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memri
October 27, 2006 No.
1339

Harsh Internal Criticism in the Palestinian Press

In mid-October, Palestinian government spokesman Ghazi Hamad and Abdallah 'Awad, columnist for the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Ayyam, both published op-eds in that paper expressing scathing criticism of the situation in Palestinian society.

In his op-ed, 'Awad blasted all the Palestinian factions and their leaders for their "lies and deception," [1] and in his, Dr. Hamad depicted the violence amongst the Palestinians as a cancer from which Palestinian society is suffering. [2]

The following is a translation of excerpts from both articles:

The Palestinian Leaders Are Power-Thirsty Liars

Abdallah 'Awad wrote: "...Why has the Palestinian people lost its faith in the factions? How have the factions [come to the point where they] designate militias to battle each other and clash with each other - militias that act, literally, as mercenaries? How have the Palestinians arrived at [a situation in which] they think voluntarily about emigrating, and even discuss it [in practical terms]? Why is there militarization in [Palestinian] society that [sets its members] against each other? Why has society become emptied of the true militarization, [which should be directed] against the occupation? How is it that the political factions have led the Palestinian people to the brink of national, political, economic, and social disaster? Who is responsible for the state of chaos, the havoc, and the collapse of morality, society, and internal security?

"Our leaders have nothing to tell [us] but lies and deception, because they have become sickly, failed, and afraid of the truth, since they are subjugate to the culture of factions, of opportunism, of [special] interests... and of narcissism. Nothing interests them but satisfying their unbridled lusts and urges to rule, their madness, their self-love, and their love of power.

"The motive behind the Fatah and Hamas leaders in these miserable moments is the chauvinistic, overbearing thought that has no room for people, country, homeland or history. Everybody has relinquished the homeland, and has sunk to waging a war of dahis wal-ghabra [a pre-Islamic 40-year war that began over a horse race] over this regime...

"In the meantime, the sins of the occupation and its crimes against the land and the individual are being deleted from the dictionary... in favor of the civil war to which the factions are mobilizing [their men] - after turning the men of the resistance into private militias that act as the contractor of the factions or of the leaders. This means that the Palestinian factions have reached the end of their road, and have begun to play the game of the occupation..."

The Plans of Hamas and Fatah Are Leading to Disaster

"... When Hamas says no to recognition [of Israel], its aim is to protect itself and its existence, which is exactly what motivates Fatah to insist [on protecting] the signed agreements, the U.N. resolutions, and the Arab resolutions. In actuality, the words [of both] are worthless; the land is under occupation, and the people are subject to repression. In short, the plans of both [Fatah and Hamas] are the path to disaster [that will haunt] what remains of the Palestinian cause. Whether Hamas and its government recognizes [Israel] or not, and whether Fatah and the Palestinian Authority sign [agreements] or not, the Hebrew state is continuing with its plan to eradicate [the Palestinians'] geography and demography. The sight is horrendous - but these leaders are struck completely blind, and are sunk deeply in lies, while the people burns in the fire of Hell.

"News flashes report on 'Casualties in Bombing of Occupation Plane and Casualties in Clashes Between Fatah Elements and the Hamas Executive Force.' This short description [encapsulates] the tragic situation at which the public has arrived. As if killing by the occupation is not enough - there must also be killing by the [Palestinian] factions. In this bloody drama, neither Hamas nor Fatah are innocent."

The Palestinian Factions Have Become Another, More Repressive, Occupation

"The factions, which not long ago were, in the eyes of the public, the guarantee for ridding ourselves of the occupation and for freedom and independence, have become... another occupation, more repressive than the [Israeli] occupation itself... We must condemn the lies of the leaders who will, if they remain in their posts and in their positions, lead us to the abyss and to the next catastrophe. Every week there are hundreds of shahids [martyrs], casualties, and detainees, and the occupation wages a war of killing and of causing people to emigrate as if it is amusing itself - but it is legitimate to ask, where is the resistance that [our] arrogant leaders talk about? Where are the casualties of the martyrdom operations? The occupation spares no effort to make the people's lives an insufferable hell, with the permanent and temporary roadblocks..., with the daily humiliation and scorn. So where is the resistance?... Where are the operations by Hamas? If this [period of] mad escalation in the war [being waged by] the Hebrew state is not the right time [for the resistance to act], when [will] the right time [come]?...

