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Babbler # 9408

posted 05 May 2006 11:07 PM      Profile for myata        Edit/Delete Post
Recently, a lot of media has been given to Hamas' refusal to accept Israel's right to exist. While I fully and absolutely support the latter, I believe that terminology used here, in the West, in relation to the conflict, doesn't do much to help in bringing in the solution.
Two terms, commonly used in reference to the conflict - "Middle Eastern conflict" and "Occupation of West Bank" often used in conjunction with "The right of Israel to exist", suffer different, but equally fatal problems. One is too broad and does not explain anything. The other artificially ties the scope of the conflict to certain point in time or geographical area.
Why is this important? I recall the conflict in South Africa developing right before our eyes over the years. I haven't studied its history in any level of detail, but to me it seemed that the final stage of the conflict strangely coincided with one word's coming into wide acceptance worldwide. That word was "apartheid". Before, there were deals, allegiances, "positive" development policies. After - international boycott, widespread condemnation, followed shortly by F.W. De Clerk meeting with Nelson Mandela and the final fall.
My knowledge of the history of the Middle Eastern conflict is also pretty sketchy (mostly from the news stories) although this BBC analysis seem to be quite detailed: (and I generally tend to trust BBC on impartiality of their stories). From it, one can quickly learn that at least a couple of very important parts of the story: 1) the crucial role of the West (mostly Britain as the holder of LN's mandate for the Palestine, and US as most active sponsor of Israel's recognition by the UN) in the less than spotless affair of creation of a new state on the other peoples land, and 2) the expulsion of large number of native residents from their land following establishement of the state of Israel, aren't even reflected in any way in the terminology of the conflict commonly used in the West. In my view, such a flagrant oversight (whether intentional or not) in itself may now play a bigger role in fanning out the conflict than the unfortunate events of the past.
Maybe, if only the right word would come about, in the same way as with the apartheid, it could play a big role in closing in on the final resolution of the conflict. Of course, no word in itself would do all the work - it'll need to be followed by the people on both sides willing to step over the past and move on. But it seems to me that finding such term and bringing it into common use would go a long way.

From: Ottawa | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
B.L. Zeebub LLD
Babbler # 6914

posted 06 May 2006 01:51 PM      Profile for B.L. Zeebub LLD     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Critics of Israeli policy (including Palestinians, most important of all) have long been trying to establish and spread terminology that deviates from both the standard discourse of 'anti-semitism' and 'terrorism' and the legalese of the UN and international law. The problem with getting these words (eg. nakba) into the mainstream is manifold. For one, Israel weilds substantially more political power in influential foreign capitals than the Palestinians. There are a number of political and cultural reasons for this that would take days to get into here. Additionally, substantial populations of Jews in influential Western states allow Israel, and its supporters, greater access to media which determine public discourse not only in the West, but anywhere where OUR sattelites broadcast their McWorld message.

On the side of political terminology like "Apartheid", luckily, or by design (I would argue the latter) Israel has avoided labelling their policy of excluding Palestinians in such an obviously controversial way. Instead, they have opted for the "positive" image of Jewish national inclusion and security. An official policy of hasbara has been adopted which resists using phraseology that could be turned against its masters like "Apartheid" was. They have even gone so far as to wage long-running legal battles to have the legalistic terminology of the UN (i.e. Occupied Territory) changed to suit their interests (Disputed Territory).

Such examples suggest that ambiguity suits Israel. This is also the case vis a vis "recognition". States largely exist by reciprocity, and recognise each other based on clearly defined borders and so on. Without clear definitions, bi-lateral and international law can't work. Israel has deliberately resisted defining its borders. If I were a Palestinian, I would ask, what Israel am I to recognise? An Israel from the Sea to the Jordan or what? Am I recognising the same Israel that ethnically cleansed me and my neighbours and continues to oppress me to make space for itself? Why should I lend any credence to that? It's nice for all of us who aren't surrounded by the to say "I recognise Israel", but what does it mean for the average Palestinian?

[ 06 May 2006: Message edited by: B.L. Zeebub LLD ]

From: A Devil of an Advocate | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 9408

posted 06 May 2006 06:11 PM      Profile for myata        Edit/Delete Post
I'd like to reiterate that in my view and at this point in the conflict there's no way around full recognition of Israel for any party which has a genuine wish to see the end of the conflict.
My point it that terminology used in the West isn't helping to resolve (if not actually playing a role in prolonging) the conflict. Through shifting focuses, obscuring critical events, denying responsibilities.
[edited - grammar]

[ 06 May 2006: Message edited by: myata ]

From: Ottawa | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged

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