On Wednesday The New York Times published an OpEd by Mustafa Barghouthi, a member of the Palestinian Parliament and “secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative.” The article is entitled “Peaceful Protest Can Free Palestine.”
Peace is always a good start to resolving disputes. Here is what else would help to “free” Palestine.
The Arab and Muslim world, including Palestinians, can stop hating Jews. It can stop teaching the hatred of Jews – not only Israelis, but Jews – in its schools. It can stop preaching the hatred of Jews in its mosques. It can work to disinfect itself of what it has permitted to become a culturally defining characteristic: genocidally expressed anti-Semitism.
The Arab and Muslim worlds can also freely acknowledge and accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
These changes from decades, and longer, of hatred and rejectionism could open the way to compromise and resolution. What nation faced with the unyielding hatred of surrounding enemies – hatred expressed toward the inherent nature of that nation’s people – and those enemies’ refusal to acknowledge unreservedly that nation’s right to exist would perform any differently?
What would also help is to cease lying about history and inculcating those lies in the young and sympathetically supportive. So, yes, peace would help. What have Palestinians ever gained from the rejection of that too? But protest against what? Against the anti-Semitism? Against the rejectionism? Shall we count the number of times Palestinians have had the opportunity of their own state and rejected it? Against the historical lies? For aside from the admirable commitment to peace, Barghouthi’s article is a sham, and the Times’ publication of it a disgrace. The “paper of record” which still claims to be the publisher of “all the news that’s fit to print” apparently finds any blatant historical lie fit to print. It will not, to its own historic shame, call torture torture, and it demonstrates again – with, in fact, no ideological consistency – that it will exercise no intellectual and professional judgment in distinguishing propagandistic misrepresentation from honest difference.
Of course, the very title of the article is a lie. There never was a national Palestine that enjoyed a condition of “freedom” – independence? – which was subsequently lost and to which it might return, thus rendering it freed. Immediately before the now forty-five year period that Israel has sometimes and sometimes not “occupied” all or parts of the West Bank, for instance, the West Bank was entirely occupied by Jordan, which afforded its residents far less freedom, independence, and self-government (none) than do the Israelis. Should not the Palestinians have complete independence and self-government? They should. Is it too much to ask that the condition of independence be negotiated in historical honesty? So far, yes.
The article proper begins inauspiciously.
Over the past 64 years, Palestinians have tried armed struggle; we have tried negotiations; and we have tried peace conferences. Yet all we have seen is more Israeli settlements, more loss of lives and resources, and the emergence of a horrifying system of segregation.
The article begins embedded with lies. Sixty four years ago, the Arab population of the Palestine mandate (they were not yet regularly referred to as Palestinians) rejected a state of their own. Their armed struggle in 1948 was not for freedom – which they would have immediately had from the British Mandate had they accepted their own state – but to prevent for Jews an independent state of their own. The Palestinians have, indeed, tried negotiations and conferences, which on those occasions and others offered them that independent state of their own. They have never accepted it because it always involved giving Jews more than the Palestinians want them to have – which for significant numbers of Palestinians is anything at all. Israeli Jews originally accepted for their independent state only about two thirds of the state that emerged after the 1948 armistice. They wanted a state.
The settlements on land the Palestinians consider theirs to have for a future state – now just on the West Bank, Israel having abandoned its equally ill-advised settlements in Gaza – did not begin until after the 1967 War. Barghouthi’s opening two sentences rather unclearly suggest that the settlements have been going on for 64 years. This is all an extraordinary amount of misinformation for 44 words.
Of course, there is the further currently popular whitewashing of suicide bombing advocate Khader Adnan.
And there is the typical, misleading comparison of Israel-Palestine to Britain-Northern Ireland, which misdirection aims at characterizing the ancient and unbroken Jewish presence in their homeland as that of foreign invader and conqueror. On that point, Barghouthi contradictorily claims,
Our movement is not intended to delegitimize Israel, as the Israeli government claims. It is, instead, a movement to delegitimize the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which we believe is the last surviving apartheid system in the world. It is a movement that could free Palestinians from nearly 45 years of occupation and Israelis from being part of the last colonial-settler system of our time.
I will not even bother with the apartheid claim. But as mistaken as the Israeli settlements on the West Bank are, Jews lived on the West Bank before the 1948 war. Jews on the West Bank are no more “colonial-settlers” than an Arab returning to Israel would be a colonial-settler. But that last sentence reveals the full scope of the ideologically opportunistic propaganda of Barghouthi’s presentation. The “last colonial-settler system of our time”? Would that be virtually every nation in the Western Hemisphere, as well as Australia, where truly non-indigenous, conquering cultures still rule over subjugated indigenous populations? Adherents of the ideology Barghouthi mimics would gladly pronounce that truth, but the pretense that the historical situations are equivalent only spotlights further the dishonesty of this advocate of peaceful protest.
Peace is nice, peace is good. Palestinians need it. Israelis need it. The region needs it. Can it set the Palestinians “free”? It is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition.
I hear tell the truth can set you free. It’s been said.
Maybe Barghouthi should try that too.
- NYT shills again for the Palestinian cause (iamiranaware.wordpress.com)
- A Coaseian Peace Settlement for Israel/Palestine (volokh.com)
- Israel’s talks position ‘same as Annapolis’ (thejc.com)
- “Israel Firster”: Anatomy of a Smear (sadredearth.com)
- Framing Israel (sadredearth.com)
- Citizen Wald: Islamism, the Betrayal of the Left, and Prospects for Real Coalition-Building and Peace-Work (sadredearth.com)