At the moment you are reading this people in Syria are being killed. At this very moment the Assad regime are crushing resistance in Aleppo and the worst civilian crisis since World War Two is being discussed the main issue on campuses across the Western world remains the Israel Palestinian conflict. A conflict of narratives.
I understand the Palestinian narrative, I know it well it’s a simple one it goes like this:
The Jews came and kicked all the Palestinians out and now oppress them on their own land which they stole, even worse they now have the temerity to call that land their own and say that the Palestinians aren’t indigenous to it.
To believe this narrative is to believe in the inherent guilt of the state of Israel. Even the countries where democracy has never existed, even the ones where minorities are persecuted, where people are publicly executed and whose conflicts have claimed more victims than the Israel Arab conflict are more acceptable than Israel. Because their wars will end, their non democratic governments can fall, their policies can change. Not so for Israel. The narrative argues Israel’s entire existence is a scam. A result of ethnic cleansing, bloodshed and racism.
For all to be right in the world Israel in her entirety must go.
The Palestinian narrative, if accepted, means that Palestine was supposed to become an Arab state, to gain its own freedom from colonial rule the same as other states and celebrate along with the others the achievement of independence. In this context questions about democracy and war and peace pale into insignificance. These things are temporary, the existence of a country is permanent which is why it’s so important to campaign against Israel regardless of what else is going on in the world. If there’s a civil war in Syria it will eventually end and all will be right once again, but all cannot be right for Palestinians unless Israel herself is gone.
But this isn’t the only narrative.
Sick and tired of being forced into ghettos, hated by their fellow citizens and made the scapegoat for everything and anything the Jews took back their dignity by reclaiming their ancestral homeland! In a world that had failed them the Jews realised they could only rely on one another.
In building the state of Israel the Jews gained their freedom. With national self determination we don’t have to rely on the goodwill of tyrants or democrats, we don’t have to fear the hand of our own government or secret police knocking on the door in the middle of the night to take us away to the gulag. With our own army to protect us we’ll never have to face the fear of subjugation again. With a voice among the nations of the world we’ll never have to worry that we won’t be heard again, that our case won’t be made again before the world or that we’ll be forced to die while the world claims its hands are tied.
In this battle of narratives every event, missile, bomb, checkpoint or statement becomes simply a new method of pushing the same narrative. And so we get to the point where a series of fires engulfing the whole of Israel and placing Arab and Jew alike at risk becomes just another excuse to argue Israel shouldn’t exist. Syria is forgotten while a young IDF soldier visiting a London campus becomes the focus of a huge demonstration aimed at achieving nothing at all for Palestinians living in the West Bank or Gaza and everything to do with the forcible expression of a narrative.
Remember that next time you see Aleppo burning on TV and students on your campus shouting “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free.”