Moderate Arab-Americans still hopeful

Moderate Arab-Americans still hopeful

Ghaith Al-Omari, advocacy director for the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP)–an organization that strongly supports a negotiated two-state solution–concluded his Sept. 27th appearance on the PBS Newshour as follows:

…. I simply cannot imagine either side coming to the U.S. president, to President Obama, and saying, here, we’re handing you a failure in this process one month into the process. It’s unthinkable, inconceivable at the moment.

And, as I said, I believe that the strategic interests of both the Palestinians and the Israelis can only be fulfilled through a negotiated process. They might position and posture and do brinkmanship, but, ultimately, you know, there is no other option in the long term but to negotiate.  

Al-Omari’s colleague at the ATFP, Hussein Ibish, outlines a possible way for Israel and the Palestinians to finesse the settlements issue for now: 

…. The settlement issue is crucial because with every significant expansion of the Israeli presence in the Occupied Territories, the borders of a Palestinian state become more difficult to draw…. 

… all sensible parties, including Israeli parties, must recognize that … Israel cannot be allowed to continue to reshape the strategic landscape while negotiations are proceeding.

This suggests the usefulness of an informal understanding, enforced by the US, that Israel can build modestly in “consensus areas” generally understood to be the likely subject of a land swap between Israel and a new Palestinian state. However, Israel must not engage in significant new land expropriation in the West Bank, incursions into Palestinian neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem, or building in the “E-1 corridor” that would cut Jerusalem off from the West Bank.

Not only would such an understanding resolve, for a limited period of time, the strategic problems posed by continued settlement activity, it could and should buy time for negotiators to focus on fixing the borders of a Palestinian state, which would defuse the issue over a much longer term. …

You can read this entire article by Ibish at the Now Lebanon website. 

By | 2010-09-29T14:00:00-04:00 September 29th, 2010|Blog|8 Comments


  1. Anonymous September 29, 2010 at 11:49 pm - Reply

    Dear Ralph,

    I think you should stop deceiving your readers and attempting to pretend that ATFP is moral or has any constituency (Of course I can’t swear ATFP rep Rafi Dajani has not gained a following while in jail. I’m not up on that.). ATFP may make you happy, but that does not mean they are doing anything else positive for Palestinians, for Israelis, for Americans for anyone.

    Please see MJ Rosenberg’s article below (I had to cut some). You’ve heard of MJ I believe?


    Palestinian Group Sells Out To The Lobby

    By M.J. Rosenberg – September 29, 2010, 9:56AM
    This is hard to understand until one realizes that this is just an example of politicians acting like politicians (i.e, with no regard for the people they claim to represent).

    During their recent visits to the United States, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad made absolutely no headway with the Obama administration. Although the idea of negotiating with Netanyahu while he is building more settlements is ridiculous on its face, the administration allowed Israel to end the settlements freeze. It did say, however, that it was “disappointed” but, other than that, the White House had no criticism of Netanyahu. It’s back to the policy of previous administrations: no criticism of Israel in even or odd numbered years.

    So Fayyad and Abbas have decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Under the tutelage of the American Task Force On Palestine, they have decided to join up with the Jewish far right in this country.

    Specifically, the ATFP is hooking up with The Israel Project, a fringe organization well to the right of AIPAC. The love affair began months ago but culminated at a dinner in New York during the recent visit which Fayyad, ATFP, and The Israel Project treated as their “coming out” party.

    So what’s wrong with Palestinians “reaching out” to Jews.

    Nothing. Except that in sucking up to the pro-settler, anti-Palestinian Israel Project, they are trying (yes, I believe it’s intentional) to weaken the progressive forces in the pro-Israel community like J Street, Americans for Peace Now, Jewish Voice For Peace, and the others. After all, if the Palestinians endorse a far right Zionist organization, why should Jews bother with the likes of J Street?

    Why do these Palestinians prefer the Jewish right to Jewish progressives?

    The PA and the ATFP live in terror of the idea that they will come under pressure to find some way to establish a unity arrangement with Hamas (so that the PA or PLO can negotiate with Israel in the name of all Palestinians). They are fearful that Jewish progressives are not quite the hardliners on that issue that they are. And they are right. Even AIPAC could vacillate. But not far rightists like The Israel Project which never abandon the Likud’s favorite Palestinians.

    Unfortunately, the Israel Project is an enemy of Palestinian people. Just check out their publications. There are dozens but they all add up to one thing: Israel is always right and Palestinians need to surrender to Israeli demands…

    The new alliance is bad news because, as insignificant as ATFP is among Palestinians, in Washington it sends a message that even Palestinians accept the Israeli narrative. It won’t succeed (I hope) but if it does, it will kill the progressive Jewish peace camp which, along with most Palestinians and Israelis, believes that the status quo is both deadly and getting worse. ATFP (and the PA) should be ashamed. Rest assured that they aren’t. They are proud to hang out with the lobby. At last, they are in with the in crowd.

