Friday, September 14, 2007
An Excellent Article
Laith Marouf, The Electronic Intifada, Sep 14, 2007
"......The recent events have cast light on dark deeds: the collaboration between Mahmoud Abbas and associates like Mohammed Dahlan on the one hand, and Israel on the other; the transfer of weapons and training by the US and other countries to certain Palestinian militias whose mission was to overthrow the result of the January 2006 election. Palestinians see clearly that Abbas -- who embraces Israeli leaders while refusing to talk to other Palestinian factions -- was the author of the Oslo agreement that never even mentioned the word "occupation," and is now discussing a new "agreement of principles" that will cancel the right of return, legitimize Israeli settlements and threaten other basic rights. In short, what we have now is a clique of collaborators in control of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority "presidency" and much of what is left of the PLO.......
In the absence of alternative structures for representation, and with the emergence of the Internet, groups like SPHR and Al-Awda among others, and independent media like The Electronic Intifada started popping up across North America in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. After the second intifada broke out, they became the most visible and vocal forces standing up to Israeli and Zionist propaganda, providing a mechanism for young Palestinians in the Diaspora to talk to each other and organize. Thus, they also provided an invaluable service to the community: self-education and celebration. Zionist institutions grudgingly credited these projects with challenging the monopoly they had held on the western media narrative, making it harder to pass pro-Israeli propaganda without a response from an increasing number of articulate individuals......
.....Along with all the remarkable achievements of the movement within the student and labor unions and the anti-war movement, this created an unprecedented amount of maneuvering space for Palestinians. And here is where the problems started. Suddenly, all those "liberal" and "civilized" individuals understood that the train was leaving without them. Having failed to stop the movement, some are desperately trying to regain legitimacy in order to take control of this new space......
Why is all this happening now? When the day comes for Abbas to sign on the line -- giving up Palestinian rights -- he needs a Diaspora leadership that is in line with his decisions. In Canada, almost all Palestinian advocacy and community groups have been involved in these efforts, but our tried, tested and failed "elite" are trying very hard to take the helm once again -- if not by democracy then by any means necessary. Since these discussions started last year, some of the steadfast individuals have received physical threats and even death threats. And things have not got serious yet.
In the past two years in Europe, Palestinians were able to form an umbrella group that actually challenged the Abbas line, and tried to challenge the ban on the elected Hamas government. It may be no coincidence that now the old "elite" in Canada are receiving backing from Abbas and his entourage. Since last year there has been a rash of Fatah visits to Canada and the US where the primary goal is meeting with prospective allies here to prepare them for seats in a revived (but Abbas controlled) PLO. In recent months, Fatah has sent senior representatives to rally the support of Palestinians in Canada late last year and this summer following the events in Gaza and promised rewards to potential allies.
Palestinians in the Diaspora need to learn the lesson from Gaza and Lebanon. Although all Palestinians desire unity, it is impossible with those who are actively collaborating with the Israeli agenda and seeking to undermine the Palestinian movement for liberation. We cannot allow those who hijacked Palestinian institutions in Palestine in order to serve Israel to do the same in the Diaspora.
Many have argued that we need to revive and democratize the PLO, but the question is how. It is clear that those who still control the PLO structures will never willingly allow this to happen. There must be grassroots pressure to bring that about. If the PLO is not open to democratization, we should call for national and international conferences for all Palestinian communities to form a new democratic organization that represents all sections of our society. It will be an enormous challenge, but it is one we have to meet to make clear there is no mandate and no possibility for Abbas, or any other would-be collaborator, to sign away Palestinian rights. Judging from the emerging agenda of the US-planned "peace conference" in November, it may be now or never for us to act."