Dr. Houda Abadi: “The international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable is making the situation worse”

Dr. Houda Abadi: “The international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable is making the situation worse”
Dr. Houda Abadi: “The international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable is making the situation worse”

International consultant, notably to certain American organizations, specialist in gender issues, Houda Abadi, born in Tangier in 1979, has worked for two decades on issues linked to the implementation of peace consolidation programs, notably in Afghanistan, in Libya, Iraq, Palestine and Syria. MENA Associate Director at the Carter Center from 2014 to 2019, Ms. Abadi is the founder and executive director of Transformative Peace, a consultancy specializing in peace processes and human rights-based approaches.

Your Cabinet intends to develop plans and strategies for lasting peace in certain regions of the world, particularly in the Middle East. What peace can we talk about in Palestine?
Let me say that the Israeli occupation has inflicted enormous suffering on the Palestinian people, with systemic apartheid, discrimination, humiliation and death. Since October 7, 2023, almost 40,000 Palestinians have been killed and 77,704 injured. To achieve lasting peace, it is crucial to address the illegal and oppressive occupation, the illegal settlements that hinder a two-state solution, and the 16-year blockade on Gaza. The statistics are alarming: on average, more than 3 women are killed every hour in Gaza. The World Health Organization reports that women and children make up about two-thirds of all victims. Entire, multi-generational families risk being completely wiped out.

Hundreds of women have been detained arbitrarily, without any respect for legal procedures. Testimonies from detained women describe terrifying experiences of sexual assault, including rape and degrading searches carried out by Israeli soldiers. These inhumane acts cannot be tolerated. Furthermore, forced displacement and imposed starvation only worsen the suffering of affected populations. It is undeniable that we are witnessing a real genocide taking place before our eyes, an unspeakable tragedy. These disturbing stories expose the horror of the occupation and the disastrous consequences of violations and non-compliance with international law. The international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable is making the situation worse.

All over the world, public opinion is more aware than ever of the reality of the problem. What can we do to make decision-makers take note?
However, young people are at the forefront of the call for change. On American college campuses, emotional protests against the war in Gaza are growing, calling on universities to divest from companies with economic ties or investments in Israel and to show leniency toward protesters. Solidarity camps have been set up in around a hundred American universities. Recalling the American student protests against the Vietnam War, their clear message: Cease your support and complicity in genocide.

In general, these gatherings are distinguished by their peaceful and multicultural nature. Muslim and Jewish protesters opposed to the war were creative in incorporating their religious and cultural traditions into their awareness-raising actions. The cultural expressions presented at these protests serve as forms of resistance, aiming to change dominant narratives and challenge the U.S. government’s position on Palestine.

Some circles describe these demonstrators as pro-Hamas and allies of terrorist groups… Can such accusations stand?
Solidarity with Palestine is expressed through various cultural means such as dress, rituals, customs, music and dance. Various notable events include the Ceasefire Seder at Columbia University during the Easter holiday, Shabbat meetings, Friday prayers for Muslims, and the traditional Dabke dance. These demonstrations promote solidarity between students of different ethnic and religious origins, raise awareness, encourage social awareness and strengthen bonds of solidarity.

There has been misrepresentation of these students as anti-Semites or supporters of Hamas. Contrary to these unfounded allegations, students have demonstrated a strong commitment to upholding the principles of free expression and participating in constructive debate. Some of these university camps include a library, a specialized team to reduce tension, and educational sessions. These efforts reflect their dedication to promoting intellectual exchange and creating learning opportunities.

The protests were violently suppressed with the use of rubber bullets, tear gas and tasers on campus, raising major concerns. Students face violence, intimidation, dehumanization, arrest, even expulsion. Such actions not only undermine the very essence of the academic sphere, but also erode the trust that students, faculty and the community at large place in these prestigious institutions.

Solidarity with Palestine has led to the militarization of American universities.
Absolutely and instead of embodying free speech, critical thinking and academic excellence, these educational institutions appear to be tainted by militarization and police brutality. During this period, a secondary dispute emerged between the American Congress and the universities, Congress exploited this situation as a means of pressure and threatened to cut off federal funds deployed to universities. The escalation of tensions and violent repression aggravate an already tense situation and threaten the security of all. Institutions have a moral duty to promote freedom of expression and serve as models of integrity and excellence.

Do you think that the movement of Western students can have an impact on the course of events in Palestine?
Students have historically played a key role in promoting peace through protests. Whether during protests against the Vietnam War or during the Arab Spring, they have always been at the forefront of social movements bringing change. Their passionate voices and unwavering commitment to promoting nonviolence have resonated across generations, transcending geographic boundaries and inspiring communities to work for positive change.

The wave of anti-war protests by American students highlighted Gaza in public opinion, leading to significant change. Through social media, Gazans were able to express their gratitude to the students, seeing them as a beacon of hope during this difficult time. Young people are mobilizing to exert pressure and demand a change in the status quo.

These protests have crossed borders, affecting not only the United States and Canada, but also Europe and other regions. The Palestinian cause is now present in public discourse, marking a major turning point. This progress represents a significant victory for Palestine in terms of public opinion, highlighting the impact and scale of this student-led movement.



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