Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Audacity of Passion in the Ignorant Mind

This article by one Linda Newman, President of UCU and supporter of boycotting Israeli academics was published on engage website.

Here is an excerpt:

I left Palestine with one word predominately in mind, 'why?'

Why is the reporting of the occupation in Palesitne so biased towards the Israeli position?

Why are oppressive travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians within their own territories?

Why are Palestinians subjected to daily, lengthy, humiliating searches at checkpoints as they go about their daily lives?

Why are some roads within the occupied territories closed to Palestinians who live there?

Why is there a need to build an 80ft-high concrete wall within and across the occupied territories, other than to restrict the size of any allocation of land to the Palestinian state and be a visible sign of the power of the opposition?

Why are there nighly military incursions causing death and destruction to civil society in Palestinian towns and cities?

Why does the Israeli state feel the need t impose economic and physical restrictions 0on the lives and civil society of the Palestinian people?

Why is Israel still supporting the building of new settlement activiity within the West Bank and contrary to the Oslo agreement?

And why do we, in the UK, not know the truth about what is happening in Palestine and why do we do nothing about it?

So Linda gets to go on her tour and write an article about it and ask her non-questioning questions. As a member of an academic union, she is perceived by those who read her musings to have some academic authority. Her readers are unlikely to know that her perceived academic credentials are highly compromised by her lack of knowledge in history, whether ancient, modern and post-modern, her indifference to the fundamental principle of applying one weight, one parameter, to test all realities and truths.

Linda asks questions. Or does she?

A genuine question is a question for which the asker does not know the answer and seeks to learn new insights, new information, in order to understand better. Linda's questions are not genuine questions in that they are not really questions, but descriptions with the answers self-implied within them. They are questions of the type: is the Pope Catholic? She is relying on the reader to deduce the "truth" from merely being asked these questions.

The only way to respond is to answer her questions as if she means them, with historically verifiable facts. For the umpteenth time.

I looked for some information about Linda Newman on the Internet. I found this video, where she appears as unimpressive a speaker speaks as she writes: with a sense of missionary self righteousness: "we [teachers] are the best in Britain... we put the "civil" in civil society..."

Here is the gist of Linda's puzzlement, as expressed in her list of "questions" once stripped of their rhetorical grandstanding:

Oppressive travel restrictions ar imposed on Palestinians within their own territories. Palestinians subjected to daily, lengthy, humiliating searches at checkpoints as they go about their daily lives. Some roads within the occupied territories closed to Palestinians who live there. There is an 80ft-high concrete wall within and across the occupied territories. There are nightly military incursions causing death and destruction to civil society in Palestinian towns and cities. The Israeli state feels the need to impose economic and physical restrictions on the lives and civil society of the Palestinian people. Why?

How about this for an answer:

The separation Fence was begun in 2002/3, after nearly two years of daily suicide bombings and other types of terrorist attacks upon Israelis, mostly taking place in centres of cities such as Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Haifa. As the fence grew longer, the attacks became fewer and more sporadic. More recently, there has been one or two in the space of months, not hours, or days, as it used to be. So Israelis know the fence keeps them safer. They know it, since they no longer have to attend multiple funerals every other day.

Since the barrier is effectively keeping away the terrorists, there is less call for IDF’s incursions into densely populated Palestinian areas where the terrorists, their handlers and their weapons workshops are being accommodated in apartment buildings and private houses. That means, less live fire confrontations, less civilian casualties.

So, on both sides of the fence, less people are being killed, which is a good thing. But you wouldn’t know all this, from Linda's lachrymose account.

Linda is simply relaying the Palestinian list of grievances, well known to all who have an interest in the conflict: Israel is the irredeemable villain, both in intent and deed while Palestinians are completely supine, blameless and have no responsibility whatsoever for their dreary life and difficulties getting to school and work and visiting.

As any visit to major Israeli news outlets will reveal, Palestinians are anything but invisible to Israelis. It is not passiveness vis-a-vis Palestinian suffering that Israelis project. It is the result of a well-learned lesson, from experience, that the equation is not (as Linda would have us believe)


but rather:

Palestinian unhindered movement = X number of Israeli dead.

It is a struggle between Palestinian right to live free of hassle versus Israelis’ right to live.

In my scheme of things, the right to life is the more fundamental right. When Palestinians get the message, change their desire to destroy the state of Israel, the Wall/Fence/Barrier will collapse like a house of cards. It’s totally up to them. And people who care about Palestinians should explain these basic facts to them, instead of shielding them from the consequences of their own choices.

Israelis are waiting for Palestinians to take charge of their own destiny and future happiness, start making some life affirming choices. Only Palestinians can help Palestinians achieve a normal existence, free of the coercive powers of the IDF. Simply put, they need to grow up, stop being infantilized by the likes of Linda Newman, as though they have no agency whatsoever, as though they are but rag dolls, completely without will or power.

Other aspects of her "questions" are addressed here and here.

But I suspect Linda knows all of the above explanations. And maybe she read this piece of news, today. It's just that the knowledge has remained in the ante-chamber of her mind, has not yet made it into the core of understanding and painful knowledge. She is still flipping glossies, waiting for the doctor's nurse to call her in.

One of Linda's question has some substance to it:

Why Israel still supporting the building of new settlement activiity within the West Bank and contrary to the Oslo agreement? (Ta da!)

The question illustrates the extent of Linda's ignorance about the historyand official records of the conflict.

Unfortunately, the settlement expansion is not contrary to the Oslo accords. Well, no, the do not.

Neither the Declaration of Principles (DOP) of September 13, 1993 nor the Interim Agreement ("Oslo 2") of September 28, 1995 contains any provisions prohibiting or restricting the establishment or expansion of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

When he presented the Oslo 2 accords before the Knesset on October 5, 1995, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stated, " I wish to remind you, we made a commitment, meaning we reached an agreement, we made a commitment to the Knesset not to uproot any settlement in the framework of the Interim Agreement, nor to freeze construction and natural growth."
Under Article XXXI(5) of Oslo 2, the issue of Jewish settlements is to be addressed in the final status negotiations. According to an internal Israel Foreign Ministry legal analysis prepared on March 18, 1996 by Joel Singer, the Foreign Ministry Legal Advisor under the Labor Government, Israel rejected Palestinian attempts to bar new Jewish settlements in the context of the Oslo process. According to Singer, "In the course of the negotiations on the DOP, the representatives of the PLO tried to obtain a clause prohibiting Israel from establishing new settlements. Israel rejected this demand." Thus, Yasser Arafat agreed to the Oslo Accords despite the fact that he failed to achieve a halt in settlement activity in the interim period."


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