Egyptian blogger from Cairo.
Revolutionary Socialist.
Partner & Creative Director at ThePlanet.

Normalizing the Illegal State of Israel

Under: General Tags: . .

My sister Novi, Nevine Shalaby, shared with me the following video campaign by Avaaz that aims to gather support for the recognition of Palestine as a state with a spot in the United Nations.

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At first, the video appears as an astute method to simplify a bit of a pickle in the heart of the Arab world. After all, a dense Chomsky-style essay is not going to do a great deal in gearing the average Joe’s attention to a matter of such importance.

There were a number of points brought forward in the video, and I’d like to go over some of them:

  1. Both Palestinians and Israelis call it the homeland
  2. After WWII Western nations divided the land, but the Arabs rejected
  3. Wars broke out, Israel won, taking control of Palestinian land
  4. Israel has built settlements, which are like colonies, that are illegal
  5. Palestinians have to go through checkpoints
  6. Palestinians don’t have a place to call home
  7. Situation resulted in violence, killing 1,000 Israelis and 6,000 Palestinians
  8. Millions of Jews were murdered during the holocaust, and are fighting harder for a safe homeland out of fear
  9. Palestinians are desperate for freedom and an independent state
  10. Most Israelis and Palestinians agree on the two-state solution, and so does Obama
  11. Powerful extremists in the Middle East, and Washington, are standing in the way of change
  12. A global campaign is needed for peace between both sides

Do you see the problem? For the sake of this post, let’s ignore the fact that the people behind this video engage in dubious pro-Zionist activities and receive very sketchy funding. Let’s revisit the points and read between the lines

  1. Both Palestinians and Israelis call it the homeland
    For starters, both sides are longing for the same land because they believe it’s their land. It’s not like Palestinians lived there long before Britain decided to hand over the territories to a group of Zionists or anything. It’s simply two sides after the same target.
  2. After WWII Western nations divided the land, but the Arabs rejected
    Had the Arabs agreed, we wouldn’t have had any problems. But it is the Arabs who would not agree to accept a new country installed amongst them. Why they gotta be like dat?!
  3. Wars broke out, Israel won, taking control of Palestinian land
    When a war breaks out, you win or you lose. Israel was fortunate enough to win, so they take control. It’s a fair deal.
  4. Israel has built settlements, which are like colonies, that are illegal
    Nevermind Israel itself, no need to look at the pre-1967 borders, let’s focus our attention on the settlements, because that’s the only problem, really,
  5. Palestinians have to go through checkpoints
    It’s fine to have checkpoints, even if they ‘sometimes’ last for hours? Thankfully, none of them are within Palestinian territories, and no humiliation takes place. It’s just an inconvenience.
  6. Palestinians don’t have a place to call home
    The problem is that there isn’t a place the Palestinians can call their own, so we need to find them a place. Don’t be naive to think that they DO have a place to call, it’s just occupied by people who don’t belong there!
  7. Situation resulted in violence, killing 1,000 Israelis and 6,000 Palestinians
    The situation become ‘complicated’. Naturally, both sides start to fight against each other, and people die on both sides. It’s a normal one-on-one with casualties on either end, the small differences in numbers is not the issue. The numbers could’ve been reversed, you know? With over 3,000 dead in a single wave of attacks on Gaza in 2009 – we’re certain that the total casualties of all years is about 6,000!
  8. Millions of Jews were murdered during the holocaust, and are fighting harder for a safe homeland out of fear
    That’s it! I knew they’d pull the Holocaust card, works like a charm! All they want is a safe homeland, they just don’t want to suffer another genocide, is that too much to ask for? The Palestinians, on the other hand, didn’t suffer from any genocide, so what are they scared of? Why can’t they give peace a chance? Why do they have to resort to terrorism?
  9. Palestinians are desperate for freedom and an independent state
    Don’t worry, they’re not after the right to return (because they have no interest). All they want, is to have a state recognized by the UN because we all know how well Israel has abided by the resolutions, and becoming part of the UN is the perfect solution. Also, the last thing on their mind is having direct access to their own resources, they just want to print post cards that say ‘We’re a state now, bitchezzz!’
  10. Most Israelis and Palestinians agree on the two-state solution, and so does Obama
    Unless by ‘Palestinians’ they mean ‘Moderate’ Jews living in settlements, then I’m not sure from which British tabloid did they dig out the stats. Also, isn’t that the same Obama that, in his first appearance after winning the primaries, spoke at AIPAC and declared Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel? I’m sorry, I thought it was the same guy.
  11. Powerful extremists in the Middle East, and Washington, are standing in the way of change
    As the visuals clearly suggest, the Arabs are all in ‘terrorist’ uniforms holding weapons, while the Israelis are in suits. One side is acting barbarically, and the other is reverting to diplomacy. Which team will you rout for?
  12. A global campaign is needed for peace between both sides
    We don’t want anything from Israel. Both sides are having issues, even though many civilians on both ends wish for peace. What we need to do is to take the streets with the Palestinian and Israeli flags side-by-side and just be cute for a change. Both sides are equally responsible for the sticky situation they find themselves in, and they just need to learn to get along, and collectively hug a teddy bear.

