Tragedy, Farce - Israel’s Handling of the Palestinians Contains It All

Benjamin Netanyahu wants discrimination against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens to be validated by the future Palestinian state. Talk about Israeli chutzpah.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Credit: AP
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

“Every event that takes place now is nothing more than a similar event that took place before,” the Arabs say. They’re not alone in maintaining that history repeats. As Karl Marx put it, history repeats “first as tragedy, then as farce.” But neither the Arabs nor Marx imagined that the day would come when a talented person, one Benjamin Netanyahu, would embrace that notion to the point of absurdity.

What is happening with the Palestinians is absurd. They negotiate to restore plundered rights but see events proceed in the opposite direction. They’re the ones who have to pay – and plenty – for nothing. There’s no precedent in history for this kind of reversal.

If the Palestinians continue with negotiations like this, they’ll end up being asked to leave the West Bank. Otherwise the term “Jewish state” according to the right-wing definition will be void of content, and Netanyahu and his allies won’t agree to that. On the other hand, we can say that history has been upgraded and now fuses both developments: tragedy – the continuation of the occupation – and farce, in the form of an off-the-wall demand that even the Americans no longer accept.

But there is more to the prime minister's historical innovations. We know the saying that you achieve in war what you don’t achieve in diplomacy. But Netanyahu wants to achieve in diplomacy what was not achieved in war: total submission by the Palestinians.

Not only will they cede 78 percent of their historical land, not only will they forgo a solution to the refugee problem and provide guarantees for Israel’s security (as we know, the Palestinian Third Army is now encircling the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv). Netanyahu also wants discrimination against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens to be validated by their brethren in the future Palestinian state. Talk about Israeli chutzpah.

In the meantime, my colleague in these pages Ari Shavit remains an ardent supporter of Netanyahu’s demand. Some people call themselves supporters of justice, but at the moment of truth, when you have to choose a side and take a clear stand, they fall in line with the strong. After all, nothing quiets the conscience while keeping your place in the loony-bin consensus more than to attack the weak for supposedly not playing their part.

But let’s assume for a moment, Ari Shavit, that this untenable demand – to recognize the state’s Jewishness – is legitimate. Even so, as a human being, as a member of an occupying nation, you should have called from every platform for an end to the accursed occupation, which is being perpetrated in your name, too. After the occupation it will be possible to raise this subject with the Palestinians, though even then it will look ridiculous.

Some say the Palestinians’ very objection to recognize Israel’s Jewishness exposes their intentions. But they fail to notice that Israel has upgraded the intentions phase; intentions now proceed arm in arm with deeds. The result is that the vast majority of Palestinians are refugees outside their home and are living at the mercies of 22 countries that are described in Israel as a jungle.

And I’ll say nothing here about the intentions of that well-intentioned fellow Netanyahu, from whose point of view the Palestinians are nothing more than a collection of individuals.

But right now, in the season of good intentions, everyone is bedazzled by the pastries arriving piping hot from the oven: the heritage of late commando Meir Har-Zion, under whose racist countenance everyone who is anyone in this country has gathered. So, ladies and gentlemen, let’s set aside the talk about intentions. We’re already nauseated.

Amid the to-do, it’s forgotten that what is going on is not a dialogue between free and equal sides, but between occupier and occupied, which is like a dialogue between rapist and victim. And on this shameful occasion, some voices are demanding that the victim consent to the shameful rape.

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