Jenin’s marginalization in international rhetoric

Ramona Wadi

Middle East Monitor  /  July 13, 2023

Reiterating the obvious is one prerequisite for being a diplomat. With the Jenin refugee camp becoming the latest attraction for the international community’s humanitarian agenda, the grotesque statements are paying more attention to Israel’s security narrative than the ongoing Nakba (Catastrophe) of the Palestinian people.

An international delegation led by the EU’s representative to the occupied Palestinian territories, Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, put forth the following generalization. “We are concerned about the deployment of weaponry and weapons systems which question the proportionality of the military during the operation,” said von Burgsdorff, while calling the military incursion “a violation of international law.”

Why is the EU representative concerned about the deployment of weapons and not about Israel’s qualitative military edge, though? How does one exist without the other, and in what framework does von Burgsdorff think that Israel will sustain itself without its settler-colonial violence and macabre displays of its mighty weaponry? There is not only the question of the colonizer having access to weapons which the colonized cannot get, but also the fact that Israel is supported by $3.8 billion per year in military aid from the US.

And what about European deals with Israeli weapons and surveillance companies such as Elbit, which in March struck sales deals and contracts with an EU and NATO member country? Elbit’s CEO Bezhalel Machlis stated: “We are witnessing a trajectory of an increased demand for advanced artillery solutions from militaries around the world, including European countries and NATO members, as part of their efforts to increase the effectiveness of their armed forces. Our operationally proven systems provide an advanced, cost-effective solution to meet that demand.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made similar weak remarks about Israel’s raid on the Jenin refugee camp, stating that he “understood Israel’s legitimate concerns over its security” but that such aggression “bolsters radicalization.” The language used to describe Palestinians eliminates their own legitimate defence against colonial violence. “Restoring the hope of the Palestinian people in a meaningful political process, leading to a two-State solution and the end of the occupation, is an essential contribution by Israel to its own security,” Guterres added. According to Al-Jazeera, Guterres refused to describe the raid on Jenin as a war crime.

What have Palestinians gained from such visits and statements? Nothing. Jenin’s destruction brings another segment of the Palestinian population further under the yoke of life dependent on humanitarian aid, while donor countries separate their financial assistance from the actual plight of Palestinian refugees. After all, such countries are paying into a system that dehumanizes refugees by eliminating their political rights, but at the same time pays enough attention so that Palestine is talked about but never prioritized.

Between Israeli military incursions and international humanitarian aid, Palestinians’ marginalization from their own story is increasing. As various diplomatic actors and humanitarian organizations step in, the focus on the tangle of donor funding will eclipse that of the Palestinian people’s political reality, which is that not one single entity within the international community supports the legitimate Palestinian anti-colonial resistance, in the rush to preserve the two-state compromise and Israel’s settler-colonial violence.

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America