Model Role Details

Fouad Atieh

Sector : Business , Businessmen

Personal Info

  • Country of residence : United States
  • Gender : Male
  • Age : 0
  • Curriculum vitae :


Faud Ateyeh is a businessman and the head of the Palestinian American Congress, a U.S. organization that lobbies congress and educates people about Palestinian issues. When people walk into Fuad Ateyeh's store on Valencia Street, they usually do not realize how prominent Ateyeh is among Palestinian Americans.
Only avid followers of Middle East politics recognize Ateyeh -- a fact that may change after this weekend, when world attention is focused on President Clinton's historic visit to the West Bank and Gaza. Ateyeh will be there with Clinton, one of eight Arab Americans invited by the White House to meet Clinton in Jerusalem tomorrow and accompany him to Gaza. It's in Gaza on Monday that Clinton will address the Palestinian National Council, the Palestinian Liberation Organization's decision- making body that Ateyeh belongs to. Ateyeh is both excited and nervous.
"It's a moment of history," he said, "that is very strange."
The "strangeness" stems from Ateyeh's mixed emotions about peace with Israel. Raised in the West Bank refugee camp of Kalandia, where he says he and other Palestinians faced harassment daily and were detained en masse on several occasions by Israeli authorities, Ateyeh once believed in the PLO charter provisions saying that Israel should be destroyed. On Monday, the Palestinian National Council will reaffirm a decision to cancel the charter clauses that call for Israel's elimination -- a reaffirmation that is being made despite Palestinian distrust of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who Palestinians believe is trying to abrogate the Wye River peace agreement the two sides signed in October.
"We're going to bury that charter so that Israel is no longer the enemy. This is very, very hard," Ateyeh says. "All the struggle, all the sacrifice, all the martyrs, for (a small portion of territory)? It's very hard sometimes to digest, mentally, even though I myself believe in the peace process."
Eventually, says Ateyeh, he hopes that the future state of Palestine will include most of the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War. A future Palestinian state also would include part of Jerusalem as its capital, he says.
"Yasser Arafat, me and every Palestinian believes in one thing," Ateyeh says. "Sooner or later, we are going to have an independent Palestinian state with the capital as Jerusalem. Maybe it's East Jerusalem (which Israel captured in 1967) -- so, yes, we are not talking about the whole city of Jerusalem.
"But no matter what happens -- maybe not in my time or in Arafat's time, but in our kids' time -- there will be a Palestinian state (with Jerusalem as its capital). Otherwise, why do this?" Ateyeh said.
"This" is all the time Ateyeh devotes to politics. When he's not running his liquor store or his gas station in Alameda -- and when he is not spending time with his wife and five children -- Ateyeh is busy with political meetings. He has met Arafat so many times that he considers Arafat a friend. He has met Clinton on several occasions, the last time in May, when Clinton personally thanked Ateyeh in a Washington speech he gave to Arab Americans.
(The Palestinian American Congress, which Ateyeh heads, was a major sponsor of the conference where Clinton spoke. In fact, Ateyeh was supposed to sit on the dais right next to Clinton, but another Arab American leader sat there by mistake. "That's OK," Ateyeh says.)
At age 49 -- 30 years after leaving the West Bank for an uncertain future in the United States -- Ateyeh has become a key figure in Palestinian American politics. "He plays a very important leadership role in the Palestinian peace process," says James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, a Washington political group. "I have a lot of respect for him."
Zogby's Arab American Institute is much better known than the Palestinian American Congress, a lobbying group that Ateyeh helped found three years ago -- but the Palestinian American Congress has made giant strides in a short time. Already, it has become an umbrella organization for other Palestinian American organizations.


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