‘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)

Donate NOW  Learn More  Watch Video(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)

‘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.

Gruesome Details Emerge of Israel’s Torture of Palestinian Prisoners
New allegations reveal the gruesome details of the torture of Palestinian detainees by Israel, specifically its intel agency Shin bet.

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.

DELIBERATE MISREPRESENTATION: WESTERN MEDIA BIAS MAKES ISRAELI WAR ON PALESTINIANS POSSIBLE

AUGUST 26TH, 2022

Children and relatives of the five Palestinian children from Najm family who were killed in the last conflict between Palestine and Israel, hold placards during a rally in Jabalia, northern of Gaza strip. (Photo by Nidal Alwaheidi / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)


RAMZY BAROUD

While US and western mainstream and corporate media remain biased in favor of Israel, they often behave as if they are a third, neutral party. This is simply not the case.

Take the New York Times coverage of the latest Israeli war on Gaza as an example. Its article on August 6, “Israel-Gaza Fighting Flares for a Second Day” is the typical mainstream western reporting on Israel and Palestine, but with a distinct NYT flavor.

For the uninformed reader, the article succeeds in finding a balanced language between two equal sides. This misleading moral equivalence is one of the biggest intellectual blind spots for western journalists. If they do not outwardly champion Israel’s discourse on ‘security’ and ‘right to defend itself’, they create false parallels between Palestinians and Israelis, as if a military occupier and an occupied nation have comparable rights and responsibilities.

Obviously, this logic does not apply to the Russia-Ukraine war. For NYT and all mainstream western media, there is no question regarding who the good guys and the bad guys are in that bloody fight.

‘Palestinian militants’ and ‘terrorists’ have always been the West’s bad guys.  Per the logic of their media coverage, Israel does not launch unprovoked wars on Palestinians and is not an unrepentant military occupier or a racist apartheid regime. This language can only be used by marginal ‘radical’ and ‘leftist’ media, never the mainstream.

The brief introduction of the NYT article spoke about the rising death toll, but did not initially mention that the 20 killed Palestinians include children, emphasizing, instead, that Israeli attacks have killed a ‘militant leader’.

When the six children killed by Israel are revealed in the second paragraph, the article immediately, and without starting a new sentence, clarifies that “Israel said some civilian deaths were the result of militants stashing weapons in residential areas”, and that others were killed by “misfired’ Palestinian rockets.

On August 16, the Israeli military finally admitted that it was behind the strikes that killed the 5 young Palestinian boys of Jabaliya. Whether the NYT reported on that or not matters little. The damage has been done, and that was Israel’s plan from the start.

The title of the BBC story of August 16, ‘Gaza’s children are used to the death and bombing’, does not immediately name those responsible for the ‘death and bombing’. Even Israeli military spokesmen, as we will discover later, would agree to such a statement, though they will always lay the blame squarely on the ‘Palestinian terrorists’.

When the story finally reveals that a little girl, Layan, was killed in an Israeli strike, the language was carefully crafted to lessen the blame on her Israeli murderers. The girl, we are told, was on her way to the beach with her family, when their tuk-tuk “passed by a military camp run by the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad”, which, “at the exact moment, (…) was targeted by Israeli fire”. The author says nothing of how she reached the conclusion that the family was not the target.

One can easily glean from the story that Israel’s intention was not to kill Layan – and logically, none of the 17 other children murdered during the three-day war on Gaza. Besides, Israel has, according to the BBC, tried to save the little girl; alas, “a week of treatment in an Israeli hospital couldn’t save her life”.

Though Israeli politicians have spoken blatantly about killing Palestinian children – and, in the case of former Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, “the Palestinian mothers who give birth to ‘little snakes’” – the BBC report, and other reports on the latest war, have failed to mention this. Instead, it quoted Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who reportedly said that “the death of innocent civilians, especially children is heartbreaking.” Incidentally, Lapid ordered the latest war on Gaza, which killed a total of 49 Palestinians.

Even a human-interest story about a murdered Palestinian child somehow avoided the language that could fault Israel for the gruesome killing of a little girl. Furthermore, the BBC also labored to present Israel in a positive light, resorting to quoting the occupation army’s statement that it was “devastated by (Layan’s) death and that of any civilians.”

The NYT and BBC have been selected here not because they are the worst examples of western media bias, but because they are often cited as ‘liberal’, if not ‘progressive’, media. Their reporting, however, represents an ongoing crisis in western journalism, especially relating to Palestine.

Books have been written about this subject, civil society organizations were formed to hold western media accountable and numerous editorial board meetings were organized to put some pressure on western editors, to no avail.

Desperate by the unchanging pro-Israel narratives in western media, some pro-Palestine human rights advocates often argue that there are greater margins within Israel’s own mainstream media than in the US, for example. This, too, is inaccurate.

The misnomer of the supposedly more balanced Israeli media is a direct outcome of the failure to influence western media coverage on Palestine and Israel. The erroneous notion is often buoyed by the fact that an Israeli newspaper, like Haaretz, gives marginal spaces to critical voices, like those of Israeli journalists Gideon Levy and Amira Hass.

Israeli propaganda, one of the most powerful and sophisticated in the world, however, can hardly be balanced by occasional columns written by a few dissenting journalists.

Additionally, Haaretz is often cited as an example of relatively fair journalism, simply because the alternatives – Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post and other rightwing Israeli media – are exemplary in their callousness, biased language and misconstruing of facts.

The pro-Israel prejudices in western media often spill over to Palestine sympathetic media throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, especially those reporting on the news in English and French.

Since many newspapers and online platforms utilize western news agencies, they, often inadvertently, adopt the same language used in western news sources, thus depicting Palestinian resisters or fighters, as ‘militants’, the Israeli occupation army as “Israeli Defense Forces” and Israeli war on Gaza as ‘flare ups’ of violence.

In its totality, this language misinterprets the Palestinian struggle for freedom as random acts of violence within a protracted ‘conflict’ where innocent civilians, like Layan, are ‘caught in the crossfire.’

The deadly Israeli wars on Gaza are made possible, not only by western weapons and political support, but through an endless stream of media misinformation and misrepresentation. Though Israel has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians in recent years, western media remains as committed to defending Israel as if nothing has changed.

Feature photo | Children and relatives of the five Palestinian children from the Najm family who were killed by Israel in its latest military assault on Gaza, hold placards during a rally in Jabalia, Gaza. Nidal Alwaheidi | Sipa via AP Images

Dr. 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 Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News

Fake Neutrality: How Western Media Language Misrepresents Palestinians, Shields Israel

August 24, 2022

A vigil near the graves of Palestinian children who were killed in the latest Israeli war on Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Ramzy Baroud

While US and western mainstream and corporate media remain biased in favor of Israel, they often behave as if they are a third, neutral party. This is simply not the case.

Take the New York Times coverage of the latest Israeli war on Gaza as an example. Its article on August 6, “Israel-Gaza Fighting Flares for a Second Day” is the typical mainstream western reporting on Israel and Palestine, but with a distinct NYT flavor.

For the uninformed reader, the article succeeds in finding a balanced language between two equal sides. This misleading moral equivalence is one of the biggest intellectual blind spots for western journalists. If they do not outwardly champion Israel’s discourse on ‘security’ and ‘right to defend itself’, they create false parallels between Palestinians and Israelis, as if a military occupier and an occupied nation have comparable rights and responsibilities.

Obviously, this logic does not apply to the Russia-Ukraine war. For NYT and all mainstream western media, there is no question regarding who the good guys and the bad guys are in that bloody fight.

‘Palestinian militants’ and ‘terrorists’ have always been the West’s bad guys.  Per the logic of their media coverage, Israel does not launch unprovoked wars on Palestinians, and is not an unrepentant military occupier, or a racist apartheid regime. This language can only be used by marginal ‘radical’ and ‘leftist’ media, never the mainstream.

The brief introduction of the NYT article spoke about the rising death toll, but did not initially mention that the 20 killed Palestinians include children, emphasizing, instead, that Israeli attacks have killed a ‘militant leader’.

When the six children killed by Israel are revealed in the second paragraph, the article immediately, and without starting a new sentence, clarifies that “Israel said some civilian deaths were the result of militants stashing weapons in residential areas”, and that others were killed by “misfired’ Palestinian rockets.

On August 16, the Israeli military finally admitted that it was behind the strikes that killed the 5 young Palestinian boys of Jabaliya. Whether the NYT reported on that or not matters little. The damage has been done, and that was Israel’s plan from the start.

The title of the BBC story of August 16, ‘Gaza’s children are used to the death and bombing’, does not immediately name those responsible for the ‘death and bombing’. Even Israeli military spokesmen, as we will discover later, would agree to such a statement, though they will always lay the blame squarely on the ‘Palestinian terrorists’.

When the story finally reveals that a little girl, Layan, was killed in an Israeli strike, the language was carefully crafted to lessen the blame on her Israeli murderers. The girl, we are told, was on her way to the beach with her family, when their tuk-tuk “passed by a military camp run by the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad”, which, “at the exact moment, (…) was targeted by Israeli fire”. The author says nothing of how she reached the conclusion that the family was not the target.

One can easily glean from the story that Israel’s intention was not to kill Layan – and logically, none of the 17 other children murdered during the three-day war on Gaza. Besides, Israel has, according to the BBC, tried to save the little girl; alas, “a week of treatment in an Israeli hospital couldn’t save her life”.

Though Israeli politicians have spoken blatantly about killing Palestinians children – and, in the case of former Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, “the Palestinian mothers who give birth to ‘little snakes’” – the BBC report, and other reports on the latest war, have failed to mention this. Instead, it quoted Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who reportedly said that “the death of innocent civilians, especially childr is heartbreaking.” Incidentally, Lapid ordered the latest war on Gaza, which killed a total of 49 Palestinians.

Even a human-interest story about a murdered Palestinian child somehow avoided the language that could fault Israel for the gruesome killing of a little girl. Furthermore, the BBC also labored to present Israel in a positive light, resorting to quote the occupation army’s statement that it was “devastated by (Layan’s) death and that of any civilians.”

The NYT and BBC have been selected here not because they are the worst examples of western media bias, but because they are often cited as ‘liberal’, if not ‘progressive’, media. Their reporting, however, represents an ongoing crisis in western journalism, especially relating to Palestine.

Books have been written about this subject, civil society organizations were formed to hold western media accountable and numerous editorial board meetings were organized to put some pressure on western editors, to no avail.

Desperate by the unchanging pro-Israel narratives in western media, some pro-Palestine human rights advocates often argue that there are greater margins within Israel’s own mainstream media than in the US, for example. This, too, is inaccurate.

The misnomer of the supposedly more balanced Israeli media is a direct outcome of the failure to influence western media coverage on Palestine and Israel. The erroneous notion is often buoyed by the fact that an Israeli newspaper, like Haaretz, gives marginal spaces to critical voices, like those of Israeli journalists Gideon Levy and Amira Hass.

Israeli propaganda, one of the most powerful and sophisticated in the world, however, can hardly be balanced by occasional columns written by a few dissenting journalists.

Additionally, Haaretz is often cited as an example of relatively fair journalism, simply because the alternatives – Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post and other right-wing Israeli media – are exemplary in their callousness, biased language and misconstruing of facts.

The pro-Israel prejudices in western media often spill over to Palestine’s sympathetic media throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, especially those reporting on the news in English and French.

Since many newspapers and online platforms utilize western news agencies, they, often inadvertently, adopt the same language used in western news sources, thus depicting Palestinian resisters or fighters, as ‘militants’, the Israeli occupation army as “Israeli Defense Forces” and the Israeli war on Gaza as ‘flare ups’ of violence.

In its totality, this language misinterprets the Palestinian struggle for freedom as random acts of violence within a protracted ‘conflict’ where innocent civilians, like Layan, are ‘caught in the crossfire.’

The deadly Israeli wars on Gaza are made possible, not only by western weapons and political support, but through an endless stream of media misinformation and misrepresentation. Though Israel has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians in recent years, western media remains as committed to defending Israel as if nothing has changed.

– 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

ISRAEL’S PREMATURE ‘VICTORY’ CELEBRATION: THE DEFINING WAR IN GAZA IS YET TO BE FOUGHT

AUGUST 17TH, 2022

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

For years, Palestinians, as well as Israelis, have labored to redraw the battle lines. The three-day Israeli war on Gaza, starting on August 5clearly manifested this reality.

