Edward Said Remarks to ADCs 20th National Co


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Posted by Sadie from ? (160.129.27.22) on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 at 10:06AM :

Edward Said Remarks to ADCís 20th National Convention

EDWARD SAID
JUNE 15, 2003

Thank you very much for your incredibly generous welcome and for the
wonderful introduction. I want to add my profound thanks and admiration to
the claim given by my dear friend Ziad Asali, and the delightful Naila,
because I really think this has probably been the hardest period for the ADC in
its 20 years. What with the passing of Hala Maksoud, 9/11, the war against
Arabs and Muslims, the war against Afghanistan, the war on Iraq, the
tremendous hostility from the US administration towards Palestinian selfdetermination,
and the amazingly uncooperative and unhelpful role of the
media, which has quite without regard for anything so basic, or so
uninteresting as truth, gone on to greater and greater heights of propaganda
and government hand-outs; so in all of this, I think the ADC has really played
an extraordinarily heroic role, and I really want to, I think on your behalf,
extend a general sense of satisfaction with a lot more to do , and pleasure that
Mary Rose is going on from here, almost certainly with the same dedication
and intelligence and success.
The title of my talk this morning, and I donít normally announce titles but
since Iím not a political scientist I canít give you the facts and figures that you
heard last night from the Secretary (if thatís what they were) nor the citations
that Ralph Nader very helpfully gave us about what people have said and of
statistics and all the rest of it, I thought being as Hussein just said, a teacher,
and a person who works in literature and stuff, I thought Iíd talk about slightly
more impalpable, slightly less evident, but in my opinion just as important
elements in human life. And, so, the title of my talk today is ďOn Dignity and
Solidarity.Ē
In early May of this year, I was in Seattle lecturing for a few days. While
there, I had dinner one night with Rachel Corrieís parents and sister (in fact I
think theyíre here, I saw them earlier, where are they? Could you stand up
please?) I am going to speak impressionistically, Craig and Cindy because I
felt you were still reeling from the shock of your daughterís murder on March
16th in Gaza by an Israeli bulldozer. Mr. Corrie told me that he himself had
driven bulldozers, although the one that killed his daughter deliberately
because she was trying valiantly to protect a Palestinian home in Rafah from
demolition, was not an ordinary caterpillar bulldozer, but a 60 ton behemoth,
especially designed by Caterpillar, and there is a project right there to
demonstrate and prevent as many of these caterpillar, special house
demolishing caterpillars from ever getting there, a mass action that as
Americans we can do. Theyíre especially designed to destroy homes, they
have no other purpose, and itís a far bigger machine than anything he had ever
seen or driven. Two things struck me about my brief visit with the Corries:
one was the story they told me about their return to the U.S. after their
daughterís funeral, they had immediately sought out their US Senators Patty
Murray and Mary Cantwell, who are both Democrats, and told them their
story and received the expected expression of shock, outrage, anger, and
promises of investigations. After both Senators returned to Washington, the
Corries, at least when I saw them in May, never heard from them again, and
the promised investigation hasnít yet materialized, although there is talk about
it, and there is talk that the Senators are working behind the scenes to do
something.
As expected the Israeli lobby had explained the realities to them and both
senators simply backed off. An American citizen was willfully murdered by
the soldiers of a client state of the United States, using a United States built
instrument of death, a terrorist instrument, without so much as an official peep
or even the routine investigation that had been promised her family. But the
second and far more important aspect of the Rachel Corrie story for me, was
the young womanís action itself: heroic and dignified at the same time. She
grew up in Olympia, a city 60 miles south of Seattle, and she had joined the
international solidarity movement, gone to Gaza, to stand with suffering
human beings, with whom she had never had any contact before. Her letters
back to her family are truly remarkable documents of her ordinary humanity
that make for very difficult and moving readings, especially when she
describes the kindness and concern shown her by all the Palestinians she
encounters, who clearly welcome her as one of their own, because she lives
with them exactly as they do, sharing their lives and worries, as well as the
horrors of the Israeli occupation and its terrible effects on even the smallest
child. She understands the fate of the refugees and what she calls the Israeli
governments insidious attempt at a kind of genocide by making it impossible,
almost impossible, for this particular group of individuals to survive, those are
her words. So moving is her solidarity that it inspires an Israeli reservist,
called Danny, who has refused service in the Israeli army, to write her and tell
her, and I quote from the letters: ďYou are doing a good thing, I thank you for
it.Ē What shines through all the letters she wrote home and which were
subsequently published in the London Guardian is the amazing resistance put
up by the Palestinian people themselves average human beings put in the most
terrible position of suffering and despair but continuing to survive and stay on
just the same.
Weíve heard so much recently about the Road Map and the prospects for
peace, that we seem to have overlooked the most basic fact of all, which is
that Palestinians have refused to capitulate or surrender, even under the
collective punishment meted out to them, by the combined might of Israel and
the United States. It is that fact, that extraordinary fact of Palestinians, which
is the reason for the existence of a Road Map, and all the numerous so called
peace plans before them, not at all because the United States and Israel and
the International community have been convinced for humanitarian reasons
that the killing and the violence must stop. If we miss that truth, about the
power of Palestinian resistance, despite all its failings and all its mistakes, and
god knows there have been many, we miss everything. Palestinians have
always been a problem for the Zionist project, and many solutions have
perennially been proposed that minimize rather than solve the problem.
The official Israeli policy, no matter whether Ariel Sharon uses the word
occupation or not, or whether or not he dismantles a rusty unused tower or
two, has always been not to accept the reality of the Palestinian people as
equals, nor even to admit that their rights were scandously violated all along
by Israel. Whereas a few courageous Israelis over the years have tried to deal
with this other concealed history, most Israelis and what seems like the
majority of Americans Jews have made every effort to deny, avoid, or negate
the Palestinian reality; that is why there is no peace. Moreover, the road map,
as I told the secretary yesterday, says nothing about justice, or about the
historical punishment meted out to the Palestinian people for too many
decades to count.
What Rachel Corrieís work in Gaza recognized however was precisely the
gravity and the density of the living history of the Palestinian people as a
national community and not merely a collection of deprived refugees; that is
what she was in solidarity with. And, I want to remind you that that kind of
solidarity is no longer confined to a small number of intrepid souls here and
there, but is recongnized the world over. Five years ago, Rachel Corrie would
not have gone to Palestine, she wouldnít perhaps have heard about it. Now,
the situation is changed.
In the past six months I have lectured in four continents, to many many
thousands of people. What brings them together is Palestine, and the struggle
of the Palestinian people, which is now a byword for emancipation and
enlightenment, regardless of all the vilifications heaped on them by their
enemies. Whenever the facts are made known, there is immediate recognition,
and an expression of the most profound solidarity with the justice of the
Palestinian cause and the valiant struggle by the Palestinian people on its
behalf.
Its an extraordinary thing that Palestine this year was a central issue, both
during the Porto Allegre anti-globalization meetings in Brazil, as well as
during the Davos meetings at both ends of the world wide political spectrum.
Just because our fellow citizens in this country are fed an atrociously bias diet
of ignorance and misrepresentation by the media, when the occupation is
never referred to in lurid descriptions of suicide attacks, the apartheid wall,
which is 25 feet high, 5 feet thick and 350 kilometers long, that Israel is
building, is never shown on CNN and the networks. Or when so much is
referred to in passing throughout the lifeless prose of the road map, and the
crimes of war and the gratuitous destruction and humiliation, the maImings,
the house demolitions, agricultural destruction and death, imposed on
Palestinian civilians are never shown for the daily, completely routine ordeal
that they are, one shouldnít be surprised that Americans in the main have a
very low opinion of Arabs and of Palestinians. After all, please remember
that all the main organs of the establishment medium from left liberal, all the
way over to fringe right, are unanimously anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-
Palestinian. Look at the pusillanimity of the media during the build-up to the
illegal and unjust war against Iraq, and look at how little coverage there was
of the immense damage against Iraqi society done by the 12 year sanctions,
and how relatively fewer counts, journalistic accounts, there were of the
immense world wide outpouring of opinion against the war. Hardly a single
journalist, except Helen Thomas, who is an Arab-American, has taken the
administration to task for the outrageous lies and confected facts that were
spun out about Iraq as an imminent military threat to the United States before
the war. Just as now the same government propagandists who cynically
invented and manipulated facts about weapons of mass destruction are now
more or less forgotten, or shrugged off as irrelevant. Theyíre let off the hook
by media heavies in discussing the awful, the literally inexcusable situation
for the people of Iraq, that the United States has now single-handedly and
irresponsibly created there.
