In an interview with Muslim Press, Ramona Wadi, a journalist and pro-Palestinian activist, said “It is imperative that the unity displayed at Al Aqsa is extended to challenge the entire Israeli colonial endeavour.”
Here’s the full transcript of the interview:
Muslim Press: In response to July 14 violence, Israel installed metal detectors and security cameras at al-Aqsa Mosque compound, but it later withdrew and lifted security measures and other restrictions imposed on the Al-Aqsa mosque and compound. What’s your take on this? Is this a victory for Palestinians?
Ramona Wadi: It is a victory for Palestinians for one reason above all others - there is not one single political faction that can claim victory over this mass mobilisation. Palestinians have displayed unity over Jerusalem which should serve as an incentive for mobilisation with regard to other violations. The difficulty lies in associating excessive symbolism over this victory due to the fact that Al-Aqsa was the issue in question. It must not be forgotten that Israel’s intent is to Judaize Jerusalem, hence this resistance against Israel’s oppressive measures is indeed important. Yet, it is also important not to isolate this victory from the rest of Palestine. It has to build its strength within the immediate context, which is Jerusalem, and also within the Palestinian historical narrative. Palestinian factions, as well should refrain from manipulating this victory to suit their political agendas. As time passes, Palestinians are giving even more evidence of mistrust in the existing options but at the same time showing the way forward. Statistics only convey a sliver of information which is important nonetheless but restricts choice to availability and prominence. The people have a more authentic approach and it dispels the current political options which render the purported leaders as spectators, with Palestinians proving themselves to be capable of resisting not only Israeli colonialism but also PA complicity and the Palestinian factions’ dissociation. For this reason, it is imperative that the unity displayed at Al Aqsa is extended to challenge the entire Israeli colonial endeavour.
MP: What role has the Palestinian Authority (PA) played in pursuing the Palestinian rights regarding al-Aqsa Mosque?
Ramona Wadi: The Palestinian Authority does not protect Palestinians’ rights. In this case PA President Mahmoud Abbas availed himself of the situation at Al-Aqsa to suspend security coordination with Israel after threatening and hinting many times that he would halt this agreement. It is a disservice to Palestinians to view this belated decision as a form of protection. Abbas only suspended security coordination – this does not indicate permanence. Also, the visibility associated with Jerusalem might have prompted Abbas into the decision, rather than pursuing the rights of Palestinian civilians who are the victims of the colonial complicity woven by Israel and the PA. Rather than seeking to protect Palestinians, Abbas has again capitalised on the issue to give a semblance of authority. The truth is, however, that turning a blind eye to Palestinian rights is a key to the PA’s power, given its inferior power structure as an extension of Israel’s established violence and the international community’s impositions.
MP: Is it fair to describe what Israel is doing to Palestinians as “ethnic cleansing”?
Ramona Wadi: Israel depends upon ethnic cleansing to realise its colonisation plans. The displacement of Palestinians is an ongoing process which has created a perpetually displaced population in Palestine and abroad. The political scenario of 1948 cannot be created but it can be refined in a way which allows Israel to destroy Palestinian rights while still retaining its standing in the international community, supported by other instigators and accommodators of violence. Widening the divide between the people and the land in a permanent manner while ensuring that the forcibly vacated spaces are colonised by a settler population to consolidate Israel’s fabricated history is perhaps more subtle than atrocities committed in 1948 but it doesn’t mean that the current tactics are not dangerous or that they should not be considered as ethnic cleansing. What one must keep in mind is that Israel has changed its methods to deflect excessive criticism. The intent, however, which is to colonise all of Palestine, has not changed.
MP: You have said that “Israel has never halted the Nakba”. Could you explain what you meant?
Ramona Wadi: The Nakba must not be perceived from the Israeli perspective. In Israel’s colonial narrative, the Nakba translates to the establishment of the state, with a subsequent similar conquest in 1967. Assimilating to this narrative is dangerous as it eliminates the colonial aspect which is central to the current situation in Palestine. The initial plan has not been abandoned – it has been modified and promoted internationally under the guise of security concerns, which the international community has endorsed. One must acknowledge the differences between 1948 and the present, in order to defeat the Israeli narrative. Unless that task is accomplished, there is little that can be done to halt the current version of the Nakba, which includes medical neglect, the siege on Gaza, the theft of water, the issue of Palestinian prisoners, settlement expansion, torture and murder of Palestinians, settler violence and surveillance measures. While Israel has endorsed and refined violence to support the colonial state, the international community has accepted this deprivation by subjecting Palestinians to an inferior status where their rights are juxtaposed against Israeli demands. Israel has definitely not halted the Nakba – it has continued it by expanding avenues that can be manipulated to instigate additional violence – and it has unequivocal support from the international community in this matter. Palestinians have only been compensated by non-binding resolutions for this shameful complicity.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger specializing in the struggle for memory in Chile and Palestine.