Palestine: A Battle for Survival

Large-scale violence has erupted again between Palestinians and Israel, prompting a fresh round of analyses. Most of the international media is evaluating the war through the lens of business and political allegiances. In such interpretations, the current conflict is cut off from its historical setting.

According to most media reports, the conflict started when Hamas started firing rockets. Only a few news organisations look into the history of the conflict. The assertion is either political, historical or moral.

A new point of critique that has become increasingly prominent lately is how careless or wrong these attacks were. Knowing the history of Israeli reprisal, repeating the same error is suicidal. More Palestinians will be slaughtered, more land will be taken, more restrictions will be enforced and many more people’s lives will become horrific and painful. This is known to all of us as well as the Palestinians. What they are doing is bound to enrage the target power and those oblivious to this conflict.

There is some debate on how and why Hamas launched the recent wave of military attacks against one of the world’s most well-known military powers. Foreign assistance is suspected. The point is that while the missiles may have been provided by a foreign force the Palestinians were willing participants.

Why did the Palestinians agree to such a dangerous mission?

When the paragliders landed on Israeli territory, it was clear that they were on a suicide mission. Are these suicide attacks similar to those in our country or other regions?

I propose that they are not similar. They are a part of a war for independence, as Hamas states in their 2017 charter. Hamas mentions the “complete destruction of the Zionist project,” not the Jews. Unlike our region’s suicide attackers, they have made their intentions and targets abundantly clear to the targets and the world. Hamas has never recruited children or those with intellectual disabilities, addiction issues or other mental health problems. Palestinian resistance and Hezbollah have always recruited more politically conscious and educated assailants than other groups.

Rather than forgetting their recruits as unsung heroes, Hamas constantly cherish and commemorate their struggle. Several books have been written to highlight their political views and determination.

The perspective of the people at the heart of conflict who are striving against a superior military power is badly lacking in the analysis. The analysts do not consider them intelligent enough to realise the loss of life and appraise the prospect of success through their strategies.

In the analyses, Palestinians don’t seem to understand that no productive practical, financial or military support will come from any corner to make a noticeable difference. As they continue to do it, the analysts are shocked. The analysts’ problem is that they rely only on a single criterion of a military conflict: victory or defeat. However, currently the Palestinian struggle does not satisfy this standard.

In his wonderfully stated work, Algerian War of Independence ideologue and psychiatrist Franz Fanon addressed this phenomenon. He was the one who distinguished between the violence of the oppressor and the oppressed. Concerning the oppressors, Fanon stated that they only speak one language; that of violence and it is the only language they comprehend.

In his opinion, the oppressed continue to recreate themselves through violence. According to Fanon, fighting the oppressor does not require any reason or argument. The power completely disregards the position of the oppressed.

One can see how the phrase “right to defend” is used specifically and only for Israel. Can one prevail an argument on a talk show by asking whether it is Israelis or Palestinians who are in greater need of protection? More than anything else, the oppressed need to fight against the oppressors’ attempt to make them own and feel the identity of the weak and destructible. That is why Fanon maintained that only the oppressed (in his terms, the ‘colonised’) have to determine their rights and wrongs. Only they can decide who to trust and with whom to align. It is their right to live a life of affront or to fight for and with dignity on the front.

Until a few weeks ago, there was a widespread belief that the Palestinian question could be put in the cold storage from where it would never reemerge. However, they refused to be consigned to the dustbin of history. Yes, they will be slaughtered. But were they safe/ protected when they kept quiet? The analysts who have no shared experience with Palestinians have only two pieces of advice to offer: either utter subjugation or fighting only when the chances of success are obvious.

Many of us don’t put ourselves in their shoes to examine the problem from their point of view. We readily accept the Western narrative of success or defeat, but their emphasis appears to be different. They seem to be fighting against the idea of becoming a non-entity. They still want to be the nucleus of this crisis. What role are the international forces playing in this situation? Will Palestinians ever achieve independence? What will be the outcome of the current conflict? These are valid questions and concerns.

Most important of all is what the people in question want. They will do whatever their existential needs dictate. This is how they have discovered the way to remain relevant even at the cost of their lives. This is their declared decision. Who can decide for them if not themselves?

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