FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Palestine is Different

by SAM BAHOUR

Secretary of State John Kerry is making an all-out effort to restart peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Many well-intentioned, highly intelligent people from around the world have engaged in some way, shape, or form in the Palestinian-Israeli issue and many of these people have had hands-on experience in resolving other longstanding, global issues, like those of Ireland, South Africa, and U.S. civil rights. While there is always a great deal to learn from other global experiences, the case of Palestine is different and unless Secretary Kerry recognizes this, all the efforts and millions of dollars being thrown at this conflict will be in vain, as will the latest U.S. negotiations blitz.

Three issues related to this conflict that are crucial to understand are: historic guilt, colonial responsibility, and the U.S. “special relationship” with Israel.

Today’s global powers bear a tremendous amount of historic guilt, not only, as is popularly believed, for the anti-Semitism their ancestors practiced against Jews. This was very real throughout the 19th and 20th centuries – and earlier – and it was rampant in mainly white, Christian European places like Germany, Poland, France, Austria, and, yes, even in the U.S.

But these countries should also understand their historic responsibility for making the Palestinians pay for European and American crimes. Their guilt vis-à-vis Jews has hobbled their objectivity and skewed their capacity to see the acts of Israel for what they have been, and continue to be: crimes against humanity.

Long before the Holocaust, the political ideology of Zionism charted a path towards ethnically cleansing Palestine from its native Muslim and Christian Palestinian population, aiming to create what was dubbed a “Jewish State.” This colossal, historic injustice of dispossessing Palestinians is no longer a point of contention: even Israeli historians have meticulously documented this fact.

Furthermore, many of those same global powers, led by the U.S., were born out of a colonial history that displaced indigenous populations. As such, these powers see the Israeli enterprise as very similar to their own and find it difficult to hold Israel accountable for fear that this will then boomerang on them.

Thus, instead of seeing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for what it really is – ongoing colonialism – these powers prefer to frame the conflict as one in which the parties have equally valid, competing narratives that require a partition of the land. And meanwhile, as they remain transfixed on this outdated partition paradigm, they can offer no explanation as to why their respective governments allowed the reality on the ground to gradually render this solution unfeasible.

Ever since the New York Times headline of May 14, 1948 – “ZIONISTS PROCLAIM NEW STATE OF ISRAEL” – the U.S. has taken sides in this conflict, arming, funding, diplomatically covering for, and politically and militarily planning with Israel in its determination (always camouflaged in euphemisms) to ethnically cleanse Palestine.

Israel worked hard to cast the U.S. support in cement. Israeli leaders understood very well the inherent weaknesses of an open political system and wasted no time in creating a pro-Israel lobby that transformed what is supposed to be a foreign affairs issue into a U.S. domestic issue. Israel’s domestication of the U.S. political scene – courtesy of American proxies – is alive and well today; just ask newly appointed Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

U.S. president Barack Obama epitomizes this reality. During his recent trip to Israel, he visited the Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum) to declare that Israel’s future existence and security as a “strong Jewish state” would ensure that there will never be another holocaust.

What did he mean? Was the idea to imply that if Israel, as a “Jewish state,” ceased to exist (like other states with a racially-based raison d’etre, such as the U.S. prior to the Civil War or South Africa during its Apartheid era), then Jews in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, would be slaughtered?!

Adding insult to injury, Obama then did a huge favor to Israel’s right wing by going outside official protocol to lay a wreath on the tomb of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the political ideology of Zionism.

Through his actions, intentionally or otherwise, Obama gave credence to the ‘right’ of a Jewish state in Palestine, while ignoring the indigenous people of Palestine – including Christians, Muslims and even some Jews – upon whose ruins the Israeli state was built. Palestinians are still struggling for survival in the face of an ethnic cleansing campaign that began more than 65 years ago and is still going on.

Indeed, Palestine is different, really different. A more basic and more relevant issue than artificial partition is still waiting to be seriously addressed: Is Israel to be a state of all its citizens—Jewish and non-Jewish—or not? The answer to this question goes to the heart of Zionism’s racially-based enterprise and opens the way to a historic reconciliation and a homecoming of Palestinian refugees to what is today called Israel.

Sam Bahour is a policy advisor of Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network.

Note: First published on Mondoweiss at: http://bit.ly/why-palestine-different

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant in Ramallah and serves as a policy adviser to Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio and blogs at ePalestine.com.

More articles by:
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and My Late Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy after All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail