Israel-Palestine – how to have discernment?

Area of ​​the Gaza Strip bombed by Israel/ Reproduction Telegram
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By NICOLE MALINCONI*

It is urgent to reread the story from the beginning, at the risk of being accused of both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

We see on our screens the people of Israel crying in horror; we see the people of Gaza, wandering among the rubble. We feel the urgent need to reread history, to discern amidst this chaos, but we can no longer do so. However, we have no other option but to try again.

I remember a trip around the Jordanian desert, when we saw from our bus, far on the horizon, a cluster of tents. Refugees, we were told. Or Bedouins, perhaps; unless they were Bedouin refugees. Most of us did not seek to know anything more and the journey continued. We were eighteen years old, it was the summer of 1964, and we were finishing our Humanities studies with a “pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” At that time, we were almost as ignorant as the rest of the world about the Palestinians.

We had to discover with horror, a few years later, the images of plane hijackings, hostages being taken, attacks, explosions and deaths, to ask ourselves who these were who only had these unique murderous means to be known to the world, and to learn that They demanded to return to the country from which they had been expelled. To the country, that is, to their homes and lands, now inhabited and cultivated by others since 1948.

These “others”, the Jews, who the nations of the West had been very relieved to see go there, eager to recognize their new State of Israel, a way of forgetting and making people forget that they had closed their eyes and therefore end, their borders, when Nazism implemented its plan to exterminate them. The nations were also silent, now that this new State was expelling several hundred thousand people from their homes, from then on called “refugees” and becoming wanderers.

I also remember September 13, 1993, in Oslo, when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands and looked into each other's eyes in front of American President Bill Clinton, and in front of cameras around the world. It was after so many years filled with wars, bombings and rocket attacks, attacks, agreements signed and broken, borders redrawn, negotiations never concluded, demonstrations for peace, murders of those who worked for peace, endless reprisals and deaths on both sides.

Looking at the photo of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, we were told that if such enemies shook hands despite what it must cost them, their people would, sooner or later, be impelled to do the same and would perhaps consent to something that seemed unprecedented in the world, which consisted of living in the same country in two states with two different names, in other words, neighbors but separate. Of course, this would have come at the price of immense sacrifices, such as, for example, for some, renouncing their intransigent omnipotence and, for others, abandoning hatred and the thirst for revenge.

But the nations of the world that supported one or the other never imposed this price as a condition of their support. Apart from weak warnings announced by the UN to save face, they fell silent when the rockets and bombs began to rain again and that, instead of two neighboring states, there was always only Israel, next to which two thin separate territories lead the name of Palestinian enclaves, one of which is increasingly torn apart by the colonies that Israel builds there, destroying their villages and olive fields.

The other, a narrow strip of land cornered between the sea and the fortified wall that separates it from Israel, Gaza, where the majority of those born there die without ever being able to leave, where there is a lack of everything, from water and electricity to all things necessary for a human being so that he can be said to lead a human life. Fences and highly improved systems wall one in and protect others who feel threatened by those they wall in, because the war continues, how could it be otherwise?

However, we have no other way out.

But since Oct. villages and kibbutzes and slaughtered the inhabitants, men, women, elderly people, children, even babies, cutting off heads, mutilating bodies, looting houses and then returning to Gaza, taking more than two hundred surviving men, women, elderly people and children hostage .

All to the sound of the shouts and slogans of their religious movement, Hamas, in accordance with their wishes to see Israel erased from the map. Nothing else in these actions could be called war nor did it follow what we call the laws of war; terror became the law and the men who did it lost their appeal as soldiers or fighters in exchange for the appeal of terrorists and murderers.

Given the reports of survivors, the temptation is great to say that a point of no return has been passed, that all hope for peace is lost. In fact, which official voices still speak of peace, on both sides, when some persist in their barbarity and the thirst for revenge has simply changed sides?

Especially because a mistake is added when the voice of Hamas intends to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people, seeking to lead everyone to confuse them. To the point where the world itself is becoming contaminated, about to be torn apart between those who applauded Hamas' barbarity and those who unanimously approve of Israel's reprisals, refusing to know that, there too, under the total blockade of Gaza, more than One million men, women, elderly people and children are dying of hunger, thirst, lack of care or crushed under the rubble of their homes.

We see on our screens the people of Israel crying for the horror, for the dead, for the missing parents, for the kidnapped children; we see the people of Gaza, streaming into what remains of some hospitals, injured, wandering through the rubble, walking along the roads towards more rubble, as if it were a pathetic repeat, only worse.

We feel the urgent need to reread the story from the beginning, to unravel everything, to be able to discern in this chaos, but we can no longer do so. However, we have no choice but to try again, at the risk of being accused of both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Nicole Malinconi is a Belgian writer and novelist. Author, among other books, of Ce qui qui reste (New Impressions).

Translation: Maria Amorim.

Originally published in the newspaper La Libre Belgique.


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