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Saving Palestine: Part 2
Saudi Gazette Saturday, June 29, 2013
By RAY HANANIA
Last week I explained why the question of Palestine is so screwed up. Now I’ll explain how Palestinians can get their lives back, if they have good leaders, and the extremist activists can be silenced. If the years of failure have proven anything, it is that the Arab strategy of “all or nothing” has failed. The Arabs have ended up with “nothing” while in reality Israel has ended up with “all.”
Palestine should have been declared a state in 1949, but the Arabs couldn’t live with the humiliation or even control their greed. Gaza and the West Bank were absorbed and no Arab government cared about Palestinian rights. After the 1967 debacle, the Palestinians stood up for themselves and the only real Palestinian hero, Yasser Arafat, lifted them out of the dark abyss and made them a people again.
In 1988, at the urging of Edward Said and Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Arafat agreed to recognize Israel and accept a compromise state, if Israel would return the lands taken in 1967. Palestinians negotiated with Israel in good faith. Anticipating the establishment of a Palestinian state, Israel expanded settlements hoping to get as much as it could.
The rise of extremist Arab and Israeli activists undermined the peace. Extremists continue to demand “all or nothing.” They would rather have the illusion of the “whole dream” than the reality of a two-state compromise.
In fact, the extremists want the Israeli oppression. They have been doing everything possible to provoke Israel into being even more oppressive. The suffering of the Palestinians has created a convoluted opportunity allowing extremists to distract people from their failure by patronizing Palestinian suffering.
Today, every inch of Palestine is threatened by Israeli expansionism. As long as Israel continues to brutalize the Palestinians, as it has been doing, extremists need not be accountable for their utter failure to deliver their promise of freedom. Palestine is not free. It is more enslaved today than it ever was. What Palestine needs is a campaign strategy to force Israel to allow the creation of a mini-state. That mini-state will transform through natural evolution into a base for complete freedom.
Israel cannot survive in peace. It needs the conflict to distract the public from the truth that it is violating civil rights, international laws, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the fundamental morality that human existence embraces.
Palestinians need to end their violent response to Israel’s actions. We must confront and speak out against those in the Arab community who embrace violence. We need to replace the religious fanaticism of Hamas and strengthen moderate secular and religious voices. Most importantly, we need to take this nonviolent campaign directly to the people who can force Israel to change, the American public.
To beat Israel, Palestinians need to first look within and change themselves. Palestinians who advocate or use violence against Israel should be arrested and jailed. In a government system, only the government can authorize the use of violence, even as resistance. Hamas and extremists who use violence are undermining the power of the righteous Palestinian cause.
Palestinians need a leader who can stand tall in the shadow of Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela. We need to turn nonviolence into our weapon of freedom.
The answer to Palestine’s salvation is civil rights and bringing that message to American audiences. We must partner with African Americans and Hispanics, and clearly define ourselves in that civil rights movement. Americans hold the key to Palestine’s future, not Israel. If Arabs can convince the American people that the cause of Palestine is a civil rights struggle, we can change the dynamics of past Arab failure.
We need a slogan that represents this civil rights movement while eradicating the radicals who have hijacked and destroyed the Palestinian cause. These extremist activists must be shouted down. We must eliminate them from our conferences, silence them in our publications and denounce them loudly in our communities.
The small minority of extremists feed on our frustration to create hatred and enable violence and that allows them to control our destiny. These fanatics play a shell game with our minds, forcing us to hate and to react to Israeli provocations rather than to be pro-active. Criticism of Israel is justified. When Israel violates international laws, abuses civil rights or commits war crimes, we must shine a light on their actions in a way that Americans can see. It has to be done the right way.
We must reach deep into ourselves and accept that the past 65 years has been an Arab failure. We must restore principle and dignity to our cause and we must abandon hatred. We need to think out of the box. We need to use our power of reason to build a campaign of hope that brings peace to the Middle East and freedom to Palestine. We must take the power of our reality and our humanity to embrace the nonviolent underdogs.
No matter how small a Palestinian state might be, it will be the towering foundation that will free Palestinians including in Israel. Once Palestine is a state, the dynamics with Israel will change. The Israelis know that. Why don’t we?
In next week’s column, I will lay out communications messages and strategies to promote this nonviolent campaign of civil rights.
— Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and political strategist. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com or follow him on Twitter @RayHanania
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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