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Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy
 
 
 
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There is a tendency to compare the Palestinian case with that of countries whose colonized people succeeded to liberate themselves. However, the mere fact that, contrary to all other colonies, Palestine is still not liberated, indicates that those comparisons are shallow since they do not take into consideration what makes the Palestinian case unique, when it is obviously unique for having remained so long without being resolved.

Fifty seven years have past since the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians at the hands of Israel. And though the world public opinion has many times been expressed by the united nations in favor of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees, no progress has been made in this respect. In addition, in the last 38 years, the Palestinians have lived under an Israeli colonial rule which has imposed on the West Bank and Gaza a regime of persecution, humiliations and deprivations.

Why is it that, at the time at which overt colonialism has disappeared everywhere else, Israel succeeds in maintaining on the West Bank and Gaza a colonial regime? What is then the characteristic of the Israeli colonization of Palestine?

One could say that it is characterized by the expansion of one population into the limitrophe territory of the other in disregard of human rights. But this is not so new. This is what the North American pioneers were doing in appropriating the Native American territories of the West, killing and expelling Native Americans in the process.

Had this been the essential characteristic of the process, we Palestinians would be doomed. The Israeli are overwhelmingly more powerful than we are, and the tragi-comedy of Sharon and his likes, speaking non-stop of peace while increasing non-stop the number and the size of the Jewish settlements, would end up with a mini pseudo Palestinian state totally controlled by Israel.

But there are important differences between the Native Americans' case and that of the Palestinians'. and it is these differences which make the Palestinian case so unique, and point to the unique adequate solution.

How did imperialist countries get the support of their peoples?

The populations in the imperialist countries were deeply religious. Actions had to be justified by moral considerations. Even the Spanish Inquisition had to be justified by the pretended need to protect the purity of the Christian faith and doctrines. In many colonies, the missionaries were the precursors of the imperialist armies. At first, the armies were ostentatiously sent not to colonize a country but to protect the missionaries. Then the missionaries "revealed" how primitive was the population, how much it needed to be governed by the white man. This constituted what was called "the white man's burden".

Obviously, the population in the imperialist country was maintained in total ignorance of the reality. All what the population was allowed to know was that

East is East and West is West. The Twine shall never meet. The worst in the West is Better than the Best in the East

The felt necessity to keep the two peoples, colonizer and colonized, separated is obvious in this quote from Rudyard Kipling: "the twine shall never meet". The separation between the colonizer people and the colonized people was easy to maintain when the two countries were at such great distances from each other. The difference of language, that of culture made the colonized people alien to the colonizer people.

The Indians in North America did not have cities. To the Western pioneers, they appeared as uncivilized nomads not making good use of the land. The western pioneers were carrying their civilization and the word of God. They had no hesitation as to their moral superiority. The difference of language and of traditions helped maintaining a distance between the pioneers and the Indians.

In contrast, maintaining the distance between the Israeli people and the Palestinian people was extremely difficult. Still, It was vital for Zionism to create, maintain and increase the distance between the two peoples

The Palestinian population is not nomadic. People can cite more names of thriving Palestinian cities established centuries ago, then names of Israeli cities. Palestinians have worked the land for centuries, they had the tolerance of adopting into their religion Jesus and all the Jewish prophets. Many Palestinians are Christians, and some are Jews. As to their civilization, it predates the European civilization by many centuries. Besides the European civilization has been inspired and triggered by the Arab civilization.

Finally, there is a strong similarity between the Arab and Hebrew languages, be it in their vocabularies or their syntaxes. This is an indication of strong ethnic closeness. The two languages, Arabic and Hebrew are much closer than any two roman languages are. The closeness between the two people is reinforced by the closeness of their aims. Both peoples are in need of long-term peace, long-term security and prosperity. Still, most Israelis and Palestinians are not aware of it. It would be enough that:

    1) the two people be in contact in peaceful relations of equality

    2) for a relatively short period of time,

    3) for them to discover how similar they are, how easily they could live together, peacefully and brotherly.

This was not in line with the Zionist objectives. That is the reason why, more than in any other colonization case, it was essential for the Zionists to create a distance between the Palestinian and the Israeli people, maintain and increase it,. This had to be done with the prospective Israeli immigrants, even before they land in Israel. They were told that Palestine was a "land without people made for a people without land". There was no need to worry about the Palestinians: they were not a people. Their land was not cared for, was unproductive. Israel would transform it into a land of "milk and honey". For the Zionists, this was just a good start. However, the physical distance between Arabs and Jews was small. There were opportunities for Jews and Arabs to meet, to learn more about each other, to discover how close they ethnically are.

In fact wherever Israelis and Palestinians were neighbors, like in Haifa and Jerusalem, for instance, strong relations of friendship developed between Arab and Jewish families. To implement their program, the Zionists had to build physical and mental barriers between the two peoples.

The Zionists prevented the formation of single trade-unions for Arab and Jews. It was important to keep the two people physically apart. It was important to prevent them from sensing the existence of common interests, and common enemies. Cities for Jews only, were created. It was important to prevent the two populations from mixing.

As to the mental distance, it was created by jailing the Israeli population within a mental wall built on demonizing the arabs, and on instilling in the Jews the fear of the Palestinians. The media had to play its role in brainwashing the Israeli population into believing that the Palestinians were the "historic enemies" of the Jews. Much was made by the expansionists of the PLO charter (even after it was amended, even after it was canceled). Mistakes on the Palestinian side facilitated to the expansionists the erection of that wall around the Israelis. Besides, the Palestinians themselves erected a second mental wall jailing the Palestinian population in its confines. This mental jail consists in demonizing the Jews and in refusing to notice important differences between the various kinds of self-considered Zionists.

The odds against the Palestinians are enormous. It is of no help to ignore them. We have to face them. We have also to face a special factor: the European history of anti-Semitism.

anti-Semitism (against Jews not against semites) was widespread in Europe. It was indeed so till the end of the war in 1945. Faced with the horrendous fact of the holocaust against the Jews, the Europeans have a strong feeling of guilt for having been themselves quite anti-Semite. Israel capitalizes on that guilt feeling which causes the world opinion to "understand" the desire of Jews to preserve "the Jewish character" of the Israeli state. There is in the world a special tolerance for Israel which protects it from coercive punitive measures.

Also, the world appreciates the ethnical democracy existing in Israel. However ethnical it is, it is real for the Jewish population. No arab country exhibits such a democracy, not even on an ethnical basis.

We have to make a choice.

This is the time to make a choice. We may go on negotiating peace with the expansionists, hoping to be supported by the US (quite an unreasonable hope). We may resume the policy advocated by some Palestinians consisting in making the occupation more and more costly to the Israelis (this policy is doomed because the Israeli have the power to make that policy more and more costly to the Palestinian people. Those policies have failed for decades. They are bound to go on failing. They serve the Zionist strategy by increasing the distance between the two peoples).

Or we recognize the uniqueness of our case. What is unique in our case is the essential role that "increased distance" played in the colonizers' strategy. The uniqueness of the case impose the uniqueness of the solution. So many elements of the situation makes it possible to us, with a proper strategy, to decrease the distance to the point at which the Israeli people will topple its expansionist establishment. This will not bring back the Palestinian refugees. It will only allow for the Israeli evacuation of the territories, and the dismantling of the settlements, and the creation of a Palestinian state along the Israeli state. No force is necessary to evacuate the settlers. It will be enough to allocate them the same quota of water and electricity per person, as is the case with the Palestinian population. And it will do it.

After a few years of peaceful co-existence, and if the Palestinian will follow the strategy suggested in stumbling blocks, then all the problems can be reviewed in a much more friendly atmosphere.

To get out of our jail, the one we created, needs knowledge, courage and wisdom. As to the wall jailing the Israelis, we must recognize that though it is jailing the Israelis, it is aimed at hurting the Palestinians. We can either hit our heads on that wall, get hurt much more than we damage the wall, or try to find cracks in the wall

We have to look at the wall and try to find differences of structures differences of consistence. There we can find a flaw, a crack. There we can hit with some chance of success.

A visible crack occured when the news of the massacres of Sabra and Chatillah reached Tel-Aviv. Then, more than 300,000 Jews went to the streets to protest against Sharon. This was very dangerous for the expansionists. They had to find ways repair the crack and increase the distance between the two peoples. It was not easy, the peace movement was gaining in influence. Israel had to make some gesture, and we had Oslo.

Whatever can be said of Oslo, we have to notice that it was accompanied by a new wave of optimism among the two populations. Even as late as the year 2000, poles among the Israelis gave 3% of their voices to Sharon and expressed support for the evacuation of the territories by the Israelis, and the dismantling of the Jewish settlements. It was clear that the objectives of the Israeli people and those of the expansionists were different. The Israeli people wants security and were not interested in expansion

In the view of the expansionists, the distance between the two sides was becoming too dangerously close. It is then that Sharon had recourse to "Al Aqsa provocation". It triggered a second intefada more violent than the first. The Israelis, to the delight of the expansionists, got afraid. The wall jailing the Israelis, which had appeared to have some weaknesses was reinforced. The Israelis voted for Sharon as Prime Minister.

The persecution of the Palestinians increased sharply under Sharon. Some Jewish soldiers refused to implement such policies and declared they would refuse to serve in the occupied territories. They were called "Refuseniks"

Many of the refuseniks consider themselves Zionists. They state that Zionism does not admit the persecution of another people. Zionists such as the refuseniks constitute a weakness in the strength of the Israeli wall.

Still a Palestinian posting in "Free Palestine" described the refuseniks as cowards who want to quit the Israeli army, so afraid they are of the Palestinian resistance. In fact those Palestinians were helping Sharon to repair the mental wall jailing the Israelis. Instead of starting dismantling the wall where a brick is loose, they tried to cement the loose brick strongly into the wall

We must be able to notice every small or great difference in the shades of the Zionists. Some of them, in the name of what they think they know about Zionism, are against the racial policies of Israel. It would be the culmination of political ignorance to neglect the different shades in the Israeli spectrum of opinions.

The Israelis are more interested in security then in expansion. The Sharonite are more interested in expansion. Here too is a potential for a crack in the wall.

Would it not be great were it possible to replace Sharon with, say, Ouri Abneri? Had this the least chance of occurring and I can see a number of Palestinians and friends hurling insults at Ouri Abneri and reminding us that he is a Zionist and, consequently, not much different from Sharon. And that is a curse imposed on us by those Palestinians among us, and so many of our friends whose sense of political smell has so much been obliterated, whose sense of color has been reduced to black and white, whose logic is contained in "yes or no" without any "but", any "maybe". They fail to notice that if instead of one Ouri Abneri, we had hundreds of thousands like him the Sharonites would be out of power and the evacuation of the occupied territories would soon become a fact.

The strategic importance of reducing the distance between the two peoples

In "stumbling blocks" a strategy has been developed showing compellingly how it is possible to reduce the distance between the two peoples. It would lead to the toppling of the Sharonites and their replacement by real peace partners. This does not mean that the Israeli people would then be ready to accept the return of the refugees. And since we do not have the power to impose on the Israelis a solution they are opposed to, we have to look at the possibility to obtain the Israeli agreement to the return of the Palestinian refugees.

The end of the occupation, the creation in Palestinian of a democracy much more tolerant and progressive than the US', a democracy which would shine like a beacon of light to enlighten all the world, would play a major role to enforce democracy in Israel. It would create an atmosphere of trust which added to the experience of friendly co-existence between the two states, would make it possible to solve problems without the restraint of fear.

In short, we must oppose to the expansionists strategy of "distance increase" a Palestinian strategy of "decreased distance"

Stumbling Blocks demonstrate that it is possible. Contact me (cleibovi@shawbiz.ca)

 
 
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