AAUG AND SHUUN FILASTINIYA MAGAZINE: JOINT SEMINAR ON U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY
A seminar on U.S. Middle East policy, sponsored jointly by the Association of Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG) and the PLO Research Center's monthly magazine, Shuun Filastiniya, (Palestine Affairs) was inaugurated on June 19, 1979, by Abu Lutf, Head of the PLO Political Department. The seminar, which was held at the Fateh Foreign Relations office, took place under the sponsorship of PLO Executive Committee Chairman Yasser Arafat, and with the cooperation of the PLO Unified Information. It lasted from June 19-21.
The first session was opened by Abu Lutf, who spoke in detail about U.S. policy and the Middle East. He was followed by Professor Naseer Aruri of the AAUG, who discussed aspects of the same subjects, and by Mahmoud Darwish, editor of Shuun Filastiniya, who spoke briefly about Arab perceptions and misperceptions of U.S. policy.
Abu Lutf traced the basic lines of current U.S. policy in the region back to Henry Kissinger, noting that in its broad outlines this policy has hardly changed since the days of President Truman. Abu Lutf focused on Kissinger's role in opposing any changes in U.N. resolutions in favor of the Palestinian people, and in other similar stands supporting the Israeli position and fundamentally hostile to the Palestinians since the first Sinai disengagement agreement.
Abu Lutf added that throughout the Kissinger years, the United States had played a major role in turning the Arab states against one another, and in striking at the Palestinian resistance movement, particularly through the Lebanese civil war. Under Carter, American policy by pressure and bribes had made possible the Egyptian-Israeli separate peace, and had systematically worked to prevent an Arab coalition being formed to oppose it. He noted furthermore America's commitment to Israeli military superiority over the Arabs, and concluded that this gave a clear idea of the dimensions of U.S. policy, particularly in view of the daily Israeli raids on Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.
In his address, Mahmoud Darwish said that this seminar does not aspire to accomplish more than it is capable of, adding: "We, who were always the subject of study by the U.S., now want to study them." He said that in the conflict with the Zionist enemy, all are aware that the latter is only one of the ugly faces of the U.S. policy, but that hesitation only afflicts intellectuals and rulers. "This seminar is therefore trying to shake off the forgetfulness which has touched the Arab decision-makers, forgetfulness of the nature of the U.S. administration which cannot and does not want to have different relations with the Arab Liberation Movement.
"In this seminar", he went on, "we are trying to erase illusions, the most important of which being the impossibility of studying U.S. policy and the Middle East outside the equation of the conflict. Another illusion concerns the nature of U.S.-Israeli-Jewish relations, for several Arab rulers still direct their policies under the impression that the U.S. is a "victim" of Zionism and that the Arabs should save the USA by providing it with all possible assistance."
CHRISTIAN ZIONISM AND AMERICAN PUBLIC OPINION
In the second session held on the evening of June 19, Drs. Michael Suleiman, Fuad Mughrabi and Husni Haddad presented their papers. Dr. Michael Suleiman, professor of political science at Kansas University (Canada), discussed the "American Public Opinion and the Palestinian Question", and defined how American public opinion looks at the Palestinian question in particular and the Arabs in general in the form of the Zionist propaganda and the anti-Arab bias of mass media. The institutions who carry out opinion polls are mostly backed by Zionist interests. They maneuver to create illusionary public opinion stands in support with Israel by providing the people with pro-Israeli information and asking questions in such a way that people's answers are pro-Israeli.
Professor Husni Haddad, professor of religious studies in Illinois, presented his paper about "Christian Zionism in Europe: The Religious Factor in U.S. Middle East Policy." He said that in addition to the Zionist lobby, the pro-Zionist mass media and the Jewish influence on American public opinion, the religious roots of the American position in its stand with Israel have played an important role in influencing the American people. "The cornerstone of Christian support for Israel is the equation of the recent political state of Israel with the Israel mentioned in the Old Testament", Dr. Haddad said.
In the third and fourth sessions of the seminar held on June 20, Dr. Atif Qubresi, professor of Economics at McMaster University, said that U.S. energy policy was made to serve two objectives: (1) Internal economic interests and (2) Political, economic and military objectives. He also discussed the U.S.'s failure to control supply and demand as related to petroleum through OPEC, and attempts to exploit the contradictions between OPEC states, as well as officially-inspired propaganda campaigns against the Arabs and OPEC.
Dr. Samih Farsoun then read Professor A. Nasrawi's study "Energy and U.S. Foreign Policy" and emphasized that large Western oil companies are instruments for implementing this foreign policy. He talked about oil, the influence of oil on the October War 1973, and lastly the supply and demand for energy on the one hand and political economy and its relations with energy on the other.
Dr. Hatem al-Husseini, Head of the PLO Information Office in Washington, then explained the role played by the Zionist lobby in the U.S. in manipulating the mass media and influencing Congressional decisions. Dr. Husseini called for a new strategy in confrontation of the U.S.'s policy by strengthening ties with American progressive forces, the labor movement and leftist parties in the U.S., thus creating a strong political force supporting the PLO in its struggle against U.S. imperialism and Zionism.
REVOLUTIONARY VIOLENCE, U.S.-ISRAELI PARTNERSHIP AND DETENTE
Dr. Mohammed Shadid, professor of political science at Howard University, presented his paper about "Palestinian Revolutionary Violence as a Fact in the U.S. Middle East Policy". The U.S. administrations played an important role in the area in an attempt to curb the mass escalation of the Palestinian revolutionary violence since the 1967 Middle East war. President Nixon ordered U.S. troops in West Germany and the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean to intervene on the side of King Hussein, during the war between the PLO forces and the Jordanian regime and army in September 1970. The U.S. tried to adopt UN resolutions against the national liberation movements on the pretext that they are practicing "terrorism", the term which is usually used by reactionary violent forces.
About the U.S. strategy of bartering during "the Age of negotiations 1969-1979", Dr. Mary Ellen Lundsten, visiting professor at Minnesota University, concluded in her paper that the last U.S. Administration based its foreign policy of negotiations in the Middle East on two schools of diplomacy, the school of the "Domination System" advocated by George Paul and the school of "Anarchy Restoration" advocated by George Liska.
Dr. Elias Shoufani, head of the Zionist and Israeli Affairs Department in the Institute of Palestine Studies in Beirut, discussed his study about the "U.S.-Israeli Relationship" and defined the kind of partnership in the relation between U.S. and Israel. "The Zionist project", he said, "produced the Zionist state which is an incorporated venture between World Zionism and Imperialism, and the size of profits gained by each reflects the nature of this partnership." Since the colonial powers hold the major group of shares, the venture profited them more than the Zionist project, which failed to solve the Jewish problem. The fundamental characteristic of the Zionist project is that it is an imperialist advanced base, more important than a settler colony such as Rhodesia. In this context, we could understand the role of Israel in striking against the national liberation forces everywhere in the Arab World.
Dr. Samih Farsoun, professor of sociology at the University of Washington and President of the AAUG, spoke about the factors which influence U.S. foreign policy: crisis of power, governability crisis, Jewish vote myth, trade union support of Israel, anti-communism, and division in the American Left.
Concerning the détente policy, Dr. Naseer Aruri, professor of political science at Massachusetts University, presented his paper and defined the nature and the essence of the détente, its political, social and economical and mechanisms and its influence upon the current events of the Middle East.
ARAFAT ADDRESSES THE CONCLUDING SESSION OF THE SEMINAR
The seminar on U.S. policy in the Middle East ended its meetings on June 21, when it was addressed for two hours by Yasser Arafat. Arafat began his talk by stressing the importance of the Palestinian front against Israel in Lebanon, which constitutes a solid fortress against the U.S., Israel and the Sadat regime. He said that the steadfastness of this Palestinian fortress is a pre-condition for the steadfastness of the other Arab fronts.
Arafat also underlined the PLO's key role in the establishment of the Confrontation and Steadfastness Front at both the Baghdad Summit and the Baghdad meeting of Foreign Ministers.
The Association of Arab American University Graduates (AAUG) evaluated at a press conference held on June 23 in Beirut the recent seminar on U.S. policy in the Middle East. They confirmed the necessity of concentrating all Arab resources as a basis for dealing with the U.S. position, and criticised all those who believe in the USA's "positive" stands.
At the beginning of the conference, a communique was read by Dr. Samih Farsoun, a professor of Sociology at the American University in Washington D.C., and President of the AAUG. The communique confirmed the AAUG's independence, its commitment to full Arab liberation, its faith in a unified Arab Lebanon, and its support for the Lebanese National Movement's struggle, and all those who stand against fanatic religious groups.
Regarding the results of the Seminar, he said that the USA is adopting two complementary policies: The first is a firm strategic one which has not changed since World War II, and stresses domination over every region of the world; the second is based on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and is the primary means for achieving the first policy. He added that the first policy depends upon international developments and the second on regional developments.
Dr. Farsoun finally added that the weakness and division of the Arab stand cannot succeed in confronting the U.S., despite the fact that the Arab world has the capabilities to do so. This of course leads to further U.S. pressure, culminating in Arab capitulation in the face of Israel obstinacy. He concluded by stressing the limitations on the Arab's potential for putting pressure on the U.S., recalling the latter's abandonment of the U.S.-Soviet communique of 1977 only five days after it was issued, as a result of Zionist pressure.
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Originally published by The Palestine Liberation Organisation Unified Information as a bi-monthly information bulletin with copy permission granted via the notice "Partial or total reproduction is freely permitted by 'Palestine Bulletin'"
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