There Is No Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

Nota Bene: Criticism of Israel does not constitute antisemitism.

Matti Friedman argues that “There Is No Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” — from the perspective of a Canadian-Israeli, a soldier-poet, an apologist for Israeli rightwing family values: a kindred spirit for those who think of Palestinians in terms of cardboard cutouts, and a considered belief that they are a waste of cardboard. He works words with great economy, clarity and imagination — a Western writer living in a Middle-Eastern geography . Mr. Friedman is currently residing in Palestine’s capital city: Al Quds.

…a kindred spirit for those who think of Palestinians in terms of cardboard cutouts…

A Palestinian demonstrator from the West Bank village of Deir Jarir, northeast of Ramallah, waves his national flag as he sits on a pile of rocks during clashes with Israeli soldiers following a march against construction on Palestinian land by members of the Jewish settlement of Ofra on April 26, 2013. Photo by Issam Rimawi/FLASH90

Friedman’s opinion piece “There Is No Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” is a study guide on how to look through both sides of a pair of binoculars in order to begin understanding that non-conflict. The article uses fifteen paragraphs to house fifteen straw men. I had intended to critique each, but have discovered that it might take a multi-part series to adequately address them, so here are the first couple straw men.

Matti Friedman (@MattiFriedman), a contributing opinion writer, is the author of “The Aleppo Codex,” “Pumpkinflowers” and the forthcoming “Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel.”

JERUSALEM — If you are reading this, you’ve most likely seen much about “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” in the pages of this newspaper and of every other important newspaper in the West. That phrase contains a few important assumptions. That the conflict is between two actors, Israelis and Palestinians. That it could be resolved by those two actors, and particularly by the stronger side, Israel. That it’s taking place in the corner of the Middle East under Israeli rule.

They brought house keys along, planning to unlock their doors upon their return home.

West (orientalists): Palestine is in the Middle-East, it was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1918. The League of Nations — a short-lived and long defunct Western (orientalist) attempt at world order — The League unilaterally granted the British a legal instrument termed “Mandate for Palestine.”  They colonized Palestine until May 1948, when 700,000 unarmed Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homes, their neighborhoods, their ancestral homeland with only what they could cart or carry. They brought house keys along, planning to unlock their doors upon their return home — a right, ironically enough, guaranteed in that same catastrophic year by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 1948.

Not surprisingly, Palestinians lived in greatest number along the Mediterranean Coast.

Particularly by the stronger side: The only armed forces — unless you consider rusty Ottoman-era weapons, unreliable and inaccurate mortars, and rocks from the rubble of demolished homes to be forces rather than farces — has always been the occupier.

Let me be clear: there is no “both sides.” There is a terrorist org that endangers civilians, and there is a state that protects them. Soon, the world will stare reality in the face and finally condemnation.

— Ambassador Danny Danon

https://twitter.com/dannydanon/status/1070796719066136577

Let me be clearer: Hamas has no army, no navy, no air force, no tanks, no attack helicopters, no fighter jets, no armored vehicles, no missiles, no bombs, no nothing but rocks and a few crude unguided rockets which land with a thud. From the bottom of my heart, shut the fuck up.

Abeer Khatib

https://twitter.com/abierkhatib/status/1070824222648352771

Corner of the Middle East: a feint that reminds me of Goebbel’s Ministry of Propaganda — Lebensraum defined in terms of population density, where British “living space” included Canada and Australia.

Under Israeli rule: Not surprisingly, Palestinians lived in greatest number along the Mediterranean Coast. See Mahmoud Darwish’s famous poem “Unfortunately, It was Paradise.” Palestine is comparable to Southern California in terms of climate and real estate value. Displaced refugees were driven into Gaza, and the West Bank of the Jordan River. Ironically, again, the number of “settlers” in the West Bank is now greater than the 700,000 granted diaspora in 1948. That corner of the Middle East.

