Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 5th, 2022

Keynote Dr. Hanan Ashrawi:

What, If Any, Policies Have Changed Since the Trump Administration, and New Hope for Palestine’s Future

USA a partner in crime of apartheid Israel. and the USA embassy in Jerusalem is a Settlement.

Funny Biden, he keeps asking Israel permission to reverse Trump executive orders! And this administration keeps reminding the Palestinians that it is the job of Congress to reverse its “laws”.

HANAN ASHRAWI

TRANSCENDING THE ISRAEL LOBBY AT HOME AND ABROAD

POSTED ON MARCH 10, 2022

2022 May Conference Issue

Delinda Hanley:  Dr. Hanan Ashrawi was the first woman to be elected a member of the Executive Committee to the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 2009.

In 1996, Ashrawi was elected, and subsequently re-elected many times, to the Palestinian Legislative Council.

In 1996 she also accepted the post of Minister of Higher Education and Research.

In 1998, Dr. Ashrawi founded, and continues to serve in, MIFTAH, the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy.

In December 2020 she resigned from the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. She called for the inclusion of more youth, women and other qualified professionals in the Palestinian political system. 

Dr. Ashrawi received standing ovations after her in-person remarks at one of our previous Israel lobby conferences, but this time she’ll be joining us virtually from her home in Ramallah. 

hanan ashrawi2x740

Hanan Ashrawi: Thank you everybody. It’s wonderful to be with you, albeit virtually. I would also like to thank everybody who made this event possible. They tried their best to get me there in person, but unfortunately visa considerations and delays prevented my coming. But I will be getting a visa soon, I know, so hopefully I will be able to see you in person. 

I’m grateful for the opportunity to address you. Among such distinguished speakers and exceptional company, I’m happy to be here. It is a significant event, after all. I participated earlier, as you just said, and I found it to be extremely invigorating and enlightening. So thank you. 

When we discuss anything these days, we are in the context of what’s been happening in the last week from the eruption of violence between Russia and Ukraine.

We are seeing certain shifts and changes that have exposed the fault lines in the global system and the international system, and of course exposed the underlying attitudes and the hypocrisy of the West, with the racism and, not just double standards, but multiple standards.

These global fractures will be felt everywhere, particularly in our part of the world. 

But that is Not our topic, even though we should be discussing this.

Our topic, as you said, is: Has anything changed between the Trump legacy and the Biden assumption of power? What has changed in U.S. policy? 

American policy is a continuum. It has several features that form a continuity of American positions, and among them is the standard approach of strategic alliance, as well as our special ally: We have shared values, the Judeo-Christian traditions, as you know, and of course unlimited economic and military support—some very visible, and some hidden.

Israeli security being paramount or, as I keep repeating, sacrosanct. The Qualitative Military Edge (QME) has become a very standard expression. Israel, in the region and even beyond, must maintain its Qualitative Military Edge. Therefore, the U.S. foots the bill and shares the know-how with Israel.

Again, the U.S. gives Israel cover for its impunity and protects it from accountability.

Any approach to the region is always based on what Israeli priorities are and what Israeli interests are. 

Traditionally, in the last two or three presidencies before Trump, we have had a discussion of the two-state solution.

No matter how flawed, but at least they discussed the two-state solution in the sense that the Palestinians would have the right to sovereignty. But generally, all American positions were based on the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt in which the Palestinians were granted autonomy or limited self-government or self-rule.

So there was no agreement in which there was a recognition of Palestinians’ right to self-determination or to sovereignty. 

ashrawi1x740

A Palestinian boy sits on a cart outside an aid distribution center run by UNRWA, on March 20, 2022 in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. Food prices have surged after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (PHOTO BY MAHMOUD ISSA/SOPA IMAGES/LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Trump based many of his positions and policies on these principles, but he accelerated and intensified the worst of them while creating certain disruptions and diversions in other areas, and some things that are not as harmful.

