By Joharah Baker
The best way to be objective is to take a step back from your own involvement in a situation and look inward. As tough as this may be, many Palestinians have begun to do just that, at least to assess what more can or cannot be done to reach their goals.
Objectively, I ask myself this same question. As a leadership, a people and even as a revolution, the question churns in my – and I am sure many others – head as to what more can the Palestinians do to fulfill their goal of a Palestinian state. Internal problems aside – that is something we Palestinians will have to handle all by ourselves – I believe there is not much more we can do short of total surrender. And that, my friends, is not an option.
Mostly, the question needs to be directed at the international community – to the western countries in particular, sans Israel of course because it has no intention of aiding the Palestinians in their quest for statehood. What is required of the Palestinians? Is it entrance into a peace process? Been there, done that. Is it a renunciation of violence? Check. Is it accepting a state on 22 percent of historical Palestine? Double check. Now, still living under Israeli military occupation for 45 years, not to mention the original disaster of 1948, the question remains just as raw and just as valid as it was when Palestine was first lost to us.
To look back at the timeline of the Palestinian revolution one would be amazed at the leaps and bounds it has taken. What began as a vow to liberate all of Palestine by armed struggle has morphed into a call for a truncated Palestinian state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, a morsel of what was originally Palestine before the 1948 war.
Today, the Palestinians, who have accepted a government without a state and an Authority without sovereignty, are caught in political limbo. Neither can they go back to armed struggle and wear the hat of a revolutionary movement, nor can they assume the guise of an independent state and government that has complete control over their fate. They are both and they are neither and it has taken a heavy toll. The question is, why are they still under occupation? Stateless? Shunned?
Take resistance for example. International law guarantees the right of an occupied people to resist their occupation by any means. This was frowned upon by the world, so the Palestinian leadership took on a more ‘acceptable’ form: popular peaceful resistance. Palestinians and the international activists who come in solidarity with them face down heavily armed Israeli soldiers and settlers with nothing more than their courage, their determination and their belief in the cause. They get killed, injured, kicked out and imprisoned and still the world has little to say. Meanwhile, settlements – clearly illegal under international law, are allowed to flourish and to spread like a brushfire. To this atrocity, the world shakes its head a bit, calls the violations “concerning” and turns a blind eye.
It all comes down to this question: If the world believes that the Palestinians have a right to exist and to live in dignity in their own independent Palestinian state, what more do they want from us?
This is a crucial question, now more than ever. Over 2,000 prisoners are waging a tremendously brave battle inside Israeli prisons – some are close to death from hunger strike (yet another peaceful means of resistance that has not received the attention and respect it deserves) and all have said they will not stop until their demands are met. If prisoners begin to die, all bets are off. There is no telling what reaction this will generate or what tables this will turn. If their sons and daughters starve to death, the Palestinians – leadership and people – will no longer be asking the world what else they can do. If that rage is unleashed, the world will only have itself to blame.
Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at [email protected]