Saturday, January 31, 2009

AlterNet: Just How Fucked Up Is the Discourse Surrounding Israel and Palestine?

By Joshua Holland, AlterNet

OK, here are three facts that I think say a lot about how screwy the discourse over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict really is ...

1. There is a group of regular AlterNet readers and commenters who, based on my writing about the conflict -- and my own meanderings through the comments boards -- have concluded that I'm a Zionist shill, a stooge of American Israel Public Affairs Committee, who will reflexively defend Israel right or wrong. They see in me a monster without a drop of human empathy for the suffering of the Palestinians. They've accused me of silencing any criticism of Israel by calling those who dare to "speak truth to power" anti-Semites.

They believe this to be true, deep down in their heart of hearts.

2. There is another group of regular AlterNet readers and commenters who, based on the very same body of writing, about the very same conflict, have concluded that I am a vicious anti-Semite bent on nothing short of the annihilation of the Jews. Some, perhaps guessing at my heritage because of my surname, suggest that I am a self-loathing Jew, working out some deep psychological issues by calling for Israeli blood to flow freely on the streets. They accuse me of spewing eliminationist rhetoric and see me as being immune to the horrors of terrorism perpetrated against innocents. They see me as a "useful idiot" for a global Islamo-fascist movement.

This, they believe in their heart of hearts.

3. I am, in fact, neither pro-Palestinian* nor pro-Israeli per se; I have a background in security studies and international conflict resolution, and I have a strong belief in international law and a universalist view of human rights. I believe that both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs have the desire and the right to live in peace and that a majority within both groups (or a plurality when the conflict heats up) want little more and find the rejectionists on both sides odious and deserving of blame for the continuation of the bloodshed.

In other words, neither of these groups of readers' impressions -- perfectly divergent -- comes anywhere within miles of my actual views (which I've written about at length).

And that's the point of this post -- just a little anecdote suggesting how hard it is to solve a bloody, decades-long, incredibly tragic conflict dominated by ideologues who just hear what they want to hear.

* Obviously, in the context of our ridiculously binary, pathetically oversimplified discourse around Israel and Palestine, I can rightly be considered "pro-Palestinian."

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.
© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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