For example, he exhibited total disdain for international law and international humanitarian law and pursued systemic violations of the law with, again, an assault on multilateralism and the global rule of law which cemented, of course, Israeli impunity and aggression. 

The U.S. left UNESCO and left the Human Rights Council because the Palestinians were admitted to the membership there.

The [Trump administration] dismissed the occupation or rendered it invisible and not illegal. The ideological component said that this is a Jewish territory, the settlements are not illegal. Now you’ll be drinking Pompeo wine from a settlement right next to Ramallah! Near my house, actually. 

[The Trump administration] recognized and enforced annexation, primarily the annexation of Jerusalem. This is the most egregious step—not just that they recognized annexation, they moved the [U.S.] Embassy there. We call it a settlement now.

We have an American settlement in Jerusalem!

They closed the consulate in Jerusalem, which was opened in 1844 as a diplomatic mission to Palestine. So way before Israel was created, this consulate existed, and it was a diplomatic mission to Palestine. [Trump] closed it down in order to make any representation of the U.S. purely Israeli and within Jerusalem. 

And [the Trump administration] recognized the annexation of the Golan Heights, the Syrian Golan Heights. Of course, I don’t think that the Trump settlement will materialize, but I think you still have the sign of Trump Heights or Trump Settlement in the Golan Heights. And of course they closed the Palestinian office in Washington, DC. 

The second main feature is that they totally abandoned the pretense of the two-state solution, or traditional U.S. policy, to accommodate [former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu.

It was a great alliance with Netanyahu. They said openly, there’s no Palestinian sovereignty or recognition. They recognized the Jewish state in the sense that [Israel’s] nation-state law says there is no self-determination for anybody in historical Palestine, which they call Israel, except for the Jews. So they again were party to quite a racist exclusive ideology. 

Third, they introduced again the glaring and blatant ideological identification and components [of] fundamentalism: extreme Christian evangelical fundamentalism as represented by Pompeo and Pence; extreme Jewish fundamentalism, Zionism, as expressed by [former U.S. Ambassador] David Friedman and, to a certain extent, [adviser to the president] Jason Greenblatt when he was in office and, of course, extreme Zionism with Jared Kushner and Ivanka [Trump].

In this mix you add racism and white supremacy, populism and all sorts of racist positions like Islamophobia, as well as anti-Semitism. 

The U.S., therefore, moved from being an ally of Israel to a partner in crime in the war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel was committing constantly.

It is no longer a question of the influence of the Israel lobbyists, of many different pro-Israeli groups, and the congressional negative intervention. Now, [in the Trump administration] we see Israelis and pro-Israelis in the White House and at the State Department as decision makers. This is quite a difference. 

[Fourth], they embraced the partnership with Netanyahu and turned Israel into a Republican issue. Of course, this started before with Obama and the intervention of Netanyahu in American politics. We’ll discuss this when we look at the JCPOA.

But also we see the emergence of a very bizarre phenomenon of the anti-Semitic Zionist, in the sense that I can be as anti-Semitic and racist as I want provided I support Israel. 

Along with that, there is the dehumanization of the Palestinians. The terrorism charge or the terrorism label re-emerged. It was [former Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson, I think, who refused to give us a [terrorism] waiver.

Palestinians are always under probation. They are on good behavior. They have to prove that they deserve their rights. So the only way that we can have some sort of dialogue or relationship with the U.S. is if we are engaged with Israel in serious meaningful negotiations. 

Therefore, the State Department gives a recommendation to the president to waive the terrorism charge, and therefore to continue the dialogue. Of course, Tillerson did not ask for a waiver, and immediately we were not just on probation or good behavior but we failed the test, according to them.

Therefore, we don’t deserve our rights. Along with that, of course you have the legislation of the Taylor Force Act [to stop American economic aid to Palestinians until the PA ceases paying stipends to the families of prisoners and martyrs Israel accused of terrorism] and the [Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act], ATCA, and the legal liability and so on. So it was compiling all sorts of obstacles in order to exclude the Palestinians and to continue a process of defunding. 

