Nakba and more

by Mazin Qumsiyeh

suseya (400 x 266)

On the eve of the 67th year anniversary of the Nakba (the catastrophic ethnic cleansing of Palestine), Benjamin Netanyahu finally formed a “coalition government” a group of ministers who are honest about their racist and genocidal tendencies. It includes a “Justice” who called for murdering Palestinian mothers so that they do not bring out more “snakes”. It includes the head of “civil administration” who openly supports ethnic cleansing and genocide. A government more right wing in its composition than Germany was in 1933-1939 or South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s but an honest one indeed without double talk or hypocrisy.

What is disappointing is not the make-up of the government but the hypocritical response to it. Words from the “Palestinian Authority” whining about the new government were accompanied by continuing security coordination with Israel and the PA arrest of dozens of Palestinians simply for having different political affiliation (e.g. students who against all odds were voted to student councils at Palestinian Universities).

Geopolitically, there are now two choices: US/Israel that attempt to dominate the Arab World and Western Asia through a class of puppet dictators (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Egypt) and the axis of Russia, China, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon (led by Hizbollah) and large segments of Iraqi society. It would be nice to have a third axis (like the non-aligned movement led by Egypt and India in the 1960s) but it does not currently seem possible.

Yasser Arafat managed to steer the PLO leadership to semi-neutrality or at least flexibility in building alliances as need arose. But even acting as a good honest broker to solve some regional disputes many times by asking people to put the interests of their people ahead of their superpower sponsors (then it was Soviet Union and the USA/NATO). In the time of Abu Mazen, we see more a definitive side-taking (e.g. with Saudi Arabia against Yemen) in a fashion that actually weakened the Palestinian cause dramatically. The black and white attitude was applied in a way that is like George Bush “you are either with us (USA right wing government) or with the terrorists. In this case you are either with us (Fatah) or with the terrorist Hamas. There seems no room left for nuances or indeed for diplomacy. From the agreement with Hamas, there is only the part about holding elections for the PA that Abbas wants to implement. Other parts of the agreement (holding elections for the PLO, economic issues etc) were supposed to happen synchronously but they are now off the table.

Meanwhile Gaza was devastated and is still under siege (civil society is responding and a flotilla of ships is moving to break the siege). Last time this happened, there were martyrs and some high level PA officials ridiculed the Free Gaza movement. Instead, it would have been nice to see PA officials join Haneen Zoabi and Raed Salah on the boats. Alas wishful thinking for change.

The old definition of madness still apply: repeating the same (failed) tasks and expecting different results. And we live in a mad, very mad world. US/Israel still fund terrorists, support dictators, and support ethnic cleansing. Those who bet on them to help them achieve “independence” still do not understand and still hope somehow magically, things will change. They would be wise to listen to Russian President Putin. He was speaking at the 70th anniversary of the win over Nazi Germany (26 million Russian lives were lost) and was flanked by other world leaders including China (though noticeably absent where key NATO leaders). He said, the attempt at creating a unipolar world is failing and that we should look towards a new system. Iran, China, most of Latin America and other countries which long suffered from Western Colonialism agreed. President Abbas was there but had no comment. I was reminded of Naji Al-Ali 1964. I was reminded of Orwell 1984. I was reminded of the book Majanin Beit Lahmem (the crazy people of Bethlehem) published 2014.

Life goes on in occupied Palestine. A Palestinian community (Susya) is about to be uprooted. Colonial settlers and soldiers still attack native Palestinians with impunity. Corruption and heroism happen, poverty and greed happen, cooperation and collaboration happen, resistance and normalization happen. Poor people struggle and rich get richer. It is hard to cope sometimes but we keep going against all odds.