“Today I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter’s gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat, do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”
Yasser Arafat November 13th 1974 UN General Assembly.
The late Abu Ammar – Yasser Arafat -believed not only his Arab and Muslim brothers, but the whispers of Western leaders when they said, “only with negotiations can the Palestinians gain any independence or a state of their own”. Eventually, this olive branch was raised and the gun was holstered, if not to say, buried forever.
How could a leader of a Freedom Movement have believed those empty promises and resorted to so-called ‘peace negotiations’? I don’t know. But that is history. What I do know is that for any negotiations to succeed the teams must have equal power and equal positions internationally. We were, and still are, the weaker partner and we were, and now even more so, shunned and demonised by western powers who are ready to brand even the sight of a gun in our hands as ‘terrorism’.
We all know what the Oslo Accords and the peace negotiations brought to us since that fatal day on The White House lawn 26 years ago. Arafat, for his efforts to negotiate peace with the Israelis, was rewarded with imprisonment, isolation, humiliation and eventually assassination. The State of Palestine that he was promised never did materialise, and if you examine the conditions on the ground nowadays in Occupied Palestine there is no hope in hell of it ever happening.
What the Oslo Accords did give us was more land theft, more Palestinian blood-shed, more deportations and forcible removals, more imprisonment without charges or trial, instead torture and deprivation of basic requirements for a decent, civilised life. Two million Palestinians are encased and isolated in appalling, sub-human conditions, not even allowed a simple, clean sip of water or a light into their homes, or any basic needs of day-to-day life. On the contrary they are suffocated, bombarded and murdered.
The settlements in Occupied Palestine since the Accord have tripled in size. Nowadays there are 140 settlements and outposts and there are over 700,000 settlers living in them.
As for the olive branch? That was particularly targeted. Over a million olive trees in Palestine have been either chopped to pieces by chain-saws or unrooted and burnt. Every year the feral Jewish settlers on the land, protected and supported by the Israeli Occupation Forces hijack the olive harvest and prevent the Palestinian farmers from attending to their trees. No, brother Abu Ammar, I am afraid that peace with the people who are hell-bent on our total annihilation is simply not possible.
They don’t consider us as equals. Not even human beings. To them we are beasts. They don’t acknowledge our existence and they deny our very humanity. Many a Zionist leader has declared openly their intention to colonise the land by all means possible. And they have. Ben-Gurion, considered to be the founding father of Israel put it succinctly and clearly back in 1948.
“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”
That was then and since that time many a Zionist leader has come out with more blatant statements to show their genocidal and expansionist intent. It is not limited to politicians or even army generals. Rabbi Kashtiel, is the head of the highest religious school for army veterans in the settlement of Illit. Besides being a religious authority, Rabbi Kashtiel is a major power in Israel especially in the military and political arena and his teaching, unashamedly, is on a Youtube video.
“Even if not one bullet was fired, even if the residents of Gaza would be constantly offering us flowers, with love-letters and drawing of hearts, we would be obliged, even on the Sabbath, to start a war to conquer Eretz Israel,” he says.
“We are in no danger. Our hand is strong. It our duty to conquer. It is a holy commandment.”
This belligerent and murderous mentality is commonplace in Israeli society. Poll after poll after poll show Israeli society’s over-whelming support for the hardest military doctrine and the harshest occupation, expulsion and annihilation of Palestinians.
Gideon Levy, renowned Israeli columnist for Haaretz daily Newspaper, reflecting on the latest intended and unnecessary massacre wrote these words In an article entitled, “No-one In Israel Knew They Were Committing a Massacre. And They Didn’t Care”
“None of our heroes knew. The ones who always know everything suddenly didn’t know. The ones who can track down the son of a wanted man in a Damascus suburb didn’t know that sleeping inside their miserable hovel in Dir al-Balah was an impoverished family.
“They, who serve in the most moral army and the most advanced intelligence services in the world, didn’t know that the flimsy tin shack had long since stopped being part of the “Islamic Jihad infrastructure,” and it’s doubtful that it ever was. They didn’t know and they didn’t bother to check — after all, what’s the worst that could happen?”
The worst that could happen did happen. The murder of eight members of the same family. Five of them were children under the age of 13. All were civilians with no connection to any of the factions operating from Gaza.
The reason that Israel can continue on its murderous, expansionist way with no care in the world and with impunity is because of the total support of most Western powers, especially the United States of America, the silence of the international community and I am ashamed to say, the collaboration of many of the members of the Arab League.
This blanket, subservient support has been multiplied a thousand-fold since Donald Trump entered The White House. His administration is manned to the brim with Zionist sympathisers, hardened Zionists and dual Israeli/American citizens. Since he came to power he supported every illegal move by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Far Right government. Last year, while the Israeli Occupation Forces were murdering Palestinian civilians during the March of Return at the security fence at Gaza Mr Trump gifted them Jerusalem.
Yesterday, as another 34 innocent Palestinian civilians were massacred and before their blood had even dried on the ground, Trump’s Secretary of State, Mr Pompeo announced that “The Trump Administration is reversing the Obama Administration’s approach towards Israeli settlements. Calling the establishment of civilian settlements ‘inconsistent with international law’ hasn’t worked.”
In other words, the settlements are suddenly legal. Mr Trump and his Secretary of State are unilaterally re-writing the international rule book in favour of their friends and allies in Israel. And when you are the most powerful empire known to man ruled by a sociopath and narcissist who has surrounded himself with evangelical Zionists, who is going to stop you?
To all the leaders of the PLO in Ramallah, do you think that there are any more manoeuvres left for you to make?
To all the factions of the resistance in Gaza, after yet another massacre of our people do you think that it is time to re-think your policies?
To the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the picture of our future in Palestine and that of our children and grandchildren could not be more bleak at this time. Do you think it is time to put your political differences and ambitions aside and unite as one against an enemy who is hell-bent on our annihilation?
To all my Palestinian brothers and sisters, no matter where you are, do you think that we should continue raising the olive branch?
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.