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Palestine Matters of Truth and Justice

Palestine Matters of Truth and Justice

By Azmi Bishara

London, Hurst & Company, 2022

A review by Michael James, PhD

Bishara’s book is scholarly while remaining readable. He provides a history of the struggle while also exploring pathways to peace. He defines Palestinians as an indigenous native people fighting for their homeland against Israel, an apartheid state “established by force, not by rights.”*1 Bishara elaborates that, sadly, “In the age of decolonization, Palestine fell victim to a settler colonial project…that monopolizes the role of victim even when it is the victimizer.”*2 In other words, Israel uses the history of Jewish suffering to justify its gradual genocide of the Palestinian people.

Bishara reminds the world that resistance to occupation is “an intrinsic right enshrined in international law and is also the duty of the occupied people.”*3 The book’s title alludes to the fact that Palestine is a question of injustice “that can only be resolved through the application of justice.”*4 But justice does not come with bombing and invasion, a simple truth which makes this an important book for all who now despair over the systematic murder of thousands of Gazans following Hamas’s actions of October 7.

The savagery of that day could so easily have been prevented by justice being done. The world must acknowledge that brutality is perhaps a natural result of a people losing hope. Palestinians have tried to achieve justice by strikes, intifadas, negotiations, diplomacy, hijacking of jet airliners, armed struggle, the BDS movement, concessions of land, formal rejection of violence, formal recognition of Israel’s right to exist, suicide bombings, and appeals to international law and the United Nations. And what were they met with?

Bishara writes “Israel has never initiated a serious peace proposal or made the slightest effort to demonstrate good faith.”*5 He further explains, “Israel accepts neither a two-state solution nor one bi-national state for Jews and Arabs.”*6 Instead, “[Israel] lives by the sword” and “will never gain legitimacy so long as it refuses to acknowledge the injustices inflicted on Palestine. …Israel has committed itself to perpetual conflict. …It has historically chosen permanent warfare.”*7 All bankrolled, of course, by Israel’s partner in crime, the United States.

What would justice for the Palestinian people look like? A return of land stolen by Israel, an end to military occupation, statehood, and Israel’s return to 1967 borders are some examples. Israel has always demanded recognition of its right to exist. Bishara points out that the Zionists have never recognized the right of Palestine to exist. And likely never will, at least if we listen to its current right-wing and fascist leadership.

Ironically, as Gaza – the world’s largest open-air prison – is once again mercilessly bombed, perhaps to annihilation this time, the ultimate victory of the Palestinian people is assured. How? Because Zionism has made them courageous martyrs and heroes, much as the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were once revered worldwide as freedom fighters. Oppressed and victimized people everywhere now look to the Palestinian people in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and the global diaspora as models of resistance to Zionist evils of imperialism, colonialism, and apartheid. And rightly so.

As bombs fall on innocent Gazans, guilty only of resisting theft of their homeland, we can celebrate them with the words of Palestinian American scholar Helga Tawil-Souri: “Gaza…reveals the heart of humanity that never gives up. Gaza is…the larger than life shadow of the colonizer’s fear: a people that cannot be quelled…Gaza is awesome, mythical, mesmerizing, extraordinary, impressive, monumental, unreal, miraculous, and most of all, durable.”*8

Bishara writes that Israel has controlled the narrative of the conflict, presenting itself to the world as the eternal victim, all while committing land theft, ethnic cleansing, and a gradual genocide of Palestinians. And, when Palestinians resist, as is their right and duty, Israel scapegoats them in world media and opinion as terrorists. This book is an eloquent response to the dominant Zionist narrative and a call for justice.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed faith that the moral arc of the universe is gradually bending toward justice. But that moral arc will be forever skewed until the world brings justice to the Palestinian people.

*1 Azmi Bishara, Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice, p. 61.

*2 Ibid, p 72.

*3 Ibid, p. 129.

*4 Ibid, p. 2.

*5 Ibid, p. 156.

*6 Ibid, p. 260.

*7 Ibid, p. 262.

*8 Helga Tawil-Souri and Dina Matar, eds., Gaza as Metaphor, London: C. Hurst, 2016, pgs. 26–7, quoted in Marc Lamont Hill and Mitchell Plitnick, Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics, New York: The New Press, 2021, p. 112.

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