Whether it is Arafat or Abu Mazen:Convictions could never be compromised! [Archives:2005/807/Opinion]

January 13 2005

The elections for the Presidency of the Palestine Authority could have occurred long ago, even with Yasser Arafat around, but neither Israel nor the United States wanted them held at anytime hence because Yasser Arafat would have easily gotten the mandate he needs to continue as Chairman of the Palestine Authority. The simple reason is that Yasser Arafat is recognized by his people as not having bowed down to Israeli and American pressure in Camp David in 2000 to sign on the dotted line on terms that would have made all his struggle one lacking in convictions. It is not clear what the reasons are that prompted Yasser Arafat not to give in and take something rather than “loose everything”, but anyone who knows Yasser Arafat will not forgot that his religious convictions were very strong and he never allowed them to be susceptible to compromise. The item that most likely made Yasser Arafat steadfast in his position most likely involved Jerusalem and the possible concessions that were requested of the Palestine Authority to make the Holy City cater to Zionist designs, rather than to insure the universality of the holy nature of the city for all the monotheistic faiths, which give sacred dimensions to the city. This may not seem like a serious issue to many, who would suggest that Yasser Arafat should have conceded ground on the issue of Jerusalem for the sake of a “lasting peace”. When asked about the matter, one remembers Yasser Arafat's constant reply that Mr. William Clinton, the arbitrator between Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak, who was the Prime Minister of Israel at the time, well knows the answer, as if to say, Mr. Clinton may have even been sympathetic and understanding of the reasons behind Arafat's rejection of this final sensitive issue that needed to be resolved, before any hopes of lasting peace can be entertained by any agreement. Mr. Arafat never clearly explained his reasons for rejecting what ever was proposed in the final Camp David proposed agreement in the final days of the Clinton Presidency vis a vis Jerusalem. His justification, however, can be understood in light of his strong Islamic convictions, that would not have allowed him to compromise the fate of the attachment of Islam and Christianity to the Holy City of Jerusalem. Mr. Arafat, then, saw himself as having to bear the responsibility of determining the fate of the sentiments of devout Moslems and Christians to the Holy City. This should not be viewed so simplistically, because the strength of spiritual convictions, will often make devout believers in their own religious convictions, and those of other constituents of other religious beliefs that have shared a common history for close to 1500, very hard to compromise.

The Israelis always make it a point that they have agreed to many “concessions” to reach an accord with the Palestinians in Camp David in 2000, but the Israelis will never deny that their demands on Jerusalem were bound to lead to a dead end in the negotiations. They knew well in advance that Yasser Arafat was not the type of devout Moslem who would concede matters of conviction. They themselves are also driven by conviction in their conceptual misinterpretation of who should hold title to the Holy Land, and who should have the dominating control of access to the Holy places in Jerusalem. The whole essence of the Middle East problem is principally tied to conviction and if Ehud Barak was representing the convictions of some 13,000,000 Jews of the world, Yasser Arafat saw himself as upholding the convictions of close to half the population of the world who adhered to Christianity and Islam. That is why Zionist propaganda after that worked diligently to picture Yasser Arafat as a “terrorist hooligan”, although no substantive evidence was ever shown to manifest this assertion. The rationale behind this was to insure that Yasser Arafat could not be viewed as upholding the religious convictions of a sizable chunk of the world's population that adhere to Islam and Christianity. The sentiments of Moslems were not of worry to the Zionist media, because all Moslems were henceforth portrayed as “terrorists” anyway, so their sentiments did not matter. Israel however is being portrayed as the defender of “western culture” against the onslaught of Moslem “terror” and thus Christians should never expect any Moslems to have convictions that merited western Christian understanding, since Christianity is a part of the “West” that Israel supposedly belongs to.

Yasser Arafat had a fair understanding of these circumstances and fully realized that he was in a precarious situation. He was the first one to raise the olive branch for a peaceful settlement of the Middle East problem after the Arab Israeli War of 1967, yet when that almost seemed like a dream come true in Camp David 2000, concessions were demanded with respect to religious convictions, which Yasser Arafat, for sure considered as Divinely ordained and historically not negotiable. The Israelis have never shown their intent of respecting the religious convictions of any of the indigenous populations of the Holy Land. One only has to see old photos of Palestine and ask, what happened to all those churches and mosques that were spread throughout Palestine? They were systematically destroyed and left without any remains or signs to show their long historical presence in the area side by side without any infringement by the constituents of the different congregations that worshipped in them. Thus, what is there to guarantee that the Israelis will not proceed with their contempt for any followers of other religious convictions that were not served by Zionist ideology and accordingly set out to destroy the symbolic edifices that stood for these convictions, as they did in all the territory they took from the indigenous population of Palestine, Christian and Moslem?

Chances are that Mahmoud Abbass “Abu Mazen” will probably be confronted with a similar challenge to his religious convictions, or the beliefs of the Moslem and Christian constituents he will have to also represent in any negotiated accord. Even with the facts on the ground having been subject to so much change by Israeli settlements and “security” settings, over the last four years, the observer is inclined to believe that the “Zionist enemy” will insist on making the challenge a formidable one indeed.