Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Two Methods and Two Readings on Palestine: Is Reconciling Them Possible?

Two Methods and Two Readings on Palestine: Is Reconciling Them Possible?

Thursday, 1 July, 2021 - 09:45

There are two methods and readings for assessing the current state of affairs in the Arab Levant, especially regarding the Palestinian cause. On the surface, they are contradictory, but they are both valid and can be, in all likelihood, combined into a single assessment.

The former emphasizes Israel's military might, its technologically advanced arsenal, nuclear weapons, ties with influential countries across the globe, and its developed economy. Moreover, it adds: the Jewish state has recently succeeded in signing four peace treaties with four Arab countries (Morocco, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain), countries extending from the east of the Arab world to its far west and south, and its previous agreements with Egypt (Camp David) and Jordan (Wadi Araba) and Palestine (Oslo) persist.

Furthermore, the countries of the Arab Levant are, today, in the worst shape they have ever been in. Syria is divided into Syrias dotted by foreign occupying forces. An internal struggle is brewing in Iraq, and it has lost its sovereignty, which Mustafa Al-Kadhimi is trying, with great difficulty, to partially retrieve. Lebanon, as a model in the region, has collapsed and is bankrupt. Jordan is weak and poor. As for the Palestinians themselves, they remain divided and are becoming increasingly divided.

According to this method- reading, then, Israel seems to be in great shape, and it seems futile to contemplate resisting or even opposing it. The new government is a mere detail. The rockets launched at it from Gaza are another detail.

The latter, on the other hand, stresses that Israel is in the worst shape it has ever been in: the Palestinian right has garnered the sympathy of broad popular segments in the world, and it is penetrating cultural, artistic and media environments that had been closed off to Palestinians in the past. It is also making inroads into the heart of the Democratic Party "ruling" the United States and “official” parties and factions in other Western countries. This is besides the fact that using anti-Semitism with and without grounds is not convincing to younger generations in the West, while increasingly prominent social media websites provide opportunities for articulating and supporting Palestinians' rights that had not been provided by the declining traditional media outlets. In addition to all of this, Israeli democracy's sway is being undermined by the occupation of the 1967 territories and the racist practices within the 1948 territories. These two realities are not only undercutting its attractiveness. They are poisoning it.

Some cling to the first method- reading in their assessments, disregarding the latter, as it is seen to be, in the best of cases, adventurous or childish. Some cling to the latter and stigmatize the former and those who adopt it, seeing it as surrender and subordination. Not combing the two methods- readings at hand, both of which are correct, exacerbates the worst of what is happening now: per the first reading, the current leadership of Palestinian national action should remain in place- that is, Fatah, the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority that emerged after Oslo. Though it is flabby and slow to catch up with domestic and international developments, it is the only faction capable of dealing with the current balance of power. Indeed, it is qualified to do so precisely because of its flabbiness, given the balance of power we are all familiar with and the infeasibility of changing it.

This is the Palestinian implementation of the theory that weakness is the only strength.

However, according to the second reading, the leadership in Ramallah should be sidelined in favor of Hamas (and Islamic Jihad,) whereby action aimed at achieving a comprehensive victory that does away with Israel is taken; for "Jerusalem is closer than it ever has been,” as the axis of resistance slogan goes.

Reconciling these two methods - readings are not untenable in theory, although it seems, for broadly known reasons, politically impossible. Only a peaceful civil uprising that avoids a clash with Israel's superior military can serve as a basis for such a reconciliation, an uprising that does not import its Arab neighbors' strife and weakness, preserving and expanding the increased international and perhaps Israeli public’s sympathy with the cause. On top of that, such an uprising could also breathe life into what Palestinians have in common or what they are assumed to have in common.

In all likelihood, the Palestinian Authority has run its course, and this is what tempts some to advocate pushing it aside to make room for an alternative more compatible with the phase we are in today. However, just as limiting oneself to one reading results in demanding for going beyond the Authority, limiting oneself to other reading threatens to render the alternative worse than that Authority.

The death of Nizar Banat in the Palestinian security apparatus's prisons is indicative of Ramallah's shortcomings and its understanding. Transforming the murder into an opportunity to launch an insurgency against the Authority is indicative of the shortcomings of the alternative in Gaza and, behind it, Tehran.

Only a civil uprising lies between the two poles:

- The pole of the Authority's "reigning in," with the negative internal ramifications it has for Palestinians, as well as giving up on valid rights or postponing them until further notice.

- The foolhardy and suicidal "launching" pole, which threatens the eruption of a civil war amongst Palestinians and the entrenchment of the segmentation of their cause into many conflicting causes, dividing the Palestinian people into many Palestinian peoples.

Other opinion articles

Editor Picks