Weaponizing Lawfare in The Philippines

by Richard Falk

This piece is crossposted from Global Justice in the 21st Century, the blog of JWE Board Member Richard Falk.

[Prefatory Note: The following text is the transcript of my presentation by video transmission to a Forum held in Manila on February 21, 2020 in support of Senator Leila De Lima who has been detained in prison for many months on spurious charges of drug trafficking. Such a case is an example of ‘weaponizing law’ (regressive lawfare) to carry out the anti-democratic policies of a fairly elected autocrat, which in the case of Rodrigo Duterte, despite leaving by now a long trail of blood-stained abuse, retains an approval rating of more than 80%. As in the United States, we ask the question that prompted the leading thinkers in ancient Athens to abandon democracy—‘how can we trust the citizenry if they are drawn to support demagogues whose policies are self-destructive for the political community?” If not, the people, then whom? Surely, not the financial oligarchs. Plutocracy is not the answer.]

Weaponizing Lawfare in The Philippines

 Good Afternoon:

I salute those who have convened and are participating in this International Forum on Lawfare, and wish that I could have been with you in person to share this experience directly rather than addressing you from a distance. The title of the conference accurately identifies the core of the challenge facing the people of the Philippines: ‘Weaponizing the Law v. Democratic Dissent.’ The prolonged detention and framing of Senator Leila M. de Lima, not only a brave and dedicated political figure, but an elected member of the Senate of the Philippines, is a shocking reminder of how abuses of power occur in a country that claims to be a constitutional democracy.

Senator de Lima’s tragic saga, gives an anguished concreteness to the challenge being mounted by the President Rodrigo Duterte’s Government against freedom of expression and associated right of political dissent. What this pattern represents, above all, is the distorted application of law and the manipulation of basic institutions of government. This means, in practice, that law does not serve its proper role of protecting citizens against abuses by the state, but rather functions as an instrument of naked power deployed by the state against notable critics and opposition figures, including person elected to the highest offices in the land. Under these circumstances law becomes an instrument of the authoritarian designs of an oppressive political leader. Such a leader views criticism not as part of the essential give and take of a political democracy, but rather as an impermissible assault on his leadership, almost reducing political leadership to a menacing call for unquestioning obedience on the part of citizens. Even elected members of the most prominent legislative and judicial institutions of the country are commanded to obey or expect harmful consequences. It is against this background that I wish to offer some thoughts on ‘lawfare’ as a weapon of the powerful, displacing law from its appropriate role as a source of restraint that ensures the just exercise of power. Under autocratic leadership lawfare can function as an inquisitorial tool, as here, for the suppression of Senator de Lima, a deservedly revered and until detained, a leading legislative presence in The Philippines.

There are four preliminary observations that I wish to make:

–first, what is happening in The Philippines is taking place, in a variety of formats throughout much of the world; it is a global trend that threatens not only democracy, but the protection of human rights, the constitutional structure of government based on checks and balances, the dignity of individual citizens, and the independence of persons elected to serve in government; law is being deployed as a weapon of government to be used against the citizen, especially against persons with political credibility and high national stature as is the case with Senator de Lima;

–secondly, such repressive uses of law by leaders is not new, although its widespread and flagrant use by democratically elected governments that enjoy popular support among the citizenry is a rather new and deeply disturbing phenomenon, especially in the current setting of ultra-nationalist backlashes against neoliberal globalization that along the way gave rise to mass support for political demagogues in a series of countries in different parts of the world, suggesting its systemic character;

–thirdly, and most significantly, lawfare as such should not be uncritically condemned, but rather its use as a means to deny basic rights should be unconditionally exposed, opposed, and rejected. The manipulation of lawfare to serve regressive ends is particularly perverse, considering that lawfare has the potential, when properly deployed in the pursuit of justice.

To illustrate this duality I offer a current example drawn from recent European and North American experience. Criminalizing as hate speech or anti-Semitism criticism of Israel’s policies and practices is a clear case of regressive lawfare, but recourse by Palestine to the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of Israeli criminality is illustrative of progressive lawfare. It is important to distinguish between these contradictory roles of law—as repressive and as emancipatory. The Palestinian BDS Campaign seeks boycott, divestment, and sanctions as lawful resistance against the apartheid practices of the Israeli state, and in my view, this is a nonviolent political campaign that convincingly relies on legal claims of Israeli wrongdoing to strengthen the pursuit of justice..

–fourthly, having made this conceptual point about the two faces of lawfare, in this presentation I will focus on its negative dimensions in ways that pertain to the case before us. I precede this assessment with a short observation about being attentive to lawfare’s progressive relevance to Senator de Lima’s plight.

