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Abdelbari ATWAN
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The ‘Nakhba’ – 64th Anniversary

14 Mayıs 2012 Pazartesi

The 64-year occupation of Palestine by the Israelis is the longest-running occupation in Modern History.

For 64 years, Israel has become increasingly ingenious at directing world attention away from the suffering of the Palestinian people – currently towards the ‘War on Terror’, the Arab Spring and Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

The aim is to keep the Palestinian cause at the bottom of the ladder of the world’s diplomatic priorities, even though IDF soldiers have massacred hundreds of women and children in the greatest open prison that is Gaza, even while one illegal settlement after another is built on Palestinian land along with the gargantuan apartheid wall which imprisons both Arabs and Jews in mutual hatred and mistrust.

There is still no Palestinian state – the very least that was acceptable – and now Israeli premier Netanyahu wants Israel’s 1.5 million Arabs to recognize this portion of their homeland as a ‘Jewish’ state. To be robbed not only of their territory but of their very identity.

We do not believe that Netanyahu wants peace. This is why he humiliated and snubbed President Abbas by failing to even answer his recent letter; and why he has continued to sanction more illegal settlements while many of the world’s strongest governments and their representatives at the UN stand silently by.

These governments fail to bring Israel to account, largely because the Zionist lobbies dominate politics and the media in Washington and key European countries.

But also out of a sense of historical guilt. The spectre of the Holocaust and the fear of being accused of anti-Semitism have silenced politicians and journalists for so long, and this silence, in turn, permits the Israelis to carry out their own genocide, their own racism, their own humiliating forms of cruelty…

Also, and most dangerously, Israel has been allowed to develop its own nuclear capability completely unchecked and unsupervised while whipping up an international panic about Iran. And in a great historical irony, as Israel bangs the drums of war with Iran, it is being provided with nuclear submarines by Germany.

Thankfully, Germany has also produced Gunter Grasse, the 84 year old Nobel laureate, who has enraged the Israelis with a poem he published last month called ‘What Must Be Said’ in which he warns that Israel is the most powerful threat to ‘already fragile world peace’.

Grasse says that the Nazi’s ‘incomparable’ crimes against the Jews, and fear of being accused of anti-semitism had prevented him from criticizing Israel for decades but ‘I will be silent no longer,’ he told an interviewer, ‘because I am sick of the hypocrisy of the West’.

As expected, the octogenarian has been savaged by Israel, and the fact that he was a member of the Hitler Youth as a very young boy has been used against him – but this horrible psychological experience of mass hysteria and evil informed his book ‘The Tin Drum’ which is one of the great anti-war literary works.

That Gunter Grasse speaks out is indicative of a welcome new mood in the international community. And the world’s younger generations are not haunted by the spectre of the Holocaust and the communal sense of guilt their parents laboured under.

With the emergence of an independent, satellite and online media, the truth about what is happening in the occupied territories are daily broadcast, uncensored, around the globe. More of the world’s citizens than ever are ‘sick of the hypocrisy’ and their attention reverses Israel’s attempts to obscure the Palestinian cause, and repositions it as the central problem in the region.

There is hope in the response of the world’s citizens who demonstrated against the 2008/9 massacre in Gaza, and again when the Israelis murdered Turkish peace activists as they attempted to bring aid to Gaza in an international Flotilla of boats; who call for the dismantling of the apartheid wall, and an end to the occupation.

Sadly, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is entrusted with representing the Palestinians, is unable to make any diplomatic capital out of this support. It remains toothless, unable to make any headway either with Israel or its Western sponsors.Its members are self-interested, disunited, and corrupt. President Abbas is weak and is himself regularly humiliated by Israelis from their leader to the Border Guards who question his travel permits.

On this 64thanniversary of the original catastrophe, Abbas should dissolve the PA and resign. This would be the best martyrdom effort against Israel and would involve no bloodshed.

Palestinians have tried everything to reclaim their land and dignity: guerrilla warfare, decades of fruitless peace talks, human bombs…but America’s unconditional support for Israel means it has all been in vain. And now there are six brave men on hunger strike.

We believe the third intifada is inevitable. It is only awaiting a spark. Just as Bouazzizi was the spark that ignited the Arab Spring, if one of the heroes of the hunger strikes dies the occupied territories will erupt and maybe this time, the blood of martyrs will not be shed in vain.