Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land

Israelis see the Palestinian struggle as irrational lunacy because they are fundamentally uninformed about the roots of this vicious conflict.

Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land
Photo: Advertisement in New York Times Magazine, April 10, 2008.

Communicating with Israelis may leave one bewildered. Even now when the Israeli Air Force is practicing murder in broad daylight of hundreds of civilians, elderly persons, women and children, the Israeli people manage to convince themselves that they are the real victims in this violent saga.

Those who are familiar intimately with Israeli people realise that they are completely uninformed about the roots of the conflict that dominates their lives. Rather often Israelis manage to come up with some bizarre arguments that may make a lot of sense within the Israeli discourse, yet make no sense whatsoever outside of the Jewish street. Such an argument goes as follows: ‘those Palestinians, why do they insist upon living on our land (Israel), why can’t they just settle in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or any other Arab country?’ Another Hebraic pearl of wisdom sounds like this: ‘what is wrong with these Palestinians? We gave them water, electricity, education and all they do is try to throw us to the sea’.

Astonishingly enough, the Israelis even within the so-called ‘left’ and even the educated ‘left’ fail to understand who the Palestinians are, where they come from and what they stand for. They fail to grasp that for the Palestinians, Palestine is home. Miraculously, the Israelis manage to fail to grasp that Israel had been erected at the expense of the Palestinian people, on Palestinian land, on Palestinian villages, towns, fields and orchards. The Israelis do not realise that Palestinians in Gaza and in refugee camps in the region are actually dispossessed people from Ber Shive, Yafo, Tel Kabir, Shekh Munis, Lod, Haifa, Jerusalem and many more towns and villages. If you wonder how come the Israelis don’t know their history, the answer is pretty simple, they have never been told. The circumstances that led to the Israeli Palestinian conflict are well hidden within their culture. Traces of pre-1948 Palestinian civilisation on the land had been wiped out. Not only the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians, is not part of the Israeli curriculum, it is not even mentioned or discussed in any Israeli official or academic forum.

In the very centre of almost every Israeli town one can a find a 1948 memorial statue displaying a very bizarre, almost abstract, pipe work. The plumbing feature is called Davidka and it is actually a 1948 Israeli mortar cannon. Interestingly enough, the Davidka was an extremely ineffective weapon. Its shells wouldn’t reach more than 300 meters and would cause very limited damage. Though the Davidika would cause just minimal harm, it produced a lot of noise. According to the Israeli official historical narrative, the Arabs i.e., Palestinians, simply ran away for their lives once they heard the Davidka from afar. According to the Israeli narrative, the Jews i.e., ‘new Israelis’ did a bit of fireworks and the ‘Arab cowards’ just ran off like idiots. In the Israeli official narrative there is no mention of the many orchestrated massacres conducted by the young IDF and the paramilitary units that preceded it. There is no mention also of the racist laws that stop Palestinians[1] from returning to their homes and lands.

The meaning of the above is pretty simple. Israelis are totally unfamiliar with the Palestinian cause. Hence, they can only interpret the Palestinian struggle as a murderous irrational lunacy. Within the Israeli Judeo- centric solipsistic universe, the Israeli is an innocent victim and the Palestinian is no less than a savage murderer.

This grave situation that leaves the Israeli in the dark regarding his past demolishes any possibility of future reconciliation. Since the Israeli lacks the minimal comprehension of the conflict, he cannot contemplate any possible resolution except extermination or cleansing of the ‘enemy’. All the Israeli is entitled to know are various phantasmic narratives of Jewish suffering. Palestinian pain is completely foreign to his ears. ‘Palestinian right of return’ sounds to him like an amusing idea. Even the most advanced ‘Israeli humanists’ are not ready to share the land with its indigenous inhabitants. This doesn’t leave the Palestinians with many options but to liberate themselves against all odds. Clearly, there is no partner for peace on the Israel side.

