- Forget Dialogue
By Mary Rizzo
For quite a while, people involved in activism (as advocates of Palestinian nationalism and the Palestinian cause) have been part of a "dialogue movement". This follows an extended period of time wasted in the failed "peace movement". Once we figured out it was another Zionist trap (and it admittedly took several decades too long, since no Palestinian advocacy participant is against peace, so it was difficult to communicate to all that peace was not its objective and thus our participation was enabling Zionism) we were well out the door. Peace, in the Zionist dictionary is quite singular in its definition, and over the years has even gone beyond the previous Zionist definition, "leave us in peace", it now means only an actual cessation of evident hostilities with exception made for Israeli war needs of course, while Israel is still permitted to do what it wants. To have peace, as we know, the promotion of Israeli normalisation is essential. To "cooperate" with Israel through normalisation, in this case intended as "dialogue", however, is of course another Zionist instrument that has to be abandoned, just like the "peace movement".
The "dialogue movement" is merely the peace movement with a new name. To be able to engage in dialogue requires a minimum of conditions; a common argument and at least two interlocutors. The participants may be aligned anywhere on the scale, and can even agree on nothing. That is, nothing except the rules. Yes, there are rules to follow, as is required in any social contract, from the family to the state. And, in the dialogue contract, the goal is simply dialogue itself, to show it can be done. In the age of Internet, it is nothing that exceptional in itself. Yet, rules are a bit more important and if you set the rules, you actually control the dialogue, and have we come to realise who is setting the rules? It's almost always the Zionists who do because they control the territory, physical or cyber as it may be. To be accurate, we can even call them the "masters of dialogue".
If we think that the rules of the failed "peace movement" were different than those of the new "dialogue movement", perhaps it's time to get wise. It's Zionists who have set it up and have an agenda, which is not dissimilar from the normalisation agenda. The Palestinian goal in obtaining peace was to stop being occupied and to obtain human rights. None of this of course was ever on the table in the peace movement, aside from some words sounding accommodating in order to maintain our interest and support. As long as there is a Jewish State in Palestine that is not required to fulfill its requirements as per even the foundational resolution's requirements toward the Palestinians, and the "existence of Israel" is always excluded from the argument, which it is, since there are no "masters of dialogue" who are willing to challenge the foundational premise, dialogue is a Zionist thing. In order for Palestinians to accept it means capitulation to the terms of the discourse, accepting illegality and captivity as a status that must not be changed. The Israeli peace condition has been uttered in a word, the primacy of Israeli "security".
That is indeed the only common denominator that every Zionist government and Zionist supporter has hammered home: Israeli security. However, it's impossible to fulfill, and they know it. As long as there is occupation, lack of recognition of the rights of refugees, including the Right of Return, resistance is sustained by law and is also recognised as right and necessary, and Israeli security cannot be possible when resistance is legitimate and has not been abandoned. What we have to realise is that the Israelis who are in power know this, but basically play it down, as it exposes the impossible request that spits in the face of justice and law. We know that efforts made to change those aspects of Israeli violation of international law and human rights statutes have met only with failure in more than six decades, actually with the condition of millions in Gaza and the refugee camps worsening in recent years. It might finally be the moment for those dialoguing with Israelis to give them the facts straight, no chaser: "you cannot ever obtain security as long as you violate tenets of international law and do not recognise our rights and stop violating us."
So, abandoning the failed "peace movement" after recognition of it as a Zionist instrument of domination frees our energies. Or at least it did until we got sucked into the "dialogue movement". If the goal is simply to communicate, we can say that the goal has been met. We have dozens of dialogue groups between Palestinians and Israelis. Sometimes Palestinians are even allowed to travel to parts of their own city to physically meet Israelis, but that's actually pretty rare, so much of the dialogue takes place on social networks with everyone physically separated. The networks are of course arbitrary, as they accept or reject members according to how accommodating they are to the views of the owner, and the owners are mostly Israelis who have zero tolerance for what they call "radical pro-Palestinians" and as soon as they realise that these "members" are not promoting their agenda, these culprits who expose the game are first treated to mobbing and then eliminated.
So, people are talking. So? That's supposed to be positive, but is it enough? It's actually negative if it turns out they have gotten us to fuel Hasbara Trap to waste our time, mine our information and contacts, insult and demoralise us, pull our arguments into Zionist-safe territory and to impose their rules on our discourse by gatekeeping and introducing self-censorship. An analysis of this, including over 100 comments that demonstrate the tactic make very interesting reading! And, not the least, the masters of dialogue allow themselves to be the recipients of a Zionist victory, defining ourselves according to their terms and allowing them to twist logic around with word games and deception.
Let's look at a simple example of dishonesty. We all know what a Zionist is, don't we? Well, if you start to dialogue with some Israelis, they will insist intensely that you are wrong in any definition of them, that you first of all can't call them Jewish, because they aren't religious. Ok, fine. You go along with that one, it's not even that important. Then you can't call them Zionist either, because they aren't Zionists.
