Al-Shujayeh: Palestine’s Saigon

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A displaced man from the Shejaiya neighborhood in the Gaza Strip sleeps at the UN school where he and others have taken refuge after fleeing heavy fighting in their area on July 21, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Marco Longari)

By: Haidar Eid

Published Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The bitter reality of the Palestinians in Gaza is that they are alone, beleaguered, under siege, and are undesirables even for some of those who are supposed to be their brethren. Fifteen days of barbaric massacres have claimed the lives of more than 600 Palestinians – more than 90 percent of whom are civilians, 159 are children, and dozens are women and senior citizens, while the rest were either young men sitting in or outside their homes, doctors who were on duty, university students doing household chores, or nurses tending to the wounded. Entire families have been slaughtered in broad daylight, with reports that 20 families have perished completely, in conjunction with the systematic destruction of hundreds of Palestinian homes.

And yet, the “State of Palestine” is still considering whether or not to sign up to join the International Criminal Court.

For 15 days, Palestinians have been left alone against the onslaught of the world’s fourth strongest army, an army that possesses 450 nuclear warheads, thousands of soldiers bolstered by Merkava battle tanks, and hundreds of F-16 jets, Apache attack helicopters, and gunboats.

During those days, the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza reached unimaginable levels. As hospitals were struggling to cope with the injuries, some Arab regimes did nothing more than issue timid statements, denouncing and condemning.

In reality, Arab regimes have let down the Palestinians since 1948, and to this day, official Arab attitudes are a combination of cowardice and hypocrisy. The time has come to deconstruct this Arab position and its failure to bring an end to the Israeli siege on Gaza for more than seven years now, not to mention the overall subpar official Arab efforts in solidarity with the Palestinians who are at the receiving end of a brutal Israeli military offensive.

Worse still, some Arabs have begun to blame the Palestinians for the situation they are now in, instead of demanding Israel to halt its unjust aggression. The recent Egyptian media campaign hostile to the Palestinians is but proof of this dramatic deterioration in Arab attitudes.

We in Gaza are now wondering how the timid expressions of support coming out of the streets and capitals of the Arab nations can be turned into concrete action in the absence of democracy. We wonder whether the Arabs living under the rule of authoritarian regimes can change them in nonviolent ways. We exhaust ourselves trying to figure out the possible means available to achieve democratic political change, because with the massacre continuing in Gaza and the apartheid regime in Palestine growing in strength, we have not seen any practical translation for the solidarity shown by some Arab peoples with Palestine.

Desmond Tutu, the South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” The international community, the United Nations, the European Union, and Arab leaders have remained largely silent about the atrocities committed by racist Israel. Therefore, they are on Israel’s side, since dozens of corpses belonging to women and children have failed to convince them of the need to act. This is what Palestinians realize today, whether in the streets of Gaza or the West Bank, or in the refugee camps of the Diaspora.

The Palestinians have realized that they have only one tenable option. This option does not wait for the UN Security Council, Arab summits, or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to convene. The option is popular power, the only force capable of tackling the huge asymmetry of power in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The two choices for the Palestinians in Gaza therefore are: dying dishonorably while thanking their killers, if not asking them to tighten the blockade, a slow death rather than a quick death; or fighting for their dignity, for themselves and the coming generations. It is clear that the option that they have chosen is to fight for dignity, in a departure from years of self-deception that portrayed slavery to the occupier as a fait accompli.

It is noted in this context that the ceasefire initiatives that have been proposed – even though the violence is essentially a brutal assault by a racist oppressor against an oppressed party that has decided to resist – do not take into account the two stated Israeli objectives behind the attack on the Palestinians:

Eliminating the largest possible number of Palestinians by targeting homes, and killing women and children (a war crime that must not go unpunished).

Maintaining stability in the open-air concentration camp we know as Gaza, for as long as possible, by eliminating any possibility of resistance or source of inconvenience to the Israeli occupation.

Instead, the initiatives that have been put forward equate the legitimate resistance against the illegal occupation to a regime of systematic oppression. It is as if what has become required of the Palestinians is to conduct themselves as “house Palestinians,” like the house slaves who were grateful to their white masters and who were satisfied to eat the leftovers from their tables. It is as if it has become required of Palestinians to accept their slow death and show no form of rebellion, and to accept that if they die, then it is of their own fault.

