Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jewish Blood and the Palestinian Narrative

I want to thank an anonymous poster, perhaps a Daily Kos person, for putting forth an excellent example of what we call, 'round these parts, "the Palestinian Narrative." It's pretty fascinating, actually, because it has implications not only for Jews and Palestinians, but for anyone interested in history.

When we talk about the "Palestinian narrative" we mean any discussion of I-P which is framed as a manichean struggle between Good and Evil, in which the Israelis are Evil and the Palestinians are Good.

That's the essence of the narrative.  Israeli, if not Jewish, detestation is almost always the tone.

It's a classic morality play of the Righteous overcoming the Insidious... the Weak overcoming the Strong... the Red Sox overcoming the Yankees... the proletariat overcoming the bourgeoisie... the Palestinians overcoming the Israels.

The Good Guys overcoming Bad Guys.

And the Left thus roots for the Good Guys.  The good Palestinians in opposition to the insidious Zionists.

And my people, the Jews, are (ta-da!) the Bad Guys in this fictional-religious narrative that gets repeated again and again and again.

The notion of narrative, in the sense that we are discussing it, derives from academic post-structuralism. It comes from people like Foucault and Derrida and, naturally, Edward Said, who view knowledge as not having inherent structure, but as a function of power politics. For the field of history, this means that there is no such thing as historical truth, merely political narratives in competition with one another. 

All history, in this way of thinking, is reduced to a political power struggle and truth becomes irrelevant, because it is seen as impossible.

Thus there are no historical truths, only plot lines... only competing narratives... only stories that we tell one another in a rhetorical competition.

{But it still results in real blood.}

Ilan Pappé, one of the central figures within anti-Zionist / anti-Israel historiography, wrote The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

A central work within anti-Zionism.

The problem is that Pappé simply does not care about the truth.

He writes:

Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truthseekers. 

Truth is bullshit, in other words. It's power and politics that count according to people like Pappé and people like Edward Said.

So, in a recent post I asked the following question:

Why is it OK for Muslims to live in Israel, but not OK for Jews to live in a future Palestinian state?

Seems like a pretty straight-forward question to me.

Anonymous, in an amazingly self-righteous way, says this:


Because most of the settlements are built on stolen land acquired through military conflict, in contravention of international law.


It's very easy mr. Karmadipshit. Those settlers are not from the West Bank. They really aren't. They are from Europe. Nobody cares that 2000 years ago they think they may have been there.


"Muslims" in Israel live there because they are Palestinians indigenous to the land. Not just any Muslims live in Israel, Palestinian Muslims and Christians do, because unlike most Jewish israelis, they can actually trace their families being on the land for centuries.


Get it yet?


November 30, 2010 6:31 PM


The reason that I like this comment is that it is a pristine example of "the narrative." It has virtually no truth to it whatsoever, yet I am certain that the writer believes every word.

Let's take it piece by piece.

the settlements are built on stolen land acquired through military conflict

It is true that the West Bank was acquired when Jordan attacked Israel in June of 1967. Is it really necessary for me to link? This is not disputed history. This is fact. Israel begged Jordan not to get into the fight, but they did, anyway.

They attacked the tiny Jewish nation because they were afraid that Egypt would gobble it right up.

{Look it up.}

But they got beat and the Jews took back the West Bank, what religious Jews call Judea and Samaria, as well as the heart of Jerusalem... after 2,000 years.  This can hardly be considered theft unless you believe that Israel's neighbors should be allowed to attack that country at will without fear of reprisal.

in contravention of international law.

Took the land in contravention of international law. Really? What law? UN 242? That was precisely what the Arab League gave its famous 3 Noes to.

No negotiation.

No recognition.

No peace.

And:

Those settlers are not from the West Bank. They really aren't. They are from Europe.

So, anonymous is implying that European Jews are not real Jews and therefore do not belong in Israel. Is that it? Aside from the fact that recent genetic studies have demonstrated that, yes, Ashkenazi Jews are, well, Jews, I am simply dumbfounded that "liberals" feel so free to tell Jews where they may or may not live.  Furthermore, anonymous's comment ignores the fact that many, many Israeli Jews are not European Ashkenazi Jews, but native Middle Easterners.

unlike most Jewish israelis, they can actually trace their families being on the land for centuries.

This is just sad.

There has been a continuous Jewish presence in Israel for... what?... 3,500 years?

We only represent .02 percent of the world population, about 13 million people.

We are a tiny minority and yet this westerner, who knows virtually nothing of our history, wants to deny the Jewish people self-determination and self-defense in our historic homeland.

I honestly believe that this kind of sentiment reflects terribly on the progressive-left.

{We will fight back, dontcha know.}

Jews may be small, but we're wiry!

And we've also been around for a very long time.

3 comments:

  1. Great post, karma. As I have said before, narratives are simply stories. So is propaganda.

    Anonymous should buy a coupla bags of Cheetos, kick back and watch Avatar a few dozen times to chill out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think you've really addressed Anonymous's claims here, and you're approaching this the wrong way.

    Anonymous said:

    "Those settlers are not from the West Bank. They really aren't. They are from Europe."

    Then you said:

    "So, anonymous is implying that European Jews are not real Jews and therefore do not belong in Israel. Is that it?"

    I think the implication is straightforward and not what you said. Anonymous is pointing out that many of the "settlers" were not born in Israel, or Judea or Samaria, but elsewhere. That is factually true, as far as I know. This is an unavoidable consequence of a project that seeks to undo, at least in part, a millenia-old diaspora. I think you're better off simply defending the project on its obvious merits (Jewish self-determination and self-defense) than pretending the facts are other than they are.

    Anonymous said:

    "unlike most Jewish israelis, they can actually trace their families being on the land for centuries."

    Then you said:

    "This is just sad.

    There has been a continuous Jewish presence in Israel for... what?... 3,500 years?"

    But that had nothing to do with Anonymous's claim. S/he is talking about individuals, while you are talking about a collective group. Again, the best case for the Zionist project is self-determination and self-defense, not pretending that someone living in Brooklyn or Lithuania can draw a direct line through his family tree back to Israel.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Derp,

    Why is it pertinent where any Jew was born?

    The point is that Jews from either Brooklyn or Lithuania, or wherever, are still Jews and are thus connected to the larger Jewish collective as well as to the land of Israel.

    Clearly.

    ReplyDelete