Writer and political analyst Rasim Obeidat spoke to students in Jerusalem about normalization and strategies and mechanisms to confront normalization on February 2, 2012. In this regard, said Obeidat, “from the beginning of the conflict, the Palestinian people have been alert on popular and national levels to the risks of normalization, and to the ongoing attempts to impose normalization on our people, pushing acceptance of Israel as an entity naturally and rightfully based on our land, and on the ruins and tragedies of our people.”
He pointed out that popular Arab ethics and values played an important role in confronting those who were trying to sell their land to the occupier, and have continued to play a crucial role in building public awareness to confront reactionary policies that aim to import normalization into the Palestinian grassroots.
Obeidat said that “normalization” first appeared as a term and a political concept after the Camp David accords of 1979, as Israel insisted upon the establishment of normal economic, political, cultural, commercial, diplomatic and security relations between Egypt and itself before the return of occupied Arab land and the recognition and implementation of the rights of the Palestinian people (and the implementation of international resolutions). The cultural and political concept of normalization is the product of a culture of defeat and surrender institutionalized by Sadat at Camp David, said Obeidat, noting that it grew from the military and economic policy of defeat that views the US and Israel as the determining factors of any solutions. Thus, such a policy responds to the conditions and dictates of Israel and the U.S. in regards to a settlement or resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and labels any solution outside the U.S./Israeli framework as “unrealistic, unreasonable and extremist.”
This acceptance of this concept was seriously politically damaging to the Arab and Palestinian cause, and sought to close off other solutions and options to reclaim our land and our rights, said Obeidat. This is the concept that drives the negotiations while utterly obscuring the roots of the struggle and the fact that the occupation’s position of power was achieved only by massive aggression against the Palestinian people and the Arab nation and suppressing our fundamental rights, he said; it seeks to undermine the moral, political and legal legitimacy of our struggle for freedom, while providing cover for the occupation and its aggression.
Normalization, said Obeidat, fundamentally seeks to release the occupation from inside the circle of regional and international isolation. There has been a significant increase in normalization activity in recent times, said Obeidat, such that it has become a “tsunami.” He noted that pre-Oslo normalization is different from post-Oslo normalization, in that the Palestinian Authority of Oslo shackled itself with numerous conditions and agreements that require them to engage in normalization at multiple levels with the occupation and establish joint ventures with it, on a security level as well as politically, culturally, academically, and institutionally.
The Authority is the “bulldozer” of normalization, said Obeidat, but the greatest danger to our culture and awareness does not come from the normalization of the Authority, but from the intellectual, cultural, political, and sporting efforts that seriously attempt to move normalization from an official program of the Palestinian Authority to a Palestinian grassroots level. This is happening particularly at universities and schools under maliciously false and deceptive banners and names promoting joint scientific, academic, educational, sporting, artistic and other projects, intended to penetrate the wall of Palestinian consciousness, distort its culture, and undermine the foundations of the Palestinian narrative. Obeidat condemned elites, who do not represent our people, from inside or outside Palestine, who attempt to test their ideas and concepts against Palestinian reality, regardless of the applicability or inapplicability of those concepts and visions, even when those concepts are inconsistent with the rights of our people and the national cause.
Obeidat called for confronting normalization at the grassroots level and preventing its expansion, saying that it was the duty of all nationally-oriented community and institutional activists to engage in campaigns to confront normalization and raise public awareness against normalization. He called upon those present to mobilize energies and efforts to expose financial and institutional relationships that drive normalization programs. At the conclusion of the event, Obeidat took questions from students. The lecture was attended by a large number of students from the Youth Parliament of Jerusalem as well as many community and student groups, including those who had been involved in causing the failure of a number of normalization meetings and conferences planned in Jerusalem.