الرئيسية » هاني المصري »   19 أيار 2021

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هاني المصري
 "On the [May 15th] occasion of the Nakba anniversary and the ongoing uprising marked by the revival of consciousness and the unity of the people, I will write about some of the lessons learned from the conflict's long history dating back over a hundred years," says Palestinian commentator Hani al-Masri on the independent Palestinian news-portal www.masarat.ps

I will address topics such as why the cause still alive, whether the cause is Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, or international, appropriate forms of peaceful or armed struggle, interim and final resolutions, the claim that Israel will disappear, and al-Aqsa and Jerusalem's place in the Palestinian struggle. I will try to answer the question: Why have the returns from the Palestinian struggles fallen far short of the heroism, sacrifices, and suffering of the Palestinian people?

Lesson OneThe Palestinian cause is just and still alive, and the indomitable people are prepared to keep up the struggle.

The cause was born over a hundred years ago, with the first Zionist colonial incursion in the late 19th century. It has endured all this time and remained alive despite experiencing horrors, wars, devastation, death, massacres, sacrifices, and displacement that could have spelled its end, especially since its enemy is a global Zionist movement bound to a colonialist project whose function serves global powers, first and foremost the U.S. The latter took up the mantle of supporting Israel from Britain, the author of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate for Palestine, which enabled the Zionist movement to achieve its goal.

The Palestinian cause's ability to endure would be inexplicable were it not a just and morally superior cause of a unifying nature by virtue of its Arab and Muslim liberatory human factors. Without these dimensions, the Palestinian cause cannot persist, and thus it must preserve the source of its indomitable power by distancing itself from regional axes. It should be the axis around which and for whose sake all others revolve, without shrinking itself so as to fit any axis whatsoever. For this reason, it is singled out with global attention and support that other just causes lack. 

The cause could not remain alive if it were not for its indomitable people. They are truly like a phoenix that with every death rises from the ashes and soars in the skies once more. They have proven to be steadfast and persistent in their various forms of struggle, and will keep up the fight no matter how much time may pass or how costly the sacrifice.

Every time it is widely believed that the cause has met its end or receded and will be forgotten, we see it rise again thanks to a revolution or popular uprising, from the 1929 Buraq [Western Wall] Uprising, to the longest strike in history and the 1936/1939 [anti-British] revolt, to the wars of 1948, 1956 and 1967, the 1968 Battle of Karameh, the 1973 War, 1976 Land Day [Palestinian citizens of Israel protest against land expropriation] , and the 1978, 1981 and 1982 wars, to the 1987/1993 first intifada, the 1996 [Jerusalem] Tunnel uprising, and the 2000/2004 second intifada, to the 2008/2009, 2012, and 2014 [Israeli] military aggressions on the Gaza Strip, to the 2015 Knife Intifada and the successive al-Aqsa uprisings, starting with the 2017 electronic gates and cameras battle, followed by the [2021] Gate of Mercy, Damascus Gate, and Sheikh Jarrah incidents, and leading to the launch of [current Hamas-led] Operation Sword of Jerusalem in support of al-Aqsa, Jerusalem, and Sheikh Jarrah, accompanied by a parallel revolution in the Palestinian interior [within Israel].

Lesson TwoThe cause is a Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and international one.

Since the birth of the Palestinian cause, the manner in which it is addressed changes with every phase: Is it Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, international, or what? 

At the beginning, it was viewed as an Arab cause, hence the Palestinian leaderships entrusted the matter to the Arabs [in 1948] and the [irregular] Arab Liberation Army, which was a main cause of the Nakba and the defeat reflected in Israel's establishment. They wagered on the friendly UK, the state that held the colonial mandate, which betrayed [Hashemite] Sharif Hussein and failed to fulfill its [WW1] promise to establish an Arab state. The 'friendly' UK assisted Israel's establishment at the expense of the Palestinian state.

