The Israel-Palestine Parallax

Take a piece of paper. Draw an apple on one side and an orange on the other. Now notice something: Unless you’re James Bond with high-tech shit, there’s no way in hell you can see both the apple and the orange side by side.

No connection or mediation or bridge is possible i.e. you see either the apple or the orange.

Isn’t this like our biggest modern-day political debacle — Israel and Palestine? Virtually no common ground can be found. You’re either pro-Palestine or you’re (gasp!) a brutal genocide-approving Zionist. Know why ISIS doesn’t attack Israel? Because ISIS is a Jewish creation! Mystery solved!

Alternatively, you’re either pro-Israel or you’re a vile supporter of Islamic terrorism who doesn’t mind if Hamas uses human shields. Oh, you support the Palestinian cause? You must be a Holocaust-denier who hates Jews!

It’s a God-forsaken mess which no amount of money, bullets or headlines is going to change anytime soon. Worse, as Malaysians, we don’t have much skin in the game when it comes to Israel-Palestine. That makes our pronouncements entirely Shabu-Shabu thin. Our politicians even occasionally label their enemies ‘pro-Israel’ as a point-scoring tactic, but when it comes to actually helping the people of Gaza (or whatever) how much of their own money is donated? Isn’t it more honorable to shut the heck up?

What follows is an attempt to render this parallax even clearer, in the hope that — by putting the best of the two perspectives together (i.e. by putting the apple and orange side by side) — a kind of epistemic humility can be nurtured. And I’m guessing that’s not too bad a thing.

View #1 — The Zionists Are Systematically Massacring the Palestinians

“They had bombed and burned, killed and maimed, plundered and looted. Now they have come to claim the land.” (Susan Albuhawa)

“In any war between oppressor and oppressed, support the oppressed.” (Anonymous)

Israel is absolutely and exclusively responsible for the on-going crisis.

Israel is a racist apartheid regime which murders innocent women and children so they can continue stealing land in the name of their Zionist religion. Israel established their state in 1948 by ethnically cleansing out the Palestines (a tragedy known as Al-Nakba, now a forbidden celebration in Gaza) and have expanded their territory through violence and deceit ever since. Their ‘self-defense’ baloney this time around (as always) is nothing but an excuse to kill Palestinians and make their military serve as a makeshift demolition crew in Gaza. Besides, surely the right to self-defense cannot justify the murder of innocent women and children and the wiping out of practically all of Gaza’s infrastructure.

It is Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine since 1967 (during a war which they initiated) which is the root cause of the conflict and bloodshed. That and the on-going blockade of Gaza (since 2007), not to mention the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people, make even the very thought that Israel is the ‘good guy’ here a cruel joke. Much of Palestine now is, in fact, an open-air prison with people living in poverty and fear. That Israeli settlements continue to be (illegally) built only adds mocking insult to much injury.

Groups like Hamas, whilst using questionable tactics in battle, are nevertheless the products of the decades-long Israeli Occupation. What they are doing may not be entirely right, but we must understand that many of them were raised as refugees, and they are fighting for the freedom of their people against a vicious Occupier. In fact, there’s a good case that Israel lied about Hamas involvement in the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers, in order to justify yet another unwarranted incursion into Gaza, yet another bloody war to further strip the Palestinians of their humanity.

The point is, even granted some extremity in Hamas, Israel is without doubt the more powerful oppressor and thus have NO RIGHT to talk as if they are victims or are under threat. To talk about ‘balance’ and ‘neutrality’ is promote Zionist propaganda and side with this oppressor which perpetrates genocide. Furthermore, Israel has violated or ignored countless international laws, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and other United Nations resolutions, so Israel can hardly complain if Hamas’ tactics are ‘illegal’.

Israel must leave the occupied territories — immediately. Once Israel pulls out of Palestine completely, chances are peace will come to Gaza and the West Bank. The Arab-Israeli conflict is unambiguously the fault of a selfish Zionist state that has no compassion for the people they are occupying.

Best Point: Focuses on the power dynamic, employs the Oppressed-Oppressor model to emphasize how Israel’s superior military strength is definitive of the situation and that therefore no comparison exists between Israel and Hamas when it comes to working for peace.

Weakest Point: Downplays (or even justifies) Arab hatred of Israel and is somewhat presumptious of the consequences for peace after Israel fully withdraws.

View #2 — The Arab Terrorists Will Not Rest Until Israel Is Annihilated

“Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us” (Golda Meir)

“I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel…within secure borders” (Nelson Mandela)

Hamas — and similar Islamic terrorist groups — is symptomatic of the deep and on-going Arab hatred of the Jews and is the main reason why there is conflict in the Middle East.

The Arabs did not accept the UN’s (entirely reasonable) 1947 Partition Plan for a Palestine and Jewish state co-existing side by side; they have repeatedly tried to destroy Israel since then and the public declarations to obliterate the Jewsih state persist to this day (e.g. Iran). The crucial 1967 Six-Day War which resulted in Israel taking over the occupied territories was started by the Arabs in an attempt to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. The Arabs lost that war but have by no means stopped their terrorist strategies against Israel.

In the light of history (from 1948 and even to this day), therefore, to brand Israel a ‘racist’ regime is the worst kind of hypocrisy ever: Almost like Umno accusing DAP of cronyism.

Bear in mind that Israel is only one lost war away from being annihilated as a nation. Granted some (minor) progress towards peace, to conclude that Israel has absolutely nothing more to fear from their Arab neighbors represents either naïve or wishful thinking.

This is (at least partially) why Israel remains reluctant to give up the occupied land. In the light of decades of Arab attacks, they are simply not convinced the Palestinians want peace; and with Hamas firing missiles at Israeli civilians, this conclusion will all but reinforce itself. Furthermore, the Palestinians have been offered statehood three times (1937, 1947 and 2001) but have rejected them all and each time responded with violence. Has the world forgotten the 2002 suicide bombings in Jerusalem?

It is likewise self-delusion to believe that peace in Palestine would reign if only Israel would stop the Occupation — as if the Arabs required an Israeli presence to become violent (e.g. see the recent and on-going civil wars between Fatah and Hamas, in Syria, in Iraq, etc.). Hezbollah, for example, has also vowed to continue its attacks on Israel were the Occupation to end.

Note, too, that Hamas — the group the Palestinians ELECTED to govern their most populated areas in the West Bank — spent international aid money to build attack-tunnels, and encouraged its people to become human shields. And yet the world vilifies Israel?

As for Israel being an apartheid state, c’mon, which Arab state offers equal rights for Jews?

Peace in (and withdrawal from) the Disputed Territories will only come when the Palestinians make a genuine and sustained effort at removing anti-Semitism and violence from among their own people. Israel may eventually give back all the land to the Palestinians, but not as a reward for violence.

Best Point: Emphasizes the socio-historical roots of the conflict and the Arab propensity towards hatred/violence against Jews.

Weakest Point: Understates the suffering of innocent Palestinians and neglects Israel’s primary responsibility as peace-broker, given their Occupier status.

Edu-trainer, Žižek studies, amateur theologian, columnist.

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