Crossing into Israel: ‘two highly-charged narratives’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 157 Comments

Yesterday my wife and I left Jordan and entered Israel at the southern border crossing, Aqaba-Eilat. We were in the Israeli baggage inspection hall when my wife said, “Who’s that handsome guy?”

On the wall was a very large black-and-white photograph from the 1940s of a young Israeli with a strong chin and light hair, alongside a darkhaired laughing woman. To the left of that photo was an older photograph of a happy jumping boy, and to its right, pictures of a soldier, a general walking through Jerusalem during the 1960s, and a full-on official portrait of Yitzhak Rabin in his 40s, when he was chief of staff.

I remembered that the crossing is the Yitzhak Rabin crossing. I told my wife who he was. She looked at the uncaptioned photographs of him getting his cigarette lit by King Hussein and standing with Bill Clinton, and the photograph of him as an old man with Leah Rabin, the woman in the second picture, in their house, likely months before his assassination.

My wife’s face was flushed. “I find this very moving,” she said.

When we were waiting for the cab a half hour later (getting through was a breeze, in spite of all my apprehensions), I asked what had upset her. She said, “I get the story, and it’s compelling. You can see it all there. You see him when he’s young and with that beautiful woman and so full of hope to save his people. They were being slaughtered in Europe and here he is in this rough tough land and trying to make a place for them. I’m moved by that. The world was all culpable in what happened. So I think I just clicked into the two-state solution.”

I nodded and didn’t say much. (It would have been preachy to tell her about Rabin’s role in ethnic cleansing Lydda in ’48.) The main reason I wanted to bring my wife here is that I trust her judgment so much and wanted her unfiltered impressions of a place I’ve been very judgmental about.

We got a bus in Eilat to go to Jerusalem via the Dead Sea, a 4-1/2 hour trip through the Negev and then the occupied West Bank. You don’t really know when you enter the occupied territories. Near Qumran, where a Bedouin boy found the Dead Sea Scrolls, we rumbled without pausing through a small checkpoint and I’m pretty sure that’s when we entered the territories. We didn’t see any Palestinians, there were no Palestinians on the bus. We were surrounded by an American or two on cell phones, and several young and slightly slothful Israeli kids, one carrying only a pillow to stretch out across the back seats with. They were indifferent to Masada, indifferent to the Dead Sea scrolls; and I could see how they normalize the occupation. There’s nothing to see. Now and then some Bedouin shacks near the road, but mostly you’re on a superhighway with a lot of fancy cars headed for Tel Aviv, and passing by settlements and countless signs for Ahava factories, the beauty products line that mines Palestinian lands for international profit. 

So the 3 million Palestinians living around you are tucked safely out of sight, and then you come under the extended fortress that is Ma’ale Adumim, the settlement of 35,000 people or so on hills far east of Jerusalem, and after that it’s East Jerusalem and the naked structure of separation is more apparent.

You see the wall curving down past Abu Dis, separating a neighborhood that is supposed to be the capital of the Palestinian state from any connection to the Old City and its religious and commercial life. You see the new modern highway that the Israelis are building so that the occupied Palestinians can get from the north West Bank to the south West Bank without having anything to do with Israelis in settlements. You see Israeli roads built right alongside Palestinian roads with a high wall in between them. You see the wall. You understand why liberal Zionist Charney Bromberg, who loves Israel, came back from his last visit after a tour of the West Bank and said with torment that it reminded him of apartheid. Myself I was struck by the desire to keep the Jews and the Palestinians apart and drive the Palestinians away.  

At dinner I asked my wife what she thought and she said, “There are two highly charged narratives, right alongside one another.”

I’m glad she’s here. I know that she’s right, that there is a compelling story to be told about that belief in Israel, but it feels historical to me; and when it was my turn, I told her my impression of the ride through the occupied territories. They have always wanted land and now they are taking much of the rest of it. You see why some people have given up on the idea of the two state solution. There’s no place for the Palestinians to even have a state, because the Israelis will never give up any of that real estate that we saw on this trip– the Ahava factories and the hilltops and the water and the roads.

“And that’s why some people are for a one state solution. Because it’s all under one state’s control right now. And then everyone would get to vote on the leadership, Palestinians and Jews.”

My wife said, “Why would someone be against that?”

157 Responses

  1. James North
    September 13, 2010, 4:11 pm

    Richard: Your two posts above are nearly illiterate. Can’t you please read your words over before sending them?

    • Bumblebye
      September 13, 2010, 4:17 pm

      Ooh, I do wish we had a “recommend” as well as a “report” choice!

    • Richard Witty
      September 13, 2010, 4:23 pm

      Why don’t you read them again, and see if you understand what I mean. I’m willing to answer your sincere questions if you ask.

      • James North
        September 13, 2010, 4:29 pm

        “Something call terrorism, not just the word, the reality of it.”

        This is pidgin, Richard. Phil Weiss is is Israel, sending us first-hand reports about a place you have not visited since 1986, and this is the best you can come up with? I read it 3 times and I still don’t understand you.

      • lareineblanche
        September 13, 2010, 6:33 pm

        Yes, it’s my thinking that Mr. Witty (Polonius)’s first language is not English. No harm done, but it’s misleading.

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2010, 3:00 am

        You or Adam or Phil erased my clarifying post, who knows why.

        You have my e-mail. Send me an explanation please for your censorship.

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2010, 4:10 am

        “My wife said, “Why would someone be against that?”” Phil Weiss

        “Something call terrorism, not just the word, the reality of it.” Richard Witty

        That sequence doesn’t make sense to you James?

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2010, 10:34 am

        “You have my e-mail. Send me an explanation please for your censorship.”

        “Censorship”? Say Richard, why don’t you call Random House and demand an explanation for their failure to publish your blog as a hard-back bestseller? You don’t know what the word “censorship” means, do you?

        But you know what, Richieboy? He probably removed your post as a favor, to save you further embarassment. You should send him a small Judaica gift and thank-you card.

      • Donald
        September 14, 2010, 11:05 am

        “Phil erased my clarifying post, who knows why”

        Alec says he did it, in post 13 below. I didn’t know he was one of those running the place.

      • potsherd
        September 14, 2010, 11:17 am

        I believe with the new moderation policy, additional moderators were added.

      • Shingo
        September 13, 2010, 4:46 pm

        “Something call terrorism, not just the word, the reality of it.”

        The reality is that Israel was created as a result of terrorism. You of all people should be singing the praises of terrorism Witty.

      • LanceThruster
        September 14, 2010, 6:20 pm

        Canadian journalist and author, Gwynne Dyer, in his PBS series “War” noted (paraphrasing) “that everyone was againt war as long as time was frozen at that point they had already gotten what they want.”

        That’s the same reason that Israel decries terrorism now, but rationalized it prior.

    • potsherd
      September 13, 2010, 4:51 pm

      Or better yet, don’t send them at all.

    • MRW
      September 13, 2010, 5:29 pm

      James, his second one is even more incoherent. Can’t you moderators put this guy on a posting diet, for the sake of the rest of us. He lounges at the top of every thread with his vine of rotted grapes and sloshes out whatever the grape is doing to him, divining these filigrees of pap that take up needless inches, but are mostly designed to put the spotlight on himself.

      • LanceThruster
        September 13, 2010, 6:12 pm

        A poetry of precision you have. And no empty calories be they.

      • alec
        September 13, 2010, 6:35 pm

        Amen. This one is purged.

        Witty, whenever I catch you writing such tedious, empty, senseless blather, your posts are gone.

        Alas that doesn’t leave much in your case.

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2010, 11:44 am

        I apologise, alec, if I had seen this post, I would not have bothered with my sarcasms.
        If Witty is finally being “censored” (I’d be ROTFL, if it wasn’t so pathetic for a guy who has his own blog to be kvetching about being “censored”) for time-wasting, that’s great.

  2. Lexikon
    September 13, 2010, 4:31 pm

    Remember, the white population in South Africa was terrified with the possibility that the black people would eventualy “get even” for all opression they suffered during the Apartheid.

    In fact, the last years of the regime were, in my belief, based pretty much on that.

    We all know the outcome.

    • MRW
      September 13, 2010, 5:15 pm

      I dont know when you were last in South Africa, but the rich whites came to love Nelson Mandela and everything he stood for. He is revered in SA for how he handled everything.

