6.6.06

''Palestine: It's All Over''

This is Alexander Cockburn's conclusion on the state of a hypothetical Palestinian State. Cockburn argues that there was a plan laid out by Israel from the beginning (1948) to reach the stage of the impossibility of a Palestinian State and that the plan was greatly helped by the active self censorship of western media in their unreporting about the illegal means Israel undertook to reach this stage, specially after 1974.

What happened after 1974 ?
Israel had won two wars against Arab countries and had established itself as the great mighty superpower in the middle east with another powerful ally, the United States. The active self censorship of western media didn't come only as a result of pressure from Israel and its allies in the west. It came, and very few would actually aknowledge this matter of fact, from public sympathy towards Israel across Europe and the US. This sympathy, as my European husband puts it, derived from the fact that Europeans felt that they were reoccupying, through Israel's victories, the countries (and the 'savages' which inhabit them) they had colonised and left not a long ago.
Europeans, as Americans, had also little faith in Arabs to trust them with the biggest oil reserves in the world for their increasing energy needs. Arabs were the Other. They were different, they were Muslims for a big majority of them and when they weren't Muslims, they had sympathies with the communists. My husband recounted to me the state of panic Europeans were in back in 1973 during the second Israeli-Arab war as this second war against Arabs didn't look as easy to win by Israel as the 1967 war, also called the six days war because of Israel's overwhelming and rapid victory.

Other factors contributed to a greater identification between the West and Israel. Among them:

1. The west's left kept his sympathies for Israel as a model for a successful socialist enterprise and still do so with such a nostalgia, even now when nothing of the kibboutzim state is left and when neoliberalism is rampant leaving many Isareli citizens on the fringes of society. In fact, socialist ideology contributed greatly to the foundation of Israel and socialists of the world are grateful that Israel was a 'living' proof of the effectiveness of their ideology. As Jean-Luc Godard says in his movie 'Our Music', with nostalgia : ''Communism existed only twice in history and only 45 minutes each time when the British football players lost at Wembley to the Hungarians because they were playing individually and the Hungarians were playing collectively''. And so socialism existes really and it existed in Israel, at the beginning. The nostalgia towards what was at the heart of the foundation of Israel still obscure many leftists judgements about this state.

2. The fall of Israel's ideal for egalitarianism among its citizens followed closely the demise of the social contract in the West and Europe in particular and the rise of neoliberalism. In that, Israel was mirrorring the economic and social evolution of the West and that made the identification more likely. Neoliberalist values, which were gaining ground among American and Eurpean political and intellectual elites from the right to the 'new' left, were introduced in Israel at the same time. And with these values came a shift in the western perspective on the Self as individualistic, egoistic, politically correct, focused without restraint on the pursuit of sexual pleasures (not only sexual liberation) and personal wealth. On the other side, Arab countries, either economically underdevelopped and socially conservative or rich but also socially conservative, offered to the western world a social façade which was increasingly at odds with its own.
I don't think that the Israeli society mirrors actually the western one, there is a lot of conservatism and political uncorrectness (racism and préjugés) in this society, however these features do not show because they are hidden under the umbrella of 'secular' judaism and zionism which supposedly defines Israel. Indeed this perception of Israel is actually more influenced by the jewish diaspora outside Israel than by Israeli society itself, as this diaspora had plenty of time to melt in western cultural values and even become secularised at this contact. The jewish french philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas*, complained in 1976 about the loss of spirituality among the jewish diaspora, a consequence, he says, of its secularisation under the influence and the contact of secular christianity in Europe.
However, when you look at the Muslim diaspora, you can hardly compare it to the jewish one: these are people who immigrated recently to Europe from previous colonised countries. The relations between these immigrants and European citizens are different in many aspects and there are great misunderstandings of the Muslim and Arab cultures produced by colonial history, wider economic and cultural gaps between countries of origin and host countries, as well as previously planned and recent spin from pro-Zionist zealots against these populations which started early on and was already full blown in the nineties.

3. What is important also is that Israel, its zionist defenders and its jewish diaspora worldwide, often act as one homogenous bloc when it comes to protect the state from international sanctions. Facing this matter of fact, and contrary to the West's perception, Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs are a mosaic of diverse opinions, interests and political agenda. So the perception of Israel facing a united Arab, palestinian and Muslim front in its struggle for 'existence' is utterly false.

4. Even if there was a western awakening to the problems facing the palestinians in their struggle for existence, Israel made sure that all the misunderstandings between the West's culture and values and those of Arabs and Muslims in general were exploited in forging the West's view of Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians which were assimilated to these two categories. This strategy proved effective. The recent terrorist threat the West attributes to Islam came to seal the fate of the Palestinians because Israel has forcefully argued for an equation between the two even if the difference between Islamist terror as advocated by OBL and Palestinian resistance is evident and can be found in European history. Indeed, it is the same difference that exists between armed resistance to facism in Spain, to the occupation of Ireland by the British or to the Nazis in France on one hand and the waves of social terror inflicted on European populations between the seventies and the nineties in Belgium, France, Italy and Germany, on the other hand.

No wonder why, in 2006, after the collapse of the Oslo agreements and the affirmation of unilateral policies by Israel, with International benediction, as well as the destruction, not only of the Palestinian hopes to a state and a decent life but of the palestinian society, culture and geographical demography, there aren't many courageous voices in the West's mainstream media outlets, governments offices and political parties, rising to condemn Israel. There are only voices of few concerned citizens and scholars which are kept outside the mainstream and marginalised as to make sure that the chorus of support given to Israel's peace damaging policies in the Middle East will stay undisputed and without restraint.

