Joseph Dana writes: Amid a sea of green Hamas flags in the centre of Nablus, Abdul Rahim Rabaiya expressed satisfaction that Hamas had returned to the West Bank after a five-year absence. A modest schoolteacher, Rabaiya passionately argued that the Palestinian street needs Hamas to force change on the West Bank. Hamas, forced underground by the Palestinian Authority, sweeps over the past years of political division. The rally marked what some see as an olive branch from Fatah to Hamas in order to kick-start reconciliation efforts.
But despite the passionate chants ringing through the narrow and ancient streets of Nablus, Hamas’s first West Bank rally in more than five years failed to attract more than 4,000 people. One shopkeeper dismissed the entire event outright. “We are the products that these politicians sell,” he said. “If there is unity, it will be bad for us. The United Nations should run Palestine.”
Undoubtedly, the final months of 2012 saw dramatic events unfold in Israel and Palestine. Hamas, long isolated diplomatically, staged a veritable diplomatic coup with unprecedented visits from Arab leaders like the Emir of Qatar, who pledged more than $400 million (Dh1.46 billion) to the Islamic movement in Gaza. A quick but brutal conflict erupted between Israel and Hamas with all of the trimmings of the last conflict, back in 2009, which turned the Gaza Strip into a battleground.
Demonstrating the changing contours of the Middle East since the Arab revolutions, Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi asserted his country’s new position as a regional broker and negotiated a fragile ceasefire between the two sides, which, surprisingly, has held. In a major boast to Hamas – and evidence of Egypt’s changing role in the region – Morsi has even pledged to ease border restrictions at the Rafah border crossing, the only crossing into Gaza not controlled by Israel.
The West Bank has not been immune to changes as well. Palestinian Authority president and Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas continued his quixotic statehood campaign at the UN and delivered the Palestinians de facto state recognition. More than mere symbolism, the Palestinians may now have access to institutions such as the International Criminal Court, which could be used to prosecute Israel for rights violations and murder.
Yet, these efforts seem to be lost on the Palestinian people.
The ferocious manner in which Fatah and Hamas are fighting for the approval of the Palestinian street is all the more breathtaking given the general sense of apathy that hangs over Palestine.
Exhausted from the Second Intifada and life under military occupation, Palestinians generally seem more interested in making ends meet than political revolution. [Continue reading…]
We must know the roots of the Occupation if we are to ever free Filastin.
And its roots, unfortunately, run deep.
Before 1948, Filastin was ruled by a series of empires. “Palestine” was the name given to southern Bilad al-Sham (Greater Syria) in the second century by the Romans, in an attempt to break the Jewish adherence to the land. This was a century after the Temple (Beit al-Maqdis) was destroyed and more than a million Jews massacred.
The Jews stopped fighting the Romans only after they had no more fighting men standing. Conservative Christian attitudes toward the Jews and Filastin can be epitomized by the words of Evangelist William Eugene Blackstone, who proclaimed in 1891 that “the Jews never gave up their title to Palestine… They never abandoned the land. They made no treaty, they did not even surrender. They simply succumbed, after the most desperate conflict, to the overwhelming power of the Romans.”
This is what we are up against.
The Jews persisted through the centuries under the various empires, after the Arab invasion of 635AD (which the Jews fought alongside the Byzantines), and after the Crusade massacres of the 11th Century, which decimated much of their population.
Few in the Muslim Ummah know that Jewish customs, religion, prayers, poetry, holidays, and virtually every walk of life, documented for thousands of years—all revolve around Filastin and al-Quds. They pray for al-Quds in every prayer, after every meal, in every holiday, at every wedding, in every celebration. The whole Jewish religion is about Filastin and al-Quds. Western expressions such as “The Promised Land,” and “The Holy Land,” did not pop out of void. They have been part of Western knowledge and tradition dating back to the beginning of Christianity and earlier.
After the Crusades, the Jews lived peacefully with Arabs, often in the very same villages, as in Pki’in, in the Jalil, until the Zionist immigration of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Article 6 of the PLO Charter calls for the acceptance of all Jews present in Filastin prior to the Zionist immigration. These Jews were simply another ethnic group in a region composed of Sunnis, Shiites, Jews, Druz, Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Circassians, Samarians, and more. Some of these groups, like the Druz, Circassians, Samarians, and an increasing number of Christians, are actually loyal to the Zionist Entity.
Incidentally, genetic studies show that the Zionist immigrants are closely related to groups like the Samarians who have lived in Filastin for thousands of years—a fact that Zionists view as a moral stamp of approval on their presence in Filastin.
Few in the Muslim Ummah realize it, but it will take a lot to free Filastin, and, as described in Jonathan Bloomfield’s award-winning book, “Palestine,” knowing the occupier is an integral part of planning the struggle.