Friday, May 23, 2014

Interview with Haidar Eid: Resisting 66 years of Israeli Apartheid

Ayah Bashir on May 22, 2014 3

In 2010, this interview was conducted with Dr. Haidar Eid as an activity by the Gaza BDS group and the One Democratic State Group (ODSG), but it has never been published before due to technical reasons. It was edited recently because this interview needs to be publicised since it tackles some of the most recent important and timely issues. Eid presents insightful analysis and reporting on the deteriorating conditions in Palestine. Even though this interview is several years old he is engaged in a lively dialogue about pertinent questions pertaining to the present time.

He opens by remarking on the daily manifestations of the incessant siege on the Gaza Strip, the 2008-2009 massacre and the continued illegal collective punishment of its residents by Israel that has transformed the Strip into an open-air prison. There is no communication between the Gaza Strip and world owing to severely imposed restrictions on Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement.

Ascribing the term Apartheid to Israeli state practices persistently raises a plethora of inevitable comparisons with South Africa’s apartheid regime. This interview draws real, and instructive comparisons to be made with South African apartheid as well as differences regarding the multiple dimensions of the political contours of Israel as a particular settler colonial regime. In this context, Eid discusses how the ethic cleansing of Palestinians and apartheid exercises, based on a logic of separation and fragmentation, is challenged by defying the two state solution since it “doesn’t guarantee peace with justice” through the animating spirit of BDS, based on the politics of non-violent grassroots resistance and committed international solidarity.

The strategy of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel, known as BDS, aims to force Israel, and the state’s supporters internationally, to recognize that the status quo is not a long-term option. In other words, for a just and long-term peace, Israel should abide by its obligations under international law, and the minimal conditions of civility and democracy. That means three things: ending the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza, securing equal rights within Israel for its Arab Palestinian citizens, and implementing the right of displaced Palestinians to return to their homes (last Thursday Palestinians around the world commemorated the 66th anniversary of Al-Nakba, Israel’s first mass dispossession of the Palestinians).

That is the core of the growing international BDS campaign launched on July 9, 2005, on the very first anniversary of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice that condemned illegal Israel’s annexation wall and colonial settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory, and now supported by the vast majority of Palestinian civil society, coordinated by the the Boycott National Committee (BNC).

Haidar Eid has played a role in advancing this strategy. He is also, however, one who is concerned not to limit attention to the immediate demands of the strategy at the cost of considerations of future possibilities. A rights-based movement isn’t enough to challenge Israel apartheid, there also needs to be a political framework to guide action. Meanwhile, one’s vision of the future should be intimately tied to strategic and even tactical, considerations of the present. Hence, Eid occupies a position that argues for such a vision of the future, and against a silence on the question that might be designed to build the strategy while avoiding disagreement about its aims.

That is why we as supporters of the One Democratic Secular State Group argue that a strategic objective which compromises with Israel on the question of the right of return, or the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, cannot provide a solution to the 66-year conflict. It is for this reason that it is particularly critical of the leftist groups in Palestine that appear to have abandoned their commitment to the principle of a single democratic state in the whole of the land of Palestine.

Amidst the on-going peace process industry and ceaseless efforts of the American administration to increasingly keep forcing the same narrative of a two-state solution on both the Palestinian population as a whole, and policy makers internationally, this interview lays out the alternative. It is pivotal for two-state supporters to take a stock of Israel’s strategy of colonization of the West Bank, isolation and punishment of Gaza, and gradual expulsion of the Palestinian residents, towards a de facto annexation in the future, which renders the long-elusive two-state solution impossible.

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