Israel’s annexation plan threatens Palestinian statehood

 
Israel’s annexation plan threatens Palestinian statehood

 

I was sickened by a recent news headline: “US Secretary of State Pompeo is in Israel today for talks regarding Israeli annexation of the West Bank.” Is this the end for the struggle for Palestinian liberation and statehood? You cannot have a country without a land base.

With numerous illegal Israeli settlements blanketing areas of the West Bank, which Israel plans to annex, the only contiguous land the Palestinians will have is Gaza, a slum or ghetto so economically and geographically smothered by Israel that scholars describe it as the world’s largest open-air prison.

The worst part is that a proud people with centuries of ties to their land remain stateless, thanks in part to the recent efforts of Donald Trump and Jared Kushner. They took the Palestinian dream of liberation and statehood, the existential need of a proud people for their rightful place on this earth—on their land—and reduced it to a sleazy real estate deal in favor of Israel, U.S. capitalism’s Middle Eastern ally.

And what of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank? Upon annexation, how many more will be forced to become refugees? Will there be a repetition of the ethnic cleansing that occurred with Israel’s founding in 1948 and again with the Six-Day War in 1967? Or will Palestinian West Bank residents be forced to live an apartheid existence as second-class citizens of a Jewish theocracy?

Palestinian scholar Edward Said described Palestinian life as “permanent subjugation in their own homeland.” Other scholars have observed that “the Palestinian people . . . have endured an unspeakable ordeal of victimization for so long”1 and “this people have endured more than seems humanly possible.”2

Does the world care that Israel is about to commit a monstrous act of cruelty, aggression, and theft? TV huckster and con man Donald Trump calls for law and order in response to recent U.S. protest marches while enabling Israel to violate international law which bars the expropriation of territory conquered in war. In 1970 philosopher Bertrand Russell looked at Palestinians living under occupation and asked, “How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty?”3

Former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk suggested a basis for hope. He concluded that, yes, Israel has facts on the ground, but the Palestinians are winning the moral victory. Palestinian Ali Abunimah, in his book The Battle for Justice in Palestine (2014), agreed that “the Palestinians are winning.”4 These scholars mean that the Palestinians are winning because their cause is right and just and moral. The world cannot fail to see this, just as we now see the righteousness and beauty of the Vietnamese fight against U.S. war crimes and the struggle of South African blacks against apartheid.

Jewish suffering in the Holocaust does not make Zionist colonization of Palestine right or just or moral. So, will the world step in? Is there hope? Edward Said wrote that we must always choose resistance over surrender. The Palestinian response to invasion, ethnic cleansing, expulsion, occupation, and theft of their precious homeland has always been the Arabic sumud or resistance and perseverance: “We will remain sumud, steadfast. Impose on us an apartheid system, blame us for the violence while ignoring Israeli State Terror . . . we Palestinians will not submit. We will not cooperate.”5 As a headline in Al-Monitor puts it, “Palestinians Tell Trump, Israel: We Are Not For Sale.”

Palestinian writer and peace activist Sari Nusseibeh wrote in 2007 that Israel “didn’t dare annex what they called Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), because they knew the world would never support them if they did.”6 He adds that Palestinians were always hopeful “that somehow the world would step in like a deus ex machina and set things right,” and that “the international hand of Justice was bound to intervene.” But sadly, Nusseibeh concludes, “It never has and never will.”7

Is he right? Will we look away as Trump and Netanyahu close this deal? How can the world bear such monstrous injustice? Human beings around the globe must now come to the aid of the Palestinian people or forever bear the shame of having been complicit in Israel’s criminal theft of Palestinian land, identity, and existential right to exist as a nation.

1. Richard Falk, Palestine’s Horizon toward a Just Peace, 2017, Pluto Press, p. 157.
2. Joel Kovel, Overcoming Zionism, 2007, Pluto Press, p. 222.
3. Sari Nusseibeh, Once upon a Country, 2007, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, p. 206.
4. In Falk, p. 154.
5. Kovel, p. 222.
6. Nusseibeh, p. 205.
7. Nusseibeh, p. 441.

The opinions of the author do not necessarily reflect the positions of the CPUSA.

Image: Hossam el-Hamalawy, Wikimedia Commons.

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