Saturday, December 26, 2009

Anis Sayigh: and Israeli history of letter bombs

Anis Sayigh is a most gentle yet fierce individual. This Palestinian (brother of Fayiz Saghigh and Yusuf Sayigh and Tawfiq Sayigh) studied at AUB after the Nakbah and later earned his PhD in Islamic history from Cambridge University. He (like his brothers) was an early supporter of the SSNP, but later left the party. People may not know that one of his earliest books is a critical study of the Lebanese sectarian system (Lubnan At-Ta'ifi): the book has been long out-of-print and I was only able to find a copy of it in the US at Widener Library at Harvard. When I told him that I had a hard time locating the book in the US, he said that it is also hard to locate in the Middle East. He quickly turned his attention to the Palestinian question, and devoted a lifetime for that question. He was very militant--like me--on Palestinian issues and did not believe in compromise with Israel, and would not accept the two-state solutions. He was a rejectionist--and proudly so--regarding the final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. I did not know him over the years, but six years ago, I received a message at my hotel that Anis Sayigh wanted to meet with me. He then visited me at my hotel and then invited me to his house. I was rather surprised at his condition. He can barely see and needs to be held by the hand when walking in the street, and when you shake his hand, you feel that his hand is missing fingers. You see he was instrumental in the work of the Palestine Research Center and ran it tightly like a professional think-tank. The Israeli invading army in 1982, stole all the contents of the center and photocopied them before they returned some of them. But then again: Israeli occupation soldiers steal everything: people in South Lebanon were aghast at the level of theft by Israeli occupation soldiers. They stole candy, cigarettes, money, and food from peasants' houses, but I remember people commenting that they never stole books. Of course, they also specialize in stealing lands from their rightful owners. The reason why Anis Sayigh's fingers are missing and his eyes badly damaged is because the terrorist regime that is Israel engaged in obsessive terrorist campaign of letter bombs especially in the 1970s, including against people like Anis who never held a gun in their lives. On Junly 18, 1972 a Bank employee in Beirut, received a letter bomb that exploded in his face. The very next day, Anis Sayigh who was then director of the Palestine Research Center in Beirut, recived a letter bomb from the Mossad. On October 25th, 1972 Mustafa Zaid was paralyzed in Tripoli, Libya from an Israeli letter bomb. On October 26th, 1972, two employees of another bank in Beirut were seriously wounded by an Israeli letter bomb. The same day, an Egyptian police officer was was injured from Israeli letter bombs. On November 29th, 1972, Omar Sufan, representative of the Red Crescent in Stockholm, lost his finger from an Israeli letter bomb. On the same day, a Palestinian student leader in Germany, Adnan Hammad, was seriously injured from an Israeli letter bomb (notice that they send them to arrive at different targets on the same day, or within a day or two). The very same day, three employees at the Tunis post office sere seriously injured from an Israeli letter bomb. On November 30th, 1972, Ahmad Awadallah, a Palestinian student leader in Denmark, lost his arm to an Israeli letter bomb. And there are tens upon tens of letter bombs that Israel has sent over the years, beginning with the 1940s, when they were sent to British targets. Israel is the natural mother/father of Al-Qa`idah and of all other terrorist groups in the 20th century. And you want me to ever forgive Israel for its crimes to ever accept making peace with that terrorist entity? But...Anis Sayigh survived and continued to work despite his injuries and permanent disabilities. His lifetime project was the Palestinian Encyclopedia but Yasser `Arafat (the worst Palestinian leader, ever and the natural father/mother of Muhammad Dahlan and other collaborators of recent years) obstructed the effort at every level. Sayigh wrote his memoirs two years ago and I wrote about it here and I recommend that you read it (you may look up my review here). His memoirs has quite a bit about his conflict with Arafat. Sayigh invited me to speak to a group of mostly retired Palestinian professionals in Beiurt, and he was interested in thoughts about the future of the Palestinian cause, and the orientations of the US Congress on Palestine. Sayigh never wavered over the years, and he made sure when I met him to express to me his disagreements with the political positions of his newphew, Yazid Sayigh. Like me, Anis Sayigh was very critical of Yasser `Arafat (the man who is not dead enough) and he blamed him for many of the setbacks that afflicted the Palestinian cause in the last few decades. Sayigh is one of those principled Palestinians whose principledness made life more difficult for him. Today, I received the news that Anis Sayigh has died. I kept thinking: no matter how many of us die, there will be new rejectionist Arabs who will devote their lives to the lifetime goal of liberating all of Palestine, from the river to the sea. That is why, Israel's years are numbered no matter how many jets they accumulate and how much they add to their WMD arsenals.