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Making the Palestinian Cause Political Again - By Hazem Saghieh, Asharq Al-Awsat



In descriptions of the Palestinian cause, several terms- concepts were popularized by the “Rejectionist Front” and “Axis of Resistance”, among them: it is a war of existence, not borders. It is a question that the Palestinians do not have the right to settle, as it is of an Arab nationalist nature. It is a struggle that neither an Arab leader nor all Arab leaders combined have the right to end because the masses have the final say. It is a struggle that a single generation cannot solve, for Palestine is owned by a succession of Arab generations. It is a war in which one ought not humanize the enemy...
The struggle, then, is one for existence, and it is being waged against demons who ought not be humanized, as for those directly implicated, they cannot provide a solution to it, nor can a ruler, a group of rulers or even a generation...
Whoever is skeptical about this description should recall that 120 years have passed since the problem began, and there is no guarantee that the next 120 years will solve it.
The fact is, a problem with these characteristics ceases to be a problem: problems are solvable, if not today, tomorrow, and if not under these conditions, then under others. That which is not solvable ceases to be a problem. It becomes a legend.
The description above leaves the Palestinian question far-removed from reality, reason, and, thus, from history. It becomes more akin to legend.
Some might say that the solution exists: the liberation of Palestine and the abolition of the State of Israel, and perhaps its society as well, through armed resistance. But this keeps the problem unresolved, because it is simply not a solution. It is more of a half-backed and costly joke.
The reasons behind this recap, always necessary, of the state that the Palestinian question has come to be in, are at least four, and they all address liberating both the scene and the spectator:
First, liberating the Palestinians from the burden of an unresolvable problem, as the insolubility turns their lives into a group of unresolvable problems, deadly suffering with limited prospects for alleviation.
Second, liberating the Palestinian cause from the ease with which it is exploited. Only when it is presented as a solvable problem will it become possible to prevent its use as a bargaining chip in the hands of regimes that keep promising to "liberate Palestine" and "pray in Al-Aqsa".
Third, liberating the Arab peoples from being blackmailed by an unsolvable problem. This is what we saw, in its clearest form, in the Syrian experience: hitting back at the revolution in the name of fighting Israel and liberating Palestine.
Fourth, liberating politics in the Arab world from the virus that is the prevalent image of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as unsolvable, for this image reinforces the image of sectarian and ethnic divisions as similarly unresolvable.
In fact, the strategy followed by the axis of resistance is: enlarging the rock to avoid throwing it. The cause is given adjectives like singular uniqueness and said to be “the compass”, that nothing that meets this description happens. Either we liberate and pray in Al-Aqsa, or we do nothing, while shooting at and vilifying all actions that diverge.
What is needed, on the other hand, is a reinvigoration of the Palestinian cause, i.e. liposuction that removes fats of history, divinity and fate from it. All that fat has made its body very obese, unable to move, but its size blocks all other paths.
After that, the cause’s political body, that is, the issues of politics, rights and interests is what should be preserved. If this were to happen, the Palestinian cause could be brought back to reality and history, at the expense of the rejectionist-axis of resistance interpretation, that is, that of Iran and Syria, which have thrived on despair and invested in Israel’s obstinacy and the failure to confront it. Only with such restoration would life be breathed back into the Palestinian cause, turning it once again into a living struggle with living questions: Only thus could various opinions be discussed. Whoever wishes to defend armed confrontation would be able to do so, as well as those who wish to defend reaching a settlement, defend the right of return or claim that the right of return is not possible, etc.... We would be able to disagree about it without hurling accusations of treason and treachery at whoever does not believe in the divinity of the cause. We would take it from the realm of divinity to the realm of politics, from absolute to relative.
Hannah Arendt, a German American political scientist, speaking about the Jewish experience, refers to what she considers “its most powerful myth”. Throughout history, in contrast to all other nations, Jews ‘‘were not history-makers but history-sufferers, preserving a kind of eternal identity of goodness whose monotony was disturbed only by the equally monotonous chronicle of persecutions and pogroms.’’ Arendt believed that this view exonerates the victim of
any responsibility, that it extracted problems of Jewish identity and suffering throughout history essentialized Jews as victims. Such a view, Arendt claims, cut off Jewish history from European and world history, and created a state of mind that she defined as ‘‘worldlessness.’’
Such a critique is necessary in our case, keeping one of the main differences in mind: allies of the Jewish cause been supporting it since the famous Balfour Declaration, while the allies of the Palestinian cause are lip-service allies who want the cause to support them more than they support it. They only fill it with hot air.

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