Israeli-Palestinian conflict is relatively simple to understand if you study the codes of the Middle East. At the same time, it is a conflict in which countless spokespeople hoist the most misbegotten interpretations. There is somewhat of impunity on this subject. Nobody would dare to write about the disputes in Africa or the conflict in Ukraine, without delving deeply into the subject. However, “we all express our opinion about Israel” (as the brilliant Jorge Marirrodriga would say, in reference to the excess babble when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). Finally, it’s about a conflict that encourages the use of liters of ink, not necessarily because of true concern about the future of the Palestinian people, but because the Jews are part of it.
Since the origin of Christianity, there has been an obsession concerning this small group of people that didn’t accept Jesus as their Messiah. This obsession has been joined by an adverse theology (from the Theory of Replacement or Substitution to the accusation of deicide), translated into violent actions and forced conversions against Jews, and that – during the XX Century – became planned murders of European Jews (and North-African communities) during the Shoah.
Anti-Semitism has twenty-one centuries of experience and has evolved during its destructive genealogy, appearing in different myths and conceptions. During the Middle Ages many “were convinced” that Jews kidnapped children to prepare unleavened bread, or that they contaminated the waters on purpose to bring on Black Death. In modern times, many people were “convinced” that Jews were racially non-human beings, a non-creative pariah race that had to be eliminated. Many were convinced in Europe, and throughout the world, there were more that did nothing to refute such an abomination or to prevent the genocide, at least by opening their frontiers for those Jews in need of refuge.
Currently, Anti-Semitism appears in three forms. These are mutations of the XX and XXI centuries awaiting new myths. First, a modern Judeophobe will affirm that the Holocaust did not happen and will try to mask his hatred with an illegitimate “scientific” question.
Second, the current Judeophobe will assure that Jews (or the Mossad) are behind all crises, be them anarchists, vulture funds, political crises or unfortunate events of nature. For the modern Anti-Semite, Jews are behind all evil, and they blindly trust the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or its tropical Argentinean version “The Andinia Plan”.
Third, the modern Judeophobe understands that it is discriminatory and unacceptable to declare himself as an Anti-Semite, and therefore opts to hate “the Jew” among nations (Israel) and will do so obsessively, in a Manichaean and demonizing way.
Criticizing Israel is a legitimate act. In fact, the harshest critics are the Israelis themselves. However, obsessive demonization against Israel by the media and other institutions, from certain academics to political parties, is so evident and clear that it has to be qualified for what it is: Anti-Semitism or Judeophobia.
This book was written for those who enjoy good moral health, for those who try to understand the Middle East in its original language and for those with honest intellectual inclinations. In times when many falsehoods are sheltered under “this is my narrative and it’s as valid as yours”, we want to offer verifiable data, processes and interpretations that will allow opting for a constructive posture instead of a demonizing one.
In general terms, the interpretation framework of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in Europe is influenced by the fact that this continent is the birthplace of Anti-Semitism. We can see endless manifestations of Anti-Semitism in Spanish precisely in Spain, a country that has suffered this illness for hundreds of years, even though for centuries it hardly has had Jews among its citizens. Latin America is influenced in its interpretation of the Middle East by central-peripheral theories, anti-Yankee feelings and “materialistic” ideologies, many times quite strongly.
It is common to listen to Spanish- speaking spokespeople arguing out loud that “Israel is an imperialist and colonialist State just like the North-Americans with our countries, and therefore we must oppose both of them” If the interpretation in Europe is influenced by being the birthplace of Anti-Semitism and in Latin America by materialistic interpretations, it becomes impossible to understand the Middle East without specializing in tribal or clan identities, and above all in the dominant religion: Islam. Considering that the base of the identity of the Middle-Eastern peoples is their tribal belonging (clan) and their religious identity, any text on these topics that lacks depth is like a “translation” from one reality to another that loses its essence on the way.
In Argentina, we can find journalistic work that DOES NOT help to understand the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. An example is Pedro Brieger’s The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: 100 Questions and Answers (El conflicto palestino-israelí: 100 preguntas y respuestas. 2007) When a person is so involved in a materialistic pattern, conflicts are always explained as disputes for power and use of resources (water, land, oil). Analyzing the Middle East in this way will promote the dismissal or even the exclusion of fundamental religious elements to understand the region. In words of the world-wide eminence, specialized in the Middle East, Bernard Lewis (author of “Faith and Power”, among others), religion is a fundamental part of the local identity. In the framework of the classic “materialistic” pattern, the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is obsessively explained by the occupation (of territories), and the rest of the factors are of secondary or tertiary importance.
Certainly, some extreme-left newspapers in Israel think the same way, and even the Palestinian narrative is similar, but this is an unacceptable principle among specialists. Since the main materialistic argument is that “it’s all about the occupation”, it is not good or desirable, although intellectually correct, to explain the reality of the Israeli presence in Judea-Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza. It is worrying and even surrealistic the almost absent description and deep explanation of that author about the consequences of the division of Oslo II (1995) in Territories A, B, and C and the disengagement of Israel from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Throughout his book, Zionism is shown as a movement created with the sole purpose of having Jews living in Israel, and therefore, it deducts that Palestinians were “expelled” in 1948. Zionist leadership, even right-wing revisionists, always assumed that if Arabs lived in Israel and would continue to do so, they would live as a minority, just as Jewish minorities inhabited other countries.
Moreover, for decades Zionism was led by its socialist branch that advocated for an identity without classes (including Arabs), as they also requested a bi-national State with Arabs. There are no deep foundations, not in texts or in declarations, that Zionism is what is argued. Many consider that the Israelis are to blame for the lack of peace in the region. To support such a statement, they discard or minimize peace proposals by Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert (2007-2008) and Ehud Barak (2000) and the ideas brought forth by Bill Clinton to end the conflict. The Israelis’ desire for peace is usually faded as well as the total lack of will of the Palestinians to even propose counter-offers for peace to solve the territorial aspects of the conflict. Explaining both things from an academic-intellectual standpoint would be correct, although it would damage consistency when promoting preconceptions. The conflict is easy to understand in its essence, but more complex in its details. A demonizing analysis of Israel serves as an excuse to increase the “stigmatization” of the only state with an absolute Jewish majority in the world (Israel). In light of these considerations, the purpose of this book is to answer dozens of honest and legitimate questions in only 300 words. Not one more, not one less. This our attempt to provide students an investigators a brief but useful tool, that will hopefully serve as a stepping stone to increase studies on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. May peace be with each of you and your families!
My gratitude to Sergio Pikholtz, President of the Argentinean Zionist Organization for his trust and encouragement; to Roby Croitorescu, President of Hatzad Hasheni (The face of Truth); to Anabella and Oscar Jaroslavsky, for introducing me to the world of the dialectic defense of Israel; to my invaluable friends from Jewish and Christian communities of the continent; to Dori Lustron and Israel (Issi) Winicki for their revision of the Spanish manuscript and their advice; to Sammy Eppel for his revision of the English version; to Judge Franco M. Fiumara for his friendship and suggestions… and of course to Eva Ben-Tasgal, Eitan and Galit, for allowing me to rob their time to explain things that I am absolutely convinced of (although they may laugh at me and say: “you didn’t leave us much choice!”)
Yours, Gabriel Ben-Tasgal