Palestinians are divided and do not know what they want; Palestinians have no leadership; Palestinians need a Nelson Mandela; these are some of the statements made by people who are “experts” on Palestine. It is time to refute these claims and place them in the appropriate place – the garbage. Let’s go through these claims one by one.
I have never met a Palestinian who does not want to see all of Palestine free and every refugee return. I do not believe such a Palestinian exists. So there is no division there. When people claim that Palestinians are divided, they are referring to the Hamas-Fateh divide. Fateh wants one thing, and Hamas and the resistance front want another, though neither has set clear goals. Once again, I say I doubt there is a single Palestinian who does not want to see their country and people free. The equation is a false one and does not represent reality.
Palestinian leadership can not be limited to these two relatively small groups. By stating that these are the only groups that are legitimate, people are, in effect, saying that the only Palestinians that count exist within a narrow equation and live only in the West Bank or Gaza.
Palestinians are actively resisting the occupation and oppression throughout all of Palestine. From the Naqab in the south to the borders of Lebanon and Syria in the north, there is a broad, almost absolute consensus that the only goal of the resistance – and I am not referring to the armed resistance alone, but to all forms of Palestinian resistance – is to free all of Palestine, from the River to the Sea and to establish a democratic Palestine with equal rights. The only exception to this is, perhaps, the Palestinian Authority, an institution that works primarily for the Zionists.
Among Palestinian activists throughout Palestine exist outstanding leaders, both men and women. One need not look far to listen to interviews with these exceptional people for themselves.
As for the Mandela claim, that holds no water. First of all, Israel has learned from the South African experience and has been assassinating Palestinian leaders for decades.
Furthermore, the model of a revolutionary leader becoming a political leader is not necessarily a good one. In the case of Palestine, one can certainly imagine a multitude of people with great leadership potential who, once Palestine is free, will run in a democratic process for various democratically elected positions. The fact that a person possesses skills as a revolutionary does not necessarily mean they would be good at running state institutions.
When the apartheid state is dismantled, and democratic elections are held in a free Palestine, political parties will be formed, and candidates will run for office. This will allow people to elect the candidates they feel are best suited for the job. There is no need for a single Nelson Mandela in Palestine because so many outstanding leaders are already operating there.