      • VR
        September 13, 2010, 9:52 pm

        Yes, all the whites love Nelson Mandela while the majority of the blacks still languish, if I were an Apartheid beneficiary who got to keep everything I would love Mandela also. That is because essentially, Apartheid did not die – the political portion faded away, but the economic reality remains –

        APARTHEID DID NOT DIE

        Celebrate…

      • MRW
        September 13, 2010, 10:26 pm

        VR,

        The situation in Zimbabwe exacerbated South Africa incredibly.

        I am well aware of the conditions in South Africa now with the inability to stop at ordinary streetlights because of carjackings, etc., the poverty, the segregation of society based on wealth.

      • VR
        September 13, 2010, 10:39 pm

        Why don’t you read the link and watch listen to John Pilger’s documentary, Zimbabwe had little to do with the debacle. Than be sure to drop by a little further down the page and watch FreeSpeechTV documentary about the Fourth World War, and understand that this does not even scratch the surface of what is transpiring today. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

      • Keith
        September 13, 2010, 11:15 pm

        VR- Exactly! Political apartheid replaced by economic apartheid! The difference between colonialism and neocolonialism. Much the same will occur in Palestine regardless of a one state or two state solution. This is an inevitable consequence of capitalism and the subservience of the politicians to the oligarchs. I’m sure the Israeli oligarchs are aware of this, hence, why so little progress towards a political solution? I think that it has to do with Zionist ideology and the implications that has for American Jewish oligarchs.

      • MRW
        September 14, 2010, 9:23 am

        Will take your advice, VR. Under no circumstances do I lay claim to being any sort of expert on South Africa. None. What I saw when I was there broke my heart.

      • Citizen
        September 14, 2010, 5:22 pm

        MRW, have you a % estimate of how many Affrikaners left once the new government took over? And to date? And why are there so many rapes there?

      • VR
        September 14, 2010, 10:24 pm

        MRW, isn’t it wonderful how these paragons called nations operate? You mentioned Zimbabwe – how is it that one nation can prosper right next to another that is famished? How has Zimbabwe come to be in the condition it is today? You think you know? Not if your reading has been nothing but a steady diet of what comes out of the US and other exploiting nations. Lets take a look, and understand that this is a replication of what has happened throughout Africa –

        NEOCOLONIALISM 101, EXAMPLE ZIMBABWE

        Whose rose colored glasses are cemented to many peoples faces?

      • VR
        September 14, 2010, 10:56 pm

        Don’t you know?

        DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

  3. wondering jew
    September 13, 2010, 5:35 pm

    There are other historical examples that are not quite as benign as the South Africa example. For example Algeria where the pied noirs were kicked out. And even the South Africa example is not entirely benign. Most of the murders are not political but criminal, but that is still leading many whites to leave. I am in favor of negotiating with Hamas, but one should not confuse Hamas with Mandela. Maybe Hamas has outgrown its murderous side, maybe not. Certainly not a sure thing.

    • Avi
      September 13, 2010, 6:29 pm

      Maybe, maybe not?

      What is it with you Zionists? On the one hand you are confident regarding certain issues, but pretend to be lost on other issues, especially those pertaining to the Palestinian side.

      • James
        September 14, 2010, 12:17 am

        arrogance and ignorance often go hand in hand…

    • Keith
      September 13, 2010, 8:04 pm

      WONDERING JEW- Quite obviously the Zionists have not outgrown their murderous side. When might the Palestinians look foreward to that happening?

    • syvanen
      September 14, 2010, 12:20 am

      wj says:

      For example Algeria where the pied noirs were kicked out.

      Kicked out? They just left. Not that clear why so many (over 90%) did. France didn’t expect the exodus.

      • Citizen
        September 14, 2010, 6:19 pm

        It was very unpleasant for the privileged pied noirs in Algeria after independence. Even the stolen land their ancestors had been given, the best land, did not suffice to keep them there. About a million left, and a thousand stayed. That was the first war in modern history that was justified as a battle between Western Civilization and Islam.

    • sherbrsi
      September 14, 2010, 7:23 am

      Dealing with Hamas is a positive step in reconciling with the Palestinians, but ultimately not the root cause of conflict. Hamas is a violent resistance group, and if it were to be defeated, another would spring up in its place unless the fundamental injustices are addressed. The problem is Zionism, and its products (that of Israel and a refugee nation, Palestine). Don’t pretend that the ROR or Nakba are smaller demons than Hamas to the Israelis. In the big picture, Hamas is really insignificant. Before meeting with Meshal, Israel needs to meet its history and confront the original sin.

  4. Jeff Klein
    September 13, 2010, 5:38 pm

    Phil would have gotten a better understanding of the Palestinian experience if he had crossed over via the King Hussein/Allenby bridge — where all Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories and Arab visitors have to go. That’s why there were no Palestinians on his bus to Jerusalem. It is much less calm and easy-going than the crossings at the North or South, which pass from Jordan directly into 1948 Israel.

    Many have described the horrific delays and mistreatment of Palestinians at Allenby and it is worthwhile seeing for yourself. Unfortunately, Phil won’t be able to exit back that way either, unless he first gets a Jordanian visa in Tel Aviv. Normally, you have to go out and back into Jordan the same way you first came.

    • Elliot
      September 13, 2010, 10:12 pm

      American suburbanites have a similar sense of geography. They know their own suburbia; they know the key landmarks in the city that are safe and respectable; they know how to get there from the burbs.
      The expressways that get them there cut through the slums and ethnic working class neighborhoods. The exits that lead there don’t register The expressways may be even lined with trees so that all that reality is invisible.

      Eilat is on every Israel’s radar, perhaps the Dead Sea too. Nothing else between the center and Eilat is of interest.

      Settlers and Jerusalemites need to repress reality more than most Israelis. The fantasy life of the second wave of settlers i.e. the non-ideological ones was to re-create suburban America in the Middle East. Nothing like exposure to American sit-coms for propagating the American-way-of-life. But they accomplish that the same way as do other Israelis, and middle-class, suburban Americans: using bypass roads and exercising willful ignorance.

      The late Mayor Daley of Chicago planned the city’s expressways to block Black expansion into the downtown area. See “American Pharoah”. Americans are more subtle than Israelis. Instead of bypass roads and walls they use the bypass roads as walls. T

      • James
        September 14, 2010, 12:20 am

        perhaps this explains in part the usa’s role in supporting israel so regularly and at any cost… it does come with a price however and isn’t lost on everyone…

      • Citizen
        September 15, 2010, 1:51 am

        As a 30 plus year resident of Chicago I agree with Elliott’s depiction of it. Further, those growing up on the south and east side of Chicago, of any color, were cut off from the Gold Coast, and the North Shore, etc. It was like growing up in two different worlds, barely the same country.

    • Kathleen
      September 14, 2010, 10:07 am

      Maybe they can return this way

  5. Avi
    September 13, 2010, 5:50 pm

    We didn’t see any Palestinians, there were no Palestinians on the bus.

    Why would you? A Palestinian from the occupied territories would need a special permit to enter Israel, let alone make it all the way down to Eilat. The average Palestinian would consider himself/herself lucky if he or she were allowed to travel to the next village to visit their family and relatives.

    Incidentally, there are 3 Palestinian refugee camps in and nearby Amman. It would have been far more educational to get in touch with UNRAW, headquartered in Amman, and ask them if they can recommend someone to interview in the camps, or better yet, take a taxi and just go walk the alleys of the camp and speak with people living there.

  6. Egbert
    September 13, 2010, 5:56 pm

    Mr Weiss’s wife said:

    “You see him when he’s young and with that beautiful woman and so full of hope to save his people. They were being slaughtered in Europe and here he is in this rough tough land and trying to make a place for them. I’m moved by that. The world was all culpable in what happened.”

    Nice try, but the whole world was not culpable. Was a baby born in 1945 culpable? Were the Eskimo culpable? The Aborigines in Australia? Were the Europeans who sheltered Jews in their attics culpable?

    • Citizen
      September 13, 2010, 6:40 pm

      Odd, I get the impression Phil’s wife doesn’t realize that her husband has been trying night and day for years now to bring the other narrative to light, the one long muzzled by the ruling class in her own country.

      • gruseom
        September 13, 2010, 7:25 pm

        If that’s true, it’s a credit to Phil. An ideologue’s wife would never hear the end of it.

      • Citizen
        September 15, 2010, 1:52 am

        Point taken.

      • Taxi
        September 13, 2010, 7:58 pm

        She also doesn’t realize that Rabin’s “people” are european converts to judaism ie: european citizens, not middle easterners. Yes Rabin was born in Jerusalem but to Ukranian parents high on zionism and the Third Aliya migration wave.

        How quickly she seemed to forget that the european jews’ tragic “narrative” had nothing to do with Palestinians who’ve been violently forced by the same european jews, to pay with blood and land for european anti-semiticism. This makes the Palestinian “narrative” downright tragic-wretched beyond words.

        I sense that Phil’s wife viewed Rabin and his young wife’s “narrative” through the lens of the holocaust, not through the lens of the suffering Palestinians. A lens that zionists have successfully attached to the holocaust industry: utilizing and propagandizing all forms of communication including photographic images of so called ‘heroic’ zionists.

        To me, the picture she is referring to is pure propaganda, aiming for the heart-strings. She was emotional and found it “moving”. She was emotionally ‘captivated’, you could say. Even became (a) captive, I would add.

        Without her knowledge of the full history of the conflict, which Phil tells us she’s unaware of, she could easily be duped by the emotive yet dubious designs of this foto.

      • James
        September 14, 2010, 12:23 am

        bingo
        “I sense that Phil’s wife viewed Rabin and his young wife’s “narrative” through the lens of the holocaust, not through the lens of the suffering Palestinians. “

      • sherbrsi
        September 14, 2010, 8:08 am

        I sense that Phil’s wife viewed Rabin and his young wife’s “narrative” through the lens of the holocaust, not through the lens of the suffering Palestinians.

        The world forgets that the Zionists did not ask the Palestinians for sympathy of their suffering in Europe, but imposed the price of their colonial-settler project in the most violent and valuable terms: by robbing the Palestinians of their lives, homes and communities and ultimately their nation.

        The fact that the Zionists committed the very same acts against the Palestinians from which they purportedly sought relief in the foundation of Israel, really brings to light the hollow nature of Israel’s rationale to be that of a “safe haven,” ironically but not unintentionally constructed by depriving another people of their own safe haven. The Zionists are then not only cruelly insensitive in regards to their historical treatment and attitudes towards the Palestinians, but downright hypocritical in asserting any moral basis for their state that is essentially an ethnocracy expanded through colonialism and sustained through apartheid.

        Thus the rallying cry for Zionism becomes professed victim hood and persecution. An appeal to emotion, not reason, to which the unengaged are easily made victim. Mr. Weiss’ wife, who I believe has been revealed on different occasions to not being of a political mind, is merely another prey of that propaganda campaign.

      • Psychopathic god
        September 14, 2010, 4:20 pm

        in a videographed speech Netanyahu delivered at Council on Foreign Affairs in July 2010, he explained why he has upped the ante — that Palestinians must not ONLY recognize Israel’s right to exist, Palestinian leaders must educate Palestinians to eradicate from their minds and thoughts the wish that Israel did NOT exist — Palestinians are not even allowed the privacy of their own thoughts.

        Richard Haass, who moderated the talk, asked Netanyahu why he was so insistent on this exercise in thought control. Bibi explained that it was a non-negotiable demand, and that it struck at the heart of the conflict. The occupation is NOT the heart of the problem, Bibi explained; the heart of the conflict traces back to 1920 when Arabs rejected Jews who moved into Palestine. link to c-spanvideo.org

        Bibi recounts additional instances of Arab rejection of Jews, from 1920 to 1967, then summarizes that that nearly-50 year history proves that it is not the occupation that causes the conflict, since IDF did not control OT until 1967.

        But within that bracketed period of history of tension between Jews and Arabs is also a period of at least 15 years BEFORE Nazi tensions impacted European Jews.

        WWII gave the zionist project a major branding opportunity and consequent marketing surge, but the dispossession of Palestinians had been going on for at least a decade before anybody knew Hitler’s name.

      • Kathleen
        September 14, 2010, 10:07 am

        Sounds like she does not get this. And still muzzled

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2010, 11:49 am

        I got the impression that Mrs. Weiss’s comments were ironic, that is, she was saying the Israelis want to give the impression that the whole world is responsible.

    • RoHa
      September 13, 2010, 9:10 pm

      “The world was all culpable in what happened.”

      A fairish chunk of the world was paying a huge price in blood and resources in fighting against those who were doing the slaughter. Doesn’t that mitigate their guilt just a teeny, weeny, little bit?

  7. Kathleen
    September 13, 2010, 7:56 pm

    My wife said, “Why would someone be against that?”

    Could be that some still have the memory of being run off their property, or had their home bulldozed and a new Israeli home on top and they want their property back.

    sounds like someone could use some time reading a bit of the history of the ethnic cleansing that has gone on

    A few of Edward Said’s books would be a good beginning

    • Kathleen
      September 13, 2010, 8:01 pm

      thanks for the inside views

    • annie
      September 14, 2010, 3:06 pm

      “And that’s why some people are for a one state solution. Because it’s all under one state’s control right now. And then everyone would get to vote on the leadership, Palestinians and Jews.”

      My wife said, “Why would someone be against that?”

      Could be that some still have the memory of being run off their property, or had their home bulldozed and a new Israeli home on top and they want their property back.

      so what do you suggest kathleen. is there a more progressive option than a one state solution w/equal representation for everyone. do you think the palestinians should hold out for getting their home back without any israeli jews on it? i think the people most against the one state solution are israelis.

  8. Kathleen
    September 13, 2010, 7:57 pm

    ““There are two highly charged narratives, right alongside one another.”
    It is called apartheid

  9. Seham
    September 13, 2010, 8:27 pm

    It’s scary to me that Israel’s crimes and apartheid can be so easily understood or put into context because of a picture of a handsome man. Even more distressing when that happens to someone that lives in the same house as Phil. If his wife was so easy to succumb to such blatant Zionist propaganda then what does that mean for the rest of Americans?

    • RoHa
      September 13, 2010, 9:27 pm

      What it means is that the Palestinians should have their case presented by beautiful young women in fashionable, and not too enveloping, clothes.

      And no, just for once I’m not being sarcastic. I’m being coldly realistic.

      • annie
        September 13, 2010, 10:54 pm

        this occurred to me recently roha, why aren’t there any famous female palestinians rock stars? after the sabeel confenence it first struck me. perhaps it was my workshop w/the brilliant and gorgeous (really) lubna masarwa (later of flotilla fame), then i thought of the stunning huwaida who co-founded the international solidarity movement she blew me away in person (seriously a 10). plus one cannot miss when visiting gaza and the WB how many stunning smart beautiful women. another woman i met from the blogging world soysauce. stunning/smart /gorgeous. the guides in gaza (breathtaking). and i thought to myself, i wondered why we don’t have famous palestinian women when there are so many who are so worthy? hmm. not too hard to figure that out. someone should make calendar. the world doesn’t know these women. they represent the backbone of palestinian society. the heart and soul who keep on keeping on.

      • RoHa
        September 14, 2010, 5:01 am

        Haneen Zuabi is a good-looking woman, too. And she speaks pretty good English.

        link to thefirstpost.co.uk

      • bijou
        September 14, 2010, 8:11 am

        Annie there are many more. Here are just a few:

        Hanan Ashrawi, Leila Khaled, Tarab Abd al-Hadi, Hind Husseini, Suha Arafat (well obviously she’s a tad complicated but nonetheless…), Um Khalil (Samiha Khalil)… And there are musicians as well of course, such as Kamilia Joubran and Rim Banna. Oh and the controversial Mira Awad… Just not known in the West.

      • annie
        September 14, 2010, 2:54 pm

        oh yeah how could i forget Haneen Zuabi. thanks for the names bijou i’m going to google them. i also rememeber listening to some great poetry on youetube but i forgot the poets names. i’m terrible w/names.

      • annie
        September 14, 2010, 3:47 pm

        bijou, there is a film opening in france tomorrow based partly on the life of hind husseini called miral.

      • bijou
        September 14, 2010, 6:41 pm

        Dear annie, this is for you:

        The Mirrors of My Soul – Rim Banna

        Enjoy!!

      • thankgodimatheist
        September 14, 2010, 8:26 pm

        Better still from Rim is ‘The Top of the Mountain’..
        link to youtube.com
        With the Palestinian/Bedouin accent rather than Arabic fosha(The Mirrors)…
        A beauty..check it out!..

      • thankgodimatheist
        September 14, 2010, 8:31 pm

        Goose bumps!
        Rim Banna sings Palestine:

      • bijou
        September 14, 2010, 9:02 pm

        Amazing video/song – thanks so much for posting it!!

      • RoHa
        September 13, 2010, 11:18 pm

        And some of them should be Christian Palestinians, and say so.

