Articles > > CARDS AND QUESTIONS

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-04-09
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

Do the Palestinians hold cards they can use to overturn the U.S./Zionist scheme farcically dubbed 'the deal of the century'? 
 
If so, what are these cards, and what are the advantages and consequences of using them? No media interviews with Palestinian officials or experts are free from these questions that occupy the Palestinians' minds and possess their hearts amidst a deep sense of loss. The situation recalls that of 1948-1965, with the primary exception being the different international conditions surrounding the national cause. That era was one of the rise of Arab and global national liberation movements bearing the fledgling Palestinian movement on their wings. Meanwhile the Arabs' condition has never been so rash and reckless. Today, the socialist camp is drawing its dying breath in its final strongholds on the international arena.
 
The answer to this article's opening question is often unclear and offers no catharsis to the Palestinians, nor does it show them the light at the end of the tunnel and make their hearts beat any faster. Rhetorical eloquence has replaced practical, objective thought, and the path is lost between empty slogans and blind faith, mortgaging the present to faith in the unseen. The concrete national agenda has fallen prey to historical imperatives, both in its faith-based, religious dimension and in its leftist-nationalist dimension.
 
Unfortunately, I have no answer to the question either. I feel the same sense of floating adrift as the millions of Palestinians living besieged and scattered in the occupied homeland. I truly believe that the first step to answering the question lies in redefining the Palestinian national project. Is it still possible to reduce it to the old formula of 'right to return, self-determination, and building a sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital', and to continue to study the 'feasibility' of ths model given all the facts on the ground that Israel and its allies have successfully imposed? 
 
Can a national consensus be built around a 'new definition' for the Palestinian project? What would such a project look like? What are the steps we need to take, using all our existing frameworks, structures, and institutions? Which features will serve our new project and which would constitute a roadblock in its path? What are the forms, priorities, and tools of resistance that the Palestinian people must leverage in the coming period of its struggle for liberation, independence, and self-determination?
 
Someone will inevitably say that what we need today is to achieve Palestinian [Fatah/Hamas] reconciliation immediately without delay. But the more we call for reconciliation, the more fragmented the Palestinian condition becomes. Notice how the national division 'virus' has infiltrated the ranks of the sole [legitimate] institution, the PLO, and has attacked the [Palestinian citizens of Israel's Knesset] Joint Arab List. While the deterioration and fragmentation in the Palestinians' circumstances should not stop us from continuing to strive for an end to the split and for unity to be restored, we should do so free from naive estimations and wagers.
 
Another person will inevitably advocate developing peaceful popular resistance, bringing up key examples, such as the [Gaza-based] Marches of Return and the repeated protests at the Aqsa mosque's gates in Jerusalem. However, let us consider the significance of these events: The [2017] Jerusalem intifada occurred with support from the Palestinians of 1948 [Palestinian citizens of Israel] far from the PA, PLO, and the factions' spheres of influence. Consider, also, the significance of the negotiations surrounding the Marches of Return, which have had nothing to do with the issue of 'return' and have been limited to trying to reach a tahdi'a [lull or calming down] that would neither cause the Gaza strip to explode nor diminish Hamas's de facto authority in the besieged and starved Strip. 
 
Again, this does not mean that we should cease advocating 'raising the cost of occupation' and launching peaceful, popular resistance movements from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Those missions remain on the Palestinian struggle's agenda in all its phases. However, we must think long-term about our desire to exonerate ourselves by claiming to know which direction to take and how to recognize all markers down the road to salvation. 
 
Someone else is sure to proclaim that we need to revive the PLO – develop it, streamline it, mend the severed connections within its institutions and its links to Palestinian groups around the world. I remember when this sentiment was central to our internal debate, before and after withdrawing from Beirut [in the 1982 war]. Ever since that long-ago time, the PLO's circumstances have faltered instead of progressing, and the national movement began to age rather than undergo a youthful revitalization. 
 
The gaps widened between the 'sole, legitimate national representative' [PLO] and its people. Then the PA came along, and the [PA] daughter ate is [PLO] mother (as the saying goes). Two generations of displaced (and even resident) Palestinians remained outside the PLO's framework or its popular institutions. Some who have a sense of protectiveness over the Palestinian cause and its outcome have begun to think about the need to establish a 'global Palestinian Agency', along the lines of the global Jewish Agency. Others with a more narrow-minded vision strive to create alternative, parallel frameworks that reinforce the hateful, despicable divisions between the factions. Those who call for the PLO's revival need to do their research about the prospects and feasibility of this option, and the potential or likely role it may play.
 
Yet another person might argue that the solution, or at least one solution, lies in the national and international boycott [BDS] movement, which may be the brightest point of light in the occluded Palestinian night. But when one considers the implications of the Arabs and Muslims flocking in an unprecedented rush towards normalizing relations with Israel and winning its affection, we would find that the BDS movement in turn faces a substantial threat. The new rising right-wing trends in the U.S. and Europe seek to establish a false equivalence between criticizing the state of Israel and calling for its boycott on the one hand, and anti-Semitism on the other. 
 
The boycott movement must persist and be supported in its strategic long-term capacity to bring matters back to their true course by rebuilding and promoting the Palestinian narrative – and tomorrow is another day.