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Fanon, Palestine and the Psychology of Liberation In my presentation I am concerned with the question of the social psychology of liberation

in a protracted colonial conflict. The situation I am discussing is the Palestinian refugee camp, probably the strongest institution of resistance against the normalization of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the territory became Israel in 1948. First I will discuss how out of the situation of the camp we can see the manifestation of an idea and a way of liberation that is consistent with the way of anticolonial liberation advocated by Fanon in Wretched of the Earth. Secondly I will discuss the forces that, especially since the end of the second intifada, are acting to undermine this way of liberation and replace it with the idea of statehood and western freedom in the minds of the people in the camp. Third, I will try to represent and to reflect on this tension, this stuckness that you find in the camp when their idea of liberation is not only under attack, but is recognized by themselves to be no longer possible there is a kind of deep trauma here which we should not easily pass over. Finally, I will conclude with some thoughts about what any international immediately sees as a third way solution the international non-violent BDS campaign, fails to appear as salient within this tension between resistance and compromise, and what this means to internationals, to non-Palestinians who want to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian cause - can Fanon help us to act in a way that is honest and is really solidarity work and not part of the imposition of Western values onto the Palestinian struggle. 1) Fanon on Liberation and liberating the camp For Fanon, anti colonial liberation is just this: anti colonial liberation. Not postcolonial interstitially, not a transformation the flux of a between or the inclusion a subaltern into hegemony. It is the barrel of a gun, the bomb in a cafe, and the total, complete, and absolute substitution of a certain "species" of men by another "species" of men(WE 35). Absolute substitution is always the minimum demand of the colonized because it exists as a need in the consciousness and in the lives of the men and women who are colonized(WE 35-36). The need for violence emerges because this substitution is a historical process, one which cannot remain a merely formal possibility

that corresponds to the needs of the colonized but must emerge as a positive historical phenomena of liberation and healing at the level of individuals, communities, and the nation. Violences gives the process this historical dimension: for example, violence provides work for the colonized who are unemployed, and thereby invests their characters with positive and creative qualities(We 85). The common project of violence allows for the healing of communities - the fact that everyone must work for the death of the settler allows strayed and outlawed members to re-enter the group; violence here plays a role comparable to a royal pardon (WE 86). And just as violence binds individuals together as a whole, it also causes colonized groups to recognize each other and to see the indivisibility of the future nation (WE 93). The armed struggle mobilizes the masses, it throws them in one way and in one direction, it introduces into each mans consciousness the idea of a common cause, of a national destiny, of a collective history(WE 93). This common idea is not mere propaganda - it is a concrete experience in the mass repression that follows the emergence of the national war of liberation. This repression abolishes any attempt to see liberation as an individualized phenomena - in the war the interests of one will be the interests of all, for in concrete fact everyone will be discovered by the troops, everyone will be massacredor everyone will be saved. (45) It is in the context of Fanons thinking about violence and the absolute substitution which we should try to understand the situation of the Palestinian refugee camp. This is because Fanons thinking is not so much theoretical or any kind of a priori moral treatise on what is right, but a description of the situation of the colonized. So, if we ask a Palestinian what makes the camp strong we might hear something like this:
the camp [is strong] because of the kind of life which we live inside of it, playing on [the] street, going to jail, finding israeli soldiers around makes the people who live here lose the feeling of fear on a lot of things like death ... So when it was the resistance by guns my camp was at the first line of everything and the camp was strong and dark in that time as I remember... I

remember the camp was more strong at the old time.

The old time is the second intifada, or what many Palestinians refer to simply as the war. In the war, the concretization of mass repression blurs the line between life and death, between freedom and arrest, between one and another. Those who have nothing to lose have nothing to lose together, and this binds resisting groups together - I heard time and again that in the war, in the resistance, there is no difference between Hamas, Fateh, other groups, and if the war comes back Hamas and Fateh will stop needing to make unity and go into the operations room together. But to talk about resistance, strategy, is only one side of things, we must also ask the Palestinian what he or she needs. So we might hear something like this:
like if we need to talk about my emotion, yes I need to fight, I need to die now or live free in all my homeland. This is my right and this is why I am stuck here, [I] cant leave [and] lose everything my friends died for. We go to the jail for this reason - I need to return to my home land and take all my rights. This, this mother fucker Jew who comes from Russia or from germany or from any where in this earth [should] return to where his root belongs. I belong here. I am Arab. Who is not will never belong to this land.

