Samir A. Zedan
When rational voices among Palestinians were denied the opportunity to speak up
Reema Dodin, the Palestinian-American who will serve as a deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, has been raising some concerns all across the US political spectrum.
Reema Dodin may sound enthusiastic when she talks about the Palestinian issue, and tries to act according to the prevailing vox populi of the Palestinians, who got domesticated through threats and intimidation practiced by the PLO for many decades.
Nevertheless, a very close family member to Dodin, if still alive, would certainly have significantly disagreed with her. I am referring here to her grandfather Mustafa Dodin, who had served as minister in the Jordanian government of Prime Minister Wasfi El Tal (who was killed by the terrorist group Black September in late November 1971 in Cairo, Egypt).
After Sadat’s peace initiative and his historic visit to Jerusalem in 1977, Reema Dodin’s grandfather, the late Mustafa Dodin, managed to get the Israelis to allow what he had established as the Village League in the West Bank. This entity aimed to form a political nucleus for supporting the general political framework that was defined in the Camp David Agreement signed in 1978.
The political framework of Camp David agreement affirmed the implementation of full self-government for a period of five years for the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It also stated that a peace agreement that included Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians would be reached. (This is similar to what happened in the 1993 Oslo Accords that were signed in Washington, but with the omission of Jordan.)
What Reema Dodin’s grandfather sought was to reach peace with Israel. He boldly affirmed that it was Jordan, along with local Palestinians, who should represent the Palestinians in order to reach peace with Israel.
It is true that Israel was not so keen in empowering Dodin, who strove and managed to get the necessary approvals from Israel’s military administration. Yet the main obstacle was the adamant rejection of PLO on letting local Palestinian representatives emerge who could pose as an alternative to them in any future agreements.
In this video, Reema Dodin’s grandfather says that the Palestine Liberation Organization does not represent the entire Palestinian people, and that Palestinians in the West Bank must choose their representatives.
Reema Dodin may not want to tell those with whom she works with that her grandfather received death threats and was subjected to all kinds of unjustified pressure by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In fact, the PLO assassinated many Palestinian leaders who sought to keep Jordan as the main partner in any political negotiations with Israel.
The opportunities that the Palestinian people lost because of the threats and intimidation by those who insisted that they alone represented the Palestinians were many. Ironically, they themselves also missed those opportunities when they were presented to them over the last 25 years.
I hope that Reema Dodin will read this article and listen to her grandfather and what he said in this video, because when Israel wanted to grant the Palestinians the right to choose their representatives, those who wanted to walk in that direction were threatened, intimated and obligated to take a step back, just as her grandfather did.
Clearly, Mustafa Dodin uttered in this video what was known to so many, but only few dared to say, i.e., that Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization were not suitable to represent the Palestinian people. He always believed that Jordan was the best option to lead the negotiations.
If Reema Dudin could only acknowledge the reality of what her grandfather had said, she would realize that her views on the Palestinian issues were erroneous, and her attempts to influence the decision-makers in the United States are headed in the wrong direction.
Samir A. Zedan is a former Senior Counter-Terrorism Analyst at the US Department of State, and a former Development Outreach and Communication specialist at USAID/Iraq. He has contributed to hundreds of articles published in major media outlets with assignments in the Palestinian Areas, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Europe.