With Obama’s visit to the Israeli apartheid state, it is important to point out the old lies about Palestine that Obama and Netanyahu insist are “facts”.
This article originally appeared on english.aljazeera.net on 27 October 2011.
Much of the international support that Israel receives is based on several lies it tells and re-tells as “facts”.
In 1991, negotiations started officially and unofficially between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (and the Palestinians associated with it) and the Israeli government. At the time, Israel had occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip for the previous 24 years.
Today, 20 years later, Israel and President Obama insist that the only way to bring about peace, and presumably end the Occupation, is to continue with negotiations. It is unclear if what Obama and Israel are claiming is that Israel needs 24 years of negotiations in order to end its 24-year occupation of Palestinian land, so that by the time the occupation ends, it will have lasted for 48 years.
This of course is the optimistic reading of the Israeli and US positions; the reality of the negotiations and what they aim to achieve, however, is far more insidious.
The negotiations have been based on specific goals to end certain aspects of the Israeli relationship to the Palestinians, namely some of the parts introduced since the 1967 war and the occupation, and the beginning of exclusive Jewish colonial settlement of these territories.But what always remains outside the purview of negotiations is the very core of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship, which the Palestinians are told cannot be part of any negotiations.
These off-limits core issues include what has happened since 1947-1948, including the expulsion of 760,000 Palestinians, the destruction of their cities and towns, the confiscation and destruction of their property, the introduction of discriminatory laws that legalise Jewish racial, colonial and religious privilege and deny Palestinian citizens of Israel equal rights and reject the right of the expelled refugees to return.
Yet, this core, which the Israelis summarise as Israel’s right to be, and to be recognised as, a “Jewish” state, is what is always invoked by the Israelis themselves as central to beginning and ending the negotiations successfully and which the Palestinians, the Israelis insist, refuse to discuss.
But the core issues of the question of the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis have always been based on the agonistic historical, geographic and political claims of the Palestinian people and the Zionist movement.
While the Palestinians have always based their claims on verifiable facts and truths that the international community agreed upon and recognised, Israel has always based its claims on facts on the ground that it created by force and which parts of the international community would only recognise as “legitimate”, retroactively.
How is one then to sift through these competing notions of truths and facts on the one hand, and facts on the ground, on the other? Continue reading