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Zarnuqa - زرنوقة: Interview with the General Secretary of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine: Dr. Fathi Shikaki

Posted on August 14, 2001

Interview with the General Secretary of the
 Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine: Dr. Fathi Shikaki

No peace until Palestine is free


Dr. Shikaki was born in Gaza in 1951. His family was forced out of Zarnuka, a village near Ramla in 1948, and settled in Gaza. He studied Mathematics at Beir Zeit and Medicine in Egypt. He graduated in 1981 and practiced Medicine in Jerusalem. During his stay in Egypt, the first pioneers of the movement were organized and soon returned to Gaza to establish the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine. He was arrested and subsequently sentenced to one year in 1983, and to three years in 1986 for his political activities. He was the only person deported while still in prison during the intifada in 1988. This conversation took place in Damascus in early December.

Inquiry: Would you tell us how the IJM was established and what are its objectives?

Shikaki: In the mid 70؟s, there was an intensive dialogue among the religious Palestinian youth in Egypt. This dialogue concerned issues on the methodology of change in the Islamic movements, the strategies and position of Palestine in that strategy and many other issues. This ideological debate quickly turned to a political climate that matured into the first nucleus and leadership of the movement. The Islamic Jihad Movement is the manifestation of the kilemma (word) that existed at the time ؟ nationalists who rejected Islam and Islamists with no agenda towards Palestine. The movement considers itself an independent, Islamic, and popular movement with Islam - as its ideology, grassroots popular action and armed struggle ؟ as its means and the liberation of Palestine as its objective.

Inquiry: What؟s your opinion concerning the current peace negotiations, and where would it lead?

Shikaki: The current peace negotiations suffer from a great imbalance in the power between the Israeli side and the Palestinian of Arab sides. Hence, what we see is the fulfillment of the Israeli conditions and not a real negotiating process. We reject a negotiation process, because it legitimizes the occupation of our land and neglects the Palestinians who are without a country or identity. It further reinforces the tyranny of the oppressor and occupier over the oppressed and occupied. As for the prospects of this settlement, I admit that the sweeping global changes have affected the balance of the power regionally in favor of the Israelis and their supporters. However, I think the matter is quite complicated. The Arab and Muslim nations reject these negotiations and they will not accept its results. Our kuty is to continue our struggle until we regain our rights, regardless of the consequences of the peace settlement and despite any treaties.

Inquiry: Does the PLO represent the Palestinian people? And what؟s your assessment of Mr. Yasser Arafat?

Shikaki: We believe that Islam is the ideology that must be adhered to in achieving liberation and independence as well as development and progress. This is what the PLO lacked from the very beginning, although it represents a great nationalist achievement for the Palestinian people as far as addressing their problem in the world is concerned, but it has quickly become part of the Arab and regional formula bound by the Arab system and its limitations. Add to that a great deal of corruption inside the organization that drained its ability to continue the struggle or realize the aspirations of the people. As for Mr. Arafat, I can only say that he is a politician, much more than is required for a politician with a sacred cause. The PLO will represent the Palestinian people only when all major Islamic and nationalist movements are represented in the PLO.

Inquiry: The West looks at the Islamic Movements as fundamentalist and terrorist movements. What do you say about that?

Shikaki: Terrorism is practiced by a state [Israel] that is fully supported by the West. The West supports dictatorial regimes that are tyrannical, oppressive and practice human rights abuses on massive scales. In Algeria and Egypt, for instance, a small part of the Islamic movement was involved in violence against the regimes, but before we accuse them with terrorism, we must stop and ask why? The Algerian people overwhelmingly voted for the Islamic movement in a democratic process. But then the army moved against the democratic process, the West was completely silent if not actively involved behind the scenes. Despite the fact that tens of thousands of Islamists have been arrested and are being held under severe conditions only a small segment used violence against the state sponsored and state-supported violence.

   They accused the Islamists of not believing in democracy or plurality without any proof, while the overwhelming proof is that the regimes supported by the West have no legitimacy, are oppressive and have institutionalized dictatorship.

    I do not know how the Palestinian is described as a terrorist when he screams from his pain and suffering and and is defending his land against Jewish Russian soldiers, who never, neither he nor his fore fathers, set foot in any inch of Palestine. The West؟s attempt to homogenize our countries is the source of all terrorism and chaos. We are calling for peace based on justice, rights and dignity. We must be dealt with as equals and as carriers of a great civilization. Only then will peace prevail in our region and the whole world.

Inquiry: You are presenting an Islamic solution for Palestine; does that exclude the Palestinian Christian freedom fighters?

Shikaki: Absolutely not. The Palestinian Christians are our partners in history and destiny. They lived the same civilization with us and when we call for an Islamic orientation for our struggle we are only calling for an action plan and not a religion or systems of beliefs forced on anyone. We believe in the Quranic Verse: ؟no compulsion in religion.؟ We tell our Christian brothers that Islam as a civilization was the source of our dignity and power and must be the headline of our renewed struggle to regain our land and our dignity. In our movement we accept the participation of our Christian brothers in our struggle without having them change their religious beliefs.

Inquiry: What does the new world order mean to you?

Shikaki: It means the hegemony of the U.S. over the world; a gegemony based on the arrogance of power and not on justice or the interest of the people. The U.S. supports the dictatorial clans in our area, that suppress the freedom of man, because they are their satellites. The Arab oil is used for the welfare of the Western man at the expense of Arab blood and the Arab world؟s future and destiny. This is the new world order that establishes a new regional order based on weakening the Arabs and Muslims and strengthening the Israeli entity.

Inquiry: What؟s the Palestinian State to you? And do you believe in a peaceful co-existence with the Israeli Jews?

Shikaki: Our State is Palestine, known throughout history, and is a part of the Arab and Islamic worlds. As for the Jews, they have lived peacefully with us for centuries; even when they were expelled from Europe we received them with open arms and tolerance. They could live among us freely, but not as a political entity.



Inquiry: What about Jerusalem? What do you propose for that city?

Shikaki: Jerusalem is an Arab and Islamic capital and holy and sacred to Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Everyone should be able to practice their religion and have equal access to the city without any distinction.

 Inquiry: You declare that Palestine is from the river to the sea; is this still your belief in light of the current situation?

Shikaki: We know nothing else; this is our belief and faith. However, we don؟t espouse throwing the Jews in the sea, as they claim. It is they who came from everywhere to throw us in the desert and it is our right to defend ourselves against foreigners.

Inquiry: If you could address the Western world, what would you say?

 Shikaki: I would ask them how they could talk about justice, democracy, and human rights while a methodical process of genocide is taking place for decades against the Palestinian people. The Palestinian tragedy has, and always will stay as the black spot in the conscience of the Western world. We have lived here for thousands of years, and there will be no peace unless Palestine is returned to the Palestinians. I know that it is difficult for them to understand this  fact, because they think that they are the ones who determine the destiny of others. But it is plain fact and I hope they will understand it with a minimum numbers of wars.

 Source: Inqury . January 1993


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the general secretary is a very inteigent man and i desire that him can be a victorious leader in the world. Good look e progress
for the arabian people my brother. Alah will be with you my brother.