Israel’s long and winding road will inevitably end in justice for Palestinians

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Image for post
Apartheid highway in “greater” Jerusalem that separates Palestinian from Israeli drivers (opened 10 Jan 2018). Route 4370, January 9, 2019. Olivier Fitoussi

As I look back at 2018, what jumps at me are the global attempts, led by Israel’s colonial project, to crush Palestinian human rights. Paradoxically, though, these attacks have strengthened the Palestinian cause, brought their issues, so long suppressed, into high relief, and emphasized their enemy’s over-reach.

The way I see it, as long as Palestinian legendary resolve and steadfastness hold, the endgame for their long-enduring struggle for freedom is at last on the horizon; the light at the end of the tunnel ahead is finally visible in the form of an inevitable one democratic state — an unpartitioned Palestine, bringing us full circle.

The road may still be long, but the changing discourse about Palestine is leading us there, to the end of the conflict, steadily and inevitably.

Many might scoff at the above and point me to “Realpolitik”, the German imperative, so beloved by Henry Kissinger, that divorces a nation’s politics from modern ideas of right and wrong and bases them, instead, entirely on practical realities — “facts on the ground”.

This kind of thinking is reflected in the following writing:

At this time, all points are moot; but one. Israel will evaporate the Mideast, and almost assuredly every Palestinians [sic] in it, before she goes down. Right or wrong does not matter. It is what it is. Whether the Nakba was a war crime, or simple justice applied to barbaric Arabs is immaterial.

The Palestinians will never return to the land. The Arabs should inform themselves of this truth, and act accordingly.

Less inflammatory but making the same case is the following:

Continued insistence by the UN and the US that there is need for the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state holds no water, as no concrete initiatives to realize this goal have been introduced. This forms the rhetoric that has plagued Palestine for decades on end. The denial for recognition as a member of the UN was a continued suppression of the rights that are due to the Palestinian people. Analyzing the issue from a purely legal standing produces one outcome. That Palestinians have a right to self-determination. Numerous UN resolutions have reiterated this fact time and again. However, realpolitik has always won the day and has continued to compound the misery of the Palestinian people through agreements like the Oslo Accords that were never centred on law.

To me, the notion of Realpolitik above is nothing more than scare tactics often used to dampen Palestinian resistance in the manner of the Borg in the science fiction TV series Star Trek, where “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile” scares every other alien off. Even well-meaning Israeli Jews like Jeff Halper have fallen, at one point or another, into this mode of thinking, as Susan Abulhawa, Palestinian American poet, writer and activists says:

When my turn came [to speak at a Sabeel conference in Pennsylvania in 2012], I spoke of Palestinians being accorded the same basic rights that apply to the rest of humanity, including the right to return to one’s home after fleeing a conflict. I spoke of equality under the law regardless of religion. I spoke of a construct that would prevent one group from systematically oppressing another. I spoke of human dignity and the universal right to it. I spoke of equal access to resources, including water, regardless of religion.

I will never forget Jeff Halper’s response, which he was eager to voice even before I had finished speaking. He began with a smile, the way an adult might smile at the naive remarks of a small child. He needed to give me a lesson in reality, and proceed to tell me, in the patronizing way of someone who knows best, that my vision lacked “how shall I say it … Realpolitik”.

…. Again, my lack of Realpolitik here, but to me, creating a situation where it is possible to force the implementation of human rights and restore dignity to Palestinian society is in itself an end. Jeff Halper seems unable to consider anything other than a negotiated agreement [to the conflict] to be an end.

The end will come, and it will come through a vision that is entirely different from the Realpolitik scenarios described above (negotiations or UN intervention). It will come from global grassroot efforts, both within and outside Israel (See Benay Blend’s answer to Is Palestine’s longest-enduring conflict nearing its end? for a list of promising activist organizations). It will come through Jewish solidarity with Palestinians, through the rapidly-growing recognition that anti-Zionism is anti-racist. That vision already includes an articulated political program.

The fledgling movement’s 50 organizers who are Arabs [Palestinians] and Jews, adopted a political program ahead of the official launch coming this Fall. The program was adopted in Arabic but its publication was delayed until parallel Hebrew and English versions will be ready.

So far, there is no website to quote from, but those interested can look over the political program of this campaign on Facebook. Jeff Halper is one of the organizers of this campaign, demonstrating what a long way we have come in our new discourse toward liberation. His participation at the University of Cork in the conference, “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” (2017) is a ray of sunshine not to be missed in all the chatter about Realpolitik. On the occasion of Israel’s opening of the road depicted in the photo on top, Halper posted on Facebook:

For those of us living here [in Israel], apartheid is not a slogan, it is the reality, and is increasingly and manifestly evident. Below is a report of a new and brutal apartheid highway in “greater” Jerusalem that separates Palestinian from Israeli drivers, complete with a twelve-foot/four meter wall down the center, part and parcel of Israel’s 750 km-long apartheid barrier that surrounds and fragments Palestinian territory — yet another nail in the coffin of a “two-state solution.”… The choice that ISRAEL has left us is stark: apartheid or the transformation of the single state Israel has created into a democratic state of equal rights for all its citizens.

For Palestinians, it’s not a choice; it’s a right.

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Note: The above was first published on Quora as an answer to the question, Is Palestine’s longest-enduring conflict nearing its end?

Rima Najjar, activist for justice and equality in Palestine

Written by

Palestinian and righteously angry

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