Peace with Realism

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Running for Student Office.
Running for Student Office
(Photo: Associated Press)

This example is a little different. There are no Jews on this campus, yet anti-Jewish sentiment flourishes.

This is Bir Zeit University near Ramallah on the West Bank. It is Palestinian. At Bir Zeit, the student political parties represent Palestinian terrorist factions. In the most recent Student Council election, held on December 10, 2003, the main contenders were Hamas and Fatah. The battle was a close one.

Fatah was all bragging and bravado, flaunting the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades for relentlessly striking the Zionist enemy. But during the debate Hamas leveled a challenge: "Hamas activists in this university killed 135 Zionists. How many did Fatah activists from Bir Zeit kill?"

The Fatah candidate was at a loss. He tried an evasive maneuver: "Look at the paper, go to the archives and see for yourself. Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have not stopped fighting the occupation." To emphasize the point they blew up models of Jewish settlements.

Hamas was not cowed. They came back exploding models of Israeli buses.

Members of both teams paraded beating war drums and sporting Qassam rockets perched on their shoulders. When the smoke cleared Hamas emerged victorious, winning 25 of the 31 Council seats. Fatah came in second with 20 seats. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine came in a distant third with 5 seats, and the obscure People's Party got the one seat left. Hamas clearly had the winning platform, which included "rejecting all forms of normalization or conciliatory dialogues with the enemy."

Ludna Abdel Hadi, a spokeswoman for the university, was concerned. "We were worried," she said. "The atmosphere seems very dangerous."

Bir Zeit has frequently been a subject of controversy. Two months earlier Yariv Ovadia, Consul for Communications and Public Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, stated that "Bir Zeit was supposed to be a good, normal university, but that is not how it turned out - The university supports terrorism."

Fred Ajlouni, a lawyer and Chairman of Friends of Bir Zeit University, responded: "That is a big lie. For the last three years I haven't heard of any terrorism connected with Bir Zeit University. People there are all interested in peace."


Abu Toameh, Khaled. "Hamas Wins Student Election Race on Israeli Bodycount Ticket." Jerusalem Post, December 11, 2003.

Hamas Online. "Islamic sweeping victory expected in Bir Zeit University elections." December 11, 2003.

Nowe, Ashley. "Activists kept out of Bir Zeit University." Arizona Daily Wildcat, September 12, 2003.


Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:
Peace with Realism