Anyone who smugly thinks the Palestinian people will just quietly accept the Netanyahu/Trump annexation plan should have been chilled to read a paragraph buried in a New York Times article the other day. The report, on Mahmoud Abbas’s appearance to denounce the plan at the United Nations, noted that a just-released poll of Palestinians found that:
Nearly two-thirds favored waging an armed struggle against the Israeli occupation.
The detailed poll, which was just conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in both the West Bank and Gaza, included other findings that demolish the idea that the annexation plan will win acceptance.
*Some 94 percent of Palestinians opposed the plan; only a laughable 4 percent supported it.
*Only 7 percent think the plan makes peace more likely; a good 82 percent think the plan returns the conflict to its original nature, as “existential conflict.”
And here’s the most decisive finding:
*64% of Palestinians support armed struggle or intifada as a response to the peace plan and 77% support ending security coordination with Israel. 61% expect that a return to armed struggle or intifada will result.
As Michael Koplow at the Israel Policy Forum points out, the poll dispels:
the fiction that Palestinians care only about quality of life and improving their daily routines, and are willing to sacrifice larger political aims or core principles if they can gain some utilitarian benefit. This has been the central bet of the Trump Middle East peace team, one that has been reiterated numerous times since the plan’s rollout by Jared Kushner in particular through interviews where he talks about the rapidly disappearing opportunity that Palestinians are missing to improve their lives.
The arrogant supporters of the annexation plan, who include its supposed author, Kushner, and the New York Times editorial board, who instructed Palestinians that the Netanyahu/Trump scheme “may not be a just outcome, but it perhaps becoming the realistic one,” should also be required to read the memoir of Zohra Drif, the legendary Algerian woman freedom fighter, who is now 85 years old. Her compelling story, which appeared in an excellent English translation two years ago, is a reminder that a people under occupation will never submit.
The French colonized Algeria starting in 1830, seizing the best farmland and introducing French colonists. Zohra Drif (her first name is “Sarah” in Arabic) was raised in a relatively privileged Muslim Algerian family; she went on to be only one of 4 “natives” out of 2000 at her high school in Algiers, the capital. After years of trying to win a path to independence by peaceful means, the Algerian liberation movement launched an armed struggle in 1954. This was a full 124 years after France’s colonization began — and it took another 8 years, and 1 million deaths, before the Algerians won.
Drif’s memoir eloquently describes how Algerians like her family maintained their commitment to a free Algeria, over more than a century of occupation and dispossession. Despite her privileged upbringing, she contacted the National Liberation Front, which asked her to place a bomb in a Milk Bar in the colonial zone. The classic film “The Battle of Algiers” includes a mesmerizing segment recreating this episode.
She recalls that thanks to her French education, she could recite by heart Article 35 of the 1793 Declaration of the Rights of Man:
When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.
Palestine is not Algeria. But the occupation is similar enough that we can be absolutely certain that today in Ramallah, or Hebron, or Jenin, young Zohra Drifs are observing Israeli soldiers and colonists with anger, and are eager to help liberate their country.
Akiva Eldar is one of Israel’s most distinguished journalists. Let us repeat what he warned just the other day:
One day the occupation will end. That will happen in 10 years from now, or 50, or 100, and after who knows how many more dead, how many more widows and orphans. The choice was and still is between dividing the country into two states and bringing about reconciliation between two peoples — or having a conflicted binational state in which two nations shed each other’s blood.