Wednesday, December 14, 2005


what's wrong with the Israeli narrative?

Those who have been reading this blog for a while know that my big emphasis is on the way people tell their stories. Nations do the same thing. All of them have a foundational narrative, a narrative of their principles and a narrative of their history.

Usually, these narratives are corroborated by fact. For instance, in 1776 a Declaration of Independence was drawn up in the British colonies across the Atlantic Ocean, and a new State was formed. This is both a foundational story, and a corroborated fact, because there is a document explaining this act of declaring freedom from colonialism. All the events before and after this have affected that data. If you you read an account of it in a book written today in the US and one written 220 years ago in England, the narratives will be different. The point of view of a unique event is coloured by how that event affects who portrays it.

There is a narrative that we have come to learn only in the past 20 or so years of the Palestinians. Before then, it was hard for Westerners to know much of anything about them. And, God forbid you were raised in a Jewish Community, where not only did you not learn a thing about the Palestinian people, but you were also taught that they don't exist! Imagine how hard it is to get the Palestinian narrative around that obstacle. I think that the Intifada started to bring a bit of the West to look at Palestinians. How could it be, so many must have wondered, that children are taking to the streets? Going against tanks? What is happening? Why are tanks going where there are children? People started to raise an eyebrow and for the first time, some had realised that things weren't as we have been forced to believe. That Israelis are staying in their land and Palestinians go after them to kill them..

I don't want to go into how Palestinians are perceived by the West, as interesting as that is, and I will go into it soon. What interests me now is the idea that the Israeli narrative can be considered in some way acceptable to promulgate as equal to the Palestinian one.

Let's take a look. What are the core arguments of the Israeli narrative?

*Jews are God's Chosen People. This is written in the Bible. The Bible is itself a narrative.
*God has promised to Abraham, that his descendents will reign over Israel.
*for some reason, Abraham's first son is not considered legitimate by God himself, so, excluded from this promise are the descendents of Ishmael.
*Jews need their own State, and this State must be in Palestine.
*they need this State because Gentiles are affected by permanent anti-Semitism.
*this State allows all Jews to come no matter if they are converts, (so Judaism is a religion), atheists whose ancestors were Jewish (so Jewishness doesn't have to be a religion, but it can be considered an ethnic group or race), and they may live even in Palestinian occupied territory, because the entirety of Palestine is considered to have been promised to Jews, and Jews alone.
*there was no Palestinian people, just Syrian nomads.
*there has never been a Palestinian State, nor Palestinian culture.
*Palestinians were not ethnically cleansed, as their leaders told them to leave;
*therefore, there was no Nakba.
*the Arabs in Israel present a fifth column and endanger Israel.
*Palestinians represent a demographic threat to Israel and for this no Right of Return can be contemplated.
*Palestinians seek the destruction of the Israeli people.
*the immigrants who came to Palestine turned it from a barren desert to a thriving garden.
*if Palestinians govern themselves, they will become an Islamic State.
*if Palestine is an Islamic State, other religions are in danger, because Islam is intolerant.
*Israelis only ever wanted peace and every offer they ever made for it has been refused, because Palestinians only want all or nothing. Israel has given more than it can give, and no more is possible.

Well, you get the idea... this is the Israeli narrative. Is that compatible with the Palestinian one? Can the two walk hand in hand? I believe not only is it impossible, but it is absolutely wrong to do so. Since they are at the antipodes, one necessarily cancels out the other.

I suggest everyone to read an extraordinarily passionate and magnificent piece by our wonderful Shaden at Sugar Cubes.

Let me hear your comments.


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