Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and spokeswoman for the Palestinians, frequently appears on American television and radio. She makes an emotional case in a rapid-fire, filibuster style of expression that flouts historical fact and present reality. All too often, her interviewers are unequipped or unwilling to challenge the barrage of inaccurate and distorted statements. Among allegations frequently leveled and routinely left unanswered are the following:
Ashrawi: “The most blatantly racist slur is the Israeli theft of our humanity as parents. In an attempt to rob us of our most basic feelings for our children, we are accused of ‘sending [our] children out to die’ for the sake of ‘scoring media points.’ The horror is further compounded by the total and unquestioning equanimity with which such a grand national slur is repeated by Israelis of all parties, with no critical distance or even awareness of the enormity of such a racist charge.” (Jordan Times, October 29, 2000)
CAMERA: The Jordan Times itself ran an article October 25 detailing the involvement of Palestinian children in the frontline battle against the Israelis:
RAMALLAH (AFP) - Thirteen-year-old Omar Assad throws down his school satchel, puts on his ski mask, loads up his slingshot and sets off down the rockstrewn road towards the armed Israeli soldiers - school is out and it’s time for his extracurricular activities.
For Omar and his schoolmates who every day after classes swell the ranks of those clashing with troops protecting a road to a Jewish settlement near this flashpoint West Bank town, the afternoon’s activities have much in common with football practice.
There is teamwork to be learned - who will use slingshots, who will throw stones, who will make the Molotov cocktails, who will throw them and, most important, who will be responsible for picking up the streaming teargas canisters and flinging them back at the Israelis. . . .
Among the bravest on the “field,” Omar managed on Monday afternoon to crawl his way up to a concrete wall within 10 metres of the Israeli soldiers, and let fly with a stone the size of a golf ball. . . .
But his friend Hamid’s efforts - a strike with a Molotov cocktail which set an army vehicle alight - drew the loudest cheer of the afternoon. . . .
While schooling has managed to continue in Ramallah, colleges and universities have been closed all month, the students being in the forefront of the assaults on the Israelis.
“Those are my students over there,” a maths professor from the nearby Bir Zeit University said from behind a medical mask he was using - unsuccessfully - to keep out the teargas.
“Normally I would be teaching them calculus, linear algebra and differential equations,” said the professor. . . .
"At this stage it is better that they are engaging the Israelis than going to classes,” said the professor, who trained at a university in the United States. “We have to capitalise on this momentum. They can always study mathematics later.”
Also, according to an October 31, 2000 AP report, Arafat did indeed send children out to war. The report, titled “Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Tuesday called for renewed resistance by young activists,” quoted Arafat as saying “these children who throw the stones to defend Jerusalem, the Muslims and the holy places.” In addition, Hafez Bargutti, Editor-in-Chief of the official PA newspaper Al Hayat al-Jadidya, called parents who try to keep their children away from the clashes a “fifth column,” and accused them “of the most severe transgressions.” (October 27, 2000, translated by Palestinian Media Watch)
Ashrawi: “The two undercover Israeli agents that had infiltrated the march were recognised by the Palestinians as members of the Death Squads that had been responsible for assassinations and provocations.” (Jordan Times, October 29, 2000)
CAMERA: Ashrawi points to this absurd justification for the brutal lynching of two Israeli reservists on October 12th despite the fact that many journalists have clearly acknowledged that the victims were driving a Mazda sedan with Israeli plates and were at least partially clad in army fatigues (See, for example, Los Angeles Times, October 13). It is patently absurd to suggest that two elite, undercover members of a “death squad” would announce their presence by driving into town with Israeli plates and in Israeli army uniforms, and would allow themselves to be taken without firing a shot.
