FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Post ‘Arab Spring’ Palestine

by RAMZY BAROUD

Will the Arab Spring serve the cause of Palestine?” is a question that has been repeatedly asked, in various ways, over the last year and a half. Many media discussions have been formulated around this very inquiry, although the answer is far from a simple “yes” or “no.”

Why should the question be asked in the first place? Hasn’t the Arab link to the Palestinian struggle been consistently strong, regardless of the prevalent form of government in any single Arab country? Rhetorically, at least, the Arab bond to Palestine remained incessantly strong at every significant historical turn.

True, disparity between rhetoric and reality are as old as the Arab-Israeli conflict. But the relatively small divide between words and actions widened enormously following the Arab defeat in the 1967 war, which cemented US-Israeli ties like never before.

The war brought an end to the dilemma of independent Palestinian action. It shifted the focus to the West Bank and Gaza, and allowed the still dominant Fatah party to fortify its position in light of Arab defeat and subsequent division.

The division was highlighted most starkly in the August 1967 Khartoum summit in Sudan, where Arab leaders clashed over priorities and definitions. Should Israel’s territorial gains redefine the status quo? Should Arabs focus on returning to a pre-1948 or pre-1967 situation?

The PLO insisted that the 1967 defeat should not compromise the integrity of the struggle. It also stressed that Palestine – all of Palestine – was still the pressing issue. Then-Egyptian President Jamal Abdel Nasser’s messages seemed, for once, befuddled, although he continued to advocate conventional military confrontation with Israel. Syria, on the other hand, didn’t attend the summit.

International response to the war was not promising either. The United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 242 on Nov. 22, 1967, reflecting the US’ wish to capitalize on the new status quo (Israeli withdrawal “from occupied territories” in exchange for normalization with Israel). The new language of the immediate post-1967 period alarmed Palestinians, who realized that any future political settlement was likely to ignore the situation that had existed prior to the war, and would only attempt to remedy current grievances. Then, the boundaries of the conflict permanently changed. For some, Palestine and its conflict became more of a burden than a shared responsibility. Official Arab solidarity with Palestinians become a form of everyday politics – essential to claim relevance to greater Arab causes, but extraneous in terms of substance and application.

Present-day Palestinian leaderships – since there are several bodies that claim to represent Palestinians “everywhere” – also learned how to stage-manage official Arab manipulation of Palestine. They often did so out of desperation, as they urgently needed a physical base and sources of financial support.

Over time, it became clear that official Arab solidarity with Palestine was mostly – although not entirely – a farce. The solidarity they speak of is either entirely nonexistent, or grossly misrepresented. Palestinian communities in various Arab countries are treated with suspicion at best. Those who never tired of publicly calling for freedom for Jerusalem failed to treat Palestinian refugees with respect. They refused entry to stateless Palestinians and denied Palestinians work and permanent residence. Many Palestinians surely concluded that one must learn to differentiate between Arab peoples and Arab governments. Since the latter mostly dominate the former without legitimate mandate, it was foolish to expect official Arab institutions to lead any substantive action to end the subjugation of Palestinians.

That is, until several Arab nations revolted. The more genuine and inclusive the revolt, the more representative the outcome has been. A sudden surge in popular solidarity with Palestine in Tunisia replaced bashful but real atbodyts by the former Tunisian regime to normalize relations with Israel.

Per Israeli calculations, Arab peoples are dismissible. They are a non-entity. But now Israel is forced to revisit that old calculation. Its fears that Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Mursi will shun, or at least revisit the Camp David peace treaty – signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979, with the ultimate aim of sidelining Egypt from a conflict that remains essentially “Arab” – are well-founded. But Mursi is not the one that is truly feared, and nor is his Muslim Brotherhood. The trepidation stems from the fact that a truly democratic Egypt is unlikely to work in tandem with US-Israel to further pressure and isolate Palestinians – or sideline Egypt from its Arab context. Israel and its allies fear genuine Egyptian democracy.

With the notable shifts that may redefine Palestine’s position within Arab priorities, one cannot ignore the fact that several Arab countries continue to normalize with Israel, oblivious to any seasonable political changes in the region. They do so as if there are hidden hands that wish to balance the possible losses in Tunisia and Egypt, with gains elsewhere. Palestinians in Gaza, as elsewhere, still speak of Arab solidarity with passion, but also with obvious bitterness. They still pray for their brethren to come to the rescue. The older generation speaks of the bravery and sacrifices of many Arabs who fought alongside Palestinians. But the generational expectations have also been altered. Palestinians simply want real solidarity. They want to see Palestinian communities treated with respect and a complete end to Arab normalization with Israel.

Ramzy Baroud is editor of PalestineChronicle.com. He is the author of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle  and  “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London). 

 

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

More articles by:
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail