It is not 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70 years since the Nakba, the Palestinian people’s Catastrophe. This year the Palestinians will be marking the 71st year since their dispossession and the creation of Apartheid state, Israel, in their homeland and against their will. Enough is enough. The Palestinian people have waited long enough. They are entitled to receive justice without any further delay.
Surely we will not be marching for justice 80, 90 or 100 years after the Nakba?
This anniversary is marked with a rapidly deteriorating situation. Matters appeared to be improving when the Obama administration managed during its last days to restrain itself from vetoing UN Security Council resolution 2334 in December 2016. I wrote at the time that the Palestinians must see the resolution as a tool, not a victory.
The resolution declared the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be occupied illegally and that Israeli settlements in both areas are in contravention of international law. Furthermore, it distinguished between Israel and the territories it has occupied since 1967. We recently learnt that the incoming Trump administration was already working to wreck it.
This was confirmed in the Mueller report published recently which confirmed that “led by S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the Trump transition team attempted to persuade foreign governments, with then-incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn talking to Russia, to oppose the December 2016 United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, condemning Israeli neighbourhoods in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank].” This despite the fact that longstanding US policy had been that settlements were “illegitimate” and an obstacle to peace.
The direction of travel was set. Under the Trump administration, longstanding US policy would be thrown out of the window to be replaced with recognition of “facts on the ground”. Even then, this would only be so when it favoured Israel. Trump’s team were handpicked supporters of Zionism and Israel. The Palestinians could not expect any justice from the team led by Kushner, Greenblatt and Freidman, complemented by Israel supporter and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
Having made some modest gains in the UN including resolution 2334 and an upgrading of Palestine’s status to a non-member state, a rabidly pro-Israel administration, which accepts the Biblical justification for the existence of Israel in Palestine, set about disrupting, what admittedly was a failing peace process, to deliver win after win for Israel. Fairness, justice and the rule of international law were replaced with bullying, blackmail and a series of presidential orders signed under the glare of the cameras to gift Israel both Palestinian Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan.
The so-called “ultimate deal” or “deal of the century” is due to be unveiled after the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. At the end of this period, Trump’s team will offer them crumbs, which they must either gratefully accept or continue their fast for many more decades.
The Palestinian people will not give up on their inalienable rights, protected by international law, even though more and more countries are conspiring against their achievements. Their commitment was demonstrated again through the Great March of Return, which has seen Palestinians march to the fence that separates Palestinian refugees in Gaza from the towns and villages they were expelled from or fled under terror in 1948. They have taken over 200 casualties since March of last year and thousands have been injured through deliberate Israel fire, which a recent UN Commission contended were possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. The losses have not dissuaded them from going to the fence week after week not because they love death – as racist pro-Israelis claim – but because they want to be free and to realise their rights.
The Palestinians face not only an aggressive Apartheid regime but a so called international community which talks the talk on values and human rights but has not been moved to walk the walk to protect the Palestinians and then to help them realise their rights.
I do, of course, talk about governments and regimes rather than the people. Support for Palestinians has risen sharply over the past three decades as people now get it. Israel is not a normal state. It is an aggressive, expansionist Apartheid entity run by increasingly extremist governments, which include ministers that celebrate its and their racism and fascism.
No matter how often it and its apologists claim it to be the Middle East’s “only democracy” and that its army is the “most moral army in the world”, ordinary people all over the world, including an increasing number of Jews, dismiss both statements as untrue. They stand with Palestinians as they continue the fight to attain their rights.
Attempts to silence supporters of justice through the conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism have to an extent succeeded. However, the bullying and smearing has now reached a point that people are moving from being on the back foot in their campaigning to the front foot. The bullyboys have overstretched and the fight back has started. Fighting genuine anti-Semitism while severely criticising Israel and working to bring its criminal leaders to account are not mutually exclusive.
We will not be silenced. We will be out on the streets of London on the 11th to show our unwavering support for the Palestinian people as they strive for freedom, justice and equality. Ordinary people, including trade unionists, MPs and other public figures will march hand in hand to say enough is enough. The march led by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and our partners will send the strongest possible message to the Palestinian people. We are with you and will continue to speak out, to tell your story and to campaign using all possible peaceful means, each in his or her country, including the promotion of BDS as a tactic for exerting pressure on Israel. Muslims, Christians, Jews and people of other or no faith will gather at 12 o’clock on Saturday the 11th before marching to Whitehall.
Our hashtag for the day is #ExistResistReturn. For as long as the Palestinians exist in their historic homeland and they resist attempts to force them to submit to the will of Israel, the Palestinian refugees will one day return and then peace will come to the homeland. It is that time.
Join us to make this one of the largest demonstrations for Palestine in recent years.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.