Sunday, September 9, 2012

Daoud Kuttab and the Two Palestinian Narratives

Daoud Kuttab, journalist turned propagandist for the Palestinians, has made this even clearer in his recent article in which he explains how the Palestinians can get more support. As you might not be surprised to hear, this involves lying. As usual, the article is too long to fisk every part of it, so let's focus on the really informative sections. Right at the beginning is something:
"Palestinian leaders, including President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, have been repeatedly and consistently opposing any violent solution and supporting acts of popular non-violent resistance. Recently, they even succeeded in convincing the leaders of the Islamic Hamas movement to utter the words "popular resistance," even if Hamas has not acted on them."
That's the Huffington Posts' hightlight, by the way, it's a new thing they are doing. Anyway this is great because Abbas and Fayyad have been the target of protests last week and let's not forget they are not the elected representatives of the Palestinian people. Not to mention the many attacks on them as "traitors" and "collaborators." What I'm saying is that their opinion means absolutely nothing, especially when they are continuing to praise violent people in their media

As for this thing about Hamas, even if Richard Silverstein is accurate for a chance, so the heck what? What does "popular resistance" even mean? And just because Hamas wants "popular resistance" does that mean they are going to stop killing innocent people? And of course even Kuttab admits that they say one thing and do another. This paragraph tells us absolutely nothing about the Palestinian people

After a brief section about the Non-Aligned Movement, the vast majority of whom are theocracies and dictatorships, Kuttab puts his cards on the table:
"The justice of the Palestinian cause is overwhelming. The Palestinian people, occupied for over 45 years, simply yearns to live in freedom in the post-colonial 21st century. More than anything, what is needed is for the Palestinians to be able to tell their story in a strong and convincing narrative. "
Unfortunately for Daoud Kuttab, there is no "Palestinian narrative." There are actually three:
1. "There was always a country called Palestine that existed since time immemorial before Jewish people came from Europe and stole it from us. The occupation has not been going on for 45 years but for 64. Therefore the only acceptable solution is for Israel and Zionism to be destroyed and Palestine to be free from the river to the sea. No agreements supersede this goal." 
2. "The Palestinian people are a people who should have the same rights as Israel. They want to form a state in the West Bank and Gaza, and if the state is formed and the occupation ends they will be happy to live in peace alongside Israel." 
3. "(Same as two except) They will be happy to live in peace with Israel...as long as Israel grants full right of return to all Palestinians."
If any of the trolls would like to correct me on these narratives feel free to do so but I'm pretty sure I got it. And the problem is there is no way to know which Palestinian narrative you are getting at any particular time, and their spokespeople like to blend them. So just because Daoud Kuttab says the occupation has been going on for 45 years and not 60, that doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't think the Palestinians should also refuse to make peace until the so-called "right of return" is granted to them.

In other words, it's pretty hard to broadcast the Palestinian narrative when the Palestinians themselves still haven't agreed on what it is. So what we get instead are bits and pieces: The Nakba. The Occupation. The evil evil Israelis. Complaining is the only thing that is consistent about the Palestinian narrative, what they want is quite the opposite.

Kuttab does have some reasonable points of view, however:
"The narrative needs to be humanitarian, not rhetorical. At the same time, successful narrative cannot negate the other side. While Palestinians have suffered and continue to suffer from their own negation by the other side, it is impossible to overcome that by attempting to present only one point of view. Today's demanding public requires that."
Okay, good luck. In my experience Palestinian supporters (aka the "more Palestinian than the Palestinians" crowd) have shown not in the least attempt to present any point of view that can be construed as "pro-Zionism." So as is always the case with Kuttab articles, I'll believe it when I see it.

At this point Mr. Kuttab tells an amusing and yet disturbing story of a film called Jerusalem24, a project in which people from all walks of life who live in Jerusalem would be interviewed so as to get a whole picture of the city. It even would have had the expected sob stories from Palestinians who have been oppressed by the evil Israelis. But guess what happened? A rumor started that the production had taken money from Israel and the PACBI aka the BDS crew pitched a fit:
"Once the issue was in the public domain, a campaign of intimidation followed that led to directors withdrawing their participation in the film despite being presented with evidence contrary to the content of the boycott call and even after seeing the type of characters chosen by the Palestinian producers that will help present honestly and fairly the Palestinian narrative."
So remind me: who doesn't want peace and dialogue again? Mr. Kuttab explained that the PLO might have intervened to save the project but "didn't get there in time," and then shockingly we have this:
"The Palestinian case is just and powerful, but for this Palestinian narrative to be told effectively and professionally, leaders must take a proactive role to ensure that efforts at telling this story is not scuttled by ideologues who so bent on their narrow view of issues such as "normalization" that they lose sight of the bigger picture....Politicians cannot and should not interfere in art, but should ensure that the efforts of creative people are not blocked by a group of unelected individuals who have appointed themselves as guardians of the society."
Wow. That's the closest Daoud Kuttab has come in a long time to actually criticizing his fellow Palestinians. So I guess that is something. But someday he will have to admit the problem: A large segment of the Palestinian society (and an even larger segment of their so-called representatives) simply don't want peace or anything to do with Israel.

That is why the narrative won't get anywhere. People don't want to hear that Palestinians don't want peace, even if it's the truth. Of course, all you need to do is read this website and one narrative becomes very clear indeed.

1 comment:

  1. "The justice of the Palestinian cause is overwhelming."
    This sentence, whether it's used as the lead-off at bat in the game of pro-Palestinian narration or part of the entire spectrum of such activity, is why this conflict remains intractable. The issue: the use of the word "justice" BEFORE the word "cause". The latter phrase has been bent and torn and tossed around and ultimately rendered meaningless because the Palestinians and their advocates can't/won't define what their "cause" ultimately. If their cause was having an independent state next to Israel's, that would fit into what many observers, myself included, feels like an outcome of justice. But having a secular (it won't be) binational (not really) Palestine, or a 23rd Middle Eastern Muslim state, or screaming that refugees who aren't refugees need to be granted Israeli citizenship by the millions? That's not a cause of justice, it's a cause of brutality and elimination and likely genocide. And the main reason that the Palestinian "cause" has produced so much smoke and so little roast is that there frankly isn't enough support for the zero-sum versions of it to make it a reality. Far too many Palestinians and pro-P's are waiting on that boost from Iran, or post-Mubarak Egypt, or the far-Left parties in Europe, or even (on the insane fringe) Russia and China and India. That's why we're left with no resolution here. No justice. And no cause worth a lifetime of destruction for.

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