But Palestine, of which Gaza is part, will not oblige.

Accordingly, any agreement that does not lead to the immediate lifting of the blockade and the reopening of the Rafah crossing 24/7, and all the other crossings in a manner that allows the introduction of fuel, medicine, and all other needs, in conjunction with a ceasefire without any delays - to end what is in reality occupation and apartheid - will not be acceptable to the people of Gaza. Indeed, the conflict cannot be seen in isolation from the root cause for what is happening in Gaza: the multifaceted settler-colonial enterprise, the occupation, the apartheid, and the ethnic cleansing.

The biggest source of concern for the Israeli “masters” and their US allies, and their Arab lackeys, would be for us to raise the ceiling of our demands by calling for an end to the blockade and the contexts that had led to it; that is, without separating the conflict from our demand for the right of return, since two-thirds of the people of Gaza are refugees who have this right under international law.

Al-Shujayeh here is a pivotal moment in Palestinian history. Gaza (Palestine) yearns for a leadership that rises up to the level of this historic moment, a leadership that would take the following measures without any further delay:

A full stop to security coordination with Israel.

Signing up to join the International Criminal Court, and suing Israeli political and military leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Reviewing all agreements signed with Israel, particularly the Oslo Accords and related agreements.

Sending all members of the Executive Committee and the national reconciliation government to Gaza to remain there and show solidarity with the people they represent in their steadfastness and resistance.

Supporting the brave Resistance and deeming it an essential part that represents the Palestinian people and its three components [Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and within the 1948 territories].

Declaring a clear position on any initiative that does not take into account the need for the immediate end of the siege, the reopening of all crossings, and the restoration of the full freedom of movement.

Any talk about improving the conditions of oppression (and even this is seen as too much for us) in light of the great sacrifices is a betrayal of Palestinian martyrs. Let’s start discussing radical solutions away from the “interim program” and the Bantustan-like state, and adopt a clear slogan: end the occupation, end the apartheid, and end settler-colonialism. This way, the families and lives that have been lost in Gaza would not go in vain.

Otherwise, we shall turn it into Palestine’s own Saigon.

Haidar Eid is a political analyst and a member of the Steering Committee of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

There is no doubt that the Bestial Zionist regime is cruel and barbaric but at the same time one has to wonder why on earth so many Arabs are so silent and not extend a helping hand to their Arab brothers and sisters in occupied Palestine?
It is not only the Zionist regime that needs to be confronted but the spineless and despotic regimes that are covertly and overtly stabbing their own people in the back should also be the ones held responsible as well.
The bravery of Palestinian fighters and their heroic fight against the Zionists have exposed the weakness and collaborative nature of these worthless and spineless regimes that are acting as de facto mercenaries for the enemies of Arab Nation.

Actually, I think Ramallah, rather than Gaza City has already been transformed into Saigon:capital city of collaborationist puppet government. Little wonder that Vietnamese revolutionaries promptly renamed it Ho Chi Minh City after liberation in 1975. Al-Shujayeh, on the other hand, continues to resist. Still, an outstanding overall political critique, with demands that are being echoed across the streets of the West Bank this week, despite the best efforts of the Sulta and their Israeli partners to suppress dissent.

Thank youj, Haidar, for a brilliant exposition of the appalling position of Gaza and the Palestinian people. How accurately you diagnose the hypocrisy and inaction of Arab states, and the despicable support fof the West for Israel. You're right. There is no way now but to demolish the whole rotten edifice of lies and racism and apartheid that has chracterised the treatment of Palestinians since before 1948. And the only way of doing that is through the brave resistance of Gaza's wonderful fighters who deserve our respect, admiration and support.

Zionists are assholes.

"You" demand this and that,all the while Hamas is an innocent sheepish humble voice for Palestinians.get real!even your brethren are fed up with Hamas antics.it is time to take personal inventory and join the human race.your ways are killing the Palestinians.first order of the day-get your HQ out of Shiffah hospital.

Did you receive your check from the Israeli government yet?

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