FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 4-11
Tax Form Lies
Values and Interests
Sex and Security
WSF in Africa
Social Media Role
Cause of Fiscal Crisis
Gaza in Crisis
Zaps - 04/11
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The PA's Meaningless Deadline
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters in the Fatah Party want us to believe that dramatic changes are underway in the occupied Palestinian territories. This is part of a strategy intended to offset any public dissatisfaction with the self-designated Palestinian leadership in the West Bank. The PA hopes the news will help it survive the current climate of major showdowns engulfing the Middle East.
Anticipating a potential popular uprising in the occupied territories, the PA is now taking preventive measures. First, there was the resignation of the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, on February 12. Erekat was clearly implicated in negotiating, if not squandering, Palestinian rights in successive meetings with Israeli and American officials. This was revealed in nearly 1,600 leaked documents, which Al Jazeera and the Guardian termed the "Palestine Papers."
Erekat was hardly representing himself as he readily gave away much territory, including most of Jerusalem. But by keeping his post, the entire PA "peace process" apparatus would have remained ineffective, at best, and, at worst, entirely self-seeking, showing no regard whatsoever for Palestinian rights. With Erekat's exit, the PA hopes to retain a margin of credibility among Palestinians.
Erekat, who made his entrance at the 1991 Madrid peace conference, claimed to have left merely because the leak happened through his office. Erekat clearly wants to be seen as an "example of accountability." According to the Washington Post (February 16), he claimed: "I'm making myself pay the price for the mistake I committed, my negligence. These are the ethics and the standards. Palestinian officials need to start putting them in their minds."
Two days after Erekat's departure, the PA cabinet in the West Bank also suddenly resigned. The cabinet had met earlier that day. Its Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, submitted his resignation to President Abbas. The latter, in turn, accepted the resignation and immediately reappointed Fayyad to form a new government. An exercise in futility? Of course, but the resignation was tactical, aimed at quelling the current popular discontent and preventing it from spilling over into street protests. But it was also tactless, for it reintroduced the very person who formed the old government to assemble a new one.
If Fayyad's political performance was lacking—and thus deserving of rebuke and mass resignation—what is the point of putting the same man in charge?
Clearly, the move was meant to show the people that the PA did not need a popular uprising to initiate reforms and change. Fayyad was reappointed because he is valuable to the current structure of the PA. He's also the most trusted Palestinian official as far as the U.S. is concerned.
On top of all this, the PA set September as a deadline for elections in the occupied territories. This date acquired a compounded value when Western officials began assigning other great expectations to September as well. One such call was made by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who expressed her hopes—along with those of the international community—that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians would be reached by September.
Based on the current political reality of a rejectionist Israeli front—a Palestinian front that is polarized and largely self-seeking and a U.S.-led Western front that is unwilling to do much more than press the Palestinians for more concessions—it seems certain that no peace will come in September. Abbas, a pragmatic person by his own admission, knows this as well. The September deadline is largely aimed at creating further distraction so there will be no need to worry about the here and now.
But September is also not too far off, a reality that called for early steps. Hamas rejected the call for elections without a platform of political and territorial unity. Why should Hamas get involved if an unfavorable outcome will further punish the Palestinian people? A sound concern, of course, but that rejection allowed Abbas, on February 17, to condition the elections based on Hamas's participation and, once more to position Hamas as the hurdle that stands between the Palestinians and unity, political normalcy and democracy. Now Hamas will be continually derided for delaying the Palestinian national project, until September arrives and disappears, leaving behind no mark of meaningful change.
Abbas and his trusted advisors already know the outcome of this endeavor. The strategy is aimed at deepening the divide among Palestinians and distracting from the main problem, which is that the PA serves no purpose other than managing the administrative side of the Israeli military occupation.
The Palestinians must move past this dismal political moment and seek an alternative—an all-inclusive, representative, and truly democratic institution to lead the next stage in their fight for freedom. The PA wants to stall until September. But will Palestinians wait that long?
Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press).
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
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ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
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NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
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MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
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GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
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