OUTSIDE THE TENT

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Occupation Channel: Opinion Views: 3326
3326

'AS SOON AS certain topics are raised, "George Orwell once wrote," the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: Prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse." Such a combination of vagueness and sheer incompetence in language, Orwell warned, leads to political conformity.

No issue better illustrates Orwell's point than coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the United States. 

Consider, for example, the editorial in The Times on Feb. 9, 2007 demanding that the Palestinians "recognize Israel" and its "right to exist." This is a common enough sentiment-even a cliche. Yet many observers (most recently the international lawyer John Whitbeck) have pointed out that this proposition, assiduously propagated by Israel's advocates and uncritically reiterated by American politicians and journalists, is-at best-utterly nonsensical.

First, the formal diplomatic language of "recognition" is traditionally used by one state with respect to another state. It is literally meaningless for a non-state to "recognize" a state. Moreover, in diplomacy, such recognition is supposed to be mutual. In order to earn its own recognition, Israel would have to simultaneously recognize the state of Palestine. This it steadfastly refuses to do (and for some reason, there are no high-minded newspaper editorials demanding that it do so).

Second, which Israel, precisely, are the Palestinians being asked to "recognize?" Israel has stubbornly refused to declare its own borders. So, territorially speaking, "Israel" is an open-ended concept. Are the Palestinians to recognize the Israel that ends at the lines proposed by the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan? Or the one that extends to the 1949 Armistice Line (the de facto border that resulted from the 1948 war)? Or does Israel include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it has occupied in violation of international law for 40 years-and which maps in its school textbooks show as part of "Israel"?

For that matter, why should the Palestinians recognize an Israel that refuses to accept international law, submit to U.N. resolutions or readmit the Palestinians wrongfully expelled from their homes in 1948 and barred from returning ever since?

If none of these questions are easy to answer, why are such demands being made of the Palestinians? And why is nothing demanded of Israel in turn?

Orwell was right. It is much easier to recycle meaningless phrases than to ask-let alone to answer-difficult questions. But recycling these empty phrases serves a purpose. Endlessly repeating the mantra that the Palestinians don't recognize Israel helps paint Israel as an innocent victim, politely asking to be recognized but being rebuffed by its cruel enemies.

Actually, it asks even more. Israel wants the Palestinians, half of whom were driven from their homeland so that a Jewish state could be created in 1948, to recognize not merely that it exists (which is undeniable) but that it is "right" that it exists-that it was right for them to have been dispossessed of their homes, their property and their livelihoods so that a Jewish state could be created on their land. The Palestinians are not the world's first dispossessed people, but they are the first to be asked to legitimize what happened to them.

A just peace will require Israelis and Palestinians to reconcile and recognize each other's rights. It will not require that Palestinians give their moral seal of approval to the catastrophe that befell them. Meaningless at best, cynical and manipulative at worst, such a demand may suit Israel's purposes, but it does not serve The Times or its readers.

And yet The Times consistently adopts Israel's language and, hence, its point of view. For example, a recent article on Israel's Palestinian minority referred to that minority not as "Palestinian" but as generically "Arab," Israel's official term for a population whose full political and human rights it refuses to recognize. To fail to acknowledge the living Palestinian presence inside Israel (and its enduring continuity with the rest of the Palestinian people) is to elide the history at the heart of the conflict-and to deny the legitimacy of Palestinian claims and rights.

This is exactly what Israel wants. Indeed, its demand that its "right to exist" be recognized reflects its own anxiety, not about its existence but about its failure to successfully eliminate the Palestinians' presence inside their homeland-a failure for which verbal recognition would serve merely a palliative and therapeutic function.

In uncritically adopting Israel's own fraught terminology-a form of verbal erasure designed to extend the physical destruction of Palestine-The Times is taking sides.

If the paper wants its readers to understand the nature of this conflict, however, it should not go on acting as though only one side has a story to tell.

SAREE MAKDISI, a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA, writes frequently about the Middle East.


