Ten years ago, the Palestinian people lost, in José Saramago, a friend and unconditional defender of their rights.

A long-time militant of the Palestinian cause, he was at the genesis of the creation of MPPM and presided over the General Assembly until his death. His public positions on the Palestinian issue are well known, as well as the unabashed manner in which he expressed them, without shying away from denouncing those who he considered responsible for the situation of the Palestinian people or who were failing to show the solidarity that was due to them.

Today we remember José Saramago by publishing the message he sent to the founding assembly of MPPM, on 23 February 2008. One can recognise in this text his committed and lucid style. One does not notice that it was written 12 years ago.

«The process of violent extortion of the basic rights of the Palestinian people and its territory by Israel continues in the face of the complicity or indifference of the infamous international community. Israeli writer David Grossmann, whose criticisms of his country's government have been rising, wrote in a recent article that Israel knows no compassion. We already knew that. With the Torah as a backdrop, that terrible and unforgettable image of a Jewish soldier hammering the bones of the hand of a young Palestinian captured in the first intifada for throwing stones at Israeli tanks takes on full meaning. Just as well he didn't cut it off.

Nothing and no one, not even international organizations that would have such an obligation, as is the case of the UN, have so far managed to stop the more than repressive, criminal actions of the successive governments of Israel and its armed forces against the Palestinian people. It does not appear that the situation is likely to improve. On the contrary. Faced with the heroic Palestinian resistance, the Israeli governments have changed some of their initial strategies and now consider that all means must be used, even the most cruel, even the most arbitrary, from indiscriminate bombing to targeted killings, to bend and humiliate the already legendary courage of the Palestinian people, who every day add up to the endless sum of their dead and every day resurrect them in the prompt response of those who remain alive.

We are here today to receive updated information on the situation in Palestine. We don't expect it to be any more conducive to optimism than the information we had yesterday. In supporting the Palestinian people, we know that we are on the right side, which, as we know, is not always good advice these days. I say that we support the Palestinian people, and nothing is more certain. But a perplexity troubles me, and probably others here: what does it mean to support the Palestinian people? Supporting Fatah? Supporting Hamas? What interests are we damaging if we support one and not the other?

It is not enough to be informed of the brute facts. We will understand nothing or almost nothing of what is happening if we do not have a reliable interpretation of certain disconcerting events that have made clear, by their public dimension, the contradictions and conflicts that oppose the two Palestinian political and military organizations.

I know the answer to my perplexities: let us support the Palestinian people, and that should be enough for us. In principle, yes, but what do we do if the Palestinian people themselves are divided?

I wish you all good work, an enlightening debate, and that Palestine, at the end of today, may be closer to us or we to it. By the heart, yes, but also by intelligence, by knowledge.

José Saramago

Lanzarote, 23 February 2008»

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