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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ghassan’s Prediction and the Emerging New Palestinian Reality

Ghassan’s Prediction and the Emerging New Palestinian Reality

by James J. Zogby
During the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving visits from Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi, and most recently Basel Ghattas—as they passed through Washington. All are Palestinian citizens of Israel. And all are Members of the Israeli Knesset, part of the Joint Arab List that won a record 13 seats in the last Israeli election. It was a delight to sit with them and learn from them not only about the difficulties they face, but the progress they have made.
I have written about how I first became attached to the Arab community in Israel. It was the insightful Palestinian novelist, Ghassan Kanafani who caused me to divert my doctoral dissertation research from the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to the Palestinian Arabs who remained in their homes after Israel was created in 1948. He gave me two reasons. While much had already been written about the refugees, there was an absence of good literature about the Palestinians “inside” and, he said, they are the most promising component group of the Palestinian people since they have been forged like steel in the hearth of Israel. Facing enormous difficulties, they have developed a uniquely progressive identity and, he believed, the day would come when they would be in a position to provide real visionary leadership for the entire Palestinian people.
My meetings with Odeh, Tibi, and Ghattas have given me the sense that Ghassan may have been right. These are remarkable individuals, part of a larger movement that has faced down the increasingly repressive, ultra-nationalist Israeli government while defending their rights and securing their political role.

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