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February 16, 1990 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Palestinian's Reactions
Show Political Maturity

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Special to The Jewish News

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26

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1990

"The issue of immigration
cannot come at our expense."
—Faisal Husseini.

I

Introduces

Mon.-Fri. 10-4 •
Franklin Plaza
29107 Northwestern Hwy.
Southfield, Michigan
(2nd entrance from 12 Mile in rear)

"The civilian victims killed
in the attack on the Israeli
bus on the road .to Ismailia
cannot be viewed in isolation
from the innocent civilian
victims killed daily in the oc-
cupied Palestinian lands."
— From a condemnation of
the bus attack by prominent
Palestinians in the ter-
ritories.

n the past weeks, Pales-
tinian spokesmen in the
territories have been
compelled to confront two
aspects of an issue which lies
at the root of Israel's exis-
tence: Jewish survival.
The wave of Soviet Jewish
immigration and the ter-
rorist attack on Israeli
tourists in Egypt have
sharply etched both sides of
this survival question, em-
bodying both the hopes and
the worst fears of Israelis.
The reactions of Palestin-
ian spokesmen to aliyah and
terrorism have served as an
instructive test of their polit-
ical maturity, of their ability
to effectively address legiti-
mate Israeli concerns and
aspirations.
While the Palestinian
reactions have shown a new
sophistication and desire to
reach the Israeli public, they
have been tainted by a cer-
tain ambiguity, by double
messages which have left
many Israelis unconvinced
of their sincerity.
These double messages are
the result of the Palestin-
ians' own deep sense of vic-
timization by Israel, which
is understandable. A people
under occupation, feeling
the brunt of harsh military
measures to put down their
uprising, is not in a condi-
tion conducive to
magnanimity toward the
enemy. If Palestinians are
ever to emerge from this
condition, however, they
must find the strength to
address Israeli concerns
with political maturity, be-
cause only then will they be
able to get what they need,
something only Israel can
give them.
Palestinian spokesmen, to
their credit, firmly denounc-
ed the attack on Israeli
tourists in Egypt — but they

failed to make their con-
demnation unconditional
and absolute. Instead of a
flat condemnation on purely
humanitarian grounds, the
Palestinians chose to link
the terrorist attack to kill-
ings of Palestinians in the
territories and Israeli
"intransigence" in the peace
process.
In their statement of con-
demnation, leading Pales-
tinian nationalists found it
necessary to begin with a
reference to Palestinian vic-
tims and Israeli
"intransigence." Only in the
third paragraph of their
declaration did they get
around to stating their ab-
solute condemnation of the
attack. This denunciation
should have been the first
sentence of their message.
Incidents of barbaric ter-
rorism are not the time for
promoting a political agenda
or engaging in comparative
measurements of victimiza-

Husseini said Jews
immigrating from
the Soviet Union
should be given the
choice to decide
where they want to
live.

tion. They should simply be
condemned for what they
are.
The same unconditional
condemnation should be ex-
pressed by Israelis when Pa-
lestinians are killed with
equal brutality, by either
Jewish or Arab assailants.
The Palestinian response
to Soviet Jewish immigra-
tion has also been prob-
lematic and equivocal.
In general, Faisal Hus-
seini and other Palestinian
spokesmen from the ter-
ritories have taken care to
focus their expressions of
concern on settlement of the
new immigrants in those
territories, asserting that
they have nothing against
immigration to pre-1967
Israel.
Their alarm over possible
settlement of the immi-
grants over the Green Line
was understandably stirred
up by Prime Minister Yit-
zhak Shamir's call for a "big
Israel" to accommodate a
"big aliyah" — a colossal
blunder which jeopardized
that very immigration.
The Palestinian

statements on aliyah,
however, have also echoed
the traditional Arab opposi-
tion to any Jewish immigra-
tion to Israel. Husseini
himself indicated this when
he recently told an Israeli
audience that Palestinians
would not "again" pay the
price for Jewish immigra-
tion.
Husseini said Jews im-
migrating from the Soviet
Union should be given the
choice to decide where they
want to live; and he called
for a lifting of U.S. quotas on
immigration by Soviet Jews.
Under the guise of a concern
for freedom of choice, Hus-
seini disclosed a deeply-
rotted Arab fear of waves of
Jewish immigration to
Israel's shores.
This fear was graphically
evident in a Palestinian
memorandum to foreign
consuls-general in
Jerusalem, which was
reminiscent of Arab
memoranda to British com-
missions during the Man-
date period. "The grotes-
queness of the injustice of
importing one million Soviet
Jews to this country should
now be more blatant than
ever, especially while the
condition of forced exile and
statelessness of millions of
Palestinians is being
perpetuated," the memo-
randum said. "Without solv-
ing this latter problem, the
former will be viewed as a
re-enactment of the 1948
tragedy."
Describing Jewish im-
migration to Israel as a gro-
tesque injustice is difficult to
reconcile with Palestinian
statements recognizing
Israel and its right to exist.
This existence means the
right to grow and flourish,
including the absorption of
new immigrants. True Pa-
lestinian recognition of
Israel means acceptance of
its right to serve as a
homeland for immigrating
Jews. Blanket opposition to
such immigration shows -a
distressing lack of under-
standing of the implications
of recognition.
Bir Zeit University pro-
fessor Sari Nusseibeh, in an
interview with the English-
language edition of the East
Jerusalem daily Al-Fajr, put
forward more sophisticated
arguments against im-
migration, even to pre-1967
Israel: "The immigration of
large numbers of Soviet
Jews will undoubtedly

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