Celebration Photo: Reuters


Kudos Mr. Abbas

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Mahmoud Abbas gave a brilliant speech at the United Nations, getting rounds of applause from most of the representatives.  I think it demonstrated clearly and unambiguously that the Palestinian leadership has been “unreasonably reasonable” and has instead seen the hopes of peace and of millions of Palestinians suffering for 63 years dashed on the rock of Israeli expansionist, colonial, and apartheid policies.  He explained that Israel has been taking one unilateral action after another each resulting in more pain and suffering for our people.  Going to the UN, he explained is putting things back where the problems started (he did not use the last two words but I do).  He said a word that I think he should defend strongly that no person or country with an iota of logic or conscience should reject the Palestinian state membership in the UN or its formation in the 22% of historic Palestine that is the West Bank and Gaza.  I think he took a courageous step and gave a good performance.  Now we here on the ground in Palestine hope and will push for additional follow-up steps.  From our own perspective, three things are critical:
1)  That he and his administration now implement quickly the reconciliation agreement signed by all Palestinian factions most notably the one about creating a representative Palestinian National Council. In his speech he said he hopes this will be done in a few weeks.  We hope this  will be done quickly and not any longer than four weeks.
2) That he and his administration act quickly and decisively to really promote popular unarmed resistance throughout Palestine and among Palestinians in exile.  In forming a new government, the ministry that is now in charge of walls and settlements should be either a) dismantled or b) reconfigured.  A new strategy to encourage real nonviolent resistance must be adopted.  We must end the practice of holding a few demonstrative actions that do not disturb the occupation and that are used to enrich a few people.  We must instead allow the kind of popular resistance that have been effective from our history (see my book that details challenges and opportunities learned from this history and available in Arabic and English). He also said he will pursue this.
3) The Palestinian people are waiting to see clear evidence of change; a new Palestinian Spring as Mr. Abbas called it.  This requires seeing visibly what Mr. Abbas talked about: transparency, accountability, democracy, and freedom.
There were those who worried that going to the UN will raise the expectations of the Palestinian people who then may turn to despair and more if they do not see a change on the ground.  I say a) it is great to raise the expectations, and b) we, the Palestinian people will never turn to despair but we will revolt if we do not see real changes and stronger steps. I share Abu Mazen’s hope that the international community steps up to the plate.  But I also hope that we all go back to our people and take those steps that will ensure our freedom.
I also listened to Netanyahu’s speech and was just amazed at how many lies can be packed in one speech. It is not even worth detailing except to refer you to this link: http://www.qumsiyeh.org/liesandtruths/
In this occasion, it might be worth comparing Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel                                    Palestinians
Population—————-5.5 million Jewish———11 million (7 million refugees or displaced)
Land controlled ———-91.7%———————-8.3% of historic Palestine
Nature——————–Occupier/colonizer——Occupied people
Military Personnel——Regular 175,000———–None
—————————-Reserves, 500,000
—————————Armed settlers————Armed underground forces
Police/other security— 30,000——————–50,000
Artillery——————-1500 large—————-0
Submarines—————6 ————————-0
Combat airplanes——-2000———————-0
Nuclear Weopons——>300———————-0
GDP———————-$195 billion————–$4 billion
Military expenditure—$10 billion—————Negligible (security services)
Casuaties (63 years)—-6000 killed————-75,000 killed
—————————-20,000 injured———300,000 injured
Homes demolished——-0———————-50,000
Refugees created———0———————->6 million people
Mr. President, we don’t want a shortcut, we want our freedom by Abir Kopty

Palestinians on statehood: ‘We want action, not votes at the UN’
Villagers who have often been at the sharp end of Palestinian-Israeli relations are sceptical about the UN route


  1. amerikagulag said,

    September 23, 2011 at 22:04

    Genocide has a face. It’s called ISRAEL

  2. pj khan said,

    September 23, 2011 at 22:56

    I totally agree with all the gory facts, mentioned in this post speech comments of Mr. Abbass….But the problem of peace with Israel is not attainable unless one could put pressure on United States to ruffle it’s wings and come out with own perceptions, I don’t know how to put it up, that Israel is the one ,who makes the policy of America. Although most of the reader’s or pundits won’t agree on this particular point, but in reality this is what all matters. This could be only possible if all the muslim countries put their hands together and take up the case of ; Palestine with American’s, and this is a dream which will never be fulfilled.

  3. Grant said,

    September 24, 2011 at 10:53

    The developments of the last few days indicate, to me, that whilst a way to restart negotiations needs to be pursued, Palestine also needs to seek out friends as, based upon Israel’s and America’s record in the Middle East, the long term plan is to keep Palestine as a second class entity and allow the expansion of Israeli developments. You could even hear it in Netanyahu’s speech where he complained about the narrowness of Israel between the Med and the West Bank. Unless some agreement is reached or Palestine gets assistance in safeguarding its perimeter, then Palestine will be ‘consumed’ and become part of Israel.

  4. Deborah said,

    September 24, 2011 at 18:42

    It was an incredibly powerful speech but I really do wish it was given in English. I say this only because although I will listen no matter what I am fully aware that the average person pretty much switches off physically or mentally when they hear a translator.

%d bloggers like this: