The participation of Arab officials and institutions at a major Israeli security conference has drawn staunch criticism from Palestinian and human rights activists.
The annual Herzliya conference, which includes high-profile guest speakers focusing on Israel’s major security challenges, invited a number of key Arab speakers, including Jordan’s Prince el Hassan bin Talal and senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat.
Omar Barghouti of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel slammed Arab involvement at the conference as “an act of complicity in the promotion of Israeli occupation and apartheid.”
The conference, which is being held for the 12th year, aims at enhancing Israel’s national security through developing the country’s military and intelligence fields.
“The participation of any Arab speaker…[is] a move that undermines our struggle for freedom and our right to return and self-determination,” Barghouti said.
The conference is being held under the name of “In the Eye of the Storm: Israel and the Middle East” and will be attended by Israeli and international speakers as well as several Arab political, business and academic figures.
Some of the most prominent participants also include Salman Shaikh, Director of the Brookings Doha Center, and Riad al-Khouri, a member of the International Council of Quest-scope in Amman as well as others.
“The Palestinian civil society calls on all Arab participants to immediately withdraw from the Herzliya conference and respect the demands of the majority of the Palestinians who fully support the BDS campaign,” Barghouti added.
Herzliya’s website listed Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) chief negotiator, as a speaker at the conference, but an official source told al-Akhbar that he was never invited to the conference and therefore will not be attending it.
The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official was the only member of the PLO to be invited to the Israeli conference, but declined the invitation.
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Embassy in Lebanon – who also wished to remain anonymous – declined to confirm who of the PLO was invited and would attend.
However, sources in Ramallah told Barghouti that Erekat had been invited to the conference, but withdrew following pressure from the Palestinian civil society.
“If true, this would crucially deny other Arab participants their Palestinian excuse,” Barghouti said.
“We hope that all Arab – and international – participants will withdraw from this shameful conference. Raising awareness about this form of Arab complicity is a key goal of our campaign.”
BDS campaigners aim to increase Israel’s international isolation and raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians suffering under Israeli military occupation.
“Our campaign for a boycott of the Herzliya conference is based on this meeting’s singular importance in building Israel’s strategy, especially in the security and military fields, to enhance its oppressive system of settler-colonialism, occupation and apartheid,” he explained.
Barghouti said Israel is “keen to display” the Arab officials and figures at the conference since it “boosts its propaganda efforts and cover up its increasingly isolated regime.”
The BDS activist also condemned the participation of the Brookings Doha Center, whose director is participating in the event despite the institution working to cement itself in the Arab world.
An “academic endeavor should never justify complicity in covering up grave violations of human rights and international law,” Barghouti said.
“At a time when BDS is achieving spectacular successes and turning Israel into a world pariah, these Arab participants are knowingly colluding in Israeli propaganda efforts, siding with the wrong side of history.”
Salman Shaikh of the Brookings Doha Center failed to respond to an interview request before this story was published.
Arabs declared as participants in the Herzliya Conference:
1. Prince al-Hassan Bin Talal
: the Regent of Jordan since 1965 until his discharge on the 25th of January, 1999, and the youngest son of King Talal and Queen Zein ash-Sharaf. Western institutes describe him as “an outstanding Arab economist and intellect” as he is actively involved in international forums and conferences for economy and intellect, which twin with the Western ideology. He is making a direct speech via video-link in the opening of “the Herzliya Conference”.
2. Dr. Saeb Erekat: Chief Palestinian Negotiator for “the Process of Settlement” with the Zionist entity since 1996 and senior member of the Palestinian-”Israeli” negotiations, which accomplished “the Oslo Accords” in 1993. On the 12th of February, 2011, he made his resignation to the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas after “the Process of Settlement” had reached a dead end. Seldom has Erekat missed membership in the negotiations of Palestinian delegations with the representatives of the “Israeli” Occupation. In the Conference he is addressing the recent developments of the Palestinian-”Israeli” relations entitled:
“NO PEACE, NO PROCESS: “ISRAEL”-PALESTINIAN RELATIONSHIPS”
3. Riad el-Khouri
: Jordanian economist “specialized” in Middle East and Africa affairs; previously participated in “the Herzliya Conference”; a former member of “the Carnegie Middle East Center”; a professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Lebanese-American University (LAU); consultant for the European Commission, the World Bank, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the US Aid Program (USAID); member of the International Council of “Questscope” in Amman, Jordan, a British organization involved in “changing and merging” communities. El-Khouri is lecturing on these topics:
“SHORT-TERM SCENARIOS FOR THE MIDDLE EAST”
“THE RISE OF POLITICAL ISLAM ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST: ARAB SPRING OR ISLAMIST WINTER?”
4. Salman Sheikh
: a Qatari researcher; Director of “the Brookings Doha Center” and Fellow at the corresponding “Saban Center for Middle East Policy”. Sheikh’s researches involve “settlement” issues and “solutions” for the Middle East struggle. Among his researches is “A Chance for Hamas to Seek Friends outside Damascus”. He has held several earlier positions, including: the Personal Representative of the Secretary General for Lebanon; the UN the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on the Middle East; the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East “Peace Process”; and “the Director for Policy and Research at the office of Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser el-Missned”. Currently he is the Special Representative to the European “Muslim West Facts Project”; he is also “the Counselor of Oxford Research Group for Middle East Affairs”. Sheikh is lecturing on:
“THE RISE OF POLITICAL ISLAM ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST: ARAB SPRING OR ISLMAIST WINTER?”
