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Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud

Dear Mr. Mahmoud Abbas,

If my salutation does not accord you the decorum one extends to heads of state, then so be it.

For far too long, Ya Mahmoud, you’ve tried to convince yourself and the world that you are the President of the Palestinian Authority.

Authority over what, may I ask?

Authority over the town of Ramallah, an Israeli-American maimed and glorified micro-mini state that is no more than a backwash overcrowded municipality surrounded by ever-encroaching Israeli settlements? No, Sir, you have no Authority over anything except the goons on your payroll, the enforcers who are beating, tear-gassing, torturing, imprisoning, and harassing protesters, journalists, and anyone breathing discontent because of your tyrannical rule.

If you are truly president of the Palestinian Authority (Without-Authority), then you are nothing but a puppet of an emasculated, subjugated, and colonized entity that has served your Israeli and American masters very well.

That you have to get permission (pleadingly, days in advance, and in writing) from your Israeli masters to leave your constricted domain to travel abroad is the supreme insult. If, as you claim, you are the representative of all the Palestinian people, then why don’t you venture to visit your citizens in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Gaza?

Is it, perchance, because your Israeli handlers won’t allow you to do so?

You have, Sir, shirked your responsibilities to your people; you have, as they say in my part of the woods, sold Palestinians and Palestine down the river.

While I am fully cognizant that you’ve been dealing with successive dishonest and ruthless Israeli governments and the government of the United States of Israel and its successive compliant Administrations and Congresses, two entities that have repeatedly lied to you and used you as a mere puppet, you have been cleaning their toilets, sweeping their garbage, cooking in their meals, waiting on their tables, washing their dishes, and performing all the laboriously menial manual tasks indentured servants are obliged to do.

In the Old South there were two classes of “Negroes.” Those who slaved, starved, and abused in the cotton fields, and the “House Negroes,” those who worked under slightly better circumstances. And just as African American slaves were the fuel that fed a voracious 19th century agricultural empire to enrich the plantation owners and a bourgeoning economy, Palestinians are, in the words of Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, “born to serve the Jews,” Israeli settlements, and Trumped, Kushnerized real estate deals on stolen Palestinian lands. Israel’s colonization of Palestine is akin to a Brazilian anaconda, methodically and systematically swallowing its prey in merciless peristaltic constrictive contractions.

While your predecessor Chairman Arafat did not present a decorous image – and in spite of his many foibles, including putting too much trust in American promises – your presence does exude with polish. Sadly, though, a spiffy silk, tailor-made suit, fancy French-made ties, and posh, patent, burnished, Italian hand-made shoes are merely the costume behind which you’ve been fated to hide. I’ll have to concede that you do present a statesman’s appearance, a most distinguished image for a man your age. I mean how many octogenarians are blessed with superbly coiffed and rich salt-peppered hair? And your moustache, Mr. Abbas, always trimmed to perfection, renders you an Omar Sharif.

Pitted against an array of world leaders, you radiate class, composure, and an enviable façade, leading one to believe that you are a statesman with a legitimate country to lead and represent. And even though your command of the English language (the lingua franca of diplomacy) is fair to less-than-middling, you’ve not been able to voice and plead Palestine’s tragedy of dispossession, that painful Nakba, in the world’s fora with the eloquence demanded for such a serious enunciation.

Instead of criticizing your arch enemy Hamas, you should be joining hands with them. After all, they won the election fair and square – and perhaps only because they’ve not allowed corruption to appropriate their policies. Unfortunately, their attempts to establish a regressive theocracy doomed and sealed their fate.

I believe that you are all too familiar with the aphorism that “A house divided …”

Your muted criticism and cowardly silence (if not acquiescence) at Obama’s equally cowardly muteness during Israel’s three brutally genocidal attacks on Gaza is abhorrent. Instead of pressing charges at the International court, you played the politics of silence and appeasement.

Egypt’s President-for-Life Dictator is in cahoots with Israel and the U.S. in imposing the asphyxiating siege of Gaza and creating inhumane hardships on Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants is unconscionable.

What about you, Ya Mahmoud? You are just as complicit in this ten-year strangulation, playing politics with civilian lives. Your cutting off salaries to Gaza officials to break them to your will; your denying Gaza patients permits to leave the miserable largest open-air prison in the world to seek treatment in the West Bank; your condoning and abetting the limiting of electricity to Gazans to four hours a day – if they are even that lucky; your working behind the scenes with your Israeli masters to crush resistance, spy on, and turn in resistance leaders make you an evil collaborator. Your working on behalf of Israel’s security Gestapo to hunt down, capture, and imprison Palestinian voices of conscience is cowardly.

And there’s so much more, Ya Mahmoud.

All of the above, Ya Mahmoud, make you no different from the Jewish Kapos who collaborated with the Nazis in the infamous concentration camps.

So, please, give it up, Ya Mahmoud/Mr. President! Please Don’t become another President-for-Life in the tradition of the far-too-many-to-count Arab sheiks, dictators and thugs who are leading their people down the fathomless abyss of war, hunger, dispossession, and corruption. I am sure that Saudi Arabia, a haven for the likes of Uganda’s Idi Amin Dada, Tunisia’s Ben Ali, and Yemen’s Saleh Ali Abdullah, will roll out the red carpet and gift you a gilded villa that is an infinitely more pleasant accommodation that the prison walls of Ramallah, Occupied Palestine.

And finally, to the rest of the Palestinian leadership: you must consider Dr. Hanan Ashrawi to become your leader and spokesperson. She is eloquent, she is well-versed on the facts, she can hold her own in the public arenas and foras, she is an excellent debater, she is a brilliant scholar, and a highly regarded leader.

Palestinians, she is the Moses you need to lead you out of the slavery of the most rabid 20th/21st century occupation that has plagued our Palestine for the last 70 years.

More articles by:

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist. halabys7181@outlook.com

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