- What inspired you to dedicate your life to achieve justice for the Palestinians?
- When I was young, and at the secondary school in Amman, I experienced a big realistic tragic and a profound event in the history of the region. It is the catastrophe of Palestine I saw the details with my own eyes.
Thus, I was influenced by the realistic events of the results of the catastrophe of Palestine in 1948 very deeply. I had seen the human agony of the uprooted from their homes ,their properties, their lands and their homeland, you can explain this passion that haunted me to the present day, the message that I have carried and still is above my shoulders, the target which I wanted, that this tragedy, which occupies the humanity to end. This tragedy has turned to a collective memory, to what the man himself does to the humanity. The questions and reflections generate, and the self- answer objectively is in the trip of the lifetime in its interrelationships and connections.
We include here the twentieth century, the outbreak of the national liberation movements in the three continents: Asia, Africa and Latin America, one of the most important of this century cranes, the Chinese Revolution, the Vietnamese Revolution, and in Latin American countries, African revolutions, and the Arab thought instead going towards modernity and independence of dependency, the popular concepts were hybridized and tamed in the name of religion, and the fight against «atheism», starting from the concept of secularism as «atheism», and the engagement in the cold war battles, instead of getting independence which is baptized by blood and joining the project of modernity. Here there is a question: how can the project of modernity to fly in a sky which is clouded with volcanic dust.
The dilemma which faced the Arab thought and the pairing with modernity, and the governance (Arab tyrannical regimes, the colonial Jewish Zionism, the governance and culture of the religious heritage, especially political and intellectual Islam), the absence of freedom , democracy and social justice, and replacing them with regimes with pre-customized sizes for tribe, clan, creed and ethnicity.
The current conclusion in brief, the Arab countries today are at a crossroads, the first led towards modernity, with its economic, social, security and cultural policies that can withstand in the face of intensification of terrorism and its expansion. Modernity is about building institutions that call for community and solidarity in the face of sectarian and ethnic fragmentation which is the second road that leads to a medieval deep abyss.
- How are you satisfied about the goals that you set for completion when you were a young man and have been achieved?
- Any human being has the right to rethink about his life, and a series of thematic equations, we make our way of life, and there is no fear for us from the coming because we try to know about it through the study of phenomena.
This is the principled answer, despite of the ingenuity of the question as I feel, as if you are saying: «Hawatmeh: Reassessment», my own life has melted in general.
On the direct personal level, I confessed to you that I have lived the brunt of the struggle and the time, in hardship, and I'm used to it. After, I have decided to thoroughly meditate and to recall my experiences and experiments in life.
The fifties and sixties stage of the last century, which I called it the «stormy time», which is the stage of nationalist rising that its programs carried the title of «social justice», and building bases for economic development in Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, and began the agricultural reform, also Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, and built the Nile mega dam and made an independent development , then came the aggression and the defeat of June 5, 1967, ending the independent Renaissance and announced its departure.
About the objectives which I have achieved, they have become national experience, and it is hard to jump over them because they are connected with their historical extent, starting from the national unity and building the second birth of the PLO coalition from all the national and progressive currents and forces and spreading the culture of freedom, democracy and secularism in varying proportions.
Some information about the Democratic Front
In another words the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a mainly secular faction in the ranks of our people and the Palestinian national movement, modernist, leftist democratic revolutionary independent from the factions of the Palestinian resistance movement. It mixed from its start between politics and resistance, and called for the democratic political solution for the Palestinian issue and the issue of united Israeli democratic state for every Palestinian and Israeli population on the basis of equal citizenship.
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine was established in 22/02/1969 in the context of the major setbacks suffered by the nationalist project - the crisis of July 14, 1958 revolution in Iraq, lack of freedom and democracy for Arab life - since the beginning of the sixties and the collapse of the first nationalist unity in the modern history of the Arabs - the unity of Egypt and Syria in 1961 - leading up to the June 1967 war, and what it revealed about the trouble and the depth of the Arab nationalist movement in its various currents and formations in general toward the issue of liberation and democracy and progress.
The choice of these sectors was not the Fatah movement, which was representing the spontaneous way for the resistance movement which was governed by the national bourgeoisie middle class, and its ideology, and it was not attracted to the official communist left, which suffered in its historical trajectory from the total problems in absorbing the Palestinian national cause characteristics including the failure to understand the function of the armed struggle in the emission of the identity and the mobilization of the Palestinian national situation after the 1967 war.