    The rest of us can work for a solution to the conflict that will bring security and peace to both peoples. Peace can be achieved without sacrificing dignity. In fact, it must be.

  2. Anonymous September 30, 2010 at 4:50 am - Reply

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  3. Ralph Seliger September 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    Nice to hear from Ted again, one of our most dedicated readers. He was so eager to comment that he posted the same thing twice.

    Rafi Dajani deserves his day in court, if this is in the cards. If he did anything wrong, it was against his employer, the ATFP, who blew the whistle on him. So Ted should stop blaming the victim here.

    I’m not familiar with the Israel Project, nor am I aware of any alliance between the ATFP and this other group. But if the basis for Rosenberg’s scathing attack on the ATFP is that the latter is skeptical of Hamas being able to play a constructive role in peacemaking, I’m with the ATFP on this and not M.J. Rosenberg. I hasten to add that I speak only for myself on this matter.

  4. Ralph Seliger September 30, 2010 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    I’ve asked Hussein Ibish about the charge made by M.J. Rosenberg that the ATFP has “sold out to the [Israel] Lobby” by conferring with the Israel Project. Dr. Ibish responded by referring me to the following statement at the ATFP website,
    [] from which I quote:

    Working Together for a Two-State Solution

    The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) … has never entered into any formal partnership with or endorsed any other organization, constituency or ideological camp, but rather sought to maintain professional working relations with all parties sympathetic to a two-state agreement. …

    ATFP has long advocated the formation of a national coalition for a two-state solution and argued that such a coalition should include the widest array of concerned American organizations from across the political spectrum. …

    … Early in its history ATFP built a strong working relationship with Americans for Peace Now (APN) that it maintains to this day…. More recently, ATFP has been in dialogue with a wide range of Jewish-American organizations, and its officials have spoken at events hosted by APN, J Street, the Israel Project, AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee. … ATFP does not endorse nor does it seek the endorsement of any of the organizations with which it engages.

    … The Task Force strongly rejects efforts by anyone to dictate which groups and individuals ATFP may converse or meet with, or any other external efforts to impose litmus tests and limitations on its activities. As ATFP makes no demands on any other groups or individuals to determine their policies or choose their interlocutors, it expects the same from all parties. ATFP will not allow itself to be drawn into political rivalries that are wholly extraneous to its mission and often detrimental to the purposeful quest for peace. …

  5. Anonymous September 30, 2010 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Dear Ralph,

    It appears you were so eager that you posted Hussein Ibish’s response twice! Or was repeating it perhaps an effort to make a weak case more convincing?

    So ATFP’s Ibish tells us that ATFP reserves the right to make an alliance with the devil if it will bring them to power.

    ATFP and Asali resemble other unpopular DC/Tel Aviv favorites like Ahmed Chalabi, the INC and his minions and mercenaries (with Ibish as a mercenary). We look forward to Asali, Ibish et al, flying into Gaza and Ramallah on US/Israeli helicopters. I’m sure they’ll be warmly greeted by “their people” who won’t give a whit about who they made deals with to solidify their rule over a series of Palestinian Bantustans.

    Chalabi, or is it Butheleze?


  6. Ralph Seliger September 30, 2010 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Ted is entitled to his view that meeting with people is the same as “making a deal with the devil,” and that working for a two-state solution means that the AFTP would come “to power.” He also can view a two-state solution as endorsing “Bantustans.” I have a right to disagree and to suggest that with such extreme attitudes, Ted is not in favor of peace.

  7. Anonymous October 1, 2010 at 2:13 am - Reply

    Dear Ralph,

    It’s good to bear in mind that pacification, or peace and quiet – with Palestinians living trapped in overpopulated, under-resourced Palestinian patrolled bantustans in the OPT, refugees locked out of their homeland, and Palestinian citizens of Israel living as third class citizens – will not actually bring peace for anyone. Sadly, by championing the Geneva Initiatives and its sanctification of settlement blocs and “land swaps,” by partnering with reactionary groups like ATFP and by deceiving Meretz’s followers into hanging onto every move in the current bankrupt “peace process”, Meretz is not helping to bring about a real, durable peace.

    Real peace can only be achieved by grappling honestly with the major and fatal flaws of the longstanding “peace process,” something Meretz has failed to do, because Meretz has not yet found the willingness to confront the failures of a disastrous process that it helped to give birth to.


  8. Anonymous October 6, 2010 at 2:57 am - Reply

    Hi Ralph,

    Another question Meretz USA might well ask itself is why Meretz USA, a supposedly “left” party, can only manage to find only Arab-American partners that are “moderate” (though I’d suggest “reactionary”) like ATFP?

    My suggested response is that most people who are “left,” including Arab-Americans, will not buy Meretz’s current, terribly outdated positions, that appeared “left” about 25 years ago.


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