Pride and Prejudice (Updated)
Today, on an Israeli satellite channel, I saw ‘Fictitious Marriage’, an Israeli film that was made in the eighties. We’re a racist society, here in Israel, that’s why we regularly get to see Israeli-made movies on TV telling the story of Palestinian suffering, actually mainly on the state funded channels. The film took me back to a period in which it was clear to me, at least, that we really were in the wrong; when the Palestinians were an integral part of our daily lives and we mistreated them.
This situation, as described in this film, and the bad feelings of many Jewish Israelis, including myself, brought us out into the streets, en masse, demanding a change. The public pressure, coupled with the second Intifada (the first Intifada, in my view, was between 1936 and 1939, against the British, while the current conflict is no intifada, it’s a war) resulted in the Oslo Accords, and the conceding of power over a sizable portion of the territories, and a large part of the Palestinian population in the territories, to self-rule under Arafat, on the way to independence and statehood (racist society, remember?).
Watching the film I could well remember the sentiment and identify with the message. I also could understand how completely different the situation of the Palestinians is today. They had a wonderful opportunity to build themselves a better life and they squandered it. What a terrible waste. And they took most of our goodwill and threw it back in our faces, ‘You suckers’.
Today they are no longer a part of our lives like they were before. Murderous terrorism, the likes of which we had never seen, never imagined possible, the horrible, distorted child of those very Oslo Accords that were meant to solve the problem, forced us to shut many of the Palestinians out. Other people are doing the work that once was theirs. They can no longer get into their Peugeot 404’s (the last car made to last for ever) and drive from Han Younis to Rishon Letzion. The sons of the real live versions of the laborers from Gaza in ‘Fictitious Marriage’, have probably never seen the new skyscrapers in Tel Aviv, besides on TV, and they certainly weren’t the ones to build them.
Even the affluence the Palestinians enjoyed during the Oslo years, when Israelis flocked to the West Bank to buy everything from furniture to dental treatments, is long gone and forgotten. It disappeared overnight, when they decided to go back on their promise to give up the road of violence, and attacked Israel in the autumn of 2000, hoping to extort a more favorable deal that way.
But they have something their parents never had, these children of Oslo and the Terror War. They are no longer invisible. They may be seen as the enemy, but that in itself is a sign of some respect, is it not? Love is best, of course, admiration - even better. But where that is lacking, for obvious reasons, hatred is far better than derision, or worse, indifference.
And thinking about this, I can understand why Palestinians should prefer the Israeli Right to the Israeli Left, whatever they may say to the cameras or to the idiotic, pasty-faced Europeans in Birkenstock sandals who frequent Jenin and Ramallah. Because the Israeli Right sees them as adversaries, while the Israeli Left sees them as miskenim (I’m not sure how to translate that, maybe ‘unfortunate wretches’).
The Israeli Left is motivated by pity and guilt, and there is nothing more degrading than being pitied. I’d rather be hated and feared any day, than be pitied.
Update: For 'misken' - one suggestion is 'pitiful wretch'.
And a reader comments: "more and more I see articles exclaiming "Why can't the Israelis see that the occupation is destroying their country and just end it!" - completely oblivious to the fact that millions of Israelis (and Jews in the Diaspora) DID reach this conclusion at the end of the 1980's, the result being Oslo, and the elections of Rabin and Barak with mandates to seek peace through an end to occupation.
Today it is as if Oslo never happened, Camp David never happened, Taba never happened.
I have gotten to the point where I don't even read articles that might be critical of Israel unless I can see that they at least mention Camp David in 2000."
And maybe this is a good time to say that the new policy is NOT to give reader's names. I always worry about this, so I've decided to just not put people's names and finished, unless they specify that I can.
Update update: Yael has the links.