the spirit of resistance

The spirit of resistance is alive and well
Ahmed Abu Artema, Electronic Intifada, Jun 23 2021

The latest round of fighting in Palestine may have ended with a ceasefire on 21 May, but the roots of the conflict remain unaddressed. These roots, if left unattended, will only result in more escalation and more victims. The structure of the Zionist project remains unchanged. It is a project that from its inception has been based on the uprooting of the native population in Palestine, ethnic cleansing, theft of land and resources, eradication of Palestinian identity, discrimination, the total control of the lives of the Palestinian people, and the denial of basic Palestinian rights. As long as the project is the same, the only difference between short rounds of military escalation and so-called periods of calm is that of varying degrees of aggression. During military escalations, Israel kills Palestinians. During periods of calm, Israel steals Palestinian land. Under both scenarios, Israel’s system of oppression humiliates Palestinians, controls their lives, uproots them, and discriminates against them. But May’s escalation also demonstrated the determination of the Palestinian people and their steadfastness against Zionist attempts to supplant them, eradicate their identity, and break their morale.

One question that arose after the latest escalation, as it does after every escalation, is simply, who won? Before answering, it is worth noting that the criteria for victory for a colonized people are different from the criteria for the colonial power. This should be fairly obvious, but is worth elucidating anyway. Throughout history, colonial powers have enjoyed military superiority, international political support, and plentiful economic resources. It is these very advantages that allow colonial powers to invade other nations. A balance of power, in fact, would preclude colonialism. As a result, colonized people’s loss of life and property were correspondingly greater. They bore the brunt due to the imbalance of power. Consequently, it is important to define the criteria to measure what victory or defeat looks like in this case without comparisons that make the mistake of equating the sides. The strategic objective of the Zionist project since its inception is the establishment of a safe country for Jews from around the world. In order to morally justify this objective, the Zionist project portrayed Palestine as a land without a people. It has utilized a wide variety of measures to eradicate the Palestinian identity and presence from the land, from direct massacres and forced expulsions to the destruction of villages and imposition of suffocating measures to undermine the Palestinian ability to survive. In Jerusalem, to this day, the Zionist project continues to prevent even the raising of the Palestinian flag. Parallel to attempts to erase the Palestinian presence, the Zionist project also directed its efforts to manufacturing an image of Israel as a natural, safe, advanced and investor-friendly place, a normal country. This explains Israel’s exaggerated celebrations of every normalization of relations with any country, even if a small one.

Against these efforts, how did the Palestinian people resist? The Palestinian people are winning first of all by simply maintaining their presence. The Palestinian identity is the very antithesis of the Zionist colonial project. The existence of the name of Palestine and the Palestinian people is a constant reminder that Israel is a colonial state that replaced the Palestinians and whose existence causes suffering to millions of Indigenous people. The Zionist project surely hoped that Palestinians would suffer the same fate as the Indigenous population of North America and Australia. This did not happen. Israel has now to face the constant challenge of instability. Palestinians not only maintained their existence, but changed the reality of suffering and subjugation exercised by the Zionist project to a state of resistance. Unwittingly, Israel has helped maintain this spirit of resistance. The humiliation at Israeli military checkpoints, continued land theft, the Judaization of Palestinian neighborhoods, and the system of apartheid are constant reminders that the reality is unadaptable, that the relationship with Israel is that of victim with aggressor and rightful owner with thief.

In addition to the basic characteristics of Israel as a country of colonialism, aggression and violence, we can add foolishness and arrogance. What does this country want after conquering some 80 percent of historic Palestine and controlling its resources and borders? Why does it not take the initiative to defuse the conflict and leave Palestinians to live in stability on the remainder of the land? What will it gain by uprooting a few more families in Sheikh Jarrah or violating al-Aqsa mosque, one of the most sacred places for some 2 billion people worldwide? Perhaps the better question to ask is: Can we really expect a country based on conquest, aggression, ethnic cleansing, and repeated massacres to change suddenly into a rational state? Aggression and injustice are the opposite of rationalism. This is one of the pillars of universal justice. The more a colonial power exhibits the greed and aggression inherent to its nature, the greater the resistance. It was Israel’s ongoing project to Judaize Jerusalem and expel its native population that caused this latest escalation. In doing so, Israel helped remind the Palestinian people of their unity. Palestinians in all localities participated in this round against occupation forces, from Jerusalem, Gaza, Israel and the West Bank, to the refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, who rushed to Palestine’s borders to express their anger.

