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Date posted: November 20, 2006
By Khalil Nakhleh

“Strategies to end the Israeli Occupation”

First, let me start with the assumption that you are here because you believe that injustice has been done against the Palestinian people, and you are committed to do something about it.

To be fair to your commitment, and to help move the discussion forward, I shall focus in this presentation, not on the analysis and dissection of the current political situation, and why we are at this impassable point in our struggle, but on elements of a strategy that could break this engulfing vicious cycle in which we find ourselves. Today, in the age of lightening electronic communications and unhindered information, there is more and more accessible, reliable and critical information, and more and more insightful and daring analyses to which one could return. So you, as well as I, can easily retrieve that information, if interested.

However, the back side of the readily available huge body of information and analyses lies in the difficulty of discernment and discrimination between real and fictitious issues, primary and secondary, marginal and essential, official and people, etc. Constantly, we need to keep reminding ourselves of the real issue of the struggle, as if we have to keep peeling off the artificial layers that were piled on it to meet the interests of the different parties.

The main issue

The main issue of the struggle, as I see it, is that a colonial-settler movement—Zionism— has been embarking for nearly a century on ethnically cleansing the land of Palestine of its native population, by various coercive and illegal means, combining military, economic, legal, psychological, and environmental. This resulted in the forceful transformation of the native population of Palestine into: groups of dispersed refugees outside their land; groups of internally displaced persons on their land; groups who have been relegated to a status of second class citizens, unwelcome foreigners in their home land (the Palestinian communities in Israel); and groups who have been subjected to a prolonged and relentless military and economic occupation by Israel for nearly 40 years (the Palestinian communities in the West Bank of the Jordan River, East Jerusalem and Gaza). This comprehensive view ought to help us set the actual parameters of the struggle in which we have been engaged over half a century, and strategies for how to proceed.

Thus, it should be emphasized that:

  • This is not a religious struggle, or a struggle between 2 religiously-based opposing ideologies;
  • This is not a struggle between those who believe that Israeli citizens have a right to exist in an independent state, abiding by international conventions and agreements, free from oppression and persecution, and those who don’t;
  • This is not merely a struggle to find temporary arrangements for how to end military occupation, or minimize its deleterious effects on the Palestinian population under occupation, that started in 1967;
  • Contrary to public opinion and perception, this is not just a struggle to gain freedom for the Palestinians from Israeli occupation, however limited and truncated, and to achieve independent living, however curtailed, over limited areas of historical Palestine;
  • But this is, and ought to be, a struggle against the structure that allows and condones the occupation and suppression of the other; a structure whose basis is a system of apartheid and an ideology of exclusion; a structure that is nurtured by an insatiable ideology and practice of ethnic cleansing and population transfer, in order to achieve “Jewish purity” in the land of Palestine.
Elements of a strategy

To respond to this grave and threatening challenge, I propose what may be the elements of a strategy, for your reflection and discussion:

  1. I am proposing the launching of people’s strategy. The purpose of this strategy is not merely to end the present military occupation of parts of Palestine, but to work against the prevalent structure of occupation, seeking the dismantlement of its apartheid, exclusionary ideology, that is premised on ethnic cleansing and population transfer of non-Jews.

  2. To achieve this goal, I see 2 levels of struggle: an internal level centered in the land of Palestine/Israel, and an external level centered in different locales in the rest of the world, focusing on areas where Jewish presence is high and politically involved in what happens in our region, and specifically, but not exclusively, in the USA. At this level, Americans who are opposed to the structure of Israeli occupation in Palestine are urged to coalesce with like-minded Jews in that country. They then, individuals and groups, become the external nucleus that spearheads the dismantlement of the apartheid structure of occupation.

  3. The “internal level” is to set the tone of the struggle, and to reverse it from its current, inert, “reactive” mode to a genuine “proactive” mode. The internal level should set the agenda and its tone for the rest of the world. It should be the primary and critical level.

  4. At the internal level: there ought to be a purposeful coalition of all internal forces who are committed to stand genuinely against the structure and ideology of occupation, which are premised on ethnic cleansing and population transfer, and the abhorrent and racist, so called, “demographic formula”.

  5. This coalition should not be exclusionary; it should include all committed forces to this approach: Israeli Jews, Muslim Palestinians, Christian Palestinians, secular Israelis, secular Palestinians, etc.

  6. The uniting platform of this coalition should have a clear and unambiguous commitment against the Israeli structure and ideology of occupation, and should work to dismantle it. This must be so, if we are seeking a just and sustained resolution to this historical conflict, irrespective of how politically unpopular these concepts are, or how unacceptable they are to the ears of the so-called “international community”, who has been usurped successfully by the US, under the threat of brute power and economic sanctions.

  7. I propose that this “coalition of the committed” should discard and reject the often repeated slogan of 2 – state solution, which has become inane, redundant, unrealizable, and totally undermined by internationally sanctioned Israeli apartheid policies. I propose, further, that this 2-state objective should be rejected because it is unjust, unresponsive to people’s need for freedom, independent living, and their right for unfettered development, and because it legitimizes historical and ongoing stealing of the lands of indigenous Palestinian communities.

  8. I propose, furthermore, that the so called 2-state solution should be discarded and rejected, because it maintains existing racist and oppressive policies, and is premised on the concepts of exclusion, population transfer, ethnic cleansing, ghettoization of local communities, and artificial separation of the people—all the people—in the land of Palestine/Israel.

  9. I propose that this “coalition of the committed” should struggle to transform the present land of Palestine/Israel into a democratic, just domain, where the people of the area—all the people—can live free, independent, and equal, and are allowed to exercise all their rights. Then, let the people chose what to call this domain. Once we achieve this, we would have succeeded in liberating our minds!

Implications of this strategy

  1. This is a people’s strategy that defies current official positions on all sides, undermines them, and seeks to transform them in harmony with people’s aspirations and needs.

  2. This approach exposes the redundant, superfluous and hollow official claims and negotiation premises that have been circulating over the last 15 years, and shows how barren and impractical they are.

  3. People’s strategy can be, and would likely be undermined, coerced and interrupted by adversary official power; therefore we should expect it to be a prolonged struggle with little, if any, immediate results. On the other hand, such people’s strategy can turn into a powerful driving force, coalescing people, hitherto un-coalesced, and liberating their minds.

  4. Such people’s strategy can generate new, innovative and sustainable lines of power and commitment.

Finally, your commitment to be involved in this difficult and protracted struggle, to end occupation, apartheid, and injustice, and to circumvent actions of illegal population transfer, displacement and ethnic cleansing—in short, the liberation of the mind and the land—is the essence of liberation theology …

Thank you for being engaged.
Ramallah, Palestine
November 2006

Source: Sabeel, 6 November. 2006
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