      • Chaos4700
        September 13, 2010, 11:43 pm

        Hey, don’t knock the hijab. There are a fairly high percentage of Muslim women who attend my university, and modesty doesn’t necessarily equate to homliness. I’ve seen Muslim women who follow the traditional mores and still end up dressed to impress. Even more so, since they don’t accomplish it with hiphugger jeans and exposed midriffs.

      • RoHa
        September 14, 2010, 5:07 am

        But for a lot of the world, the hijab says “I am an oppressed Muslim woman, restricted by those evil swarthy unshaven fanatical Arab men who want to drag the world back into the dark ages.”

        What the Palestinians need is spokespeople who the West can see as people like themselves.

      • Chaos4700
        September 14, 2010, 8:22 am

        Yeah, but for a lot of Americans, African skin tone says, “I’m a lazy welfare parasite who will lower your property values if you let me into your neighborhood.” Does that mean African Americans should bleach their skin to make a good impression?

        There is never a good reason to accommodate someone else’s racism.

      • RoHa
        September 14, 2010, 7:55 pm

        No, it means African Americans should dress in smart suits and try to look like Will Smith.

      • Chaos4700
        September 15, 2010, 12:40 am

        …you’re making a joke, right?

    • Citizen
      September 15, 2010, 1:58 am

      Seham, consider further that Phil’s wife is college educated and has more time to investigate such things than say, the average American woman with a kid or two, etc. Most Americans are easily manipulated; that’s why they are so often characterized by comedians and social scientists as akin to Homer Simpson.

  10. CTuttle
    September 13, 2010, 8:43 pm

    Aloha, Phil…! I loved your decision to drag along the better half…! ;-)

    I’m enjoying reading about your escapades and her insights…!

    I wrote about Bibi’s Latest Chutzpah today…!

    ‘Allah’u’Abha’…!

    • bookwoman
      September 13, 2010, 10:12 pm

      Mr Weiss,

      The next time you travel to the Middle East, how about going by yourself.

      • annie
        September 13, 2010, 10:56 pm

        what a weird thing to say bookworm. i like mrs weiss a lot. she’s massively happening.

      • Saleema
        September 14, 2010, 7:28 am

        Me too. I like Mrs Weiss a lot.

      • Citizen
        September 15, 2010, 2:03 am

        Me too, Saleema. She’s obviously a lady in the full sense of the word. I wonder if Phil ever leaves any reading material in the bathroom? Obviously she has her own mental preoccupations.

      • Chaos4700
        September 13, 2010, 11:46 pm

        Come on now. I think there’s something distinctly romantic about Mr. Weiss taking his wife on an adventure and wanting (and respecting) her honest, informed opinion. Sounds like the sort of vacation that would be fantastic for me and my significant other.

      • Mooser
        September 15, 2010, 2:39 am

        “Mr Weiss,
        The next time you travel to the Middle East, how about going by yourself.”
        A comment from “bookwoman”

        Holy Mackeral! I don’t know too much about marriage (we only had our twenty-first anniversary in July) but I do know my wife only calls me “Mr. Mooser” when she’s infuriated with me. That couldn’t be the case here, I hope.

  11. RoHa
    September 13, 2010, 9:30 pm

    Incidentally, there may be two narratives, but that doesn’t mean that both have to be given equal credit or consideration.

  12. yourstruly
    September 13, 2010, 11:36 pm

    Two highly charged narratives? So what! Weren’t slavery and abolitlon also highly charged narratives, not to mention whether or not to make war on Iraq? Doubt if anyone on mondoweiss had any doubt as to where to stand on those issues, so what’s this ambivalence on the Palestine/Israel issue? Because one is a Jew? Nonsense, this should make it easier, since Jewish history teaches the Jew to always side with the slave, never with the slaveowner, even (better, especially) when the slaveowner supposedly is a co-religionist. Supposedly, because the settlers (every Jewish Israeli) are practicing a form of enslavement, that of occupying someone else’s homeland, so how can the settler be Jewish?

  13. American
    September 13, 2010, 11:44 pm

    “My wife said, “Why would someone be against that?””

    If she has to ask then she wouldn’t understand.

    Evidently she is not as into the fundamental issue of I/P as Phil.

    • Mooser
      September 14, 2010, 11:56 am

      You don’t think maybe she was commenting ironically on the terms in which the Israelis present their case?

      Given the choice, and considering (if I remember right) what Phil has mentioned about her family, I tend to believe that is the case.
      She was ironically reflecting the Israeli hasbara, that is ‘Look how skillfully the Israelis present their story, in a way that seems to preclude objections’

      • Citizen
        September 14, 2010, 7:07 pm

        In the morning as the day began, she cried tears inside for the handosme jew fighting the hard land with the world aginst him and his people. Later, after traveling in the OT she had figured out their were two conflicting narratives, fighting for her, the world’s heart. By evening given the one sided control over the land and all in it, she asked apropos the 1S solution, “Why would someone be against that?” I’d say she ended up going from naive romantic to contemplative freshman student analyst to naive lady regarding the heart of zionism, which is foreign to most Americans brought up on democratic ideals and values.
        Conscious irony didn’t enter her mind. Or did it?

      • Mooser
        September 15, 2010, 2:43 am

        “You don’t think maybe she was commenting ironically on the terms in which the Israelis present their case?”

        Looks like that suggestion got voted down. Still, the explanations from the other posters about Mrs. Weiss’s comments as reported don’t jive with my memory of Phil’s reports on his wife’s understanding of the issues. Which I thought he said was very good. But maybe my memory is incorrect, and it’d be a hell of a search to find the relevant posts.

  14. Shmuel
    September 14, 2010, 12:38 am

    “Narrative” is a very fashionable word at the moment, but it is helpful only up to a point. It enables us to understand the fact that reality can indeed be viewed (and skewed and manipulated) differently by different groups. It gives us insight into human thought and behaviour. What it does not do is help us to actually sort things out. The fact that two groups view things differently gives us no clue as to which version is closer to what really happened, or what steps should be taken to right wrongs and resolve core issues.

    • MRW
      September 14, 2010, 1:24 am

      Not to mention that pesky amygdala that likes to embellish them, give them melodramatic (in the theatrical sense) ‘good vs evil’ heft, and meet the mental needs of the lowest common denominator in society. [MRIs proved in this past decade that the use of the amygdala over the prefrontal cortex lowers your IQ by a considerable number of points.]

    • MRW
      September 14, 2010, 1:32 am

      Just to clarify: melodrama in the theatrical sense is not a pejorative. It describes theatre where what happens to the main characters is always from without. The main character(s) remains wholly good and what happens in the play is what is done to him; same for both drama and comedy. Tragedy in the theatrical sense involves self-awareness and the realization in the main character that he is responsible somehow, that his own actions have caused what has happened to him, and he must come to terms with it. Only mature and highly intelligent societies have writers who can write tragedies that will obtain an audience.

    • RoHa
      September 14, 2010, 5:35 am

      The use of “narrative” taps into the damned silly but rather fashionable idea that there is no objective truth about anything*, but only a set of “narratives”. People, the theory goes, prefer one “narrative” over another for reasons of power or emotional attachment.

      Rational people will see straight away that the theory is self-refuting, but since the theory involves a rejection of rationality, that criticism does not move its adherents.

      (*Or, in less extreme versions, that we cannot know the objective truth about anything.)

      • Shmuel
        September 14, 2010, 8:46 am

        there is no objective truth about anything*

        Israel is Jewish and deconstructionist like Paris is French and deconstructionist ;-)

        There must be a reason they decided to stick that word “truth” in the name of that commission in South Africa. Had it all been about “narratives”, the word “reconciliation” alone would have been quite sufficient.

      • annie
        September 14, 2010, 5:26 pm

        The use of “narrative” taps into the damned silly but rather fashionable idea that there is no objective truth about anything

        i don’t agree w/this at all. a narrator or a narrative create a voice or perception between an event and an onlooker. they can be speaking for themselves (about their own perception) and repeating someone else’s narrative. this doesn’t preclude the narrative is false or a lie although of course it can be. a narrative can be woven out of nothing but fiction.. we choose and adopt narratives that resonate w/our reality. often w/2 competing narratives one is a lie but not always. from wiki

        In historiography, according to Lawrence Stone, narrative has traditionally been the main rhetorical device used by historians. In 1979, at a time when the new Social History was demanding a social-science model of analysis, Stone detected a move back toward the narrative. Lawrence Stone started it in 1979. He defined narrative: it is organized chronologically; it is focused on a single coherent story; it is descriptive rather than analytical; it is concerned with people not abstract circumstances; and it deals with the particular and specific rather than the collective and statistical. He reported that, “More and more of the ‘new historians’ are now trying to discover what was going on inside people’s heads in the past, and what it was like to live in the past, questions which inevitably lead back to the use of narrative.”[10]

        story telling is narrative, op eds are narrative. phil’s voice is his narrative. because we have become accustomed to hearing our governments narratives drag us into war doesn’t mean all narration is a twisted reality.

    • eljay
      September 14, 2010, 6:37 am

      “Narrative” sounds like one of those overblown words or phrases that some people use in place of straightforward English, like “engaging” or “dialoguing” with someone instead of just talking or discussing with them.

      Which is why, instead of forcing the oppressor to halt his oppression and enter into sincere negotiations with his counterpart, we must examine the dichotomy of narratives, each replete with truths, and encourage the parties involved to abandon destabiliziation and maximalism in favour of humanzing and engaging ‘the Other’ in order to make ‘better wheels’ and incrementalize the status of peace toward a more positivized reality.

      • RoHa
        September 14, 2010, 8:13 am

        Exactly, eljay.

        Being damned silly is not a minority sport.

  15. Richard Witty
    September 14, 2010, 3:39 am

    I’ll try this again.

    The task is to reconcile the two narratives, as they are both true.

    The desire to declare, “your experience did not occur” is an attempt to super-impose the need for propaganda over the need for truth.

    Everyone with an opportunist agenda does it. And, everyone that desires that the other disappear, even in a passing thought, executes an opportunistic agenda.

    And, everyone that advocates for a single state, but seeks to ignore the difficulties and merely push forward (branding those that are reluctant as “racists”), executes a dogmatic opportunistic agenda.

    Each applying force, instead of persuasion. “I will force you to believe what you don’t.”

    Both narratives are true. And, if you believe that then it is impossible to say “only the nakba occurred in 1948″, or “only the effort to remove Jews from the region occurred in 1948″. Both occurred.

    The present is what is important. Those that care, live and work from the present forward.

    Too vague for you?

    • Richard Witty
      September 14, 2010, 3:46 am

      “It gives us insight into human thought and behaviour. What it does not do is help us to actually sort things out. The fact that two groups view things differently gives us no clue as to which version is closer to what really happened, or what steps should be taken to right wrongs and resolve core issues.”

      It does allow us to say

      “I understand how you came to think this way. I too am a human being, here, right in front of you, not seeking your harm. I understand the history differently. My family experienced this when your family experienced that. From the present forward lets remember to confer with each other before taking a potentially harmful action so we can avoid causing each other harm in the future. Lets work together as neighbors so that all may have healthy individual and community lives.”

      • Donald
        September 14, 2010, 9:45 am

        “I understand how you came to think this way. I too am a human being, here, right in front of you, not seeking your harm. I understand the history differently. My family experienced this when your family experienced that. ”

        That’s fine, Richard, except that you start to go in a harmful postmodern direction with “I understand the history differently”. Having seen you at work, that’s the loophole that you use to deny or downplay or whitewash Israeli sins. It’s better just to say “My viewpoint has been X, but I can see that this has blinded me to some of the realities”.

        I read one book a few years ago where the author really did practice what you preach–Sandy Tolan’s “The Lemon Tree”, which tells the story of an Israeli woman whose family survived the Holocaust and the Palestinian family which used to live in the house she now occupies.

        Here’s a link to some reviews–

        link

        If I had to recommend one book about the I/P conflict to some ordinary American, that would be it. It would hold most people’s attention because it’s not a dry historical account, but it manages to squeeze in most of the relevant history. And he is deeply respectful to both sides, while making it clear that the Palestinians have been forced to pay the price for the sins of others.

      • Donald
        September 14, 2010, 9:56 am

        Here’s a fairly detailed review–

        link

      • eljay
        September 14, 2010, 10:03 am

        >> Sandy Tolan’s “The Lemon Tree”

        An absolutely wonderful book! +1 on the recommendation.

    • eljay
      September 14, 2010, 8:14 am

      >> The present is what is important. Those that care, live and work from the present forward.

      Each time you assert this, you gloss over the two biggest issues:
      – In the present, today, Israel continues to be the aggressor, oppressor, colonizer and thief. Until it comes to term with that and fixes it, there is no moving forward.
      – Wrongs of the past MUST be addressed and rectified as part of reconciliation. To move forward without doing so is to reward the criminal and to justify his actions.

      You peddle a strange brand of “humanism”…

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2010, 9:24 am

        I don’t gloss over that current status in the slightest.

        I insist that it be looked at carefully, clearly, transformed.

        To move forward is just practical. It only rewards the criminal if it encourages future criminal activity. If agreement retricts future criminal activity, then it has served the purpose BETTER than punishment.

        I agree that accountability for title claims, and some aspect of right of return to residence and Israeli citizenship is reasonable.

        What of that do you substantively disagree with?

      • Chaos4700
        September 14, 2010, 9:33 am

        If agreement retricts future criminal activity, then it has served the purpose BETTER than punishment.

        So… you’re saying Neville Chamberlain had it right? Let Germany keep Poland, make peace right then and there? Yeah, that worked out fantastic, didn’t it Witty?

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2010, 9:48 am

        Neville Chamberlain stated let Germany have the Sudetenland of Czeckoslavakia.

        There are two different assertions made relative to the settlers, that the rabid parts of the left don’t bother to consider.

        1. Property and residence – Title questions require court adjudication, if you are a supporter of equal individual rights. People have relative property rights, to land, to buildings, to continued residence. Its not a political question.

        2. Sovereignty – That is the question of boundaries, who is governed under what legal jurisdiction. The current status is that Palestinians do not self-govern.

        The only path from here to there is negotiation. BDS doesn’t make Palestinians have sovereignty, not in a decade at least, and not without likely severe conflict.

      • eljay
        September 14, 2010, 9:57 am

        >> I don’t gloss over that current status in the slightest. I insist that it be looked at carefully, clearly, transformed.

        It is very clear that Israel is not within the internationally-recognized borders. It is very clear that Israel is building and expanding settlement in occupied territories. It is very clear that Israel is the aggressor. It is very clear that your insistence on “looking carefully” at what is plain and obvious is a a dodge, a glossing over.

        >> To move forward is just practical. It only rewards the criminal if it encourages future criminal activity. If agreement retricts future criminal activity, then it has served the purpose BETTER than punishment.

        You’ve got to be kidding. Allowing the criminal to keep his ill-gotten gains IS a reward, and to do so in exchange for a promise not to steal again is a freaking joke! Not only is your statement mind-numbingly stupid, but in one fell swoop you’ve eliminated the concepts of justice (i.e., laws to regulate what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in a society, consequences for transgressions of said laws, and a system to determine guilt, assign punishment and ensure accountability) and personal responsibility.

        The only thing more disturbing than the fact that you came up with this stuff is that you actually appear to believe it. You are a twisted man, with a twisted sense of “humanism”.

        >> I agree that accountability for title claims, and some aspect of right of return to residence and Israeli citizenship is reasonable.
        >> What of that do you substantively disagree with?

        What of what do I substantively disagree with?

      • Psychopathic god
        September 14, 2010, 5:17 pm

        “1. Property and residence – Title questions require court adjudication, if you are a supporter of equal individual rights. People have relative property rights, to land, to buildings, to continued residence. Its not a political question.”

        Well then, Richard Witty, you’ll be fascinated to read Eyal Weizman’s account of including in an Israeli courtroom battle over property right a mock-up of lands, hilltops, boundary lines, etc., a visual prop deemed essential because the judges could not read maps.
        The presence in the legal proceeding of an actual, real, representation of ‘facts on the ground,’ rather than permitting the customary abstract– as well as poorly understood, as it turns out — balancing of “property rights, to land, to buildings, to continued residence,” unhinged the entire judicial proceeding.

        read for yourself, see the mock-ups HERE: Forensic Architecture and the Speech of Things; A Conversation

      • Citizen
        September 15, 2010, 2:14 am

        Witty, you corrected Chaos’s mistaking Poland for Chekoslovakia’s Sudetenland, but you didn’t apply that historic analogy to the gist of what he said. You avoided it.

    • Chaos4700
      September 14, 2010, 8:23 am

      Everyone with an opportunist agenda does it. And, everyone that desires that the other disappear, even in a passing thought, executes an opportunistic agenda.

      I still can’t fathom how you can post fortune cookie wisdom like this and not see your own reflection in the mirror.

