PALESTINE IS MY CAUSE: NEW POLL SHOWS ARABS REJECTING PUSH TO EMBRACE ISRAEL

FEBRUARY 2ND, 2023

Source

Ramzy Baroud

The latest Arab Opinion Index 2022 is yet more proof that Arab societies are diverse in every possible way, from their assessment of their economic situation and living conditions to their take on immigration, state institutions and democracy, with one single exception: Palestine.

Seventy-six percent of all respondents to the poll, which is carried out annually by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, said that Palestine is a cause for all Arabs, not Palestinians alone.

Three important points must be kept in mind when trying to understand this number:

First, Arabs are not merely expressing sympathy or solidarity with Palestinians. They are irrevocably stating that the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli Occupation is a collective Arab struggle.

Second, these views are the same across all sections of society throughout the entire geographic expanse of the Arab world, from the Gulf to the Maghreb regions.

Third, equally important is that the public opinions that have been examined in the poll come from countries whose governments have either full diplomatic ties with Israel or vehemently reject normalization.

The study is quite extensive, as it included 33,000 individual respondents and was carried out in the period between June to December 2022.

Once again, the Arab people collectively reject normalization with Israel, with Algeria and Mauritania topping the list at 99 percent each.

Though some might discount the detailed study by claiming that Arabs inherently hate Israel due to their deep-seated aversion to the Jews, the study breaks down the reason why Arab masses have such a low opinion of Israel.

When they were asked as to why they reject diplomatic ties between their countries and Israel, the respondents mostly “cited Israel’s colonial and expansionist policies, as well as its racism toward the Palestinians and its persistence in expropriating Palestinian land.”

Only five percent cited religious reasons behind their position, and that too cannot be dismissed as mere religious zealotry, as indeed many Arabs formulate their views based on the moral values enshrined in their religions; for example, the need to oppose and speak out against injustice.

It must be stated that this is hardly new. Arabs have exhibited these views with an unmistakable consistency since the start of the Arab Opinion Index in 2011, and one would dare argue, since the establishment of Israel atop the ruins of Palestine in 1948.

But if that is the case, why are the latest poll results deserving of a discussion?

While examining the American public view of Russia, the state of democracy in the US, or the greatest threat to national security, opinion polls often fluctuate from one year to the other. For example, 70 percent of all Americans considered Russia an ‘enemy’ to the US in March, compared to only 41 percent in January.

The massive jump in two months is not directly related to the Russian war in Ukraine, since Ukraine is not a US territory, but because of the anti-Russia media frenzy that has not ceased for a moment since the beginning of the war.

However, for Arabs, neither media shift in priorities, internal politics, class orientation, nor any other factor, seems to alter the status of Palestine as the leading Arab priority.

In 2017 and 2022, respectively, two American presidents visited the Arab region. Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden labored to execute a major shift in the region’s political priorities.

Biden summed up his agenda in a meeting with six Arab leaders in Jeddah in July by stating, “This trip is about once again positioning America in this region for the future. We are not going to leave a vacuum in the Middle East for Russia or China to fill.”

None of these self-serving priorities seem to be paying any real dividends.

That said, the pressure to dismiss the centrality of Palestine as an Arab cause does not only come from the outside. It is also guided by the internal dynamics of the region itself. For example, some pan-Arab news networks, which put much focus on Palestine in previous years, have been relentlessly and, sometimes, purposely ignoring Palestine as an urgent daily reality in favor of other topics that are consistent with the regional policies of host countries.

Yet, despite all of this, Palestine remains the core of Arab values, struggles and aspirations. How is this possible?

Unlike most Americans, Arabs do not necessarily formulate their views of the world based on the media agenda of the day, nor do they alter their behavior based on presidential speeches or political debates. To the contrary, their collective experiences made them particularly cynical of propaganda and fiery speeches. They formulate their views based on numerous grassroots channels of communication, whether using social media tools or listening to the Friday sermon in their local mosque.

The struggle for Palestine has been internalized in the everyday acts of the average Arab woman or man, from the names they choose for their newborn to the quiet muttering of prayers before falling asleep. No amount of propaganda can possibly reverse this.

Arab public opinion obviously matters, even though most Arab countries do not have functioning democratic systems. In fact, they matter most because of the lack of democracy.

Every society must have a system of political legitimacy, however nominal, for it to maintain relative stability. It means that the collective Arab view in support of Palestinians and rejection of normalization without an end to Israeli Occupation would have to be taken seriously.

Though some Arab governments are listening to their people and thus condition normalization on Palestinian freedom and sovereignty, the US and Israel insist on ignoring the Arab masses, as they have done for many years. However, if Washington believes that it can simply compel the Arabs to hate Russia and China and love Israel while the latter continues to kill Palestinians and occupy their land, it will be sorely disappointed, not only today but for many years to come.

Palestine is My Cause: Arabs Reaffirm Support for Palestinians, Rejection of the Occupation

February 1, 2023

Palestinians in Gaza gathered in large numbers to watch the Morocco-Portugal game at World Cup’s quarterfinals. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Ramzy Baroud

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The latest Arab Opinion Index 2022 is yet more proof that Arab societies are diverse in every possible way, from their assessment of their economic situation and living conditions to their take on immigration, state institutions and democracy. With one single exception: Palestine.

76 percent of all respondents to the poll, which is carried out annually by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, said that Palestine is a cause for all Arabs, not Palestinians alone.

Three important points must be kept in mind when trying to understand this number:

First, Arabs are not merely expressing sympathy or solidarity with Palestinians. They are irrevocably stating that the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli Occupation is a collective Arab struggle.

Second, these views are the same across all sections of society throughout the entire geographic expanse of the Arab world, from the Gulf to the Maghreb regions.

Third, equally important is that the public opinions that have been examined in the poll come from countries whose governments have either full diplomatic ties with Israel or vehemently reject normalization.

The study is quite extensive, as it included 33,000 individual respondents and was carried out in the period between June to December 2022.

Once again, the Arab people collectively reject normalization with Israel, with Algeria and Mauritania topping the list at 99 percent each.

Though some might discount the detailed study by claiming that Arabs inherently hate Israel due to their deep-seated aversion to the Jews, the study breaks down the reason why Arab masses have such a low opinion of Israel.

When they were asked as to why they reject diplomatic ties between their countries and Israel, the respondents mostly “cited Israel’s colonial and expansionist policies, as well as its racism toward the Palestinians and its persistence in expropriating Palestinian land.”

Only five percent cited religious reasons behind their position and that too cannot be dismissed as mere religious zealotry, as indeed many Arabs formulate their views based on the moral values enshrined in their religions; for example, the need to oppose and speak out against injustice.

It must be stated that this is hardly new. Arabs have exhibited these views with an unmistakable consistency, since the start of the Arab Opinion Index in 2011 and one would dare argue, since the establishment of Israel atop the ruins of Palestine in 1948.

But if that is the case, why are the latest poll results deserving of a discussion?

While examining the American public view of Russia, the state of democracy in the US, or the greatest threat to national security, opinion polls often fluctuate from one year to the other. For example, 70 percent of all Americans considered Russia an ‘enemy’ to the US in March, compared to only 41 percent in January.

The massive jump in two months is not directly related to the Russian war in Ukraine, since Ukraine is not a US territory, but because of the anti-Russia media frenzy that has not ceased for a moment since the beginning of the war.

However, for Arabs, neither media shift in priorities, internal politics, class orientation or any other factor seem to alter the status of Palestine as the leading Arab priority.

In 2017 and 2022 respectively, two American presidents visited the Arab region. Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden labored to execute a major shift in the region’s political priorities.

Biden summed up his agenda in a meeting with six Arab leaders in Jeddah in July by stating, “This trip is about once again positioning America in this region for the future. We are not going to leave a vacuum in the Middle East for Russia or China to fill.”

None of these self-serving priorities seem to be paying any real dividends.

That said, the pressure to dismiss the centrality of Palestine as an Arab cause does not only come from the outside. It is also guided by the internal dynamics of the region itself. For example, some pan-Arab news networks, which put much focus on Palestine in previous years, have been relentlessly and, sometimes, purposely, ignoring Palestine as an urgent daily reality in favor of other topics that are consistent with the regional policies of host countries.

Yet, despite all of this, Palestine remains the core of Arab values, struggles and aspirations. How is this possible?

Unlike most Americans, Arabs do not necessarily formulate their views of the world based on the media agenda of the day, nor do they alter their behavior based on presidential speeches or political debates. To the contrary, their collective experiences made them particularly cynical of propaganda and fiery speeches. They formulate their views based on numerous grassroots channels of communication, whether using social media tools or listening to the Friday sermon in their local mosque.

The struggle for Palestine has been internalized in the everyday acts of the average Arab woman or man; from the names they choose for their newborn, to the quiet muttering of prayers before falling asleep. No amount of propaganda can possibly reverse this.

Arab public opinion obviously matters, even though most Arab countries do not have functioning democratic systems. In fact, they matter most because of the lack of democracy.

Every society must have a system of political legitimacy, however nominal, for it to maintain relative stability. It means that the collective Arab view in support of Palestinians and rejection of normalization without an end to Israeli Occupation would have to be taken seriously.

Though some Arab governments are listening to their people and thus condition normalization on Palestinian freedom and sovereignty, the US and Israel insist on ignoring the Arab masses, as they have done for many years. However, if Washington believes that it can simply compel the Arabs to hate Russia and China and love Israel, while the latter continues to kill Palestinians and occupy their land, it will be sorely disappointed, not only today, but for many years to come.

From Tennessee to Palestine: What Happened to Cause and Effect?

January 30, 2023

Israeli forces raided Jenin and killed nine people. (Photo: via ActiveStills.org)
– Benay Blend earned her doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her scholarly works include Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey, Eds. (2017), “’Neither Homeland Nor Exile are Words’: ‘Situated Knowledge’ in the Works of Palestinian and Native American Writers”. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

By Benay Blend

In the past few days, Palestine has witnessed heightened aggression by the Zionist government, while in the United States, five Memphis policemen brutally beat a young man to death after a routine traffic stop.

On the surface, these events are not related. A closer look at mainstream news coverage as well as systemic problems embedded in each society reveals how much they have in common.

On January 26, 2023, an article by Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network led with the headline “Massacre in Jenin: Resistance Continues Amid Occupation Killing of at Least 9 Palestinians,”  followed by a photo of grieving women. The caption reads “Jenin bleeds but resists,” which is why Israel chose to murder 9 Palestinians that day, including a 61-year-old woman.

When CNN covered the same event it quoted no Palestinians, except for the Palestinian Authority (PA), but merely repeated justifications for the massacre from Israeli security forces, specifically that they were after a “terror squad [operating in Jenin] belonging to the Islamic Jihad terror organization.”

In this way, mainstream news turns resistance fighters into “terrorists” by quoting the perpetrators of the violence. “The Islamic Jihad terror operatives were heavily involved in executing and planning multiple major terror attacks, including shooting attacks on IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians,” the joint statement from the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Security Agency and Border Police said, thereby defending a preemptive massacre based on what might or might not happen.

On January 7, 2023, five Memphis police stopped Tyre Nichols, a young black man, for alleged “reckless driving.” In early reporting, CNN said that “a confrontation occurred” between the driver and police, after which he “fled on foot.” When the police apprehended him “another confrontation occurred” followed by his arrest.

After the release of bodycam footage and a surveillance camera mounted to a pole, the media changed its story. What the recordings showed was not a “confrontation,” but five black policemen viciously using their fists and a baton to beat a young, handcuffed man to death. The initial reaction is important, though, because it illustrated the ways that mainstream media listened only to the police in much the same way that they accepted as truth what Zionist officials held as their version of the massacre in Jenin.

