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Slim Peace’s slim chances for justice

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(Photo: aslimpeace.com)

(Photo: aslimpeace.com)

In the face of growing international solidarity with the BDS call, normalization projects are on the move. Normalization refers to activities that aim to create a façade of equality to obscure disparities between Palestinians and Israelis by placing co-existence over resistance to Israeli oppression against the Palestinian people. Recently, a project titled Slim Peace has made its way from Israel into the United States. Slim Peace has started initiatives in Portland, Reno, DC, New York, and Boston. Within the United States, Slim Peace claims it merely wants to facilitate “nutritionally-based dialogues” between Muslim and Jewish women. While this may appear an innocent attempt to promote interfaith dialogue and nurture better eating habits, it is in reality a normalizing project that exploits the dieting insecurities of women.

Don’t let Slim Peace’s name deceive you, the project is equally as aggressive as its counterparts, going to the lengths of sending a representative to promote at the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation’s conference this past September. Although, normalizing projects are amorphous, they most commonly take shape on university campuses. It came as no surprise that Slim Peace’s DC representative targeted Muslim Student Associations (MSA) and Arab Student Associations (ASA) in the Washington metropolitan area, promoting the project as a simple nutritional dialogue between women of different faiths.

The Slim Peace project is a product of American-Israeli Yael Luttwak’s documentary A Slim Peace. Working with The Peres Center for Peace, Yael managed to find seven Palestinians and seven Israelis willing to embark on a normalizing event centered on a weight loss plan. She hoped that through weight loss the women could learn to empathize with each other. The film praises its “successful” dialogues and attempts to paint Israeli settlers as progressives, as their preconceived notions that all Palestinians are terrorists that want to kill them disappear. The film fails to realize that by sandwiching the word Palestinian between terrorist and  killer it further perpetuates the orientalist framing that the two are synonymous, whether negated or not.

One cannot help but draw parallels between the players in the current “negotiations” and the women participating in the normalizing project. Both play a role representing Palestinians without embodying any of the values. In A Slim Peace, the silly Fatah-supporting television personality and long-time Palestinian normalizer Ichsan Turkich is given the spotlight as she jokes with Israeli settlers. Ichsan furthers Yael’s absurd claim that the tension and aggression between the two groups stems from a sibling rivalry.

The disproportion between the competencies of the representing parties is also apparent in the DC Slim Peace group, where the Arab representative is a recent graduate and the Jewish representative an established dietician. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon trend plaguing discussions about Palestine/Israel, more often than not Jewish “progressives” are given the stage while Palestinian critical thinkers are lost behind the curtain. To make matters worse the Palestinians that are given a voice are almost always non-representative and create more setbacks than they do opportunities. It’s the responsibility of our community to remain persistent in our efforts for a just solution that addresses all segments of the oppressed, and it is imperative that we continue to call into question the false representation of both our people and our plight.

Slim Peace distinguishes itself from other normalizing projects in not only tokenizing Arabs willing to partake in the dialogues, but charging them fifteen dollars a session to do so! Most normalizing events unfortunately entice Palestinians with incentives such as a permit into Jerusalem, as seen in A Slim Peace¸ because of its lack of incentives abroad Slim Peace may not be seen initially for the normalizing project it truly is. However, if we observe Slim Peace’s advertisement for the campaign it is an obvious archetype of normalization.

Slim Peace

Abroad, Slim Peace sells its program as an interfaith dialogue, although its advertising suggests otherwise. For instance, in a recent Facebook update on the DC Slim Peace group’s page, they found it necessary to distinguish that the Christian participating was Arab. Slim Peace’s showcasing of their project exposes that its true purpose is to create a false parity between the colonizers and colonized. Their appearance on the Today show and featured article in the New York Times did not attempt to hide the goals of the project, as did the DC recruiter. A quote from the organization’s founder, Yael Luttwak, caught my eye in particular as she, “…wondered if the leaders at the time, Ariel Sharon, Israel’s prime minister, and Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian Authority president, might be more likely to talk peace if they tried to lose weight together.” Luttwak’s comment trivializes the occupation of Palestine, casting it instead as a “disagreement” between parties who must learn to see eye to eye, shedding their differences as well as pounds. Adding insult to injury, Slim Peace’s diet plan acts as a distraction to Israel’s imposition of food scarcity in Gaza. I highly doubt the diet Bethany Saab, Slim Peace’s DC representative, refers to in her article I’m in: A Palestinian Diet for Peace is anything like the diet Dov Weisglass, former aide to Ariel Sharon, joked about amongst Israeli officials. “It’s like meeting with a dietitian. We need to make the Palestinians lose weight, but not to starve to death”. [1]

