Event Reports

Reflections on Palestinian - American Relations

“The future of a Palestinian state will be decided in the USA”, said Afif Safieh, the head of the PLO delegation to the United States, who can be considered the “ambassador” of the Palestinians in the USA.

Framed with quotations from Weber to Brecht Mr. Safieh mediated a realistic, critical and motivating picture of Palestinian – American cooperation. Within that, he emphasized the importance of the USA as a mediator for the Middle East Conflict. The lecture took place in the context of the series “Legal Encounters” of the Institute of Law (IOL) at Birzeit-University near Ramallah, which is supported by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung(KAS) Ramallah.

Afif Safieh highlighted in his lecture, in front of an auditory with approx. 150 listeners, the situation of the Palestinians who he referred to as a “Global Tribe”. Today there are numberless countries with many generations of people with a Palestinian background. Safieh underlined the fact that 250.000 up to 400.000 Palestinians are living in the USA. Due to their surpassing education and their good economical situation, they are also playing an important role in the USA.

According to Safieh the problem of the Palestinian society in the USA is a lack of organization in a countrywide institution like e.g. the bigger Jewish society (5.3 Mio.) in AIPAC. Resulting from the fragmentation of the Palestinian society in many regional subgroups like the Bethlehem- or Ramallah- society, there is no uniform power until now. However, an effective representation of interests is necessary due to the important political role of the USA. In addition, Palestine today is often seen as a non-player, which further complicates Safiehs work.

As a representative of the PLO Afif Safieh works directly together with the American administration, the senate, the house of representatives, and with the different parties of the United States. Above all, he holds close contacts to the Jewish community, which has a special importance for the situation of the Palestinians. He noted to his great satisfaction, that the discussions often end with a positive result. Bringing Palestinian und Jewish communities in the USA together at one table would strengthen their power and help finding solutions for the peace-process to the Middle East.

Right now, after the war in Lebanon the policies of Israel, America and Palestine are at a crossroad. This is the perfect moment for the Palestinian society to build up a powerful unity all over the world and to represent as such by non-violent means. This is the only possibility for the Palestinians to develop from objects to subjects of history. Therefore, Afif Safieh closed his lecture with the sentence: “It’s up to us to decide the history”.