Throughout its military operation, Israel has repeatedly underscored the point that the war was targeting the Islamic Jihad Movement only, not Hamas or anyone else.

A somewhat similar scenario had transpired in May 2019 and again in November of the same year. The May clashes began when two Israeli soldiers were wounded by a Palestinian sniper at the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel.

Mass weekly protests had taken place near the fence for years, demanding an end to the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. Over 200 unarmed Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers, who were dispatched to the fence area as early as March 2018. The unexpected Palestinian shooting of the Israeli snipers was a temporary reversal of the bloody scene in that area.

Israel blamed the Islamic Jihad for the attack.

On May 3, Israel responded by bombing Hamas positions so that the latter may put pressure on the Islamic Jihad to cease its operations near the fence. The unstated goal, however, was to sow the seeds of disunity among Palestinian groups in Gaza who have, for years, operated under the umbrella of the joint armed operation room.

Like the latest August war, the 2019 war was also brief and deadly.

Another brief war followed in November, this time around involving the Islamic Jihad alone. Many Palestinians were killed and wounded.

Though Israel failed in breaking up Palestinian unity, a debate took place in Palestine, especially following the November clashes, as to why Hamas did not take a more active part in the fighting.

The conventional wisdom at the time was that Israel must not be allowed to impose the time, place and nature of the fight on the Palestinians, as was often the case, and that it is far more strategic for Palestinian Resistance to make these determinations.

That position might be defensible when understood in a historical context.

For Israel, maintaining the status quo in Gaza is politically and strategically advantageous.

Additionally, the status quo is financially profitable as new weapons are tested and sold at exorbitant prices, making Israel the world’s 10th-largest international weapons exporter over the past five years, as of 2022.

Israeli wars on Gaza are also a political insurance, as they reaffirm Washington’s support for Tel Aviv, via word and deed. “My support for Israel’s security is long-standing and unwavering,” US President Joe Biden said on August 7, as Israeli bombs rained over Gaza, killing 49 Palestinians, 17 of whom were children. It is the exact same position of every US administration in every Israeli war.

The Israeli military establishment too embraced this seemingly unchanging reality. The Israeli military refers to its occasional deadly war on Gaza as ‘mowing the grass’. Writing in the Jerusalem Post in May 2021, David M. Weinberg of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security explained the Israeli strategy in the most dehumanizing terms: “Just like mowing your front lawn, this is constant, hard work. If you fail to do so, weeds grow wild, and snakes begin to slither around in the brush.”

For its part, the political establishment in Tel Aviv has learned to adapt and benefit from the routine violence. In 2015, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summed up his country’s position in a short but loaded sentence: “I am asked if we will live forever by the sword – yes.”

Ironically, in May 2021, the Palestinians were the ones unleashing the ‘sword’. Instead of keeping the tit-for-tat battle in Gaza confined to that small geopolitical space, the Resistance took the unusual step of striking at Israel in response to events transpiring in a small Palestinian neighborhood in Occupied East Jerusalem. Within hours, Tel Aviv lost the political plot and its control over the war narrative. It seemed as if every inch of Palestine and Israel suddenly became part of a larger battle, whose outcome was no longer determined by Israel alone.

The Palestinians call those events “the Sword of Jerusalem”. The name was coined in Gaza.

Ever since, Israel has been fishing for a new battle that would help it regain the initiative.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, for example, attempted to provoke such a fight in May, but failed. He thought that by moving forward with the provocative Flag March in Occupied Jerusalem, he would be able to drag Gaza into another war. Instead of war, Palestinians responded with mass protests and popular mobilization.

The latest August war was another such attempt, this time by the country’s new Prime Minister Yair Lapid. However, all that the militarily inexperienced Israeli leader could obtain was what Israeli military analysts refer to as “tactical victory”.

It was hardly a victory. To claim any kind of victory, Israel simply redefined the war objectives. Instead of ‘destroying the terror infrastructure of Hamas’, as is often the declared goal, it instigated a fight with the Islamic Jihad, killing two of its military commanders.

The typical Israeli media reporting on the war discreetly shifted, as if Hamas and other Palestinian groups were never enemies of Israel. It was all about Islamic Jihad.

“Fighting with the terror group would eventually have to resume,” The Times of Israel wrote on August 12, citing Israeli military sources. No reference was made to the other ‘terror groups’.

Unlike previous wars, Israel was in desperate need to end the fighting very quickly, as Lapid was keen on clinching a ‘tactical victory’ that will surely be heavily promoted prior to the general elections in November.

Both Israeli military and political establishments, however, knew too well that they will not be able to sustain another all-out conflict like that of May 2021. The war had to end, simply because a bigger war was unwinnable.

Hours after a mediated truce was declared, the Israeli military killed three fighters belonging to the ruling Fatah Movement in Nablus in the West Bank. Lapid aimed to send another message of strength, though in actuality he confirmed that the lines of the battles have been permanently redrawn.

The Resistance in Gaza commented on the killing of the Nablus fighters by declaring that the conflict with Israel has entered a new phase. Indeed, it has.

Feature photo |Fghters from Saraya al-Quds participate in a military march in Rafah in Gaza, August 7, 2022. Yousef Masoud | Sipa via AP

Dr. 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 Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Without Palestine, There is No Arab Unity: Why Normalization with Israel Will Fail

August 10, 2022

Pro-Palestinian rally in Cairo. (Photo: Ali Martin, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud

It seemed all but a done deal: Israel is finally managing to bend the Arabs to its will, and Palestine is becoming a marginal issue that no longer defines Israel’s relations with Arab countries. Indeed, normalization with Israel is afoot, and the Arabs, so it seems, have been finally tamed.

Not so fast. Many events continue to demonstrate the opposite. Take, for example, the Arab League two-day meeting in Cairo on July 31 – August 1. The meeting was largely dominated by discussions on Palestine and concluded with statements that called on Arab countries to reactivate the Arab boycott of Israel, until the latter abides by international law.

The strongest language came from the League’s Assistant Secretary-General who called for solidarity with the Palestinian people by boycotting companies that support the Israeli occupation.

The two-day Conference of the Liaison Officers of the Arab Regional Offices on the Boycott of Israel praised the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has been under intense western pressures for its unrelenting advocacy of international action against Israel.

One of the recommendations by Arab officials was to support Arab boycott initiatives in accordance with the Tunis Arab Summit in March 2019, which resolved that “boycott of the Israeli occupation and its colonial regime is one of the effective and legitimate means to resist.”

Though one may rightly cast doubts on the significance of such statements in terms of dissuading Israel from its ongoing colonization schemes in Palestine, at least, it demonstrates that in terms of political discourse, the collective Arab position remains unchanged. This was also expressed clearly to US President Joe Biden during his latest visit to the Middle East. Biden may have expected to leave the region with major Arab concession to Israel – which would be considered a significant political victory for the pro-Israel members of his Democratic Party prior to the defining November midterm elections – but he received none.

What American officials do not understand is that Palestine is a deeply rooted emotional, cultural and spiritual issue for Arabs – and Muslims. Neither Biden, nor Donald Trump and Jared Kushner before him, could easily – or possibly – alter that.

Indeed, anyone who is familiar with the history of the centrality of Palestine in the Arab discourse understands that Palestine is not a mere political question that is governed by opportunism, and immediate political or geopolitical interests. Modern Arab history is a testament to the fact that no matter how great US-Western-Israeli pressures and however weak or divided the Arabs are, Palestine will continue to reign supreme as the cause of all Arabs. Political platitudes aside, the Palestinian struggle for freedom remains a recurring theme in Arab poetry, art, sports, religion, and culture in all its manifestations.

This is not an opinion, but a demonstrable fact.

The latest Arab Center Washington DC (ACW) public opinion poll examined the views of 28,288 Arabs in 13 different countries. Majority of the 350 million Arabs continue to hold the same view as previous generations of Arabs did: Palestine is an Arab cause and Israel is the main threat.

The Arab Opinion Index (AOI) of late 2020 is not the first of its kind. In fact, it is the seventh such study to be conducted since 2011. The trend remains stable. All the US-Israeli plots – and bribes – to sideline Palestine and the Palestinians have failed and, despite purported diplomatic ‘successes’, they will continue to fail.

According to the poll: Vast majority of Arabs – 81 percent – oppose US policy towards Palestine; 89 percent and 81 percent believe that Israel and the US respectively are “the largest threat” to their individual countries’ national security. Particularly important, majority of Arab respondents insist that the “Palestinian cause concerns all Arabs and not simply the Palestinians.” This includes 89 percent of Saudis and 88 percent of Qataris.

Arabs may disagree on many issues, and they do. They might stand at opposite sides of regional and international conflicts, and they do. They might even go to war against one another and, sadly, they often do. But Palestine remains the exception. Historically, it has been the Arabs’ most compelling case for unity. When governments forget that, and they often do, the Arab streets constantly remind them of why Palestine is not for sale and is not a subject for self-serving compromises.

For Arabs, Palestine is also a personal and intimate subject. Numerous Arab households have framed photos of Arab martyrs who were killed by Israel during previous wars or were killed fighting for Palestine. This means that no amount of normalization or even outright recognition of Israel by an Arab country can wash away Israel’s sordid past or menacing image in the eyes of ordinary Arabs.

A most telling example of this is how Egyptians and Jordanians answered the AOI question “Would you support or oppose diplomatic recognition of Israel by your country?” The interesting thing about this question is that both Cairo and Amman already recognized Israel and have diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv since 1979 and 1994, respectively. Still, to this day, 93 percent of Jordanians and 85 percent of Egyptians still oppose that recognition as if it never took place.

The argument that Arab public opinion carries no weight in non-democratic societies neglects the fact that every form of government is predicated on some form of legitimacy, if not through a direct vote, it is through other means. Considering the degree of involvement the cause of Palestine carries in every aspect of Arab societies – on the street, in the mosque and church, in universities, sports, civil society organizations and much more – disowning Palestine would be a major delegitimizing factor and a risky political move.

American politicians, who are constantly angling for quick political victories on behalf of Israel in the Middle East do not understand, or simply do not care that marginalizing Palestine and incorporating Israel into the Arab body politic is not simply unethical, but also a major destabilizing factor in an already unstable region.

Historically, such attempts have failed, and often miserably so, as apartheid Israel remains as hated by those who normalized as much as it is hated by those who have not. Nothing will ever change that, as long as Palestine remains an occupied country.

– 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 Resistance Matters: Palestinians are Challenging Israel’s Unilateralism, Dominance

August 3, 2022

Palestinians take part in a rally in Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Ramzy Baroud

Until recently, Israeli politics did not matter to Palestinians. Though the Palestinian people maintained their political agency under the most demoralizing conditions, their collective action rarely influenced outcomes in Israel, partly due to the massive discrepancy of power between the two sides.

Now that Israelis are embarking on their fifth election in less than four years, it is important to raise the question: “How do Palestine and the Palestinians factor in Israeli politics?”

Israeli politicians and media, even those who are decrying the failure of the ‘peace process’, agree that peace with the Palestinians is no longer a factor, and that Israeli politics almost entirely revolves around Israel’s own socio-economic, political and strategic priorities.

This, however, is not exactly true.

While it is appropriate to argue that none of Israel’s mainstream politicians are engaged in dialogue about Palestinian rights, a just peace or co-existence, Palestine remains a major factor in the election campaigning of most of Israel’s political parties. Instead of advocating peace, these camps advocate sinister ideas, ranging from the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements to the rebuilding of the ‘Third Temple’ – thus the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The former is represented by ex Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett, and the latter in more extremist characters like Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

Hence, Palestine has always factored in Israeli politics in such a vulgar way. Even before the establishment of the state of Israel on the ruins of historic Palestine in 1948, the Zionist movement understood that a ‘Jewish state’ can only exist and maintain its Jewish majority through force, and only when Palestine and the Palestinian people cease to exist.

“Zionism is a colonizing adventure and, therefore, it stands or falls on the question of armed forces”, Zionist ideologue Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote nearly 100 years ago. This philosophy of violence continues to permeate Zionist thought to this day. “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands,” said Israeli historian, Benny Morris in a 2004 interview, in reference to the Nakba and the subsequent dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Until the war of 1967, Palestinian and Arab states mattered, to some extent, to Israel. Palestinian and Arab resistance cemented Palestinian political agency for decades. However, the devastating outcome of the war, which, once again, demonstrated the centrality of violence to Israel’s existence, relegated Palestinians and almost entirely sidelined the Arabs.

