LONDON: The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and Israeli alienation from the West present reasons for Palestinians to be optimistic, Dr. Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, said during an online briefing on Tuesday.
A number of factors have converged to create a situation that may bring to an end the “war on Palestinians,” he added.
“In spite of the current situation in Palestine, there are reasons to be optimistic for Palestinians,” he said at the briefing, organized by the Council for Arab-British Understanding.
The BLM movement for justice and civil rights presents a unique opportunity to address the inequities of the Israeli occupation, he added.
“The present moment, where the US is confronting its own structural racism and its own historical inequities like it never has before, may also be an opportune moment to address the
injustice in Palestine,” Khalidi said.
Beyond BLM and its parallels to the Palestinian cause, Israel’s own actions, he added, may be contributing to its alienation.
“As Israel makes clear its intentions, and as the Zionist project is pursued through Israeli law and practices, the incompatibility of what they’re doing with liberal democracy and ideas of
justice and fairness becomes clear,” he said.
Increasingly, Khalidi believes, liberal democracies will find themselves at odds with the Israeli state and its actions.
This, he said, is particularly relevant when it comes to the US-Israel relationship as Americans’ views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict evolve.
In particular, on college campuses across the US and within the Democratic Party’s base, the stance on Palestine has changed drastically and is increasingly sympathetic, he added. “This… is an ongoing process that’s taking place as the US becomes more diverse,” he said.
Nonetheless, Khalidi warned that the “war on Palestinians” could continue for many years. If dangerous myths are not dispelled, the systemic injustices that perpetuate the conflict will
never be addressed, he said.
One of the most important of these myths, Khalidi added, is that the Palestinians have always been rejectionist and have blocked the peace process.
This argument, he said, “requires a great deal of ignorance or self-deception to make. One only has to look at the plans being offered to understand why the Palestinians were unable to
He added: “The plans that have been offered never came anywhere near justice, meeting the requirements of international law or the desire of the Palestinian people to live as a sovereign
people in their own home.
“One can go through each and every peace plan and ask: Why would the Palestinians ever accept this?” The latest plan proposed by the US is no different, Khalidi said.