The Guardian’s Khaled Diab, on “peace and co-existence” (and, oh yeah, the right of Palestinians to “armed resistance”)

We had to wait until the last paragraph of Khaled Diab’s essay in CiF, Peace Summit or the height of folly?, to learn that he rejects the very moral legitimacy of the state of Israel.  He coolly notes that, “I am in favour of [one] bi-national, secular state eventually emerging.”  His commentary, like so many  others at the Guardian, suggests that Israel, alone among the 192 nations in the world, is not morally legitimate in it current form, as the world’s only majority-Jewish state, and thus must be radically reconstituted into the 51st majority-Muslim nation.

The ostensible focus of his essay was eight Jewish and Arab Israelis who scaled Europe’s highest mountain after months of rigorous training as part of an initiative called Breaking the Ice, which seeks to thaw relations between the two groups – sponsored by a Swiss NGO called coexistences.

Of course, Diab’s bias gleams through right away with the awkward syntax used to describe the participants, referring to them as “a group of young Israelis and Palestinians”  – prompting me to initially think he was referring to a group consisting of Israelis and non-Israelis (likely, Palestinians from the West Bank).  However, he then adds parenthesis to add a further descriptive “(all of whom are citizens of Israel)” – reluctantly conveying that the group consists of Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel – that is, Israelis.  Of course referring to them as  Palestinians who just happen to have Israeli citizenship, as opposed to Arab Israelis, is a way of dismissing the fact that, whatever the divides, and inequities, in Israeli society between Jew and Arab, Arabs’ rights as citizens of Israel are simply undeniable.

Israeli Arabs have full voting rights – one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote – and have also held various government posts, including one who served as Israel’s ambassador to Finland. Oscar Abu Razaq was appointed Director General of the Ministry of Interior, the first Arab citizen to become chief executive of a key government ministry. Ariel Sharon’s original cabinet included the first Arab minister, Salah Tarif, a Druze who served as a minister without portfolio. An Arab is also a Supreme Court justice.

Diab even does his best to convey optimism over the project, quoting Arab and Jewish participants which claim that the program did indeed, to some degree, break down barriers, before shifting gears.

His ideological pivot begins with an observation that “Some do find that dialogue and co-operation for their own sake are not enough.”  He then quotes Labeeb Baransi, (a Palestinian we are told, who left his native land to study in the UK), who says:

“If they carried out the joint effort to support a two-state solution I do feel they have just wasted a tremendous amount of energy. They would have gained a great deal more if they spent it on promoting the one state solution.”

Diab casually notes that Baransi advocates one state “for all Israelis and Palestinians”, and founded a Facebook groupwhich counts Palestinians, Israelis, Arabs, Jews and other supporters as members.”

Upon opening the link to the One-State Solution FB group, I noticed a few things worth noting:

First, Baransi had recently posted this image on the wall of his FB group.

So, it seems that the leading protagonist in Diab’s story is a figure who believes that the intentional murder of nearly 3000 innocent American civilians by a radical Islamist movement known as al-Qaeda, on September 11, 2001 is the same crime that is being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians each hour of each day.

But, it gets more interesting.

While looking at the discussion tab on the FB group, there was a conversation about whether armed resistance is justified method of “resistance” – with an exchange between Diab and Baransi.

During the discussion, Baransi said:

Resistance as such has never been understood to be non armed resistance only; rather includes all methods available to those who are occupied; furthermore we can agree that armed resistance is not the best strategy for Palestinians to use, however we surly cannot deny Palestinians the right to armed resistance

Diab’s reply:

“From my reading of what you write, I think we pretty much agree on most things. Of course, Palestinians (or any other people living under occupation) have a right to resist, and violent resistance is legitimate if it focuses on military targets and does not target civilians and children – so suicide bombings are out. But the question that should be asked is not whether violent resistance is legitimate but whether it is effective.”

So, the only disagreement between the Guardian columnist and his friend has nothing whatsoever to do with the morality of killing Israelis but, rather, merely its effectiveness in achieving their desired political goal.

As a note of clarity, Baransi sums up their agreed upon position.