Ashrawi: “The Palestinian people are not a regimented army taking orders. They are not engaged in a war. They are engaged in self-defense. The army that is shooting at civilians, that is besieging the towns and cities and camps of the Palestinians, that is occupying other people’s lands is the Israeli army.” (CNN, October 7, 2000)
CAMERA: The fact that the recent violence between Palestinians and Israelis began with a Palestinian attack against Israelis coupled with the ongoing phenomenon of Palestinians initiating attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians contradicts Ashrawi’s claim of “self-defense.” It is hard to understand what “self-defense” had to do with the September 27, 2000 roadside bombing at Netzarim Junction in which Israeli soldier David Biri was fatally injured. This Palestinian violence occurred one day before Ariel Sharon’s controversial visit to the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. Moreover, contrary to Ashrawi’s characterization of a warmongering Israeli military targeting innocent Palestinian civilians, many journalists have documented the pattern of Palestinians shooting at Israeli targets. Often these gunmen are members of Arafat’s various police forces. Thus, for example, USA Today reports on October 23, 2000:
“Palestinians have begun attacking Israeli soldiers in what appear to be well-planned and coordinated ambushes involving not only young protesters but also Palestinian Authority policemen, civilian ambulance drivers and others. The Palestinians are not only throwing rocks at the soldiers but, Israelis say, also have begun bringing heavier artillery, including handheld rocket launchers, to the front lines.”
As for Ashrawi’s allegation that Palestinians are not “taking orders” from above, this too is false. Reporting on violence at the Temple Mount, the Boston Globe notes that Palestinian rioters received encouragement and instruction from Palestinian Authority officials:
A senior Palestinian official acknowledged that yesterday’s protest was orchestrated. The rock-throwing youths, whose flag-raising directly challenged Israel’s assertion of sovereignty over the site, quit the protest quickly after a request to do so by the same Palestinian official who encouraged them to demonstrate . . . .
After the service, Israeli police had a normal presence around the mosque and appeared to be showing restraint. But hundreds of Palestinian youths – at the direct encouragement of Faisal Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister for Jerusalem Affairs – began throwing rocks on Israeli police. . . (Boston Globe, October 8, 2000).
Also, Ha’aretz, in an October 2nd article entitled “No end in sight, as violence spreads to Israel,” reported that as early as September 30, Arafat gave the Fatah paramilitary group Tanzim the green light to violence. At a meeting on that date in Ramallah between Arafat, Tanzim head Marwan Barghuti, and top officers from Palestinian security forces, “[t]hose present were given to understand by Arafat that there was a need to continue the disturbances in a way which would result in a significant number of fatalities among both Israelis and Palestinians.”
War of 1948
Ashrawi: “In 1948, more than a quarter of a million Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes; 418 villages totally demolished; a series of massacres and a campaign of terror evicted them from their homes, and they have been refugees since then. This is the largest human tragedy.” (CNN, July 12, 2000)
"We have to start with first of all the recognition of guilt and culpability and of course, a recognition of the tremendous historical tragedy that the Palestinians suffered in 47 and 48 – the loss of their land, the loss of their continuity, development, the dispersal, dispossession, occupation, exile” (NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, July 11).
CAMERA: Scholars such as Dr. Efraim Karsh and Arieh Avneri have demonstrated that the claims of Ashrawi and the Israeli “new historians” regarding mass expulsions and dispossession are wildly exaggerated. For example, in the July-August 2000 edition of Commentary, Karsh details the Arab flight from Haifa, one of the largest Arab population centers. Before fighting broke out, the Arab upper classes fled despite the urgings of Haifa mayor Shabtai Levy and other Jewish authorities that they remain. The Arab Higher Committee (AHC) in Beirut ordered an evacuation, promising the Haifa Arab leadership that retaliatory action would be forthcoming – “it is only a matter of days” – and warning that “since there will be a lot of casualties following our intended action, . . . you [would] be held responsible for the casualties among the Arab population left in the town.” About the Arab rejection of the truce and decision to leave, British commander Major-General Hugh Stockwell told the Arabs:
You have made a foolish decision. Think it over, as you’ll regret it afterward. You must accept the conditions of the Jews. They are fair enough. Don’t permit life to be destroyed senselessly. After all, it was you who began the fighting, and the Jews have won.
The next day, Haifa’s remaining Arab leadership met with Stockwell and his advisers to discuss their evacuation. Almost all of the 30,000 decided to leave, and a few days later, only 3,000 remained in Haifa. After the Arabs left, Jews urged their former neighbors to return. On April 25, the American Vice Consul Aubrey Lippincott reported to Washington that:
Jews hope poverty will cause laborers [to] return [to] Haifa as many are already doing despite Arab attempts [to] persuade them [to] keep out.
Two days later, according to Lippincott, even Farid Saad of the National Committee (the official leadership body of Haifa Arabs), acknowledged that Jewish leaders had “organized a large propaganda campaign to persuade [the] Arabs to return.” In contrast, the Arab Emergency Committee employed scaremongering and threats to keep residents from returning. For example, Sheikh Abd al-Rahman Murad of the National Committee warned a number of escapees from the neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas that if they returned as they planned, the Jews would kill them all – women and children alike.
