Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Palestinian Strategy

There has been a great deal of anxious speculation about what Palestinians really want, the speculation tied to the questionable mandate of a president who has not stood for election since 2005 (and his prime minister who was never elected at all), the anxiety tied to concern that, if you take these men away, a gush of pro-Hamas sentiment will be unplugged. So Israelis, and people in the West more generally, should take a close look at this impressive document from the Palestine Strategy Group, the closest thing there is in Palestine to an independent voice reflecting what the educated center is thinking.

Look, especially, at pp. 6 and 7 of the executive summary for the various strategic options open to the Palestinian leadership. Read Akiva Eldar's analysis. If the Israeli government were serious about peace, or merely about avoiding a diplomatic debacle, it would take to heart the growing power behind the non-violent struggle the Group maps out. September is upon us, and the consequences of Palestinian action in the U.N. are hard to predict. But no Israeli can say the intention behind Palestinian action is mysterious. It is all here and deserves a response.

To my mind, the key to the document can be found in the following passage, with its emphasis on a "rights-based" strategy, appealing to international law. Embedded in this is an evolving view of, among other things, the "right of return," related to the federal political structures to follow after the end of occupation. I'll have more to say about both in the weeks ahead.

From the document:

Strategic option (D): Smart resistance

Smart resistance means an intelligent, focused and flexible use of the various sub-components of the broad strategic option of national resistance in general. These include legal action against Israel in the world’s courts and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns. But the main emphasis in the PSG is on non-violent popular resistance, as demonstrated so powerfully in the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions so far, and elsewhere in the Arab world. Palestinians have been pioneers in this area as in the first intifada 1987.

But now a new chapter needs to be opened because the full force of this strategic option was only partially exploited at that time. It remains a vast and largely untapped resource waiting to be fully activated in the framework of the new Palestinian liberation strategy. The PSG is in general agreement that the scope of popular resistance needs to be broadened and reactivated on all fronts, especially where youth stand to the fore.

The PSG discussed the role of armed resistance and agreed that this is an entirely legitimate tool in international law in cases of foreign occupation. Some see armed struggle as an essential, albeit partial, ‘equaliser’ to Israel’s military power without which Israel will continue to ignore Palestinian demands. Others - probably a majority - think that this is not the moment to emphasise the armed struggle, because it plays to Israel’s strength, provides Israeli right wing elements with propaganda tools to justify the use of force, and enables the nature of the conflict to be misrepresented as a military confrontation between two antagonists rather than a clear-cut case of military occupation.

There was a strong feeling in the PSG that attacks on civilians should play no part in the new national liberation strategy as they are in clear breach of international law, which is what our Palestinian strategy mainly appeals to, and only serves to alienate international opinion.

14 comments:

Y. Ben-David said...

So after years of suicide bombings with their thousands of Israeli casualties, indiscriminate rocket fire and the cold-blooded murder of civilians at close range like what happened in the murder of the high-school student killed by an anti-tank rocket fired at a civilian bus and the murder of the two sisters and their husbands in the Negev attacks, the Palestinians are now gonna convince everyone that the PSG is the "official" form of resistance, which will be somewhat less violent than the previous editions of "resistance". PSG sees the suicide bombings and rocket attacks as "counterproductive".
Now, assuming that these do become the "official" line (PSG is not the Palestinian Authority), all you have to do is get every to forget all the murderous attacks made up until now and the Palestinains will have it made.

Anonymous said...

The link to Palestine Strategy Group is not working for me.

Potter said...

One thing the publishing of this well reasoned strategy document may do is unite Palestinians and that can be a very powerful thing. The anti-peace crowd in Israel has counted on the disunity and the violence ( see Ben-David who does not acknowledge that much of it is retributive).

Palestinian leaders have become impressively smart in this chess game. It will be interesting to see how Obama will react---or what rationale he will give the world for a veto or even an abstention. But maybe the latter is the best people like me can hope for from our Obama.

Anonymous said...

The link decided to work. So I find this very good strategy!!!!!!!!!!

Bella said...

The only thing new in this document is the increased sophistication of the language it uses to make the same old, same old ideas more palatable to an increasingly fatuous international audience.

Douglas said...

I would like to believe that this document is a hopeful sign, but I have three questions that I don't know the answers to but which should be telling: (1) Do Palestinian schools still teach Jew-hatred? (2) Do the PSG members believe two states are the solution or an interim ploy? (3) Ditto the bulk of the Palestinian people?

Potter said...

Douglas, check on bias, racism and discrimination in Israeli schools.

From my last link:

Nurit Peled-Elhanan, an Israeli academic, mother and political radical, summons up an image of rows of Jewish schoolchildren, bent over their books, learning about their neighbours, the Palestinians. But, she says, they are never referred to as Palestinians unless the context is terrorism.

They are called Arabs. "The Arab with a camel, in an Ali Baba dress. They describe them as vile and deviant and criminal, people who don't pay taxes, people who live off the state, people who don't want to develop," she says. "The only representation is as refugees, primitive farmers and terrorists. You never see a Palestinian child or doctor or teacher or engineer or modern farmer."

Peled-Elhanan, a professor of language and education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has studied the content of Israeli school books for the past five years....

Y. Ben-David said...

Potter-You completely ignored Douglas' question about Palestinian racism and antisemitism which is endemic. Whatever racism is present in Israel and its school system is miniscule compared to what the Arab world teaches about Israel and Jews. And you know it, that's why you chose to ignore Douglas' question.
You see, what you are trying to do, like many Left/Progressives is try to show Israel in a bad light to other Left/Progressives, saying "you should not support this racist, ethnocentric country". But if that is the case, you and they should also NOT support the Palestinians and other Arab states, which are far MORE racist than Israel, as I have stated. So we are seeing a double standard. Either ALL racism is bad (assuming that Israel is racist, and Nurit Elhanan-Peled is not a good source given her fringe, extremist views) or not.

Alex said...

"There has been a great deal of anxious speculation about what Palestinians really want ..."

Actually, there is not much speculation at all:

"Nearly two-thirds (66%) of the Palestinians polled said that a two-state solution should at most be an interim stage on the path to a unitary Palestinian state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The poll showed an almost total absence of ability to empathize in any way with Israelis. Ninety-two percent of the Palestinians, for instance, said that Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state only. When asked whether they agreed with the famous hadith attributed to Mohammed and cited in the Hamas Charter, that at the end of time, even inanimate trees and rocks will call out, “There is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him,” 73% answered in the affirmative. In other findings, 72% denied any Jewish historical connection to Jerusalem; 62% supported the kidnapping and holding hostage of Gilad Shalit and other Jewish soldiers; and 53% supported teaching anti-Jewish songs in the Palestinian schools."

Read more: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2011/07/28/new-poll-reveals-what-everyone-knows-or-should-know/#ixzz1XHj07lzE

Y. Ben-David said...

Here is a column by Dr Avishai's good friend, Sam Bahour, whom Avishai is always touting as a "moderate". Read what he says and you will see he will never agree to any sort of compromise peace with Israel. If he is "moderate", what are the extremists like:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/04/palestinians-secular-state

YMedad said...

You are providing figleaf cover for Pal. violence and murder:

My thinking

YMedad said...

and Nurit Peled-Elhanan, wife of an acquaintance, is the daughter of former Progressive List for Peace MK Matti Peled, extreme leftwinger and Canaanite and is incapable of seeing anything normal.

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