You don’t need to put this video in the context of pro-Zionist Avaaz to understand the real aim behind it. With a campaign as such, any question of Israel’s legitimacy is discarded, any chances of return to pre-1967 borders is abolished, and anyone thinking that this is an illegal Israeli occupation resulting in an inhumane apartheid is absolutely insane. Even some of those who oppose the Israeli government are bound to fall for this and think it’s for everyone’s good. Clearly it’s not.

And just in case you brush off my interpretation as a rejection of any Western media’s attempt to improve the Palestinian situation, here’s a video by a white man, on an American channel, tackling the same issue. Only this time, the aim is to reveal the brutal occupation, not solidify the legitimacy of illegal Israel. It’s brilliant:

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Zionists are a minority. Those who get a kick out of watching the Palestinians crumble as they expand their territory are actually quiet small in numbers. Even if main stream media (especially in the US) tells a story that’s almost unrecognizable with bias, alternative and independent sources of news and opinions are strong enough to combat. At the end of the day, it’s the numbers that matter, and with a network across the web and on the ground mobilizing, we’ll bring an end to the apartheid regime.

Power to the people – victory’s within reach, and justice will prevail.

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12 comments

Adel Helal (@adelhelal)

August 29, 2011

Seriously, are we as Arabs going to succumb to complaining about every single thing that gets published, Western based or not? This video is clearly pro-Palestinian, and works to help legitimise the Palestinian cause, whether it explains every detail or not (especially since its a 4 minutes video) is better than the videos we see about Israel trying to “defend” itself against Arab “tyrany”.

The more we spend time trying to complain about these things without moving forward, the more Palestine will be completely Israel.

I am a strong supporter of the 1-state solution with a majority vote for all Palestinians including refugees involved. But at the moment its not realistic.

There is one key word we need to gain from this state of Palestine: “re-group”. We dont have the man power to demand anything right now, so we need to re-organise.

Please read my blog post about this issue: Why is the two-state solution the best option for Arabs?
http://hubofmiddleeastpolitics.blogspot.com/2011/07/why-is-two-state-solution-best-option.html

Tarek Shalaby

August 29, 2011

Hey Adel,

I believe there’s no 2-ways to the 1-state solution. Settling for any less than what we deserve is giving up for no solid reason. I read your post and I think your plea is a bit desperate.

You make the assumption that Israel is a power house that’s here to stay, when in fact it didn’t even exist 70 years ago.

Revolutions are rarely expected, and they’re always deemed ‘unrealistic’, until they happen. I think we have the numbers and that morale to fight to the very end, and I don’t see why we should settle for any less. It’s ironic you mention man power, because that’s precisely our strong point.

On a strategic level, it’s obvious that the America’s unconditional support to the Zionist movement is bound to end – it’s become difficult to hide it from, and then explain it to, the American people. Moreover, when oil runs out, and the Arab population within Israel becomes an overwhelming majority, the entire dynamic will shift.

So I don’t see why we should give up, and I’m rather optimistic about victory – it’s only a matter of time. I should also reiterate my admiration for the second video which I think strongly aids our struggle.

Thanks for the comment and post.

Adel Helal (@adelhelal)

August 29, 2011

I definately agree the second video is much more precise about the situation, but again, a campaign for a Palestinian sovereign state could not harm the legitimacy of Palestine, only strengthen it. Especially since the bid at the UN doesnt technically define the borders of what this new found state would comprise of, rather it would provide an entrance into the UN council to enable a voice for the Palestinians in the international community. This would result in measures for Israel to take to actually consider peace negotiations more seriously with this legitimate state body.

Might I remind you that Israel was unilaterally declared an independent state in 1948 before official borders were even established (and still to this day they are not officially recognised). The closest boundaries they have to draw were green lines one year after their declaration of “independence”.

This will help push for Palestinians to have a “truce” with Israel, not a “peace”, until such time when Egypt is ready, Syria is ready and Jordan is ready once more to unite and force Israel to adhere to any demands the Arab world requires of it. Until such time, we cannot possibly allow for more innocent civilians in Gaza or the West Bank to suffer with violent retaliations from Israel’s pathetic excuse of settling on “disputed” territories rather than “occupied” territories as they explain it.

This stance would create a solid foundation for Palestine to “begin”, and not to be “defined”.

I thank you for your post though as it is always interesting to see other people’s perspectives on the current issue.