In both cases, there is no effort to analyze cause and effect. Events are portrayed as singular in form, as if the occupation had not been abusing the occupied since 1948 as if there had never been a black person murdered by the police before Tyre Nichols.

In the foreword to Ramzy Baroud’s The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (2018), Ilan Pappé describes Al-Nakba al-Mustamera, the ongoing Nakba (catastrophe), which he writes is “a common Palestinian reference to the age and time they have been living in during the last seventy years” (p. xi). In other words, the Nakba of 1948 is not merely a historical event but rather it comprises all of the oppression that they have been living under to this day.

“And indeed,” continues Pappé, “examining the history of the Zionist movement in Palestine, it transpires clearly that the settler colonial project that commenced in the late nineteenth century is not over yet; as is the struggle against it” (p. xi).

Yet Western media seldom looks back at the Zionist entity’s actions that resulted in a response, so consequently, resistance fighters are portrayed as terrorists whose deaths are justified in this light. Since the massacre at Jenin, there have been several reprisals on the part of the resistance, the first, the shooting of several Israelis in a Jerusalem synagogue, portrayed by police chief Yaakov Shabtai as “one of the worst terror attacks in the past few years.”

There is very little mention of what promoted the shooting, not only the massacre in Jenin but also the 75 years that came before it. In her recent book Imagining Palestine: Cultures of Exile and National Identity (2023), Tahrir Hamdi explains that “the violence of the colonizer is aimed at dehumanization and repression, but the violence of the colonized is meant to end that repression and to rehumanize the oppressed” (p. 146.) In this way, she continues, the colonized undergoes a transformation of the colonized into an “empowered being who is able to create the kind of fear in the colonizer that the colonizer created in the colonized” (p. 147).

This lack of context carries over to the United States each time a person of color, but also the poor of any race, are murdered by the police. “This is not just a professional failing,” Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said. “This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless and inhumane. And in the vein of transparency, when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves.”

In this way, the murder of Tyre Nichols by the police is treated as a lone event committed by a couple of individuals who lacked humanity. Nevertheless, as activist/journalist Jon Jeter notes, the goal of the news and entertainment industry is to “decontextualize violence such as that visited upon this young brotha in Memphis and depict it as an isolated, aberrant occurrence.”

The reality is more “grotesque,” he adds, than the horrible scenes witnessed on the tapes. “America is an apartheid state,” he concludes (and here Jeter might include “Israel” as it is much the same). “It is organized around the principle of white supremacy.” So when it “terrorizes 42 million black people on the streets, in the schools, and courtrooms and workplaces,” the goal is to convince their targets that they are a “defeated people, and that any effort to resist is futile.”

As grass-roots organizer Bree Newsome Bass stated on Twitter: “How can it be racist if the police are Black? Because the institution of policing itself is racist.” Dating back to the days when Black people worked on the slave patrols, there as always been racism embedded in the system, so no amount of promoting diversity on the force will help. What is important is that people of color and the poor are most often victims of the system.

There are other similarities between the Zionist state and this culture of violence in the United States. When asked if the five police, in this case, will likely be indicted for their crimes, Ajama Baraka replied:

“They are scheduled to be sacrificed for the system – so yeah. Even if it is on lesser charges. That is why the Feds are around also. They will prosecute also if the state charges don’t stick. This is way beyond Memphis now. It is an ideological issue for the settler state globally so they are toast.”

Indeed, policing in the United States is a global issue. Palestine is Here, a website that tracks various exchanges with the Zionist state has documented that the Memphis police department has long sent its officers to Israel for training. In 2002, shortly after 911, the first training expedition took place under the guise of learning about “counter-terrorism,” which translated to mean how to deal with the unruly populations in your country. “Rather than promoting security for all, these programs facilitate an exchange of methods of state violence and control, including mass surveillance, racial profiling, and suppression of protest and dissent.”

Considering that policing began as a method to catch enslaved people who had run away from their masters, the force would still be racist even without the benefit of learning from their Israeli counterparts. Still, it links both settler colonial states in a common purpose: to control the oppressed in both countries.

“Jenin is bleeding and resisting,” concludes Samidoun, yet it is “refusing security coordination with the occupation and continuing to struggle, despite massacre after massacre, with the entire Palestinian people for the liberation of Palestine.” Despite all efforts to erase, intimidate, and invoke fear in the beleaguered population in Palestine and the US as well, the struggle for liberation goes on invoking all of us to support the occupied in their struggle for liberation and justice around the world.

It Has Always Been a ‘Religious War’: On Ben Gvir and the Adaptability of Zionism

January 18, 2023

Israeli forces arrest Palestinian protesting Jewish settler violence at Al-Aqsa. (Photo: via ActiveStills.org)

By Ramzy Baroud

In a self-congratulatory article published in the Atlantic in 2017, Yossi Klein Halevi describes Israeli behavior at the just-conquered holy Muslim shrines in Occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 as “an astonishing moment of religious restraint”.

“The Jewish people had just returned to its holiest site, from which it had been denied access for centuries, only to effectively yield sovereignty at its moment of triumph,” Halevi wrote with a lingering sense of pride, as if the world owes Israel a ton of gratitude in the way it conducted itself during one of the most egregious acts of violence in the modern history of the Middle East.

Halevi’s pompous discourse on Israel’s heightened sense of morality – compared to, according to his own analysis, the lack of Arab appreciation of Israel’s overtures and refusal to engage in peace talks – is not in any way unique. His is the same language recycled umpteen times by all Zionists, even by those who advocated for a Jewish state before it was established on the ruins of destroyed and ethnically cleansed Palestine.

From its nascent beginnings, the Zionist discourse was purposely confusing – disarranging history when necessary, and fabricating it when convenient. Though the resultant narrative on Israel’s inception and continuation as an exclusively Jewish state may appear confounding to honest readers of history, for Israel’s supporters – and certainly for the Zionists themselves – Israel, as an idea, makes perfect sense.

When Israel’s new National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir raided al-Aqsa Mosque on January 3 to re-introduce himself to Jewish extremists as the new face of Israeli politics, he was also taking the first steps in correcting, in his own perception, a historical injustice.

Like Halevi, and, in fact, most of Israel’s political classes, let alone mainstream intellectuals, Ben Gvir believes in the significance of Jerusalem and its holy shrines to the very future of their Jewish state. However, despite the general agreement on the power of the religious narrative in Israel, there are also marked differences.

What Halevi was bragging about in his piece in the Atlantic is this: soon after soldiers raised the Israeli flag, garnished with the Star of David, atop the Dome of the Rock they were ordered to take it down. They did so, supposedly, at the behest of then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, quoted in the piece as saying to the army unit commander: “Do you want to set the Middle East on fire?”

Eventually, Israel conquered all of Jerusalem. Since then, it has also done everything in its power to ethnically cleanse the city’s Palestinian Muslim and Christian inhabitants to ensure an absolute Jewish majority. What is taking place in Sheikh Jarrah and other Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem is but a continuation of this old, sad episode.

However, the Haram al-Sharif Compound – where Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock and other Muslim shrines are located – was nominally administered by the Islamic Waqf authorities. By doing so, Israel managed to enforce the inaccurate notion that religious freedom is still respected in Jerusalem even after Israel’s so-called ‘unification’ of the city, which will remain, according to Israel’s official discourse, the “united, eternal capital of the Jewish people”.

The reality on the ground, however, has been largely dictated by the Ben-Gvirs of Israel who, for decades, have labored to erase the Muslim and Christian history, identity and, at times, even their ancient graveyards from the Occupied city. Al-Haram Al-Sharif is hardly a religious oasis for Muslims but the site of daily clashes, whereby Israeli soldiers and Jewish extremists routinely storm the holy shrines, leaving behind broken bones, blood and tears.

Despite American support of Israel, the international community has never accepted Israel’s version of falsified history. Though the Jewish spiritual connection to the city is always acknowledged – in fact, it has been respected by Arabs and Muslims since Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab entered the city in 638 – Israel has been reminded by the United Nations, time and again, regarding the illegality of its Occupation and all related actions it carried out in the city since June of 1967.

But Ben Gvir and his Otzma Yehudit Party. like all of Israel’s major political forces, care little for international law, authentic history or Palestinians’ rights. However, their main point of contention regarding the proper course of action in Al-Aqsa is mostly internal. There are those who want to speed up the process of fully claiming Al-Aqsa as a Jewish site, and those who believe that such a move is untimely and, for now, unstrategic.

The former group, however, is winning the debate. Long marginalized at the periphery of Israeli politics, Israel’s religious parties are now inching closer to the center, which is affecting Israel’s priorities on how best to defeat the Palestinians.

Typical analyses attribute the rise of Israel’s religious constituencies to the desperation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is arguably using the likes of Ben Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich and Aryeh Deri to stay in office. However, this assessment does not tell the whole story, as the power of religious parties has long preceded Netanyahu’s political and legal woes. The Zionist discourse has, itself, been shifting towards religious Zionism; this can be easily observed in the growing religious sentiment in Israel’s judicial system, among the rank and file of the army, in the Knesset (Parliament) and, more recently, in the government itself.

These ideological shifts have even led some to argue that Ben-Gvir and his supporters are angling for a ‘religious war’. But is Ben-Gvir the one introducing religious war to the Zionist discourse?

In truth, early Zionists have never tried to mask the religious identity of their colonial project. “Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine,” the Basel Program, adopted by the First Zionist Congress in 1897, stated. Little has changed since then. Israel is “the national state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said in March 2019.

So, if Israel’s founding ideology, political discourse, Jewish Nation State Law, every war, illegal settlement, bypass road and even the very Israeli flag and national anthem were all directly linked or appealed to religion and religious sentiments, then it is safe to argue that Israel has been engaged in a religious war against Palestinians since its inception.

The Zionists, whether ‘political Zionists’ like Theodore Hertzl or ‘Spiritual Zionists’ like Ahad Ha’am’ – and now Netanyahu and Ben Gvir – have all used the Jewish religion to achieve the same end, colonizing all historic Palestine and ethnically cleansing its native population. Sadly, major part of this sinister mission has been achieved, though Palestinians continue to resist with the same ferocity of their ancestors.

The historic truth is that Ben-Gvir’s behavior is only a natural outcome of Zionist thinking, formulated over a century ago. Indeed, for Zionists – religious, secular or, even atheists – the war has always been or, more accurately, had to be, a religious one.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

WHY IS THE WEST LAMENTING THE END OF ‘LIBERAL’ ISRAEL?

JANUARY 6TH, 2023

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

Even before the new Israeli government was officially sworn in on December 29, angry reactions began emerging, not only among Palestinians and other Middle Eastern governments but also among Israel’s historic allies in the West.

As early as November 2, top US officials conveyed to Axios that the Joe Biden Administration is “unlikely to engage with Jewish supremacist politician, Itamar Ben-Gvir.”

In fact, the US government’s apprehensions surpassed Ben-Gvir, who was convicted by Israel’s own court in 2007 for supporting a terrorist organization and inciting racism.

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reportedly “hinted” that the US government would also boycott “other right-wing extremists” in Netanyahu’s government.

However, these strong concerns seemed absent from the congratulatory statement by the US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, on the following day. Nides relayed that he had “congratulated (Netanyahu) on his victory and told him that I look forward to working together to maintain the unbreakable bond” between the two countries.

In other words, this ‘unbreakable bond’ is stronger than any public US concern regarding terrorism, extremism, fascism, and criminal activities.