By these interrelated factors, it was spread widely the look towards the birth of a revolutionary party of a new model, a Palestinian identity and belonging and with Arab prospects, engaging in the armed resistance movement proposing democratically radical solution of the Palestinian national issue, a party that adopts the thought of working and poor popular classes. This great national , patriotic and international ambition formed the foundation and winches for the launch of the Democratic Front, a birth, which is also linked to the major intellectual and social transformations witnessed by the currents and revolutions and the parties of the general nationalist movement in the Arab countries, especially the Arab Nationalists’ Movement with its various branches since the late fifties and early sixties, and the intellectual social and political conflict which was raged between the various wings - it reached its peak after the 1967 war - and ended with the engagement of its branches in the establishment of its independent party frameworks including the Palestinian branch.
The new interim program
The explosion of the contradictions between the policy of the Jordanian authority, and the policy of the resistance towards the Arab - Israel conflict and the Palestinian national rights, led to the Black September war between the brothers of arms, instead of a united front for the salvation from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and its aggression on the Jordanian territory and its occupation of other Arab territories (the Syrian Golan, the Egyptian Sinai).
The defeat suffered by the resistance in September 1970 - and the later battles led to the clearing of its public presence in Jordan - launched in the ranks of the front a comprehensive critical review for its policy and the policy of resistance in Jordan.
This critical review was the beginning of our journey in the Democratic Front towards the formulation of a new Palestinian national program, the political realism Program the program of «the right of return, self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, the capital», i.e. the interim program, which was in fact, as a reshaping for the Palestinian liberated political thought in its approaches about the «resistance» , the «settlement», the «armed struggle» and the «peaceful solution».
The Democratic Front continued to struggle to rebuild consensus on the progress of the national interim program, and in this track everyone returned to the comprehensive national dialogue, and we have done the Cairo Declaration in 2005, and the program of the national reconciliation document in June 2006 advanced to the Cairo Declaration and the decisions of the PLO Central Council in 2007- 2008, which renewed the commitment to the interim national program, and the democratization and constitutionalization of the institutions of the PA and the PLO in accordance with the full proportional representation law, as the front has been initiated since 1972 in the struggle and to provide full proportional representation projects for the democratization of life in all PLO institutions.
The Democratic Front was keen with its launch to be among the main pillars of the first national coalition to unite the guerilla action which was led by the «armed struggle», and in the membership of the National Council and the Executive Committee emanating from it (the sixth session in September 1969), and submitted to this session with a draft « to achieve the unity of the Palestinian forces and national groups in an united national liberation front »and the draft of the« democratic solution to the Palestinian issue and the Israeli issue».
The Democratic Front’s experience in its intellectual, political and organizational independence, and in its maintaining of the national unity at the same time.
The central location occupied by the issue of the national unity in the political thought of the Democratic Front and its exercise did not stand out and move only in the early years , but it was figured apparently in the time of sharp divisions that have swept through the Palestinian arena after the war of 1982 through the repercussions of the Israeli invasion and the conflict of the regional axis to influence the PLO's decisions, and the attempts by the right wing in the official leadership to search for meeting points in the middle of the road with the settlement projects which were proposed forward in the early eighties, especially project Reagan 1/9/1982.
The Democratic Front has taken a decisive stand against the Palestinian political division over the years 1983-1987 within the coalition of PLO, and it has played a proactive role in building the Democratic Alliance (the Democratic and Popular Fronts, the Palestinian Communist Party).
The second test, which affected the national unity came because of the Oslo Accords when it overthrew the political framework of the coalition of PLO , so the Front continued its policy of unification steadily and launched a number of initiatives about the comprehensive national dialogue in order to restore the national consensus around the current issues and the permanent status negotiations and the Declaration of Independence of the State of Palestine on the borders of June 4, 1967, after the Oslo Accords arrived at the legal end in May1999. These initiatives launched by the fact that the base feature of the Palestinian movement is maintaining the National Coalition and the struggle for the restoration of the national unity in the framework of PLO and that the division between the «Palestinian Authority» and the opposition does not cancel this truth.
The third test is continuing until these days (mid-2008) after the divisive coups and political and organizational setbacks series from the Cairo Declaration (March 2005), and the rounds of the political and military coups and fighting for the : (prisoners' document program) –( the National Conciliation Document - June 2006 in the Gaza Strip) that led to the collapse of the quotas bilateral agreement between Hamas and Fatah, which led Hamas to impose its dominance on the Gaza Strip with military force(June 14, 2007) , so DFLP has launched the initiative to « end the division» and «rebuild the national unity and break the siege of the Gaza Strip» in 4/7/2007.
In this democratic political militant unionist track the struggles and initiatives of the DFLP continue to:
-End the divisions, and the deals of monopolistic quotas between Fatah and Hamas to share power , money , influence and jobs.-
-Rebuild the national unity on a democratic basis in accordance with the full proportional representation to ensure comprehensive national partnership between the factions and the components of the people in the homeland and in the Diaspora. As the unity under the unified national program ceiling is the condition of victory over the occupation and settlement, and the completion of our people's rights in self-determination, return and independence.
