Yesterday the LA Times ran this stunning op-ed by Saree Makdisi on the Palestine Papers; stunning because an American newspaper is platforming the right of return, and the view that the Palestinian Authority is a collaborationist authority. I have more sympathy for Qurei and Erekat than Makdisi does, I see their struggle in the papers to insist on Palestinian freedom, but that’s not the point: these ideas now are gaining legitimacy in the US discourse, as Harvard Law School gets set to debate boycott. And keep in mind that Diaspora Palestinians are bound to play a role in the unfolding history, especially given the role of the Jewish diaspora. Makdisi:
Men like Saeb Erekat, Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei — the lead Palestinian negotiators in all these years — are of a type that has come forth in every colonial conflict of the modern age. Faced with the overwhelming brute power with which colonial states have always sought to break the will of indigenous peoples, they inhabit the craven weakness that the situation seems to dictate. Convinced that colonialism cannot be defeated, they seek to carve out some petty managerial role within it from which they might benefit, even if at the expense of their people.
These men, we must remember, were not elected to negotiate an agreement with Israel . They have no legitimacy, offer zero credibility and can make no real claim to represent the views of Palestinians.
And yet they were apparently willing to bargain away the right that stands at the very heart of the Palestinian struggle, a right that is not theirs to surrender — the right of return of Palestinians to the homes from which they were forced during the creation of Israel in 1948 — by accepting Israel’s insistence that only a token few thousand refugees should be allowed to return, and that the millions of others should simply go away (or, as we now learn that the U.S. suggested, accept being shipped away like so much lost chattel to South America).