PEACE AND JUSTICE -- The PROBLEM

Horit Herman Peled

 

I would like first to decipher these two elusive concepts -- justice and peace -- which have so many different facets proliferating in different ideologies.

The two concepts -- justice and peace -- could be complementary. Yet, in the case of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, they may not be.

The Oslo agreement and the Geneva Accord oscillate between the poles of justice and peace.

For justice, which should be understood as equality among human beings under the law, naturally means that everyone who lives on the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan river should be an equal citizen.

But this is not the case, as there are 3 kinds of citizenship for the people living in that area: full citizenship for those who qualify as Jews, differentiated citizenship for Israeli Palestinians, who enjoy full individual citizenship rights, but not republican citizenship, and the third category is non citizens , Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip and The West Bank.

Contemplating on justice, forming theoretical frameworks

in order to achieve justice, are utopian projects. I am referring here, for example, to the idea of a bi-national state which Judith Butler has revived recently in her talks in Israel and in New York . Because, this idea, which circulates mainly among intellectuals, has no political effects.

The other concept, peace, is more practical and has political effects. However, it has a failed history, as we all know. But still, one has to be positive in the land of the free and the brave. Yet, we may dare to say that peace has potentially a limited degree of justice, as can be seen in the failed Oslo agreement and the new Geneva Accord proposal.

In order to sustain my argument I would like to ask,

what are Jews doing in the Middle East ?

Why were the thinkers/forefathers of Zionism so enthusiastic about the idea of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine ?

Their enthusiasm derived from a modernist, eurocentristic, colonialist idea of nationalism, that was locked-in with various interpretations of the transcendent myth of Jewish religion.

Today, the Zionist ideological supermarket is overflowing with ideological products, ranging from socialism in one country a good example is the kibbutz movement -- to medinat halaca (Halacha state ) . Medinat halaca means an extreme fundamentalist existence under biblical law, laws such as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or the barring of women from giving testimony in judicial proceedings and so forth. And all of the above in the context of territorial Zionism.

So, Zionism could be perceived as the materialization of an all-encompassing, meta-religious dream, disguised in different modern theoretical manifestations.

Now, if that is the grounding of Zionism, I would ask, than, what is the difference between Tel Aviv and Hebron ? Tel Aviv a pre 1967 Israeli city and Hebron a post 1967 Israeli city in the occupied territories of the West Bank?

Or what is the difference between the coastal plane and the mountainous terrains of Israel ? After all, we all know that the West Bank is the mythical theatre of the Biblical drama, while the coast was largely inhabited by the Philistines, that tribe that was known for its passion for sea food?.

This argument, that there is no difference between Israel of 1948 and Israel of 1967, is held by 2 groups: the Israeli Right wing and the post Zionists. The right wing adheres to the biblical myth of Eretz Israel Hashlema, or the whole of Israel .

This idea is embodied in Ariel Sharon.

Sharon the head of the Israeli right wing will defend inhumanity, as we saw in the presentation, with a deep biblical saying: “haba l'horgecha ha shkem l'horgo” (or kill before being killed).

The post Zionists, horrified by the unbearable suffering of the Palestinians and by their rejection of Biblical religious rhetoric for a reality check, will yearn for the deconstruction of Zionism. However, Post Zionists constitute a tiny, tiny minority within the Israeli society, and they are mostly intellectuals.

Sharon carries a long history of practicing “pacifying terror” in the Gaza refugee camps, when he was the commander of the IDF southern command in the early 70's.

He pacified terror in this area for almost 20 years. The well-known tactics of house demolition and chains of displacement was part of pacifying Gaza in the 70's.

This tactics is carried now not only in the Gaza strip but through the whole of the West Bank as well.

The consequences of the brutal colonialist policy, derive also from another deep conviction, that of placing Israel as the guardian angel of all the Jews in the world for eternity. And this undertaking or mission is the rational for the systematic uprooting and the cracking down on Palestinians who resist the Occupation.

Regretfully, the tactics works, and Sharon is Successful. And for the most part, because of the lethal operations carried out by the suicide bombers. Those appalling acts of terror paralyze Israeli Jews as well as Palestinians, and the path of extremism is never ending.

Israeli Jews and Palestinians live under terror. The majority of Israeli Jews are Zionists, including the liberals and left wing Israelis who are tinted in various shades of Zionism.

These shades put them in a state of almost total denial and blindness to the suffering reality of the Palestinians.

During the happy Oslo days of the 90' the majority of Israeli society welcomed economic neo liberalization.

The economic liberalization echoed culturally mainly around academia circles. Social as well as cultural issues where the object for deconstruction.

Issues such as gender, discrimination, mizrachi and Ashkenazi Jews, kibbutz socialist movement, and ideas of civil society and multiculturalism flourished.

However while this transformation from a cooperative society to neo liberal society was shaped, the Palestinians non citizens were pushed away from the booming economical market.

And replaced by foreign workers who flocked the attractive economy from East Asia , the ex Soviet union , the Middle East and Africa .

The exclusion of Palestinian non citizen workers from the Israeli market sent them practically into unemployment. Because while with the Oslo agreement most of the Asian markets and even Islamic markets were opened to the Israel market, the economy in the West Bank and Gaza did not pick up.

Furthermore, terror inflicted by suicide bombing in the last three years devastated the peace camp and enabled the final step towards a fast and painful dismantling of the welfare state lead by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Income distribution which was relatively equal is now competing with the US in its inequality.

To sum up, I would say that looking at history from the plato of the beginning of the 21st century the only place that Jews are being killed because they are Jews is in Israel .

The consequences of the 2 elevens point to a bleak global exsistence where the enlightened concept of justice fades into haze.

Israelis who live in a schizophrenic state of mind and therefore

are activists dream that justice will prevail

Herzel the founder of Zionism wrote in 1896 de yuden shtat an off the wall book about a homeland for the Jews.

We should continue to dream for a just and peaceful existence for Palestinians and Israeli Jews because as Susan Suntag has sayed the human being is capable of anything.