Ben-Gvir is not the only convicted criminal in Netanyahu’s government. Aryeh Deri, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, was convicted of tax fraud in early 2022 and in 2000, he served a prison sentence for accepting bribes when he held the position of interior minister.

Bezalel Smotrich is another controversial character whose anti-Palestinian racism has dominated his political persona for many years.

While Ben-Gvir has been assigned the post of national security minister, Deri has been entrusted with the ministry of interior and Smotrich with the ministry of finance.

Palestinians and Arab countries are rightly angry because they understand that the new government is likely to sow more violence and chaos.

With many of Israel’s sinister politicians in one place, Arabs know that Israel’s illegal annexation of parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories is back on the agenda; and that incitement against Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem, coupled with raids of Al-Aqsa Mosque will exponentially increase in the coming weeks and months. And, expectedly, the push for the construction and expansion of illegal settlements is likely to grow, as well.

These are not unfounded fears. Aside from the very racist and violent statements and actions by Netanyahu and his allies in recent years, the new government has already declared that the Jewish people have “exclusive and inalienable rights to all parts of the Land of Israel,” promising to expand settlements while distancing itself from any commitments to establishing a Palestinian State, or even engaging in any ‘peace process.’

But while Palestinians and their Arab allies have been largely consistent in recognizing extremism in the various Israeli governments, what excuse do the US and the West have in failing to recognize that the latest Netanyahu-led government is the most rational outcome of blindly supporting Israel throughout the years?

In March 2019, Politico branded Netanyahu as the creator of “the most right-wing government in Israeli history,” a sentiment that was repeated countless times in other western media outlets.

This ideological shift was, in fact, recognized by Israel’s own media, years earlier. In May 2016, the popular Israeli newspaper Maariv described the Israeli government at the time as the “most right-wing and extremist” in the country’s history. This was, in part, due to the fact that far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman was assigned the role of the defense minister.

The West, then, too, showed concern, warned against the demise of Israel’s supposed liberal democracy, and demanded that Israel must remain committed to the peace process and the two-state solution. None of that actualized. Instead, the terrifying figures of that government were rebranded as merely conservatives, centrists or even liberals in the following years.

The same is likely to happen now. In fact, signs of the US’s willingness to accommodate whatever extremist politics Israel produces are already on display. In his statement, on December 30, welcoming the new Israeli government, Biden said nothing about the threat of Tel Aviv’s far-right politics to the Middle East region but, rather, the “challenges and threats” posed by the region to Israel. In other words, Ben-Gvir or no Ben-Gvir, unconditional support for Israel by the US will remain intact.

If history is a lesson, future violence and incitement in Palestine will also be blamed mostly, if not squarely, on Palestinians. This knee-jerk, pro-Israeli attitude has defined Israel’s relationship with the US, regardless of whether Israeli governments are led by extremists or supposed liberals. No matter, Israel somehow maintained its false status as “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

But if we are to believe that Israel’s exclusivist and racially based ‘democracy’ is a democracy at all, then we are justified to also believe that Israel’s new government is neither less nor more democratic than the previous governments.

Yet, western officials, commentators and even pro-Israel Jewish leaders and organizations in the US are now warning against the supposed danger facing Israel’s liberal democracy in the run-up to the formation of Netanyahu’s new government.

This is an indirect, if not clever form of whitewashing, as these views accept that what Israel has practiced since its founding in 1948, until today, was a form of real democracy; and that Israel remained a democracy even after the passing of the controversial Nation-State Law, which defines Israel as a Jewish state, completely disregarding the rights of the country’s non-Jewish citizens.

It is only a matter of time before Israel’s new extremist government is also whitewashed as another working proof that Israel can strike a balance between being Jewish and also democratic at the same time.

The same story was repeated in 2016, when warnings over the rise of far-right extremism in Israel – following the Netanyahu-Lieberman pact – quickly disappeared and eventually vanished. Instead of boycotting the new unity government, the US government finalized, in September 2016, its largest military aid package to Israel, amounting to $38 billion.

In truth, Israel has not changed much, either in its own self-definition or in its treatment of Palestinians. Failing to understand this is tantamount to tacit approval of Israel’s racist, violent and colonial policies in Occupied Palestine over the course of 75 years.

The Price of Betraying Palestine: Moroccans Challenge Normalization with Israel

December 30, 2022

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Morocco’s cities to demonstrate against normalization with Israel. (Photo: Moroccan Front for Supporting Palestine FB Page)

By Ramzy Baroud

Two years ago, Morocco and Israel signed the US-brokered “Joint Declaration”, thus officially recognizing Israel and instating diplomatic ties. Though other Arab countries had already done the same, the Moroccan official recognition of Apartheid Israel was particularly devastating for Palestinians.

Years ago, a close Moroccan friend told me that the ‘first time’ he was arrested was during a solidarity protest for Palestine in Rabat which took place many years ago.

The reference to the ‘first time’ indicated that he was arrested again, though mostly for other political activities, suggesting that Palestine, in many ways, has become a local struggle for many Moroccans.

Whenever Moroccans protest for Palestine, they would do so in large numbers, sometimes in their millions. Such solidarity has historically served as the foundation of regional and global solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

Though ordinary Arabs have always considered Palestine a core struggle, the relationship between North Africans and Palestine is, in many ways, unique and rooted.

Despite a strong push for normalization between Arab countries and Israel, countries like Algeria and Tunisia made it clear that no diplomatic ties between their respective capitals and Israel would be declared anytime soon.

Credit for this goes mostly to the Algerian and Tunisian peoples who have made their rejection of Israeli racism, and support for Palestinian freedom akin to local or national struggles. Palestinian flags have always accompanied flags of these countries during any large gathering, be it a political protest or a sports event.

Morocco is no exception. Solidarity with Palestine in this country goes back generations, and hundreds of activists have paid a price for confronting their government on its failure to stand up to Israel or to challenge Washington for its support for Tel Aviv.

The normalization agreement between Rabat and Tel Aviv in 2020 was falsely assumed to be an end to popular solidarity with Palestine. In fact, such acts of normalization, rightly considered a betrayal by Palestinians, were also meant to be the final delinking of Palestine from its Arab and regional environs.

However, this was not the case. Normalization with Apartheid Israel is still strongly rejected by the vast majority of Arabs, as opinion polls indicate. Moreover, the pouring of love for Palestine during the Qatar World Cup demonstrated, beyond doubt, that Israel cannot possibly be accepted by Arabs while still an occupying power and a racist apartheid regime.

The little political gains achieved by the Moroccan government in exchange for sacrificing the rights of Palestinians shall prove irrelevant in coming years. In fact, signs of this are already on display.

The Moroccan government, led by the Development and Justice Party of Saadeddine Othmani, which had taken part in the normalization efforts, was rejected en masse in the September 2021 elections. Only nine months earlier, Othmani was signing the “Joint Declaration” with Israel’s National Security Advisor, Meir Ben-Shabbat.

The US recognition of Rabat’s claim over Western Sahara as the political barter between Rabat and Washington, which led to the normalization with Tel Aviv, shall eventually prove meaningless.

The US and Western superiority is increasingly being challenged throughout the African continent, especially in West and Central African regions. Powerful new players, like Russia and China, are gaining geopolitical ground, in some regions entirely replacing the West’s dominance. Thus, the US support for any country’s territorial ambitions is no longer a guarantor of political gains, especially as the African geopolitical spaces have become greatly contested.

When Morocco normalized with Israel, many Moroccans were taken by surprise. The assumption was that Morocco, like other Arab nations, was too consumed by their own problems to notice their government’s foreign policy shifts, whether regarding Palestine or anywhere else.

Whether that was the case or not, it matters little now. On the second anniversary of the “Joint Declaration” agreement, tens of thousands of Moroccans demonstrated against normalization in 30 different cities, including Rabat, Agadir, Tangier and Meknes. The protests were mobilized by the Moroccan Front for Supporting Palestine and Against Normalization.

The Front is reportedly a network that includes ‘over a dozen political and human rights organizations,’ the New Arab reported. Their chants included “The people want to bring down normalization”, a slogan that is reminiscent of the pan-Arab popular slogan of a decade ago, ‘The people want to change the regime’. The latter resonated throughout many Arab capitals during the years of political upheaval in 2011 and upward.

This popular movement and its chants indicate that Palestine remains a local and national struggle in Morocco, as well as other Arab countries.

But why Morocco, and why now?

The popular association of the Moroccan and Palestinian flags throughout the World Cup had an invigorating effect on the collective psyche of Moroccans, who were empowered by their national team’s impressive showing against legendary teams such as Belgium, Spain and Portugal. It was a matter of time before this confidence translated to actual solidarity on the streets of Rabat and other major Moroccan cities.

The fact that Moroccans are mobilizing in large numbers against their country’s normalization with Israel only two years after the agreement is a sign of things to come.

2022 was a particularly bloody year in Palestine, according to UN Mideast Envoy, Tor Wennesland, who said that it was “on course to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since … 2005.”

Moroccans, like other Arab nations, are following the news with alarm, especially following the swearing-in of Israel’s new extremist government of Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right fascist ilk – the likes of Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

These two individuals’ constant targeting of Al-Aqsa Mosque, in particular, has a great emotional impact on Moroccans, especially since Morocco serves as the Chair of the Al-Quds Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is tasked with the protection of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israel wants to normalize with the Arabs and tap into their massive markets and economic largesse without having, in return, to relinquish its military Occupation or grant Palestinians basic freedoms. Politically engaged Arab masses understand this well, and are growingly mobilizing against their governments’ betrayal of Palestine.

The self-serving and limited gains of normalization are likely to turn into a political liability in coming years. It is time for Morocco and others to reconsider their ties with Israel, as they risk political isolation and social instability, a far greater price to pay than the empty promises of Washington and Tel Aviv.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

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THE LIONS’ DEN IS NOT A FLEETING PHENOMENON: ON PALESTINE’S LOOMING ARMED REVOLT

DECEMBER 22ND, 2022

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By Ramzy Baroud

Just when Israel, and even some Palestinians, began talking about the Lions’ Den phenomenon in the past tense, a large number of fighters belonging to the newly-formed Palestinian group marched in the city of Nablus.

Unlike the group’s first appearance on September 2, the number of fighters who took part in the rally in the Old City of Nablus on December 9 was significantly larger, better equipped, with unified military fatigues and greater security precautions.

“The Den belongs to all of Palestine and believes in the unity of blood, struggle and rifles”, a reference to the kind of collective Resistance that surpasses factional interests.

Needless to say, the event was significant. Only two months ago, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz undermined the group in terms of number and influence, estimating their number to be “of some 30 members”, pledging to “get our hands on them (..) and eliminate them”.

The Palestinian Authority was also actively involved in suppressing the group, although using a different approach. Palestinian and Arab media spoke about generous PA offers to Lions’ Den fighters of jobs and money, should they agree to drop their weapons.

Both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships have greatly misread the situation. They have wrongly assumed that the Nablus-born movement is a regional and provisional phenomenon that, like others in the past, can easily be crushed or bought.

The Lions’ Den, however, seems to have increased in numbers, and has already branched out to Jenin, Al-Khalil (Hebron), Balata and elsewhere.

For Israel, but also for some Palestinians, the Lions’ Den is an unprecedented problem, the consequences of which threaten to change the political dynamics in the Occupied West Bank entirely.

As Lions’ Den insignias are now appearing in every Palestinian neighborhood throughout the Occupied Territories, the group has succeeded in branching out from a specific Nablus neighborhood – Al Qasaba – to become a collective Palestinian experience.

