New Narratives and Dimensions of Palestinian-Israeli-Jewish Conflict

  • Friday, November 28, 2014

Robert Olson
Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky

The unrest and rioting by Palestinians during the past eight months in the West Bank, Israel and Jerusalem seems unlikely to resolve the Palestinians', Arabs' and Muslims' grievances with Israel.
        The main reason is that there have always been two different narratives. One is an anti-Semitic, Holocaust, survival narrative that culminated in the creation of Israel in 1948 and then in the success of the Jewish state's conquest of the West Bank and its continuing absorption.
        The Palestinian narrative is one of victimization, first by the Zionist movement, then by British imperialism, culminating in the creation of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent expulsion of the bulk of the Palestinian population.
        The two narratives also have differing interpretations of the geopolitics in which they are embedded. Jews cleave to Western, European and American versions of world history, and the Palestinians to the Muslim, Arab, non-Western views of history and civilization. Given the historical circumstances in the late 19th and 20th centuries, the Palestinian Arab Muslim narrative had little chance of challenging the West's narrative.
        The historical dilemma of the Palestinians was aptly and tragically stated by the right-wing Revisionist Jewish leader Vladimir Jabotinsky, who stated as early as 1926, “The tragedy is that there is a clash here between two truths; but the justice of our cause is greater.” It is still this narrative that dominates the European, American and Israeli Jews' views of the conflict; this is unlikely to change.
        There are several reasons for this. The main one is the inability of the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims to change the dynamics of the conflict in any significant way. The latest chapter of this narrative is their complete failure to respond in any adequate fashion to their wars with Israel during the past decade.
Part of this failure is the inability of Arab states to create states that meet even the minimum requirements for decent, inclusive and participative government. The most egregious example of this is the collapse of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. While there is unstinting US and European political, scientific and technological support for Israel, Palestinians, in spite of the huge wealth accumulated by Gulf Arab States over the last 50 years, have achieved little.
The expansion of Israel into the West Bank and its annexation is a foregone conclusion. What remains of the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and in Israel must be “managed” either by physical containment, economic strangulation, property confiscation and/or simply expulsion. There is, however, the possibility that the economic prosperity Israel enjoys might enable it to include sufficient numbers of Palestinians, allowing the Jewish state to more easily manage their Palestinian “problem."
        Whatever methods of management Israel decides upon, it is clear that it will have the support of the US. In spite of “deploring” Israel's “management” of the situation in the West Bank, Israel proper and Gaza, the religious, social, political and technological ties between Israel and the US will continue. Indeed, it is to be noted that the US political system could not function efficaciously without the strong support of neoconservative, pro-Israel lobbying groups. Israel also has the strong support of hundreds of US technological, industrial, computer and aerospace companies.
        During the past 20 years there has been an intense expansion of defense, computer, cyber warfare, nuclear, missile and aircraft relationships between Israel and the US. These relationships are now to the point that the two countries' defense industries are almost inextricably intertwined.
The latest example is the announcement by Lockheed Martin, the giant aircraft industrial conglomerate, that Israel's aerospace industry will produce 44 wings for Lockheed's recently launched F-35 fighter. The deal is part of Lockheed's pledged $5 billion in work, 30 percent of Israel's annual defense budget, for Aerospace's jet fighter industry. The F-35 will be the prime strike fighter for the next 30 years for the US and Israeli air forces.
Lockheed spokespersons estimate that each F-35 will cost $115 million but anticipate that the cost of each plane could be reduced to $85 million by 2019. Lockheed officials think that scores of countries will purchase the F-35. If this is the case, the Israelis' aerospace industry will be in worldwide demand to service and repair the aircraft.
The ever-growing technological and defense relationships between Israel and US industrial and computer companies was emphasized on Nov. 6 when at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Gala (FIDFG) in Beverly Hills the non-profit organization received $33 million in donations. Many celebrities donated large amounts. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, a multi-billion dollar US company engaged heavily in industrial, electronics, computer and cyber warfare technology with Israeli companies, donated $9 million.
        “This event is always one of the most inspiring and emotional evenings of the year,” said Barbara Streisand, one of the attendees. It is unlikely that Palestinians and/or Arabs will be able to compete with this narrative.

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