March 9, 2001 No.

A Criticism of Palestinian Intellectuals' Double Standard

Palestinian writer, Zakariya Muhammad, criticized Palestinian intellectuals for not denouncing Palestinian crimes while criticizing the Israeli peace camp:

"These days, Palestinian intellectuals tend to blame the Israeli intellectuals who used to present themselves as peaceniks, for abandoning justice and peace, in favor of the [Israeli] 'consensus' that describes the Palestinians as aggressors and as a danger to Israel, instead of resisting the occupation, and demonstrating their understanding for the Palestinians' revolt. The gentlest thing that Palestinian intellectuals have to say about the Israeli intellectuals is that they are hypocrites; that the peace they spoke of was lip-service, and that deep inside - when the moment of truth came - they stood by the occupation."

"In fact, these accusations are correct with regard to most of the intellectuals in the so-called [Israeli] 'peace camp,' they have displayed a nationalist tendency and have had a role in Sharon's rise to power."

"However, this claim by Palestinian intellectuals, is weakened by their profound fear of dealing with the bad deeds that have occurred on the Palestinian side. None of them have denounced the criminal acts of murder that have been carried out by the Palestinian side. Although many of them denounce these acts in private, none have clearly written against them or published even a single communique condemning them."

"In other words, these intellectuals are either afraid of their public and its reaction, or they are hypocritical in their approach to their public. They only try to please [this public] even if it breaks the scales of justice on which they claim to weigh things. This position serves the hypocrite peaceniks among the Israeli intellectuals, who use it [as an excuse] to join their 'national consensus.' As long as the Palestinians have a consensus of their own and as long as their intellectuals abandon the 'scales of justice,' - the Israelis have no reason not to do the same thing."

"I cannot understand the attitude of the Palestinian intellectuals toward the abominable murder of the two [Israeli] captive soldiers in Ramallah. Nor can I understand the humiliating silence on the murder of two innocent Israeli citizens in Tul Karm after they were pulled out of a restaurant. They were killed only because they were Jews, in total contradiction to the Arab values of hospitality as well as human morals. In addition, I cannot accept the silence over the murder of the youth from Ashdod through the Internet..."

"If the Palestinian intellectuals cannot denounce these acts of murder out of fear of their public or because they accept the widespread logic that we act as [the Israelis] act -- then we have come to a point where we use their crimes to justify our own. If this is indeed the case -- then these [Palestinian] intellectuals have no right to denounce the hypocrites among the Israeli intellectuals."

"When I see a Palestinian intellectual sinking his teeth into the flesh of the Israeli intellectuals in his newspaper column without saying even one word of truth against the murders committed on our side -- I sink into depression. Justice is one and cannot be divided. You cannot use the part that serves you and cast off the other part, because in so doing you destroy the very essence of justice, which is supposed to be the intellectual's principle weapon."

"The Palestinian intellectuals left the condemnation of these acts of murder to the Palestinian Authority and its spokesmen, and thus hypocritically excused themselves [from taking a stance]. They hid behind the PA and easily rid themselves of the embarrassment of confronting their public with the truth."

"The truth is that if we want to flog the hypocritical Israeli intellectuals, the only instrument we can use is adherence to the scales of justice; we cannot abandon or break them. By adhering to the scales of justice, we can make them walk on sword- blades and injure their feet, [undermine] their morals, and expose their hypocrisy."

"There is no doubt that we are the oppressed. We are the persecuted and we are in the right, generally speaking. However, the oppressed and the persecuted are [also responsible] for sins and heinous acts. We must not be silent about these sins and crimes, even if it turns people's anger against us. For because justice is our demand; it is the roof that shades our heads, and without it we will stand naked like Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and others, who, at the end of the day, justify murder and occupation and feel comfortable in the shade of their national consensus -- the shade of the government of the murderer Sharon."[1]

[1] Al-Quds (PA), March 1, 2001.