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The Problem with ‘Recognizing’ Palestine

The latest move by Britain and France to ‘recognize’ Palestine is another fabrication by the two colonial powers that perpetuates the travesty of justice in relation to Palestine committed by the same two – the Nakba of the Palestinian people.

Following Sweden’s unexpected decision to ‘recognize’ Palestine that followed with the typical staunch intimidation attempts and protest by Israel and the United States over the decision1, Britain and France have decided to navigate in the same direction in terms of ‘recognition’ of Palestine. It is without a doubt that public opinion has shifted and continues to shift with respect to the question of Palestine, especially exacerbated by the disturbing savagery of Israel’s incremental genocide demonstrated during Operation Protective Edge. However, the whole issue of ‘recognition’ of Palestine especially by Britain and France who have seized this opportunity prompted by Sweden has a deeper and more profound long term affect due to its shortsightedness as well as the diverting essence behind ‘recognition’ and its relation to the sacredness of public opinion and historical narrative.

Over two decades after the Nakba-the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians that occurred in 1948 which included the destruction of 531 villages, massacres such as Deir Yassin and mass rapes of the population2, Golda Meir- fourth prime minister of Israel at the time stated “it was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them: they did not exist.”3 The logic of denial is one out of many logics of a settler colonial state fuelled by the Doctrine of Discovery, whereby the historical narrative presented to international public opinion and future generations is that Palestine was “discovered” as it was ‘a land with no people for a people without a land.’ This logic through which Palestine and Palestinians are perceived continues to date from similar statements as Golda Meir made by former United States Republican candidate Newt Gingrich who claims that Palestinians are an “invented” people.4 It is precisely this logic of denial and Doctrine of Discovery that is embedded in the decisions in relation to the basis of ‘recognizing’ Palestine. ‘Recognizing’ Palestine and Palestinians means that they did not exist before, meaning that they were discovered only recently; after Operation Protective Edge and therefore the “discovery” of Palestine is the basis of the recognition which reinforces Israel’s historical narrative that there was no Palestine or Palestinians prior to their established state; reinforcing a continued Nakba in the name of justice and peace. Furthermore, recognizing Palestine and the Palestinians means Palestine only exists within the 1967 borders that are in actuality evaporating and disappearing as we speak due to the continued colonization and land seizures. Furthermore, what does this recognition mean for the Palestinians of 1948? Have they disappeared or should we consider them non-existent? Considering them non-existent or disappeared means that we are also considering the root of Palestine in the same way which also means that if there are no roots, then Palestine is being “discovered” which includes roots as a result of this synchronic as opposed to diachronic thinking; thereby defeating the purpose and reinforcing the colonial dynamics in relation to this context.

The reality is there is nothing to discover about Palestine and the Palestinians, as Palestinians know who they are and why they are here. The Zionist movement’s foundation knows whether they like it or not that Palestine was not discovered and rather already existed as outlined in the Zionist colonization framework within the Basle Program at the First Zionist Congress in 18975; thereby simultaneously needing to in actuality discover methods of conduct for the erasure of Palestine and the Palestinians for the Zionists to exist and legitimize their historical narrative that has corrupted international public opinion; explaining why they have demanded their right to exist from the Palestinians during the Oslo Accords; and now demanding to be recognized as a ‘Jewish’ State. Palestine and Palestinians do not want recognition for their “discovery” because they were never “discovered” in the first place. What Palestinians want and trying to fight for is recovery as opposed to discovery. It is about recovering from the historical and continuous attempts of erasing Palestine and the Palestinians; their history, culture and way of life which continues to date with the Judaisation of the land.6 In fact, existence in these circumstances since the Nakba both historical and contemporary7 has been our resistance signifying and reinforcing the fact that there is nothing to discover as our existence surpassed any genocidal campaign to demonstrate otherwise; latest being the steadfastness of Hamas in resisting and standing up against our erasure.

Given the above mentioned information, the British and French ought to discover that Israel is a terrorist settler colonial state, guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and built on the past and present continuum of colonization and oppression of the Palestinians through the Nakba. They ought to discover that the ideological regime embedded in the state apparatus of the State of Israel is fuelled by Zionism; a racist political ideology illegal under international law as per United Nations Resolution 3379; a resolution later abrogated by the United States. They ought to discover that ‘recognizing’ Palestine and the Palestinians is reinforcing the Nakba, the collusion to the incremental genocide and most importantly the enabling of a warped historical narrative; part of the Zionist strategy also known as “memorycide.”

If the British and French want to recognize anything in relation to Palestine; they can begin with recognizing their responsibility and be held accountable for giving birth to the problem in the first place starting with Napoleon’s presence in the region from 1799 and then by the British 30 years later until their withdrawal from the region in 1947 which included the handing of the matter to the United Nations that same year.8 Furthermore, the British and French should recognize and be held responsible and accountable for the aftermath of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, a secret agreement between the British and French in relation to splitting the Middle East region post World War I that placed historic Palestine under the British Mandate. Last but not least, the British in particular ought to recognize their responsibility and be held accountable for the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which officially promised the land of Palestine- held by them post Sykes-Picot Agreement- to the Zionist movement. Most importantly, as a result of the said facts; the said powers have to acknowledge, take responsibility and accountability for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948; which has continued to this day through the various bureaucratic and military means. This is the true recognition of Palestine and the Palestinians- recognizing the Nakba and its consequences as opposed to it’s omittance from any process towards justice and peace.

Once this true recognition of Palestine and the Palestinians is adhered to, the process of going from discovery to recovery starts with recovering justice and the rule of law beginning with the reparations process in the form of restitution including the right of return of the Palestinians to the land. It is about recovering the annexed and colonized lands and properties that continues to date as I write while the British and French are busy ‘recognizing.’ It is about recovering the well being and lives of those affected, perished, or been victimized by the criminality of Israel all these years and continue to, with criminal adventures like Operation Protective Edge.

During the United Nations General Assembly Meeting held on November 13th 1974, former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat stated in his speech: “Today I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter’s gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat, do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”- The British and French were clearly not listening. It is time that they do.

Ahmad Moussa is a Palestinian-Canadian writer and Visiting Professor at the University of Duhok, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Notes

1 http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/10/israel-protests-over-sweden-palestine-plan-2014106133337653319.html

2 https://www.scribd.com/doc/36703781/Ilan-Pappe-The-Ethnic-Cleansing-of-Palestine-full-copy

3 http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/201391282358965793.html

4 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/dec/10/palestinians-invented-people-newt-gingrich

5 http://www.azm.org/basel-program-1897/

6 http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/10/jerusalem-simmering-over-judaisation-plan-2014101364013133843.html

7 http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/05/al-nakba-not-over-2014515121133472960.html

8 http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2013/05/20135612348774619.html

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Ahmad Moussa is a Palestinian-Canadian writer, scholar and international human rights activist. 

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