A recent survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) demonstrated the above claim in an unmistakable way.

The PCPSR public poll showed that 72% of all Palestinians support the creation of more such armed groups in the West Bank. Nearly 60% feared that an armed rebellion risks a direct confrontation with the PA. A whopping 79% and 87% respectively refuse the surrender of the fighters to PA forces, and reject the very idea that the PA has the right to even carry out such arrests.

Such numbers attest to the reality on the street, pointing to the near complete lack of trust in the PA and the belief that only armed Resistance, similar to that in Gaza, is capable of challenging the Israeli Occupation.

These notions are driven by empirical evidence: lead among them is the failure of the financially and politically corrupt PA in advancing Palestinian aspirations in any way; Israel’s complete disinterest in any form of peace negotiations; the growing far-right fascist trend in Israeli society, which is directly linked to the daily violence meted out against Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The UN Mideast Envoy Tor Wennesland has recently reported that 2022 is “on course to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since (…) 2005”. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that 167 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank this year alone.

These numbers are likely to increase during the new term of incoming rightwing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The new government can only remain in power with the support of Bezalel Smotrich from the Religious Zionism Party and Itamar Ben-Gvir from the Otzma Yehudit Party. Ben-Gvir, a notorious extremist politician is, ironically though not surprisingly, slated to become Israel’s new security minister.

But there is more to the brewing armed rebellion in the West Bank than Israeli violence alone.

Nearly three decades after the signing of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians have achieved none of their basic political or legal rights. To the contrary, emboldened right-wing politicians in Israel are now speaking of unilateral ‘soft annexation’ of large parts of the West Bank. None of the issues deemed important in 1993 – the status of Occupied Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water, etc. – are even on the agenda today.

Since then, Israel has invested more in racial laws and apartheid policies, making it an apartheid regime, par excellence. Major international human rights groups have accepted and reported on the new, fully racist identity of Israel.

With total US backing and no international pressure on Israel that is worthy of mention, Palestinian society is mobilizing beyond the traditional channels of the past three decades. Despite the admirable work of some Palestinian NGOs, the ‘NGO-ization’ of Palestinian society, operating on funds largely obtained from Israel’s very western backers, has further accentuated class division among Palestinians. With Ramallah and a few other urban centers serving as headquarters of the PA and a massive list of NGOs, Jenin, Nablus, and their adjacent refugee camps have subsisted in economic marginalization,  Israeli violence and political neglect.

Disenchanted by the PA’s failed political model, and growingly impressed by the armed Resistance in Gaza, an armed rebellion in the West Bank is simply a matter of time.

What differentiates the early signs of a mass armed Intifada in the West Bank from the ‘Jerusalem Intifada’, also termed the ‘Knives Intifada’ of 2015, is that the latter was a series of disorganized individual acts carried out by oppressed West Bank youth, while the former is a well-organized, grassroots phenomenon with a unique political discourse that appeals to the majority of Palestinian society.

And, unlike the armed Second Palestinian Intifada (2000-2005), the ensuing armed rebellion is rooted in a popular base, not in the PA security forces.

The closest historical reference to this phenomenon is the 1936-39 Palestinian Revolt, led by thousands of Palestinian fellahin – peasants – in the Palestine countryside. The last year of that rebellion witnessed a large split between the fellahin leadership and the urban-based political parties.

History is repeating itself. And, like the 1936 Revolt, the future of Palestine and the Palestinian Resistance – in fact, the very social fabric of Palestinian society – is on the line.

ON “HATE” AND LOVE AT THE WORLD CUP: PALESTINE IS MORE THAN AN ARAB CAUSE

DECEMBER 7TH, 2022

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Ramzy Baroud

We were mistaken to think that Palestine represents the central issue for all Arabs. Such language suggests that Palestine is an external subject to be compared to other collective struggles that consume most Arabs, everywhere. The ongoing celebration of Palestine and the Palestinian flag at the Qatar World Cup 2022 by millions of Arab fans compels us to rethink our earlier assumptions about the Arab people’s relationship with Palestine.

The starting point for my argument is Rome, Italy, not Doha, Qatar. In August 2021, I attended a friendly football match between Morocco’s Raja Casablanca and the Italian AS Roma. Thousands of Moroccan fans accompanied their team. Although fewer in number, their matching outfits, songs, chants and group dances in the stands made them more visible than the rest.

Although the environment of the game had little or no political context, the Moroccans sang for Palestine and wore Palestinian kuffiyas draped with the colors of the Palestinian flag. It was a heartwarming gesture, typical of Arab fans at football matches. As the fans began leaving the stadium in larger numbers, I realized that the very fan culture of Raja Casablanca was modeled entirely around Palestine. Their main slogan is Rajawi Filistini – Palestinian Rajawis, the words embroidered on their sports jerseys.

Considering the absence of political context to that specific match, clearly, the Moroccans did not see Palestine as a message to be communicated using sports as a platform but have internalized it to the extent that it became an integral part of their everyday reality. When I asked a group of Moroccan fans on why they embrace Palestinian symbols and chants, the question puzzled them. “Palestine is in our blood. The love for Palestine runs in our veins,” an older man answered, overcome with emotions.

Multiple studies have been conducted to gauge Arab public opinion in recent years about the importance of Palestine, most notably the Arab Opinion Index survey conducted by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies in 2020. This poll found that 85 percent of respondents opposed normalization with Israel. Indeed, the Arab people remain clear in their allegiance to the Palestinian struggle for freedom. No Arab country deviated from this rule, from the Arabian Peninsula to North Africa.

The Qatar World Cup, however, raises new questions, not about the centrality of Palestine to Arab political consciousness, but whether the representations of Palestine are merely political and whether Palestine is just another ‘issue’ to be juxtaposed with other urgent Arab issues and causes.

Even the Israelis, with their much-touted intelligence agencies and a supposedly good grasp on the mood of the so-called ‘Arab street’, seemed confused and even angry as they rushed to Qatar to report on the World Cup, but also to use the international sports event as a way to translate diplomatic recognition and political normalizations into popular acceptance.

However, the two Israeli reporters, Raz Shechnik and Oz Mualem, returned to Israel disappointed. Failing to connect the dots between Israel’s apartheid and military occupation in Palestine, the Yedioth Ahronot journalists had reached this convenient conclusion: “Despite believing, as open-minded liberals we are, that the conflict with the Arab world is between governments and not the people, Qatar has taught us that hate exists first and foremost in the mind of the man on the street.”

Not only did the “open-minded liberals” lack any sense of self-awareness, they, like most Israelis, had completely dismissed the Arab people as political actors capable of thinking and behaving according to their own collective priorities. Moreover, they also confused the Arabs’ justifiable anger for the terrible injustices inflicted by Israelis on the Palestinians for random ‘hate’ that seems to simply reflect the supposed hateful nature of the Arabs.

If the two reporters reflected on their own reporting with a truly – not self-proclaimed – ‘open mind’, they would have found some clues. “Whenever we report, we are being followed at all times by Palestinians, Iranians, Qataris, Moroccans, Jordanians, Syrians, Egyptians and Lebanese … all giving us looks full of hate,” they wrote.

Considering the deep political divisions that presently exist among Arab nations, one wonders why ordinary people from vastly diverse Arab and Middle Eastern nations are united in ‘hating’ Israel and loving Palestine. The answer does not lie in the word ‘antisemitism’, but in representations.

For Arabs, Israel represents a history of western imperialism and colonialism, military occupation, racism, violence, political meddling, military interventions, wars and more wars, daily images of handsome Palestinian boys and girls killed by Israeli soldiers, violent Israeli Jewish settlers forcibly expelling Palestinians out of their homes and farms, political arrogance and much more.

Palestinians, on the other hand, represent something else entirely. They embody the unhealed wound of all Arabs. Courage and sacrifice. Refusal to surrender. Resistance. Hope.

Most Israelis are unable to grasp the organic relationship between Arabs and Palestine simply because they refuse to accept that their country summons such negative feelings. Contending with this reality would mean deep and uncomfortable reflections. The likes of Shechnik and Mualem would rather explain such a complex task through some convenient references to inexplicable and unjustifiable Arab ‘hate’ of Israel.

The Arab embrace of Palestine is not only about Israel but also about the Arabs themselves. Though the Palestinian flag was itself inspired by the pan-Arab flag of 1916, it has morphed, over the years, to serve the role of the unifying Arab symbol.

The fact that Arab football fans in Qatar have spontaneously chosen, without any official instructions or government intervention, to use the Palestinian flag as their symbol of unity speaks volumes about Palestine’s position in the collective Arab consciousness. It also tells us that the love for Palestine is not a direct outcome of hating Israel, nor is it that the Arabs view Palestine as a symbol of defeat or humiliation.

When Moroccan player Jawad El Yamiq celebrated his country’s national team’s victory over Canada on December 1, thus guaranteeing the advancement of Morocco to the knockout stages of the World Cup, he raised a Palestinian flag. In the background, Moroccan fans were chanting for Palestine and Morocco. For them, Palestine is not an external cause, and their cheers are not simply an act of solidarity. For them, Palestine and Morocco are synonymous, describing the same collective experience of defeat, struggle and, ultimately, victory.

PALESTINIANS ARE NATIVE AMERICANS: IT’S TIME TO CORRECT THE LANGUAGE OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 16TH, 2022

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By Ramzy Baroud

At a recent Istanbul conference that brought many Palestinian scholars and activists together to discuss the search for a common narrative on Palestine, a Palestinian member of the audience declared at the end of a brief, but fiery intervention, ‘we are not red Indians’.

The reference was a relatively old one. It was attributed to former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during an interview in his office in Ramallah where he was forcefully confined and surrounded, two years earlier, by the Israeli military that had re-invaded the populous Palestinian city. In the interview, the head of the PLO and president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) said that, despite Israel’s attempt at eradicating the Palestinian people, they remain steadfast. Israel had “failed to wipe us out,” Arafat said, adding, “we are not red Indians.”

Though Arafat’s intention was not to degrade or insult Native American communities, the statement, often taken out of context, hardly reflects the deep solidarity between Palestinians and national liberation struggles, including indigenous struggles around the world. Ironically, Arafat, more than any Palestinian leader, has forged ties with numerous communities in the Global South and in fact all over the world. A generation of activists had linked Arafat to their initial awareness, then involvement in Palestine solidarity movements.

What surprised me is that the comment on Palestinians not being ‘red Indians’ in Istanbul was quoted repeatedly and, occasionally, solicited applause from the audience, which only stopped when the convener of the conference, a well-regarded Palestinian professor, declared frustratingly, “they are neither ‘red’ nor Indian.” Indeed, they are not. Actually, they are the natural allies of the Palestinian people, like numerous indigenous communities, who have actively supported the Palestinian struggle for freedom.

The seemingly simple incident or poor choice of words, however, represents a much greater challenge facing Palestinians as they attempt to reanimate a new discourse on Palestinian liberation that is no longer hostage to the self-serving language of the PA elites in Ramallah.

For several years, a new generation of Palestinians has been fighting on two different fronts: against Israel’s military occupation and apartheid, on the one hand, and PA repression on the other. For this generation to succeed in reclaiming the struggle for justice, they must also reclaim a unifying discourse, not only to reconnect their own fragmented communities throughout historic Palestine, but also re-establish solidarity lines of communication across the globe.

