Palestinian resistance to the Trump-Netanyahu plan: When quarantine ends the fight will begin
Noura Erakat and Yara Hawari discussed racism and colonialism and tools from international law, for Israeli Apartheid Week
“When quarantine ends, the fight against what the Covid-19 crisis brought out would just be beginning”, highlights of the webinar "Palestinian resistance to the Trump-Netanyahu plan in times of Global Pandemics"
Monday April 6th Noura Erakat, human rights attorney, and Yara Hawari, writer and senior policy analyst, joined a webinar organised by the BDS movement’s Boycott National Committee (BNC). The event was part of a series of webinars organised for Israeli Apartheid Week which this year was organised under the theme United Against Racism, and held around March 21st, the commemoration of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre by South Africa’s apartheid government.
Over 500 people from over 35 different countries participated in the online event, and the video has already been watched over 9,000 times.
Yara Hawari started the webinar reflecting on what the “Deal of the Century” means for Palestinians, since the deal’s vision proposes Palestinian capitualtion. It calls for Palestinians to be enclosed in bantustans, for Gaza to remain besieged, and and for Palestinian refugees to have no rights. Yara added that this deal follows the path of many proposals over the years which would disregard and ersae Palestinian aspirations for sovereignty. The Deal of the Century is just more blatant than past proposals, and spells out what the US administration has long wanted: discontiguous Palestinians lands, or bantustans, controlled by Israel, and no Palestinian statehood. The map emerging from the deal, which surprised many in the international community, actually shows the current geopolitical reality of Palestinian lands. The dehumanization and infantilization of Palestinians, as seen in the “deal,” is nothing new either, and the lukewarm reaction of the international community compounds it. It proposes annexation and violation of all norms under international law.
But Yara concluded that the “Deal of the Century” does provide an opportunity to revise our strategies and take on an internationalist perspective, at the same time that the coronavirus pandemic also compels us to adopt an internationalist perspective. Yes, the virus does not differentiate in who it attacks, but socio-economic conditions determine how we are able to fight it. Poor and oppressed communities will inevitably be worse affected. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have to face this pandemic while living under Israeli control.
It is significant that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a ceasefire worldwide during this period, but did not include occupation, which is ongoing, in that call. Palestinians are facing home demolitions, raids and also having their efforts to tackle the virus blocked (a field clinic in the Jordan Valley destroyed, volunteers arrested in Old City of Jerusalem). Palestinian political prisoners face greater risk of infection.
Noura Erakat began by sharing historical background to the internationalist context and the Palestinian strategy for struggle during the 60s and 70s, relating them to anti-racist and anti-apartheid struggles. She recalled that in 1975, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 which ‘determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination’. This built on the 1973 UN resolution 3151 which condemned, inter alia, the unholy alliance between South African racism and Zionism. At that time the PLO could not generate support to remove Israel from the UN General Assembly, as South Africa was removed. This resolution was the consolation.
This, in turn, followed Israel's non-compliance with the 1967 resolution 242 which affirmed that Israel must withdraw from territories occupied in 1967. Not only did Israel not withdraw from the occupied territories, but also the following negotiations excluded the PLO and ended up being bilateral talks with Arab states. With support from a majority of post-colonial nations, and under Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s leadership, South Africa was expelled from the United Nations in 1974. The PLO was inspired by this move.
However, in the present moment, it is clear that the “Deal of Century” is the logical culmination of Oslo, which is what set the stage by demarcating areas A, B,C and handing over control of land and resources to Israel.
Noura also noted that internationalism or intersectionality are not just lofty slogans. There are claims and actions that make them real and actionable every day. We have been watching with terror as COVID-19 hits Gaza, and Israel’s sanctions regime makes it unlivable. Yara added that a concrete way of supporting Palestinian rights is to support the work being done by organizations on the ground for aid and medical support. It is important to support vulnerable populations, such as political prisoners who are stuck in packed prisons, with Israeli authorities refusing to test or provide any support. The demand for safety of political prisoners can be linked to a larger demand of abolitionism in other places where prisoners are being released to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Noura reminded us that during this quarantine we need to be kind and human at all levels. Since when quarantine ends, the fight against what the Covid-19 crisis brought out will just be beginning. We will have to emphasize many of the things that have been made clear today: that capitalism is the disease, and that carceral regimes are not sustainable. We should also pay attention to the positive examples coming up such as the prisoner releases in Iran, and Ireland nationalising hospitals.
It needs to be asked why are isolation beds and ventilators limited? It’s because hospital management is focused on profits, not emergency health situations.
The webinar concluded with Noura emphasizing that today’s context is no longer dominated by anti-colonial governments, but that anti-colonial framework does exist within social movements. There is no global revolt, but anti-colonialism is an unfinished project. The world is now dominated by forms of neo-colonialism of the global North and of financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank that have deregulated industries, killed the public sector, and imposed debilitating debts. This neocolonialism is what has to be fought. Yara recalled the many protests against neoliberalism that we’ve seen recently in Chile, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and other places last year, which show that there is coalescence happening among movements. She also added that Palestinian civil society and its language has been NGOised - adopting post-colonial frameworks, obscuring economic inequality, and that all this also needs to be challenged.
If you missed the webinar you can still watch it here.