The ‘Palestinian Problem’ is really the Israeli Problem

Attack on Gaza

Attack on Gaza

More on Palestine

The ‘Palestinian Problem’ is really the Israeli Problem

The biggest problem of the ‘Palestinian Problem’ is that the world doesn’t really give a toss what happens in Palestine until the Zionist, Israeli Settler State enjoys another period of slaughter of the Palestinian people. And even then criticism of the ‘ethnic cleansing’ is muted.

The fact that Palestinians, on a daily basis, are treated like second class citizens, who really don’t have a right to live in their own land is forgotten. The fact that they are probably being treated in a manner which makes the white supremacist South African apartheid regime pre-1990s seem quite ‘civilised’ is ignored. The fact that Palestinian land is being stolen from those whose families have lived there for generations – against all international ‘laws’, supposedly adopted to prevent such activity – happens on a daily basis with impunity. The fact that Palestinian children are dying and being injured at the hands of the Israeli military and police in numbers which would be received with shock and horror in those countries who seek to determine what happens in the Middle East and passes by without comment. The fact that Zionist fascist thugs roam the streets of the Palestinian occupied land, reminiscent of what occurred in Germany in the 1930s, isn’t even considered newsworthy.

It’s shameful that it was only shortly before the 73rd anniversary of the Nabka that two reports were published (one by the Jewish organisation B’ Tselem, This is apartheid, published in January 2021 and the other, A threshold crossed – Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution, published by Human Rights Watch in May 2021) which openly condemned Israel as being an apartheid state.

For decades the Zionists had cynically hidden behind the Holocaust whenever their activities were challenged. They had become so confident (probably over-confident) in their propaganda exercise that they had started to conflate, and equate, criticism of the Settler State of Israel with anti-Semitism. This has had the effect, in the last year or so, of stifling debate about the rights of the Palestinians. That charade is starting to look slightly thin now when the forced evictions in East Jerusalem (highlighted by the Palestinian refusal to let it happen quietly) has made it difficult for the Zionists to deny the accusation that their racist state has been applying a policy of apartheid and ‘ethnic cleansing’ for decades.

It took the world a long time, far too long a time, to universally criticise and ostracise the racist South African regime. For the capitalist and imperialist countries (most of whom were racist in many respects) the existence of a tame attack dog in Africa which was willing to fight against any national liberation movements and stem the move toward Socialism was worth more than the local, national inconvenience of supporting a racially, unjust society. When the apartheid regime had run out of its usefulness changes in the society were accepted by the capitalists – although they did so in a manner which meant that capitalism wasn’t seriously challenged in the most industrially developed country on the African continent. (It should also be remembered that at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa Israel was that country’s closest military and diplomatic ally.)

Now Israel plays the slavish (but willing) role of imperialism’s attack dog in a part of the world that is politically and economically crucial for the short term existence of imperialism The more the Zionists crow about their right to live on stolen land; the more they spout about independence as a State; the more they prowl around the Middle East like an over-confident bully and gangster the more the reality they only exist due to the grace of the imperialist powers, mainly the United States of America, becomes evident.

How long will it be before the world opens its eyes to the crimes of the Zionist Settler State of Israel?

One of the other consequences when the simmering war goes on the boil is that there are a lot more articles from those who support the Palestinians in their fight for freedom and from injustice. Not that they’re not out there generally but when peoples’ concentration is directed to the situation in Palestine then more comments and information is forthcoming.

Below are links to some articles which have been published in the last week or so with salient comments to make on the reality of the past 73 years, on how the world sees Palestine and the biased manner in which Israel is treated by capitalist politicians and media.

However, although it is reasonable to condemn the approach of the leaders of the capitalist countries that doesn’t mean the people of the world, workers and peasants, equally maltreated by the economic and political system they live under, are totally blameless. Those politicians are in positions of power due to the action or inaction of the populace. Whether by crimes of commission or omission we are all guilty of what has happened, is happening and likely to continue happening if something is not done to prevent it for the foreseeable future in Palestine.

Long Live Palestine!

For further background information (mainly material from the 1960s-1980s) on Palestine you can click here.