Civil society activism can also claim to invoke the law to undermine the legitimacy of an abusive governing process. Many years ago, during the Marcos reign of power in The Philippines, I worked closely with Walden Bello to organize a session of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal in Brussels that listen to the testimony of witnesses and carefully documented the crimes of the Marcos government as perpetrated against the citizenry of the country. The proceedings of the tribunal produced a devastating record of abuse of state power, which when published, helped prepared the atmosphere for what later became the People Power Movement of the 1980s. In terms of lawfare, this civil society initiative was an example of progressive lawfare. Similar tribunal initiatives have been undertaken in many settings around the world to exhibit the abusiveness of government, especially when conventional means of judicial address are unavailable. I believe such a civil tribunal format might possess a similar potential in the present context if formal legal defense procedures now being pursued by a team of highly respected lawyers should fail to restore the rights, win freedom and fully exonerate Senator Leila M. de Lima in a manner that allows her to resume her legislative duties.

The  Distinctive Challenge of Regressive Lawfare in the Context of Constitutional Democracy

The reliance by autocracies on repressive lawfare is neither surprising nor new, although this terminology was not previously used. Whether the autocratic political form is monarchical, fascist, or communist the use of law to impose its will on society occasions little commentary as it is taken for granted that such a governance style is a common and integral feature of all anti-democratic forms of governance. For constitutional democracies the story has been much different in the past, and thus recent developments raise profound concerns about the future of democracy given recent assaults on its respect for fundamental rights. We should not exaggerate. There have been regrettable aspects of constitutional legal orders that have relied on repressive uses of law, for instance, apartheid South Africa, which possessed a constitutional framework to validate its exploitation and oppression of non-whites, and their exclusion from civil rights. Racism was seen as so much part of the South African political system as to occasion little distinct commentary on its repressive uses of law beyond the realization that overcoming such structural lawfare depended on achieving a radical political transformation. Piecemeal corrective measures would not rid South Africa of the political virus of apartheid, only a total repudiation of the ideology and practice of apartheid could restore the rule of law for all South Africans regardless of their skin color.

In recent years, especially in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, national security discourse in the United States has been a battleground for contesting ideas about how lawfare was used and misused. National security hawks contending that according due process protection to those suspected of terrorist activities was ‘lawfare’ that interfered with national security imperatives requiring reliance on ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques to obtain the information needed to protect the citizenry against terrorist threats. In sharp disagreement, civil libertarians invoked law and civil rights to oppose and denounce the demonization of Muslims and the accompanying denial of rights to those accused of criminal activities that supposedly endangered national security. This reliance on law as distinct from negative lawfare was also highly critical of the government’s slight of hand– officially calling ‘torture’ enhanced interrogation, and thus evading condemnation for lawlessness. Only apologists for torture allowed themselves to be manipulated.

The struggles between defense lawyers and government lawyers at the Guantanamo prison facility is one phase of this wider drama in which what is at stake is how far the law is bent to serve the purposes of a constitutional state that claims to be dealing with grave threats to its security. It has long been affirmed, and generally tolerated, that in times of war, law is silent, or almost so, and yet it is also true that anti-war activists have increasingly challenged such silence by insisting on the applicability of law regardless of circumstances.

The mass internment of Japanese, as a group, with legal residence in the West Coast, for alleged national security reasons at the start of World War II after the Pearl Harbor attacks, was a fundamental abuse of individuals rights to due process by the U.S. Government, but upheld by the majority of judges in the US Supreme Court, which lent its legal authority and prestige to this negative instance of lawfare. To this day, Japanese internment remains a major regrettable departure from the rule of law in the United States but is considered, not entirely accurately, as an exception, later gathering apologies and expressions of regret from presidents and other political leaders. This kind of departures from the rule of law in wartime, although to be opposed in defense of democratic values, is something different and less serious than the lawfare tactics of autocratic leaders seeking to stifle dissent and discredit opposition in state/society relations. These tactics, if successful, engulf all branches of government, having the effect of disabling democracy altogether. The regressive impact of such lawfare extends beyond the concrete abuse of an individual, however prominent. Such tactics intimidate many more than they punish, and thereby act to pacify society as a whole at the very time when the citizenry needs to be mobilized to protect the integrity of a political system that safeguards rather than punishes participation by the citizenry, including dissent and opposition.

A further somewhat ambiguous dimension of lawfare can be seen in the imposition of punishment via the application of law to surviving leaders of the losing side in a war, as was the case after World War II at the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials of German and Japanese leaders accused of committing international crimes. Should the one-sidedness of such uses of law, so-called ‘victors’ justice’ be regarded as one category of regressive lawfare, or is the punishment of individuals who perpetrated terrible acts be treated as a contribution to constructing a global rule of law, and thus should be viewed as an instance of flawed, yet still progressive lawfare. This is an example of the ambiguity of lawfare in concrete circumstance. Lawfare can be viewed either positively or negatively depending on overall context and the motivations behind invoking and perceiving law. Let me be clear. There is no ambiguity in relation to Senator de Lima’s case. It is without doubt an extreme instance of negative lawfare.