  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Occupation  Channel: Opinion
Views: 3326

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Older Comments:
SAMY FROM PERAK, MALAYSIA said:
Hi Kris (the pirate's dagger brandished by the Migrant Turk Hishamuddin, Minister for Education, Malaysia),

"I really wonder why the editorial of IslamiCity allows such views and poor choice of words in this website. I thought they have guidelines on civil mannerism and good replies."

*In case you're unaware IslamCity is now more democratic than the Western media today. There's nothing to hide, Kris. IslamCity is steadfast & open to all views, opinions & people's grievances, regardless.

As I've said repeatedly, readers of IslamCity are free to find out the truth i.e. Samy's or Kris MacPherson's. Ask the non-Muslim citizens when you're visiting Malaysia. You'll understand what discriminatory laws and practices there are in Malaysia. Look around and you'll also see the almost the entire PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYMENT (paid for by the non-Muslim taxpayers) monopolized by an legislated apartheid category of favoured ones known officially as the "Bumis" (Muslims) whose grandparents and parents are Muslim migrants from Indonesia, S India & Middle East.

Why aren't the minority Muslims in Europe complaining aloud? That's because the Europeans don't slap the "Non-Bumis" craps on them even when they are the original white natives.
2009-03-31

KRIS MACPHERSON FROM MALAYSIA said:
Samy, please go ahead with your rudeness and jerking behaviour.

I will not stoop to your level and with your poor choice of words. I had sufficiently replied those antics of yours in other post in other articles.

I really wonder why the editorial of IslamiCity allows such views and poor choice of words in this website. I thought they have guidelines on civil mannerism and good replies.

And no matter how loud you shout, your words change nothing. Shout louder please. Or demonstrate even more. I can't hear you.... :)
2009-03-29

SAMY FROM PERAK, MALAYSIA said:
Kris MacPherson aka Raja Temberang
"Suddenly a group of terrorist barged in, gate crashing and trespassing into their territory. having being trespassed and robbed, the trespasser insisted that the original occupants recognised the robbed territory. Then the best part of the land was annexed for the robbers. Then the victims were driven further hinterland. Then they ( victim ) were shut from the outside world. Next, they were not allowed to trade with others outside their borders.

Then there was partition, on pretext of any excuses under the sun. Then the victim territories were bombed, looted and burnt to the ground. Followed by the destruction of their agricultural farms, so that the victims starved."

*This is precisely what the majority Muslim immigrants from Indonesia, S India, Middle East do to the poor indigenous aborigines, the Orang Asli, of Malaya. They are living in squalor. Their per capita income is worse than the Palestinian people!

"Shame on the Palestinian leaders who became Zionist lackeys. Shame on Mahmoud Abas, you have no dignity and you and your entire office live on the handouts of the Zionist."

*Shame on yourselves, the immigrant Muslims, in Malaysia who call yourselves "Bumis" and living off the taxes of the minority non-Muslim taxpayers "non-Bumis"). For those who protest peacefully, the Muslims lock them up under the no-court ISA so that they hope the truth can be hidden from the world. No way! Thanks to Iviews which is now as open as CNN or BBC today people can see & judge for themselves.

Kris, you humbug! You are not fit to preach. Go dismantle your discriminatory religious & racial policies in your backyard (Malaysia) first before you behave like an angel.

Readers are invited to speak to the non-Muslims when they visit Malaysia to experience the discriminatory polices firsthand.
2009-03-29

ZAIN FROM USA said:
well said prof. saree, it is not a question if the palestine will be free but when? and i think that the sooner the palestinians stop fighting among themselves and focus of their enemy (the zionists)the sooner it will come.
also, i have always encourged my friends to bycott products/companies that take sides and support the ziionsts, and once american muslims come together on one platform, things will start to change in this country as well.
2009-03-24

KRIS MACPHERSON FROM MALAYSIA said:
Assalamualaikum,

I whole heartedly agree with this views. Let us trace back events. Before the events of 1948 there was no state known as Israel. The Balfour Treaty gave way for it's existence.

Is the present Palestinian state really a state in it's true concept ? Does it control it's own borders ? Does it even have jurisdiction on Immigration matters ? Does it have it's own ports to export goods to the outside world ? Who control it's economy ? Does it control the flow of people going in and out of it's territory ?