(Notwithstanding the recent ‘cease fire’ the issue will not just go away. All those matters addressed below won’t disappear because the guns have fallen silent. A long term solution will have to be found and it will mean the State of Israel having to substantially change. The so-called ‘two state’ solution has been dead in the water for a long time.)

Sheikh Jarrah Shows that Palestine’s Nakba Never Ended

Two residents of Sheikh Jarrah write about their community’s fight against eviction – and why this month’s Palestinian uprising is just the latest chapter in a decades-long struggle against dispossession.

Another Nakba: ‘This Is My House, This Is My Door, You Are a Thief’

In the days leading up to the 73rd anniversary of the Nabka the aggressiveness and arrogance of the Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem was such that it would have been a surprise if matters did not reach a head close to the time of the date of the establishment of the Israeli Settler (and apartheid) State. (Note the contempt expressed in the faces of the young Zionists in the top picture.)

The Palestinian Body Is Whole Once Again

Palestinians disconnected from each other have struggled immensely to maintain a national project with clear objectives. Now, struggling together across the entire geography of historic Palestine, the Palestinian body is coming back together.

A Nightmare of Terror Across the Landscape of Palestine

As Israeli lynch mobs roam the streets attacking Palestinians, and as Israeli war planes drop bombs on Gaza, it’s essential to understand how we arrived at this moment.

On Palestine, the Media Is Allergic to the Truth

This article looks at how the media in the vast majority of capitalist countries falls over itself in support of the Israeli Settler State by always addressing matters as if the ‘both sides’ in the battle were on an equal footing – and forgetting the history of the conflict in general and always looking at matters as if they were all short term flare-ups.

Nine children killed in Gaza Strip as violence escalates

Although events got worse before they got ‘better’ – an uncertain cease fire – this article documents the cavalier attitude the Israeli Defence Forces have towards the lives of Palestinian children.

How the United States helps to kill Palestinians

U.S. policy has perpetuated the crisis and atrocities of the Israeli occupation by unconditionally supporting Israel in three distinct ways: militarily, diplomatically and politically.

Israeli forces kill 17-year-old Palestinian in Arroub refugee camp

The Israeli Defence Forces have been killing children on a regular basis for years. This is just yet another example where extreme and deadly force is being used against young people.

Gaza conflict: no matter how powerful Israel’s military becomes it still can’t win

‘ …. an apt summary is of a state that is impregnable in its insecurity. It is impregnable in the sense that it cannot be defeated, but insecure in that the underlying threats will not go away – as is evident in the current violent confrontations.’

Peaceful Coexistence in Israel hasn’t been shattered – it’s always been a myth

‘As a Palestinian from within Israel I have long been a second-class citizen, denied basic rights.’

Life inside Gaza during 11 days of bombardment

Guardian journalist Hazem Balousha describes living in, and reporting from, Gaza, under heavy bombardment until a ceasefire began on Friday, while historian Rashid Khalidi discusses the history of the Palestinian struggle for statehood. (Podcast)

Israeli social fabric is ripping at the seams

Israel has reached apartheid, the antithesis of Judaism’s long tradition of social justice.

Palestinian youth are leading a Popular Uprising to end Israeli Apartheid

The latest Palestinian uprising firmly rejects the conquest and division of our people legally and geographically, into separate, besieged, apartheid parcels of land similar to the Bantustans of Apartheid South Africa.

Why is accountability for alleged war crimes so hard to achieve in the Israel-Palestinian conflict?

‘The failure of the international community to bring about a resolution in the decades-long conflict reflects the highly politicised nature of international law.’

Likud Must Pay for Its Criminal Culture

The ruling party’s rap sheet is too long to be tolerated any longer.

And taking another historical perspective on Palestine;

What we did: How the Jewish Communist Left failed the Palestinian Cause

Although this article concentrates on the attitude of the Jewish Left in the United States in the late 1940s – at the time of the establishment of the Settler Sate of Israel – a similar approach would have been taken by many Communist parties throughout the world when the Soviet Union changed its approach to the ‘two state’ ‘solution’ of the situation in Palestine. Although a long term supporter of Comrade Stalin (and still am) this is one policy decision I have been unable to reconcile with his world view in general.

