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Article from Thinkpolitics

Protesting Pawns of Palestine

by Or Barkan

MUCH HAS BEEN written about the conflict in the Middle East but few people really understand the complexities of the situation.

The Palestinians would like us to believe that all Israelis are racists and sadists whose very existence is a menace to the Palestinians' freedom and solidarity.

And the Israelis would like us to believe the exact opposite.

The problem is that there isn't one truth out there and in fact most Palestinians and Israelis (and their respective supporters) are simply rehashing, knowingly or unknowingly, old lies and prejudices. There simply is not one simple equation with one simple answer but somehow, in the world of politics and propaganda, simplifying is the name of the game.

In advertising, this is called the USP – Unique Selling Proposition.

Advertisers understand that if you want to change a significant number of peoples' behaviors fast, you should focus on one single USP, repeating it over, and over, and over, and over, and over, again and again, and again, and again. It has to be short and catchy to make it easy to understand and it should be emotional.

Why? Because people are not really interested in the "big picture" which requires a lot of effort to gather all the evidence before passing a verdict.

They would prefer a "quick fix" which will give them instant gratification.

Tagging Israel as an "apartheid state" is just such a USP that disregards the numerous differences between the predicament of the South African native population and the Palestinian population in its different forms. South Africa, under apartheid rule, was a country that was ruled by a minority to the detriment of the majority of its citizens.

The state of Israel is a democracy that is ruled by the majority of its citizens including the 1.6 million Israeli Arabs who enjoy full democratic rights as their Jewish, Christian and Druze counterparts and have their own parties and parliamentarians. Palestinians living in Gaza might want their plight to be seen as a result of Israel's existence but it is in fact autonomous and self-ruled and therefore, logically, there is no sign of apartheid here either.

That leaves the Occupied Territories that are not legally a part of Israel but are under Israeli government. It is 100% true that the Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories do not enjoy the civil rights that their brothers enjoy in Israel or in Gaza since they are neither Israelis nor are they Gazans. These people are living on land that is disputed and for which no agreement has yet been reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

If and when an agreement is reached under the two-state solution, 99% of the Palestinians living there will join their Gazan brothers.

This long-wished-for agreement has been repeatedly bogged down, denied and rejected by both sides for too many reasons and for
too long.

The Israelis are worried that unless a comprehensive solution is agreed upon, wars are bound to flare up at the slightest spark.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, are betting on higher stakes: a one-state solution – a solution that is unacceptable to Israelis since this will immediately allow all Palestinians a right to vote across the two lands and will effectively wipe out the State of Israel which was born and approved by the UN 64 years ago as a homeland for the Jews.

Of course, none of this can help the Palestinians to convince potential supporters to help their cause. Too much information, too complicated, too tiresome.

It is much easier to show pictures of hurt/dead babies (sometimes actually victims of the Syrian civil war) or by calling for a boycott on Israel.

This is a simplistic message that is easily understood and easy to take to heart and this is the message that is calling for supporters of Palestine to bully artists and cultural figures out of performing for Israeli audiences.

Luckily for Israelis, most of the artists, specially the bigger ones, do rock their Israeli fans. Over the past year, artists such as Lady Gaga, Madonna, RHCP, Metallica etc…braved the call to boycott and flew into Israel to do what they do best - perform.

Some of them are outright pro-Israelis but most simply choose to not heed the boycott call because they put their fans and their music before the call for boycotts.

And still, the calls to boycott continue, supported by some genuine activists and a lot more gullible and naïve human rights supporters who get sucked in by a simplistic call to act without a good understanding of the complexities involved.

You want to unleash your power as a human rights activist?

Go ahead and do so. But before you do, get informed and distrust easy answers and solutions because this conflict is anything but easy.

Because if you don't you might find yourself to be a Pawn in the grand scheme of the Palestinians who want to destroy the State of Israel not live alongside it.

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Article from Tuesday 4, December, 2012