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2010, 12:00 pm

        Chaos, by thinking that way, Witty makes the Palestinians just as guilty for resenting the Zionist intrusion as the Zionists are for their theft and murder.
        Hey, you can’t blame him, he’s authentic, he’s just defending his family, and their interests.

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2010, 12:12 pm

        Guilt isn’t the question.

        The assertions here have included “Jews were welcome as residents, but not to dominate”, when that is not true in fact.

        The fear that that it might be true, contributed to aggression (an over-reaction), which then created the need for defense (a basis of the need for nation, rather than just residence).

        The same accusation that Israeli’s fears lead them to over-react militarily, which escalates resistance and international delegitimization.

        All the time, when the need is for reduction in fears, and reduction in stimulated hostility.

        Those of us that are aware of that cycle, can change it, by dissenting with care, rather than with force.

      • Citizen
        September 14, 2010, 7:40 pm

        Witty, apply what you say here to the native American history. That happened before WW1, which led directly to WW2, which lead directly to the Nuremberg Trials, which led in turn to Geneva, etc.
        Israel is an aberration in terms of civilized progress, the rule of law over military-economic might.

      • Chaos4700
        September 14, 2010, 7:50 pm

        The assertions here have included “Jews were welcome as residents, but not to dominate”, when that is not true in fact.

        I am so sick and tired of Mondoweiss letting you, time and time again, portray Arabs as slavering anti-Semites. It’s absolutely disgusting that they let you get away with your racist caricatures. Wasn’t that against comment policy?

      • Chaos4700
        September 14, 2010, 8:01 pm

        I am compelled to point out that this hardly answers my question. I didn’t actually mean it to be strictly rhetorical.

      • Citizen
        September 15, 2010, 2:30 am

        Witty welcomed the foreigners he suddenly found in his living room; he even began sharing his remote with them, but after awhile he grew annoyed, and resentment in him grew–perhaps it was they hogged his water and never offered to pay any part of his utility bills? He could no longer stare out his window at his rolling green lawn–they were now out there to0–they were wasting all his water cleaning their cars, brand new ones. He only had an old one.

      • Mooser
        September 15, 2010, 2:51 am

        Chaos, it’s really pretty simple. If Witty admits that we are right in any particular, he has to admit what his son is, and maybe even the part he played in the son’s rejection of democratic values and human decency in favor of religious nationlism and fanaticism.
        And he’s gonna fight like hell to keep from doing that, may it do him some good.
        The best advice for him was the course recommended by I believe Flounder in the iconic movie: “Start drinking, heavily.”

  16. homelesseus
    September 14, 2010, 4:17 am

    Sounds like you have a great wife! And a great marriage. It seems obvious to me that she responded to the “narrative” emotionally, aesthetically thought he photos, but certainly gets or would get the relative truths within each narrative. The fact that she ends with a question about opposing the one-state solution makes it obvious that she isn’t the most informed person about I/P issues. The one-state solution is the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Which might be a good thing for democracy and Jews.

  17. hophmi
    September 14, 2010, 6:25 am

    I love how the commenters on this blog work so hard to make Phil Weiss appear like the moderate, level-headed moderate that he’s not.

    You people are incapable of seeing any other opinion besides your own. You’re like poster children for the irrelevancy of diaspora activists.

    • Chaos4700
      September 14, 2010, 8:19 am

      What exactly are you Israelis going to do, once you’ve abused the Jewish diaspora to the point where they abandon militants like you?

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2010, 12:05 pm

        “militants like you?”

        ROTFL! Yeah, he’s a real militant! Maybe even a secret agent!
        If useless egotistical kvetching were flechettes, maybe he’d be a militant.

      • Chaos4700
        September 14, 2010, 7:51 pm

        I didn’t say he was effectual, Mooser. Militancy is about attitude and goal, not about any sort of tactical prowess.

    • Shmuel
      September 14, 2010, 8:57 am

      I love how the commenters on this blog work so hard to make Phil Weiss appear like the moderate, level-headed moderate that he’s not.

      LOL. As we say in Hebrew, הפוסל במומו פוסל (rough equivalent of that pot-kettle expression). Thanks for the smile, Hophmi.

    • Kathleen
      September 14, 2010, 10:13 am

      Yeah to think Phil and others would actually be supporting paying attention to international law, treaties, Un resolutions that Israel continues to be in violation of. Will miracles never cease.

      to think that Phil and others would actually focus on the suffering of the Palestinians . Will miracles never cease

    • Mooser
      September 14, 2010, 12:02 pm

      “You’re like poster children for the irrelevancy of diaspora activists. “

      I’m glad you said that hophmi, and I’ll remember it every time I feel like putting a quarter in the blue box.

      Israel could neither exist, nor continue with “diaspora activists”.
      You now, like AIPAC and the rest.

      • Citizen
        September 15, 2010, 2:21 am

        Your job is to just keep putting those quarters in the blue box, Mooser. Hey cheer up, you also get to help maintain hophmi’s dream by paying your federal taxes each year! That’s like having a side car on your motorcycle.

    • Mooser
      September 15, 2010, 2:57 am

      “I love how the commenters on this blog work so hard to make Phil Weiss appear like the moderate, level-headed moderate that he’s not.”

      Yeah, I know what you mean, hophmi. You’re the only one that really knows how he goes out pouring white phosphorus on Jewish babies at night. You should really publish a video of his fanatical and violent actions on You-Tube! Expose him. After all, people tend to judge him by his writing and his actions which, as you know, don’t really represent him truthfully.

      Gosh hophmi, you are one pathetic guy. I bet if I yelled “Phil Weiss is coming to get you”, you would pee all over yourself.

  18. David Samel
    September 14, 2010, 9:10 am

    I think it’s great that Phil’s wife, an intelligent woman who is not very familiar with the conflict, is there to offer her impressions. There is great significance in her two most prominent remarks. Of course, there are two narratives side by side, and both of them superficially compelling to the less informed observer. Most people here, including me, side with the Palestinian narrative, but the Israeli one, including the Jewish people rising from the ashes of the Holocaust to build this miracle in the desert, certainly is inspiring. It takes a greater degree of famliarity with the facts, and analytical consideration and rejection of Israeli claims before one recognizes the catastrophic consequences of Israel’s miracle on the undeserving indigenous population.

    Even more significant is Phil’s wife’s (wish I knew her name) other remark: Why would anyone be against the one state solution of equal voting rights? To the average person of common sense and intelligence, approval of this result is not only a superficial first response; it would withstand further analysis. Regardless of how one views the history of conflict, death, dispossession, etc., a future of equality will always seem like the only permanent viable solution. This doesn’t mean the past should be buried, but only that it should not render such a future unworkable.

    • Richard Witty
      September 14, 2010, 9:35 am

      The future of equality though has two paths.

      One is in democratic single-state, implying unrestricted access for Zionists (national and religious) to legally purchase land in the West Bank. Otherwise the “democratic” single state becomes in practise a state with ethnically defined screens on property, civil rights, profession, etc.

      The second is in democratic dual states in which in each, minorities have full equal color-blind legal and social rights.

      Both take assertive reform in both communities, as in neither are color-blind equal civil rights actively practiced. In Israel, its in their basic laws, and legal assertions that based on equal due process under the law have often been applied to render legislation as inconsistent with Israel’s basic law.

      In Palestine, I believe there are provisions for equal due process under the law constitutionally, but also in practice that is ignored (and often on the basis of “we are oppressed, and therefore law is not necessary to be adhered to in that environment”. For example, there is a prior Jordanian law, and adopted and enforced in Palestine, prohibiting sale of land to a Jew, on punishment of death.

      Last year there was an incident in which that occurred, sale of land to a settlement, and the landowner was arrested and killed. I don’t remember if it was the PA that did the killing, or Hamas or other faction. But, noone was prosecuted for murder there.

      Both communities have a lot of work to do, a great deal of rationalization to cut through.

    • Psychopathic god
      September 14, 2010, 9:35 am

      David Samel, you wrote:

      Of course, there are two narratives side by side, and both of them superficially compelling to the less informed observer. Most people here, including me, side with the Palestinian narrative, but the Israeli one, including the Jewish people rising from the ashes of the Holocaust to build this miracle in the desert, certainly is inspiring. It takes a greater degree of famliarity with the facts, and analytical consideration and rejection of Israeli claims before one recognizes the catastrophic consequences of Israel’s miracle on the undeserving indigenous population.