However else one blames Saddam Hussein as the vicious tyrant that he was,
he had provided the people of Iraq, with the best infrastructure of services like
water, electricity, health and education of any Arab country. None of this is
any longer in place. Its no wonder then, that with the extraordinary fear of
seeming anti-Semitic, by criticizing Israel for its daily crimes of war against
innocent unarmed Palestinian civilians, or criticizing the US government, and
being called anti-American for its illegal war and its dreadfully run military
occupation, that the vicious media and government campaign against Arab
society, culture, history and mentality, to say nothing of the campaign against
Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans in this country, has been led by
Neanderthal publicists and Orientalists, like Daniel Pipes and Bernard Lewis.
This has cowed far too many of us into believing that Arab really are an
underdeveloped, incompetent and doomed people and that with all the failures
in democracy and development, Arabs are alone in this world for being
retarded, being behind the times, unmodernized and deeply reactionary. Here
is where dignity and critical historical thinking must be mobilized to see what
is what, and to disentangle truth from propaganda.
No one would deny that most Arab countries today are ruled by unpopular
regimes and that vast numbers of poorly disadvantaged young Arabs are
exposed to the ruthless forms of fundamentalist religion. Yet it is simply a lie
to say, as the New York Times in its editorials and in its news reporting,
regularly say, that Arab societies are ďtotally controlledĒ and that there is no
freedom of opinion, no civil institutions, no functioning social movements for
and by the people. Press laws notwithstanding, you can go to downtown
Amman today, and buy a communist party newspaper there, as well as an
Islamist one. Egypt and Lebanon are full of papers and journals that suggest
much more debate and discussion than these societies are given credit for.
The satellite channels are bursting with diverse opinion in a dizzying variety.
Civil institutions are on many levels having to do with social services, human
rights, syndicates, womenís rights, research institutes, very lively over the
Arab world. In Palestine alone, there are over a thousand NGOs, and it is this
vitality and this kind of activity that has kept society going despite every
American and Israeli effort made to vilify, stop, or mutilate it on a daily basis.
And if you compare, as I think it is salutary to do, the American media in its
reporting, like the Post here, or the New York Times, on the Oped page, or Fox
or CNN, you can compare those with the Arab satellite channels or the
newspapers that one can read, you know, published in London, published in
Beirut, published in Cairo, etc., I mean who are we kidding? The range of
opinion is much greater in the Arab world than it is here. This propaganda
campaign has made even Arabs believe the lies about them that of course are
being put out by people that wish them no good, but want to portray them as
sort of retarded primitives who are basically trivial and sort of out of it in
general.
Under the worst possible circumstances, Palestinian society has neither been
defeated, nor has it crumbled completely, and this is of course Sharonís
predicament. Kids still go to school, doctors and nurses still take care of their
patients, men and women go to work, organizations have their meetings and
people continue to live, which seems to be an offense to Sharon, and the other
extremists who simply want Palestinians either in prison or driven away all
together. The military solution that they have tried hasnít worked at all and
never will work. Why is that so hard for Israelis and Americans to see?
So, I want to suggest that it is our role to help them to understand this, not by
suicide bombers but by rational argument, mass civil disobedience, by
organized protest here and everywhere. The point Iím trying to make is that
we have to see the Arab world generally, and Palestine in particular, in more
comparative and critical ways than silly books like Bernard Lewisí ďWhat
Went Wrong,Ē and Paul Wolfowitzís ignorant statement about bringing
democracy to the region, he should bring democracy to the Pentagon. His
arguments about bringing democracy to the Arab and Islamic world can even
begin to suggest whatever else is true about the Arabs. There is an active
dynamic at work, because as real people they live in a real society, not in
some, you know, daydream or wet-dream, invented by Paul Wolfowitz and
Richard Perle, with all sorts of currents and counter-currents in it that canít
easily be caricatured as just one seething mass of violent fanaticism. The
Palestinian struggle for justice is especially something with which one
expresses solidarity, rather than endless criticism and dismissive frustrating
discouragement, and crippling divisiveness.
Remember the solidarity shown towards Palestine, here and everywhere in
Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia, and remember also, that
there is a cause, a real cause, to which many people have committed
themselves, difficulties and terrible obstacles notwithstanding. Why? Because
it is a just cause, a noble ideal, a moral quest for equality and human rights.
