How to cherish the struggle and sacrifices of those who resist Israel

Palestine 1
Cartoon by Mohammad Sabaaneh with the caption: “The legitimate … and stubborn representative.”

To me, the purest and strongest expression of Palestinian resistance comes from Al Masar Al Badil (Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement), a movement organized by activists who never accepted the path that led us to the disastrous and debilitating Oslo decades. With Oslo’s duplicity and perversion now obvious to all except the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian elite who benefit financially from it and are therefore clinging to it, Al Masar can (and does) point out with clarity exactly how the Palestinian masses inside and outside Palestine need to be reeducated in order to rise up.

That expression of resistance is brilliantly and perfectly embodied by cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh (image above of the Palestinian flag hoisted on a rifle), in which the caption says: “The legitimate … and stubborn representative.” The words are a play on the resolution on Palestine at the Seventh Arab League Summit Conference in 1974, which designated the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” and also affirmed “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to return to their homeland.”

You cannot get any clearer or bolder than the following recent Al-Masar statement (my translation):

Our people saved the Palestinian cause from liquidation in the past and can save it today
— Serious armed resistance in Palestine is the most important element of strength that our people possess in the face of the enemy
— Projects of normalization and alliance with the Zionist entity are reasons for intifada (uprising), not surrender
— It is the people who can protect their rights and impose their equations, not the puppet authority of colonialism
— We call on our people in the diaspora to participate in the marches of return and liberation and bring down the Oslo stage. [Al Masar is organizing such a demonstration on Saturday 10, September 2022 at 4:00 pm in front of the Norwegian Parliament Storting building, Karl Johans gate 22, 0026 Oslo.]

Or this:

“We cherish the struggle and sacrifices of the Palestinian and Arab resistance forces, and we defend them publicly in the face of the smear campaigns they are being exposed to in Europe, North America and elsewhere.” Khalidiya Abu Bakra — Member of the Follow-up Committee of the Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (Gaza — Palestine)

The Palestinian people cherish the struggle and sacrifices of those who resist, unlike the PA, which acts perversely — for example, by detaining Mohammad Huda Al-Rimawi (Al Asmar) as happened two days ago, who had spent 13 years in Israeli jail for resisting the occupation and was freed on Dec 27, 2021 … instead of honoring him.

No matter how badly the political permutations of Israeli/American hegemony in Palestine manifest themselves, no “authority” under the sun can change the desire and will of Palestinians for liberation. The question is how to go about making changes now, given the varying challenges Palestinians face in multiple geographical areas that sometimes cloud and complicate the clarity of Al Masar’s vision.

In the West Bank, people looking for change, even those from within Fatah itself, walk on egg shells. Consider the initiative Nasser Al-Kidwa presented in an online (Zoom) news conference (Arabic) on July 27, announcing it like this:

I will present a political initiative today at 12 noon during a press conference via Zoom technology with a group of male and female colleagues of national, political and social figures from inside Palestine and the diaspora. The initiative is entitled “The National Salvation Document — A Transitional Body to Achieving Change and Reconstruction”. The state of serious deterioration threatens our national existence and our national goals. It is our duty to seek to bring about the broad and deep change required to rebuild and unify the political system in order to get out of the current political crisis.

The tone was timid, even apologetic. In his opening statement Al-Kidwa went out of his way to explain that the initiative is not “a political party or an assembly or a political program.” What is it then? An attempt to “record” a position meant to uphold the legitimacy of Fatah, rather than to confront its corrupt and defunct governance in the West Bank. He even said that the initiative was conventional and that his own son had challenged him by describing the document as not revolutionary enough. Some important people in the West Bank have signed the document (including Hanan Ashrawi and the Mayor of Al-Khalil [Hebron], Tayseer Abu Sneineh). The key words in Al Kidwa’s speech were, “moderate,” “feasible,” and “responsible.”

To me, the energy and logic behind the initiative was best conveyed by Hani Al Masri, who emphasized the need to reach “rural people” (by that I understood him to mean Palestinians in the West Bank other than the elite of Ramallah and other big cities) and empower them to rise up as a tool for peaceful pressure for change through “comprehensive national dialogue on a new basis.” He expressed the fear that the deterioration of the political situation has not halted and, if not checked, might lead to the West Bank being governed by lawless marauding bands holding sway over different areas.

The essence of the matter in the current Palestinian political situation in the West Bank is to confront the Palestinian Authority, but there is a palpable fear of stepping out of line and ending up in jail and fear that the last scenario Al Masri mentions above will come to pass, which would then give the Palestinian Authority an excuse to step in, Sissi style. Even the lawyer Hatem Hlayel representing the younger generation in the group (and whose union is protesting against the PA’s law amendments by decree) appeared uncomfortable when called upon to speak. Some of the language used, such as “a clear and acceptable road map to save the general situation in Palestine” by Nur Odeh, sounded like an unfortunate déjà vu.

We must ask, “acceptable” to whom? Our struggle is not only urgent, it is also imperative. We need the kind of struggle that is not so much “looking for ‘solutions,’ with the occupier,” as writer Khaled Barakat says, but rather looking for “internal solutions to rectify the Palestinian liberation movement, a dialogue to build a national united front that can defeat the Oslo class and bring that disastrous era of the so-called peace process to an end once and for all, away from those who advocate for the liquidationist ‘two-state solution.’ Al-Kidwa’s initiative has one positive element in my view: it is saying that the path of Oslo has reached a dead end and we want an alternative path.”

Let it be, God willing, a revolutionary path; let Al Kidwa’s son lead.

And let us now pray: May God bless everyone who says “no” to an oppressor, no matter where in the world she may be or how:
بارك الله في كل من قال “ لا” لكل ظالم

Note: First published on Rima Najjar’s blog on Medium

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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