Let me be clearer: Hamas has no army, no navy, no air force, no tanks, no attack helicopters, no fighter jets, no armored vehicles, no missiles, no bombs, no nothing but rocks and a few crude unguided rockets which land with a thud. From the bottom of my heart, shut the fuck up.

Presented this way, the conflict has become an energizing issue on the international left and the subject of fascination of many governments, including the Trump administration, which has been working on a “deal of the century” to solve it. The previous administration’s secretary of state, John Kerry, committed so much time to Israeli-Palestinian peace that for a while he seemed to be here each weekend. If only the perfect wording and map could be found, according to this thinking, if only both sides could be given the right dose of carrots and sticks, peace could ensue.

To someone here in Israel, all of this is harder and harder to understand. There isn’t an Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the way that many outsiders seem to think, and this perception gap is worth spelling out. It has nothing to do with being right-wing or left-wing in the American sense. To borrow a term from the world of photography, the problem is one of zoom. Simply put, outsiders are zoomed in, and people here in Israel are zoomed out. Understanding this will make events here easier to grasp.

International Left: A political leaning so distasteful in Israel that the Left is nearly extinct. Netanyahu, a perfect storm of a politician, remarks that his opponent Benny Gantz “leans to the left.”

Deal of the Century: Trump is a fellow White Supremacist, “subject of fascination of many governments…” Trump’s interests do not include any measurable intellectual curiosity. Trump is just another convenient tool — Obama was considerably too melanin-rich, but he delivered the 3.8 billion in funding to allow the largest per-capita military prowess to eke along, to scrape a respectable secure “defense” that now includes the ethnical-cleansing maiming marvel: butterfly bullets.

John Kerry: He knows what war is, he knows who Trump is, he successfully completed the difficult negotiations with Iran — a country without nuclear weapons. Israel gets to have it both ways: nuclear weapons? Yes, No, Maybe, Meh. “Hey, what’s happening over there?” No, it’s what’s happening here, we’re picking your plump wallet. 

Perfect Wording : Who is your new friend there? I hear he comes from a good Saud family (the only country in the world run by a single family.

… a political leaning so distasteful in Israel that the Left is nearly extinct.

I include myself among those who sense that a long, deep and deadly conflict has extended into the longest and most threatening conflict in at least the last several centuries. I was eight-months old in May 14, 1948, but have only been paying close attention to the conflict/non-conflict since the mid 1960s.

The population of Palestine/Israel has reached parity, there are as many Palestinians as Israelis within the same geography. Israel has managed to eliminate any remote semblance of a two-state solution with a divide and occupy strategy:

  • Maintaining an apartheid wall
  • “Withdrawing” from the Gaza Testing Range and Petri dish
  • “Settling” the West Bank
  • An 800 state solution (to paraphrase Mordechai Kedar)
  • Demolishing homes, occupying homes, uprooting ancient olive trees, terrorizing children of any age…
  • Tracking and imprisoning children over the age of 11.
  • Using overwhelmingly overwhelming force and security equipment possessing advanced technological capabilities, such as those butterfly bullets.

Fencing commuter highways along the length of both shoulders, thereby fracturing Palestinian populations into an 80-state solution

Recommended reading on the topic by someone who knows Palestine inside-out:

A Short History of Collective Punishment by Stanley Cohen

Nota Bene Too: The phrase “security for the Jews” has been consecrated as an exclusive synonym for “the lessons of the Holocaust.” It is what allows Israel to systematically discriminate against its Arab citizens. For 40 years, “security” has been justifying control of the West Bank and Gaza and of subjects who have been dispossessed of their rights living alongside Jewish residents, Israeli citizens laden with privileges. — Amira Hass

http://www.palestinechronicle.com/amira-hass-the-holocaust-as-political-asset/

As always, opposing viewpoints are welcome on this blog. Please try to limit your comments to 500 words.

Thanks for reading.


4 thoughts on “There Is No Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?”

  1. Matti Friedman is a bull-shit artist. Every American should visit the “Holy Land,” as the Bible thumpers in the neck of the woods where I grew up refer to it. They should drive across the West Bank and witness the disparity between the lives of the Palestinians trying to survive on their own land while the Israeli setters–invaders–have continued to take the most develop-able land along with the water resources during and after the Six-Day War of 1967–water resources which are key to life in that part of the world. They should visit one of the permanent Palestinian refugee camps while they’re in the West Bank and the world’s largest concentration camp–The Gaza Strip. [Imagine putting people in a cage without the necessities of life or freedom of movement and then being surprised when they rebel!] They should see the great wall that Israel built that has separated Palestinian families from each other as well as from their former lands and natural resources.

    It all has to be seen to be understood. Based on what I saw on the ground in Israel and Palestine, it’s seems clear the Israeli government will never be satisfied until all the Palestinians have become refugees living in other countries.

    The genocide of the Palestinians by the Israeli government is inhumane and cannot be condoned by any argument. It makes me sick to know that my government continues to support this genocide via direct military assistance and funding. There is nothing ‘holy’ happening in that land. Trump’s aid cuts are unconscionable!

    Most of all, I get incredibly pissed-off when I’m accused of being antisemitic because I support the rights of the Palestinian people above the evil done by the Israeli government. I have great admiration for the tenacity and intelligence of Jewish communities and their ability to survive thousands of years of discrimination and diaspora. However, the same humanity that was shown to Jews after the Holocaust should be extended to the Palestinians.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for the thorough comment, Henry. Firsthand accounts are far too rare and for all the wrong reasons, making shared memories all the more important. Friedman sells well, according to the reviews I am reading. It’s a variety of misinformation and entertainment that keeps The Big Lie alive, that whitewashes the wall that does not need more washing. “Out damned spot!” Bull shit refreshes. How many Holy Land tours have been completed in the last 71 years?
      https://billziegler1947.com/2016/03/01/palestine-68-years-of-misinformation-on-palestine/
      Last week, I attended a North America Nakba tour that included a Palestine woman who was 18 years old in 1948, she is now 89 and living in the same camp. I’m leaving details for later: a post about the accounts of those Palestinians living in the camp in Southern Lebanon. Actually, the entire time that *I’ve* been alive.
      “Based on what I saw on the ground in Israel and Palestine, it seems clear the Israeli government will never be satisfied until all the Palestinians have become refugees living in other countries.”
      It doesn’t seem to have changed since 1948 anyway.
      Election day for the Knesset is only a few days away. Benny Gantz, the general who headed Operation Protective Edge (2014) is running, and he is not the most rightwing candidate contending. Trump, of course, is wildly popular in Israel and will certainly be welcomed by *any* government sewn together.
      And I agree with you on antisemitism — an “are you now or have you ever been” sentiment.
      Thanks again, kind sir. I wish you a splendid weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like what Tom from New Jersey said in a comment to the article, “It is a mistake to think that you can wriggle out of the moral and practical conundrum which is the occupied territories and their inhabitants through an exercise in semantics.”

    I like your article too. Thanks for shining light where light needs shine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the kind words, Peter. Empires that cloak themselves in a feigned democracy justify enormous crimes behind their pomp, they write the histories with the single excuse that they are the victors (with a nod from their deity of course) Empires brutalize, rape, pillage and kill at will. When British forces departed Palestine, only one group of colonists brutalized, raped, pillaged and killed at will. The ones without the means to defend themselves were ethnically cleansed from the State — a hundred thousand at a time (a very short time actually). Their towns and villages were plundered and renamed from Arabic to Hebrew: a very empire-like thing to do. They learned something from their former masters: how to become the master, and how to keep things that way.
    The semantics they employ is also a word borrowed from the Hebrew word “to explain”: hasbara. It’s a disciplined form of propaganda that relies on constant repetition. Something called propaganda in English, it’s what ends up in history classes: lie with impunity, lie like hell, put on the patriotic blinders. Or maybe that’s just my opinion 🙂

    Like

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