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Palestine: the Logical Locus of Les Onzards

2011 May 16

You are a Palestinian.

You are forced to tolerate foreign troops, armed with machine guns and grenades, patrolling the shopping district of the city you live in, claiming the right, uncontestable because of their weaponry, to survey, harass, frisk and detain any civilian for any reason or none at all.

You live with the knowledge firstly that those troops represent the most impressive military in the region, the only one with nuclear weaponry at its disposal, and secondly that you and your family and all your friends are not represented by a government with sovereignty, jurisdiction or statutory legitimacy. To the extent that the occupying Israeli army grants your people any administration at all, it is an interim provisional government, the Palestinian Authority, whose “authority” lapsed thirteen years ago.

The Foreign Minister of the occupying army’s government, Avigdor Lieberman, is the head of the second most powerful party in the Knesset, a party that is overtly racist against your people (Arabs) and constitutionally hostile to your uplift. The last twenty years of what commentators glibly misrepresent as the “peace process” have only led to peace in the Pax Romana sense, maximizing not freedom, justice and equality but settlement, occupation and colonialism, the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied territories having more than doubled in that time.

The land your people are allowed to inhabit is non-contiguous, and each part is overseen by an unsavory party that lacks public support, even in the territory each ostensibly leads. Fatah, which represents the West Bank, is a corrupt client party of Egypt, the United States and Israel, which has compromised too snivelingly with the latter to have achieved anything like gains in the movement for Palestinian liberation (all the while soaking up Palestinian money to enrich apparatchiks) and has therefore remained complicit in occupation. Hamas, democratically elected to represent Gaza, is a radical Islamist sect that maintains a website complete with the discredited fascist propaganda piece “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and so heavily prioritizes its narrow ideological program over national interests that it will later publicly celebrate “Arab holy warrior” Osama bin Laden.

You are a Palestinian, and the outlook is not brilliant.

But then March of 2011 rolls around and Hosni Mubarak is deposed by protesters in Egyptian streets. The greatest strategic pillar in the region of Israel’s siege of your brothers and sisters in Gaza and the primary neighboring patron of Fatah has fallen. Then, by two months later, Syria finds itself engaged in sanguinary strife, Bashar Assad (for whom Israel is lobbying) striking back viciously at protestors there, the death toll rising toward a thousand, which jeopardizes Hamas’ chief regional source of support. Forced by the collapse of their outside benefactors to make a change, the two parties agree to a reconciliation deal, temporarily ending the inter-Palestinian feud, which the former Egyptian government has refused to mediate for the last four years. As a term of this deal to create

a unity government of Fatah and Hamas forces, Egypt agrees to open the Gaza border crossing. All of a sudden, everything is different.

Israel becomes increasingly isolated, facing the prospect of democratic regional rivals who are unfriendly to its occupation, nations with legitimate claims to all the moral high ground that comes with casting off despots, operating under pressure by their populations, who cannot be bribed to surrender their cause célèbre, Palestinian liberation. This means that Israel feels increased pressure either to make concessions to Palestine, by way of dismantling the settlement and occupation apparatus, or to rely solely on the United States for military support.

In the United States, $3 billion in direct military aid to Israel is proposed despite a “fiscal crisis” that right wing lawmakers maintain necessitates cutting home heating assistance to impoverished Americans. The backlash against this sort of malfeasance in national fiscal prioritizing is changing the narrative in American media and public opinion. Even as neo-conservative American commentators publish their doubts that democracy will take hold in Egypt (because they envision democracy landing in the area in the form of American torture, prisons, bombs and tanks), America’s stomach for funneling money to Israel erodes as its esteem for the Arab world – which is demonstrating its yearning for freedom, justice and equality – rises.

You are a Palestinian, and you have a lot of work to do.

There are 11 million Palestinians, about half living inside the territory prescribed by former mandatory Palestine (including not just denizens of the occupied territories, but Arabs living as citizens of Israel proper) and the other half living elsewhere, chiefly Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. You have to mobilize all those people around a liberation strategy that appeals to the widest possible base. You have to forswear armed struggle, not because a stateless people isn’t justified in taking up arms against its occupying military (it is), but because such struggle against so heavily armed an enemy is asinine, not to mention damaging from a public relations perspective.

The public relations perspective is of crucial significance, especially in the United States. Nothing like a consensus exists among Americans that Palestinians are worthy of statehood, and the fact of Hamas’ shared representation of the national position does not help to reverse that inclination. Luckily, precedent is springing up all over the region for youth-led democratic movements, in opposition both to Islamism and client parties of American imperial power, deposing regimes and attempting to replace them with much more attractive governments. Palestine, centrally significant to the Arab world, stands every chance of being the most important location for that movement, the movement of les onzards, to take root.

You are a Palestinian, and the whole world is watching.

This piece was originally published by Foreign Policy in Focus’s Focal Points blog, where the author is a regular contributor. Follow him on Twitter.


4 Responses leave one →
  1. May 17, 2011

    I love how you assert that Avigdor Lieberman is an “overt racist” with a link to a wiki section called “allegations of racism,” which doesn’t even try to present one iota of evidence to support that assertion, only to point out that the charge has been made. I also like your complete non-recognition that there is an Israeli side to this conflict. No comment on why (or even if) the only nation which has ever given up land for peace after decisively winning a series of defensive wars could be opposed to Palestinian statehood in the first place?

    In that respect, you’ve done well in your effort to view the conflict from the Palestinian perspective. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear from their political actions, as well as their self described ideological objectives that Israel has always had peace as its goal, and has always proven to be completely amenable to any reasonable arrangement. By contrast, the Palestinians have never been interested in a two state solution, but have always demonstrated that they will not be satisfied with any result short of genocide. Your failure to mention this is detracts from your Palestinian perspective piece.

    In summary, here is some proof to back up my claims: 1) The Palestinians are not interested in a 2 state solution: 2) The ultimate Palestinian goal is genocide: 3) The Palestinians are responsible for their exodus from Israel proper, and not the Israeli government:

    All of these sources are from official Palestinian Authority TV, except where otherwise noted. There is plenty of other information available on that site to address your other misconceptions. Wiki is an excellent resource, and while it is heavily biased in favor of the Palestinian side, there is enough there for you to start to understand the conflict, on at least a basic level.

    You might, however, want to start with the wiki articles on logical fallacies, however. Those articles are all excellent, and free of bias, and I notice that your article is rife with those sort of mistakes (the undefended assertion, for instance, that the democratically elected government “lacks public support.”)

  2. May 17, 2011

    Ah, my comment was slightly redundant. Apologies.

  3. May 17, 2011


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