Slim Peace aims to create a façade of equality masking the ugly realities that accompany military occupation and colonization through their dialogue sessions. Slim Peace’s reduction of occupation, ongoing settler-colonialism, and apartheid to a “situation” or “conflict” obscures reality, further perpetuating the pretense that Palestinians and Israelis are on equal footing.  While Yael presents her documentary as comedy centered around women of different backgrounds trying to lose weight together, the only joke is her attempt to pass this off as anything but another film trying to normalize Israel’s apartheid and colonial policies.

Notes & References

Bethany Saab, “I’m in: A Palestinian Diet for Peace”, Huffington Post, 19 September 2013 (accessed 10 October 2013)

Dina Kraft, “Jewish and Muslim, Bonding Over Dieting, The New York Times, 16 March 2013 (accessed 10 October 2013)

Hillel News, “Statement of Jewish Organizations Opposing BDS”, Hillel, 04 February 2011 (accessed 10 October 2013)

PACBI, “Israel’s Exceptionalism: Normalizing the Abnormal”, PACBI, 31 October 2011 (accessed 10 October 2013)

[1] Steven Erlanger, “It’s like an appointment”, New York times, February 18, 2006 (accessed 10 October 2013)

Tareq Radi
About Tareq Radi

Tareq Radi is a Palestinian-American organizer based in Washington, DC and founding member of GMU's Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA). He has a B.S in Finance from George Mason University, and hopes to research Palestine's political economy.

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32 Responses

  1. hophmi
    hophmi
    March 21, 2014, 11:52 am

    “Normalization refers to activities that aim to create a façade of equality to obscure disparities between Palestinians and Israelis by placing co-existence over resistance to Israeli oppression against the Palestinian people. Recently, a project titled Slim Peace has made its way from Israel into the United States. Slim Peace has started initiatives in Portland, Reno, DC, New York, and Boston. Within the United States, Slim Peace claims it merely wants to facilitate “nutritionally-based dialogues” between Muslim and Jewish women. While this may appear an innocent attempt to promote interfaith dialogue and nurture better eating habits, it is in reality a normalizing project that exploits the dieting insecurities of women.”

    You can’t make this up. Let’s make up a special definition for a loaded term, and then use it to bash anyone who does not agree with all of our tactics. It’s amazing how alike our communities are. Extremists like you tar anyone who wants to meet with an Israeli as essentially a traitor, and extremists in my community do the same thing with liberal Zionists who believe in negotiation.

    You deserve each other. Both of you thrive on hate.

    • annie
      annie
      March 21, 2014, 1:04 pm

      hops, haven’t there been these kinds of normalization projects for decades? can you point out where it served palestinian long term interests? doesn’t it create a feel good outer layer to people (outsiders) to observe, to sooth themselves there are nice people willing to get along and hasn’t that just facilitated israel’s expansion?

      how many decades are palestinians supposed to assuage the occupation before the redundancy of these kinds of interactions sinks in, that they sustain the occupation.

      and let me just say, it would be one thing if it was done privately, but it’s not. it’s a big pr thing which seeks to equalize the oppressed and the oppressor and show how they are both ‘human’.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        March 21, 2014, 2:14 pm

        “hops, haven’t there been these kinds of normalization projects for decades?”

        Yes, and they were vital to creating a movement on both sides to negotiate without violence. And I think normalization is an extremely loaded term. It’s simply about bring people together to talk who wouldn’t be able to come together otherwise.

        “can you point out where it served palestinian long term interests?”

        It is, without question, in the Palestinian long term interest both to know the people who are their neighbors, and to be able to talk with them and negotiate with them. Even if they ultimately desire a one-state solution, I assume they’d like to know the people who live with them in the state they hope to create.

        The problem is that you seem to think it’s in the Palestinian long-term interest to be ignorant of anything but Israeli soldiers, and to hate Israelis as much as possible, because, then, they’ll be less likely to come to the table and negotiate, which you are against. It is also in their best interest to teach Israelis who tend toward peace who they are beyond the image Israelis have of Palestinians that has grown from ignorance and separation.

