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Countering the Palestinian Nakba: one state for all

April 3, 2017 at 10:28 am

  • Book Editor(s): Haidar Eid
  • Published Date: February 2017
  • Publisher: Noor Publishing
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-3330848009

Criticism of US and Israeli ideology, as well as emphasis upon a one-state possibility, form the foundations of “Countering the Palestinian Nakba: one state for all” (Noor Publishing, 2017). Edited by Haidar Eid, the book brings together relevant analytical essays by several authors whose diverse viewpoints regarding Palestinian rights portray the complexity of identity and politics. Equally important is the manner in which the authors, through different discussions, expose the fraudulent illusion of the Oslo Accords which have tethered Palestinians into perverse subjugation. Without exception, they insist that a political alternative encompassing, history, memory, identity and resistance is necessary, as opposed to ineffective and futile amendments.

International legitimacy is perceived as an important source through which to articulate Palestinian rights. However, in his introduction, Haidar Eid makes an important observation between what should constitute international legitimacy and the reality of colonial legacy pervading political decisions which have contributed to the disintegration of Palestine. Eid writes: “If we still believe in the role of Western governments, especially those with colonial legacy, in playing a positive role vis-à-vis the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, we are, then, fooling ourselves.”

Eid also points out that the failure of governments to protect Palestinian rights requires people power, through global activism such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), to halt colonial violence and, in turn, influence international politics, particularly when it comes to dispelling the convenient myth of Palestine as a mere humanitarian concern.

This is not to say the humanitarian aspect is irrelevant. As Tania Reinhart points out in her essay which draws upon the memory of Edward Said, the political decisions taken in the name of Palestinians, particularly the Oslo Accords, have contributed to a situation in which “territorial continuity” has become non-existent, with fragmentation becoming ingrained due to other Israeli policies such as the Apartheid Wall resulting in severe humanitarian consequences. “The model developed during the Oslo years was of classical apartheid,” says Reinhart. The humanitarian aspect is a consequence of political violence, one that needs to be prolonged to avoid the global outcry which a second Nakba of overt ethnic cleansing would produce.

In the same vein, yet with a more assertive tone due to the subject of genocide, A. Clare Brandabur declares that rhetoric regarding the peace process is futile if the international community fails to recognise that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. “Only discourse which recognises the genocidal intention of Israel policy has any chance of making sense of the trajectory of the history even before 1948,” she writes. The predictability of associating genocide with the Holocaust has excluded other genocides, including that of the Palestinian population which is carried out to maintain the Israeli settler-colonial state. Brandabur points out the inconsistencies of the international community in this regard, particularly the contradiction of criminalising Palestinian resistance when the right to anti-colonial struggle is enshrined in international law.

The book also deals with how Palestinian collective memory, history and two opposing strands of “intelligentsia” have shaped Palestinian anti-colonial struggle and the envisaged outcomes. Eid embarks upon a challenging discussion which shows how intellectual assimilation to Western concepts of Palestine has contributed to colonialism. The intellectual inspiration for this chapter is derived from Frantz Fanon, through which Eid argues that the concept of the “native intellectual” ties in to the Palestinian anti-colonial resistance movement. Eid also emphasises how Oslo intelligentsia became active proponents of the two-state imposition, while the “oppositional intellectual” has conceptualised, and advocated for, a one-state alternative. The former, Eid states, is void of a positive agenda. “Palestinians,” he argues, “are asked to accept our slavery and appreciate it as long as it has the USA trademark.”

Equally important is Ilan Pappé’s observation that Palestinian history and culture are proof of Palestinian unity, whereas Zionism relied upon co-opting a historical period in order to sustain the colonial narrative. Pappé argues that post-1967 policy was based upon exclusion of Palestinians to the point that Israel’s main requirements — which included impunity for 1948, restrictions on peace negotiations and the exclusion of Palestinians in Israel from any agreement — have obscured the prevailing imbalance between the coloniser and the colonised.

John Halaka’s contribution, which focuses on the conflict of identity faced by Palestinians in Israel, asserts that its policies have rendered Palestinians’ unified identity into a very complex scenario. From occasional assimilation by Palestinian living in Israel referring to themselves as Israeli-Arabs, thus assimilating the colonial narrative, to the ambivalent existence in relation to both Israel and Palestine, Halaka argues that Palestinians in Israel can contribute towards the formation of the one-state alternative due to their different experiences. However, they have been marginalised by both Israel and Palestine “in terms of politics and belonging.”

Eid’s conclusion is powerful, bringing together in a concise manner the strands of colonial impositions and the clear way to oppose the violence inherent in the Israeli settler-colonial state. “Addressing the question of the (post) colonial, in this particular context, is a complex issue in that one seems to be dealing with a colonist who denies his colonialism and argues to the contrary, and with a victim whose victimisation has been denied for decades.” The Oslo Accords, argues Eid, “ignored the existence of the Palestinian people as a people” and created the foundations for Apartheid.

A striking aspect of the book is the manner in which each unique contribution also gives a glimpse of the forthcoming debate, so that each chapter retains merit on its own and also as part of a sequence which does not shy away from assertions that place the burden of accountability upon Israel and the international community, thus challenging the prevailing diplomacy which has granted Israel unprecedented impunity.

It is clear from the book that all contributing writers are proponents of the one-state alternative. This collection, unlike instances where the one-state possibility is mentioned without any proper discussion of what it would entail, is adamant about the incompatibility of Zionist ideology with democracy, thus making it clear that any talk of one-state should not be contaminated by the Israeli narrative and thus become the precedent for the entire colonisation of Palestine. As Eid states, “True equality means the dismantling of the state.”