Thursday, October 15, 2015

Marwan Barghouti's powerful words from prison: the last day of the Occupation will be the first day of peace



       Marwan Barghouti has resisted Israeli oppression since he was 15 years old (for forty years).  He has been jailed again since the first intifada on accusations of murder.  His case is reminiscent of Nelson Mandela (see the 2014 Martin Linton column "Release Marwan Barghouti.  He can be Palestine's Nelson Mandela" in the Guardian here).

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     In this article in the Guardian just before an international conference of "great" powers, Barghouti offers, once again, a simple explanation of the incipient new intifada.  As the Americans were occupied by the British and even more - given the enormous racism, as South Africa was occupied by Dutch apartheid, Palestine is occupied by Israel.

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     If Palestinians are human and have human rights, then the burning of a toddler by settlers and many other crimes are clear.  See "Amira Hass: We Israeli Jews are fighting for our privilege as a Nation of Masters" here.  That is, those who look at the struggle just as it is - behind John Rawls' "veil of ignorance," seeing the violence of the Occupation, can only join in resistance to it.  It is hard for any reasonable person to argue against any of the claims Barghouti makes here.

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    As Barghouti puts it,

      "So, in the absence of international action to end Israeli occupation and impunity or even provide protection, what are we asked to do? Stand by and wait for the next Palestinian family to be burned, for the next Palestinian child to be killed or arrested, for the next settlement to be built? The entire world knows that Jerusalem is the flame that can inspire peace and ignite war. Why then does the world stand still while the Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people in the city and in Muslim and Christian holy sites, notably Al-Haram al-Sharif, continue unabated? Israel’s actions and crimes not only destroy the two-state solution on 1967 borders and violate international law, they threaten to transform a solvable political conflict into a never-ending religious war that will undermine stability in a region already experiencing unprecedented turmoil.

      No people on the globe would accept to coexist with oppression. By nature, humans yearn for freedom, struggle for freedom, sacrifice for freedom, and the freedom of the Palestinian people is long overdue."

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   Because of the massive European role in the Holocaust combined with anti-Arab Orientalism or Islamaphobia, the usefulness of Israeli arms/trade and investment in Israel, the European powers have long hesitated to use their eyes (Obama has fought on Iran but continues to arm Israel - every helicopter in Occupied Palestine is an "Apache," the 19th century crime against indigenous Americans being repeated daily by settler Israel with American weapons, breeding hatred for the United States).  

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    The US elite was foolish enough to try to conquer the Middle East and "change regimes" by military force, but that Con, at great cost in human life and displacement, has deservedly failed.  Nonetheless, American and Israeli elite poison, the threat of larger external war (Netanyahu was baying to bring it on in Iran...) and the continued daily venom of the Occupation is making Israel untenable even within its pre-1967 borders.  Barghouti has long offered a straight agreement to Israel, based on Oslo, to avoid further killing.  It is not clear if given Israel's steady ethnic cleansing as well as wanton murder,  this proposal is still tenable,

   A single democracy with equal rights is vastly preferable to apartheid - what the Occupation now is - or a threatened Israel in a wider regional war, the one nuclear armed power in the Middle East, using nuclear weapons...

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     There is a meeting of the 4 great powers beginning Thursday.  Would that the Obama administration had the wisdom to push for what Barghouti suggests rather than being, as in all likelihood, the obstacle-in-chief (despite the courageous Iran agreement, the head of the Empire is often, to decent agreements or practices, the obstacle-in-chief, what the Right bays for...).

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     The words of a jailed Palestinian leader can be in a British paper but not, reported "in the paper of record..."

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    The courage of the new intifada, however, is real enough.  Ordinary Palestinians, driven by starvation and murder (what the Occupation is), are fighting back without major arms (though sometimes with knives and not nonviolently) against the second military power in the world.  The current Israeli government will respond, as in the periodic mass murders in Gaza, "mowings of the lawn," with brute force.  Shooting children for throwing rocks at the soldiers - the lovers of SS commander Heydrich might have spoken such words before Lidice...

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    Beneath the level of the US elite, even in America, Jewish students are joining with Palestinians and many others in the Boycott and Divestment movement. Patricia Cullors, a founder of Black Lives Matters - which has strong solidarity with the Palestinians - spoke eloquently at the recent Atlanta Conference to end the Occupation of Palestine.  

     Let us hope that Barghouti's words can be heard.

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Israeli occupation is root cause of Palestine conflict, says Marwan Barghouti 

There can be no negotiations without a clear Israeli commitment to fully withdraw from the Palestinian territory it occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; a complete end to all colonial policies; a recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people including their right to self-determination and return; and the release of all Palestinian prisoners. We cannot coexist with the occupation, and we will not surrender to it.

We were called upon to be patient, and we were, giving chance after chance to reach a peace agreement. Maybe it is useful to remind the world that our dispossession, forced exile and transfer, and oppression have now lasted for nearly 70 years. We are the only item to have stood on the UN’s agenda since its inception. We were told that by resorting to peaceful means and to diplomatic channels we would garner the support of the international community to end the occupation. And yet, as in 1999 at the close of the interim period, that community failed yet again to undertake any meaningful steps, neither setting up an international framework to implement international law and UN resolutions, nor enacting measures to ensure accountability, including boycott, divestment and sanctions, which played a crucial role in ridding the world of the apartheid regime.

So, in the absence of international action to end Israeli occupation and impunity or even provide protection, what are we asked to do? Stand by and wait for the next Palestinian family to be burned, for the next Palestinian child to be killed or arrested, for the next settlement to be built? The entire world knows that Jerusalem is the flame that can inspire peace and ignite war. Why then does the world stand still while the Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people in the city and in Muslim and Christian holy sites, notably Al-Haram al-Sharif, continue unabated? Israel’s actions and crimes not only destroy the two-state solution on 1967 borders and violate international law, they threaten to transform a solvable political conflict into a never-ending religious war that will undermine stability in a region already experiencing unprecedented turmoil.

No people on the globe would accept to coexist with oppression. By nature, humans yearn for freedom, struggle for freedom, sacrifice for freedom, and the freedom of the Palestinian people is long overdue. During the first intifada, the Israeli government launched a “break their bones to break their will” policy, but for generation after generation the Palestinian people have proven their will is unbreakable and needs not to be tested.

This new Palestinian generation has not awaited reconciliation talks to embody a national unity that political parties have failed to achieve, but has risen above political divides and geographic fragmentation. It has not awaited instructions to uphold its right, and its duty, to resist this occupation. It is doing so unarmed, while being confronted by one of the biggest military powers in the world. And yet, we remain convinced that freedom and dignity shall triumph, and we shall overcome. The flag that we raised with pride at the UN will one day fly over the walls of the old city of Jerusalem to signal our independence.

I joined the struggle for Palestinian independence 40 years ago, and was first imprisoned at the age of 15. This did not prevent me from pleading for peace in accordance with international law and UN resolutions. But Israel, the occupying power, has methodically destroyed this perspective year after year. I have spent 20 years of my life in Israeli jails, including the past 13 years, and these years have made me even more certain of this unalterable truth: the last day of occupation will be the first day of peace. Those who seek the latter need to act, and act now, to precipitate the former. 

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