The Palestinian cause became an international one after the [1947] partition plan was issued and Israel was recognized, despite being founded on 78% of the area of Palestine, i.e. 20% more than the area allocated to the Jewish state in the partition plan. The UN Security Council and General Assembly and various agencies under its umbrella issued hundreds of resolutions regarding the Palestinian cause, and the International Court in The Hague issued a politically and legally invaluable 2005 ruling [against the West Bank Separation Wall] . 

The UN General Assembly also recognized the state of Palestine as an observer member. All this imparted an international dimension to the Palestinian cause that includes recognition of minimal Palestinian rights (the right to self-determination, a state on the 1967 borders that includes East Jerusalem, and the refugees' right of return and compensation in accordance with UNSCR 194). However, although international law and UN resolutions represent potential justice, they do not have the power to implement them, as they are negated by the U.S. veto. The Palestinian cause is an international one, but it will not be resolved by banking on the international factor.

After the Nakba, Palestine continued to be an Arab cause throughout the 1950s and mid-1960s, even after the Nasserist revolution broke out and the rise of the Arab Nationalist Movement and Baath Party, which prioritized Arab unity over Palestine's liberation. This dissipated Palestinian efforts and energies, and left them dependent on Arab countries and missions. The Islamist movements did the same, especially Hizb al-Tahrir and the Muslim Brotherhood, which prioritized proselytization and the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate, until Fatah was launched (initially in 1959, with the second, major launch following the June 1967 defeat) and prioritized the Palestinian dimension over the Arab, Muslim, and international dimensions. This contributed strongly to the Arab order endorsing the need to create a Palestinian entity that expresses the Palestinian identity, especially when the Zionist movement completely obliterated the Palestinian presence. In this context, the Arab League under Abdel Nasser's leadership established the PLO in 1964.

Highlighting the Palestinian people's decisive role in the conflict (greater than that of launching armed struggle) was the secret behind Fatah taking the lead position in the Palestinian revolution and then in the PLO. Emphasizing the importance of the Palestinian role in confronting the Zionist project stems from the fact that the Palestinians are the party most adversely affected by Israel's establishment. Thus it is crucial for them to take the initiative in defending themselves and struggling against the dangers that are threatening them, without waiting for anyone, especially in the wake of the Arab defeats and disappointments.

The official Arab order's gradual abandonment of the Palestinian cause has driven the Palestinian people to ever greater direct engagement in support of their cause and in spearheading the defense of their land, identity and rights on the grounds that their revolution has a Palestinian face, an Arab depth and heart, and is international and humanitarian in its furthest extensions and dimensions. 

As the saying goes, 'too much is the same as too little'. When the Palestinian dimension's importance was inflated and its other dimensions were diminished at the urging of the official Arab order, which sought to shed the burden of the Palestinian cause, this also inflated the importance of autonomous Palestinian decision-making, to the extent that it became possible to imagine that the Palestinian leadership was entitled to reach a solution independent of the Arabs, Muslims, and free peoples of the world as a reaction to unilateral Arab solutions that began with Egypt [in 1979], and for fear that other solutions would follow from Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. This led to the Palestinians being left alone, although Syria did not join the unilateral solutions bandwagon. 

In this context, the mistake of the [1993] Oslo Accords was committed. It led not to a Palestinian solution, but to the Palestinian national movement falling into the trap set for it, which it has been unable to free itself from to date. When martyred leader Yasser Arafat tried to get out of it, he was besieged and assassinated, and a new Palestinian leadership was found that combats 'terrorism', as President George W. Bush demanded in his famous June 2002 speech.

The takeaway is that the Palestinian cause is central is first to the Palestinians, second, to the Arabs and Muslims, and third, to the whole world, in addition to being a just and morally superior cause with a living people ready to raise its banner in all circumstances. The Palestinian cause is vulnerable to exploitation by all parties for ulterior purposes and interests – from ISIS and al-Qa'ida to the [anti-Israel] resistance movements, from Iran to Turkey, and from Europe, Russia, and China to the U.S. This requires it to have a single address to organize and lead its people that recognizes its importance and features, just as it recognizes the Zionist movement's features and characteristics.