        “doesn’t it create a feel good outed layer to people(outsiders) to observe, to sooth themselves there are nice people willing to get along and hasn’t that just facilitated israel’s expansion?”

        No, not at all, because normalization movements (or whatever you want to call them) are not just feel-good movements that ignore the underlying issues. Programs like Seeds of Peace didn’t just bring kids together for feel-good nonsense. They tried to work through the difficult issues that arise from the conflict. Israeli-based programs like Encounter and OneVoice don’t ignore the problems. They expose Israelis and American Jews, and others, to a Palestinian narrative they otherwise would not hear, or would not fully appreciate in the way one does when one encounters it on a human level. I’m really not sure what you mean by outsiders. In the first place, most outsiders have no clue what normalization is, and no clue what these organizations are. The target of these projects is not outsiders. It’s the people who participate in them, and they are surely the best judge of who they are and why they are there. So I’m not sure who you think is getting this false impression, and in any event, even if what you said was true, I cannot understand how the mistaken impression ignorant people get of these programs would be a reason to end them and to bash them in the way that you do.

        Not to mention that I also can’t conceive of you applying this philosophy to other situations. In America, there’s quite a lot of covert racism, and there’s no question that whites enjoy a certain privilege here. Would you, then, advocate ending all cooperation between Blacks and Whites in Congress because it might give people the impression that racism is over? Should Barack Obama stop being President because people draw from his election that racism is over? That’s silly, and so is your idea that Israelis and Palestinians should not join together because people (whom you don’t identify) might get the impression that there’s no occupation and no conflict.

        You’ve invented this line about how normalization does not serve the Palestinian interest based wholly on your personal politics, not any evidence or reality. Your goal seems to be to close both sides off from one another, so that Palestinians focus on working for the outcome you think is best – an end to the Israeli state – rather than any other outcome that might result if the Palestinians actually developed any positive feeling about Israelis. It’s all about maintaining a certain control over the Palestinian mindset and narrative, and it’s exactly the way the far-right in my community thinks. No negotiations, maximal political positioning, Arabs bad, Jews good, don’t bother forming personal relationships with them because they desire your destruction. If I had to compare it to something, I’d say it’s Malcolm X over Martin Luther King, Jr. Which one ended up accomplishing more?

        “it’s a big pr thing which seeks to equalize the oppressed and the oppressor and show how they are both ‘human’.”

        First of all, it’s not a big pr thing. There are plenty of groups that foster I-P relationships that do not have documentaries made about them. You seem to have no appreciation for how hard people work, against the extremists in their own communities, to advance a vision of coexistence that goes against so much of the noise you hear from the conflict’s irredentists. I can understand the argument against these groups. I cannot understand the merciless bashing they receive here.

        But the second part of your statement – that’s the most depressing. You’re against that, that recognition of common humanity thing. At the end of the day, whatever you believe about the power relationship, the Palestinians will never, ever achieve their goals if they can’t recognize the humanity of Israelis and Jews, and those who guide them not to do so are doing them a grievous disservice. And that’s not in their best interest.

      • annie
        annie
        March 21, 2014, 3:16 pm

        “can you point out where it served palestinian long term interests?”

        It is, without question, in the Palestinian long term interest both to know the people who are their neighbors…

        i wasn’t asking for your opinion, i was asking for evidence. an example of palestinians long term interests served by these decades of kumbaya get togethers. obviously, as anyone can see conditions have not improve and palestinians still have no rights,homes are still being bulldozed and kids are still being shot by the iof and the occupation is in full force with israel stealing more land all the time.

        it’s not a big pr thing. There are plenty of groups that foster I-P relationships that do not have documentaries made about them.

        and slim peace would definitely not be one of them, thanks for making my point.

        if the Palestinians actually developed any positive feeling about Israelis.

        lol, surely you jest. obviously having rights and not being under israel occupation would go a long ways towards that goal, but that is not on the table. what difference would this make, so palestinians could learn to love their oppressor? go read the collector by John Fowles.

