Time for Palestine solidarity to liberate itself
By Gilad Atzmon
The Palestine solidarity movement is being hijacked and forced to swallow a Judaeo-centric agenda that has nothing to do with the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland from which they were ethnically cleansed.
Palestine solidarity activists are increasingly required to subscribe to the Judaeo-centric notion that Jews and Jewish suffering are uniquely special; that Jews alone are like no other people; that the Jewish holocaust is like no other genocide; and that racism comes in degrees of vileness depending on who the victims are, with anti-Semitism being worse than any other form of racism because it targets Jews.
Conversely, according to this Judaeo-centric worldview, when it comes to the Palestinians the exact opposite is the case.
We are told to swallow the notion that Palestinian suffering is never due to the particularity of Jewish nationalism, Jewish racism or even the domination of US foreign policy by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
We are expected to believe that, unlike the Jews, the Palestinians are not special at all and are just like everyone else. Palestinians, we are now required to believe, are not the victims of a unique, racist, nationalist and expansionist Jewish nationalist movement. Instead, we are told to agree that, as with Native Americans and Africans, the ordeal of the Palestinian people is the result of run-of-the-mill 19th century colonialism – just more of the same old boring apartheid.
So, we are instructed to swallow the racist notion that Jews, Zionists and Israelis are exceptional, like no one else, while Palestinians are always, somehow, ordinary, always part of some greater political narrative, always just like everyone else. Their suffering is never due to the particularity of Jewish nationalism, Jewish racism or even the domination of US foreign policy by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). No, the Palestinian is always the victim of a dull, banal dynamic – general, abstract and totally lacking in particularity.
This raises some serious questions.
Can you think of any other liberation or solidarity movement that prides itself in being boring, ordinary and dull? Can you think of any other solidarity movement that downgrades its subject into just one more meaningless exhibit in a museum of materialist historical happenings? I don’t think so.
Did the black South Africans see themselves as like everyone else? Did Martin Luther King believe his brothers and sisters to be inherently undistinguishable? I don’t think so.
So, how did the Palestine solidarity movement manage to sink so low that its spokespersons and supporters compete with each other to see who can best eliminate the uniqueness of the Palestinian struggle into just another part of a general historical trend such as colonialism or apartheid?
…if Jewish nationalism is inherently exceptional as the Zionists proclaim, is it not only natural that the victims of such a distinctive racist endeavour are at least themselves just as distinctive?
The answer is simple. The Palestine solidarity movement has become an occupied zone and, like all such occupied zones, must dedicate itself to the fight against “anti Semitism” above all else. And not just that. While increasingly the movement is dutifully united against racism, fully engaged with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual issues in Palestine and within the movement itself, for some reason it is becoming almost indifferent towards the fate of millions of Palestinians living in refugee camps and their right to return to their homeland.
But all this can change. Palestinians and their supporters could begin to see their cause for what it is: unique and distinctive. This need not be all that difficult. After all, if Jewish nationalism is inherently exceptional as the Zionists proclaim, is it not only natural that the victims of such a distinctive racist endeavour are at least themselves just as distinctive?
So far, the Palestine solidarity movement has failed to liberate Palestine, but it has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in creating a Palestine solidarity industry – one that is operating in a parallel universe and constantly courting and appeasing liberal Zionists. Thus, while activists around the world promote boycotts and sanctions, Israeli trade with Britain is booming, and Hummus Tzabar can be seen in almost every British grocery store.
All attempts to reduce the Palestinian ordeal into a dated, dull and generalized materialist narrative should be exposed for what they are: an attempt to appease liberal Zionists. Palestinian suffering is actually unique in history, at least as unique as the Zionist project.
Apartheid wanted to exploit the African, Israel wants the Palestinian gone. Colonialism is an exchange between a mother state and a settler state. Israel never had a mother state, though it may well have had a few surrogate mothers.
Recently, I came across this from the South African politician Ronnie Kasrils. In a comment on Israeli apartheid, he said: “This is much worse than apartheid..Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships; we never had sieges that lasted months after months. We never had tanks destroying houses.”
Kasrils is absolutely right. It is much worse than apartheid and far more sophisticated than colonialism. Why? Because what the Zionists did and are doing is neither apartheid nor colonialism. Apartheid wanted to exploit the African, Israel wants the Palestinian gone. Colonialism is an exchange between a mother state and a settler state. Israel never had a mother state, though it may well have had a few surrogate mothers.
Now is the time to look at the unique ordeal of the Palestinian people. Similarly, now is the time to look at the Zionist crime in the light of Jewish culture and identity politics.
Can the Palestinian solidarity movement meet this challenge? Probably. But as with Palestine, it must first itself be liberated.