Yalla Peace: Palestinians’ worst enemy – themselves

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Yalla Peace: Palestinians’ worst enemy – themselves
Ray Hanania — JERUSALEM POST — If the Israelis wanted to defeat the Palestinians, Israel would immediately recognize a Palestinian State in Gaza, the West Bank and even east Jerusalem rather than embrace policies that push Palestinians to unite. If they did that, all the Israelis would have to do is sit back and watch as the Palestinians tear themselves apart.

Yes, the tragedy of the Palestinians isn’t that they are victims of injustice at the hands of the Israelis. It is their own tendency to destroy themselves from within.

The most powerful factor keeping Palestinians together as a people is the anger they share in response to injustices by Israel. But that’s a pathetic reason for unity. Worse, anger easily turns into hatred and hatred easily turns into violence, terrorism and killings. And violence undermines even the most just of causes.

Palestinians hate Israelis but they hate themselves even more.

Palestinian activists spend as much time bashing their own people as they do bashing Israel. The truth is that for the Palestinians, bashing Israel results in nothing but more defeats and losses. Bashing other Palestinians makes them feel better, and serves to distract their community from their inherent leadership failures.

Yes, it’s true. The Palestinian leadership is a failure, and the activists who lead the hatred, for example against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate Palestinian like myself, and against anyone who dares to challenge their fanaticism, are the primary cause.

Let’s define failure. In nearly 100 years of battling Jewish immigrants and then the Israeli people, the Palestinians have failed to establish sovereignty over one inch of historic Palestine.

THE DIFFERENCES between Israelis and Jews on one side and the Palestinians and the Arab World on the other is striking.

For example, Israelis and Jews recognize that the American public is the single most important public constituency in the world. The Arab World marginalizes the American public, brushing them off as “ignorant” and “uneducated.”

That may be. But there’s a reason the most powerful lobbying group in the world, AIPAC, operates out of Washington, DC, not London, Paris or the Hague.

And recognizing the importance of the American public means recognition of the significance of American politics. Some of the wealthiest people funding the presidential candidates in the United States are not Arabs who have billions at their disposal, but Jews.

Newt Gingrich this week pulled to the front of the Republican field of candidates seeking to unseat Democrat President Barack Obama in November’s presidential election.

Gingrich did that with the backing of one of the wealthiest people in the world, Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson is the publisher of an Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, and the owner of lucrative casinos in Las Vegas. He put up more than $5 million to fund a “Super Pac” that has been bashing Mitt Romney and that is helping Gingrich.

Although Arabs hate Gingrich because he called the Palestinians an “invented people,” the fact is that Gingrich has very moderate views on Israel and Palestine. In interviews with my journalist colleague Ali Younes, who covered the South Carolina Republican primaries, Gingrich explained that he would recognize and support a Palestinian state if Hamas and the Palestinians recognized Israel and renounced violence.

Forget about the politics of Gingrich’s words. Mainstream Palestinians renounced violence years ago and continue to live in the limbo of occupation, while Hamas goes back and forth, one day pretending to be moderate and the next vowing retaliation for brutal Israeli air strikes.

But as a veteran journalist and now columnist, I know presidential candidates will say anything to win elections. In other words, that Gingrich called Palestinians an “invented people” is meaningless in terms of what he might do to bring about compromise if elected president.

The bigger question, though, is where is the Palestinian or Arab version of Sheldon Adelson who is willing to put up much of his wealth to support the interests of his people? Arabs do not own newspapers, television stations or put any real money into the Palestinian lobbying. Pro-Israel groups have donated more than $51 million to candidates, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. In contrast, Arabs have only donated $61,000.

The Arabs, though some may be talented, have a lot of loud-mouthed activists who scream and spew hatred. There’s the great jazz musician whose hatred of Israel borders on anti-Semitism. There’s the talented writer at the Electronic Intifada whose words are driven by hatred of Jews.

These hate-driven activists have compromised mainstream Arabs, putting them in a headlock of oppression. Moderate Arabs are discouraged from expressing their views or espousing moderation in the face of the bullying and threats from the fanatics who spend more time and energy beating up their own people than turning legal claims against Israel into meaningful reality.

I was sitting with a group of Arab journalist friends recently at al-Manar restaurant outside of Chicago in Bridgeview, which is the hub of the local Palestinian Muslim community.

What struck me as odd was the restaurant was empty, save for our group. It was lunchtime on a Sunday. Down the street, Arabs were standing in line at two American restaurants owned by Greek Americans.

The real secret is that the Israelis don’t have to work hard at defeating the Palestinians. All they have to do is let Palestinians undermine themselves.

The writer is an award winning columnist and radio talk show host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com

This post has already been read 75 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

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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