What we have seen around the world with the emergence of such leaders as Trump, Modi, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, and Duterte is this new phenomenon of democratic electoral procedures elevating and even sustaining anti-democratic leaders despite their abuse of positions of preeminent authority to obstruct and punish those in the opposition by manipulating law and even the most basic government institutions to serve the purposes of power at the expense of justice. This is not a matter of deference to security claims made under wartime pressures and contexts of national emergency, although such pretexts are generally relied upon, presumed, and greatly exaggerated, even absent such security threats. Autocrats tend to explain and justify why a controversial particular action is taken by fictitious reasoning or why a formerly respected person is made to seem guilty by distorting normal legal practice. These tactics involve deliberate manipulations of law and government procedures, including the erosion and subversion of the vital independence of legislative and judicial institutions to cripple opposition politics by criminalizing its leading opponents. In the process, if unopposed and persistent, the very status of a constitutional political order is drawn into question.

There are those in the United States who view Trumpism as pre-fascist, or worse, and fear that his reelection in 2020 would mean the de facto replacement of democracy with fascism. In the recent impeachment process, we observed a polarized and Congress divided along partisan lines as to the application of diverse forms of lawfare, with the Democrats using impeachment as an intended and seemingly responsible reaction against severe abuses of power, in effect, a legal instrument designed in exceptional circumstances to rid the country of a profound threat to its system of government. In opposition, the Republicans stand firm behind their autocratically inclined leader, condemning recourse to impeachment as regressive lawfare, placing party discipline above fidelity to the rule of law and their oath of office to uphold the Constitution. This major setback for the rule of law in America ominously warns us that even in long established political democracies opportunistic politics can overwhelm constitutional protections against abuses of state power.

When addressing the realities that have been discussed these past days, it seems clear that we are in this case seeking to protect not only Senator de Lima, but the people of The Philippines as a whole against regressive lawfare. There is little ambiguity when dissent is muffled by criminalizing the dissenter, as here, although the real and unworthy motivations for such accusations are hidden beneath clouds of false and inflammatory accusations of criminality, as here.

In a deeply disturbing resemblance to the Trump impeachment experience, Senator de Lima has also been victimized by Duterte partisanship in the Senate, including being deprived of the opportunity to serve the people who her elected her to office for a term that does not expire until 2022. While detained in prison she has been denied the right to vote on legislative issues and to participate in debates. She has even been removed from her role as Chair of the Committee on Justice & Human Rights in apparent retaliation for accusing the Duterte policies of unlawful extra-judicial executions of persons accused of dealing in drugs. While acting against Senator de Lima, she was attacked in unspeakably vulgar terms by Duterte partisans in language that was a vicious form of character assassination. This Forum by calling wider public attention to this abuse of Senator de Lima by all branches of government is based on the hope that the resilience of Filipino constitutionalism will come even now to the rescue not just of a single individual but in a manner that restores confidence that the rule of law can function under the altered conditions of political democracy in The Philippines.  

What Can Be Done

Responding to regressive lawfare as effectively as possible depends, in the first instance, on assessing the context, above all the degree to which executive authority, judicial independence, and legislative autonomy are operating within constitutional limits. If the deviation from adherence to the rule of law is partial, exceptional, and seems reversible, then a maximum effort should be made to make intelligent use of formal legal procedures as provided. Such professional lawyering should be supplemented, to the extent possible, by media coverage and the engagement of academic experts that exposes the political nature of any misuse of law, arousing a responsive public opinion. Such extra-legal pressure in a political system that maintains its claims of democratic legitimacy can be effective in persuading wavering judges and conformist legislators to do the right thing, and at least refrain from doing the wrong thing.

The challenge is more difficult where the institutions of government have been repeatedly subverted by the autocratic leader, and especially under conditions where the opposition media has been eliminated or cowed into submission, and popular protest activity is being met by harsh police tactics. Of course, such assessments should take account of nuances and the extent to which a leader seeks to avoid being nationally and internationally branded as an abusive autocrat.