I say ‘re-establish’, because Palestine was a common denominator among many national and indigenous struggles in the Global South. This was not a random outcome. Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, fierce wars of liberation were fought across continents, leading in most cases to the defeat of traditional colonial powers and, in some cases like Cuba, Vietnam and Algeria, to true decolonization. With Palestine being a compounded case of western imperialism and Zionist settler colonialism, the Palestinian cause was embraced by numerous national struggles. It was, and remains, a most raw example of western supported ethnic cleansing, genocide, apartheid, hypocrisy but also inspiring indigenous resistance.

PLO factions, intellectuals and activists were known and respected worldwide as ambassadors to the Palestinian cause. Three years following his assassination by the Israeli Mossad in a Beirut car bombing, Palestinian novelist Ghassan Kanafani was awarded posthumously the Annual Lotus Prize for Literature by the Union of Asian and African Writers as a delineation of the common struggle between peoples of both continents. Not only has Palestine served as a physical connection between Asia and Africa, it has also served as an intellectual and solidarity connection.

Arab countries, which also fought their own painful but heroic national liberation wars, played a major role in the centrality of Palestine in the political discourses of African and Asian countries. Many non-Arab countries supported collective Arab causes, especially Palestine, at the United Nations, pushed for the isolation of Israel, backed Arab boycotts and even hosted PLO offices and fighters. When Arab governments began changing their political priorities, these nations, sadly but unsurprisingly, followed suit.

The massive geopolitical changes after the Cold War, in favor of the US-led Western camp, profoundly and negatively impacted Palestine’s relations with the Arab and the rest of the world. It also divided the Palestinians, localizing the Palestinian struggle in a process that seemed to be determined mostly by Israel alone. Gaza was placed under a permanent siege, the West Bank was splintered by numerous illegal Jewish settlements and military checkpoints, Jerusalem was swallowed whole and Palestinians in Israel became victims of a police state that defined itself primarily on racial grounds.

Abandoned by the world and their own leadership, oppressed by Israel and bewildered by remarkable events beyond their control, some Palestinians turned against one another. This was the age of factionalism. However, Palestinian factionalism is bigger than Fatah and Hamas, Ramallah and Gaza. Equally dangerous to the self-serving politics are the numerous provisional discourses that it espoused, neither governed by any collective strategy or an inclusive national narrative.

When the PLO was ousted from Lebanon following the Israeli invasion and deadly war, the nature of the Palestinian struggle transformed. Headquartered in Tunisia, the PLO was no longer able to present itself as a leader of a liberation movement in any practical sense. The Oslo Accords of 1993 resulted from this political exile and subsequent marginalization. It also accentuated an existing trend where an actual war of liberation turned into a corporate form of liberation, hunger for funds, false status and, worse, a negotiated surrender.

This much is now familiar and acknowledged by many Palestinians. Less discussed, however, is that nearly forty years of this process left Palestinians with a different political discourse than that which existed for decades prior to Oslo.

Undoubtedly, Palestinians are aware of the need for a new liberated language. This is not an easy task, nor is it a randomly generated process. The indoctrination that resulted from the Oslo culture, the factional language, the provincial political discourse of various Palestinian communities, left Palestinians with limited tools through which to express the priorities of the new era. Unity is not a political document. Neither is international solidarity. It is a process that is shaped by a language which should be spoken collectively, relentlessly and boldly. In this new language, Palestinians are Native Americans, not in their supposed propensity to be ‘wiped out’, but in their pride, resilience and continued quest for equality and justice.

For Lula’s Victory to Matter: A Proposal for a Unified Palestinian Foreign Policy

November 10, 2022

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva meets the Palestinian community in Brazil, in June 2022. (Photo: Via MEMO)

By Ramzy Baroud

Palestinians and their supporters are justified in celebrating the election victory of the leftist presidential candidate, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, in Brazil’s runoff elections on October 30. But Lula’s victory is incomplete and could ultimately prove ineffectual if not followed by a concrete and centralized Palestinian strategy.

Lula has proven, throughout the years, to be a genuine friend of Palestine and Arab countries.

For example, in 2010, as a president, he spoke of his dream of seeing “an independent and free Palestine” during a visit to the occupied West Bank. He also refused to visit the grave of Theodor Herzl, the father of Israel’s Zionist ideology. Instead, he visited Yasser Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah.

Later that year, Lula’s government recognized Palestine as an independent state within the 1967 borders.

Lula’s rival, soon-to-be former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is an ideologue who has repeatedly professed his love for Israel, and had pledged in November 2018 to follow the US government’s lead in relocating his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Unlike other pro-Israel world leaders, Bolsonaro’s affection is ideological and unconditional. In a 2018 interview with the Israeli newspaper ‘Israel Hayom’, he said: “Israel is a sovereign state … If you decide what your capital is, we will follow you. You decide on the capital of Israel, not other people”.

In a final and desperate move to win the support of Brazil’s Evangelical Christians, Bolsonaro’s wife, Michelle, donned a t-shirt carrying the Israeli flag. That gesture alone speaks volumes about Bolsonaro’s skewed agenda, which is symptomatic of many of Israel’s supporters around the world.

Lula’s victory and Bolsonaro’s defeat are, themselves, a testament to a changing world, where loyalty to Israel is no longer a guarantor of electoral victory. This has proven true in the case of Donald Trump in the US, Liz Truss in the UK, Scott Morrison in Australia and, now, Brazil.

The Israelis, too, seem to have accepted such a new, albeit unpleasant reality.

Interviewed by The Times of Israel, Brazilian scholar James Green explained that it behooves Israel to revise its view of Lula. Green said that the newly-elected president should not be seen “as a radical, because he’s not, and in this campaign, he needed to show his moderation on all levels”.

The willingness to engage with Lula, though begrudgingly, was also expressed by Claudio Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country’s largest pro-Israel Jewish organization who, on October 31, issued a note, expressing the group’s “permanent readiness for constructive and democratic dialogue” with Lula.

Brazil’s political transformation is sure to benefit the Palestinians, even though Lula’s ideologically diverse coalition makes it more difficult for him to explore the same radical political spaces in which he ventured during his previous presidency between 2003 and 2011.

It is also worth noting that Bolsonaro was a relatively important player in the global conservative, far-right political camp that attempted to legitimize the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Following the recent reversal by the Australian government of a 2018 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Bolsonaro’s defeat is another nail in the coffin in Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’.

True, geopolitical changes are critical to the future of Palestine and the Palestinian struggle, but without a responsible Palestinian leadership that can navigate opportunities and face up and confront growing challenges, Lula’s victory can, at best, be seen as a symbolic one.

Palestinians are aware of the massive changes underway regionally and globally. That has been demonstrated through the repeated visits by Palestinian political groups to Moscow, and the meeting between Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas with Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 13, in Kazakhstan. The latter meeting has raised the ire of Washington, which is incapable of lashing out in any meaningful way so that it may not push the Palestinians entirely into the Russian camp.

Palestine is also becoming, once again, regionally relevant, if not central to Arab affairs, as indicated in the Arab League Summit in Algeria, November 1-2.

However, for all these dynamic changes to be translated into tangible political achievements, Palestinians cannot proceed as fragmented entities.

There are three major political trends that define Palestinian political action globally:

First, the Palestinian Authority, which has political legitimacy as the legal representative of the Palestinian people, but no actual legitimacy among Palestinians, nor a forward-thinking strategy.

Second, Palestinian political groups, which are ideologically diverse and, arguably, more popular among Palestinians, but lack international recognition.

And, finally, the Palestinian-led international solidarity campaign, which has gained much ground as the voice of Palestinian civil society worldwide. While the latter has moral legitimacy, it is not legally representative of Palestinians. Additionally, without a unified political strategy, civil society achievements cannot be translated, at least not yet, into solid political gains.

So, while all Palestinians are celebrating Lula’s victory as a victory for Palestine, there is no single entity that can, alone, harness the political and geopolitical change underway in Brazil to a definite building block towards the collective struggle for justice and freedom in Palestine.

Until Palestinians revamp their problematic leadership or formulate a new kind of leadership through grassroots mobilization in Palestine itself, they should at least attempt to liberate their foreign policy agenda from factionalism, which is defined by a self-centered approach to politics.

A starting point might be the creation of a transitional, non-factional political body of professional Palestinians with an advisory role agreed upon by all political groups. This can take place via the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which has been marginalized by the PA for decades. This entity’s main role can be confined to surveying the numerous opportunities underway on the global stage and to allow, however nominally, Palestinians to speak in one united voice.

For this to happen, of course, major Palestinian groups would need to have enough goodwill to put their differences aside for the greater good; though not an easy feat, it is, nonetheless, possible.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

What is the Lions’ Den and Why Now: ‘The Palestinian View’ – with Ramzy Baroud (VIDEO)

November 4, 2022

Ramzy Baroud discusses the political context that led to the formation of the Lions’ Den group in Nablus. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

In his latest episode of ‘The Palestinian View’, Ramzy Baroud discusses the political context that led to the formation of the Lions’ Den group in Nablus, leading to a growing armed rebellion throughout the West Bank. Baroud also touches on the issue of political transition in Palestine and the struggle for representation.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Chasing a Mirage: How Israel Arab Parties Validate Israeli Apartheid

November 2, 2022

Yair Lapid (L), Naftali Bennett (C) and Mansour Abbas. (Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)
– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

By Ramzy Baroud

Regardless of the outcome of the latest Israeli elections, Arab parties will not reap meaningful political benefits, even if they collectively achieve their highest representation ever. The reason is not about the parties themselves, but in Israel’s skewed political system which is predicated on racism and marginalization of non-Jews.

Israel was established on a problematic premise of being a homeland of all Jews, everywhere – not of Palestine’s own native inhabitants – and on a bloody foundation, that of the Nakba and the destruction of historic Palestine and the expulsion of its people.

Such beginnings were hardly conducive to the establishment of a real democracy, perfect or blemished. Not only did Israel’s discriminatory attitude persist throughout the years, it actually worsened, especially as the Palestinian Arab population rose disproportionally compared to the Jewish population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The unfortunate reality is that some Arab parties have participated in Israeli elections since 1949, some independently and others under the ruling Mapei party umbrella. They did so despite Arab communities in Israel being ruled by a military government (1951-1966) and practically governed, until this day, by the unlawful ‘Defense (Emergency Regulations)’. This participation has constantly been touted by Israel and its supporters as proof of the state’s democratic nature.

This claim alone has served as the backbone of Israeli hasbara throughout the decades. Though often unwittingly, Arab political parties in Israel have provided the fodder for such propaganda, making it difficult for Palestinians to argue that the Israeli political system is fundamentally flawed and racist.

Palestinian citizens have always debated among themselves about the pros and cons of taking part in Israeli elections. Some understood that their participation validates the Zionist ideology and Israeli apartheid, while others argued that refraining from participating in the political process denies Palestinians the opportunity to change the system from within.

The latter argument has lost much of its merit, as Israel sank deeper into apartheid, while social, political and legal conditions for Palestinians worsened. The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) reports on dozens of discriminatory laws in Israel that exclusively target Arab communities. Additionally, in a report published in February, Amnesty International describes thoroughly how the “representation of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the decision making process … has been restricted and undermined by an array of Israeli laws and policies.”

This reality has existed for decades, long before July 19, 2018, when the Israeli parliament approved the so-called Jewish Nation-State Basic Law. The Law was the most glaring example of political and legal racism, which made Israel a full-fledged apartheid regime.

The Law was also the most articulate proclamation of Jewish supremacy over Palestinians in all aspects of life, including the right to self-determination.

Those who have argued that Arab participation in Israeli politics served a purpose in the past should have done more than collectively denounce the Nation-State law, by resigning en masse, effective immediately. They should have taken advantage of the international uproar to convert their struggle from a parliamentary to a popular grassroots one.

