Monday, October 27, 2014

ILAN PAPPE at the Isr/Pal Mission Network

I attended the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) last week.
Here is a summary of what Ilan Pappe said (in his new book) and at the conference. JRK

Ilan Pappé on I/P

Isr/Palestine Mission Network Conference, 2014
(summary by John Kleinheksel Sr)

Today’s headline in the NY Times screams: Benjamin Netanyahu Expedites Plan for 1,000 New Homes in East Jerusalem. JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Monday expedited the planning for more than 1,000 new apartments in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, a move certain to ignite international outrage as well as to exacerbate fissures in Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

The announcement, along with a parallel push for new roads and other infrastructure projects in the occupied West Bank, came amid escalating protests and violence by Palestinian residents of Jerusalem that many see as the stirrings of a third intifada, or uprising (Jodi Rudoren, 10/27/14).

This is but one more consistent step in the Israeli government’s clear (but disguised) attempt to expand into every square inch of I/P at the expense of the minority Palestinians.

The 80 + or – attendees of the Isr/Pal Mission Network at the Cenacle Retreat Center (Oct. 23-25, 2014) had come to hear Professor Ilan Pappé, one of the celebrated “New Historians” in Exile in the UK from his homeland, Israel. He spoke as an historian and observer of the current state of affairs in I/P.

First a word of background: He has just finished publishing The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge. In it he debunks the idea that there can be an “objective” history of the land and the people. He shows how the “aliens” the Jews found in the land became “terrorists” when they demanded their land back. In Part II he outlines Israel’s “Post-Zionist moment” when he and other “new historians” called into question the official “idea of Israel” as a “just, democratic movement of national liberation” (p. 7).

He outlines the eclipse and co-opting of the Post-Zionist period (roughly 1990 – 2000) with what he calls the “Triumph of New Zionism” (chapters 11, 12) and the “branding” of Israel as “a war of liberation against inexplicable Arab barbarism” (p. 296).

The first words out of his mouth (at the conference) were, “We need to challenge [the above] common view”. “Every day is worse than the day before. The suffering [of the Palestinians] gets worse day by day”.

He then proceeded to describe how early Zionists dreamed of a Jewish democracy that would exclude the natives, from the beginning of the Zionist movement in the late 19th century. By the 1930s, the settlers began creating the infrastructure for the future state. It was to include as much land as possible with as few Arabs as possible.

By enthroning Holocaust memory and forbidding any mention of the Nakba (the Arab version of what happened in 1948), they disallowed any Palestinian history of suffering. When the Occupation really established control over virtually all of the land in 1967, discontent from Arab Palestinians intensified. Since then, it has been virtually impossible to contain the rebellion.

Then the speaker, Ilan Pappé, went on. Granting full citizenship rights to the 20% Palestinian minority in Israel was unthinkable. Nor would they would be free to join with West Bank Palestinian Arabs. The refugees in Gaza would be their prison. The River Jordan would be the non-negotiable national border for the Israeli State.
From 2000 (and the 2nd Intifada), the Israeli public has turned decidedly to the right, desperately seeking to keep the lid on the boiling pot of acid that is Palestinian rebellion against the takeover of their land and their rights.

On the next day, a four-person panel discussed issues the IPMN should address in the coming years. Mr. Pappé gave three or four suggestions:

1. Disregard hysterical Israeli criticism of BDS (boycotts, divestment & sanctions) and embrace it

2. Use the word “Colonialism” in regards to what Israel has wrought and renounce it

3. Use the word “Apartheid” and insist on equal rights for all the inhabitants of the land

4. Be aware of Israeli attempts to curb Muslim worship in Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques and resist it

(Today, Yusef Munayyer, of the Jerusalem Fund) reports: In recent weeks, tensions have been ratcheting up because of circumstances on the ground,” Munayyer said. “You’re seeing much stricter Israeli policies when it comes to who gets to go where, including Muslims going to pray in Al-Aqsa mosque. Increasing visits by Jewish groups to the precincts of Al-Aqsa, while keeping the Palestinians out of the compound, is adding “fuel to the fire,” [Daniel] Goldenblatt said. (Oct. 27, 2014).