By Geoffrey Cook, TMO
Oakland–January 7th–Omar Barghouti, who spoke to an enthusiastic audience here the first Saturday of this month, is an independent Palestinian researcher, commentator and a committed human rights activist. As such, he has dedicated himself to upholding international law and universal prerogatives. He is a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the ever-developing Palestinian (Civil Society) Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against Israel. He holds a bachelorâ€™s and masterâ€™s degrees in (electrical) engineering from New York City (N.Y.C.â€™s) Columbia University and a masterâ€™s degree in philosophy from Tel Aviv University. As well being a substantial international analytic political journalist, he has the written the defining tome on the (his) Movement, BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (Haymarket, 2011).
MECA (the Middle Eastern Children Alliance) with several other supporting groups brought Mr. Barghouti to the Eastern shore of San Francisco Bay on an unusually chilly evening here in Northern California.
Palestinians do not only reside on the West Bank and Gaza, but everywhere the traditional dwellers have emigrated. (Curiously, there are a large number settled directly across the dark enclosed waters in the City and County of San Francisco.)
Many of Ramallahâ€™s original citizens have been displaced under horrendous conditions in sundry refugee camps. (One thing that is often ignored in the North American media is how the foundation of the State has upset the Constitutions and demographics of the region. Lebanon had a slight Christian majority and even Palestinian had a Christian plurality. By creating Israel, the victorious States in World War II have left the Christians Stateless, also, in the Middle East. This, oddly, has even further hurt Muslims by leaving substantial Christian minorities in the Levant, for which Muslim States are responsible under International law, and may prevent the formations of purely modern Islamic-centric entities.)
The Palestinian Human Rights campaign is a global struggle for those rights. Barghouti exclaimed that neither the Ottomans, or the British and now the Israelis have colonized the Palestinian mind even though the Hebrews have gone so far as to destroy their indigenous books.
After the commencement of the First Intifatada Palestinian Universities were closed; then the Secondary Schools. Not only Tel Aviv, but recently an American politician, the Republican candidate for President — Newt Gringrich — has denied Palestineâ€™s very identity; and, thus, national self-agency!
Throughout the ages, the oppressor has dehumanized the oppressed. Omar touches upon the concept of Apartheid vis-Ã -vis Palestine. Your narrator does not believe the South African (historical) situation fits fully the Palestinian realities, but he agrees with Tariq Ali stated (in the three-part article published over the past month on these pages) that, in matter of fact, it is much worse. Whatever, what is happening is clearly illegal under International law. He further explicates that in Israel many of the laws discriminate against their Arabs â€œresidentsâ€ since there are two types of citizenship within that â€œspace.â€
It is an understatement to declare that there is a robust culture of resistance within Ramallahâ€™s realms.
Your reporter was most grateful that the speaker broached the nuclear question. (Israel, being overly-armed with this lethal weaponry, has been able to bully their neighboring nations, for it could neutralize any Arab Army in the district since there is no MAD [Mutually Assured Destruction] in the area. This scribe would had liked to followed through on this thread with him, but was unable to do so, for there can be no peace with justice as long as the newly â€˜liberatedâ€™ nationals of the Arab â€˜Springâ€™ remain under a threat of total annihilation if they act to relieve Palestinian suffering), but despite this menace â€œâ€¦Donâ€™t let this [a Palestinian Holocaust] happen..!â€
The gentle calls have become a scream for boycott (i.e., BDS). He commended the Port of Oaklandâ€™s Longshoremenâ€™s (Union) for refusing dramatically to unload an Israeli container ship during the last months of the previous year.
The U.S. Occupy Movement and the Palestinian Intifadas are related! The agenda of the 1% is to maintain their control of 50% of the worldâ€™s wealth. Mr. Barghouti claimed The American Metropolis guarantees the interest of that 1%. â€œWe [Palestinians and the American 99%] can no longer be censored and divided!â€ Further, â€œIt is a time for Palestinian freedom and justice!â€ Furthermore still, â€œIf equality would destroy Israel, what does that say about Israeli society?â€ Barghouti insists that â€œIf Israel would recognize â€˜Israeliâ€™ as a denoting a nationality and not a Jew, this would end [neutralize] the â€˜problem of Israelâ€ itself.
Israel is becoming more nervous over the turn in its perception in the West (which came out of the uncalled for naked brutality of their Operation Cast Iron against defenseless civilians). There has been an absolute repression of Palestinian culture inside and outside their rightful homeland â€“ even of their art itself (as shown by the repression of a show of Gazan children in this very city of posting. Fortunately, the Middle Eastern Childrenâ€™s Alliance [MECA] found the funds to rent a gallery here, and a catalogue of that show can be ordered through their website.)
Omar Barghouti advocates a one-nation solution with differing national identities. As he asserts, â€œWhat is wrong with equality?â€ (Recently, the Tel Aviv government had withheld taxes collected from the Palestinians for their civic services in the Occupied Territories because of the unification of the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] with Hamas, but after a seriously extended period they had to release the funds back to their rightful owners â€“ the P.A. [the Palestinian Authority] and Gaza — to deliver their Administrationsâ€™ services to their citizens who paid for them in the first place. This was due to international pressure â€“ especially the Germans.) Omar emphasized that that the Palestinians were entitled to those services through the act of the payment of their taxes!
Omar Barghouti made his conclusion that â€œAlthough Palestine is part of the 99%, anything that humanizes the Palestinians is censoredâ€ even, curiously, by the majority of the American 99%!