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On the refusal to recognize Palestine

By Matthew Graber  | Mondoweiss | August 15, 2011

I’ve been reading Judith Butler and Edward Said a lot lately. I’m interested in power dynamics and what it is that drives people to do terrible things in this world.  When I came to Said’s commentary (The Question of Palestine, p.9) on the Zionist slogan of Israel Zangwill for Palestine – “A land without people for a people without land” – I was stirred. Suddenly I had flashes to all of those comments that I see posted all over the internet, on Youtube and Mondo. It was a very visceral reaction to Said’s words.

Some people argue that there has never been a land known as Palestine. Some of these people may point out that, within the Western construct of nation-states, the term “Palestine” has been used to denote a land in the Middle East only as an administrative term during the Roman Empire and then under British mandate in 1922 following the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

And I wanted to verbalize to some of my friends and acquaintances why I am ever frustrated by the refusal of Palestine, and to explain how this refusal constitutes racism and allows for continuing violence against the Palestinian people to this day.

An Arab people living, as they referred to it, in a land known as Palestine is documented back to at least the 7th century (Guy Le Strange, Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500 Translated from the Works of the Medieval Arab Geographers).

But we needn’t consult a geographer or historian to recognize this as true. We just need to listen to a Palestinian.

And herein lies the problem that I have.

In order to listen to a Palestinian, one must be able to hear their voice, and to give that voice consideration and legitimation. The refusal to recognize a land known as Palestine coincides with the refusal to consider the Arab people who live there – to refuse to recognize their existence, their humanity, their mortality, and their voices.

And so refusing to recognize a land as Palestine and a people known as Palestinian actually is to refuse to recognize the violence that the Zionist project of Israel has inflicted upon the Arab people of Palestine, and to refuse to recognize the continuing violence of that project today.

Just earlier this week Israel authorized the construction of 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem – constituting even more land stolen from Palestinians for the state of Israel. The apartheid wall being built by Israel continues to confiscate Palestinian land for the exclusive use of Israelis. Farmers across the West Bank have their farmland taken and their crops destroyed. The blockade of Gaza at all ports of entry – land, sea, and air – does not allow for enough food or medical supplies to reach the 1.5 million people living there. The Palestinian people in the West Bank are allowed 50 gallons of water a day per household (the UN says that people need at least 75 gallons to survive) while the Israelis in the settlements of the West Bank use 250 gallons of water a day per household. Palestinian children are abducted and coerced by Israeli soldiers. Palestinians are harrassed at the over 200 Israeli checkpoints throughout the West Bank. Thousands of Palestinians linger in Israeli jails.

This is not historical violence. This is what is happening today, August 15th, 2011, in the Middle East.

And so, I want you to consider who it is that considers Palestinian voices. Why doesn’t the press talk about this violence inflicted upon the Palestinian people? Why don’t people – you, me, people the world over – protest this violence? What happens during the daily protests of Palestinians?

So every time you hear somebody say, “There has never been a country called Palestine,” I want you to consider this note. And I want you to say, “Hey! That’s racism” And then consider how that racism pervades our society. And fight back.

August 15, 2011 - Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular

1 Comment

  1. I feel that.

    Comment by Faaizaa | October 2, 2012


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