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Date

September 21, 2011

Helen Thomas: I’m Not Antisemitic, I’m A Semite!

[youtube http://youtu.be/hPh—EShYU?]
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Gilad Atzmon: The Open Society and its Enemy Within

[youtube http://youtu.be/TNngjZ1COJA?]

This film is dedicated to the so-called Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists who were harassing and detracting us ahead of the Freiburg Conference (‘Palestine, Israel and Germany – Boundaries of Open Discussion). Ideally, we would like to see many Jews contributing to the discourse rather than attempting to dismantle it. However, we will prevail!!!

Another ‘Symbolic Victory’: Abbas’ New Political Gambit

Palestinians are fed up with symbolic victories. (UN Photo/file)

By Ramzy Baroud

 

When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided to go to the United Nations to request the admission of Palestine as a full member, he appeared to have had an epiphany. Had he finally realized that for the past two decades he and his party, Fatah, have gone down a road to nowhere?

That Israel was only interested in him as a conduit to achieve its colonial endeavor in the remaining 22 percent of historical Palestine? That his national project – predicated on the ever elusive “peace process” – achieved neither peace nor justice?

Abbas claims to be serious this time. Despite all US attempts at intimidation (for example, by threatening to withhold funds), and despite the intensifying of Israeli tactics (including the further arming of illegal Jewish settlers to combat possible Palestinian mobilization in the West Bank), Abbas simply could not be persuaded against seeking a UN membership this September.

“We are going to the Security Council. We need to have full membership in the United Nations… we need a state, and we need a seat at the UN,” Abbas told Palestinians in a televised speech on Sept. 16.

For months, Palestinian intellectuals, historians, legal experts and academicians have warned against Abbas’s haphazard, understudied move. Some have argued that if Abbas’ UN adventure is a tactical maneuver, its legal repercussions are too grave a price to pay for little or no returns. If “Palestine” replaces the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – currently recognized by the UN as the sole representative of the Palestinian people – then Palestinians risk losing the only unifying body they all have in common (its replacement representing only two million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank).

“Most damaging is that this initiative changes our ability as a people to represent the totality of our inalienable rights,” said Abdel Razzaq Takriti, activist and political historian at Oxford University (according to Ma’an news agency, Sept. 3).  “The simple act of replacing the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people with a state removes the claims of the PLO to sovereign status as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

The PLO, which for decades served as a bulwark of the Palestinian national struggle, continues to exist today, but only in theory. The PA, which was founded in 1994 as a temporary authority to oversee a Palestinian transition to statehood has slowly but decidedly hijacked and undercut PLO institutions.

More, the PA itself has neither legitimacy nor credibility. Whatever remained of the latter was lost during the Israeli war on Gaza and the publishing of the Palestine Papers by Al Jazeera and the Guardian. The papers showed that the very individuals now championing a Palestinian statehood bid at the UN once regularly collaborated with Israel to crack down on Palestinian resistance. They helped Israel undermine Palestinian democracy, isolate democratically-elected Hamas, give away the refugees’ right of return, and worse, deprive Palestinians from any meaningful sovereignty in occupied East Jerusalem.

As for its lack of legitimacy, the matter requires no leaked documents. In fact, Fatah’s refusal to concede to 2006 election results led to the circumstances that exasperated a civil war in Gaza. Gaza’s besiegement (a direct consequence of the elections and the civil war) continues to serve both Israel and the PA equally. The latter is functioning in the West Bank with no popular mandate, surviving on international handouts and “security coordination” with the Israeli Army. Even Abbas’s term as a president of the PA has expired.

All of this summons an urgent question: How can an authority that lacks the legal legitimacy as a representative of the Palestinian people take on a role that could change the course of the entire Palestinian national project?

A leaked legal opinion by Oxford University law professor Guy Goodwin-Gill warned of the legal consequences of Abbas’ bid, including the sidelining of the PLO. Goodwin-Gill intended to “flag the matters requiring attention, if a substantial proportion of the people are not to be accidentally disenfranchised.” An equally worrisome issue is the PA’s history of acting in ways that contradict the interests of the Palestinian people. Years of such experience left most Palestinians with significantly less land and greatly reduced rights. On the other hand, a small segment of the Palestinian population prospered. Evidently, the “new rich” of Palestine were all affiliated with the PA, Fatah and the very few on top.

