Palestinians must show they mean business


by Stuart Littlewood


What a thought-provoking piece Prof Lawrence Davidsons latest article is, whether you agree with every word or not.

Titled ‘The Palestinian Bid for UN Statehood Recognition, it makes the point that the Palestinians’ move, which Tweedle-dum Obama and Tweedle-dee Netanyahu (they never contradict each other, youll remember) are desperate to discourage, merely replicates the process by which Israel gained recognition as a state. The world will recall that America recognized the Jews’ declaration of an Israeli state with almost indecent haste… like immediately.

The bid also echoes the UN’s original intention to divide Palestine between Jews and Arabs. So theres no attempt by the Palestinians to break new ground here. What they propose chimes nicely with what went before. How can there possibly be a valid objection? Recognition should be accorded Palestine just as easily as it was accorded Israel.

However, Prof Davidson seems keen to airbrush Hamas out of the proceedings, saying the resistance movement “refuses to recognize Israel and would destroy the Zionist state if it could”. He admits that refusing recognition is mutual and Israel is busy trying to destroy Hamas. In the end, however, Hamas cannot destroy Israel, so is dismissed as a key player.

Haniyeh and Abbas

For my part I believe Hamas has a vital role to play, if it reforms and presents a friendlier face to the world. The rest of the international community should not imitate the hypocrisy of those loudmouthed preachers of democracy like the US and Britain and ignore even punish – the peoples choice. Besides, there is considerable talent among Hamass senior ranks.

Foreign minister Muhammad Awad has been calling for a united government to be formed urgently, ahead of the Palestinian bid in September, as agreed between the factions in Cairo months ago. Attempts to form a unity government have so far come to nought largely because Hamas rejects Fatah’s insistence on PA prime minister Salam Fayaad leading the new government. Fayaad is a stranger to Palestinian elections and has no democratic legitimacy.

Fayyad

Nevertheless many outside Palestine want to see Fayaad up there because he is liked in the West. For the purpose of the bid there probably needs to be a team of 3 or 4 all singing the same tune, Fayaad and Haniyeh included… Haniyeh because he is proven to be gritty and steadfast for Palestinian freedom, and has survived the worst that Israel can do to dislodge him.

Prof Davidson, for his part, is not keen on the bid. He argues that “UN recognition of Palestine as a pseudo state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip will solve nothing and may well cause more problems for the Palestinians on the ground.” The alternative, he says, is Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions within the context of increasing worldwide awareness of Israels essential racist nature.

He pins great hopes on the BDS movement, noting Ilan Pappe’s remark that BDS, as part and parcel of an overall civil society struggle in support of Palestinian rights, has been successful in key European countries. He suggests there is a good chance that a worldwide BDS movement, growing steadily for the next quarter century, could achieve the de-Zionization of Israel.

This is where I tend to part company with the good professor. Dismissing the UN bid and relying instead on BDS because its what works, doesn’t take into account the further damage by Israel’s continued poaching of Palestinian territory and the cumulative effect of this while we wait 25 years for the BDS magic to take effect. During that time the occupation will have taken on a much too permanent flavor. The creation of even a pseudo state should provide Palestinians with sufficient status to demand UN protection against further predation and encroachment.

There is a general expectation that BDS will bring apartheid Israel to its knees in the same way it put paid to apartheid South Africa. But the two are not the same. And there’s another important angle. What gives Israel its criminal license is the subjugation of our own politicians to the Zionist agenda. An essential part of BDS strategy, therefore, must be to break that parliamentary support.

BDS has the makings of an international organization that could eventually bring about the downfall of Israel’s global life support system. But it is not enough to complain to the supermarkets and hand out leaflets about labeling and how the dates and salad potatoes on sale were grown on confiscated Palestinian land.

Civil disobedience and direct action are the way to go, because you cannot rely on lobbying elected representatives – most are corrupted by Zionist influence. They are the real enemy and they are fouling our democratic way of life.

Civil disobedience, that is not our problem…. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. And our problem is that scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the schoolboys march off dutifully in a line to war. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem

– Howard Zinn, 1970

Palestinians and their allies around the world need to show they mean business. It seems to me the situation calls for a two-prong attack. The bid for statehood is essential if only to put down a marker and change the dynamic. Doing nothing means being forced back to the ‘negotiating’ table and we know what that means. There must be no negotiations until Palestinians have equal rank to Israelis within the international community and a level playing field is established.

If Palestinian leaders mess up in September I suspect they’ll lose a lot of friends. By messing up I mean going about it in a half-hearted, disunited way. They’ve got one month left to straighten themselves out.

The second prong is to develop and expand BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) to neutralize the enemy within Western parliamentary structures and media.