Report: Khaled Barakat in Copenhagen – “Is a new intifada on the way?”


Report By IC of the Internationalt Forum (Originally in Danish, below. Click here for French translation via Coup Pour Coup 31.) Most of the report is directly quoted or paraphrased excerpts from the speech of Khaled Barakat, international coordinator of the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat:

On Sunday, October 18, there was a full house in the Solidarity Boutique on Griffenfeldsgade 41 in Copenhagen. People had come to hear Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat discuss the current situation in Palestine. The meeting discussed the current upsurge around Jerusalem, the Oslo Agreement and its results, the principles of cooperation with progressive Jewish organizations, the international campaign to boycott Israel, and more.

Khaled Barakat is the international coordinator of the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat; the meeting was organized by Internationalt Forum’s Middle East Group.

Is a third intifada on the way?

Khaled Barakat (KB) thought it difficult to assess whether a third intifada in the full sense of the term is underway. He noted that mainly young people in Jerusalem, the West Bank and inside 1948 Palestine (Israel) who are fighting against the occupiers. Israel is attempting to make this upsurge into a religious issue, just as they tried in the first and second intifada, but there is no substance to this attempt; the youth rebelling are largely not motivated by religion! Political tensions have been simmering since Israeli settlers burned a young Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, to death in July 2014. This is a rebellion against the Israeli brutality, against the occupation, against home demolitions, against the massacres in Gaza, etc. etc. The rebellion is particularly strong in the areas that are outside the ‘administration’ of the Palestinian Authority (PA); the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, is attempting to “calm” and talk down the rebellion.

The first Intifada of 1987 was a broad popular upsurge, an intifada that involved all sectors of Palestinian society: women and men, young and old, mass movements of students, teachers, workers, peasants and so on. There was a leadership, and the entire Intifada was organized, much through weekly flyers and leaflets found in front of one’s door at night, which informed Palestinians about the upcoming week’s program of days of strike, days of protests, the opening of schools, etc. The Intifada threatened Israel’s control over these areas, and is the reason the Oslo Agreement was launched – the purpose of the Oslo process was to stop the Intifada, and it succeeded in that end.

The current rebellion does not yet include many sectors of Palestinian society – for example, no mass mobilization of the movements of workers, the mass organizations of women, etc; there is not a clear leadership or an express common goal. But all of these things can certainly emerge (and were not necessarily apparent in the earliest days of the first Intifada.)

Oslo agreement: a disaster for Palestinians

Twenty years after the process which led to the signing of the Oslo agreement in 1993, we can see that the Palestinian people have won nothing through the so-called peace process. On the contrary, we lost everything, said Barakat. With the Oslo agreements, the PLO lost its unanimous status as the sole legitimate representative of the entire Palestinian people. The Palestinian cause and people were divided: those in the West Bank and Gaza focusing on the PA and Oslo, Palestinians in Israel (Palestine ’48) and Palestinians in diaspora and exile. The latter represent 65% of the Palestinian population yet were, through the Oslo process, robbed of their political power and influence. The demand for the refugees’ right of return was marginalized and forgotten.

Since the Oslo Accords, Israel has intensified the war against the Palestinians. They now use killer tear gas in mass amounts, tanks and heavy weaponry. Before Oslo, you did not see tanks in the streets as happens today. The Oslo “self-rule” project is based on a Palestinian Authority commitment to cooperate with the occupation in security and intelligence work – and this security is financed and trained by the United States. Meanwhile, the rest of the West Bank is directly under the military control of Israel.

What is offered to the Palestinians today: apartheid, no right of return, no self-determination. It serves no purpose to continue a “peace process” that has only produced such conditions.

Only through struggle can the Palestinian people change the situation. From generation to generation, we have fought, and because of this perseverance and determination, we continue. The struggle goes up and down, but it continues.

Israel is a racist, colonialist state which must be dissolved and dismantled as a project, as a state. We cannot “co-exist” with an apartheid regime. We can exist only under conditions where we are truly equal.

In 1948, Palestinians did not only fight against Zionism, but against a strong imperialist power and against the reactionary Arab regimes, and all of them stood as allies.

The Palestinian people are part of an anti-imperialist movement around the world. We are not only fighting for Palestinian liberation, but have struggled along with the people of South Africa against the apartheid regime, we have struggled with the Irish resistance fighters, we struggle with the Black Liberation movement in the United States, and so on.

The younger generation who are rebelling, were largely born after Oslo. They have experienced the consequences of Oslo and the fragmentation of the Oslo path. They demand the right to return and the right to self-determination.

Israel will eventually become a burden for imperialism, just as we have seen other colonial projects and regimes become a burden for imperialism.

Israel has never voluntarily made “concessions,” these have happened only through pressure. When the prisoners in the prisons achieve some improvements in their conditions, it is always with hunger strikes. The exchange and release of prisoners has always been achieved through the resistance’s capture of Israeli soldiers. This applies both to the daily struggle and also to the long-term struggle for liberation.

The right to return

Here in the West, people are quick to give away parts of our country. I must accept the 20% that you are offering so that there can be peace, it has been said. But we say no: we will liberate all of Palestine. We will not divide our country. And we will not forget the Palestinians in exile, the majority of the Palestinian people. We stand firmly on the right of return. Without the implementation of the right of return, there will be no peace. Without full equality, there will be no peace.

The refugees in the camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, they will not forget Palestine. You can see Palestine from the camps, half an hour’s drive away. And yet they cannot travel to Palestine, cannot return. They can see the cities they were expelled from in 1948 or 1967. The return of Palestinian refugees is the core requirement of the liberation struggle.

Boycott of Israel an important support – not substitute – for the Palestinian struggle

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine supports the international movement to boycott Israel. This is not only the framework of BDS, but many different initiatives and programs for boycott that work together in every way to isolate Israel, which is critically important. It is not only to “punish” Israel for its human rights violations, but to isolate a colonial state. It is the nature of a colonial state, and so Israel will continue to violate and oppress until colonization ceases. Our boycotts create a material cost for Israel. And it is important that the occupation is very expensive, very costly, for Israel.

But for all its importance, the international boycott cannot replace the Palestinian national liberation movement, the Palestinian struggle for the liberation of their country. The boycott is a tactic that supports the Palestinians in their struggle. There is a rich heritage of boycott traditions. From the boycott of South Africa’s apartheid regime, to the Black boycott movements in the United States, the Indian people’s boycott and so on. We need to support all movements that are boycotting Israel, but it is also important to continue our work to support Palestine in all areas, such as supporting the political prisoners’ struggle, supporting the resistance, etc. The BDS call is a good, important initiative, but it is always important to be critical and present our views to advance the liberation of Palestine.

Many so-called liberals are reluctant to support the campaign to boycott Israel at all levels, economic, cultural and academic boycott. This applies to prominent intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, left-aligned political parties such as Die Linke in Germany, and also much of the so-called Israeli peace movement.

“I’d love to have a Jewish leader of the liberation struggle”

The early Palestine Communist Party, before 1948, had a slogan calling for Palestinian and Jewish workers to “Unite and Fight for Socialism.” Our experience today tells us that cooperation with progressive Jewish organizations should be founded on very clear terms. The land of Palestine belongs to the Palestinian people, and Israel is a settler-colonial state. This is the basis on which we must agree to cooperate. If these forces do not recognize that the Palestinians have paid and continued to pay the price of liberation, it will be difficult to cooperate. We see some good examples in North America and a few other places of cooperation between leftist Jewish organizations and the Palestinian liberation movement – for example, through the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

If such organizations are in favor of a Jewish state, they are not progressive; the Zionist goal of the Jewish state is a racist mindset. We say to the Jewish population in Palestine: Come and join the Palestinian resistance. Join in to free our country of Zionist occupation and apartheid. But you also must be ready to go to jail, and pay the price as the Palestinians do. Otherwise there is no partnership and joint struggle. I (Khaled Barakat) would love to have a Jewish leader of the Palestinian liberation struggle; in South Africa, there were white leaders in the struggle against apartheid, which remained fundamentally an Aftican liberation struggle.

We are also seeing, in Palestine, that anti-Zionist Jews who grew up in Israel leaving the country because they cannot bear to live as settlers and face censorship of their work and activity; the historian Ilan Pappe is such an example, who currently teaches and researches at the University of Exeter in England.

PFLP and Palestinian Left must be more visible

One attendee asked Khaled why the PFLP is not as visible as it has been in the past. Khaled responded that this happens for subjective and objective reasons. In many ways, the PFLP is under a state of siege. Every time PFLP takes a position against the Palestinian Authority, the PA leadership that also has monopolized the PLO leadership and its finances, cuts off the PFLP’s funding. The media, in general, is directed by states and corporations that are not interested in publicizing the PFLP and a Left vision for Palestinian liberation. They prefer to publicize a mythology of “Israel vs. Hamas” and consistently exclude the Palestinian revolutionary left.

But, if we are strong enough, the media cannot ignore us. This is evident with the revolt in Jerusalem and the West Bank. After the Palestinian people were “forgotten” during the Arab revolts in the media, Palestine and the Palestinian people are back on the front page, because they have forced themselves there, through struggle.

We are in a stage of national liberation, and here it is important to bring together all liberation forces and not solely the left. This also applies to the Islamic movements, Islamic Jihad and Hamas. We have long worked for an inclusive and democratic PLO which includes Hamas and Jihad, but have been repeatedly blocked.

When the PFLP recently rejected the convening of the Palestinian National Council for many reasons, including a firm rejection of holding such a congress under occupation in the West Bank, the PNC did not convene because the Front refused it. Without the Front, there could be no convening of the PNC.


Rapport fra møde i København med Khaled Barakat

Er en ny intifada på vej?

Søndag den 18. oktober var der fuldt hus i Solidaritetsbutikken i Griffenfeldsgade 41, København N. Folk var kommet for at høre palæstinensiske Khaled Barakat tale om den aktuelle situation i Palæstina. Det blev til et møde om de aktuelle oprør omkring Jerusalem, om Oslo-aftalen, om principper for samarbejde med progressive jøder, om den internationale Boykot Israel kampagne og meget mere.

Khaled Barakat er internationale koordinator tor Free Ahmed Sa’adat kampagnen. Det var Internationalt Forums Mellemøstgruppe som var arrangør.

Er en tredje intifada på vej?

Khaled Barakat (KB) mente det er svært at vurdere om en tredje intifada er på vej.  I øjeblikket er det primært unge i Jerusalem og inde i ’1948 Palæstina’ (Israel) som kæmper mod besættelsesmagten. Israel forsøger at gøre oprøret til et religiøst spørgsmål ligesom de forsøgte under første og anden intifada. Men det har ikke noget på sig. Mange af de unge oprørere er ikke religiøse! De politiske spændinger har ulmet siden israelere brændte en ung palæstinensisk teenager til døde i juli 2014. Så det her er et oprør mod den israelske brutalitet, mod besættelsen, mod husødelæggelser, mod Gaza-massakrer osv. osv.  Når der især kæmpes i disse områder skyldes det at de ligger uden for det palæstinensiske selvstyres ’administration’. Selvstyremyndigheden (PA) med Mahmoud Abbas i spidsen forsøger at tale oprøret ned.

Den første intifada fra 1987 var en bred folkelig intifada som involverede alle grupper af det palæstinensiske samfund:  kvinder og mænd, unge og gamle, massebevægelser for studerende, lærere, arbejdere  bønder osv. Der var en ledelse, og hele intifadaen blev organiseret via ugentlige flyveblade der lå foran éns dør om aftenen og oplyste om den kommende uges program, den og den dag strejke, den og den dag blokade, åbning af skoler osv.  Intifadaen truede Israels kontrol med områderne, og den var årsagen til at Oslo-aftalen blev sat i gang. ’Oslo’s formål var at stoppe intifadaen, og det lykkedes.

Det nuværende oprør omfatter langt fra hele det palæstinensiske samfund, der er fx ingen mobilisering af massebevægelser for arbejderne, kvinderne osv.,  og der findes ikke en ledelse og et fælles mål. Men det kan komme.

