Sunday, July 19, 2009

Empowering the powerless

By Lamis Andoni, Al Jazeera's senior Middle East analyst

PLO: History of a Revolution is a six-part series that tells the turbulent story of the Palestinian struggle for a national home.

In the following account, Al Jazeera's senior Middle East analyst explains the origins of the Palestinian armed struggle.


The battle of Karameh, which in Arabic means 'dignity', ordained the Palestinian resistance movement as the response to the failure of Arab states to deter Israel.

Humiliated by the 1967 defeat, the Arabs - not only Palestinians - embraced the rapidly growing armed resistance. It restored some lost dignity and gave a potent voice not only to Palestinian rights but to an Arab yearning to stand tall and reject defeat.

The late 1960s - with the rise of the Left and the movement against the war in Vietnam - provided a nurturing environment for the Palestinian armed resistance and it soon became the cause célèbre for activists around the world.

Arms from the Eastern bloc started to flow in, as the image of an oppressed people taking their fate into their own hands brought foreign, mostly Western, activists into the ranks of the Palestinian resistance.

By espousing armed struggle and exposing the impotence of Arab states, the Palestinian groups had achieved their first strategic goal: enabling Palestinians to speak for themselves on their own terms.

It was a turning point that placed the Palestinians and their cause on the world map - in their own voice."

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