I want now to speak about dignity, which of course has a special place in
every culture known to historians, anthropologists, sociologists and
humanists. I shall begin by saying immediately that it is a radically wrong,
orientalist, and indeed racist proposition to accept the fact, or the notion, or
the theory that unlike Europeans and Americans, Arabs, and were told this all
the time in the media, Arabs have no sense of individuality, they have no
regard for individual life, no values that express love and intimacy and
understanding, that are supposed to be the exclusive property of cultures like
those of Europe and America that had a Renaissance, a Reformation and
Enlightenment. Among many others it is the vulgar and jejune Thomas
Friedman, who has been peddling this absolute rubbish, which is alas, been
picked up not by many other Americans, and this is the sad part of it, but by
equally ignorant and self-deceiving Arab intellectuals -I donít need to mention
any names here- who have seen in the atrocities of 9/11 a sign that the Arab
and Islamic worlds are somehow more diseased and more dysfunctional than
any other, and that terrorism is a sign of a wider distortion than has occurred
in any other culture. We can leave to one side the slightly inconvenient fact
that between them, Europe and the United States account for 80% of the
violent deaths of the 20th century, I mean thatís just a little unimportant fact,
the Islamic world, in those conflicts, hardly provided a fraction of that
damage.
And behind all that specious, unscientific nonsense about wrong and right
civilizations, there is the grotesque shadow of the great false prophet Samuel
Huntington, who has led a lot of people to believe that the world can be
divided into distinct civilizations battling against each other forever, on the
contrary, Huntington is dead wrong on every point he makes. No culture or
civilization exists by itself, none is made up of things like individuality and
enlightenment that are completely exclusive to it, and none exist without the
basic human attributes of community, love, value for life and all the others.
Even Arabs have those things in their culture. To suggest otherwise, as he
does, is the purest, invidious racism of the same stripe as people who used to
argue that Africans have naturally inferior brains or that Asians are really born
for self-servitude, or the Europeans are a naturally superior race. This is a sort
of parody of Hitlarian science directed uniquely today against Arabs and
Muslims, and we must be very firm, as not even going through the motions of
arguing against it; it is the purest drivel.
On the other hand, there is the much more credible and serious stipulation
that, like every other instance of humanity, Arab and Muslim life has an
inherent value and dignity, which are expressed by Arabs and Muslims in
their unique culture style, and those expressions neednít resemble or be a copy
of one approved model certified by Richard Perle suitable for everyone. The
whole point about human diversity is that it is in the end a form of deep
coexistence between very different forms of individuality and experience that
canít all be reduced to one superior form that we should all follow. And thatís
behind this absolutely ridiculous, hubristic, arrogant idea that somehow
America has gone to Iraq to liberate the Iraqis and show them the true way. I
mean who gave them that authority? What illumination came down on
President Bush, I can barely get himself onto a golf course?
This spurious argument foisted on us by pundits all over the mainstream
media who bewail the lack of development and knowledge in the Arab world
and alas, it has been picked up by the United Nations in the Arab human
development report, which is full of the most immature and puerile
generalizations about how many books are translated. For example, they say
300 books have been translated in the Arab world only, well how many books
have been translated from other languages into America? Only 300 and this is
the most powerful, the richest, the most developed country in the world. If
you ask how many books from Arabic have been translated into English, Iíll
tell you what the figure is in this country: itís 13 books in the last four years,
that shows how advanced America is, right? And these are the figures that
this report bandies about so that more Arabs feel ďOh yeah, weíre terrible. We
really are behind everybody and we really have to take it on the chin. And we
have to blame ourselves.Ē As some guy I saw on television say: ďItís a wakeup
call for the Arab world.Ē As if the Arab world has been asleep, waiting for
this guy to wake it up. My God. All one has to do, if one has the sense, is to
look at the huge variety of literature, of cinema, of theater, of painting, of
music and popular culture produced by and for Arabs from Morocco to the
Gulf. Surely that needs to be assessed.
And let me in this connection mention something that Iím sure most of you
donít even know about. Under the worst possible conditions, on the West
Bank, Ramallah is a city under siege most of the time, there are curfews,
people canít get from one town to another, one part of a town to the other,
there is always the fear of getting picked up by the Israelis and detained -there
is 5000 Palestinian prisoners now held without charge by the Israelis. In spite
of all this, and the bombing and the house demolitions and etc., there is now a
flourishing Palestinian music conservatory, where hundreds of eager kids
come for piano lessons and violin lessons and clarinet lessons and cello
lessons, under fire, to teachers who give of their time and of their gifts freely,
and now this is spread all over the West Bank, not just in Ramallah, but there
is a branch in Jerusalem, there is one in Bethlehem, and so on and so forth.
