When victory is worse than defeat

Mustafa Barghouti
Wednesday 29 Nov 2017

Netanyahu bragged before the Knesset during its celebration of the Balfour Declaration, claiming the Zionist movement triumphed. This is far from true

Netanyahu's recent bragging reminds us of similar conceit displayed by Fukuyama when he announced the final victory of capitalism and the advent of what he called the “end of History” two and a half decades ago.

What are the signs of Israeli victory? The establishment of Israel with the aid of colonial powers as a base for their colonial plans for the region; the ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people in 1948, laying the foundations for the longest occupation in modern history; entrenching the apartheid regime and the worst racial discrimination in the history of mankind; and finally torpedoing stability in the Middle East through waging 11 wars and confronting two Intifadas and innumerable uprisings of the Palestinian people.

The Zionist movement did not triumph but is living its worst crisis because it was founded on realising two objectives. The first was seizing the land, and this was carried out through criminal violence, waging wars and occupation. The second was displacing the Palestinian people and ethnically cleansing the land of Palestine, in which it failed. Despite the forcible displacement that took place in 1948, the Palestinian people learned from their experiences and stood fast on their land and today their numbers on the historic land of Palestine exceed that of Israeli Jews.

In spite of repression, abuse and detention at close to one million cases, in spite of domestication and misinformation attempts, in spite of mistakes and internal Palestinian divisions, the Palestinian existence is a resisting existence in the fullest sense of the word.

Every facet of Palestinian life has become a form of resistance because the conflict revolves around the principle of existence and survival: “To be or not to be.”

Thus, performing prayers became an act of resistance, treating patients became an act of resistance, learning and studying became an act of resistance, working and investment became an act of resistance, cultivating the land became an act of resistance, cultural and artistic creativity became an act of resistance, sports activities became an act of resistance and giving birth became an act of resistance.

Since the Zionist project has awakened Palestinian nationalism, the life of Palestinians was transformed into a liberation project, one of self-preservation and a battle for human dignity.

This doesn’t mean ignoring Israel’s military, economic and intelligence power, nor overlooking its pursuit of normalisation with the Arab and regional sphere at the expense of the Palestinian people.

However, the failure of Israeli military force in achieving the Zionist objectives, 100 years after the Balfour Declaration, has revealed the limits of what the military force could achieve. It has also showed the extent of potential power lying within the civilisational, historical existence and national inspiration for an unarmed Palestinian people, one time after time capable of steadfastness and that continues to struggle following every confrontation.

The signs of Zionist failure are not confined to the local situation. For the path that Israel has walked since 1967, when the West looked upon it as a miracle and an embodiment of the legend of “David versus Goliath,” was the path of moral and political breakdown until it is classified currently in the eyes of young generations as the state responsible for the longest occupation and the worst apartheid in the world. This is very telling.

Undoubtedly, there is great significance to what happened in the streets of London, whose government committed one hundred years ago the crime of the Balfour Declaration. Thirty demonstrators held Israel’s flag in comparison to 50,000 British demonstrators denouncing the Balfour Declaration and demanding their government apologise for it.    

The Obama administration and John Kerry, which was patient with Israel for eight years, abstained from exerting pressure on Israel to stop building settlements and equipped it with the largest volume of military assistance in its history in the hope of convincing it to accept a political solution, was obliged to face the reality of Israeli policy and acknowledge its failure on betting on it.

This was manifest in both the Obama administration’s permission to pass Security Council Resolution 2334 against settlement activity and the leak of John Kerry’s final statements that Netanyahu and his government don’t want peace at any time and were the obstacle hindering it.

Israel might eliminate the possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state and it might kill what they call the “two-state solution” through settlements due to world governments refraining from exerting pressure on it.

However, this won’t bring victory to the Zionist movement, won’t result in anything except deepening the apartheid stain attached to it. and won’t lead to anything except rolling back history and returning to the “one-democratic-state solution” as the only alternative to the apartheid regime.

This regime cannot be preserved and it cannot continue to survive, no matter racial laws, criminal repression and media denials of realities and truth injected into its body.

The writer is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative.

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