Palestine: If Not Now, When?

By Max Elbaum
Sep 21, 2011

The Israel/Palestine conflict is about to take the center of the political stage. The Palestinian Authority's bid for UN Statehood recognition will make this issue the most prominent item at the world body's upcoming session. But it's not going to stop (just as it didn't start) there. The Palestinian people's struggle for their human and national rights is increasingly central to the dynamics of the Arab Spring and the transformations underway throughout the Middle East and North Africa. And there is every indication that Israel/Palestine will be a pivotal foreign policy issue in U.S. public debate and electoral politics in 2011 and 2012, as the Republican right has decided that charging Obama with "throwing Israel under the bus" is a winning strategy even as the White House backs Israel's intransigence at the UN and on the ground.

So solidarity with Palestine is even more urgent - and potentially more effective - than ever. As the world's eyes are focused on the issue, facts about about Israel's land-grabbing and its "apartheid on steroids" policies even make it into the mainstream media. And voices like that of Rashid Khalidi - Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University - are featured in the Room for Debate section of the on-line New York Times.

But it is a time of great danger as well, as Middle East expert Juan Cole points out in his latest assessment of the conflict:

"Israel can conduct the Oslo accords with the Palestinians, and can promise to withdraw almost completely from the West Bank by 1999, but then can double the number of Israeli squatters on Palestinian land instead... The Likud Party’s (and worse, the Yisrael Beitenu Party's) plan for the Palestinians is, 'If you have your land or resources taken by Israeli squatters, drop dead or become a refugee once more.' That is what the slogan that Palestine is Jordan really means - it is a call for massive ethnic cleansing of 4 million people and relocating them to the barren Eastern desert of the Hashemite Kingdom. It is a war crime in the hopeful stages...."

The Statehood-bid-at-the-UN tactic is controversial among Palestinian activists and organizations and within the Solidarity movement. Articles offering different points of view from within the movement are referenced within the urgent call to September actions from the US Campaign to End the Occupation. It is important to become further informed even as we act in solidarity and to change Washington's policies.

Also useful at this crucial movement is the excellent background piece on the Palestinian struggle and the Arab Spring from MERIP Reports here, as well as Phyllis Bennis's summary here.

For ongoing solidarity efforts, full information about the worldwide campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) can be found at the website of the Palestinian BDS National committee here.

Also, especially if you have retirement savings in TIAA-CREF, consider joining Jewish Voice for Peace's campaign for divestment of companies that profit from the Israeli occupation, information available here.

Time to raise our voices for Palestinian freedom.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the entire War Times project

Max Elbaum has worked with War Times since its founding. He has been involved in peace and anti-racist movements since joining Students for a Democratic Society (known as SDS) in Madison, Wisconsin in the 1960s. Through the 1970s and 1980s he participated in campaigns defending affirmative action and opposing U.S. military interventions in the Third World while writing extensively for the radical press and taking part in then-widespread efforts to construct a new US revolutionary political party.

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