Diana Buttu–A Palestinian Negotiator

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Diana Buttu spoke last March, but your reporter is only writing it up the second week of September because of the urgency of the upcoming bid for Palestinian Statehood at the U.N. (United Nations) in New York City (N.Y.C.) soon.

Diana Buttu is a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and a former spokeswoman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). She is best known for her work as a legal adviser and a negotiator in the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Dr. Buttu was born in Canada to Palestinian parents. She received her B.A. in Middle East and Islamic Studies, an LL.M. from the University of Toronto, a JD from Queen’s University Faculty of Law, a J.S.M. from Stanford Law School and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.

Diana was born and raised in Canada yet her parents were Palestinian citizens of Israel. Still, they hardly ever discussed their Palestinian identity at home, for the prejudices and injustices against them in the Zionist sphere forced them to exit their natal territory. They moved out of the Middle East to protect their children from the disrespect and the day-to-day bodily dangers there.

She only returned as a visitor in 1987 — shortly before the outbreak of the Second Intifada — and “Seeing the images, and asking people about them created this personal awakening,” within me. She explains. “I realized I was Palestinian and a part of this big nation.” She, then, accepted a position with the Negotiations Support Unit (N.S.U.) – the only female advisor to the Palestinian Authority (PA) — of the Muslim-dominated but bi-sectarian PLO. She found her work to be “…like negotiating with a gun to your head; where the people under occupation have to negotiate their own release!” Thus, the power over the weak became such that everything that Ramallah was willing to concede to their Jewish counterparts, was never acceptable to the latter. Further, the U.S. refused to recognize that transposing a populace out of their birthright illegally is illegitimate.

Buttu, finally, decided to explain the Palestinian story to the media. This aspect of her service angered her Israeli supporters, and cost her the NSU job. She has, also, lived in Gaza City testifying to the lack of drinkable water and electricity for the Strip to even fulfill its basic humanitarian needs.

Ms. Buttu, Esq. considers herself to be an unremarkable woman (Sic!); the only thing in which she considers to have partially failed is the negotiations in which she took part. As her introduction from Barbara Lubin the director of the sponsor, The Middle Eastern Children’s Association (or MECA), of the event stated that she is a real woman fighting against (real) repression. Why the PLO achieved legitimacy seventeen years ago and is now going for full international recognition at this moment at the U.N. headquarters on the Hudson is similar to the current unfolding events of the Arab “Spring.” At the same time, curiously, Palestina began that “Spring!”

In the (former Mandate/Province of) Palestine, the Levant was a tri-sectarian majority-Arab nationality. After the Partition (1948), European Settler Colonialism influenced one religio-ethnic group, an ad hoc pseudo-nationality, to supplant the primordial nationality from its territory.

Israelis have been dividing Arabic territory within the Biblical State in order to dominate Palestine. Israel also attempted to divide the continental European powers by inaccurately describing herself as a negotiator. There are benefits with negotiation, and that is diplomatic recognition; and therefore international rehabilitation, and more US cash.

During this period the Settlers multiplied; filling the valleys of Palestine with an alien people. Israel’s initial goal for negotiations was to legitimize herself in the eyes of the world — while displacing a place’s people. A Bantuization, a South African word that alludes to the separation of peoples during the Apartheid period, within the Holy Land developed. The Palestinians lost their identification of themselves and by others of being a distinct people since the 1948 end of the (already defunct) League of Nations’ Mandate.

The current upheavals in North Africa and West Asia are tsunamis, revolts against the division of the greater Arab nation after the two World Wars into subsequent lesser nation-states. This Revolt began in Palestine, she argues. Buttu believes negotiations will continue to discourage a substantial withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. Thus, the West Bank and Gaza will continue to endure Bantu-like cantonments.

Through its facade of false talks, the Israelis have reversed their strategy of “…carrots instead of sticks” whenever possible. Henceforth, “…we Palestinians must be the ones employing the sticks!” We (the PA and our civil society and the progressive international communes) must not be shy about boycotts (against the Zionist State) to convince the centrist Israeli of the international disapproval of their government.

At the time of her speech in this city (above), the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed a law to criminalize anyone advocating a boycott. This must be reversed! The international criminal renegade that the Hebrew State has become through her own government must be reversed by her own people and International People of Conscious for the sake of self-agency for the Palestinian entity itself!

Her (Buttu’s) Grandmother returned to Palestine (by then Israel), and latter informed her dear young daughter in Canada, “I had to liberate Palestine on my own!”


Palestine Children’s Relief Fund Banquet Fundraiser

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The Southern California chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) held its annual “Healing Hands” banquet/fundraiser this past weekend at the Hilton Anaheim in Anaheim, Ca. Internationally known and acclaimed Canadian-Palestinian attorney, Diana Buttu, was the keynote speaker.

During her address Ms Buttu exposed the fallacy of the so-called Peace Process. The 1993 Oslo Peace accords were a ploy by Israel which gave the Palestinians nothing and permitted Israel to triple its illegal settlements in the West Bank and in Arab East Jerusalem.

While the Palestinians suffer under the continued yoke of occupation, Israel, using the illusion of a peace process, has tricked 34 other nations into establishing diplomatic and economic relations leading to considerable economic benefit to Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), the successor to the pre-Oslo Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has become Israel’s surrogate, subcontracting for Israel in imposing the occupation and doing Israel’s all around dirty work. This has often been called “outsourcing the occupation.”

Ms Buttu said that there were advantages and disadvantages to submitting an application for statehood to the United Nations. For example, of course it would bring renewed attention on an international scale to the suffering of the Palestinian people. But she asked her audience to consider as a considerable disadvantage the wording of President Mahmoud Abbas’ application in which he used the tern “Jewish State”. Is this de facto recognition?

Ms Buttu suggested the following remedies: We need to demand better representation; we need to demand democratic representation so that our leaders are not tools of the occupation and represent the will of the people. Useless negotiations should be replaced with world wide boycott and divestment of Israel.

Ms Buttu is a Fellow at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. She currently resides in Palestine and served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team. In 2004 she was part of a legal team that successfully challenged Israel’s Apartheid Wall before the International Court of Justice. She holds degrees from the University of Toronto, Queens University, Stanford University and Northwestern.

Ms Buttu has appeared on television news shows and is valued for her knowledge, experience and sense of fair play.

Nurse Asma Taha of Loma Linda University Hospital received the Huda Sosebee award for her humanitarian work. She has made numerous trips to the Middle East with the PCRF and has supported the PCRF in the United States.

Huda Sosebee, the late wife of PCRF CEO Steve Sosebee, was the lead social worker for the PCRF and one of its leading humanitarians during her all too brief life. She was known as the “heart” of the organization.

The Southern California chapter’s  leader, Lily Karam, spoke movingly of the children who have been helped and of the need to continue PCRF’s work.

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund is an internationally known and acclaimed children’s charity, specializing in the Middle East. PCRF is perhaps best known for its medical missions which send teams of doctors and associated medical personnel to countries in the Middle East to treat needy children there. The teams also train Middle Eastern doctors on site.

If a child cannot be adequately treated in his or her home site, the child is transported, at no cost to the parents, to a country where optimum medical care is available.

PCRF announced at last year’s banquet that it would enter the field of pediatric oncology. Plans are progressing in that arena.

PCRF also runs summer camps; has a Woman’s Empowerment Project; has distributed eyeglasses and wheelchairs to children, and does emergency relief.

The accomplishments and projects of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, of which the foregoing is but a brief part, can be found at their web site: <www.pcrf.net.>  The web site also has provisions for making donations.