Palestinians must toughen up strategically to win freedom

Critics of the peace talks always ask the question, why should the Palestinian people who have lost so much give up the right to fight to get it back?

The answer is simple. Do they want to fight to get it ALL back or do they want to fight for statehood?

One is about a dream that is beyond the reach of human beings. The other is about reality.

History has proven that violence and conflict will not bring back Palestine. It is a dream.

In fact, the Palestinian revolution, al Thawra, did achieve its goal. It forced the world to recognize that Palestinians were made victims when Israel was created by international fiat in 1948.

But the continued resistance reached its maximum achievement in the 1980s with the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian People. In fact, those who argue that we must continue to fight ignore the history of the fight we have made since the British lied to the Arabs in 1917 and the Americans lied to the world in 1948.

What has conflict achieved? And why should we continue to engage in conflict, fighting to get back everything, when so far we have gotten nothing more since the world recognized the Palestinians as a people during the revolution?

Those who argue to continue the struggle are driven by emotion, not reason. Many live in the squalor of refugee camps that have turned in to permanent slums and ghettos, forgotten but the Western World, ignored by the Arab and Islamic Worlds, and brushed aside as a charity case by the United Nations.

Many others, the activists who keep the dream of returning to 1948 alive, live in the luxury and privileges of the West. Oh yes. Activism and demonstrations against peace are the products of a bourgeoisie lifestyle of privilege and arrogance and self-aggrandizement.

These activists don’t mind continuing the struggle and rejecting peace talks because they have nothing to lose. The more that Palestine is erased by Israel’s brutal, oppressive and continued occupation, the more the activists find themselves with ammunition to exploit as they play with the heartstrings of Palestinian emotions.

Palestinians have lost much since 1917. They lost control of the majority of the Palestine Mandate in 1948 in a war we waged driven by justice. But that drive for justice was led by corrupt and phony Arab military regimes, and the even phonier Palestinian aristocracy and landowners, families who fought to protect their personal wealth rather than envisioning a future of Palestinian nationhood.

We have lost in 1947, in 1956, in 1967 and in 1973. We lost in every face-to-face military confrontation with Israel because Israel has always had the United States on its side. And instead of engaging the American people and countering the lies of Zionism and the propaganda of a string of oppressive Israeli governments, the Palestinians have chosen to fight in the old theater of imagination and dreams rather than in the theater of the reality.

America dominates the Middle East and it has dominated the Middle East. The pact with the devil, the Soviet Union, has burned in flames, not because we chose to throw away the counter balance of Soviet support but because the Soviet Union collapsed in utter failure.

Today, Israel remains strong because it is funded by the United States. It is protected militarily and politically by the United States.

If the activists want to fight to change anything, they should fight to change how Americans misunderstand the reality of Palestinian history and the lies about Israel’s claims. They should struggle to show Americans that Israel is not a just nation but is exploiting the conflict to steal land and expel non-Jews. They should engage a revolution to show Americans that the Palestinians deserve to return to the homes and lands.

These activists need to speak the language of the American people, not the language of the zealots and idealists and revolutionaries from the past who continue to lead ineffective protests with chants stolen from the 1960s.

These activists need imagination, creativity and strategic diplomacy to sway American public opinion.

But they are incapable of doing that. They lack the talent to communicate professionally and spin the American people the way Israel has spun American public opinion like a children’s toy, a “top.”

They are incapable of doing anything except cheering on the Palestinians to continue to jump off the cliff into the abyss of failure, drummed on by the beat of anger, emotion and the compelling serenade of the string of injustices that continue to plague the Palestinian people. Injustices that are the result as much of the brutality of the Israeli government as they are the incompetence of the Arab and Islamic Worlds and the activists themselves.

It sounds better to stand up and declare that we will never compromise with Israel. It sounds better to declare that we will fight to achieve the Right of Return for the Palestinian people. It sounds better to portray ourselves as uncompromising, even though the reality around us is changing.

Palestine is being erased. The Palestinian refugees are being merged into a world of forgotten past. The only people embracing the impossible dream, or the nightmare of Palestinian reality, are the victims of this conflict, the Palestinian refugees and the Palestinians who live under Israel’s vicious occupation.

They cling to the empty promises made over the years by the Arab and Islamic Worlds who have made their separate deals, the Palestinian landowners who all have their money and power, and the activists who shine in the light of selfish pleasure in the Western World’s comforts.

The truth sounds ugly. The truth is not appealing. The truth, when put up against principles of justice and the rule of law, sound shallow. The truth is painful. But the truth is that Palestine is being erased.

The truth is that although the activists say to keep fighting, fighting has brought nothing and will bring nothing to the people.

The truth is that the only way to end this nightmare is to compromise and fight to achieve a state in the context of negotiations. If Israel is lying then prove they are liars. Show the world that Benjamin Netanyahu is a phony who is using the veil of peace to steal more Palestinian lands.

But that would take real talent, leadership and long range vision, things the Arab and Islamic Worlds, the Palestinian landowners who sold us down the drain and that the activists lack.

Peace through negotiations, as difficult as it is and will continue to be, offers the only real hope for Palestinians. Achieving a state gives Palestinians the power of sovereignty that they have never had. It doesn’t matter what the size of the state, the power of Palestinian Statehood is as strong as all the powers that Israel has abused.

Peace negotiations have failed not only because Israel is disingenuous about compromise, offering lies and propaganda, but also because the activists and the fanatics and the extremists in our own community have done everything possible to make them fail. So that when peace talks fail, they can point to that failure as their only real achievements in nearly 100 years of “fighting for Palestinian rights.”

They offer the Palestinians nothing. Peace talks offer Palestinians a future.

I challenge ANY of the so-called activists of emotion and resistance to prove me wrong. What can they promise though continued violence and rejection except more of the same?

Peace negotiations, if everyone were truly behind this effort, would result in statehood. And that achievement would reverse all of the great crimes that have been perpetrated against the Palestinian people but that have yet to be prosecuted by competent leadership.

I challenge the activists to prove me wrong.

(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian columnist. He can be reached at

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About R. Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian journalist, columnist, author and standup comedian. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Chicago Sun-Times for his groundbreaking series on the Palestinian Intifada in 1990, he has won Four (4) Society of Professional Journalism Lisagor Awards and was named Best Ethnic American Columnist by the New America Media in November 2006. In 2010, he won the SPJ Sigma Delta Chi National Award for writing. Hanania’s journalism and communications career is extensive. A former Chicago City Hall political reporter for 17 years, Hanania is the president of Urban Strategies Group media and consulting. He is a syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate and writes every Sunday for the Saudi Gazette Newspaper and Al Arabiya. In Broadcast media, Hanania co-hosts the live radio talk show "Radio Baladi" with columnist Ali Younes every Friday morning at 8 AM EST on WNZK AM 690 radio in Detroit. Hanania has authored eight books including the humor book "I'm Glad I look Like a Terrorist: Growing up Arab in America" (1996), and he is the contributor in seven books including “Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History” which features his Palestinian food recipes as well as experiences growing up Arab in America. He also authored "Arabs of Chicagoland" (2005). In addition to journalism, Hanania is also the Palestinian standup comedian who has performed around the world including in Beirut, Dubai, London, Dublin, Palestine, Israel, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and for universities across the United States and Canada. He can be reached at and at Reach him by email at

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