Khader Adnan, the Palestinian detainee who had been on a 66 day hunger strike to protest his illegal detention by the state of Israel has agreed to end his protest as part of a deal. This is heartening, but it’s not a happy ending. Adnan’s commitment to take “no food without freedom” has left the 33 year old resident of Jenin in a severely compromised state of health that may still claim his life. He has been on the brink of death long enough that survival itself would be much to hope for. And the deal with which he has won his freedom leaves him still imprisoned for nearly two months though he has been charged with no crime.
Long have Israeli apologists pharisiacally lamented, ‘If only there were a Palestinian Gandhi, then we could talk peace!’ But what a strange and arrogant thing to express. What right does an oppressor have to demand the oppressed adopt a total non-violent philosophy in order to relieve a bit of his oppression? To access his own water? To wish to live in peace? And the Gandhi mandate is empty as Palestine has had more than its share of Gandhis for decades. There are thousands of incarcerated Palestinians, including children, who remain suffering in meek compliance. There are thousands of mothers in Palestine who suffer hunger, both for food and for their children’s safety, day in and day out. And there are thousands of Palestinian Gandhis already dead.
But Adnan’s heroic sacrifice is different, and perhaps deeply significant, in that it marks a shift in world attention and outrage translated into concrete political pressure. Not often does this occur in the Israeli world. Hardly ever in the Israeli courts. It does reveal Israel’s reluctance to hold a public hearing on Adnan’s case for fear of transparency. So, yes, it is a victory for Adnan, his family, and for all Palestinians. It is a victory against hasbaraniks and the zionist propagandists embedded in anything that moves or speaks in the public sphere. But until Israel is held accountable for its war crimes and its perpetual crimes against humanity in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem it remains a bittersweet triumph.