      Does the creature that is Israel, today, the “Phoenix,” tell the lie to the integrity or the admirable qualities of that first part of the narrative, those European Jews who escaped from holocaust?

      If you plant an acorn, you get an oak tree; the characteristics of the oak tree that we see as present reality are contained in the acorn of the past hope and promise.
      If what is seen today as the present reality of Israel — the second part of Mrs. Phil’s two critical observations — is as vicious as it is, what should we believe about the qualities and characteristics of the past hope and promise?

      Of course, an oak tree can grow up stunted and deformed due to poor surroundings, failure to properly nurture, failure to plant the acorn in conditions that its inherent nature requires. THIS is where Israeli LEADERSHIP has failed Israel for over 100 years — from Herzl to ben Gurion to Sharon to Netanyahu: the acorn of Jewish hope was planted in a hate-plowed field and watered with violence.

      The question now is, can this tree be re-trained? The Jesuits taught a version of, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” Can the Jewish tree be re-formed?

      The tragedy is, as Time magazine observed last week, Israeli leadership and the Israeli people think the tree is thriving because it appears to have lush green leaves and broadly extended branches. But the heartwood is rotten.

      Can the tree be saved or must it be cut down? Norman Finkelstein says that “Israel must suffer a major defeat” to knock it off its high horse, to shake it up . . .”

    • Shmuel
      September 14, 2010, 9:58 am

      Of course, there are two narratives side by side, and both of them superficially compelling to the less informed observer.

      I was talking to my very own wife today, who happens to be extremely well-informed about I/P, and she said that to the uninformed, Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians first recognise Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state before negotiating specific arrangements, must sound perfectly reasonable. The fallacies involved in such thinking are that Israel (as a Jewish state) is a liberal democracy that “shares our values”, and that the US-sponsored 2ss is an eminently fair, no-brainer type of solution – like two kids sharing, instead of beating the daylights out of each other. It is thus crucial not to limit action against Israeli abuses to the OT and settlement-construction, but also to heighten awareness of the Nakba, and the ongoing, structural discrimination (such as the dispossession of the Bedouin in the Negev) against Israel’s indigenous population – embodied in the very concept of a “Jewish state”.

      • Kathleen
        September 14, 2010, 10:06 am

        bingo. Watch how they move that line. First recognize that Israel has a right to exist. O.K. got that. Now we move the line again. Recognize Israel as a Jewish Homeland.

        Keep moving the line. And as Mearsheimer said this is all about hiding behind talks as you continue to expand illegal settlements.

      • David Samel
        September 14, 2010, 11:15 am

        Shmuel, that is an excellent comparison. Israel has crafted its demands of the Palestinians to seem eminently reasonable, just like its heroic narrative of miraculous regeneration and rebirth after the brink of death. Who could argue with recognition of the “right to exist” or “renouncing violence” or “abiding by agreements”? It takes a certain amount of analysis and common sense to put these demands into context and recognize their disingenuous presentation.

        Somehow, some way, Israel has managed to suppress the obvious questions raised by its history to which you allude. If Israel was created as a Jewish State by massive emigration of Jews from other areas of the world, didn’t that compromise the rights of the people already living there? If Israel continues to exist as a Jewish State whose primary function is to serve the interests of the Jewish people throughout the world, doesn’t that continue to compromise the legitimate rights of non-Jewish inhabitants? It never ceases to amaze me how many people I know in the US who accept the concept and righteousness of the Jewish State without even asking these most fundamental, obvious questions.

        That’s why I think Phil’s wife’s question cuts to the heart of the current situation. Who could be against equal rights for all?

      • Shmuel
        September 14, 2010, 11:28 am

        Speaking of framing, the other day I heard a settler refer to the “freeze” as discrimination against Jews, because it is only applied to construction by Jews in “Biblical Israel” (new buzzword for “Judea and Samaria” – you heard it here first), while Palestinians continue to build as before.

        With the blinders of ignorance at just the right angle, even this outrageous claim sounds eminently reasonable. What is more, I know that the otherwise intelligent person I heard it from truly believes it.

      • potsherd
        September 14, 2010, 11:45 am

        One term the Zionist terminology guys got dead right is “delegitimization.” The task of antiZionism is precisely to eradicate the veneer of legitimacy that they have so assiduously spread over their illegitimate enterprise from its beginning.

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2010, 12:06 pm

        David,
        You are talking about an inherent “contradiction” in EVERY national state.

        It is reconcilable by the constitutional processes, the legal, being color-blind (which Israel is partially, clearly needing reform, even significant reform).

        The presence of that contradiction, does not require revolution, but law, and elections.

        It doesn’t matter particularly if it is righteous, except in the sense that consent of the governed is a righteous concept, especially when contrasted with imposition of a political form.

        If the communities BOTH preferred civil non-national states, then the question would be a very different question, but that pre-requisite political work has not yet occurred. Even after it occurred, the outcome would still be an if, that a two-state may still be a better option.

        But, right now, there is no other democratic one.

      • Chaos4700
        September 14, 2010, 7:53 pm

        Can somebody translate this for me? I’m usually pretty good at knifing my way through Wittypocrisy double-speak, but this is even more obtuse than his usual fare.

      • Citizen
        September 14, 2010, 8:07 pm

        What’s that Dick, “separate but equal?” OK, you go to that john, I’ll go to this one–here, here’s a sheet one of one-ply; there’s isn’t any over there….see Ya!

      • Shmuel
        September 15, 2010, 1:26 am

        Amira Hass answers the ridiculous (but superficially logical) claims by settlers that they are the victims of anti-Jewish discrimination:

        The day before yesterday, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi ) was interviewed on Army Radio’s morning broadcast, and argued that it was impossible to continue the construction freeze in the West Bank settlements while the Palestinians went on building and building.

        One cannot expect an interviewer on Army Radio or Israel Radio to surprise and ask, for example: “Since the principle of equality is suddenly so important to the settlement lobby, why then residents of Nablus and East Jerusalem cannot have a housing project in Haifa or live in Ashkelon or in a panoramic neighborhood in the Galilee, while residents of Haifa and kibbutz Hazorea are allowed to build in Nablus Heights or in the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan?

        But the interviewer didn’t even correct a distortion of the facts and didn’t tell the listeners that the Palestinians cannot build at will. In the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control, known as Area C, Israel has frozen Palestinian construction for the past four decades.

    • Kathleen
      September 14, 2010, 10:10 am

      “to build this miracle in the desert,”

      Bet most of us here could build such a “miracle” with our friends is the U.s. were to supply us with the where with all and the billions of American tax payers money.

      • David Samel
        September 14, 2010, 11:02 am

        Kathleen, regardless of your skepticism about the Israeli narrative, which I share, my point is that it is superficially appealing to the less informed. Israelis have spent a great deal of time and energy on fine-tuning this narrative to make it appealing, so that they will appear like miracle workers who are despised both for their extraordinary success and because they are Jewish, not because they treated a native population with racist contempt. It cannot reasonably denied that Israeli efforts in this regard, to disguise the true nature of the conflict, have been very successful in reaching an important audience.

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2010, 12:15 pm

        I find that resistance is similarly superficially appealing to the less informed.

        Both narratives have superficial followers and deep followers. They are literally both critical and valid.

        You said that you once lived in Israel, were an Israeli citizen? Is that accurate?

        If so, then it is your story. You can weigh different parts of your and your community’s story differently over time, but you can’t really say “my experience was not my experience.”

        Its either impossible in fact, or suppressive in political application.

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2010, 12:48 pm

        ” my point is that it is superficially appealing to the less informed. “

        A frighteningly exact example of how Israel acts on the uninformed and at least residually bigoted is provided by (I am not kidding you, this is serious) the October issue of “MotorCyclist” magazine, in the articles “Holy Harley, Jack Lewis in Israel” and (get this) “The New Minutemen” in which American Jews are slurred as “domesticated house Jews” and Israelis are lauded as “frontiersman, settlers, the New Minutemen” “underdogs surrounded by enemies and missiles aimed at them”

        You can bet I cancelled my subscription immediately. Should I bother with a letter trying to explain to them how far from the truth the article’s POV is? I doubt it would have any effect.
        I don’t know if the issue is available on newstands yet, and the content won’t be online for another month or two.

      • hophmi
        September 14, 2010, 3:10 pm

        WHAT?! You still subscribe to that pro-Israel rag? It’s so pro-Israel it should be called MotorSicklist.

        Imagine all the poor uninformed people.

        Jeez…

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2010, 4:46 pm

        “Imagine all the poor uninformed people.”