If the Palestinian issue is limited or reduced to an Arab, Muslim, or international project, or to one of the regional axes, there will be no consensus around it and it will not take priority. Just as Palestine was lost on the altar of Arab unity first [as called for by the pan-Arab movements] and an Islamic state first [as called for by the Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood], it was also lost when the Palestinian and Arab left-wing sought to place it at the service of the Soviet Union, the second country to recognize Israel [after the U.S.], and which viewed its establishment as a form of self-determination, and called on the victims to recognize the partition of their homeland and the establishment of a coopting entity over 78% of its land. The Communists repeated this claim under the pretext of salvaging what is possible and establishing a Palestinian state on the remaining territory. 

Had the Palestinians and Arabs recognized the partition plan, a Palestinian state would not have been established at the time, and the Palestinian cause would not have survived to this day. Yes, more could have been done in 1948 to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip but without recognizing Israel's establishment, thereby recognizing and accepting the Zionist narrative of the conflict and abandoning the Palestinians' consensus on the historic narrative that Palestine belongs to the Palestinians and that Israel's establishment is a racist settler-colonialist project, not the embodiment of the Jewish people's right to self-determination.

The Palestinian dimension of the conflict is its front line and must be protected, but exaggerating it has led to continuous concessions that have reduced the cause, people, and land as if this concerned the West Bank and the Gaza Strip alone, until even this has become the maximum that will be difficult to attain. Inflating the Palestinian dimension and confining it to recognizing the role of the [PA/PLO] leadership and other Palestinian players such as Hamas, rather than recognizing Palestinian rights, obscures the truth that the Zionist project is one of racist, colonialist replacement that seeks to finish the establishment of 'Greater Israel' and the Palestinians' expulsion to fulfill the Zionist movement's slogan, 'A people without a land for a land without a people' and install a pure Jewish state. 

This project not only targets Palestine, but rather aims to dominate the entire Arab world to keep it captive to regression, subordination, fragmentation and further fragmentation, poverty, ignorance and instability. It also targets the whole world by spreading injustice and racism, fomenting sedition and unrest, and trampling global humanitarian values: Justice, equality, the right to self-determination, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law, and maintaining peace and stability in the world.

Current developments affirm the Palestinian character of the cause and the unity of the land and the people, as witnessed with the Jerusalem uprising's victories, from removing the checkpoints at Damascus Gate, to preventing the [Israeli right-wing] Flag March, to the steadfastness of Sheikh Jarrah's residents, to firing thousands of rockets from the Gaza Strip throughout historic Palestine, and the uprising of Arab cities and villages within the 1948 territories [Israel] in addition to the protests and clashes that broke out in over 250 locations of the West Bank.

The importance of the Palestinian cause's Arab, Muslim, and human liberation dimensions is also demonstrated by the massive protests taking place in world cities and capitals. The U.S. witnessed 60 demonstrations in one day, and hundreds were held in European capitals and cities in addition to massive protests in Arab countries, especially Yemen, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, where protestors tried to cross the borders in support of Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Palestinian interior. This demonstrates that defeating the Zionist colonial project requires Palestinian efforts first, Arab and Muslim efforts, second, and international efforts, third. 

Anyone who dismisses any dimension of the Palestinian cause or squanders any support the Palestinians may secure is more than mistaken. But remember that the Palestinians are not looking for war and do not enjoy uprisings and revolutions or the perpetuation of the conflict, but rather want to end the conflict and suffering in the shortest time and with the least sacrifices possible by striving to secure the most out of every phase, then moving onto the next phases without rushing and skipping over phases and wasting them, as well as without delays, disappointments, and stalling.

"The cause is Palestinian, but without the Arab, Muslim and human liberation dimensions, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the cause to endure," concludes Masri.