5. Tony Badran
: Lebanese-American Research Fellow at “the Foundation for Defense of Democracies” (FDD) in Washington DC, which is sponsored by the “Israeli” Lobby and the Neo-Conservatives of the US; whereby he is specialized in the Lebanese and Syrian political affairs. He is known for his extremism and discrimination against Arabs; yet, he is in contact with the Lebanese “Future Party” (of “the March 14 Alliance”) and has been considered to be “the foreign secretary of the Future Party” for many US lobbies. Previously he joined “the Lebanese Forces”, and he has actually acknowledged this when interviewed by several US media, including “Fox News”; whereby he bragged about taking part in the perpetration of “the Sabra and Shatila Massacre” against the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (in 1982). Actually, even some “Israeli” associations refrain from inviting him to their conferences as he has called for killing Muslims – even American Muslims. Badran is lecturing on:
“POST ASSAD: WHAT NEXT FOR SYRIA AND LEBANON?”
6. Sherif el-Diwany
: an Egyptian economist and Director of “al-Marsad Incorporation”. He has held the position of the Director of “the Middle East and North Africa for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos”, the policies of which are quite known. Though el-Diwany has no publicity or post in Egypt, he’s going to lecture on:
“THE SHIFTING BALANCE OF POWER: SAUDI ARABIA, IRAN, EGYPT, AND TURKEY IN THE MIDDLE EAST”
“MIDDLE EAST 2020: SCENARIOS FOR THE COMING DECADE”.
7. Advocate Basha’er Fahoum Jayoussi
: a Palestinian of the lands occupied in 1948, one of the founders and the Chairwoman of “the Jewish-Arab Center” at the University of Haifa, which concentrates on “merging Arabs with the “Israeli” community” and establishing “common actualities” between Jewish and Arab students; whereby the Center offers awards and scholarships to students doing researches on the issue of “common Arab-Jewish livelihood”, as well as to students reinforcing this “common livelihood” in appreciation for their “social activity”. Most of Jayoussi’s activities focus on the normalization between Palestine and “Israel”. She is lecturing on:
“GOVERNING “ISRAEL’S” ECONOMY: SOCIAL JUSTICE VS CAPITALISM”
8. Nahed Khazem: Mayor of the Shafa Amr (Shfaram) Municipality in the Western al-Jalil (Galilee) in the north of occupied Palestine; is well known for his cooperation and good terms with the Zionist-government ministers, particularly with the Culture Minister Gideon Saer. Khazem also participates in merging Arabs with “the “Israeli” community” in the Galilee Region. He is lecturing on:
“GALILEE: SETTING PRIORITIES FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT”
Here are epitomes of the prominent Arab attendees of “the Herzliya Conference”:
1. Muhammad Darawshe
: a Palestinian of the lands occupied in 1948; Fellow Member at “the Abraham Fund”, an “Israeli” foundation; has held the position of the Foreign Affairs Director of “the Abraham Fund Initiatives” since 1996, of which he and Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu have been the Co-Executive Directors since 2004. The foundation actually aims at eliminating the Arab presence in occupied Palestine; claiming the conduct of a “Merging and Equality Policy” targeting the Jews and Arabs in occupied Palestine. For more than twenty years, Darawshe has been significantly involved in the field of “Jewish-Arab co-existence”.
2. Masad Barhoum
: a Palestinian of the lands occupied in 1948; the M.D. Director General of “the Nahariya Governmental Hospital” in Western al-Jalil (Galilee). Barhoum is known for his activity and cooperation with the “Histadrut” (“the “Israeli” General Federation of Laborers”), as well as his outstanding relations with the consecutive governments of the Zionist entity, particularly with the Zionist health ministers.
3. Ayman Seif
: the Director of “the Center for the Development of the Arab Minority” at the office of the Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 1996 through 2008, he was in charge of “the “Israeli” Financial Committee” of the Prime Ministry, an economist at the Economy and Planning Ministry, and a member of “the Governmental Committee” in charge of securing the backgrounds of Arabs, claiming “Convenient Representation of Arab Scholars at Governmental Centers” as a policy; also a member of “the Special Committee for Promoting Work Opportunities and Initiatives in the Arab Mainstream”.
4. Dr. Khaled Abu Asbah
: a Palestinian of the lands occupied in 1948; the Director of “the Massar Institute for Research, Planning, and Educational Counseling”; a Sociology-Department Lecturer at the Zionist “Beit Berl Academic College” in “the Third Sector” in occupied Palestine. He received his Sociology and Anthropology PhD from “the Bar Ilan University” in occupied Palestine. His dissertation addressed “Family and School Perceptions: Indicators for Arab-”Israeli” Students’ Involvement in Violence”. Abu Asbah is a pioneer as to merging Palestinians with the Zionist entity; whereby he is in charge of “the Strategy for the Advancement of Arab-”Israeli” Citizens in “Israel”", a project regarding which he has made studies at “the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute”.
Source: Al Intiqad Online Newspaper, Translated and Edited by moqawama.org