        You’ve invented this line about how normalization does not serve the Palestinian interest based wholly on your personal politics

        i didn’t initiate anti normalization , it’s a palestinian led movement. i respect it because it is worthy of respect and i trust this choice of palestinian people who have gone along with normalization for decades with the idea it would bring them peace and got screwed over. it didn’t work. neither did negotiations. who am i to tell them to normalize? like i know better than them? like you do?

        there’s plenty of opportunity for palestinians and jews to work together both in the region and here in the states. jews can join the palestinian led movement to end the occupation, their (palestinian) way. palestinians and jews work together all the time in SJP chapters all across the country.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        March 21, 2014, 3:34 pm

        “i wasn’t asking for your opinion, i was asking for evidence.”

        It’s largely an opinion question, based on how you view Palestinian long-term interests.

        “obviously, as anyone can see conditions have not improve and palestinians still have no rights,homes are still being bulldozed and kids are still being shot by the iof and the occupation is in full force with israel stealing more land all the time.”

        Obviously, it’s all because of coexistence programs that this happened. Let’s think this through. Palestinians have engaged in terrorism, violence, non-violent protest, militant rhetoric, and a few, in coexistence programs. Things have not gotten better. Therefore, the one thing we should give up, of course, is the coexistence programs. Does that make any sense to you? Because it makes no sense to me.

        It’s the same with the Israelis. Let’s see, we’ve tried negotiations, unilateral withdrawals, blockades, settlement building, and a few of us, coexistence programs. This has resulted in suicide bombing, Intifada I, Intifada II, rocket attacks, and the BDS movement. Clearly, the one thing we should give up on is the coexistence programs and we should never again negotiate.

        Make sense to you? It makes sense to one kind of person – the kind who is a political extremist and believes that engaging the humanity of the other is the first step to becoming soft.

        “and slim peace would definitely not be one of them, thanks for making my point.”

        Save the smarminess. Whether Slim Peace has a pr element or not, it does not change the fact that your interpretation of what they do is yours alone.

        “lol, surely you jest. obviously having rights and not being under israel occupation would go a long ways towards that goal, but that is not on the table.”

        And again, surely the way to make things better is to not get to know any Israelis.

        “what difference would this make, so palestinians could learn to love their oppressor? ”

        Not at all. It’s about understanding, not love. And it really isn’t your call to make. You know, I marvel at the way you refuse to condemn Palestinian suicide bombing because you don’t want to dictate resistance tactics, but you have no trouble criticizing the Palestinian women taking part in this group. You’re really full of it.

      • annie
        annie
        March 21, 2014, 4:42 pm

        terrorism…..suicide bombing

        check

        i was asking for evidence.”

        It’s largely an opinion question

        so again, that would be a no, no evidence to back your allegations. check.

        Obviously, it’s all because of coexistence programs that this happened.

        sarcasm/divert, check.

        it really isn’t your call to make.

        yeah, i think i made that point myself after you invented some allegation out of nowhere that normalization was based on my own personal politics! i repeat: who am i to tell them to normalize? like i know better than them? like you do?

        ……

        It’s about understanding, not love.

        oh heavens, how could i have been so thoughtless. here:

        if the Palestinians actually developed any positive feeling about Israelis.

        “what difference would this make, so palestinians could learn to understand their oppressor? ”

        all better?

        see ya round, boring, like swatting flies. plus, you typed “you” 21 times in your first response to me, and only 11 last time!!! wow.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        March 21, 2014, 6:32 pm

        ” You’re against that, that recognition of common humanity thing. At the end of the day, whatever you believe about the power relationship, the Palestinians will never, ever achieve their goals if they can’t recognize the humanity of Israelis and Jews, ”

        Difficult for the Palestinians to recognize the humanity of those who deny theirs.
        Interesting to see hophmi discovering the idea of common humanity.

      • peeesss
        peeesss
        March 23, 2014, 1:49 am

        Hophmi and the other “liberal” Zionists who see “normalization,” projects so appealing , showing a “positive ” image of Israeli Jews which will lead us to the promised land finally. How do these “humanistic’ endeavors negate the images a Palestinian,man woman , child see every day, checkpoints, beatings, nightly raids, lack of water and food, imprisonment , demolishing of homes, businesses, villages, curfews, Walls. Daily violence, shootings by the IOF and racist fanatic settlers. Hard to put a “positive ” light on these occurrences no matter how many pounds one loses. “Normalization” that will succeed in allowing Palestinian Muslims and Christians to see the Israeli Jews in a positive manner would be to respect International Law and leave the Palestinian territories, apologize to the indigenous Palestinian people and allow them to , finally, live in peace and security.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        March 21, 2014, 3:45 pm

        @Annie

        hops, haven’t there been these kinds of normalization projects for decades? can you point out where it served palestinian long term interests?

