Monday, March 24, 2008

Reverse Nakba

By Joseph El-Khoury

Hassan Nasrallah promised again that Israel will one day cease to exist (speech on 24/03/08) in line with his previous statements and the slightly less ambiguous ones of Iranian president Ahmadinajad. Israel is for many, including myself, an archaic aberration in a post modern world built around concepts of multiculturalism, integration, mass communication, open markets. This country artificially created in 1948 through a concerted effort of the Zionist movement and the British occupant required the cooperation of the rich Arab landowners on one hand and the indifference of the puppet Monarchies that littered the Arab horizon throughout the 1930s and 40s. It has all the hallmarks of an apartheid state in its ideological basis (a state for a religious group) and in its practical implementation (the wall of Separation, The occupation).It is no more democratic than Sparta was democratic in that it embeds in its constitution discrimination against one religious/ethnic group (non-Jews) over another. So the disappearance of such a state should in theory bring cheers from across the globe in a similar way to the wave of support that accompanied the end of apartheid in South Africa and the dismantling of the Afrikaans state apparatus.

As always the devil is in the details. My main problem remains that I have never heard Hassan Nasrallah or his partners describe their vision for this post-dismantling phase (however unlikely it is in practice). Are we going for the one multireligious multiethnic state solution (maybe at the image of the successful Lebanese model) or will it be the two states option with the possibility of a population exchange. Or simply are we going for the forced expulsion of the Jewish population back to their countries of origins and the resettling of the original Palestinian inhabitants. This would be a perfect surgical reversal of the Palestinian Nakba of 1948. Except that it wouldn’t be clean cut, might result in a blood bath and ignores the fact that Israel is now a fully formed society with generations having no connections to their European ancestry, while others will have to return to Arab countries (Is that really an option?). It also ignores the Israeli nuclear arsenal and naively makes projections on the guerrilla warfare successfully fought by the Islamic resistance in South Lebanon in the past 2 decades.

And because I have always supported the rights of the Palestinian people all and above all out of purely ethical and moral principles, the idea of correcting the injustice done to them by creating another one is not appealing. The fact that the west , blinded by racism and colonial arrogance chose to solve the Jewish problem by creating an Arab one, should not make us waver from our call for a fair and just peace for all, including those who have humiliated and dismissed us for decades.

So we need clarity Mr Nasrallah, concrete plans and a vision beyond stating the obvious. Our own 'internal front' cannot cope with uncertainity. The statistics you revealed today on the support among Lebanese for the destruction of the Zionist entity is another example of your excellent marketing techniques but make me none the wiser.

Picture taken from http://www.comiteactionpalestine/


Anonymous said...

"Are we going for the one multireligious multiethnic state solution (maybe at the image of the successful Lebanese model) or will it be the two states option with the possibility of a population exchange."

the lines in brackets... you are joking arent you? The Lebanese regime is a failure, mainly because they sepcify the religion that each postholder must be a member of. Their tunnel visioned plan for an equal division of religions has resulted in Sabra, Shatila, Tal Al-Zaater, Ein Al-Hilwi. Basically the oppression of people within their borders, and the further aggression against them. No I would not wish to see Palestine go that way.

The two state solution with the exchange of people has an obvious sticking point... Jerusalem, and another one, based on principle, of why should the victim hand over anything to the perpetrator? Exchange of people, was done between Greece and Turkey post WWI-- not exactly a recipe for success and has resulted in continued bad feeling between the 2 people.

The solution... maybe a South Africs style solution?cessation of all immigration of anyone who can prove that he/she is remotely jewish (i.e. the rule that if you are jewish you have a right to israeli citizenship is what i mean), and the implementation of the return of Palestinian refugees. Withdrawal of all citizenship from israelis who are recent immigrants... with clear ties to another country. Finally compensation in the form of a truth campaign, where the israelis admit to all their heinous crimes, and detail them. The Government would have to be Palestinian for a while with gradual moves towards proper democracy over an X year time frame.

Arab Democracy said...

Of course I was being sarcastic.

The Iraqi model is not very far from the Lebanese one and the disaster created by the Americans has yet to fully unfold.

Im glad u came up with counter arguments for my suggestions. This is the whole point. It is very complicated, very painful but not impossible. And we need to move away from the populist propaganda to a rational discourse of resistance. One that the Israeli side has to respond to concretely instead of pressing the antisemitic alarm button.

But who in the Arab world is listening?


Anonymous said...

The argument is addressed in a very nice way. It shows the complexity of the situation and the difficulty of reaching the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this article. I think one interesting aspect is that for the past 15 or so years two important concepts have disappeared from serious Arab discourse. First, the fact that israel is not the same thing as the jewish people. Second, that zionism in the middle east has not triumphed yet and that its victory is not a fact we all have to just accept. I am of the view that it is to the great credit of the Lebanese resistance (not just Hizbollah, but the whole history of it since 1982) that these issues are back on the table.
Of course different people understand different things by "the end of israel", and I suspect that the view of a single democratic multicultural nation is-sadly- in the minority on all sides. Nonetheless, the concept that israel- as a racist entity built upon the theft of another peoples' land and the systematic destruction of another peoples' identity- is unsustainable is absolutely key. It is key because it frames the problem outside the so-called Arab/israeli conflict and turns it into a fundamental question about democracy, justice and freedom. It is also key because it allows us to begin a serious debate about what the alternative is.

