Samidoun: Colonial “Deal of the Century” sure to fail; time to fight back and defend Palestine

29 Jan
4:23 PM
Protest against so-called “Deal of the Century”

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network joins our voice with that of Palestinians and all people of conscience around the world in rejecting and condemning Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu’s racist, colonialist, so-called “Deal of the Century.” This “deal” blatantly enshrines settler colonialism and Zionism without even a facade of concern for allegedly universal principles of justice, sovereignty, self-determination and international law from which Palestinians are systematically excluded. 

While we are entirely certain of the utter failure of this “war plan” for occupied Palestine (it is certainly not any form of plan for peace) when confronted with the unified rejection of the Palestinian and Arab peoples and all supporters of justice around the world, we also emphasize the urgency of escalating our struggle to confront Zionism and imperialism and bring about their defeat.  This must mean expanding our campaigns for boycott, divestment and sanctions with material effect; defending Palestinian resistance and advancing the demand for freedom for Palestinian political prisoners.

From Balfour to Trump

It is no surprise that this has been labeled the “Deal of the Century” – after all, it has been for just over 100 years that Palestinians have been fighting back against colonization in their homeland. The division of the Arab world under the Sykes-Picot agreement and British colonialism in Palestine led directly to the Balfour declaration, in which a British lord granted land that was not his – and was, in fact, the land of the indigenous Palestinian people – to the European colonialist Zionist movement. Palestinians were dismissively referenced as nothing more than the “existing non-Jewish communities.”

Today, Trump once again speaks with the perspective of an imperial lord, doling out land and property that is not his in the interests of imperial power and its partner, Zionist colonialism. For over a century, however, Balfour’s plan and its disastrous consequences, backed as they have been by imperial power, military might and capitalist billions, have failed on the rocky shoals of Palestinian existence and resistance, steadfast in all forms, from intifada until intifada, with a revolutionary vision of liberation that propels the struggle to continue for victory against all the forces of reaction, racism and repression.

Electioneering with Palestinian Blood

Of course, the show in the White House today – attended by a slew of notorious, right-wing Zionists, including billionaire political donor Sheldon Adelson, sitting in the front row after bankrolling Trump’s campaign, and genocide promoter Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project, responsible for repeated frivolous lawsuits targeting professors, students and people of conscience who speak about Palestine – was also a campaign moment for its ultra-right hosts, Trump and Netanyahu. The fact that this colonial celebration was also backed by fellow Israeli politician Benjamin Gantz highlights the fact that Zionist political competition is only over how to manage the theft of Palestinian land and the taking of Palestinian lives, rather than over the nature of the state itself. Netanyahu was indicted for corruption today, while Trump is under impeachment and facing growing popular demands for real change, like Medicare for All, free public education and ending endless wars, that imperil his re-election campaign.

The distraction from these failing politicians’ electoral crises, however, threatens a very real price for the millions of Palestinians who are threatened by their edicts as they seek to legitimize the ongoing apartheid, land confiscation, home demolitions, mass incarceration, extrajudicial execution, siege on Gaza, denial of refugees’ right to return, ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and many more ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity. This international electoral sideshow is not simply a display for the cameras; it is built on a foundation of Palestinian blood.

The Colonial Alliance: Imperialism, Zionism, Arab reaction

The announcement of the “deal” once again laid bare that Palestinians continue to face the same enemy camp that they have confronted from the earliest days of the struggle: imperialism, Zionism and Arab reaction, with Zionism taking the form of both the Israeli settler-colonial project itself and the Zionist movement that backs it with political and economic support and alliances with Western imperialist powers. Trump and Netanyahu boasted of the presence of the ambassadors of Bahrain, Oman and the UAE at the press conference, the latest reflection of the involvement of these reactionary regimes and their kings and princes not only in slaughtering the people of Yemen but in wholeheartedly siding with their imperialist sponsors to attack the Palestinian cause, at the heart of any movement for Arab liberation.

