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On solidarity and Kushner’s shame: How Gaza defeated US stratagem, again

Mar 06,2024 - Last updated at Mar 06,2024

Jared Kushner, a former US official whose relationship to power is that he married the wealthy daughter of a man who was later to become the US president, once attempted to teach Palestinians how to handle their own struggle for freedom.

In 2020, he advised Palestinians to stop “doing terrorism”, summing up the Palestinian problem in the claim that ”five million Palestinians are (..) trapped because of bad leadership”, not the Israeli occupation or US support for Israel.

The inexperienced politician, who once bragged about reading 25 books on the Middle East, presented Palestinians with the same clichéd rhetoric already offered to them by other ill-intentioned self-imposed “peacemakers”.

Palestinians “have a perfect track record of missing opportunities”, he said, re-hashing the condescending language once used by Israel’s former minister of foreign affairs, Abba Eban: “If they screw this up, I think that they will have a very hard time looking the international community in the face, saying they are victims”.

But why bring up Kushner now?

Every few years, Americans, at the behest of Israel, peddle such ideas that the Palestinian cause is finished, that solidarity with the Palestinian people is dead and that the Palestinian people and their leadership should accept whatever political or financial crumbs thrown their way, courtesy of Washington, Tel Aviv and a few of their western allies.

Yet, every few years, the Palestinian people prove them wrong; that despite all the pressures — arm-twisting, sanctions, sieges, and relentless violence, they remain strong and not the victims ignorantly dubbed by Kushner.

What Kushner may not know is that there is a critical difference between victim and victimhood. While Palestinians cannot control their victimisation, since it is imposed on them from an outside force, Israel, generously financed by the US, they do not seek to be victims.

Indeed, victimhood is a different issue. It is the state of perceiving oneself as a perpetual victim, with no aspirations, no agency.

While it is true that the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza is one of the greatest crimes of mass killings and ethnic cleansing in modern history, it is also true that no nation, in recent decades, has fought back as ferociously as the Palestinians. This is hardly the behaviour of a victim.

The Joe Biden administration, like every other US administration, has talked down to Palestinians, declaring them foolish for not accepting political deals that would fail to guarantee them the most basic of their long-denied rights. While Palestinians sought total and unconditional freedom, Camp David (1979), the Oslo Accords (1993),the Road Map (2004), and every other “offer” before, during or after were political attempts at prolonging the Israeli occupation and denying the rights of the Palestinians. Kushner’s was not the exception.

All of these previous American “peace proposals” were obviously unfair, as they were to Israel’s advantage and were designed entirely independent from international and humanitarian laws. All of these pro-Israeli proposals have failed, not due to the international community’s ability to challenge Washington, but due to the tenacity of the Palestinian people.

Palestinians defeated the US agenda, but that was not enough to clinch their own freedom, simply because they were in this difficult battle alone.

Solidarity with the Palestinian people has always been one of the pillars of all international solidarity movements worldwide for decades. The phrase “Free Palestine” has been written on countless walls, in every language, in every city, town, or working-class neighbourhood. Still, that solidarity was not enough to turn the tide, to achieve the coveted paradigm shift or to reach the critical mass needed to globalise the struggle for the freedom of the Palestinians the way that the struggle to end South Africa’s apartheid imposed itself as a moral necessity on the whole world.

There should be no illusions that the anti-apartheid struggle of South Africa and the struggle for Palestinian freedom are identical. Back then, the global geopolitical shift made it difficult for Pretoria to maintain its racial segregation regime. Moreover, the power of that racist government, if compared to that of Israel and its backers, is minuscule.

Washington sees Israel as an integral part of the US global influence. For US politicians, Israel is a domestic and not simply a foreign policy issue. Moreover, if Israel ceases to exist in its current dominant form, the US will lose a stronghold in a region teeming with precious resources, strategic waterways and much more. This is precisely why Biden has repeatedly declared “If Israel didn’t exist, we would have to invent it.”

However, things are finally changing, and the new solidarity, ignited in response to the worst killing campaign in the history of the region, has exceeded the confines of conditional solidarity, ideological solidarity and symbolic solidarity, which, to some extent, had defined global solidarity with the Palestinians.

This solidarity is now expressing itself at the highest level of political discourses. In his testimony before the International Court of Justice’s public hearings (February 19-26), China’s representative, Ma Xinmin, went as far as defending, while referencing international law, the Palestinian people’s right to armed struggle. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, called on sanctions on “those who obstruct humanitarian access to those in need”. European governments, such as Spain, Ireland, Norway and Belgium, are using unprecedented language to describe Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, while demanding real action.

The Global South is back at the forefront of championing the cause of Palestine as the world’s most inspiring national liberation struggle.

None of this was born in a vacuum. While the majority of global protests and rallies in post-October 7 were related to Palestine and Israel, 86 per cent of these protests were reportedly pro-Palestine. It is not only the frequency or size of current protests that matter, but their nature as well. This includes a group of Italian youth trying to storm the US consulate in Pisa; Palestine activists taking over the Congress building, and an American soldier self-immolating out of sheer anger at the culpability of his government in the crimes under way in Gaza.

This is truly earth-shattering. The critical mass for meaningful solidarity has finally been achieved, signalling that, once more, Palestinians have imposed themselves as the guardians of their own struggle, standing proudly at the frontline of the global struggle for freedom and justice.

This leaves us with the question: Who is truly “having a hard time looking at the international community in the face?” Certainly, not the Palestinian people.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out”. His other books include “My Father was a Freedom Fighter” and “The Last Earth”. Baroud is a non-resident senior research fellow at the Centre for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

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