I’ve been reading, watching, writing about Israeli – Palestinian conflict for years now. Trying to understand it all, well – to understand as much as I can. There are many observations I had so far. Although I prefer focusing on TODAY, there is an important and needed time travel to understand today’s situation better. Beacuse past is what’s feeding people, feeding hearts and minds, it grows and grows, it’s a fuel or to use a Waltz with Bashir moment – memory takes us where we need to go.
For decades now, we get the same answer (couple of them actually, but this one is worth reconsidering) when it comes to Israeli side of the story. That answer is – there was never a Palestinian state (there was only Mandatory Palestine from 1920s, under the British rule) before we arrived, there were only Arab people living in the region called Palestine. Therefore, crying and screaming over a country Palestinians have lost is nothing but a mere lie. Making that a lie, all the attempts and efforts for a future Palestinian country are also made a lie somehow. Because – if the basis of your act is not true, if the foundations of your act are nothing but a bad construction – you cannot build on it, there’s no legitimacy.
Now, let’s revise that argument.
Historians have been disputing for a long time about the history of Palestinian people and Palestinian identity. It is not a simple question, and it is closely tied with the issues of Arab world and Islam in general. By saying that I primarily mean the nature of interpretations given by Western historians, who are usually utterly non-objective and deeply soaked into “Western” values and therefore – it seems really hard for them to admit that there were progressive, important, creative ideas and works coming from the Estern side of the world. Also, there’s often this view that cultures and “civilizations” are fixed, non moving, never possible to change – things. Palestinians usually claim that their history as a “singular people” reaches back to ancient times and Israelies deny egzistence of any such entity before it was created by Zionist successes. The truth is, as it often happens, somewhere in the middle. Kimmerling and Midgdal in their (very much worth reading) book The Palestinian People: A History, show that “self-identified Palestinian people’ evolved in the last two centuries, as a result of European economic and political pressures and of Jewish settlement, later on. In that period, strong Palestinian identity developed, and through art, fiction, poetry, political tacts – Palestinian people, primarily intellectuals tried to show the distinction between Palestinians and other Arab people, and especially – the distinction between Palestinians and Brits and Jews, later on.” In the beginning of 20th century those efforts were intensified, due to the feeling of danger and possible serious threats to Palestinian homeland. Maybe before there was no need for a state, because there was never such danger as it has appeared at that time. However, there were people living there, people who considered that place their home. The United Nations estimated that more than 700,000 of those were expelled or fled during the conflict with what would become Israel.
Now, let’s talk about that creation called Israel. Palestinians have no right to ask for their independence, because there was never a state called Palestine before the Jewish arrival?
There was never a Jewish state before that moment as well. Why did Jewish people, coming from all sides of the world to territories they’ve never lived in, have the right to build a state there?
And now we come to what somone might call the fun part – the names Land of Israel and Children of Israel have historically been used to refer to the biblical Kingdom of Israel and the entire Jewish nation respectively. It’s all in the Bible, why didn’t you tell me so? The right to move to another part of the world and oppress for decades people who lived there before you arrived. What’s even more fun is when some famous (mainly Jewish) scientists and atheists say there’s nothing wrong with this. Only thing more fun is when somebody says they’re atheists generally, with one exception – Judaism. It’s like – I am Jewish, and that is superb, religion generally is horrible, look at the motherfucking Islamists blowing themselves up in the air, look at silly little Christians raping little boys after the mass! But look at us, we just moved entire population of people to have ourselves a country, and now we’ve spent 75 years oppressing them, shalom, shalom! Notice something wrong there?
Of course, it is necessary to mention – I don’t hate Jews. Otherwise somebody will just put me in the ‘anti-Semitism drawer’ and nothing of what I say will be important ’cause hey – we all just hate Jews, and we just can’t wait to make them suffer again. Give me a break! Holocaust is a horrible part of human history and only an idiot could deny that. Jewish people really needed a place to go to after all of the horrible events thougout Europe. Let’s say – they needed to move away from it all, somewhere safe. But coming to a place whose people did absolutely nothing wrong to Jewish people, who did none of those horrible crimes and destroy their lives systematically – there is no excuse for that. And if we want to talk about holocaust as a thing that led to everything – we must remind ourselves that the First Zionist Congress was held in August of 1897 in Basel. On the second day of its deliberations (August 30), the version of Basel Declaration submitted to the Congress, stated: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law.” So there were plans for Jewish state on Palestinian territories way before holocaust took place. (I’ll write more about that soon).
And it’s not only that what hurts – it’s the ongoing misrepresenation of the conflict and Palestinians as humans through decades of war (there will be much more writing about that too). All of that by those and descendants of those who felt on their skin how it is to be small, lost, denied and hurt deeply. Let’s not forget – it is a war. And an asymmetric one. All the “offers” so far have ignored most of the realities presented in this text, and that is why they never lived outside the sheets of paper and conference halls.