Sunday 26 August 2007

Lessons to Learn From Israelis, by As'ad Abdul Rahman

In a column in Gulf News, Professor As'ad Abdul Rahman, Chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopedia, has harsh words on the state of disunity and internal conflict in Palestinian society. He praises Israel’s "political system [which] is designed to accommodate its political and ethnic contradictions. Hence the Israelis are all concurrent on important issues, and ultimately unified in face of what they call external threats". He adds that there are "no fundamentally controversial issues internally. The Israelis only differ on means of realising their goals."

"In spite of being brought to believe there is nothing positive about Jews, we must take the example of Israel and review the values that govern Palestinian (and Arab) society in dealing not only with political issues, but also our day to day lives.

That would enable us underline many a flaw and heel many a wound. Divisions and differences are so abundant in our life that some of us cannot tolerate others. We forget that pluralism is actually desirable.

How long will we be content with words and slogans while the Palestinian people are being slaughtered daily by their own people in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip? How long will the mentality of exclusion and non-engagement persist? Do a few conspirators within Hamas and Fatah aim to transform us into the new aliens in this land?

… we have found shelter in illusions, and have killed each other in the name of freedom and the homeland, and ultimately lost even more through the Hamas-Fatah fighting. …

Let's differ, but in the "Jewish manner" this time: when killing a Jew is forbidden for another Jew. Whereas Israel was fortunate in bringing Jews together, inside and outside Israel, we have failed to unify the Palestinians inside the homeland itself.

While the Jewish state has adopted pluralism, we are still addicted to tribalism, factionalism and blind partisanship. While every corrupt leader in Israel, including its head of state, is brought to justice, we've rejected a necessary building process based on transparency and democracy.

And finally, whereas the Israeli public go to the street demanding the punishment of every erring official, we have refused accountability and collective examination. Jews were the "aliens" in the past, and today we are how they were. Can we accept that?"

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