Jonathan Zausmer

Mind the Gap

Lacuna means a gap. As in “Mind the Gap”, a stern and frequent warning in the London Underground. It refers to that place between safe ground and a train door where a misstep can be fatal.

Such a misstep comes to mind when reading what can only be described as a lecture titled “Lacunar Amnesia is cool” published on the 2nd August, which takes to task globally advocates of peace, a two-state solution and many who promote the broad Zionist vision of dialogue, understanding and a creative peace process by focusing on the future and looking for common ground with our enemies. Those who recognize occupation for what it is, see racism, hooliganism and the abuse of a legal system in order to suppress a growing population of Palestinians soon to become part of the greater Israel that the Judea and Samaria Council are serving up for us via the current regime.

Who exactly the author is referring to regarding such “lacunar amnesia”, is not clear. Could it be people such as me who made Aliya, served in the army, built a life here and now see the broad Zionist vision jeopardized by the belligerent settler endeavor? Could it be Rabin, who paid with his life for leading this vision? Did he want to be “cool” as the author describes it? Is the esteemed body of generals and senior officers in the Council for Peace and Security looking for “coolness” and blanking out history? Or are they the “bamboozled Left”?

To address this malady we must thus undergo a history lesson. One devoted to nurturing our past, our wounds, our enemies, our fears, lest we selectively refuse to acknowledge them or worse, move forward and think outside the survivalist thought-box.

Sadly and ironically, the history lesson is an epitome of the very cerebral repression of trauma it seeks to remedy. Four legs good, two legs bad. It is the narrative, the truth and the the version of events. Stick to it, and you will not stray.

Thus the watershed of June the 5th 1967, the beginning of what was later to become Israel’s colonial endeavor and the ruling of a nation comprising now some 4 million Palestinians, is a non-event. Arabs are the bad guys. They were bad before, and they are still bad. Never mind demographics, they are also apparently a non-people.

The shocking events of 1929, the Arab revolt of 1936-39, the condemnable Palestinian romance with Nazi Germany, Palestinian rejectionism of the partition plans and the desire to ethnically cleanse Palestine of Jews in ‘48 and later in ‘67 is the history we know and acknowledge. It is not forgotten. This is the baggage we carry with us when we march onto privately owned land in occupied territory and steal it for settlement as belated war booty. It is this very narrative that inhibits the Israeli public in showing very little protest or willingness to restrain a settler movement that spawns in its wake countless abuses of human rights and disrespect for law, property and human dignity. The knowledge that the other side is worse is in fact the comfort zone.

What is commonly omitted is what is particularly interesting: We now know that the Palestinian refugee problem was not purely a flight of population brainwashed by its leaders. At least some of the aspects of the Palestinian narrative have been vindicated and documented in Benny Morris’s work on the subject, an historian who vigorously supports a clear Jewish Zionist vision, yet ruthlessly seeks the truth.  We know there were forced evictions which contributed to the general desire to flee. We know that painstaking research as to reported Arab radio broadcasts urging their people to leave Palestine and return after a victory has proven that no such broadcast is recorded. We know the Nakba is real. Loss of life, land and the status of homelessness in the wake of the upheavals in Israel’s war of independence occurred and cannot be swept under the carpet of a selective education system that removes the Green Line from its maps.

June the 5th  1967 is the important date in this discussion. Not because we blot out history, but because we acknowledge it. This is the date that a Davidian Israel with a pure moral justification for its actions, not only defeated Goliath but began taking on the persona of a Goliath with the brawn and the arrogance that comes with that. To view Israel in 2012 as the little Dosh boy is laughable. Almost as laughable as the statement that the occupation does not exist, courtesy of a retired conservative judge unrepresentative of his high court colleagues and hired by a settlement-hungry government to rubber-stamp its rampant expansion into the area designated for a future Palestinian state.

As far as history is concerned, the double standard is the rule applied. The expulsion of Jews from the Old City in 1948 is correctly seen as a contravention of the UN resolution but of course when it comes to the occupied territories, also part of the UN resolution for partition apportioned then to a future Arab state somehow it is irrelevant. Instead, the League of Nations 1922 declaration guaranteeing recognition for a Jewish homeland is excavated and elevated to supersede the later partition plan.  The declaration which never specified statehood or borders is dusted off, repackaged for consumption and is now considered the seminal definition of territory for occupation-deniers.

No mention is made of the Security Council resolution 242 following the Six-Day war which Israel accepted, which was adopted by the Security Council and which states unequivocally “territories occupied” specifically calling for withdrawal. This obligatory resolution somehow falls away to a vague earlier declaration endorsing the concept of homeland presumed to include the West Bank.

The words  “Itbach el-Yahud” are of course featured lest we forget the slogans of the forties but where are the words “Mavet Le Aravim” , (Death to Arabs) that feature today as part of the lexicon of locally bred hatred by Jews, made in Israel, commonly chanted from football matches to street marches and brazenly branded on public walls? Is this not an alarm bell? Is there no room for introspection of who we are and where this takes us? The today part of history is nowhere to be found. It’s always far easier to nurture your narrative of pain than to look into the mirror. We would expect – indeed we demand it from Palestinians as a prerequisite for getting into a peace process yet from ourselves it is ignored.

The gap in this treatise is no lacuna. It is a vast chasm devoid of logic and understanding as to where we are heading and our precarious position in the community of nations. The question is simple: what citizenship will be granted to the growing population of Palestinians within this greater Israel? No citizenship? Lower status citizenship devoid of voting rights originally fabricated for East Jerusalem? Citizenship within Palestinian autonomous areas resembling Bantustans with voting rights therein, so offering credence to the Apartheid accusation? “Incentivized” transfers? Or maybe they will vote for Jordan, to the delight of the Jordanian regime? This dark and uncomfortable range of “solutions” raised behind closed doors none of which will ever wash, is self-censored by the purveyors of entitlement to the colonial venture beyond the ‘67 borders. It is the giant pothole that features by its very omission in Dani Dayan’s recent New York Times article praising continuing settlement in occupied territory.

So let us run with the rant of fear. Take it all as presumed fact and blithely continue to populate Palestine and erase the Green Line. Where does this take us? The logical conclusion is either a non-democracy, one state for all its peoples with one person one vote or ethnic cleansing by transfer to Jordan. Palestinians will finally be punished for their rejectionism and while prolific settlement aficionados may be satisfied, the Jewish state as we know it shall cease to exist.

I have an announcement: Mind the Gap, a misstep could be fatal.

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.