When [the Trump administration] defunded Palestine they, of course, increased Israeli support. It’s not just the $38 billion that the Obama administration promised. The support was, some of it visible and some not. They defunded Palestinian infrastructure, even hospitals in Jerusalem, even scholarships to people and so on, but they tried to maintain some sort of security support. 

They defunded UNRWA, which is very serious because they were redefining UNRWA by redefining the Palestinian refugee status.

They adopted the extreme-right Israeli definition of Palestinian refugees by saying these refugees are only those who left in 1948, which means that there are only 20,000 or 40,000 Palestinian refugees, not the 5.5 million that UNRWA defines as registered refugees, let alone those who are not registered. So they are also trying to dissolve the refugee issue. 

They put pressure on the Arabs and other countries to defund Palestine and not to give the Palestinians any assistance. It worked, because the Arabs have stopped. Until now I think only one country gave some assistance–Algeria. 

But the underlying principles of the [Trump] policy were bashing the Palestinians into submission. As part of that, we must accept or internalize the mentality of defeat. This was something that I think Daniel Pipes invented. At one point, it was picked up by Jared Kushner. They said everything would be fine, if only the Palestinians would accept the fact that they are defeated. 

They don’t know or understand the Palestinians or who we are. I mean, we may be under occupation, we may be punished daily, we may be under the most oppressive criminal regime, but we are not defeated. We have not been defeated. We are the people who are resilient and who will persist. We will discuss this later. 

But Kushner’s economic peace, or the “Prosperity to Peace” [plan] and the Manama, Bahrain conference was precisely a set-up in order to force the Palestinians to exchange their rights, or abandon our rights, in exchange for a few handouts, imaginary handouts.

Trump’s notorious ultimate deal or, as it is known, the “deal of the century,” was based on that; That we don’t have to have our rights.

That annexation can be legalized. That Israel’s control can be maintained. That you can bribe the Palestinians with some minuscule support and we will behave.

It seems, obviously of course, they don’t understand history. They don’t understand the region. They don’t understand Palestinian culture, or identity or spirit. 

The final, most important, thing [the Trump administration] did was the regional realignment and polarization through normalization. They attempted to redefine and reorganize the region on the basis of a major rift, or polarization of the Sunni-Shi’i divide. 

Of course, it started by nullifying the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], JCPOA, because they had to create Iran as the major enemy. In their attempts at redefining who’s a friend and who’s a foe, who’s an enemy and who’s an ally, they tried to turn Iran into a major regional enemy representing the extreme Shi’i, in their parlance, and that Israel is an ally of the moderate Sunnis.

Therefore, this polarization is what has to dominate alliances in the region. Of course, the Palestinians also paid the price. 

So through blackmail and bribery they brought several countries to recognition and normalization with Israel. They made peace where there was no war, which is very ironic. In doing that, they created vertical and horizontal rifts in the Arab world, in the region, and destabilized the region. Because what they did was they rendered the Arab regimes at odds with their own people, with their own public, because the Arab people are still supportive of the Palestinian question. 

They undermined their standing or credibility, if they had any, and at the same time they created rifts among Arab states by turning the Arab Peace Initiative on its head. As you know, the Arab Peace Initiative talks about recognition or normalization with Israel only after it withdraws from all the Arab territories it occupied and, of course, primarily Palestine. Instead it’s exactly the opposite. It keeps Israel as an occupying power, but gives Arab normalization. 

In doing that, they also violated the resolutions of the Arab League and weakened the Arab League as an institution. Regardless of how weak or dysfunctional it was before, now it was even weaker, because they couldn’t have one stand on that most basic unifying principle in the Arab world, which is the Palestinian question. 

Now, in doing that, [the Trump administration] also attempted to reposition Israel as a major regional, economic, political, security, military and intelligence power. Re-positioning Israel is part of the Trump ideology, that Israel has to be dominant in the region and that security is paramount. Conversely, weakening the Palestinians and marginalizing the Palestinians, separating it from its Arab context, and at the same time turning the Palestinian cause into an internal or domestic Israeli issue under Israeli control. 

The final aspect of this was the Abraham Accords. The choice of the name Abraham Accords created a false shared history, because there is nothing called, you know, the Abrahamic tradition in the region. Israel was not part of the Arab world at any point. 

Biden’s Promises, Policies and Priorities 

Now the question is, did Trump succeed in doing irreversible or irreparable damage, and what can be done?

There are many people who looked to Biden and said, here he is. Now Biden is in power and things are going to change. Biden’s promises, policies and priorities have to be assessed in a very candid way. 

Well, the promises are clear. We don’t disagree with them, because he talked about the two-state solution again. On the Palestinian side, the same old formulae—living side by side in peace with Israel. 

They also repeated that they opposed unilateral steps, annexation and settlement expansion.

Notice [the Biden administration] keeps saying “settlement expansion.” Not settlements or the building of settlements. Although settlements are there, that’s fine, but they shouldn’t expand.

Then they talk about restoring the economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people that Trump stopped, but consistent with U.S. law; there is legislation now by Congress that doesn’t make that possible. 

And of course the assistance to the refugees, they said they’d work to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Then they promised to reopen the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, clearly, and work to reopen the PLO mission in Washington, DC.

In some cases, they said, reverse Trump’s destructive policy, support Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, and work with Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding efforts. Notice it’s not peacemaking. It’s peacebuilding, as though you can build peace under occupation. 

This gives people the excuse not to engage and not to hold themselves to account.

For Israel, I don’t go into details. But Israel got the usual pablum of the unbreakable bond and unwavering support for Israel’s security, the increase in funding, opposing [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions], BDS, fighting anti-Semitism and any attempt at delegitimizing Israel, and continue to develop normalization of Israel within the region. 

Now, among the Palestinian leadership, there was a tendency to believe the promises to the Palestinian side. Nowadays they’re suffering from a massive disappointment, if you listen to the statements now. “But he promised.” 

Promised what? I mean, that’s something that’s really ridiculous, because they pinned their hopes on Biden and they believed his promises.  They thought, this is a new era, we’re going to be friends and buddies with the U.S.

They don’t understand that going back to the status quo ante, which we said was a very dangerous situation, is not going to resolve anything, because it’s a status quo ante that led to Trumpism and led to such dangerous developments in our region. 

Now, the actual policies and implementation, of course they must also be looked at in the context of the waning American interest, not just in the region but globally. The declared policy and intention of the U.S. to pivot away from the Middle East, as I said, has started.

Remember? It was, I think, Hillary Clinton during the Obama days who said, we have to pivot away from the Middle East, and we cannot make peace. It will burn you, as she said. 

They started by demoting the Palestinian question and, of course, they sent us a second-, third-, fourth-degree-level envoy who then met with the Palestinians. They said peace or any political initiative is not a priority. 

They postponed any engagement and put the peacemaking, so to speak, on the back burner. They’ve committed many sins of omission, buying Israel time for unilateral actions and for de facto annexation. And, of course, they created a political power vacuum in the region that Israel fills. Israel usually fills any power vacuum. 

The Biden administration thought that they could maintain the status quo by saying, you know, let’s not rock the boat.  Let’s not upset the balanced situation. So we will support the PA and Abu Mazen to remain afloat, and we will try to manage the conflict. And they asked Israel not to destabilize the situation. Then they maintained security cooperation and funded people-to-people programs.

Which is, again, another ridiculous concept that Palestinians and Israelis at a certain level can cooperate, can be funded to do some joint projects, and that will solve the problem. You have a settler colonial enterprise, a brutal occupation and ethnic cleansing, but all you need to do is get some Palestinians talking to some Israelis and cooperating, and everything will be fine. 

This gives people the excuse not to engage and not to hold themselves to account. Of course, there was the idea that this is a fragile coalition government in Israel and we must protect it. We cannot put pressure on it and we cannot criticize it. We cannot ask it to do what it cannot do, because then this coalition will collapse. Which is ridiculous.

So they gave Israel a free pass for the sake of a very bizarre coalition government in Israel, including the fact that it has its token Palestinian Islamist or, as I say, the Arab in the government, plus the disappearing left-wing parties. 

Now, the most dangerous thing is that the Biden administration allowed Israel to set the agenda and the priorities of American policy in the region. They dealt with us only through Israel, [just] what Israel wants. Like the charges of incitement in Palestinian textbooks. Israel says, look at Palestinian textbooks, they are inciting, they have a Palestinian narrative. We should adopt the Israeli narrative and history. So they objected to our history, to our narrative.  Therefore, this is incitement. 

Not just the Americans, but also the Europeans, dropped everything. They stopped looking at settlements, and extrajudicial executions and house demolitions. No, no. The problem is with Palestinian textbooks. That’s the incitement. 

Then they said, oh, look, there’s violence there. They are encouraging violence because they are paying Palestinian prisoners and the families of Palestinian martyrs. This is very racist. An abhorrent expression of “pay to slay” was used not just by the Israelis, but by American officials even, and Congress members. Then Israel withheld our money and Palestinian customs funds on the basis that this funding of the families of prisoners and martyrs is encouraging terrorism. 

We keep reminding everybody that since ‘67, not the creation of Israel, since ‘67 Israel has arrested almost a million Palestinians. If you believe there is any kind of justice in the Israeli judicial or legal or prison system, you are certainly mistaken.

Any Palestinian is guilty by definition and, therefore, we have a responsibility to these prisoners. They are seen as freedom fighters by all Palestinians. They will not be abandoned, nor the families of the martyrs. 

[The Biden administration] also asked permission from Israel to reopen the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem that was closed illegally by an executive order, of course by Trump.  You can reopen it by an executive order. There is no need to keep asking for permission.

The Israelis said we can’t do that because we have a fragile coalition, or that the Palestinians then think that they can have a capital in Jerusalem and so on.  In the meantime they are trying to change the character and the history and the culture, the demography, and the geography of Jerusalem. 

[The Biden administration] also is asking permission from Israel to rejoin, if Israel doesn’t mind, to rejoin UNESCO and the Human Rights Council, which is again very strange. They also adopted Israel’s policy, and even the strange construct of shrinking the conflict or easing economic conditions, which, again, is a very feeble and false excuse for inaction. It shows that there is no readiness, let alone knowledge, to address the causes of instability and the conflict. 

Then there is the dissonance and disconnect between the verbal and the actual. The verbal and actual divide is very, very clear. Very audible. For example, the human rights discourse rings very hollow in our ears in Palestine and the whole region. Not just pertaining to Israel, but pertaining to other violations, including Palestinian leadership violations and Arab leaders’ violations. 

But there is this new slogan now which is that the Palestinians and Israelis should enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy. I like that. So we need equal measures of freedom. Well, good morning.  We are under occupation. We have no freedom whatsoever. What are you proposing to do about it? 

Security? We have no security, personal, territorial, historical, cultural, economic, human—in every possible way—and Israel is the culprit. What are you doing about it? 

Prosperity. Israel is stealing our land, our resources.  Controlling our freedom of movement and so on. What do you want to do about it? 

And democracy. Now they have dropped democracy gradually. But if we are to enjoy equal measure, then maybe we should occupy Israel. Maybe we should, you know, steal their resources.  I don’t know. For equal measure. But this is, again, a slogan that rings hollow also, because they proceed to do exactly the opposite to maintain and enhance the inequality and the power asymmetry. 

They’ve allowed for the most extreme and ruthless escalation and intensification of Israeli violations. Whether the assault on Jerusalem and the continued ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem, or the military attack on Gaza, with horrific destruction and loss of human life, and settler violence.  Settlers are on the rampage everywhere in Palestine. The annexation and expansion of settlements. The home demolitions.  Home demolitions are going on at twice the rate in which they were carried out during the Trump period! 

Israeli Violations Escalating During Biden Administration 

During Biden, the escalation and intensification of violations are incredible. And, of course, the extrajudicial executions, daily killings of our people with full impunity. Israel, as they say, is taking advantage of the U.S. weakness and indecision. They’re very happy that they think of the Biden administration as weak and indecisive. They’re quite happy to live with timid verbal reprimands with no consequences.  This is what’s happening. The rate at which the destruction is taking place and the killings, and so on, is so accelerated. It’s really alarming. They’re creating an irreversible path. 

Now, again while paying lip service to the two-state solution, however flawed, as I said, they are allowing Israel to superimpose Greater Israel on all of historical Palestine and destroy any chance of Palestinian statehood. They are too busy elsewhere. Right now they certainly are busy elsewhere. They are going to the U.N. They are condemning the use of the [Russian] veto. They are doing all sorts of things. They have mobilized people to go to the ICC, for heaven’s sake. They punished us for going to the ICC. So now they are busy elsewhere.

They also, beyond that, went into Israel advocacy. They became agents of Israel in terms of combating and rejecting international legal charges and definitions, like the crimes of apartheid and ethnic cleansing. They are allowing for the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance], IHRA, definition conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. 

They are criminalizing BDS while allowing the boycott and punishment of American companies, firms and individuals who dare boycott Israel and the Israeli occupation. They are violating the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. Not just the freedom of expression, but the right to choose to be ethical investors and consumers. That is a right, a democratic right, for every American citizen.

jarrahx740

Muna El-Kurd fields questions from the press after her arrest and release, on June 6, 2021, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where the eviction of Palestinian families helped fuel the fighting that broke out last year. (MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES/GETTY IMAGES)

They’ve adopted the Israeli labels, of labeling any accountability measures or curbs as delegitimizing Israel, including at the U.N. We still hear the same old language, that the U.N. should stop targeting Israel. Don’t concentrate on Israel, look elsewhere. It’s the same language still being used at the U.N. by their representative there. 

They maintained pressure on the Palestinians not to accede to international conventions or join international organizations. Because the more you suppress Palestinian rights and oppress Palestinians, the more you maintain their vulnerability to Israel, and the more you create a cover for Israel, for its violations and impunity. As you know, the famous 22 international organizations that we were not supposed to join–again, this goes back to pre-Trump and to Obama–it has been picked up again by Biden. We were punished for acceding to the Rome Statute and to the ICC and ICJ. 

Now both of these are on hold, have been postponed. I’m sure you’ve read that it took them six days to start an investigation at the ICC of Russia and Ukraine. It took us six years just to agree that [the ICC] will open an investigation into Israeli war crimes, which are very clear and obvious and blatant!

[The Biden administration has also] pursued the normalization of Israel’s regional repositioning. They pressed ahead very rapidly. Ambassador Tom Nides is convening meetings between the Arab representatives of normalizing countries with Israel in order to pursue the normalization policies and to recruit other Arab states to normalize, because this is how they think that they are making peace. 

They also ended up with the rehabilitation of Israel within the American political system. As you know, Trump took Israel to the extreme right as part of the extreme GOP. Now they are trying to force back a bipartisan consensus on Israel. We see how mainstream Democrats are really excluding and undermining the progressives within their own party in order to maintain the special status of Israel within the Democratic Party. Also organizations like the Democratic Majority for Israel. And you all know its impact on the DNC, the program under the Biden platform. 

They are also readjusting relations with AIPAC and other lobby groups that have gone to the extreme right. Now they are trying to rehabilitate them as well. And there’s this ridiculous embrace. I don’t know if you’ve heard, when Nancy Pelosi was in Israel, and she said that Israel was the greatest political achievement of the 20th century. I don’t know if I want to comment on this. Really I don’t know if it deserves any kind of attention! But what else happened in the 20th century? Were there no great political achievements in the countries? No U.N.?  Nothing? No two world wars resulting in agreements? It’s only Israel that’s the greatest political achievement? This is, again, beyond belief. 

And of course the increase in the budget, in the military budget. You all know how they gave Israel extra, a few hundred million extra, for the Patriot missiles, because Israel has the right to self-defense. 

Is There Room for Hope?

Now given all that, is there room for hope? This was the last part of the question I was asked. I mean, it’s not a question of hope or optimism. It’s a question of reading reality, a situation that has been subject to so much injustice and yet so many shifts and changes. But despite all attempts at resuscitating the attitude and the language of the past, the status quo ante which was in itself destructive—based on the Israel lobby and the Israeli propaganda and hasbara—Palestine is part of the future. 

   We will not be locked back in the past, where we are dismissed, and labeled and maligned. There is a process of rehumanization taking place. The narrative and cause of Palestine has become central to the global conversation on rights, freedom and human dignity. This is very important. 

Israel is being exposed and named for what it is, an occupation that’s becoming permanent. A brutal and illegal occupation. A settler colonial enterprise. An apartheid system and, worse, carrying out a displacement/replacement paradigm, and a rogue state based on an ethno-sectarian nationalism, as an exclusivist and exclusionary system which attempts to erase whole people, their history and their culture. 

All this is primarily due to a global network of solidarity, of empathy and identification, that broke the barriers of slander, intimidation, threats, smear campaigns and of course–as ascertained–our common humanity, rights and justice. I know it is still painful. There is still a price to be paid if you come out and speak on behalf of the Palestinians. But there are many courageous people who are standing up, who are speaking out, and who are challenging all attempts at silencing them and labeling them. 

There is, of course, a dislodging of the stranglehold of mainstream and right-wing media that have dominated and controlled the verbal space. Social media has been very helpful. Of course, access to information is there. The relationship between knowledge and responsibility led to tremendous activism among minorities, the oppressed, the excluded, the maligned, and, of course, among people of conscience, including academics and progressive Jewish organizations, churches and Congress members who dare to challenge. Taboos are being broken every day. There is a young generation, not just in Palestine—we can talk about this—but in the U.S. that refuses to be silenced, and that wants to learn the truth, and that refuses to be intimidated. These are our natural allies and partners.

The resilience of the Palestinian people in the face of horrific Israeli violence and injustice, I don’t want to go through all that. You know it. You know what’s happening. What happened in Gaza. You know Sheikh Jarrah. You know Silwan. You know the Old City, and Al-Aqsa, and Issawiya, Jabel Mukaber. Everywhere, you know what’s happening. And the face of settler criminality and violence in Sebastia, in Burqa, all around Nablus and Jenin, as you know. And Al-Khalil [Hebron].  Everywhere around Al-Khalil. In Al-Khalil the settlers are wreaking havoc. 

All these things are happening, and yet the Palestinian people have resisted. They have stood up. We paid a tremendous price, especially the young people. As you know, daily you hear about young people being killed. But all these things are becoming visible in real time. They are debunking Israeli lies and distortions. You see the young people defying and daring. Of course the most telling image, as you know, is the picture of Ahed Tamimi defying an Israeli soldier being distributed as a young blonde Ukrainian woman challenging a Russian soldier. It went viral. Then people discovered: No, no, no, this is a young Palestinian girl challenging an Israeli occupation soldier. 

Yes, [there is now] an emergence of the younger generation of activists in Palestine, connecting in cyberspace, and mobilizing with partners and counterparts in a common language of humanity and defiance. Empathy and solidarity, active solidarity, these are the authentic self-values. Not the Judeo-Christian tradition, that is really a manufactured construct, but authentic human progressive self-values that challenge erasure, fragmentation and, as I said, intimidation attempts at silencing any criticism. 

