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Redefining the Palestinian Cause!

Redefining the Palestinian Cause!

Monday, 3 February, 2020 - 10:00

The “deal of the century” deserves all of the ridicule that it has been subjected to and more: a denial of rights and justice. A leader supporting another leader, both could be indicted and have elections awaiting them. The issue was settled as though it pertained to real estate. The Palestinian “partner” is absent and the international cover is weak… so its failure is likely.

All of this does not negate the danger of the deal as a precedent of legitimizing the status quo. Its mere issuance lowers the bar to the lowest point it can get to and announces a desire, which might grow, for turning the page on this conflict at any cost, or rather, without a cost.

The “deal” did not come from nowhere, and it is not the result of a conspiracy here or a betrayal there. There is a history that stretches over a century of conflict during which the Arab world changed a lot, and the rest of the world changed more.

As for the Palestinians, the vast majority of those changes went against them: bad luck, bad politics and an objectively weak position combined to make this century that of defeats.To be fair, the Palestinians did not leave anything that they didn't do during this century. The good and the bad had their chances. The results did not change.

In 1936 they fought as families and clans. Between 1967 and 1982 they fought as organizations and factions. After 1993 they fought as an authority. They fought during the Cold War, before it and after it. From inside the occupied territories, they launched two intifadas, one peaceful and the other violent, and they fought from behind the international borders outside. They fought with the support of the Soviets and the Chinese, and they made peace with the support of the Americans and the Europeans. They practiced non-compromising peace symbolized by Arafat, relaxed peace symbolized by Abbas and peace through economic cooperation of Fayyad. They were led, in war and peace, by a “rightwing” faction, 'Fatah', and in particular during times of war, “leftwing” factions like the 'Popular' and 'Democratic' Fronts contributed to leading them and Islamist factions like 'Hamas' and 'Jihad' did as well. They fought “the guerilla’s long term war”, and they adopted short term strategies like hijacking airplanes.

They were inspired by various experiences, stretching from Guevara to Mandela, and expanded their ranks to include individuals like Carlos and revolutionary and terrorist organizations from the furthest corners of the world as well as pacifists who are supportive of any peace and opposed to any war. They opened up to anti-Zionist Jews and added a rabbi from among them to their National Assembly, and they allowed anti-Semitic voices to develop in the environment of their revolution. Meanwhile, they also allied with both conservative and military Arab regimes and with Iran. Some of them, like 'the general Command' and before it 'As-Sa'iqa,' were extensions of the Syrian regime, and others, like the 'Arab liberation front,' were extensions of Saddam’s Iraqi regime. The majority of them, whom 'Fatah' spoke for, held on to “independent patriotic decision making”, which Hafez Assad usually made them pay a high price for. Throughout these years, they operated under the slogan of "non-intervention in the internal affairs" of Arab countries, and under slogans like "all power to the resistance", which accompanied the civil wars in Jordan and Lebanon.

The Arabs, too, from within the boundaries of their contributions, augmented the variability of experiences, increased their volatility and usually doubled their bitterness. They fought Israel as conservative and military regimes. They fought as allies of the West and allies of the Soviets. This happened in 1948, 1967 and 1973, with seven, then three, then two armies, before wars became limited, since 1982, to Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. This historical trajectory, with its contradictions and defeats, now calls for the redefinition or the reinvention of the Palestinian cause. Its clarity has been lost and its appeal has been weakened.

Today, for example, four voices are heard from the Palestinian political environment: We want the lands of the 1947 border division. We want the lands of 1948. We want the lands of 1967. We want the lands of Oslo in 1993.

Also, it is no longer clear whether it is a national Palestinian issue, an Arab Nationalist issue or an Islamic issue with praying in Jerusalem at its core; or is it all three combined? Is it a political cause which we are allowed to question and disagree about, and from our questions and disagreements come up with ideas, or is it a divine cause that should not be questioned or quarreled about, in which case it rots and is left to be exploited by some hypocritical rulers who invest in its declared holiness. Moreover, are the Arab revolutions beneficial to the Palestinian cause and culminations of it, or do they compete with and harm it?

Finally, is the “deal of the century” itself a major catastrophe that tries to execute the most negative interpretations of the 67 war, or is it an opportunity to explode revolutionary energy, the existence of which there is no evidence for, neither among the Palestinians nor among the rest of the Arabs who are preoccupied with an excess of their own national concerns.

Redefining the issue is an urgent demand. The first step is to get rid of the recurrent rhetoric, from politics, literature and the media, and to then search for new tone, it's okay to say: a shocking and surprising one.

Reinvention inevitably includes distancing the tendency to reduce the issue and avoid searching for what the Palestinian writer Hassan Khodor called a “scapegoat''. For Abbas, Hamas, Oslo, 'the resistance' and others, before and maybe after them, have all contributed to where we are today. However, no single party is solely responsible. Holding a single faction or person responsible is a return, indirectly, to the logic of civil war among Palestinians.

Is the Palestinian Authority bad? Yes, but what about Hamas? Is Hamas bad? Yes, but what about the Authority? What is the alternative? Resistance? Do Palestinians have the social, economic requisites for that? Do they have the spirit and the will?

Some say the: “the Nation will confront the deal” But where is the Nation? in Idlib?

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