Most people in Israel will remember one thing about the protest later today (Sat 3/1/2009): that the organizers went to the Supreme Court in order to make sure they are allowed to present a Palestinian flag.
Now, I am in favor of anyone being able to present any kind of flag or no flag at any time. But one should ask what purpose a Palestinian (former PLO) flag would serve.
This protest is allegedly aimed at stopping the attack on Gaza. What does the Palestinian flag have to do with that? One would reply: "well, it represents support for the Palestinian resistance." To that I would have to further ask: what Palestinian resistance? Most sensible Palestinians in Gaza would like to get the hell out of the bombing area, not resist being bombed. What does it even mean to resist being bombed? Wave your hand against the incoming fighters?
This flag represents Palestinian nationalism, in the same way that the Israeli flag represents Israeli nationalism. Now, most readers of this website would probably associate Israeli nationalism with violence, oppression, and a thin veil covering up the rule of capitalists over our country. Why doesn't the same apply to Palestinian nationalism?
As we speak, Palestinians in the West Bank are being brutally oppressed and restrained, Palestinians who wish to protest against this same war. Why? Because the Palestinian Authority will not hear criticism, and will not step away from its only raison d'etre, being a subcontractor of Israeli control over the Occupied Territories.
Just months ago, these same Hamas leaders who are now hiding in bunkers and safehouses and recording messages of resistance to "their" people were refusing pay to teachers, wrecking Palestinian trade unions, killing innocent Palestinians in the streets as they fought their Fatah competitors, and shooting rockets at random civilian targets, in lieu of actual attempts at bettering the lives of hard-working and unemployed Palestinians.
While we are protesting the brutal bombing of Gaza by Israeli nationalism, we have to remember that Palestinian nationalism is merely less powerful, not less brutal. Unfortunately, this flag incident just plays into the hand of nationalism as an ideal, making it easier to dismiss dissent against the government as automatic support for "the enemy".
Of course, to be cynical, there is a very good reason why this fiasco came about. This protest, organized by the Israeli Communist Party's front Hadash, comes a day before the official launching of this party's election campaign. And Hadash needs to pander to its Palestinian nationalist base inside the Green Line in order to maintain its electoral power in the next elections against the Secular Nationalists (Al-Tajmua3) and the Muslim Movement. And this, again, plays into nationalism's hand, and ultimately, into the capitalists` hand.
This will only result in repeating cycles of violence, that will not end until it is realized that these nationalisms are there to cloud our judgment and to prevent us from focusing on the real issue, namely, that we are being sent to kill and die, and compete in the service of people who do not serve our interests, but their own. And that goes for both Israelis and Palestinians. Untie the Gordian knot of nationalism, and we will be on our way to have better lives for all.