What is significant also is the people’s unity. This is a source of real hope in Palestine. Because we saw in May 2021, as you know, during this assault on Jerusalem and Gaza, the Palestinians are everywhere. In the West Bank, including Jerusalem. In Gaza and ‘48 Palestine. Among refugees and refugee camps. Among exiles everywhere in the world. Among expats.  There was a common language, a common cause, a common identity.  They stood up along with their allies and their partners. They defied and they spoke out. They defended the Palestinian cause and they again legitimized—not that we needed legitimization, but in a sense made public—the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian identity and utterance. 

This was very important. That despite all the fragmentation, despite all the factionalism, despite all the geographical divides and rifts and dispersion, the Palestinians have maintained their commitment and their sense of identity and have very clear focus on their rights. Therefore, they gained the respect and support of many like-minded people. That is a new dynamic. Maybe it’s not moving fast enough, but it is moving.  Maybe governments are failing, but the people are beginning to rise up. 

This dynamic is both internally and globally evident.  There is a reconfiguration of the political, economic and military power map in the world. And of course now we have to see the ramifications of what’s happening in Europe. I’m sure that it will have a ripple effect throughout the world. So there is reason to be confident. There is reason to know that the Palestinians are not going anywhere, are not committing suicide, are not committing amnesia, are not accepting any kind of censorship or oppression. Along with our allies and friends, we will be part of the shaping of the future. Thank you. 

Delinda Hanley: Thank you very much. Thank you for your infuriating, yet hopeful, update from Palestine. 

Questions & Answers 

We have run out of time, but can we combine several of the questions together in one quick question? What can we do here in the States? Should we try to insist the Biden administration reopen the consulate in Jerusalem? Should we insist that the [Palestinian mission] reopen here, so that Palestinian ambassadors can speak all around the country the way they used to? What should we do here? 

Hanan Ashrawi: Well, of course, the issue of reopening the consulate in Jerusalem was an issue that was a distinct promise.  Biden said he will reopen it, but he’s not doing it because the Israelis are putting pressure, that if you do it, it means that the Palestinians want to have their capital in Jerusalem. If you don’t reopen it, it means that Jerusalem is all Israeli. So it is important in that sense. Politically it is important. 

Many people say, well, it’s not going to make any difference. But it does make a difference to us, because it means that the toxic policies of Trump saying that Jerusalem is united and is the eternal capital of Israel is wrong. Jerusalem is an occupied city, by the way. All of Jerusalem once was Palestinian. As you know, even West Jerusalem was part of the corpus separatum. But still, East Jerusalem was occupied in 1967. So the thing is, the U.S. has to liberate itself from succumbing constantly to the pressures of Israel and from doing Israel’s bidding and adopting Israel’s agenda. This is very important. 

Reopening the Palestinian representative office in Washington, DC is difficult because of the longstanding tradition that we have to prove we are good little boys and girls and that we are on good behavior and so on. It requires certain steps. But in addition, Congress has passed several bills and adopted laws that make it almost impossible to reopen the Palestine mission in Washington, because of things like the Taylor Force Act and ATCA. 

ATCA exposes any Palestinian official in the U.S. to legal measures by victims of Palestinian “terrorism.” As you know, with so-called terrorism, there were several lawsuits. This is quite a complex situation, a complicated situation. The bills that were adopted under resolutions by Congress make it extremely difficult, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push for it. 

We should stop this whole attitude, this whole policy, of treating Palestinians as subhuman species with no rights, and accepting Israeli conditions and placing within several bills and legislation issues that are detrimental to Palestinian rights and to Palestinian-American relations. Okay? So that has to be done.

Delinda Hanley: Thank you so much for speaking to us. Next time you come here—we usually say next time in Jerusalem, but next time in Washington. Thank you so much. 

Hanan Ashrawi: Yeah. Yeah, I will come. I promise. Okay, thank you very much.

51111111111 Votes 5.00

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 2022, pp. 10-18


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

Blog Stats

  • 1,508,693 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 820 other followers
%d bloggers like this: