• Rahul Mahesh

TALKING SEMANTICS: THE WORD "CONFLICT"


There are various aspects of this matter that requires sensitivity in wording and expression. The issue of Israel and Palestine is as destructive as it is complex. There are meaningless deaths on both sides and often the comparison of suffering does no good. Yet there is nuance in the way we must approach this issue of contention. The language is of vital importance when it comes to understanding the current predicament of the Palestinian cause.

THE PROBLEM WITH THE WORD "CONFLICT"

The first issue people pointed out when Part 1 of this series was produced was my wrongful use of the word "conflict" in the Israel-Palestine context. The pleas were passionate and understandably so. This needs explanation. The idea of a "conflict" would stand validated if and only if there are parties with equal strength engaging in opposition with each other. When it comes to the case of Palestine, this is far from true. While Israel boasts of a standing army with full military experience and ammunition at its disposal, the Palestinian fighting force is almost non-existent and misguided outfits. This is not to say that there aren't groups like Hamas and the like perpetrating horrors on either side of the fence. In this context, the attacks that are perpetrated by the Israeli forces are largely on the general population of Palestine, uprooting people from their homes and engaging in what can be termed as the effective deconstruction of the Palestinian way of life. The word "conflict" would have a strong impetus had it been on equal footing which is more often than not the case.

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINERY

If one thing is for certain, it is the fact that both parties engage in psycho-political warfare wherein the use of propaganda is used to the fullest. The Israeli cause has been strengthened with long-term support from various foreign players including staunch international allies that include our country among others. The validation of the cause for the Israeli "defence" is largely based on the fact that the Palestinian/Arab incentive is derisive and largely violent. This is carefully disseminated through programmes like TV shows (even in international markets), school curriculum and even public opinion initiatives. In this regard, Hamas is no less. It has systematically uprooted the idea of a plausible reconciliation as a method of resolving the matter that has plagued the West Bank/Gaza for generations. The bombings within their territories, the manipulation of video content within the global media and wanton accusations when there exists none are all devices of attrition that seeks to sustain the fighting instead of ever resolving it. Both the involved parties are found to engage in a battle for disseminating divisive information that prevents the wound from ever healing.

NO TWO WRONGS MAKE RIGHT

The problem at hand, with the extensive nature of Israel's aggressive approach, makes it difficult to make an argument of victimhood. It is largely because though there is obvious Hamas and other organisations that repeatedly engage in violent actions, the Israeli forces are involved in a form of colonialist suppression. This approach of land-grabbing and settlement based invasion makes the matter beyond the understanding of the standard practices of contention. The agreement between the two parties had long been to contain to the borders and yet Israel has more often than not engaged in settlement takeover of various regions of the West Bank. The systematic uprooting of Palestinian locals and the rampant justification on the matter by excuses of "they have done worse" has not been fruitful reasoning for such an expansionist approach.

There is no doubt that both the Israeli and Palestinian population want peace. They want to go about their lives without the fear of having being shot at or bombed into oblivion. The process of peace cannot be attained with just one party wishing for it while the other inches its way inroads to another's freedoms. The media has by far done a great job in fanning the flames of contention even in the global community whereby people fail to internalise the complexity of the matters and engage in reactionary and emotional versions of truths. The Human Right Watch has called the Israeli movement into Palestinian homes "apartheid' which Israel has denounced as being a "propaganda pamphlet" of no tangible cause. Whatever the case may be, there is a need for accountability and actionable proposals for amiable disengagement. The violence has teetered to point of excess that it does not look like settling down until an extreme flashpoint is reached. This may not be good for either side as then there would be too many wounds and too little panacea.

Featured Image: https://www.cfr.org/quiz/see-how-much-you-know-about-israeli-palestinian-conflict

Articles of interest:

  1. A very important paper on narratives which would be an interesting read to understand the idea of information and interpretation in this matter: https://www.belfercenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/files/wpf34mythandnarrative.pdf

  2. https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2020/2/12/israels-propaganda-war-waged-through-tv-shows

  3. https://www.middleeasteye.net/big-story/truth-behind-israeli-propaganda-expulsion-arab-jews

  4. https://www.france24.com/en/middle-east/20210428-human-rights-watch-accuses-israel-of-apartheid-crimes-against-palestinians



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