Den som nærmer seg den israelsk-palestinske konflikten vil snart oppdage at den ikke er en enkel good guys vs bad guys. Situasjonen er messy. Den har alltid vært messy, men er blitt spesielt messy etter at den palestinske borgerkrigen brøt ut.
Den israelsk-arabiske journalistene Khaled Abu Toameh holdt et foredrag i USA i desember som burde være pliktlesning for norske journalister.
Det finnes en to-statsløsning allerede: mellom Gaza og Vestbredden. Gaza er en islamistisk stat, og Vestbredden holdes oppe av Israel og det internasjonale samfunn. Hvis Israel trakk seg ut ville Mahmoud Abbas bli styrtet i løpet av minutter.
Det er en av de brutale sannheter i Toamehs foredrag: Abbas har null legitimitet. Fatah ble kastet ut av Gaza fordi det palestinske folket var fed up med dem.
Har da journalister og forskere i Norge rett når de kaller Abbas en quisling? Problemet er retningen på denne anklagen: det var de samme journalister og forskere som ikke ville høre på tips og informasjon om hvor korrupt Fatah var. Nå vil de ikke rapportere noe negativt om Hamas.
Men Toameh sier noe vi bør merke oss: Det internasjonale samfunn bør respektere at palestinerne valgte Hamas. Det står fritt til å boikotte Hamas pga dets politikk, men det bør ikke forsøke å velte Hamas. Det vil være kontraproduktivt.
Toamehs artikkel gjør en edru, nøktern. Det er så langt fra den ondskapens fortelling som norske forskere og journalister bedriver: det er Israel som er problemet. Nå er selv Den norske kirke inne på denne veien.
Hvorfor har ikke palestinernes lidelelser under Gaza-krigen blitt omsatt i politisk kapital? Fordi Hamas prioriterer egen politikk og interesser fremfor folket, og pga den bitre striden med Fatah. Alt virker desillusjonerende.
Toameh sier noe annet «morsomt»: jeg vil heller være en annenrangsborger i Israel enn en førsterangsborger i en palestinsk stat.
Now, I am one of those who think that the two state solution is a wonderful solution. I really believe in separation between Jews and Arabs, who don’t want to live together, and I believe in ending the occupation. But I think that in the end, we got a two state-solution—but it was the Palestinians who got two states: one in Gaza and one in the West Bank. The one in Gaza is a mini Islamic Republic, run by Hamas and funded by Ahmadinejad, Syria, Sudan, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad, and, as some people would even tell you, Al Qaeda, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. However, I can tell you, as a Muslim, Gaza is the last place I would ever want to live, especially under such an Islamic entity.
On the other hand, in the West Bank we have a powerless, corrupt, secular regime of former Yassir Arafat cronies, who are sitting in Ramallah, pretending to be a president and a prime minister and a government. We have to correct this misconception, for these people are not really in control of the West Bank. Why? Because Israel is still there. Israel continues to control large parts of the West Bank, so reason number one why Fatah is not in control is because Israel is still there. Reason number two is because they don’t have much credibility left among the Palestinians. They have been kicked out of Gaza—not only by Hamas, but by Palestinians themselves, who chased them away with shoes. I draw parallels with the Romanian Revolution, because people were so fed up with Fatah—because of their corruption, because of their bad government, because of their abuse of human rights, and all these things that Yassir Arafat and his people were responsible for—that everyone joined Hamas and threw them out. And Fatah has not changed. Fatah has not even reformed in the aftermath of their defeat at the hands of Hamas in January 2006; they have been kicked out of Gaza; they have not drawn any conclusions from their defeat; they have not even come up with new candidates, and they have not replaced that party that ran in the election—not a single Fatah official paid the price of defeat at the hands of Hamas in January 2006.
Indeed, Mahmoud Abbas lives and works in Ramallah, but as someone who goes to Ramallah once or twice a week, I can tell you he doesn’t even have that much control, even in downtown Ramallah. Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah are in power in the West Bank thanks only to the presence of Israeli defence forces. If Israel redeploys or withdraws tomorrow morning in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas will collapse in ten minutes and Hamas will take over in eleven minutes. This is a sad reality. Or if you think of it another way, if Israel carries out what Mahmoud Abbas is demanding in public, which is a withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, after ten minutes Mahmoud Abbas will be dragged to a square in downtown Ramallah and hanged by many Palestinians as a traitor. It is Israel’s presence, ironically, that is preventing Hamas from taking over the West Bank and it is Israel’s presence in the West bank that is keeping Mahmoud Abbas in power.
We have to bear in mind that these two separate Palestinian entities, the one in Gaza and the one in the West Bank, are at war with each other. Had it not been for Israel’s presence in the middle, these two entities would be dispatching suicide bombers and missiles at each other. The degree of hatred is so strong; the hostilities between them is so strong, that sometimes you get the impression that they forgot who their common enemy is and instead are now thinking of each other as the enemy. Fatah sees Hamas as the real enemy, and Hamas sees Fatah as the real enemy. If you watch and follow the statements and allegations between them you will see that suddenly, it is the Fatah people (and not the Jews) who are the ‘sons of monkeys and pigs’, and it is the Hamas people who are ‘drinking the blood of Palestinian children.’ The fiery rhetoric and the things Fatah and Hamas used to say about the Jews in Israel, they are now using these words against each other. The situation is self-destructive; it’s very bad.
A lot of this situation is about ignorance. There is a conflict over there, with good guys and bad guys. The good guys are the oppressed Arabs, living under occupation and the bad guys are the Jews, with the guns and the bombs. But it’s much more complicated than that. But people don’t want to hear facts that change their perceptions. Let me give a small example: in 1997 and 1998, when I tried to warn my foreign colleagues about the corruption of the Palestinian Authority and that Arafat was stealing their money, some of my foreign colleagues asked me if I was on the payroll of the Jewish lobby. And I said, ‘Excuse me, where is this Jewish lobby? How much do they pay, I’ll just go and work for them—it’s probably much better than working as a journalist.’ These foreign journalists, some of whom are respected British and American journalists, refused to believe what the Palestinians themselves were saying about financial corruption, and they just wanted to talk about anti-Israel stories. Other journalists said that maybe the stories were true, but that they couldn’t report on them because they were scared to go back to Gaza and Ramallah. And I said, ‘Excuse me guys, if you are scared, what are you doing in the Middle East, in the middle of a conflict? Go back to your newspapers and report on the environment, if you are that scared.’ This is how it is sadly.
We have a lot of problems with the Israeli establishment and Arab minority, but at the end of the day, if you ask me, I will tell you that I still prefer to live in Israel as a second-class citizen than as a first-class citizen in Cairo, Gaza, or Ramallah. The overwhelming majority of Israeli-Arabs would tell you the same thing; the ordinary people, if you ask them, will tell you the same things that I am saying.
By Khaled Abu Toameh, 8th December 2009
HJS Event: ‘Israeli-Palestinian Relations’ – 1-2pm, 8th December 2009 – Committee Room 6, House of Commons – Khaled Abu Toameh, Arab-Israeli journalist and documentary maker