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Commemorating Palestinian armed struggle in Cuba

January 23, 2014 at 5:13 am

During a political and cultural event organised by the Embassy of Palestine in Cuba and the Arab Union of Cuba, representatives of both organisations reiterated the importance of revolutionary struggle against colonialism and imperialism. The event commemorated the launch of Palestinian armed struggle against Israel in 1965, founded by Yasser Arafat through the establishment of Fatah.

According to reports by Prensa Latina and Radio Havana Cuba, Palestinian Ambassador to Cuba Akram Samhan endorsed the continuation of armed struggle for the liberation of Palestine and denounced the Western imperialist plunder of Arab countries. Samhan also referred to the UN proclamation of 2014 as the year of international solidarity with Palestinians, adding that more countries should clamour for Palestine’s full recognition at the international organisation.

Ziad Khalil Elnajar, the Secretary of Fatah in Cuba, spoke about the dignity embodied within revolutionary struggle, which “reaffirmed identity, the right to independence and self-determination”.

Secretary General of the Arab Union of Cuba, Juan Dufflar, emphasised Cuba’s “permanent, militant and irrevocable solidarity with the Palestinian cause”. Dufflar also advocated the right to Palestinian national identity “based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital based upon the 1967 borders”. The statement also called for the release of all Palestinian political prisoners, recognition of the Palestinian right of return, the immediate cessation of settlement building, targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders, an end to “genocide attacks” and the suffering inflicted by the blockade on Gaza.

While the rhetoric may appear as intensely advocating the continuation of armed struggle, there seems to be a departure from the historical understanding of the kind of revolution and liberation which both Cuba and Palestine have experienced. On 1 January 1959, the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro triumphed over the US-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. However, a wider struggle against colonialism and imperialism was commencing, with Fidel emphasising the internationalist aspect of the revolution and insisting upon the reclamation of identity for all colonised nations. Denouncing imperialism and colonialism at the UN General assembly in 1960, Fidel stated: “Colonies do not speak. Colonies are not known until they have the opportunity to express themselves.” The quote is applicable to Palestinians whose narrations about the implications of colonisation have been sabotaged by imperialist demands for acquiescence.

When the Arab Union of Cuba calls for a Palestinian state based upon the 1967 borders as proposed by the imperialist negotiators, this does not eliminate the process of colonial and imperial plunder in Palestine. While the proposal has garnered the desired international support, restricting the establishment of a Palestinian state to the 1967 borders supports Israel’s claims that the colonisation process started in 1967, disregarding meticulous research by historians such as Nur Masalha, who has traced the origins of Zionist plans for colonisation back to 1882. Acceptance of the 1967 borders also disregards the ramifications of atrocities committed during the Nakba in 1948. Hence, support for a state based on the 1967 borders subjects the dynamics of any hypothetical state building to colonial and imperial interests, without addressing the necessity of dismantling the Zionist state as a preliminary imperative towards the decolonisation of Palestine. While the gesture during the commemoration event indicates awareness of oppression, the articulated concept of revolutionary struggle is deteriorated through a capitulation to imperial proposals for a future Palestinian state that fails to challenge Israel’s colonisation of Palestine.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.