There is little difference in anything they say from the Zionist dogma: they refuse to recognise Palestinian rights to Historic Palestine, reject all Palestinian claims to anything but a fragment of Jerusalem, do not consider it fair or necessary that there be full Palestinian Right of Return, believe that the past is the past and today's Israelis should not pay for deeds of the founding fathers or even of any Israeli government, believe that the Wall is sad but necessary, do not believe that every person who ever wore an IDF uniform should potentially be culpable of the acts of the IDF and eventually need to answer for war crimes in a future prospective of courts of the sort, and most of all, they believe that "both sides have made mistakes and now both sides need to make sacrifices". Yet, they insist they aren't Zionists.
How are they able to say this? It's a good question, but upon some reflection, I think it falls under the "naming" obsession that has been part of Jewish tradition for a long time, with roots as far back as the Bible. You will always find a Jew spending inordinate amounts of time in this distracting argument, talking about himself and his identity, as if it is the most fascinating topic on the face of the earth, because to him, it is. You will find many making it a point to stress for us that they are "not Jews anymore" or that they "are Jews but also atheists", which they believe is going to make a difference in their argument somehow, which it doesn't, unless we really care for our own reasons. We may need to be tolerant of that as long as it doesn't consume too much of our energy, as it might be narcissism, ugly enough, but ultimately harmless if reigned in, or it might be that once one considers himself chosen, or is considered as chosen, it is for life and they just can't help it. But we must be able to draw a distinction for our cause. No one really cares if one is a Jew or not. No one actually cares if one is an Israeli or not. One DOES CARE if one is a Zionist or not. There are Israelis who are not Zionists or Jews just like there are Zionists who are not Israelis or Jews and Jews who are neither Zionists nor Israelis. What matters is knowing who thinks like a Zionist and not being duped by him. It is the Zionist that is the enemy of the Palestinian because he works to make the Palestinian aspirations sink into oblivion. One can call himself a Martian if he wants, but if he thinks like a Zionist, that is what he is. Running away from the label is meaningless and a diversion meant to then define how we engage, by pushing the arguments away from the issues and personalising them.
So, if the goal of peace-seeking was just Israeli security, a condition that cannot be obtained during a military occupation, the goal of dialogue-seeking is more or less the same, mental colonialisation and forcing the interlocutor into sustaining Israeli interests. So, the Zionists tell the Pro-Palestinian advocates and the Palestinians who participate directly what is expected of them: first they confuse them and hope to confound their very ideas about what they know. Then they make sure they tell Palestinians that they have to work hard to obtain Israeli security so that there can be longer intervals between one Israeli war and the next, though they will call this peace. To be involved in dialogue on those terms is falling directly into the Zionist web, spun by those who refuse to be called by that name because they have realised there is a growing awareness that the ideology of Zionism is one of racism and they seek to distance themselves from the title, though the mindset remains intact.
So, to these Martians who have diverted the attention of Palestinians away from nation building and into collaboration with a Zionist project (many Palestinians have indeed participated in good faith, but the facts have caught up with everyone), should be told that we have had enough. The years of frustration with the failure of all other attempts won't allow us to let down our guard now.
Palestinians know they should make no deals with the enemy, because the Zionist desire for obtaining this kind of "peace" only means the lengthening of the torture of the Palestinian people and the impossibility of developing truly patriotic efforts. My own desire is that Palestinians work on what matters to them, seeking justice, seeking to unite themselves across all the divides in order to build their nation with every energy they possess. That is what I see as the way forward, not shuffling around in a circle while it is still the Israelis/Israeli advocates and Zionists telling them what to do and even what to think. A united Palestine back to its Arab body is indeed the single greatest threat to Israel, because it will lead to the victory against the colonial-imperialist oppressor/occupier.
A rejection of the Israeli push towards divisions in the Arab and Palestinian body is the best solution to counter their "Divide and Rule" strategy. Remaining divided serves Zionist interests perfectly. Differences in ideology, beliefs and politics are as much part of Palestinian heritage as almost any other national heritage, because individuals may have different religions, beliefs, values, political ideas. It is only natural that they are varied and diverse, but never should they be at the expense of unity between Palestinians. Patriotism and nationalism do not belong to one party, and all are responsible to protect Palestinian society from lack of hope, fragmentation along geographic, political, religious and social divisions. Palestinians should remain patriotic to their land and people and seek dialogue, but inter-Palestinian dialogue, which is what is needed. It can only bring good things and be positive, as it has a common basis: not Israeli security, but Palestinian nationalism.
Mary Rizzo is an art restorer, translator and writer living in Italy. Editor and co-founder of Palestine Think Tank, co-founder of Tlaxcala translations collective. Her personal blog is Peacepalestine.
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