Peter

August 29, 2011

Adel, I think we should insist on one state as a state of all its citizens. Waiting “until such time when Egypt is ready, Syria is ready and Jordan is ready” could look like Waiting for Godot.

I would also like to remind you that the so called Israeli leftists advocating for a two state solution are not really interested in the issue of justice for Palestinians, but rather for ethnic purity of the Israeli Jewish state. That is to say, once Palestinians have their own “state”, the Palestinians born/living in today’s Israel “would be free to leave”…

«Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who stated: ‘Once a Palestinian state is established, I can come to the Palestinian citizens, whom we call Israeli Arabs, and say to them “you are citizens with equal rights, but the national solution for you is elsewhere”.’»

http://www.haaretz.com/news/livni-national-aspirations-of-israel-s-arabs-can-be-met-by-palestinian-homeland-1.259321

http://www.scribd.com/doc/55179024/Palestinian-Women-Narrative-Histories-and-Gendered-Memory

So I wouldn’t be so surprised that after the declaration of the so called Palestinian state there will be prepared trucks to “transfer” some parts of population to their new “homeland”…

Dodoooooo

August 29, 2011

I think the Avaaz video does a good job. It’s in no way perfect, it could be better. But it fulfills its purpose, which I think is:

To appear quite “moderate” so as not to alienate people who are suspicious or ignorant of the Palestinian cause. And that’s most people I’m afraid.

Given that their aim is to get as many signatures as possible, I don’t see their “moderate” take on the situation as insulting or dubious. It’s called diplomacy: If you are aware that if you lay down the full reality of the injustice, most people will react suspiciously and not sign (as what they will see will conflict with what the media has taught them to think), then you should try to be more tactful in your approach.

Which is what they have done: they have sacrificed brute reality for a more seemingly moderate take because they are not trying to better inform people at this point, they are trying to make them feel comfortable enough to actually sign. (Obviously I don’t know if Avaaz is that diplomatic, but that’s at least how I interpreted the video — which is clearly “moderately” pro-Palestinian).

Now it’s another matter whether you think people should sign or not. A two-state solution as currently proposed is an insulting joke, but recognizing a vague Palestinian state without clearly defined boarders at this point seems to me to be at least one (tiny) step in the right direction.

Terri Knoll

August 29, 2011

Quote Tarak: On a strategic level, it’s obvious that the America’s unconditional support to the Zionist movement is bound to end.

This is spot on! Though Obamas statement to Israel is not strong enough in my view, he is the first president EVER to speak against Israel. Many Americans, including myself, are very involved in getting the truth out to other American’s about our funding of Israel’s terror attacks (yes they are terror attacks). We certainly shall end unconditional support. I hope it’s sooner than later. Blessings to you all!

@battutta

August 29, 2011

I think the best part of this campaign by Avaaz and the vote in the UN is that it will further reveal the extent of the Israel Lobby in the US and its stronghold over American politicians, right to the president. The Lobby is against the vote from the start since the right wing controls the Israel government and have AIPAC working for them (read Mershheimer & Walt book if you doubt this)

Already the US is threatening to withhold funds from the PA if it continues to press for statehood. I’m sure the US is using its power all over the UN to defeat this vote.

i felt the video is quit condescending with the whole teacher/student thing, and i felt like alaa aswany when he was on yosri foda talking to shafik, “you teach me? i teach you!”

there are mad flaws in the video, some that are deliberate and this raises eye brows

whoever thinks this video is good, tell me, who funded this video to fight for the palestinians? and if you say avaaz, ask yourself, who funded avaaz? and if you think its member funded, then you probably believe me if i told you im the prophet that has arrived to save you from your fatal naivte by providing a dose of the good stuff…mmm stuff is good…mmm.

DenisV

August 29, 2011

When you write about “Illegal Israel”, I do wonder what you mean by that. “Brutal occupation” I get, the point is hardly debatable by international standards. But “Illegal Israel”?

Also, as for Zionists being a minority. On the grand scale of things, you’re right, they are. But when you talk numbers, people willing to defend Israel VS. people willing to fight Israel, and their ability to do so, so far the record isn’t in favor of the second group. And the point of “Moreover, when oil runs out, and the Arab population within Israel becomes an overwhelming majority” is really moot, statistics don’t support this.

I do agree that the first video simplifies things too much, but fail to see the conclusions you’re drawing from it.

Tarek Shalaby

August 30, 2011

Peter: VERY good points you make here, thanks for sharing.

DoDo’o’o’o’o: I think you’re bending over backwards a bit too far for Avaaz, but even if we were to give them the benefit for the doubt, That still wouldn’t excuse points 7, 9, 11 and 12. Especially conveying the Arabs as terrorists and the Israelis as diplomats. And of course you understand that I’m against the two-state solution, and I see Avaaz are clearly in favor, and for the wrong reasons. But that’s my theory at this point, and it’s very difficult to prove it right or wrong (time will tell).

