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Israel's right wing aims to turn Palestinian narrative pro-Zionist

The attempt to alter Palestinian discourse would mark a new approach by Israel
Palestinians head towards protests near the Gaza fence on 30 March (AFP)

In a recent article, one of Israel’s most influential right-wing figures writes that there will be no significant progress towards peace without significant efforts to change the Palestinian narrative through continued political and economic pressure. 

Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, the former head of research in the Israeli army’s military intelligence division, argued in a Haartez column last week that Palestinians refuse to recognise Israel as a Jewish state because they believe Zionism was a colonialist movement established by Europeans to get rid of European Jews. 

Fighting history

From this article and other previous statements, such as “it not enough to replace Abbas. We must replace the narrative, which is much harder to accomplish,” it is clear that Kuperwasser believes Israel must wage a battle against the history and discourse of indigenous Palestinians to force their submission. 

At the same time, the US “deal of the century” is driven by pure colonial motivations, aiming to put a lid on the biggest crime in modern history against an entire people. Since right-wing president Donald Trump took office, the US has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, cut funding to the UN agency that aids Palestinian refugees, closed the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, and abandoned the internationally approved two-state solution.

This is an opportunity for Palestinians to unite around a clear vision for national liberation, and to stop acting as a subcontractor for the Zionist coloniser

No previous US administration has dared to embark on such measures, despite their full support and bias towards Israel. All these aggressive US measures came alongside massive Israeli settlement-building on Palestinian land. In addition, the recently passed nation-state law aims to strip Palestinians of their rights to their homeland.

What is new in the Israeli-US approach is not the continuing colonisation and Judaisation of Palestinian land, nor the systematic submergence of Palestinian history and identity in the education system, but rather the attempt to change Palestinian discourse - to push Palestinians to adopt the Zionist narrative and forfeit their demands for self-determination.

Zionist whitewash

The US-Israeli strategy aims to push Palestinians to consent to the Zionist whitewash of the takeover of their homeland, and to be enslaved by the colonisers by perpetuating their inferior status. This demand is almost unprecedented in the history of settler-colonialism.

In his article, Kuperwasser rejects the centre-leftist argument that Israel is engaged in a creeping annexation of the West Bank, driven by its fear of losing its Jewish majority. He argues that according to international law, there is a difference between annexation and the application of law on occupied lands.

Construction continues at the Israeli Talmon settlement, north of Ramallah, on 31 July (AFP)
Construction continues at the Israeli Talmon settlement, north of Ramallah, on 31 July (AFP)

Yet, it is clear to observers that based on Israel’s history in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territories - and on the ideology of the ruling right-wing coalition - the real intention is to keep creating new facts on the ground, building towards an irreversible reality: the establishment of Greater Israel.

Israel’s ruling coalition, through aligning with right-wing, racist and populist governments in the US, Europe and elsewhere, hopes to shift global public opinion in favour of this illegal and aggressive settler-colonial project. 

This is why some political scientists critical of Israel have dismissed the word “occupation” as deceptive, because it implies a temporary state, while Israel’s actual policy is to entrench its land seizure and make it permanent, without inviting any real opposition from the international community. 

International mobilisation

Since the Oslo Accords a quarter-century ago, and under cover of the “peace process,” Israel, with US backing, has effectively turned the West Bank from an occupied territory into a colonised area - an integral part of Israel proper.

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Since passing the racist nation-state law, Israel has been working openly to annex Area C and to legalise its settlements. Backed by the super-imperial-power, the US, it has voluntarily removed the mask from its face, revealing itself openly as an apartheid, settler-colonial entity. This is an opportunity for Palestinians to unite around a clear vision for national liberation, and to stop acting as a subcontractor for the Zionist coloniser.

Equipped with their unanimous rejection of Trump’s “deal,” Palestinians can more easily mobilise the global community around their goals for justice, and build a broader coalition to push for a more powerful and more comprehensive boycott campaign. The goal must be to decolonise Palestine and strive for one democratic state where Palestinians, including expelled refugees, can live peacefully alongside Israeli Jews.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Awad Abdelfattah
Awad Abdelfattah is a political writer and the former general secretary of the Balad party. He is the coordinator of the Haifa-based One Democratic State Campaign, established in late 2017.