Israel-Palestine: A Totally Unique Conflict in Human History

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by Neil Godfrey

The following post by Gilad Atzmon is copied from his blog with his permission.



It is slightly embarrassing for me to admit that sometime Zionists are actually well ahead of our favourite intellectuals in understanding the depth of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It is not that they are more clever, they are just free to explore the conflict without being subject to the tyranny of ‘political correctness’, also being proud nationalist Jews- they do not need the approval of the Jewish left thought police.

I have recently come across a short Haaretz article by Israeli writer A.B. Yehoshua*.

Yehoshua is a proud Zionist, He believes in the right of his people to dwell on Palestinian land. He is also convinced that the Jewish state is the true meaning of contemporary Jewish life. I guess that Yehoshua loves himself almost as much as I despise everything he stands for and yet, I have to confess, he seems to grasp the depth of the Israeli Palestinian conflict’s parameters slightly better than most solidarity activists I can think of.

In his Haaretz article Yehoshua stressed that Zionism was “something original and one of its kind in human history- A folk arrived at the homeland of another folk attempting to replace the old identity with a new/old identity”. Yehoshua also counters the faulty colonial paradigm and practically repeats my own theses almost word by word. “There was also no (Zionist) attempt to impose a colonial regime, since the Jews had no (mother) state that could have sent them to perform a colonial conquest like in the case of England or France.”

Yehoshua, is certainly correct here, as much as some amongst us are content to argue that Zionism is a ‘colonial project’ and Israel is a ‘settler State’, such a position has no ground and cannot be supported factually or historically. The Colonial paradigm is simply a fantasy that is clumsily imposed on our discourse in a desperate attempt to make the Israeli/Palestinian conflict meaningful within a decaying Marxist discourse.

Yehoshua continues, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will not be resolved because it’s a totally unique conflict in human history. “There is no historical precedence for a nation that decides to return to its ancient homeland and establish its sovereignty there.” Whether the conflict will be resolved or not is indeed a crucial question. I am not so sure that Yehoshua knows the answer or even can contemplate a reality in which the Jewish State belongs to the past. However, Yehoshua is obviously correct in his reading of the uniqueness of the Zionist history. We are dealing here with an exceptional and unprecedented national aspiration driving by racist impetus. But Yehoshua takes it further. “Thus,” he says, If we all accept that the modern return of Jews to Zion is a unique event in human history – then the Palestinian people, unlike any other people, had to face a totally unique phenomenon.” If we accept that Zionism is an abnormal political ideology and practice, then, Palestinian nationalism (that is defined by negation to abnormality) must be also unique, to say the least.

I must admit that Yehoshua’s stand is well-argued and totally valid. However, it means that all comparative models such as the colonial paradigm are doomed to crash. Jewish nationalism doesn’t fit into any available template, it formulates a model of its own.

According to Yehoshua, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not really about territorial issues. “Territorial issues can be resolved” he says. “In our conflict, both sides, struggle over national identity of the whole country.” Yehoshua offers here a very interesting insight that cannot be uttered within the boundaries of the Left discourse. For both parties, especially the Palestinians, he says, “it is unclear what is the size of the people it is up against, is it only the Israelis or is it also the Jewish Diaspora as a whole.” Yehoshua raises here an issue I myself have been stressing for years. It is far from being clear to anyone (including Israelis and Jews) where Israel ends and the Diaspora starts. It is also far from being clear where the Israeli ends and the Jew starts. I guess that for most contemporary Jews it is even far from being clear anymore where Zionism ends and Judaism starts. In the contemporary Jewish world there are no clear dichotomies. We are dealing with a spineless elastic metamorphic identity that shapes itself to fit every possible circumstance. This may explain how come the Jewish state can dually operate as an oppressor and a victim simultaneously.

The Israelis, according to Yehoshua are also subject to similar confusion. They also cannot figure out whether it is just the Palestinian people they are up against or is it the whole Arab nation or even the entire Muslim world. For Yehoshua, the conflict “lacks a clear demographic boundaries. This fact alone creates an initial deep distrust between the two peoples that prevents a possible solution.”

Yeshoua is far from being a brilliant mind, yet, he manages to analyse the conflict correctly just because he is free to think out of the Leftist box. Being a proud Israeli Jew he is free to say what he thinks without the need to appease half a dozen so-called ‘progressive’ Jews. Yehoshua’s analysis makes a lot of sense to me though we draw the complete opposite conclusions. I believe that ti the Palestinian solidarity discourse better liberate itself of any form of dogmatic political thinking. It is about time to look at the conflict for what it is. We must engage in a true plural debate and emancipate ourselves of any traces of rigid and anachronistic thinking.