Even Haled al Azm, the Syrian Prime Minister in 1948-49, acknowledged the Arab leadership’s responsibility in creating a mass Arab exodus from Mandate Palestine: “Since 1948, we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave. Only a few months separated our call to them to leave and our appeal to the United Nations to resolve on their return” (The Memoirs of Haled al Azm, p. 386-7).
Likewise, refugee Habib Issa recalled:
The Secretary General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade. . . . He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions that Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean. . . . Brotherly advice was given to Arabs to leave their land, homes and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down (Al-Hoda, June 8, 1951).
The late King of Jordan, Abdallah, had joined the chorus of Arab voices blaming Palestinian leadership for the exile of their people:
The tragedy of the Palestinians was that most of their leaders had paralyzed them with false and unsubstantiated promises that they were not alone; that 80 million Arabs and 400 million Muslims would instantly and miraculously come to their rescue” (King Abdallah, My Memoirs Completed, p. xvi).
U.N. Resolutions and International Law
Ashrawi: “Now, this can be done [accommodating the refugees], first of all, by accepting the principle, by recognizing U.N. Resolution 194, by treating the Palestinians like all other peoples. All refugees throughout the world have the right to return, according to law.” (CNN, July 12)
"Israel has to recognize and admit its responsibility and culpability for the plight of the millions of Palestinian refugees who are dispossessed and dispersed and who have lived for more than half a century in atrocious conditions and tremendous pain and oppression, totally deprived of any rights. Then they have to accept Resolution 194, which very clearly states that the Palestinian refugees have the right to return and for compensation” (NPR’s Morning Edition, July 14).
CAMERA: Nowhere in Resolution 194 does it say that “Palestinian refugees have the right to return and for compensation.” The resolution, which never mentions specifically Palestinian refugees nor the term “right,” merely suggests:
refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practical date . . . . [R]epatriation, resettlement, and economic and social rehabilitation of refugees and payment of compensation [should be facilitated].
Thus the resolution required any returning Palestinian refugee to first accept living at peace with their neighbors in Israel, therefore accepting Israel’s right to exist. Very few of those refugees, even today, seem truly willing to accept this. It should also be noted that (1) the resolution applies equally to Palestinian refugees from Israel, and to the similar number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who came to Israel after 1948, and (2) that it placed repatriation, resettlement, and payment of compensation on equal footing. All of the Arab states voted against Resolution 194, precisely because it did not establish a “right of return,” and because it implicitly recognized Israel.
As for international precedents in the resolution of refugee problems, it should be noted that scores of millions of people were refugees in the twentieth century. In very few cases did these refugees return to their places of origin. For example, eight million ethnic Germans were expelled from Poland and German lands occupied by Poland at the end of World War II. Yet, as a condition of German reunification, the United States and WWII allies insisted that the German nation give up all claims against Poland, including the right for its refugees to return. Germany lost legal claims to land it had used to launch aggression. Similarly, India has not repatriated and granted citizenship to millions of Muslims who fled to Pakistan during the 1947-48 civil war. Historically, resettlement – not repatriation – has been the answer. (Source - CAMERA Backgrounder, Camp David: Facts and Final Status Issues
Ashrawi: “According to our firm position and national consensus and according to the terms of reference of the negotiations, 242 deals with all the occupied territories. East Jerusalem is part of the occupied territories.” (BBC News Hour, July 21, 2000)
CAMERA: Resolution 242 does not require Israel to withdraw from “all the occupied territories.” After difficult negotiations, the resolution was carefully worded to require that Israel withdraw from “territories” rather than “the territories.” This construction, leaving out “the,” was intentional, because it was not envisioned that Israel would withdraw from all the territories, thereby returning to the vulnerable pre-war borders. And any withdrawal would be such as to create “secure and recognized boundaries.”
The British UN Ambassador at the time, Lord Caradon, who introduced the resolution to the Council, has stated that, “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its position of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial.”
America’s UN Ambassador at the time, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, has stated that, “The notable omissions – which were not accidental – in regard to withdrawal are the words ‘the’ or ‘all’ and the June 5, 1967 lines’ ... the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal.” This would encompass “less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territory, inasmuch as Israel’s prior frontiers had proved to be notably insecure.”