        I can. After the 1929 revolt the period till 1935 of peace created a group of Israelis who viewed coexistence as possible. The ethnic cleansers were a minority within the Haganah they did not have universal or even majority support. The Israeli-Arabs that exist today probably owe their lives to those 6 years of normalization.

        Or another example. The period from 1967-1987 in the West Bank. Those memories of shopping in Ramallah, having a Palestinian maid, being able to freely travel without risk were what made the Israelis kept trying to deescalate rather than escalate like they did in 1937, 1947 in Gaza today … They really genuinely wanted peace and were willing to make strong promises at Oslo. The peace process of Oslo failed for a variety reasons. But are you happier with how the 2nd intifada turned out where the Israelis were less concerned with peace?

        Do you really think if Israelis thought of Palestinians the way they think of Syrians it would be in Palestinians long term interests?

      • annie
        annie
        March 21, 2014, 4:58 pm

        Those memories of shopping in Ramallah, having a Palestinian maid

        that sounds just heavenly jeff.

      • just
        just
        March 21, 2014, 5:07 pm

        Ah, for the good old, bad old days.

        Nice to see you admit to ethnic cleansing, though!

        ” The ethnic cleansers were a minority within the Haganah they did not have universal or even majority support.”

      • tree
        tree
        March 21, 2014, 6:39 pm

        …the period from 1967-1987 in the West Bank. Those memories of shopping in Ramallah, having a Palestinian maid, being able to freely travel without risk were what made the Israelis kept trying to deescalate rather than escalate like they did in 1937, 1947 in Gaza today …

        Love the neo-colonial waxing poetic over having a Palestinian maid. Its so you. However, you’ve just proven Annie’s point. Twenty years of Israelis being able to shop in Ramallah and take on Palestinian maids didn’t lead to any long term gains for the Palestinians. All during that time Israel continued the occupation and continued to steal more and more private Palestinian land to create more Jewish only settlements. Its just like Uri Avnery said. During times of quiet there’s no reason to end the occupation in the Israeli Jewish mindset because, after all things are quiet so all must be OK. If the Palestinians get tired of the oppression and protest, well, Israel can’t end the occupation then, because that would would be giving in to violence. So unfortunately, there is no time that is a good time to end the occupation, or the land theft, or the killing, or the collective punishment. But here, we’ll help you lose weight as long as you acknowledge how we are showing how very peaceful we are by actually being in the same room with you when it suits our purpose.

      • tree
        tree
        March 21, 2014, 6:45 pm

        For JeffB and Hophmi, so they can wax nostalgic for the “good ole days”.

    • justicewillprevail
      justicewillprevail
      March 21, 2014, 1:15 pm

      Well, hopper, you do a pretty good impression of hatred and spite in your innumerable posts which always betray a lack of comprehension or understanding of the article in question, as long as you can repeat your cast-in-stone allegations and routine insults. It’s a pity you reach for the knee jerk reaction on every piece. That’s a pity for you, btw, since repetition makes for ‘skip past this post’.

    • Cliff
      Cliff
      March 21, 2014, 3:00 pm

      @hopknee

      Extremists like you tar anyone who wants to meet with an Israeli as essentially a traitor, and extremists in my community do the same thing with liberal Zionists who believe in negotiation.

      You are the only one here who thrives on hate.

      Normalization is the issue. Not simply ‘meeting with an Israeli’.

      Meet all you want. Don’t then try to paint the conflict as a misunderstanding.

      It’s not.

      It’s about your greed and theft of Historic Palestine.

      And as someone who calls Palestinians, Nazis and genocidal and continually exploits and raises the spectre of suicide bombing (800 deaths in 30 years for all suicide ‘attacks’ IN GENERAL) while ignoring/downplaying/justifying the far more numerous and far more destructive violence by Israel and Israelis – you have NO moral legitimacy to lecture your opposition.

      You are a Jewish fascist and ethnoreligious nationalist/extremist.

      It is evident by your numerous comments that you hate non-Jews.

      You have at various times defended Nazi-like propaganda used against Palestinians. You have defended Jewish terrorism during the Mandate.
      You have defended pedophilia in the Orthodox Jewish community.
      You have defended censorship mobilized by the organized Jewish community.

