Dr. Haider Abdel-Shafi the Palestinian icon, the statement, the leader, the physician, the philanthropists, the negotiator died in Gaza on September 25, 2007 at the age of 88 years after suffering from terminal illness.
This posting is not to mourn the passing of Dr. Haider but to celebrate his life, his commitments to the nation and people of Palestine and his unselfish devotion to the people he grew up with and committed himself to serve.
Dr. Mustafa Bargouthi, a leader in the Palestinian National Initiative perhaps said it best when he said "Dr. Abdel-Shafi will remain a beacon of inspiration for us in our struggle for freedom, democracy and independence for our people". Yes indeed Dr. Haider was a beacon, and it is too bad that the Palestinian people chose to follow not Dr. Haider but incompetent, corrupt and discredit leaders.
Dr. Haider a physician and a surgeon studied in Beirut and the US and return to establish the Palestine Red Crescent Society to serve the many poor of Gaza. He devoted his entire life for public service and was a founding member of the Palestine Liberation Organization at its first meeting in Jerusalem in 1964 and later served as member of the executive committee 1964-1965.
In later years Dr. Haider was expelled and exiled twice by the Israelis who could not stand to have someone like Dr. Haider providing the much badly needed leadership for people under occupation. He was exiled in 1969 and in 1970.
Dr. Haider was a visionary and a nationalist who supported armed resistance to the military occupation but never supported suicide bombings. He also was one of the very few and courageous statesman who called for the Arabs and the Palestinians to accept the partition plan and reach a peaceful negotiations with Israel. Of course for that vision and for that courage he was denounced by the Arab and Palestinian media.
Later on and in 1991, Dr. Haider was to lead the joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegations to the Madrid Peace Conference. Later that year he became the lead negotiator with the Israelis here in Washington. He always insisted and called on the Israelis to stop expansion and constructions of the settlements. He quit when he discovered that Arafat went behind his back and was negotiating Oslo in secret.
In 1996 he was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council with the largest number of votes. Only to quit two years later in protest of ineffectiveness of the PLC and incompetence and corruptions of the Palestinian leadership. In 2002 he organized with Dr. Mustafa Bargouthi the Palestinian National Initiative as an alternative to Fatah and Hamas.
Since leaders do make a big difference, in building a nation and make a difference in destruction nations. One has to wonder what would have happen if someone like Dr. Haider Abdel-Shafi was the Palestinian leader who took the leadership from 1964 until now? One thing for sure the Palestinians will not be in such a dire position they are in now.
One need to compare someone like Dr. Haider with Hajj Amin Hussaini, a pathetic incompetent and failed leader who was more interested and obsessed with his standing and his family standing among the Palestinians in competition with the Nashashibi family and cared less about the Palestinian people and their quest for freedom and independence from the British and in fending the ever expanding Jewish occupation.
One has to wonder what would have happened if someone like Dr. Haider was the leader instead of Ahmed Shukari who was nothing more than a demagogue and big mouthed empty politician.
For sure one can only imagine if the Palestinians have someone like Dr. Haider instead of some one like Yasser Arafat a fraud and incompetent and corrupt at that. For sure we will not be in the big mess we are in now.
Arafat to save his "ass" and to save his discredited PLO and Fatah and to make sure that someone like Dr. Haider does not challenge him for the leadership decided to undermine Dr. Haider and all the excellent work he was doing as negotiator. Arafat having failed to liberate Palestine decided through Oslo to become a manager and administrator of the Israeli Occupation for and on behalf of Israel. Of course in exchange for a lucrative contract for himself, his buddies and cronies.
Rather than have someone like Dr. Haider, smart, honest, committed to lead the negotiations, he dispatched noting but incompetent, mentally retarded cronies to lead the negotiations that of course gave us Oslo and gave permanency to Israeli settlements and the occupation and gave second lease of life on a discredited and pathetic organization.
Too bad the Palestinians did not appreciate good and honest leaders when they saw one and chose over the last 100 years to follow nothing but retarded, incompetent and corrupt leaders who wasted tens of billions of dollars and who are responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands, only to fail at liberation and only succeed at gaining and concluded a contract to manage the Israeli Occupation.
May Allah rest your soul, Dr. Haider, and grant you peace in paradise. You were a great leader however the Palestinian people for certain are undeserving of such a leader like you. I can only wonder when the Palestinian people will wake up and take matters in their own hand and kick the hell out of the leaders they had for the last 40 years. Fatah and Hamas are simply unfit to lead to liberation let alone manage anything even under occupation.