The dispute between Christianity and Islam is a stereotype. When speaking of the struggle for the rights of Palestine, it has to be seen as a people, not as a religion. An oppressed people against a powerful empire. Taking its side is a matter of justice.
Some of us are Christians, others are Muslims, we even have Jews in Palestine. There’s no difference between Muslims and Christians but Israel always plays that card to divide.
That is the view of Tariq Dana, assistant professor of conflict and humanitarian studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. He says Palestine is sacred ground: “Jesus was there,” he points out, “so we have a lot of Christians. We have a large community of Christians in Latin America… There are no problems between Muslims and Christians, we are just a people fighting together for our lives.”
In his judgement, the modus operandi of the Zionists has been, precisely, to create division.
“For years they have moved and replaced the local population. Israel’s policy is to reach the maximum land with the minimum number of Palestinians but there is still a large population of Palestinians, that is why they have divided the communities into areas: A, B, C…” explains the analyst, who spoke exclusively to Prensa Latina.
For the researcher (, the situation in Palestine is comparable to the apartheid of the last century in South Africa since his compatriots, both in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem as well as in the rest of the nation, live without basic rights.
Divide and separate
They lose their homes, their land, access to water; and while they lack security and opportunities, the Jews have all the privileges, they own the resources.
“Israel has established a colonial state,” he says.
As a Palestinian, Dana has experienced such segregation first-hand; he himself has never been to the Gaza Strip.
“Since they divided up the communities we can’t visit each other. I can’t go to Gaza, or Jerusalem, or Nazareth. It is even difficult to move around the West Bank as they close the roads to benefit the colonials and we have to look for new, longer routes for ourselves.”
In normal circumstances, from Hebron -where he lives- to Ramallah “would take me 40 minutes by car but now I spend between two and two-and-a-half hours because I can’t go in a straight line, I have to go round Israeli settlements and military bases.”
The situation is critical throughout Palestine but in different ways because the division created different problems for different people, which “has led us not to think in a united way.”
In Gaza people think about how to eat and about shelter and water; in the West Bank they think about how to save their land from the colonials and how to reach their farms and workplaces, but in Jerusalem they are worried about the possibility that their houses are taken away to be given to the Israelis.
Despite having lived far from his family for over a decade, first studying in Europe and now based in Qatar, Dana (who is also an advisor to the Palestinian political network Al-Shabaka) visits his home frequently and carries out studies on Palestine and the Arabic Middle East in general.
In his opinion, the government of Israel thinks that Jews and Palestinians cannot coexist and that the nation where they came to form their state should have been completely abolished, a view he holds both through experience of daily life and through theory.
“The long-term objective is to get rid of the Palestinians but it is not simple for them so they created this apartheid, this strategy of boxing us into divided areas, obstructing roads. You feel the discrimination clearly, it’s institutional,” he explains.
Despite the many elements against, one factor seems to weigh in the Palestinians’ favour: the ever-stronger international awareness and solidarity.
Although Qatar has always backed the Palestinian cause on regional and international stages and has assisted through economic and social projects and by directly handing over cash and donations, among other initiatives, in the expert’s judgement, during the latest Israeli aggression, it used stronger language.
At that time, Doha was very active on the diplomatic stage and both then and after the bombardments had ceased, Palestinian representatives of Hamas and Al-Fatat met with the Qatari leader.
On his recent visit, Shtayyeh reminded people that the emirate has put over 1.6 billion dollars into the Gaza Strip in recent years through development projects, buildings, infrastructure and cash.
He says that his compatriots received great help from ordinary people around the world, regardless of ideology, from the East and the West.
“We saw it recently during the bombardments, despite the restrictions due to Covid-19, thousands of people demonstrated in European capitals in support of Palestine. It is a simple sense of justice.”
The premise of not mixing the feelings of citizens with the policies of their governments also applies to the United States, Israel’s ally. Thousands of people demonstrated in New York, Boston, Washington and Michigan against the bombing of Gaza.
As a result of recent events, Joe Biden’s administration promised some 360 million dollars to the Palestinians, urgently restoring the aid that Donald Trump cut.
Elsewhere, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, committed to securing international support to reconstruct Gaza.
That is why, despite the emerging new hopes surrounding Biden, Tariq Dana prefers to give more credit to the human factor than the political one.
“When Trump lost the election everybody was pleased thinking it was a big thing, but the United States policy remains the same, the classic policy of blindly supporting Israel without any objective basis,” he emphasises.
“But some changes can be seen, not in the administration, but among the people of the United States,” he indicates and adds that even many Jews in the northern nation support Palestine. He notes that for the first time some members of Congress signed a document against Israel, with reference to the measure taken by a group of Democrats in the House of Representatives presented on 19th May to block the sale to Israel of 735 million dollars’ worth of precision weapons.
“Let’s hope we will witness a big change within the United States around its policy towards Palestine,” he concludes. (PL)