Wednesday August 17, 2022

Palestinian voices

November 30, 2021

When Palestinians began registering in world consciousness as a people with a legitimate claim to freedom, they were not immediately endowed with all the rights and respect that a nation of such rooted culture, impressive history and unmatched courage deserved. They were still relegated, assigned the role of the ‘terrorist’ and, occasionally, the hapless victim. The latter notion, in particular, had impacted the way that many sympathetic historians wrote about Palestine, corrupting even the perception of many genuine activists, who felt that they, not the Palestinians, are more capable of dismantling the Israeli Zionist propaganda. According to this thinking, Palestinians can only serve the role of the spectator, providing endless streams of photos, videos and tragic numbers illustrating their victimization.

Of course, there were exceptions. Powerful Palestinian voices such as the late Edward Said, Hisham Sharabi, Ghada Karmi, and Khalidi himself, have insisted on the centrality of Palestine to the Palestinian discourse.

In mainstream western media, Palestinians too made their occasional appearances, but only within acceptable limits and restrictive language. Palestinian Authority officials, dubbed ‘moderates’, represented the good Palestinian to CNN viewers and the readers of the New York Times. All others were deemed terrorists, radicals and extremists and, thus, completely ignored – though, plainly, they were much closer to the true aspirations of Palestinians, especially if compared to the corrupt PA elites.

Even those chosen few were eventually canceled out, especially during the Trump Administration and, even now, under the Joe Biden Administration. As long as there is no ‘peace process’ to speak of, the token PA Palestinian is of no interest to the US government and, therefore, to US media.

Yet, the change towards a genuine Palestinian intellectual and media representation is real. It is taking place, not because of the benevolence of corporate media or some moral awakening of politicians, but because of the Palestinian people themselves. While Palestinian factions continue to feud, fighting for their political interests, a new, unified Palestinian generation of intellectuals, inspired by the Palestinian people’s unity at home, is rising. For these intellectuals, neither faction, nor ideology nor political privilege should be prioritized over the rights of the Palestinian people, not only in the Occupied Territories but throughout historic Palestine and the world.

The earth-shattering events in Palestine of last May must not simply be classified as just another Israeli war and another ‘round of violence’. They represented a paradigm shift in the history of Palestine, where the Palestinians emerged less factional and more unified than ever before. This unity can also be found in a new political discourse championed by Palestinian intellectuals worldwide.

Excerpted: ‘We Do Exist: Why the Palestinian Voice Should Take Center Stage’