Obviously the answer to all these is a negative, the country lives on the squeeze and arm twist of the Zionist. It's akin like before 1948 there was this group of Arabs living on a huge piece of land. Suddenly a group of terrorist barged in, gate crashing and trespassing into their territory. having being trespassed and robbed, the trespasser insisted that the original occupants recognised the robbed territory. Then the best part of the land was annexed for the robbers. Then the victims were driven further hinterland. Then they ( victim ) were shut from the outside world. Next, they were not allowed to trade with others outside their borders.

Then there was partition, on pretext of any excuses under the sun. Then the victim territories were bombed, looted and burnt to the ground. Followed by the destruction of their agricultural farms, so that the victims starved.

Shame on the Palestinian leaders who became Zionist lackeys. Shame on Mahmoud Abas, you have no dignity and you and your entire office live on the handouts of the Zionist.
2009-03-22

HUDD FROM THE GREAT WHITE NORTH said:
The Middle East crisis is an atavism. It is an inheritance from the pre-modern era when ideas of a "pure race" versus the impure or Semite one, as well as "civilized people" versus "savages". All those ideologies that destroyed the world two times over in the World Wars persist and are promoted in the policies of the Knesset with the active help of USA and the tacit concent of the rest of the World. A country for the Jews only? How racist and even Nazi-like that sounds? Empty a land of its original inhabitants to make place for the "chosen"? Are we living the times of Hitler? When he ordered his nation: "Nach Oesten!"(To the East!)? Like, to hell with the Russians who inhabit that "Oesten" lands. I live in Canada, in the past, horrible things happened here under the French and especially under the Brits to the aboriginal population. Things my country is not proud of and on any occasion tries to make amendments for their crimes. The pain is unresolved among the nations of the first, the Cree, Ojibwe, Inu... and so on. However, when the young nation of Canada, grew to reach the table panel of the big boys(UN), her attitude changed. Given her past and more than one ethnic presence in the country, Canada opted for a secular democracy and multiculturalism. Regardless of what Canada's foreign policies exhibit, politics is an unscrupulous game, in the country the integrity and dignity of every of her inhabitants is assured, protected and promoted. Which makes me wonder, when will Israel decide to enter the third millenium in her thinking process and ideological make up? Imagine Israel as a secular democracy dressed in the garb of multiculturalism, mutual tolerance for all parties, Jewish, Arab, Armenian, Turkish, Persian, Copt,...etc insuring the security, dignity and welfare of all? My friends, we are talking about a land of Milk and Honey in that case. As we stand now, "The Holy Land" is a land of hate, fear, Apartheid, state and civilian terrorism.
2009-03-21

ASLAM ABDULLAH FROM USA said:
What an article and what an analysis? Amazing. This is a masterpiece in writings on Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It should be taught in Islamic schools and it should be distributed among Muslim organizations to learn how to develop an argument on this issue. Are there some logical minds among the supporters of Israel who are willing to see the humanity of Palestinians and absurdity of the argument of their state?
Are there enough Americans to speak for justice or will we all be manipulated by the fear of a lobby that knows how to defame.
I recall that I wrote an article on the same premises in the Minaret magazine when I was editing it. In the Muslim-Jewish dialogue committee, with the exception of Muslim representatives, i was reprimanded by the pro-Israeli elements and asked to withdraw the article or express regret for publishing it. When I refused, one of them, a supposedly intellectual mentor of many pro-Israeli elements in S California, said, "Who gave you the diploma and degrees to graduate from a college."
Pro-Israeli elements keep on lecturing us about justice. But we have not seen many of them standing up in defense of their scriptures when it comes to justice to Palestinians.
But this manipulative politics will end one day. There is always a day for those who lie and cheat and deceive. Let us learn from the example of George Bush, who lied and deceived us into a war. But now truth is revealing itself and the day is not far when the 43rd president of United States may be recognized by History as a war criminals who could not be tried because of the immunity offered to him by the constitution.
2009-03-20