- Please discuss your reason in the establishing the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, what is important in making it a secular organization?
- The answers that we presented above provide the intellectual, political and personal reasons in establishing and building the Democratic Front with its components, its current roles and its initiatives in the paths of the national liberation movement and the Palestinian national movement. This organization put the importance of mind at the first place and called for the politicization of religion and the religionization of policy. What we are witnessing in the Arab countries today by the hands of the bloody political Islamists « ISIS and its partners emphasize the need for the separation between the state and the religion, toward freedom, democracy and social justice. Also the new Arab revolutions that have not yet been completed and which have moved for the salvation from the tyranny and corruption of the Arab regimes to confirm what we called for it in the Palestinian and Arab national liberation movement: revolutions that their people want: «freedom, democracy, civil state, social justice, equality of citizenship and equality between women and men».
Since the beginnings of the Democratic Front, it emphasized on the importance of the principles of the reform, starting with the separation between religion and state, and preventing the clergy (of any religion) from interfering in the political and judicial affairs, and the removing of the barriers between the various sects and creeds in religions, and organizing the economy on the basis of production and justice and maintaining the interests of the state.
- When and why your opinions have moved to the armed resistance to change?
- In early 1969, I made a public appeal, for the Israelis, under the title «Come... to turn swords into sickles», which mean the search for «the peace», the Israeli response in the same year, was by deepening the occupation and the crawling of settlements in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, arrests and assassinations (the bloody May 1973) a commando squad assassinated three Palestinian leaders in Beirut (Kamal Adwan, Abu Yousef Al-Najjar, the poet Kamal Nasser), and Israel failed in an attempt to bomb the DFLP headquarter in the Fakehani area in Beirut, but the squad clash with the guards, who chased them in the streets of Beirut, five militants were martyred, and three Israeli soldiers were killed.
The sword that we demanded to convert it to the sickle, has turned into « scythe of the death» and reaped people's lives, but as for the «security» It's possible that Israel commits the collective massacres, and fails in order to justify them by the pretext of the «security motive», but the irony is that all of what it has (potential and capabilities) - primarily the military capabilities, i.e. the weapons of mass destruction in their different forms, including the nuclear - they did not provide all what it needs of security.
In a press conference held by Netanyahu after Brussels bombings, he tried to link between «ISIS» terrorism and the operations that carried out by the young Palestinians, denying the relationship of his policies with these operations, and as a result of it, he said: «terrorism comes from the bloody ideology, not from the occupation» Newspapers of 23/3/2016, rebounding from his field and logistical cooperation with these terrorist groups, but at the same time, Professor Daniel Beltman, a professor at the Hebrew University, believes that «who controls on the centers of power in (Israel) is the settlements and the settlers camp, which its poles belong to the ideology of racist colonialism that disappeared a long time ago from the world»! (Haaretz 10/03/2016), also many politicians and decision makers in Israel said that the occupation, the settlements and collective punishment and the contempt of the human rights is what leads to violence.
The takeover by force on Palestinian land occupied in 1967, and the uprooting of the land owners of them, will keep the aggressor in a permanent state of security, and will turn into an existential problem permanently.
The United States still until now considering that this occupation is illegal, but it doesn’t take any practical step to force it to retreat! So it sees that the Israeli governments on the name of security, established «security settlements, then a new settlements to protect the security settlements», and so on, in a false and silly game. Senior commentator in «Yedioth» Hanom Barnea says: «These security policies and procedures of Netanyahu reveal the nakedness and the weakness of his character, and (Israeli security) is a fallen pretext in the end».
- What is the impress of religion on the armed struggle today?
- A very negative impact, that transfers the concept of religion and its mission in the life of a human being, by putting it in the social and political action, here the responsibility not at the «religion» itself, but on each one who uses it in the political and social conflict, and converts it into a capital.
It is the exploitation of the authenticity of religion and its permanent presence in the lives of these communities, whish’s supposed to come out of what it monopolized in human behavior and social life, by excluding any role of human knowledge and expertise that are historically accumulated in everything produced by the mind, by transferring everything to science, literature, art and creativity to a legal or forsaken situation.
Here lies the ideological formation of religion, which is in the origin of a sacred idea, and cancel the mind, life and evolution after everything dies around it, so I re estimate my view of religion which is based on ontology and not deported of it, the general idea of any religion is the good for man.
This is the product of «politicization of religion and politics’ religionization» and bloody political Islamist movements such as: ISIS, al Qaeda and their associates are a product of the politicization of religion, and its roots are in the Arab educational curricula, and in the textbooks in the Arab and Muslim countries.
They used religion against the Arab revolutions for the reform, putting it in social - political work, Muslim Brotherhood and their motto «Islam is the solution». Islam today is two teams and several doctrines, but what is the solution? Backwards to medieval, on the borders of the doctrine of the Sultan, and within the same doctrine, then investing the religion in ideology, and the use of tactical religion, that lets society to slip in wars and internal conflicts will not end.