More on Palestine

The History of Palestine from the time of the plan of the establishment of the Settler State of Israel

A Palestinian child in 1970

A Palestinian child in 1970

More on Palestine

The History of Palestine from the time of the plan of the establishment of the Settler State of Israel

On this page we present an eclectic group of pamphlets, journals and reports that were published from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. These are reproduced in the hope of providing an historical background to the situation that we are witnessing in Palestine (in 2021) more than a couple of generations later.

What is striking in many of the images presented here is that the situation in Palestine has been dire, with the fascist Israeli forces implementing ‘ethnic cleaning’ in all their dealings with the Palestinian population from the very beginning and consistently ever since. (Note the date of the image at the head of this post.)

The situation before 1967

Israel – according to Theodore Herzl (1904) and Rabbi Fischmann (1947), nd.

Do you know – Twenty basic facts about the Palestine Problem, Facts and Figures Series, No 1, Research Centre, Palestine Liberation Organisation, Beirut, April 1966, 5 pages.

The UN and the Palestine Question, April 1947 – April 1965, Fayez A Sayegh, Facts and Figures Series, No 2, Research Centre, Palestine Liberation Organisation, Beirut, September 1966, 24 pages.

United States and West German Aid to Israel, Facts and Figures Series No 6, Asa’d Abdul-Rahman, Research Centre, Palestine Liberation Organisation, Beirut, October 1966, 53 pages.

The Partition of Palestine, Institute for Palestine Studies, Monograph Series No 9, Beirut, 1967, 55 pages.

Edwin Montagu and The Balfour Declaration, Arab League, London, 1969, 23 pages.

Deir Yassin, 1948 Zeita, Beit Nuba and Yalu, 1967, Palestine National Liberation Movement, Fateh, 1970, 18 pages. A twenty year span and the rise of terrorist gangs to statehood cannot change the Israeli-Zionist mentality, bent on destruction and terror.

The situation after 1967

Imperialism and the Middle East Conflict – Some Left Wing Viewpoints, No 1, Ad Hoc Committee for Peace in the Middle East, London, 1967, 34 pages.

Raphael’s ‘Virgin and Child’, Jerusalem Committee, London, 1969, 4 pages.

River without Bridges – A study of The Exodus of the 1967 Palestinian Refugees, Peter Dodd and Halim Barakat, Institute for Palestinian Studies, Monograph Series No 10, Beirut, 1969, 107 pages.

The June War – In the Light of its Aftermath, June 1967-Summer 1969, Vada Hart Nabky – Morssett Press, London, 1969, 32 pages.

To whom does Palestine belong? Henry Cattan, Institute for Palestine Studies, Monograph Series No 8, Beirut, 1969, 18 pages.

What if it happened to you? Jerusalem Committee, London, 1969, 15 pages.

World Public Opinion and the current aggression in the Middle East, No 4, United Arab Republic Ministry of National Guidance State Information Service, 1969, 34 pages.

World Public Opinion and Israel, No 5, United Arab Republic Ministry of National Guidance State Information Service, 1969, 75 pages.

World Public Opinion and the current aggression in the Middle East, No 7, United Arab Republic Ministry of National Guidance State Information Service, 1969, 18 pages.

World Public Opinion and the current aggression in the Middle East, No 15, United Arab Republic Ministry of National Guidance State Information Service, 1969, 25 pages.

Background Notes on Palestine, Report No 3, An Eyewitness in Jerusalem Spring 1969, John Carter, Jerusalem Committee, London, 1969, 21 pages.

Background Notes on Palestine, Report No 4, Visit to Palestine Summer 1969, Tom Fielding, Jerusalem Committee, London, 1969, 16 pages.

The Tragedy of Palestine from the Balfour Declaration to today, Anthony Nutting, The Arab League, London, 1969, 15 pages.

Tragedy of the Palestine Arab Refugees, 1969, 32 pages.

Israeli air attack on the National Metal Products Factory at Abu Zaabal, Cairo, February 12 1970, United Arab Republic Ministry of National Guidance State Information Service, 20 pages.

Israeli air raid on the Bahr El-Backar Primary School, Sharkia Governorate, UAR, April 8 1970, United Arab Republic Ministry of National Guidance State Information Service, 16 pages.

The Jarring Mission, The Arab League, London, 1970, 24 pages.


Zionism and Racism – a case to answer, European Co-ordinating Committee of Friendship Societies with the Arab World, Paris, 1976, 26 pages.

Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, Faris Yahya, Palestine Research Center, Beirut, 1978, 85 pages.

Jews, Zionism and South Africa, David Herman, Union of Jewish Students, London, 1989, 16 pages.

The Arab League, London

The Arab, Volume 2, Nos 31/32, The Arab League, London, August/September1969, 16 pages.

The Arab, Volume 2, No 33, The Arab League, London, October 1969, 12 pages.

The Arab, Volume 4, No 30, The Arab League, London, April 1970, 12 pages.

Jerusalem – El kuds al Sharif – The Rock of Faith, The Arab League, London, 1969, 8 pages.

A letter to the Holy Sees, The Arab League, Morssett Press, London, 1970, 24 pages.

Israelis versus Israel, The Arab League, London, 1970, 32 pages. The treatment of Arab Israelis – fifty years ago.

Solidarity with Palestine in Britain

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Fedayeen, Volume 1, No 2, October 1969, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, London, 1969, 8 pages.

Fedayeen, Volume 2, No 1, January 1970, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, London, 1970, 8 pages.

Fedayeen, Volume 2, No 2, March 1970, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, London, 1970, 10 pages.

Fedayeen, Volume 2, No 3, May 1970, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, London, 1970, 8 pages.

Fedayeen, Volume 3, No 1, February 1971, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, London, 1971, 6 pages.

American Imperialism – Palestine to Vietnam, Palestine Solidarity No 1, Liverpool University Palestine Solidarity Campaign, early 1970s, 12 pages.

Revolution – journal of the London Revolutionary Socialist Students Federation

Palestine, Special ‘Revolution’ Supplement, 1969, 4 pages.

Committees for Solidarity with the Palestinian Revolution

Palestinian Revolution, Committees for Solidarity with the Palestinian Revolution, Manchester University Students Union, March 1970, 16 pages.

Israel Palestine Socialist Action Group (UK)

I don’t know how long this publication (or the organisation) lasted after issue No 5/6. It’s possible it lived and died when a small group were in university at the beginning of the 1970s.

Flashpoint, No 3, Autumn 1970, Israel Palestine Socialist Action Group (UK), Reading, 13 pages.

Flashpoint, No 4, Spring 1971, Israel Palestine Socialist Action Group (UK), Reading, 20 pages.

Flashpoint, double issue Nos 5 and 6, Summer 1971/Winter 1971/2, Israel Palestine Socialist Action Group (UK), Reading, 23 pages.

American Solidarity with Palestine

The Middle East Newsletter was the journal of the Americans for Justice in the Middle East.

Middle East Newsletter, Volume 2, No 9, November 1968, Beirut, 1968, 12 pages.

Middle East Newsletter, Volume 3, No 4, May-June 1969, Beirut, 1969, 12 pages.

Middle East Newsletter, Volume 3, Nos 5-6, September 1969, Beirut, 1969, 16 pages.

Middle East Newsletter, Volume 4, Nos 1-2, March 1970, Beirut, 1970, 16 pages.

Middle East Newsletter, Volume 4, No 3, April 1970, Beirut, 1970, 16 pages.

Middle East Newsletter, Volume 4, Nos 4-5 July 1970, Beirut, 1970, 16 pages.

Middle East Newsletter, Volume 4, Nos 4-5 July 1970 – Supplement, Beirut, 1970, 4 pages.

Butting in, butting out, The National Observer, Monday June 22, 1970, Supplement to Middle East Newsletter Volume 4, Nos 4-5, 1970, 1 page.

Middle East Newsletter, Volume 4, Nos 6-7 August-September 1970, Beirut, 1970, 12 pages.

Middle East Newsletter, Volume 5, No 1, January 1971, Beirut, 1971, 16 pages.


Information Bulletin, No 10, 1968, Communist Party of Israel Central Committee – Tel Aviv, October 1968, 44 pages. Theses for the Sixteenth Congress of the Communist Party of Israel: Communism – Democracy – The Jewish People by Moshe Sneh.

Grim reports of repression in Israel-occupied lands, EC Hodgkin, 1969, 4 pages. This article was first published in ‘The Times’ on October 1968. It was then reproduced as an official document of the United Nations Security Council (number 5/9501, dated November 10 1969).

