Shayna Abramson

Anti-normalization: another form of Western Imperialism

Much of the discourse about “anti-normalization” focuses on the unfairness of singling out Israel as the primary aggressor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the hypocrisy of singling out Israel for treatment worse than China or Zimbabwe, whose human rights violations far exceed  of Israel.

My main problem with anti-normalization however, is that it doesn’t give a damn about Palestinians:

Many Palestinians rely on Israeli businesses for employment; some go to Israeli universities; east Jerusalem Palestinians may rely on Israeli health, education, or social services.

Anti-normalization wants all of these Palestinians to give up their education, livelihood, and health-care, in the name of Palestinian nationalism. It accuses them of being betraying their own identity, because they want ordinary lives, with jobs, education, and medical services.

This is because if Palestinians lack education and employment opportunities, they’re more likely to work towards Israel’s destruction, which is anti-normalization’s ultimate goal. Oppression of Palestinians is not just a byproduct of anti-normalization, but rather, a tactic used by the movement in order to further the destruction of  Israel.

Anti-normalization’s prioritization of the collective Palestinian nation at the price of complete negation of the individual Palestinian is indicative of the type of thinking  responsible for some of the worst humanitarian crimes of the modern era, including the mass starvations and imprisonments by the Soviet Union in the 1940s and 50s.

Ironically, anti-normalization is also a form of Western imperialism: It is the West telling a non-Western group how to live their lives. As a matter of fact, it is a Western group telling a group whose condition has its roots in the Sykes-Picot agreement, where England and France divided the Middle East between them, how to best achieve a nation-state, which is in it and of itself a Western concept that was alien to the Middle East before it was colonized by Europe.

It’s also a tad hypocritical, since the legitimacy of both Palestine and Israel stems from the same UN resolution, to delegitimize one at the expense of the other.

At the end of the day, it’s not the protester sitting in London or New York who pays the price for anti-normalization, but the Palestinian from the West Bank who is out of a job or a university degree.

It’s time for them to stop West-splaining to the Palestinian nation.

About the Author
Shayna Abramson, a part-Brazilian native Manhattanite, studied History and Jewish Studies at Johns Hopkins University before moving to Jerusalem. She has also spent some time studying Torah at the Drisha Institute in Manhattan, and has a passion for soccer and poetry. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Political Science from Hebrew University, and is a rabbinic fellow at Beit Midrash Har'el.