Yousef Munayyer

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Yousef Munayyer (Arabic يوسف منيّر) is a Palestinian American writer and political analyst based in Washington, D.C. Munayyer was born in Lod (Lydda or Al-Lyd), Israel. He is the Executive Director of the The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development and its educational program, the Palestine Center.[1] Munayyer has been a policy analyst with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.[2] He holds both US and Israeli citizenship.

Early life and education[edit]

Munayyer received a BA in Political Science and History from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He also received a 5 College Degree in International Relations from Mt. Holyoke College in 2005.[3] During his time at the University of Massachusetts he served as an editorial editor for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. His MA is from the University of Maryland in Government and Politics and he is completing a PhD at the same institution. His research interests included political repression and ethnic cleansing.[4]

Career[edit]

ADC[edit]

Beginning in 2004, Munayyer worked at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) for five years in various capacities.[4] Upon his departure from the ADC in September 2009, the ADC issued a statement expressing its “heartfelt gratitude and appreciation” to him “for his years of exceptional service to ADC and to the Arab-American community.” ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said, “Yousef has been with ADC for 5 years, first as an intern in the Communications Department. He then industriously worked as a full time employee as a Finance Manager, Communications Director and Policy Analyst.”[5]

Jerusalem Fund[edit]

Munayyer has been Executive Director of the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development and its educational program, the Palestine Center since September 24, 2009.

Established in 1977 “to provide humanitarian relief to the Palestinian people, educate the American public, and showcase Palestinian and Arab culture,”[4] the Jerusalem Fund is a non-profit organization that is based in Washington, D.C., and registered as a 501(c)(3). Its operational expenses are paid for by investment income, and its humanitarian activities are paid for by private donations. It consists of the Palestine Center, an educational program that holds policy briefings, lecture series, conferences, and symposia, issues scholarly publications, and houses an extensive research library; the Humanitarian Link program, which provides grants to hospitals, orphanages, clinics, schools, universities, and civil-society organizations in Palestinian territories and refugee camps; and The Gallery, which displays exhibits about Palestinian and Arab culture, and hosts an annual art competition, a summer film series, musical performances, and art workshops.[6]

The Jerusalem Fund accepts donations in the form of appreciated stock, real estate, and other devices that can help donors avoid capital gains taxes and/or permit them to make tax deductions.[7] In 2011, the Jerusalem Fund received $436,056 in contributions and grants for the fiscal year, $105,930 in program revenue and $62,038 in investment income.[8]

Other professional activities[edit]

He is a frequent contributor to major metropolitan newspapers on the question of Palestine, civil and human rights, and US policy in the Middle East. His writings (see below) have appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, the Miami Herald and many others. He is a regular contributor to Politico.com [9] and has appeared on numerous national and international television and radio programs to discuss the Middle East and Palestine. He has spoken on a number of policy panels and is often invited to speak on the Middle East and Israel/Palestine at Universities and Colleges.[10][11]

He is fluent in Arabic and English.

Political views[edit]

Munayyer has been a consistent critic of the Israeli occupation of Arab territory and its settlement enterprise within them. Munayyer writes "The greatest obstacle in the way of peace today is an infrastructure of apartheid. American policymakers must make clear to the Israelis that this matrix of settlements, walls and checkpoints must change to make the territory for the Palestinians, and a two-state solution, viable. If it is the objective of U.S. policy to let a two-state solution fail, then little has to change." [12]

He has also been a proponent of halting U.S. aid to Israel. He wrote "It is key that both policy-making branches of the US government act together. Both have a variety of tools at their disposal to pressure Israel... an end to unconditional vetoes of UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, the conditioning of military aid and loan guarantees, and calling upon Israel to open up its nuclear weapons program for inspection and sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." [13]

Munayyer also advocates engaging with all Palestinian parties. He wrote "Rather than seeking to bolster the moderates in this conflict, the Obama administration should focus on moderating the extremists. The idea of eliminating Hamas could not be seriously proposed by anyone with any knowledge of domestic Palestinian politics. The notion that Hamas is a primarily militant organization based in Gaza ignores the movement's vast support in the West Bank and elsewhere." [14]

Munayyer has often expressed political opinions on Twitter, writing for example that “It is important for @EU Commission to realize you must boycott the state, not just the settlements, for real progress,”[15] “The BDS beat grows louder as Europe says it will no longer do business with #Israel's settlements,” and “Congress should just create a new designation for #Israel - Major Ass We Kiss - and get it over with already.”

In an op-ed for the San Francisco Gate in July 2008, Munayyer asserted that, in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “the greatest obstacle in the way of peace today is an infrastructure of apartheid. American policymakers must make clear to the Israelis that this matrix of settlements, walls and checkpoints must change to make the territory for the Palestinians, and a two-state solution, viable.”[16]

Noting in an April 2010 Guardian op-ed recent statements by many observers that “'time running out' for a two-state solution,” he observed wryly that “Time has been running out for a two-state solution since the beginning of Israel's colonial enterprise in occupied Palestinian territory in 1967. Yet despite this reality, analyses of the situation continue to repeat this now-meaningless cliche year after year, decade after decade.” He said that there is a “reluctance” in Washington and elsewhere “to draw a line” and to acknowledge that there are three possible “outcomes for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: continued apartheid, ethnic cleansing, or a bi-national state,” the first two being “unconscionable” and the third “not palatable in a staunchly pro-Israel city like Washington.” His conclusion: Palestinians who “live in the apartheid nightmare” must “draw the line,” i.e., “declare a date by which the Israeli occupation had to end and settlements be dismantled,” and if the deadline is not met, start “a broad civil rights movement seeking equal rights in a bi-national state.”[17]

In a June 2010 op-ed for the Christian Science Monitor, Munayyer accused Israeli forces of committing a “massacre” on the Mavi Marmara, dismissed the Israeli claim that some of the “activists” on the ship had terrorist connections, and held up as definitive the widely discredited Goldstone report.[18]

In a letter to the New York Times published on November 6, 2010, Munayyer criticized former President Bill Clinton for “urging the parties” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “to finish Yitzhak Rabin's work,” arguing that “many, like me, whose families were ethnically cleansed from the Palestinian towns of Lydda and Ramla by then Lieutenant Colonel Rabin, know that Israel is today finishing the work Mr. Rabin started in 1948....The fundamental flaw in Mr. Clinton's argument is that simply talking in good faith will lead to a solution. Because of the great power imbalance between Israel and the Palestinians and the failure of American presidents, including Mr. Clinton himself, to press Israel to end its continuing colonization, Israel has been able to easily continue in the spirit of Mr. Rabin's darker, underdiscussed work.[19]

In a December 2010 op-ed headlined “Let’s Get Tough With Israel,” Munayyer argued that “No legitimate Palestinian leader can negotiate with Israel while it continues to colonize Palestinian land” and that the “Obama administration should not expect the Israelis to do anything without pressure, and this pressure -- economic, diplomatic -- has to be real, tangible and biting.”[20]

Munayyer told USA Today in May 2011 that “Israel impeded the right of Palestinians to return to stolen homes and land, and likewise is disrupting reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. But unity advances Palestinian self-determination since Palestinians cannot negotiate, let alone secure independence, divided.... Recognition from the U.N. General Assembly will not end the occupation but it will further isolate Israel in a world that has grown tired of its inhumane treatment of Palestinians. If American officials want to lure the Palestinians from this strategy, they must give them reason to believe an American-led process can work. Consistent American support for Israel... has justifiably convinced them otherwise.”[21]

In a May 2011 article for Foreign Policy, Munayyer recounted what he described as the “long, rich history of nonviolent Palestinian resistance,” which he contrasted with Israeli violence. “If ever there were a moment for Palestinians to overwhelmingly embrace nonviolence,” he added, “that moment is now.” But the US and other Western countries, he concluded, need to condemn Israeli repression and to honor Palestinian peacefulness: “The fact that the nonviolent protest of the Arab Spring has come to Palestine is not a threat. It's a historic opportunity for the West to finally get it right.[22]

After a May 2011 speech by President Obama about the Middle East, Munayyer said it would “fall on deaf ears where it matters most: the Arab world,” because Obama had “shifted blame toward Palestinians while offering no criticism of continued Israeli colonization of Palestinian territory.”[23]

Munayyer wrote to the New York Times in June 2011 protesting an article's characterization of events in Israel in 1948, insisting that “many Palestinians had been expelled or had fled before” May 15, 1948.[24]

Munayyer wrote in a September 2011 op-ed that “the U.S. has consistently acted against its own interests to serve the interest of a right-wing Israeli government. The Palestinians' aspirations have exposed this rather embarrassing American behavior internationally. This has been a way for Palestinians to say to the world: 'You see, this is what we have to deal with when we participate in U.S.-led negotiations.'” He spoke of Israel as “Israel Island,” which he described as “a mentality... that has preferred isolation over cooperation, stubbornness and recalcitrance over genuine concessions and abiding by law, vetoes over pressuring Israel.”[25]

“Despite the lofty rhetoric Obama put forward about freedom and the stance of the United States towards the Arab uprisings,” Munayyer said in September 2011 in reaction to a speech by the U.S. president, “he offered nothing new for Palestinians who continue to languish under a 43-plus year Israeli military occupation.”[26]

Munayyer was criticized for a May 2012 New York Times op-ed in which he complained that because he is an Israeli citizen, he may fly into Ben-Gurion Airport when visiting Israel, but his wife, who has a Palestinian ID, must fly to Amman, Jordan, resulting in “a logistical nightmare that reminds us of our profound inequality before the law at every turn.” Even when both of them fly to Amman, “we are forced to take different bridges, two hours apart, and endure often humiliating waiting and questioning just to cross into Israel and the West Bank.” Recounting the history of Israel and the Palestinians, he lamented that “a Jew from any country can move to Israel, while a Palestinian refugee, with a valid claim to property in Israel, cannot.” He described this as a “nondemocratic reality” and suggested that “a two-state solution... seems fanciful at this point.”[27] In a letter to the Times, the Anti-Defamation League described Munayyer's op-ed as a “convoluted” piece of writing that “misrepresents the societal status of Israeli-Arab citizens, distorts the history of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, and fails to contextualize the unfortunate hardships facing Palestinians within the framework of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”[28]