        Yes, the reaction from veterans and those still serving will be, I’m sure, swift and sharp. I don’t think there’s much love for Israel there.

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2010, 4:51 pm

        I also got some disappointing news from Levi999 of JSF.
        He tells me the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation, largest trainer of motorcyclists in America) had their annual conference in Jerusalem. So it’s beginning to fit together.

        And Hophmi, what on earth are you talking about? Do you have other instances of hasbara in Motor Cyclist?

      • Citizen
        September 14, 2010, 8:12 pm

        David, I attribute the longevity of the Israeli narrative more to a pernicious muzzle on reality, rather than the craftsmanship of the zionist fiction creators.

      • Kathleen
        September 17, 2010, 9:36 am

        “It cannot reasonably denied that Israeli efforts in this regard, to disguise the true nature of the conflict, have been very successful in reaching an important audience.”

        Agree

    • LanceThruster
      September 14, 2010, 12:58 pm

      I like Phil’s wife’s observations as they somewhat mirror my own pre-9/11.

      I grew up on WWII documentaries. Seeing the horror of the camps was enough to assure most that anything done to help survivors gain some security in the world was both necessary and just. From there the story pretty much fast forwards (with a quick stop at “Exodus” to plant the meme that the first attempt was to share the land and that turning away refugee ships essentially forced the hand of incoming Jews) to Jews returning to their “roots” and the inhospitable Arabs/Muslims bent on their further oppression and subjugation if not outright destruction. They “selfishly” did not want European Jews to be the new overlords of the region as they feared what might happen from a loss of autonomy.

      Seems their fears were justified. I didn’t really get what I thought was a clear view until after 9/11. I felt as this region was going to be a major part of our focus from here on in, I needed to learn more about it. It didn’t take very much scratching the surface to see just how terribly one-sided the narrative was. I also learned how even trying to ask the right questions at various sites brought about immediate responses from gatekeepers and 5th columnists. The amount of gatekeeping done in an attempt to keep the “official narrative” intact is truly mind blowing.

      I am grateful to a large number of insightful, thoughtful voices, particularly Jewish ones, to cut through the layers of distortions and untruths. They are valued as genuine teachers as they are able to make one confident about one’s grasp of the issues at hand, resulting in a multiplier effect. People online have mentioned to me before that normally they would lurk but would feel bold enough to come forward seeing someone else wade through the sh!tstorm and stand firm for justice.

      It feels good to take off the blinders and be more aware of what is actually going on, though obviously frustrating especially considering the resentment and resistance from those happily ignorant or knowing the truth but ignoring it to further their own agenda.

      ”Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” ~ Paulo Freire

      I also find these two essays fascinating. The one by King Abdullah would barely be possible today as no such rational counterpoint would make it past the MSM gatekeepers.

      “As the Arabs see the Jews”
      His Majesty King Abdullah,
      The American Magazine
      November, 1947

      link to kinghussein.gov.jo

      [excerpt]

      I have the impression that many Americans believe the trouble in Palestine is very remote from them, that America had little to do with it, and that your only interest now is that of a humane bystander.
      I believe that you do not realise how directly you are, as a nation, responsible in general for the whole Zionist move and specifically for the present terrorism. I call this to your attention because I am certain that if you realise your responsibility you will act fairly to admit it and assume it.

      —–

      Anti-Semitism and the Beirut Pogrom – Fredy Perlman

      See: link to libcom.org

      [excerpt]

      The trick of declaring war against the armed resistance and then attacking the resisters’ unarmed kin as well as the sur¬rounding population with the most gruesome products of Death-Science ó this trick is not new. American Pioneers were pioneers in this too; they made it standard practice to declare war on indigenous warriors and then to murder and burn villages with only women and children in them. This is already modern war, what we know as war against civilian populations; it has also been called, more candidly, mass murder or genocide.

      Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that the perpetrators of a Pogrom portray themselves as the victims, in the present case as victims of the Holocaust.

      Herman Melville noticed over a century ago, in his analysis of the metaphysics of Indian-hating, that those who made a full-time profession of hunting and murdering indigenous people of this continent always made themselves appear, even in their own eyes, as the victims of manhunts.

      The use the Nazis made of the International Jewish Conspiracy is better known: during all the years of atrocities defying belief, the Nazis considered themselves the victimized.

      It’s as if the experience of being a victim gave exemption from human solidarity, as if it gave special powers, as if it gave a license to kill.

  19. Kathleen
    September 14, 2010, 10:04 am

    “There are two highly charged narratives, right alongside one another.”

    One narrative is we have suffered so we deserve to kick others off their homelands, bulldoze their homes, olive groves, daily humiliate, build walls, fences on internationally recognized lands that belong to the Palestinians and spin the narrative while stealing the lands. It is ours because Jewish guys who wrote the Bible said they talked to god and he told it was ours. Or we have been persecuted so we deserve this land to hell with those who were living there. We use up a disproportionate amount of the water filling our swimming pools, and building and expanding illegal settlements. And the Americans support us no matter what we do. And we continually play the anti semitic and abandonment card. And so far so good

    The other narrative is we have had our land swiped or legally confiscated in highly questionable ways by early zionist, run off our lands, some of us brutalized, millions becoming refugees, who throw rocks at Israeli’s, some deciding to blow themselves up with those that they see as the oppressors as the United States supports Israel no matter how many international agreements they are in violation of.

  20. MHughes976
    September 14, 2010, 12:05 pm

    Shmuel mentions the phrase ‘Biblical Israel’ and so reminds us of what the underlying narrative, at least for Western audiences, really is.

    • Mooser
      September 14, 2010, 4:52 pm

      Remember, Israel wants to slant its propaganda to an American Christian audience.

      • MRW
        September 14, 2010, 5:56 pm

        Menachem Begin specifically went after the Evangelicals starting in 1977. His bridge? Hey, Jerry Falwell, we both hate gays. Let’s work together to get rid of them.

      • Chaos4700
        September 14, 2010, 8:24 pm

        What do you know! I’m today’s Jew!

      • Citizen
        September 15, 2010, 2:49 am

        Yes indeedy. John Hagee was on reasonable, folsky, patriotic sububanite, PEP Dennis Prager’s talk radio show last week (same channel as Michael Medved); they were peddling Hagee’s book, Can America Survive? Global economy’s a big factor, slowly seducing Uncle Sam into”rejection of Israel,” which is “rejection of The Truth.” And the truth is, if Israel is abandoned by the USA, why that’s a “new catastrophe,” and what will follow? Why, “God sent 10 plagues onto Egypt for harming the Jews. God punished the Egyptians for persecuting the Jews.” Happening now. Started with Christians ignoring that little Iranian guy’s threats, at least four times already! “Nobody listened to Hitler” and the little guy is doing the same, “repeating the same slogans–and he is head of a near nuclear power!”

  21. PilgrimSoul
    September 14, 2010, 3:47 pm

    Above all, I admire the courage that drives this column, and this website. Look well at where we are being taken. We didn’t just cross the border into Israel.

    There are two narratives here, two “highly charged” narratives of Palestinians and Jews. But in the website in general, and in today’s column specifically, there are two other highly charged narratives, about a Jew and a Christian, and a husband and a wife. Both are learning about their place in history, and are going to learn some things about themselves. My only fear is that history is a hard school.

    I have a friend who was the quintessential nice Episcopalian boy, who married a German Jew fluent in both German and Yiddish. She educated him, he said. He ended up at a German university, trying to figure out what he had learned from her. He told me that the twenty years he had with his wife made him feel like he had “walked into a hall of mirrors.”

    But that’s where we all are, and we probably need to help each other figure it out. Lead on. We’re in a world of highly-charged narratives now, and there’s no getting away from it because we need to know, and maybe we don’t have a lot of time.

    Lead on.

    • Citizen
      September 15, 2010, 2:55 am

      Pilgrim, read that interview of that old jewish 1947-48 interview article on this blog a few days ago–you can crouch before it, paw at it, and then go around it–what’s on the other side of that mirror? It ain’t John Wayne.

      • Citizen
        September 15, 2010, 2:56 am

        correction: that old jewish teen fighter of 1947-48

    • Kathleen
      September 17, 2010, 9:34 am

      “He told me that the twenty years he had with his wife made him feel like he had “walked into a hall of mirrors.”

      But that’s where we all are, and we probably need to help each other figure it out. Lead on. We’re in a world of highly-charged narratives now, and there’s no getting away from it because we need to know, and maybe we don’t have a lot of time.

      Lead on.”

      Spot on

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