Terri: Thanks for your kind words of encouragement. Using US tax-payers’ money to support Israeli state terrorism does not benefit any of us. You keep up the pressure from your side, and we’ll continue the fight from ours.

Battutta: haha! Dude, gimme some of that stuff! hehe. We need to work on a post to reveal Avaaz as much as possible, but it’s going to need quiet a bit of research beforehand.

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Denis: ‘Illegal’ because it should’nt have ever been formed in the first place, and because the huge majority of its actions are on foreign lands, directly affecting the lives of millions beyond its ‘borders’.

If you’ve had the chance to visit Palestine or interact with people, you’d see the ever emerging fighting spirit. Let time be the judge on that one.

It took me 10 seconds to find you one of the numerous studies proving that oil will run out soon:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jv-QP6noOoD7u3wQqJG3xyvon-2Q?docId=CNG.c3a7214bcfe6083ee696ade4d9402691.6d1

And then another 20 seconds to find you material about the ‘demographic threat’ facing Israel (which was actually mentioned in the second video, by the way):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_citizens_of_Israel#Perceived_demographic_threat

You’re obviously entitled to your won opinion, but don’t quote facts that are inaccurate, especially since you’re obviously not closely following in the subject.

Thanks for your comment.

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DenisV.

August 30, 2011

“‘Illegal’ because it should’nt have ever been formed in the first place, and because the huge majority of its actions are on foreign lands, directly affecting the lives of millions beyond its ‘borders’.”

That’s not Illegal. That’s, like, born in sin, there’s no actual legal issue here. And mind you, “Shoudn’t have ever been formed” can be applied to a great many countries. As for Israel’s actions, you’re exaggerating, “huge majority” of them are still on not-really-debatable-unless-you-believe-all-Israel-is-foreign-land territory.

“If you’ve had the chance to visit Palestine or interact with people, you’d see the ever emerging fighting spirit. Let time be the judge on that one.” Yeah, been living there for the past 17 years, majority of them in Haifa. Most of the fighting spirit I see is actually political – arab citizens of Israel who want to be treated fairly as part of Israel country while demanding justice and end of occupation Palestinian Territories. It’s not the kind of fighting spirit you mean, I gather.

As for oil and demographics:

I actually didn’t try to argue the oil point, but since you’ve given me a study, I feel it’s only fair to counter with this http://moneywatch.bnet.com/investing/blog/against-grain/running-out-of-oil-with-no-alternative-for-a-century-dont-bet-on-it/824/ :-)

And now, demographics. I just point you back at the section of wikipedia you’ve shown me. Do you notice how it’s says “Perceived”. That’s because this rhetoric is, well, non-scientific. It’s being used by right wing Israeli politicians, mostly, to frighten the Jewish population. Look at the last paragraph of that section.

As you might’ve gathered, I do follow the subject closely, have no choice in the matter. :)

Adel Helal (@adelhelal)

September 1, 2011

Might I remind you all of the Treaty of Hudaibiya.

According to this treaty, truce was declared between the Muslims and the Quraish for ten years. If any tribe wished to enter into treaty with the Muslims it could do so, and whoever wished to enter into a treaty with the Quraish was likewise free to do so. If any one from the Quraish came to the Muslims and was converted to Islam he was to be returned to the Quraish. On the other hand, if a Muslim sought refuge with the Quraish, he was not to be delivered to the Muslims. It was further stipulated that the Muslims would withdraw that year without performing the Hajj, but they would be free to perform the Hajj the following year when they could stay in Makkah for only three days before being removed again.

It was very one sided and the pact was significantly in favor of the Quraish and most of the Muslims were critical of its terms. Umar gave expression of his dissatisfaction with the terms of the treaty. Muhammad (SAW) assured him to put faith in the truce.

During the previous seventeen years the Quraish had been waging a war against the Muslims with their aim to crush Islam. When by the treaty of Hudaibiya the Quraish agreed to a truce for a period of ten years, it amounted to a confession of their failure.

By the treaty both the Muslims and the Quraish could have allies from amongst the tribes. This was a subtle point fraught with grave consequences. As things took shape later, it was such alliances that paved the way for the conquest of Makkah by the Muslims without a single drop of blood spilled.

The more time we can spend “regrouping” by forging strong alliances amongst our bretheren, in Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya and Jordan, the stronger we will be in unity returning the homeland back to where it belongs.

Taking one step back doesn’t necessarily mean defeat.

Reference: http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Articles/companion/19_ali_bin_talib.htm

Genie

September 11, 2011

aww dammit, I just gave Avaaz a donation towards the UN thing. Dammit dammit.

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