Since then, Palestinians mattered to Israel based almost exclusively on Israeli priorities. For example, Israeli leaders flexed their muscles before their triumphant constituencies by attacking Palestinian training camps in Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere. Palestinians also factored in as Israel’s new cheap labor force. In some ironic but also tragic way, it was the Palestinians who built Israel following the humiliating defeat of the Naksa, or the Setback.

The early stages of the ‘peace process’, especially during the Madrid talks in 1991, gave the false impression that the Palestinian agency is finally translating to tangible outcomes; this hope quickly evaporated as illegal Jewish settlements continued to expand, and Palestinians continued to lose their land and lives at an unprecedented rate.

The ultimate example of Israel’s complete disregard for Palestinians was the so-called ‘disengagement plan’ carried out in Gaza by late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2005. The Israeli government believed that Palestinians were inconsequential to the point that the Palestinian leadership was excluded from any phase of the Israeli scheme. The approximately 8,500 illegal Jewish settlers of Gaza were merely resettled in other illegally occupied Palestinian land and the Israeli army simply redeployed from Gaza’s heavily populated areas to impose a hermetic blockade on the impoverished Strip.

The Gaza siege apparatus remains in effect to this day. The same applies to every Israeli action in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

Due to their understanding of Zionism and experience with Israeli behavior, generation after generation of Palestinians rightly believed that the outcome of Israeli politics can never be favorable to Palestinian rights and political aspirations. The last few years, however, began altering this belief. Though Israeli politics have not changed – in fact, pivoted further to the right – Palestinians, wittingly or otherwise, became direct players in Israeli politics.

Israeli politics has historically been predicated on the need for further colonialism, strengthening the Jewish identity of the state at the expense of Palestinians, and constant quest for war. Recent events suggest that these factors are no longer controlled by Israel alone.

The popular resistance in occupied East Jerusalem and the growing rapport between it and various other forms of resistance throughout Palestine are reversing Israel’s previous success in segmenting Palestinian communities, thus dividing the Palestinian struggle among different factions, regions and priorities. The fact that Israel is forced to seriously consider Gaza’s response to its annual provocation in Jerusalem, known as the ‘Flag March’, perfectly illustrates this.

As demonstrated time and again, the growing resistance throughout Palestine is also denying Israeli politicians the chance to wage war for votes and political status within Israel. For example, Netanyahu’s desperate war in May 2021 did not save his government, which collapsed shortly after. Bennett, a year later, hoped that his ‘Flag March’ would provoke a Palestinian response in Gaza that would buy his crumbling coalition more time. The strategic decision by Palestinian groups not to respond to Israel’s provocations thwarted Bennett’s plans. His government, too, collapsed shortly after.

Still, a week following the dismantling of Israel’s latest coalition, groups in Gaza released a video of a captured Israeli who was presumed dead, sending a message to Israel that the resistance in the Strip still has more cards at its disposal. The video raised much attention in Israel, compelling the new Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid to assert that Israel has “a sacred obligation to bring home” its captives.

All these new elements have a direct impact on Israeli politics, policies and calculations, even if the Israelis continue to deny the obvious impact of Palestinians, their resistance and political strategies.

The reason why Israel refuses to acknowledge Palestinian political agency is that, in doing so, Tel Aviv would have no other alternative but to engage Palestinians as partners in a political process that could guarantee justice, equality and peaceful co-existence. Until this just peace is realized, Palestinians will continue to resist. The sooner Israel acknowledges this inescapable reality, the better.

– 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

WASHINGTON IS THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION: WHY MAHMOUD ABBAS IS SEEKING NEW ‘POWERFUL’ SPONSORS

JULY 27TH, 2022

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By Ramzy Baroud

To judge US President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Israel and Palestine as a ‘failure’ in terms of activating the dormant ‘peace process’ is simply a misnomer. For this statement to be accurate, Washington would have had to indicate even a nominal desire to push for negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership.

Political and diplomatic platitudes aside, the current American administration has done the exact opposite as indicated in Biden’s words and actions. Alleging that the US commitment to a two-state solution “has not changed”, Biden dismissed his Administration’s interest in trying to achieve such a goal by declaring that the “ground is not ripe” for negotiations.

Considering that the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly announced its readiness to return to negotiations, one can only assume that the process is being stalled due to Israel’s intransigence. Indeed, none of Israel’s top leaders or major parties champion negotiations, or the so-called peace process, as a strategic objective.

However, Israel is not the only party to blame. The Americans, too, have made it clear that they moved on from that political sham altogether, one which they have invented and sustained for decades. In fact, the final nail in the ‘negotiating solution’ coffin was hammered by the Donald Trump Administration, which has simply backed every Israeli claim, thus shunning all rightful Palestinian demands.

The Biden Administration has been habitually blamed by Palestinians, Arabs and progressive voices within the Democratic Party for failing to reverse Trump’s prejudiced moves in favor of Israel: for example, moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, shutting down the US consulate in East Jerusalem, accepting the unfounded Israeli claims regarding its jurisdiction over illegal Jewish settlements built over occupied Palestinian land, and so on.

Even if one assumes that the Biden Administration is capable of reversing some or all of Trump’s unlawful actions, what good would that be in the greater scheme of things? Washington was, and remains, Israel’s greatest benefactor, funding its military occupation of Palestine with an annual gift of $4 billion, in addition to many other schemes, including a massive and growing budget allocated for Israel’s Iron Dome alone.

As horrific as Trump’s years were in terms of undermining a just resolution to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Biden’s policies are but a continuation of an existing pro-Israel American legacy that surpasses that of Trump by decades.

As for Israel, the ‘peace process’ has served its purpose, which explains the infamous declaration by the CEO of the Jewish settlement council in the occupied West Bank, known as Yesha, in 2018, “I don’t want to brag that we’ve won. (…) Others would say it appears that we’re winning.”

However, Israel’s supposed ‘victory’ following three decades of a fraudulent ‘peace process’ cannot be credited to Trump alone. Biden and other top US officials have also been quite useful. While it is widely understood that US politicians support Israel out of sheer interest, for example, the need to appease the influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington DC, Biden’s, support for Israel stems from an ideological foundation. The US President was hardly bashful when he repeated, upon his arrival at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport on July 13, his famous statement, “You need not be a Jew to be Zionist.”

Consequently, it may appear puzzling to hear Palestinian officials call on the US – and Biden, specifically – to pressure Tel Aviv to end its 55-year occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Mohannad al-Aklouk, the Palestinian representative at the Arab League, for example, repeated the same cliched and unrealistic language of expecting the US to “exert practical pressure on Israel”, “set the stage for a fair political process based on international law”, and “meet its role as a fair sponsor of the peace process”. Strangely, Mr. al-Aklouk truly believes that Washington, with its dismal track record of pro-Israeli bias, can possibly be the savior of the Palestinians.

Another Palestinian official told The New Arab that PA President Abbas was “disappointed with the results of Biden’s visit,” as, apparently, the Palestinian leader “expected that the US President would make progress in the peace process”. The same source continued to say that Abbas’ Authority is holding meetings with representatives from “powerful countries” to replace the US as sponsors of the once US-sponsored negotiations.

Abbas’ political stance is confusing. The ‘peace process’ is, after all, an American invention. It was a unique, self-serving style of diplomacy that was formulated to ensure Israel’s priorities remain at center stage of US foreign policy in the Middle East. In the Palestinian case, the ‘peace process’ only served to entrench Israeli colonization of Palestine, while degrading, or completely sidelining, legitimate Palestinian demands. This ‘process’ was also constructed with the aim of marginalizing international law as a political and legal frame of reference to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Instead of questioning the entire ‘peace process’ apparatus and apologizing for the strategic plunders of pursuing American mirages at the expense of Palestinian rights, the Palestinian Authority is still desperately clutching on to the same old fantasy, even when the US, along with Israel, have abandoned their own political farce.

Even if, supposedly, China, Russia or India would agree to be the new sponsors of the ‘peace process’, there is no reason for Tel Aviv to engage in future negotiations, when it is able to achieve its colonial objectives with full American support. Moreover, none of these countries have, for now, much leverage over Israel, therefore are unable to sustain any kind of meaningful pressure on Tel Aviv to respect international law.

Yet, the PA is still holding on, simply because the ‘peace process’ proved greatly beneficial in terms of funds, power and prestige enjoyed by a small but powerful class of Palestinians that was largely formulated after the Oslo Accords in 1993.

It is time for Palestinians to stop investing their political capital in the Biden Administration or any other administration. What they need is not a new ‘powerful’ sponsor of the ‘peace process’ but a grassroots-based struggle for freedom and liberation starting at home, one that galvanizes the energies of the Palestinian people themselves. Alas, this new paradigm cannot be achieved when the priorities of the Palestinian leadership remain fixated on the handouts and political validation of Washington and its Western allies.

THE SHAMEFUL UN ‘LIST OF SHAME’: EQUATING BETWEEN THE ISRAELI PERPETRATOR AND THE PALESTINIAN VICTIM

JULY 20TH, 2022

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By Ramzy Baroud

We regret we failed to protect you. This was part of a statement issued by United Nations human rights experts on July 14, urging the Israeli government to release Palestinian prisoner Ahmad Manasra. Only 14 years old at the time of his arrest and torture by Israeli forces, Manasra is now 20 years old. His case is a representation of Israel’s overall inhumane treatment of Palestinian children.

The experts’ statement was forceful and heartfelt. It accused Israel of depriving young Manasra “of his childhood, family environment, protection and all the rights he should have been guaranteed as a child.” It referred to the case as ‘haunting’, considering Manasra’s “deteriorating mental conditions”. The statement went further, declaring that “this case … is a stain on all of us as part of the international human rights community”.

Condemning Israel for its ill-treatment of Palestinian children, whether those under siege in war-stricken Gaza, or under military occupation and apartheid in the rest of the occupied territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, is commonplace.

Yet, somehow, Israel was still spared a spot on the unflattering list, issued annually by the United Nations Secretary-General, naming and shaming governments and groups that commit grave violations against children and minors anywhere in the world.

Oddly, the report does recognize Israel’s horrific record of violating children’s rights in Palestine. It details some of these violations, which UN workers have directly verified. This includes “2,934 grave violations against 1,208 Palestinian children” in the year 2021 alone. However, the report equates between Israel’s record, one of the most dismal in the world, and that of Palestinians, namely the fact that 9 Israeli children were impacted by Palestinian violence in that whole year.

Though the deliberate harming of a single child is regrettable regardless of the circumstances or the perpetrator, it is mind-boggling that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres found it appropriate to equate the systematic violations carried out by the Israeli military as a matter of course and the 9 Israeli minors harmed by Palestinian armed groups, whether intentionally or not.

To deal with the obvious discrepancy between Palestinian and Israeli child victims, the UN report lumped together all categories to distract from the identity of the perpetrator, thus lessening the focus on the Israeli crimes. For example, the report states that a total of 88 children were killed throughout Palestine, of whom 69 were killed in Gaza and 17 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, the report breaks down these murders in such a way that conflates Palestinian and Israeli children as if purposely trying to confuse the reader. When read carefully, one discovers that all of these killings were carried out by Israeli forces, except for two.

More, the report uses the same logic to break down the number of children maimed in the conflict, though of the 1,128 maimed children, only 7 were Israelis. Of the remainder, 661 were maimed in Gaza and 464 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The report goes on to blame “armed Palestinian groups” for some of the Palestinian casualties, who were allegedly injured as a result of “accidents involving children who were near to military training exercises”. Assuming that this is the case, accidents of this nature cannot be considered “grave violations” as they are, by the UN’s own definition, accidental.

The confusing breakdown of these numbers, however, was itself not accidental, as it allowed Guterres the space to declare that “should the situation repeat itself in 2022, without meaningful improvement, Israel should be listed.”

Worse, Guterres’ report went further to reassure the Israelis that they are on the right track by stating that “so far this year, we have not witnessed a similar number of violations”, as if to suggest that the right-wing Israeli government of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid has purposely changed its policies regarding the targeting of Palestinian children. Of course, there is no evidence of this whatsoever.

On June 27, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) reported that Israel “had been intensifying its aggression” against children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of 2022. DCIP confirmed that as many as 15 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces in the first six months of 2022, almost the same number killed in the same regions throughout the entirety of the previous year. This number includes 5 children in the occupied city of Jenin alone. Israel even targeted journalists who attempted to report on these violations, including Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed on May 11, and Ali Samoudi, who was shot in the back on the very same day.