Unfortunately, at the present time the overall political atmosphere makes resistance to lawfare more difficult as the combination of ultra-nationalism and right-wing populist leadership has become widespread, including in several countries previously considered reliable custodians stalwarts of liberal constitutionalism. In gentler times, international efforts to mount petition campaigns by prominent citizens around the world in defense of a ‘political prisoner’ were often successful, and still may be worthwhile

in a case of this sort where such a respected and prominent elected official is being victimized by such a crude recourse to lawfare. Autocracy is almost always a matter of degree, especially if free elections remain. If opposition politics are tolerated, then it remains possible sometimes to challenge the system effectively, as happened recently in Turkey when a much watched election of the mayor of Istanbul was won by a political leader in an opposition party. This, in turn, may lead the government to restore some liberal features of governance, which some commentators claim has modestly happened in Turkey in recent months. Autocrats prefer to act in the dark, using their control over media and supporters to smear opponents. Senator de Lima’s case is an extreme example of law gone wrong, a pattern of injustice being challenged to the extent possible by courageous and highly professional lawyers, but this may not be enough. Other course of action, including progressive lawfare, should be under consideration if further attempts to render justice on behalf of Senator de Lima do not succeed.

I would mention a few additional possibilities that deserve careful evaluation, and possible adoption, especially if human and financial resources are available:

–enlisting the support of nationally and internationally respected NGOs, encouraging the preparation of a public report on abuse of rights and regressive lawfare in The Philippines; Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have often been effective over the years in documenting abuse, and exerting some leverage;

–filing allegations via Special Rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, including the SR for the Right to Freedom of Expression,   to evaluate these multiple abuses, reporting to the 47 governments in an open session of the Human Rights Council, passing a resolution, and sending a letter of allegation to the government of The Philippines are steps worth consideration; in this regard, it is relevant to note that The Philippines is an elected member of the Human Rights Council, and likely does not want its reputation tarnished within the institution;

–explore the possibility of organizing an international civil society tribunal, possibly outside the country, along the lines of such an initiative taken during the Marcos presidency or possible modelled on the Iraq War Tribunal of 2005. Autocratic leaders are allergic to procedures that document their abuses and crimes, and pass judgment based on the conscience of moral authority figures, the testimony of victims, and the opinions of legal experts. The subsequent published and disseminated proceedings of such a tribunal can become a valuable mobilizing instrument of progressive lawfare;

–less formally, yet along the same lines, would be the preparation of a dossier on Senator de Lima’s experience that could be shared confidentially with sympathetic political leaders around the world.

Concluding Comment

It is definitely a positive sign of a degree of democratic resilience in The Philippines that a conference of this kind can be organized and go forward. It will be a test of sorts as to whether the Duterte government will extend its use of regressive lawfare to uphold the suppression of dissent and criticism. In my reading of the legal briefs and documents pertaining to Senator de Lima’s case, I am convinced of her innocence and her victimization. I believe that the impact of this Forum will help determine whether bringing her terrible experience to light will induce the Manila government belatedly to salvage its international reputation to some extent by dropping charges. She has been fortunate to have the benefit of an outstanding Chief of Staff, Fhillip Sawali, who works in coordination with Senator de Lima’s well-respected team of lawyers. Senator de Lima also has the high-profile support of such international admired warriors of human rights and democracy as Walden Bello. I fervently wish Senator de Lima a deservedly bright future in her struggle, which iss also a struggle for the soul of the country. It has been a privilege for me to have this opportunity to participate in this Forum. I wish you all the best for now and in the future. 

Photo credit: Alex Nuevaespaña, Public Relation and Information Bureau (original here), Senate of the Philippines

The post Weaponizing Lawfare in The Philippines appeared first on Just World Educational.

The Journey Back to the Beginnings…

February 24, 2020

لا حاجة للخوض في استعراض ما تضمنته صفقة القرن، التي أعلن عنها الحليفان دونالد ترامب وبنيامين نتنياهو في حديقة البيت الأبيض يوم الثاني عشر من كانون الثاني/يناير المنصرم، إذ سيبدو ذلك على أنه تفسير لما لا ينقصه الوضوح. ولا حاجة أيضاً لأن يسترسل الفلسطينيون في إقناع أحد عرباً كانوا أم عجماً، بأن ما يعتبره ترامب صفقة القرن، لا تحقق سلاماً، ولا تكتسب صفة الصفقة بغياب الطرف الفلسطيني، وبأنها تعصف بقرارات الأمم المتحدة، وتخالف كل الشرائع الدولية، وأنها تفتح الباب أمام الحركة الصهيونية لاستكمال مخططاتها الأولى ذات الأبعاد العنصرية التوسعية، الإقصائية والإحلالية. الصفقة إذاً هي انحياز كامل سياسي وعملي من قبل الدولة الأعظم حتى الآن، لصالح القوة الأشد ظلامية، والأكثر عدوانية ووحشية وهي إسرائيل. منذ اليوم الذي أعلنت فيه القمة العربية في بيروت سنة 2002 “مبادرة السلام” العربية، أعلن شارون الحرب عليها، ليس بالتصريحات وعبر وسائل الإعلام، وإنما باجتياح الضفة الغربية، وإعادة احتلالها، وكان المنطق الإسرائيلي يقوم على تغيير الأولويات، إذ على العرب أن يبدأوا بتطبيع العلاقات مع إسرائيل، ثم ينظر الإسرائيليون فيما يمكن أن يقدموه للفلسطينيين والعرب.