Palestinians inside the boundaries of occupied 1948 Palestine (also known as Israel) are those who survived the ethnic cleansing of 1948. The country that came to be called Israel gave them citizenship and wagered that the Indigenous people could be Israelized. As part of this effort, the state tried to eliminate all symbols and reminders of their Palestinian identity. However, the Palestinians of Israel did not forget their roots. And in the latest round of escalation, they reasserted their identity; organized widespread demonstrations; took down the colonial flag and raised Palestine’s in its place. They also burned police stations and vehicles because these are not symbols of law and order, but rather enforcers of colonialism. Such comprehensive popular participation has sent a strong message about the revolutionary vigor of the Palestinian people. It showed a new generation of Palestinians who have not forgotten their national awareness even though they grew up in a distorted political environment that promoted surrender as peace and did not experience past intifadas and confrontations.

The popular movement also garnered widespread international solidarity. Large demonstrations took place in dozens of countries worldwide, including in the US, whose administration is the world’s staunchest supporter of Israel. Western powers in particular remain biased in favor of Israel, which enjoys almost unlimited western support in terms of weaponry, money and political cover. However, mass grassroots demonstrations indicate a worldwide awakening of conscience. This, in turn, will make positions in support of Israel increasingly embarrassing for officials, who will struggle to justify policies whose ethical grounding have been undermined. Scenes of Israeli crimes against children and civilians, the destruction of whole residential neighborhoods, and attacks by occupation forces and settlers in Jerusalem have propelled the worldwide opposition to Israel. Equally important have been pictures and footage of Palestinian resistance. People empathize with victims, but they also draw inspiration from examples of battle and heroism.

It remains paramount to continue to remind the world that Palestinians are the victims. There is an enormous imbalance of power between them and Israel. They are the side that suffer the most in loss of lives and property. But it is also important to understand the armed resistance. Striking Tel Aviv with rockets is not primarily about the damage it causes, but the message it sends. he value of Palestinian resistance weapons, crude and homemade as they are, is not about how they measure up to Israel’s advanced and highly lethal arsenal. The value of developing and using these weapons lies in the willingness to fight in spite of the imbalance in power that it illustrates. These weapons serve to show the Palestinian people’s determination to reject and constantly challenge the occupier and demonstrate a refusal to adapt to the colonial logic that underpins the Zionist project’s existence. Israel’s efforts to create an image of itself as stable and prosperous have failed. Instead, it is the Palestinian movement that sent a reminder that a colonial society is an abnormal society. Now is the moment for supporters of Palestinian rights around the world to redouble their efforts to impose worldwide isolation on Israel’s colonial apartheid system.

Bennett’s Fragile Hookup with the Zionist Left Offers Little Promise for a Post-Apartheid Israel
Miko Peled, MintPress News, Jun 22 2021

Posters showing photos of Palestinian children killed in Israel’s latest attack on Gaza hung by
Israeli activists in the streets of central Tel Aviv, May 31 2021. Photo: Keren Manor/Activestills

BIR AL-SABA, PALESTINE — Jumaa Alzbarqa served as an MK for two years. He heads the office of the National Democratic Alliance, or Balad, in the southern city of Bir Al-Saba in the Naqab. We met at his office and talked about current events and what was until recently the remote possibility of the so-called “Zionist Left” parties like Meretz going into a coalition with the leader of the neo-fascist “Right” party, Naftali Bennett. Alzbarqa, who is from Laqiya, a small Palestinian Bedouin town not far from Bir Al-Saba, told me about the following interaction he had with a member of the Zionist-Left Meretz Party while he was serving in the Knesset:

I asked him to co-sponsor a bill that would place a two-year moratorium on home demolitions in the Naqab, but he said he would not give a hand to legitimizing illegal construction.

