Thursday, May 17, 2007

Leaders who follow ordinary people's courage earn respect

The political class and media have failed to hold the prime minister to account and made the intolerable seem invisible

Karma Nabulsi
(teaches politics and international relations at Oxford University)

Thursday May 17, 2007
The Guardian

"......In the tens of thousands of words devoted to Tony Blair's political legacy and Gordon Brown's platform for future political action, Iraq is rightly seen as the catastrophe it is. But the way it is intertwined with the key issue of peace in the Middle East - and self-determination, justice and freedom for the Palestinians - has been absent. How could such a pervasive amnesia have established itself across the liberal media? From the seamless end of an era to the claim of the fresh start of a new one, spin has reached its apogee. The policies and practices of aggression, repression and occupation have been set alongside the policies and practices of resistance to tyranny, freedom and self-determination, and given moral equivalence.

The intolerable is now invisible. An entirely new set of problems have been created that are the purlieu of the security experts and ministerial committees: the "clash of civilisations", where "terror" and "security" are cited as the most urgent priority, where political rhetoric is couched in terms of religion as opposed to the real issues driven by injustice, occupation, dispossession and inequality.

The inability of political leaders in Britain to take a sustained principled position on Palestine has been served by the mainstream media, which in the past few years have so obscured the nature of the struggle in Palestine that hardly anyone understands what the conflict is about, or what must be done to end it. Instead we have an existential war about religion and extremism, where Israel, the occupier and regional hyperpower, is cast as eternal friend, liberal, victim and hero. A recent study at Glasgow University revealed the astonishing fact that over 70% of young people surveyed did not know that East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza are under military occupation by the Israeli army; 11% believe it is the Palestinians who are occupying that land.

The most elementary facts have been separated from the truth. To now propose foreign investment in Gaza as the solution to the expanding illegal settlements and land seizures by Israel, the increasing violence of a 39-year military occupation, the continued dispossession of millions of Palestinian refugees living in dangerous circumstances for nearly 60 years, and even today's violence in Gaza (entirely a byproduct of these larger issues) is, quite simply, to propose the death of Palestine and its people......."

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