Palestinian human rights are non-negotiable

Haidar Eid

Mondoweiss  /  April 25, 2022

Palestinians are on the receiving end of a racist Western onslaught, but we cannot compromise on the right to self-determination and liberation.

Apartheid Israel has made it absolutely clear that since it cannot get rid of us completely, we must become its inferior colonized subjects for ever. The majority of Israeli Jews support the genocidal policy of their government because as Zionists living in a Jewish supremacist state, they are indoctrinated into believing that they are entitled to certain privileges that must be denied to the “goyim,” who happen to be the indigenous population of the land.

In order to implement this racist ideology, in 1948 ethnic cleansing was the solution. And in 1967, a combination of colonization and military occupation became the only option. The commander of Israeli forces in the West Bank, had this to say as soon as the Israeli Occupation Forces succeeded in occupying what was left of Palestine: “All authority of government, legislation, appointment and administration pertaining to the area or its residents will now be exclusively in my hands and will be exercised only by me or by any person appointed therefore by me or acting on my behalf.”

No wonder then that almost all major, mainstream human rights organizations, including the UN Human Rights Council and the prestigious International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, have lately come to the conclusion that Israel is an apartheid state.

Israeli apartheid, within this context, is a euphemistic word used to describe a multi-formed regime of oppression, one that denies the humanity of the colonized subject, namely native Palestinians. But in Gaza and Jenin, we refuse to march to Israel’s death chambers sheepishly. We are not like normalizing Arab leaders who have accepted their inferior status because they refuse to recognize their oppression as injustice, instead accepting it as the natural order.

In Jerusalem, Gaza, and other parts of historic Palestine, we have made it absolutely clear that we will fight the settler-colonial, apartheid regime that exists between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is a regime that has managed, successfully, to create a non-democratic state reality on the ground, thanks to the 1967 Naksa and the disastrous 1993 Oslo Accords.  We believe that it is our right to demand that the international community support our struggle for justice and freedom, in exactly the same way that it is supporting the Ukrainian resistance against the Russian invasion.

We, however, are also aware that the tokenization of our struggle and emancipation have, alas, become ordinary conduct on the part of organizations that were historically dedicated to the liberation of Palestine.

Once again, the Palestinian people are proving that are more aware of the reality on the ground and more anxious for our rights than our leadership, right and left, and the so-called international community are. The Ukrainian crisis has shown that it is our duty as Palestinians to create the alternative we need when, in fact, there is no existing political space that will accommodate our liberation, as I argued in a piece I wrote last month. We are on the receiving end of a racist, Western onslaught but we cannot compromise on our basic rights. These include the right to self-determination and liberation even when all we’re offered is the facade of talking independence and camouflaged racist solutions.

The question on every Palestinian mind (but not on the minds of the political elite) is: what are we going to do now that it has become absolutely clear that the so-called peace process allowed the production of new Israeli facts on the ground and new repressive practices that made a functioning Palestinian State essentially nonviable?

As the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has maintained, those who make their support for BDS and its three demands, i.e. freedom, equality and justice, conditional on the movement’s adoption of the so-called “international consensus” (which is nothing more than an unjust solution dictated by Israel and the world’s only current superpower, the USA) are asking us to forfeit some of our basic rights as humans, which reveals a deeply disingenuous position. Our basic rights are not negotiable; solutions are.

And one such solution that has been resurfacing is a secular-democratic state for all of its citizens. This secular-democratic state would be established following the dismantling of the existing multi-tiered system of oppression between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This solution guarantees political equality regardless of religious and ethnic backgrounds. This is precisely what the current upheaval in Palestine, led by revolutionary youngsters is all about. The same slogans are being used in the Negev, Gaza, Jenin, Jerusalem, Umm Al-Fahm and other Palestinian cities, slogans that represent a new consciousness that the older generation is unable to comprehend.

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University