Beyond solidarity: What next?

Nabeel Abu Ata (Photo: Jordan News)
The Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has turned into a symbol for how humanity stands united in the face of discrimination, apartheid, and occupation. Sheikh Jarrah brought to mind the history of ethnic cleansing in the towns of 1948’s Palestine, which is still ongoing in what is left of 1967’s West Bank. However, when the global show of support gradually wanes, who will protect Palestinians from revenge?اضافة اعلان

It is admirable how the Arab youth in 2021 feel stronger than their ancestors were. They are spearheading the same fight for freedom but with social media ammunition, which has galvanized global solidarity with the Palestinian cause, leading to the shaming and postponement of the ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem.

Those eloquent and determined activists are not only turning the table on the aggressors, who mastered playing victim on mainstream media, but are also compelling the immediate retirement of a generation of third-class advocates of the cause who squandered a quarter of a century in futile negotiations. They don’t count on or blame their Arab governments or the West Bank authority, but are only demanding to hold up the security and commercial ties’ romance with the occupation until they can bring about a worldwide trial to expose the apartheid, interdict the disgraceful property theft, and criminalize the subjugation of Palestinians. 

They are not alone. The biggest cities of the world were flooded with protestors, an Italian port’s workers refused to load a shipment of weapons destined to Ashdod, and A-list celebrities spoke firmly against the oppression. None of them was confused by the mainstream media bias, which was quick to vilify Gaza’s rockets reaction; choosing it as their start point of the narrative.

Inspired by MLK’s words “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, Viola Davis, Mark Ruffalo, Susan Sarandon, Michael B Jordan, Lena Headey, Roger Waters, Bella and Gigi Hadid, John Cusak, Eric Cantona, a thousand Irish artists, and many others across the world not only shared statements of support, they have called for action. Ruffalo shared a petition calling for sanctions to achieve full and equal civil rights to Palestinians, Davis posted a ten-image presentation titled “Let’s talk about what’s going on in Sheikh Jarrah”, which was shared later by Natalie Portman with a solidarity message. John Oliver dedicated his show to contest the “tit-for-tat” term used in reporting the power imbalance, which results in exponential suffering on the Palestinians’ side while Waters continued to pour scorn on the occupation’s supporters, complementing the 25 US congressional representatives’ criticism of their administration’s policy.

Despite the massive civilian fatalities, horrific damage in Gaza, and the fear among Arab families, there is no bigger loser in this than the globally exposed and humiliated apartheid government and its occupation’s war machine. The 73-year façade of democratic rule that domesticated Arabs as second-class residents and forced a de facto demographic distortion in the occupied territories has collapsed in a matter of days and the Palestinian identity reinvigorated in the strongest forms. Ironically, they were not the only losers of credibility and devotees; the radical telepreachers and YouTubers who manipulated the teachings of Islam for decades, ardently rallying Arabs to a holy war in Damascus, have joined the losers’ list, being condemned for failing to take a stance for Palestine.

The myth of a religious conflict was toppled forever when the occupation invaded Al-Aqsa Mosque with stun grenades and tear-gas bombs, yet, no one but the Palestinians themselves whether Christians, Muslims, Bahai, Samaritans, or atheists reacted. The world has finally endorsed the Palestinian struggle as a humanitarian cause, a resistance against ethnic cleansing, and their strife for dignity. Standing with Palestine knows no nationality, skin-color, religion, or ethnicity and it certainly does not mean standing against Jewish people. Many moderate Israelis and a wide base of Jews around the world raised their voices courageously and disowned the right-wing apartheid rule. There is an expanding realization that criticizing the occupation and its proponents is not synonymous to anti-Semitism. Bernie Sanders’ New York Times opinion piece exemplifies this conviction when he verbatim blamed the right-wing government’s intolerant and authoritarian type of racist nationalism for legitimizing extremists’ violence. He wrote: “It is saddening and shocking that racist mobs that attack Palestinians on the streets of Jerusalem now have representation in its Knesset.”

But what will guarantee protection for the Palestinian after this solidarity sidetracks? 

The mobilization of the activists is the only protection; but they must translate the global backing into an alliance for legal action aiming at documenting the crimes, guaranteeing protection for civilians against assaults, lobbying for sanctions against the war machine, and finally, establishing an internationally recognized tribunal for the right of return of Palestinians.

Perseverant campaigning may fine-tune the narrative to include hesitant Israelis who have been opposing, yet silent, witnesses to their government’s apartheid crimes. Those people will elect their own version of FW De Klerk who will negotiate with a million Palestinian Mandelas in the making.

We must remember that Reagan’s and Thatcher’s blind endorsement of the South African apartheid regime was overridden by a US congressional majority and a firm opposition in the UK leading to sanctions on South Africa; which paved the way for De Klerk to end the segregation laws and dismantle the apartheid system. The rise of a new world alliance of humanity and equality is promising a repeat of history as it rebuffs the brutality of police everywhere, opposes autocrats’ terrorizing mobs across the world, resists systematic discrimination based on color, ethnicity, and gender, and definitely contests support for this apartheid and occupation army atrocities. Injustice in Palestine will end. 

Read more opinions.