"Basically, the factions were created for the sake of the resistance and of the liberation of the land. Has the land been liberated? Has the aggression ceased? Has the Zionist enterprise ended, with clear borders? The answer is obvious; what is not obvious is how the [Palestinian] factions can [continue] to lie [to the public]..."

The Existing Situation is Likely to Increase Emigration

"It appears that our 'great' leaders, who speak to us morning and night about steadfastness, do not know what they are talking about. They are ignoring the actual statistics on emigration, which increases daily, and the public's [growing] inclination towards emigration... Every morning, our leaders and our factions tell us that it is the occupying state that is murdering, destroying, expropriating, and blockading - as if they had discovered or invented [something new]. An infant knows this, from the day he is born at one of the roadblocks. But what [the leaders] don't say is what their mission is, and what their role is in this conflict.

"The occupation wants to complete the Zionist enterprise in Palestine, but what are you leaders and factions doing to confront this? Your words are worthless, since reality says it all, from the loss of security and economic security to the beggary, the lack of social, educational, or medical security, and the lack of moral security, and, beyond this, the rule of the law of the jungle and your preoccupation with the war against each other. Are these the foundations of steadfastness, or are they causes of emigration?..."

No Place is Safe from Violence within Palestinian Society

Palestinian Government Spokesman Dr. Ghazi Hamad wrote: "Are we really a violent society? Have we contracted a chronic disease of violence that has caused us to lose our immunity, [and] has infiltrated our homes and robbed us of our tranquility and security? Are we locked in the prison cell of violence, doomed to carry [this burden] on our backs against our will? Do we believe that all our problems cannot be solved except by violence: by the bullet, the shell, the flyer calling for aid, and by harsh language? Has the violence become a culture implanted in our body, in our flesh, and in our bones, to the point where it clings to us in sleep and in waking? I fear that we have surrendered to it, and it has become the master that we obey everywhere - in the home, in the neighborhood, in the family, in the tribe, [and] in the organization or the university - and no place remains safe from it.

"The violence toys with us, leads us, and drags us into the abyss!! Even our children have lost [their] innocence and become filled with both fear and violence. It has become a terrifying nightmare that pursues us with an axe of death, dripping with blood. We have become captives in the hands of the violence that has taken the best of our children and our sons from us...

"Our celebrations have no point or meaning, unless during them we fire a volley of bullets that echoes alongside the women's ululations of joy. Under sad circumstances and at funerals, our heroes volunteer to 'puncture' the air with hundreds of shots from their rifles. It is inconceivable for our marches - whatever their goals and political color - not to have dozens of rifles and armed gangs climbing on cars and aiming rifles, and youths leaning out of car windows waving the barrels of the Kalashnikovs and roaring with joy."

Even Social and Personal Problems Are Handled by the Armed Groups

"Even family problems have been affected by the chronic disease of violence!! If there is a dispute over a piece of land, shooting comes before words. If there is a dispute over words, the [solution that comes to mind is always] a bomb, and if there is a divorce or marriage problem, the solution is the Kalashnikov, instead of [appealing to] someone qualified to handle marriage and divorce contracts. Celebrations have become a house of mourning.

"Violence has come into our political disagreements, so as to rob us of our brotherhood and love and to give us in exchange hatred, loathing, and tears. It has robbed us of the language of brotherhood, and has furtively equipped us with weapons. It has robbed us of our love that gathered us under the roof of the homeland... It has robbed us of our unity, and torn us into two camps - even into three or 10. It has made the catastrophe between us insufferably worse!!

"When we are angry at the electric company, we have no solution but to shatter its [equipment] and break its furniture. When we are angry at the municipality or at the governor, we call in a group of masked gunmen - the heroes of our age - to climb on the rooftop and draw their weapons in front of the satellite TV [reporters]. With the smallest battle cry, non-violent marches become marches of stones, gunfire, and clashes. Instead of strikes having a civilized and legal nature, they have sometimes turned into violence that damages schools, public institutions, and roads.

