By Vijay Rajiva
In a recent article on Palestinian political economy we are given a lucid and comprehensive account of neo liberal economic policy and the US-Israeli and European involvement in the process of integrating the Palestinian economy into a source of profiteering for the former colonial powers (and Pax Americana). (1).
This should not surprise anyone familiar with the historical trajectory of colonialism and neo-colonialism. However, it is incumbent on all who support the liberation of Palestine to understand the economic realities that are propelling the strategies of resistance to continued colonial and neo-colonial exploitation of the people of Palestine. It would also assist in identifying and forwarding these strategies if the big picture of the Palestinian Authority’s fraudulent claims of settling final status issues with Israel are seen for what they are, a surrender of Palestinian national rights. In this article I shall draw out the implications of the above-mentioned article for political struggle in Palestine.
Readers are all familiar with the continuous attempts by Israel to make the Palestinians disappear since 1948. And the 5 expansionist wars waged by Israel speak for themselves. At the time, they seemed to have occurred in a narrow context, Israel’s ambition of establishing a Greater Israel in historic Palestine. However, it can and must be seen also as an extension of colonial policies. And Pax Americana’s support for the project since 1967 underscores the fact that Israel was considered by the US to be an outpost of their dominance of the Middle East and its resources.
As capitalism entered its new phase of neo liberalism, its impact on Palestine was especially important for the nexus of Pax Americana’s control of the Middle East, and the Palestinian indigenous resistance, at first through the PLO and subsequently through Hamas became serious obstacles to the American-Israeli project.
Today, Israel’s classic moves against the indigenous resistance, such as the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, the settlement expansions, the strangling of Palestinian labour and of Union struggles, is also coordinated with the Fatah faction’s open attacks on Islamic charities. Not a day passes without news of Islamic charities being closed or openly attacked and vandalized. These charities are the lifeblood of the poor in Palestine.
There are frequent arrests of Hamas supporters. All this by the PA authorities, in addition to the Israeli onslaught. The security forces being trained with American and European funds are surely not intended for use against Israel.
This onslaught can be seen both in the narrow context of the Fatah –Hamas contest for power and in the larger context of the American –European-British led aim of subjugating the Palestinian economy to the needs of corporate capital.
Hence, the classic Palestinian strategies of clinging to the Land (witness the Palestinian farmer who keeps rebuilding his shack on land that he owns, after an Israeli demolition) have served well. There are too the many grassroots organizations that protest the building of the infamous Wall or the villagers of B’ilin who take out their weekly protest.
There are too the more formal structures of Mustafa Barghouti’s National Initiative, an organization committed to non-violent struggle, as well the Palestine Center for Non Violence, established by Mubarak Awad. And as in recent weeks the intervention by the international Free Gaza Movement.
These and many more smaller groups that have yet to take the national stage, provide the network of what one commentator and activist has recently called ‘Sustainable Resistance.’ The thinking here is that a network is durable. But these networks, which are genuine support structures, need to be unified in coordinated strategies, if they are to be effective. This has been recognized by Jonathan Kuttab, one of the activists of the Palestine Center for Non Violence.
The coordination requires strong and dedicated leadership across the nation. Such a leadership is yet to make its presence felt (as I point out in ‘Will Non Violent Resistance Work in Palestine?’) Once that happens the Palestinian Resistance will become unstoppable, especially when the international BDS movement aids it. There is, of course, the alternative of a sustained, low level armed struggle. However, even Hamas, which is the only authentic conduit for such an activity, seems to have settled for taking the political party route.
The Sustainable Resistance needs leadership, an economic platform to counter neoliberal policies and a political program on the final status issues of borders, refugees, Jerusalem and settlements. It is here that the one state solution becomes a distraction and a red herring. Instead of focusing on the final status issues Palestinians are being presented with an illusory, distant goal.
The immediate task for Sustainable Resistance is to unify the political parties, with or without Fatah, preferably dispensing with its collaborationist wing, and a revived PLO minus its corrupt elements, and of course, the very tangible leadership of Hamas. All this is easier said than done, and the challenges are formidable. But any Liberation movement worth its salt cannot do less.
And here, they are assisted by the presence of the indomitable people of Palestine.
– Vijay Rajiva taught philosophy at a university level. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
1. Adam Haniyeh, ‘Palestine in the Middle East: Opposing Neo Liberalism and US Power, http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/hanieh190708ap.html