Oslo’s Other Tragedy

By Dallas Darling

Oslo’s ‘other’ tragedy had nothing to do with a homegrown killer, one who had became mesmerized with extremist views and images shown in the global mass media, and one who had internalized a fearful, manipulative, impulsive, and militant “market place” of reactionary ideas. Instead, Oslo’s other tragedy had to do with Norway’s Fafo Foundation, a group of researchers and human rights activists concerned for, and involved in, international peace, particularly in the Middle East. In 1993, Fafo attempted to end decades of hate, of retaliatory killings, of apartheid, and a half-century of collective punishments and collective injustices against millions of innocent Palestinian civilians.

But because of the United States and its pro-Israeli lobbying groups, the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government or Declaration of Principles, also known as the Oslo Peace Accords, were far from what their “official” titles proclaimed. In the first direct, face-to-face agreement between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli Government, Yasser Arafat, president of the PLO, capitulated. Not only did he end the Intifadah Movement, which was a massive Palestinian nonviolent movement for self-determination an to end Israel’s military occupations and apartheid-like conditions,  but he renounced the PLO Charter’s and its right to forceful resistance.

But Arafat’s humiliating “olive branch” went much further than renouncing those who had given their lives for statehood. He rejected all United Nations resolutions regarding Israel and Palestine, except 242 and 338, which made no mention of the Palestinians. While erasing Palestinian memory and the blood of martyrs, Arafat accepted sole responsibility for guaranteeing Israeli security, turning his own people into an armed police force for their occupiers. But what about Palestinian security? What about Palestinian political and economic autonomy? What about a Palestinian state? And what about the hundreds of thousands of stateless Palestinian refugees still scattered across the Middle East?(1)

Deep divisions will soon fester among Palestinian factions, even turning into armed conflicts. Meanwhile, foreign investors and Israeli companies will establish sweatshops and work camps in the Occupied Territories. And while Palestinians continue to sweat and supply cheap labor and, of course, die, United States President Bill Clinton invited PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to Washington DC. A theatrical, public ceremony is staged for the world to see: the signing of the 1993 Accords. But this framework of final dispossession of Palestinians, the scaffolding of the Accords that were built on injustice and a neglect of history, will bring no peace, let alone security.

Oslo’s other tragedy was that the United States hijacked Norway’s Fafo Foundation’s attempt at establishing a more secure and just peace between the governments and rulers of Israel and Palestine. The Palestinians’ national rights as a people, one that had been recognized at the United Nations and throughout the world, was canceled by U.S.-Israel bullying and by Arafat’s surrender. Future “final status” talks and the conquerors “improvements” never transpired. They were merely hollow promises. Palestinians are tired of vague references and having to submit to years of concessions. They are also weary of seeing their sons and daughters and husbands wives continue to die.(2)

President Barack Obama can reverse this tragedy by supporting September’s U.N. resolution to recognize Palestinian statehood. Palestinian envoy Hanan Ashrawi, who is in Washington, made this request: “U.S. leaders should not use their veto against something which is part of their own policy and part of international law, which is in the Palestinian right to independence and self-determination and statehood.” President Obama already backs a Palestinian state along lines that existed prior to the 1967 Arab-Israel war. But he has added one major condition, a major stumbling block: Palestinians must work directly with the Israeli Government.

Unlike his predecessors, will President Obama and the United States do what is just and right at the U.N.? Or will they continue to repeat Oslo’s “other” tragedy of 1993 by forcing the conquered and exploited to press their case in direct negotiations with the conqueror and occupier?

-Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John‘s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com//dallasdarling.


(1) Smith, Michael K. Portraits Of Empire, Unmasking Imperial Illusions From The “American Century” to the “War On Terror”. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press: 2003., p. 295.
(2) Ibid., p. 296.

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