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The “Nakba” is truly a catastrophe for Palestinians
By Ray Hanania — They can’t win through leadership so they try to win through rejection and extremism. That’s the continuing saga of the extremists who maintain a hold on the majority of Palestinians in the Middle East and here in the United States, too. We witnessed that tragedy right here in Chicago this past weekend.This past week, leaders of the “Jabha” (remnants of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), and pro-Hamas supporters, organized a protest in Chicago to “commemorate” the Nakba, or the “Palestinian Catastrophe.”
Organizers like Hatem Abudayyeh, a longtime Jabha extremist (who works as executive director of the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network), boasted they would have “more than 8,000 protestors” joining the commemoration of the Palestinian tragedy.
Of course, the protest was organized on May 23, a week after Palestinians normally commemorate the tragedy, on May 15. But that exposes one of the real goals of the organizers: that same weekend about 40 minutes from downtown in the far western Chicago suburb of Rosemont, another group of more moderate Palestinians hosted a Nakba conference.
The Palestinian American Congress (PAC), which has been inactive for most of the past 13 years since I served as its national president, showcased a weekend of speakers from the Palestinian territories. But most of the speakers were from the same-old circuit of voices who have been ineffectively “championing” the Palestinian cause for more than 30 years.
This is the real tragedy of Palestine.
The PAC represents the moderate Palestinian American voices who can’t seem to find the courage to stand up to the rising frustrations and emotions in the Palestinian community. The PAC, which represents mostly the remnants of the Fatah movement (founded by the late Yasir Arafat) are incapable of achieving their goals because they don’t lead.
The Jabha and pro-Hamas activists will never work with the Fatah or PAC moderates for Palestine. Both sides prefer to pander to the emotions of the Palestinian public, in competing ways.
While more than a thousand people attended the PAC Conference, the Abudayyeh event was attended by only “150” protestors, according to one of the few reporters at the event, a student writer from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.
Shawna Ohm reported:
“Nearly 20 police officers, including nearly a dozen on all-terrain vehicles and a handful on horseback, stood watch over the crowd. The high ratio of police to protester, one police officer said, was attributed to the protest organizers estimating a turnout between 5,000 and 7,000. … In addition to the police presence, portable barricades were set up to control the movement of the protesters. Hatem Abudayyeh, who works with event sponsors Al Awda-Chicago and the United States Palestinian Popular Conference, said that, historically, rallies in support of Palestinian solidarity have drawn crowds of more than 8,000 people.”
But Abudayyeh’s goal worked. Mainstream news reporters told PAC organizers they decided to cover the smaller downtown “protest” rather than the larger conference further away. The mainstream media never misses an excuse to excuse themselves from covering Palestinian issues.
Representatives of the protest, including American Muslims for Palestine, which supports the Islamization of the Palestinian cause, blamed the poor turnout on traffic, everything but their failed leadership.
Worse, the keynote speaker at the protest focused mainly for the release of jailed Islamicist Sami al-Arian, whose extremist rhetoric and ties to Islamic Jihad got him arrested by the U.S. Government after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
No other word better describes the failure of the Palestinian movement towards justice better than “the catastrophe.” It symbolizes not only how Israel’s founders intentionally sought to forcibly remove Christian and Muslim Palestinians out of their state in 1948, but also how ineffective the Palestinian leadership has been itself.
As the situation worsens, even former “moderates” who embraced the concept of Two-States based on land for peace, now have turned toward the more extremist notion of “One-State” in which “Jews, Christians and Muslims” live together in peace.
The tragedy is that Jews, Christians and Muslims have never “lived together in peace” in Palestine since the turn of the 20th Century.
But the greater tragedy is that the Palestinians have turned into a homeless people who slowly watch as much of their former lands in Palestine have been absorbed and transformed into a “Democratic” nation that rejects or compromises their rights because they are not Jews.
As their frustrations increase and as Israel erases the remnants of the Palestinian Arab identity in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the only solution for their pathetic leaders is to pander to the anger.
Give them emotional speeches. Cry out about the injustice of the Palestinian Refugees and the sacred “Right of Return,” and offer nothing but rejection and continued tragedy.
An entire industry has been built upon this strategy giving these so-called “leaders” a “reason for being” including jobs, book deals (in the academic work that do not reach the mainstream American public) and a limited sense of celebrity which they are happy to have.
Commemorating the Nakba doesn’t require courage. Neither group has to offer a real solution to the Palestinian plight. It only requires that you do nothing more than complain. For Palestinians the Nakba is truly a real “catastrophe.”
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and author of the new book “The Catastrophe” how extremists have hijacked the Palestinian cause and prevent a Palestinian State. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.)
This post has already been read 63 times!
Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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