‘Lord of the Flies’ mentality plagues Palestinians

Extremists, both in America and the Middle East, are holding us back from achieving peace.

Ray Hanania  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ray Hanania
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It’s no coincidence that Hamas refuses to support Salam Fayyad remaining prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Fayyad symbolizes the growing but challenged Palestinian moderate movement that accepts peace based on two states and rejects violence.
It’s his willingness to “compromise” that has his critics, the extremists, dancing around the bonfires like a scene from the 1954 classic Lord of the Flies – a story of how civilization breaks down under the pressure of extremists.
That same crazed mob is alive and well in the American Palestinian community, intent on undermining Palestinian democracy and destroying Israel. Who are these extremists? Most are activists who share one trait: They reject reason and common sense, and are intolerant of differing views. They embrace the concept of “one state,” and while they are few in number, they are experts at manipulating the emotions of the people.
Fayyad, who talks about solutions, is not the extremists’ only victim. Past victims of this Lord of the Flies (LOF) mentality include Sari Nusseibeh, who once said the Palestinians should compromise on the right of return – my position, too. They always hated the late president Yasser Arafat, who did more to make the dream of Palestine a reality than anyone else. Arafat would have signed a deal with Israel had it been fairer. But the extremist threat was always lurking behind his shoulder.
I can speak from personal experience, being one of the No. 1 Palestinians on the extremists’ hit-list. They hate me for the same reason they hate the rest.
I support two states, oppose violence, denounce Hamas as a terror group, and am married to a Jew. I also performed standup comedy with Israelis. But the biggest crime is that I speak out against their extremist cancer.
Last year, I was appointed to the national board of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) – the Anti-Defamation League of the American Arab community.
That set off a fusillade of personal attacks that included claims I am “really a Jew.” They hate the fact that I write for an Israeli Jewish newspaper, The Jerusalem Post. I have been a member of ADC since its founding in 1980.
It’s an important group. Last year, ADC fought more than 7,000 cases of discrimination, bringing nearly 80 percent to a successful resolution.
The attacks are nothing new. In 1995, I was elected national president of the Palestinian American Congress (PAC). Immediately, American Palestinian minions for Hamas criticized my wife as a “Jew,” and worse, I am Christian. That criticism is the silent virus that spreads through my community.
The Hamas newspaper wrote, “Electing Ray Hanania president of the Palestinian American Congress is no different than electing an African American president of the United States.” Well, wake up, morons. The president of the United States is an African American with a Muslim middle name, Barack Hussein Obama.
I chose not to run for reelection of the PAC, just as I chose not to seek reappointment to ADC National. It’s not because of the extremists, but because I believe American Arab organizations should not be like the dictators who dominate the 22 Arab countries: We should reject the concept of “presidents for life.”
With the exception of only a few, including ADC, most Arab groups are run by presidents for life. The extremists don’t care about ADC or fighting discrimination, because they are often the biggest discriminators. The extremists despise Palestinians who put their American citizenship first, and they don’t tolerate differing views.
They tend toward presidents for life because their fanaticism is built on personality cults rather than on strategic talent, reason or principle.
They thrive by exploiting the emotions of a brutalized and suffering people.
When I called one of my critics a hypocrite for condemning Syria and Israel but not Jordan (because his relatives are close to the royal family) he responded by stirring his cult followers into a vicious campaign of hate.
They don’t attack the issues. They attack the person. My “Jewish” wife became the topic among his Twitter following.
Hypocrisy is everywhere in my community.
Even Al Jazeera is feeding extremism, attacking other countries but not its sponsor, Qatar. Are Arabs supposed to accept these hypocrisies and double standards without challenge? No. That’s why I insist on speaking out against them.
If we can’t challenge the hypocrites among our own people, how can we challenge the hypocrisies we face with Israel? The writer is an award-winning columnist and Palestinian activist. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.