لم يكن نتنياهو على وفاق مع شارون الذي انسحب من الليكود، وأسس ما يعرف بحزب كاديما، الذي لم يعد له أي أثر في الساحة السياسية والحزبية الإسرائيلية، لكنه كان على خطاه، في تنفيذ المخططات الاستراتيجية للحركة الصهيونية. كان المخطط الصهيوني الاستعماري يقوم على أفكار من نوع أرض بلا شعب لشعب بلا أرض، وأرضك يا إسرائيل من النيل إلى الفرات، وفكرة شعب الله المختار، الذي سيعود إلى أرض الميعاد، أرض اللبن والعسل استناداً إلى مرجعيات توراتية. إذا كانت ظروف الصراع على أرض فلسطين منذ وعد بلفور 1917، وظروف الحربين العالميتين الأولى والثانية، قد أملت على الحركة الصهيونية أن تتوقف عند احتلال 78% من أرض فلسطين التاريخية لإعلان قيام الدولة عليها، فإن ذلك لم يكن سوى المرحلة الأولى من المخطط، الذي سيترتب على إسرائيل استكماله فيما بعد.

شكلت حرب حزيران/يونيو 1967، بداية المرحلة الثانية، لكن الحركة الصهيونية، لم تتمكن من إعلان السيادة على الأراضي التي احتلتها خلالها، ولم تعجب إسرائيل أيضاً لا كثيراً ولا قليلاً، بتبني منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية البرنامج المرحلي، برنامج النقاط العشر سنة 1974، واكتفت خلال تلك الفترة بتحقيق اختراق استراتيجي من خلال توقيع اتفاقية كامب ديفيد، إثر الحرب التحريكية التي وقعت سنة 1973. كان توقيع اتفاقية كامب ديفيد إنجازاً عظيماً للحركة الصهيونية، جعلها أقرب إلى إمكانية البدء بتنفيذ المرحلة الثانية من المخطط التوسعي الصهيوني. أظهر العرب عجزهم وتواطؤهم إزاء الغزو الإسرائيلي للبنان واحتلال عاصمته سنة 1982، وطرد منظمة التحرير ومقاتليها من ساحة المواجهة الوحيدة المفتوحة أمامها ليشكل ذلك بداية مرحلة من الضغط الشديد على المنظمة، التي اضطرت في غياب الكتلة الاشتراكية وانهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي لأن تستجيب للشروط الأميركية الإسرائيلية، والدخول في مفاوضات، انتهت بتوقيع اتفاقية أوسلو سنة 1993، والتي مهدت الطريق أمام توقيع اتفاقية وادي عربة بين إسرائيل والأردن سنة 1994، فكان ذلك إنجازاً آخر يوسع الطريق أمام تنفيذ المخطط الصهيوني الأساسي. 

مرحلة غياب الوعي

كان على منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية والفصائل الفلسطينية أن تدرك مبكراً، بأن طريق أوسلو لا يمكن أن ينتهي بتحقيق مشروعهم الوطني في العودة وتقرير المصير وإقامة الدولة الفلسطينية وعاصمتها القدس على الأرضي المحتلة سنة 1967، والعزف على أوتار القرارات الدولية.

جاءت الإشارة الأولى والقوية من اليمين الإسرائيلي المتطرف، الذي يقف وراء عملية اغتيال اسحق رابين، مع أنه كان من الصعب المراهنة على التزام رابين بتنفيذ ما تم الاتفاق عليه في أوسلو، والتوقيع عليه في حديقة البيت الأبيض بحضور دولي كبير.  ثم تتابعت الأحداث، من الاعتداء على لبنان وارتكاب مجزرة قانا، إلى سقوط حزب العمل في الانتخابات العامة وصعود بنيامين نتنياهو في حزيران/يونيو 1996، إلى أحداث النفق، ثم تجاوز سنة 1999، التي كان مقدراً لها بحسب أجندة أوسلو، أن تكون سنة التوصل عبر المفاوضات إلى اتفاق يفضي إلى قيام الدولة الفلسطينية.

وتتابعت المحطات الدالة على طبيعة المشروع والأهداف التي تشتغل عليها الحكومات الإسرائيلية المتعاقبة؛ من الانسحاب أحادي الجانب من قطاع غزة إلى تهويد القدس، إلى إقامة جدار الفصل العنصري، إلى توسيع وتسمين المستوطنات، حتى وصل عدد المستوطنين في الضفة والقدس الشرقية إلى أكثر من سبعمائة ألف.