  • The article has now disappeared from the Haaretz site. You can download a Hebrew version here.

The English version just appeared here.

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Neil Godfrey

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12 thoughts on “Israel-Palestine: A Totally Unique Conflict in Human History”

  1. Much as I respect your work on Christian origins, Vridar, I’m sorry to say I don’t much agree with your stand on these matters. You say: “an exceptional and unprecedented national aspiration driving by racist impetus”. Well, yeah, sure there’s some of that, but there was also, roundabout the end of WWII, a feeling in the West of sympathy for an uprooted people who had suffered greatly because of that rootlessness. Unfortunately that sympathy didn’t extent to some Arab states at the time. The animus against Jews in the Koran is also greatly to blame.

      1. Modern reality shows us that the Koran is still used that way in REALITY and the Bible is only used that way in THEORY. Calvinists WISH they could and talk about taking over the government and stoning everyone who they think is a blasphemer, in feigned obedience to some furrowed Old Testament command. BUT THEY DON’T DO IT. Muslims ACT ON IT still. That’s the difference.

    1. There’s also this little thing about Arab states not letting the Palestinians into their countries because they want them to be thorn in the side of Israel and are using them as cannon fodder for a Muslim agenda to get rid of the ‘Jews’ (as if the Israeli’s were even real Jews).

      1. The Moslems I know do not act that way.

        We are living at a moment in history. Calvinists in the past have taken over governments and burned blasphemers alive. Moslems have allowed Jewish traders and settlers to flourish within their domains in the past. What you call the “modern reality” is a working out of current tensions arising from population movements and power politics, and these have always been fluctuating throughout history.

        As for the motive of those Arab states, you have expressed the regular propaganda line that has been repeated by one side. There is another side and it is more complex, and my understanding is that it is very rarely heard in the United States media. That complexity is that many of the Palestinians who were forced to flee were expecting to return. (I was recently listening to an interview with a daughter of a refugee family who had inherited the key of their house in Israel — they had taken it with them expecting to be able to use it again within a matter of weeks.) The Palestinians were expecting to return. If the Arab states allowed them to become part of their own communities then they would be acknowledging Israel’s right to conquer and expel the Palestinian population, something many of the refugees themselves did not want. (Not to mention all the other issues that go with any intentions of settling foreigners into ones own nation in large numbers.)

        There is also the use of Palestinian refugees as pawns in a political power game. It has taken a little while, but populations are rising up now against corrupt and heartless rulers.

        As for the “Muslim agenda to get rid of the Jews”, again you are repeating propaganda that is being fed western audiences. Most Moslems are not Arabs. Yet the Arab states have been proposing a peace plan for Israel and Palestine for some years now that recognizes Israel’s right to exist at the 1967 borders. That does not sound like an agenda to get rid of Jews.

        1. “As for the motive of those Arab states, you have expressed the regular propaganda line that has been repeated by one side. There is another side and it is more complex, and my understanding is that it is very rarely heard in the United States media.”

          So, since we don’t live there are supposedly don’t understand what’s going on, it’d be best for us to stay out of it. Let them solve their own problem. Us getting involved with this would be like the Palestinian government trying to solve the violence in the towns on the US/Mexico border. Its just silly.

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  3. even non-muslims such as farrell till , doug krueger , hector avalos and other aknowledge that qur’aan is a lot less violent than both new and old testament. they say the muslim terrorists are not even acting upon the qur’aanic teachings. here is an article which proves that jesus is 10 times more violent than muhammad http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/04/jesus-loves-his-enemies-and-then-kills-them-all/

    and guess what? it is written by a guy called danios who isn’t even muslim .

  4. Every settler colonial state is unique of course. Most such did not arise completely from settlers sent by a mother state to perform colonial conquests. I know this from the correspondance of my Cornish ancestors. They were the refuse and surplus labour looking for a new life. As were many of the germans, scandinavians, and some of the English who went to the American colonies. The Zionist entity has sought patronage, switching easily from Britain to the U.S.A. when it suited – all three states looking out for their own interests. Churchill had hoped that Israel would be a loyal little Ulster in the Middle East.
    This is no religious war. It is a war of settlers against natives. The oppressed are Christians as well as Muslims, Beduin, Druse, Armenians, most of the multicultural community that lived in peace with the indigenous Jewish minority before the Zionist invasion, and on both sides of the green line.
    The way forward is becoming clearer with every day. Unity in resistance. And support around the world,in breaking the siege of Gaza and by B.D,S., involving Christian, Jewish as well as Muslim and atheists in the solidarity movement, to hold Israel to respect for human rights.

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