Discourses of Violence and the Fight for Palestinian Liberation
IN THE THIRD part of the “Learning and Unlearning Palestine” webinar series hosted by the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, panelists explored how “dialogue” and “peace” discourses undermine Palestinian liberation. The Feb. 27 webinar included Inès Abdel Razek, executive director of the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy; Yara Hawari, senior analyst at Al-Shabaka; and Maha Nassar, associate professor at the University of Arizona.
The panelists discussed the distinction between the “justice narrative”—which reflects Palestinians’ experience of violent settler colonialism—and the “peace narrative” pushed by Israel and its Western supporters.
The Oslo accords, Nassar stated, marked the shift to the “peace” discourse in Israel and the international community, evidenced by the multitude of international NGOs that “support dialogue-based projects between Israelis and Palestinians.” The framework of peacebuilding is a façade that shields Israel from accountability, she argued. Calling on Palestinians to dialogue with Israel “makes the international community feel good about themselves,” Razek interjected, “while not changing the structural system and injustice that [Palestinians] live under.”
Hawari also denounced the “peace narrative,” stating that it “creates a false parallel between the structural oppression of Israeli occupiers and the resistance of the Palestinians.” Attributing equal agency to the two sides “is violence itself,” Razek asserted, as it precludes redress, restitution or justice by implying that “the colonized people should stop resisting” and talk to their unapologetic oppressor.
The webinar series culminated in its fourth installment on March 8. Panelists discussed what allyship and solidarity with Palestinian liberation looks like beyond “peacemaking” and “dialogue” discourses.
Saleh Hijazi, Africa Campaigner at the National Committee for BDS, said the solidarity movement helps fight the public relations battle in the West by providing “a lifeline” of support in the face of relentless Zionist propaganda that regularly ignores or discounts Palestinian voices. “The major struggle is over the narrative,” he said.
Al-Shabaka’s U.S. policy fellow Tariq Kenney-Shawa noted that “Palestinians often find themselves being drowned out of conversations” by dominant pro-Israel voices. The sad reality is that facts shared by Palestinians often only get taken seriously when they are restated by allies in the West, he said.