Brad on the PLO

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Wed Oct 7 11:52:45 PDT 1998

I cannot let pass this flippant and perverse comment.

On Wed, 7 Oct 1998, Brad De Long wrote:
> aborigines. Those who condemn Israeli policy in the occupied territories of
> the West Bank and Gaza lack "integrity" because they have spent
> insufficient time condemning the failure of the PLO to remove those clauses
> of its charter calling for the abolition of Israel...

Brad, I know that you have gone blind since the whirlwinds of economic crisis extinguished the little lamp all economists carry to illuminate marginal bits of economic reality. l But it seems that you have quite nasty as well. Said, Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad, Ibrahim Abu Lughod--these are the most prominent chroniclers in the US of land confiscation, diversion of water, the humiliation of torture and degradation, the jailing of political prisoners. As far as I know, each one of them favors a two state solution, no? None of these people have ever supported a call for the destruction of the Israel or supported any attempt to bring about such an outcome. None of them has ever tolerated any call for the destruction of Israel; indeed from the early 1960s on Ahmad was writing into the speeches of prominent Arab leaders formal recognition of the right of Israel to exist.

Abu Lughod has argued that for more than two decades the PLO has recognized the right of a culturally distinct people to occupy the same land mass: "The initial Palestinian answer entailed essentially shared political sovereignty over the whole of Palestine. The unacceptability of this formulation to Israeli Jews prompted Palestinians to provide another alternative. From 1977 onward, the Palestinians pressed for two sovereignties on the same land, one Palestinian Arab and the other Israeli Jew." Blaming the Victims, ed. Said and Hitchens, p. 205.

Do you deny that this true? As for a formal amending of the Charter--overriden by statements since the mid 70s, as Abu Lughod argues-- what were the Palestinians offered in return? Did Israel, enlargened at least 7x since its founding, offer to define finally its borders? Or perhaps to abide by the Geneva Convention?

Who do you have in mind who has not been properly supportive of the recognition of Israel? Who are these hypocritical supporters of the Palestinians? Or do you think it is just alright to fuel fires with such flippant comments?

The real tragedy of course is that your flippant attempt to divert attention to a non issue--the willingness of the PLO to recognize a state of Israel, its borders defined--you have contributed to burying the question of how badly the PLO has served the interests of the Palestinians.

best, rakesh

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