Pep Montserrat for The National
Pep Montserrat for The National

Two politicians show the farce of Europe's concern for Palestine



Occupation of one's homeland is an abnormal experience. Those languishing under its stranglehold experience extraordinary circumstances, such as having to both deal with, and yet at the same time fight against, those abetting the colonisation.

In Gaza, my birthplace, these extraordinary circumstances are part of daily life. It is to here that European diplomats and politicians come in fabulous suits to deliver statements of peace (conditional, of course) that we must either accept or be crushed.

European politicians come here thinking themselves saviours, and yet they aid and enable, on a daily basis, Israel's occupation of Palestinian land.

From Gaza, this is how Europe's help looks. We must forget our history, renounce armed struggle, and give a standing ovation whenever the "peace process" is mentioned.

Europe, we must tell ourselves, is a shining example of democracy, modernity and well-being, and we, the uncivilised, ought to emulate them to "free" ourselves from Arab-style backwardness.

Never mind the fully-fledged financial and political support to a settler-colonial project that continues to expel the indigenous population from their homeland and discriminates between people on the basis of their religion since all is done in the name of peace.

Having lived in Gaza all my life, and bearing witness to the post-Oslo period, it did not take me long to realise that despite the flood of diplomats and foreign aid, life in the "territories" has anything but improved.

Whenever I hear politicians speak about Gaza, they make it sound as if it has been hit by a natural disaster, not a brutal man-made apartheid.

Statements begin and end with voicing "concerns" about worsening "humanitarian conditions" without addressing, at least in part, Israel's responsibility for and role in maintaining and furthering them.

Instead, they, the diplomats, take pictures with us, the poor and needy they pretend to help, then post them on their Twitter accounts before going to Tel Aviv to meet Israel's politicians and decision makers, the very people who have been confiscating and colonising our land for more than six decades now

Over the past year, I have had the chance to speak to two high-profile Swedish politicians from different ends of the political spectrum.

In Stockholm, I met Ann Linde, the international secretary of Sweden's Social Democratic party, and, more recently in Gaza, Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden's minister of international development cooperation and vice chairman of the centre-right Moderate Party.

In both cases, it was very entertaining to listen to the schizophrenic views that characterise the European Union's policies as a whole with respect to the Palestinian question.

Ms Linde, the "leftist", adopted a very reductive attitude all throughout the discussion.

Each time I said something critical of the European Union's unconditional commitment to Israel, she replied by telling me how I must have felt.

She sat across the table from me, beginning each of her sentences with an evasive "I understand your frustration".

Ms Linde's dismissive behaviour suddenly became confrontational when the issue of boycotting Israel was brought up. She was very straightforward: "Israel is a state that has the same rights as other states," she said at one point. She made no mention, however, of Israel's responsibilities as a state that has the same responsibilities as other states.

What I found striking about the Swedish left is that it holds views very similar, if not identical, to those of the Zionist left.

For both camps, the Palestinian-Israeli "conflict" began in 1967 when Israel occupied Gaza, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Sinai and the Golan Heights.

For Ms Linde and her party, the depopulation of the indigenous population of Palestine in the mass exodus of 1947 and 1948 did not seem to exist.

For the social democrats, as is the case for the Zionist left, the main problem is Israel's siege on Gaza and colonisation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Anything that occurred before the Six-Day War is simply irrelevant.

Unabashedly, Ms Linde also praised Ehud Barak, Israel's former defence minister, as a leftist who, according to her, deserved to be co-operated with.

That - in Mr Barak's own words - the Qana massacre, which was carried out during Israel's invasion of southern Lebanon in 1996, was merely an "unfortunate mistake", was not something that Ms Linde acknowledged.

I was not surprised. Ms Linde serves as a case in point of what it is to be "leftist" in today's EU.

The second encounter, with Gunilla Carlsson, took place three weeks ago. Predictably, the meeting was fruitless and only added emphasis to the European Union's unwavering support of Israel.

I was at the meeting together with other young Palestinians to discuss how the EU can support youth initiatives in Gaza.

