conflict.

That reality is that while many in the world are outraged at Israel's military and violent excesses in the West Bank and the alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip, Israel is far from failure. It is the Palestinian people who are moving closer and closer to failure, thanks to the rejectionists and their lack of leadership and their inspirationally misleading words to fight on. "Until every last Palestinian has sacrificed his or her life for the rejectionist cause."

But Abunimeh is just one person. A good person when he is not leading the Palestinian people, but one who is leading Palestinians to another decade of slaughter. The real problem is the extremism that his zealotry represents. The idea that destroying peace and igniting a new Intifada because "Israel is a failed state" is so appealing to the traumatized, hapless Palestinian masses (who have been embraced by conflict for so long they know no other means of life) they are willing to go that route and lose everything rather than salvage what they can.

Many often point to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and observe that Palestinians mimic the Israelis in their actions. Yet Palestinians have not mimicked israel at all. Instead, they chose the fatalistic and the failed option almost every time. Israelis have always taken what they could, when they could, and how they could. In contrast, Palestinians, led by rejectionist leaders, have insisted that they must take "all or nothing."

It was the three famous "No's" in the 1960s. And those "No's" have turned into the foundation of Palestinian rejectionist policies. No normalization. No compromise. No peace. "All or nothing."

I will admit though that Abunimeh has a better chance of achieving the goal that is the destiny of his leadership: Palestinians, having demanded "all," will find themselves with "nothing."

You never know, though. There could be a miracle. Someday. Maybe. Possibly. Just say no to peace. Turn anger into hatred and hatred into violence.

Or, Palestinians can break the bonds of the extremist hallucinogens, open their eyes, see that their people are in such a state of despair that compromise is their only hope to begin to rebuild their devastated nation.

But few Palestinians have the courage to admit that they made a mistake, they were wrong and that the policies of violence and empty rhetoric are as much to blame for their plight as are the brutal policies of the Israeli occupier.

Israelis could not have wished for a better opponent, one that allows emotion to trump reason and good decisions to be erased by empty words of extremist and rejectionist rhetoric.

Tragedy in Wonderland.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, December 28, 2009

When life becomes frivolous -- challenges facing Palestinians in the occupation

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When life becomes frivolous
By Ray Hanania
Jerusalem Post Monday Dec. 28, 2009

I read recently that a group of Palestinians decided they were going to host the first-ever Miss Palestine contest. But it was quickly scuttled when religious and secular extremists decided it wasn't good for the country.

The argument, repeated often in interviews, held that it was somehow wrong for Palestinians to engage in such "frivolity" when there were more serious issues like the tragedy of the occupation and the suffering of the economic collapse associated with the occupation.

A similar pageant is held in Haifa, but when the idea was brought to Ramallah, the supposedly bustling cosmopolitan heart of Palestinian society, the "governor" decided to cancel it because the event "coincided with the first anniversary of the Israeli attack against Hamas in the Gaza Strip."

Other Palestinian leaders said it was canceled because it was simply inappropriate to celebrate when so many are suffering.

That kind of thinking is exactly why Palestinians have been losing over the years. They embrace the psychology of the victim rather than exercising the will of the victor.

It's simple. When you surrender to tragedy you live the life of a victim. You become the victim. You become the hostage of suffering, and your life begins to reflect a life without will.

And that explains why there is so little hope in Palestine.

I entered stand-up comedy after September 11, 2001 specifically because I know that the most powerful response to tragedy and suffering is to spit in its face, to tell tragedy, terrorism, violence and suffering that you will not simply lie down and surrender without a fight.

And the best way to fight is to be human and to exercise the power of humanity through a resistance to tragedy.

Humor, not anger, is the answer to hatred. Humor and being human is the answer to suffering and tragedy, and even to the loss of life.

The reality is that the human spirit of the Palestinians cannot surrender to the suffering of the Israeli occupation or to the continued conflict that seems never-ending. To surrender and to allow the suffering to consume our lives means that we have given up the hope of being human beings and living full lives.

IN FACT, the answer to the occupation is to not stop being human, and to do the very things that tragedy and oppression throw at you.

The Palestine beauty pageant would have been a powerful statement to the world that Palestinians will not surrender to the occupation nor allow the suffering to dictate how they live their lives.

It also would have been a powerful statement to themselves to energize their inner spirit and allow them to find strength just when strength is needed most.

At the most tragic moment, when a family member dies, sadness is the appropriate response to respect the dead. But the most appropriate response for those who survive and are left holding the tragedy of the person's death is to give the spirit a boost, to allow them to overcome the hardships of suffering.

Humor is often found in the aftermath of burials and wakes because humor helps the survivors to survive.

Underlying this conflict in human survival for Palestinians is the steady rise of the religious fanatics who bring the lowest common denominator of life, subservience to zealotry, as their answer to tragedy and suffering. In reality, they want you to continue suffering because it helps them disguise their inability to be true leaders.

In fact, when a society "suffers" and embraces victimization, false prophets with little talent or leadership ability can rise more quickly to control the population.

Instead of focusing on the failings of the leaders, embracing the tragedy makes it easier for the failed leaders to avoid accountability.

