In the Struggle for Palestinian Political Legitimacy, De-Normalizing Jewish Nationalism is Essential

To dismantle a system of oppression, intensely radical politics are required.

That is why any resolution to the Palestinian Nakba in the form of a unitary state cannot possibly retain the fiction that Jews world-wide are a monolith “people” who need to be in-gathered in one place, that place being a geographic territory colonized and violently seized by atheist East European Jews who have marketed this myth successfully by positioning a religious symbol at the center of Israel’s flag.

Israel’s propaganda success has been so spectacular that many today conflate a fascist, supremacist, apartheid ideology (Zionism) with Judaism itself.

Much has been written about the above, but it is still mostly taboo as discourse on social and mainstream media, although occasionally spaces are created where comments such as the following are acceptable:

The hard proof that the “Jewish people” thing is a fake construct to justify colonialism, is simple: none of the “Jewish people” who are not from white lands, are included in it. The “Jewish people” construct always included only Jews who are white. And even only Jews who are Zionists. Obviously Jews are of all ethnicities, races, nationalities and places of origin and cannot be one people. Jewish persons from Iran, Palestine, China, Morocco, Ethiopia, Poland, France, Russia have nothing in common except religion of their distant ancestors or their own religion.

Today, Palestine/Israel is a country with multiple ethnicities and cultures, and two official languages:

Binationalism is a tacit endorsement of the erroneous Zionist concept that Jews represent one nationality with collective rights in historic Palestine. The reality is that Israeli Jews represent multiple nationalities including Arab Jews, Polish Jews, French, Ethiopian, American Jews, etc. There are also Palestinian Arabs, Druze, Africans and more than a million Russians pretending to be Jewish.

After colonial claims on Palestine by the Zionist Movement were offered to the world and then normalized, Israel proceeded to de-legitimize and pervert Palestinian nationalism while selling a geopolitical fiction of a “Jewish people”. (Read a study by historian Shlomo Sand titled The Invention of the Jewish People.)

Therefore, in the struggle for Palestinian political legitimacy and liberation, de-normalizing Zionism (i.e. Jewish Nationalism) is essential.

Like other colonizers in their need to dominate and maintain internal cohesion and morale, Israel continues to use law to execute and rationalize its oppressive colonial and apartheid policies — i.e., the acquisition of Palestinian lands for “settlement” by a steady stream of immigrant Jews.

Israel considers virtually all Palestinian parties and resistance organizations to be “terrorist” groups, targeting any politically active person for arrest. Recently, Israeli Defense Minister and war criminal Benny Gantz designated Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network as a “terrorist organization.” Samidoun responded by affirming that

we will continue to organize and mobilize internationally in defense of Palestinian rights and liberation. This is the latest manifestation of a smear campaign that is intended to silence international support for the Palestinian people and especially the nearly 5,000 Palestinians jailed by the Israeli occupation. This is an attack on the Palestinian prisoners’ movement as well as the right of Palestinians in exile and diaspora to organize. We affirm that we will not be silenced or deterred by Israel’s smear campaigns.

According to Amira Hass, in recent weeks, the Israel Security Agency Shin Bet General Security Service (GSS) has threatened political activists known as Hamas supporters in the West Bank with several years in prison if they run in the elections to be held in May.

Given the above, it’ll be interesting to watch how Israel responds to the current political developments in Ramallah. Marwan Barghouti, who’s been serving several life terms in an Israeli prison since 2002, is heading a Fatah electoral list (submitted to Mahmoud Abbas) along with senior Fatah leader Nasser Al-Qidwa, a cousin of the late Yasser Arafat. Reports by senior Fatah sources confirm “they have proposed a list to Abbas that includes young people and active Fatah members who have been effectively neutralized by Abbas due to their resistance against the Israeli occupation.” [Fateh, formerly the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, is a Palestinian political party and the largest bloc in the multi-party Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)]

Marwan Barghouti
Marwan Barghouti

One reason why the Palestinian political vision/goal got muddied along the way is because of the fateful Madrid Conference of 1991, which was conducted secretly in Oslo, Norway. What’s happening with Fateh politically is promising, as it steers the party back, it is hoped, on the path to “no negotiation, no reconciliation, no recognition” with a colonizing power — the path of the struggle for freedom and liberation.

