This sharp analysis comes from Dr Alan Johnson, a professor of democratic theory and practice, an editorial board member of Dissent magazine, Senior Research Fellow at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) and a Senior Research Associate at The Foreign Policy Centre. It appeared as an op-ed in the June 21, 2014 edition of the The Telegraph.
It’s time to stop infantilising the Palestinians
The jubilant reaction of many Palestinians to the kidnapping of three Israeli teenage boys has been met in the West with a bit of a shrug. The official daily PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida has published cartoons mocking the three students and celebrating their capture. The Fatah Facebook page featured a cartoon of three rats dangling from a line. Sweets have been handed out on the streets (a traditional gesture of joy and celebration). Many children have been photographed by their parents, holding up three fingers and smiling. An internet campaign gathers pace and “popular support for the abduction has continued to proliferate on Palestinian social media” according to the journalist Elhanan Miller. Hamas, of course, is exultant. Yes, Abu Mazen has condemned the kidnap and there have been some brave Palestinian voices raised in defence of the three youngsters, but their voices are isolated; Palestinians calling for the return of the three students have been threatened.
And yet, despite all this whooping and cheering about the trauma and possible death of Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, the Palestinians will likely pay a very small price in the international community or global public opinion. Why?
In part, because an anti-Zionist mindset that has taken root in the West, and at its heart is unexamined assumption – that Israelis and Palestinians are different kinds of people. Israelis have agency, responsibility and choice, Palestinians do not. In short, the world treats the Palestinians as children – ‘the pathology of paternalism’ it has been called.
The unarticulated assumption of anti-Zionism is that Palestinians are a driven people, dominated by circumstances and moved by emotions; qualities associated with the world of nature. Israelis are the opposite; masters of all circumstances, rational and calculating; qualities associated with the world of culture.
This dichotomous thinking has three bad consequences.
First, by granting only one side to the conflict agency and responsibility, the dichotomy distorts key events of the conflict (e.g. the war of 1948, the collapse of the Camp David peace talks in 2000, Gaza after the 2005 disengagement). The Palestinians are cast as passive victims; a compelled people (Haaretz writer Yitkhak Laor claims the second intifada was “instigated” by … Israeli policy); a duped people (activist Tikva Honig-Parnass writes of “Barak’s pre-planned collapse of the Camp David talks in October 2000”); and a people beyond the reach of judgement.
Academic Jacqueline Rose [who made an astonishingly sneering comment about our murdered daughter Malki in a published essay some years ago/Frimet and Arnold Roth] views Palestinian suicide bombers as “people driven to extremes” and argues that Israel has “the responsibility for [the] dilemma” of the suicide bomber.
Second, the dichotomous understanding of Palestinians and Israelis distorts our understanding of Israel’s security. The threats Israel faces are discounted and the security measures taken by Israel reframed as motiveless and cruel acts. For example, the writer Shlomo Sand argues that Israel falsely “portray[s] itself as a persecuted innocent” and he claims that this portrayal, not real threats, has given Israeli society “a well of deep-seated collective anxieties.” Ilan Pappe, an Israeli academic now teaching in the UK, claims that “Zionists” are “[c]ompelling a nation to be constantly at arms” by stimulating “continual angst” through the abuse of Holocaust memory. He dismisses “useful fabrications about Israelis suffering under intense rocketing” as a “fantasy of apologists.”
For the anti-Zionists, then, Israel’s concern with security is either a pathology (an unconscious psychological condition Israelis cannot break out of) or – this a contradiction, note – a case of manipulation (a conscious political ploy).
The third consequence of this dichotomous thinking about the nature of the two peoples is the infantalisation of the Palestinians: they remain perpetually below the age of responsibility; the source of their behaviour always external to themselves, always located in Israel’s actions.
For example, when the Israeli novelist and Left-wing Zionist Amos Oz complained that incitement by Palestinian intellectuals is one reason so many Palestinians are “suffocated and poisoned by blind hate,” Yitzhak Laor responded by accusing Oz of “incitement” against the Palestinians. Oz’s temerity in seeking to hold the Palestinians to account condemned him in Laor’s eyes.
The academic Jacqueline Rose has argued that Palestinian suicide bomber is a person compelled, before admonishing Israel a few lines later for failing to take note of Freud’s warning that “the forcefulness with which a group builds and defends and defends its identity was the central question of modern times.” (That’s just something for the cultured Israelis to worry about, it seems.)
