Bassem Eid: Three small words that you should not have written
I enjoy reading your articles and seeing your activities around the world, Bassem Eid. However, in your latest article in JNS, you got something very wrong. You seem to be trying to disconnect the PIJ from public Palestinian Arab opinion. That is a difficult thing to do because so much of what we see going on in Judea-Samaria and Gaza makes it really look like public opinion is all in favour of eliminating the Jewish from the Jewish State.
Before I discuss the part of your article with which I have a problem, I want to share my appreciation for you and your work. When I first heard of you, I just had to meet you and so we met in Jerusalem for a coffee. I was filled with respect for how you started your own human rights organization because you were no longer able to bear working for an organization that blamed only Israel for human rights abuses in Judea-Samaria and refused to report on Palestinian Authority (PA) human rights violations against its own people.This was, for me, a pivotal article: “We Palestinians hold the key to a better future.”
I respect how you stand up for truth, such as in this Tweet:
Amnesty International is lying about Israel. As a Palestinian peace activist and the founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, I’m here to set the record straight: Israel is not an apartheid state. Watch my video to learn the facts! #SHAMnesty #AmnestyLies pic.twitter.com/ldv36B9fiU
— Bassem Eid (@realbassemeid) February 1, 2022
I get that you are in favour of a two-state-solution. And making it seem like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is at cross purposes to the will of the Palestinian Arab public would support attempts to move in that direction. But where is your evidence regarding the suggestion that the PIJ and Palestinian Arab public opinion are at odds with one another?
My problem is with the evidence you suggests exists for this claim.
In the following sentence, you provide a text-link to an article you claim supports this idea:
PIJ is not representative of the will of the Palestinian people, who with Israel SHARES THE DREAM [link below in my discussion] of a two-state solution within the borders of the pre-1948 British Mandate.
In other words you are implying that both Israel and the Palestinian Arab public share this dream.
When I read those three words, I was surprised. From what I know of Israeli contemporary society, the great majority of Israeli Jews no longer believe that there can be a Palestinian Arab state alongside Israel, that such a state would comprise a mortal danger to Israel. And from what I have seen and read, I was led to believe that the majority of Palestinian Arabs are likewise against a two-state-solution. Could I be wrong?
When opening the linked article (called “What do Palestinians Want?), one reads, in bold letters, at the head of the article, the following:
Those who support permanent peace with Israel are in the minority even among the younger generation, but Washington should still prepare for the future by working around the economic edges.
This immediately made me think that the only one with the dream of a two-state-solution is the USA. But since it is not fair to believe that one understands an article solely based upon the title and the first paragraph or two, I read the entire thing.
And this article concludes thus:
…the sobering reality is that there is still no Palestinian popular majority that supports permanent peace with Israel, including a majority even among the younger generation.
Between the opening lines of this article and its conclusion, we are told something we Israelis often are told.
Shifts in Palestinian public opinion also suggest that Israeli overtures, or at least Israeli restraint, may prompt more moderate Palestinian attitudes. Conversely, hardline Israeli policies—whether on settlements, security, or economic relations—may negatively shift Palestinian public opinion.
In other words, the article attributes Palestinian Arab public opinion to Israeli behaviour, thus belittling the Palestinian Arabs, making it seem as if they have no ability to reach their own independent opinions based on a comprehensive examination of what is going on around them within their neighbourhoods, within the PA as a whole, within the geographic region encompassing not just Israel and the PA, but also Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, and within the wider context of a world threatened by Iranian jihadic and nuclear ambitions.
That article also clearly states that a small number of Palestinian Arabs would be happy with the peace a quiet that would result from successful implementation of the two-state-solution while others, the majority, perhaps, would view that as a stepping stone to taking back all the 1948 lands as they consider Israel a colonial occupational regime between the river and the sea.
What do we make of the Palestinian Arabs who believe their lives will be improved, not by the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state, but by Judea and Samaria being annexed by Israel, as you said in the interview on which I reported and about which has been written in various places?
In view of all of this, I am surprised, Bassem, that you turned a well-known American dream into one that supposedly is OUR dream, yours and mine. It is not what WE dream for. You may, but many of your fellow Palestinian Arabs do not. And I do not.
Why do I belabour this point, Bassem?
I am making a big deal of those three small words because I believe it is important to cut short misrepresentations as they get magnified multifold in the rest of the world that does not have access to the knowledge about our situation that you and I have. I could grunt and say “oof” to those three words, and move on. But I fear that you may find those three words quoted and attributed to you (without providing the linked source disproving them) as evidence that the Americans should just continue operating within their delusional dream about the two-state-solution.
This obsession of theirs is keeping them from seeing that there are other possible solutions that might just have a chance of getting us out of the mess into which our former leaders — yours and mine — allowed us to become mired. And perhaps of understanding that it is not the American’s job to figure out what that solution is; it is OUR job — yours and mine.
Feature Image: screenshot from public Twitter post.
Great critique! What is his response?