Is not that what happened in Egypt, then Tunisia, and what is going on in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other Arab countries, and in the countries of the Islamic world, and in the extension of terror and bloody Islamism to Europe and America from the disaster of the twin towers in New York to Paris, Nice, Brussels, etc.
With this ideology they cannot govern these communities they have another job pave the way for a new Sykes-Picot. Also sectarian mini-states will not work, in the orbit of «Religious Israel», because it is an excuse to divide and tear the national community, as the use of political and ideological religion turned to be the shortest route in the face of Arab actual reform and change towards modernity, democracy and social justice.
- Mr. Secretary General, few people have your experience and wisdom on the issue of armed struggle and diplomacy, what is your advice to today’s leaders and for the fighters in the Middle East where it seems that violence has reached unprecedented maximum limit and the civilian population at risk?
- At first, I turn to our Palestinian people and its live community strength, because the compass of our people is very accurate in its direction, and the world began to correct its compass, as it watches the Palestinian people face this occupation with its full arrogance, racism and its plans, assuring that its will cannot be touched, and it says to the Arab authorities, that the inalienable fixed rights in geography, history, international law and its decisions cannot be replaced with bubbles, and the truth has its course and marches over the successive generations.
Sons of our people you have presented convoys of redemption and martyrdom, in the name of you we go to the Palestinian Authority, to return to the United Nations, for the internationalization of our cause and national rights, and achieving the recognition of the state of Palestine and its full membership with full sovereignty, set at June 4, 1967, with its capital in East Jerusalem, this is the effective confrontation between the will and the racial terrorism.
We have this heroic steadfastness of prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails which hold more than 8,000 Palestinian prisoners, including 240 children and 73 women and girls, as well as the open administrative detention of more than 600 detainees, the effective prisoners’ weapons are the «empty intestines», in the face of darkness and the empty conscience of racism.
After 68 years since its founding, the world witnesses the fascism in its darkest racial manifestations, or the so-called «political Zionism», then the questions of «what after the Zionism», and the reviews of «new historians», which shook the building of «Israel» in its foundations.
In last May, the Venezuelan ambassador delivered a speech in front of the UN Security Council, reported by «Israel today» newspaper in which he said: “Israel plans to eliminate all the Palestinians, like what happened to Jews in the 2nd World War”. So what’s the different between what was said by the Venezuelan ambassador and what the Israeli Chief of staff Yair Golan said: «Israel is witnessing recently racist manifestations, recalls what Germany has experienced in the pre-Holocaust period, in the thirties and forties of the last century», and the «Israeli Minister of environment» Avi Gabai has endorsed him in that.
«Yediot» Newspaper has reported that the Secretary-General of the United Nations «accuses Israel in killing thirty Palestinian children in a report that will be issued soon», and this was coincided with the trials of Palestinian children, also «Maariv» at the same period indicated that «the report will include harsh assessments against settlements, as well as the demolition of Palestinian homes, the collective punishment (report of the international Quartet Committee's to the UN Security Council 01.07.2016), which Netanyahu described as a myth»…
What is required once again is the Palestinian return to the national strategy, starting from the internationalization of the Palestinian cause and national rights, because the global mood, and supporters of the Palestinian cause and national rights are waiting for this position from its people first, in order to increase the world solidarity to its cause, due to the policies of extremist and fascist anti-peace in the world.
So all this, should push us to end the destructive division after ten years of the conflict on «power, money and influence between the divided parties», and to stand against the colonial settlement, which spoiled the land and uprooted people and stones and trees.
The activation of these matters begins and stems from the Palestinian national collective position, which requires the international attitudes that support our cause.
For the Arabs, this matter has occupied me, and now as you can see «The situations have reached an unprecedented level», and now they are at crossroads, after they have lost their immunity factors, durability and the ability to overrun, they are eating themselves, and rushing to revenge rather than touching the present.
- What is your vision for generating a fruitful peace in Palestine today?
- Fruitful peace starts from the establishment of a Palestinian state on the fourth of June 1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem, based on the reference of the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy and the inalienable rights, particularly the resolution 194 about the return of Palestinian refugees.
Shortly, the mechanisms of this implementation start with the internationalization of the Palestinian national issue and rights, in the forefront «UN resolution in November 2012 to recognize the State of Palestine as an observer member on the borders of June 1967». Also the Palestinian Authority and the Arab countries are invited to go to the UN for a new draft resolution: «Recognizing the state of Palestine as a full active member in the United Nations, and in the international community, and protecting the land and the people of Palestine and the occupied Arab territories under United Nations patronage, then we can look to the peace… as a fruitful peace».