Memo: To Yasir Arafat, chairman, Palestinian Authority
From: Jude Wanniski
Re Handling Hamas & Hezbollah
You of course know, Mr. Chairman, that you have not been able to resume the peace process because of the extremists in Israel and in your own ranks. The extremists in Israel who want to possess the West Bank and Gaza forever are working hand in glove with the Palestinian extremists of Hamas and Hezbollah who want Israel to disappear. Your extremists are more extreme than the Israeli extremists because they are willing to resort to suicidal terrorism to disrupt the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would be forced to negotiate toward the peace that is staring both of you in the face because his extremists are not suicidal. What you need is a man who would be able to handle your extremists and the only one I have been able to think of is the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan, who you know well and who is known and respected by the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, not to mention the entire Arab League. Minister Farrakhan last Tuesday held a press conference in Chicago and announced he will travel to the Middle East in May, to meet with you and the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, and with Sharon, if that is possible. I’ve sent a transcript of Min. Farrakhan’s statement to Secretary of State Colin Powell and hope that after he reads it he will give it to you to read. As unlikely as it may seem, it may even strike President George W. Bush that Farrakhan may be exactly the missing ingredient, and that by adding his efforts to your’s and Ariel Sharon’s, it may all come together. I would have sent you this last week after I listened to Min. Farrakhan’s press conference at the NOI’s website, but decided to wait until a transcript was available so those who cannot access Internet audio – such as you – can read it.
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The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan Addresses
The Palestinian/Israeli Conflict
Via a Press Conference at Mosque Maryam
Tuesday, April 2, 2002
"The Honest Broker"
First, let me thank all of the members of the media who are present, the community leaders who are present, religious leaders who are present and, of course, the believing community. After viewing the carnage of the last few days going on in Israel and on the West Bank among the Palestinians, I felt that it was my duty, indeed, a command from Allah (God), to raise my voice to try to answer the question, what and who will stop the carnage that is presently going on in the Middle East.
Of course, the simple answer is justice. Though the word is easily said, it involves the will, the mind, and spirit of well-meaning people whose desire is peace to sit down at a common table to work out a solution for peace based on the principle of justice. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that justice is a principle of fair dealing. He said that justice is the law that distinguishes right from wrong. He also warned that justice is that weapon that Allah (God) will use in the Day of Judgment, which we believe is now.
Jesus said that, as a man soweth the same shall he also reap. He also said, if you sow the wind you will reap the whirlwind, and, those who live by the sword will ultimately perish by the sword. The two sides, Palestinians and Israelis, are at a point mentally and spiritually where they of themselves cannot find a solution to this problem in their present state of mind. Thus, without dispassionate and strong intervention by the United States and the United Nations, the cycle of violence will continue to escalate until the whole region has gone to a point of no return. Thus, the war of Armageddon – which will involve all nations and cause, as the Bible prophesies, blood to rise up to the horse's bridle -- will not be able to be avoided. The time for strong, dispassionate intervention is now. If this moment is missed, the results will be catastrophic.
One writer said of America, we can avoid reality but we cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. So, I say again, this is the time for strong, dispassionate intervention by the United States and the United Nations.
There are two diverse and prevailing views held by the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the Arab and Muslim world that appear to be irreconcilable. On the one hand, we have the Jewish people. Having suffered for 2,000 years and being persecuted in various countries of the world as they have been scattered throughout our planet, their desire has always been a Jewish homeland, which was promised to them by Allah (God). So in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people who have immigrated to the state of Israel, there is a feeling of justification of their presence in Israel by their belief that the state of Israel is promised to them by Allah (God) and written of in the Torah and is the fulfillment of Allah's promise to them. Therefore, by Divine right they feel justified that their presence in the state of Israel is divinely ordained.
On the other hand, the Palestinians view the Israeli presence as the result of the organization of western powers in the United Nations heavily influenced by the Jewish people and various governments that mandated the taking of land from the Palestinians to form the state of Israel. This action, taken by the United Nations in 1948, was never accepted by the Arab states and many in the Muslim world. Therefore, the Arab states made war against the Israeli state; and after each war more and more land was taken from them. So, in their anger and their perception of stolen land and the Arab world's sharing the perception, the Palestinians, both Arab and Christian Palestinians, have fought the presence of Israelis, only to loose more and more land to a growing Israeli population. This has caused the displacement of over five million Palestinians who now are in the same state or condition that Jews have been in for 2,000 years -- wandering the earth, living in strange lands, living in refugee camps under conditions of overcrowding, squalor, disease, violence, and the constant frustration of their natural desire to be free in a land of their own. Therefore, the Palestinians and many in the Arab and the Muslim world see no Zionist as innocent -- no soldiers who occupy their land, no settlers who carry machine guns, no Israelis who live on stolen land as innocent. Therefore, they feel that their intifada, or uprising, is a natural reaction to Zionist occupation, oppression, racism and genocide conducted against the Palestinian people.
