Territorial blindness of the Israel-Palestinian conflict

Analysis: The struggle goes far beyond a simple territorial dispute, delving into a profound clash of ideologies, religions and political beliefs

Hillel Portugais de Almeida|
In studying the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is imperative to understand that the predominant narrative, often shaped by Western perspectives, fails to grasp the true nature of the conflict. This struggle goes far beyond a simple territorial dispute, delving into a profound clash of ideologies, religions, and political beliefs. However, this conflict does not fit into a civilizational clash as described by scholar Samuel Huntington, due to the "diasporic" nature of Israeli citizens and the involvement of Russia and China. This conflict is the crystallization of different world views, where the existence of a democratic Jewish state at the heart of the Islamic world is perceived as an existential threat by groups such as Hamas.
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The objectives of these terrorist movements, explicitly stated in their Arabic communications and carefully avoided in their English-language communications, focus on the total destruction of the State of Israel. Israel is thus seen not only as a geopolitical adversary but also as a democratic and religious threat.
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Pro-Palestinian protesters chant anti-Israel slogans
Pro-Palestinian protesters chant anti-Israel slogans
Pro-Palestinian protesters chant anti-Israel slogans
(Photo: AP)
For organizations such as Hamas, the very existence of Israel in Islamic lands is fundamentally unacceptable. The dichotomy between communications in English (or other Western languages) and Arab narratives of Arab leaders, such as those of Hamas, reveals stark differences. These varied messages show a Western vulnerability to accepting narratives from terrorist organizations when presented in a "Western" style and wrapped in a thin layer of marketing.
The defeat of the Palestinian cause is partly the result of flawed Western diplomatic policies that have misunderstood the dynamics of the Levant and the Middle East. Encouraged by the monarchies and other authoritarian regimes in the region, the intense focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has led to the overshadowing of their own authoritarianism. This diversion diverts attention from human rights violations in these same dictatorships, affecting over 1.5 billion people. Isn't it indeed simpler to focus all eyes on the only democracy in the region, where civic, civil, and conscience freedoms are respected?
It is not to say that Israel is a perfect democracy, quite the contrary, but compared to the surrounding dictatorships, including those governing the Palestinian territories under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, it is imperative to ask the right questions. By focusing primarily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, broader human rights abuses in the Levant are neglected.
The secularizing approach of the United States and Europe often misses several crucial aspects of the conflict: a religious or civilizational confrontation (for these same terrorist groups), a cultural confrontation, and a hegemonic confrontation, particularly around the China-Russia-Iran Axis. The suffering of the Palestinian people is undeniable. However, attributing their plight solely to Israel overlooks the complexity of the conflict and the region. Palestinian terrorist organizations are fighting not for a state, but for the complete destruction of Israel and act as proxies of a sponsoring state, namely Iran. This objective directly opposes the existence of a sovereign nation and hampers all prospects for peaceful resolution.
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ישראל ברזילי בפתיחת שגירות ישראל בפולין ב-1948
ישראל ברזילי בפתיחת שגירות ישראל בפולין ב-1948
Founding of the state of Israel in 1948
Consider an analogy: if the Breton independence movement promised to dismantle France, would the French government cede territory to a separatist movement committed to the country's destruction? Separatists are aided by a dictatorship whose sole objective is to destroy France, as evidenced by their multiple statements of determination. This scenario, although simplistic, nevertheless reflects the current Israeli position. Open to dialogue and coexistence with Palestinians and Arab neighbors seeking peace, Israel cannot, however, compromise its security and existence, because the primary duty of every state is to allow each of its citizens to live peacefully.
Many of us wish that this conflict was merely a territorial one, as often described in Western media or by certain politicians exploiting suffering for political gain. This would have allowed us to find a real solution to a conflict that has dragged on for too long. This conflict is a complex interaction of ideological, religious, and political elements.
Understanding these nuances is vital for the viability of public debate. The international community, particularly the West, must finally recognize the multidimensional nature of the dispute and approach it with a nuanced and informed perspective, contrary to the postures we have witnessed for over 75 years.
  • Hillel Portugais-de Almeida is a political analyst
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