“Illegal construction” is code for Palestinian construction. Regardless of the severe housing shortage for Palestinians, Israeli authorities never give Palestinians permits; therefore, building without a permit is their only choice. A report published in 2020 demonstrates the severity of Palestinian home demolitions in the Naqab. There have been over 2,000 Palestinian homes demolished in the Naqab alone for several years in a row, so this is clearly not a small problem. At the same time, there have been no Israeli Jewish homes demolished. In fact, home demolitions of Israeli Jewish homes do not occur. This story demonstrates the racist reality within Israeli politics and exemplifies the absurdity of calling any Zionist party “Left.” It also explains why the so-called Zionist Left could join a coalition government headed by Naftali Bennett: their differences are inconsequential.

Israel governs a majority of Palestinians, but the State of Israel runs as though they do not exist. Palestinians and Palestinian interests have little or no representation in state institutions. More often than not, government agencies will have an “expert on Arab affairs” who is not Palestinian and yet speaks on their issues. The coalition headed by Bennett has been applauded as inclusive because it includes an Arab Islamic party. However, any expectation that this government will serve the needs of Palestinian citizens of Israel is misguided. The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Affairs is an umbrella organization that acts as a de facto representative of the Palestinian citizens of Israel. It is made up of the leaders of the various political and civic organizations within that community. Members are drawn from the Arab heads of local authorities and major Arab organizations and parties within the 1948 Palestinian community. Because of their precarious status within the Zionist state, they cannot engage in direct elections. However, there have been calls from within the community to engage in direct elections for positions within the Committee. However, the Israeli State has made it clear it would not allow a de-facto Arab ‘parliament’ within the 1948 community.

Ra’am, or the United Arab List, the one Palestinian political party that is part of the Bennett coalition, represents the Southern branch of the Islamic movement in Palestine. It came into being when certain members of the Islamic movement within 1948 Palestine decided to participate in the Israeli elections and embraced the Oslo “Peace Accords.” The Southern faction should not be confused with the Northern branch of the Islamic movement, headed by Sheikh Ra’ed Salah and outlawed by Israel for its stance against the apartheid state. Ra’ed Salah himself has been persecuted by the Zionist state and has been arrested numerous times for his anti-Zionist political activities. Within the Ra’am Party itself, there are serious disagreements regarding the decision to join the coalition. In fact, the one member of Knesset who made it possible for the coalition to win the vote in the Knesset by a 60 to 59 split is from the Ra’am Party. Knesset member Sa’id Elharoumi, whose abstention from the vote made it possible for the coalition to move forward, is now expressing serious concerns about the government. He was quoted as stating that unless the government reaches an agreement that will guarantee rights to the lands and respect to the Palestinian Bedouin population in the Naqab, there will be consequences that “endanger the entire political reality in Israel.” In other words, unless the Palestinian citizens in the Naqab are provided the rights they deserve, the party, or parts of it, may rescind their support for the fragile coalition.

Still, the decision by Ra’am to join the coalition led by Bennett is viewed poorly by other Palestinians, and members of the Follow Up committee are calling for the expulsion of Ra’am from within its ranks. According to a report in the Arabic publication Arab-48, Ahmed Khalifa of the Abna’a El-Balad movement, which initiated the move to expel Ra’am members, said:

We in Abna’a El-Balad do not see that there is a place for any of the vehicles of the Israeli government in the Follow Up committee, whatever its name. The legitimacy of the Follow Up is mainly because it is a unitary body that struggles in the face of Israeli governments and opposes their policies.

The inclusion of Ra’am in the coalition is not a sign of genuine inclusion, or the Israeli government suddenly showing concern for the needs of its Palestinian citizens. It is more of an attempt to exploit Palestinian Arab politicians whom Zionists are willing to stomach for as long as they need to and for whose propping they need to pay the least in return. This is both a reflection of the racist tendencies of the new government and the lack of integrity of the members of Ra’am. The international support for the sloppy patchwork of a coalition that now constitutes the government of Israel is a result of the misguided assumption that Palestine is bleeding because of a particular government or a single prime minister. The problem in Palestine is the Zionist system of oppression, occupation, and apartheid. The solution cannot be found within that system.

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