On Saturday, 27 June 2020 — The Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad (PCPA) held an online seminar titled: “The Israeli Annexation Plan: The Day After,” in an attempt to answer the question, what Palestinians should do if the annexation plans, which the Israeli occupation has scheduled for early July, are put into effect?
While moderated by Mr. Khalid Turaani, Chief Executive Officer of Refugees Aid Initiative, each of Dr. Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University, Bill Fletcher, Executive Editor, Global African Worker and Linda Mansour, Palestinian American Attorney, Legal Consultant and Activist took turns to comment on the seminar’s theme and the Palestinian human condition within the larger political context of the happenings the world is recently bearing witness to, including COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement and US’ exclusive reaction to both phenomena, along with the implications of its position of these occurrences when speaking of the Israeli occupation’s annexation plans.
Starting with attorney Linda Mansour, given the much debated idea that Netanyahu made the annexation pledge only for the purpose of elections, the concerns that the settlers are pushing back because they fear that the annexation might mean a concession with Palestinians because it means they will get a small slice of their land, or even the talk about the opposition by the European Union and the U.S. congress, Russia and most of the world, she said the only thing she can focus on is how Israel managed to perfect the science of perception management, which is known for being “a propaganda technique” that involves a carful alteration of the perception of the target audience to suit the objectives of the sponsors, and is a modern version of warfare, which is the familiar case with Israel and the U.S. administration.
Describing the case in a few examples, she added:
“Israel has mastered this science. Shoot first and then argue collateral damage. Agree to give back 30% and then redraw the map.”
Annexation is not a Netanyahu phenomenon, she stated, stressing that:
“It is one strategy, systematic. Israelis are open. They are not hidden. They are not hiding the facts that no matter who is in power; they are pursuing the greater Israel and that they will not stop until they get there.”
For his part, Bill Fletcher focused on context and the peculiar way to understanding the U.S. and its relationship to the annexation question.
To analyze that context he referred to the post-cold war era, when the U.S. provoked a war of aggression against Mexico with the objective of seizing the northern part of the country, using a manifest destiny for the expansion of the settlers of the ruling state and appropriated the lands of the native people.
This, he said:
“Tells you about the mindset of the U.S. establishment and helps one understand the complicity and the complacency of much of the U.S., when it comes to the Israeli aggression.”
“The proposed annexation of the Palestinian lands and the relative silence in the U.S. political circles speaks to the othering of the Palestinians. In that sense, we must constantly assert that Palestinian lives matter. Othering renders the lives of histories and experiences of other racial oppressed groups irrelevant.
This is what the current global resilience of the Black lives matter movement really signifies. What has been the slow moving annexation of Palestinian territories has been an attempt to remove Palestinians from history. For the U.S., this is not remarkable, since Palestinians, as far as the U.S. establishments are concerned, stand in the way of settler destiny, just as Mexicans stood in the way of the destiny of white America.”
Dr. Rashid Khalidi, on his turn, described the moment as one of change, adding that:
“What Netanyahu and Trump are planning is a joint American-Israeli effort. This administration, like other American administrations, has been engaged with Israel in a war on the Palestinian people. This is the latest chapter of this war.”
Speaking of the international reaction to these joint efforts, the current annexation plans, he said that they are weak and it is the reason why “we are in a moment of change,” he said, attributing the changes to both the unprecedented pandemic, “which revealed systemic inequalities in the U.S. and Europe.”
Another reason to these changes, however, are “the sudden and enormous impact of the Black Lives Matter movement,” which have been in existence for many years.
Commenting on both reasons, Dr. Khalidi said:
“All these have come to be linked with a governmental approach which is symbolized by Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and the neo-Liberal trend globally, given that the slogan of neo-liberalism is that we will steal, we will appropriate, we will systemically increase inequality.”
Furthermore, he stressed that the exploration made possible today into the history of the U.S., which was based on the “two pillars of slavery and ethnic cleansing of native people,” allows for exploring other linkages with colonization and the settler mentality.
“There is an enormous opportunity in this moment, which may be a turning point, for [addressing] issues like Israeli ethnic cleansing and Israeli policing of the occupied territories and the urban policing in the U.S. The police forces, many of which, are being trained by the Israeli Border Guard, which is an institution to maintain an occupation and to expand a settler colonial regime.”
Dr. Khalidi pointed out that there is a global moment of change, a possibility, which introduces forms of solidarity that were not possible before.
“I thinks that we have possibilities concerning how we could respond to this moment. Unfortunately, we do not have a strong national Palestinian movement at this moment, for it is not just divided. It is morally, intellectually and politically bankrupt in all of its elements,” he said.
He added that the so-called representative body is not what represents Palestinians toady. “What represents Palestinians today is the Palestinian civil society. The groups on Facebook, the groups forming through webinars, the groups particularly forming among young people and students,” pointing out that that possibilities chiefly depend on those living outside Palestine, while inspiration must be taken from those living in “Israel, for they have the best idea how to deal with Zionism.”
He concluded saying that this annexation plan is nothing new and that it is part of a 100-year-old project, this is only a new chapter in the war on Palestine, adding that there is a chance to turn this into a massive defeat for Israel. One thing that can be done to achieve this is to stress the systemic, inequality and the injustice that is inherent in Zionism, not in principle, but in practice.
It is worth mentioning that the seminar is part of the “Down with Annexation” campaign that is also launched by PCPA.
*To view the full version of the seminar, refer to either of the following links: the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad, Days of Palestine and the Afro-Palestine Forum.