Omar Barghouti belongs to a new generation of Palestinians who never adhered to the solution of ” Two States, Two peoples”. They are advocating, instead, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) of Israel as well as a «secular, democratic state» solution, where Palestinians and Israelis would share equal rights, after historic injustices are redressed and the refugees are allowed to return.
Silvia Cattori: I had the privilege of attending the presentation you gave in Milan on 8 October 2007 . Your analysis of the situation in Palestine is different than the traditional discourse and conceptions, including within the Palestine solidarity movement. Do you think that the Italian public is ready to adopt your positions?
Omar Barghouti: I came to Italy in March, 2007, for a tour, and I spoke about different issues. Art and oppression was one of them. I spoke also about the One-state solution, as well as the boycott of Israel . There is a growing movement in Italy that understands the need for effective pressure on Israel. It is no longer sufficient to take part in traditional solidarity acts, such as demonstrations and writing letters. Clearly, such conventional actions cannot alone move Israel, because they do not raise the political price that Israel has to pay for occupying and oppressing the Palestinians. Europeans can demonstrate all they want; Israel no longer cares. I think more Italians are realizing this.
Raising awareness is certainly important and that should continue as long as the colonial conflict does. But this is no longer sufficient.
After September 11th, Israel became much more belligerent and now really cares little about international opinion. During the seventies and eighties, even into the nineties, Israel was extremely sensitive to western public opinion. In the twenty-first century however, Israel has become less and less sensitive, because of its enormous power and its unparalleled influence on Washington, which remains the political master of the Europeans. And that is how Israelis look at things. “We have Washington in our pocket, who cares what the Europeans want?”
To give an example, when Belgium tried to put Ariel Sharon on trial for his role in the 1982 Sabra and Chatilla massacre in Beirut, Condoleezza Rice threatened the foreign minister of Belgium that the US would pull NATO out of Belgium, among other drastic measures. Within days, the law was reversed and the Court never summoned Sharon. The US did the same with Germany and France during their dispute over the Anglo-American war on Iraq in 2003.
Israel realises that its vast influence over Congress automatically translates into substantial, albeit indirect, influence over Europe. Israelis, therefore, do not particularly care about European public opinion.
More Italians are now realizing that the time has come for effective pressure against Israel; this is not time for just saying, “Naughty boys, you are doing the wrong things.”
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