When U.S. roving envoy Alfred Atherton was here last week, he invited a group of Palestinian leaders to meet with him. That same night Nafez Nazzal and his wife Laila had a party.
They had invited several militant mayors from the various Palestinian towns on the West Bank, several Israelis, a few Americans.
During the early evening the Arab mayors decided that they were going to boycott Atherton. So while everyone was drinking arka and eating humus, Nazzal slipped out quietly to the meeting. It wasn't until much later that his guests noticed he was missing and realized where he had gone to.
At the Atherton meeting, only the moderates showed up, nine in all. TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE We said we are not the representatives of the Palestinian people. TEXT OMMITTED FROM SOURCE I got the impression thought that the American government is really serious about solving the problem. It was very pleasing."
Two days later there was a meeting of the Palestinian mayors who had not attended Atherton's meeting, plus counselors, muktars (heads of village (heads of villages) and heads of Arab professional associations, about 100 all together. Nafez Nazzal was there too. He was the only Palestinian who attended both meetings.
The purpose of this meeting was to denounce the Camp David agreements and to demand PLO representation. and it was likely not too far from anyone's thoughts, that in the past year at least two Palestinians suspected of collaborating with the Israelis, had been assassinated by the PLO.
The problem today in Palestine is that there are no representatives of the people. There are no leaders. Those who were leaders are either dead or have left the country. And most of the potential leaders, the bright young people, have also left the country. All of those who claim to represent the people and whom the people support, are not allowed into the country.
If there is potential statesman on the West Bank he is Nafez Nazzal. He seems to have managed the impossible. He is friendly with the pro PLO faction, friendly with the Americans, friendly with the Journalists and, most importantly, friendly with the Israelis.
Partly this is because of his outgoing personality.He is open and friendly and has a good sense of humor. Partly it is because of his age. At 37, he is part of a new generation of Palestinians. He was educated at the University of New York at Albandy and got his Ph.D. at Georgetown University. And Nazzal is not afriad.
Most importantly, however, Nafez Nazzal is one of the few bright young men around on the West Bank. Moft of them with good educations and money have left, unable to accept living under Israeli occupation, unable to tolerate what they feel is harassment and discrimination.
Nafez Nazzal has had his moments of despair and even now he sometimes considers leaving Palestine, going back to the United States to work and study until the situation becomes more livable.
Until then be teaches at Bir Zeit University as an associate professor of Middle Eastern studies.
Bir Zeit, in the hills above Ramallah is the university in Palestine, and the only one where all of the instruction and reading is in English. It is coed and the most intelligent. the most ambitious young Palestians come to study.
"The Israelis," says Nazzal, laughing, "see Bir Zeit as a hotbed of activism and anti-Israeli propaganda. Of course we're not spreading propaganda. We simply wish to end the occupation. But they know these are smart kids. Eventually they are the leaders."
Nazzal sits in his office, a cubicle off a stone courtyard in the middle of the campus, a series of stone houses connected together by archways in what was once a girls convent school in this tiny Palestinian village. Students wander past in blue jeans, laughing and talking, past the walls with graffiti - PLO is our representative," "Down with the occupation," and "Freedom fight is the answer."
As the sun begins to fade in the late afternoon the Muezzin (Arab call to prayer) sounds throughout the campus, accentuating the rather peaceful atmosphere.
"At times," claims Nazzal," "the military government sends troops here when we have assemblies. Once they stormed the dormitory and attacked several students, other times they will select at random a student and accuse him of writing slogans on the wall, and make him clean it off."
A young student walks by carrying his books, looks in and waves at Nazzal. "See him," says Nazzal, "he was once picked up and beaten by the police without charges. I saw him. He was very badly beaten. But you must understand, 60 percent of our students have either been in jail, visited by the police, or interrogated. It's becoming part of their education. In fact," and this amuses him, "we are thinking of creating a formal prison program where those in jail can continue their education for credit. Right now there are students studying at Bir Zeit University who have been sentenced to 100 years in jail."
There is a bulletin board at the reception desk of the university which Nazzal says everyone looks at first thing before classes to see who has been arrested, deported, interrogated. One morning recently, he says, they came in to find that the president of the university had been deported. He now runs the university from Amman.
Nazzal can't help laughing as he tells these stories and he apologizes, saying that it is so absurd it is funny.
"This year," he says, "they harassed us by denying faculty permission for those non-citizens to stay; they even held up our orders for trays for the cafeteria for five months. Last year they even threatened to deport me because I talked too much."
It is time for his class and he leads the way. "You know I'm really not interested in talking about what the Israelis are doing to us. It is expected with occupiers, no matter who they are."
The subject of his lecture this day is "The Jewish Relationship with Palestine." He tells the class he wants to correct a misconception, that the Israelis are the original inhabitants of Palestine. The original inhabitants were the Philistines, where the name Palestine comes from. The Israelis came here as invaders.
"Even when the Israelis were here," he tells them "the Philistines remained in the coastal area. That they say they have claim to this land is wrong. They have a claim but not to dismiss all of us. They say Judea and Samaria (the West Bak) is theirs. If they insist on having the West Bank because it belonged to them, they can take it. We will take the coastal area. We can make a deal now, HUH?"
The class laughs and claps the students murmuring their approval as they scribble notes.
Nafez Nazzal lives in an attractive house in Ramallah down the road from his wife's family. His wife Laila, is a beautiful, exotic redhead, 26 years old, who studies at the University of Tennesse in Knoxville where there is a large Arab community. Her father and grandfather, like so many Palestinians from Ramallah, went to the United States to work in the grocery business make money and return home to build enormous houses. Both are American citizens as are Laila and Nafez - he not by choice but by necessity. She is a citizen because of her father. Nafez became a citizen because he was out of the country studying during the 1967 War and was denied reentry. He was forced to remain in the states to become a citizen in order to get back to Palestine. She, meanwhile, lost her Israeli identity card when she left to study. Now the two of them are here on right-to-work tourist visas. Which must be renewed at the whim of the Israeli government each year.