Hands off our people in Jordan, Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Palestinian People, London, 1970, 1 page.

Israel’s Threat to Judaism – In Palestine, Zionism v Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Rabbi Elmer Berger, A speech delivered to the Irish Arab Society, Dublin, 5th February 1970, Irish Arab Society, Dublin, 1970, 22 pages.

Nayef Hawatmeh, General Secretary of the Democratic Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Interview with the Lebanese newspaper Al-Beiraq on 17th April 1974, Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Palestinian People, London, 1974, 28 pages.

Palestine, Yusef Sayegh, Free Palestine, London, nd, 22 pages.

Programme for National Palestinian Unity, Naim Ashhab, Political Bureau Member of the Central Committee of the Jordanian Communist Party, early 1970s, 8 pages.

One Jerusalem, Yael Guiladi, Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, 1983, 75 pages.

Israel – The Political System, Israel Information Centre, Jerusalem, 1988, 31 pages. How Israel saw itself at the end of the 1980s.

More on Palestine

Break the fear barrier and speak up for Palestine

Palestine uprising - May 2021

Palestine uprising – May 2021

More on Palestine

Break the fear barrier and speak up for Palestine

Today (15th May, 2021) marks the 73rd anniversary of the Nabka (The Catastrophe) – the name given by Palestinians to the day that the state of Israel was established on their land. Even before that date the Israeli fascists, represented by the terrorist groups Irgun and the Stern Gang, had started a terror campaign and what has been become to be known worldwide as ‘ethnic cleansing’ against the civilian Palestinian population. One of the most notorious of those events was the massacre at the village of Deir Yassin on 9th April 1948 – when at least 107 men, women and children were murdered, with many more being injured.

But these attacks on the Palestinians didn’t stop with the (criminally) international recognition of the Zionist settler state. The intervening years have seen countless abuses perpetrated against the Palestinian people and even though there has been condemnation of such actions (and even resolutions in the United Nations) nothing has interrupted the aim of the Zionists to establish a greater Israel which stretches ‘from the Nile to the Euphrates’.

The reason Israel has been able to follow this aggressive, racist and fascist programme for three generations is due to the fact that Israel is merely a subservient, client state of imperialism (mainly the United States) and acts as the toady of capitalist interests in a economically and politically strategic part of the globe. Without such support the Zionists would not be able to act with such impunity as they have for so long.

It is only recently that the state of Israel has officially been recognised as an ‘apartheid’ state – although it has been following those norms established in racist South Africa for most of its existence. This was obvious in the years before the fall of the white supremacist regime in South Africa as the two countries were the closest of diplomatic and military allies – Israel being the biggest supplier of military equipment to the white dominated South African regime.

But Israel has not confined itself to the persecution of the Palestinian people on a daily basis – including the theft of their land. It is quite happy to act as the local gangster and carries out sabotage and murder at the behest of the American imperialists on the soil of those countries the US considers to be a threat to their dominance in the region. At the moment that is manifested in attacks upon individuals in and the infrastructure of Iran.

Neither has Israel forgotten the importance of propaganda – apart from the destruction of villages and the dehumanising of the indigenous population – which they learnt from the Nazis. Cynically using the murder of millions of Jews during the Second World War to establish sympathy for a people who were targetted by the Hitlerites (although only one of many groups that were singled out by the German fascists – which included Communists, Socialists, the Romany, disabled and homosexuals) they have succeeded in creating a climate where criticism of the actions of the state of Israel have been conflated into anti-Semitism.

However, the necessity to speak out against the fascist, apartheid regime in Israel is even more important as we arrive at the 73rd anniversary of the Nabka – when the Israeli ‘Defence’ Forces (IDF) are using hugely powerful bombs, guided missiles and artillery to attack targets within Gaza with a total disregard to the ‘collateral damage’ this is causing. To the Israelis this is common place, the death of one Israeli Jewish citizen (Arab-Israelis don’t count) has to be countered by a factor of at least 25 Palestinians – the statistic that came out of the last major shooting war in 2014.