Alas, they have not. They continued to participate in Israeli elections, arguing that if they achieved greater representation in the Israeli Knesset, they should be able to challenge the tsunami of Israeli discriminatory laws.

This did not happen, even after the Joint List, which unified four Arab parties in the March 2020 elections, achieved its greatest turnout ever, becoming the Knesset’s third largest political bloc.

The supposed historic victory culminated to nil because all mainstream Jewish parties, regardless of their ideological backgrounds, refused to include Arab parties in their potential coalitions.

The enthusiasm that mobilized Arab voters behind the Joint List began to dwindle, and the List itself fragmented, thanks to Mansour Abbas, the head of the Arab party, Ra’am.

In the March 2021 elections, Abbas wanted to change the dynamics of Arab politics in Israel altogether. “We focus on the issues and problems of the Arab citizens of Israel within the Green Line,” Abbas told TIME magazine in June 2021, adding “we want to heal our own problems”, as if declaring a historic delink from the rest of the Palestinian struggle.

Abbas was wrong, as Israel perceives him, his followers, the Joint List and all Palestinians to be obstacles in its efforts to maintain the exclusivist ‘Jewish identity’ of the state. The Abbas experiment, however, became even more interesting, when Ra’am won 4 seats and joined a government coalition led by far-right, anti-Palestinian politician Naftali Bennet.

By the time the coalition collapsed in June, Abbas achieved little, aside from splitting the Arab vote and proving, again, that changing Israeli politics from within has always been a fantasy.

Even after all of this, Arab parties in Israel still insisted on participating in a political system that, despite its numerous contradictions, agreed on one thing: Palestinians are, and will always be, the enemy.

Even the violent events of May 2021, where Palestinians found themselves fighting on multiple fronts – against the Israeli army, police, intelligence services, armed settlers and even ordinary citizens – did not seem to change the Arab politicians’ mindset. Arab population centers in Umm Al-Fahm, Lydda and Jaffa, were attacked with the same racist mentality as Gaza and Sheikh Jarrah, illustrating that nearly 75 years of supposed integration between Jews and Arabs under Israel’s political system hardly changed the racist view towards Palestinians.

Instead of converting the energy of what Palestinians dubbed the ‘Unity Intifada’ to invest in Palestinian unity, Arab Israeli politicians returned to the Israeli Knesset, as if they still had hope in salvaging Israel’s inherently corrupt political system.

The self-delusion continues. On September 29, Israel’s Central Election Committee disqualified an Arab party, Balad, from running in the November elections. The decision was eventually overturned by the country’s Supreme Court, urging an Arab legal organization in Israel to describe the decision as ‘historic’. In essence, they suggested that Israel’s apartheid system still carries the hope of true democracy.

The future of Arab politics in Israel will remain grim if Arab politicians continue to pursue this failed tactic. Though Palestinian citizens of Israel are socio-economically privileged if compared to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, they enjoy nominal or no substantive political or legal rights. By remaining loyal participants in Israel’s democracy charade, these politicians continue to validate the Israeli establishment, thus harming, not only Palestinian communities in Israel but, in fact, Palestinians everywhere.

Australia’s Jerusalem Reversal Marks the Death of Trump’s « Deal of the Century »

INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

Feature photo | Protesters burn effigies of pictures of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and U.S. President Donald Trump, during a demonstration against the United Arab Emirates’ deal with Israel, in the West Bank city of Nablus, Aug. 14, 2020. Majdi Mohammed | AP

Ramzy Baroud
US President Donald Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” was meant to represent a finality of sorts, an event reminiscent of Francis Fukuyama’s premature declaration of the “End of History” and the uncontested supremacy of western capitalism. In effect, it was a declaration that “we” – the US, Israel, and a few allies – have won, and “you”, isolated and marginalized Palestinians, lost.

In the same way, Fukuyama failed to consider the unceasing evolution of history, the US and Israeli governments also failed to understand that the Middle East, in fact, the world, is not governed by Israeli expectations and American diktats.

The above is a verifiable assertion. On October 17, the Australian government announced that it is revoking its 2018 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Expectedly, the new decision, officially made by Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, was strongly criticized by Israel, celebrated by Palestinians, and welcomed by Arab countries who praised the responsible diplomacy of Canberra.

Any serious analysis of the Australian move, however, must not be confined to Australia’s own political shifts but must be extended to include the dramatic changes underway in Palestine, the Middle East, and, indeed, the world.

For many years, but especially since the US invasion of Iraq as part of the politically-motivated “war on terror”, Washington perceived itself as the main, if not the only, power that is able to shape political outcomes in the Middle East. Yet, as its Iraq quagmire began destabilizing the entire region, with revolts, social upheavals, and wars breaking out, Washington began losing its grip.

It was then rightly understood that, while the US may succeed in waging wars, as it did in Iraq and Libya, it is unable to restore even a small degree of peace and stability. Though Trump seemed disinterested in engaging in major military conflicts, he converted that energy to facilitate the rise of Israel as a regional power, which is incorporated into the Middle East’s political and economic grids through a process of political “normalization”, which is wholly delinked from the struggle in Palestine or the freedom of the Palestinians.

The Americans were so confident in their power to orchestrate such a major political transformation to the extent that Jared Kushner – Trump’s Middle East adviser and son-in-law – was revealed to have attempted to cancel the very status of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, an attempt that was met with a decisive Jordanian rejection.

Kushner’s arrogance reached the point that, in January 2020, he declared that his father-in-law’s plan was such a “great deal” which, if rejected by Palestinians, “they’re going to screw up another opportunity like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence”.

All of this hubris was joined with many American concessions to Israel, whereby Washington virtually fulfilled all Israeli wishes. The relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem was merely the icing on the cake of a much larger political scheme that included the financial boycott of Palestinians, the cancellation of funds that benefited Palestinian refugees, the recognition of the illegally occupied Syrian Golan Heights as part of Israel and the support of Tel Aviv’s decision to annex much of the occupied West Bank.

The then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies had hoped that, as soon as Washington carried out such moves, many other countries would follow, and that, in no time, Palestinians would find themselves friendless, broke, and irrelevant.

This was hardly the case, and what started with a bang ended with a whimper. Though the Biden administration still refuses to commit to any new “peace process”, it has largely avoided engaging in Trump’s provocative politics. Not just that, the Palestinians are anything but isolated, and Arab countries remain united, at least officially, in the centrality of Palestine to their collective political priorities.

In April 2021, Washington restored funding to the Palestinians, including money allocated to the UN refugee agency, UNRWA. It did not do so for charitable reasons, of course, but because it wanted to ensure the allegiance of the Palestinian Authority, and to remain a relevant political party in the region. Even then, the PA President Mahmoud Abbas, still declared, during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kazakhstan on October 12, that “we [Palestinians] don’t trust America”.

Moreover, the annexation scheme, at least officially, did not go through. The rejection of any Israeli steps that could change the legal status of the occupied Palestinian territories proved unpopular with most UN members, including most of Israel’s western allies.

Australia remained the exception, but not for long. Unsurprisingly, Canberra’s reversal of its earlier decision regarding the status of Jerusalem earned it much criticism in Tel Aviv. Four years following its initial policy shift, Australia shifted yet once more, as it found it more beneficial to realign itself with the position of most world capitals than to that of Washington and Tel Aviv.

Trump’s “Deal of the Century” has failed simply because neither Washington nor Tel Aviv had enough political cards to shape a whole new reality in the Middle East. Most parties involved, Trump, Netanyahu, Scott Morrison in Australia, and a few others, were simply playing a political game linked to their own interests at home. Similarly, the currently embattled British Prime Minister Liz Truss is now jumping on the bandwagon of relocating the British embassy to Jerusalem so that she may win the approval of pro-Israel politicians. The move further demonstrates her lack of political experience and, regardless of what Westminster decides to do next, it will unlikely greatly affect the political reality in Palestine and the Middle East.

In the final analysis, it has become clear that the “Deal of the Century” was not an irreversible historical event, but an opportunistic and thoughtless political process that lacked a deep understanding of history and the political balances that continue to control the Middle East.

Another important lesson to be gleaned from all of this is that, as long as the Palestinian people continue to resist and fight for their freedom and as long as international solidarity continues to grow around them, the Palestinian cause will remain central to all Arabs and to all conscientious people around the world.


Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. His other books include “My Father was a Freedom Fighter” and “The Last Earth”. Baroud is a non-resident senior research fellow at the centre for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is ramzybaroud.net

On Palestinian Sumoud and Resilience During a Time of Ongoing Repression and Resistance

October 28, 2022

Palestinians organized a rally in support of Palestinian Resistance in West Bank (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

– Benay Blend earned her doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her scholarly works include Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey, Eds. (2017), “’Neither Homeland Nor Exile are Words’: ‘Situated Knowledge’ in the Works of Palestinian and Native American Writers”. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

By Benay Blend

On October 24, 2022, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network international coordinator, Charlotte Kates, and one of the founders of the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (Masar Badil), Khaled Barakat, arrived in Amsterdam to participate in the Week of Action for Return and Liberation of Palestine. No sooner had they arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol airport than immigration service, operated by Dutch military police, detained them for questioning.

After being interrogated about their political views–about Samidoun, about Masar Badil, and the week of action for liberation and return–they were denied entry and deported back to Canada where they will continue organizing and speaking out against Zionist repression of Palestinians. While saddened by this action, activists immediately spoke out, vowing to channel their anger into making the March even stronger despite efforts to quash the movement.

Calling on Palestinians to be “purveyors of consciousness not victimhood,” journalist Ramzy Baroud suggests that, while understanding that the reach of Zionist repression is important, communicating a sense of “collective victimhood” denies human agency to those who are oppressed.

When Samidoun issued a statement declaring that “our response to this attack on our organizing must be to make an even bigger, stronger, louder and more powerful stand with the Palestinian people, their resistance, and the liberation of Palestine,” they are answering Baroud’s request that Palestinians convey strength and fortitude in the face of Zionist oppression.

“The Palestinian struggle cannot be reduced to a conversation about poverty or the horrors of war,” Baroud continues, “but must be expanded to include the wider political contexts that led to the current tragedies in the first place.” Activists are doing this as well, calling attention to the history of repression against Barakat and Kates by the European state.

In their statement, Samidoun recalls the past history of repression against Barakat and Kates. In 2019, Barakat received a political ban due to his organizing among Palestinians living in Berlin, Germany at the time. After leaving Germany, Barakat and Kates, who are also a married couple, were banned from re-entry for many years. This was the cause cited as the reason for their denial of entry into the Schengen zone, though their ban did not extend to this region.

Indeed, there has been an established policy in Germany, the Netherlands and the European Union of attacking the Palestine solidarity movement. From banning Nakba commemorations to condemning organizations that are in solidarity with Palestinian liberation, these officials have a long history of repression not only in the diaspora but also of supporting the Zionist colonization of Palestine since Israel’s founding.

Significantly, Kates’ and Barakat’s most recent ban occurs as Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte was travelling to the settler colonial Zionist state for talks during a time of escalating colonial violence and repression. Rutte’s trip serves to link repression of Palestinian activism in the diaspora to increasing Israeli violence towards Palestinians in their own country.

From Charlotte Kates came a statement that voiced this link quite clearly: “The European Union always talks about human rights, but ignores them when it comes to Palestine. Palestine activists in all EU countries face repression. This deportation is therefore not just an attack on Khaled and me, but on the Palestinian movement as a whole.”

