For Palestinians, New US Embassy Is a Symbol for Gaza Protests, but Mass Oppression Is Root Cause

While the Israeli military was carrying out a massacre against Palestinian protesters in Gaza, senior members of the Trump administration gathered in Jerusalem for the opening of the US Embassy. Among those who attended were President Trump’s daughter, White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump; her husband, senior adviser Jared Kushner; and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The Trump administration’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem has sparked widespread condemnation, including in the city of Jerusalem itself, where demonstrators gathered Monday to protest the ceremony. For more, we speak with Budour Hassan, a Palestinian writer and project coordinator for the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: Stay with us, as we turn now to Budour Hassan. We’ve lost her on satellite in Jerusalem, but I think we have her on the phone, Palestinian writer and project coordinator for the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights.

You were right there in Jerusalem, not far from the embassy office, I guess you could call it. Again, most of the work will continue for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. But your thoughts on the opening yesterday? How many people turned out in Jerusalem to protest it? Who went in?

BUDOUR HASSAN: There were hundreds of Palestinians in Jerusalem, both Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, who came to protest the opening of the embassy. But to be honest, the protest wasn’t just against the opening of the embassy. The protest was against the massacre that was taking place in Gaza, against Israeli impunity. And yesterday was a crowning moment of this impunity, because while Israelis and U.S. officials were celebrating the opening of the embassy, Palestinians in Gaza were being massacred.

And it was mainly — lots of the chants that were raised and chanted during the protest were to stress the right of return, because, as you know, we are marking the 70th anniversary of the Nakba. While we are credibly angry about the moving of the embassy, we know that this is one of the details, one of the manifestations of the ongoing U.S. support for Israel. But we’re also aware that the root cause of what’s going on right now is that has happened 70 years ago, is the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. And this ethnic cleansing is still ongoing, in Jerusalem, in the West Bank, in the — well, against Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab. And this is why we were protesting yesterday. We were protesting against the opening of the embassy, which symbolizes this long-standing U.S. support for Israel, but which is just one of many, many details of Israel’s everyday oppression of Palestinians.

Obviously, many Palestinians who tried to make it to the embassy were prevented from arriving, were blocked. Some buses were blocked. There were also protests in the West Bank, which were crushed. But yesterday kind of exemplified how Israel uses different systems of oppression against Palestinians pertaining to where they are. So, Palestinians in Jerusalem, because Israel wants to convey an image of sovereignty over Jerusalem, so it uses different forms of oppression. It uses control, it uses [inaudible], it uses residency verification. While against Palestinians in the West Bank, it uses tear gas, it uses rubber bullets. While against the Palestinians in Gaza, it uses live bullets and fires and massacres people with sniper shots and bullets. But regardless of the position of Palestinians — and even also Palestinian citizens of Israel all also face daily oppression, racist laws and discrimination and exclusion, and their very existence is threatened.

But regardless of where we are as Palestinians, we feel that all of us are being targeted with different means, different [inaudible]. But to Israel, all of us are disposable. But there is a hierarchy of disposability. And the people of Gaza are treated as the most disposable. And this is why we also took to the streets yesterday, even though we were not many. But we wanted to show the people of Gaza that, for us, at least, they are not disposable, that we care for what’s going on in Gaza, that we are part of the same people, and we share the same yearning for the right of return and for the liberation of all of Palestine.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I wanted to bring in Tareq Baconi, who’s here with us in studio and a member of the Palestinian Policy Network and a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Your assessment of what this — what this latest carnage means in terms of the rest of the world reacting to having to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

TAREQ BACONI: I think this — what’s happening on the ground now is a clear indication of the fact that there’s a recalibration that’s happening in the Palestinian national struggle. The Palestinian liberation project of the Palestinian Authority or of Hamas have both failed to provide Palestinians with rights. So what we’re seeing is Palestinians taking measures into their own hands. We’re seeing people starting to call for rights, going back to the roots of their struggle. Now, with Jerusalem off the table, we have Palestinians calling for the right of return, going back to demands that are rooted in 1948, not in 1967. And we’re seeing Palestinians start to embrace mass mobilization, civil protest, nonviolent protest, which have always formed part of the Palestinian struggle for liberation, since 1948, but have often been hijacked by peace processes and negotiations that have gone nowhere. So what we’re seeing on the ground now is a disintegration of this idea of diplomacy as a means for achieving Palestinian rights, and really going back to the roots, going back to the roots where people are marching out in numbers, demanding equality, demanding freedom, being fed up and disenchanted with their political leaders, and deciding to take measures into their own hands.

And I think Muhammad and Budour spoke very eloquently about how this really represents a coming together of Palestinians in their different cages, whether they’re in the West Bank or East Jerusalem or Gaza, all protesting for the one thing that unites them, which is the right of return, which is equality, which is freedom. So, really, this is a position where Palestinians are at a moment of transition, where it’s very clear that the political leadership has failed, where it’s very clear that the Americans are completely behind Israel’s expansionist policies, and where it’s clear that Israel’s right wing is becoming more brazen. They now speak openly of annexation. They now are able to call nonviolent protest “Hamas propaganda.” And they get away with it with impunity in the international community. And so, what we’re seeing now is a reassertion of those Palestinian rights that form the core of Palestinian nationalism.

AMY GOODMAN: Tareq Baconi is author of a new book that’s just out called Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance. We’ll be back with him in a moment.