The reasoning of the United States and its allies at the time was clear: Any resolution which, in the face of the aggressive war launched in 1967 against Israel, required complete Israeli withdrawal, would have been seen as a reward for aggression and an invitation to future aggression. This is assuredly not what the UN voted for, or had in mind, when it passed Resolution 242.
There is one final thing to be said concerning the missing “the.” Some commentators have argued that because the French “version” of 242 does contain the phrase “the territories,” the resolution does in fact require total Israeli withdrawal. This is incorrect – the practice in the UN is that the binding version of any resolution is the one voted upon, which is always in the language of the introducing party. In the case of 242 that party was Great Britain, thus the binding version of 242 is in English. The French translation is irrelevant. (CAMERA Backgrounder, “Camp David”)
Ashrawi: “Arafat was not only ready [to make a peace deal], but he actually prepared his constituency for peace.” (The Connection, WBUR, July 28, 2000)
CAMERA: Arafat has never prepared his constituency for peace; he has prepared his people for war. Even in the midst of the Camp David discussions, militaristic pronouncements and anti-Israel incitement continued unabated. Contradictory or dovish comments were noticeably absent in the PA media. Examples follow:
“The Palestinian people are in a state of emergency in view of the failure [to achieve an agreement] at Camp David… The next Intifada will be much more severe and violent than the first - the official forewarned - since the Palestinian people [have] weapons enabling it to defend themselves in a confrontation with the Israeli army.” (Statement by a senior PA security official, Kul Al-Arab, July 14, 2000, and translated by MEMRI)
“The popular recruitment in the PA’s territories has significantly increased, and a Palestinian Liberation Army was established under the Fatah leadership. The PA has already distributed weapons to the citizens and is supervising training and preparation for the possible confrontation with the forces of the Israeli occupation.” (Same senior PA security official as quoted above, Kul Al-Arab, July 21, 2000, translated by MEMRI)
“If all the households are turned into storage houses to secure the residents’ basic needs, this will lift a heavy burden off the leaderships’ shoulders, since it will allow it to focus on the chief and necessary challenges that it will inevitably face.” (Director-General of the PA Ministry of Information, Hasan Al-Khashef, Al-Ayyam, July, 2000, translated by MEMRI)
“The Fatah movement [Arafat’s movement in the PLO] announced a general call-up in its ranks as a preparation for the next stage. The movement announced the opening of registration for boys until the age of 16, for weapons training . . . The individual responsible for the movement made it clear that the movement will offer military weapons training to all boys under the age of 16, and noted that there is a strong response on the part of the boys.” (Al Hayat Al-Jadidya, July 20, 2000, translated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW))
Palestinian TV contributed to the tense, military atmosphere by running broadcasts of military parades and violence against Israeli soldiers. In the program “Fathers and Sons,” the announcer directed the voice-over of the soldiers on air: “Oh Satan’s agents, oh enemies of mankind. I am Man the son of Man, I have been robbed, I have been pursued, I am frightened, every day I die. . . and in my death, is life; I am the flame of life.” (July 21, 2000, translated by PMW)
While Camp David discussions were still underway, Palestinian children were enrolled in Palestinian Authority-run camps of their own where they learned weapons training and how to kidnap Israelis, among other militaristic skills. According to the official PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: “Brig. General Salim El-Wadia, who is responsible for the ‘Political Education’ in the Gaza Strip said: “We organize these camps within the framework of the general training program ... and this includes military training. We tell them [the boys] that there will not be peace without the return [of millions of Arab refugees from around the world] without the freeing of prisoners [Arab terrorists jailed in Israel], and without the establishing of an independent Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem. We want peace, while the Israelis only want co-existence that will impede our independence, our honor, and our sovereignty.” Next to the report is a picture of young children learning how to use automatic weapons (July 18, 2000, translated by PMW).
Continuous throughout the Oslo process, Arafat’s school system has indoctrinated Palestinian children in the belief that Israel is illegitimate, that Jews are foreign to the region and have no historical or religious claims to the land and that Palestinian youth are honor- bound to eject the “conquering thieves” from Jerusalem and “Palestine.” Arafat has not told his people of the need to make “painful compromises,” as has his Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Ehud Barak in statements to his own populace.