تنصلت إسرائيل تماماً من جميع التزاماتها تجاه ما نصت عليه اتفاقية أوسلو، حتى لم يبق منها، إلا ما يساعدها على إدارة احتلال فاخر قليل التكلفة، بوجود سلطة يقول رئيسها إنها سلطة بلا سلطة، لكنها ظلت ملتزمة بما رتبته عليها اتفاقية أوسلو.

من على المنصة نفسها

لم تمر الحركة الصهيونية بأفضل من الظروف التي تمر بها، منذ اندلاع ما يعرف بموجات الربيع العربي، الذي لم يكن بعيداً عن السياسة الأميركية الإسرائيلية، التي أعلنت مبكراً عن فوضى خلاقة، وتفكيك وإعادة تركيب الشرق الأوسط، الذي كان شمعون بيريز قد أصدر كتاباً حول رؤيته للشرق الأوسط الجديد، الذي سيتحول إلى جنة حين تتم المزاوجة بين العقل الصهيوني والمال العربي.

الفلسطينيون منقسمون على أنفسهم، وأوضاعهم ليست في أحسن حال، والعرب مشغولون في حروبهم البينية، وصراعاتهم الدموية، وقد اختلفت أولوياتهم، بحيث لم تعد القضية الفلسطينية هي قضيتهم الأولى، واتجه كل طرف إلى أولويات لحماية النظام القطري، حتى لو كان على حساب الآخرين، وحتى لو كان ذلك من خلال التحالف مع الشيطان.

المجتمع الدولي ما يزال يئن تحت وطأة الاستفراد الأميركي، الذي يظهر أنانية متزايدة إزاء مصالح الولايات المتحدة، حتى لو أدى ذلك إلى المساس بحلفائها التاريخيين من الدول الرأسمالية، فيما تغيب الإرادة والقدرة الدولية على وقف تغول الإدارة الأميركية على الأمم المتحدة وقراراتها.

من على المنصة ذاتها التي وقف خلفها الرئيس الأميركي السابق بيل كلينتون ومن حوله الشهيد ياسر عرفات والرئيس محمود عباس، بالإضافة إلى اسحق رابين وشمعون بيريز، ومن المكان ذاته، يتم الإعلان عن إنهاء مرحلة أوسلو التي استغرقت أكثر من ربع قرن لتبدأ مرحلة جديدة من الصراع.

تتخلى إسرائيل بوقاحة عن أوسلو، ولا يزال الفلسطينيون يتمسكون بذيولها، مع أن إعلان الصفقة في يناير الماضي لم يكن اليوم الذي يشهد على التحول الجذري في سياق وطبيعة الصراع.

ثمة من يتجاهل أن المخطط الأميركي الإسرائيلي، إنما يشكل تتويجاً لسياق طويل من الأحداث والتداعيات، التي تعود إلى محطات كثيرة سابقة، لكن الظروف الراهنة هي التي فرضت هذا التوقيت.

ومن دون العودة إلى وثائق وإعلانات سابقة، والاستغراق في سرد الكثير من التفاصيل، فإن إعلان ما يسمى بالصفقة، ينبغي أن لا يكون أحدث الصدمة، وأثار ردود الفعل.

كان الفلسطينيون وغير الفلسطينيين يعرفون تماماً، أن الحلف الأميركي الإسرائيلي قد بدأ بتنفيذ ذلك المخطط منذ أن أعلن ترامب قراره، باعتبار القدس الموحدة عاصمة لإسرائيل، خصوصاً وأن ذلك القرار لم يكن معزولاً عن ما جاء بعد ذلك، من قرار إعلان السيادة الإسرائيلية على الجولان، والحرب على الأونروا، ومنظمة التحرير، وتجفيف موارد السلطة. يحق لإسرائيل أن تحتفل بمثل هذا الإنجاز غير المسبوق، ويحق لنتنياهو أن يقرن اسم ترامب باسم الرئيس الأميركي السابق روزفلت، الذي تسلم الراية من بريطانيا، وتعهد بدعم وحماية إسرائيل منذ قيامها سنة 1948. يتفاخر نتنياهو ربما لأسباب انتخابية، ولكنها ليست بعيدة عن الواقع، من أن ثلاث دول عربية فقط من بين اثنتين وعشرين دولة، هي فقط التي لا تقيم علاقات أو صلات مع إسرائيل. وكان آخر ما جاء في هذا السياق لقاء رئيس مجلس السيادة السوداني البرهان مع نتنياهو، ودخول نتائجه إلى حيز التنفيذ الفوري بتحليق الطيران المدني الإسرائيلي فوق الأجواء السيادية السودانية، و بالتالي هل كان للبرهان أن يقدم على ما أقدم عليه، لو أنه ركب مجازفة خطيرة من هذا النوع غير مسبوقة؟