Much more can be said, of course, about the besiegement of hundreds of thousands of children in the Gaza Strip, known as the ‘world’s largest open-air prison’, and many more in the occupied West Bank. The lack of basic human rights, including life-saving medicine and, in the case of Gaza, clean water, hardly suggests any measurable improvement in Israel’s track record as far as Palestinian children’s rights are concerned.

If you think that the UN report is a step in the right direction, think again. 2014 was one of the most tragic years for Palestinian children where, according to a previous UN report, 557 children were killed and 4,249 were injured, the vast majority of whom were targeted during the Israeli war on Gaza. Human Rights Watch stated that the number of killed Palestinians “was the third-highest in the world that year”. Still, Israel was not blacklisted on the UN ‘List of Shame’. The clear message here is that Israel may target Palestinian children as it pleases, as there will be no legal, political or moral accountability for its actions.

This is not what Palestinians are expecting from the United Nations, an organization that supposedly exists to end armed conflicts and bring about peace and security for all. For now, the message emanating from the world’s largest international institution to Manasra and the rest of Palestine’s children will remain unchanged: “We regret we failed to protect you.”

WORSENING CHAOS: ISRAEL’S POLITICAL INSTABILITY IS NOW THE NORM

JULY 15TH, 2022

FILE – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett makes a call before voting on a law on the legal status of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, during a session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, June 6, 2022. Nir Orbach, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s party, said Monday, June 13, 2022, he would cease voting with the governing coalition, dealing yet another blow to the teetering government as it marks one year in office. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo, File)

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Even if a purportedly centrist or even leftist prime minister finds himself at the helm of the government, outcomes will not change when the Knesset – in fact, most of the country – is governed by a militaristic, chauvinistic, and colonial mindset.

By Dr. Ramzy Baroud

The collapse of the short-lived Israeli government of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid validates the argument that the political crisis in Israel was not entirely instigated and sustained by former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bennett’s coalition government consisted of eight parties, welding together arguably one of the oddest coalitions in the tumultuous history of Israeli politics. The mishmash cabinet included far-right and right groups like Yamina, Yisrael Beiteinu, and New Hope, along with centrist Yesh Atid and Blue and White, leftist Meretz, and even an Arab party, the United Arab List (Ra’am). The coalition also had representatives from the Labor Party, once the dominant Israeli political camp, now almost completely irrelevant.

When the coalition was formed in June 2021, Bennett was celebrated as some kind of a political messiah, who was ready to deliver Israel from the grip of the obstinate, self-serving and corrupt Netanyahu.

Confidence in Bennett’s government, however, was misplaced. The millionaire politician was a protégé of Netanyahu and, on many occasions, appeared to stand to the right of the Likud party leader on various issues. In 2013, Bennett proudly declared “I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that.” In 2014, he was very critical of Netanyahu for failing to achieve Israel’s objectives in one of the deadliest wars on besieged Gaza. Moreover, Bennett’s core support comes from Israel’s most extreme and far-right constituency.

Many wished to ignore all of this, in the hope that Bennett would succeed in ousting his former boss. That possibility became very real when Netanyahu was officially indicted in November 2019 on various serious corruption charges.

When Bennett and Lapid’s government was officially sworn in, on June 13, 2021, it seemed as if a new era of Israeli politics had begun. It was understood that Israel’s political camps had finally found their common denominator. Netanyahu, meanwhile, was exiled to the ranks of the opposition. His news began to peter out, especially as he sank deeper into his ongoing corruption trial.

Though some analysts continue to blame Netanyahu for the various crises suffered by Bennett’s coalition – for example, when Idit Silman resigned her post on April 6, leaving the coalition government with only 60 seats in the Knesset. But there is little proof of that. The short-lived Israeli government has collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions.

Would the actions of the government that ruled over Israel between June 2021 and June 2022 have been any different if Netanyahu was still the Israeli prime minister? Not in the least. Illegal Jewish settlements continue to grow unhindered; home demolitions, the dispossession of Palestinian communities in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem and various routine acts of Israeli aggression against its Arab state neighbors remained unchanged.

According to United Nations data, 79 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank by the Israeli army between June 2021 and May 2022. The region of Masafer Yatta, a 36-square km area located in the Southern Hebron Hills, has been designated for total annexation by the Israeli army. The expulsion of the area’s 1,200 Palestinian residents has already begun.

Regarding occupied Jerusalem, specifically in the case of the so-called Flag March, Bennett has proved to be even more extreme than Netanyahu. Bernard Avishai writes in The New Yorker that, in 2021, “Netanyahu’s government changed the march’s route away from the Damascus Gate to minimize the chance of violence”, while the ‘change government’ – a reference to Bennett’s coalition – “had reinstated the route, and even permitted more than two thousand national-Orthodox activists, including the extremist national-camp Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir,” to conduct their provocative ‘visits’ to Haram Al-Sharif,  one of Islam’s holiest sites.

This is not to suggest that a return of Netanyahu, following the now scheduled November elections – Israel’s fifth general elections in less than four years – would be a welcome change. Instead, experience has shown that, regardless of who rules Israel, the political attitude of the country, especially towards Palestinians, would most likely remain unchanged.

True, Israeli politics are known to be unstable. This instability, however, worsened in recent decades. Since 1996, the average Israeli government has not served more than 2.6 years. But since April 2019, the average dramatically shrank to less than a year per government. The long-standing argument was that Netanyahu’s domineering and polarizing attitude was to blame. The last year, however, has demonstrated that Netanyahu was a mere symptom of Israel’s pre-existing political malaise.

Some Israeli analysts suggest that Israel’s political crisis can only end when the country institutes electoral and constitutional reforms. That, however, would be a superficial fix; after all, much of Israel’s parliamentary and electoral laws have been in effect for many years, when governments were relatively stable.

For Israel to change, a language of peace and reconciliation would have to replace the current atmosphere of incitement and war. Israeli politicians, who are currently fanning the flames, jockeying for positions and feeding on the violent chants of their supporters, would have to be transformed into something else entirely, a near impossibility in the current hate-filled atmosphere throughout the country.

Chances are Israel’s political crises will continue to loom large; coalitions will be assembled, only to collapse soon after; politicians will continue to move to the right even if they allege to be members of other ideological camps. Israel’s political instability is now the norm, not the exception.

In an interview with CNN, Yohanan Plesner, a former Member of the Knesset (MK), said that the problem is Israel’s need for “electoral and constitutional reforms, such as making any attempt to initiate early elections dependent on a two-thirds majority in parliament and amending the current law that demands new elections when a budget fails to pass.”

What Israelis refuse to face is the fact that governments which are predicated on right-wing, far-right, extremist constituencies are inherently unstable. Even if a purportedly centrist or even leftist prime minister finds himself at the helm of the government, outcomes will not change when the Knesset – in fact, most of the country – is governed by a militaristic, chauvinistic, and colonial mindset.

CHOMSKY ON ISRAELI APARTHEID, CELEBRITY ACTIVISTS, BDS AND THE ONE-STATE SOLUTION

Chomsky believes that calling Israeli policies towards Palestinians “apartheid” is actually a “gift to Israel”, at least, if by apartheid one refers to the South-African style apartheid.

JULY 5TH, 2022

RAMZY BAROUD

This is, according to the Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci, the ‘interregnum’- the rare and seismic moment in history when great transitions occur, when empires collapse and others rise, and when new conflicts and struggles ensue.

The Gramscian ‘interregnum, however, is not a smooth transition, for these profound changes often embody a ‘crisis,’ which “consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born”.

“In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear,” the anti-fascist intellectual wrote in his famous “Prison Notebooks”.

Even before the Russia-Ukraine war and the subsequent deepening of the Russia-NATO crisis, the world was clearly experiencing an interregnum of sorts – the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, the global recession, the rising inequality, the destabilization of the Middle East, the ‘Arab Spring’, the refugee crisis, the new ‘scramble for Africa’, the US attempt at weakening China, the US’ own political instability, the war on democracy and decline of the American empire ..

Recent events, however, have finally given these earth-shattering changes greater clarity, with Russia making its move against NATO expansion, and with China and other rising economies – BRICS nations – refusing to toe the American line.

To reflect on all of these changes, and more, we spoke with the world’s ‘most cited’ and respected intellectual, MIT Professor Noam Chomsky.

The main objective of our interview was to examine the challenges and opportunities facing the Palestinian struggle during this ongoing ‘interregnum’. Chomsky shared with us his views about the war in Ukraine and its actual root causes.

The interview, however, largely focused on Palestine, Chomsky’s views of the language, the tactics and solutions affiliated with the Palestinian struggle and the Palestinian discourse. Below are some of Chomsky’s thoughts on these issues, taken from a longer conversation that can be viewed here.

CHOMSKY ON ISRAELI APARTHEID

Chomsky believes that calling Israeli policies towards Palestinians “apartheid” is actually a “gift to Israel”, at least, if by apartheid one refers to the South-African style apartheid.

“I have held for a long time that the Occupied Territories are much worse than South Africa. South Africa needed its black population, it relied on them,” Chomsky said, adding: “The black population was 85% of the population. It was the workforce; the country couldn’t function without that population and, as a result, they tried to make their situation more or less tolerable to the international community. (…) They were hoping for international recognition, which they didn’t get.”

So, if the Bantustans were, in Chomsky’s opinion, “more or less livable,” the same “is not true for the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Israel just wants to get rid of the people, doesn’t want them. And its policies for the last 50 years, with not much variation, have been just somehow making life unlivable, so you will go somewhere else.”

These repressive policies apply in the entirety of the Palestinian territory: “In Gaza, (they) just destroy them,” Chomsky said. “There’s over two million people now living in hideous conditions, barely survivable. International law organizations say that they are not likely to even be able to survive in a couple of years. (…) In the Occupied Territories, in the West Bank, atrocities (take place) every day.”

Chomsky also thinks that Israel, unlike South Africa, is not seeking the international community’s approval. “The brazenness of Israeli actions is pretty striking. They do what they want, knowing the United States will support them. Well, this is much worse than what happened in South Africa; it’s not an effort to somehow accommodate the Palestinian population as a suppressed workforce, it’s just to get rid of them.”

CHOMSKY ON THE NEW PALESTINIAN UNITY

The events of May 2021 and the popular unity among Palestinians are “a very positive change”, in Chomsky’s opinion. “For one thing, what has severely impeded the Palestinian struggle is the conflict between Hamas and the PLO. If it’s not resolved, it’s a great gift to Israel.”

Palestinians also managed to overcome the territorial fragmentation, according to Chomsky: “Also, the split between the legal boundaries” separating Israel from “the expanded area of greater Palestine” was always a hindrance to Palestinian unity. That is now being overcome, as the Palestinian struggle “is turning into the same struggle. Palestinians are all in it together.”

“B’tselem and Human Rights Watch’s description of the whole region as a region of apartheid – though I don’t entirely agree with it for the reasons I mentioned, because I think it’s not harsh enough – nevertheless, it is a step towards recognizing that there is something crucially in common between all this area.”

“So, I think this is a positive step. It is wise and promising for Palestinians to recognize ‘we’re all in it together’, and that includes the diaspora communities. Yes, it’s a common struggle,” Chomsky concluded.

CHOMSKY ON ONE STATE, TWO STATES

Though support for a one state has grown exponentially in recent years, to the extent that a recent public opinion poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC), concluded that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank now supports the one-state solution, Chomsky warns against discussions that don’t prioritize the more urgent conversation of Tel Aviv’s colonial quest for a “greater Israel.”

“We should not be deluded into thinking that events are developing towards a one-state outcome or towards a confederation, as it’s now being discussed by some of the Israeli left. It’s not moving in that direction, that’s not even an option for now. Israel will never accept it as long as it has the option of greater Israel. And, furthermore, there is no support for it in the international community, none. Not even the African states.”

“The two-states, well, we can talk about it but you have to recognize that we have to struggle against the ongoing live option of a greater Israel.” Indeed, according to Chomsky, “much of the discussion of this topic seems to me misplaced.”

“It is mostly a debate between two states and one state that eliminates the most important option, the live option, the one that’s being pursued, namely greater Israel. Establishing a greater Israel, where Israel takes over whatever it wants in the West Bank, crushes Gaza, and annexes – illegally – the Syrian Golan Heights .., just takes what it wants, avoids the Palestinian population concentrations, so, it doesn’t incorporate them. They don’t want the Palestinians because of what is called the democratic Jewish state, the pretense of a democratic Jewish state in which the state is the sovereign state of the Jewish people. So, my state, but not the state of some Palestinian villager.”