Of course, U.S. imperialism is the leading force of terror and destruction in the world. All of the numerous references to “fighting terrorism” in Trump and Netanyahu’s speeches are, in fact, demands for utter surrender from not only the Palestinian people, but the people of the world, who they demand be forbidden from fighting back against the powerful states that confiscate their land, resources and wealth. The vision of this “plan” is not restricted to Palestine alone, but aims to serve as a blueprint for imperialist domination of the region and ongoing Zionist regional hegemony, even as those face a growing crisis as popular and political forces resist and overcome reactionary invasions, sanctions and other attacks.

Apartheid as a solution

The so-called “deal of the century” promotes the annexation of illegal Israeli colonial settlements, the confiscation of the fertile land of the Jordan Valley, complete denial of sovereignty over the skies and the seas for the indigenous people of Palestine and the construction of a complex network of tunnels and roads under complete Israeli security control for Palestinians to move back and forth between their isolated Bantustans. The “recognition of Israel as a Jewish state” is nothing more than a demand for official recognition of racism, permanent inequality for Palestinians and justification for ethnic cleansing. It views Jerusalem as a mosque for “Muslims to visit” rather than a thriving Palestinian and Arab city under occupation. It demands “demilitarized” Palestinians, while the Israeli military, backed by U.S. military aid of $3.8 billion annually and serving as one of the largest U.S. proxy forces in the region, continues its domination.

Image: Days of Palestine

Trump’s deal is a blueprint for apartheid as a solution and, in many ways, a reflection of the current reality in Palestine. It underlines once more the failure of the so-called “peace process” and the dead-end of the “two-state solution.” In reality, the best response to Trump, Netanyahu and the Zionist-imperialist regime in Palestine is the decolonization and total liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea, the dismantling of the Zionist colony and the construction of a truly just future.

A Vision for Capitalist Exploitation

Imperialism is a capitalist project, and this is incredibly clear in the lengthy document establishing Trump’s vision for how exactly this particular form of apartheid should be financed and constructed in order to make Palestinian labor and resources most friendly to the exploitation of Zionist and international capital. It repeatedly demands of its envisioned Palestinian Bantustans that they must be “business-friendly,” welcoming to “multinational corporations” and “foreign direct investment.” They are also ordered to protect “private property” – while the private property of Palestinians confiscated by Zionist forces in the Nakba remains stolen without justice, return or even compensation. Not only is the Trump “plan” an attempt to liquidate Palestinian struggle for national liberation, it is equally an attack on the ongoing Palestinian struggle for social and economic liberation, attempting to stamp out the vision of a Palestinian and Arab socialist future.

It must also be noted that while the plan is an appalling affront to any notion of justice or principles of international law and a blatant attempt to put Palestine on the market block for electoral votes for Trump and Netanyahu personally, it is also not a sharp break from but a continuation of U.S. imperialist policy in Palestine and the region more broadly. The apartheid “map” of bantustans accompanying the so-called “plan” bears a striking resemblance to those that have been promoted time and again through the “peace process,” while more Palestinian land is stolen and lives are taken. The demilitarization of Palestine, denial of sovereignty and self-determination, confiscation of air and water rights, promotion of “land swaps” and the use of “state” as an empty term that carries no meaningful independence or self-determination have all been part of the disastrous Oslo process.

From Oslo to Trump: End Security Coordination

The centerpiece of the Trump plan’s demands for Palestinian surrender includes an even more detailed vision of Palestinian agents working on behalf of Israel to criminalize and repress Palestinian resistance. As has been repeatedly observed by Palestinians, the occupier and the colonizer always seeks to create a local entity to carry out the work of the occupier – and then intensifies its further demands for subordination. The Trump-Netanyahu document claims to feign concern for Palestinian judicial independence, while simultaneously demanding intensified repression specific “counter-terror” courts and prosecutions. The Palestinian Authority has, in fact, degraded Palestinian rights, through political detentions, judicial interference and “cybercrimes” prosecutions – as part and parcel of the Palestinian Authority’s “security coordination” with Israel, a process overseen by U.S. military authorities and developed under U.S. training. As we mark the Weeks of Solidarity with Ahmad Sa’adat, we note that this imprisoned Palestinian leader was kidnapped by Israel from a Palestinian Authority jail, where he was held under a security coordination deal under U.S. and British guards.

