Eight Urgent Musts' Needed for Palestinians to Defeat Apartheid
10 April 2015
By Ramzy Baroud
Waiting on Israeli society to change from within is a colossal waste of time,
during which the suffering of an entire nation torn between an occupied
home and a harsh diaspora will not cease. But what are Palestinians and the
supporters of a just peace in Palestine and Israel to do? Plenty.
Those who counted on some sort of a miracle to emerge from the outcome of the
recent Israeli elections have only themselves to blame. Neither logic nor
numbers were on their side, nor the long history laden with disappointing
experiences of ''leftist'' Israelis unleashing wars and cementing occupation.
Despite a few differences between Israel's right and the so-called left on
internal matters, their positions are almost identical regarding all major
issues related to Palestine. These include the Right of Return and the status
of occupied Jerusalem to the illegal settlements.
Equally important, most sectors of Israel's political classes that are
dominated by Zionist Jews are also in concord regarding the status of
Israel's Palestinian Arab population (1948 Palestinians). Don't let the
racist fearmongering of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
terrifying Israeli Jews of Arabs voting in ''droves'' blind you to the fact
that the Zionist Labor bloc is equally racist, although, in a less vulgar
But Palestinians are not without options. Sure, the odds against them are
great, but such is the fate of the oppressed as they are left between two
options: either a perpetual fight for justice or unending humiliation and
1. Abbas, Oslo Must Go
First, the most difficult obstacle to overcome is the stronghold of Mahmoud
Abbas and his corrupt circle on Palestine's political discourse at home. This
is not an outcome of Abbas's particular savvy or the genius of his class. The
post-Oslo circle only exists to maintain the status quo: US interests and
involvement as a mediator in the conflict, Israel's security thus the
constant crackdown on Palestinian opposition and resistance and ensuring
that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has a reason to exist for the sake of
ensuring the many privileges that come with the job.
This whole apparatus must be overcome and eventually removed entirely from
the Palestinian body politic if Palestinians are to have any chance at
formulating an alternative strategy.
2. Factionalism Must Be Defeated, Crushed
But for that to take place, the very ailments that have afflicted Palestinian
society for years, leading to the creation of the ineffectual PA in the first
place, would have to be confronted heads on. One such condition is
factionalism, which has to be overpowered by a collective that defines itself
first and foremost as Palestinian.
Factionalism, in its current form, has destroyed much of the social fabric of
Palestine. It has divided the already divided people into fragments making
them easy to be controlled, manipulated, suppressed and when necessary
besieged. 67 years are just too long a period for a nation that lives mostly
in exile, trapped or confined behind walls, to sustain its political identity
and remain unified around the same ''constants'' without proper leadership.
Yet somehow many Palestinians persisted, insisting on one Palestine, one
people, one identity, one goal. For these energies to be streamlined into a
meaningful push against Israeli colonial designs, factionalism would have to
be put to rest. Additionally, the Palestinian flag must occupy every public
place currently occupied by red, yellow, green or any other factional colour
3. But the Transition Must Be Smooth
Such seismic change cannot come easily. It must be gradual and part of a
national initiative. It must be a conversation that brings friends and rivals
not to divide material perks, useless ''ministries'' and worthless
''government'' posts, but rather to mend the broken unanimity that once
existed. In fact, once upon a time, Palestinians were not united or
disjointed around the frivolous ''peace process,'' but instead around
''national constants,'' where the Right of Return took central stage.
The transition from disunity and chaos into something visionary and not
confined by short-term political interests, must be smooth, calculated and
led by respected Palestinian figures, not those with hands soiled by blood
4. Right of Return Must Be Brought Back to Center of Discourse
One major issue that must dominate the new political discourse is the Right
of Return for Palestinian refugees, guaranteed by international law. The
issue is not only essential in its centrality in the lives of millions of
Palestinians suffering in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, but is also essential
to any sensible understanding of the conflict and its resolution.
The struggle in Palestine doesn't date back to the war of 1967, but the
Zionist takeover of Palestine between 1947-48 that resulted in nearly a
million refugees, the expropriation of their land, homes, rights and the
attempt at erasing any evidence of their existence.
