That was the headline over a recent post by David Hearst for The Guardian’s Comment Is Free space.
It began: “There is an Arabic word you come across a lot when Palestinians talk about their future. Sumud means steadfastness, and it has turned into a strategy: when the imbalance of power is so pronounced, the most important thing to do is to stay put. Staying put against overwhelming odds is regarded as a victory.”
Hearst didn’t offer any substantial explanation of why Palestinian steadfastness is a victory, so I will.
When the Palestine file was closed by Israel’s victory on the battlefield in 1948, it was not supposed to have been re-opened. There was not supposed to have been a regeneration of Palestinian nationalism. The Palestinians were supposed to accept their lot as the sacrificial lamb on the altar of political expediency.
And the whole truth includes this fact. Behind closed doors, and despite their rhetoric to the contrary, the Arab regimes shared the same hope as Zionism and the major powers – that the Palestine file would never be re-opened. They knew that if it was, there would one day have to be a confrontation with Israel and its big power supporters, the U.S. in particular, and they didn’t want that.
They, the Arab regimes, also feared that a Palestinian state, if it was ever established, would be more or less democratic and provide a model of government which all Arabs would want. Palestinian nationalism was therefore perceived by Arab autocrats as a potentially subversive force. (It’s because my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews tells these and related truths that it can’t be published in the Arab world. The regimes of an impotent, corrupt and repressive Arab Order order were and still are every bit as determined as Zionism to suppress the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became the Zionist not Jewish state of Israel).
For their part Israel’s leaders were aware that if they failed to keep the Palestine file closed, a regeneration of Palestinian nationalism would cause the legitimacy of Zionism’s colonial-like enterprise (not to mention its crimes only starting with the first ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians) to be called into question.
After its occupation in 1967 of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, Israel’s leaders became more and more aware that Palestinian Sumud is a very powerful weapon. (Actually it’s the only weapon the Palestinians had and have). In essence Israel’s strategy for dealing with it was, and still is, humiliating the occupied Palestinians and making life hell for them, in the hope that they will give up their struggle for an acceptable amount of justice and accept crumbs from Zionism’s table or, better still, abandon their homeland and seek a new life elsewhere.
To date Palestinian Sumud has proved to be stronger than Zionism’s ability to destroy it but… Does it necessarily follow that at some point in the future it will defeat Zionism? It depends on the answer to another question. How will the demographic time-bomb created by Israeli occupation be defused?
In theory are three possibilities.
1. Israel ends its occupation completely (subject to minor and mutually agreed border modifications) to make the space for a viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem an open, undivided city and the capital of two states. In this scenario provision would have to be made for appropriate compensation to be paid to those Palestinian refugees wishing to return but for whom there was no the space in the Palestinian mini state. In reality this won’t happen because Zionism was and remains a project for taking for keeps the maximum amount of land with the minimum number of Arabs on it. Also true is that Zionist colonization of the West Bank has gone much too far to be reversed without a Jewish civil war; and as Shimon Peres once said to me (quoted in my book), no Israeli prime minister is going down in history as the one who triggered it.
2. As the Zionist state becomes more and more isolated in the world, enough Israelis come to their senses and demand that their government goes for the One State solution in order to best protect their own interests. One of my Jewish friends said it could be called Palestein! If it happened this would be the end of Zionism and complete victory for Palestinian steadfastness. (My own take on the One State solution is well known but bears repeating. The Jews, generally speaking, are the intellectual elite of the Western world. The Palestinians are by far the intellectual elite of the Arab world. Together in peace and partnership in One State with equal human and political rights for all, they could play the leading role in changing the region for the better and by doing so give new hope and inspiration to the whole world).
3. Zionism’s in-Israel leaders create a pretext (possibly involving Mossad agents dressed as Arabs planting bombs) to go for a final round of ethnic cleansing – to drive the Palestinians off the West Bank and into Jordan or wherever.
It’s because I believe a Zionist Final Solution (as in 3 above) is a real possibility in a foreseeable future that I think a way should be found for the major powers, led by America, to put Israel on public notice that if it did resort to a final round of ethnic cleansing, it would be universally condemned as a criminal state and subjected to sanctions of every kind, universally applied.