November 19, 2002
One on one with Diana Buttu
I had the chance to meet PLO spokeswoman and legal advisor Diana Buttu the other day (Nov. 8), when she spoke at an event organized by Global Exchange.
Before I get into the details of the event I'm going to make a public apology to Ms. Buttu for some of the things I wrote about her earlier. After meeting her, I came away with a more favorable impression of her than the one I formed only on the basis of her media exposure. It's easy to take cheap potshots at a public figure whom you've never met, but it's also wrong. In her case, I wrote some idiotic comments along the lines of "shameless flirt" and "PLO pin-up girl". Once I saw her in person, it was clear that such descriptions were not only ungentlemanly, they weren't even accurate. She is indeed an attractive, personable woman, gracious and friendly, but also serious, and it would be a stretch to call her a flirt, let alone a "pin-up girl". She's down-to-earth and in many ways like the other young professionals that my wife and I work and socialize with. In fact she seems so familiar and genuine, almost incapable of guile, that it's disarming.
But having a pleasant manner is not the same as representing a just cause and possessing the gift of believability is not the same as consistently spinning the truth. I remain a tough critic, but my earlier mischaracterizations of her were wrong, and I will do my best to keep my future remarks substantive.
Buttu calls herself a "peace technician" and presents herself as some kind of a victims rights advocate. And she is probably the most refereshingly pleasant and sympathetic spokesperson the PLO has ever sent to tour the United States. So it may be easy for some to overlook the fact that she's an advisor and spokesperson for Yassir Arafat and the PLO, the pathological leadership of a violently dysfunctional community. And unfortunately, she has a habit of misrepresenting much of the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict and articulating unproductive negotiating positions. And that doesn't help anybody.
I wrote up some highlights of her presentation and my brief one-on-one chat with her along with some analysis here. As I explain in the write-up, her speeches to US audiences aren't likely to accomplish very much until the PLO and the PA undergo substantial internal reforms. In any event, it's not the Americans, but the Israeli swing voters who are the key to a peace agreement. The Palestinian leadership would do well to establish trust with the Israeli center. Buttu could perhaps apply her considerable talents to that problem. I wish her well, for everyone's sake.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at November 19, 2002 04:45 PM
Question: is Diana Buttu an Arab Christian? I ask because that would be very interesting tidbit to analyze. I've always been curious about the following question: just how prominent (or not) are the Palestinian Christians within the PLO and the Authourity?
I also recall the phrase "Hamas honey" being used on this site :)
Recent polls (last week) show that a majority of Israelis favour no concessions to Palestinian Arabs, and more than 80% are against any partition of Jerusalem.
We all know that there is a 'conquest by stages' plan, so why should someone like Buttu be supported? She is the attractive mouthpiece who, when the time comes, will justify the destruction of Israel.
The rules of western logic (agreements are adhered to, bloodshed is evil, ensure the safety of children etc) are not applicable to Arab/Moslem thinking. The Jihad is paramount. Saddam will use WMD as soon as he can. Arafat and Dahlan and anyone else they throw up will always have designs on Israel. If they are patient, market themselves correctly, talk the talk, walk the walk a bit, then they will get a state. Then the next phase is direct warfare on an Israeli public lulled into a false calm.
Since when are Jews stupidly suicidal?
I met Diana Buttu just last Sunday. I would have to say the talk about her here seems accurate. I did particulary find that there was one heck of a spin on the words. She is a skilled rhetorician. Her disarming personality is not to be fallen for. I am keeping in touch with her to compile a list of disagreements between Palestinians and Jews from both sides. However, I am approaching the situation as an Objective person (though I am Jewish). I am not thinking about her statements as historically valid, but am thinking about them in terms of valid statements of hers. So, in the context of the real situation that has happened they may not be true, but they are real statements of hers and that carries a certain truth with it.
What difference does it make if Buttu is an "Arab Christian"? You sound like my mother: "...so-and-so is from country 'X' so she thinks thoughts 'Y' ... is of religion 'G' so he thinks thoughts 'K' ... is 'old' so thinks this way ... is 'young' so thinks that way..."
Why does it make a difference if Buttu is ANY given culture or religion? Are you saying she has no choice over her thoughts, that they are dictated by the old "nature/nurture" thing, by her genetics, by her upbringing or what-have-you?
That's as bad as saying that "all Jews are cheap" (Heavens to Betsy) or that "all Arabs smell bad" (ahem). Did somebody check with every single one of the world's, say, 17,432,423 Jews or 434,239,931 Arabs, right down to the very last one, to verify these scientific 'observations'?? To verify that ALL Jews or ALL Arabs are this way or that?
"All". That's the issue. "All" so-and-so's are "this way". Oh really? Did we check? Did we interview every single person of Irish-Catholic descent everywhere on the planet so that we could conclude: "Yup, all Micks are drunks"?
Sure, some Jews act like this, some Arabs act like that ...... and, yes, some Arab-Christians act in a certain way that looks predictable; LOOKS predictable. But that allows us to then say that they ALL act this way? That they ALL think this way? That their actions -- and people like Diana Buttu -- are so predictable? That they are no longer individuals making their OWN decisions on how they want to think, to act, to speak?
This constant "he/she-is-of-this-heritage-that-religion-this-language-so-he/she-must-think-this-way" rhetoric is sickening and disgusting. I, for one, wish that I could just leave this planet and live many light-years away on a planet of decent, open-minded intelligence.
Because none of it seems to exist anymore on this planet (see? I'm just as bad now!). At least, based on what I am seeing. These comments above being a good example ...
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What a wonderful morning it is today to wake up and hear the long awaited good news that the despot, mass murderer and father of modern day terrorism has finally left this world for hell.
The only difference between Arafat and Hitler is the technology and the quantity. Their purpose was the same: to liquidate the Jewish People. Arafat set out to do this in his declarations, his actions, his plans, and with the money he sent the terrorist organizations. What type of hypocrisy is this by world leaders to act as if they are sad on the day of his death? I'm not at all sad. Whoever puts on a sad face today is acting either out of hypocrisy or self-hatred, which I can't understand.
Arafat was a human obstruction to any chance for peace whatsoever. We know his history. He regularly changed his stripes and spoke out of both sides of his mouth. He rebuffed Ehud Barak's offer, which would certainly have improved the lot of his people, facilitated the current Intifada which, so far has claimed 4,000 lives, and stole millions, if not billions, of dollars intended to help his brethren, and facilitate the extravagant needs of his estranged wife Suha in Paris.
He educated generations upon generations of the value of suicidal martyrdom, holy war and hatred, and that's why it's unrealistic to expect anything to change simply because he is dead.
The only thing good that can be said of Arafat is that he is finally dead.
Unfortunately, my family and community will still have to suffer the stench of his rotting corpse in Ramallah until the rats in the Mukata finish him off. A most fitting end for the king of rats.
Judea and Samaria