USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Ramzy Baroud: Palestine as a foil for people’s unconnected dreams

Posted by uscsjp on November 4, 2006

Thousands of people recently marched in London to commemorate Quds Day, an annual day of solidarity with the Palestinian people that emanated from Tehran some 26 years ago.

I neither wish to contend nor corroborate the sincerity of the call, made by Ayatollah Khomeini, in a time when the Palestinian people endure, unaided, the unbearable brunt of the Israeli occupation, international isolation and its subsequent economic boycott, and the burden of their leaderships’ own folly, that of factionalism and lack of political coherence.

However, the scene in London was too surreal, and brought into question the usefulness of such displays of solidarity with the Palestinians. As Hezbollah and Iranian flags and banners wavered in the cold London breeze, and posters of Iranian leaders sprung everywhere, I failed to spot one Palestinian flag, one positive message, one helpful chant. It was only when the black clad Neturei Karta rabbis made their entrance that the Palestinian flag was introduced into the march…

As for Palestine the reality — the suffering, the loss, the hopelessness and hurt, the refugee camps, the checkpoints, the expanding settlements, the encroaching Israeli wall, the ruined lives, the packed prisons, the anger and prevailing sense of betrayal, the desperation and human bombs, the shattered economy, the bulldozed orchards, the more than 50 years-long fear of the future — it seems to be the least relevant point.

Symbolic Palestine — Palestine the dream — has for long hijacked Palestine the reality. Thus when Palestine is discussed, examined and scrutinized, the frame of reference is hardly the one invoked when any other similar conflict is discussed. Its resolution is rarely seen pertinent to international law or human rights edicts and is barely understood — as it should be — in terms of power and strategy. Rather it’s a subject of flared imaginations, religious fantasy and fictitious constructs.

One cannot and must not undermine the efforts of the inspiring activists whose awareness of the Palestinian reality on the ground is unmatched and whose sincere efforts to achieve peace with justice in Palestine translate to more than a few heart-rending words and phrases, but steady action and unequaled readiness to labor and even sacrifice for their beliefs.

However, it’s this wrestle between the real as opposed to figurative and abstract awareness that shall define the course of action that is likely to follow.

If Palestine continues to be understood — or misunderstood — outside its proper frame as a national struggle for rights within the appropriately corresponding international context, then little can be expected from any attempts to remedy its ailments.

It is time to distance Palestine from further interpretations and understand it as it is. Otherwise, Palestine, its people and conflict shall be confined to the ever-augmented edifices of rhetoric with no connection to the real aspirations of a real people with real demands, awaiting justice and a moment of peace. (full story)

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