      Etc. etc.

      You are a totally predictable Zionist troll. The only reason we respond to you here is because you are an easy target.

      It’s easy to put you on blast since you’re a walking-talking caricature of Zionism.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        March 21, 2014, 3:36 pm

        Yeah, Cliff, it’s me who’s predictable. LOL.

  2. Citizen
    Citizen
    March 21, 2014, 1:45 pm

    So now the hasbara agents have not just targeted homosexuals and lesbians but overweight females? Anything to throw up a smoke screen to hide the on-going Israeli land-grabbing, home demolishing, the picking on Palestinian kids and their culture, trying to erase it?

  3. joer
    joer
    March 21, 2014, 2:43 pm

    Who wouldn’t want two enemies to come together and talk about common human problems everyone shares? But with the Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons, along with the “put Gaza on a diet” comment the author mentions, this whole thing seems like a sick joke…like Hermann Goering getting weight loss tips from Anne Frank.

    It’s perfectly fine if some Arabs and Jews want to get together and lose weight, but please don’t try to make it a substitute for a real solution to the occupation and refugee problems. The naive idealist propose that once they talk about losing weight, then they will talk about the important issues. But they don’t realize the Israelis and Palestinians have been talking for years. The Israelis usually say something like: We are bulldozing your home today. You have ten minutes to get some things and leave. And the Palestinians say something like: We aren’t going far and we intend to come back.

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      March 21, 2014, 3:38 pm

      “Who wouldn’t want two enemies to come together and talk about common human problems everyone shares?”

      The BDS movement.

      “It’s perfectly fine if some Arabs and Jews want to get together and lose weight, but please don’t try to make it a substitute for a real solution to the occupation and refugee problems.”

      This is not what these groups do.

      “The naive idealist propose that once they talk about losing weight, then they will talk about the important issues.”

      Actually, it’s really quite standard to approach dialogue that way. I don’t get the sense that people here are into dialogue. But that’s the way it works. You develop a common humanity, and then you address the difficult stuff.

      People here are not into that complexity. They take the easy way out, always.

      • joer
        joer
        March 21, 2014, 4:20 pm

        Hophni:

        The people here as well as BDS are into dialogue. You just don’t like what they have to say. You would rather the dialogue be about losing weight. They want to talk about the occupation and the refugees. But don’t worry, I believe once the odious system of separation, discrimination, and exclusion is replaced with a modern democratic state, Palestinians will be willing to share all their diet tips in a nice friendly shmooze.

      • annie
        annie
        March 21, 2014, 4:51 pm

        yeah, let’s visualize dieting after the occupation is over.

        or i have an idea, they could role play. bring doggie leashes and have israelis crawl around leashed on the floor on all 4’s while palestinians whip them or kick them along. or what about those torture positions (heard about the banana?) i bet israelis could get some real understanding of palestinians if they could reverse roles once a week. in a private setting for course. and israelis could pay for this service, to be degraded. i’m sure that would make it more meaningful for them. actually, i bet israelis would change course fast if their kids were being tortured and locked up. if results are what we’re looking for , this should be worth considering.

        game anyone? hops?

      • just
        just
        March 21, 2014, 4:55 pm

        Sounds like a sure way to engender a smidgeon of empathy………….or a soupçon of reality.

  4. ritzl
    ritzl
    March 21, 2014, 2:57 pm

    Hophmi, as Annie said, if this was a one-off situation you’d have a point. But it’s just another installment in an overall, long-term process of showcasing the “feel good” side of a decades-long, dehumanizing Occupation and colonization project.

    A better take on this would be to ask how this program mitigates the original sin of the Occupation from a Palestinian perspective. Does it stop or reduce home demolitions? Or is it just another attempt to show that Palestinians can [be made/enticed to] get along with Jewish-Israelis while home demolitions continue apace? I think the latter is more likely the case, as the pacification of Palestinians into ignorability seems to be a GoI objective.

    So maybe the stick-back question to you is, how can something like this be used to stop home demolitions? How can things like these notionally (disbelief suspended for a sec) well-intentioned efforts be used to the benefit of Palestinian society? Or maybe even more directly, how do they benefit Palestinian society, in your mind?