As in the diaspora, escalating Zionist violence in Palestine has fueled the rise of resistance groups, including the “Lions’ Den” and Jenin Brigades, which includes groups of people regardless of political affiliation across the West Bank. According to Hani Al-Masri, what distinguishes this movement is that it unites armed struggle with other forms of popular resistance, such as a general strike held recently in the West Bank.

In Gaza, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine organized a rally to support Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem. Saleh Nasser, a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front in the Gaza Strip, stressed that Palestinians much chose between a variety of resistance strategies to confront the Israeli Occupation.

“What [Israel] fail[s] to understand,” writes Ramzy Baroud, “is that the growing rebellion in the West Bank is not generated by a few fighters in Nablus and a few more in Jenin, but is the outcome of a truly popular sentiment.” This unity can also be seen in solidarity around the world, most recently in the quick response to European efforts to weaken the March in Brussels.

In response to the banning of Kates and Barakat, activists at Schiphol Airport held the Palestinian flag along with signs that read “long live the Palestinian Struggle.” Others presented a statement of solidarity with Kates and Barakat to the military police who detained and interrogated the movement’s leaders.

From a wide array of Palestine solidarity groups around the world came a quick response to the injustice, showing again a commitment to unity across many different lines. For example, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBIurged activists to stand in solidarity with Kates and Barakat by supporting and/or organizing their own protests in conjunction with the March.

Al-Awda—The Palestine Right to Return Coalition called on supporters to defend the right to organize for the right of return for Palestinian people, and accentuated that “our response to this attack on our organizing must be to make an even bigger, stronger, louder and more powerful stand with the Palestinian people, their resistance, and the liberation of Palestine.”

“For the Palestinian narrative to be truly relevant,” Baroud writes, “Palestinians must assume the role of the Gramscian intellectual, as purveyors of consciousness, and abandon the role of the victim intellectual altogether.” Given rising resistance in Palestine and growing solidarity around the world, his words are bearing fruit.

Reports back from the March also paint a clear picture of carrying on with strength and dignity despite the ban. Despite efforts to the contrary—the Israeli ambassador in Brussels demanded the cancellation of the March—all attempts to quash the spirit of participants have failed.

The week began with standing room only for the first events which focused on the struggle of Palestinian prisoners. These workshops followed a 1,000-strong demonstration and march to the prison in Lannemezan, France, where Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese struggler for Palestine, has been jailed for the past 39 years.

As the movement becomes stronger, there will be more efforts to silence Palestinian voices. “Let us be clear,” stated the organizers of the March,

“all of these show just why it is so urgent that our demonstration on Saturday 29 October be very loud, clear and massive, demanding accountability from European colonialism and imperialist powers for their ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people. Join us on Saturday, 29 October at Lumumba Square in Brussels at 2 pm, to march to the European Parliament in the March for Return and Liberation.”

Explaining why “Israel is Afraid of the Lions’ Den,” Baroud concludes that that Palestinians are “simply fed up with the Israeli occupation and with their collaborating leadership.” They are ready to put “it all on the line,” because, he predicts, the coming months are going to be critical for all Palestinians.

All the more reason for organizers of the March to call for “a clear demonstration that the Palestinian people will accept nothing less than return and liberation, from the river to the sea, and will hold Europe accountable for the colonial crimes and ongoing imperialist exploitation.”

Joining the March or organizing local activities for return and liberation, they conclude, is a step towards making this possible.

LATEST POSTS

From Ally to Enemy: Australia Hammers Final Nail in US ‘Deal of the Century’

October 26, 2022

Abraham Accord signing ceremony in Washington. (Photo: Wikimedia)

By Ramzy Baroud

US President Donald Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ was meant to represent a finality of sorts, an event reminiscent of Francis Fukuyama’s premature declaration of the ‘End of History’ and the uncontested supremacy of western capitalism. In effect, it was a declaration that ‘we’ – the US, Israel and a few allies – have won, and ‘you’, isolated and marginalized Palestinians, lost.

The same way Fukuyama failed to consider the unceasing evolution of history, the US and Israeli governments also failed to understand that the Middle East, in fact, the world, is not governed by Israeli expectations and American diktats.

The above is a verifiable assertion. On October 17, the Australian government announced that it is revoking its 2018 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Expectedly, the new decision, officially made by Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, was strongly criticized by Israel, celebrated by Palestinians and welcomed by Arab countries who praised the responsible diplomacy of Canberra.

Any serious analysis of the Australian move, however, must not be confined to Australia’s own political shifts but must be extended to include the dramatic changes underway in Palestine, the Middle East and, indeed, the world.

For many years, but especially since the US invasion of Iraq as part of the politically-motivated ‘war on terror’, Washington perceived itself as the main, if not the only, power that is able to shape political outcomes in the Middle East. Yet, as its Iraq quagmire began destabilizing the entire region, with revolts, social upheavals and wars breaking out, Washington began losing its grip.

It was then rightly understood that, while the US may succeed in waging wars, as it did in Iraq and Libya, it is unable to restore even a small degree of peace and stability. Though Trump seemed disinterested in engaging in major military conflicts, he converted that energy to facilitate the rise of Israel as a regional power, which is incorporated into the Middle East’s political and economic grids through a process of political ‘normalization’, which is wholly delinked from the struggle in Palestine or the freedom of the Palestinians.

The Americans were so confident in their power to orchestrate such a major political transformation to the extent that Jared Kushner – Trump’s Middle East advisor and son-in-law – was revealed to have attempted to cancel the very status of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, an attempt that was met with a decisive Jordanian rejection.

Kushner’s arrogance reached the point that, in January 2020, he declared that his father-in-law’s plan was such a “great deal” which, if rejected by Palestinians, “they’re going to screw up another opportunity, like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.”

All of this hubris was joined with many American concessions to Israel, whereby Washington virtually fulfilled all Israeli wishes. The relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem was merely the icing on the cake of a much larger political scheme that included the financial boycott of Palestinians, the cancellation of funds that benefited Palestinian refugees, the recognition of the illegally occupied Syrian Golan Heights as part of Israel and the support of Tel Aviv’s decision to annex much of the occupied West Bank.

The then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies had hoped that, as soon as Washington carried out such moves, many other countries would follow, and that, in no time, Palestinians would find themselves friendless, broke and irrelevant.

This was hardly the case, and what started with a bang ended with a whimper. Though the Biden Administration still refuses to commit to any new ‘peace process’, it has largely avoided engaging in Trump’s provocative politics. Not just that, the Palestinians are anything but isolated, and Arab countries remain united, at least officially, in the centrality of Palestine to their collective political priorities.

In April 2021, Washington restored funding to the Palestinians, including money allocated to the UN refugees’ agency, UNRWA. It did not do so for charitable reasons, of course, but because it wanted to ensure the allegiance of the Palestinian Authority, and to remain a relevant political party in the region. Even then, the PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, still declared, during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kazakhstan on October 12, that “we (Palestinians) don’t trust America”.

Moreover, the annexation scheme, at least officially, did not go through. The rejection of any Israeli steps that could change the legal status of the occupied Palestinian territories proved unpopular with most UN members, including most of Israel’s western allies.

Australia remained the exception, but not for long. Unsurprisingly, Canberra’s reversal of its earlier decision regarding the status of Jerusalem earned it much criticism in Tel Aviv. Four years following its initial policy shift, Australia shifted yet once more, as it found it more beneficial to realign itself with the position of most world capitals than to that of Washington and Tel Aviv.

Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ has failed simply because neither Washington nor Tel Aviv had enough political cards to shape a whole new reality in the Middle East. Most parties involved – Trump, Netanyahu, Scott Morrison in Australia, and a few others – were simply playing a political game linked to their own interests at home. Similarly, the currently embattled British Prime Minister Liz Truss is now jumping on the bandwagon of relocating the British embassy to Jerusalem so that she may win the approval of pro-Israel politicians. The move further demonstrates her lack of political experience and, regardless of what Westminster decides to do next, it will unlikely greatly affect the political reality in Palestine and the Middle East.

In the final analysis, it has become clear that the ‘Deal of the Century’ was not an irreversible historical event, but an opportunistic and thoughtless political process that lacked a deep understanding of history and the political balances that continue to control the Middle East.

Another important lesson to be gleaned from all of this is that, as long as the Palestinian people continue to resist and fight for their freedom and as long as international solidarity continues to grow around them, the Palestinian cause will remain central to all Arabs and to all conscientious people around the world.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

WHY DO PALESTINIAN CHILDREN THROW STONES? ON THE DEATH OF RAYAN SULIMAN AND HIS FEAR OF MONSTERS

OCTOBER 13TH, 2022

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

Children of my Gaza refugee camp were rarely afraid of monsters but of Israeli soldiers. This is all that we talked about before going to bed. Unlike imaginary monsters in the closet or under the bed, Israeli soldiers are real, and they could show up any minute – at the door, on the roof or, as was often the case, right in the middle of the house.

The recent tragic death of a 7-year-old, Rayan Suliman, a Palestinian boy from the village of Tuqu near Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, stirred up so many memories. The little boy with olive skin, innocent face and bright eyes fell on the ground while being chased by Israeli soldiers, who accused him and his peers of throwing stones. He fell unconscious, blood poured out of his mouth and, despite efforts to revive him, he ceased to breathe.

This was the abrupt and tragic end of Rayan’s life. All the things that could have been, all the experiences that he could have lived, and all the love that he could have imparted or received, all ended suddenly, as the boy lay face down on the pavement of a dusty road, in a poor village, without ever experiencing a single moment of being truly free, or even safe.

Rayan Suleiman
Seven year old Rayan Suleiman died of a heart attack after being chased down by armed Israeli soldiers. Credit | Wafa

Adults often project their understanding of the world on children. We want to believe that Palestinian children are warriors against oppression, injustice and military occupation. Though Palestinian children develop political consciousness at a very young age, quite often their action of protesting against the Israeli military, chanting against invading soldiers or even throwing stones are not compelled by politics, but by something else entirely: their fear of monsters.

This connection came to mind when I read the details of the harrowing experience that Rayan and many of the village children endure daily.

Tuqu is a Palestinian village that, once upon a time, existed in an uncontested landscape. In 1957, the illegal Jewish settlement of  Tekoa was established on stolen Palestinian land. The nightmare had begun.

Israeli restrictions on Palestinian communities in that area increased, along with land annexation, travel restrictions and deepening apartheid. Several residents, mostly children from the village, were injured or killed by Israeli soldiers during repeated protests: the villagers wanted to have their life and freedom back; the soldiers wanted to ensure the continued oppression of Tuqu in the name of safeguarding the security of Tekoa. In 2017, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy, Hassan Mohammad al-Amour, was shot and killed during a protest; in 2019, another, Osama Hajahjeh, was seriously wounded.

The children of Tuqu had much to fear, and their fears were all well-founded. A daily journey to school, taken by Rayan and many of his peers, accentuated these fears. To get to school, the kids had to cross Israeli military barbed wire, often manned by heavily armed Israeli soldiers.

Sometimes, kids attempted to avoid the barbed wire so as to avoid the terrifying encounter. The soldiers anticipated this. “We tried to walk through the olive field next to the path, instead, but the soldiers hide in the trees there and grab us,” a 10-year-old boy from Tuqu, Mohammed Sabah, was quoted in an article by Sheren Khalel, published years ago.

The nightmare has been ongoing for years. Rayan experienced that terrorizing journey for over a year, of soldiers waiting behind barbed wires, mysterious creatures hiding behind trees, hands grabbing little bodies, children screaming for their parents, beseeching God and running in all directions.

Following Rayan’s death on September 29, the US State Department, the British government and the European Union demanded an investigation, as if the reason why the little boy succumbing to his paralyzing fears was a mystery, as if the horror of Israeli military occupation and violence was not an everyday reality.

