In London last week I went to a showing at the ICA of a new film, Forgiveness, made by the Israeli director Udi Aloni (son of Shulamit Aloni, for people who like making connections). Aloni was at the showing and discussed the film with the audience afterwards. “Forgiveness” is a tremendous film, about memory and the repression of memory. Its central setting is a mental hospital for Holocaust survivors that was built on the ruins of Deir Yassin, and which the film pictures as a place where two different kinds of ghosts can meet and reach reconciliation. There’s far more to it than that, of course—the website has a story outline and reviews, if you want to read about it—but really, you should just get out and see it.
A follow-up to this post: Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign has written a highly critical article on Atzmon. (At the time I’m writing, the SPSC server isn’t working, but you can get a flavour from an extract here). I can’t resist ungraciously pointing out that Mick doesn’t actually mention anywhere that the SPSC recently gave Atzmon a platform, but the main thing is that in this piece he recognises the danger that Atzmon and his allies represent both to Jews and to the Palestinian solidarity movement by bringing genuine anti-Semitism into the campaign. That’s a very welcome statement.
The Palestinian government is constantly being told that it must renounce violence and recognise the state of Israel.
Here’s the thing: Hamas has no incentive to renounce violence as long as Israelis aren’t being told to do the same.
And what does it mean to recognise the state of Israel? It doesn’t mean “acknowledge Israel” because no one is denying Israel exists. What the “hawks” keep claiming is that Hamas/Palestinians/Arabs/insert-term-of-choice-here want to “chase Jews into the sea” and “wipe Israel off the map”.
So “recognise Israel probably means something like “accept that Israelis are here to stay, and that Israel isn’t going to disappear”. In which case, why is no one demanding that the Israeli government “recognise” Palestine? Where are the demands for the Israeli government to accept that Palestinians have a legitimate claim to the places they live in or grew up in, and have a right of return? Where are the demands for the Israeli occupation forces withdraw from the occupied (not “disputed”) territories?
It’s deeply foolish and, dare I say it, naive to place demands on the Palestinian government and expect them to comply, when no parallel demands are being made to the Israeli government.