Anonymous said...

I initially wanted to comment in length on your article Joe as well as the comments provided by your respondents. I then quickly realized that the views expressed in this article and more importantly in the answers provided is an act of faith more so that facts and figures. The kind of beliefs Jews, Christians, and Muslims hold on divine intervention and prophets.

To refer to the State of Israel as an archaic aberration with no room for multiculturalism or as one of your readers claim “a concept built upon the theft of another people's land" is inaccurate and in itself an aberration.

Israel is far from being perfect, but if the message revolves around the idea of “who got here first”, then surely you realize that America should be turned back to the few thousands natives living on reservations throughout the United States. Latinos of Hispanic descents ought to move back to Portugal and Spain, Arabs should pack and move back to Oman, Yemen, and southern Saudi Arabia, Lebanon is really Phoenicia, and Iran is nothing but Persia. More importantly, you will find that Jews and Israel were there first.

Israel was not built in a day and Jewish migrants began reaching the shores of Palestine at the turn of the 20th century far before the holocaust or the declaration of Israel as an independent state. Israel is a much a nation as Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, and the Czech Republic are. Of course Syria doesn’t think Lebanon is a nation, Pakistan wants Cashmere back, Abu Sayaf wants to create an Islamic State in the Philippines, but this is about Israel.

Israel’s attempt to maintain its Jewish cache can be compared to Saudi Arabia’s attempt to maintain it’s Islamic image by not granting citizenship to any foreign national, and in particular those not sharing the Muslim faith or allowing their kids to obtain a college education when the time comes. One can also argue that Israel’s pro-Jewish policies are also comparable to France’s banning the head scarf or Holland’s imposing its liberal policies on new migrant. A report in the Washington Post claimed that Dutch immigration agents forced migrants from conservative and Muslim nations to watch a videotape of men kissing. The message was, we don’t think homosexuality is a sin and you should learn to live with it and more importantly accept it should you should to reside in Holland.

Israel’s current policies are unfair at BEST when the issue is the treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and also Arab populations within its own boundaries; unfortunately the majority of the arguments that come from the Arab world seem to focus on 1948 or 1967 at a time when many would argue everything is fair in love and war.

The Jewish population living in Israel originates from all four corners of the world. Israelis have adopted very progressive social agendas when it comes to economic reforms, education, healthcare, same-sex marriage, and adoption. Foreigners living in Israel and non-Jewish Israelis including Lebanese, Ethiopians, Sudanese, Christians and Druze, are not eager to leave.

Not a perfect country by any means that Israel, but show me Utopia in the Middle East or better yet in the world…well maybe Iceland, except that it’s too cold. My point is, we like what we like, but let's try to be fair and objective in our analysis.

It is unfortunate that Israel continue to be the prime good excuse for Arab governments and frankly any Arabs as well to justify their own failures. Palestinians are hurting, this has been a reality for more than 60 years, and it’s the Jews fault. Isn’t it time for the self-righteous Arab brothers to come to the rescue?

Marwan -

Arab Democracy said...

Marwan. u go into a lot of detail on the make-up of Israeli society at present and the level of tolerance within its midst.

I obviously rely on hear say on the issue having not been there. I happen to have read recently an article in Haaretz on the level of racism within Israel against Arab and recently against Eastern European migrants.
The fact that it is in some sections a liberal westernised society is irrelevant. So were the Afrikaans while Blacks living in Soweto were probably less liberal,homophobes and less prone to tolerance generally.

But you are right. All these phenomena are present in other less controversial countries.

But it is your premise to your comment that I reject. The legality of Israel as a Zionist entity for a religious group. The fact that what happened thousands (or even hundreds)of years in terms of invasions and counter invasions resulting in population displacements, death, destruction, rape and looting is merely a fact of history (All is fair in love and war) as you say. This is the equivalent of you saying that since slavery was acceptable 200 years ago why should it have been abolished.

The creation of Israel is an act of colonisation through the systematic, well organised and well funded process of removing an indigenous population and replacing it by another, at the time white European. Palestinians were not living in tents (and even if they were it shouldnt matter)and were part of a broad socio-political entity called the Ottoman Empire(exactly as the Lebanese were).

No one is blaming Israel for the incompetence of Arabs (and who told u I was a fan of Saudi Arabia). I made that clear a number of times. But to adhere to the Zionist (and US) version and deny that Israel has consistently attempted at destablizing the region and perverting the course of history is naive. And if you dont believe me I would like to refer you to the works of Avi Shlaim and Tom Segev. Both Israeli Historians who provide the most balanced account of that era.

Check the my books link at the right end of the Arabdemocracy screen.



Anonymous said...

Well Joseph - As always thank you for the time spent to responding to my comments. I hope you understand that my confort level in discussing issues with you is what encourages me to be as honest as I believe I can be.

I am clearly not making the case for Israel, but I do wonder if this article and the supporting comments are providing one side of an argument that has been dragging for years, much like Zionism.

But hey, to each their own, right.

The truth is really just a reflection of what you believe and have experienced thus far and if you can say it as you think it is, then even if you are not completely right, you're not that wrong. Most importantly you are at peace with yourself. And I suspect you are.

So again, thank you.

Marwan -