Prague – Gaza Post
Sara Assad Shbeeb
Zdeněk Jehlička, the president of the Czech association in support of palestinian rights, "Ne našim jménem", meaning, "Not on our behalf", denounced Czech President Miloš Zeman's bias with Israel, and described the Prime Minister Andrej Babiš as a "merchant" not only in business, but also in politics. Jehlička commented on the controversial publication of an article by Czech Foreign Affairs Minister, Tomáš Petříček, which rejects Israel's proposal to annex the Jordan Valley and parts of the occupied West Bank. According to Jehlička, opponents of the article are trying to impose their own false, naïve and ideologically deceptive, political vision.
Zdeněk Jehlička claims that it is dangerous for the President of the Czech Republic to aim to impose his vision and positions firmly biased towards Israel, on Czech foreign policy, given the fact that, in accordance with the Czech Constitution, it is the prerogative of the Foreign Ministry and the Government.
Jehlička denounced President Zeman's attack on the foreign minister, accusing him of contradicting the traditional policy of the Czech Republic. According to the president of the association, this statement by the President is deliberately misleading. It is especilly deeply ignorant of Czech foreign policy and its position in favour of a possible two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
He added that the alignment of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš with the position of President Zeman and against his foreign affairs minister, is not surprising. Through this bias, he acts as a political businessman, and does not consider the Palestinian issue to be important enough to risk the interests he derives from his alliance with the president.
According to Jehlička, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Radek Vondráček, member of the Prime Minister's party, "Ano", demonstrated political naivety and ideological deception last January, when he insisted in the Czech Parliament on adopting a definition of anti-Semitism stipulating that any criticism of Israeli policy was considered to be an anti-Semitic act; and this, in response to the pressure of the global Zionist movement ; which has furthermore failed.
Zdeněk Jehlička goes on to say that supporting the occupation of foreign lands by force is not only incompatible with international law. But it is also profoundly contradictory with the official Czech policy, inspired by the Czechoslovakian experience, common to the palestinian, since Czechoslovakia also experienced occupation during modern times. In connection with this history, it is not conceivable that the Czech public would give legitimacy to the arguments of the occupiers, just as the Czech community cannot, under any circumstances, support Israel's occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands.
Politicians, journalists and activists supporting Israel are isolated in the Czech Republic, because despite all the support they receive from the media, they have nothing to offer the Czech public.
Advices for Palestinian action
But then, what do Palestinian diplomacy and Palestinian communities abroad recommend to convey the Palestinian narrative to Western societies ? To this, the president of the czech association of solidarity with the Palestinian People, replies: "Despite my appreciation for the struggles of the Palestinian people and the long efforts of their communities to recover their rights, they often seem inaudible or do not receive the required response ... although only the future can tell us what will happen to this reality, which could potentially change in parallel with the evolution of events. »
He adds: "Recent events in Israel and the rise of right-wing populists around the world are reviving the Palestinian question, because it is a movement for freedom, justice and equality".
In Jehlička’s opinion, "Palestinians abroad should not hesitate to communicate intensively with the local public in order for them to exert more pressure on their political leaders, and the Palestinians themselves must play their part in addressing the societies in which they live through the narrative of their history, their suffering, their personal testimonies ; these elements are among the most influential in public opinion. »
Zdeněk Jehlička adds: "These testimonies are unique to the Palestinians, and they can share them with their loved ones, their entourage, to open their eyes to the true account of Palestinian suffering that contrasts with the account of Israeli propaganda intended to strip the Palestinians of their humanity and deny their existence."
Palestinian cause and social media
How can we push the media, through the narrative of Czech historical memory, to opt for objective and fair coverage of the Palestinian question in the face of Israeli arrogance and propaganda in the Czech Republic?
Zdeněk Jehlička replies that the Czech media in general are less beneficial, because of the unstable positions of many local journalists under the pressure of the Israeli lobby, whose strong presence impacts significantly the Czech media. They refuse for the most part, to deal with the Palestinian narrative, and therefore to work with the public media. It has become a very concerning issue, tinged with ignorance, prejudice and lack of interest » .
« However, I am still hopeful, thanks to the the progressive comments I've read on social media, and in fact, young people in particular, are looking for information outside the official media, often biased. To make their case, Palestinians have to take advantage of this media », said Zdeněk Jehlička.
The Association "Ne Našim jménem", "Not in our name", supports Palestinian rights under the slogan "For a Just Peace in the Middle East", and can be considered the Czech equivalent of the global solidarity movement supporting the Palestinian cause.