As Palestine takes center stage and as we continue to gain ground on the international solidarity front, with BDS and by other means, more punitive measures to silence and disrupt the justice for Palestine camp is to be expected. Case in point, is the recent passing of the bipartisan resolution in the House of Foreign Affairs Committee, entitled, “Words Have Consequences: Palestinian Authority Incitement to Violence.” Once again, the US government demonstrates its appalling hypocrisy on Israel/Palestine.
In the meantime, Israelis would like to see more incitement from their government. According to political analyst Yousef Munnayer, opinion polls overwhelmingly show that Israelis think that Netanyahu is too soft on Palestinians. This week’s ‘most-read’ article in the Washington Post by Israeli novelist Assaf Gavron similarly sounds the alarm bells. He warns: “We Israelis are in a fast and alarming downward swirl into a savage, unrepairable society.”
To magnify the urgency of the present situation, the writer, who served in the Israeli army, throws the Palestinians under the bus and whitewashes the first intifada. Those were “the good old days”, the writer reminisces. The words crafted to sound whimsical, almost endearing, with ‘a boys will be boys’ sentiment, fell heavily on my ears.
Those were not good days for the Palestinian people under Israeli military occupation. Thousands were imprisoned. Collective punishment in the form of curfews was imposed on whole villages and towns for weeks on end. Schools and universities were closed by military order, so education became illegal; classes were held underground and at homes, if at all. Olive trees and other crops; mainstay of Palestinian agricultural economy were destroyed. Homes were arbitrarily and routinely demolished. And the late defense Minister Rabin’s infamous ‘strategy of might and force’ through breaking bones, torture and mass imprisonment is well documented.
Belittling Palestinian suffering is commonplace in Israeli society – as his article would attest; therein lies the irony – even among the so-called ‘enlightened’, it seems.
Moving forward, the writer is clear that today, he wants to see an end to the occupation, but to save the Israeli soul, albeit, he does acknowledge Palestinian suffering [under occupation]. Nevertheless, Gavron sites ample evidence of Israeli incitement and violence, admitting, “the internal discussion in Israel is more militant, threatening and intolerant than it has ever been.” On social media, “any sentiment not aligned with the supposed consensus is met with a barrage of racist vitriol.”
The irony is that some of the most extreme cases of racist incitement to violence in Israel have collapsed binaries as viciously as they had been constructed. Most people who inhabit that spot of land are largely indistinguishable and Arab and Jew are not mutually exclusive categories. From his platform in Washington, among friends and allies, Gavron’s plea for the ‘soul of a nation’ falls on deaf ears.
One must wonder then, to what extent is the enabling of Israeli society, on the part of some ‘friends’ and ‘allies’, rooted in anti-Semitism? A bi-national Israel/Palestine could potentially be a viable solution for both people[s]; some believe it is already in the making.