For decades the Palestinians sought to prove to the world, and to their critics, that their struggle was a legitimate one, and that they were not violent terrorists but freedom fighters with a genuine cause.
Tragedies such as Monday’s events in the southern refugee camp of Mieh Mieh do nothing but negate these efforts, undermining everything that the Palestinians have fought for.
Across Lebanon, Palestinian camps have become havens for criminals and thugs, people motivated by selfish desires for money or authority, often influenced by sectarian or party politics. Instead of representing the thousands of Palestinian civilians in the camps – people often living in extreme poverty and dire conditions – they pursue their own concerns.
These turf wars contribute nothing to the Palestinian cause, aside from a needless waste of human life. They will not contribute to claiming one inch of Palestinian land for the Palestinians. In fact, they only serve to detract from the rightful fight for a Palestinian homeland, one of the most legitimate struggles of our time.
As so-called “peace talks” rumble on, these internecine battles provide material to those in Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere who say the Palestinians are incapable of governing themselves in their own state, and that they are merely violent extremists with no central beliefs.
Fraternal squabbles and fighting are only natural among a disenfranchised and disempowered people. But until Palestinians have a state to call their own, these battles must be forgotten. The pursuit of a homeland is the only thing worth fighting for.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 08, 2014, on page 7.