"When a man is angry at his wife, he comes with a group of gunmen ready to block roads to travelers. A referral to medical care abroad is obtained by force of arms and strong-arm tactics, and you can hold your place in line at the Rafah crossing with a group of gunmen. The hospital has become easy prey, and doctors are forced to work with weapons drawn in their faces. We have destroyed the schools with our violence, attacked the Legislative Council with our weapons, set fire to the government [offices], and drawn weapons at members of parliament, ministers, and other senior officials. What remains of the homeland?..."

All the Palestinians Are Responsible for the Violence

"What remains to us, when we use violence against ourselves, against our residents, against those whom we are meant to protect? Shouldn't we be ashamed of ourselves, of these shameful behaviors that disgrace us before our people and before the world? Then we appear at press conferences in clean, elegant clothes, and say to our Palestinian people; 'Palestinian blood is the red line, Palestinian blood is sacred'...

"The violence is not only a party or political phenomenon, but is culture, education, and behavior. It should not be dealt with only by means of a government office or laws... When the home sows violence, and when the establishment and the organizations sow violence, [when] there is violence in the street, at weddings, and at funerals, who is responsible? Do we all bear the responsibility? Yes! Are we [all] accomplices to this grave accusation? Yes! Can we remove violence from our dictionary, and institute a language of dialogue and cooperation? Yes, we can, if there is honest intent, national sentiment, and energetic effort! All of us - the government, the people, the factions, the intellectuals, the thinkers, and the authors - must act in the homeland in order to uproot these rank weeds and to make flowers bloom. Then we will see the sunlight..."

The Palestinians Want to Heal from the Cancer of Violence

"We all want not to see weapons in the streets, except [in the hands of] the security personnel. We all want our celebrations, our funerals, and our marches to be quiet and without casualties... our weapons to be clean and pure, free of a single drop of Palestinian blood. We need a little quiet, a little tranquility, and reasonable thought. The violence brings us nothing but blood, sadness, feuds, [hostile] flyers and counter-flyers, marches and counter-marches, [and] a long parade of misery, wrangling, and endless sorrow. We want to heal from this cancer that has consumed our mind, paralyzed our hearts, and blocked the openings of our lungs... We want to see a moment of peace, a moment of purity, a moment in which children will not tremble at the sound of shots, and passersby will not flee from stray bullets.

"...Have mercy on us [and spare us] this violence. Please, do not eliminate our hope and do not plant frustration in us. Do not [spread] hatred in the homeland. Do not [spread] hatred by means of the weapons that have always headlined our resistance, our honor, and our glory. Do not [spread] hated at our celebrations, at our funerals, and at our marches, so as not to cause our enemy to gloat. Do not cause the satellite TV channels to wash our laundry before the eyes of the unpitying world. Let us go in peace, sit in peace, conduct dialogue in peace, and sleep quietly.

"We must talk amongst ourselves in a calmer, more reasonable language that will be better received. We must teach the coming generations a language of peace, mutual understanding, and civilized debate. Why shouldn't we treat our people gently and our enemies harshly? Why shouldn't we train ourselves to conquer our anger and to be patient towards each other? Are these not virtues [mentioned in the] Koran, [are they not part of] morality, supreme values, and the foundations for [building] the homeland?

"We must call an 'Honesty and Reconciliation' conference, in which we express regret for mistakes and sins, acknowledge them, and undertake, before Allah and before our people, to abandon violence forever, and henceforth not to use bullets, shells, or disgraceful words - [and for] the spirit of tolerance and love to grow within us.

"It is thus that nations are built, and it is thus that the individual is built. Thus we will be able to move a long way ahead on the path towards independence and freedom...

"Let us collect the weapons from our streets and from our homes, and uphold the motto: 'among ourselves - love, dialogue, and mutual understanding; towards the enemy - force, resistance and steadfastness.' This is the proper formula. Do not overturn it..."

Endnotes:

[1] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), October 15, 2006. For a previous article by Palestinian Government Spokesman Dr. Ghazi Hamad, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1268, "Scathing Self-Criticism by Hamas Government Spokesman," August 29, 2006, Scathing Self-Criticism by the Hamas Government Spokesman .

[2] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), October 17, 2006.