The pageant would have been a declaration that Palestinians are a people who can rise above the challenges that oppress people, not just in Palestine but throughout theMiddle East, where living as an oppressed victim seems to be a way of life.

And that's no joke.

The writer is a Palestinian American satirist and peace activist. He can be reached at

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Principles that should guide Palestinian and Israeli Peace

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These are some principles I have fashioned that I hope will become the basis for establishment of Yalla Peace Parties throughout the world to promote peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

1-We can disagree about the past with passion and emotion and still come together for a great future together. We do not have to deny each other's narratives about the past, or challenge them, on order to agree on a mutual future of peace and compromise. This is the first step. Stop using the past as a bludgeon to attack the other side, while closing a blind eye to similar conduct among our own peoples.
2-We apply one principle of fairness, justice, morality to achieve compromise looking within ourselves to find and correct the fault. Israelis must be able to denounce the killing of Palestinians before they can denounce the killing of Israelis. Palestinians must be able to denounce the killing of Israelis before they can denounce the killings of Palestinians.

3-We resist the temptation to blame people for the actions of individuals, and resist the temptation to respond in anger and in kind. This is not about people but rather about politics and government policies that have gone wrong and feed on the suffering, tragedy and confusion of our peoples.

4-We set aside the old paradym of Israelis versus Palestinians and instead define our movement as moderates versus extremists. We use the M Word proudly and reject those who seek to deny it as a means of distracting eyes from their own extremist ways and views.

5-We embrace two-states, Israel and Palestine, and deal with the issues after we achieve a real peace and two states. We create two states on the basis of the bigger principle and later negotiate the final borders, the sharing of Jerusalem, compensation and resettlement of the Palestinian refugees, the dismantling of which specific settlements, the swap of land, etc. Create two states so that Israel and Palestine become equal partners at the negotiating table rather that seeking to achieve the unachievable through an imbalance with Israel as the subjugator and Palestine as the subjugated.

6-We strive to see the bigger picture and not get drawn in to the battle over the "pebble." We see that peace based on compromise is the answer to past violence and terrorism. We don't allow one disagreement to discourage us from seeking the bigger agreement of peace.

7-We resist the rhetoric of hatred. We stop stereotyping Israelis and Palestinians. We reject hate speech, denial of the suffering of others. Palestinians must stop enabling or advocating Holocaust revisionism or questioning the Holocaust. israelis must stop questioning the existence of Palestinians or the facts that they lost many homes and lands as civilians in the 1947-48 war.

8-We view criminal acts (violence, terrorism, all acts of physical injury) not as the consequences of a people but rather as the result of individual conduct. Terrorism and violence must be treated as criminal acts not an excuse to persecute or demonize any other people.

9-We do not allow violence and terrorism to derail compromise and recognize that the more successful we become in reaching peace based on compromise and two-states, the extremists will push harder until it is too late with more violence, and violence of the most despicable kind including suicide bombings and military massacres.

10-We view violence of the past in its context not as a means of defining the future. The massacres in the Gaza Strip are horrendous but the answer is not to respond with violence, but rather to build peace to prevent future events from re-occurring. The same with violence against Israelis. We treat them as horrific incidents, not blanket condemnation of an entire people.

11-We stop blaming others and begin to address the challenges among ourselves. Palestinians stop blaming Israelis and Israelis stop blaming Palestinians. Instead, Palestinians look into themselves and identify their errors, mistakes, misconduct and change them. Israelis look into themselves and identify their errors, mistakes, misconduct and change them.

12-We accept that Peace is the answer and that both sides have injured each other.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, December 21, 2009

Op-Ed Columnist Ray Hanania tells the U.S. Census to SHOVE IT!

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Ray Hanania tells the U.S. Census to SHOVE IT! In this Opinion Commentary on YouTube.

-- Ray Hanania

The US Census and American Arabs, a Satirical approach

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The CENSUS: A satirical approach

Have you all filled out your census form yet?

I’m not filling it out. No. I won’t fill out the Census form because I want our name ARAB spelled out in black ink on the Census form … with all the other names … I pay my taxes … I am NOT writing the word ARAB on the form … the US Government should write it on the form for me …

They do that for everyone else.

The Census form has a long list of “recognized” ethnic and racial groups:


They list Hispanics five different ways on the Census form:

HISPANIC, LATINO OR SPANISH ORIGIN … Mexican American … Chicano … What country does Chicano come from?

They list Black people three times on the Census form :


American Indian or Alaskan Native … they even give you a space to write in your “TRIBE”

There are all kinds of ASIANS …

Asian Indian … Japanese … Native Hawaiian … Chinese … Korean … Guamanian or Chamorro … Filipino … Vietnamese … Samoan

OR … “Other Asian” such as Laotian … Thai … Pakistani … and Cambodian.

And they even have

Pacific Islander … Fijian … Tongan.

I know why they don’t have ARAB written on the Census form … They have already printed 28 other ethnic and racial groups … and THERE’S NO MORE ROOM for us anywhere on the form …

-- Ray Hanania