Rifat Odeh Kassis

In whose name does Dutch FM Rosenthal speak?

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal claims to oppose decisions taken by governments without balanced, negotiated political processes. But if this were really true, he would understand the need to bring Israeli officials and military officers responsible for such crimes to the International Criminal Court in The Hague instead of defending Israel’s actions in The Jerusalem Post

Jerusalem: heart of conflict, beginning of reconciliation

The Kairos document reminds Jews, Muslims and Christians alike that Jerusalem should be the place where God reconciles with his people and where the creatures of God reconcile with each other. And it affirms the equal importance of Jerusalem for the Palestinian people, whether Christian or Muslim. This affirmation, this unity of vision — not in the sense that everyone must share the same beliefs, but in the sense that the freedom to believe must always be shared — is the document’s greatest strength. Rifat Odeh Kassis comments for The Electronic Intifada. 

When will Israel learn? (2/2)

In this crazy game, one is not sure whether it is better or worse that the main two political players behind this invasion are insecure amateurs. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Olmert nor his Defense Minister Peretz have any experience in warfare, which is very seldom for Israel, used to being ruled by experienced military generals who have proved themselves in the handful of wars that Israel has fought. Beside their obvious inadequate military background, both leaders are politically confused to boot. Their political discourse is weak and contradictory and they face severe criticism from their opponents, friends and allies alike for their poor performance in handling the current crisis. 

Beware of Democracy

When elections were imposed on the Palestinian people, while still under occupation, we questioned and suspected the whole process. We wondered how a free election could be conducted while the whole nation lives under a military occupation, especially in light of the undeniable correlation between freedom and democracy, as stated on the US Department of State’s website: “Freedom and democracy are often used interchangeably, but the two are not synonymous. Democracy is indeed a set of ideas and principles about freedom, but it also consists of a set of practices and procedures that have been molded through a long, often tortuous history. In short, democracy is the institutionalisation of freedom”. 

When will Israel learn? (1/2)

When I first heard about the Israeli soldier who was “kidnapped” by Palestinians and heard the appeal of Abu Mazen to the Palestinian factions, followed by many other Arab and foreign leaders, calling for his release, I thought that the soldier was kidnapped from a coffee shop in Tel Aviv. This feeling was emphasised when I heard the Israeli army spokesman talking to Al-Jazeera, calling upon the kidnappers to save his life and send him back to his family and parents. The BBC called him “the missing man.” Calling him a “man” and not a “soldier”, however, confused me a bit. I learned that this soldier/man (not to upset the BBC) was kidnapped in a battle at a military checkpoint inside the green line. 

Fatah Chapter Closed: Creating a Palestinian National Congress

The current calls to emphasise the role of the PLO coming from Fatah and the other political factions cannot be very convincing to the Palestinian people. Fatah bears the bulk of responsibility in destroying the PLO and marginalizing it. Whichever the motives, Fatah and all Palestinians must recognise that trying to revive the PLO as it stands is not the answer. The structure and methodology is outdated. There is no other way but to build up a different political body to represent the Palestinians everywhere, writes Rifat Odeh Kassis. 

Sa'adat kidnap boosts Olmert's election campaign

There are many reasons for the raid on Jericho prison. One of them is the Israeli election. Palestinians know from experience that before every election Israel becomes more brutal. Another reason is to send Hamas a message: They will not be accepted and the agreements between Israel and the previous PA are no longer valid. The arrival of Israeli tanks just twenty minutes after the withdrawal of the British and American guards from the prison shows that Israel is not the only one sending this message. The attack on Jericho and the kidnapping of Ahmed Sa’adat and others proves once again that Israel is, for all intents and purposes, a country above the law writes Rifat Odeh Kassis. 

Palestinian Elections: Imposing a sense of normalcy on a highly abnormal situation

Elections are a normal practice in any democratic and free society. People go voluntarily to the voting polls to freely choose their political representatives. This democratic practice should be conducted in an open, transparent, regular and systematic manner. Unfortunately, most nations in the Middle East have not yet had the chance to enjoy this right on a regular basis. Ironically, the only countries in the region that do practice this right, with a reasonable degree of transparency, are Israel, Iran, occupied Iraq and occupied Palestine. 

Seeking An Organized Solidarity

Ten years ago, backed by solidarity groups from all over the world, it appeared that the Intifada had succeeded in forcing Israel to recognize the PLO as sole representative of the Palestinian people. However, with Oslo made many groups felt that Palestinians were in control of their destiny. Today, only few will assert that Palestinians are in control of their destiny? Rifat Odeh Kassis believes we cannot afford to wait until initiatives such as the “Road Map” or “Geneva” are implemented. 

Children in Bethlehem under siege

When his alarm clock goes off every day at 6am, Saif, my 11-year-old son, barely moves his body out of his bed. His mother and I must go to extraordinary lengths to get him up and ready to go to school. This was never the case before. Saif studies in the Lutheran Church School in Beit Sahour, which is also known as the “Shepherds Field” according to the Bible. Located east of Bethlehem, Beit Sahour is the last Christian majority town in Palestine and used to enjoy the reputation of having the smallest percentage of immigration. This is also not the case any more.