PALESTINE: On the Nation-State law, and an Interview with a Student Activist

PALESTINE: The Sinister Logic of Partition

By Dominique Ferré

(reprinted from Workers Tribune, France, July 25, 2018)

“A decisive moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the State of Israel.” This is how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the July 18 vote in the Israeli Knesset on the “nation-state” law. This law, which has the same status as a Constitutional text, defines the State of Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” It stipulates that “the establishment of Jewish settlements” (in predominantly Palestinian municipalities within the State of Israel) is a “national value” that the State “will encourage and promote.”

This law provoked joint protests and demonstrations by Arabs and Jews. It even went so far as to provoke a certain disapproval by some Israeli personalities. This was the case, for example, of Knesset MP Yael German, who stated: “After a visit to the Majdanek concentration camp [a Nazi extermination camp on Polish territory], I understood that one cannot remain silent in the face of injustices against minorities.”

The adoption of this “nation-state” law heralds a new massive expulsion of Palestinians still living within the State of Israel, where they represent 20 percent of the population. Palestinian towns and villages within the State of Israel will now be the target of a settlement policy similar to what is happening in the West Bank.

The first version of the bill referred to settlement areas “reserved exclusively for Jews.” In the face of the outcry provoked by these openly racist formulations, the legislators toned down their formulations — but the overall intent remained unchanged. The authors of the law, in fact, have shown in recent months in Gaza what they are capable of doing against the Palestinian people. Similarly, the Arabic language lost its status as an official language to the exclusive benefit of Hebrew.

Thus continues the sinister logic of the Partition of Palestine, imposed more than 70 years ago by the Great Powers and the United Nations.

From that point on, the massacres, the Apartheid policies, and the endless expulsions of Palestinians from their lands has been carried out unabashedly, because they have the support of all the Great Powers, starting with the Trump administration but also including French President Emmanuel Macron who, a month ago, rolled out the red carpet for Netanyahu when he came to Paris.

The international workers’ movement cannot ignore this new blow against the oppressed Palestinian people. It is their duty to stand side by side with the Palestinian people in their struggle to win their national and democratic rights, beginning with the right of return for all refugees.

* * * * * * * * * *

“The Right of Return Is the Heart of Our Struggle”:

 Interview with Bassel Ghassan, activist of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS)

(reprinted from Issue No. 149 — July 25, 2018 — of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France / POID)

Q: What is your opinion of the recent demonstrations in Palestine?

A: The demonstrators have brought to the fore the issue of the right of return; this is of major importance. Having said that, the effort to resolve the Palestinian question faces a real existential threat of liquidation as a result of Trump’s policy and the policy of Netanyahu’s far-right coalition government, with the complicity of certain reactionary Arab regimes.

The Palestinian people have for years been hostage to Israel’s policy of Apartheid, to which we must add the incompetence and corruption of the Palestinian Authority, which continues to pursue its policy of security cooperation with the Israeli occupier.

Hamas managed to take advantage of such a situation by imposing itself as an alternative and winning the legislative elections — as was the case with political Islam in the region — but illusions in them quickly disappeared with the deadly clashes between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in the Gaza Strip in 2006-2007.  In addition, all the national unity agreements between the two parties have shown that they have neither the intention nor the will to embody the change to which the Palestinians aspire.

The recent demonstrations remind us, then, of the origins of the Palestinian question, of the core issues that are the basis of the unity of the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem, but also in the cities occupied in 1948 and in the Palestinian diaspora. Even 70 years after the Nakba [1], the right of return of Palestinian refugees is the heart of our struggle and the basis of our unity. It is on this basis that Palestinian youth have been mobilized since March 30 in Gaza.

A decade after the division between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, there is a clear awareness of the seriousness of the situation and a popular willingness to commit to the struggle and restore the full meaning and direction to the Palestinian question. This is reflected in the recent mobilizations.

Q: What is your point of view on the current political representation of the Palestinian people?

A: There is a problem of legitimacy of the current political representation in Palestine. This is the result of the political and institutional vacuum resulting from the forced withdrawal of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) in favor of the Palestinian Authority. One must add to that the lack of democratic elections, the corruption of the structures supposed to represent the Palestinians, and also the paralysis of the Palestinian leadership.

The mobilizations in Haifa in solidarity with Gaza, but also those in Ramallah in the West Bank since June, to demand the lifting of the sanctions imposed by the Palestinian Authority against the Gaza Strip for more than a year, are part of a series of activities through which the Palestinian youth are trying to make their voices heard — voices long suffocated by Israeli Apartheid on the one hand, and by Palestinian Authority police in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, on the other.

A generation has stepped forward to confirm its right to resist, its will to free itself, to break the deadlock and failure of the Palestinian factions.

Palestinian youth have no doubt that the time of the current political representation in Palestine has lapsed.

— Interview conducted by Dominique Gros


[1] Nakba is the “catastrophe” of the expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians in May 1948, when the State of Israel was created.

%d bloggers like this: