In one of his most quoted Fanonian statements, founder of the South African Black Consciousness Movement and Anti-apartheid icon Steve Biko says:
Not only have the whites been guilty of being on the offensive, but by some skillful maneuvers, they have managed to control the responses of the blacks to the provocation. Not only have they kicked the black, but they have also told him how to react to the kick. For a long time, the black has been listening with patience to the advice he has been receiving on how best to respond to the kick. With painful slowness he is now beginning to show signs that it is his right and duty to respond to the kick in the way he sees fit.
This, in a way, sums up apartheid Israel’s expectations of the Palestinian people and the latter’s responses.
In order to understand the Oslo Accords and the extreme damage they have caused to the Palestinian cause, one needs a historical contextualization of the so called “peace process.” This understanding is a necessary step towards a process of what I call De-Osloization.
The process of “Osloization” i.e., a combination of corruption, NGO-ization, and a selling-out of revolutionary principles, fused with the fiction of the two-state solution, has been dealt a heavy blow in the 2006 elections, rise of the BDS movement and revival of ideas of liberation and secular democracy in historic Palestine. Judging by statements made, not only by PA officials, but also by parts of the Palestinian Left, and even the Hamas government, the ultimate goal of the current river of blood, whether in Gaza or the West Bank, is still the establishment of a Palestinian state in any dimension, i.e. the two-state solution. The contradiction between the tremendous international support, the rise of the BDS movement, the outpouring of demonstrations against Apartheid Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinians of Gaza, the eruption of the Great March of Return, on the one hand, and the reiteration, by most political organizations, of the two state mantra, on the other hand, is a strong indication of the need for an alternative program that makes the De-Osloization of Palestine its first priority.
The Oslo Accords were claimed to be the first step towards an independent state that was supposed to be declared in 1999. But it is clear now, 25 years after the famous hand shake on the White House lawn, that no state in the short run will be established because of the mere fact that Oslo simply ignored the existence of the Palestinian people as a people. And yet, to claim that ‘Oslo’ was a great missed opportunity and ‘breakthrough’, and that the so-called ‘peace process’ was on track until the Palestinians blew it is a deliberate distortion of reality claimed in order to prepare Palestinians for more concessions.
Real comprehensive peace was not created in Oslo and Washington; rather what was created is an American/Israeli plan to resolve the conflict after the destruction of Iraq and the collapse of the Soviet Union and their attempt to construct a “new Middle East”—to use Shimon Perez’s words–a Middle East characterized by Imperialist-Zionist hegemony and supported by despotic regimes whose security can only be guaranteed if they normalize with Israel. In fact, the Oslo Accords were born dead because it did not guarantee the minimum national and political rights of the Palestinian people, as the late Edward Said argued very eloquently.
All these accords have led to is the creation of a limited “administrative autonomy” in the Gaza Strip and some parts of the West Bank. A third of the native population was given “the right” to form an authority that they could call “national.” It has now become very obvious that despite the famous handshakes on the White House lawn, and the optimistic talk of the ‘New Middle East,’ these accords, in contradistinction with UN and Security Council resolutions, have not guaranteed the establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state, or the return of the refugees, nor even the demolishing of the Jewish settlements, and compensation for those Palestinians who have lost—and still losing—their homes, lands and properties; nor the release of all political prisoners, or even the opening of all checkpoints…etc.
Instead, what has been created in parts of the West Bank and Gaza is an apartheid-type Bantustan endorsed by the international community. What has been created is literally two different worlds, both of which have been led by undemocratic institutions, many security apparatuses, Third Worldish courts, corruption, mismanagement, inefficiency and nepotism—to mention but few (neo)colonial qualities. Fanon must be turning in his grave!
Israel– a settler-colonial state—has always hoped to move into a new stage; a stage that requires the formation of a ‘new consciousness’ amongst colonized Palestinians. Herein lies the danger of Oslo — Osloization, within this Zionist context, means the creation of a new paradigm through which you wash out the consciousness of your supposed enemy-the ‘Other’-and replace it with a one-dimensional mentality, through the construction of a fiction (two states for two peoples) whose end is unattainable.
Put differently, to aim at creating the two-state Palestinian is to aim at creating false consciousness led by assimilated intelligentsia, some of whom have a revolutionary past record. Singing the slogans of “the two state solution,” “two states for two peoples,” “return to the 1967 borders,”–or even “a long-term Hudna” (as proposed by Hamas) — is intended to guarantee the subordination and conformity of the Palestinian. Gone are the right of return of 6 million refugees and their compensation, and the national and cultural rights of the indigenous population of Palestine 1948.
This goal, however, never sees the antithesis it creates as a result of displacement, exploitation, and oppression; it ignores the revolutionary consciousness that has been formulated throughout the different phases of the Palestinian struggle. Nor does it take into account the legacy of civil and political resistance that has become a trademark of the Palestinian struggle. Hence the need for formulating alternative politics.
The tribal chiefs of the South African Bantustans used to believe that they were the heads of independent states. Luckily, the ANC, despite its many compromises with the National Party, had never accepted the idea of separation and Bantustans. The official Palestinian leadership on the other hand, after the collapse of South African apartheid, boasts of having laid the foundation for a Bantustan, claiming it to be an independent state in the make. As Biko would have argued, for Zionism’s continued presence in Palestine, the ‘Other’ must be assimilated and enslaved without her/ him being conscious of her/his enslavement. Hence the granting of ‘semi-autonomous’ rule over the most crowded Palestinian cities, and hence the logic driving the Oslo Accords.
The lesson we learn from Gaza 2009, 2012, 2014, The Great March of Return and the BDS movement is to harness all efforts to fight the outcome of the Oslo Accords, and to form a United Front on a platform of resistance and reforms. This cannot be achieved without dismantling the PA and realizing that ministries, premierships, and presidencies in Gaza and Ramalah are a façade not unlike the South African Independent Homelands with their tribal chiefs. The classical national program, created and adopted by the Palestinian bourgeoisie has reached its end.
Hence the necessity for a new vision, and alternative paradigm that divorces itself from the fiction of the two-prison solution, a paradigm that takes the sacrifices of the people of Gaza as a turning point in the struggle for liberation, one that builds on the growing global anti-apartheid movement. This is how we, Palestinians, with painful slowness are now beginning to show signs that it is our right and duty to respond to the Israeli kick in the way we see fit.