The disproportionate response of the IDF, following years of provocation and increasing encroachment on the small amount of land still in the hands of Palestinians, gets the response from capitalist governments and the so-called ‘impartial’ media of the likes of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for ‘both sides’ to come to an agreement to cease hostilities. This attitude perpetuates the idea that there is equal responsibility in outbreaks of violence in Palestine.

Just to give a small example. On 13th May 2021, the BBC website had the following headline; Israel-Gaza: Rockets pound Israel after militants killed. Whatever else might follow, in the body of the text, the reader will always be left with the impression that it is Israel that is being attacked – an approach in the British mainstream media which has existed for decades. At the time of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War the impression being peddled in Britain was that it was plucky, alone Israel that was being attacked by the evil Arab nations – without a scintilla of analysis of the actual situation.

Below is reproduced an article that addresses this idea of ‘self-censorship’ by many throughout the world when it comes to criticising the activities of the Zionist state and the consequences that are becoming the norm in an effort to silence any and all criticism. It was published just as the present conflict in Palestine was starting to escalate but think it has enough points for consideration to be reproduced here.

In the present circumstances it is even more important for people to speak up in support of the Palestinians who are facing yet another attempt to expel them totally from their own land. Those who say they are fighting against oppression and exploitation cannot remain silent when it comes to Palestine for if Palestine is not free no other country be able to call itself a civilised state.

(This article first appeared on the Aljazeera website and this particular version on

Break the fear barrier and speak up for Palestine

by Mark Muhannad Ayyash

Scholars of social movements, civil disobedience, liberation struggles, and revolutions have long known that fear is one of the greatest barriers to overcome. For the oppressed to move from inaction to action, they must break this fear barrier.

In extreme cases, such as Palestinians living under Israeli settler colonialism, the fear is based on lived experiences of torture, imprisonment, maiming and killing, daily humiliations and dehumanisation, loss of income, livelihoods, homes, dignity, freedom, and rights.

These last few days, the Palestinian people across colonised Palestine have shown the world, not for the first time and not for the last, their deep and awe-inspiring courage in the face of this fear.

For decades, the Israeli garrison state, as Hamid Dabashi accurately describes it, with its massive apparatus of settler-colonial violence as well as its armed civilians have been creating and building this state of fear in the everyday lives of Palestinians.

I had a relatively privileged childhood in Palestine, but still, I am acquainted with this fear, which you learn, not just by witnessing or experiencing violence, but in the course of seemingly non-eventful and ordinary days.

As a child in the early 1990s, I attended the Freres School within the old city of al-Quds (Jerusalem). During recess, we would see armed soldiers patrol the top of the city walls, looking down on us the way that self-perceived superior beings look down upon a caged animal. And when we would leave school and walk down the roads of el-Balad el-Qadeemeh (the old city), we would regularly be confronted with armed Israeli civilians walking around with their guns out in the open, asserting their supremacy, reminding us that we ought not to look at them the wrong way or else.

On many of these walks, conversations between us children would turn to stories we heard about torture methods that the Israelis use, the beating a friend or relative took at the hands of Israeli soldiers, an armed Israeli civilian cursing and spitting on a Palestinian, the long imprisonment and suffering of relatives and friends. This is merely the background picture – and a relatively benign one at that, relative to Palestinian standards, and certainly things seem worse today than they were in those days.

Nevertheless, those days and stories pile up one on top of the other, along with experiences of violent acts and events, building and instilling in Palestinians a state of fear that we carry with us everywhere we go and move.

That fear barrier was instilled inside me from the moment I became conscious of the world as a child. And despite overcoming it now and again, it never disappears. Even after immigrating to Canada, after tasting some freedom, holding citizenship for the first time in my life, feeling somewhat protected by a state structure (very much a false sense of protection), that fear never leaves you. It did not take long for me to realise that in these Euro-American spaces, I had to be afraid of even speaking about Palestine.

The fear in Euro-America has a different basis though. Fear in those spaces is based on lived experiences of being censored, fired, disciplined, not hired or promoted, dragged through frivolous legal cases, defunded, harassed, intimidated, and silenced.

This fear has become so naturalised, so ubiquitous, that some people in Euro-American spaces seem to genuinely think now that they do not actually fear this fear!

