Newsletter : 4fax1123.txt
| Previous file
| Next file
>PD NOV. 23, 1994, V2 #210
Interview with a Hamas Terrorist
By Al Pessin (Gaza City)
The dispute between moderate and radical Palestinians, which has
been played out on the streets of Gaza since last Friday, is
based on a difference of opinion about one very basic point of
policy; the moderates have decided to accept Israel and the
radicals have not.
The moderates say they want to create a Palestinian state in Gaza
and the West Bank and live as good neighbors with the Israelis.
The radicals, such as Mahmoud Zahar, spokesman for the Hamas
group, say they will never accept what they consider the
injustice of Israel's existence and will continue fighting for
all of what they consider Palestine.
"We are here. We suffered a lot from the Israeli existence. We
are looking for the elimination of the occupation." (Pessin) Of
all of the land? (Zahar) Yes, of all of the land. Who is the
true owner of this land? What are the moral or historical or
ideological bases that allows them to dismiss us from our land
and to establish their state?"
Zahar says his group, and others like it, will never be willing
to accept Israel's existence as legitimate. He says Jews came
from other countries and seized Palestinian land, under the
protection of the Western powers.
"Who is the source of violence? People who left Poland and
Ethiopia and the ex-Soviet Union and came here to be in our area
are the true owners of the land, and they are not terrorists?
And the people who are defending themselves against the
occupation are terrorists? This is actually a very bad
impression you gave, in the West, about your attitude to the
ordinary people in Palestine."
Many moderate Palestinians agree with that analysis, but they
disagree on what to do about it. While the radicals vow to
continue fighting Israel, moderates such as Gaza lawyer Fayez abu
Rahmeh say there is no choice but to accept it.
"Once we think it over, to wipe out Israel it seems that we have
to use atom bombs, and the atom bombs which we don't have. And
they have the atom bombs. So, where will we go? So there is a
certain impossible situation. Someday, say, in the year 5000,
things may change, or in the year 3000 things may change, but we
are in the present times and we have to manage ourselves to cope
with the present situation."
But the more radical view appears to have a certain resonance
among many Palestinians, especially those with only a basic,
Islamic-oriented education but also extending to the very well
educated, including Dr. Zahar, who is a physician. In addition,
ongoing economic problems have hurt the moderates, enabling the
radicals to claim that the moderate approach is not only
morally wrong but in a practical sense has failed.
But moderates claim most Palestinians would be happy to forget
conflict and get on with their lives if they had more economic
opportunities. Attorney abu Rahmeh says there is no absolute
justice in the world and most Palestinians are ready, after
nearly 50 years of conflict, to accept what he calls the
practical and possible moderate decision to live side-by-side
with Israel, even though they wish it were not there.
With demonstrations and counter-demonstrations in the streets,
and talks starting next week with Israel on expanding autonomy,
it is important for the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, to
know whether the radical view or his moderate one has more
support among the Palestinian people. But experts say with all
that is going on these days, it is difficult to know the answer.
Rabin: Sinai and the Golan are Equivalent;
Netanyahu: It's an American Decision
The Likud is not behind the recent lobbying in Congress to
oppose a US troop presence on the Golan Heights, party leader
Binyamin Netanyahu said last week.
Former officials and allies of the Shamir government engaged in
such activity "are categorically not sent by us, they are not
there in our name. I do vigorously contest the allegation or
notion that they are sent by us,'' he said.
Three officials from the former Shamir government, Yigal Carmon,
Yossi Ben-Aharon and Yoram Ettinger - have visited Washington
twice in the last six months to make the case on Capitol Hill
that US troops should not be sent to the Golan to monitor any
Israeli-Syrian deal. Netanyahu also said none of the three were
Likud members. His remarks followed his address to the General
Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who addressed the gathering
Thursday night, told reporters that while the opposition has the
right to call for new elections or to seek parliamentary action
to advance a cause, those Israelis lobbying in Washington "cause
long-term damage to Israel, and it's a shame."
"I can't see why today in Sinai [a multinational observer force]
is kosher, and why if there will be a peace treaty with Syria it
will not be kosher," he said.
Netanyahu said that the question of whether to station US troops
on the Golan is a purely American matter. "I want to make it
clear: The question of actual decisions or laws about this issue
will be decided by Israelis in Israel in the Knesset or in a
plebiscite," he said. "And if the issue of American soldiers
happens or becomes a real issue, it will be decided by American
Jews and non-Jews. I believe that there is an urgent need to
energetically engage in the debate and this will be decided in
Netanyahu's appearance marked the first time an Israeli
opposition leader addressed a CJF General Assembly.
He said that the battle for Jerusalem has begun, and called on
Rabin to press the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem "and move
it now." In their speeches, both Rabin and Netanyahu pressed for
an Israel-Diaspora partnership to dramatically increase the
number of Jewish youth visiting Israel. Such a program would help
to counter fading Jewish identity here, they said.
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)