This week we all learned more about the ballistic capability of Hamas. Evidently, Hamas was rather restrained with Israel for more than a long while. It refrained from escalating the conflict to the whole of southern Israel. It occurred to me that the barrages of Qassams that have been landing sporadically on Sderot and Ashkelon were actually nothing but a message from the imprisoned Palestinians. First it was a message to the stolen land, homes fields and orchards: ‘Our beloved soil, we didn’t forget, we are still here fighting for you, sooner rather than later, we will come back, we will start again where we had stopped’. But it was also a clear message to the Israelis. ‘You out there, in Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa, whether you realise it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land. You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore’.

Let’s face it, realistically the situation in Israel is rather grave. Two years ago it was Hezbollah rockets that pounded northern Israel. This week the Hamas proved beyond doubt that it is capable of serving the South of Israel with some cocktail of ballistic vengeance. Both in the case of the Hezbollah and the case of the Hamas, Israel was left with no military answer. It can no doubt kill civilians but it fails to stop the rocket barrage. The IDF lacks the means of protecting Israel unless covering Israel with a solid concrete roof is a viable solution. At the end of the day, they might be planning just that. http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2006/08/gilad-atzmon-operation-security-roof.html

But this is far from the end of the story. In fact it is just the beginning. Every Middle East expert knows that Hamas can seize control of the West Bank within hours. In fact, PA and Fatah control in the West Bank is maintained by the IDF. Once Hamas takes the West Bank, the biggest Israeli population centre will be left to the mercy of Hamas. For those who fail to see, this would be the end of Jewish Israel. It may happen later today, it may happen in three months or in five years, it isn’t matter of ‘if’ but rather matter of ‘when’. By that time, the whole of Israel will be within firing range of Hamas and Hezbollah, Israeli society will collapse, its economy will be ruined. The price of a detached villa in Northern Tel Aviv would equal a shed in Kiryat Shmone or Sderot. By the time a single rocket hits Tel Aviv, the Zionist dream will be over.

The IDF generals know it, the Israeli leaders know it. This is why they stepped up the war against the Palestinian into extermination. The Israelis do not plan upon invading Gaza. They have lost nothing there. All they want is to finish the Nakba. They drop bombs on Palestinians in order to wipe them out. They want the Palestinians out of the region. It is obviously not going to work, Palestinians will stay. Not only they will they stay, their day of return to their land is coming closer as Israel has been exploiting its deadliest tactics.

This is exactly where Israeli escapism comes into play. Israel has passed the ‘point of no return’. Its doomed fate is deeply engraved in each bomb it drops on Palestinian civilians. There is nothing Israel can do to save itself. There is no exit strategy. It can’t negotiate its way out because neither the Israelis nor their leadership understand the elementary parameters involved in the conflict. Israel lacks the military power to conclude the battle. It may manage to kill Palestinian grassroots leaders, it has been doing it for years, yet Palestinian resistance and persistence is growing fierce rather than weakening. As an IDF intelligence general predicted already at the first Intifada. ‘In order to win, all Palestinians have to do is to survive’. They survive and they are indeed winning.

Israeli leaders understand it all. Israel has already tried everything, unilateral withdrawal, starvation and now extermination. It thought to evade the demographic danger by shrinking into an intimate cosy Jewish ghetto. Nothing worked. It is Palestinian persistence in the shape of Hamas politics that defines the future of the region.

All that is left to Israelis is to cling to their blindness and escapism to evade their devastating grave fate that has become immanent already. All along their way down, the Israelis will sing their familiar various victim anthems. Being imbued in a self-centred supremacist reality, they will be utterly involved in their own pain yet completely blind to the pain they inflict on others. Uniquely enough, the Israelis are operating as a unified collective when dropping bombs on others, yet, once being slightly hurt, they all manage to become monads of vulnerable innocence. It is this discrepancy between the self-image and the way they are seen by the rest of us which turns the Israeli into a monstrous exterminator. It is this discrepancy that stops Israelis from grasping their own history, it is that discrepancy that stops them from comprehending the repeated numerous attempts to destroy their State. It is that discrepancy that stops Israelis from understanding the meaning of the Shoah so can they prevent the next one. It is this discrepancy that stops Israelis from being part of humanity.

Once again Jews will have to wander into an unknown fate. To a certain extent, I myself have started my journey a while ago.

