A robust, dark-skinned man with salt-and-pepper hair and black-rimmed architect’s glasses, he is a protégé of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who supervised Areikat’s work as director-general of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO. The two men are said to be temperamentally similar and personally close. With his direct manner and relaxed but forceful presence, he seems more like a businessman than a diplomat. It is easy to imagine him traveling through international airports hammering out partnership deals for Hewlett-Packard or SAP, in Europe one day and Dubai the next.Friends and similar in temperament to the reknowned "moderate" PA president? Check.
[He was] born in Jericho, on the West Bank, raised under Israeli military occupation, and educated in Arizona (where he received an undergraduate degree in finance and then an MBA.)
Acts like a Westerner? Check.
US education? Check.
What's not to love?
Only one, small, niggling problem: The guy is a bigoted liar, and he perfectly represents everything that is wrong about Palestinian Arab leadership.
I won't fisk the entire thing, because he is re-hashing a lot of the usual stuff we've heard before. But here is something that for some reason did not get much coverage.
Q: When you imagine a future Palestinian state, do you imagine it being a place where Jews, if they wish to become Palestinian citizens, could own property, vote in elections, and practice their religion freely?The PLO representative to the US publicly calls to ethnically cleanse hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes. Not Israelis - Jews.
A: I remember in the mid-’90s, the late [PLO official] Faisal Husseini said repeatedly “OK, if Israelis choose to stay in a future Palestinian state, they are more than welcome to do that. But under one condition: They have to respect and obey Palestinian laws, they cannot be living as Israelis. They have to respect Palestinian laws and abide by them.” When Faisal Husseini died, basically no Palestinian leader has publicly supported the notion that they can stay.
What we are saying is the following: We need to separate. We have to separate. We are in a forced marriage. We need to divorce. After we divorce, and everybody takes a period of time to recoup, rebound, whatever you want to call it, we may consider dating again.
Q: So, you think it would be necessary to first transfer and remove every Jew—
A: Absolutely. No, I’m not saying to transfer every Jew, I’m saying transfer Jews who, after an agreement with Israel, fall under the jurisdiction of a Palestinian state.
Q: Any Jew who is inside the borders of Palestine will have to leave?
A: Absolutely. I think this is a very necessary step, before we can allow the two states to somehow develop their separate national identities, and then maybe open up the doors for all kinds of cultural, social, political, economic exchanges, that freedom of movement of both citizens of Israelis and Palestinians from one area to another. You know you have to think of the day after.
I think that is called "transfer" and in another context it is considered the most heinous crime imaginable. When right-wing Zionists mention it, they are called "extremists" and "genocidal." When the PLO representative says it, it causes nary a ripple.
This interview was published a week ago!
Earlier in the interview, he said that one reason he doesn't like the idea of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is because
[Y]ou know that there are between 18 and 20 percent non-Jews who are living in Israel, who are mostly Palestinians, and who are part of the Palestinian people. By accepting the Israeli plan that they are a Jewish state, we are undermining the rights of this minority, who are already suffering discrimination at the hands of the Israeli authorities.So Areikat is saying that "Palestine" must ethnically cleanse every Jew who lives in its borders, but at the same time calling Israel a Jewish state would somehow cause discrimination against the "Palestinians" who live in Israel. Apparently, ethnic cleansing is OK, but calling a state Jewish is a terrible crime.
Then, Areikat goes into fantasyland:
A: Why should I pay the price for the political movement called Zionism, which said, “It’s time to reclaim parts of Palestinian territory that at one point were home for the kingdom of David, of Israel”—which you and I know was concentrated in the northern part of the West Bank. It never was in Jerusalem, it never was on the coast, it never was in Hebron.The rest of the interview is almost equally ridiculous, and that's the point - Tablet isn't interviewing a construction worker in Ramallah, but a respected Palestinian Arab diplomat who represents his supposed nation to the US.
Q: Of course it was in Jerusalem.
Q: The City of David is right there.
A: No, I mean, it was from Shechem to the outskirts of Jerusalem. It was never the Palestine that they claim.
He is moderate - compared to many or most of the people he represents. And that is the entire problem with the word "moderate." The West seems to think that we must reward relative moderation, because the alternative is even worse. But when such "moderation" nakedly calls for ethnic cleansing, why should it be rewarded? Shouldn't the absolute bigotry displayed by Palestinian Arab leaders today - when they are trying to impress an American audience no less, in English - indicate that their desired state would be a human rights disaster?
(sorry, don't remember who gave me the link)
UPDATE: See Balfour St. for more.