We have just passed the forty-forth anniversary of the Six Day War. In part, a war based on certain reclamation myths and Jewish revisionism that appropriates necessary ingredients form the bible into the mythological recipe of a national homeland. Somewhat simplistically, it encompasses Golda Meir’s statement that Israel was a “land without people for a people with no land.”; which has been misinterpreted and misattributed to fit the needs of the argument. To make matters worse, Britain made two independent promises which were in conflict during the WWI. It is this which lies at the root of the present hostility between Jews and Palestinians; it can be said that two rights can make make a monumental wrong.
A sketch of the history of the Holy Land over the last 1800 years makes it evident just who the Palestinians are in terms of cultural identity. They do not have a common ethnic origin or a common religion. What binds them together is the fact that they and their ancestors have lived in the land of Palestine from as far back as any of them can record. Palestinians can claim the ancestry of the ancient Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders and Turks.
It is fairly ironic to find that if we go back three thousand years we find a very similar phenomenon. The people of ancient Israel, far from being of one ethnic stock, resulted chiefly from the fusion of the indigenous Canaanites and other incoming tribes. There were pockets left from the retreating Hittite Empire, as the story of Uriah the Hittite so clearly illustrates. And did not Solomon boast of his many foreign wives? In the case both of the ancient Israelites and of the present day Palestinians, it was land possession which gave them their unity.
The point is, human nature seems to be built around the lie and the Palestine question is no exception. Whatever the origins and the claims they have been greatly obscured by lies of omission and commission.According to Ian Leslie, “lying isn’t a perversion of or nature, it’s central to it.” Leslie’s underlying theme is that self-deception is a powerful force, even a necessary and normal function of human life, and that minor deceits are not indicative of promoting major deceits. One of the best known series of photographs about Israel were the Robert Capa series from 1948-1950, in which a certain level of fudging helped sustain the narrative of the art form. The problem has been interpretation.
Journalistic texts are never created in isolation. The cultural context in which they are created and the viewpoint embedded in the work has to usually be deciphered. Robert Capa’s images of the birth of the state of Israel are said to argue for a narrowly defined reading; a created reality that celebrates a presumption of rightness of the state and embraces a dominant cultural myth related to its settlement and actualization in which competing views were marginalized or in some cases assassinated. The Capa photographs are perceived to take the perceived tack that Israel was creating a state ex-nihilo, by turning a desolate and essentially empty strip of land into an oasis.This is a debatable assumption. Capa’s images do tap into the reclamation myth of the land that settlers believed was rightfully theirs given their spiritual connection to that land, but this appears to be a leitmotif or secondary pattern.
Although the Capa photographs represent in a certain sense a culmination of myth, both predetermined and outlined, as Roland Barthes said, the myth is neither a lie nor a confession; rather a means of giving consistency to the world and make experience more understandable through a connection with the past. Ultimately, Capa’s Israel photographs were diaspora context juxtaposition of the past and the future, an artistic attempt at reconciliation of an even ol
myth, that of the Wandering Jew, and its Christian counterpart as seen from Hieronymus Bosch”s Prodigal Son and the Haywain. This was coupled with the lyricism expressed by Emma Lazarus in her “Colossus” of which is known through the inscription on the Statue of Liberty:
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Add to this an appropriation, as an artistic projection, of the American view of Exceptionalism, in which America alone among nations is beloved by god and in Israel a similar modern democratic experiment that reflects Lincoln’s response to a clergyman ” Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God’s side.”
Geering:Herzl did not find his mission all plain sailing. Many of his fellow-Jews were strongly opposed to political Zionism. The Reform section of Jewry, then strong in Western Europe, completely rejected it. The Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, attended the conference at Basle but later became critical of political Zionism. Although he ended his days in Israel he became unpopular with many Israelis because of his insistence on open dialogue with the Palestinians with a view to creating a shared state.
Most interesting of all was the response of a young Hasidic Jew from the Ukraine called Asher Ginzberg (1856–1927). He joined the ‘Lovers of Zion’ movement at the age of 22 and became known thereafter by his pen name, Ahad Ha’am (‘one of the people’). In 1889 he published his first essay, ‘Lo ze ha-derekh’ (‘This Is Not the Way’), where he outlined a spiritual basis for Zionism. He called for a renaissance of Hebrew-language culture, which came to be known as ‘cultural Zionism’. He did support the creation of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine, but mainly as a centre for the Jewish life of the Diaspora. He believed that the goal of re-creating Jewish nationhood required spiritual rebirth rather than political pressure. So in 1897 he severely criticised the political Zionism of Theodor Herzl, believing that a Jewish state should be the end result of a Jewish spiritual renaissance rather than the beginning. It was due to his efforts that the Hebrew University was founded in Jerusalem in 1927, some twenty years before the State of Israel. Read More:http://www.westarinstitute.org/Periodicals/4R_Articles/holyland3.html
Scott Copeland:Other Zionist leaders echoed Herzl. They held to the faith that the Zionist movement would, in time, be welcomed by the local peoples of the Middle East as a harbinger of development and modernization.
However, other voices within the Zionist movement challenged the optimism of deterministic progress. Ahad Ha-am, Herzl’s most potent critic, saw early on that Arab opposition to Zionism would not be easily assuaged. After a visit to the new Yishuv, Ahad Ha-am wrote:
“We tend to believe abroad that Palestine is nowadays almost completely deserted, an uncultivated wilderness, and anyone can come there and buy as much land as his heart desires. But in reality this is not the case. It is difficult to find anywhere in the country Arab land which lies fallow . . .
…”We tend to believe abroad that all Arabs are desert barbarians, an asinine people who does not see or understand what is going on around them. This is a cardinal mistake…. The Arabs, and especially the city dwellers, understand very well what we want and what we do in the country…
“But when the day will come in which the life of our people in the Land of Israel will develop to such a degree that they will push aside the local population by little or by much, then it will not easily give up its place.” (“Truth from the Land of Israel,” The Complete Writings of Ahad Ha-am, 1946, p. 29.)
As a distinct national entity and movement, the Palestinian community went through a process of historic gestation from the 1920s and continuing through 1967. Palestinian national identity emerged as a reaction against the British Mandate and the growth of the Yishuv. Local Arab violence that began as sporadic mob actions in 1920 and 1921 was transformed into organized political and military action in the Arab revolts of 1929 and 1936-1939.
Israel’s War of Independence, and the exodus of approximately 700,000 Palestinians, not only remains a central problem of the continuing conflict, but further cemented a shared sense of Palestinian history, memory, and suffering central to the formation of a national movement. Read More:http://mobile.myjewishlearning.com/israel/Jewish_Thought/Modern/Arabs_in_Zionist_Thought.shtml