Chomsky continues, “To maintain that pretense, you have to keep a large Jewish majority, then you can somehow pretend it’s not repressive. But so the policy is a greater Israel, in which you won’t have any demographic problem. The main concentrations of Palestinians are excluded in other areas, they are basically being expelled.”

CHOMSKY ON BDS, INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

We also asked Chomsky about the growing solidarity with Palestinians on the international stage, on social media, and the support for the Palestinian struggle among many public personalities and celebrities.

“I don’t think mainstream celebrities mean that much. What matters is what is happening among the general population in the United States. In Israel, unfortunately, the population is moving to the right. It is one of the few countries I know, maybe the only one, where younger people are more reactionary than older ones.”

“The United States is going in the opposite direction,” Chomsky continued, as “young people are more critical of Israel, more and more supportive of Palestinian rights.”

Regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), Chomsky acknowledged the significant role played by the global grassroots movement, though he noted that BDS “has a mixed record”. The movement should become “more flexible (and) more thoughtful about the effects of actions”, Chomsky noted.

“The groundwork is there,” Chomsky concluded. “It is necessary to think carefully about how to carry it forward.”

Feature photo | Graphic by MintPress News

Dr. 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”. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

PALESTINIANS ‘ARE NOT ANIMALS IN A ZOO’: REDEFINING THE ROLE OF THE ‘VICTIM INTELLECTUAL’

JULY 1ST, 2022

Source

by Ramzy Baroud

DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF GHASSAN KANAFANI, AN ICONIC PALESTINIAN LEADER AND ENGAGED INTELLECTUAL WHO WAS ASSASSINATED BY THE ISRAELI MOSSAD ON JULY 8, 1972.

Years before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, U.S. media introduced many new characters, promoting them as “experts” who helped ratchet up propaganda, ultimately allowing the U.S. government to secure enough popular support for the war.

Though enthusiasm for war began dwindling in later years, the invasion began with a relatively strong popular mandate that allowed President George W. Bush to claim the role of liberator of Iraq, the fighter of “terrorism” and the champion of U.S. global interests. According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll published on March 24, 2003 – just a few days after the invasion – 72% of Americans were in favor of the war.

Only now are we beginning to fully appreciate the massive edifice of lies, deceit, and forgery involved in shaping the war narrative, and the sinister role played by mainstream media in demonizing Iraq and its people. Future historians will continue with the task of unpacking the war conspiracy for years to come.

Consequently, it is also important to acknowledge the role played by Iraq’s own “native informants”, a group that the late professor Edward Said labeled as “willing servant[s] of imperialism”.

Thanks to the various American invasions and military interventions, these “informants” have grown in number and usefulness to the extent that, in various Western intellectual and media circles, they define what is erroneously viewed as “facts” concerning most Arab and Muslim countries. From Afghanistan to Iran, Syria, Palestine, Libya, and, of course, Iraq, these “experts” are constantly parroting messages that are tailored to fit Western agendas.

These native informants are often depicted as political dissidents. They are recruited – whether officially via government-funded think tanks or otherwise – to provide a convenient depiction of the “realities” in the Middle East and elsewhere as a rational, political or moral justification for war and various other forms of intervention.

VICTIM INTELLECTUALS

Though this phenomenon is widely understood – especially as its dangerous consequences became too apparent in the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan – another phenomenon rarely receives the necessary attention. In the second scenario, the “intellectual” is not necessarily an “informant”, but a victim, whose message is entirely shaped by his sense of self-pity and victimhood. In the process of communicating that collective victimhood, this intellectual does their people a disfavor by presenting them as hapless and having no human agency whatsoever.

Palestine is a case in point. The Palestine “victim intellectual” is not an intellectual in any classic definition. Said refers to the intellectual as “an individual endowed with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion”.  Gramsci argued that intellectuals are those who “sustain, modify and alter modes of thinking and behavior of the masses. They are purveyors of consciousness”. The “victim intellectual” is none of these.

In the case of Palestine, this phenomenon was not accidental. Due to the limited spaces available to Palestinian thinkers to speak openly and truly about Israeli crimes and about Palestinian resistance to military occupation and Apartheid, some have strategically chosen to use whatever available margins to communicate any kind of messaging that could be nominally accepted by Western media and audiences.

In other words, in order for Palestinian intellectuals to be able to operate within the margins of mainstream western society, or even within the space allocated by certain pro-Palestinian groups, they can only be “allowed to narrate” as “purveyors” of victimhood. Nothing more.

Those familiar with the Palestinian intellectual discourse, in general, especially following the first major Israeli war on Gaza in 2008-9, must have noticed how accepted Palestinian narratives regarding the war rarely deviate from the decontextualized and depoliticized Palestinian victim discourse. While understanding the depravity of Israel and the horrondousness of its war crimes is critical, Palestinian voices that are given a stage to address these crimes are frequently denied the chance to present their narratives in the form of strong political or geopolitical analyses, let alone denounce Israel’s Zionist ideology or proudly defend Palestinian resistance.

Much has been written about the hypocrisy of the West in handling the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war, especially when compared to the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestine or the genocidal Israeli wars in Gaza. But little has been said about the nature of the Ukrainian messaging as compared to those of Palestinians: the former is demanding and entitled, while the latter mostly passive and bashful.

While top Ukrainian officials often tweet statements instructing Western officials to “go f**k yourselves” or similar, their Palestinian equivalents are constantly begging and pleading. The irony is that Ukrainian officials are attacking the very nations that have supplied them with billions of dollars of arms, while Palestinian officials are careful not to offend the same nations that support Israel with the very weapons used to kill Palestinian civilians.

One may argue that Palestinians are tailoring their language to accommodate whichever political and media spaces that are available to them. This, however, hardly explains why many Palestinians, even within “friendly” political and academic environments, can only see their people as victims and nothing else.

NOT JUST VICTIMS

This is hardly a new phenomenon. It goes back to the early years of the Israeli war on the Palestinian people. Leftist Palestinian intellectual Ghassan Kanafani, like others, was aware of this dichotomy. Kanafani contributed to the intellectual awareness among various revolutionary societies in the Global South during a critical era for national liberation struggles worldwide. He was the posthumous recipient of the Afro-Asian Writers’ Conferences Lotus Prize for Literature in 1975, three years after he was assassinated by Israel in Beirut, in July 1972.

Like others in his generation, Kanafani was adamant in presenting Palestinian victimization as part and parcel of a complex political reality of Israeli military occupation, Western colonialism and U.S.-led imperialism. A famous story is often told about how he met his wife, Anni in South Lebanon. When Anni, a Danish journalist, arrived in Lebanon in 1961, she asked Kanafani if she could visit the Palestinian refugee camps. “My people are not animals in a zoo,” Kanafani replied, adding, “You must have a good background about them before you go and visit.” The same logic can be applied to Gaza, to Sheikh Jarrah and Jenin.

The Palestinian struggle cannot be reduced to a conversation about poverty or the horrors of war, but must be expanded to include wider political contexts that led to the current tragedies in the first place. The role of the Palestinian intellectual cannot stop at conveying the victimization of the people of Palestine, leaving the much more consequential and intellectually demanding role of unpacking historical, political and geopolitical facts to others, some of whom often speak on behalf of Palestinians.

It is quite uplifting and rewarding to finally see more Palestinian voices included in the discussion about Palestine. In some cases, Palestinians are even taking center stage in these conversations. However, for the Palestinian narrative to be truly relevant, Palestinians must assume the role of the Gramscian intellectual, as “purveyors of consciousness” and abandon the role of the “victim intellectual” altogether. The Palestinian people are indeed not animals in a zoo, but a nation with political agency, capable of articulating, resisting, and, ultimately, winning their freedom, as part of a much greater fight for justice and liberation throughout the world.

‘Rationality is Not Permitted’: Chomsky on Russia, Ukraine and the Price of Media Censorship

June 23, 2022

By Ramzy Baroud

One of the reasons that Russian media has been completely blocked in the West, along with the unprecedented control and censorship over the Ukraine war narrative, is the fact that western governments simply do not want their public to know that the world is vastly changing.

Ignorance might be bliss, arguably in some situations, but not in this case. Here, ignorance can be catastrophic as western audiences are denied access to information about a critical situation that is affecting them in profound ways and will most certainly impact the world’s geopolitics for generations to come.

The growing inflation, an imminent global recession, a festering refugee crisis, a deepening food shortage crisis and much more are the kinds of challenges that require open and transparent discussions regarding the situation in Ukraine, the NATO-Russia rivalry and the responsibility of the West in the ongoing war.

To discuss these issues, along with the missing context of the Russia-Ukraine war, we spoke with Professor Noam Chomsky, believed to be the greatest living intellectual of our time.

Chomsky told us that it “should be clear that the (Russian) invasion of Ukraine has no (moral) justification.” He compared it to the US invasion of Iraq, seeing it as an example of “supreme international crime.” With this moral question settled, Chomsky believes that the main ‘background’ of this war, a factor that is missing in mainstream media coverage, is “NATO expansion”.

“This is not just my opinion,” said Chomsky, “it is the opinion of every high-level US official in the diplomatic services who has any familiarity with Russia and Eastern Europe. This goes back to George Kennan and, in the 1990s, Reagan’s ambassador Jack Matlock, including the current director of the CIA; in fact, just everybody who knows anything has been warning Washington that it is reckless and provocative to ignore Russia’s very clear and explicit red lines. That goes way before (Vladimir) Putin, it has nothing to do with him; (Mikhail) Gorbachev, all said the same thing. Ukraine and Georgia cannot join NATO, this is the geostrategic heartland of Russia.”

Though various US administrations acknowledged and, to some extent, respected the Russian red lines, the Bill Clinton Administration did not. According to Chomsky, “George H. W. Bush … made an explicit promise to Gorbachev that NATO would not expand beyond East Germany, perfectly explicit. You can look up the documents. It’s very clear. Bush lived up to it. But when Clinton came along, he started violating it. And he gave reasons. He explained that he had to do it for domestic political reasons. He had to get the Polish vote, the ethnic vote. So, he would let the so-called Visegrad countries into NATO. Russia accepted it, didn’t like it but accepted it.”

“The second George Bush,” Chomsky argued, “just threw the door wide open. In fact, even invited Ukraine to join over, despite the objections of everyone in the top diplomatic service, apart from his own little clique, Cheney, Rumsfeld (among others). But France and Germany vetoed it.”

However, that was hardly the end of the discussion. Ukraine’s NATO membership remained on the agenda because of intense pressures from Washington.

“Starting in 2014, after the Maidan uprising, the United States began openly, not secretly, moving to integrate Ukraine into the NATO military command, sending heavy armaments and joining military exercises, military training and it was not a secret. They boasted about it,” Chomsky said.

What is interesting is that current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “was elected on a peace platform, to implement what was called Minsk Two, some kind of autonomy for the eastern region. He tried to implement it. He was warned by right-wing militias that if he persisted, they’d kill him. Well, he didn’t get any support from the United States. If the United States had supported him, he could have continued, we might have avoided all of this. The United States was committed to the integration of Ukraine within NATO.”

The Joe Biden Administration carried on with the policy of NATO expansion. “Just before the invasion,” said Chomsky, “Biden … produced a joint statement … calling for expanding these efforts of integration. That’s part of what was called an ‘enhanced program’ leading to the mission of NATO. In November, it was moved forward to a charter, signed by the Secretary of State.”

Soon after the war, “the United States Department acknowledged that they had not taken Russian security concerns into consideration in any discussions with Russia. The question of NATO, they would not discuss. Well, all of that is provocation. Not a justification but a provocation and it’s quite interesting that in American discourse, it is almost obligatory to refer to the invasion as the ‘unprovoked invasion of Ukraine’. Look it up on Google, you will find hundreds of thousands of hits.”

Chomsky continued, “Of course, it was provoked. Otherwise, they wouldn’t refer to it all the time as an unprovoked invasion. By now, censorship in the United States has reached such a level beyond anything in my lifetime. Such a level that you are not permitted to read the Russian position. Literally. Americans are not allowed to know what the Russians are saying. Except, selected things. So, if Putin makes a speech to Russians with all kinds of outlandish claims about Peter the Great and so on, then, you see it on the front pages. If the Russians make an offer for a negotiation, you can’t find it. That’s suppressed. You’re not allowed to know what they are saying. I have never seen a level of censorship like this.”

