with the General Secretary of the
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine: Dr. Fathi Shikaki
peace until Palestine is free
Would you tell us how the IJM was established and what are its objectives?
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.
your opinion concerning the current peace negotiations, and where would it
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.
Does the PLO represent the Palestinian people? And what؟s your assessment of
Mr. Yasser Arafat?
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.
The West looks at the Islamic Movements as fundamentalist and terrorist
movements. What do you say about that?
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
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
You are presenting an Islamic solution for Palestine; does that exclude the
Palestinian Christian freedom fighters?
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.
the new world order mean to you?
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.
What؟s the Palestinian State to you? And do you believe in a peaceful
co-existence with the Israeli Jews?
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.
Jerusalem? What do you propose for that city?
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.
that Palestine is from the river to the sea; is this still your belief in
light of the current situation?
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
If you could
address the Western world, what would you say?
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.
Inqury . January 1993