AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: The Israeli Paradigm, Part I

21 May 2012
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION:  The Israeli Paradigm, Part I

by Anonymous CPTer

 I have been reading Ilan Pappé’s (1) book Forgotten Palestinians.  I find his writing to be informative and thought provoking and so was excited a couple weeks ago, when the team and I got a chance to hear Pappé speak at the Alternative Information Centre in Beit Sahour.

What Pappé said offered an alternative to much of the discourse surrounding Israel and Palestine.  Pappé argued that most people, even those who see themselves as being pro-Palestinian, still speak and think within the paradigm (2) created by Zionists.

According to Pappé, in this paradigm of peace the Zionists saw that they must establish full control over the West Bank, to fulfill their vision of the State of Israel.  He likened the situation in the West Bank to that of a prison.  If Palestinians within the West Bank are willing to work within the framework of the paradigm and ‘behave,’ they will receive rewards and benefits, and the prison will resemble an open detention center where people have some freedoms and can move around somewhat freely.  These benefits, Pappé stated, could even incorporate a state, but it would be a state without sovereignty, and a state that was still within the Zionist paradigm, and therefore still ultimately under Zionist control.  However, if the Palestinians dare to challenge the paradigm they will find themselves in a maximum-security prison where Israel severely restricts their rights and limits their freedoms.

Papp explained that the paradigm has been so well constructed that even his colleagues in the field of activism are sucked in by it.  He told us of how in his last book he wrote with Noam Chomsky Chomsky had been partly sucked in by the paradigm and the idea of realpolitik.  Pappé argued that the rights of the Palestinians are not something that can be negotiated—land can be negotiated, even statehood, but not human rights.  Pappé elucidated how easily Israel and the international community as a whole compromise the rights of Palestinians, but Israel would never negotiate or relinquish the rights of Israelis.

The paradigm, argued by Pappé, is alive and well in the Western world and within Israel, through the use of word choices.  Talk of the “peace process” and the “road map to peace,” make it look like the Palestinians are receiving a fair deal, when in fact they are still being oppressed and occupied.  Pappé challenged us to bring into the discourse of Israel and Palestine the words “Settler-colonialism,” “occupation” and “apartheid.”  Words that, according to a Palestinian man in the audience, are so effective in challenging the paradigm that people who speak them are quickly silenced and face harsh consequences.  In the U.K., partisans of Israel often charge the people who speak these words with anti-Semitism, or they accuse these people of speaking too harshly of Israel.  

In the second part of this article, I will show how the situation in Hebron fully supports the truth of these words.


(1) Ilan Pappé (Hebrew: אילן פפה; born 7 November 1954[1] in HaifaIsrael) is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, director of the university's European Centre for Palestine Studies, co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, and political activist. He was formerly a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa (1984–2007) and chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies in Haifa (2000–2008)

(2) A set of experiences, beliefs and values that affect the way an individual perceives reality and responds to that perception.