_Gilad Atzmon is a jazz musician, composer, producer and writer. www.gilad.co.uk

80 comments on the article “Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land”

Displaying 31 - 40 of 80

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Anonymous

The Israel ad at thetop of the article is absolutely hilarious. I am somewhat familiar with the Israeli/ Palestine conflict although a deep understanding of history is not essential in understanding this fairly simple problem. What we have here, are two nations whose identities are based around religion. Their national identity is based around archaic views of the world which have no root in truth. To choose one side is just going down to their level and if we take religion out of this equation, the problem is solved. Religion is the divider here. You do not choose sides when two toddlers are arguing over a tonka truck. Yeah the United Nations made a critical mistake but what's done is done. These religious people are irrational and yet there are seemingly rational people all over the world choosing to side with these religious zealots on both sides. I read adbusters for its rational views of society, marketing, consumerism, environmentalism etc. The rational way to solve this problem is to destroy all these religious places. When two toddlers are arguing over the tonka truck and cant come to a compromise, what do you do? You take the Tonka truck away from both of them. Exactly. One more thing. I live in a major North American city and was witness to a dual protest by both Palestinians an jews at the busiest intersection of my city. They ruined my day with their nonsense. How dare they come to my country, choose to live here and become a citizen and pull this kind of BS. Freedom of speech is one thing but it is also intruding on my personal freedom to walk the street without having to hear uncivilized arguing based on a silly religious conflict of a land these people all seemingly left because of the low quality of life and hassle only to start the same BS here.. I mean seriously, you all look like fools burning flags and arguing over god and who the land belongs too. Its 2008 and yet some people think its the 12th century. Peace!

Anonymous

The Israel ad at thetop of the article is absolutely hilarious. I am somewhat familiar with the Israeli/ Palestine conflict although a deep understanding of history is not essential in understanding this fairly simple problem. What we have here, are two nations whose identities are based around religion. Their national identity is based around archaic views of the world which have no root in truth. To choose one side is just going down to their level and if we take religion out of this equation, the problem is solved. Religion is the divider here. You do not choose sides when two toddlers are arguing over a tonka truck. Yeah the United Nations made a critical mistake but what's done is done. These religious people are irrational and yet there are seemingly rational people all over the world choosing to side with these religious zealots on both sides. I read adbusters for its rational views of society, marketing, consumerism, environmentalism etc. The rational way to solve this problem is to destroy all these religious places. When two toddlers are arguing over the tonka truck and cant come to a compromise, what do you do? You take the Tonka truck away from both of them. Exactly. One more thing. I live in a major North American city and was witness to a dual protest by both Palestinians an jews at the busiest intersection of my city. They ruined my day with their nonsense. How dare they come to my country, choose to live here and become a citizen and pull this kind of BS. Freedom of speech is one thing but it is also intruding on my personal freedom to walk the street without having to hear uncivilized arguing based on a silly religious conflict of a land these people all seemingly left because of the low quality of life and hassle only to start the same BS here.. I mean seriously, you all look like fools burning flags and arguing over god and who the land belongs too. Its 2008 and yet some people think its the 12th century. Peace!

Motorod

Sorry, Israel and the Israeli cause may be based in theology, but the Palestinian cause is based on land ownership. Few, if any Israelis can trace their roots to a place within the borders of modern-day Israel. All Palestinians can tell you the village or valley from which their family originated. This goes for Palestinians in neighboring Arab countries as well. It is as if the Chinese decided that Los Angeles California was theirs because they explored the region in 1460 or some other such nonsense, and with the support of a dominant world power, say Russia. began displacing Californios. Imagine how the Los Angelenos would react once the Chinese began "settling" land that belonged to their families for generations. I can tell you right now that Gardena alone would cause the Chinese settlers no end of trouble. I remind you that the first Intifada was started by CHRISTIAN Palestinians demanding their rights as human beings entitled to occupy their own lands to which they were driven at gunpoint. It is Israeli intransigence in the face of Palestinian agitation that has empowered the Muslim fundamentalist jihadis. This is not Left-Wing propaganda as some suggest, but honest history. When the British ran the region the Zionists falsified documents and created census data that in no way reflected reality of Jewish population. Britain partitioned Palestine, creating the nation of Israel out of wole cloth, because they could no longer abide the terrorist actions of Ben Gurion and his cohorts. The Zionists founded the state of Israel with bombs on school buses and in hotel lobbies, murders, assassinations and genocide. A state founded in blood and continuing to exist upon it, Israel may be a fait accompli, but until it recognizes the rights of Palestinians to their own land, it will continue to be awash in blood.

