Interesting how one can write an entire op/ed about the anniversary of Israel’s creation and not mention the word “Palestinian” once. “Palestine” gets one mention, in a quote from someone else — but there’s no indication that there were ever people who actually lived (or continue to live) in Palestine. They’re simply invisible.
The Nation does a better job in pointing out that this is indeed a somber anniversary, and that, like American society, the people of Israel remain deeply divided about their country’s leadership and the choices that leadership has made. They also remain deeply divided and conflicted about their own identities. There’s no question that the history (and ongoing reality) of persecution of and discrimination against Jews makes a strong moral case for the creation of a Jewish state. And the fact that Israel is home to 41 percent of the world’s Jews suggests that many Jewish people have themselves decided that such a state was needed.
But the creation of that state came at great expense, and its conservative leadership continues to place major roadblocks in the way of any sort of peace. The unwillingness to grapple with history — a history of moving onto someone else’s land, which Americans too share — leaves many wounds wide open. And the refusal to allow Palestinians to pick their own leadership and to define their own existence makes it impossible to accomplish anything. There are certainly huge numbers of extremists on both sides, and I’m often tempted to say “a pox on both their houses.” But there are enough people invested in some sort of equitable and human rights affirming solution that we shouldn’t give up hope quite yet — true justice may be impossible (and I’m not even sure what that would look like at this point), but an acceptable solution isn’t. Of course, that’s going to require some representations and voices other than the “Greater Israel” religious right-wingers and the Suicide Bomber stereotypes.
So I’m glad to see publications like The Nation highlighting the voices of people from the Palestinian diaspora. One thing Edward Said highlights in The Question of Palestine — and something that probably feels familiar to a lot of people in marginalized groups — is the media’s decisions to constantly talk about the Palestinian people instead of talking to them, or listening to them. So entire articles will be written about Israel/Palestine without a Palestinian voice. It’s nice to see The Nation countering that. Maybe one day the New York Times will follow suit.