Irrational rejectionism is a disease in the Arab and Islamic Worlds that stands in the way of Palestinian freedom and promotes intolerance. It broadens Israel’s occupation to create a selfoccupation mentality. It must be stopped. Suffering under years of Israel’s oppressive occupation and by the suppression of Democracy and freedom in the Arab World, too many Palestinians find all they have left is to criticize and reject. When it comes to Israel, there is a lot to criticize. But when it comes to preserve the Palestinian nation by achieving peace, rejection must give way to compromise. Palestinians are burdened by self-appointed “sentinels of the causes” who claim to protect many of the sacred cows of the Palestinian national tragedy such as the Right of Return. But instead of protecting these causes, these “sentinels of the causes” create a destructive environment that encourages extreme acts of violence. That violence goes far beyond the rights of resistance and instead include the immoral acts of suicide bombings and the murder of Israeli civilians or other Palestinians. Recently, the “sentinels of the causes” turned their ugliness on Sari Nusseibeh, the president of al-Quds University. Nusseibeh is a leading moderate and co-signer of the Geneva Accords which defines a vision of a two-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis. Nusseibeh dares to prompt Palestinians to find ways out of the conflict through non-violence and uses free speech to define a new public dialogue. This week, Nusseibeh weighed in on the emotional debate over whether or not Israel’s Bar Illan University should affiliate with a college in Ariel, a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. The move by Bar Illan University prompted a boycott by the British Association of University Teachers. Boycotts are common weapons not just by pro-Palestinian groups but by pro-Israeli groups, too. The issues of Ariel extend beyond a simple matters of academic freedom. Ariel is an illegal settlement allegedly created to provide “security.” Israel said Ariel was temporary, as it violated international laws regarding the confiscation of occupied lands. As time has passed with no solution, partly because of the rejectionists themselves, Ariel turned into what Israel calls a permanent city. But Nusseibeh wasn’t addressing the issue of illegal settlements, something that must be decided in negotiations. He simply described the BAUT action as “wrong and unjustified,” arguing that this and other issues must be settled at the negotiating table. The Palestinian Union of University Teachers and Employees quickly condemned Nusseibeh saying his comments constituted a “normilization” with Israel and it’s rightwing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. They called for Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to fire Nusseibeh as al-Quds president and “to put an end to this behavior.” Palestinians are living under difficult times. The Israeli occupation, despite all the talk of peace, continues to be oppressive and claims innocent lives on both sides. But maybe the PUUTE hasn’t read the news lately. President Abbas is engaged in “normalization” with Israel. The late President Yasser Arafat, a Palestinian hero, was engaged in “normalization” with Israel. Palestinians who elected Abbas embraced the concept of normalization, an end to the violence and peace based on compromise Abbas is seeking to negotiate an end to the conflict and it is the PUUT that must accept some facts. Compromise is unavoidable. The belief that Israel can be destroyed is a pipe dream. More importantly, uncompromising extremist positions continue to condemn Palestinians to a life of bitter oppression and unending suffering. Yes, Israel is the occupier. But the “sentinels of the causes” who easily turn public reason into fierce and vicious mob-like hatred, are the occupiers’ greatest weapon. In these times of increased individual freedoms, Palestinians and many Arabs find themselves burdened by restrictions on free speech making it nearly impossible to achieve an end to the bitter Palestine-Israel conflict. Ironically, these “sentinels of causes” fail to achieve any of their goals such as restoring the legitimate rights of the refugees, destroying Israel and re-establishing “1947 Palestine,” or undermining the oppressive rule of Arab and Islamic World dictatorships. Incapable of achieving, their only power is in their ability to block, prevent, stop or destroy.
(Ray Hanania is member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and an award winning syndicated columnist. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.)