Regarding his views of the possible future scenarios, Chomsky said that “the war will end, either through diplomacy or not. That’s just logic. Well, if diplomacy has a meaning, it means both sides can tolerate it. They don’t like it, but they can tolerate it. They don’t get anything they want, they get something. That’s diplomacy. If you reject diplomacy, you are saying: ‘Let the war go on with all of its horrors, with all the destruction of Ukraine, and let’s let it go on until we get what we want.’”

By ‘we’, Chomsky was referring to Washington, which simply wants to “harm Russia so severely that it will never be able to undertake actions like this again. Well, what does that mean? It’s impossible to achieve. So, it means, let’s continue the war until Ukraine is devastated. That’s US policy.”

Most of this is not obvious to western audiences simply because rational voices are “not allowed to talk” and because “rationality is not permitted. This is a level of hysteria that I have never seen, even during the Second World War, which I am old enough to remember very well.”

While an alternative understanding of the devastating war in Ukraine is disallowed, the West continues to offer no serious answers or achievable goals, leaving Ukraine devastated and the root causes of the problem in place. “That’s US policy”, indeed.

(The interview with Noam Chomsky was conducted jointly with Italian journalist, Romana Rubeo)

– 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

PALESTINIANS “ARE BOUND TO WIN”: WHY ISRAELIS ARE PROPHESYING THE END OF THEIR STATE

JUNE 16TH, 2022

RAMZY BAROUD

While it is true that Zionism is a modern political ideology that has exploited religion to achieve specific colonial objectives in Palestine, prophecies continue to be a critical component of Israel’s perception of itself, and of the state’s relationship to other groups, especially Christian messianic groups in the United States and worldwide.

The subject of religious prophecies and their centrality to Israel’s political thought was once more highlighted following remarks by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in a recent interview with the Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Barak, perceived to be a ‘progressive’ politician, who was once the leader of Israel’s Labor Party, expressed fears that Israel will “disintegrate” before the 80th anniversary of its 1948 establishment.

“Throughout the Jewish history, the Jews did not rule for more than eighty years, except in the two kingdoms of David and the Hasmonean dynasty and, in both periods, their disintegration began in the eighth decade,” Barak said.

Based on pseudo-historical analysis, Barak’s prophecy seemed to conflate historical facts with typical messianic Israeli thinking, reminiscent of statements made by Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017.

Like Barak, Netanyahu’s comments were expressed in the form of fear over the future of Israel, and the looming ‘existential threat’, the cornerstone of Israeli hasbara throughout the years. At a Bible study session in his house in Jerusalem, Netanyahu had then warned that the Hasmonean kingdom – also known as the Maccabees – had merely survived for 80 years before it was conquered by the Romans in 63 B.C.E.

The “Hasmonean state lasted only 80 years, and we needed to exceed this,” Netanyahu was quoted by one of the attendees as saying, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported.

But, even according to Netanyahu’s purported determination to exceed that number, he had reportedly vowed to ensure Israel will surpass the Maccabees’ 80 years, and survive for 100 years. That is merely 20 years more.

The difference between Barak and Netanyahu’s statements is quite negligible: the former’s views are supposedly ‘historical’ and the latter’s are biblical. Worth noting, however, is that both leaders, though they subscribe to two different political schools, have converged on similar meeting points: Israel’s survival is at stake; the existential threat is real and the end of Israel is only a matter of time.

But the pessimism in Israel is hardly confined to political leaders, who are known to exaggerate and manipulate facts to instill fear and to rile up their political camps, especially Israel’s powerful messianic constituencies. Although this is true, predictions regarding Israel’s grim future are not confined to the country’s political elites.

In an interview with Haaretz in 2019, one of Israel’s most respected mainstream historians, Benny Morris, had much to say about the future of his country. Unlike Barak and Netanyahu, Morris was not sending warning signals but stating what, to him, seemed an unavoidable outcome of the country’s political and demographic evolution.

“I don’t see how we get out of it,” Morris said, adding: “Already, today there are more Arabs than Jews between the (Mediterranean) Sea and the Jordan (River). The whole territory is unavoidably becoming one state with an Arab majority. Israel still calls itself a Jewish state, but a situation in which we rule an occupied people that has no rights cannot persist in the 21st century.”

Morris’ predictions, while remaining committed to the racial fantasy of a Jewish majority, were far more articulate and also realistic if compared to those of Barak, Netanyahu and others. The man who once regretted that Israel’s founder, David Ben Gurion, did not expel all of Palestine’s native population in 1947-48, spoke with resignation that, in a matter of a generation, Israel will cease to exist in its current form.

Particularly notable about his comments is the accurate perception that “the Palestinians look at everything from a broad, long-term perspective,” and that the Palestinians will continue to “demand the return of the refugees.” But who were the “Palestinians” Morris was referring to? Certainly not the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders have already marginalized the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, and most certainly have no “broad, long-term perspective”. Morris’ ‘Palestinians’ are, of course, the Palestinian people themselves, generations of whom have served, and continue to serve, as the vanguards of Palestinian rights despite all of the setbacks, defeats and political ‘compromises’.

Actually, prophecies regarding Palestine and Israel are not a new phenomenon. Palestine was colonized by Zionists with the help of Britain, also based on biblical frames of reference. It was populated by Zionist settlers based on biblical references dedicated to the restoration of ancient kingdoms and the ‘return’ of ancient peoples to their supposedly rightful ‘promised land’. Though Israel took on many different meanings throughout the years – perceived to be a ‘socialist’ utopia at times, a liberal, democratic haven at others – it was always preoccupied with religious meanings, spiritual visions and inundated with prophecies. The most sinister expression of this truth is the fact that the current support of Israel by millions of Christian fundamentalists in the West is largely driven by messianic, end-of-the-world prophecies.

The latest predictions about Israel’s uncertain future are based on a different logic. Since Israel has always defined itself as a Jewish State, its future is mostly linked to its ability to maintain a Jewish majority in historic Palestine. By the admission of Morris and others, this pipedream is now crumbling as the ‘demographic war’ is clearly and quickly being lost.

Of course, co-existence in a single democratic state will always be a possibility. Alas, for Israel’s Zionist ideologues, such a state will hardly meet the minimum expectations of the country’s founders, since it would no longer exist in the form of a Jewish, Zionist state. For co-existence to take place, the Zionist ideology would have to be scrapped altogether.

Barak, Netanyahu and Morris are all right: Israel will not exist as a ‘Jewish state’ for much longer. Speaking strictly in terms of demographics, Israel is no longer a Jewish-majority state. History has taught us that Muslims, Christians and Jews can peacefully coexist and collectively thrive, as they have done throughout the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula for millennia. Indeed, this is a prediction, even a prophecy, that is worth striving for.

Feature photo | A Palestinian boy faces an Israeli tank on the outskirts of Gaza City, Oct. 29, 2000. Laurent Rebours | AP

Dr. 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”. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

PALESTINE’S NEW RESISTANCE MODEL: HOW THE PAST YEAR REDEFINED THE STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM

JUNE 8TH, 2022

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

What took place between May 2021 and May 2022 is nothing less than a paradigm shift in Palestinian resistance. Thanks to the popular and inclusive nature of Palestinian mobilization against the Israeli occupation, resistance in Palestine is no longer an ideological, political or regional preference.

In the period between the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and only a few years ago, Palestinian muqawama – or resistance –  was constantly put in the dock, often criticized and condemned, as if an oppressed nation had a moral responsibility in selecting the type of resistance to suit the needs and interests of its oppressors.

As such, Palestinian resistance became a political and ideological litmus test. The Palestinian Authority of Yasser Arafat and, later, Mahmoud Abbas, called for ‘popular resistance’, but it seems that it neither understood what the strategy actually meant, and certainly was not prepared to act upon such a call.

Palestinian armed resistance was removed entirely from its own historical context; in fact, the context of all liberation movements throughout history, and was turned into a straw man, set up by Israel and its western allies to condemn Palestinian ‘terrorism’ and to present Israel as a victim facing an existential threat.

With the lack of a centralized Palestinian definition of resistance, even pro-Palestine civil society groups and organizations demarcated their relationship to the Palestinian struggle based on embracing certain forms of Palestinian resistance and condemning others.

The argument that only oppressed nations should have the right to choose the type of resistance that could speed up their salvation and freedom fell on deaf ears.

The truth is that Palestinian resistance preceded the official establishment of Israel in 1948. Palestinians and Arabs who resisted British and Zionist colonialism used many methods of resistance that they perceived to be strategic and sustainable. There was no relationship whatsoever between the type of resistance and the religious, political or ideological identity of those who resisted.

This paradigm prevailed for many years, starting with the Fidayeen Movement following the Nakba, the popular resistance to the brief Israeli occupation of Gaza in 1956, and the decades-long occupation and siege starting in 1967. The same reality was expressed in Palestinian resistance in historic Palestine throughout the decades; armed resistance ebbed and flowed, but popular resistance remained intact. The two phenomena were always intrinsically linked, as the former was also sustained by the latter.

The Fatah Movement, which dominates today’s Palestinian Authority, was formed in 1959 to model liberation movements in Vietnam and Algeria. Regarding its connection to the Algerian struggle, the Fatah manifesto read: “The guerrilla war in Algeria, launched five years before the creation of Fatah, has a profound influence on us. […] They symbolize the success we dreamed of.”

This sentiment was championed by most modern Palestinian movements as it proved to be a successful strategy for most southern liberation movements. In the case of Vietnam, the resistance to US occupation carried out even during political talks in Paris. The underground resistance in South Africa remained vigilant until it became clear that the country’s apartheid regime was in the process of being dismantled.

Palestinian disunity, however, which was a direct result of the Oslo Accords, made a unified Palestinian position on resistance untenable. The very idea of resistance itself became subject to the political whims and interests of factions. When, in July 2013, PA President Abbas condemned armed resistance, he was trying to score political points with his western supporters, and further sow the seeds of division among his people.

The truth is that Hamas neither invented nor has ownership of, armed resistance. In June 2021, a poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), revealed that 60% of Palestinians support “a return to armed confrontations and Intifada.” By stating so, Palestinians were not necessarily declaring allegiance to Hamas. Armed resistance, though in a different style and capacity also exists in the West Bank, and is largely championed by Fatah’s own Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The recent Israeli attacks on the town of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, were not aimed at eliminating Hamas, Islamic Jihad or socialist fighters, but Fatah’s own.

Skewed media coverage and misrepresentation of the resistance, often by Palestinian factions themselves, turned the very idea of resistance into a political and factional scuffle, forcing everyone involved to take a position on the issue. The discourse on the resistance, however,  began changing in the last year.

The May 2021 rebellion and the Israeli war on Gaza – known among Palestinians as the Unity Intifada – served as a paradigm shift. The language became unified; self-serving political references quickly dissipated; collective frames of reference began replacing provisional, regional and factional ones; occupied Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque emerged as the unifying symbols of resistance; a new generation began to emerge and quickly began to develop new platforms.

On May 29, the Israeli government insisted on allowing the so-called ‘Flag March’ – a mass rally by Israeli Jewish extremists that celebrate the capture of the Palestinian city of al-Quds – to once more pass through Palestinian neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem. This was the very occasion that instigated the violence of the previous year. Aware of the impending violence which often results from such provocations, Israel wanted to impose the timing and determine the nature of the violence. It failed. Gaza didn’t fire rockets. Instead, tens of thousands of Palestinians mobilized throughout occupied Palestine, thus allowing popular mobilization and coordination between numerous communities to grow. Palestinians proved able to coordinate their responsibility, despite the numerous obstacles, hardships and logistical difficulties.

The events of the last year are a testament that Palestinians are finally freeing their resistance from factional interests. The most recent confrontations show that Palestinians are even harnessing resistance as a  strategic objective. Muqawama in Palestine is no longer ‘symbolic’ or supposedly ‘random’ violence that reflects ‘desperation’ and lack of political horizon. It is becoming more defined, mature and well-coordinated.

This phenomenon must be extremely worrying to Israel, as the coming months and years could prove critical in changing the nature of the confrontation between Palestinians and their occupiers. Considering that the new resistance is centered around homegrown, grassroots, community-oriented movements, it has far greater chances of success than previous attempts. It is much easier for Israel to assassinate a fighter than to uproot the values of resistance from the heart of a community.