  5. JeffB
    JeffB
    March 21, 2014, 3:29 pm

    @Tareq —

    I’ve always been strongly of the opinion that anti-Normalization is a terrible terrible terrible idea with a long history of failure. From 1922 on there has been this idea that if Arabs just stand together and boycott Jews / Israel / Zionism… the whole thing will disappear. IMHO the largest danger to the Palestinians is the post wall creation of a generation of Israelis with no positive memories of Palestinians.

    However much you may dislike (and understandably so) the current Knesset the entire leadership has memories from the 1970s and early 1980s of peaceful coexistence. Not equality, not justice but at least images that something other than an all-out fight to the death was possible. Since the 2nd intifada a generation of Israelis exist for whom their only or dominant interactions with Palestinians are hostile. Those people are now the ground troops of the IDF. What do you think happens in a generation when they assume control of Israeli society? Do you really want Israel governed by people whom deep down in their heart of hearts feel nothing for the Palestinians at all but anger, resentment and fear? For whom the unfortunate rhetoric of this generation doesn’t have even a vague shadow of a counterbalance from memories that contradict it?

    This anti-Normalization morality is frankly one of the dumbest most counter productive strategies I can imagine. I do my best to follow this dialogue and have never heard an even halfway plausible argument that makes sense. At the end of the day this program creates seven Israelis who view Palestinians as human being who share a common humanity and with whom under some set of circumstances peace could be possible. Slim Peace times 500,000 is how you create an electorate that is willing to take the risk needed for whatever kind of just society you picture.

    I have no idea what the Israel of 2035 is going to look like. But Slim Peace is a far healthier picture than most of the alternatives I see. I’ll end with this question whose analogy should be obvious. If you could go back in time to Palestinians in the 1st intifada with the much more left Israeli electorate of 1990 would you advise them to immediately step up the violence and move towards what you see in the West Bank and Gaza today or to present a plan for co-existence and work with that group of Israelis on trying to build a common country?

  6. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    March 22, 2014, 5:28 am

    Because the essence of “Slim Peace” seems to be the pr aspect of “Can’t we all just get along? Yes, we can.” I see the author’s point. When you bring a camera into the room the reality changes and if your purpose is pr, then it is not about humans.

    But in general I think anti normalization sucks, truly sucks. Yes, solidarity forever. But if you are aiming for one state solution, how are you going to get there and how are you going to know what to do when you get there if there have been no human relationships.

    But let us leave aside Palestinians in Ramallah and Israelis in Jerusalem for a moment. The new york times article described some group happening in Boston. Now it is wrong for Arabs living in America to talk to Jews in Boston because of the rules of anti normalization?! Give me a break. This is a bunch of crap. If you wish to boycott Israelis in Israel or official Israeli representatives that’s one thing. But if you want to boycott the Jews of Boston, it’s quite another. Try to pretend that your boycott of normalization is helping people in America get along with each other? Please spare me. Go preach to the choir. You are an obstacle, not a bridge. Get out of the way.

    • Cliff
      Cliff
      March 22, 2014, 6:22 am

      Wondering Jew said:

      Now it is wrong for Arabs living in America to talk to Jews in Boston because of the rules of anti normalization?!

      This isn’t about Arabs living in America talking to Jews in Boston (also part of America).

      This is about normalization which you concede to be about PR.

      Arabs and Jews already talk to each other. So why must they talk to each other in a PR stunt?

      That is the context. Not simply ‘talking’.

      You apparently understand this, but the propagandist/Zionist in you simply cannot resist railing against author/MW.

      You are the obstacle, Wondering Jew. Not those who correctly identify these Brand Israel 2-State-Prison-PR stunts for what they are.

      • puppies
        puppies
        March 24, 2014, 7:44 am

        @Citizen – Besides, why should someone of the invaded and deported people talk to a Zionist? There is a war going on. If I can refuse to even greet anyone I know is a Zionist thousands of miles away from Palestine, why can’t all Palestinians and supporters?
        Shunning people who support your enemy in a war is an important gesture.
        I am sure some tribal leftovers, especially here at Mondoweiss, are horrified at the idea while they support BDS. Anyone will tell you, though, that the sting of such boycotts is not in the commercial effect: it is in making the guilty party feel that they are effectively pariahs for the civilized world. That’s why the academic boycott raises such a storm.
        To those of you who believe that the “Jewish” public is of any significance: if most of us learned to cut off our fanatical Zionist biological relatives and fanatical Zionist buddies, I am sure the boycott effect would be achieved much sooner.

