Itâ€™s never easy, although a sure assertion, to maintain that the Palestinian front, at home as well as abroad remains as fragmented and self-consumed, thus ineffective, as ever before, but most notably during the disastrous post-Oslo period.
Such a realization wouldnâ€™t mean much if the inference is concerned with any other polity; but when itâ€™s made in regards to a nation that is facing an active campaign of ethnic cleansing at home, and an international campaign of sanctions and boycott â€“ as shameful as this may sound â€“ then, the problem is both real and urgent.
Palestinians in the West Bank, especially in areas that are penetrated by the imposing Israeli imprisonment wall â€“ mostly in the north and west, and increasingly everywhere else – are losing their land, their rights, their freedoms and their livelihood at an alarming speed, unprecedented in their tumultuous history with the Israeli military occupation. The 700 kilometre wall, once completed, will further fragment the already splintered West Bank â€“ Israelâ€™s settlement project since 1967 has disfigured the West Bank using Jews-only bypass roads, military zones and so forth, to ensure the viability of the countryâ€™s colonization scheme, but rendered Palestinian areas disunited and isolated, thus the entire two state solution, under the current circumstances simply inconceivable.
Gaza, which Yitzhak Rabin had once wished would sink into the sea, and which Israel has laboured to dump on any one foolish enough to take responsibility for it – so long as itâ€™s not part of any comprehensive agreement that would include Jerusalem and the West Bank – maintains its â€˜open air prisonâ€™ status. Palestinians there are being reduced to malnourished refugees, manipulated into violence and discord, a spectacle that
Occupied East Jerusalem has completely surrendered territorially to the Israeli colonial scheme; the Israeli government insistently refuses to consider
Other major issues such as settlements, water, refugees, borders, etc, continue to be dictated by
It must also be acknowledged, as uncomfortable as this may be to some, that the Palestinian democratic experience is rapidly succumbing to Israeli pressures, American meddling â€“ tacitly or otherwise coordinated with Arab as well as other governments â€“ and the fractious Palestinian front that has been for decades permeated with ideological exclusivism, cronyism, and corruption. Though one cannot help but rail against the American governmentâ€™s abortion of what could have been the prize of Arab democracy, still, the joint American-Israeli anti-democratic scheme wouldâ€™ve faced utter defeat if Palestinian ranks where united, rather than self absorbed.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization, since its formation by the Arab League in 1964, but most significantly since its reformation in the early 1970s under Palestinian leadership, was for long regarded as the main body that eventually brought to the fore the Palestinian struggle as â€“ more than a mere question of a humanitarian issue that needed redress â€“ a national fight for freedom and rights. There was, more or less, a national movement that spoke and represented Palestinians everywhere. It gave the Palestinian struggle greater urgency, one that was lost, or willingly conceded by Arafat on the White House lawn in September 1993, and again in
Aside from snuffing out the Palestinian national project, reducing it to self autonomous areas, rendering irrelevant millions of Palestinians, mostly refugees, scattered around the world â€“ thus demoting the international status of the PLO into a mere symbolic organization, Oslo had given rise to a new type of thinking in the rank of Palestinians adopted by those who see themselves as pragmatic and whose language is that of real politic and diplomacy. This, as it transpired, revealed itself as the most woeful case of self-defeatism that continues to permeate most Palestinian circles whose new â€˜strategyâ€™ is confined to the acquiring of qualified funds from European countries, which eventually dotted the West Bank with NGOs, mostly without a clear purpose, examined agenda and no coordination. Involving oneself in such useless projects is ineffectual, while rejecting them without a clear alternative can be equally frustrating, if not demoralizing. An official within the Abbas circle chastised me during a long airplane ride once for subscribing to the Edward Saidâ€™s school, whose followers, I was told, wish to parrot criticism from the outside, and refrain from â€œgetting their hands dirtyâ€, i.e. getting involved in the Palestinian Authorityâ€™s institution building, and so forth.
While such a claim is utterly fabricated, no viable institution can possibly come out of the current setting: an amalgam of a most violent occupation and the utter internal corruption, sanctioned, if not fed by both
The problem is indeed more exhaustive than a mere ideological or even personal quarrels between two rival political parties; rather, itâ€™s an expression of a prevailing Palestinian factionalism that seems to consume members of various Palestinian communities regardless of where they are based. My frequent visits and involvement in many activities organized by Palestinian groups seem to leave me with the same unpleasant feeling: that there is no collective national strategy, but incoherent actions undertaken mostly by groups, however well intended, whose work never boasts a unified national agenda.
With the absence of centrality everywhere, individuals hoping to fill the vacuum are offering their own solutions to the conflict, once more without any serious or coordinated efforts and without a grassroots constituency, neither in the
-Ramzy Baroud is an Arab American writer. His latest book: The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a Peopleâ€™s Struggle is now available. His website is ramzybaroud.net.