Thirty years ago the Oslo Accords promised the Palestinians the very attractive two-state solution. There was no real Hamas then, just Intifada kids throwing stones, and yet settlements mushroomed, more land grabbed, more Palestinians oppressed, etc. In 2006 Gaza was placed under siege. Nobody in the region, i.e., the people, not the puppet regimes, believes in the two-state solution anymore, let alone the Palestinians. The 7th of October is a watershed, and nothing will ever be the same again. There was a chance to achieve a viable peace if the Arab Spring had been allowed to unfold freely and representative governments had been allowed to emerge, but instead counter-revolutions were plotted, financed by the puppet regimes in the region and given political cover by the Western governments.
Many politicians, commentators in the mainstream media and researchers in leading think tanks have short memories or pretend to ignore the previous Israeli repressive campaigns: Operation “Cast Lead” in December 2008/January 2009, “Returning Echo” and “Pillar of Defense” in 2014, “Strong Cliff” in 2018, “Black Belt” in 2019, the shelling of Gaza last Ramadhan, the incursions and provocations of the far right in Al-Aqsa since the fanatical religious right joined the ruling government in Tel Aviv. The West Bank underwent a savage repressive campaign by both the army and the settlers last summer, amid a complicit and deafening international silence. The orphans of Cast Lead, raised by the Arab Spring, are the ones we see in the ranks of Hamas today.
The people of the region, and especially the youth, who are witnessing the genocide in Gaza on television and social media, see the following: the establishment media in the West and their clones in the region excel in disinformation and propaganda, and utter disregard for Palestinian lives; they call those killed in Gaza by Israel’s relentless bombardment simply dead (as if from natural causes or disasters), while the others: killed by Hamas. Even the basics of objective reporting are abandoned and voices are silenced: Most of the Western heavy media blindly adopt the Israeli narrative and fabrications, and are afraid to apologise when they turn out to be simply wrong, as in the case of the New York Times, which finally admitted its misleading reporting on the Baptist Hospital rocket, or the Wall Street Journal, which is living a newsroom crisis over the Iran green light story, or the several journalists sacked by the BBC.
Only a few TV channels and social media such as Aljazeera Arabic, Twitter/X and Telegram have broken through this one-sided narrative. Anything that mentions Gaza, Palestine, is blocked and taken down on Facebook and Instagram. McCarthyism is being revived: Careers of journalists, university professors, footballers, and celebrities ruined in the West for naming the attacks in Gaza or even stating the facts : 7000 killed, 3000 of them children (the names and ID numbers documented and published on 26 October by Gaza hospitals when Biden said cast doubts on the reliability of Gaza’s casualty figures), 24 journalists killed so far, just as Aljazeera’s Shireen was targeted and executed by Israeli soldiers a few months ago. As usual, and as in previous massacres in 1996, etc., Israel first claimed it was Hamas, Jihad, PLO who did it, only to retract later when UN reports presented evidence that it was Israel who did it. We saw the same thing last week with the Baptist Hospital in Gaza.
Young people see Israeli officials calling Palestinians “animals to be treated as such” and scoffing at calls for proportionality in the conflict. They see Western leaders flying to Tel Aviv to offer their support while warning other Muslims not to support Gazans under siege for 17 years. It is not just double standards, there are no standards at all. This is the conclusion that the current episode of the conflict has cemented in the minds and hearts of the youth.
There was a time when voices and elites in the region tried to engage with their counterparts in the West and seek an exchange of views on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the centrality of the Palestinian question for the Muslim world. But given what has happened in recent years, and especially in this round of the conflict, and how the West’s military, economic and media armada have been mobilised in support of an apartheid regime, very few see the utility of engagement, or even of exchanging views, let alone envisioning paths to a viable peace.
Thirty years ago, one of Israel’s presidents promised in his memoirs that the Oslo Accords would turn Gaza into the Singapore of the Middle East, thanks to peace and Norwegian money. Now some voices are promising a consortium of the European Union, Abraham Accords, etc. money to rebuild Gaza after crushing Hamas and installing a puppet Palestinian Authority for administering in Gaza. Obviously, they are not reading correctly the region or have been taken in by the disinformation of their own media. In “Manufacturing Consent”, Noam Chomsky explained the role of the major Western media in shaping public opinion to serve the interests of capitalism. These are freely available or cheap for the public to consume. But there is a small handful of media that seek the truth and solid analysis and present the hard facts that the elites of capitalism use for the continued survival and dominance of the system. The problem now is that even these few have fallen victim to the bulldozer of manufactured consent in the West, and the leaders have lost touch with reality, and even with their constituencies. There are no large Arab communities in the Scandinavian countries, for example, and yet last week we saw the largest rallies in Denmark, in stadiums in Ireland, even in New York.
The only spaces left for expression in some Western countries, which are beginning to resemble dictatorships, are stadiums and streets (when not forbidden). That is why no one sees the usefulness of an exchange.
Clearly, the Oslo Accords have failed to deliver what was promised to the Palestinians. The two-state solution is becoming a chimera sold by dream merchants to opinions they want to keep asleep. The one-state – democratic and inclusive, with equal rights and duties for all citizens – solution, supported by some Palestinians like the late Edward Said, contradicts the very nature of an apartheid state in Palestine. By its practice, Israel is heading for an « Armageddon » scenario. The only option left for the Palestinians is to resist the occupation and fight the colonial power by all legitimate means. The liberation of Palestine will inevitably go hand in hand with the liberation of all Arab citizens in the various Arab countries ruled by corrupt and authoritarian regimes, which are the best allies of Israel.
The Editor, Rachad 28 October 2023