Ashrawi: “The question is that the peace process that was launched almost ten years ago started with such high hopes, raised expectations, and yet with every subsequent agreement there has been a process of fragmentation, of prolongation, stalling and at the same time creating facts on the ground that went against really the requirements of peace including settlements, including control, closure, siege, house demolitions, and so on, which ended up with Palestinians feeling that they are victims of a process having been victims of a conflict. So, life has not changed for the better.” (NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, July 11)
“We are also coming with the backdrop of increased Palestinian feeling of Palestinian grievances that life has become worse under the peace process, that the Israeli control is being exercised as occupier, both in terms of increased settlement activities, increased siege of Jerusalem, and unilateral actions to transform the city of Jerusalem” (CNN, July 11).
CAMERA: Ashrawi’s theme of total Palestinian victimization and denial of any Palestinian responsibility for difficulties experienced is the core of her rhetoric. Thus she speaks as if no gains were made by the Palestinians since the launching of the peace process. In fact, in the last five years, since the signing of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, Israel has withdrawn from Jericho, most of the Gaza Strip, Jenin, Tulkarem, Kalkilya, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, 80 percent of Hebron, and an additional 16.1 percent of the territory. As a result, more than 95 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza now live under Palestinian administration. The PA controls virtually every aspect of Palestinian life – schools, medical institutions, civic and political establishments. Palestinians now have passports, a flag, an international airport, and a sea port is underway. If “life has become worse under the peace process” as Ashrawi says, Palestinians can thank Arafat and his lieutenants who have erected a lawless and corrupt dictatorship that subverts basic freedoms and terrorizes its own people.
Ashrawi: “The more you maintain settlements in the West Bank, the more areas of friction you have. . . . you are creating not only a situation of volatility, you are creating an apartheid system; two sets of people on the same land subject to two sets of law, with Israeli extraterritoriality in the West Bank.” (NPR Morning Edition, July 14, 2000)
CAMERA: This accusation made in the midst of the Camp David discussions is totally incomprehensible since reports about Camp David II included proposals that envisioned West Bank and Gaza Strip settlements not annexed by Israel would either be dismantled, or would remain under Palestinian governance. If there were to be an “apartheid system” under this arrangement, it would be imposed upon the Jewish population by the Palestinian government. For the areas to be annexed by Israel, such as Maale Adumim, there can be no so-called extraterritoriality, because by bilateral agreement, the land would be within Israeli territory.
Land, Housing and People
Ashrawi: “You want to go back to 1948, 1947 – Jews owned 7 percent of the land, Palestinians owned 93 percent of all of Palestine.” (The Connection, WBUR, January 18)
Ashrawi routinely propagates the common but false claim that land not owned by Jews in Palestine in 1948 belonged to Palestinian Arabs. In fact, historically, under Ottoman and British rule, most of the land was government owned. According to statistics from the Survey of Palestine, which was published in 1946 by British Mandate authorities, and later republished by the PLO-affiliated Institute for Palestine Studies, Jews owned 8.6 percent of the land and Arabs owned 28.6 percent. But the Arab total included Bedouin grazing land (8.4 percent) and waste land (13.4 percent), neither of which was legally ownable according to the prevailing Turkish and British land laws. Not counting Bedouin grazing land and waste land, Arab owned land totaled only 6.8 percent. But, even if one counts land in these categories as Arab owned, the majority of land in Palestine in 1948 was state land, which did not belong to Palestinian private owners. Because there was never a sovereign Palestinian Arab state, this state land cannot be said to have ever have been “Palestinian owned.”
Also, it should be noted that most of the Jewish-owned land was purchased from wealthy Arabs, among them the well-known Nashashibi, el-Husseini, and el-Alami families.
Ashrawi: “There is no way in which any Palestinian population would prefer to live under Israeli occupation than freely in its own land. There is no way in which any type of occupation, usurpation of rights – the whole enslavement of a people – is a desirable or benign situation.” (The Connection, WBUR, Jan. 18, 2000)
CAMERA: As news of Israel’s willingness to turn over to the Palestinian Authority Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem has emerged, reports in recent months have revealed that many Palestinian residents do in fact prefer to live under the Israelis. According to USA Today, an unprecedented number of Palestinian residents in eastern Jerusalem applied for Israeli citizenship late last year as Prime Minister Ehud Barak repeatedly suggested he would hand over civil control of Arab neighborhoods to the PA. USA Today reports that:
“. . . many of the city’s 180,000 Palestinians say they would prefer to live under Israel’s democracy than under Arafat’s rule. They accuse his Palestinian Authority, a quasi-governmental entity, of being arbitrary and often corrupt” (“Some East Jerusalem Arabs are choosing Israel over Arafat,” February 3, 2000).
