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Identities Constructed Here
BOTH "Palestinian" and "Israeli" are constructed identities. -- from a reader
What isn't these days presented as a "constructed" identity? Is being "French" or "English" (or "British") or "American" -- pace Hector St.-John Crevecoeur's "what is this new thing, this American?" -- a "constructed" identity? Yes? No? Mebbe? Yes, "identity," we are told, is "constructed" and "fluid." You can be anything you want to be, and no nasty Westerners have a right to hold onto an identity, their own, which of course doesn’t, being American or Western European, exist. Other lands have “identities” and can hold onto them. But the United States, England, France, and all those other places to which so many others, especially Muslims who arrive, their inculcated hostility undeclared at customs, packed carefully in their mental package, and to be unpacked as soon as they are safely in the country.
We live in an age when so many things are claimed not to embody any truth based on the considerable evidence of one’s senses (including the “eyesight” that permits one to read books), but are claimed, rather, to be "socially constructed." Think of the kind of words Terri Gross, in those intolerable NPR interviews, likes to dwell upon with her quests, questioning them about “coming to terms” with, or “discovering” or something-or-other, with their own "Sexuality" and "Identity.” And of course “race” is merely a social construct, isn’t it, which is why the man who parachutes into Beijing, or Iowa, or the Congo, doesn’t notice the slightest difference in the kind of people he happens to meet..
Oh, did I forget to mention "reality"? Yes, nowadays "reality” also doesn't exist. It's merely "constructed." And we all thought it was just jesting Pilate who said "there is no such thing as truth." You can learn about all this from Gayatri Chakravarti Spivak, and Judith Butler, and even the equally-impenetrable-prosist Homi Bhabha (who, by the way, should mind his self-conscious manners and wait before attempting to walk out of a lecture-cum-concern when it only has a few minutes ago).
You, Roobart (isn’t that what they learn to mouth at RADA for the crowd scenes: “Roobart, Roobart, Roobart?) know perfectly well the "identities" which are being discussed here, and which you claim are equally "constructed,” are in fact not so. Get rid of those easy and pious symmetries that may please some, but not, I fear, Mnemosyne, a hard muse to please.
The war in the Middle East is that between Arabs and Jews, not between “Israelis” and “Palestinians” (you know, the Two Tiny Peoples business, each of those Tiny Peoples “struggling for its homeland). Long before there was an Israel, there were Jews living in Yemen, in Iraq, in Syria, in North Africa, in Iran (before expelled by the Muslims from the Jazirat al-Arab, they were even on the Arabian Peninsula; Hebrew lettering has been found on ruins in northwestern Saudi Arabia, Land of the Midianites). The appropriation of the term "Palestinian" -- as in "Palestinian people" -- and its deliberate promotion from adjective to noun (as in "the 'Palestinians'") -- was a deliberate and tendentious act of propaganda. The term "Israeli" per contra, is nothing more than a description of "the citizens of a nation-state called Israel" (not all of whom, by the way, are Jews), and it would be far more accurate to describe the business in Annapolis, or Camp David, and the conflict itself, as being not between "Israeli" and "Palestinian" but between Arab and Jew, or still more accurately, between Believer and Infidel, for the source of the conflict is to be located in Islam, and the refusal in Islam to countenance an Infidel state or power, of any size, controlling land, of any amount, that was once ruled over by Muslims.
If Israel happens to have been at the forefront of Arab Muslim efforts, that hardly means that the same claim is not made on Spain, Sicily, the Balkans, Greece, Bulgaria, Rumania, much of Hungary, almost all of India, and so on. Nor, of course, does the fact that places formerly part of Dar al-Islam are at the top of the Islamic To-Do List (Recover Lands), mean that the claim to the rest of the known world has disappeared, or would disappear, if the denizens of Dar al-Islam managed to recapture every inch of land once part of Dar al-Islam. No, they have bigger fish to fry -- the whole world. And surely at the SOAS there are books, if not courses, that will let you in on that not-exactly well-kept secret.
Tell me. If the Arabs of Iran, those around Ahwaz, where all the Iranian oil is pumped, in Khuzistan, were to go for broke and try to fight off "the Persians" and create a separate, well-funded state for the ethnic Arabs, and began, for the purposes of propaganda, to call themselves the "Khuzistanian people," would you claim that the term "Khuzistanian people" is not more of a "construct" than the term "Persian people" or "Persians"? Think about that for a bit.
You surely know, or perhaps you don't but I do, having read all the records myself, that nowhere in the thousands of pages of U.N. records in which Israel and the Arabs are discussed, prior to the Six-Day War, is the term "Palestinian people" used by any Arab diplomat, from Jamal Baroody, the Lebanese who represented Saudi Arabia for so long, on down. Nor did any of the Arab leaders, or their spokesmen, refer to the "Palestinian people." Care to explain why?
The leader of As Saiqa, one terrorist group under the PLO umbrella, Zuhair Mohsen, “is widely known for having made the following statement in a March 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw”:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.
For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."
And there are many other remarks like this, sometimes by Arabs, and sometimes even by those engaged in “Arab refugee” work before it was taken over completely by “Palestinians” and other Arabs.
See, for example, what Elfan Rees, the special advisor on refugees to the World Council of Churches, wrote in 1957 in The Refugee Problem Today and Tomorrow:
"I hold the view that, political issues aside, the Arab refugee problem is by far the easiest postwar refugee problem to solve by integration. By faith, by language, by race and by social organization, they are indistinguishable from their fellows of the host countries. There is room for them, and land for them, in Syria and in Iraq. There is a developing demand for the kind of manpower that they represent. More unusually still, there is the money to make this integration possible. The United Nations General Assembly, five years ago, voted a sum of 200 million dollars to provide 'homes and jobs' for the Arab refugees. That money remains unspent, not because these tragic people are strangers in a strange land, because they are not; not because there is no room for them to be established, because there is; but simply for political reasons."
You can read the U.N. records, the records of what every Arab said, threatening or cajoling, from 1948 or well before 1948, right up to the Six-Day War, and even for a short period beyond, and it is only then that, out of the blue, comes this phrase “the Palestinian people.”
Stop making me waste me time having to repeat what all educated people know, or should.
Treve de betises.