Fragmented and Under Attack
Modern day Palestine is a checkerboard of a nation, cruelly contorted across continents. As a result of colonial land theft and illegal settler occupation, Palestine now comprises four parts: the West Bank, Ghazzah, the 48 and the diaspora.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics’ most recent census there are approximately 15 million Palestinians worldwide: 3.2 million in the West Bank, 2.2 million in Ghazzah, and 1.8 million inside 48 Palestine (unceded land renamed Israel). A further 8 million form the diaspora, with 7 million residing primarily as refugees in the Middle East and North Africa, and 1 million living in other countries around the world. Palestine is a fragmented nation but not a fragmented identity.
Like any oppressed people the notion of justice plays large in the Palestinian identity. Over the years Palestinians have pursued justice through various means: negotiation, civil disobedience, direct action, and armed resistance. The saddest part of their struggle is that they have repeatedly been sacrificed by foreign governments who were motivated by self-interest. The pursuit of lasting justice and freedom has fallen to the Palestinians alone.
Colonial Blind Spot
Indigenous people know. They know uprisings and resistance and demands for life and liberty are a surprise to no-one – except the coloniser. Abolitionist educator, organiser, and writer Geo Maher calls this phenomenon the colonial blind spot. He describes it as a self-imposed impediment where “the more oppressive and expansive the colonial power, the lesser-than-human the colonised are believed to be,” and thus perceived as incapable of asserting their basic rights. It’s an arrogant belief based on a desire to rank and vanquish.
More oppressive, more expansive, more violent is how the US and Israel and their colonial cronies have behaved towards the Palestinians since October 7th. Homes have been blown apart, streets demolished, offices and schools and even hospitals smashed to rubble. Civilians have been blindfolded and stripped to their underwear before disappearing. There have been mass arbitrary arrests and abuses of human rights for those detained. Children as young as eight have been slaughtered. It is brutal, it is awful. It is inexcusable.
And those in the diaspora have not been spared. McCarthyism-like censorship is now common place, marches of solidarity with Palestine have been banned, and even waving the Palestinian flag was cited as a possible arrestable offence in the UK.
Palestine is a true outlier. It has been occupied since 1516, first by the Ottomans, then the Egyptians, followed by the British, and most recently by Israel, and throughout it all it has maintained its national identity. Infrastructure has always been temporary in Palestine, identity is what prevails.
While the bombs drop and the bullets are fired, the colonisers will congratulate themselves for bringing ‘civility’ and ‘much-prized western democracy’ to an underclass. They will dehumanise all but themselves in their bloody victory.
Soaring Like Kites
On Thursday poet and scholar Refaat Alareer was targeted by the Israeli military, and murdered. He joins the thousands of Palestinian souls that soar like kites high in Ghazzah’s blue skies. He is finally free of the chains of oppression, and joins the other 20,000 plus victims – the mothers, fathers and siblings, the grandparents and great grandparents, the aunts and uncles and cousins, the in-laws and neighbours, the taxi drivers, doctors and teachers, and even those never able to gasp their first breath – who have been executed since October 7th, and who bleed into the Palestinian identity.
Genocide, Butchery, and the Fallacy of Diplomacy
The colonisers are drunk on the power of weaponry and ordnance, and the notion of equality is openly ridiculed. On Friday, thirteen of the fifteen members of the UN Security Council voted for an immediate cease fire in Ghazzah. The UK abstained; the US vetoed the resolution. This can only mean they want more Palestinians butchered. In the coming days and weeks, between 1.5 and 2 million civilians are going to be corralled into a space not much larger than Paris’ Charles De Gaulle airfield, and then assaulted by land, sea, and air. It will be like shooting fish in a barrel – while the water is being drained by the British and Americans. It is psychotic behaviour.
Away from the colonisers gaze, in their blind spot, those deemed incapable of resisting are in fact rising. The defiance is distributed and varied, and it’s happening.
In the diaspora a new generation is challenging the neo-colonialists. Palestine Youth have organised a series of global shut downs, Dissenters have held sit-ins, Workers for a Free Palestine have blockaded arms factories, BDS are holding community teach-ins , WACA have blocked port entrances using kayaks and jet skis, ANSWER coalition have occupied media outlets, Palestine Action have disrupted arms manufacturers’ supply chains, while Parents for Palestine formed an outdoor play group blocking the entrance to a leading arms supplier.
Within Palestine the resistance is more intense. In the West Bank, a new generation of localised and loosely affiliated Brigades are protecting Palestinians, a job never properly done by the Palestinian Authority. The Brigades are a grass roots phenomenon and operate independently but synergistically; there is no central HQ, no command hierarchy. By day the Brigades move easily amongst the communities they are from, by night they form small cells resisting illegal Israeli snatch squads and the general tyranny of the Israeli occupation. Most importantly, the Brigades bring new energy to the Palestinian identity.
Earlier this week I heard of a campaign in the UK. It is called Mission Christmas and asks for gifts to be donated so they can be distributed to those who are affected by the cost-of-living crisis. This week the British government had the choice to give Palestinians the gift of life – they chose not to.
And so, in Ghazzah this Christmas, the single most effective act of resistance will be to keep breathing.
©2023 Sul Nowroz