Shupak ably illustrates Israel’s usefulness in complementing US bellicosity and furthering imperial designs in not only the Middle East but also the wider world, describing Israel as a “garrison for US-led imperialist capitalism” as well as a convenient venue “for the US to subsidize America’s military industry” via gargantuan military aid and weapons deals.
In 1988, his final year of service as New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief before being appointed diplomatic correspondent in Washington, Thomas Friedman gave an interview to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, in which he proposed some symbolic concessions to the Palestinians in order to keep them in line.
The Palestinians must be given “something to lose,” argued Friedman, because “I believe that as soon as Ahmed has a seat in the bus, he will limit his demands.”
Writing shortly thereafter, Noam Chomsky wondered whether a prominent journalist might also be promoted to the post of chief diplomatic correspondent by “urg[ing] South Africans to ‘give Sambo a seat in the bus,’ or propos[ing] that Jews be granted something to lose, because ‘if you give Hymie a seat in the bus, he may limit his demands.’”
This is a unique book showcasing the voices of young Palestinians who look and sound like other children throughout the world. They live in difficult conditions but nevertheless attempt to lead normal lives and dare to dream of a better future.
This book is a labor of love about young people who are born in the perpetual insecurity of a conflict zone. What does it mean to live under military occupation, when soldiers raid your home in the middle of the night and drag your brother or father to jail?
Words have limited power to accurately describe the fear that grips a child when soldiers come to detain him or her. Media accounts of the Israeli occupation, illegal Jewish settlements, checkpoints and Israel’s wall in the West Bank fail to give the reader a feel for what these words really mean or what they may entail for people in their daily life.
Palestinians as regular human beings are largely absent from mainstream media; they usually simply appear as statistics, or are portrayed as anti-Israeli or as terrorists.
Young Palestinians Speak is an attempt to correct this injustice.
No amount of coddling and reassuring, no increased bribes in the form of more money or military aid, will have any effect on Israeli policy for the simple reason that Israel considers any sacrifice that would be necessary for peace far worse than maintaining the current situation . . . . The assumption that Israel genuinely wants a peace agreement is simply wrong; the costs of such an agreement are tangible, immediate, and perhaps overwhelming, involving the loss of territory, an end to colonization, and potential political collapse, whereas the costs of maintaining the status quo are for many Israelis, if at times unpleasant, eminently bearable.
This June, Israel is marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War. Some Israelis, including most members of the present government, are celebrating the country’s swift victory over Egypt, Jordan, and Syria as the beginning of the permanent annexation of the entire Palestinian West Bank; others, like me, mourn it as the start of a seemingly inexorable process of moral corruption and decline, the result of the continuing occupation of the West Bank, along with Israel’s now indirect but still-crippling control of Gaza. As it happens, my own life in Israel coincides exactly with the occupation. I arrived from the US in 1967, not as an ideological Zionist but as a young student who had fallen madly in love with the Hebrew language. Sometimes I think it is my passion for the language that has kept me here for five decades, although I would now want to add the strong feeling that it is my fate and my good fortune to be able to fight the good fight.
The country I came to live in fifty years ago was utterly unlike the one I live in today. It was no utopia, but its society was broadly moderate and humane, a mildly Mediterranean version of a modern European social democracy. Despite what some would say, it was not a colonial settlers’ society. There was widespread fear and even hatred of Arabs, including Arab citizens of Israel, but it was nothing like the rampant racism one now hears every day on the radio or TV. Shame, sincere or not, had not yet disappeared from public life.
In those early years, most Israelis regarded the occupied territories — which included the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — not as providing an opportunity for enlarging the boundaries of the state through colonization but as bargaining chips in an eventual and hoped-for peace settlement with the Arabs. There were as yet no Israeli settlements in the territories and hence no fanatical, messianic settlers; the Israeli army could still claim, with some justice, to be an army of defense, not a police force sent to ensure that the project of seizing Palestinian land take place without too much resistance from the local population.