Nationalism and Palestinian Leaders
Below is an impassioned post to a list decrying the betrayal of the Palestinian people by their leaders, and wondering why they let it happen. It is an extremely important post. (I deleted the author’s name in case he/she did not want it used outside the list.)
Following the post is what I sent in reply.
Sent: Sep 18, 2010 9:10 AM
Subject: [USQuagmire] What is wrong with the Palestinians? A
What is wrong with the Palestinians? A whole lot.
23 07 2009
There is something very wrong with people who claim to be smart, intelligent, educated, hard working, honest, nationalists, and decent to accept such a stupid, corrupt, incompetent, reckless, useless leadership and organization for the last 45 year that failed at everything it set out to do turning the PLO to a manager and contractor of the Jewish Occupation with leadership that at best can be described as self serving, racketeering mafia that made financial fortunes for its self and members of their families fleecing national treasury ,while claiming to represent and lead the Palestinian people toward liberation and independence. The Palestinians remain under Occupation till now.
There is something very wrong with people who never held the leadership accountable for its failing, for lack of accountability and transparency, for the numerous disasters that befell the Palestinians in exile and under Occupation, where tens of billions wasted, tens of billions remains unaccounted for, where tens of thousands perished and died in the cause of liberation and where hundreds of thousands were exiled ( Kuwait) and lost every thing because of the reckless and irresponsible behavior of the leadership.
There is something wrong with people where â€œintellectualsâ€ who supposed to be the conscious of the nation and guardians of the peopleâ€™s interests and rights colluded with Arafat, the PLO and Fatah leadership and remained silent while witnessing firsthand the abuse of power and authority by Arafat, lack of collective leadership, lack of financial accountability, lack of holding the leadership and officers responsible for the many repeated failures. There is something wrong with intellectuals who became self serving of a system that corrupted their body and soul. Rather than standing up for the peopleâ€™s rights these intellectuals became a tool and apologists for a failed leadership. They simply sat on their face all these years while knowing the PLO and its leadership are nothing more than a lie, a fraud, bunch of crooks and thieves, unfit to lead let alone liberate. The failures and the mess we see today did not take place over night. It was there years ago, when Arafat became the sole dictator, dispensing financial favors for loyalty, making sure that all those around him are â€œeunuchsâ€ with no voice bought and sold with money and privilege and subordinated powers accepting personal insults and humiliations by the â€œOld Manâ€ including members of the present leadership.
There is something wrong with a business community and leadership that failed to dedicate a share of its money and wealth and access to power to building a viable economy with professional and skilled jobs for the people. Rather it chose collusion with a corrupt and failed leadership, benefiting from the corrupt leadership of Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority with rewards of monopolies and scares business opportunities that added billions to their wealth while the rest of the people could hardly have a decent job to live on with more than 70% living below the poverty lines. A business leadership that â€œcorneredâ wealth rather than â€œspreadingâ€ wealth, robbing average small entrepreneurs from business opportunities, becoming part of the mafia that is the Palestinian Authority.
There is something with leaders of so called â€œcivil societiesâ€, a leadership rather than serving the general interest of the people and public became self serving of their on pockets accumulating substantial wealth from donations they get from foreign donors anxious to do some good for the miserable people of Palestine. So many leading names became corrupted by access to Arafat, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority with business opportunities created through such relation that they became silent and blind, failing to speak out on corruption, incompetence, ineptness, abuse of power and authority, civil right abuse, never speaking out for accountability and transparency in government and public service, muzzled by the dollars they get. To the leaders of civil societies the Occupation became and is a business, a big business, they simply forget it is there.
There is something wrong with people and their so called representative ( PNC) who never demanded any sort of accountability and who never held the leadership responsible for it failures and mistakes in Jordan, in Lebanon, in Tunis, in Kuwait. There is something wrong with people who failed to demand accountability and public inquiry into the many massacres committed against the Palestinian people in Tal-Zaater, in Sabra and Shatilla, in Jennin, in Hebron. Who would believe that Israelâ€™s of Begin form a public and independent commission to hold hearing into the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla but says nothing about Palestinian leadershipâ€™s failures to hold a similar hearing? Something very wrong with such people and such leadership.
Who would believe that the PLO/Fatah and PNC leadership never made public accounting of the billions at its disposal, peopleâ€™s money, with no ccounting of SAMED Industries, no accounting of tens of billions of investments in Africa, in Europe, North America and the Middle East with no one knowing what happened to these tens of billions? And more troublesome is the deafening silence as they see and witness continued financial
corruption and thefts of public funds on a daily basis.