Let me, first, be very clear: this fear is not the main barrier standing in the way of states like Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, etc, placing pressure on Israel. These states and their political, academic, economic, and media institutions are on the whole strategically aligned with the Israeli state. These states and their institutions are actively participating in and driving the colonisation, exploitation, oppression, and settler colonisation of much of the world, as they have been for centuries.

But I want to speak here to people working within these institutions who genuinely want to transform them, to decolonise them, but yet are always quick to evade the question of Palestine and true decolonial liberation. From privileged politicians to academics to journalists to civil society organisers to artists, a litany of excuses other than fear is often proclaimed as to why they will not touch Palestine. A main feature of these excuses is the claim that the issue is “complex and controversial”.

Of course, it is perfectly normal to not know enough about a particular topic, issue, or question. There is nothing wrong with wanting to learn more before commenting or taking a position. Asking questions is a healthy exercise when you do not know.

But every topic is complex and controversial. How your food ends up on your dinner table is complex. But that does not stop the majority of people from talking about food production, distribution, how they want to shop ethically, and so on. The economics of sports is also controversial. But that does not stop millions of people from spending countless hours talking about player salaries, advertisement money, revenue sharing among the clubs, and so on.

Palestine-Israel is not unique in its complexity or controversy. And while most topics and issues are framed as complex and controversial for the sake of commencing a deepened entry into the topic, exploring its many dimensions, the statement that the issue of Palestine and Israel “is complex and controversial” serves instead as an end to the conversation. When it comes to Palestine, this statement is almost never the beginning of a quest for more knowledge and better learning. Rather, this statement is the extent of the learning process. It puts a stop to it. It ends the conversation by declaring a non-position on the matter.

When politicians, executives, journalists, academics, etc, proclaim this statement, their intended goal is for the question of Palestine to go away, to be removed off their desk. Why? In many cases, because they are afraid of the consequences that I have outlined above. This is what everyone admits and knows in private conversations, but almost never openly acknowledges. Therefore, what actually drives this non-positionality is the very fear that most people deny having.

The non-positionality of the statement, “it is complex and controversial”, is far from neutral. This statement indeed maintains the status quo by ensuring the continued toxification of Palestine and Palestinians in Euro-American public discourse.

Israeli propagandists are the only beneficiaries of a statement that posits for itself a non-position. Because non-positions are always ultimately concealment of reality. When you declare that you will not take a position, when you end the conversation because something is controversial and complex, you are declaring that the reality of the situation is hopelessly and infinitely indecipherable. You are declaring that you do not know what position to take because nobody knows the reality of the situation.

This statement thus declares that the reality of Palestine-Israel is unknowable, which is precisely the conclusion that Israeli propaganda is entirely comfortable with. Only the oppressed and colonised Palestinians and their supporters are attempting to communicate the reality of settler colonialism and apartheid to the world. Only they are making it knowable.

Israeli and Zionist propaganda in Euro-America and elsewhere is designed to conceal and hide that reality because it does not serve the Zionist political project. Therefore, a declared non-position that clouds reality and conceals it is in fact a statement of support for Israeli propaganda.

This does not mean that Zionism does not understand its own reality. In fact, within some Zionist discursive spaces, a space where, for example, Zionist settlers speak freely, as we saw in the most recent viral video, you will find a basic description of the brutality of that settler colonial and apartheid reality: “If I don’t steal your home, someone else will steal it.” They know that they are stealing, that they are there to eliminate and replace the native Palestinians.

Palestinians have broken a fear barrier the likes of which the privileged in Euro-America will never know or experience. The lived experiences of fear in Palestine are far more violent and coercive than the lived experiences of fear in Euro-America. I am not discounting the burden of the Euro-American based experiences of job precarity, defunding, harassment and so on. These are real fears, and they are deeply consequential for their victims, especially for Palestinians and other racialised people, who face the most severe consequences.

But those consequences are already a reality for those who speak up for Palestinian rights. And for change to happen, there must be a collective will and action to break the fear barrier and to face the consequences for it together. And here is the good news: as we have seen in many other cases, when action is collectively undertaken, those consequences are neither strong nor do they last.

It is time to say, enough: enough of this imprisonment, occupation, colonisation; enough of evading the issue; enough of this fear. Palestinians continue to break their fear barrier. If you have not yet done so, then, my dear reader, if you genuinely want to transform the world, then you will have to.

More on Palestine