Hussein Ibish was a star at the recent conference of the Jewish Academic Network for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (JANIP). He has long been an activist in, and a spokesperson for, the Arab-American community, including a six-year stint as communications director for the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. Currently a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, he blogs independently at Ibishblog.com.
Although he sees no alternative to a negotiated agreement with Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian territories and the conflict, he has been writing recently of three additional tactics: State and institution building by the Palestinian Authority (as being pursued by PA Prime Minister Fayyad), nonviolent popular protests against the occupation, and economic measures aimed at the settlements.
Ibish has a Ph.D. in comparative literature and is the author most recently of What’s Wrong with the One-State Agenda? Why Ending the Occupation and Peace with Israel is Still the Palestinian National Goal. An abbreviated version of our conversation is now online at the In These Times magazine website. The ITT article provides Dr. Ibish’s responses to the following:
1. How would you prevent Palestinians from doing construction work in settlements? Would you endorse strong-armed tactics, legislation or something else?
2. Hasn’t there been some progress for Palestinian interests from the era of negotiations which began in Madrid in 1991 and the backchannel Oslo process that began about a year later?
3. The failure of Oslo had everything to do with errors and malicious deeds by both sides and the United States: the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the wave of terror attacks in Feb-March ‘96 that led to the first election of Netanyahu, blunders (perhaps by all sides) in the negotiations at Camp David in 2000, Arafat’s mistaken belief that the violence of the second intifada could be controlled and used in such a way as to bolster his negotiating hand. Do you agree?
4. Is there something you’d like to say or ask about the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state or what such a Jewish state should be?
A more complete version of our conversation will be published in the fall in ISRAEL HORIZONS. Click here for more on my discussion with Dr. Ibish.