Israeli Interior Ministry statistics show that 158 Palestinians applied for Israeli citizenship in the last three months of 1999, as compared with only 115 in the first nine months of that year.
Similarly, Lee Hockstader of the Washington Post interviewed more than 15 Palestinians in Beit Hanina, “a clear majority [of whom] said they would prefer to remain under Israeli control rather than risk the economic and political uncertainties of Arafat’s Palestinian state-in-the-making.” Hockstader cited Uday Muthafar, 17, of Beit Hanina, who commented, “Israel means better salaries, more jobs and more security. . . . In Palestine, there’s killing and weapons-smuggling and chaos.” Yusef Ahmad, 22, added “If Palestinian rule comes here, I’ll leave Beit Hanina.” (“Some Arabs Prefer an Israeli-Run Jerusalem,” Washington Post, July 25, 2000)
USA Today revisited the issue in a July 24 story entitled “In East Jerusalem, demands of daily life outweigh nationalism.” Reporter David J. Lynch quotes, among others, Khadr Ali of Shuafat Refugee Camp: “The status quo is good. We can’t say this honestly and openly, but we prefer Israel. You don’t find the same [public] services in Palestinian areas. Go to Jericho and Nablus, you’ll find people complaining.”
While Hanan Ashrawi flatly denies the phenomenon of Arabs preferring Israel over a Palestine-to-be, other Palestinian Authority officials acknowledge it openly. Fadal Tahabub, a Palestine National Council member and an eastern Jerusalem resident, told the Jerusalem weekly Yerushalayim that he estimates that 70 percent of the almost 200,000 Jerusalem Arabs prefer Israeli sovereignty (Jerusalem Post, August 2, 2000).
Ashrawi: “There have been no home demolitions by the Palestinians – by the Palestinian Authority – neither under occupation by what he [radio caller] calls ‘Fatah hawks’ or whoever, and there have been no home demolitions even though there were certain houses that were built illegally. There was one case in which there was an attempt to remove one floor in Gaza that I know of. But according to all the reports we have seen, and I have been a persistent – not just follower of human rights, but an activist on behalf of human rights – there were no house demolitions.” (The Connection, WBUR, Jan. 18, 2000)
CAMERA: The detailed press reports reproduced below contradict Ashrawi’s heated denials:
The irony was probably not lost on Abdel Nasser Shaikh al-Aid when bulldozers driven by fellow Palestinians demolished the dwelling in Gaza where he lived with his family (“Refugee in Gaza Feels PLO Wrath,” Times of London, January 31, 1994)
Aged and unsteady, propelled by rage, Fatima Abu Suayed seized her visitor’s arm and thrust him in to the scattered remains of her home.
Poor even by Gaza’s shrunken standards, she had lived with 13 relatives in a two-room shack of cinder block and battered sheet metal. One afternoon this month, police swept in and told the woman and her neighbors that had to leave Palestinian state property. Then a bulldozer plowed down more than 20 homes – some of them, like Abu Suayed’s, with all the contents inside.
Among her losses was the only adornment on the flattened walls – a portrait of Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat.
“Our president!” she shouted, voice rich with contempt. “He comes here to kick us out! I ask God to punish those who destroyed this home! I ask God to punish them! I ask it every hour!” (“Palestinians in Gaza Vent Ire Over Arafat,” Washington Post, February 27, 1995)
Today the Palestinian Authority destroyed an illegal building used as housing for Bedouins in Tarkumei. The number of illegal buildings destroyed in recent months has risen. Bedouins say this is a provocation to violence. (Israel’s Channel 2, July 30, 1998)
Whenever Hanan Ashrawi levels her usual charges be ready to counter them:
- If a newspaper has published an op-ed by Ashrawi, write a brief letter-to-the-editor, countering her main point.
- Also let the op-ed editor know that Ashrawi brazenly distorts and misrepresents so many facts that it is a disservice to readers to publish her.
- If Ashrawi is on a broadcast that takes calls, phone in and factually challenge her assertions. Be sure to ask at the outset that she respond to your question rather than launching into one of her patented fillibusters.