Now, I have some papers here. Iím not good at selling things, but here is a
recording made by a group from the conservatory of Arabic music, a CD, here
is the account of it and here is some leaflets, which will be available at the
back of the hall for you to look at, and I recommend it, itís a very worthwhile
humane project to support. Its precisely this kind of thing that never gets
mentioned, they just talk about suicide bombers, right? That Palestinian kids
are very gifted, that there is a marvelously accomplished young Palestinian
pianist who is now playing at the best halls all over the world, that there is
another one who is only 13 or 14 years old who is considered to be a child
prodigy, all of them having connections with this conservatory, thatís never
mentioned, its only we are suicide bombers and fundamentalists. So, surely
those things need to be assessed, as indications of whether or not Arabs are
developed and not just how in any given day statistical tables of industrial
production either indicate an appropriate level of development or they show
failure.
The more important point I want to make is that there is a very wide
discrepancy, which we all feel today, between our cultures and societies on
the one hand, and the small group of people who now rule these societies.
Rarely in history has such mediocrity and such an absence of creativity and
independent thought been so concentrated in so tiny and unrepresentative of a
group as the various kings, generals, sultans and presidents Ėall of them
overweight- who preside today over the Arabs. The worst thing about them as
a group, almost without exception, is that they represent, only the lowest, the
most uninteresting common denominator of their people. This is not just a
matter of democracy, or no democracy, it is that they seem radically to
underestimate themselves and their people in ways that close them off, that
make them intolerant and fearful of change, frightened of opening up their
society to their people, terrified most of all that might anger big brother, that is
the United States. Instead of seeing that their citizens are the potential wealth
of their nation, they regard them all as guilty conspirators vying for the rulerís
power. This is the real failure, how during the terrible war against the Iraqi
people, not a single Arab leader had the self-dignity and confidence to say
something about the pillaging and military occupation of one of the most
important Arab countries. Fine it was an excellent thing that Saddam
Husseinís appalling regime is no more, who could fight with that, who could
disagree, but who appointed the US to be the Arab mentor, to be almost the
Arab nanny?
Who asked the United States to take over the Arab world allegedly on behalf
of its citizens and bring it something called democracy? Especially a time
when in our own country, in America, the school system, the health system
and the whole economy are degenerating into the worst level since the 1929
depression. Why was the collective Arab voice not raised against the USí
flagrantly illegal intervention, where the French objected but the Arabs said
nothing, which did so much harm and inflicted so much humiliation upon the
entire Arab nation. This is truly a colossal failure in nerve, in dignity, in selfsolidarity.
With all the Bush administrationís talk about guidance from the all
mighty (we heard some of it last night,) doesnít one Arab leader have the
courage just to say that as a great people, we are guided by our own lights, and
traditions and religions. But nothing. Not a peep.
As the poor citizens of Iraq live through the most terrible ordeals and the rest
of the region quakes in its collective boots, each one petrified that its country
may be next. And as for whatís happening to Palestinians, Egypt still has
commercial and of course, diplomatic relationships with Israel, as do Jordan
and Morocco; all to safeguard their rulerís continuing US patronage. How
indecent and indecorous the embrace of George Bush, the man whose war
destroyed an Arab country gratuitously. How indecent it was that the
combined leadership of the major Arab countries last week embraced him so
warmly. Was there no one there who had the guts to remind George W. what
he had done to humiliate and bring more suffering to the Arab people than
anyone before him and must he always be greeted with hugs and smiles and
kisses and low bows? Where is the diplomatic and political and economic
support necessary to sustain an anti-occupation movement on the West Bank
and Gaza. Instead all one hears is that foreign ministers preach to the
Palestinians to mind their ways, avoid violence, and keep at the peace
negotiations, even though it has been so obvious that Sharonís interest in
peace is just about zero. There has been no, I mean this is unimaginable, there
has been no concerted Arab response to the separation wall or to the
assassinations, or to the collective punishment, only a bunch of tired clichťs,
repeating the well-worn formulas authorized by the State Department.
The one thing that strikes me as the low point in Arab inability to grasp the
dignity of our own and our Palestinian cause is expressed, Iím very sorry to
say, by the current state of the Palestinian authority. Abu Mazen, a number
two colorless figure, with no political support among his own people, was
picked for the job by Israel and the United States, precisely because he has no
backbone and no constituency. Heís not an orator, or a great organizer, he
doesnít know any languages except Arabic (about which Iím not so sure!) and
nor is he anything really more than a dutiful aid to Yasser Arafat, and because
Iím afraid they see in him a man who will do Israelís bidding. How could
even Abu Mazen stand there in Aqaba, to pronounce words written for him
like a ventriloquistís puppet, by some State Department functionary? Instead
of saying, Iím not going to read your speech, Iím going to read my speech.
He didnít even have the dignity to say that. And he reads a speech in which he
commendably speaks about Jewish suffering but then amazingly says next to
nothing about his own peopleís suffering at the hands of Israel. How could he
accept so undignified and manipulated a role for himself, and how could he
forget his self-dignity as the representative of a people that have been fighting
heroically for its rights for over a century, just because the US and Israel have
told him that he must. And when Israel simply says that there will be a
Palestinian state without any contrition for the horrendous amount of damage
it has done, the uncountable war crimes, the sheer, sadistic, systematic
humiliation of every single Palestinian woman and child, I must confess to a
complete lack of understanding as to why a leader or representative of that
long suffering people doesnít so much as take note of it, just say thereís this.
We donít want you to account for it, we just want you to take note of it. Iím
filled with incomprehension. Has he entirely lost his sense of dignity? Has he
forgotten that since heís not just an individual but also the bearer of his
peopleís fate at a specially crucial moment. Is there anyone here who is not
bitterly disappointed at this total failure to rise to the occasion and stand with
dignity, the dignity of his peopleís experience and cause, and testify to it with
pride and without compromise, without ambiguity, without the halfembarrassed,
half-apologetic tone that Palestinian leaders take when they are
begging for a little kindness from some totally unworthy white father. But
that has been the behavior of Palestinian leaders since Oslo and alas even
since Hajj Amin, a combination of misplaced juvenile defiance and plaintive
supplication. Why on Earth do they always think it is absolutely necessary to
read scripts written for them insultingly by their enemies?
The basic dignity of our life as Arabs in Palestine, throughout the Arab world,
and here in America, is that we are our own people, with a heritage, a history,
a tradition, and above all, a language; it neednít be Arabic, it could be English,
but itís our language as Palestinians, that is more than adequate to the task of
representing our real aspirations since those aspirations derive from the
experience of dispossession and suffering that has been imposed on each
Palestinian since 1948. Not one of our political spokespersons, the same is
true of the Arabs since Nasserís time, ever speaks with self-respect and
dignity of what we are, what we want, what we have done and where we want
to go. Slowly however, and I conclude here, the situation is changing, and the
old regime made up of the Abu Mazenís and Abu Ammarís of this world is
passing and will gradually be replaced by a new set of emerging leaders all
over the Arab world, leaders who are more self-confident and who have a
better idea of themselves than the old leaders did.
The most promising is made up, I think, of a new Palestinian organization
whose members are called the National Political Initiative in Palestine, they
are grass-roots activists whose main activity is not pushing papers on a desk,
nor juggling bank accounts, nor looking for journalists to pay attention to
them, but who come from the ranks of the professionals, the working classes,
and young intellectuals and activists, teachers, doctors, lawyers, working
people, who have kept society going while also fending off daily Israeli
attacks. Second, these are people committed to the kind of democracy and
popular participation undreamt of by the Palestinian authority whose idea of
democracy is stability and security for itself. Lastly, they offer social services
to the unemployed, health to the uninsured and the poor, proper secular
education to a new generation of Palestinians who must be taught the realities
of the modern world not just the extraordinary worth of the Old World. For
such programmes, the National Political Initiative stipulates that getting rid of
the occupation is the only way forward, and that the only way to do that is that
a representative national unified leadership be elected freely to replace the
cronies, the outdated, and the ineffectiveness that have plagued Palestinian
leaders for the past century. Only if we respect ourselves, as Arab and
Americans, finally, and understand the true dignity and justice of our struggle,
only then, can we appreciate why, almost despite ourselves, so many people
all over the world, including Rachel Corrie and the two young people
wounded with her from ISM, Tom Herndall and Brian Avery have felt it
possible to express their solidarity with us.
I leave you with one last irony, isnít it astonishing that all the signs of popular
solidarity that Palestine and the Arabs receive occur with no comparable sign
of solidarity and dignity for ourselves, that others admire and respect us more
than we do ourselves. Isnít it time we caught up with ourselves, with our own
status, and made certain that our representatives here and elsewhere realize as
a first step that they are fighting for a just and noble cause and that they have
nothing to apologize for or anything to be embarrassed about. On the
contrary, they should be proud. We should all be proud of what our people
have done and proud also to represent them.
Thank you very much.


-- Sadie
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