It is, unfortunately, their belief that the state of Israel was created through violence, exists and is maintained by violence, and, therefore, cannot be stopped except by violence. These two views are the prevailing views. There is another view among a small but growing number of members of the Orthodox community that the state of Israel is not Biblically justified. They believe that it is the Messiah and His appearance in the world and their returning to obedience to the laws, statutes and commandments of Allah (God) that would justify the Messiah's leading them back to a land of their own. These members of the Orthodox Jewish community feel that the Zionists have usurped the promise and, therefore, have circumvented the work that is written of the Messiah. And they believe that modern Jewry has failed to fulfill that aspect of the condition of their return, which is obedience to the laws, statutes and commandments of God. These apparently irreconcilable views present us with a huge theological problem that will take great theologians among the Christians, the Jews and the Muslims who are capable of rising above their emotions into the thinking of God to come up with that which can reconcile these apparently irreconcilable views. This will take time, but time now is of the essence.
As Muslims, we believe that nothing happens except by the active or permissive Will of Allah (God). Therefore, we have to ask the question: Why did Allah permit the state of Israel to come into existence? Was it to be a trial for the Arabs and a trial for the Muslims? Was it permitted that Muslims could learn from what they might learn from that state? What really was Allah's purpose? Until we can rise above emotion into the thinking of God, we will never be able to reconcile these apparently irreconcilable views.
For 54 years the Arab and Muslim world has not accepted the existence of the state of Israel. It appears, from the Gadhafi and Saudi Peace Plan, that there now could be a recognition of the state of Israel's right to exist and the possibility of normalizing relations between the Arab states and Israel should certain conditions be met. These peace proposals are at least a basis for serious dialogue and negotiations. However, these negotiations become very difficult if the cycle of violence is not ended. So, what must be done?
America, with all of her power and leverage, is not using her power responsibly to reign in the military might of the Israeli defense force while constantly reiterating what Chairman Yasser Arafat must do. This shows that the American administration is not now a dispassionate broker for peace. The American administration is leaning so heavily on the side of Israel that this is now engendering more hatred among the Arabs and Muslims for Israel and also for America because the Arabs and the Muslims believe that America can and must do more. However, because of Jewish influence on and in the present administration, the administration does not appear willing to take the appropriate steps that are necessary to bring about a ceasefire in order to begin serious negotiations for a peaceful resolution to this conflict.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President Bush and the American mass media have branded Yasser Arafat as the principal source of this so-called terror. Doing this minimizes him (Arafat) as a serious partner in the peace process. To demand of Yasser Arafat what he cannot produce is unjust and hypocritical. To join the (UN) Security Counsel in demanding that the Israeli military forces leave the West Bank while at the same time winking its eye at what the Israeli military is doing is showing the world the incoherence and the hypocrisy of America's Mid-East policy. If Yasser Arafat is to be a partner in the peace process, look at what has been done to him. Since President Bush has been in office he has never met with Yasser Arafat. Since Ariel Sharon has become the Prime Minister of Israel, he has never met with Yasser Arafat. The President has invited Prime Minister Sharon to the White House and talks with him but refuses to talk to Yasser Arafat. This is diminishing him in the eyes of his own people, intensifying the anger and despair among the Palestinians. Let's look even more carefully.
If America wants to get Mr. Arafat to stop the so-called suicide bombings, America must encourage Israel to give him something to use as leverage to rein in the more extreme elements of his own people. You give him nothing but demand of him everything. What can you give him? You could say to him, Chairman Arafat, we will stop all building of settlements on the West Bank. We will stop bulldozing Palestinian homes and assassinating Palestinian leaders and confiscating Palestinian land. If you gave him something, he could then appeal to the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah: Will you give me a chance and stop the suicide bombings so that a serious peace negotiation can begin? But instead of giving him anything, it is demanded of him in a very arrogant way by the present administration that he knows what he has to do. But for the last three months, [Arafat] has been locked down in his own compound, unable to move. What does that say to the Palestinian people? What does that say to the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah? It says that Yasser Arafat is completely impotent and, therefore, he cannot be a spokesperson for our hurt when he cannot even leave his compound without Israeli permission.
In the recent Arab League Summit, which he should have been able to attend, he could not attend without Israeli permission. You've humbled him. You've reduced him. Not only in the eyes of the American people and other administrations of governments, you have done the worst thing of all, you have reduced him in the eyes of his own people.
So everyday that this continues, Chairman Arafat is seen as more and more impotent by his own people thus enraging them and increasing the desire of the more militant Palestinians to continue that which is called the suicide bombings.