*Lévinas Emmanuel. 1976. Difficile liberté, in 'Essai sur le judaisme', Albin Michel, Paris. p.13-23

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sophia,

As any student of Zionism knows a Palestinian State is not in the cards and never has been. That is why it is distressing to watch the Palestinians agonize over the acceptance of the prisoner's manifesto. The two state solution is not an option. The Palestinians were never offered any opportunities to miss.

Unfortunately they do not have any prominent leaders with vision.

They are still debating and holding on to Oslo when it has been abandoned by everyone that counts.

Palestine is over. The nationalists need to get over this impossible dream and deal with the reality that Israel and Zionism have been shaping since their inception.

A binational unitary state with equal rights for all its citizens is the only solution for Israelis and Palestinians.

Let us see how the West and Israel can oppose this democratic and just solution to this Question.

Time , unfortunately, is running out and the Palestinians need to confront Israel's policies in an effective and non-violent strategy that calls for justice , democracy and equal rights.

Issam

Anonymous said...

issam,
what makes you think that ANY side want a bi national state? What makes you think it will work? History has shown that in most cases this idea is a recipe for Disaster.

Sophia said...

Issam,

I agree with your analysis and facts have been confirming this.

Anonymous (Oleh),

You seem to be really interested in giving Palestinians a state of their own. Can you tell me what are you ready to give as an Israeli citizen in order to make a viable Palestinian state ? Or you are trembling because you will be obliged to live with Arabs ! nearly more than 60 % of israeli citizens say that they don't want to live with Palestinians (Haaretz poll, not a long ago).

Oleh Yahshan said...

I assume since you are actually asking me that you also want to hear what I have to say...

I don't think it will work Because of those number not despite them.. just like I think that most Palestinians don't want to Live in the same country With Israelis (would want to live with ME in the same place??)

WE have Many issues to work out before I could see the day where Israelis and palestinians live in the same country and work together... But I will also say that I am doing something to try to make it better... you are more than welcome to come and visit the Hope Blog.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cousin Oleh ,

No politics-good idea .

Does that mean that we are all equal , that we have the same rights, we can live anywhere we want and we can marry anyone. I am for that .

However, I think that you want us to talk about football,fashion, ourselves or anything that will get us to forget about our dismal political situation.

Politics is what makes both of our lives miserable. Let us solve our political problem first so that we are free to pursue our other interests in a true equal dialogue.

What is wrong with a binational state and where has it failed?

It is the only sane solution that is just and protects the rights of everyone in Israel/Palestine.

States based on apartheid ,racism, religion and ethnicity are the ones that are doomed to failure.

Issam

Oleh Yahshan said...

issam,
I am taking the oposite approach from you, start by finding all the OTHER things we can talk about, and then go back and deal with the real issue as firends not as enemies.

you will also notice that none of us (on the Hope Blog) have given up talking politics, we just don't bring it in there. The Idea is not to forget the Issues, but to come at them in a different direction. I think you should come visit, comment, and read my last post.
One of the reasons I see for a blog like that maybe somewhere, sometime you will see I am not a BAD person, who is trying to get you to forget, or who thinks that you are less equal than me. And vice Versa.
As for the rest... I will answer it later I have to run to class.

Sophia said...

Oleh,

I am sure you are not a bad person. However I don't think your motives ib setting up the blog with SABA are only for the good of the two people.
I don't want to detail here what makes me dubious. I think there is a lot of manipulation going on on the internet. The internet is a dangerous place for people like SABA and even for you.
I see your enterprise as the one taken up by a german Nazi officer in after the war setting up a correspondance with a former Aucshwitz jewish prisoner to try to make himself less guilty. However the prisoner was not your average one. He was Primo Levi, one of finest Italy's writers and the best who wrote on the Nazi camps experience. In his book, 'the periodical system', he lays out part of the correspondance. It is embarrassing. Levi, a fine human being with a moral consciousness superior to any other human being and writers I know of, accepted the correspondance because he wanted to understand and he terminated the correspondance when he realised that the German officer was trying to get rid of his guilt while at the same time not aknowledging personally the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis.
In the book, Levi asks the question of the personal responsibility of each German in what happened to jews and he answers it positively.
I am not going to visit your blog. I have many more interesting readings to do. Please read levi's book. It is enlightening.
Levi committed suicide later in life. After having produced the finest and most efficient testimonies (and not propaganda) as to the horrors of the Nazis camps, he terminated his life at an advanced age.

Oleh Yahshan said...

you don't think I am a bad person but you think my motives are similer to one of the Nazis... intersting comparison. Sophia, I wish you the best, and I hope you wake up some day and relize that the world is not Balck and White.. in fact there are A LOT of Shades of grey....
Just like saba and I, and many others as I see the responses on the site in the past week... we all fall into those Shades of grey... I hope one day you will find the same in yourself... since if not this will never be over...
Oh and the Nazi thing... Really out of place... actually a little disgusting...

saba said...

Sophia,
I dont understand ...why are you opposing the idea of the blog? and why is the internet a dangerous place for us?? im so damn confused..and what does LEvi have to do with all this?

Sophia said...

Saba,

You are making me look like a censor ! I am not opposed to any blog, neither yours.
As for Levi, his writings are part of our ecent history told from the perspective of a prisoner jew in Nazis concentration camps with much wisdom and witt. A must read.

Sophia said...

Saba,

Let me tell you one thing bluntly, and this is not my usual way: You are being used by zionists who want to have a good conscience !
Good luck !

 
Since March 29th 2006