There's nothing new in the fact that Palestinian leaders speak peace and tolerance in English, and hate and Jihad in Arabic.
Into this distinguished list of double-talkers we are honoured to introduce Prof. Sari Nusseibeh.
Long hailed as one of the few Palestinian peace leaders, and having scores of admirers among well-meaning Israelis who regard him as the great Palestinian hope for peace, it still well behooves to scrutinize the messages he delivers in Arabic.
1. Prof. Nusseibeh calls for a cessation of homicide bombings on civilians, not for moral reasons, but for tactical ones:
The time: June 22nd, 2002
The place: Al Ayam Palestinian Daily newspaper
The Form: An advertisement paid for by the European Union and signed by Sari Nusseibeh and a few dozen other signatories.
The text: "We, the undersigned, based on the fierce defense of the future of our just national goal, and the protection of the honour of our national struggle and our brave Intifada which are blamed as terrorism, raise out voice and demand a cessation of the bombings that target Israeli civilians inside Israel.
Bitter experience teaches us that these actions have provided and will provide Sharon with the alibi to continue and increase the incursions and assassinations.
Moreover, these actions impede the nurturing and development of a resistance movement inside Israel against the occupation and the settlements".
The meaning of this text is clear: we don't care if you continue to murder Israeli civilians inside the West Bank and Gaza, but bombing them inside israel is bad PR for us. President Bush is beginning to get really fed up with us and the world public opinion is beginning to call us terrorists and is turning against us.
Moreover: Whereas in operation "Defensive Shield" the world demanded Israel to withdraw immediately, (and we didn't ask you to stop then, because this tactic was apparently working), this time Sharon entered our towns to curtail the terror and the world does not tell him to stop. So we better take a recess from homicide bombings for the time being.
Moreover: these homicide bombings interfere right now with our efforts to build a resistance movement among the Israeli Arabs to serve as a fifth column.
2. Just 4 days later, Prof. Nusseibeh Expresses admiration and encouragement to the terrorists and their mothers, live on TV (pictures from the actual TV program)
The time: June 29th, 2002
The place: Al Jazeera TV program
The form: A panel with Prof. Sari Nusseibeh, Haled Mash'al, leader of Hamas political wing, Um Nidal, the mother of the Hamas terrorist Muhammad Farkhat who entered the Israeli village of Atzmona on March 3, 2002 and murdered seven Israelis. His mother Um Nidal encouraged her son to commit the suicide mission and also appeared in a farewell video on the eve of the attack, where she sends her son to his death.
Sari Nusseibah says: "When I hear the words of Um Nidal [the terrorist's mother], I recall the noble [Quranic] verse stating that ‘Paradise lies under the feet of mothers.’
"All respect is due to this mother, it is due to every Palestinian mother and every female Palestinian who is a Jihad fighter on this land. I do not wish to mix political statements and political commentary with the respect every Palestinian feels for every Jihad fighter..."
For the benefit of his Arab listeners, the venerable professor hastened to draw a clear distinction between his political statements (which he makes in impeccable English) and what he really feels about Jihad and terrorist attacks (which he asserts in Arabic)...
To wipe out any misunderstanding with his Arab audience, Prof. Nusseibeh also referred to the advertisement he signed in Al Ayam 4 days earlier. He explained: “In our [communique], we referred to this kind of martyrdom the armed operations with explosives [targeting civilians in Israel]…. I wish to emphasize that we did not condemn [the operations]…. We appealed as brother to brother, to consider this issue… so as to examine the benefit and damage of operations against civilians within Israel.”
The full text of Nusseibeh's words in Arabic is to be found on the Al Jazeera Website:http://www.aljazeera.net/programs/open_dialog/articles/2002/7/7-2-1.htm
In addition, on the Arab news site Albawaba, Prof. Nusseibeh repeats his explanation that “The communique that I, along with hundreds of others, signed, was clear. We did not address our brothers in the various resistance factions to chastise them, or to condemn them, or depict the resistance as terror, or to de-legitimize it. None of these words appeared in the communique… [Our] aim was to convey a message that there is a need to reexamine the benefit of the [martyrdom] operations within Israel in the context of the goals we seek to accomplish.”
REEXAMINE. See? REEXAMINE. We never said a word against it as long as we thought it brings results. But now when this tactic is bringing us flak from world media, maybe we should reexamine the benefit...
Prof. Nusseibeh’s earlier actions also demand consideration.
In 1991, he served time in prison for providing missile-targeting information to Iraqi sources.
He appeared on Al-Jazeera TV in December 2001 supporting the Palestinian “right of return” and the “stages” strategy towards eventual annihilation of Israel.
Since Oslo, so many Israelis preferred to disregard Arafat's calls in Arabic to destroy Israel, until they woke up to face the bitter reality. Even Yossi Sarid said in an interview in Maariv a month ago: "If there is one mistake I regret, it's when I was Minister of Education, we were presented with evidence of the Palestinian Authority's schoolbooks promoting hate and incitement and I preferred to disregard it. We were hoping that somehow it will come out all right in the end".
Surely now there will still be peace-loving Israelis who will say about Nusseibeh what they said yesterday about Arafat: "But he has to placate the Palestinian extremists..." Or: "It's just accepted Palestinian rhetoric, nothing to be concerned about..."
After more than 500 innocent Israeli victims, we'd better be concerned. We'd better believe what these gentlemen say in Arabic, not what they say in English.
Maybe there is a Palestinian who truly wants peace with Israel, but he has yet to be found.