Too late for the two state solution? Part of an interview with Sari Nusseibeh in Der Spiegel, one which undercuts the B.S. and boilerplate rhetoric that constitutes our daily bread. The proposed confederation is not new, is a kind of variant on an older idea of Martin Buber’s but also represents a completely radical departure from the conventional assumptions of a nation state and the kind of hegemonic Amrican brand of democracy, the liberty and freedom packaging that has had such appalling results with regard to loss of life in a growing handful of states in the middle east where countries end up playing prostitute to the well dressed “flaneur” to use Baudelaire’s phrase, with the deep pockets.
Nusseibeh: If you look at Gaza from the top down, you see Hamas. I do not see Hamas in Gaza, personally. I see normal human beings: my relatives, my friends and my students. They did not vote for Hamas because they suddenly woke up and they became extremist Muslims. No, they voted for Hamas because the peace process failed. If the Israeli government today were to open up the borders, will Hamas stand in their way, and if they did stand in the way will the people listen to Hamas? No, I don’t believe so. People want normal lives.
SPIEGEL: We are sitting here on the campus of Al-Quds University. What do your students think about politics — do they tend to support Hamas or Fatah?
Nusseibeh: Students on campus are individual human beings; they are not walking ideologies. Let me tell you a story. It was in 2003, when the Israelis wanted to build the separation wall, right in the middle of our campus. The immediate thing that occurred to the students was — and this was unrelated to whether they were from Hamas, Fatah or Islamic Jihad — we will go out and throw rocks at the Israeli soldiers. But I told them: Listen, if you do that, then one of you will be killed. The university will have a martyr, but the next day, it would be closed. And so they stayed non-violent. In the end, we won. Israel didn’t build the wall on the campus. What do I want to say with this story? Regardless of how you see them from above, regardless of their ideology, human beings are reasonable people….Read More:http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,816491,00.html
Nusseibeh almost lends credence to Christopher Hitchens assertion that the Palestinian conflict is a “trivial squabble” and that anyone who even resembles Martin Buber is a “pious old hypocrite.” Hitchens and his “torah based land thieves” is another sound bite, but does little to pierce the complexity and serves really to burnish the atheist brand. There are more profound forces at work that lend themselves less favorably to Hitchens style of animated cartoons, despite their bite and chipping away at the edifice of evil.
There is almost a fetish quality to the chaos. An attraction to the destructive and irrational fueled in part by a certain proximity to the two religions, the Islam/Jewish axis as opposed to Judeo-Christian which in large measure is a recent fabrication. The chasm between Judaism and Islam may not be that significant. Just formalities of the same old same old. The claim of a Spinoza is pertinent here: the real object, say a chair and the idea of a chair are basically one and the same. Yes and no. Thinking of stealing your neighbor’s car and doing it are not the same. In the same way, god is against worshiping other deities in front of him, but not when hidden from his gaze. And if god is absent for long spells…Is the Covenant hermetically sealed or a tax code where you look for loopholes?
Slavoj Zizek maintains that the central the central paradox of the Jewish religion is its fidelity to the founding violent Event precisely by avoiding, denying, confessing or symbolizing it and it is this this repr
d quality of the Event that provides Judaism with its energy, tension and overall vitality.Hard to say.Maybe Zizek is just a more ingenious and articulate Hitchens but the view is not a liberating and emancipatory one either.
from the interview:
…SPIEGEL: Do your students still believe that this conflict is solvable? And what do they think about a federal state of Israel and Palestine?
Nusseibeh: First of all, they think that it does not look solvable. But what I can say is that people are no longer sold on the idea of two states. Only very few are still stuck to the national identity idea, but they do not actually believe that they can get the state that we wanted to get. Others are turning to religion. Religious ideas are what is important now.
SPIEGEL: You are a professor for Islamic philosophy. What do you think about the role of religion in this conflict?
Nusseibeh: I grew up with the idea of a very tolerant Islam. My family has had the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (in the Old City of Jerusalem) for hundreds of years, and we are proud of it. This is our connection to Christianity. Our reverence for Jesus is something inborn in me as a Muslim. My reverence to the Jewish prophets is inborn in me as a Muslim.
SPIEGEL: But that is not the Islam revered by all Muslims….Read More:http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,816491,00.html
…Nusseibeh: In the true sense, religions in theory are ways to support human values. In so far as religions interfere with human values, then they go in the wrong direction. And this is what is happening unfortunately in many religions, including Islam. There are some Muslim clerics I like, but I distrust people who regard themselves as guardians of religion.
SPIEGEL: Do you attend mosque regularly?
Nusseibeh: No, I almost never go. Once I took my sons to the mosque, but the man who held the prayer put me off. He talked about things that are totally crazy. Even ignoring what the content is, it’s the way they scream. You feel like they are holding a whip and scaring the people into the truth of Islam. That is not Islam. That is a kind of terrorism. In my understanding, Islam is a gentle religion. And the message of Islam is a gentle message….
…Nusseibeh: This is why I am proposing this plan. How many people are living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean?
SPIEGEL: Around 11 million people.
Nusseibeh: There are about 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and 1 million in Israel, and there are about 6 million Jewish Israelis. But this is a small place. We are inside each other. Sooner or later, we will have to somehow find a way to live with each other. My son lives in a Jewish suburb of Jerusalem. My daughter-in-law told the Jewish music teacher that she does not want her son to sing religious Jewish songs. And the Jewish teacher said fine — when we are going to do this, he doesn’t need to take part. But otherwise he can join the party.
SPIEGEL: Is that how your proposed state could work as well? When it’s a Jewish issue, then the Palestinians would stand aside, but otherwise they join in?
Nusseibeh: And vice versa, because you cannot expect Jews to enjoy Palestinian songs. But come on, Muslims and Jews have lived amiably for long periods of time. It was not full of roses, but actually it was better than in Europe for most of the time. We have friendships between Jews and Arabs that are very strong and sometimes go back generations. It is not impossible.Read More:http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,816491,00.html
Christopher Hitchens, (2003):Of course this hard-headed and self-interested solution of withdrawal would not satisfy the jihadists. But one isn’t seeking to placate them. One is seeking to destroy and discredit them. At the present moment, they operate among an occupied and dispossessed and humiliated people, who are forced by Sharon’s logic to live in a close yet ghettoised relationship to the Jewish centers of population. Try and design a more lethal and rotten solution than that, and see what you come up with.
The principal reason why this trivial squabble has become so dangerous to all of us is the “faith based” element. Even for the so-called secular Jewish nationalists, it always had to be Jerusalem and Hebron. (Never mind the silly idea of turning Jewish watchmakers from Hungary into farmers: now it turns Jewish bullies from Brooklyn into vigilantes.) What did they imagine would be the response of the followers of the Prophet? I think myself that not even the most secular and internationalist Palestinian could be expected to bear the indignity of being first chucked out of his land and then told that oranges didn’t grow in the “desert” of Haifa until 1948. One must not insult or degrade or humiliate people, let alone deport or dispossess them. Nor is one permitted to lie about history.Read More:http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=15043