Palestine and its struggle with Israel has been the controversial issue of the world of politics for the past decades. The issue has many dimensions which should be taken into account to reach at a true view of it. Romana WadiHelps us demystify some of the complex issues underway in the past few months. An interview has been conducted with Ms. Wadi on “Palestinian Cause; past, present, and future”. Ms. Wadi believes that Palestinian Authority is not a true representative for the Palestinian people. She finds the Latin American people aware of the true condition in Palestine and supportive of the cause. Tehran Conference on Palestine, As Ms. Wadi thinks, can be helpful because it affirmed the Palestinian right of resistance and liberation and it is not under the influence of world politicians, though these conferences could not be solely relied on; active involvement is needed.
Here is the full interview:
Concerning the recent views in your analyses, will you please tell us your view about the relationship between the “Palestinian People” and the “Palestinian Authority”? Do you find them in one front against Israeli forces? Is there any solution for reaching solidarity within Palestinians?
Ramona Wadi: The PA has regularly expressed views that are contradictory to the aim of Palestinian liberation and anti-colonial struggle. Departing from the fact that the PA is a mere instrument in the hands of Israel and the international community, there cannot be any aspirations of unity between the so-called Palestinian representation and the Palestinian people. The PA has prioritised security coordination with Israel and on more than one occasion, encouraged the fragmentation of territory and population through its constant concessions to Israel. Recently, there have been reports of members of the Palestinian Intelligence Services torturing a Palestinian journalist to force a confession. It has marginalised the role of Palestinians in the diaspora which resulted in less emphasis regarding the Palestinian right of return. Additionally, it has exploited Palestinians for mere symbolic gains at an international level – something which is set to continue this year due to the 100thanniversary since the Balfour Declaration which paved the way for colonialism in Palestine. However, since the PA repeatedly fails to acknowledge the link between earlier colonialism and the current colonial violence and expansion, the anniversary will most likely be diluted into a transient debacle.
Palestinians, on the other hand, have a strong history of resistance which is firmly rooted in remembrance of past struggles. Hence their resistance is the complete opposite of what the PA is trying to achieve. While the PA focuses upon oblivion, Palestinians have constructed a dynamic that weaves history and memory with the present circumstances, thus reducing gaps in the narratives and also providing collective defiance of the PA’s policies which have proved to be of detriment to Palestinians. It is clear that there is a dissonance between the PA and the Palestinian people due to the differences embodied: the PA is a convenient collaborator with Israel while Palestinians have persisted in their struggle against colonial violence, colonial expansion and the corruption of their purported representation. Unfortunately, the PA is encouraged in its collaborative pursuits by the international community while Palestinians, who should have a major say in politics, are silenced by various means.
What is your opinion about the Tehran Intl. Conference on Palestine in serving the Palestinian cause and in making a worldwide awareness about Palestine and the suffering imposed on it by Zionists?
Ramona Wadi: The conference provided an alternative platform; one that is not influenced by imperialist diplomacy regarding Palestine. It affirmed the Palestinian right of resistance and liberation – both of which are completely disregarded by the international community through the UN. However, there is a difference between rhetoric and action. As far as political endeavours go, the conference was a stark contrast to the Paris conference, for example, which only seeks to extend negotiations based upon the two-state compromise and, in the process, allow Israel the opportunity to colonise additional territory.
Palestine, however, necessitates more than annual conferences. It is becoming increasingly evident that tangible support is limited and restricted. This is leading to a number of well-intentioned initiatives that push for additional and consistent awareness. Yet little is achieved in terms of political gain. The blatant violations committed by Israel have increased international scrutiny but not on the level which shifts that important recognition of Palestinian rights towards action through which autonomy can be gained. This might be due to the fact that despite evidence of violations warranting the right to anti-colonial struggle as enshrined under international law, there has been a shift towards diplomacy which has excluded other options. As things stand, these conferences, although tremendously important, are still on the periphery of a wider manipulative scale which dominates the fate of Palestinians.
Obama finished his presidency abstaining on UN resolution against Israeli settlements after long years of the US fully supporting Zionists. How do you find this and what do you think about Donald Trump and his way of dealing with the Palestinian cause?
Ramona Wadi: Obama’s gesture was futile and mirrored the tone of UN Security Council Resolution 2334. It was an opportunist move at the end of a presidency which fully supported Israel’s colonial violence and expansion. The result was increased violence from Israel in the form of additional demolitions and settlement construction. It also served to catapult US President Donald Trump’s overtures towards Israel into more prominence, particularly the insistence on moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem which constitutes a violation of international law. What is mostly disregarded, however, is the fact that Trump is building upon decades of US support for Israel’s colonial project. The difference lies in the divergences as regards diplomacy used by this administration and the previous.
Resolution 2334 is derived from a colonial narrative and Obama’s shift in the last days of his presidency merely consolidated that narrative, thus continuing the cycle of symbolic victories for Palestine and tangible colonial conquests for Israel. Trump’s presidency coincided with a dangerous time for Palestine, given the increased violations experienced by the Palestinian population daily. The international community is far too entrenched in its duplicitous game of condemning Israel while ensuring there are no repercussions which, of course, results in the isolation of Palestine. Trump’s press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last February exposed this dynamic, where simplistic statements reminiscent of decades of irresponsible diplomacy have contributed to Palestine’s isolation, putting it on the verge of disappearance.
What is the overall view of Latin American people about Palestine-Israel issue? Are the people’s views in conformity with the politicians and leaders’ attitudes?
Ramona Wadi: Venezuela and Cuba have been at the helm of influencing the region’s internationalist solidarity to the Palestinian people, particularly since Israel’s aggressions against Gaza. Chile is home to the largest Palestinian community in Latin America. Since the region, through MERCOSUR and CELAC, attempted to establish regional independence away from US imperialism, a more supportive stance in favour of Palestinians has been cultivated. This also stems from recognition of historical similarities with regard to colonial and imperialist domination and subsequent struggles to establish autonomy. The Mapuche struggle for land reclamation, for example, bears some resemblances to the struggles faced by Palestinians. Last year, the President of the Association of Executed Political Prisoners (AFEP) Alicia Lira, was among members of a delegation hosted by Palestinian NGO Addameer, the aim being to forge solidarity between Palestine and Latin America.
While generally supportive of Palestine, there are countries in the region that still prioritise diplomatic relations with Israel. Guatemala is one example, with ties that date back to Israel’s colonial inception in 1948. Other countries, such as Chile, invest in Israel military technology for surveillance purposes, thus strengthening the cycle of oppression against segments of the population and in turn encouraging further experimentation by Israel upon Palestinians. Diplomatically, support for the two-state paradigm reflects conformity with international impositions upon Palestine. This detracts from the staunch support offered by Cuba and Venezuela, while also indicating there is less support with regard to Palestinian anti-colonial struggle for liberation. Despite shortcomings, internationalist support for Palestine from the Latin American people should be encouraged and strengthened, as the importance given to collective memory is one of the shared similarities which can provide the foundations for stronger internationalist support.