By Amira Abo el-Fetouh
Israel has just celebrated what it calls Independence Day, which is based on the myth of national liberation from British colonialism and the establishment of an independent state dreamt about by successive generations of Jews. On this day every year, Israel flexes its military muscles and holds celebrations across the country.
The Israelis celebrate their theft and occupation of Palestine, a land with deep Arab roots. Israel's "independence" replaced British colonialism with an even more horrific settler-colonialism. Not for nothing do the Palestinians call the establishment of the colonial state of Israel the Nakba — the Catastrophe — because what happened in 1948 was not liberation from colonialism or independence, but the greatest armed robbery of the twentieth century. An entire country was seized through the Zionists' ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population. What's more, the Nakba didn't begin and end in 1948; it is ongoing.
As such, Israeli "independence" celebrations do not commemorate the past; they encourage what is still happening in Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Negev, the Galilee and the rest of occupied Palestine. The Palestinians in Israel remember the Nakba and the ethnic cleansing under the slogan "Your Independence Day is our Nakba Day" to emphasize the fact that their land has been stolen and occupied by force, deception and the falsification of history. That is why it was shameful for the UAE to send Israel a congratulatory telegram on this day.
Arguably even more shameful is the fact that the Nakba was blessed by the international community when recognition of Israel was granted with a seat in the UN General Assembly, even though it has never fulfilled the condition of its membership, the return of Palestinian refugees. The occupation state has been protected ever since by the "permanent members" of the UN Security Council, which was established specifically to achieve the goals of the nuclear powers post-Second World War. The colonial countries rushed to recognize the settler-colonial entity planted on Arab land; first up was the Soviet Union, followed by the US (not the other way round, as is often believed). East and West worked together to stab the Arab people in the back, although if it wasn't for the plotting of Arab states, the West wouldn't have been able to carry out its conspiracy in Arab Palestine.
The planning for the Zionist entity began in the late nineteenth century. Serious lobbying of colonial states led to the issue of the disastrous 1917 Balfour Declaration in which the British government promised its support for the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people". It was a promise made by those who did not own the land to those who had no legitimate claim to it. The promise was fulfilled on 14 May 1948, since when Palestinians have lived in exile and under occupation, with all of the suffering that that implies. The Palestinians' struggle against the occupation of their land has carried on for 74 years, despite the plotting of the Arab rulers against them. The world has not served them justice or restored their usurped rights or land; the international community, headed by the US, supports Israel, and the Arab countries loyal to the US act as guardians for Israel's as yet undeclared borders. It is an expansionist colonial project.
All Arab rulers, without exception, have traded with the Palestinian issue in front of their people who love Palestine, from the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser until today, in order to consolidate their own grip on power. What has been going on behind the scenes is, though, completely different, and only came to light after years of deception in the peace treaties signed with the Israeli enemy. The PLO signed the Oslo Accords with Israel on 13 September, 1993, in which the "liberation" organization recognized Israel and removed from its national charter the clause about the armed struggle to liberate Palestine from the sea to the river in return for imaginary "authority" that was created to do nothing more than provide security for the occupation state and be the forerunner of an independent state that was never really intended to come into being.
The theft of Palestinian land has been ongoing throughout the years of the so-called "peace process", with ever more and ever larger illegal Israeli settlements and infrastructure making it impossible for there to be enough contiguous territory for such a state to exist. There remains less than 20 per cent of historic Palestine left for the Palestinians, and all of it is dominated by Israel's military occupation.
The ill-fated Oslo Accords have led to more killing and arrests — by Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces — of Palestinians struggling for their freedom. The Aqsa Intifada in September 2000 restored the spirit of resistance to the Palestinian people under the late leader Yasser Arafat. He came back from the US frustrated after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David, under the auspices of US President Bill Clinton; he was convinced by that stage that there was no point in peace agreements with Israel. The establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of Palestinian refugees to their land was an illusion.
Arafat himself led the intifada. The uprising included the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, which had not abandoned the Palestinian constants and the restoration of all of Palestine, from the sea to the river. There was no way for this to be achieved except through legitimate resistance.
Thus began a new phase of the Palestinian struggle which has continued since Arafat was besieged in his Ramallah compound and then killed in 2004 as a "punishment" for the intifada. Israel's unilateral 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip under the weight of Hamas resistance, which was steadfast despite the assassination of its founder and spiritual guide, the quadriplegic Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, its leader Dr Abdel Aziz Rantisi and others. Four major military offensives have since been launched against the Palestinians in Gaza accompanied by a comprehensive land, sea and air blockade after Hamas won the 2006 parliamentary election. Through all of this, legitimate resistance has been neither weakened nor undermined; the resolve of the Palestinian people to make huge sacrifices to liberate their land remains strong. They do so with dignity and honor.
The Israeli enemy has failed to bring the Palestinian people to their knees in Gaza, just as it has failed to defeat Hamas. That is why the head of the "sacred" security coordination authority in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas, is tasked with trying to discredit the Islamic movement and bring it down. He joins in the accusations of "terrorism" used to describe legitimate resistance to Israel's military occupation. He also cut the salaries of PA employees in the Gaza Strip to turn the people against Hamas, but his plan failed.
There is no doubt that there is optimism within the great Palestinian nation, which is inspirational. The people have been able to turn the tables on the occupation state on many occasions, with their innovation and creativity in the struggle. The Israelis live in fear, while the Palestinians believe that they will either win or die in the process. Such a people are unbeatable.
The current generation includes the great-grandchildren of the Palestinians who were expelled from their land in the first wave of ethnic cleansing during the Nakba. Most have not been to their grandparents' homes and land in what is now the usurper state of Israel, but they still live in Palestine in their hearts and minds. They are living proof that the Zionist claim that, "The old will die and the young will forget" is a lie. The old did die, but only after handing over the keys to the young, passing on the mission so that they will never forget. The Palestinian people will not be defeated in their struggle to live with honor, freedom and dignity.