It has been reported in Haaretz that the Palestinian Authority will be dedicating a street in Ramallah to the late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro “as a gesture of gratitude”. Elsewhere, the PA continues with a strategy of colonial complicity that should render the organisation unworthy of even mentioning El Comandante’s name.
Even if the PA has decided to embark upon a process of selective memory, Palestinians who embody anti-colonial resistance as articulated constantly by Fidel, particularly in the international arena, are unlikely to fall into the complacency of transient remembrance.
Cuban support for Palestine, particularly following the revolutionary triumph, has been consistent. In 1959, Ernesto Che Guevara and Raul Castro visited Gaza, with Che emphasising the importance of mobilisation against Israeli colonialism. Fidel Castro’s speeches at the UN were also a source of important rhetoric supporting Palestinian anti-colonial struggle, substantiated by Cuba’s practical involvement, such as the training of Palestinians involved in resistance, culminating in the severing of ties with Israel in 1973. The decision echoed a previous statement by Fidel at the UN General Assembly in 1960: “Colonies do not speak. Colonies are not known until they have the opportunity to express themselves.” While the statement was uttered to express Cuba’s exploitation under former dictator Fulgencio Batista, it can also be applied to the tactics that are prohibiting Palestinian political expression and resistance from within.
It is hoped that, if a street is indeed named after Fidel, Palestinians can reclaim the memory of a true revolutionary away from the hypocrisy regurgitated by the PA. The gesture itself is made abhorrent because remembrance is being enacted by an entity which has embraced colonial complicity, rather than supported the legitimate right of Palestinians to armed struggle. Hence, it is pertinent to ponder the reasons behind such contradictory action; manipulating all that Fidel stood for in terms of anti-colonial struggle and internationalism is unlikely to resonate among Palestinians. A plaque with a street name might serve as a perfunctory gesture in relation to a memory which the PA has distanced itself from with complete determination, given its perpetual overtures to the Israeli occupation and derogatory attitude towards Palestinian resistance.
The colonisation of Palestine is a unique, humiliating circumstance which should shroud the world in shame. As collaborators in this perpetual farce, it is beyond belief that the PA leadership should tarnish Fidel’s name for the sake of basking in his legacy of anti-colonial struggle which it has long forfeited. When the street name materialises, it should serve as a reminder of intense betrayal; of a hypocritical clinging to the image of a leader whose loyalty to his principles remained untarnished; who, even in regard to the recent renewal of diplomatic relations brokered under President Raul Castro, still insisted, “We do not need the empire to give us anything.”
Additionally, it should serve as a reminder of how Palestinians, unlike Cubans, have had their struggle restrained by diplomatic scheming and symbolism. Reducing Fidel Castro to a symbol in Palestine, however, will be a futile task. The Palestinians’ heightened sense of consciousness will, undoubtedly, refute the cloistering of Fidel’s ideals and principles into what the PA has hypocritically deemed a mere “gesture of gratitude”.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.