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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Minute Musings: On Why the United States Should Launch a Tomahawk Strike on Puerto Rico
Tom Clifford
The Return of “Mein Kampf” … in Japan
Todd Larsen
Concerned About Climate Change? Change Where You Bank!
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Brexit: Britain’s Opening to China?
John Hutchison
Everything Old is New Again: a Brief Retrospectus on Korea and the Cold War
Michael Brenner
The Ghost in the Dream Machine
Yves Engler
The Military Occupation of Haiti
Christopher Brauchli
Guardians of Lies
James Preece
How Labour Can Win the Snap Elections
Cesar Chelala
Preventing Disabilities in the Elderly
Sam Gordon
From We Shall Overcome to Where Have all the Flowers Gone?
Charles Thomson
It’s Still Not Too Late to Deserve Your CBE, Chris Ofili
Louis Proyect
Documentaries That Punch
Charles R. Larson
Review: Vivek Shanbhag’s “Ghachar Ghochar”
David Yearsley
Raiding the Tomb of Lubitsch
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail