Palestine: Liberation Not Capitulation


In all the years that I have been actively involved in our struggle for liberation and justice I have never reached such a low point than in the last few weeks. Listening to pronouncements from both Ramallah and Gaza about the so-called forthcoming general elections had me hitting rock bottom.

Can a meaningful, unencumbered, straightforward election happen in Palestine? Of course not. Can Fatah and Hamas have a genuine reconciliation? Really? I don’t think so. And even if, by some miracle, they could Israel would not allow it. There is too much at stake. The occupying power in our land benefits and profits from the status quo. Why should they allow it to change? Give so much as the merest inch to the Palestinians, allow a smooth, just election and see what would happen. The Palestinian people, through the ballot box, would choose a leadership they can live with and put an end to collaboration with and capitulation to the occupiers of our land. .

I grew up in the sixties with the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Kuwait was where the whole movement was born and I was there. I came across most of the ‘Abu’s’ who started it all. Abu Ammar, AKA Yassir Arafat, Abu Iyad, Salah Khalaf, Abu Jihad, Khalil Al-Wazir, Abu Llutuf, Farouk Qadumi and so on and so forth. All of us young Palestinians at that time, in our twenties were intoxicated with the idea of at last having an organised armed movement that would carry the fight to those who stole our land and give us back a bit of our lost dignity. From our meagre earnings we were more than happy for our employers to deduct a percentage to go towards financing the fight. We believed in it. Most of us volunteered to join the ranks of the PLO. The dream was born.

The first major setback was the crushing defeat of the Arab armies by Israel in the 1967 six-day war. From there everything went downhill. The PLO, instead of concentrating on training and preparing Palestinian youngsters to fight the common enemy got bogged down in internal squabbles, first with the Jordanian government and then with the Lebanese Civil War of 1974. It was that year, 1974, that to me brought the knock-out blow to our hopes of ever liberating our land. That was the year when Yassir Arafat, for reasons I will not go into here, because it would take too long, decided to go to the United Nations and deliver his infamous speech.

He wore his gun in a holster around his waist and in his hand was an olive branch. Standing there he said, loud and clear. “I come here as a freedom fighter, with a gun in my holster and an olive branch in my hand. Please do not allow the olive branch to fall to the ground.”

He repeated this plea three times. The crashing finale to our hopes was in September 1993, when Abu Ammar, Yassir Arafat ventured onto the green lawns of the White House and sanctioned the signature of the Oslo Accords. The man who signed away our hopes and dreams was Abu Mazen, Mahmoud Abbas, the current incumbent of the Palestinian Presidency.

Bless your soul, Abu Ammar. By raising the olive branch and dropping the gun you transferred our hopes of liberation to a mish-mash of negotiations and manoeuvrings that allowed Israel not only to wrench the olive branch from your grasp, but to uproot the whole tree. Not one tree, but over a million so far and counting.

I am not the only Palestinian who dreamed the dream and now lives the nightmare of occupation and dashed hopes. Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian, Israeli citizen who is a member of the Israeli Knesset and still believes in liberation had this to say in a recent interview.

“Our struggle faces a crisis. Our political vision is not clear, we have no unified strategy, and we reached — because of Oslo — a dead end, without any concrete achievements or the courage to admit it. The basic concepts that used to shape our understanding and our definition of our struggle have changed. The Palestinian leadership’s deviation from the paradigm of liberation to one of state-building failed.”

How right you are, sister. The end result is endless negotiations with no sign of a state and no strategy towards liberation. Ms Zoabi went on to say in her interview:

“it’s the PA (Palestinian Authority) itself that acts as an occupation agent and blocks political developments toward a mass struggle. Without this PA obstruction, we would be in a totally different situation now.”

For years I have been calling for unity amongst our ranks and for years I have been calling for Abu Mazen to dissolve the PA and put the burden of the occupation onto the occupier and not the occupied.

I have also been calling on the PA to allow our people, who do not lack courage or commitment, to face our enemy without fearing that their back is exposed. Ms Zoabi appears to agree with me.

“After all, what is the meaning of a Palestinian people without a shared vision and shared destiny?”, she said.

“And how can we claim to be a people if we don’t share a common political project? We need that to forge peoplehood. Culture and origin are not enough. As Palestinian citizens in Israel, we cannot just struggle for our civic rights without connecting our struggle to ending the Israeli occupation, ending the siege of Gaza, fighting for the right of return, and fighting for a state for all of its citizens. Our micro struggle as Palestinians in Israel has to be part of a macro liberation struggle.”

The bottom line is this. Israel will never, ever sanction the creation of a contiguous, free and meaningful Palestinian state anywhere in Palestine. They consider the whole land mass of Palestine as their’s by right and they have many a western ally who agrees with them. “The peace of the brave” which is how Yasser Arafat described the Oslo Accord has turned out to be a meaningless piece of paper that offered ‘carte blanche’ to the Zionist occupiers to do as they wished to our people and our land.

I leave the last word, not to Ms Zoabi, not to ‘the abu’s’ but to Gideon Levy, Israeli columnist and author speaking recently in front of the Israeli lobby in Washington. Mr Levy does not mince his words.

“Does anyone in this hall have the slightest doubt that Israel is occupation addicted? The reality is that there is no chance for change from within Israeli society. The Israeli society has surrounded itself with shields, with walls, not only physical but also mental. The only hope is for international intervention. Israel, let’s face it, is a society that lives in denial. Three principles allow us Israelis to live so easily with this brutal reality.

One. Most Israelis, if not all of them, deeply believe that we are the chosen people and as such can do what we like.

Two. There was never in history an occupation when the occupier presented himself as the victim. Not only the victim, but the only victim around. This also enables any Israeli to live in peace because we are the victims.

The third set of values is the most dangerous one which is the systematic dehumanisation of the Palestinians which enables us Israelis to live in peace with everything because if they are not human beings like us then there is not really a question of human rights.”

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”. Voltaire

Jafar M Ramini is a Palestinian writer and political analyst, based in London, presently in Perth, Western Australia. He was born in Jenin in 1943 and was five years old when he and his family had to flee the terror of the Urgun and Stern gangs. Justice for the people of Palestine is a life-long commitment.




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