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.