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December 12, 2000 Special Dispatch No. 164

Palestinian Intellectuals Attack the Israeli Left

December 12, 2000
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 164

A number of articles published in the Palestinian press since the resumption of violence have expressed disappointment with Israel's left wing and peace movements. Of particular interest are two articles, one published in a Palestinian daily and another in an Arab-Israeli daily, both of which criticize the "silence of the Israeli left."

Hassan Khadhr, a Palestinian intellectual and columnist for Al-Ayyam daily[1] writes: "We cannot ignore the initial reaction of the broad and influential circles [in the Israeli cultural scene] who hurried to support the clearly aggressive actions of the Israeli government and joined it in condemning the Palestinians. This reaction is a proof of their preference for national chauvinism over universal values... Lately, they have gone as far as to call for a withdrawal from 'most' of the occupied territories, in their words. However, they have failed to condemn the violence against the Palestinians which has gone as far as aerial bombings -- These positions reflect the dishonesty and the moral disgrace of these circles, and not their good intentions or noble goals."

"One cannot choose to apply liberal or democratic values only when the time or the issues suit him. It is useful to compare [the position of the Israeli intellectuals] to that of the French intellectuals regarding the Algerian war of independence or the position of American and European intellectuals toward the Vietnam War."

"French and American intellectuals came out against the aggression and barbarism of their governments. They did not condemn the victims but rather defended their own values. They refuted the web of lies used by the government spokesmen and intellectuals to confuse public opinion and distort the facts. This position played a key role in the creation of the radical wave in France at the end of the 1960s and in the success of the civil rights movement in the US. In other words, in these two cases, the intellectuals served both their country and society when they criticized the aggressive tendencies [of their governments] and exposed their aggression, irrationality and even insanity."

"We are not so naive as to think that the Israeli intellectuals will reach a position similar to those of the French or the Americans any time soon. In fact, as long as they do not strive for this [moral] stance, they will continue to be a source of fraud and lies."[2]

In another article, Khadhr explained why the Israeli left and the groups that traditionally support the negotiations with the Palestinians came to express such great rage against the Intifada:

"First of all, the Labor Party is in power; and most of the left wing movements are included in one way or another in Labor's ideological framework which built the Jewish settlement in Palestine, established the state, expelled the Palestinians and participated in all of the decisive wars in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict."

"Second, the Israeli left is different from every other left wing in the world, both in domestic and foreign policies-- [The Israeli left] adopted a nationalist, chauvinistic ideology that consistently beautifies itself through leftist slogans and guises--"

"Third, the words 'Peace' and 'Settlement' in the dictionary of the [Israeli] left, denote 'demographic separation.' In other words, separation between Israelis and Palestinians out of fear that the state will become bi-national and the Jews will lose their majority. Likewise, [these words] express the fear that the continuation of the occupation will lead to the decline of the values of the racist democracy that are widespread among Israeli Jews..."

"Fourth, the legitimate rights of the Palestinians are not taken into consideration by the vast majority of the Israeli left wing. There are among them people with anti- Palestinian and anti-Arab views. Therefore, peace is not connected, in their view, with taking responsibility for what happened to the Palestinians or for their sufferings--"

"Fifth, The vast majority of peace supporters and the Israeli left are embarrassingly ignorant of Palestinian and Arab culture, as well as of their suffering under the occupation--"

"Ever since the signing of the Declaration of Principles with the PLO," Khadr concludes, "the Israeli left has thought that the problem is solved and that the settlement, i.e. the demographic separation, is in their pocket-- They feel anger because the Palestinians shattered their beautiful dream. It will take a long time for them to recognize their historical and moral responsibility for the Palestinians' tragedy and the legitimacy of their national rights. It will take an equally long time for them to think of solutions which are compatible with the spirit of this recognition."[3]

Murid Al-Barghuthi writes in the Israeli Communist movement's daily, Al-Itihad: "The forces of peace in Israel may be able to identify with us, but they cannot identify with 'our problem.' The gap between these two things is immense. It reflects the difference between 'mercy' and 'justice'... Perhaps they are moved by the multitude of Palestinian funerals... but when we struggle and we throw a stone, shoot or kidnap 'three soldiers' on our land - the situation changes and [even] the best among them declares: 'We are with the government.' Do they support our corpses or our cause?--"

"They ask to stop the bombings when they are losing and not when we are. When they are afraid and not when we are afraid. When they cry and not when we cry. In 1982, 400,000 of them demonstrated to stop the invasion of Lebanon, because they had suffered hundreds of casualties... A similar number came out to demonstrate against their government during the last Palestinian Intifada in which they also suffered hundreds of casualties. Until now [in the course of the present Intifada], the deaths and injuries have been felt on our side only. Therefore they don't go out to the streets... If the [Palestinian] problem does not bring the [Israeli] peace supporters to do something useful now, when will they?"

"The 'humanity of sorrow' expressed by some of the Israeli 'doves' for our casualties will remain meaningless unless it becomes a clear political position--"[4]


[1] For previous MEMRI translations of Hasan Khadhr, see Special Dispatches A Different Palestinian Vision and ...And Now, A Dynastic Republic; Palestinian Intellectuals Mock the Passing of the Presidency in Syria.

[2] Al-Ayyam (PA), November 25, 2000.

[3] Al-Ayyam (PA), November 28, 2000.

[4] Al-Itihad appendix (Israel), November 24, 2000.

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