Israel-Palestine Conflict – What’s Really Next?
Israel-Palestine Conflict – What’s Really Next?
By Sonia Nettnin
Recently, I saw Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film, ''Notre Musique.'' Godard provides an innovative, cinematic view of violence and war against ethnic groups and indigenous people. He includes the Palestinians.
In the lobby of a Holiday Inn, one of the characters - an Israeli journalist from Tel Aviv - interviews Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish.
“Truth has two faces,” Darwish says. He explains that Israel’s victory brought Palestinians defeat and renown, so “….we have the misfortune of having Israel as an enemy.”
During a literary conference about the basics of film grammar, the speaker spotlights two photographs. They represent the narratives of the Jews and the Palestinians. In the color photograph, Israeli settlers wade in the shallow waters to the coast of the Holy Land. Their facial expressions show anticipation and joy. The black-and-white photograph shows Palestinians drowning in the sea with their belongings. The despair on their faces tells the story. The speaker describes the photographs as the shot and the reverse shot. Thus, point of view determines a person’s perception of truth.
Together, the photographs show that the formation of a Jewish state brought the Palestinians nakba, or catastrophe. One people’s expectations and immigration brought devastation and exile for another people.
After I saw Godard’s film, I attended a panel discussion about the Israel-Palestine conflict, which addressed a multitude of political questions. The questions involved Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and President George W. Bush. The panel speakers, Professor Norman G. Finkelstein and Ali Abunimah, answered questions from historical and political perspectives.
Toward the end of the discussion, Finkelstein stated that 90 per cent of the people involved in the peacemaking industry profit from it. Yet, they do not organize the mobilization needed for the conflict’s resolution. He said the people working for peace should capitalize on their victories the same way Zionists capitalized on their victories over the years. If peace activists revised their strategy, then they would reduce the misery endured by the Palestinians.
Finkelstein’s suggestion makes me think we should move beyond the argumentation stage. World leaders express peace rhetoric at the podiums and the media emphasizes the buzz words: peace, peace negotiations, peace talks and summits, terrorists, security, suicide bombers, mutual cease-fire, and the road map. In fact, the media inundates the public with reports of terrorism that hatred of the Arab world is vogue. Regrettably, the Arab people are the current scapegoat for hate.
Although history repeats itself, mankind does not break the cycle of violence. In The State of the Union Address, Bush said: “The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian Territories are now showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of violence and failure.” He made no reference to Israeli Army military operations, as if the Israeli Government is not responsible for the violence and economic strangulation at all. Later on in his wartime address, Bush spoke about the threat of Iran’s uranium enrichment program and plutonium reprocessing. Bush’s message is that the U.S. – the country with the largest nuclear arsenal - has selective accountability. U.S. leadership will not admit they contributed to the violence and initiated a war.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians suffer harsh, living conditions under military occupation and the Israeli Government forces military draft upon its people. The media does not reflect the reality on the ground. Instead, they focus on the political leaders, their peace-process-lexicon and their diplomatic interactions. For instance, did Bush extend his hand first and what did the pat on Sharon’s back three times mean for the peace negotiations?
Abbas has the spotlight because the media focuses on him. His words and his actions will be scrutinized, which will divert attention from the violence inflicted upon the Palestinians by Israeli Forces. Settler immigration will continue until the occupation’s violence and land confiscations push Palestinians to the brink of Sharon’s transfer initiative. The violation of human rights will not end as long as the media emphasizes that Arabs are the instigators of violence.
Although religion plays a role in the conflict, religious beliefs preoccupy peoples’ minds away from the primary objectives: power and geopolitical dominance. Military and political force shapes the world, with history as a reference for justification. The well-being of both peoples, regardless of their religious beliefs, is secondary.
Despite the grim state of affairs, I will not give up hope. No obstacle is so impenetrable that we, as human beings, cannot overcome it.
When the Bush Administrations dropped bombs on Iraq, it destabilized the country enough for a takeover of its oil resources. Even thought neocons see it as a U.S. win, winners do not emerge from war when there is loss of humanity. Military occupation forces people against their will and an individual’s will is a human right. In the end, actions by force will not bring desired results.
People need fresh, innovative approaches to the conflict. When they hear leaders at the microphone, people listen for new strategies. Basically, the old song and dance plays the violin to the ground.
Now, we need women in positions of power. The men who think that might is missiles, happen to be the majority of people in charge. We need strong men who do not act upon insecurities and egotism. These leaders can give women, who are not mouthpieces for administrations and organizations, positions of leadership. Women’s strength sustains the world, so it makes sense they lead mediation opportunities. Women are creators, so they will construct infrastructures that make genuine self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians possible.
Fair and equitable resolution to the conflict will not happen with the current players – they want conditional peace. The Palestinians have God-given rights to life. Future generations of Israelis and Palestinians will inherit the ruins of military occupation and apartheid. The children’s future should inspire people to conflict-resolution because our humanity and our existence depend on it.
Like most people, I want to celebrate life and not contemplate the genocide of people. If my point of view is unpopular, then I prefer to face the truth.
My conscience has no alternative.
Sonia Nettnin is a freelance writer. Her articles and reviews demonstrate civic journalism, with a focus on international social, economic, humanitarian, gender, and political issues. Media coverage of conflicts from these perspectives develops awareness in public opinion.
Nettnin received her bachelor's degree in English literature and writing. She did master's work in journalism. Moreover, Nettnin approaches her writing from a working woman's perspective, since working began for her at an early age.
She is a poet, a violinist and she studied professional dance. As a writer, the arts are an integral part of her sensibility. Her work has been published in the Palestine Chronicle, Scoop Media and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She lives in Chicago.