Palestinian Self-Criticism: Give Credit Where Due

PMW has recently posted a remarkable piece of Palestinian self-criticism. Since I often tout self-criticism, and as often complain that Palestinians rarely if ever engage in the practice, I want to highlight this remarkable case, and congratulate the courageous and perceptive author, Dr. Nadir Sa’id, Director of Development Studies at Bir Zeit University.

Some Imams incite to
kill women, beat children: PA Academic

by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook – March 15, 2007

In an open challenge to Palestinian leadership, Dr. Nadir Sa’id of Bir Zeit University condemned the violence in Palestinian society and placed the blame on the political and religious leaders. He blamed both Fatah and Hamas, including the Prime Minister and others ministers, for hundreds of killings. He condemned some Imams who preach the killing of women and beating of children. He criticized these actions, as well as the hate incitement that has created a Palestinian society permeated with violence. Children have learned that the use of violence achieves power and influence.

This self-criticism is rare in the PA media. If it continues, this is a positive development.

Click here to see Dr. Sa’id’s condemnation of Palestinian leadership

Dr. Nadir Sa’id, director of Development Studies at Bir Zeit University:

The last months in particular proved without a doubt the existence of political crime [in Palestinian society], and it is related to the attempt to achieve a high level of power, control and influence … The political struggle for rule. One of the primary and clear forms, which draws attention, having powerful and clear influence, and which caused hundreds of deaths, is clearly the crimes committed in the struggle for influence in the [Palestinian] Authority. But there are other types, including the attempt to threaten opposition, threaten those who disagree…

What is important regarding political crime, and especially in the Palestinian situation, is that there is a kind of conspiracy not to punish the criminals. This is the big problem. Hundreds of Palestinians were killed in the recent struggle between Fatah and Hamas. First: Who will punish those who facilitated these violent environmental conditions? Who will punish those who gave the orders? Who will punish those who committed [the crimes]? Who will punish the people who remained silent and did not hesitate to justify this type of violence?

What we see now, and this is the basic problem in the culture regarding the culture of violence, is that what has happened, he who killed here and there, is now appointed as a minister in the [Palestinian] National Authority. That is, it is a clear message.

The message to Palestinian children is that if you use violence and succeed in benefiting from it in the political struggle, you can achieve influence and you can achieve rule. In my opinion, the next government, and in particular between the two parties competing in its establishment, is, in my opinion, a crime against Palestinian society, especially when the prime minister and many of the ministers and security apparatuses are the ones who eased and facilitated – in addition to the Imams of the mosques, and the preachers and others – who eased and facilitated the killing of hundreds of Palestinians.

Who will punish those who caused, directly and indirectly, the killing of these children, these women, these men who have no guilt in this struggle? This is, in my opinion, a political crime of the highest level.”

There is no denying that crime, in general, needs environmental conditions, and especially environmental conditions of violence and environmental conditions of incitement speech. What happened in Palestine in the last years is speech incitement of the highest degree. Violence speech of the highest degree in mosques, and occasionally in the media, from many politicians… If we examine the sermons in mosques, we find many of them, not all – on the contrary! There are a number of Imams who promote social peace – but there are Imams who incite to killing: killing of women, beating children, killing the “other”, rejection of the “other’s” opinion. A whole generation was raised on the denial of the “other” and erasing him completely, and to the possibility of killing him without any restraint or problem.”
[PA TV, March 6, 2007]

And who, outside of the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that prevails in the PA territories has refused to discuss this?

1) Journalists from the MSM like Steve Erlanger who don’t find the space to discuss it in an article on the devastating impact of the conflict on this “lost” generation of Palestinian youth, who admit that it’s a worthy subject, but who manage to find other things to write about that indict Israel.
2) Pro-Palestinian advocates — including the hyper-critical Jews — who carry on about how it’s Israel who refuses to acknowledge the “other” and deny the Palestinians what they themselves want.
3) Politically correct politicians who insist on ignoring all of the evidence that Palestinian and Arab leaders sacrifice the Palestinian people to their vendetta against Israel.
4) Post-colonial Academics who refuse to deal with these issues, who ignore the dynamics of honor-shame culture because to focus on such matters would, as Edward Said insists, be “racist.”

4 Responses to Palestinian Self-Criticism: Give Credit Where Due

  1. Michael B says:

    I can’t help but wonder what type of reception Dr. Nadir Sa’id has been given, within his own institution, Bir Zeit, also within associated institutions more peripheral to Bir Zeit, and Palestinian society as a whole, not to mention within the PA, Hamas, etc. E.g., was there any positive feedback, encouragement? or has it all been isolation, ostracizing and censoring types of responses? To be a fly on the wall …

    Too, I suspect Columbia, Yale, etc. are not going to be offering Dr. Sa’id a position any time soon, even assuming he might have the bona fides. Perhaps that reflects a mere cynical or too skeptical outlook, though I doubt it given MESA’s history, (tenured?) profs such as Khalidi and Massad, etc.

  2. Incognito says:

    One lone voice of reason in a sea of hatred and lunacy isn’t, sadly, going to make much of a difference. and they will probably issue a fatwa against him. But it is nice to see there are a few out there.

  3. RL says:

    to Michael and Incognito:

    your comments both illustrate the dilemma. not only are such figures isolated and intimidated in their own cultures, but our (corrupt) academic culture plays along (only voices of rebellion against us are “authentic”).

    but i think that things may be changing. things like the gaza “sewage tsunami” are so obviously the result of a callous and incompetent leadership that even the UN doesn’t side with their typical “blame israel” response.

    and once the “my side right or wrong” mentality begins to crack, things could move quite quickly. (everyone in the PA has a thousand stories they could tell…)

    ironically, it’s here that the “progressives” who say they care about the fate of the palestinians could do something constructive by encouraging this criticism.

    but to paraphrase what golda meir said about the arabs and their children — only when the left loves the palestinians more than they hate the zionists, will the world have peace in this area.

  4. Michael B says:

    (only voices of rebellion against us are “authentic”)

    Yes, there’s an extraordinarily superficial quality to it all, the one-sidedness, disproportionate quality, self-blinded qualities, etc. OneCosmos has a post up summarizing much of this phenomena, if from a different angle, The Craven Conformity and Pseudo-Rebelliousness of the Left.

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