‘Our Vision for Liberation’: Book Launch Special with Baroud, Pappe and Karmi

June 9, 2022

Ramzy Baroud, Ilan Pappé and Ghada Karmi discuss the just-released book Our Vision for Liberation. (Photo: PDD)

In its latest live show, Palestine Deep Dive celebrates the book launch of Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out (Clarity Press).

Deep Dive’s host, Mark Seddon, is joined in the studio by the book’s co-editor Dr. Ramzy Baroud and one of its many Palestinian contributors, Dr. Ghada Karmi, joined via video link with co-editor Prof. Ilan Pappé.

Kicking off the show, Seddon asks Pappé what the idea was which inspired him and Baroud to put the book together:

“It was a sense that while there is a lot of information about the oppression, about the brutality of the Israeli policy, whether analyzing it in the past or understanding it in the present, there was a sense that the Palestinian agency in this is sometimes forgotten,” Pappé responds.

“I think also the obvious, disunity in the Palestinian leadership, a sense of disorientation that cannot be hidden is clearly there. Sometimes this obfuscates the very individual bravery and resilience that is taking place all over Palestine or wherever the Palestinians are in the globe. We thought that the first mission was to show, first of all, how this resilience, resistance, sometimes very personal, not as part of an organization, sometimes as part of a larger movement is a daily occurrence which gives us a lot of hope that there is still a Palestinian liberation movement, even if, from an institutional point of view, it seems sometimes that it does not exist.”

Asking Ghada Karmi for her thoughts on the title of the book, she responds:

“I must say it’s very brave, as you point out, to actually include the word ‘intellectual’ at a time and in a context in which there is an anti-intellectual movement. It’s very courageous, but it’s the truth. It’s the truth and it has to be said. Palestine, like many other nations, has its own class of people who think about things, which is what an intellectual is, and debate within themselves and with others what is the best way forward for whatever it is that they’re concerned about.”

Seddon probes further, asking, “When you talk about liberation as authors, what do you actually mean?”

Karmi responds: “… I think that there is this unity that Ilan Pappé spoke about in the idea, in the belief, that liberation means regaining Palestine. It’s very simple, no Palestinian ever really accepted the loss of the homeland. None of us ever believes or thinks that it’s gone forever.”

Dr. Ghada Karmi’s chapter in the book is titled: “An Equal Rights Campaign – Key to the End of Zionism” which she elaborates on in the show:

“We, that is not only the ‘we Palestinians’ who are living already in historic Palestine, but all the Palestinians who are living outside it or exiled or who are sitting in refugee camps, people like me, how can we accommodate this? How can we realistically do it? Quite clearly, there are no divisions. You can’t partition Palestine, the people have to live together. How are they going to live together? Ideally, of course, as one person, one vote in a democracy with equal rights.”

Returning to Seddon’s question on the title of the book, Baroud responds:

“We were thinking of liberation at two different levels, the actual act of liberation, the ending of the occupation, the dismantling of apartheid, and for Palestinians to be given basic human rights, to be treated as citizens in a territory that we can identify and the rest… but there is also a different kind of liberation that we were aiming for. This is why I think some of our 30 contributors may have discussed liberation from a different point of view, which is the liberation of the discourse itself, the liberation of the language itself, the liberation of how we locate ourselves as Palestinians.”

Baroud progresses by emphasizing the misrepresentation of Palestinians historically and how this book seeks to undo this injustice by giving Palestinians center-stage to articulate their own discourse:

“We’re always, in some ways, being perceived to be the aggressor, which makes absolutely no sense given that we are the ones who are colonized and aggressed upon and constantly trying to fight, not only for the freedom to move about, but for our own survival as we have seen in the case of Gaza.”

Currently in Gaza, where two million Palestinians endure a 15-year-long hermetic siege, 98% of water there is undrinkable, electricity is shut off daily due to power shortages and a mental health crisis afflicts the population who have lived through four deadly military assaults on the enclave by Israel since 2008.

“We wanted to say if we as Palestinians imagine a different narrative in which the story is told from our point of view, what would it look like? What would the story be if it’s based entirely on Palestinian priorities? Not in a cliché sentimental way, but rather in a very specific way, people with programs.

“Ghada was quite courageous in her chapter. Others also talk on various issues, whether in art and cinema, in embroidery, in science, in archeology, in diplomacy, and all of these issues talking about them; this is how we have been doing it, this is what we learned, these are the mistakes that have been committed, this is what we think is the proper way forward.”

Expanding on the idea of liberating the discourse, Baroud explains how Palestinians historically have been denied the right to speak freely:

“When Oslo was signed in 1993, we quite often talk about Oslo as a political doctrine, but we rarely discuss Oslo as a culture. Where Palestinians were told that in order for you to be accepted within the realm of good moderate nations, you have to behave in a certain way and you have to speak in a certain way as well.

“Certain terminologies like liberation, freedom fighting, resistance, muqawama, we were not allowed to use those terms anymore. The terms that we were supposed to use, ‘the peace process’ only ‘two-state solutions’, we can’t venture out of this stifling paradigm that was really never meant to actualize in the first place. There were the good Palestinians, the bad Palestinians, the terrorist sympathizers versus the moderate friendly one.”

Returning back to Pappé, Seddon puts to him an audience question, “Is this book a manifesto for change or a history of what has already been tried?”

Pappé responds: “Well, I think it’s both. First of all, it’s a record. It’s recording through individual stories. A humanizing story.”

“I would just mention one thing here that is very important, and this comes out in several of the contributions. The Palestinian society is one of the youngest in the world. 50% of the Palestinians, wherever they are, are under 18 years old.

“You talk to Palestinian teenagers all over, wherever they are, and you understand that this is an assertive generation that would continue the struggle of liberation. With the way Israel is going to evolve, it’s very clear what’s going on on the ground in Israel. The way it’s going to evolve, giving up on the democratic charade anyway, and really becoming an official apartheid state. I think that this is more than a manifesto.”

Keen to emphasize one of the book’s vital takeaways, Baroud mentions:

“There is an implicit message in the book about solidarity. In fact, if you notice that all the endorsements come from non-Palestinians, and all the contributions come from Palestinians. As if we are trying to say there’s a message there.

“Solidarity is not when you take my place, solidarity is when you stand by my side and try to create networks, support me, help me to communicate my message, but not to replace me. I think that becomes quite clear throughout the book.”

Turning to the question of the Palestinian leadership, Seddon asks with the abandonment of elections recently in Palestine, is it indeed possible to create a unified Palestinian leadership any time soon?

Baroud responds: “Now, according to a recent public opinion poll, a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank support a one-state solution. That critical mass is about to be reached in Gaza. That happened within relatively a very short period of time. If these indicators continue, at this level, it seems that sooner or later, Palestinians will back this particular solution, and we will then speak about an objective that is being championed by the Palestinian people.”

According to a poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC), published on November 22, 2021, there are more West Bank Palestinians who support the one-state solution than those still in favor of the two-state solution.

“Now, the question is, will we ever have that leadership that is going to support the people’s position? Edward Said famously said, ‘Palestinians are cursed by a bad leadership.’ Far from trying to correct Professor Said in any possible way, but I don’t think it’s really a matter of bad leadership per se, as much as we had no other alternative but to have that bad leadership, because our good leadership is either in prison, assassinated, marginalized, deported out of Palestine, and so forth.

“This is the very purpose of the book. How do we move beyond this? How do we create that legitimate leadership? Not necessarily via elections, because we know that Israel is not going to give Palestinians the space and the room to really create democratic representatives. Even though the elections have never even taken place, many Palestinian potential candidates were arrested anyway. We know that either way, we will never have that moment. We need to have alternative ways in which we can have a legitimate leadership. Within the framework of liberation movements, legitimate leadership does not necessarily have to be the outcome of the ballot box. There are other ways of achieving that.”

Order your copy now of Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out here

(Palestine Deep Dive)

LONG MARGINALIZED, THE RIGHT OF RETURN IS ONCE AGAIN A PALESTINIAN PRIORITY

MAY 25TH, 2022

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

The Nakba is back on the Palestinian agenda.

For nearly three decades, Palestinians were told that the Nakba – or Catastrophe – is a thing of the past. That real peace requires compromises and sacrifices, therefore, the original sin that has led to the destruction of their historic homeland should be entirely removed from any ‘pragmatic’ political discourse. They were urged to move on.

The consequences of that shift in narrative were dire. Disowning the Nakba, the single most important event that shaped modern Palestinian history, has resulted in more than political division between the so-called radicals and the supposedly peace-loving pragmatists, the likes of Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority. It also divided Palestinian communities in Palestine and across the world around political, ideological and class lines.

Following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, it became clear that the Palestinian struggle for freedom was being entirely redefined and reframed. It was no longer a Palestinian fight against Zionism and Israeli settler colonialism that goes back to the start of the 20th century, but a ‘conflict’ between two equal parties, with equally legitimate territorial claims that can only be resolved through ‘painful concessions’.

The first of such concessions was relegating the core issue of the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees who were driven out of their villages and cities in 1947-48. That Palestinian Nakba paved the way for Israel’s ‘independence’, which was declared atop the rubble and smoke of nearly 500 destroyed and burnt Palestinian villages and towns.

At the start of the ‘peace process’, Israel was asked to honor the Right of Return for Palestinians, although symbolically. Israel refused. Palestinians were then pushed to relegate that fundamental issue to a ‘final status negotiations’, which never took place. This meant that millions of Palestinian refugees – many of whom are still living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, as well as the occupied Palestinian territories – were dropped from the political conversation altogether.

If it were not for the continued social and cultural activities of the refugees themselves, insisting on their rights and teaching their children to do the same, such terms as the Nakba and Right of Return would have been completely dropped out of the Palestinian political lexicon.

Palestinian refugee
A Family warms themselves by a fire during cold weather in a slum on the outskirts of a Gaza refugee camp, Jan. 19, 2022. Khalil Hamra | AP

While some Palestinians rejected the marginalization of the refugees, insisting that the subject is a political not merely a humanitarian one, others were willing to move on as if this right was of no consequence. Various Palestinian officials affiliated with the now-defunct ‘peace process’ have made it clear that the Right of Return was no longer a Palestinian priority. But none came even close to the way that PA President Abbas, himself, framed the Palestinian position in a 2012 interview with Israeli Channel 2.

“Palestine now for me is the ’67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever … This is Palestine for me. I am [a] refugee, but I am living in Ramallah,” he said.

Abbas had it completely wrong, of course. Whether he wished to exercise his right of return or not, that right, according to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, is simply “inalienable”, meaning that neither Israel nor the Palestinians themselves, can deny or forfeit it.

Let alone the lack of intellectual integrity of separating the tragic reality of the present from its main root cause, Abbas lacked political wisdom as well. With his ‘peace process’ floundering, and with the lack of any tangible political solution, he simply decided to abandon millions of refugees, denying them the very hope of having their homes, land or dignity restored.

Since then, Israel, along with the United States, has fought Palestinians on two different fronts: one, by denying them any political horizon and, the other, by attempting to dismantle their historically enshrined rights, mainly their Right of Return. Washington’s war on the Palestinian refugees’ agency, UNRWA, falls under the latter category as the aim was – and remains – the destruction of the very legal and humanitarian infrastructures that allow Palestinian refugees to see themselves as a collective of people seeking repatriation, reparations and justice.

Yet, all such efforts continue to fail. Far more important than Abbas’ personal concessions to Israel, UNRWA’s ever-shrinking budget or the failure of the international community to restore Palestinian rights, is the fact that the Palestinian people are, once again, unifying around the Nakba anniversary, thus insisting on the Right of Return for the seven million refugees in Palestine and the shattat – Diaspora.

Ironically, it was Israel that has unwittingly re-unified Palestinians around the Nakba. By refusing to concede an inch of Palestine, let alone allow Palestinians to claim any victory, a State of their own – demilitarized or otherwise – or allow a single refugee to go home, Palestinians were forced to abandon Oslo and its numerous illusions. The once-popular argument that the Right of Return was simply ‘impractical’ no longer matters, neither to ordinary Palestinians nor to their intellectual or political elites.

In political logic, for something to be impossible, an alternative would have to be attainable. However, with Palestinian reality worsening under the deepening system of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid, Palestinians now understand that they have no possible alternative but their unity, their resistance and the return to the fundamentals of their struggle. The Unity Intifada of last May was a culmination of this new realization. Moreover, the Nakba anniversary commemoration rallies and events throughout historic Palestine and the world on May 15 have further helped crystallize the new discourse that the Nakba is no longer symbolic and the Right of Return is the collective, core demand of most Palestinians.

