By Ali Jawad
Working for ‘peace’ in the Middle East comes in all sorts of different shapes and forms; some see its birth-pangs in the shadow of raining bombs, others see the cause of peace furthered in crippling sieges and sanctions, and yet others see peace to be impersonated in war criminals. As far as clichéd sleights-of-hand go, there is simply no rivaling the slogan of ‘peace’.
As a rule of thumb, the region’s many swindlers and part-time soothsayers (also known as politicians) often mean by “peace” a notion so vulgar as to draw disgust at its very mention. Indeed this distinguished tradition was repeated in Binyamin Netanyahu’s “historic” speech at Bar-Ilan University in which he managed to summon the utterance no less than forty-three times.
Given this un-celebrated misuse of “peace” over time, history – in the context of the Palestinian struggle – is a province that many would like us to stay clear of. To raise its mention today is to be “an enemy of peace”.
Beyond grand-sounding verbal clutter however, the basic frameworks for comprehending the “conflict” and its’ resolution are, in their heart, incredibly simple. For more than six decades, Palestinians have been forced to pass their lives between fear and shame. The choices have always been eminently clear: choose to live in utter fear of the invincible, divinely-sent IDF and thus accept one’s own degradation and ultimate de-humanization, or opt for the fate of “a dead man”.
Colonizers invariably use the same methods, and the colonized are in turn subjected to those very vile machinations wherever they may be. For one, much of any colonizer’s success is owed to the introduction of a superfluous, flimflam lexicon. We’ve heard the entire works in Palestine: a land inhabited by hundreds of thousands miraculously becomes empty; expanding settler colonies become part of natural growth; an illegal wall becomes a security fence; war crimes are justified in the name of fighting terror etc. In a recent debate held in the UK House of Commons on the subject of Israel’s settlement expansions, Rob Marris (MP) shoved away the surrounding clutter and surmised the predicament in the following terms:
“When the United Kingdom was an imperial power, we went to places such as Canada, Australia and Rhodesia, and occupied them militarily. We stole the land, and people went to live there. Those countries, under UK control, were called colonies. “Settlement” is a cozy word, and I will use it because it is the common word, but the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Gaza and East Jerusalem are colonies, and we should not lose sight of that.”
To what extent, if at all, such candid annotations alter the conduct of supporting governments is questionable. Nevertheless in the final analysis, whether the governments of Britain, the US or any state under the Sun choose to actually “do” something to stop Israel’s continual aggressions, the same indecision and dilly-dallying does not apply to the peoples of these nations (as was seen in global reactions to the latest war on Gaza). Oppression perpetuated under the rubric of “strategic balance” or other novel obfuscations, is still oppression – political realism may not always identify that simple principle, but the honorable peoples of this world certainly do.
Quite simply, history is not on the side of colonizers; let alone those whose aims have centered around ethnic cleansing. The pitch-black night of oppression and humiliation that has lingered over Palestine is now in its final phases as the dawn of liberation approaches from the carnage of Gaza.
Today, the equations have changed. Never-ending blows of death and destruction have rendered the Palestinian nation immune to fright; or more accurately, the fear of bombs and bullets still exists, but they’d rather choose death than live in constant shame. Merkavas and US-supplied F-16’s are a tool of diminishing utility – in fact after 2006, Israel can no longer force political compromises through the might of her fighter jets and tanks. Indiscriminate destruction and killing have no effect today, except to further strengthen the resolve of the oppressed.
Here then is the greatest charade of Netanyahu’s thrust for “peace”. With resort to brute force increasingly drawing no returns, the Israeli government now sells – in its altruistic munificence no doubt – a pretence of sovereignty and partial-dignity for the frustrated Palestinians. A sham through and through. In return, what is expected from the Palestinians is their silent acquiescence and solemn celebration of their newly-gifted “government”; as if an entire nation was perpetually destined to pauperism and historical amnesia.
At this critical juncture when the world’s pressures are focused on a nation beleaguered by the woes of dispossession and occupation, spanning decades, to accept a shameful compromise under bogus slogans of a “historical settlement”, our foremost duty is to stand by the oppressed Palestinian nation and its’ legitimate and internationally enshrined rights.
Today, the re-activation of the “peace process” has not come about owing to a change of administration in Washington, or due to a sudden change of heart in Tel Aviv. If there is any effort towards peace today, then it is as a result of the steadfastness of the peoples’ of Palestine and Lebanon, and the lofty sacrifices of its’ martyrs in the path towards liberation and dignity. Let not the great swindlers tell you otherwise.
– Ali Jawad is a political activist and a member of the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.