In a Chicago Tribune op-ed that appeared in the wake of “continued Islamophobia” in August 2012, Munayyer accused U.S. government officials of “peddl[ing] Islamophobia” because “Muslim Americans, a fairly new immigrant group still small in number and not yet cohesively organized, are easy targets” and “for a government that needs to demonstrate its ability to secure the homeland, the targeting of Muslim Americans is a low-risk, high-reward option.”[29]

Munayyer condemned an illustration depicting “Muslim Rage” that appeared on the cover of Newsweek in September 2012, saying that it was “shocking” and would “only feed... this 'clash of civilizations' mentality.”[30]

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen cited Munayyer in March 2013 as an example of a Palestinian supporter of a two-state solution, who, he said, “have become harder to find.” Cohen quoted Munayyer as saying that “Israel is not interested in permitting” and that Palestinians, having lost faith in U.S. mediation, would probably “re-strategize away from a state-based separatist struggle toward a rights-based struggle (already happening)” as “Israeli colonization” had “destroyed the territorial integrity of a would-be state.”[31]

In a May 2013 letter to the Boston Globe, Munayyer applauded scientist Stephen Hawking’s academic boycott of Israel.[32]

In July 2013, Munayyer praised the EU's decision to try to “chang[e] Israel’s colonial behaviour” by prohibiting “funding, cooperation, awarding of scholarships, research funds or prizes to anyone residing in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.” He characterized the EU move as “a slap in the face” to both Israel and the US and a statement that “we will not sit idly by as Palestine is gobbled up by Israel.”[33]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to "a Palestinian from Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank". He met her in Massachusetts when they attended neighbouring colleges. They both live just outside Washington.[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yousef Munayyer Named Palestine Center Executive Director
  2. ^ ADC Thanks, Congratulates Yousef Munayyer
  3. ^ Mt. Holyoke College Degree Listings
  4. ^ a b c "Yousef Munayyer Named Palestine Center Executive Director". The Jerusalem Fund. 
  5. ^ "ADC Thanks, Congratulates Yousef Munayyer". ADC. 
  6. ^ "About Us". Jerusalem Fund. 
  7. ^ "Other Ways to Donate". Jerusalem Fund. 
  8. ^ "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". GuideStar. 
  9. ^ Arena at POLITICO.com
  10. ^ Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
  11. ^ The Juneau Empire
  12. ^ Op-Ed in San Francisco Chronicle
  13. ^ Op-Ed in Boston Globe
  14. ^ Op-Ed in Washington Post
  15. ^ "Boycott the state, not just the settlements". Al Jazeera. 
  16. ^ Munayyer, Yousef (July 31, 2008). "West Bank wall bigger than Berlins". San Francisco Gate. 
  17. ^ Munayyer, Yousef (Apr 27, 2010). "When will time run out for a two-state solution?". The Guardian (London). 
  18. ^ "Israeli raid on flotilla: an intentional message for Gaza and the rest of the world". Christian Science Monitor. 
  19. ^ Munayyer, Yousef (Nov 6, 2010). "Recalling Rabin, and a Mideast Quest". New York Times. 
  20. ^ Munayyer, Yousef (Dec 22, 2010). "Lets Get Tough With Israel". Los Angeles Times. 
  21. ^ "Palestinian quest is no stunt". USA Today. May 18, 2011. 
  22. ^ Munayyer, Yousef (May 18, 2011). "Palestines Hidden History of Non-Violence". ForeignPolicy.com. 
  23. ^ Hall, Mimi; & Richard Wolf (May 20, 2011). "Obama urges renewal of Mideast talks; Endorsement of 1967 borders brings criticism". USA Today. 
  24. ^ Brisbane, Arthur S. (June 11, 2011). "Where Words Can Never Do Justice". New York Times. 
  25. ^ Munayyer, Yousef (Sep 21, 2011). "All alone on Israel Island". Chicago Tribune. 
  26. ^ "Obama casts chill on Palestinian hopes; Daunting domestic politics rule the day". The Toronto Star. Sep 22, 2011. 
  27. ^ Munayyer, Yousef (May 24, 2012). "Not All Israeli Citizens Are Equal". New York Times. 
  28. ^ "ADL Letter to New York Times.com". ADL. 
  29. ^ Munayyer, Yousef (Aug 17, 2012). "Muslims suffer for illusion of security". Chicago Tribune. 
  30. ^ Adams, Guy (Sep 19, 2012). "Newsweek cover accused of mocking Muslims". The Independent (London). 
  31. ^ Cohen, Roger (Feb 28, 2013). "Zero Dark Zero". New York Times. 
  32. ^ Munayyer, Yousef (May 14, 2013). "Support for protest sends signal to Palestinians that they are not alone". Boston Globe. 
  33. ^ Munayyer, Yousef (Jul 17, 2013). "Europe emerges from the peace process dark age". Jerusalem Fund. 
  34. ^ International Herald Tribune, 25th May 2012. "Not all Israeli citizens are equal".