As Israel bombs, kills and wounds innocent Palestinians in fresh air raids, a new book has called for moving past “stale discourse” and engaging in new discussions on Palestine.
“Our book is an attempt at articulating a new Palestinian political discourse,” said Ramzy Baroud, co-editor of “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out,” which was released recently.
Co-edited by Baroud and Israeli historian Prof. Ilan Pappe, the 462-pages book has brought together 27 scholars from varied backgrounds to provide a fresh direction to the Palestinian struggle.
The book has come at a time when Israel has launched fresh attacks against innocent Palestinians in Gaza since Friday and killed at least 43 Palestinians, including 15 children and four women. More than 310 others have been injured in the Israeli offensive.
Speaking on the difference “between our vision and the many other visions that are floating around within the Palestinian political discourse,” Baroud told Anadolu Agency that “this vision is predicated on the views and the experiences of those whom we call engaged intellectuals, people who have actually been through these experiences, fought the good fight, made mistakes, learnt from them, and had their own successes.”
“But the most important element is that these are people who are very much engaged with the society in all of its strata, whether civil society or working classes or prisoners, women’s groups and so forth,” said Baroud, a journalist and author himself.
“It is very, very important that these people are the ones who articulate that vision for a liberated and free Palestine.”
Moving past stalemate
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in Istanbul, where he was attending a closed-door discussion on the Palestinian liberation struggle, Baroud said “there's always this need that we need to go beyond the stale discourse on Palestine.”
Referring to “old ideas” from the 1960s and 70s, the Oslo peace process, and those making references to “a stage in history," Baroud said that "could not possibly be repeated."
“We don't have so much going on in terms of forward-thinking strategy based on real and true understanding of what is happening on the ground.”
Also, “Palestine is going through a transition,” he said.
In addition to the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, Baroud said “there is a new generation of Palestinians who are rising, resisting in Gaza, in East Jerusalem and Shaikh Jarrah, in the West Bank, but also we are seeing the Palestine 1948 element when those communities in today's Israel are once again finding that common denominator with Palestinians in the rest of historic Palestine.”
“We felt like this is the most opportune time to push for new thinking on Palestine,” he said, lauding global support for the Palestinian movement for liberation.
Acknowledging critical appreciation of the book, Baroud said “but the point is we wanted to start the conversation without factional agendas, without being constrained by ideological agendas, and to actually start a new type of conversation on Palestine.”
“And I hope that we succeeded in achieving that.”
Ongoing resistance a testament to successes of previous generations
Advocating a strong reconnect with past generations, Baroud said it was “terribly wrong to ignore elders and move forward.”
“Our experiences at any time and place anywhere in the world are the accumulation of the successes and failures of various generations throughout the times,” he emphasized.
“The fact that today, there is a Palestinian people, and there is a Palestinian struggle, and there are Palestinian victories -- little victories here and there -- but there is an ongoing resistance, this is a testament to the successes of the previous generations,” Baroud explained.
He said there are “many mistakes and many failures” but “it’s never a wrong or a bad thing to rethink, to reconsider, to re-channel and to refocus but without disowning the past completely, and also without embracing and getting stuck in it.”
“It is looking forward (while) learning from the past.”
‘Ethics must in resistance’
The US-based Palestinian-American author pointed to the “strange thing how ethics can actually be used by the oppressor and the oppressed at the same time.”
“All the oppressed people should strive for our universal ethics, ethics about the sanctity of human life, about the principle of resistance, about the ethics of community, the ethics of just embracing these natural instincts that all civilizations and all nations have in common,” he said.
Emphasising on Palestinians to “strive for ethics in their resistance struggle,” Baroud said “the ethics of the oppressors are different kinds…of some sort of a mix between self-created, self-tailored ethics…in addition to some sort of utilitarian philosophical ethics.”
“As long as what Israel is doing is to fulfil its security needs, it doesn't matter if they kill thousands of Palestinians in the process. This is very selfish and repurposed ethics to serve a particular political interest,” he said.
However, he added: “the ethics of Palestinians are different because it's the ethics of a nation that is rooted in history.”
“We go back thousands of years -- our relationship to Palestine, Palestinian land, Palestinian nature, Palestinian culture. It is something that we have inherited generation after generation.
“So our ethics have to meet that sort of civilisational responsibility,” said Baroud, who is the author of five books.
‘Freedom achieved by nations on their own not granted by anyone else’
“I don’t think nations have achieved their freedoms throughout history because they have been granted that right by anybody else, and especially not by the very people who oppress them in the first place,” Baroud said.
“It is something that you actually acquire on your own -- you fight for, you struggle for, and you achieve on your own. That's how it works,” he said.
He said the whole idea behind the book is “we wanted to move away from the reactionary intellect that has defined our intellectuals for many years.”
“Sometimes wittingly, sometimes unwittingly, we, as Palestinian intellectuals, have been placed in a situation in which we are always having to defend our ourselves,” Baroud said.
“We are not anti-Semitic. We haven't all elected Hamas. We don't want to throw the Jews to the sea,” he said, citing some cases where Palestinians are forced to defend their positions. “For us, it's not a subject.”
“It is something that has been imposed on us by Western propaganda, and we engage with it because, quite often, we find that it's the only way that we actually can represent and present our point of view,” he said.
“There are historical reasons of why we have been placed within that very strange and odd political argument.”
Baroud said people in Palestine “itself were a major target audience for us, especially the younger people.”
“The thing is, many of the ideas in the book itself were actually inspired by people on the ground as opposed to an intellectual speaking down to the people,” he said.
“It is they actually telling us what to do. It is our attempt to try to understand the popular action and to articulate it in a way that is understandable by the Palestinian masses everywhere in the world.”
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