Other promising developments include the news that the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled in February of this year that it has jurisdiction over the situation in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories and has opened a war crimes probe in the Palestinian territories. (See Amnesty hails ICC investigation of war crimes in Palestine as ‘historic breakthrough’).

Palestinian rights organizations are calling for boycotting Israeli military courts in the occupied territories:

The organizations, which defend the rights of Palestinian political prisoners in Israel, accused the courts of being a tool in the hands of the Israeli occupation authorities to suppress the Palestinian people and do not guarantee a fair trial. These courts are a tool in the hands of the occupation authorities to impose greater control and domination over the Palestinians, whether by absence of a fair trial, arbitrary and administrative detention, the arrest of children, the imposition of fines, torture of detainees, and other crimes committed on a daily basis, said Sahar Francis, head of the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.

Boycotting the courts is meant to expose them at the international level, considering their leaders as war criminals responsible for the suppression of the Palestinian people while legitimizing the illegal acts of the occupation authorities.

And BDS is amplifying the September 22, 2020 call for the UN General Assembly to investigate Israeli apartheid (by 452 civil society groups around the world): “Following Palestinians, South Africans, and legal experts, Israel’s B’Tselem labeled Israel an apartheid regime. The UN must join this growing global consensus.”

From a Palestinian perspective, the “Jewish right of return,” is not a legitimate claim and never will be. In one democratic state, after decolonization, normal procedures of obtaining citizenship will be extended to those willing to immigrate to the country.

Within the political framework of a single constitutional democracy (i.e., the reversal of the partitioning of Palestine and the only just and equitable resolution of the Nakba and what ensued), a lot can be achieved, including restoration and reintegration of Palestinian refugees into society and the construction of a shared civil society that protects both individual and collective rights and seeks social and economic justice. Jews who wish to immigrate to the country, like anyone else, will follow normal procedures of obtaining citizenship.

As Haidar Eid states, “Any historical approach can never separate apartheid, and Zionism for that matter, from colonialism… Bottom to top policy is the lesson BDS activists have learned from the South African lesson: first you call for a Boycott, then Divestment from apartheid and from entities benefiting from it, until you reach the top echelons of the government and call for Sanctions. This is the work ahead.”

Palestine is not a lost cause by any means.

A historical note:

The history of how Israel achieved and now maintains a Jewish majority with the partition of Palestine within the Green Line is bloody and heartless:

The ongoing, Zionist-imposed Palestinian Genocide is an immense and continuing crime against humanity. In 1880 Palestine contained about 500,000 Arab Palestinians and about 25,000 Jews (half of the latter being immigrants). Genocidally racist Zionists have been responsible for a Palestinian Genocide involving successive mass expulsions (800,000 in 1948 and 400,000 Arabs [including from the Syrian Golan Heights] expelled in 1967) , ethnic cleansing of 90% of the land of Palestine, and in the century since the British invasion of Palestine in WW1 about 2.3 million Palestinian deaths from violence (0.1 million) or from violently-imposed deprivation (2.2 million).

Palestinian nationalism is a political movement that can be traced back at least to the beginning of the twentieth century, when the Arab provinces of the crumbling Ottoman Empire aligned themselves during the First World War with Western imperialist powers — including France, Britain, and later the United State, hoping to achieve self-determination.

Palestine, the provincial territory controlled by the Ottoman state, had been home to the Palestinian people for centuries. All the Arab provinces of the former Ottoman Empire quickly achieved self-determination after WWI except for Palestine. Zionist reasoning was and continues to be that “the Jews” have a right to statehood that supersedes all other human values.

Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.




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