Women in Bastan Village, Kurdistan

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Obama and Netanyahu vs. Normal People, Istanbul, Turkey---June 6th, 2011

I was reading the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s recount on how he threw a shoe at his TV, the moment Obama was justifying Netanyahu’s remarks that there would be no return to the 1967 borders. I don’t blame him; I wanted to do the same when Netanyahu said, on his speech to the congress that “We will be generous with the Palestinians”, referring to concession on Palestinian land.

We have Obama and Netanyahu in one camp and on the other camp the Palestinian leadership threatening to go to the UN to ask to be admitted as a member state with a unilateral declaration of a “Palestinian state”. What does this all means? The UN has not been capable of enforcing its countless resolutions, end Gaza’s blockade or exert pressure to end the illegal occupation. Moreover, all these initiatives are disconnected from the daily suffering of the Palestinian people.

As Dr. Eid Haidar states in a recent commentary: ”Depicting such a declaration as a “breakthrough,” and a “challenge” to the defunct “peace process” and the right-wing government of Israel, serves to obscure Israel’s continued denial of Palestinian rights while reinforcing the international community’s implicit endorsement of an apartheid state in the Middle East”. This pseudo state is just an attempt to silence non-violent resistance and the international support that the Palestinian cause has gathered in recent years.

This unilateral declaration takes for granted all the facts on the ground: the more than 573 checkpoints, the Jewish-only colonies that annex more than 54% of the land of the West Bank. In his article Dr. Haidar continues to explain that:”This same idea of “independence” was once rejected by the PLO, because it did not address the “minimum legitimate rights” of Palestinians and because it is the antithesis of the Palestinian struggle for liberation“. Once declared, the future “independent” Palestinian state will occupy less than 20 percent of historic Palestine. By creating a Bantustan and calling it a “viable state,” Israel will get rid of the burden of 3.5 million Palestinians. The PA will rule over the maximum number of Palestinians on the minimum number of fragments of land — fragments that we can call “The State of Palestine.”

But in this scenario, there emerges a third camp, the ones that Pappe call: all those who are unwilling to succumb and are telling the elites that its world and agenda is not theirs. As Ilan Pappe so rightly expresses: the support for the people’s effort in commencing a new phase in the popular resistance against the Israeli occupation is galvanizing the global Palestine solidarity movement with the similar energy generated before by the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. So much can still be done, in total disregard of the hegemonic discourse and inaction of western political elites on Palestine. So much has already been done in the continued resistance against the Israeli destruction of the land and its people.

This popular resistance is also expressed by the brave civil society initiatives in recent years that brought both the symbolic relief of empathy and human solidarity, as well as the token amounts of substantive assistance in the form of much needed food and medicine. One of these initiatives was last years’ Freedom Flotilla, which was so violently intercepted by Israeli commandos in international waters on May 31, 2010, resulting in nine deaths on the Turkish lead ship. Defying the first attack, a second Freedom Flotilla will set sail for Gaza, carrying various forms of humanitarian aid, including medical, school, and construction materials. It will consist of 15 ships - including the Mavi Marmara from the first flotilla - sailing from Istanbul, but also vessels departing from several European countries, and carrying as many as 1,500 humanitarian activists as passengers; doubling that of last year.

Like many other global citizens, I am one of those participating in these civil society initiatives, by living and working in Palestine and Israel, and supporting grassroots initiatives from local organizations working with women and children. Contributions like this serve as a bridge between east and west, and provide an alternate source of information, coming directly from the ground. They also support Palestinian daily struggles such as being arrested for farming their land, tree planting to prevent more land confiscation, or visiting families that have been victims of house evictions and demolitions.

Oftentimes, I feel my small contribution is useless. But in this historical moment, I feel part of a bigger movement; the movement of those who are opposing power, dictators and leaders speaking out of their own interest and not that of their people. I feel part of the popular struggle, an Arab Spring that will overcome what Ilan Pappe calls the “Obamafication” of our world.

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