Middle East

Long Years of Dispossession – Will the Palestinian Narrative Find Safe Haven?


Israeli airstrikes on besieged Gaza continue . (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Jehan Helou

Will the media accompany this transformation and change gear to embrace our narrative? Will the Palestinian narrative find Safe Haven at last?

Despite the long years of Dispossession and strife Palestinians are still struggling to have their narrative heard and normalized. Recalling what Edward Said wrote in LRB forty years ago “the premises on which Western support for Israel is based are still maintained even though the reality, the facts, cannot possibly bear these premises out?” The challenge of this reality is a matter of struggle.

The main media networks serve as the forceful tool of the powerful adopting the Israeli narrative, spreading abhorrent lies, and distorting the Palestinian narrative.

Our people in Gaza have been forsaken. Israel’s escalating genocide and horrific war crimes continue with absolute impunity. The main aim of this genocide is to kill thousands of Palestinians, ethnically cleanse the rest and turn Gaza to Stone Age, to serve Israel’s strategic aim of finalising its colonial settlement of ruling all the land of historic Palestine!

Every day our anger deepens while shock persists, unable to grasp and comprehend why this mass targeted killing, starvation and destruction against our people has not stopped. This genocide should never have started and should not continue.

Did Gaza constitute a threat to the security, hegemony and power of the neo-colonialist supporting it? Is there no rationale to guide their policies? Or is it the military industry? Endorsing the most horrific atrocities in our modern age, killing of thousands of professionals, displacing, and starving the most dispossessed and occupied people in the world? Does the targeted killing of thousands of children and their dreams not move them?

Our world order crumbles with the US standing against permanent ceasefire. It bluntly slaps the whole global community by accepting Israel’s blatant violations of international law, which most Western countries were vital in drafting, making these laws almost obsolete.

Context of Palestine’s Narrative

 Zionism as a settler colonialist movement occupied the larger part of Palestine in 1948 by committing horrendous massacres and carnages on Palestinians, causing total dispossession (al-Nakba). It uprooted more than 750,000 Palestinians and destroyed more than 450 villages. Israel was completely supported by the Neo- Colonialist countries who nourished and empowered it.

Uprooted Palestinians became refugees in surrounding Arab countries. As a child, I was uprooted with my family to Lebanon; we lived the bitter days of dispossession!

Israel refused the return of any refugee despite the recurring UN 194 resolution. Nakba continues, as refugee camps in Occupied West Bank are invaded daily in the Occupied Territory while most refugees in exile live in dire conditions.

The Western powers knowing that 70% of Gazans are refugees,

support Israel’s attempts to dismantle the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), established in 1949, to support refugees until their return to their homeland.

Israel against any Liberation Struggle

Israel, always determined to abort any Palestinian resistance, accordingly decided to terminate the Palestinian Revolution launched (1967); a revolution warmly embraced by millions of Palestinians, Arabs, and peoples around the world.

Israel cooperated with Arab reactionary forces mainly Jordan and Lebanon for this purpose. When this failed despite horrendous atrocities, Israel invaded Lebanon (1982) to liquidate the Palestinian freedom fighters (Fatah and other Palestine Liberation Organization resistance factions), whom Israel called ‘terrorists’.

Lebanese villages were severely damaged, Palestinian refugee camps were flattened. History repeats itself today in Gaza with a similar narrative.

Despite the heroism shown during Israel’s siege of Beirut, concessions were made due to fear of destruction of the city. The US did not respect its guarantees and allowed the killing of thousands of civilians in the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, fully supported by the Israeli army led by Ariel Sharon, known as the ‘Butcher of Beirut’. I was there, as an active participant, living the days of heroism and massacres.

Two Intifadas and Deceptive Peace, the Nakba Continues

Palestinians surprised their enemies and the world by the eruption of a great uprising (Intifada-1987) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). It was called the ‘Stone Intifada’ as it was based on youth participation and peaceful resistance. Palestinians thought it was a great opportunity to have a peaceful and just solution to the Palestinian cause.

The Oslo Accords (1993) between Israel and the PLO, guaranteed by the US, entailed establishing a Palestinian state by the year 2000, was completely obstructed by Israel who used it to cement its settlements and occupation. The majority of Palestinian people and their organisations opposed Oslo, arguing that it did not guarantee Palestinians’ National Inalienable Rights.

The second Palestinian Uprising (2000) was a reaction to the failure of the Oslo and ongoing Israeli occupation. Israel’s response was bloody and destructive. Israeli occupation accelerates and any just solution disappears!

 Since 2008, Israel has launched five bloody aggressions against Gaza, imposing a complete ongoing siege. In 2006, Hamas had won the internationally scrutinised elections in all the OPT. Hamas and other resistance organizations were a natural outcome of the ongoing dispossession. Western powers and Israel should know that they cannot be defeated by force. The only way to end resistance is by ending the Occupation. Yet, this was never put this on the table as the best choice.

Israel and Hamas are depicted as equal powers to justify the genocide. Israel is the fourth strongest military power in the world, with sophisticated weapons shamelessly tested on Palestinians. Hamas and other factions represent guerrilla freedom fighters. They have no aeroplanes, no missiles, and their rockets are primitive and have limited impact.

Let it Be a Tale!

Today as people around the world demonstrate, including thousands of anti-Zionists Jews, as they witness the reality, they say “Palestine liberates us”! Zionism is unmasked. People see its colonial and racist reality. Zionism must be dismantled, as was the case with Apartheid South Africa.

The future is for a democratic, free Palestine State where Muslims, Christians and Jews are equal citizens, ‘from the river to the sea’!

Accordingly, will the liberal and credible media accompany this transformation and change gear to embrace our narrative? Will the Palestinian narrative find Safe Haven at last?

– Jehan Helou was born in Haifa, uprooted with her family to Lebanon in 1948. She was a pioneer in the Palestinian national struggle and women’s liberation movement. She directed the Tamer Institute for Community Education in Ramallah and has been president for the Palestinian section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) since 2003. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.



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