مرحلة جديدة

منذ إعلان تنفيذ أولى بنودها قبل أكثر من عامين، ونقصد موضوع القدس، يكون الصراع الفلسطيني الإسرائيلي قد دخل مرحلة جديدة كلياً، ونوعية، عنوانها العودة إلى نقطة الصفر، أي إلى الصراع المفتوح على كل الأرض وكل الحقوق، صراع وجود وليس صراع حدود. لقد قبل الفلسطينيون ومن خلفهم العرب بحصر حقوقهم بما نصت عليه قرارات الأمم المتحدة، التي تعطيهم 22% من أرضهم التاريخية، لكن الحركة الصهيونية، ترفض ذلك، وترى أن الفرصة سانحة، لتحقيق جميع أهدافها. لم يكن هذا التحول والانتقال خياراً فلسطينياً، لكنه خيار أميركي صهيوني. يتحصن خلاله الحلف الأميركي الصهيوني بجميع عوامل القوة لفرض مخططاته، ويعاني الطرف الفلسطيني والعرب، من محدودية الخيارات، وضعف القوة.

لا يدعو ذلك إلى الحزن أو اليأس والإحباط، فإن هذا الذي يجري ليس إلا واحدة من تعرجات حركة التاريخ الصاعدة، فلا الأوضاع الدولية ستبقى على حالها، ولا الوضع العربي والفلسطيني سيبقى على حاله. المحزن حقاً هو ما يتعلق بتأخر الفلسطينيين وترددهم، عن القيام بما يتوجب عليهم القيام به في الوقت المناسب. بالعموم، يحتاج الفلسطينيون إلى تعزيز الثقة بالذات وبحتمية الانتصار، من خلال تعزيز صمود الفلسطيني على أرضه.

يتطلب ذلك الإقدام على حوار استراتيجي عميق، إذ لا يمكن ممارسة الكفاح وإدارة الصراع، بالأدوات ذاتها والأساليب ذاتها، التي تنتمي إلى مرحلة سابقة انتهت بالفشل الذريع. وبعيداً عن أسئلة وأوجاع الماضي، والأداء الفلسطيني الرديء، الذي ساد مرحلة أوسلو، وكان من أبرز مخلفاته تجاهل دور نصف الشعب الفلسطيني في الشتات والمهاجر، وضعف منظمة التحرير لحساب السلطة ووقوع الانقسام الفلسطيني الخطير، فإن على القيادات الفلسطينية أن تقطع مع الماضي، وأن تبدأ رحلة إعادة البناء من جديد. الفلسطينيون متفقون جميعاً على رفض الصفقة، وقطع الطريق على كل من يحاول التعامل معها، لكن لمواجهة هذه الصفقة لا يكفي الإعلان النظري، فاستمرار الانقسام يشكل عاملاً مسهلاً لتمرير المخطط المعادي، كما أن  المراهنة على قرارات الجامعة العربية، ومنظمة التعاون الإسلامي، وقرارات الاتحاد الأفريقي، وأيضاً المراهنة على تحرك دولي في مواجهة الصفقة، أمر يفتقر إلى الحكمة ما لم تكن البداية من الوضع الفلسطيني.

لقد تعود الفلسطينيون على تناقض أفعال العرب مع أقوالهم، وفي هذه المرحلة بالذات لا يمكن الاستناد إلى جدار الرفض اللفظي العربي، بينما يهرول العرب الواحد تلو الآخر، نحو التعامل مع الصفقة، وإقامة العلاقات مع إسرائيل.

أما على المستوى الدولي، فتغيب الإرادة عن إقامة تحالف دولي أقلها لحماية الأمم المتحدة وقراراتها وهيئاتها، ما يعني أن المراهنة على الجهد الدولي لتقديم مبادرات اعتراضية ذات فعالية، لا يعني سوى الوهم.  إن من يشكك في هذا الاستنتاج عليه أن ينظر إلى ما تقوم به إسرائيل من حشد دول أوروبية وغير أوروبية ومئات الفاعلين الحقوقيين، لإبطال مفعول قرار المدعية العامة للجنائية الدولية، إزاء إمكانية انطباق صلاحيات المحكمة على فلسطين، فيما يكاد يغيب الجهد الفلسطيني والعربي المقابل.

في الخلاصة، قد يخسر الفلسطينيون معركة سياسية، أو أكثر من معركة، لكن الوقت قد حان لنهوض المثقفين الفلسطينيين والعرب لإعادة صياغة الوعي على أساس حقائق الصراع في مرحلته الجديدة، والتوقف عن الركض وراء السياسيين لتبرير سياساتهم ومواقفهم المترددة، والمتخلفة عن مجاراة متطلبات خوض الكفاح.