Motorod

Sorry, Israel and the Israeli cause may be based in theology, but the Palestinian cause is based on land ownership. Few, if any Israelis can trace their roots to a place within the borders of modern-day Israel. All Palestinians can tell you the village or valley from which their family originated. This goes for Palestinians in neighboring Arab countries as well. It is as if the Chinese decided that Los Angeles California was theirs because they explored the region in 1460 or some other such nonsense, and with the support of a dominant world power, say Russia. began displacing Californios. Imagine how the Los Angelenos would react once the Chinese began "settling" land that belonged to their families for generations. I can tell you right now that Gardena alone would cause the Chinese settlers no end of trouble. I remind you that the first Intifada was started by CHRISTIAN Palestinians demanding their rights as human beings entitled to occupy their own lands to which they were driven at gunpoint. It is Israeli intransigence in the face of Palestinian agitation that has empowered the Muslim fundamentalist jihadis. This is not Left-Wing propaganda as some suggest, but honest history. When the British ran the region the Zionists falsified documents and created census data that in no way reflected reality of Jewish population. Britain partitioned Palestine, creating the nation of Israel out of wole cloth, because they could no longer abide the terrorist actions of Ben Gurion and his cohorts. The Zionists founded the state of Israel with bombs on school buses and in hotel lobbies, murders, assassinations and genocide. A state founded in blood and continuing to exist upon it, Israel may be a fait accompli, but until it recognizes the rights of Palestinians to their own land, it will continue to be awash in blood.

Anonymous

So true about the history. As an American expat uneducated about the conflict, I decided to research it and was surprised to find out how Israel really came into being (of course Europe helped found Israel - what better way to get rid of the Jews they didn't in their countries). Sure, Israel originally started out buying the land, but how exactly does a group that is only a third of the population suddenly rate their own country and the right to shove the original inhabitants on to a tiny strip of land? And why then act all shocked when they actually dare to strike back? I don't think any side comes out of this looking good. Hamas lobs over a few rockets knowing full well Israel will over react, Israel uses a cannon to swat at a fly (making me wonder if this is really about getting rid of Hamas or about wiping out Palestinians, period), and Hamas supporters in the Arab world cheer on Hamas and condemn the Israeli attacks while at the same time refusing to help the Palestinians who are trying to escape the violence. In the meantime, in the Western world there is suddenly an increase in shows about WWII (or maybe that's just here in the UK) as if the Holocaust were a good enough excuse for these horrendous attacks by Israel.

Anonymous

So true about the history. As an American expat uneducated about the conflict, I decided to research it and was surprised to find out how Israel really came into being (of course Europe helped found Israel - what better way to get rid of the Jews they didn't in their countries). Sure, Israel originally started out buying the land, but how exactly does a group that is only a third of the population suddenly rate their own country and the right to shove the original inhabitants on to a tiny strip of land? And why then act all shocked when they actually dare to strike back? I don't think any side comes out of this looking good. Hamas lobs over a few rockets knowing full well Israel will over react, Israel uses a cannon to swat at a fly (making me wonder if this is really about getting rid of Hamas or about wiping out Palestinians, period), and Hamas supporters in the Arab world cheer on Hamas and condemn the Israeli attacks while at the same time refusing to help the Palestinians who are trying to escape the violence. In the meantime, in the Western world there is suddenly an increase in shows about WWII (or maybe that's just here in the UK) as if the Holocaust were a good enough excuse for these horrendous attacks by Israel.

