I was down in Tampa, Florida visiting my brothers and sister for the Eid and while there I always look forward to having deep and provocative discussions with my nephew Jamal, who is a reporter/journalist with a major and national newspaper.
Jamal, is well read with a house full of books, something you do not see in homes of young people. But then Jamal is too exceptional He is an avid reader in history, and he is well read and well versed in conservative ideology and thoughts and of course he and I share a very critical view of both the Bush administration and Arab politics and governments, especially Palestinian politics.
As a rule I do not patronize Starbucks Coffee due to its supports of Israeli settlers and settlement policies and theft of Palestinian properties, I agreed to go with Jamal to his favorite Starbucks for a late evening orange juice.
For over 2 hours we discussed US politics and how the Democrats are having difficulties competing with the Republicans since the Democrats do not have an ideology driven constituency. This is one area that Democrats have to work on in order to win elections and to win a solid electoral base other than the coalition it has to build and rebuild every election. The Republican Party with strong support from the religious rights and Zionist organization worked very hard over the last 30 years or more shaping a constituency shaped by dangerous ideology. The result of which we see in George Bush war on Iraq and his war on civil liberties here in the US.
Both of us, I as an immigrant and Jamal as first generation American we both shared our fear that this administration and the atmosphere of fear that drives this nation does create an immediate danger for us as Arab-Americans. Of course so far, the administration did not push for drastic measures such as interning of Arabs and Muslims in prison camps, however the possibilities are out there.
Of course the Arab-Israeli conflict was among the many topics of discussions since Condi Rice was in the Middle East promoting George Bush conference sometimes in later this year.
The problem with this conference is that Israel so far is not clear on its intentions on major issues such as ending the Occupation, Jerusalem, Settlements and of course the 48 refugees. It is very unlikely that the conference will take place. Already the World Zionist Organization is working to undermine the conference placing full page ads in the NYT calling Fatah a terrorist organization ( even though Fatah is for all practical purposes a security contractor for Israel just like Blackwater is a security contractor for the US) with a Ten Commandments that calls for the destruction of Israel. As if Zionist Jews themselves have any use or respect for their Ten Commandants.
Over the last 40 years of so, since the 67 Occupation, both Israel and Arafat worked very hard to make sure there is no clean competent leadership that can conclude peace with Israel.
Israel made sure over the years it assassinate, exile, and destroy any and all emerging leadership that has some credibility within the Palestinian community. Israel did all to make sure that the Palestinian do not have an alternative leadership to Arafat and his PLO. Again murdering all credible local and exile leadership. It killed all possibilities for an emerging leadership that can sit with Israel and negotiate peace. By all means one could not count Dahlan and Rajoub as leaders even though they served jail sentences in Israel. Israel like other colonial powers before, use jails to give legitimacy to certain prisoners who then go out and join the exiled leadership that eventually negotiate with colonial powers.
Arafat on the other hand, also made sure during his tenure as leader of the PLO that there are no competent, qualified leaders whether from areas occupied by Israel or within the exiled communities who can challenge his leadership. Arafat did exactly what Israel wanted and planned. Both shared in the goal of having no alternative leadership to the PLO leadership when it comes to negotiating with Israel.
Many smart, clean, competent, committed Palestinians died in exiles at the hands of both Israel and Arafat. Both perhaps working together perhaps independent of each other making sure only Arafat team is the one that can conclude any agreement with Israel Oslo was the first one such agreement and unless the Palestinians give up every thing there will be no second agreement.
Arafat having delivered to Israel what it wanted all along, formal recognition of Israel as a state and formal recognition of its occupation and expanding settlements, became of no use to Israel and Israel working with some of his closest aids killed him after jailing him for years creating a hero out of him instead of the total failure he was.
Many Palestinians died as a result of Arafat policy of making sure there is no alternative to him and his buddies. PLO assassination teams were dispatched to many parts of the world making sure that Arafat was the only one who can deliver peace to Israel and deliver it at Israel’s terms. It is very unlikely that the present Palestinian leadership will do any better than Arafat did. Israel never respects and honors those who betray their own people.
Too bad Israel and Arafat never allowed the emergence of a leadership that has the credibility and commitments to the Palestinian people that is competent, honest and smart. The Palestinian people are victims of Israel, Arafat and the PLO.
As for George Bush peace conference it is very unlikely it will take place. Israel and its allies here in the US especially within George Bush own administration, within the US Congress and within the media will make sure it fails. Supporting the peace conference that will end the Israeli Occupation does not fit with the loyalty and commitments to Israel of those within the power elites of Washington.
But then who knows, perhaps a successful peace conference will be the price that the Palestinians, the Arabs and Muslims will pay for a joint Israel-US attack on Iran.