Edward Said: Palestine and the Universality of Human Rights
Posted by uscsjp on October 30, 2006
One of Edward Said’s final talks before his death in 2003: “Palestine and the Universality of Human Rights”: (scroll down through the 5th talk on this page; click on “broadcast quality of mp3 version”, parts one and two; also consider making a donation to the producers for providing this free service)
Edward Wadie Said (November 1, 1935 – September 25, 2003; Arabic: إدوارد سعيد) was a well-known Palestinian–American literary theorist, critic, and outspoken Palestinian activist. He was a University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and is regarded as not only a founding figure in post-colonial theory, but also one of the most important public intellectuals of the late twentieth century. . .
As a pro-Palestinian activist, Said campaigned first for a creation of an independent Palestinian state and later for a single Jewish-Arab state. From 1977 until 1991, Said was an independent member of the Palestinian National Council who tended to stay out of factional struggles. He supported the two-state solution and voted for it in Algiers in 1988. He quit the PNC over the decision by Yasser Arafat and the PLO to support Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War, a decision he considered disastrous to the interests of Palestinian refugees living in Arab League member states who supported the American-led coalition. Thereafter, Said became critical of the role of Arafat in the process leading up to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, feeling that the Oslo terms were unacceptable and had been rejected by the Madrid round negotiators. He felt that Oslo would not lead to a truly independent state and was inferior to a plan Arafat had rejected when Said himself presented it to Arafat on behalf of the US government in the late 70’s. In particular, he wrote that Arafat had sold short the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in pre-1967 Israel and ignored the growing presence of Israeli settlements. Said’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority was once so bad that PA leaders banned the sale of his books in August 1995, but improved when he hailed Arafat for rejecting Barak‘s offers at the Camp David 2000 Summit. Ultimately, Said came to prefer and to support the binational solution—the creation of one state in the entirety of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and pre-1967 Israel, in which Arabs and Jews would have equal rights, over a two state solution with a Palestinian state on the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.