This Palestinian viewpoint is difficult for us to hear, not only because we want to believe everything can be solved by negotiations and friendship, but also because we want the Palestinian viewpoint to be something we can include into a larger understanding of a complex mediation. We want the conflict to be a mediation of a universal, because this kind of mediation can be worked out in thought so maybe if things are like this then thinking about it can have some positive impact, so we can vindicate our own thoughtful engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a kind of good work. But instead, just as Fanon describes, The natives' challenge to the colonial world is not a rational confrontation of points of view. It is not a treatise on the universal, but the untidy affirmation of an original idea propounded as an absolute. (WE 41) I do not mean to defend this Palestinian idea as a good idea. I certainly would not to place it alongside

other Palestinian ideas and maybe some Israeli ideas as well and talk for a while with other people and then say yes, this is the right idea. But actually, I shouldnt do this because any attempt at comparing this idea, this goal, with other ideas and goals assumes that there is a kind of universal to which this idea is one possible response. But I think Fanon is right to say that is wrong, and that the truth of the original idea of the Palestinian which I cited is not a truth of reason or discourse, but a truth of being, an interpretation of the ontological-historical situation of the Palestinian refugee which functions as a strategy for the overcoming of that situation. And I think that once you recognize this it becomes a lot easier to understand the Palestinian plight, and the Palestinian cause. If we want to see something positive in this idea of liberation, I think it is that liberation is only understandable as communal and national selfdetermination. Liberation is something that cant be done for you, because your own personal liberation is only a side of the goal of liberating your community or nation. To properly see the value of this way of freedom, we should contrast it with the Palestinian Authoritys current tactic of establishing Statehood on the 67 borders, and how this change in goal and strategy impacts the camp and the camps ability to self-determine its own liberation. 2) Abstract ideals, compromise and collusion The armed struggle did not liberate Palestine, but it did bring the Palestinian Authority to Ramallah. If the main goal was not achieved, does this mean that the idea of liberation in the camp and by extension Fanons idea, is simply bad, a mistake? The answer is difficult and long, and this is a very short presentation so I will focus on the camp. The key shift for the camp when the PA adopts the goal of statehood by peaceful negotiations is that the strength of the camp is no longer of any use to the PA, in fact, the communal strength becomes a liability to be controlled and watched to keep it from undermining negotiations and world public opinion. Today the Palestinian government co-operates with the Israeli military to prevent resistance - this is widely known. But aside from military co-operation, the Israelis put spies in the camp so they can always arrest the right person, and so they can identify Palestinians in photographs even if they conceal their face with a keffiyeh. Also, drugs like hashish are introduced into the camp

to try to get the people to calm down. But most importantly, there is a sustained attempt by NGOs to change the ideas in the minds of the people in the camp:
... the international they come with the NGO companies. They have been working here from a long time to make new Ideology in the peoples mind - to change there thinking about the life. Like the USAID. They come over here and make brain storming for the people. Like now we have a lot of NGOs Company they send groups of palestinian and israelian together to establish the peace with the new generation most of them they are the palestinian who was living outside, but this is a problem because they spend all there time speaking about the peace and Freedom and this bullshit and we were those who died here and lost everything. And when anyone needs to fight, they [Palestinians from outside] dont accept that because only we can feel how much they [the Israelis] hate us, and how much pain they give us. Those people [Palestinians from outside] dont know because they grow up outside with all the fake life and this freedom which inside their mind, and western freedom they come to establish it here in the middle east.

Fanon wrote that it was at the decisive moment when the colonial bourgeoisie would come into the field and proclaim the idea of non violence (WE 61). What has happened in Palestine is a kind of reverse version of this, it is not the bourgeoisie of the colonizer but the colonized which appears on the scene with the idea of non-violence and Western freedom. As the situation in the Westbank has improved it attracts wealthy Palestinians from first world countries to move there and start businesses, including western style nightclubs, for which there is already a demand because of all the international volunteers and aid workers who are there working for NGOs teaching Palestinians about peace. So, as Fanon described, it is not so difficult to bring into being a kind of class of affranchised slaves, or slaves who are individually free(WE 60). And we should listen very carefully when Fanon says affranchised slave, because from the position of the camp, that is what statehood offers - instead of national liberation, they will instead have individual liberation - the freedom to live free in their

overcrowded jail of the Palestinian state. Now, Fanon claims that these attempts to introduce the idea of non-violence and individualistic freedom will simply be laughed at by the native, but because of the failure of the armed struggle the people in the camp can not simply laugh at the statehood project - even if they disagree they have to seriously consider that this might be the only line open to them.

