A letter to the Guardian concerning Jonathan Freedland’s analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jonathan Freedland’s analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (if one can possibly describe a colonial cleansing campaign as a “conflict”) leaves a lot to be desired. Those in direct contact with him would do well to ask why the only actual mention of Palestinian people in his analysis are knife attackers, Hamas militants, and an ageing de facto dictator in the West Bank. Nowhere does he recount the stories of Palestinian civilians, their children, and the relatives they have lost to this fighting. Where are their voices? Why are they only referenced as it relates to violence?

One possible reason that Freedland is unable to mention Palestinian civilians is because he has never set foot near them. That may be negligence, but even if he tried to rectify this mistake, he might face difficulties. While Israeli settlers are free to come and go on roads allocated specifically for them, Palestinians living in their own territory are subject to brutal border checks, extrajudicial raids, and terror campaigns in the night. Journalists are routinely assaulted in Palestine too. In scrubbing away the voices of Palestine’s civilians, Freedland’s analysis shamefully buys into this narrative that there are two equally matched sides going at it because of a decades-old squabble, a squabble he has deemed unresolvable (and it’s apparently mostly Palestine’s fault).

This is not the case. There are living, breathing people in Gaza and the West Bank who want nothing more to get on with their lives, whose desire for peace is made all the more real as they are harassed and assaulted by Israel’s forces. They have jobs, hobbies, and families, all of which are being suppressed by the boot of the Israeli colonial adventure. Netanyahu has approved new settlement units every year of his premiership. Villages home to Palestinian civilians have been demolished and, to add insult to injury, Palestinians whose homes are demolished are then forced to pay for the demolition. Israel’s housing laws are prejudicial. Israel’s police and military are prejudicial. How can this possibly be called a “conflict” when one side has all the power, all the bargaining chips, and the backing of the world’s sole superpower?

Freedland’s narrative may look impartial or unbiased, but it plays into the myth that is spoon-fed to us every day – the myth that both sides need their heads banging together, when in actual fact, one side has had its head rammed into a brick wall since 1948, while the other side has been doing the ramming.


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