“But The Jews Also Suffered An Injustice”

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Question: Have there been other examples in history where victims of gross injustice, like that perpetrated against Palestinians by colonizing European Jews, are asked to acknowledge and embrace the poisonous and false claims of their oppressors?

Of course, there have been. Those with the military or political power to oppress have historically imposed their “narratives” on their victims and written their history books accordingly. When liberation came, when the oppression was lifted, the colonial downtrodden and dispossessed were able to reclaim their geographic territory and their history. The oppressors were forced to reevaluate their racist/supremacist self-education.

I am not saying, by any means, “and they all lived happily ever after,” because they haven’t, as we observe in continuing struggles today, many years after liberation technically occurred, especially in settler-colonial countries. To use Angela Davis’ words, freedom is a constant struggle. But “progress,” albeit in fits and starts, is still evident in many, if not all (Kashmir!), of these causes.

The case of Palestine has many similarities with other settler-colonial cases. These are often pointed out in discussion. Our case, however, has been stubbornly resistant to “progress,” even in a century in which “progressive causes” are largely self-evident — except for Palestine.

The reason for the cognitive dissonance embedded in the expression “progressives except for Palestine” lies in the Jewish identity of those who orchestrated the implementation of Zionism on Palestinians. By that I mean Jewish history in Europe continues to pose a challenge to Palestinian liberation.

There was/is something about Palestinian liberation that plays havoc with the minds of Jews on the Left in the “diaspora,” not to mention in the minds and hearts of Israeli Jews. Now that Peter Beinart has opened the door for some revision — not of that history, but of the mindset that balances Palestinian human rights against Jewish interests and reluctantly (or in anguish) finds room for Palestinians in a “Jewish tent” — the key to acceptance of the Palestinian cause as a “progressive cause” appears to lie in the hands of Jews, especially young American Jews, who are growing up rejecting their parents’ beliefs that Jews worldwide are “a people” with a right to self-determination outside their countries of origin.

But it’s still “complicated.”

In pleading our cause, it appears, we have the burden of convincing our oppressors that they have nothing to fear and everything to gain by recognizing our humanity and by sorting out what many have described as their pathology. What’s more, we must, it seems, also be credentialed as their allies in the struggle to end antisemitism — an antisemitism we in Palestine have had nothing to do with, and in which they themselves are complicit!

Israel celebrates its so-called “independence,” as the US does; both are settler-colonial states; both perpetrated genocide/ethnic cleansing and displaced native inhabitants — a criminal project that’s ongoing in Israel. But when people say about “the Middle East” that “it’s complicated,” they are referring to the Israeli phenomenon of successfully selling the status of colonizing Zionist Jews as indigenous. Therein lies the “complication.”

What it is, really, is a hoax. Deception has always been Israel’s first option for the attainment of its Zionist goals. And through deception, Israel has turned the internationally recognized Palestinian right of return into a “redemption fantasy of return across the Green Line,” and the Biblical fantasy of Jewish redemption, i.e., “God redeeming the people of Israel from their exiles,” into a reality.

If reconciliation in conflict means restoring the right relationship between adversaries, our biggest challenge as Palestinians is to persuade all those otherwise rational Jews and non-Jews who understand, on the one hand, that the creation of Israel in Palestine in 1948 was a terrible injustice to the Palestinians, and on the other, fully accept the legitimacy of Israel, that they are wrong.

When you ask such people for an explanation, the answer invariably begins with: “But the Jews also suffered an injustice.” This is exactly what Israeli historian Avi Shlaim says.

To that I say, give us Palestinians a break!

*(Top image: West Bank graffiti by Banksy. Credit: Dan Meyers/ Unsplash)

*This article was originally published on the Medium.

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