Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Former PLO Mouthpiece Spills the Beans

On Thursday evening, February 16, Khalid Abu Toameh spoke at the Merrill Cultural Center at UCSC. Toameh, an Israeli Arab, is the West Bank and Gaza correspondent for the Jerusalem Post and U.S. News and World Report. He came to speak about Hamas' sweeping success in the recent Palestinian elections and its implications in the region.

He began by speaking critically about his time working for the Al Fajr, a PLO-sponsored newspaper, which he considered to be false journalism since the paper was basically just a mouthpiece for Yasser Arafat's corrupt government. While Toameh himself says he has no agenda, he mentioned how journalists have been targeted by PLO security forces for their independence and have been attacked and had their offices torched. He said some of his colleagues who still work for Palestinian media sources can't believe the intellectual freedom he now enjoys.

As far as the Hamas victory, Toameh asserted that it has more to do with the people's discontent with the PLO than with their support of terrorism. After all, Hamas' platform was not one which was rooted in suicide bombings, but rather on bringing benefits to the suffering masses (suffering largely at the hands of the corrupt PLO). Frustration caused by suppressed liberalism and dissent caused Palestinians to turn to the mosques, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad welcomed them with open arms.

At the same time, Toameh asserted that Fatah has no intention of ceding control to Hamas, and supposed that anarchy may ensue. Although, even if Fatah doesn't challenge Hamas, he said they almost don't have the option to be corrupt because there's "nothing left to steal." So far, Hamas has built hospitals and schools while the PA built casinos and villas and set up private bank accounts in Paris and Switzerland.

Toameh also criticized Sharon for the way he pulled out of Gaza because he made it look like it was a reward for terrorism. If he had just held negotiations before the decision to pull out, it would have made it look like an agreement, but instead it looked like Hamas was rewarded for the intifada.

During the Q&A time, someone asked about the recent cartoon uproar in the Muslim world. Toameh agreed with the Muslim world's expression of frustration with disrespect for Muhammed, but thought that the violence was despicable. He said that the corrupt leaders of the Palestinians encourage hatred of the West and Jews to deflect their own problems.

Someone also asked about the "apartheid/security fence," to which Toameh responded that it is "a symptom of Oslo," since Arafat didn't work to stop terror, so Israel had to protect itself (or, as they would say in Israel, "protect herself"). Toameh said if he could graffiti the security wall, he would spray paint the words, "MADE BY ARAFAT" on there. Now that's pretty hardcore. The Israelis didn't wake up one day say, "Let's build a wall." It is the product of years of dangerous infiltration by terrorists.

And as far as the settlements, Toameh just commented on how small the land is, and that there is not so much that it can be divided. "I see changes on the Jewish side, but no changes on the Arab side."

In my opinion, Abu Toameh offered one of the most balanced and down-to-earth assessments of the Israel/Palestine conflict that I've ever heard on campus. As usual, I wish there would have been more CJP and MSA folks, but alas, they were watching movies. Movies glorifying the PLO and demonizing Israel, most likely.

For more info, do a google search. I found one great article about Toameh's views here.

Special thanks to Rakdannit for letting me use her (hecka in-depth) notes to write this post. And sorry, all my hecka good pictures mysteriously disappeared. So.


Anonymous Frum Mommy said...

Thanks for the summary. I wanted to know what Khalid Abu Toameh included in his disapproval of violence. Meaning, did he just condem the burning and rioting or did he also say that the sucide bombing are wrong, without trying to rationalize it?

Wed Feb 22, 10:35:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great picture there!

Wed Feb 22, 11:21:00 PM 2006  
Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

no, i mean, he pretty much didn't seem to approve of suicide bombing as a legit tool for acheiving anything, as far as i could tell. and he certainly didn't rationalize it.

Thu Feb 23, 01:50:00 AM 2006  
Blogger iheartisrael said...

great post! i enjoyed reading it. hope you have fun at matisyahu!

Fri Feb 24, 12:47:00 AM 2006  

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