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The political violence of recognising Israel as a Jewish state

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's belligerent insistence upon the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is magnified to the extent that the Zionists' hegemonic narrative attempts to dispel the tenacious Palestinian resistance against enforced oblivion. Embarking upon the premise that recognition of the Jewish state "is the first foundation for peace between us and the Palestinians", Netanyahu's insistence upon the mass forfeiture of Palestinian memory as a non-negotiable pre-condition has a massive impact on Zionist history, international accountability, legitimacy and oblivion.


Describing recognition as a "non-negotiable pre-condition" to peace is a contradiction asserted by Netanyahu himself with each utterance of the phrase. While attempting to simulate a semblance of concession, the implication is absolute. Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is equivalent to relinquishing the legal right of return, paving the way for the complete colonisation of historic Palestine and imperialist domination of the region. Hence, the constant insistence upon recognition also reveals an existing impediment to colonisation, particularly within the memory framework.

The intentional alienation of the Palestinian right of return is an international exercise in accordance with Zionist history and ideology. In 1923, Ze'ev Jabotinsky was clear: "Zionist colonisation, even the most restricted, must be either terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonisation can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through." Any diversion from the established historical narrative forged by Zionism would force Israel's allies to face the ramifications of accountability in supporting and recognising the existence of the settler-colonial state and the attempt to erase the memory of the massacres, destruction and forced transfer perpetrated against Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe).

Some prominent Israeli leaders have deemed the requirement of Palestinian recognition to be unnecessary, given that Israel already has the backing provided by the collective imperialist organisation embodied by the United Nations. However, Israel's allies have either expressed themselves in favour of recognition or else constructed verbal ambiguities which contribute to the oblivion of Palestinian memory. President Obama has clearly advocated in favour of recognising Israel as a Jewish state, inscribed within a forthcoming framework that depicts "Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the nation-state of two people". The EU has expressed its reticence in asserting support for Israel's recognition as a Jewish state, with Lars Faaborg-Andersen stating, "We are not sure what is the meaning and the implications of such recognition for other core issues."

Both Obama and the EU have exhibited a common trait, despite the diverging statements. The narratives confine the existence of a Palestinian state within a memory that is difficult to resurrect, owing to the inherent violence with regard to the imperialist interpretation of international law. Colonialism and imperialism are supported by the dissemination of violence, the domination exacerbated by territorial possession and the construction of a fabricated legitimacy that derives validity from the institutions complicit in sustaining the parallel frameworks. The current negotiations attest to this collaboration. "Peace" is the euphemism for unbridled Zionist expansion, hence the expressed support for the two-state solution, which involves a number of factors pertaining to memory, accountability and legitimacy.

The two-state solution is a form of political violence legitimised by Israel's allies and attuned to the clamour regarding the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Instead of shifting focus to the dismantling of the Zionist state as a prelude to peace and reclamation of Palestinian land and memory, Israel and its allies seek to further the complicity of coercion while ascertaining that their impunity is safeguarded within international imperialist organisations. The absence of regulations concerning the international law violations committed by organisations such as the UN, whose existence is also dependent upon the maintenance of human rights violations, means that the termination of abuse is unlikely to happen. The fact that colonial and imperialist involvement creates unsustainable situations makes it easier to avoid scrutiny while assigning blame and incitement to the oppressed population.

While Palestinians legitimacy is ingrained within the collective memory of the Nakba, Israel is dependent upon the manipulation of history from which a simulated legitimacy is derived and imposed in a manner which seeks to obliterate Palestinian collective memory, bolstered by the colonial-imperial framework. Due to the imperialist validation of the imagined Zionist narrative, as well as the subjugation of international law to imperialism, violence has been rendered as a neutral phenomenon or a humanitarian necessity when perpetrated by the coloniser against the indigenous population.

Coercing Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state constitutes a form of violence against collective memory which would immediately transcend the inscribed narrative to manifest itself in further expropriation of land and fragmentation of Palestinian unity. Israel has been allowed excessive leniency in appropriating not only Palestinian land, but also the significance of the Palestinian right to return. The UN and international law have failed the Palestinians, hence the importance of memory which, for them, constitutes an ongoing process that Israel seeks to rupture through enforcing oblivion not only upon its settler-citizens, but also upon the international community, a tactic absorbed willingly by all except those countries whose experience of oppression under imperialism and neoliberal experiments created a formidable resistance.

The preservation of collective memory is impacted by time. Despite the processes allowing, in certain circumstances, the partial declassification of archived information and attempts at reconciliation, the cycle of oppression ensures a procedure which systematically encourages the depletion of memory to fragment the history of the oppressed. Palestinian memory is not only combating the hegemonic Zionist narrative supported by imperialism but also ensnared within a struggle that seeks to reconstruct a history that is at the same time contemporary. This is due to the ongoing colonisation process which Israel has no intention of stopping, lest its narrative encounters a challenging paradigm borne out of a structured Palestinian resistance which frees itself from dependence upon the dynamics of aid and intervention. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has declared the Palestinian refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state to be "a right". Palestinians have already implemented the "right" in a manner which is consistent with the historical obligation to defend and promulgate memory.

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

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