    • justicewillprevail
      justicewillprevail
      March 22, 2014, 6:40 am

      As a complete (deliberate) misunderstanding of the article and its point, this takes the biscuit. Along with some moral grandstanding. Well done yf, for excellent rewriting and inverting the point made – comes naturally to the hasbrats of course.

    • puppies
      puppies
      March 22, 2014, 10:49 am

      @Friedman -Stop pretending ignorance of the fact that this is a war. A shooting war started officially by the Zionist entity in November 1947. You are advocating the sneaky ensnarement of the victims. And Palestinians are not in this because they are Arabs, just as the “Jews” here wouldn’t be in this if they were not Zionists. You may talk about bridges after your sponsor makes peace with the Palestinian people on terms fully acceptable to the population, not the Zionists’ puppets.

  7. JeffB
    JeffB
    March 23, 2014, 9:21 pm

    @peeesss says:

    Hophmi and the other “liberal” Zionists who see “normalization,” projects so appealing , showing a “positive ” image of Israeli Jews which will lead us to the promised land finally. How do these “humanistic’ endeavors negate the images a Palestinian,man woman , child see every day, checkpoints, beatings, nightly raids, lack of water and food, imprisonment , demolishing of homes, businesses, villages, curfews, Walls. Daily violence, shootings by the IOF and racist fanatic settlers.

    Behavior changes belief. Someone who organizes checkpoints will usually build a belief structure in which checkpoints are valuable and needed. Someone who performs beatings will usually build a belief structure justifying the beatings. Conversely someone who spends a lot of time interacting with Palestinians in a normalized way will usually come to view Palestinians as normal.

    For the Palestinians they get a chance to look at Israel from a non opposition context. What would it be like if there was peace? They get to experience what Israeli society has to offer and get to decide if they are really sure they want to reject it.

    Nightly raids, water deprivation…. are deliberate policies. They can be changed at the snap of a fingers if both sides want them changed. The difficulty is to create the want of change not to create the change.

  8. annie
    annie
    March 24, 2014, 1:26 am

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      March 24, 2014, 7:12 am

      @Annie

      Remi Kanazi is very talented. I’ve always thought that was a well done video well delivered. Some of the camera angel shifts are a bit too much and distracting.

      But in the end he is just dead wrong. It isn’t coming to an end. There is no sign of that. Basically his argument is “your society did bad stuff to mine so I don’t want to talk”. Which is an understandable emotional reaction. The question is whether he wants Israeli society to continue to do bad stuff to the Palestinian society. If the answer to that question is “yes” then alienate and antagonize them.

      As I’ve said before. However bad Israelis are in 2014, Israel is run by people who have some positive memories about Palestinians. Some times in their past when they had emotions other than hate, contempt, fear, anger… towards Palestinians. What happens by 2040 when that’s not true anymore? As a Jew I watch Remi’s little talk, fully understanding his point, and say well the guy is kinda angry and dangerous. I agreed with a lot of Bin-Laden’s points too, but I’m an American so my agreeing with Bin-Ladin’s points didn’t change my position on supporting the war on terror.

      The question for me is “are Palestinians willing to live in Israel at peace with Israelis”. Everything in that video except for the last 8 seconds or so, points to the answer being “no”. If the answer is “no” then he’s right there isn’t much to talk about. The tribal war just needs to go the distance. I don’t believe he really means that. And in the last 8 seconds he sort of reverses himself and hints at “yes”. I’d be interested in what he meant by those vague yes-type statements in the last 8 seconds. But that requires a dialogue to figure out. And that’s what he’s just ruled out.

      So in the end if this is the Palestinians strategy they get thrown out. They like I’ve said before they seem to want to replay the Jewish-Roman wars from the Jewish side. Hophmi is absolutely right about how dialogue works. The North Vietnamese / American dialogue started with a long discussion about the permanent negotiating table. They wanted to get the participants who had never negotiated anything together used to be able to talk, discuss and compromise. Just get a feel for one another on issues like when we are breaking for lunch before moving on to serious issues about troop withdraw. And those two sides had far less deep reason to hate each other than the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Americans did much less to the Vietnamese than the Israelis did to the Palestinians, and the Vietnamese never went after America proper it was always a pure anti-colonial war.

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