Palestinian Unity: Israel's Nemesis
By Vacy Vlazna
19 January, 2013
Nemesis: “the inescapable agent of someone's or something's downfall”
Imagine Israel faced with a united front of every Palestinian who exists.
Pro-Palestinian activists around the world shout from their hearts to the sky, to their governments, to Israel, “In our hundreds, in our millions, we are all Palestinians”.
This cry of oneness in justice, in solidarity, the cry of the unity of a human family transcending space and borders contrasts the fracture, to Israel’s Machiavellian advantage, of Palestinian society in Occupied Palestine, in Israel, that overspills into the purgatory of Diasporan camps.
Divide and rule, divide et impera, is an age-old strategy that weakens and fractures potential power alliances. Its only collaborator is self-interest.
The Arabs have fallen for it since the Sykes-Picot Agreement when imperialist France and Britain divided up the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The US deftly executed it in Iraq. Bracing for war in 2003, Iraqis rallied together in the certainty that ‘We are all Iraqi’. But with the US arming of factional death squads, it didn't take long for Iraqis to be stamped with the mark of Cain when massacring their neighbours - rather than the foreign occupiers.
All democratic countries have political divisions, yet most don’t have a common enemy. For Palestinians under a vicious occupation, internal political opposition is not a right- it is lethal stupidity and a waste of the spirit of resistance.
The Palestinian identity splits in the suicidal Fatah and Hamas divide. Despite Fatah and Hamas leaders having achieved nothing to further the right to Palestinian self-determination, most Palestinians have clung in vain to an absurd fealty to the dysfunctional status quo that blocks independence and perpetuates the occupation.
To Fatah and Hamas, the cry “ We are all Palestinians” doesn’t apply to all Palestinians. One certainly doesn’t throw one’s oppressed brothers and sisters into prison and torture them.
The Fatah PA, quickly mired itself in corruption and collaboration to fulfil its self-interest in status, wealth and faux power. To perpetuate these petty ego gratifications, the PA leadership, groomed by Israel, created a proxy police state on Israel’s behalf; an occupation within the occupation, betraying their suffering impoverished brethren: during the 2008-9 barbaric Israeli war on Gazan families, West Bank protestors found themselves facing a united front of PA and Israeli security forces.
Then in October 2009, the PA stonewalled the Goldstone vote in the UN - “as The Palestine Papers reveal, the Palestinian Authority apparently sacrificed a potential victory for Palestinian victims in exchange for favorable assurances on negotiations from the United States and, they hoped, from Israel.” (EI)
During last year’s heroic prisoner hunger-strikes, “EI reports Abbas was quick to telephone Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to pay his condolences after his ancient father recently died, but was silent regarding the hunger strikes of Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab (entering their 75th day on hunger strike at the time of writing) and the mass hunger strike that began on April 17th, undertaken by up to 2,500 prisoners”. In addition, the Fatah leadership threatened to freeze the membership and financial rights of Fatah affiliated prisoners for two years if they did not end their hunger strike.
Freedom of expression under PA rule is suppressed. David Keyes reports,‘Slander of high-ranking officials, including the president, is illegal and punishable by up to two years in prison’. Members of the press are imprisoned and dissent, like the June 2012 demonstration against the proposed visit of Israeli deputy PM Mofaz (who is linked to war crimes in Jenin and Gaza) as well as demanding democratic elections and the end of the futile peace negotiations, was crushed with alarming force on the PA’s orders.
One cringes watching PA negotiators pathetically begging Israel for a Palestinian state on a mere 20% of historic Palestine as though they are doing Israel and…the Palestinians... a favour, when in fact, historic Palestine has legal rights to full statehood under the still binding Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
The Palestine Papers revealed the PA’s ultimate betrayal in its humiliating “offer that Israel annexes all settlements in Jerusalem except Jabal Abu Ghneim [Har Homa]. According to Al Haq, PA has no right to negotiate land swaps because they are illegal:
“All States are under the obligation not to recognise the de facto annexation of Palestinian territory upon which settlements are built, along with the exercise of colonialism and the system of apartheid put in place by Israel in the OPT, as lawful, not to render aid or assistance in maintaining it and to cooperate to bring these violations to an end. In light of the obligations incumbent upon every State, the politically motivated call for ‘mutually agreed land swaps’ is irreconcilable with third party States’ responsibilities under international law.”