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كاتب ومحلل فلسطيني.
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Cobban writes more on Syria, its dilemmas & its (mis)representation

Our President, Helena Cobban, has been writing a lot about Syria recently– primarily at her personal “Just World News” blog, though many of her articles have been crossposted in full elsewhere, including here. (See, for example, these two pieces: 1, 2.) In the past week, she has published three new pieces on Syria at JWN.

In these two (Feb. 17 and Feb. 20) she continued her trenchant criticism of the way much of the US corporate media, but especially the New York TImes, has represented– or misrepresented– the situation in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. Her principal criticism is that the NYT continues to make no mention of the fact that the three million residents of the war-torn Idlib enclave are existing under the near-total control of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) militia and its allies

(The photo above is a screenshot from a recent video produced by a video outfit associated with one such militia, bragging about its members’ participation in the fighting in the Idlib enclave.)

As Ms. Cobban explains in the second of the pieces described above, the decision by the NYT and many other Western media to omit any mention of HTS’s control over Idlib does a grave disservice to readers in a number of ways. One of them is that it leaves readers quite ignorant about the challenges (and the possibilities) of achieving a negotiated peace in the province.

By the way, do note that the spokesperson for the US military’s Operation Inherent Resolve (anti-ISIS) forces in Syria and Iraq, Col. Myles Caggins II, definitely agrees that Idlib is under the control of (and a magnet for) dangerous terrorists who are holding the local population hostage. Check out what he said on the subject in this recent TV clip.

In the third of her recent pieces about Idlib, Ms. Cobban took an in-depth look at the moral and legal challenges aid groups face as they try to find ways to deliver aid to very needy communities in the Idlib enclave without letting that aid fall into the hands of HTS or HTS-auxiliary organizations. In the past, these latter organizations have shown their willingness to use aid goods to increase their leverage over the local populations that are essentially held hostage by them.

Ms. Cobban has been writing about– and reporting from– Syria since 1976. But she also has considerable experience in other conflict zones to draw on. In the early 2000s, she researched and wrote a book about post-conflict justice issues in Rwanda, South Africa, and Mozambique; and as part of that research she became very familiar with the sharp challenges international aid organizations faced in 1994-96 as they tried to serve displaced populations of Rwandan Hutus who were being completely controlled in eastern Zaire by the genocidal “Interahamwe” militia.

In her February 20 blog post, Idlib and the ‘Interahamwe aid trap’, she explored the many parallels– and the differences– between the two situations.

In the fast-moving– and extremely crisis-riven– situation that is unfolding in Idlib, it is good to have as many well-reasoned information resources as possible to draw on. Another resource we’d like to note is this recent report by the Crisis Group on an in-depth interview that one of their staffers and the Geneva-based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue conducted recently in Idlib with HTS leader Abu Muhammad al-Jolani.

The post Cobban writes more on Syria, its dilemmas & its (mis)representation appeared first on Just World Educational.

You Are Not Alone: A Memory of Flowing Freedom

Monday, March 2, 2020 – 17:00
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IPS Ramallah
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سلوى جرادات: زوجة الأسير علي جردات.

عيسى قراقع: وزير شؤون الأسرى والمحررين السابق.

وليد الهودلي: عضو اتحاد الكتاب والأدباء الفلسطينيين وأسير سابق.

About the event: 

تنظم مؤسسة الدراسات الفلسطينية ندوة لإطلاق كتاب “لست وحدك: ذاكرة حرية تتدفق” للأسير علي جردات . ويتناول الكتاب تجارب اعتقالية عاشها الكاتب، وخلاصة حياة التنقل بين المعتقلات والسجون الصهيونية، حيث تكون المعركة بين إرادتين: الأولى عزلاء إلاّ مما اختزنه الوجدان من إصرار وعزيمة على الصمود والانتصار، والثانية مدججة بمؤسسة دولة كاملة بكل ما فيها من شعور بالاستعلاء وتوفر الإمكانات في يد محقق محشو بالعنصرية.

في هذا الكتاب، أيضاً، خلاصة حياة مناضلين ومناضلات سطروا أمثولة في الشجاعة والصبر، وفيه قصص معاناة الأهل من لحظة طرق الباب وصولاً إلى لحظة الفرح بالحرية. إنه خلاصة تجربة معمدة باللحم الحي وبسنين العمر، وهي خلاصة حياة في مجتمع داخل أسوار عالية تحجب شمس السماء، لكنها لا تحجب أبداً النور الساطع في القلوب التي يسكنها الشغف والتوق إلى حرية وطن وشعب.

Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center