Israel and Palestine: A Dumb Story
I recently spent three months in the West Bank of Palestine and Israel (and then two months in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan), and feel compelled to write about my understanding of the situation there, based on my experience. Not a lot has changed about my views, having entered Israel and Palestine with a relatively well-formed historical and political understanding of the situation; and yes, a well-developed cultural bias against Israel and the actions of its government and people. Still, I remained as open as one can be given the reality on the ground, and the historical facts. And the more I experienced and witnessed, the more I was (and am, even more after some time away) convinced that the real problem and solution lay neither with Israel or Palestine. Expecting a solution from Israel and Palestine is like locking a grizzly bear in a cage with a pack of wolf pups.
Israel, the nation created in 1948 and slapped down upon Palestinian people by Britain (largely), is an extraordinary place and historical phenomenon. It’s extraordinary for its thousands of years of human and cultural significance; and, historically, because of its very genesis and continued development based on the dispossession of another people — Palestinians.
Israel is Little Europe in the Mid-East, and is a nation largely made up of Europeans. It is also a military outpost of Imperial America, charged with neo-colonisation of the Arab world. The Zionist Jews who collaborated with European powers to steal this real estate from Arab Palestinians used a kind of legal fiction similar to that of Britain’s infamous ‘terra nullius’ in Australia to provide legitimacy for their actions to the international world. The vast majority of Israelis have absolutely no material or historical connection to this land — except through mythology and ancient history — when they began arriving in Palestine in significant numbers at the start of the twentieth century. And who continue to arrive up to this very day from around the world (Jews from around the world are offered cash incentives to move and settle in Israel to further entrench their stronghold on Palestinian land); while the Palestinians who were living here during the Europe backed Zionist invasion have had an unbroken and continuous existence here for thousands of years. But never mind the thousands of years of established presence, they were living in Palestine at the time of invasion. This ought to’ve been enough.
Of course Palestinians have their part to play in their predicament: for not being politically savvy enough to successfully navigate the dark and depraved world of international diplomacy; for their eternal division amongst themselves; for their corrupt and iniquitous social and governance systems; and for their refusal to advance socially, for example. Still, they are the defender and the powerless, not the aggressor with unparalleled military might and international backing. No amount of rock throwing or pathetic rocket launching, as acts of resistance by Palestinians, are comparable to the Israel-U.S. oppressors’ power and brutality. Palestinian resistance is justified in the context of them being an occupied people, and is in fact a moral and legal right according to the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
We think we're incredibly sophisticated and civilised here in the West, our barbarism in the past, we believe. We’re an advanced, peaceful civilisation, we claim. No, we’re not actually, it's just out of sight, outsourced to brutal and lawless regimes such as ISIS and Israel and sanitised from our collective consciousness. But it's still there. And our comfortable, relatively wealthy and peaceful lifestyles are directly connected to our subterranean barbarism. The killing and dispossession of peoples, required for the wealth of nations of others, still takes place for some to be prosperous. It just takes place out of your delicate sight. And false narratives are constructed by governments to gain mandates from citizens of Western democracies to dehumanise those being subjugated.
Israel will always be a nation ill-placed and marked by the blood and livelihood of innocents. So too their sponsors.
Israel represents everything I dislike about my own nation — about its history and its ideological foundations. It also represents everything I dislike about global capitalism. As I made my way through this land, witnessing our colonial past happening again in real time — the dispossession of people, the destruction of environment, the unsustainable use of resources — I was curious how a nation of people aren't affected on a daily basis by their historical context and the real time impacts of their material existence. Or maybe they are, maybe they do bear the burden of their prosperity and the grief and loss and dehumanisation of another semitic people, of their geographical and spiritual cousins. I hope so. I hope they suffer for their gains, otherwise what space is there for justice in this world, what reason for hope?
So too the West, for their support and exploitation of this, both, banal and extraordinary situation. For, just as Germany's people were complicit in the atrocities committed against Jewish people last century, so too are Israelis (and the citizenry of the West) in the acts committed against Palestinians by the State of Israel and by some of its citizens. So too were the British and Australian, and any citizenry, who stands by and stays silent while their nation and Government act in such ways, and who then enjoy the fruits of others’ suffering. Prior to Zionist occupation of Palestine, a more natural order existed here. Local populations were seemingly content with more basic living standards, living according to a more organic order, without soul crippling growth conditions placed on them. But Global Capitalism (the wealth and greed of some) cannot be content with this order of things, it needs to grow and fatten, feasting on the famine of the unbelievers: You will consume and and you will grow at World Bank sanctioned rates or you will cease to exist as you know it!
The arrogance and sense of entitlement that exists in Israel is ugly and sickening and reminiscent of the West’s colonial past (and current state of affairs), and is in fact a continuation of Western colonialism. It is often forgotten how our nations and culture in the West came to dominate and be so wealthy. It is collective suppression of memory. Of course it must be this way, for what is to be done, right? The past is the past. But this is occurring in real time, right now, to Palestinians and other peoples around the world.
The passage of Jews into Palestine was sanctioned by Colonial Britain (and other international actors) early in the twentieth century, ostensibly in support of the Zionist cause, but in actuality, for their own strategic and economic interests. And later the sanctioning of the State of Israel was also about a solution to the Jewish refugee problem of WWII in Europe and America. But the real game was colonisation and control of the Muslim world: Westernisation, opening new markets, de-Islamisation and, ultimately, control of oil. Allowing Jews to settle in Palestine, for the West, was and always is about controlling the Arab world and exploiting its resources. Not because the Arab world was ever a threat to the West, but because the West demanded complete economic submission to exploit this land (the Crusades II). This colonial relationship was then transferred from Britain to the inheritor of global power, Imperial America around the time of World War II.
Israel is a neocolonial vassal of the United States and only exists today because it is in their interests that it does. With instability in the region, oil prices are able to be pushed up together with oil company profits; and, where there is conflict and need for military intervention, the U.S. arms and associated industries profit.
The Palestine-Israel peace process is, and has been since Israel's creation in 1948, beholden to the international community. The U.S. (and by proxy it’s grubby handed allies) has been the main actor in this region since World War II, with U.S. foreign policy in the Middle Eastern region predominantly aimed at maintaining hegemony and security through price control and production of Middle East energy resources.
The Middle East has been particularly significant to U.S. foreign policy since discovering, pre-World War II, that its own oil reserves were finite and running out. The discovery of significant reserves in the Middle East marked the beginning of significant U.S. foreign policy reorientation — initially a “balancing act” between Arab and Israeli actors, ultimately with the scales shifting to Israel’s favour due to its Global Capitalist sympathies. U.S. aid and diplomatic support to Israel were significantly bolstered following their quick and categorical victory over Syria, Egypt and Jordan in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. This, followed by the assertion of Arab nationalism manifest in the oil shocks of the nineteen-seventies, and amidst an intensifying cold war battle for allegiance in the region, marked the U.S. shift towards Israel. Following Israel’s dominance over its neighbours, U.S. financial assistance to Israel increased by around a 400 per cent in 1974 and remains relatively constant to the present day. This increase in aid is about oil politics, and Palestinian disempowerment and the long-term immobilisation of the peace process, are but minor consequences that simply have to be media managed.
Palestinian access to land, autonomy, economic fairness and to equal human rights has diminished on a consistent basis since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. And this will continue, for they are at the mercy of the coalition of, Israelis’ hunger and greed for control of real estate and natural resources and the West’s need to control oil production and create economic growth. Palestinians will not be graced with justice or a homeland by Israel, ever. Their only hope is in the intervention of an international superpower or international actors. And this is not forthcoming, for there is no economic incentive in helping the Palestinian cause, but there is in keeping Israel militarily strong and dominant in the region.
Something that needs to be understood is that the real source of conflict is not religion or ethnic tension or terrorism, these manufactured constructs are but means of social control. It is not really even about Israel and Palestine. Israelis and Palestinians will seemingly continue to be dominated by social and political narratives corrupted by amoral leaderships; and they will continue to be governed within oligarchical systems that seek to perpetuate their hold on power; but most importantly, these systems are relatively fixed and not about to change. There is no such thing as a viable peace process, the “peace process” is a media sound byte. Conflict exists here because of the greed and insatiable imperatives of Global Capitalism. Change will only come about from regular people rising up against Global Capitalism on a mass, global scale. Inshallah! And from both Palestinians and Israelis rising up against their own domestic oppressors. Inshallah...