Last May, when Pope Francis stopped his entourage to pray briefly at the apartheid wall separating the West Bank from Israel, many heralded that as a symbolic, even unprecedented, gesture. He made another symbolic unprecedented gesture a couple days later when he stopped to pay tribute at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism. The question arises: which symbolic unprecedented gesture carries more weight? Or it might be better to ask: which one is more useless? Judging from his silence during Israel’s Operation Ethnic Cleansing in Gaza, it could be argued the pope threw a couple good prayers away at that wall because symbolic doesn’t cut it when there’s a genocide involved. Neither does silence.
This symbolic gesture thing is getting carried way too far. Now we’re supposed to get all excited that Sweden & the British parliament have “recognized the state of Palestine”. Which state is that? Or more aptly, which bantustate is that? Gaza? Which Israel just spent seven weeks bombing to smithereens; which Israel holds in the grip of a murderous blockade; where Israel just maneuvered a leadership change as a condition to stop it’s genocidal rampage? Or is it the West Bank, while Israel continues expropriating Palestinian lands & moving in thousands of Zionist settlers from all over kingdom come to take over those expropriated lands?
Are Palestinians expected to be satisfied, even jubilant, over that kind of recognition & just symbolic kinds of victories? What about justice? What about self-determination? These phony-assed recognitions are a political scam. Sweden & Britain didn’t utter a peep of objection against Operation Ethnic Cleansing; in 66 years, neither has rendered even a modicum of meaningful support to Palestinians. What about the several million Palestinians still living in refugee camps? What about the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails for resisting land expropriations? What about standing up against Israel for war crimes in Gaza & for reconstruction of Gaza? What about using the immense resources of Sweden & Britain to stay the hand of Israeli genocide & mobilize international support for Palestinians? What about doing something real & not just symbolic?
The two-state solution is dead as a door nail & has been for a very long time. It is definitively buried in mountains of cement rubble that now cover the landscape of Gaza. In order to survive, Palestinians have to compromise & make temporary concessions in negotiations with Israel. But solidarity activists around the world do not have a gun to their heads. Every time one of these nations throw up another symbolic gesture–even of the unprecedented kind–we should stand steadfast for Palestinian justice–which is not a bombed out bantustate or an outpost in the West Bank. It is not the 1967 borders either. It is all of Palestine & a democratic secular state where Jews & Palestinians can live in peace. Some call that a pipe dream. It is more aptly called justice. And it is possible.
This photo is Gaza City which Sweden & Britain so proudly recognized as a Palestinian state. The pipe dream is thinking a bantustate could ever be a worthy alternative to justice.
(Photo by Adel Hana/AP)