Now is the time. Every time is the time.
I saw a youtube presentation by Ilan Pappe yesterday to a Palestinian solidarity conference in Germany. (Yes, that Germany).
Pappe described the Israeli/Palestinian relationship in terms of colonialism and racism, the two common terms used both by the Islamic political sensitivity and the radical left. At the risk of being accused of a neo-conservative, I consider that alignment of reasoning and approach to be a critical philosophical oddity.
Ilan Pappe, nor Ali Abunimeh, are Islamicists, jihadists. They identify as on the radical left. Still, the logic is similar, and solidarity periodically articulates components of the same logic as jihadists. Examples occur following terror incidents, this week for example.
Two civilian buses were attacked with machine gun fire and RPG’s. A suicide bomber attacked a military base. Noone claimed credit, and noone really knows who is responsible. The PRC and Hamas stated their sympathy and support for the terror actions, though denied participation. In “response”, Israel bombed the head of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza. In “response”, Hamas and other factions resumed rocket fire on Israeli civilian towns (100+ rockets in three days).
The left did not condemn the bombings and definitively did not condemn the rocket fire on civilian towns, but did condemn Israel’s initial attack and then response to rocket shelling. The did express sympathy with frustration of Palestinians (as if Palestinians and not an external jihadist group conducted the initial attacks.)
The three components of the philosophical allignment that I consider critical are
1. The political orientation of the position, ie talking about collective political rights rather than universal individual rights
2. The orientation towards absence of injustice as the measure of what is justice, even if proposed or implied remedy requires a subsequent injustice to implement. I call it a silhouette or constellational approach. A silhouette is an image that appears over time in shadow, impossible to determine substantively as outlines of what one supports is never defined, only what one opposes.
3. The partisan decision, rather than the decision to implement principles. “Which side are you on?” A partisan decision declares that “my side is right” with the primary question of “who was criminal?” rather than “what were criminal acts?”. No consideration of whether one’s own actions violate professed principles is undertaken. Although ends justifying the means is condemned, it is exactly what is applied in solidarity. “By any means necessary” is admired.
I found one theme of Pappe’s to be grossly upsetting, that is that he regards the litmus test of regarding “Zionism is racism” as the primary determinant of whether a person and then their comments, is to be considered or rejected prejudicially.
The concept of coalition towards a goal with liberal Zionists, say an objective of two healthy sovereign self-governing states, is anathema if not predicated on the political religious credo of “Zionism is racism”. (The inclusion of the concept “Zionism is racism” is anathema to liberal Zionists. I for example will attend a demonstration supporting Palestinian individual and national aspirations, but will leave immediately if the theme “Zionism is racism” is articulated.)
“Have you been saved? Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord?”
“Well, I feel connected to every living being on the planet, love my neighbor as myself and and love the Creator with my heart and soul”.
“But, you haven’t been saved. You will go to hell.”
Many dissenters to Israel see great harms to Palestinians, particularly Gazans, and desire to make change. They see Israel as more powerful. They see Israel using excessive force, prescriptively prohibiting movement, installing wall/fence, and at a line that Palestinians regard as including Palestinian land.
I agree that all this is occurring, and that the harms caused are wrong, and mostly avoidable.
But, in looking further, “why did this happen?”, “how did this happen?”, too many that I encounter conclude that the root of the problem is Zionism itself, that from day one Zionism was constructed to expropriate. And, in that sense they buy the line that Zionism is a colonial movement, and that it is based on a racial superiority.
They do not apply skepticism to that philosophical assumption. They do not consider if original Zionism was primarily an exploration into how to survive, a liberation in fact. They do not consider if the long-term relationship is a conflict, a war. In thinking about the nakba (explusion and prohibition from return), they do not consider that ethnic cleansing of Jews from the region was attempted, and accomplished to a much more complete state in the West Bank than of Arabs in Israel. They do not consider that sniping, bombings, shelling of civilian towns have continued since 1948, with only moderate periods of abatement.
In applying skepticism, to my mind, the root of the problem turns not to be Zionism (that includes forms that are liberation, “enough” Israel, and forms that are accurately expropriative beyond need), but on formation of political ideology and primarily partisanship itself. There is then an unwitting conspiracy of political ideologs, a “consented” nuclear dance between the mutually violent ideologies and application. (Hamas and factions in fact dancing WITH likud, to keep peace and mutual acceptance at a distance.)
The ONLY potential for change that I see is through the process of mutual humanization. The resumption of verbally aggressive hostility on the part of solidarity, hinders the movement for Palestinian sovereignty, and end of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. People that perceive the potential of respect, can compromise. People that perceive that following compromise, there is only more war, won’t.
It goes both ways. Palestinians are human beings. They are not ultimately “enemy”, “foreign”, “target”. They are human beings. Eventually, Israelis and Palestinians will co-exist, either as neighboring states with trade, culturally connections, family connections; or in some federation.
Similarly, for Israelis, Zionist Israelis. They are human beings.
When a rocket is fired, it is fired at human beings, neighbors. When a rant is shouted, it is shouted at human beings, neighbors. When a bomb is dropped on an apartment, it is dropped on human beings.
For mutual humanization to be effective, it must be determined, assertive, self-motivated, indefatigable. It must honor the lives of those that preceeded current residents, and honor the lives of current residents, in both Israel, Palestine and diasporas. Literally honor.
And, it must get expressed as “I” honor, and collectively “WE” honor and tangibly.
If the primary question is whether one supports mutual humanization in contrast to mutual antipathy, then the question of “which side are you on?” is the wrong question.
And, it is possible that there is no possibility that enemies will think of each other as human beings ever. I don’t believe it.