The last months clearly show that as a people under Occupation, we are the ones to pay the price in the latest round of war crimes in the Middle East. We pay for the success as well as the failures of the Zionist and US/European policies. We pay for the weaknesses as well as the determination of our own struggle. Likewise we pay for the support to our struggle, as well as the lack of solidarity. Amidst the bloodshed, the ghettos and the prison cells our beliefs remain united that the Zionist dream of a Palestine without Palestinians will not materialize.
Until the beginning of this year, Zionist plans had been going ahead smoothly.
40% of the Apartheid Wall project – that steals 46% of the West Bank land – had been built. The Judaization of Jerusalem progressed rapidly leaving the city almost completely isolated. The Orwellian terminals to funnel goods and workers among the Palestinian ghettos carved out by the Wall were edging closer to completion.
Unconditional US support, coupled with the perpetual silence and economic backing from the EU, has ensured the Occupation avoids any form of international pressure. The decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), condemning the Apartheid Wall and the Occupation, duly found its way into the history files of law experts. Palestinians were then caught up in a two year long electoral marathon, imposed and paid for by the international community, while the Occupation continued to lay the infrastructure for the ghettoization of Palestinians on 12% of their homeland.
The so-called disengagement from Gaza – the model for the West Bank â was internationally applauded as a âstep in the right directionâ. The strategy of encaging a population, keeping it under continuous threat of siege and withdrawing costly Occupation Forces and colonies was easily legitimized. The only tasks ahead seemed to be the completion of the Wall in the West Bank with a good marketing strategy for the ghettoization of the West Bank along the lines of the Gaza model.
Yet not all the pieces of the Zionist jigsaw fell into place. Palestinians were not prepared to follow the prediction that in front of the facts on the ground all they would âbe able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottleâ .
The last step of the electoral process did not bring the expected results. It was a vote of resistance against the Occupation and a compliant Palestinian leadership. Since then Zionist and Western strategies have stumbled from economic sanctions to war crimes, in disbelief that a âcaptiveâ nation can still fight for liberation and freedom.
Their actions have displayed the blind brutality and disdain held for Palestinians and human rights. The reaction of the Occupation and its backers to lay economic and material siege on the Palestinian people, to punish them for their democratic elections, has not brought about any of the expected results. It has laid bare the hypocrisy of their wars and occupations for âdemocracyâ in the Middle East, while exposing the political elites from the Blair-Bush camp who seek to perpetuate injustice and oppression. It has exacerbated the economic crisis in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and attacked livelihoods and communities, but served to strengthen the resolve and steel of Palestinians who remain steadfast to the ideals of liberation and freedom.
While farming communities lost their revenue from fields left isolated by the Wall, and commerce has been made almost impossible due to the checkpoints blocking transport, further strain was placed on Palestinian families with 1 out of 4 employed Palestinians working with the PA structures not receiving salaries. It has lead to acute fuel shortages, the functioning of basic social services, and threatens the banking system. Yet, it has not lead to the anticipated civil war within the Palestinian ghettos. Despite the escalating attacks on the Palestinian people – with daily killings, random arrests and curfews – internal tensions have not torn apart Palestinian society or struggle.
Unsurprisingly as the factions worked towards the agreement of a national consensus paper, it was the people who paid from the continuous attacks and massacres. Most notable was the heinous attack on the families at the beach in Gaza City. Palestinians responded to the escalating crimes by seizing of a soldier of the Occupation Forces followed with demands to release the women and children amongst the 10 000 Palestinians currently lingering in Israeli jails. The next wave of Occupation attacks on Gaza currently keep over a million people without sufficient access to electricity and water, whilst slaughtering dozens of Palestinians on a daily basis. Sonic booms and continuous shellings and bombings continued into August leaving the population terrorized. The complicity of the international community, as it watches from the sidelines, has aided and abetted the horrific acts of war made upon the Palestinian and Lebanese people.
In this scenario chances of finding a compliant Palestinian partner for ânegotiationsâ that imply the ghettoization of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have become increasingly distant. The credibility of Abu Mazen and his supporters has been severely damaged by the arrogance of the Occupation. They did not offer the Palestinian president even token gains while concurrently wielding their economic power and military might to dictate how the political processes of Palestinians should work. No better way to ensure the de-legitimization of the PA in the eyes of the people.
In front of the Zionist and international policies, the Israeli claim of âlacking partnersâ appears nothing more than an accurate projection of their own determination not to cede to any compromise. It is the Palestinians â and hence the PA built on and for the negotiations with the Occupation â who lack a partner and whose existence is now fundamentally threatened. Is it the President of the Labor party, now commandeering as âDefense ministerâ with the aim of turning âLebanese villages into sand boxesâ with whom Palestinians should negotiate? Is it the Occupation prime minister, the heir of the US dubbed âman of peaceâ Sharon, who wants to ensure that ânobody in Gaza will sleep anymoreâ? Or is it the right wing parties who openly advocate the complete ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population? Are we to seek justice through the Israeli High Courts that have established a sophisticated system of apartheid laws over several decades, and that have taken advantage of the last months to pass a long list of verdicts granting âlegalityâ to the land theft and ghettoization of the Palestinian people? Or shall we turn to the international community and the UN where the Security Council was not even able to condemn the attacks on Gaza due to the US veto? Are we to negotiate ceasefires around our ghettoization in exchange for complete surrender? Which are the options we have left to secure our rights and freedom?
Palestinian determination knows that only continuous resistance is the way forward, reconfirmed with every passing day as the international community refuses to move, and with every missile that hits our homes, schools and streets.
Resilience in Gaza and the irrelevance of the Palestinian Authority however, bear a threat to the success of the entire current Zionist plans. If the pilot project of âGazaâ proves a failure, how are the West Bank ghettos to fair better?
It might be time that the Occupation wakes up to the fact that Palestinians might be something else but âcockroachesâ, yet the current policies of âkill them allâ in Gaza and in Lebanon suggest otherwise. The racism underlying Zionist ideology and wars flourishes in the current climate where Olmert has stated that the âlives and well-being of Sderot’s [Jewish] residents are more important than the deaths of dozens of Palestinian innocentsâ.
It unveils one of the core pillars of Zionist ideology; asserting the superiority of Jewish lives over Palestinian and Arab lives (if the latter are worth anything at all in the logic of the Occupation). The mere idea that bombings conducted with chemical and depleted uranium weapons in Lebanon and Gaza would lead to a âsustainable peaceâ, simply fails to comprehend that Palestinians and Lebanese â unlike animals â live for more than a basic instinct of survival. They have struggled over decades for dignity, freedom and justice.
The Zionist leadership shares with the US and Western countries the same stubbornness in belief – backed up by military destruction – that people are mere tools in imperial and colonial schemes of power. In fact, it is the unconditional support by the US to the Occupation that joins them together in the quagmire of the âNew Middle Eastâ project.
Israel is the cornerstone of the US project to âreshapeâ the Middle East. It is the stronghold in the area. The Occupation has seen this new project as its own tool enforce the demise of the Palestinian struggle and to enlarge its influence far beyond the Jordan River. The transformation of Lebanon into another Arab client state for the US and Israel is thus an essential part of the New Middle East to ensure that the Occupation is bordered not only in the South and the East but as well in the North by compliant regimes. The assassination of late Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri offered the international community to work towards the disarming of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah and/or a new civil war in Lebanon. Yet, the people in Lebanon have barred the way to civil war and voted for a coalition that is not willing to obey to foreign interests. If it was not possible to defeat Hezbollah diplomatically, the movement that has historically gained the only victory against the Israeli Occupation Forces had to be defeated militarily. Plans for war were ready by 2004 and military action had to kick-in at the beginning of this autumn.
Not only was Israel unwilling to let the Lebanese people get away with a victory, the US asked too for an end to Lebanese resistance given its proximity to the Palestinian struggle, and its broader connection to the context of the Middle East where Arab defiance of western interests is not to be tolerated.
Palestinians today keep a close eye in Lebanon, as they share the pain of the continuous shelling and the humanitarian hell known all too well in Gaza and by those who struggle in the ever tighter ghettos of the West Bank. They know that much of their chances to gain freedom will depend on the persistence of resistance in Lebanon. The Palestinian struggle, now more than ever, has become a struggle for liberation of the entire region from Zionism and colonialism.
Today, the US-Zionist alliance is backed â at times perhaps reluctantly – by the rest of the Western world. They face the people of the Middle East who have proven they are more than obedient voters, tortured prisoners and anonymous death tolls. What rises up in the Middle East today is far from a unified front. It may not be able to offer a unified vision for the future or the days of self-determination. Yet it is the outcome of a century of anti-colonial struggle, its setbacks and crises and the unrelentless will of people to gain liberation.
Today this readiness for sacrifice for some of the most important human values, ensures that – from Kabul to Baghdad to Beirut and Jerusalem â the New Middle East has not materialized as planned. And it will not as long as the longest standing struggle at the heart of the Arab world continues.
While Palestinians are simply not cooperating, taking up every chance to say ânoâ, resilience now has to transform into national strategies of struggle. Popular consensus, on the principles of our cause has to relate again to all layers of Palestinian bureaucracy and leadership. While the stubborn refusal to comply brings the Zionist plans to a crisis, our struggle needs to reshape and assert itself, to overcome the Occupation.
As the Arab people stand up against the Zionist and US-led aggression against them, for the sake of their own freedom and the liberation of Palestine, it is high time that the people of the world join the call against oppressors and occupants.
Widespread mobilization of people all over the world has shown that many are standing up against war crimes in a show of unity amongst the people at a grassroots level. It is crucial that this solidarity transforms into concrete power to stop the Occupation, the ethnic cleansing and the running of war machines.
The time is ripe for global movements to understand that Palestine is inextricably linked to the war in Iraq. It is not a side event, but part of the core struggle of people in the Middle East for a world free from colonization and war.
The Palestinian call for the isolation of Apartheid Israel gives the people all over the world a powerful tool to support efforts to end the occupation and the expulsion of the Palestinian people. It can thwart the implementation of the âNew Middle Eastâ. It has been through the continuous international back up and support to the Occupation through military, economic, cultural and academic ties that Israel has been able to continue its crimes in Palestine and in the region. We are the ones to pay the price, but with every sacrifice brings more resilience that we will not leave our homes, our communities and our land.
1-Raphael Eitan, chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, New York Times, April 14, 1983.