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Displacing decades of colonial incitement

January 23, 2014 at 5:21 am

Eliminating chronology and context from the recent Palestinian resistance against Israel’s state terror, its ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, urged UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to condemn alleged Palestinian incitement against Israel. Conjuring the usual depiction of helpless citizens living in constant terror, Prosor stated: “I urge the Security Council to condemn Palestinian violence and speak out against the rising tide of incitement. There cannot be peace in our region until there is peace and quiet on Israel’s borders.” In doing so Prosor has turned reality on its head.

The recurring allegations of incitement have been deployed as tactics through which Israel is able to promulgate its own narrative of victimisation while eliminating references to its perpetual colonial incitement against Palestinians. Hence, references to Palestinian “terror” are isolated from routine Israeli violence. According to Prosor, “In classrooms, textbooks and houses of worship messages of hate and intolerance are poisoning the hearts and minds of the next generation and having deadly consequences.”

The strategy of isolation reinforces the displacement of memory while allowing space for Israeli discrepancies to be promoted as absolutes. Prosor’s reference to Israel’s borders is an ambiguity which nevertheless enjoys support in mainstream narratives which follow Zionist propaganda, despite the absence of declared and internationally-recognised borders and continuous settlement expansion. The normalisation of Israel’s settler-colonial state has in turn fabricated the depiction of Palestinians as endorsing unwarranted violence. Hence, Israel ensures the supremacy of its narrative by articulating the concept of violence as being visible permanently and representing Palestinians while it pleads with the international community to protect it. Meanwhile, far from being defenceless and in need of protection, Israel uses disproportionate force and violence against an occupied and oppressed civilian population. At the slightest condemnation from the international community, Israeli evocations of historical persecution and associated guilt are enough to retain support for its occupation and colonisation of Palestine.

Israeli incitement against Palestinians has manifested itself in several ways throughout 2013, notably within education. Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem have been forced to comply with curriculum changes enforcing assimilation to a distorted Israeli narrative of history, including the adoption of Israel’s self-serving definitions of democracy to further obliterate Palestinian memory. Israel’s delegitimisation of Palestinians is inseparable from the existence of the Zionist settler-colonial state. Apart from the establishment of the illegal state and subsequent international recognition as the epitome of incitement against Palestinians, Israel has perfected its provocation by obliterating all references to Palestinian history, notably the memory pertaining to the Nakba which is distorted into a glorification of Israeli independence.

Displacing incitement upon Palestinians is therefore fundamental to maintain the process of colonisation. Israel feels the need to depict Palestinian resistance as a form of oppression against its own settler-citizens to justify decades of atrocities committed in the name of its “security”. The expectation that Palestinians conform to the colonialist definitions of what constitute land, identity and nationhood is proof of an incomplete colonisation process, as well as the intention to advance oppression. Furthermore, projecting the blame of incitement upon the Palestinian Authority, which has been an ineffective negotiator with regard to the whole spectrum of Palestinian rights, only serves to highlight the power imbalance leading Palestinians to embrace their internationally-recognised right to resistance.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.