Is Guardian columnist’s call for return to ‘Palestinian Revolution’ a euphemism for Intifada?

A guest post by Tom Wilson

The leaking of over 1000 confidential Palestinian documents pertaining to negotiations with Israel could and indeed have been interpreted in a wide variety of ways.  The most optimistic have pointed to the revelations as a sign of how possible a negotiated two state solution could be considering how tantalisingly close it seems the two sides have already come.  They show quite clearly that both sides are capable of accepting the notion that real concessions will need to be made if peace is to be achieved.  Yet such positivity is not the order of the day for the Guardian’s Karma Nabulsi who has taken a rather different perspective on the matter.

For Nabulsi it seems as if the very fact that the Palestinian Authority would even contemplate reciprocating Israel’s concessions by making similar moves of their own is nothing short of an act of treason against the Palestinian people.

Outdoing the finest spokespeople and propagandists of Hamas, Nabulsi wastes no time in pouncing on the opportunity to both condemn the Palestinian Authority and triumphantly declare that what she describes as the ‘seemingly endless and ugly game of the peace process’ is over.  But if peace talks are over then what exactly does that leave in their place?  A return to the dark days of suicide bombings and the street to street gun battles of the Intifada?  Nabulsi doesn’t say, but nor does she initially suggest any other alternatives for the Palestinians either.

Nabulsi is quite open about claiming that the negotiated peace process was at odds with what Palestinians actually desired, stating boldly:

‘For the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, official Palestinian policy over these past decades has been the antithesis of a legitimate, or representative, or even coherent strategy to obtain our long-denied freedom’.

Again the question has to be asked; if the route of non-violence and negotiations are not the way forward for Palestinians then are we left to assume that the uncompromising violence championed by Hamas is?  After all Nabulsi, lambasts the Palestinian negotiators readiness to make concessions as:

‘[the] surrender of every one of our core rights under international law’.

Almost as startling is the way in which she goes onto condemn British and US state building efforts, the attempts to build the institutions of Palestinian statehood from the ground up, as ‘colonial’ and assistance for ‘Israeli military expansion’.

It’s no great secret that the Fatah led Palestinian Authority has been guilty of both corruption and serious human rights abuses but Nabulsi goes so far as to seriously claim that the entirety of the Palestinian Authority is nothing more than a ‘racket’ engaged in a ‘brutal process of subjugating an entire people’.  Nabulsi argues that they have become such because of what she calls ‘terrifying coercion’ from western governments.

While Nabulsi can find no words of praise for the attempts for peace made by the Palestinian leadership she does however seem to look rather more favorably upon the methods of the Marxist Revolutionary and Viet Cong leader Ho Chi Minh.  Indeed ultimately Nabulsi advocates for what she refers to as the ‘unassailable strength of a popular mandate’ and yet given the above example that she cites it would seem that Nabulsi is not in fact referring to democratic elections at all.  Rather she concludes her piece by calling for the restoration of the ‘Palestinian Revolution’.

Can she really be referring to the carnage of Intifada?

(Tom Wilson is studying for a PhD in Israeli politics at London’s UCL.  As well as being Co-Chair of the UCL Jewish Society, Tom is also a researcher for Beyond Images and is the London representative for the conflict resolution and democracy promotion group StandforPeace.)

13 replies »

  1. Why should Nabulsi be afraid of an armed intifada in the WB?!
    She is in the UK in a very secure environment so her precious skin wouln’t be scratched. That thousands other Palestinians would die in vain? Who gives a shit!

  2. thanks
    would things be better, if they were forced to participate in any “revolution” they lobby for?
    Kouchner is said to have done so and the results are as best I can see “makes no difference”

  3. As with many of Mr Wilson’s articles, his misrepresentation of what people might or might not think really is not smooth at all. As we very well know, but he blissfully ignores because it does not fit his agenda, ‘revolution’ and ‘intifada’ do not mean ‘violence’. If he has studied the conflict properly (and I hope to God that he has, considering the course he is attending, but from his writing I seriously doubt he has) he would know that the most effective resistance the Palestinians ever carried out was the civil rights movement of the people when there was overwhelming support for the men of the people in the municipalities from 1976 till 1982 (when Israeli officials stopped the work of elected municipalities and appointed collaborators instead who fit their agenda). More Israelis than ever were turning against the occupation during that period, the Israeli military was puzzled as to what to do since the mayors weren’t inciting violence at all and even Time magazine was reporting Israeli terrorism against mayors of Palestinian cities. Knowing Dr Nabulsi, this is what she was referring to in her article – the dissolution of the PA and the creation of a new civil rights movement by the Palestinians against Israeli racism.

