Palestine and the Shifting Paradigms of Peace
Volume 6 – Issue 1 – February 2024 / Shabaan 1445
The ongoing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza has inevitably become the focus of this issue of The Long View. As this issue goes to press, the case brought by South Africa against Israel for genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has found in the interim that Israel must take certain actions in order to comply with international laws and prevent genocide. It is a bit of a muddle. Not as much as those demanding a ceasefire and end to genocide demanded, but too much for an Israeli war machine used to impunity to stomach.
This is both a shift from the usual silence of international institutions to Israeli crimes, but also more evidence that international norms and institutions are not fit for purpose. There is a sense in the interim report from the ICJ that they are conscious of the latter – aware that the majority of the world now watches their actions with a critical not a submissive eye.
Regardless of the ICJ’s finding, it is clear to historians, legal specialists and indeed for those with eyes to see, that genocide has undergirded the foundation of the so-called state of Israel. Our contributors in this issue make no bones about the alliances and their ideological orientations that saw the creation of this rogue entity some 75 years ago. In these four essays are lessons for activists, academics and policy makers: stop reproducing the narratives – historical, legal, emotional – that keep the oppressed down.
In our lead essay, Richard Haley looks not at why there is so much tacit and explicit support for a genocidal project in the west, but how this is able to operate. He contends that three issues have been key to opening the door for this next stage of annihilation being unleashed since October 2023 on the Palestinians. There are three pillars to the procedural and discursive framework that has made this genocide possible: the imputation of anti-semitism to critics of Israel, the invention of an Israeli right to self-defence that goes beyond its rights under the UN Charter, and the criminalisation of armed Palestinian resistance. Haley takes no prisoners in detailing how international law and institutions have been disregarded and undermined, and solidarity movements cowed and or socialised. His conclusion is clear: the language of the oppressors cannot be used to liberate the oppressed.
Our second piece is from Ramón Grosfoguel. Likening the rising of October 7 of the Palestinians in Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, he presents the history behind this genocide, he states, in order to have a realistic politics of liberation not just for the Palestinians but all of us working for a new and better world. Grosfoguel unravels the modern narratives of justification for the creation of the ‘state’ of Israel. For him, Palestinians are an ancient people that embody a diversity of spiritualities and ancient cosmological traditions. They are the descendants of the ancient Jews, Christians and Muslims who lived in the Promised Land, and the synergies of these three Abrahamic narratives run entirely counter to the biblical justifications on which Zionists – whether Jewish, Christian, of other faiths traditions or entirely secular – base their claim to the land. He goes further in setting out how the Zionist entity represents a modern Pharoah, with the US a ‘greater’ Pharoah, behind them. If, he argues, we are to see spiritual dimension in this, and derive moral authority then the modern example of the Warsaw ghetto and the scriptural example of Moses both apply.
Sandew Hira’s piece on the rise of the far-right in European settings, also argues that narratives being presented by the mainstream in the West are not only distorted but are increasingly being seen to be so. Hira sees the shift to far-right politics, including in his home of the Netherlands, as a sign of a dying politics of European exceptionalism that hasn’t been able to critique and transform itself. It is distinct in his mind, from Nazism, and decolonial activists need to be able to see beyond Eurocentric left-right discourses where each label the other as extreme and themselves as progressive. Europe, in the wake of the Nazi colonial project has not turned its critical gaze, as it should have, internally, and is continuing to exceptionalise itself against the internal and external ‘other’. Those of us working for a new world, need to stop repeating alliances based on the antagonisms between traditional left and right, whether ‘centre’ or ‘far’.
Our final piece is from historian of Palestine and Israel, Ilan Pappé. Based on his speech at the 15th Genocide Memorial Day organised by IHRC in London, UK, he unpacks the argument he calls ‘Israel’s immunity shield’. This moral high ground employed continuously by the Israelis as only ever reacting or responding to Palestinian aggression is now coming apart at the seams. Israeli actions since October last have proven beyond doubt (if there were any), that Israeli project has always been a genocidal one. He also sees the end of the Israeli settler colonial project in its current actions. With the confidence of his credentials as a historian, he believes that the Palestinian movement and indeed the global movement for justice needs to begin imagining what system would replace it.
Pappé’s conclusion that such a system needs to find its inspiration in the more tolerant Ottoman, Islamic, Arab and Eastern Mediterranean examples is one that chimes with this journal. We cannot keep critiquing Western systems, their innate failures and violence and then try and reimagine a world using those templates. This is not a call for the revival of ‘old’ structures or some sort of nostalgic indulgence. It is clear that so-called western civilisation, as various contributors have stated, is a civilisation of death. The genocide in Gaza is another bloodthirsty affirmation of this. We need to have the confidence of our convictions and shift further the already shifting paradigms of the politics of oppression. If not now, when?