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Deconstructing revolutionary struggle

Israel National News published a news report concerning historically displaced rhetoric uttered by Argentinean rabbi and Member of Parliament Rabbi Sergio Bergman, who claimed that during his impending visit to Bethlehem and Israel, Pope Francis intends to define himself as "the Che Guevara of Palestinians". Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin promptly issued a statement countering Bergman's comment, declaring that the foreign ministry is monitoring developments between the Vatican and the Palestinian Authority with regard to the visit.


According to Elkin, official visitors to Israel are expected to balance their diplomatic rhetoric: "Our role is to ensure that there won't be an unusual gesture, and we have the tools to do so." The deputy foreign minister also pointed to the Vatican's vested interests in Israel, regarding disputes over the transfer of ownership of religious sites in Jerusalem, which would "prevent it from taking a blatantly anti-Israel stance".

The marginalising of Palestinians from political discourse has been achieved through the deconstruction of revolutionary struggle, internationalism and Palestinian resistance. By denying the Palestinians' historical struggle, the indigenous population has been portrayed as an entity dependent upon a symbolic revolutionary character whose struggle has also been subjected to imperialist narratives. Equating the ruler of the Vatican City State with Ernesto Che Guevara, an internationalist revolutionary who embraced and participated in armed struggle is preposterous. However there is evidence of the exploitation of history which, although attempting to project alleged support for Palestinians, is indicative of diplomatic manoeuvres intended to subjugate the Palestinians into another phase of oblivion. Diplomatic discourse has enhanced disassociation from history by deconstructing revolutionary struggle to suit the ambiguity of humanitarian diplomacy, thus rendering the Palestinians a passive caricature awaiting a personification of revolution, in this case substituting the example of Che for the pope.

The deconstruction of revolutionary struggle is a meticulous and premeditated exercise which weaves its narration based upon selective historical accounts which are then divested of chronology and memory. Che's image in particular has been exploited within erroneous narratives which lead to the glorification of his murder in Bolivia as an allegedly imperial triumph. His murder, together with the iconic image by Alberto Korda which has unfortunately graced capitalist merchandise, serves to illustrate the icon of revolution as an accessible commodity. The disseminated narratives, combined with capitalist exploitation, modify and diminish the revolutionary consciousness that led Che to instigate armed struggle in favour of people's liberation from tyranny, following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

Imperialist deconstruction of revolutionary struggle is essential to obliterate the internationalist nature of revolution. In 1962 Fidel Castro stated, "The movement of the dependent and colonial peoples is a phenomenon of universal character which agitates the world and marks the final crisis of imperialism." The statement exposes the dependence created by imperialism in order to sustain itself and the vengeance unleashed upon countries which actively resist oppressive domination. Imperialism necessitates the prevention of liberation in order to thrive, which explains the violent hostility directed against Cuba and its staunchly declared and implemented internationalist struggle. In his farewell letter to Fidel, Che stated "Other nations of the world summon my modest efforts of assistance…I have always been identified with the foreign policy of our revolution, and I continue to be." Che had also visited Gaza during a regional visit in 1959 soon after Batista's defeat, as part of the internationalist struggle against imperialist domination, seeking to impart the experience garnered by the Cuban Revolution in order to aid Palestinian resistance against the imperialist-supported Zionist settler colonial state.

The same vengeance can also be discerned against collective Palestinian resistance. Unlike Cubans, Palestinians lack the unification of the people with the leadership. Hence, the history of Palestinian tenacious resistance is also orchestrated within an isolation emanating from the lack of support which characterises the internationally recognised leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, who has regularly provided proof of interest in collaborating for pathetic compromise instead of fighting for rights pertaining to land, legitimacy and sovereignty. In this case, the deconstruction of revolutionary struggle is not solely an imposition of Israel and the US. Palestinian resistance is also deconstructed by a leadership that willingly forfeits the unity provided by the collective struggle in favour of increasing oppression upon the population it hypocritically claims to represent.

In the scenario reported by the Israeli media, both Israel and Rabbi Bergman have added to the depth of oblivion which is internationally imposed upon Palestinians. Israel continues to impose its obliteration of the Palestinian narrative in order to consolidate the settler-colonial ideology and ensure further expansion. Elkin has often included ambiguities with regard to Palestinian self-determination and recognition in his political discourse, upholding the practice of plunder as the international community feigns oblivion to avoid assigning accountability which would expose its complicity. Even so, the notion of the pope eliciting discourse of humanitarian concern, which does not even constitute a promulgation of revolutionary struggle, is enough for Elkin to voice opposition over the ridiculous comparison to Che Guevara.

It is the Palestinians who should be voicing indignation at the deconstruction of revolutionary struggle, including their own struggle which has been depicted as lacking contemporary external inspiration. Discourse based upon humanitarian diplomacy not only disassociates the struggle from history but also enforces the instilled ambiguity. Unlike Che Guevara's visit to Gaza and his intentions to consolidate the Palestinian revolutionary struggle, the pope's visit is a compromised diplomatic effort to the settler colonial state and remnants of Palestinian territory. Diplomacy is expected to settle for duplicitous compromise, irrespective of the orator, as it has become a means of alienation to safeguard imperialist domination. If any humanitarian appeals reverberate, it is difficult to comprehend how the stance can be perceived as revolutionary, considering the onslaught of concern from the imperialist platform which Palestinians have had to contend with. If a shard of genuine solidarity is to be exhibited, the forthcoming visit should exclude the settler colonial state in a manner which, although distant from the revolutionary ideal embodied by Che, would increase scrutiny of Israel's imperialist-sanctioned violence against the indigenous population.

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

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