“He is a person who stands as a standard-bearer and model” for how people can overcome in spite of personal tragedy.
“We don’t care about that, because this is a legitimate thing, a legitimate idea.”
“This fits for what Sixth and I and Politics and Prose are about - the dissemination of ideas framed in a community setting in which you do things publicly and books are the anchor.”
George Orwell test:
Homage to Catalonia, The Road to Wiggid Pier
“Holding your own people, the people you agree with, to the highest account”
“There’s nothing romantic about people who are in poverty, and [Orwell] wrote about things that are not very appealing. Dr. Abueliash had a wonderful sentence in the book where he talks about how Palestinian people mislead people in 1948 and when he says a two-state solution that’s not possibly a popular solution within Gaza”
What effect if any have the uprisings in the Arab world had on Palestine, Pan-Arabism?
To the leaders of their countries and other leaders “they have to take care and open their eyes to serve the people’s interests, not their own interest.”
For the Israelis to wake up and realize “what happened in the Arab countries, it can happen in Israel. The Israeli public to wake up to tell its leader ‘what are you doing for us?’ You didn’t bring us any peace, you only marginalized and segregated us from the international community and we’re suffering because of your attitude”
“Those who are leading it are young men and women who started to feel that they want their future; it’s for the future, the future of all. It’s not Pan-Arabism you know, it’s human beings. The world has started to change. It’s not just one country here or there, the world is connected with each other. So we must think wider and larger.”
In an op-ed Thomas Friedman called for the US to back out of peace talks because neither side is serious about progress, do you agree? Should the US back off?
“Why should they back out now?”
“I made the complication for the patient, I did the operation but when it became a difficult case I gave up. This is immoral and unethical. I should continue even strongly determined with a new vision and approach. I must not adopt my old approach.”
Would leaving the Palestinians and Israelis to their own devices for negotiations without other Arabs, US, Canada, Europe be anymore fruitful?
“It needs especially the Americans but with ground rules.”
The mediator must be “in favor of justice, in favor of the two nations, in the good for both, and invest my time in the good, honest, and transparent approach. That’s what’s needed from the American approach”
Do you have any political aspirations of your own?
“I am willing to take any position that I feel I can make a difference but my goal is not political because the human life is not to be politicized”
What impact, if any, have Al Jazeera’s publication of the Palestine Papers had?
You are here in DC, what do you hope Washington’s role in all this should be?
Writing of your childhood you describe how children with the best clothes would earn prizes in the school but how reciting the Qur’an had won you enough money to buy two weeks’ worth of food for your family. Is religious memorization getting too mcuh attention compared to education in Palestine? If so, how does that fit into raising terrorists?
“Religion is helpful as a faith”
“To free the people from oppression, from occupation, from suffering. That’s what faith and religion are. It’s for the good of a human being, not to criticize each other. Religion is between you and God but it will be reflected on the ground between me and you and how we respect each other. Religion is good deeds and good deals”
Of your mother you say “desperation was the motivating force behind her anger,” you spend a great deal of the book describing that desperation, if you had to describe those circumstances in a shorter more relatable way to the Washington audience how would you do it?
“Don’t be afraid, give the suffering it’s name”
What role, if any, should other Arab states play in Palestine?
How has Hamas rule affected life in the Gaza Strip?
“Hamas is not the Palestinian nation. Hamas is a movement and Gaza is not all of Palestine, Gaza is part of Palestine. We don’t want to deal in fragmented or divided partitions, it’s a Palestinian issue and we must solve it within the whole picture. The Gazan people are part of the Palestinian people and Gaza is part of the future Palestinian state so we must look at it as one people not as divided individual stakeholders”
You say your half-brothers and sisters embracing after your acceptance to medical school taught you “sometimes it’s better to look forward, to move into the future, rather than to dwell on the past,” what do you see in the Palestinian future? What will it take to get the majority of the youth of Palestine to have a similar outlook?
“One day they will get their freedom”
“It’s not impossible, I see it as not too far off with the way the world is changing”
Speaking of education, Egyptian author Alaa Al Aswany said “When you know more, you have more responsibility…towards your people,” would you agree with that sentiment?
“Once you know it opens your eyes about the size of the problems, what you can do, what has been done, and what should be done. With learning and education you are skilled and armed which gives you the responsibility of doing more.”
What do you make of Western media assertions that the events in the Arab world are somehow due to Twitter and Facebook? Is that a fair assessment?
“The means of fighting have changed - education, technology, Facebook, Twitter and many other things”
“Now the world is closed and you can’t hide anything. Anything can happen here and immediately it will spread everywhere”
Speaking at Sixth and I in November, Salman Rushdie drew a comparison between Kashmir and the conflict in the Middle East saying, "You can see the solution" but all talk about Israel/Palestine and Kashmir is of everything else, would you agree with that assessment?
“The main problem is occupation”
The Red Cross, the United Nations, the Israeli and Egyptian armies, there seems to be a lot of foreign intervention in the daily affairs of Palestinian life. Could the Palestinian people themselves provide basic services without all the constant foreign presence?
“The Palestinians have the potential to provide for themselves and build their state but give them the ground. The Palestinians built other countries, they built everywhere in this world. Give them the opportunity to build their own country, give them their freedom, give them their independence and you will see how the Palestinian state looks”
How has the book been received in Israel and Palestine?
“It’s a human message to everyone to open their eyes.”
You say you were afraid your son would become an extremist due to the loss of his sisters and cousin, how much of a fear is that for Palestinian parents?
“It’s a real fear. I am afraid for my son because of the situation. He wasn’t born to be an extremist, he was born a human being with a good heart but the suffering he faced and the context in which he lived could push him towards extremism”
During the protests against Gaddafi in DC, there has been much talk of giving Libyans giving the lives of their children for freedom, martyrdom for the cause. What are your thoughts when you hear that kind of political speech, and do you think that mentality poses any risks to such movements?
“We don’t want to be killed to get our freedom. Freedom is free and it’s right. No one should pay a price to get their freedom.”
One journalist for the Guardian compared you to Otto Frank, what do you think of that comparison?
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