To Israel, Abu Ein is just another dead Palestinian

To Israel, Abu Ein is just another dead Palestinian
This Palestinian minister's life mirrored many of the resistance fighters drawn to the Palestinian cause. His death at the hands of an Israeli soldier was an end that too many have suffered.
4 min read
16 Dec, 2014
Ziad Abu Ein died fighting for what he believed in [AFP]
He was a minister in the Palestinian Authority and was involved in the Oslo Accords process. But he was cut down by an Israeli soldier all the same.

The young Israeli saw Ziad Abu Ein, the minister, the same way the young Israeli's grandparents saw Ziad Abu Ein, the student, three decades earlier: no more than a Palestinian who could be killed or imprisoned if he dared confront the occupation.

Young resistance leader

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Abu Ein was at the forefront of the resistance. While studying in the United States, he was arrested and then extradited to Israel to face charges that he had murdered two Israelis as a youth - charges he says he confessed to under torture.

His case coincided with the founding of a branch of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) in the US, which has historically played a pivotal role is mobilising the youth behind the PLO.

Abu Ein's arrest marked a new phase in the Israeli and US policies to eliminate the PLO, culminating in Israel's invasion of Lebanon and the siege of Beirut in the summer of 1982, which forced the PLO to leave the country. This was confirmed by former Zbigniew Brzezinski, US president Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, who announced in an interview, "Bye-bye PLO".
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Abu Ein was released from an Israeli
prison in 1985 in a famous operation by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Abu Ein and the intifada

His early life placed Abu Ein among the thousands of young Palestinians who had joined the resistance in their teenage years. They spent most of their lives as part of the PLO, and shared its many victories and defeats.

He was active in the first intifada of 1987, and stood shoulder to shoulder with his friend Marwan Barghouti, the leader of Fatah, during the second. Barghouti was arrested by Israeli troops while hiding in Abu Ein's house in 2002.

Abu Ein accepted the Oslo Accords. That may have been disappointing at the time, but it was not an exception. Many young people did the same, including Barghouti, who saw them as a preface for bringing a new reality into being. However, Barghouti rejected the solution that the US tried to impose at Camp David.

He supported the stance of the late president, Yasser Arafat, and took to the streets during the second intifada.

Abu Ein is undoubtedly a part of the Palestinian narrative, particularly because it reflects the different stages that dictated the lives of PLO members. Most of them gave up their personal lives and futures to join the resistance.
     His early life placed Abu Ein among the thousands who joined spent their lives as part of the PLO, and shared its many victories and defeats.

A return to youth

Many ended up as members of the Palestinian Authority, which has no actual powers.

The PA agreed to the so-called "security coordination" with Israel, either deluded by the idea of "peace through negotiations", which do not recognise Palestinian rights, or by finding itself under the influence of hopelessness or the temptation of power.

Whatever changes Abu Ein went through, he eventually found himself in a direct confrontation with the occupation forces anyway, while planting olive trees in the West Bank as a show of defiance against the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

The video that showed the rage and grief in his eyes as he was attacked by Israeli soldiers suggested a renewed and a cruel awakening - he was just a Palestinian pitted against oppression and occupation.

Abu Ein's death fighting for freedom brings him back to his beginnings as a freedom fighter, because Palestinians have no choice but to resist. Planting olive trees is one of many forms of resistance; it reflects the consolidation of the identity of the land and the Palestinian people, an identity prohibited by the occupation.

Israeli soldiers did not view Abu Ein as a Palestinian minister. They saw him as a Palestinian whose dignity and life were worthless, because the "security coordination" that protects Israel demands the oppression and murder of Palestinians.

Abu Ein was a victim of this hateful system of "security coordination", but he died standing up as a freedom fighter.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.