Erekat also offered concessions on the status of Jerusalem's Temple Mount, which houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam and offered to accept the return of only 100,000 out of the Palestinians who fled at the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and their descendants, now numbering almost five million.” Abbas publicly renounced the inalienable right of return on 1st November on Israeli TV and didn’t include ‘right of return’ in the decades overdue PA submission to the UN for non-member status.
Within 24 hours of the overwhelming acceptance of Palestine as a UN non-member state with access to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice(ICJ) Israel provocatively announced the expansion of 4000 illegal colonial houses on illegal Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands.
Abbas’ response? He had “no immediate plans to take Israel to the International Criminal Court , hinted he would consider such a move in the future "in case of Israeli aggression." Such is the spineless mettle of the leader to whom Palestine clings.
While Palestine honours the thousands of its martyrs (of all affiliations) and honours armed resistance as a noble and justified defense, the Qassam rockets are futile against a nuclear power which, in response, fills Gaza hospitals with the dead, the maimed and with indelible grief. The rockets have become ironically an accessory to genocide and provide Israel with a testing ground for its lucrative armament industry specifically the Iron Dome Missile Defense which, for the first time, in November’s Operation Pillar of Cloud reached Jerusalem and Tel Aviv giving Israelis a small taste of life under fear of death that is the daily experience of Gazan families.
Hamas’s rule over Gaza has also evolved into a dictatorship. Notwithstanding Hamas’ worthy charity programs, Gazans are in a double prison of censorship of freedom of expression and control of the press, of crackdowns on protests, of imposed Islamisation, and the closing down of concerts.
It begs the question, then, why would Palestinians want unity between Hamas and Fatah?
Imagine Israel faced with a united front of a Palestinian national movement...
that transcends entrenched party politics and self-interest and does not include despots. Real unity would unite the hearts and minds of all the people towards a sole focus: Palestine’s freedom. This was apparent in the recent Palestinian protests against the rising cost of living and in the protests against Operation Pillar of Cloud.
Palestinian passivity has been excused by touting the exhaustion of being ground down by 64 years of brutal occupation, of international betrayal, of broken dreams. There have even been calls for a Palestinian Gandhi. What rubbish.
While Palestine’s weak political leaders strut the international stage with quislings like Obama, Netanyahu, Clinton, Barroso, Blair, Cameron, Merkel etc, the real Palestinian leaders in Nilin, Bilin, Beit Sahour, Budrus, Silwan, Al Khalil, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkarm, Jordan Valley, Sheik Jarrah and Gaza are dodging live and rubber bullets, choking on tear gas, blogging the truth, throwing stones and refusing food - with intelligence, sumud, courage and heroic dignity along with the Palestinian activists in Israel and in the diaspora speaking Palestinian truth to international powers and communities and spreading the word of BDS.
This month’s exciting establishment of the Babs al-Shams village on private Palestinian land to thwart Netanyahu’s plans (to encircle Jerusalem on the EI corridor with 4000 illegal units) by 250 Palestinian activists and Israel’s panicked eviction of the same, promises that this is Palestine’s moment to actualise Laurens Van Der Post’s prophetic urging:
“At the moment people are saying, as if they're bewildered, 'Why haven't we got any great leaders? Why haven't we got another Churchill? Why haven't we got another Roosevelt or somebody to show us the way?' Well, it’s simply because nature is telling us it’s projection [projecting ie transferring our own strengths onto idealised others].
The age of leaders has come and gone. Every person must be his or her own leader now. You must remove your projection, and contain the spirit of our time in your own life and your own nature, because to go the old way and follow your leader is a form of psychological imprisonment. We want to be emancipated from that age, and the answer is to profoundly reappraise your systems of government and everything else.”
Imagine, taken to heart, it would produce 11 million Palestinian leaders.
Women would make up 5 and a half million Palestinian leaders. Already there are proud feisty female voices demanding freedom and justice. Bethlehem now has a female Mayor, and Haaretz reported that the first Palestinian all-women group, "By Participating, We Can," ran in Al-Khalil’s municipal elections. If Liberian women, Christian and Muslim, can end a civil war then surely Palestinian women who indomitably bear the emotional burden of Israeli oppression can, united, act to end the Palestinian divide.
Israel could not defeat a united front of every Palestinian who exists.
Palestine’s statehood with its political, human and civil rights exists securely in international law. The world must realise that if Palestine is extinguished then no nation, no peoples, no individual is protected by international law. Hence, we are all Palestinians.
Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. This article was first published on 17-1-13 in The Palestine Chronicle
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