This makes us feel very insecure, very unstable, especially since we just had a bady, says Laila.
Still the two have many Israeli friends and socialize quite a bit. They entertain often, Laila is a good cook, and they are one of the few Arab couples who dare mix Israelis and Palestinians.
"I have many Israeli friends," says Nazzal. "We meet, we do not agree, we agree, we talk about it all the time. It is the only thing we talk about. We both find out we don't know much about each other. I find it useful."
When Nafez Nazzal was younger, before The 1967, War he says, he knew very little about the Israelis because of the barricades between the West Bank and Israel.
"The tragedy is that I didn't know very much about Israeli society" he says. I saw pictures in books. Over the wall of the Damascus gate I was cars and people walking around. But our government boycotted information in the history books. There was nothing on Israeli society, their motivations, their outlook on life.
"All we knew about them is that they wanted to take all the Middle East from the Tigris to the Euphrates."
Now, says Nazzal. "We are assimilated. And it's positive in one sense because we can discover that misleading things about each other are not true. But it's not really assimilations.
"Three blocks from the Jaffa gate in the old city you can feel it. You can feel a relationship based on might and fear."
He disapproves of those who don't try to get to know the Israelis, though he admits that 'most people don't make an attempt to know them. I am constantly reminded by my friends that these are our enemies. They know that I have many Israeli friends and they complain about it. When I am in trouble they stress this. Last year, when I was going to be deported, they all said, "Well, where are your Israeli friends now?'"
In fact, says Nazzal, his Israeli friends were there."They would call and ask if I needed anything. Some of them contacted members of the government." And finally he was not deported.
Nafez Nazzal has always been a maverick, though, always defied the traditions. He has, for instance, a very modern marriage with Alaila. They take turns caring for the baby. She teaches sociology at Bir Zeit in the mornings, he in the afternoon. He helps serve dinner to guests. He helps with the housework.
"When we first moved into the neighborhood and I hung out the wash all the women gathered around and giggled while they watched me. Once a young girl saw me sweeping, grabbed the broom from me and began doing it herself, saying that it was women work's work."
But now, he says, they have come around to his position. "Now they say to my wife, 'Oh, how lucky you are, see how he helps you.'"
For Nafez Nazzal that is a good sign. Because he is not going to change his open-minded ways. And he simply expects that others around him, both Arabs and Israelis, will see the wisdom of it finally.
"I feel totally attached to this society," he says. "But the way I think is not like everybody else."
The Palestinians call him "proconsul."
Anwar Khatib is white-haired and dignified, a handsome man in his late 60s. He is the government of Jerusalem.
"De jure or de facto," he says. "Legally speaking I am. In fact, I am not."
He was appointed governor of Jerusalem by King Hussein in 1966. He is still on the Jordanian payroll, still has a beautiful apartment and a car provided by the Jordanian government. In fact all those who were in the Jordanian civil service before the 1967 War, still get promotions and raises.
Before being governor he was the first mayor of Arab Jerusalem. In 1948, he was elected as a member if parliament from Jerusalem, and he was the Jordanian ambassador to Cario when Nasser was in power.
There was a time when he was the most powerful man in Jerusalem, probably all of Palestine. Now he is merely a conduit for Hussein's instructions.
Now he goes to his old law offices every day for a few hours only. "I go at 9 in the morning. I am home by 12. Then I do not leave the apartment again until the next morning.
"I am completely isolated. I go to my office to meet my friends. Occasionally I go to Amman. Anyone who wants favors from the king. I try to help them. I spend my days doing things like trying to stop the Arabs from selling land to the Jews. You know there are cooperators in every country."
He sits in the quiet dusk of his empty apartment. On his shelf is a picture of him embracing King Hussein. He apologizes for wearing slippers and just a simple shirt. He has just had a map. He apologizes for being alone. "My wife and daughter are in Amman. I have no one to serve you." He apologizes for his quiet life. "You are the first person who has rung my doorbell in months.
He says he never cooperates with the Israelis. He never asks them for favors. "If I ask, they will do a favor for me," he says. But then they will ask me double. So I prefer to be treated like any of my people. Sometimes they ask me to help stop demonstrations and strikes. Why should I?"
Sometimes, he says, he is asked to go see an Israeli leader. "I go when I'm asked. To see Dayan or Peres, Begin I never go see. I don't like his face. He has no manners. Dayan changes his conscience like he changes his shirt.
Once I had a meeting set up with Weizmann. But they changed it to Dayan at the last minute. The Israelis don't want Weizmann to meet with the Arabs. And Golda, she did a lot of harm here. She's the one who said 'Palestinians are the dust of nations."
He gets up without saying anything, wanders into the kitchen, brings back a bowl of grapes.
"I cannot bear not to offer you anything," he says. He sinks dejectedly back into his chair and rubs his eyes with his hands.
"I'm a sick man," he says. "Living under a depression is not easy. When I see the Israeli flag I become sick. You can't coexist with those people. You definitely can't. They are different. They are coming back here to tell us 'This is not your land, this is our land. Get out of here.' I don't mix with them by the way. I don't see them. The more we mix with them the more we see they have no manners.
"Ahhhhh, but," he says, raising his eyes toward heaven and gesturing with his arms, sarcasm coating his words like thick syrup, "These are the Chosen People. This is The Promised Land.
"How," he asks helplessly, "how can you argue with that?"