Israel is now an apartheid state in the real meaning of the word. Israeli apartheid, like any such system of racial separation, aims at protecting the gains of nearly 74 years of unhinged colonialism, land theft and military dominance. Palestinians, whether in Haifa, Gaza or Jerusalem, now fully understand this, and are increasingly fighting back as one nation.

And since the Nakba and the subsequent ethnic cleansing of Palestinian refugees are the common denominators behind all Palestinian suffering, the term and its underpinnings are back at the center stage of any meaningful conversation on Palestine, as should have always been the case.

From Nakba 74 and Beyond: Solidarity is Ongoing

May 19, 2022

Thousands of Palestinians throughout the besieged Gaza Strip commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Benay Blend

On Nakba Day 2022, thousands of people around the world marked the 74th anniversary of the “catastrophe” of 1948 that saw nearly 800,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes as Zionists established the illegal state of Israel. Demonstrators also demanded justice for the slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was assassinated by Israeli forces in Jenin within the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Appropriately, on May 15, poet and activist Remi Kanazi tweeted: “Why solidarity matters. It’s Nakba Day. Other communities are in pain and dealing with supremacist forces. If we don’t fight against all systems of domination and build with each other,” he warned, “the oppression we face will never truly end, even if we think it does.”

 As if in answer, an Azov-insignia wearing teen carried out a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Because 11 out of the 13 victims were black, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the police have labeled the murders a “hate crime.”

The problem with this label is that it implies that the crime was an act of a lone individual acting on racist impulses. The solution, many believe, is gun control. Both assumptions are mere band-aids on the problem. Whether a member of an organized group or not, this man was not a lone shooter, but rather part of a larger Nazi movement.

As Benjamin Norton noted, the shooter was wearing the same “black sun” Nazi symbol used by Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov militia, which NATO is arming and training. According to an Al Jazeera report, Ukraine has emerged as an international center for the far right around the world. There Azov has been active in training men who want combat experience and share a fascist ideology.

The soldier who murdered Abu Akleh also acted as a member of a particular society, writes  scholar/activist Steven Salaita, doing “exactly what Israeli soldiers do.” Indeed, over the past two decades the Zionist state has murdered approximately fifty journalists, making Abu Akleh’s death not an aberration, a mistake, but rather a matter of policy.

The colonizer, concludes Salaita, perpetuates violence “because of colonization.” In the end, it is “the only way he knows how to be a good citizen” while maintaining a “meaningful existence” for himself.

Just as few shooters act alone, but rather as products of their worldview, so do those who successfully work for social justice do so in community. Mourning the assassination of her compatriot, Gaza-based Palestinian journalist Wafa Aludaini writes that Abu Akleh was a household name in local homes because she documented Israeli crimes.

In her own words, Abu Akleh attests to her close connection to community: “I chose journalism,” she explained, because she wanted to be “close to the people. It might not be easy to change reality,” she continued, “but at least I could bring their voice to the world.”

Writing is a solitary endeavor, but the formation of ideas is not. In the introduction of These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (2020), Ramzy Baroud, activist/journalist/writer and editor of this collection, declares that “because Palestinian resistance is a collective experience, the writing of this book has also been a collective effort. It is our attempt to reclaim the narrative of our people,” he continues, “to liberate it from the suffocating confines of political, media and academic discourse and take it into the heart of resistance.”

Palestine solidarity by its very definition is also a communal effort, the work of many groups of individuals whose histories are likely different but whose goals for the future intersect with those of all colonized peoples around the world.

My own involvement began around 1980 with a Muslim/Jewish dialogue group organized by fellow grad students at the University of New Mexico. Since then, my activism has evolved away from conversations that by their very nature involve a power gap to direct involvement/writing that attempts to place Palestinians at the center. At the present time my activist work involves membership in the recently organized Albuquerque chapter of Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. As a writer, I’ve also learned that very little happens in a vacuum; formulation of ideas requires a give and take between people of similar, and sometimes different, persuasion. From all those years I’ve learned the importance of being part of an organization.

Solidarity means maintaining unanimity no matter where the media directs our attention. “Empathy’s endurance,” writes Onyesonwu Chatoyer, organizer for the All African People’s Revolutionary Party—Southwest, makes possible “a better and more just way of living” that is “within our capacity” to rebuild. At the present time, however, our inner lives are being “weaponized and manipulated,” especially among the “disorganized and unconscious” elements of our society.

In his preface to Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out (2022), Ramzy Baroud defines the parameters of the struggle. “Solidarity that is not guided by authentic Palestinian voices is simply futile,” Baroud declares, “it cannot effectively mobilize what is essential: their purpose” (p. xviii).

The collection’s chapters are a testament to the ability of Palestinians—and by extension all people who are engaged in freedom struggles—to liberate themselves. Reflecting on “The International Struggle on Behalf of Palestine,” co-editor Ilan Pappé shares three major truths that he has learned during his decades-long involvement in the solidarity campaign. First, solidarity for an Israeli Jew means moving away from Zionism and its “comfort zone”; second, winning the trust of the Palestinian people remains crucial; and finally, trying to influence others to follow the same path is hard (p. 411).

In an interview with Asantewaa Nkrumah-Turé, organizer with Black Alliance for Peace Philadelphia, Margaret Kimberly led the conversation in a way that resonates well with Baroud’s and Pappe’s interpretation of solidarity. Nkrumah-Turé began by speaking of her experience on a panel at the recent Al-Awda Conference in New York. There she tied her anti-imperialist work to Palestine solidarity, commitments that she traced back to the long history of Black support for the Palestinian struggle,

For example, Nkrumah-Turé mentioned her late brother Kwame Turé who came out against Zionism during his involvement with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In this way her trajectory is different than Pappé in that she did not have to leave Zionism in order to oppose it.

Like Baroud and Pappé, Nkrumah-Turé acknowledges other groups who have come to share her position. For example, she salutes Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) for what she believes must have been a “difficult move” when they came out with a public statement denouncing Zionism.

Finally, she addresses what Pappé calls the “tension between effort and tangible results” (pp. 411,412), losing hope due to the lack of significant changes on the ground. In answer, both highlight the importance of looking to the future. For Pappé, the solution is asking if we “have done enough for the cause,” and for Nkrumah-Turé, a similar response: developing the kind of courage to stay in the fight for the long haul.

For me, it is helpful to consider all of the activists mentioned in this article, along with the contributors to Our Vision for Liberation, as the energy who provide sumud (steadfastness) and inspiration for the future struggle.

– 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.

Constantly on the Verge of Collapse: How Palestinians Became a Factor in Israeli Politics

May 18, 2022

Israeli politicians Naftali Bennett (L) and Ayelet Shaked. (Photo: via Wikimedia commons)

By Ramzy Baroud

Israel’s coalition government of right-wing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is on the verge of collapse, which is unsurprising. Israeli politics, after all, is among the most fractious in the world, and this particular coalition was born out of the obsessive desire to dethrone Israel’s former leader, Benjamin Netanyahu.

While Netanyahu was successfully ousted in June 2021, Bennett’s coalition has been left to contend with the painful reality that its odd political components have very little in common.

On April 6, Israeli lawmaker Ildit Salman defected from the coalition, leaving Bennett and his temporary allies wrangling with the fact that their Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) coalition no longer has a majority. Now that the Knesset count stands at 60-60, a single defection could potentially send Israelis back to the voting booth, which has been quite habitual recently.

Two current Bennett allies, Abir Kara and Bir Orbach, are possible defectors. Even Bennett’s old Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) partner, Ayelet Shaked, could ultimately betray him, once his coalition ship begins sinking. And it is.

Both Bennett and Shaked left the Jewish Home in 2018 to form Yamina. Although the latter won only seven seats in the March 2021 elections, the far-right party proved to be the kingmaker, which allowed the anti-Netanyahu coalition to be formed. The only alternative to this current coalition would have been a government in which Netanyahu and Bennett would alternate the prime minister post. Though Bennett is a protegé of Netanyahu, the current prime minister knew too well that his former boss cannot be trusted.

So, instead, Bennett opted to join a hotchpotch coalition of political desperados, each joining an unlikely government for simply having no other option. For example, Yesh Atid (17 seats), and Kahol Lavan (8 seats), once part of the Blue and White center-right coalition, betrayed their political base by joining far-right Yamina and, consequently, leaving behind Telem of Moshe Yalon, which now has no Knesset representation.

The same can be said of Labor (7 seats) and Meretz (6 seats) who, earlier, were the backbone of the Israeli political establishment – in 1992 they had 56 seats combined. Losing faith in their own political base, they opted to join their supposed ideological nemesis, instead of enduring the painstaking process of breathing life into a dying camp.

The captivating part of the story is the United Arab List of Mansour Abbas, which is rightly perceived to have betrayed its Arab base in Israel and its own Palestinian people everywhere else. As the Israeli army is cracking down on Palestinian communities throughout historic Palestine, including Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Naqab – Mansour Abbas’ own base – this strange political creature remains committed to Bennett, though nervous about future possibilities, especially that the nature of the Israeli attacks on Palestinians are increasingly shifting towards a religious war.

Consequently, it is hard to imagine that Bennett’s government could realistically survive till 2025. In fact, it is quite rare in Israeli politics that any government coalition has served its full four-year term. Still, Israel’s historic political instability is worsening. In fact, Bennett’s government is the outcome of an agonizing political process that saw Israeli voters cast their votes in four different general elections in only two years.

Perhaps, what is keeping Bennett’s coalition together, though precariously, is the menacing image of Netanyahu, the current opposition leader, sinisterly watching from across the Knesset aisles while waiting for the right opportunity to pounce. Some Israeli analysts even argue that the defection of MK Salman was largely instigated by the abuse and intimidation she received from Netanyahu’s Likud party, which saw her as a traitor to their right-wing agenda.

Regardless of the fate of Bennett’s government, Israel’s political crisis will continue indefinitely, and there are reasons for this.

Though the Israeli right has dominated the country’s politics for many years, especially since 1996, it remains fractious and opportunistic. The constant need to feed the insatiable appetite of the country’s powerful right-wing constituency keeps pushing Israel’s right-wing parties further to the right. They are merely united around such values as the racial and religious supremacy of Israeli Jews, their hate for Palestinians and Arabs, the desire to expand the illegal Jewish settlements and the rejection of any mediated solution that would provide Palestinians with their basic human rights.

The left in Israel is, frankly, not a left at all. It is recognized as such, largely because of its ‘peace-process’ legacy, which died with the assassination of Labor Minister Yitzhak Rabi, in 1995. Tellingly, Rabin was not a peacenik but one of Israel’s most militant and violent leaders. However, the erroneous association, linking any Israeli leader with the ‘peace process’, automatically classified that individual as a ‘leftist’. According to Israeli analyst Oz Aruch, this also applied to Ariel Sharon. The name of the late notorious Israeli prime minister and Army General is associated with the Sabra and Shatila massacre, along with other horrific episodes.

Without a real ideology and without a ‘peace process’, or even the desire to engage in one, the Israeli left has become irrelevant.

The same applies to the center which, by definition, is the political camp that occupies the space between the right and the left. With the right being in constant redefinition and the left having no strong ideological base, the Israeli center has proven equally hopeless. The outcome of the April 2019 elections, when the center coalition Blue and White obtained 35 seats, should have been a watershed moment for Israel’s political center. This ultimately culminated to nil, and eventually led to the collapse of Blue and White itself.

While this is taking place in Israel, the Palestinian body politic has been slowly reanimating. Though Palestinian Arab parties in Israel remain divided, and Palestinian groups in the occupied territories are yet to find their common ground, Palestinian communities, especially the younger generations, have been articulating a new political discourse. With grassroots leaderships, they are coordinating their actions from occupied Jerusalem to Gaza, to the Naqab to the West Bank and to Palestinian communities in Israel itself.

For the first time in many years, Israel finds itself in a position where it is no longer the only party that is shaping events or determining outcomes in the country. Therefore, Israeli political instability will worsen. Contrastingly, Palestinians are finally becoming a factor in Israeli politics and, through their popular resistance, can mobilize to put pressure on Israel as has been the case in recent years.

Israel is now facing the dilemma of either ignoring this new Palestinian factor, at its own peril, or accepting the inescapable fact that Israel can never enjoy stability while Palestinians remain occupied, confined and oppressed.

– 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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