This iniquitous situation would have easily continued were it not for the so-called Arab Spring, which began demolishing the status quo governing Arab countries. Abbas’ corrupt regime was also a member of the ailing Arab political apparatus. Its existence, like others, was propped by American or other Western support. In order to avoid brewing anger in Palestine and the region, the Palestinian leadership was forced to present itself as breaking away from the old paradigm.

More, the “the PA feels abandoned by the US which assigned it the role of collaborator with the Israeli occupation, and feels frozen in a “peace process” that does not seek an end goal,” according to Joseph Massad in Al Jazeera. “PA politicians opted for the UN vote to force the hand of the Americans and the Israelis, in the hope that a positive vote will grant the PA more political power and leverage to maximize its domination of the West Bank.”

The reasons behind the PA bid for statehood range between tactical politics (involving Israel and the US) and diverting attention from the PA’s own failures. The elitist politics almost complete discount the Palestinian people. If Palestinians truly mattered to Abbas, he would have started by unifying Palestinian factions, reenergizing (as opposed to stifling) civil society, and setting in motion the process needed to reform the PLO (as opposed to destroying its hard-earned international legitimacy).

“It is evident that Palestine needs newly elected leadership through an inclusive democratic process encompassing all Palestinians, not just those in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” wrote leading Palestinian historian Salman Abu Sitta in the Middle East Monitor (July 10, 2011). This, in fact, should be the task at hand, not wasting time and energy pursing political gambits, which, at best will only yield symbolic victories.

Indeed, the Palestinian people are fed up with symbolic victories. They may have guaranteed Abbas and his men all the trappings of power, but they have failed to reclaim even one inch of occupied Palestine.

– Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), available on Amazon.com.

Palestinian Youth Movement : Statement on the September 2011 Declaration of Statehood

We, in the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), stand steadfastly against the proposal for Palestinian statehood recognition based on 1967 borders that is to be presented to the United Nations this September by the Palestinian official leadership. We believe and affirm that the statehood declaration only seeks the completion of the normalization process, which began with faulty peace agreements. The initiative does not recognize nor address that our people continue to live within a settler colonial regime premised on the ethnic cleansing of our land and subordination and exploitation of our people.

This declaration serves as a mechanism for rescuing the faulty peace framework and depoliticizing the struggle for Palestine by removing the struggle from its historical colonial context. The attempts to impose a false peace with the normalizing of the colonial regime has only led us to surrender increasing amounts of our land, the rights of our people, and our aspirations by delegitimizing and marginalizing our people’s struggle and deepening the fragmentation and division of our people. This declaration jeopardizes the rights and aspirations of over two-thirds of the Palestinian people who live as refugees in countries of refuge and in exile, to return to their original homes from which they were displaced in the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe) and subsequently since then. It also jeopardizes the position of the Palestinians residing in the 1948 occupied territories who continue to resist daily against the ethnic cleansing and racial practices from inside the colonial regime. Furthermore, it corroborates and empowers its Palestinian and Arab partners to act as the gatekeepers to the occupation and the colonization of the region within a neo-colonial framework.
The foundation of this process serves as nothing more than to ensure the continuity of negotiations, economic and social normalization, and security cooperation. The state declaration will solidify falsified borders on only a sliver of historic Palestine and still does not address the most fundamental issues: Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, political prisoners, occupation, borders and resource control. We believe such a state declaration will not ensure nor promote justice and freedom for Palestinians, which inherently means there will be no sustainable peace in the region.
Additionally, this state declaration initiative is being presented to the United Nations by a Palestinian leadership that is illegitimate and has not been elected to be in a position of representation of the Palestinian people in its totality through any democratic means by its people. This proposal is a political production designed by them to hide behind their failure to represent the needs and desires of their people. By claiming to fulfill the Palestinian will for self-determination, this leadership is misusing and exploiting the resistance and sacrifices of the Palestinian people, particularly our brothers and sisters in Gaza, and even hijacking the grassroots international solidarity work, such as Boycott Divestment and Sanctions efforts and the flotilla initiatives. This proposal only serves to squander all efforts made to isolate the colonial regime and hold it accountable.
Whether the proposal for statehood recognition is accepted or not, we call on Palestinians inside our occupied homeland and in countries of refuge and exile to remain committed and convicted to the worthiness of our struggle and inspired by their rights and responsibilities to defend it. We call on the free people of the world and the Palestinian people’s allies, to truly practice solidarity with the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle by not taking a position on the state declaration but rather continuing to hold Israel accountable by means of Boycott in all forms economically, academically, and culturally, Divestment and Sanctions.
Until Return and Liberation,
International Central Council
Palestinian Youth Movement

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