Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1208, (7 - 13 August 2014)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1208, (7 - 13 August 2014)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Flames of resistance

Israel’s war on Gaza brings regional and international rivalries into sharper focus. For years, everyone acted as if a way would be found to circumvent the Palestinian issue, to shortchange the millions of displaced Palestinians out of their legitimate aspirations, or perhaps even starve them into a disavowal of resistance.

None of this worked. The mighty military machine of the Israelis, the prevarications of the international community, and the wishful thinking of fellow Arabs didn’t stop the confrontation from occurring, yet again, with deadly outcome.

Weeks of Israeli aggression leave no one in doubt that however little the Palestinians may get from the world or fellow Arabs, they have no other choice but to fight back.

In the world of Arab officialdom, it is business as usual. In the streets and villages where Palestinians live, whether at home or in exile, it is a different story.

The Palestinian Authority may be helpless, diplomacy may have run its course, but even under the worst forms of occupation, resistance is hard to repress.

As for the Israelis, they may try to ignore yet again the wave of international outrage, but they know that they cannot silence the Palestinians once and for all — however hard they may try.

Even when your military seems invincible and you have the best of friends in Washington, the sky is not unlimited. There are boundaries to what you can do, and limits to your wanton use of force.

For years, many in this region favoured diplomacy over gunpower, and as another round of talks failed, another diplomatic mission ran out of steam, and another overture disappeared into thin air, even the most deluded optimist had to reconsider.

As the years went by, those who favour armed resistance against Israel seem to have won the argument. If peace has been blocked at every turn, other options had to be revived.

At this crucial juncture, even Arab officialdom may need to rethink its position. Arab countries can turn the Israeli war on Gaza into an opportunity for Arab solidarity. Sanctions on Israel are one way to go, for aggression on this scale cannot go unpunished.

As for the Palestinians, this war should redouble their resolve to stay united and keep all their options — of war as well as peace — open.

The 1993 Oslo Accords may have seemed like a workable idea at the time, but the years since have proved just the opposite. Whenever Israel pulled out of territory that it had occupied, as in Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005, it wasn’t because of the efforts of peace negotiators, but of resistance fighting back.

Recently, a document in Arabic was widely shared on the Internet, detailing a message from Abdel Qader Al-Husseini, who led Palestinian fighters during the 1948 war, to the then secretary-general of the Arab League. “I lay the responsibility at your doorstop, for you left my soldiers at the peak of their victory without help or weapons,”he wrote. This message was dated 6 April 1948.

Al-Husseini’s words ring true today, after so much suffering, displacement, and murder. They ring true even in a region torn by mindless ethnic and sectarian violence.

Sixty years ago, the Palestinian issue was the cause celebre of this region, and it remains so today. Every time we tried to push this issue away, it came back to haunt us.

Egypt fought in 1956 and then many times later because of the Palestinian issue. Lebanon had a civil war and is still ripped apart by divisions because of the Palestinian issue. Indeed, the future stability of this entire region is unthinkable as long as the Israelis are using the Palestinians for target practice.

By engaging in an extreme form of annihilation, Israel believes that it will liquidate the resistance against occupation. But the flame of resistance is only spreading further afield.

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