Pulse Media


EI : The pitfalls of Palestinian national consciousness

Electronic Intifada

A national liberation movement that started with such slogans as "the only way to liberation is through the barrel of the gun," and "liberation from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean," and "the right of return is sacrosanct," has moved into the post-colonial condition without achieving independence. The specter of the Oslo accords was everywhere at the conference, but no one wanted to refer to it. All those ex-fighters-turned-politicians would not have been granted an Israeli permit to enter Israeli-controlled territory had it not been for the Oslo accords.


What we saw in Bethlehem is the embodiment of Frantz Fanon's "pitfalls of national consciousness" -- albeit with a Palestinian gown. The irony, of course, is that Fanon was theorizing about the future post-colonial states after independence. He wrote of neo-colonial subjugation of the native elites. Black cars, fashionable suits, bodyguards, are some of the characteristics of the rising nouveaux riches of (occupied) Palestine. Fanon wrote scornfully that "[t]he national middle class which takes over power at the end of the colonial regime is an underdeveloped middle class. It has practically no economic power, and in any case it is in no way commensurate with the bourgeoisie of the mother country which it hopes to replace" (emphasis added).


The South African Connection

This article was published in Le Monde Diplomatique this month. This is a translation provided by Middle East Online. The original is seemingly only available to whoever is willing to buy the newspaper (me for example!).


As an activist who fought apartheid, and as a communist and a Jew, was sensitive to the Palestinian issue from early on. In February 2004, when he was a minister, he visited Yasser Arafat, surrounded by the Israeli army at his headquarters in the Muqata complex in Ramallah. “Arafat showed me the view from the window saying ‘this is nothing but a Bantustan!’ I replied: ‘No! No Bantustan has been bombed by warplanes, pulverised by tanks… the South African government pumped funds, constructed impressive administrative buildings and even allowed Bantustans airlines so as to make them recognised by the international community’.”


Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, who teaches at the University of Haifa, explained the paradox: “One can detest Jews and love Israelis, because Israelis somehow are not Jews. Israelis are colonial fighters and settlers, just like Afrikaners. They are tough and resilient. They know how to dominate. Jews are different. They are, among other qualities, gentle, non-physical, often passive, intellectual. So one can go on disliking Jews while admiring the Israelis.”

Cooperation began between two states that seemed to have nothing in common. Moshe Sharett, the Israeli foreign minister, made his first visit to South Africa in 1950. In November 1984, when the UN had decided on sanctions against the apartheid regime, South African foreign minister Roelof Frederik “Pik” Botha visited Israel. Yitzhak Rabin was then Israel’s prime minister. Le Monde wrote of the “close ties between the two countries” and noted that Israel was the only country in the world to have relations with the puppet Bantustans, some of which were even twinned with Israeli West Bank settlements.


Ronnie Kasrils believes that, beyond the obvious differences between the two systems -- Israel for example doesn’t need an indigenous workforce and has granted the vote to its Arab minority -- there are pronounced ideological similarities: “The early Dutch pioneers, the Afrikaners, had used Bible and gun as colonisers elsewhere. Like the biblical Israelites, they claimed to be ‘God’s chosen people’ with a mission to civilise.”



The propaganda offensive of the Israeli lobby in the USA


The TIP Report (PDF)

In the report, Luntz describes the "best settlement argument" as one that draws a parallel between the Arab communities in Israel and the Jewish settlers in the West Bank—and refers to the idea of evacuating Jews as racist. "The idea that anywhere that you have Palestinians there can't be any Jews, that some areas have to be Jew-free, is a racist idea," he suggests saying. "We don't say that we have to cleanse out Arabs from Israel. They are citizens of Israel. They enjoy equal rights. We cannot see why it is that peace requires that any Palestinian area would require a kind of ethnic cleansing to remove all Jews. We don't accept it. Cleansing by either side against either side is unacceptable."
Simple to respond to, I should say. However, I will let PM Salam Fayyad (Fatah) respond: To the very TIPish question by former CIA director James Woolsey :
"There are a million Arabs in Israel, accounting for one-sixth of the Israeli population (...) generally they enjoy the guarantees that Americans look for in the Bill of Rights. Now, if there is to be the rule of law in a Palestinian state, and if Jews want to live in someplace like Hebron, or anyplace else in a Palestinian state, for whatever reasons or historical attachments, why should they not be treated the same way Israeli Arabs are?"
the PM responded:
"I’m not going to disagree with you. And I’m not someone who will say that they would or should be treated differently than Israeli Arabs are treated in Israel. In fact the kind of state that we want to have, that we aspire to have, is one that would definitely espouse high values of tolerance, co-existence, mutual respect and deference to all cultures, religions. No discrimination whatsoever, on any basis whatsoever. Jews to the extent they choose to stay and live in the state of Palestine will enjoy those rights and certainly will not enjoy any less rights than Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the state of Israel."
My own response is, that assuming the Arabs in Israel do in fact enjoy equal rights (which is not exactly obvious), then let the TIP (Aipac?) tell Israel to withdraw all its troops and police, dismantle the wall and let those jews who wish to stay in an independent Palestinian state to do so. At the very least such jews as the Samaritans around Nablus and the orthodox rabbi in Gush Etzion, Menachem Froman will do so.

In fact, the Israeli lobby has just given the Palestinians the best weapon: to consistently and persistently invite the settlers in the occupied territories to stay and become citizens of the Palestinian state, and to do so in the media. It would be good if Fatah and Hamas leaders could do that without being prompted to do so. That would neutralise what appears to be the "best settlement argument" the zionists have.


The TIP website says:

The Israel Project (TIP) is an international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace. The Israel Project provides journalists, leaders and opinion-makers accurate information about Israel. The Israel Project is not related to any government or government agency.

It is nonetheless interesting to note, that according to reports, Israeli PM himself used the tired old Shoah blackmail argument, telling Frank-Walter Steinmeier, german foreign minister, that the occupied West Bank mustn't be 'judenrein' (Nazi expression meaning jew-less). The German, doing his job and upholding the egocentric german guilt trip, apparently merely nodded. Furthermore, it was reported, that Netanyahu instructed his collaborators to use such blackmail, which is what the TIP report is doing. Coincidence? Maybe.