3) Between impossibility and inadequacy: what can Fanon reveal about the stuckness of the Palestinian refugee?
Well we are the refugees we are afraid from one thing that even after this pain and this sacrifices and after all of things we cant easily accept to forget about our home land. Even if the palestinian government says this statehood will never be only when all the refugee return, because we know exactly how is the israeli and the Zionist way of thinking. We deal with them from a long time, and what we [are] sure about [is] they dont even need us [to] live in the earth. [They] who arrest kids and kill them, they dont understand about peace. [They] who build the mirkava which we saw them by our eyes move on the peoples bodies. What would be needed, in your understanding, for things to be going in a good way again? Ah well this question is really hard on me especially this time, because by the time you dont know what to do, especially if you [are] stuck between what should happen [and] what what we can do. Like if we need to talk about my emotion, yes I need to fight [for all the land]... But if I need to use my mind to reach this goal I can really understand that we have no chance against Israel. They have the world support, the American guns, the Zionist support, and we have nothing. We have no way to win any war - we tried [in] the second intefadah, but its impossible. So if we speak about the statehood, yes we can win this war

if we stick to the non violent reaction, but we will suffer. But maybe in 3 year or even 1 year [we will] reach the state hood if we increase the pressure on the israeli side by making everyday a protest against the occupation, sending them to the checkpoint as a statement. But still for me [this is] shit, where will I go after it, what about my future? It will stay dark and have no answers, because in the same time this statehood will be 6002 KM(2) and we live just in kalandia camp 21,000 and we are not the biggest camp.... We have no space to fill the refugees who live inside Palestine - so what about those 9 Million who are outside? So because of this you stay stuck, [you] dont know what to do and dont know what is right and what is not. And these things make you sometimes sit on your chair and keep thinking, and you are in an internal fight about what you believe and what should be, between what your emotion says it should be - all the land, and your mind which says something we can fight to win [statehood]. This fight makes you stuck between the two and you can't do anything, and you just get destroyed by time.

This expression of the internal struggle of a single Palestinian reveals an essential inadequacy of the peace process - that in giving up the essential thing which motivates people and communities to fight and die for their liberation, and in asking them to exchange it for a different idea of freedom (Western), and a different idea of liberation (maybe the refugees move to where the settlers lived instead of to their homes inside the 1948 borders of Israel). For this what the Palestinian revolution sacrifices is the core of its own being - its minimum demand. And if we think with Fanon then we see that this demand is not only important because people need to have their houses back because their house in the refugee camp is poorly built and they need a better house, but because the absoluteness of the demand constitutes not just an essential part, but the basis of the struggle for liberation on the individual, social and national level. That this compromise might be pragmatically required due to the failure of the armed struggle to accomplish its goal does nothing to console those whos emotion remains committed to the original national cause. For this person, the pressure to compromise and to give up the dream is

experienced as exhausting and young men say they feel old in the face of this. There is no simple answer here, because we are not dealing with something mediate - we should instead try to see this trauma for what it is and be honest with ourselves that we can not expect Palestinians to trade the right of return for summer camps and peace workshops. If they accept the compromise it is because they accept it with their own mind, not because we offer them a better version of the freedom that they were going for. 4) Where is the BDS in the camp?

I am out of words now, so I will just saw a few things and if someone wants to ask a question I could talk more about this - it is very surprising to me that no one I talked to in the camp was interested in BDS. Superficially this doesnt make sense, they should support BDS because it is a strategy of achieving their key demand - the right of return while at the same time laying down the gun. And it gives a political way not tainted by the corruption of the PA, or perhaps more importantly, the PAs apparent willingness to negotiate away the rights of the refugees for statehood. But as far as I can see - they dont. Support for Mustafa Barghouti, the biggest Palestinian leader who supports BDS, is not very strong in Palestine, and especially weak in the refugee camps. So why is this? The only answer I can see is that BDS puts you first - you here, people outside, nonPalestinians. And thats wrong, because you wont do it. And even if you would do it, its still wrong for the people in the camp because they have to liberate themselves, they have to decide what they will do against it or decide to try to leave, because they live inside of it. I would suggest to any other non-Palestinians who want to express solidarity with the Palestinian cause, then yes, they should support BDS, but they should also try to understand something about the difficult history of the Palestinian struggle, and to understand that BDS is not the whole simple answer to this complex question. Rather, you should understand that you dont know what the answer is, because the Palestinians dont know, and you know less than them and you have much less riding on the question.