Ms Carlsson was expecting us to ask for some cash to set up some project like the kind of projects the EU has been funding since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

What Ms Carlsson seemed oblivious to was the uselessness of these sorts of projects, which fail to address the Israeli occupation as the root cause of the present social and economic problems.

We were expected to think exactly the same way and still look up to the "peace process" as the only way out for us.

I tried to point out the EU's complicity in funding the Israeli occupation - a complicity that Ms Carlsson herself admitted during the meeting - but she was there with a prescribed agenda that she wanted to finish. When matters did not go the way she planned, she and her crew simply stood up and left in the middle of the meeting.

A day later, Ms Carlsson was in Tel Aviv posing next to Yair Lapid, Israel's finance minister, who said it would be shortsighted not to do anything about the growing number of Palestinians in Israel.

Ann Linde and Gunilla Carlsson are only two players in the larger farce of European countries coming together to sign as many business dealings as possible, no matter how exploitative they are.

To them, Palestine has been reduced to a "peace process" and to "development aid", which they can withdraw the minute the Palestinians dare to take a genuine step forward towards liberation.

Rana Baker, 21, is a recent graduate of Business Administration in Gaza. She writes for the Electronic Intifada and Al Monitor.

On Twitter: @RanaGaza

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Founders: Aahan Bhojani and Ashmin Varma

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Property technology

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Investors: Nuwa Capital, VentureSouq, Nordstar, Global Founders Capital, Yuj Ventures and Whiteboard Capital

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Indoor Cricket World Cup – Sep 16-20, Insportz, Dubai

16 Indoor cricket matches are 16 overs per side

8 There are eight players per team

9 There have been nine Indoor Cricket World Cups for men. Australia have won every one.

5 Five runs are deducted from the score when a wickets falls

4 Batsmen bat in pairs, facing four overs per partnership

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Dubai works towards better air quality by 2021

Dubai is on a mission to record good air quality for 90 per cent of the year – up from 86 per cent annually today – by 2021.

The municipality plans to have seven mobile air-monitoring stations by 2020 to capture more accurate data in hourly and daily trends of pollution.

These will be on the Palm Jumeirah, Al Qusais, Muhaisnah, Rashidiyah, Al Wasl, Al Quoz and Dubai Investment Park.

“It will allow real-time responding for emergency cases,” said Khaldoon Al Daraji, first environment safety officer at the municipality.

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“Sandstorms are our main concern because the UAE is just a receiver.

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Mr Al Daraji said monitoring as it stood covered 47 per cent of Dubai.

There are 12 fixed stations in the emirate, but Dubai also receives information from monitors belonging to other entities.

“There are 25 stations in total,” Mr Al Daraji said.

“We added new technology and equipment used for the first time for the detection of heavy metals.

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Patrick Chamoiseau

Translated from the French and Creole by Linda Coverdale

UAE medallists at Asian Games 2023

Gold
Magomedomar Magomedomarov – Judo – Men’s +100kg
Khaled Al Shehi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Faisal Al Ketbi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Asma Al Hosani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -52kg
Shamma Al Kalbani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -63kg
Silver
Omar Al Marzooqi – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Bishrelt Khorloodoi – Judo – Women’s -52kg
Khalid Al Blooshi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Mohamed Al Suwaidi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -69kg
Balqees Abdulla – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -48kg
Bronze
Hawraa Alajmi – Karate – Women’s kumite -50kg
Ahmed Al Mansoori – Cycling – Men’s omnium
Abdullah Al Marri – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Team UAE – Equestrian – Team showjumping
Dzhafar Kostoev – Judo – Men’s -100kg
Narmandakh Bayanmunkh – Judo – Men’s -66kg
Grigorian Aram – Judo – Men’s -90kg
Mahdi Al Awlaqi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -77kg
Saeed Al Kubaisi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Shamsa Al Ameri – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -57kg

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THREE

Director: Nayla Al Khaja

Starring: Jefferson Hall, Faten Ahmed, Noura Alabed, Saud Alzarooni

Rating: 3.5/5