Rayan’s story, though tragic beyond words, is not unique but a repeat of other stories experienced by countless Palestinian children.

When Ahmad Manasra was run over by an Israeli settler’s car, and his cousin, Hassan, was killed in 2015, Israeli media and apologists fanned the flames of propaganda, claiming that Manasra, 13 at the time, was a representation of something bigger. Israel claimed that Manasra was shot for attempting to stab an Israeli guard, and that such action reflected deep-seated Palestinian hatred for Israeli Jews, another convenient proof of the indoctrination of Palestinian children by their supposedly violent culture. Despite his injuries and young age, Manasra was tried in 2016, and was sentenced to twelve years in prison.

Manasra comes from the Palestinian town of Beit Hanina, near Jerusalem. His story is, in many ways, similar to that of Rayan: a Palestinian town, an illegal Jewish settlement, soldiers, armed settlers, ethnic cleansing, land theft and real monsters, everywhere. None of this mattered to the Israeli court or to mainstream, corporate media. They turned a 13-year-old boy into a monster, instead, and used his image as a poster child of Palestinian terrorism taught at a very young age.

The truth is, Palestinian children throw stones at Israeli soldiers, neither because of their supposedly inherent hatred of Israelis, nor as purely political acts. They do so because it is their only way of facing their own fears and coming to terms with their daily humiliation.

Just before Rayan managed to escape the crowd of Israeli soldiers and was chased to his death, an exchange took place between his father and the soldiers. Rayan’s father told the Associated Press the soldiers had threatened that, if Rayan was not handed over, they would return at night to arrest him along with his older brothers, aged 8 and 10. For a Palestinian child, a nightly raid by Israeli soldiers is the most terrifying prospect. Rayan’s young heart could not bear the thought. He fell unconscious.

Doctors at the nearby Palestinian hospital of Beit Jala had a convincing medical explanation of why Rayan has died. A pediatric specialist spoke about increased stress levels, caused by “excess adrenaline secretion” and increased heartbeats, leading to a cardiac arrest. For Rayan, his brothers and many Palestinian children, the culprit is something else: the monsters who return at night and terrify the sleeping children.

Chances are, Rayan’s older brothers will be back in the streets of Tuqu, stones and slingshots in hand, ready to face their fears of monsters, even if they pay the price with their own lives.

INVESTIGATING ISRAEL’S ROLE IN HOLLYWOOD, WITH RAMZY BAROUD, JESSICA BUXBAUM AND ALAN MACLEOD 

OCTOBER 13TH, 2022

By Lowkey

Source

The MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

The Israeli state has been losing the battle for Western public opinion for quite some time now. Even in the United States, its closest ally, support for Israel is waning, while sympathy for Palestine has more than doubled since 2013, according to a series of Gallup polls.

Knowing this, Israel has redoubled its efforts in soft power. Joining Lowkey today are three people who have closely monitored these efforts: Dr. Ramzy Baroud, Jessica Buxbaum, and Alan MacLeod.

One example of Israel trying to launder its image in pop culture is the character of Sabra, an Israeli superhero and Mossad agent. Sabra features in the upcoming Marvel blockbuster, “Captain America: New World Order.” Baroud asked Lowkey the question, “why now?” Why had this controversial character made a return, noting,

The timing of introducing Sabra fits really nicely into the progression of Israeli propaganda in American movies and in the entertainment industry in general. We are living in an age now, where a superhero can actually be a Mossad agent!”

Baroud explored this in detail in his recent MintPress News article, “From Exodus to Marvel: The Israelification of Hollywood.”

This latest attempt at woke imperialism is particularly notable, Baroud said, as,

Mossad is a notorious organization that is responsible for the assassination of many people, sabotage, destruction, all sorts of sinister business. This is by no means the kind of agency or organization that should be introduced to American youth as if they are the saviors of the human race.”

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, as well as a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs. He is the author of six books, including “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out,” co-written with Professor Ilan Pappé.

Jessica Buxbaum highlighted the many connections Marvel Studios – particularly its senior executives – have with the apartheid state. Marvel Entertainment chairman Isaac Perlmutter, for example, grew up in 1948-occupied Palestine and served in the IDF during the 1967 Six-Day War, alongside Marvel CEO Avi Arad. Her recent investigation found that many other Marvel senior figures had donated to Zionist organizations, or even to campaign funds for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Buxbaum is a journalist specializing in Middle Eastern politics and current affairs. Aside from MintPress News, her work can also be found in Middle East Eye, The New Arab, and Gulf News.

Also joining Lowkey today is Alan MacLeod, whose latest investigation goes through emails published by WikiLeaks showing that many of Hollywood’s most influential producers work closely with the Israeli government and the IDF in order to whitewash its crimes, promote its image, and stamp out any pro-Palestine sentiment in the entertainment world. This went so far as senior entertainment executives introducing IDF officers to other celebrities in an effort to spread Israeli narratives throughout the profession. Hollywood’s top brass also attempted to “cancel” actors and directors who spoke out against Israeli aggression, using their financial clout to intimidate venues and festivals into cutting ties with them.

‘The Palestinian View’ – with Ramzy Baroud: Which Side is the PA On? (VIDEO)

October 3, 2022

Ramzy Baroud discusses the very future of the PA. (Thumbnail: The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

The arrest of a prominent Palestinian activist, Musab Shtayyeh, and another Palestinian activist, by Palestinian Authority police on September 20 was not the first time that the notorious PA’s Preventive Security Service (PSS) has arrested a Palestinian who is wanted by Israel.

In this episode of ‘The Palestinian View’, Ramzy Baroud talks about the Palestinian Authority, its violence against the Palestinian people and the very future of the PA.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

‘The Palestinian View’ – with Ramzy Baroud: Will the UN Deliver Justice for Palestine? (VIDEO)

September 21, 2022

Baroud comments on the Palestinian Authority’s quest to obtain full UN membership and whether such status is merely symbolic. (Photo: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

In the latest Palestine Chronicle episode of the “Palestinian View’, Ramzy Baroud raises the question “Will the United Nations Finally Deliver Justice for Palestine?”

Baroud comments on the Palestinian Authority’s quest to obtain full UN membership and whether such status is merely symbolic. 

To understand the historical context of this issue and to offer your own opinion, make sure to watch and share the Palestine Chronicle’s latest production. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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‘PAINFUL MARCH FOR FREEDOM’: THE TRIUMPHANT LEGACY OF PALESTINIAN PRISONERS

SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2022

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

As soon as I left prison, I went to Nael’s grave. It is adorned with the colors of the Palestinian flag and verses from the Holy Quran. I told my little brother how much I loved and appreciated him, and that, one day, we would meet again in paradise.

The above is part of a testimony given to me by a former Palestinian prisoner, Jalal Lutfi Saqr. It was published two years ago in the volume ‘These Chains Will Be Broken’.

As a Palestinian, born and raised in a refugee camp in Gaza, I was always familiar with the political discourse of, and concerning, political prisoners. My neighborhood, like every neighborhood in Gaza, is populated with a large number of former prisoners, or families whose members have experienced imprisonment in the past or present.

However, starting in 2016, my relationship with the subject took on, for the lack of a better term,  a more ‘academic’ approach. Since then, and up to now, I have interviewed scores of former prisoners and members of their families. Some were imprisoned by Israel, others by the Palestinian Authority. I even spoke to prisoners who experienced the brutality of Middle Eastern prisons, from Iraq, to Syria, to Egypt and Lebanon. A few particularly unlucky ones have endured multiple prison experiences and were tortured by men speaking different languages.

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Some prisoners, now quite old, were imprisoned by the British army, which colonized Palestine between 1920 and 1948. They were held according to the 1945 so-called Defense (Emergency) Regulations, an arbitrary legal code that allowed the British to hold as many rebelling Palestinian Arabs without having to provide a cause or engage in due process.

This system remains in effect to this day, as it was adopted by Israel following the end of the British Mandate. Following minor amendments in 1979, and the renaming of the law into the “Israeli Law on Authority in States of Emergency”, this is essentially today’s so-called ‘Administrative Detention’. It allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians, practically indefinitely, based on ‘secret evidence’ that is not revealed, even to the defense attorney.

These ‘emergency’ laws remain in place, simply because Palestinians never ceased resisting. Thousands of Palestinians were held without evidence or trial during the First Palestinian Intifada, the uprising of 1987. Most of them were kept in horrific living conditions, in tent cities in the Naqab Desert.

According to the Palestinian Commission on Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, around one million Palestinians were imprisoned between 1967 and 2021. Currently, hundreds of Palestinian ‘administrative detainees’ are held in Israeli prisons, an act that violates international law on various counts – holding prisoners without trial or due process, and transferring prisoners to enemy territories, the latter being a stark violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

Of course, respecting international law has never been Israel’s strongest suit. In fact, Israel continues to deliberately ignore international law in numerous aspects of its illegal military occupation of Palestine, rationalizing such actions on ‘security’ grounds.

Palestinians are also doing what they do best, resist, under the harshest circumstances and by every means available to them. Tellingly, the strongest of such resistance takes place inside prison walls, by gaunt looking, and often dying hunger strikers.

Khalil Awawdeh, a 40-year-old Palestinian from a village near Al-Khalil (Hebron) is the latest prisoner hunger striker to make history, by simply refraining from eating for 180 days. His weight has dropped to 38 kilograms, after losing over 40 kilograms while on hunger strike. The images of his half-naked, skeletal body have been deemed ‘graphic’ and ‘offensive’ to some social media users, and were removed as soon as they were shared. At the end, he could only whisper a few words. Though barely audible, they were filled with courage.

Khalil Awawdeh
Khalil Awawdeh in bed at Asaf Harofeh Hospital in Be’er Ya’akov, Israel, Aug. 24, 2022. Mahmoud Illean | AP

On August 31, Awawdeh ended his hunger strike, after reaching a deal with the Israeli prison administration to release him on October 2. His first words after that agreement were hardly those of a dying man, but of a triumphant leader: “This resounding victory extends the series of great victories achieved by the mighty and honorable people of this nation.”

These words, however, were not unique. They carried the same sentiment communicated to me by every single freed prisoner I have interviewed in recent years. None have any regrets, even those who spent most of their lives in dark cells and in shackles; even those who lost loved ones; even those who left prison with chronic diseases, to die soon after their release. Their message is always that of defiance, of courage, and of hope.

Awawdeh is neither the first, nor the last prisoner to undergo these life-threatening hunger strikes. The strategy may be explained, and understandably so, as the last resort or as acts of desperation by individuals who are left without alternatives. But for Palestinians, these are acts of resistance that demonstrate the power of the Palestinian people: even in prison, handcuffed to a hospital bed, denied every basic human right, a Palestinian can fight, and win. Awawdeh did.

When Jalal Lutfi Saqr learned that his brother Nael was killed by the Israeli army in Gaza, he was a prisoner in Israel. He told me that the first thing he did when he learned of his brother’s death was kneeling down and praying. The following day, Jalal spoke to the mourners in his Gaza refugee camp using a smuggled cell phone by telling them, “Ours is a long and painful march for freedom.

“Some of us are in prison; others are underground, but we will never cease our fight for our people. We must remain committed to the legacy of our forefathers and our martyrs. We are all brothers, in blood, in the struggle and in faith, so let’s remain united as one people, as brothers and sisters, and carry on, despite the heavy losses and tremendous sacrifices.”

Jalal’s call on his people was made twenty years ago. It remains as relevant today, as it was then.

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