By marginalizing the Right of Return, one diminishes the very roots of the
conflict, and any serious attempt at reconciling the painful past with the
equally agonizing present.
5. Palestine 48 Must Be Fully Incorporated into National Agenda
Not all Palestinians became refugees. Some remained in Palestine as it was
being transferred to some other entity before their own eyes.
The Palestinians of 1948 have always, and will remain a major component of
the Palestine question and the Palestinian struggle for freedom and human
rights. The fragmentation between the communities were imposed by calculated
political realities, enforced by Israel or circumstances. That said, the
issues have never been truly separated: the plight of Palestinians in Israel,
those under military occupation in the occupied territories, and refugees in
the diaspora all go back to the same historical point of reference the
Nakba of 48. These common struggles continue to be sustained by Israel, its
racist laws, its military occupation and its refusal to adhere to
Without the Palestinians of 48, the Palestinian national identity will remain
politically fragmented and scarred. The persistence and collective strength
of that population is an important asset, and their struggles are part and
parcel of the struggle and resistance of Palestinians in the occupied
territories and those in the diaspora.
6. Resistance Must Be Respected
However, fuel is needed to urge that new collective awareness forward, and
nothing can possibly achieve such an end but the insistence on resistance, in
both the real and cerebral sense.
The term ''resistance'' once dominated references made by Palestinian leaders
in yesteryears, but was purposely marginalised following the signing of Oslo
in 1993. That was driven by two subtle understandings that resistance was
ineffective, and that to achieve a degree of validity and stateliness in the
eyes of their US benefactors, the new rulers of Palestine needed to abandon
seemingly unsophisticated references to a bygone era.
Yet without resistance there is only submission and defeat, which is
precisely what took place. Only popular resistance in the West Bank and
Jerusalem, the steadfastness of 48 Palestinians, crowned by the legendary
resistance of Palestinians in Gaza under a harsh siege and repeated wars,
continue to frustrate Israel. Yet, the harsher Israel tries to destroy
Palestinian resistance, the more emboldened Palestinians become, for
resistance is a culture, not a political choice.
Without resistance, Palestinians may as well raise white flags and sign on
whatever dotted line is dictated by Israel. And then, they would simply be
agreeing to perpetual subjugation.
7. BDS Must Continue to Grow, Bridge Gaps
Resistance is part and parcel of the ongoing global campaign, to boycott,
divest from and sanction Israel. The outcome of the Israeli elections, and
the rise of a more self-assertive Palestinian political collective by 48
Palestinians, would mean that BDS must enlarge its mission, not just
rhetorically by practically as well.
The BDS movement had already emphasised equality for 48 Palestinians as a
main objective that is as vital as all other objectives. The Joint List Arab
party which won 13 seats in the Knesset solidified the relationship between
Palestinian Arab communities within Israel as the BDS movement has to a large
extent solidified the rapport between Palestinian communities across
political and geographical divides. But more is needed. The new
self-assertive Palestinian community in Israel deserves greater engagement.
By doing so, BDS would defeat Israel's constant attempt at diminishing the
collective aspiration of the Palestinian people.
8. One State Must Become Rally Cry for Equality and Freedom
There is no need or time for despair. In fact, the opposite is true. The more
empowered and racist Israel becomes, and the deeper it digs into the roots of
its Apartheid and racist institutions and walls, the more obvious the answer
becomes: a state for two peoples with equal rights. Both Palestinians and
Jews exist in that very space, but they are governed by two sets of laws that
make peaceful co-existence impossible. In order to speed up the achievement
of that moment and lessen suffering, Palestinians have some urgent work to
It is time for Palestinian communities everywhere to surmount ideological,
factional and political divides, reach out to one another, unite their ranks,
and harness their energies, for no matter how deep the divide, Palestine is,
should and will always be one.
- Ramzy Baroud www.ramzybaroud.net is an internationally-syndicated
columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of
PalestineChronicle.com. He is currently completing his PhD studies at the
University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter:
Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).