Zionism in crisis: Palestinian resistance forges a new horizon

The Palestinian Youth Movement  /  April 16, 2023

For too long, the global solidarity movement has only understood Palestinians as victims of Israeli violence. The current moment calls us to question the invincibility of the Zionist project and reassess our struggle.

Over the past few weeks, significant events have been unfolding across historic Palestine. January 7, 2023, marked the start of Zionist protests in response to proposed Israeli judicial reforms. In parallel, we have also seen an intensification of the ongoing settler colonial violence perpetrated by the Zionist entity against Palestinians – January was the West Bank’s deadliest month in nearly a decade, and the last few weeks have seen heightened violence towards Palestinians in Al-Aqsa. In response to these assaults, we have seen increased resistance efforts from groups across historic Palestine, as well as Lebanon and Syria. While the media may lead you to believe that these events are politically, geographically, and temporally isolated, they tell a collective story of significant developments in the Palestinian liberation struggle.

It is easy to dismiss Zionist protests against judicial reforms as insignificant to Palestinians, for whom subjugation to Israeli violence persists irrespective of who is in government. While this is true, the deepening of contradictions within the global Zionist movement reflects the shaky foundations upon which the Zionist state was built and the subsequent tension between its fascist, underlying basis, and the superficial surface of democracy that the entity projects to the world. These tensions expose the artificial nature of the Zionist colony: while all settlers are united against the external threat of Palestinian resistance and in favor of the colonial social order, there is little else politically binding or holding it together.

In this vein, it must then be noted that it is through the excesses of the settlement project, through the colonization and exploitation of the Palestinian people, that Zionism aims to resolve its internal contradictions. Thus, the attempt to construct a binary between “citizen” and “settler” – one where its “liberal” arm at times seeks to distance themselves from the fascism of the settler movement, must be interrogated. We argue that the two exist in relationship to one another and, most importantly: in relationship to Zionist colonialism. Zionism’s settler movement has long been integral to the expansion of the Zionist state: the state through which liberal Zionists have wielded power and within which they exercise the “democracy” that they claim today to be fighting for. By refusing to engage this on the terms of “democracy” versus “fascism” and instead interrogating the relationship of this contradiction to colonialism, we are able to understand the role of Palestinian resistance and unity in the inevitable demise of the Zionist project.

While it is the interests of the fascist settler movement that are being represented by the coalition government’s proposed judicial reforms, it is also their interests that underpin the increasing violence in Al-Aqsa. Many have been quick to correctly point out that the current assaults on Al-Aqsa are text-book: Israeli violence towards Palestinians is heightened during Ramadan each year, whether it’s through invasions of Al-Aqsa or bombings on Gaza. However, violence towards Palestinians also increases during Jewish holidays, and this year, Passover, Easter, and Ramadan are all occurring at the same time and the heightened violence, therefore, has to be read as such: as the manifestation of an extremist state seeking to impose a new reality, one that goes closer to the dismantling of Al-Aqsa in the hopes of building Solomon’s temple atop of it. While it is true that the movement insisting on entering Al-Aqsa during Passover is a community that has been isolated from “pro-democracy” Zionists, these dreams of converting Jerusalem into a city of a single faith are much broader in Zionist society, again revealing the symbiotic relationship between Zionism’s seemingly contradictory currents when placed within its broader colonial setting. 

In the face of Zionism in crisis, Palestinians have united and coalesced around increased resistance efforts across historic Palestine, building on the legacy of the 2021 Unity Uprisings. As the May uprisings grew, a common chant rang from Haifa to Ramallah: mishan Allah, ya Gaza yalla (for the love of god, come on Gaza). For the first time in memory, the cities in the interior, lands conquered in 1948, lead an uprising rather than support one. Youth from the two-million-strong community went into uproar over the repeated incursions by police forces into Al-Aqsa. Buses from tens of Palestinian cities descended upon Jerusalem, with the police dispatched to block the main streets. The dramatic images of the elderly choosing to walk on foot and bypass the checkpoints crystallized the unity between two areas that Zionist policies have spent 75 years attempting to fragment. When the resistance entered into the fray, the isolated and besieged Gaza responded to Jerusalem and imposed itself on the calculus of Tel Aviv. Around the same time in Jenin, the 25-year-old martyr Jamil Alamoury and his comrades coalesced into the Jenin battalion, beginning a new chapter in confrontation that takes the local urban environment as its area of operation and the popular cradle as its shield. Small resistance units began forming throughout the West Bank and today preoccupy close to 60% of occupation forces. When Gaza can guarantee war, the interior and Jerusalem an uprising, and the West Bank a war of attrition and popular resistance, the costs of Zionist impunity become unbearable. The Palestinian people today possess something Israel has strived to dismantle: unity and revolutionary optimism.

The May 2021 uprisings amalgamated into the ‘Unity of All Fronts’ approach, and we are currently witnessing this slogan being transformed into a political reality. In particular, we are seeing the expansion of this notion to Lebanon and Syria. In response to a repeat of the 2021 abuses on worshipers in Al-Aqsa, Palestinian factions operating in Lebanon and Syria on two occasions in the past week launched rocket barrages into northern Palestine. Protests are growing in the cities of ‘48, and the West Bank battalions have redoubled their efforts. Zionist leaders chose to attack Gaza in response, confirming that policies of containment and isolation have failed and that the ‘Unity of All Fronts’ prevails. For the first time in memory, it was the Zionist entity that acted with restraint, rushing to absolve regional actors in Lebanon and Syria of the role they undoubtedly play in supporting the Palestinian resistance. The Zionist regime also ensured that its bombardment of Gaza avoided large loss of life and resistance assets.

On April 10th, Israeli journalists confirmed that the occupation forces stopped using the name “Operation Break the Wave” to describe their attempts to stifle Palestinian resistance in the West Bank, implicitly acknowledging that Palestinian resistance groups are here to stay. On April 11th, Netanyahu announced that settlers would not be able to enter Al-Aqsa for the duration of Ramadan in fear of rising tensions in Jerusalem. These examples collectively illustrate the lack of confidence in the Zionist entity’s security calculus as it comes to terms with the strength of Palestinian resistance today.

Advocates of Palestine must never forget the truth that this reveals: gone are the days of the Zionist entity’s invincibility, and it is the persistence and accumulation of Palestinian resistance that have brought this about. 

For too long, the Palestinian diaspora and the global solidarity movement have been paralyzed by a reactive position that understands Palestinians to only be victims of Israeli violence. However, this moment calls us to question the invincibility of the Zionist project and to reassess the tools of our struggle. Today, we can argue that Zionist project is as fragile as it has ever been. At the same time, Palestinian resistance is the strongest it has ever been. The global shift we are currently witnessing reflects the potential for a paradigm shift in this framing: we are victims of their violence but we are also capable of taking our fate into our own hands. In the diaspora, this means joining organizations to build transnational power and engage in principled struggle to realize the promise of liberation. 

The Palestinian Youth Movement is a transnational, independent grassroots movement of young Palestinians and Arabs dedicated to the liberation of our homeland and people; we currently comprise of 15 chapters across North America and Europe