  4. I think the writer of this article is misrepresenting everything and dangerously wrote half-truths.
    At first, when he referrs to the revolution, he talks about the suicide bombers and what he maliciously calls ”the intifada carnage”. Needless to say, this expression aims to portray Israel which occupies Palestine as victim and on the other hand, depicts Palestinians as the aggressor. He purposely forgot that the Intifada was, above all, was a reaction against the Israeli mass killing of Palestinian people and colonizing their land. It was Israel that slaughter Palestinians during the years of Intifada, not the vice versa. While 1000 Israelis were killed, more than 5000 Palestinians were massacred by the Israeli war machine and more than 11000 were arrested _ more than 400 children among them. The suicide bombing was a reaction against the endless Israeli massacres against Palestinians, and an act aimed against the decades of Israeli occupation and theft of Palestinian land.
    Obviously, the writer defends the ‘peace’ process because it allows the tanks and aircrafts of the Israeli occupation to kill Palestinians peacefully and to colonize their land. The so-called peace process gave the Israelis the opportunity to bring more Jews settlers from Europe to Palestine who continously, and without any counter reaction, to replace the everyday-expelled Palestinians out of their homes.
    Clearly, this is a peace from the colonizer’s perspective. For Palestinians, however, it’s rightly called: peace of the graveyard.
    Palestinians have the right to revolt against the Israeli occupation. All nations living under military occupation have the right according to the international law to resist the foreign colonization of their land. Not surprisingly, as the case of all colonizers, the writer of this piece does not want the colonized to fight for his rights. The writer wants Palestinians to negociate for the sake of negotiations, so Israel wins time and occupies more land. Indeed this is an effeminate approach.

  5. Ammar

    if I get your right you are looking forward to suicide bombers focussing on the area where you live. I understand the feeling. Everyday life is so drear the excitement of riding in a bus while experiencing the thrill that it might blow up any minute is hard to surpass.

    But maybe you are a cave dweller feeling smug and safe and sure that nobody would select your “home” for a target, most of all because you are too inconsequential.

  6. Silke – that’s blatantly not what Ammar meant and you are nearly as skilled as Mr Wilson at misrepresentation. If you know about longer than 10 years of the Palestine issue, you would know that Intifada does not mean suicide bombings. Also, stooping as low as a personal insult says a lot about you. Well done for invalidating anything you said by that personal jibe.

  7. Silke

    Anon is correct saying that “Intifada does not mean suicide bombings.”
    He means that Inifada does not mean suicide bombings only it includes lynching Jews and stoning Israelis too.

    When he says that “not what Ammar meant ” he interprets this sentence of Ammar that “Palestinians have the right to revolt against the Israeli occupation. All nations living under military occupation have the right according to the international law to resist the foreign colonization of their land.”, he certainly doesn’t speak about the right to exploding in pizza parlors and slaughtering tourists he thinks about something esoteric spiritual Jihad.

    Intifada does not mean suicide bombings.

  8. Peter
    for an outsider like myself it is always hard to label news like this one:

    Is that part of Intifada as the two A-s want me to understand it?

    or what is it?

    As you know I am German and part of my national identity is, that I am very concerned about the welfare of my car’s coating (damage to window is catastrophe).

    Therefore the Israeli habit of not describing minutely the scratches on their cars baffles me again and again.

    Aren’t cars Israelis’ best loved toys? Don’t they have a heart?

  9. Silke

    I prefer to drive old rustbuckets so one or more scratch can be considered some kind of art-deco pieces. (But decorate them with stones is not my first choice.)