Interview with Musa Budeiri
From NPR All Things Considered, Thursday, June 20, 2002 audio
Robert Siegel: A group of Palestinian intellectuals took out a full page ad this week in the Arabic language newspaper Al-Quds in Jerusalem. [English translation of the ad]
The ad's signatories include Hanan Ashrawi the Palestinian parliamentarian, and Sari Nusseibeh the president of Al Quds University. In the advertisement the intellectuals, at first 50 of them, now joined, we're told, by dozens more call for an end to Palestinian suicide bombings. One of the signatories joins us by telephone from Jerusalem, political scientist Musa Budeiri.
Siegel: Prof. Budeiri, whom are you appealing to in this ad?
Budeiri: Well this is really a call to ourselves, so to speak. For the last maybe six or 7 months there's been a debate going on among Palestinians in all sorts of forums about this kind of military activity both practical and moral aspects. And we thought perhaps it is time that a public call was made, explaining the stand of those who think that this is not really an appropriate way to conduct our struggle for statehood and independence.
Siegel: From what I have read of a translation of the advertisement text you are speaking of the suicide bombings as a military action that could be justified or could not be justified. But you are criticizing it on pragmatic grounds.
Budeiri: Well you know this is a statement which attempts to appeal as wide as possible to people of all sorts of views and this is one approach basically to try and argue from the practical aspect although a lot of the signatories and I'm definitely one of them think there's also moral grounds to oppose these types of operations, which I do not think are military operations. For a lot of people who are living daily under the heavy weight of the Israeli occupation who everyday see Israeli tanks flying through the fields through the streets who everyday see brothers or friends being shot, killed or injured. People think that in this kind of situation any kind of response is justified and any kind of response is in that sense a military operation. [emphasis added]
Siegel: The message of the advertisement is, even if you do think that, even if other Palestinians might think that, it's not working, it's not working...
Budeiri: This is what we are arguing. that really it is counterproductive. rather than winning over larger segments of the Israeli public in that sense to supporting the withdrawal of Israeli troops and allowing the Palestinians to proceed with their statebuilding project it is uniting them as a result of fear, giving an excuse to [...] an Israeli government led by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to unleash Israel's tremendous military force on basically a defenseless people.
Siegel: The Israelis and the United States, the Americans, would want the Palestinian Authority to go yet a step further, a step well beyond this, this appeal and that would be to say: "If you organize a suicide bombing, you are a terrorist, and you should be hunted down and at least imprisoned for the act. You are a criminal". Do you think the people who signed this would support the incarceration of those who have organized...
Budeiri: no,yeah, maybe I should try to make something clear here. What we are trying is to convince people there is a correct path and there is an incorrect path, and we do not think the solution is a technical one. We do not think the solution is a security one. Everybody here is united in their opposition to the occupation. We do not want to play the role of Israel's security guards. We are not Quislings, we are not the Lebanese Army of southern Lebanon which was a proxy army used by the Israelis to dominate that part of Lebanon. The Palestinian Authority cannot actually play this role. Only through the process of argument and dialogue will we arrive at a unified position and once that position is arrived at, if people break that commitment then that becomes an internal matter which the Palestinians will have to deal with but not before.
Siegel: Professor Budeiri, thank you very much for talking with us today.
Budeiri: Thank you
Siegel: Musa Budeiri, professor of political science at Al-Quds university in Jerusalem and one of the signatories of a newspaper advertisement taken out by Palestinian intellectuals appealing for an end to suicide bombings.
My comments on this interview and the original advertisement are here - Stefan