BullshitEraser

whoever said that this is an ancient conflict is flat out wrong, and obviously hasn't even read a simple explanation of the true nature of the conflict. Let me say a couple things about myself. I am a direct descendant of holocaust survivors. I am an American citizen, and I support Zionism. I also, strangely enough, will admit that Israel is an apartheid state, built on stolen land. However, I DON'T CARE. The entire world sat on its ass while European antisemitism killed 6 million of my people and that shit, will never fucking happen ever again. The truth is that it if the jews have to steal someone else's land to prevent that from happening again, then so be it. The rules of man and nature are stiff, deal with it. Don't hate the player, hate the game. We live in an anarchic world, its every man for himself. Everyone blames the Israeli's but Israel didn't do anything that a million other states haven't done. Almost every country that exists stole its land from another forcibly. Israel just did it in the 20th century. The real people to blame are the Arab leaders who abandoned their own people in 1967. They preach Arab unity and pride on al-jazeera, but balk at actually doing anything substantial to help out their arab brethern from the despicable zionist conspiracy. Thats pure hypocrisy, and no one talks about it. There is no such thing as a fucking 'palestinian.' Its a political term meant to describe people who were essentially abandoned by Jordan in the West Bank and Egypt in Gaza. The truth is that Israel benefits Arab rulers. It is a permanent scape goat for them. Read the amnesty international reports on Syria and Jordan. It'll make your fuckin head spin. As long as Israel exists, it will be the 'zionist crusaders' that are the reason why the state of the Arab world is so fucked up, not the fact that the region is ruled by ruthless authoritarians who rule their country like its pre revolutionary france. Arabs hate Israel because it is a success. If it were a failure, no one would give a fuck. I am so tired of people framing this as an ancient conflict and a religious one. No one in the arab world gave a fuck about Islam until a tiny ass little country of jews kicked the ass of the three countries who were at the vanguard of secular Arab nationalism in 1967. It was then that arabs said "holy fuck, this happened to us because we turned our back on allah." The 6 day war gave birth to islamic fundamentalism. It was a response to emasculation at the hands of jews, which was like adding insult to injury. The chief lesson of Realism is that the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must. Israel isn't going anywhere, and until the palestinians realize that they have more to gain by not pissing ISrael off, their children will continue to die in vain.

BullshitEraser

whoever said that this is an ancient conflict is flat out wrong, and obviously hasn't even read a simple explanation of the true nature of the conflict. Let me say a couple things about myself. I am a direct descendant of holocaust survivors. I am an American citizen, and I support Zionism. I also, strangely enough, will admit that Israel is an apartheid state, built on stolen land. However, I DON'T CARE. The entire world sat on its ass while European antisemitism killed 6 million of my people and that shit, will never fucking happen ever again. The truth is that it if the jews have to steal someone else's land to prevent that from happening again, then so be it. The rules of man and nature are stiff, deal with it. Don't hate the player, hate the game. We live in an anarchic world, its every man for himself. Everyone blames the Israeli's but Israel didn't do anything that a million other states haven't done. Almost every country that exists stole its land from another forcibly. Israel just did it in the 20th century. The real people to blame are the Arab leaders who abandoned their own people in 1967. They preach Arab unity and pride on al-jazeera, but balk at actually doing anything substantial to help out their arab brethern from the despicable zionist conspiracy. Thats pure hypocrisy, and no one talks about it. There is no such thing as a fucking 'palestinian.' Its a political term meant to describe people who were essentially abandoned by Jordan in the West Bank and Egypt in Gaza. The truth is that Israel benefits Arab rulers. It is a permanent scape goat for them. Read the amnesty international reports on Syria and Jordan. It'll make your fuckin head spin. As long as Israel exists, it will be the 'zionist crusaders' that are the reason why the state of the Arab world is so fucked up, not the fact that the region is ruled by ruthless authoritarians who rule their country like its pre revolutionary france. Arabs hate Israel because it is a success. If it were a failure, no one would give a fuck. I am so tired of people framing this as an ancient conflict and a religious one. No one in the arab world gave a fuck about Islam until a tiny ass little country of jews kicked the ass of the three countries who were at the vanguard of secular Arab nationalism in 1967. It was then that arabs said "holy fuck, this happened to us because we turned our back on allah." The 6 day war gave birth to islamic fundamentalism. It was a response to emasculation at the hands of jews, which was like adding insult to injury. The chief lesson of Realism is that the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must. Israel isn't going anywhere, and until the palestinians realize that they have more to gain by not pissing ISrael off, their children will continue to die in vain.

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