We Want to Rebuild a Nation Based on the Japanese Model
An Interview with the Palestinian Ambassador to Japan, Waleed A. Siam

What is the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Liberty staff member met with the Palestinian Ambassador to Japan, Waleed A. Siam, to gather his thoughts on the conflict in the Middle East, which Western media outlets have relatively ignored.

Interviewer: Hanako Cho


The Palestinians and Israelis recently entered into a cease fire to end a conflict that has been ongoing since July. What are your views on the relationship at the moment?

Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, has been trying to justify the killing of over 2,300 civilians, but he shouldn’t be allowed to put the blame on us. This was his complete, bloody destruction of the country. He hit United Nation buildings, and even bombarded our graves.
The Prime Minister said he was defending himself, but you should not defend yourself when you are militarily occupying someone else’s land. If I were to come into my office, and you were to beat me up, that wouldn’t be an act of self-defense on your part. It’s the same with this military occupation.
As for President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech, he was talking as a President under occupation, and telling the world that this has to stop – the killing has to stop. Israel has occupied Palestine since 1967.
One thing that’s very important, don’t equate Israel with Palestine. Israel is one of the top 10 military powers in the world. Israel is also amongst the world’s top 10 weapons exporters. Also, Israel is considered one of the eight countries with nuclear weapons. You can’t compare it with Palestine, a country with no army, no air force, no navy, no airport, no port, no borders, nothing.
Gaza is occupied. The borders have walls, the Israeli army guards them, and Israel controls the airspace and seas, which means 1.8 million civilians live inside of a jail.

The West Bank is also enclosed by walls, and illegal Israeli settlements have surrounded it. The settlers have been people from Russia, the United States, and Eastern Europe, who have come to live on a land that is ours – not theirs.
Of the 78% of the land that belongs to Israel, over 40% of it is empty, but they want to come and take our land. What kind of peace can I talk about? After negotiating with the Israelis for over twenty years, since 1993, nothing has been accomplished. In fact, every year the situation gets worse.
Every year Palestinians lose more land; every year more people die; every year there is more destruction. I believe Netanyahu’s speech was disingenuous talk from a man who does not want peace.
One other thing is important to mention; it’s called the Arab Peace Initiative. In 2002, all Arab and Islamic countries proposed the Arab Peace Initiative. It included countries like Iraq, Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia. All of the Islamic countries from around the world, the Arab world, said that if Israel withdrew from the 1967 borders, and if Israel complied with the United Nation Resolutions, then all of the Islamic countries, the Arab world, would sign a peace treaty with Israel.

But Israel didn’t want to.

The Zionist Movement, which Netanyahu has been a part of, doesn’t want Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories. It members believe in what they call ‘Greater Israel’.


What are your views on Hamas?

You have to understand Hamas consists of 15,000 people. The Israeli military is 1.5 million strong. Hamas doesn’t have F-16s, F-35s, and tanks. It doesn’t have any of those things.
Hamas cannot destroy Israel. Hamas views Israel as its enemy because, for example, the Minister of Defense of Israel has said, “Gaza should be wiped clean with bombs.”

Israel even released propaganda that Hamas used children as shields. A BBC correspondent, who was in Gaza at that time, went on TV in front of everybody and said that there was no proof, and that he never saw any child used as a shield. It was propaganda.
What you’ve heard on TV is completely different from what has actually happened in Gaza and the West Bank.
WW2 destroyed Japan, and it was the only country hit by two atomic bombs. Japan was occupied by the Americans, the allies, and some Russians. Japan had two options. One was to fight the Americans, street-to-street, building-to-building over what was left of Tokyo or what was left of Japan. The other option, which Japan had, was to say, “Let’s rebuild Japan.”
And the Japanese rebuilt Japan, they beat their occupiers. The Japanese have almost caught up to the Americans economically now.
In Palestine, we have to do the same thing. Let’s rebuild Palestine! Let’s beat the Israelis at their own game. Palestine has better workers and better educated people. They can build better factories, academics, researchers, everything, but the Israelis won’t allow them to do it.


How do you think Japan can help?

Please aid the economic development of Palestine. create jobs, long term jobs, and support the private sector on a small or medium basis.
Japan must internationally recognize the State of Palestine according to its 1967 borders, which United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 addressed. If big countries like Japan, Britain, France, and others don’t recognize the Palestinian State, Israel can do whatever it wants, which will allow for its continued occupation.


Is it possible for monotheistic religions to coexist?

Do you think God sent Muhammad, Moses, and Jesus Christ to kill each other? Of course, he did not. We are all creations of God, and nobody is better in front of God. We are all his chosen people. I wish my ancestors were anything, but Canaanian, so I could be living in peace, but… maybe it’s a blessing, because it has taught me a lot in life – to be resilient, and never to give up hope.

We Want to Rebuild a Nation Based on the Japanese Model
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