Of course, Israel has to compromise and divide the land, making possible a Palestinian state. But if the Palestinians are treated as children, never held accountable for cultivating a culture of hate, then they will never make their own excruciating compromises for peace. And without those compromises – in a Middle East departing further from the norms of human behaviour by the day – Israel will not take risks for peace.
Nor should it.
Visit This Ongoing War. / Frimet and Arnold Roth
Prime Minister Netanyahu met with members of Israeli Flying Aid and Council of Youth Movements in Israel who have joined together to help assist Syrian refugees.
In their meeting, he said:
"There is a line that separates light from darkness and this line is found - in the clearest possible manner - on the Golan Heights. One hundred meters from the border is a field hospital with IDF doctors and nurses in which Jews and non-Jews care for those who have been wounded and injured. Small children, some of them amputees, who have been injured come with their parents, some of whom have also been injured, and receive treatment in Israel.
They all say the same ting, 'We do not understand. We were always told that you are devils and here we see that you are human beings. You are helping us. You, our greatest enemies, are giving us the assistance that we would expect from our own people.' This is the true humanity of the State of Israel, of Isareli youth, and the citizens of Israel, and this is the truth. Everything else is propaganda. This is the truth in the great struggle between civilization and barbarism."
Incredible Story of Hadassah Hospital Nurseswww.breakingisraelnews.comThis must-see video tells the incredible story of four nurses, each from different countries and backgrounds, who found their way and purpose in helping others through work at Hadassah ...
Jordan has prevented the UN Security Council from condemning the kidnapping of 3 Israeli teens by Arab terrorists.
Hana Levi Julian has published "Jordan Blocks UN Security Council Condemnation of Terrorist Kidnapping" on JewishPress.com.
Abu Mazen may pay lip service to “peace,” but new Fatah video shows true face of Palestinian revolutionary group.
Meir Halevi Siegel has published " Fatah TV Warns Israelis: "All you'll get from us is death"" on JewishPress.com.
This is a gorgeously written, compelling story of family, loyalty, love and pain set against the baffling and tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Casper's eloquence is addicting; her novel should be read by anyone who appreciates great literature and sensitive, insightful story-telling." - Nan Hoffman
"Dr. Casper has written a unique, epic work, spanning many generations and world events. She has somehow managed to compress historical and political issues that could span volumes into one very readable novel. Dr. Casper's approach to her narrative is daring and engaging. She writes from the perspectives of three very different women, as well as from the personification of Israel herself. Somehow, these narratives coalesce into a most readable whole that is thought-provoking and memorable. Her language is poetic, descriptive and evocative of time and place. Dr. Casper offers no easy answers or solutions, but the basis for intelligent, informed dialogue. Her love for Israel and its peoples is apparent. So is her feeling of sadness at the distance and hostility between nations whose histories and destinies are destined to be linked. At its core, this is a book about both family alienation and the transformative power of love." - Paula Van Gelder
Between the Symphony and the Jungle
When the rabbis of the Talmudic period wanted to introduce an idea that was so painful, so edgy, so problematic that they were actually hesitant to write what they meant to say, they would occasionally write an introduction like this to the seemingly blasphemous idea they wanted to share: "This is a difficult thing to say, and it is impossible to say it explicitly." And then they would go on to say, often by way of analogy, whatever it was that they had intended in the first place.
There's a similar tentative whisper making its way across this week's pain-gripped Israel, often preceded, as if with that line from the Midrash, by something like, "I know I shouldn't be saying this, but it's true, you know... " And what then follows is the hushed suggestion that had Gil-Ad Shaer, Naphtali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach not been hitchhiking in an undeniably dangerous place, they would never have been kidnapped, Israel would not be in such acute pain, and the country would not be facing (at least as of this writing) the specter of more (very ill-advised) prisoner trades.
That's technically true, but utterly irrelevant. So too is the claim that "everyone does it," though they do. Drive past the areas where these kids were apparently nabbed, and you almost always see teenagers and young adults asking for a ride. Sometimes there are a handful, and at times dozens. But the trempiyadot, those spots where the kids thumb their way back home, are rarely empty. Hitchhiking is a way of life.
And why is that? In part, it's because even if there were more buses and vans (which few people demand, because hitching is so easy), we're an impatient folk and our kids have been raised to be no less impatient. We want to travel precisely when we want to travel, not when the next bus is scheduled.
But it's also that hitchhiking is a rite of passage here; it's the way in which those young kids spread their wings and learn that even though their families are not going to buy them cars, this tiny country is their oyster, and they can get anywhere they want - because of the goodness and decency of those with whom they share the roads.
Goodness and decency. Really? Well, yes. On its deepest level, the hitchhiking is actually a desperate attempt to preserve a sense of normalcy, a gesture designed to convince ourselves that we don't live in the jungle.
We let our children wander through parts of the country laced with danger not because we don't care about them, but because we do. We let them roam because the awareness that we're raising them in a place where there will always be people set on killing them is too painful to bear.
So we pretend. We pretend it's safe; we pretend we live in a Hebrew-speaking, felafel-eating version of an American suburb. We pretend we're confident that they'll get home. "Be safe," we say, as if it's not absurd, as if there's anything they can do once they get into a strange car in the dark of night.
This horrific week is a reminder that the pretense is both necessary - but also exceedingly dangerous. Living here requires that we play by two sets of rules. In our homes, our workplaces and even our government, we allow ourselves to imagine that we live in Connecticut. We go to school and to work, we pray or we don't, we shop, we go to the movies where the guard barely even touches the outsides of women's purses. We vote in a functioning democracy, we have world-class hospitals and colleges. We have bookstores and cafes. We imagine this is Greenwich.
But it's not. We live not in Connecticut, but in the jungle. This region is, though we don't wish to admit it, much more akin to the Sudan than it is to Greenwich, and no matter how hard we pretend, it always will be. The cause of the searing pain that has Israel in its grasp this week is not only the lives of three innocent boys, but the crack in our pretense. This was the week when the Sudan trumped Greenwich, in which the evil that surrounds us became, once again, undeniable.
Yes, the Palestinian life is hard. Yes, we have a role in that. Yes, things might be better if they could have a sovereignty entity of some sort. But what about any of that justifies stealing three innocent boys? "So hit them hard and teach them that abductions will never pay," some people wrote, and many others felt.
"But what good will it do, and what sorts of people will we then become?" others asked.
That's "Greenwich meets the Sudan," the collision between our two realities.
Few Zionists have been able to make both Connecticut and the Sudan inalienable dimensions of their inner being. We are, too often, divided between those descended from European intellectual liberals, who have no stomach for the brutal fight that staying here will always require, and those who live comfortably with the jungle and the brutality it invariably invokes.
Metaphorically, we are divided between those who want to read Homer and listen to Mozart, and those who wear the guns, are untroubled by the arrests and even comfortably abide the probable torture. We are divided between those who say "If we have to behave like that, I don't want to be here," and those who retort "Then leave, because either we acknowledge that we live in the jungle, or we won't survive."
Yet especially during a week like this, let's not forget: It's possible, though certainly not easy, to be both. Ze'ev Jabotinsky was an example. So, too, was Menachem Begin. Jabotinsky, a genuine European intellectual and liberal, also advocated an "Iron Wall" to show the Arabs that Zionists would fight them as hard and for as long as it took. As a parliamentarian and later as prime minister, Begin was passionately devoted to the rule of law, but he also ordered the hanging of two British sergeants to stop the hanging of Jews (and it worked). The complex legacies of Jabotinsky and Begin have never been more critical.
Eventually, our kids will hitchhike once again. Not because it will be safe, but because Zionism is, at least on one level, about the quest for normalcy.
Part of us wants this to be a country like any other. So we will eventually pretend again. But this place is not normal, and there will invariably be more horrible weeks like this one. How often they happen, both Jabotinsky and Begin would have said, will depend on whether the Jewish people has the stomach for the jungle as much as it does for the symphony hall, and whether it can sustain the stomach for the jungle's brutality for the long haul.
Is that a brutal and depressing reality in which to live? Without question. But the alternative is infinitely worse.
The original Jerusalem Post column can be read here:
Comments and reactions can be posted here:
Authors Den wants to know about their authors, and their authors' work. Here is my reply.
I have a couple of short short stories posted on Authors Den, but what I am particularly eager to promote is my novel, Israela, published by Tate Publishing in 2011. As I write this to you, the Middle East is crashing into chaos. Feuding, murderous, fundamentalist strongholds are carving out their territories, becoming entrenched throughout what we call the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia to the extent that they are changing the map as we know it---and all are against Israel.
What is the reality of Israel--both ancient and modern? What is the country and its complex social structure like? My aim in my novel, Israela, is to take readers behind and beyond the black/white media reporting of this cantankerous region, to the lives and loves of two peoples who are living a biblical curse, and to a family fighting for the "good life," while desperate to find the right path, and increasingly fragmented by war.
Instead of allowing the terrorists of Fatah and Hamas free rein in various parts of Judea and Samaria, let’s finally put an end to the experiment that was the Palestinian Authority and dismantle it.
For over two decades, ever since the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel has had to endure one atrocity after another at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. Enough already! We were told that patience was in order, even as our ostensible peace partners sent young men strapped with explosive vests to blow up buses in rush hour and dispatched masked militants to fire rockets at Israeli towns and cities.
Just a few more concessions, it was said, and the Palestinians would forgo violence, finally stop likening Israel to the Nazis and cease calling for attacks in their official media.
Well, I don’t know about you, but my patience ran out a long time ago.
The kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers by Palestinian terrorists last week is a wake-up call to Israeli society.
This bestial act is a painful reminder of a simple yet incontrovertible truth: our struggle with the Palestinians is not a battle over borders, it is a clash of civilizations. It is a contest between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood. It will not be solved by signing a piece of paper, holding a joint press conference, or even sharing a couple of beers.
So instead of continuing to pretend otherwise, let’s put an end to this tragedy once and for all. It is time to topple the Palestinian Authority and reassert full Israeli military control over all of Judea and Samaria.
The Palestinians have proven that they do not want peace, are not interested in it and prefer to keep the flames of hatred alive. Just look at how news of the kidnapping was received in the areas currently under its rule.
Throughout the territories, Palestinian men, women and children were photographed handing out sweets to celebrate that three young Israelis had been snatched. There were no voices of condemnation or criticism, no Palestinian marches or protests against such a vile act, and no calls from the Palestinian leadership to refrain from harming innocent Israeli children. It says a lot about Palestinian society that their reaction to the kidnappings was one of delight rather than disgust.
How much longer must we tolerate such barbarism? For the sake of our future, we cannot and must not allow a hostile terrorist entity to continue to take root and grow in Judea and Samaria. If the Fatah-Hamas unity government that now rules in Ramallah is allowed to endure, it will pose a direct threat to the heart of the country.
The very existence of the Palestinian Authority provides terrorists with a safe haven and a launching pad, a place where they can plot, train and perpetrate with virtual impunity.
Complete Israeli military control is simply the surest way to ensure that the Palestinian terrorist threat is contained.
Will there be a price to pay diplomatically? Absolutely. And will it be difficult to implement? For sure.
But if one has to choose between a bad solution and a worse one, then the choice to be made is obvious.
Don’t let the prattle in the media about other matters divert your attention from this, which is the underlying core issue. Indeed, on Sunday morning, one of Israel’s leading radio news shows devoted a large portion of its program to discussing the danger to Jews of hitchhiking in Judea and Samaria. Activists and experts spoke authoritatively about the need to improve public transportation, asserting that increasing its frequency and availability would prevent similar abductions from taking place in the future.
That may be true, but it misses the point entirely.
Let’s get one thing straight: the kidnapping of three Israeli teens is not a transportation problem, it is a terrorism problem.
And the only way to solve it is to tackle the terrorist threat.
Doing so means denying the terrorists the territory from which they continue to attack us. This has been a critical element in the US war on terror, and it should be part of ours as well.
In June 2011, the White House released its “National Strategy for Counterterrorism,” one of the “overarching goals” of which was to “eliminate safe havens.” Noting that terror organizations such as al-Qaida and others “rely on the physical sanctuary of ungoverned or poorly governed territories, where the absence of state control permits terrorists to travel, train, and engage in plotting,” the document stresses that it is important “to constrict the space available to terrorist networks.” And that is precisely what Israel needs to do now.
Instead of allowing the terrorists of Fatah and Hamas free rein in various parts of Judea and Samaria, let’s finally put an end to the experiment that was the Palestinian Authority and dismantle it.
Rather than appeasing the terrorists, it is time to oppose them. Reasserting full Israeli control over the territories may sound like a frightening prospect to some. But at this point, there is no other choice.
Read more at http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/16688/time-topple-palestinian-authority/#y2RaJ0YD81TLcphf.99
Author Batya Casper.