op-ed: Obama – Dancing with the Devil in the West Bank

June 9, 2010 by David Singer
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As the proximity negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority continue to meander aimlessly along the road to nowhere – two remarkable articles written recently by the Palestinian Arab journalist – Khaled Amayreh – indicate the direction that America and Israel need to follow if they wish to see a possible end to the 130 years of conflict between the Jews and the Arabs in former Palestine.

Amayreh – who is based in Dura near Hebron – is certainly no friend of America or Israel. He despises and loathes both of them intensely.

Of America he has had this to say:

America is the author of 60 years of suffering, death, bereavement, occupation, oppression, homelessness, and victimization.

America is the usurper of my people’s right to human rights, democracy, civil liberties, development, and dignified life.

America is the abettor and financier of Israeli occupation, apartheid, repression, terror, and land theft.

America is the protector, maintainer, sustainer and guarantor of despotism, dictatorship, dynastic fiefdoms, and brutal autocracies, theocracies, oligarchies, and monarchies in the Muslim world.

On Israel he is equally condemnatory – writing last week in an article “Zionism must be abolished if real peace is ever to have a chance”:

In 1948, the forces of Zionist terror ethnically cleansed more than 90% of Palestinians in pre-1967 Palestine, banishing them to the four winds. Now, they are dreaming or probably planning to do it again, and they want to “transfer” millions of Palestinians to “the desert” in order to maintain Israel’s pure Jewish identity and have more “Lebensraum” for “God’s chosen people.”

Yes, despite the passage of nearly sixty years of “Jewish Statehood,” Israel’s undeclared but ultimate goal remains the expulsion of most or all Palestinians from the area extending from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.

How to avoid this supposedly looming catastrophe was to be explained by Amayreh in a second article published almost simultaneously titled “Jordanian-Palestinian Unity Must Be Restored”.

In prescribing his solution – Amayreh was prepared to tell a few home truths that the Arabs have been deliberately suppressing for decades when he stated:

… the Jordanian and Palestinian peoples are the two most homogeneous and closest Arab peoples, given their ethnic, cultural and religious commonality. We are actually one people, as Arab clans on both sides of the River Jordan have one common ancestry.

This indisputable fact should debunk all the myths about any proclaimed intrinsic distinctiveness, let alone contradictions, between Jordanians and Palestinians.

It should also demolish all parochial ideologies such as territorial nationalism, namely exaggerated Palestinian and Jordanian nationalisms, ideologies that grow out of fanatical tribalism which Islam condemns as acts of Jahilyya or ignorance.

This unity of the Arab people living on both sides of the Jordan River needed to now be revived in Amayreh’s view to prevent what he believed was to be the wholesale expulsion of the West Bank Arab population as well as the Israeli Arab population:

Palestinians should welcome and encourage any Jordanian orientation to cancel or reconsider, even if gradually, the unwise Jordanian decision of 1989 to dismantle the administrative and legal ties with the West Bank. The Re-institution of these ties should strengthen the Palestinians’ ability to survive and thwart Zionist efforts to empty our homeland of its real people.

In the final analysis, the people of Jordan and the People of Palestine can’t and will not have separate fates. According to the Islamic prophecy, the liberation of Palestine from the hands of Zionist Jews, will come from the east, namely from Jordan.

Our fate, our kismet is that we are one people. We must not escape this ineluctable fate.

One can certainly ask – if Amayreh is so wrong in his assessments of America and Israel’s past actions and future intentions – how can he be so right on the unity of the Arab populations living on both banks of the River Jordan?

The answer is to be found in the history, geography and demography of “Palestine” in particular that:

  • Transjordan comprised 78 per cent of Mandate Palestine from 1920 until it became an independent sovereign Arab state in 1946;
  • Transjordan occupied the West Bank in 1948;
  • the West Bank was unified with Transjordan on the East Bank in 1950 when the name “Transjordan” was then changed to “Jordan”;
  • the two united banks of the River Jordan constituted a single territorial entity from 1950 until Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967; and
  • West Bank Arabs enjoyed equal civil, political and religious rights with East Bank Arabs as Jordanian citizens until 1988.

These facts certainly appear to have escaped President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Envoy George Mitchell. Maybe they are totally ignorant of them. Amayreh certainly isn’t.

For the wrong reasons Amayreh has nevertheless postulated the right direction which must be taken to resolve the current conflict – the division of sovereignty of the West Bank between Israel and Jordan.

This solution is readily achievable by redrawing the boundary between these two successor States to the Mandate that already possess sovereignty in 94 per cent of Mandate Palestine between them.

What of the PLO and its offspring – the Palestinian Authority (PA) – the “johnny come lately” organisation cobbled together in 1993 under the now thoroughly discredited Oslo Accords?

Amayreh pulls no punches when he points out:

The PLO used to be a true representative of the Palestinian people. But this was when the PLO still retained it national chastity. Now, in my opinion, the PLO lost much if not all of its national honour, if only by indulging in manifestly treasonous acts such as the so-called security coordination with Israel. Some Palestinians are already calling the PA, the daughter of the PLO, a Palestinian “judenrat”.

On the PA being a corrupt organisation – Amayreh is equally critical:

For the Palestinian Authority to truly and sincerely fight corruption, it would have to demolish the entire Palestinian Authority apparatus because corruption, in its various forms, is the other side of the Palestinian Authority regime. In fact, there is an umbilical relationship between the Palestinian Authority and corruption. This might sound as an exaggeration to many, especially in the West. But this is taken for granted here. In short, corruption infests every aspect of the Palestinian Authority so much so that only a thorough and complete overhaul of the Palestinian Authority would stem the plague of corruption.

There is no love lost between Amayreh and the PA. On January 22, 2009, Amayreh was arrested by the police force of the PA. He was questioned and imprisoned in a blacked-out room for two days.

Are these views of such a rabid American and Jew hater likely to influence a change of direction by America and Israel? Only time will tell.

President Obama – and the Quartet – would do well to heed Amayreh’s message as the path to resolving the current impasse – even though the devil himself is dancing there in the detail.

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