When it comes to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, all Palestinian and Arab American organizations in the US have something very dangerous in common; conspiracy of silence.
For over 40 years when the late Yasser Arafat ran the PLO as a one man show taking the Palestinian cause and people from one disaster to another, there was a conspiracy of silence among all Palestinian and Arab-American organizations and intellectuals. A silence that matched the silence within the Palestine National Congress and all organizations and “institutions” sponsored by the PLO. It seems that no one wants to upset the “Old Man”. They were silent to escape his foul mouthed language and contempt, no to mention the fear of losing funding and “generosity” of Arafat and his well known use of the people money for his own benefits.
Even well known intellectuals who should have known better hardly ever dared to challenge Arafat and his often stupid reckless decisions like the disasters of Amman, Beirut , Kuwait and Tripoli and his support of Saddam Hussein and the occupation of Kuwait.. All remained silent as Arafat and his trusted cronies not only robbed and looted the PLO treasury blind, but took some very reckless decisions culminating in Oslo. (The only one to criticize Arafat for his decision on Kuwait was Mr. Abdul-Mushin Qattan), all others were silent as 350,000 Palestinians faced a second exile and the loss of over $14 billions in assets and the lose of a place they called “temporary home”.
I am not aware of one single incident when a major Palestinian organization or Arab-American organizations or intellectual took on the PLO, and its leadership regarding issues that had dire consequential and permanent damage to the cause of liberation and freedom.
This conspiracy of silence allowed the Palestinian not so brilliant “Trio” of Arafat, Abbas and Qurai to negotiate and conclude Oslo as an agreement to manage the Israeli Occupation, as an agreement to be employment contractor for the Israeli Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, as a security contractor for the Israeli IDF and the armed Jewish Settlers and trespassers.
All Palestinian and Arab-American organizations such as ADC, AAI, Palestine Center, Jerusalem Center, El-Bireh, Ramallah, Beir-Ziet and Biet-Hannina societies and now ATFP all where tripping over each other every time Arafat or Abbas came to Washington to give away more of Palestine, as if what the leadership gave away in Olso was not enough. No one wanted to see Oslo for what it is, a way to save the PLO and Arafat behind, and as a way to end the dream of a Palestinian state of what remained of Palestine after the establishment of Israel in 48. Those responsible for Oslo should be charged if not for treason should be charge for gross and absolute negligence and dereliction of duties and responsibilities. No one called for accountability. The late Edward Said became a vocal critic of Arafat and his leadership of the PLO but only after Oslo.
This conspiracy of silence continued as the PLO went into a comma, and the Palestinian Authority emerge in its place as the real contractor for the Israeli Occupation. Every one remained silent as the Palestinians Authority emerged as the most corrupt, incompetent, ruthless criminal and racketing organization in the Middle East. Billions were lost and unaccounted for, hundreds of millions stolen by the leadership and its cronies, hundreds of millions of contracts where given to Arafat cronies against public interest and against public policy. The PA ran one of the most criminal security organizations, matching in cruelty and terror Nasser, Shah of Iran, Saddam, Assad and Israeli Shin Beth organizations in terms of cruelty and lawlessness. Arbitrary arrests, torture even cold blooded murder were committed by the PA Preventive Security organizations, yet no one and no organizations dared to stand up and speak out. Defendants where charged in the early afternoon, faced court in mid afternoon and were executed in late afternoon without the benefits of due process. It seems that every one in Washington was very proud of what the PA turns out to be, a model for modern Arab states.
I am not aware of an official statement of condemnations of any of the policies of the PA, or any of the decisions made by the PA such as the Hebron Agreement which placed over 100,000 Palestinians under virtual curfew and under the mercy of some 500 Jewish thugs who made sure to turn Hebron hell for its Arab citizens. No one spoke out when the PA concluded the Gaza Access agreements putting Gaza under siege on all sides, including the Egyptian side. No one spoke out as Palestinian negotiation team continues to negotiate while Jewish Settlements takes more and more land. No one speaks out as the Palestinian negotiating team continues to negotiate while over 3.5 millions are under siege in Gaza and in the West Bank facing hundreds of security check points while this same negotiating team zips through Israeli security control with their VIP passes, some using the VIP passes to transports and smuggle thousands of Nokia cell phones, deserving the Palestinian medal of Nokia Order of the Third Generation.
No one speak out as the PA turn out to be nothing than an employment agency for Israel Occupation rather than a development agency for the Palestinians, where the number of those living under poverty lines reach some 60% of the population. Of course why should they care if they are able to attend Gala dinners costing hundred of dollars per person when one ticket is enough to feed a family for a month back under occupation? It seems to be seen with the likes of Condi Rice and Elliot Abram that die hard Zionist Jew and other White House officials is more important than being the advocates for some 7 million Palestinians who have seen their dream of a free Palestine slip away because of stupid dump policies of the PLO and its leadership. One only need to visit Ramallah and El-Bireh and see two worlds; one of the PA functionaries with money to spend lavishly while the other 80% of the population hardly have anything to eat. One has to only check the salary figures of the PA inner circles to see what one make is enough to feed a thousand families for a year. Yes, I am sure organizations like ADC, AAI, ATFP, Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center should be very proud of their silence and its results on the people in exile and under occupation. Yes, I am sure every one in Washington is very proud of what the emerging Palestinian state looks like. Arab and Syrian silence gave us Assad and another Assad. Arab and Egyptian silence gave us Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak. Arab and Sudanese silence gave us Bashir and Darfur. Arab and Iraqi silence gave us Saddam, the War on Iran, the War on Kuwait and now the American War on Iraq. Palestinian silence gave us the PLO, Arafat, Abbas, Qurai, Oslo, Hebron, Gaza Access, Areas A, B and C and the PA. No one dare to speak out demanding accountability, transparency and democratization of corrupt incompetent and ruthless regimes in Gaza and Ramallah. Perhaps it times to end this conspiracy of silence and speak out. The ATFP Gala celebrations of the PA are celebrations of failures, corruption and incompetency. The Palestinians have nothing to celebrate let alone to be proud of the PLO or the Palestininian Authority.