Now, these young people that are strapping themselves with bombs to wreak havoc in Israeli society, these young people whose lives are precious to them have nothing to fight with so they used their bodies strapped with bombs as weapons against Israeli occupation. Anytime you see children doing this, don't call them insane. Anytime you see women now doing this, young girls doing this, that should tell us that the level of despair and hopelessness is so great among the Palestinian people that death is preferable to continue life under these conditions. And then what is the Israeli response to this? It is tanks. It is rockets. It is helicopter gun ships. It is F16 and 15 jetfighters. And how can the Palestinians respond to this? The Israelis talk about secure borders but the Palestinians cannot secure their own borders. They are absolutely helpless against the military might of the Israeli defense force.
Those that throw stones at tanks, those that use AK47s are not even called Palestinian defenders. They are called gunmen by the American media. Those men and women and children that are strapping themselves with bombs are called terrorists. Yet, the 70,000 people that live in Ramallah, are they terrified to see tanks, to see helicopter gun ships, to see F16s? Of course, they are. But this is called (Israeli) self-defense while a whole people (Palestinians) are being terrorized. And Mr. Sharon appears to be using the legitimate cry of the American people and the Bush administration to uproot terror that caused the destruction of the World Trade Center and the bombing of the Pentagon as an umbrella to go in and kill indiscriminately men, women and children.
When I see the bodies of Israelis carried to the cemetery and grieving mothers and fathers, I'm touched by that, as the world is. But, I'm also touched by the grieving Palestinian mothers and fathers who are burying their children. To see Palestinian boys and men pulled out of their homes blindfolded, their hands behind their backs strapped, it reminds us of what was done by the Nazis in Poland. I would appeal to those of us who suffer, we should never adopt the way of the oppressor. We must always adopt a better way than to become what we have detested.
Asking the world to condemn the suicide bombings, which is the effect of something, but not condemning the cause that produced this effect is adding more injustice to an already intolerable situation. I would like to see these young people live. I would like to see them stop strapping bombs to their bodies. But how will that stop with what Ariel Sharon and the Israeli military are doing? And how will it stop if the leverage that America has, she is unwilling to use. This is why I've come before you and the media, because I think you need another voice, a voice that is not Palestinian or Jewish or Arab, a voice that is not tied to the American political situation, a man who is spiritual and religious, to maybe help to lift our sight above the carnage to a better reality.
Is it any wonder that an Osama bin Laden is formed and fashioned? And is it any wonder that people's minds are so filled with hatred that they will kill people who are innocent? This is the situation made in America and only a dispassionate strong America can help to resolve. It is my hope and my prayer that the American administration will act with wisdom and strength. If not, what we see afar off we may well see at our own door. It is my desire to go into the Arab and Muslim world. I have met the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah. I have met with Chairman Arafat. I have met practically all of the leaders of the Muslim world; I believe I can be of help.
It is my desire to visit Israel and the Palestinians. I am not fearful of losing support of the Arab and Muslim people by speaking to Prime Minister Sharon any more than Moses lost the support of his people by speaking to Pharaoh. I do not believe that we should not speak. I do not believe that we should not act to try to stop the carnage. If we fail, at least we have tried. I personally believe that these views can be reconciled, but it will take spiritual people as well as highly learned political people to implement a solution that can bring peace to this troubled area of the world. That area of the world is the heart of our planet. It is that area from which all of the divine guidance has come. If the heart is troubled and not fixed, the whole body will show the effect of it.
Prime Minister Sharon, in my conclusion, has vowed to destroy or crush the Palestinian militants. I humbly say to him and to President Bush, there was a similar vow made by President Lyndon Baines Johnson and by some of the United States senators, that they would bomb the Vietnamese back into the stone age; and this war led to the ultimate conclusion that Lyndon Baines Johnson would not seek a second term and the Vietnamese became the victors. Superior weapons can never destroy the thirst and the hunger in a people to be free from tyranny and oppression. The desire for freedom has always outweighed the power of military might. History is full of examples of people in power failing to do what is just and losing ultimately in the end.
Please be warned of history that it not repeat itself today; God has never taken the side of the oppressor against the oppressed. I plead for us to consider the level of despair that exists in the Palestinian society and put that in the equation of justice with a heavy emphasis. This is not to diminish the suffering of the Israelis under these attacks. But, if there is no heavy emphasis on the despair of the Palestinians, then the equation for peace will never bring about the best results.
I thank you all for listening to what I have to say. I pray that Allah will cause the words that I speak to find a resting place in the hearts of those responsible. I pray that if it is the Will of Allah (God), that we can do what we must do to stop the carnage and bring justice and, thus, peace to that area of the world, which will mean peace for all of us. Thank you for listening. I greet you in peace. As-Salaam Alaikum.
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I have not included the Q&A of the press conference here, but you can hear them in the audio available at http://www.finalcall.com and at http://noi.org I am hoping James Muhammad, editor of the Final Call will post both the transcript and the videotape of the conference when it is available. If you have a reaction to the Minister’s statement which you would like me to pass on to him directly, sent it to us here at this website. If you disagree, at least try and be nice.