Perhaps the most devastating outcome of the Oslo process has been “security coordination,” under which the PA continues to detain Palestinians and attack the resistance, even while engaging in public political skirmishes with Israeli officials. In order to develop a unified Palestinian resistance to the “Deal of the Century,” there is no more urgent task than bringing an end, once and for all, to PA “security coordination” with Israel and freeing all political prisoners held in PA jails.

Under attack: Prisoners, refugees, ’48 Palestinians

Palestinian prisoners, a core issue in the liberation struggle for Palestinians, are raised in section 15 of the complete Trump plan, in a dismissive context that seems determined to extract political surrender as a requirement to release even one of the 5,000 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel for their involvement in the liberation struggle. “Each prisoner who is released will be required to sign a pledge to promote within their community the benefits of co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians, and to conduct themselves in a manner that models co-existence. Prisoners who refuse to sign this pledge will remain incarcerated,” the document reads. The model of “co-existence” promoted throughout the document means nothing more than surrender and liquidation of the Palestinian people and the enshrinement of Zionist racism, an unacceptable condition for any Palestinian jailed as a struggler for freedom.

It specifically excludes “Israeli citizens,” specifically those Palestinians of ’48 imprisoned for their role in fighting for the liberation of their land and people – just as these prisoners face a renewed attack by Naftali Bennett, intended to impose impoverishment and collective punishment on their families as they languish behind bars. This is far from the only disturbing content in Trump’s plan for Palestinians in ’48 – not only does the “recognition of Israel as a Jewish state” exclude these 1.2 million citizens, but its inclusion of “land swaps” for “populated and unpopulated areas” appears to envision a mechanism for the Zionist regime to transfer its unwanted Palestinian population – and their citizenship – to the isolated and subjugated Bantustans it promotes.

The entire Palestinian population – in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank, besieged Gaza, colonized ’48 and in exile and diaspora in the camps and around the world – are under attack in this plan. The plan’s section on “Refugees” erases the existence of the Nakba, creates a false equivalence between Palestinian refugees and Jewish Arabs (rather than seeing both properly as peoples victimized by Zionism and colonialism) in which they can be exchanged for one another and attempts to obscure by all means the fact that Palestinian refugees remain refugees today, even those who have obtained citizenship elsewhere, excluded from their homeland and their right to return home, because of the systematic Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the Nakba of 1947-1948.

Palestinian refugees do need civil and human rights in their countries of refuge, but those will never be accomplished through alliances with the very states and entities perpetrating their ongoing dispossession and exclusion in violation of international law and fundamental principles of justice. Instead, Palestinian refugees need their civil, human, social and economic rights so that they can live their lives and fully participate in the struggle for the liberation of their occupied homeland, from the river to the sea, and in the struggle for the liberation of the entire region from the yoke of reaction and imperialism.

Confronting the comprehensive attack on Palestinian resistance

Finally, we note that at the core of this so-called “plan” is a comprehensive attack on Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people’s right to struggle by all means to liberate their occupied homeland and obtain freedom from colonialism. Liberation struggle is recast as “terrorism” by the states responsible for terrorizing the peoples of the world in their drive for complete control over resources and wealth. The Palestinian people have created and built their liberation movements to struggle in all forms, and it is those resistance movements and revolutionary forces that have obtained every victory achieved by the Palestinian people through over 70 years of struggle.

The demand for Palestinian “demilitarization” amid intense Zionist militarism is nothing more than a demand for surrender and liquidation. The casting of Palestinian resistance organizations as “terror groups” is a malicious smear that is meant to confuse people around the world. Almost every liberation struggle in the world includes armed struggle as part of a comprehensive program of resistance to colonization, from Vietnam, to Algeria, to South Africa, to the fight to end slavery and achieve Black liberation in the U.S. The same is true of the Palestinian resistance.

If we are to fight back against the agenda expressed in the Trump-Netanyahu “plan,” we must fight back against every attempt to label Palestinian resistance as “terror.” This means fighting to scrap so-called “terror lists” and designations that label Palestinian freedom fighters as terrorists in the U.S., Canada, European Union, Britain and elsewhere. These types of laws serve to repress Palestinian diaspora and solidarity organizing around the world and attempt to isolate those Palestinians who sacrifice the most to defend their land and people from apartheid and colonialism. Over 5,000 Palestinians are imprisoned under the false label of “terror,” while states that justify regime change wars through appeals to “democracy” exclude democratically supported Palestinian leaders by applying the “terror” label.

European complicity in anti-Palestinian repression

Right now, Palestinian grassroots and non-governmental organizations are facing a new European Union policy demanding that they sign agreements that no one associated with any of the Palestinian major political parties are involved with their work and their programs, even at the most public of political levels. Israeli officials like Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan (the so-called “anti-BDS minister” – who also runs the Israel Prison Administration – travels the world to smear organizations that fight for Palestinian rights and defend Palestinian prisoners, all with vague allegations of “connections” to major political parties slapped with the bogus “terror” label. If the European Union and other parties claim to want a just alternative to the Trump-Netanyahu surrender demand, they can begin by ending this anti-democratic attack on Palestinian human rights and political expression.

They can continue further by ending the ongoing attempts to criminalize and repress organizing for the boycott of Israeli apartheid in Germany, Austria and elsewhere in Europe. These repressive attacks violate the rights of Palestinian communities in Europe and of all people concerned for justice to uphold basic human rights principles against apartheid. Today’s announcement made clear to many that Trump and Netanyahu promote apartheid as a solution. For every one of those people, the first response should be clear: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and the international isolation of Israel.

Toward the Liberation of Palestine

The grotesque Netanyahu-Trump spectacle in Washington, D.C., in the end, changes nothing. It provides us with a document of their envisioned blueprint, a reflection of the realities that Palestinians are confronting on a daily basis. Trump and Netanyahu have no authority to alter international law or legitimize colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and we are certain that the unified strength and resistance of the Palestinian people will once again bring this “plan” crashing down on the shores of defeat.

We cannot, however, be silent or ignore this latest attack. The strategic alliance of our enemies is clear: imperialism, Zionism, Arab reactionary forces. Now is the time to build our strategic alliance for a future of freedom and justice from the river to the sea: working together to stand for a vision of the total liberation of Palestine – and, indeed, the liberation of the world. Now is the time to build our movements, strengthen our alliances, and escalate the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to the international isolation of Israel. It is also perhaps more urgent than ever to defend the Palestinian resistance, whose very right to struggle for freedom is facing a severe and comprehensive attack.

As Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, we also emphasize the critical importance of escalating campaigns everywhere to free the 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails, many subject to severe torture. These are the leaders of the Palestinian liberation movement and the Palestinian people and securing their freedom is essential to the liberation of Palestine.

Just as we stand to confront Trump and Netanyahu, we must also stand with those who defend indigenous sovereignty against U.S., Canadian and Australian settler colonialism, with the Black Liberation movement, with all those in the Arab world who struggle for justice and confront reactionary regimes, with those fighting for justice for migrants and refugees and against racism and oppression in all forms, with workers on the picket lines and organizing for justice,  with Venezuela, Cuba and all of the people in Latin America fighting to defend their land from rapacious imperialism and right-wing coup forces, with the people of the Philippines resisting killings and repression, with the movements on the streets of India defending people’s rights against fascist attacks, with those fighting to bring down the sanctions devastating the people of Iran, with all of the movements, peoples and nations who confront imperialism, exploitation and injustice.

Every victory for the struggles of the people, every defeat for imperialism is also a victory for Palestine. We will celebrate them together in Jerusalem, the liberated capital of Palestine.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free! 

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Photo: Activestills

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