Who would believe that Israel charges its hero and prime minister, Rabin, with failing to adhere to its laws limiting bank accounts of officials outside Israel to few thousand dollars and forcing him to resign yet accept Yasser Arafat private and personal decision to transfer millions of dollars of the â€œpeopleâ€™s moneyâ to the private accounts of his wife so she can enjoy the high standard of living in Paris. Israelâ€™s dismiss its prime minister over few thousand dollars while the Palestinians worship a man who robbed them blind and failed them at every turn.
Who would believe the Palestinian people accept a leader who agrees to and accept hundreds of millions transferred into his personal and private account, money collected by Israel from taxes it collects on Palestinian imports, rather than having all the funds going to the peopleâ€™s treasury? Who would accept but Palestinians their leaders to have public money deposited into private accounts of their leaderâ€™s entrusted to retired Mossad agents and crooked bankers in France and in Switzerland? Why Israel punishes its leaders for keeping several thousands of dollars in foreign accounts, yet the Palestinians do not demand to know where are the billions hidden and lost in the private accounts of Arafat. Who would believe that the Palestinian people remain silent while key members of the PLO leadership accumulate wealth and assets in the hundreds of millions and do not ask the question where and how? The Israeli brought Olmert to trial because he accepted tens of thousands of dollars in stuffed envelops yet the PLO and Fatah leadership rob the treasury blind to buy cars, houses, scholarship for their kids, pay for expensive weddings and other wise fleece the national treasury.
Who would believe that there are so many traitors, informers and collaborators working for and on behalf of the occupying enemy making it very possible for Israel to target and assassinate key leadership such as Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Abdul-Aziz Rantisi, Engineer Abuy-Ayash and many many more resistance fighters gunned downed in cold blood based on information and intelligence provided by members within Hamas and Fatah? Who would believe there are tens of thousands of such collaborators and informers from the highest levels of government of Hamas, Fatah, and Palestinian Authority to the drivers of the donkey carts in the streets of Gaza , Ramallah or Nablus?
Who would believe that Palestinians accept , say nothing and do nothing about having to wait for hours and days, by the hundreds of thousands if not millions at more than 650 security checkpoints while more than 3,000 VIPs of Fatah, PLO and Palestinian Authority speed through these Israeli security point? One has to wonder what kind of people the Palestinians are made of and what kind of a leadership that negotiate for itself such privilege while the people it is suppose to represent languish for hours and days at these humiliating and degrading security checkpoints with so many women, sick and very young dying while waiting to go through. I am sure the leadership is very proud of its selfish achievements. It never cared for a gave a damn about the people when in Beirut, Tunis and now Ramallah.
One has to wonder what kind of people that accept a leadership that promised liberation for 45 years, only to come back as manager and partner with the occupation? A leadership that continues to meet and negotiate while Israel continues to expropriate and steal more and more land for its settlements, continue to negotiate while settlers are terrorizing villages and destroying farms, continue to negotiate while with some 70,000 Palestinians under virtual 25 hours curfew in Hebron and does nothing to chase this leadership out of Ramallah?. Abbasâ€™s partner Israeli negotiating partners Olmert & Company succeeded to build 2,500 housing units in settlements, 400 Km of the Apartheid Wall, while Abbas, Saeb, Quari and Abed-Rabou were having regular visits and drinks with Olmert, Levni and Barack. They even met with these killers and murderers after the war on Gaza. Who would believe that leaders from around the world make the efforts to visit Gaza to see the devastation caused by the Palestinian Authority negotiating partners yet not Abbas, not one single leader of the Ramallah authority bothers to make the efforts to visit Gaza?
Who would believe that Palestinians accept the lies of both Hamas and Fatah as they talk of liberation when the only thing they are interested in is â€œwho gets what of the financial pieâ€ that is the Jewish Occupation? Who would believe the lies of Hamas that it is Israel that detonated a truck load of explosive during a â€œResistance Ceremonyâ€ killing some 40 innocent people and lies about its reckless and irresponsible behavior and total disregards of the peopleâ€™s safety and security as it parked the loaded truck next to the people?
Who would believe that a leadership like Hamas turns the absolute and honorable right to resist and fight the occupation including armed means, into an act of â€˜terrorâ€ through the reckless, irresponsible and immoral use of â€œ suicide bombingsâ€ that kills innocent people, yes innocent people in cafes, buses and restaurant and turned resistance into a self serving business, with families celebrating the death of a son in a suicide mission rather than celebrating his or her life and graduation from college. Who but Hamas and Islamic Jihad that encourage and prompt families to accept â€œblood moneyâ€ for their dead sons and daughters from such killers and murderous like Saddam? It is one thing to carry a gun, shoot and kill Israeli soldiers or an armed settlers in the Occupied Territories, it is another thing to murder people on a bus in Tel-Aviv. Hamas leadership blurred the lines between what is right and what is wrong, and what is honorable and legitimate resistance and acts of terror. Hamas reckless behavior and leadership deprived the Palestinians from the noble and honorable right to fight and resist the Occupation. Hamas like Fatah not only failed to liberate, it managed to pull the rugs and legitimacy from underneath legitimate armed resistance.
Who would believe that smart and intelligent people like the Palestinians believe that the useless worthless Qasasm rockets will liberate Gaza? That Hamas fighters will defend the people of Gaza when in fact such irresponsible and incompetent resistance managed to kill not more than a dozen Israel soldiers while Israel managed to destroy some 30,000 homes made more than 500,000 homeless and killed some 1,800? Where is the smart competent intelligent resistance that Mishaâ€™al and Haniyah talk about? Certainly it is not in Gaza. Why does Hamas leadership put the fait and lives of millions of people in the hands of reckless, irresponsible resistance fighters and fails to take charge and responsibility for its failed strategy?
One has to wonder what kind of people the Palestinians are for accepting the daily abuse and misuse of power and authority by the Palestinian Authority Security Forces with a mission to protect the soldiers and settlers of the Occupation, retreating to its barracks when the Israeli army decided to carry out a military operation or an assassination, leaving the Palestinians without security or safety as Israeli soldiers and settlers kill, assassinate and destroy.
Who would believe that people who suffered for so long under occupation with more than 700,000 spending time in Israel jails since 67, tens of thousand dead at the hands of the Jewish Occupation accept the abuse and criminal behavior of Arafatâ€™s Preventive Security Forces in Gaza and the West Bank where more Palestinians died in Palestinian jails than those who died in Israelâ€™s jails? Who would believe that Palestinians accept and remain silent while Arafat, Abbas and their cronies turned the Preventive Security Forces into a mafia, racketeering and protection organizations for its leadership and officers accumulating millions in the process? Who would believe that the leadership and commanders of the Preventive Security Forces, during the shameful and criminal commands of Dahlan and Rajoub, of course with the blessings of Arafat and Abbas subjecting citizens and dissident Palestinians to torture, physical and verbal abuse, rewarded with promotions as they ran away scared, abandoning their posts before the advancing Israeli forces leaving behind their staff and political prisoners locked behind bars? Fulfilling the old saying â€œassadon alaya wa fel hurubinaâ€™amatunâ€. Loins when it comes to me but ostrich when it comes to war and enemy.
It is difficult to believe how the PLO leadership of the last 45 years turned and transformed the proud Palestinian people from a nation and people dedicated to education, hard work with ambitions to become doctors, engineers, lawyers, industrialist, and teachers and turned them into unskilled laborers for Israeli market killing their hopes and ambition to have a university degree. Young people now can look forward to joining gangs, joining theâ€œSultaâ€ and join the Palestinian Authority and becomes a security officer or a functionary, dedicated to protecting the Authority, the leadership and the Jewish Occupation and joining Hamas gangs in Gaza.
It is even more difficult to accept the utter silence, bordering on cowardliness where people fails to rise up against such an Authority where more than 80% of the people are below poverty line while the elites; the â€œBeirut and Tunisâ€ leadership enjoys million dollar homes, luxurious cars with guards and drivers for themselves, their wives and mistresses, spending thousand of thousands of dollars on dinner and drinks enough to feed several starving families for a month.
Never understood how brave individuals who faced Israeli tanks and guns with stones and rocks, could become a nations of cowards failing to take up the challenge of popular sustainable and persistent uprising against the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Fatah and against the Israeli Jewish Occupation that lasted some 42 years? Why are the people so brave before Israeli guns and tanks yet do not take the challenge and march on Ramallah and Gaza and chase the leadership out of office and out of country?
It is also not so surprising that the Palestinian people accepted the role of refugees, living in miserable camps, with open sewers, waiting for the end of the month to collect their rations of dry milk, flour, and cooking oil from UNRWA rather than take the challenge by taking over such services themselves. No wonder the Palestinian people and leadership became a nation of beggars, â€œshahadeenâ€ with no self respect and dignity and with a leadership of thieves. Too bad for the Palestinian people after being the model of well educated hard working intelligent people they became the laughing stock of the Arab, and the world. Thanks to such a self serving corrupt incompetent inept leadership of thugs, thieves and collaborators. Never seen a case where a leadership not only failed to liberate but succeed in destroying a people and a dream. Thank you Yasser Arafat, thank you Mahmoud Abbas, thank you Ahmed Qurai, thank you Farouk Qadoumi, thank you Saeb Eurikat, thank you Yasser Abed-Rabou, thank you Mohamed Dahlan, thank you Jibril Rajoub, thank you Tayeb Abdul-Raheem, thank you Khalid Mishaal, thank you Hakam Balawi and thank you Azzam Al-Ahmed, thank you Hanan Ashrawi, thank you all for destroying our people and our dreams, succeeding where Israel failed. For and on behalf of more than 7 million people for your successful dedicated leadership. We deserve you, as you deserve us.
John Spritzler here: My reply follows:
I am an American who has never been to Palestine, but I care very much about what is happening there, have tried to learn about the conflict, organize against Zionism in the United States, and agree with your excellent and appropriately sharp denunciation of Palestinian leaders. I also agree with the extremely important point you make about resistance, and salute your wonderfully clear and principled statement of it in the paragraph where you write:
“Who would believe that a leadership like Hamas turns the absolute and honorable right to resist and fight the occupation including armed means, into an act of terror through the reckless, irresponsible and immoral use of suicide bombings that kills innocent people, yes innocent people in cafes, buses and restaurant and turned resistance into a self serving business, with families celebrating the death of a son in a suicide mission rather than celebrating his or her life and graduation from college. Who but Hamas and Islamic Jihad that encourage and prompt families to accept blood money for their dead sons and daughters from such killers and murderous like Saddam? It is one thing to carry a gun, shoot and kill Israeli soldiers or an armed settlers in the Occupied Territories, it is another thing to murder people on a bus in Tel-Aviv. Hamas leadership blurred the lines between what is right and what is wrong, and what is honorable and legitimate resistance and acts of terror. Hamas reckless behavior and leadership deprived the Palestinians from the noble and honorable right to fight and resist the Occupation. Hamas like Fatah not only failed to liberate, it managed to pull the rugs and legitimacy from underneath legitimate armed resistance.”
The question that you have raised—the crucial question indeed—is why have the Palestinian people permitted their leaders to betray the people in whose interests they claim to act? (And it is not just a Palestinian problem—the same thing afflicts oppressed people everywhere.) I believe nationalism is the key to understanding why. This is why I reacted differently than you may have intended when I read this sentence of yours that includes the word “nationalists”:
“There is something very wrong with people who claim to be smart, intelligent, educated, hard working, honest, nationalists, and decent to accept such a stupid, corrupt, incompetent, reckless, useless leadership…”
While I agree with you that there is something wrong (in the sense of unexpected) in smart, intelligent, educated, hard working, honest people accepting terrible leaders, I don’t think it is unexpected for people who claim to be nationalists to accept such leaders. Here’s why.
Nationalism is an ideology based on a hierarchical model of society that legitimizes all of the things you rightly condemn:
· class privilege (“…having to wait for hours and days, by the hundreds of thousands if not millions at more than 650 security checkpoints while more than 3,000 VIPs of Fatah, PLO and Palestinian Authority speed through these Israeli security point?”, “…tens of billions remains unaccounted for” “that added billions to their wealth while the rest of the people could hardly have a decent job to live on with more than 70% living below the poverty lines”);
· elite domination and control (“dispensing financial favors for loyalty, making sure that all those around him are eunuchs”) and
· demobilization of the populace (instead of promoting mass action like the intifadas the leaders “like Hamas turns the absolute and honorable right to resist and fight the occupation including armed means, into an act of terror through the reckless, irresponsible and immoral use of suicide bombings that kills innocent people” by the actions of a select few.)
The poisonous effects of hierarchical and competitive models are also much in evidence here in the U.S., for example in the labor unions, where union leaders draw vast salaries as their members lose their jobs, their pensions, their health care, their rights while being directed to compete with other workers "for the good of the company." Union leaders demobilize their members as they negotiate and act on their behalf. The leaders function as an unacknowledged arm of management, undermining worker solidarity and strength wherever they can, while promoting competition and division among workers.
The core nationalist idea is that the most important aspect of a person is not their class but what nation (or, equivalently, ethnicity, race or religion) they belong to. Nationalism demands that people be loyal to the nation, and respect the nation’s flag and symbols. But in the nationalist concept, leaders can be seen as bringing honor and glory to the nation by achieving wealth and power and respect for themselves, as representatives of the nation. Loyalty to the nation, national honor and glory have nothing to do with making the nation more equal and democratic.
Yet in every nation working class people want to live in a more equal and democratic society; they want better lives for themselves and their children. This makes the nation’s working class a threat to the nation’s elite and privileged rulers. The rulers know this, which is why they demobilize the people, tell them not to engage in mass action like intifadas—the kind of actions that can actually defeat oppression—and instead tell them to rely on their leaders’ skill in negotiating with the oppressor the way Palestinian leaders collaborate with Israeli leaders. They don’t want the masses taking matters into their own hands, like in the intifadas. They want people to be dependent on them for their daily subsistence, unemployed except as police or soldiers, without independent sources of income and reliant on government handouts.
Nationalism divides ordinary people of different nations, who share the same positive values of equality and democracy, into two supposedly antagonistic camps: “our nation” versus “other nations.” Leaders who rely on nationalism to deflect criticism of their actions know that nothing strengthens nationalist thinking more than a war between “our nation” and an “enemy nation.” This is why nationalist leaders can make a mockery of armed resistance by making terrorist attacks on innocent noncombatant civilians of the “enemy” nation. And nationalism, in turn, is why people feel obliged to accept this as legitimate.
Even if ordinary Palestinians don’t like what their leaders do, it is exceedingly difficult to stand up to these leaders and challenge them if the ideology of nationalism is not, at the same time, repudiated in a massive way. For as long as the Palestinian public accepts, even if only passively, the nationalism that currently prevails, then any individual who opposes what the leaders do in the name of nationalism cannot help but feel isolated and incapable of mounting a serious opposition. Without a full repudiation of the ideology of nationalism, there cannot be a coherent challenge to the misdeeds of nationalist leaders.
But it is difficult to launch a massive repudiation of nationalism if one is an individual without an organization that is explicitly anti-nationalist and based on internationalism. (By internationalism I mean the outlook that judges people not by what nation they are loyal to but rather by whether they try to make the world more equal and democratic, as most working class people of all nations do.) This is why one of the most important things to do in the fight against Zionism and all forms of oppression is to identify nationalism as a poisonous ideology and to create new organizations based on internationalism.
Despite their occasional use of internationalist phrases like “workers of the world unite,” communist parties, due to the inherent elitism of Marxism (see articles on this by David Stratman and myself at http://newdemocracyworld.org/world_revolution.html) cannot and will not build a genuinely internationalist movement.
While it is certainly a difficult task to build an internationalist movement with the revolutionary goal of overthrowing privileged undemocratic elites and creating a more equal and democratic world, there is evidence all around us that this is in fact what most ordinary people actually want. That being the case, we can be on firm ground in being hopeful that success is possible if we are on the right path. Nationalist movements can never lead to the world we want. Only an internationalist movement can.
What would an internationalist movement do in Palestine? I think it would speak out, as you have done, against all of the wrong things that nationalist leaders do. It would do so, however, with the enormous added power that comes from a coherent internationalist perspective that rejects nationalism explicitly and calls for solidarity among all working people in Palestine--be they Muslim or Christian or Jewish, be their language Arabic or Hebrew, be their skin dark or light. It would denounce all forms of class inequality and divide-and-rule policies--like Zionism--that the upper class uses to strengthen their domination. It would build this solidarity by attacking oppressive elites no matter what their nationality; it would not, for example, give Palestinian elites a free pass with the nationalistic excuse that "Palestinians need to be all united against the Zionists." Nor would it have Israeli Jews give Zionist leaders a free pass with the analogous nationalist excuse. It would denounce acts of terror against Jewish noncombatants, while defending the right of armed resistance (like the intifadas) against the IDF and violent Zionist civilians. It would call for the revolutionary transformation of society--the abolition of class inequality and the shaping of society on the basis of democracy and solidarity--in Palestine and the entire world.
Such a movement would resonate with the billions of good people around the world. It would expose all who attacked it as morally wrong. In particular it would expose the lie that Zionist leaders are defending ordinary Jews from anti-Semitic Arabs, a lie without which Zionism would have virtually no support among ordinary people anywhere in the world.