Oslo-aftalen var en katastrofe

Nu godt 20 år efter Oslo-processen (1993) kan vi se at palæstinenserne  intet vandt ved den såkaldte fredsproces. Tværtimod tabte vi alt. Med Oslo-aftal mistede PLO sin status som det palæstinensiske folks eneste legitime repræsentant. Palæstinenserne blev splittet i dem på Vestbredden og Gaza som har indflydelse på selvstyret, palæstinenserne  i Israel og palæstinenserne i diasporaen (eksilet); sidstnævnte udgør 65 % af den palæstinensiske befolkning; de blev gennem ‘Oslo’ frarøvet enhver indflydelse. Kravet om flygtningenes ret til tilbagevenden blev ’glemt’.

Siden Oslo-aftalen har Israel skærpet krigen mod palæstinenserne. De bruger nu giftgas, tanks og andre tunge våben. Før Oslo så man ikke tanks i gaderne som det sker i dag. Med ’Oslo’ har selvstyret forpligtet sig til at samarbejde med besættelsesmagten om sikkerheds- og efterretningsarbejde, og sikkerhedsarbejdet finansieres og trænes af USA. Det meste af Vestbredden er i dag under kontrol af Israel.

Det der i dag tilbydes palæstinenserne er: apartheid, ingen ret til tilbagevenden og ingen selvbestemmelse. Det tjener intet formål at fortsætte ’fredsprocessen’ under disse forhold.

Kun gennem palæstinensernes kamp kan vi ændre situationen. Fra generation til generation har vi kæmpet, og på grund af vores udholdenhed og beslutsomhed fortsætter vi. Kampene går op og ned, men de fortsætter.

Israel er en racistisk, kolonialistisk stat som er dømt til at opløses. Vi kan ikke eksistere sammen med et apartheidregime. Vi kan kun eksistere under forhold hvor vi  fungerer på lige fod.

I 1948 kæmpede palæstinenserne ikke kun imod zionismen, men også imod en stærk imperialistisk magt og imod de reaktionære arabiske regimer, og de tre sidste var allierede.

Palæstinenserne er del af en antiimperialistisk bevægelse verden over hvor vi ikke kun kæmper for palæstinensernes befrielse, men har kæmpet sammen med folkene i Sydafrika imod apartheidregimet, vi har kæmpet sammen med de irske modstandsfolk, sammen med de sorte i USA osv.

Den unge generation, som nu gør oprør, er født efter Oslo. Men de har oplevet konsekvenserne af Oslo og de river Oslo i stykker. De kræver retten til tilbagevenden og retten til selvbestemmelse.

Israel vil på et tidspunkt blive en byrde for imperialismen – ligesom vi har set andre samfund blive en byrde for imperialismen.

Israel har ALDRIG frivilligt givet indrømmelser, det sker kun gennem pres. Når fangerne i fængslerne opnår forbedringer, hænger det altid sammen med sultestrejker. Når fanger bliver udvekslet sker det gennem tilfangetagelse af deres folk.  Det gælder både dag-til-dag kampen, og det gælder den langsigtede kamp for befrielse.


Retten til at vende tilbage

Her i den vestlige verden er folk hurtige til at forære dele af vores land bort. I skal acceptere de 20 % som I får tilbudt så der kan blive fred, lyder det. Men vi siger nej. Vi vil befri hele Palæstina. Vi vil ikke dele vores land. Og vi glemmer ikke palæstinenserne i eksilet som omfatter flertallet af palæstinenserne. Vi står fast på retten til at vende tilbage. Uden opfyldelse af kravet om tilbagevenden bliver der ingen fred. Uden lige rettigheder bliver der ingen fred.

Flygtningene i lejrene i Libanon, Jordan og Syrien, de glemmer ikke Palæstina. De kan se Palæstina fra lejrene, en halv times kørsel borte. Og alligevel kan de ikke rejse til Palæstina. De kan se de byer de blev smidt ud fra i 1948 eller 1967. Kravet om tilbagevenden er kernekravet i befrielseskampen.

Boykot af Israel kan ikke erstatte palæstinensernes kamp

PFLP støtter den internationale boykot-Israel bevægelse som jo ikke kun består af BDS, men af mange forskellige boykotbevægelser. Det er vigtigt på alle måder at arbejde for at isolere Israel. Ikke blot straffe Israel for deres krænkelser af menneskerettighederne. Det er en kolonialistisk stats natur at opføre sig sådan, og sådan vil Israel blive ved med at opføre sig til koloniseringen ophører! Det koster Israel penge når vi boykotter. Og det er vigtigt at besættelsen koster Israel  dyrt. Men boykotten kan ikke erstatte palæstinensernes kamp for befrielse af deres land. Boykotten er en taktik der støtter palæstinenserne i deres kamp. Der er en rig arv af boykot-traditioner. Fra boykotten af Sydafrikas apartheidregime, de sortes boykot i i USA, det indiske folks boykot osv. Vi skal støtte alle bevægelser der boykotter Israel, men det er også vigtigt at kæmpe på andre områder, fx støtte de politiske fangers kamp, modstandens kamp osv. BDS er en god bevægelse, men vi skal også være kritiske over for dem og give dem gode råd.

Mange såkaldt venstreorienterede tøver med at støtte boykot Israel-kampagnen. Det gælder intellektuelle som Noam Chomsky, det gælder progressive partier som det tyske parti Die Linke, og det gælder de israelske fredsbevægelser.

”Jeg ville elske at have en jødisk leder i befrielseskampen”

Det palæstinensiske kommunistparti havde et slogan der lød ”Palestinian and Jewish Workers,  Unite –  fight for Socialism”. Vores erfaringer siger os at samarbejde med progressive jøder skal foregå på helt klare præmisser. Landet Palæstina tilhører palæstinenserne, og Israel er en bosætter-kolonialistisk stat. Det må vi være enige om for at kunne samarbejde. Hvis de ikke erkender at palæstinenserne har betalt prisen,  bliver det svært at samarbejde. Det er kun i Nordamerika at der finder et samarbejde sted mellem progressive jøder og den palæstinensiske nationale bevægelse – i form af grupper som Jews Against Zionism. Hvis de går ind for en jødisk stat, er de ikke progressive, for zionismens mål om en jødisk stat er en racistisk tankegang. Vi siger gerne til jøderne: Kom og slut jer til palæstinensernes modstandskamp. Vær med til at befri vores land for zionistisk besættelse og apartheid. Men så skal I jo også være parate til at gå i fængsel for sagenl Betaleprisen ligesom palæstinenserne gør. Ellers er der intet partnerskab. Jeg (Khaled Barakat) ville elske at have en jødisk leder i den palæstinensiske befrielseskamp. I Sydafrika så man hvide ledere i kampen mod apartheid. Dertil et vi ikke nået i Palæstina. De få antizionistiske jøder, der er vokset op i Israel, de forlader landet fordi de ikke kan holde ud at leve som bosættere. Det er historikeren Ilan Pappe et eksempel på. Han arbejder i dag på et universitet i England.

PFLP skal være mere synlig

  • En mødedeltager spurgte Khaled hvorfor mon PFLP ikke er mere synlig?
  • Khaled:  Det er der subjektive og objektive grunde til. Der finder en ’siege’ (belejring’) sted af PFLP. Hver gang PFLP udtaler sig kritisk i forhold til selvstyret (PA) skærer selvstyret i det økonomiske tilskud til PFLP.  Medierne er ikke interesseret i at omtale PFLP. De foretrækker at modstille Israel og Hamas, og bortskærer konsekvent den revolutionære venstrefløj.

Men hvis vi bliver stærke nok, kan medierne ikke ignorere os. Det kan man se med oprøret i Jerusalem. Nu er palæstinenserne tilbage i medierne – efter at have været ’glemt’ under de arabiske oprør.

Vi befinder os på den nationale befrielseskamps stadie, og her gælder det om at samle alle nationalistiske kræfter, ikke kun venstrefløjen. Det gælder også islamisterne i Jihad og Hamas. Vi har længe forsøgt at få Hamas og jihad med i PLO, men det er indtil videre ikke lykkedes.

Når PFLP for nylig sagde nej til afholdelse af en ny PLO-kongres, skyldtes det at vi ikke vil acceptere at afholde kongres på besat jord. Derfor blev kongressen – indtil videre –  ikke til noget. For uden PFLP – ingen PLO-kongres.

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