Saturday, 3 December 2011

The UN statehood bid and the internationalization of the Palestinian struggle: Joseph Dana

Yasmin Ahmed
(LSE SU Palestine Society)

Joseph Dana, an American independent freelance journalist currently based in Ramallah (West Bank), was invited to speak at the London School of Economics by the LSE SU Palestine Society about "New directions in Palestinian resistance after the Arab Spring: The UN statehood bid and the internationalization of the Palestinian struggle".

He began by speaking about what he called a "crisis of legitimacy" regarding the Palestinian leadership, highlighted by the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN in September 2011 which was presented as a "top-down" initiative rather than it being a collective decision taken democratically via the consultation of the Palestinian people. Dana argued that the bid was "more about the Palestinian Authority staying in power as opposed to an organic initiative that came from below". 

He then went on to speak about the various ways that the state of Israel contradicts its own assertion as being "the only democracy in the Middle East". Dana focused on the 'Bill for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel Through Boycott', passed earlier this year (July 2011), which has made it illegal for any Israeli to support boycott of the state, with the threat of being sued if they were to do so. There are currently 400 boycotters within Israel. Dana saw this move as indicative of the fact that "BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] is so effective that they [the Israeli government] were willing to pass this law with a majority and violate their so-called democracy's principles". The speaker also cited the controversial loyalty oath which effectively "bans Arabs from Tel Aviv" as a further example of Israel's true anti-democratic nature.

Dana finally moved on to speak about the paradoxical nature of the tent protests that have been taking place in Israel. Whilst citizens of Israel were holding these sit-ins in order to demand "social justice" within Israel, they were "unwilling to acknowledge or confront the occupation". He argued that this symbolises "that the one and two state solutions are both unviable". For this reason, Dana claimed that global pressure through initiatives of resistance on the international front such as the growing BDS movement, the Flotilla that was raided by Israel in May 2010 and the 'Flytilla' activists who attempted to enter Israel to visit Palestinian families last summer are "crucial" in the context of the continuing Palestinian struggle.

We would like to express our thanks and appreciation to Joseph for kindly accepting our invitation and providing us with a very interactive and thought-provoking talk.

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