2014, a year of Palestinian collective resistance
In terms of losses in human lives, 2014 has been a horrific year for Palestinians
In terms of losses in human lives, 2014 has been a horrific year for Palestinians, surpassing the horrors of both 2008 and 2009, when an Israeli war against the Gaza Strip killed and wounded thousands. While some aspects of the conflict are stagnating between a corrupt, ineffectual Palestinian Authority (PA), and the criminality of Israeli wars and occupation, it would also be fair to argue that 2014 was also a game changer to some degree — and it is not all bad news.
Here are some reasons that support the argument that things are changing.
A different kind of Palestinian unity
Although the two leading Palestinian parties Hamas and Fatah agreed to a unity government in April, little has changed on the ground. Yes, a government was officially established in June, and held its first meeting in October. But Gaza is effectively still managed by Hamas. Perhaps Mahmoud Abbas’s authority is hoping that the massive destruction would weaken Hamas into political submission, especially as Egypt continues to seal the Rafah border.
But while the factions are failing to unite, the Israeli war on Gaza has inspired a new impetus of struggle in the West Bank. Some speculate the situation will eventually lead to a massive Intifada that will engulf all of the territories. Whether a third Intifada takes place in 2015 or not, is a different question. What matters is that the long-orchestrated plot to divide Palestinians is breaking apart and a new collective narrative of a common struggle against occupation is finally forming.
A new resistance paradigm
The debate regarding what form of resistance Palestinians should or should not adopt is being sidelined and settled, not by international do-gooders, but by Palestinians themselves. They are opting to use whatever effective form of resistance they can that that could deter Israeli military advances, as resistance groups have actively done in Gaza. Although Israel’s latest war killed nearly 2,200 and wounded over 11,000 Palestinians that were mostly civilians, nevertheless, it has still failed to achieve any of its declared or implied objectives.
While Israel brutalized civilians, the resistance killed 70 Israelis, over 60 of whom were soldiers; this was also an important step testifying to the maturity of Palestinian resistance, which had previously targeted civilians during the second Intifada and reflected more desperation rather than a winning strategy. The legitimization of the resistance was to a degree, reflected in the recent decision by the European court to remove Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations.
BDS normalizes debate on Israeli crimes
Another form of resistance is crystalizing in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which continues to grow, gathering steam, supporters and constant achievements. Not only was 2014 a year in which BDS managed to win the support of numerous civil society organizations, academicians, scientists, celebrities and to reach out to people from all walks of life, it did something else that is equally important: It normalized the debate on Israel in many circles around the world. While any criticism of Israel was considered a taboo in yesteryears, it has been forever broken. 2014 has been a year that made the discussion of boycotting Israel more mainstream than ever before.
Parliaments are feeling the heat
While, traditionally, much of the southern hemisphere offered unconditional support for Palestinians, the West conceitedly stood with Israel. Following the Oslo accords, a bewildering European position evolved, where they flirted with finding the “balance” between an occupied nation and the occupier. At times, the EU timidly criticized the Israeli occupation, while continuing to be one of Israel’s largest trade partners, providing weapons to the Israeli army, who then use them to carry out war crimes in Gaza and sustain its military occupation in the West Bank.
This debauched policy is being challenged by citizens of various European countries. A spate of parliamentary votes followed, overwhelmingly voting to recognize Palestine as a state. While these decisions remain largely symbolic, they represent an unmistakable shift in EU attitude toward Israel.
Israel’s democracy exposed
For decades, Israel defined itself as both a democratic and Jewish state. While Palestinians and many others were never sold on the democracy charade, many accepted the dichotomy with little questioning.
While Israel doesn’t have a constitution, it has a “code,” called the Basic Law. Since there is no Israeli equivalent to a “constitutional amendment” — the Netanyahu government is pushing for a new law at the Knesset. This will basically put forth new principals under which Israel will define itself. One of these principals will define Israel as “the national state of the Jewish people,” thus casting all non-Jewish citizens of Israel as lesser citizens. The Jewish and democratic paradigm is dying for good, exposing Israel’s reality.
The year ahead
Certainly, 2015 will bring much of the same: The PA will fight for its own existence, and try to maintain its privileges, bestowed by Israel, the U.S. and others by using every tool available; Israel will also remain emboldened by American funds and unconditional support and military backing.
Yes, the next year will also prove frustratingly familiar in that regard. But the new, real and opposing momentum will unlikely cease, challenging and exposing the Israeli occupation, on one hand, and sidestepping the ineffectual, self-serving Palestinian Authority on the other. 2014 was a very painful year for Palestine, but also a year in which the collective resistance of the Palestinian people, and their supporters, proved too strong to bend or break. And in that, there can be much solace.
Palestinian-American journalist, author, editor, Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) taught Mass Communication at Australia's Curtin University of Technology, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle. Baroud's work has been published in hundreds of newspapers and journals worldwide and his books “His books “Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion” and “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle” have received international recognition. Baroud’s third book, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story” narrates the story of the life of his family, used as a representation of millions of Palestinians in Diaspora, starting in the early 1940’s until the present time.
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