“I think Gents we have to agree ………..When discussing armed resistance we call it that rather than violent resistance since there is a huge difference between the two and since we agree on the fact that resisting occupation (including armed resistance) is a right”

Here are snapshots taken of the conversation on the FB page (sorry for the poor quality of the images, but you can see the exchange by simply going to the FB group and seeing for yourselves.  Its an open group and all of the content is viewable without joining):

Yup, just a frank conversation between friends about how best to achieve the destruction of the first sovereign Jewish state in 2000 years.  Of course, one of the friends also happens to be a columnist in good standing at the world’s leading Liberal voice.

23 replies »

  1. Ostensibly it’s all about the words we use to describe things, isn’t it, which dictate what we perceive to be reality.

    And here we have Khaled Diab, very much one of the Groan’s own, carefully omitting to show us that he realises the reason for the Palestinians being under occupation (or perhaps he’s conveniently forgotten the complexities surrounding it) and giving his interlocutor, Labeeb, the chance to agree that armed “resistance”, (and for that you may read suicide murder, shelling of civilians, making sure that Palestinians get killed because the killers of Israelis embed themselves among them, and then wailing that they have been killed, use of children, women and the elderly as human shields) is a right.

    Well, it may be, but surely it’s nonsensical to concentrate upon killing and getting your own side killed (however much propaganda capital you may make from that in a 12 second sound byte world) when you SHOULD be focusing upon building your own state?

    Heaven knows the Palestinians have received billions of dollars in aid money and could have used that to build rather than destroy.

    But they don’t really want their own state, which would cause one hell of a disruption for the surrounding Arab states which uses their self-imposed plight as a way of deflecting their own people’s dissatisfaction with their policies. No, they just want not to have Jewish neighbours.

  2. I think you miss the point about the Diab article,which is very positive about coexistence. I think that your research is bad because you do not take it in the context of his other articles on CiF, many of which are critical of the Muslim and Arab world. He has explained in detail previously his reasons for supporting a one-state solution, which I find rather naive, but they are totally devoid of the hatred that typifies the “Groans’s own”. There is also a sense of hypocrisy in your article (and the comments) considering the current Israeli government’s unending drive towards a single state.

  3. Re. Khaled Diab’s suggestion of a single democratic state: as MindTheCrap says, you could accuse him of being naive, but not malicious.

    Of course referring to them as Palestinians who just happen to have Israeli citizenship, as opposed to Arab Israelis, is a way of dismissing the fact that, whatever the divides, and inequities, in Israeli society between Jew and Arab, Arabs’ rights as citizens of Israel are simply undeniable.

    There is no evidence for making that assumption, Adam. If Arab-Israelis call themselves “Palestinians”, then why should Khaled deny them their right of self-identification?

    Arabs’ rights as citizens of Israel are simply undeniable.

    Based on Khaled’s reference to “Palestinians” you’re assuming that he is denying the existence of such rights!

  4. MindTheCrap and pretzelberg,

    Advocating for a one-state solution isn’t naive, its highly immoral. Its a well-known euphemism for the rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Just to be clear, Israel’s right to exist, like that of the rest of the nations in the world, is a right that’s (to quote Abba Eban) “axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement….”

    Further, there’s nothing out of context. Diab supports the right of armed resistance, says so quite clearly, and while he exempts women and children, he really only seems bothered by the nagging question of whether its “effective” as a means towards his desired goal. Please show me how I misquote him, or take him out of context.

  5. @ Adam Levick

    Please show me how I misquote him, or take him out of context

    Right here:
    Diab supports the right of armed resistance, says so quite clearly, and while he exempts women and children, he really only seems bothered by the nagging question of whether its “effective” as a means towards his desired goal.

  6. Oh, and accusing Khaled of discussing “how best to achieve the destruction of the first sovereign Jewish state in 2000 years” is also a massive distortion of his actual words.

  7. Oh watch this everyone. Or don’t. It’s sooo boring.

    We have Pretzel the nitpicker back among us.

  8. As per usual, we have the call for the one-state solution, as if suddenly the hard if not impossible to find silent mass of moderate Palestinians will seize control of the Palestinian agenda. No thoughts about a Palestinian right of return. No thoughts about years of hatred built up in the Palestinian education system. No, only a tide of live and let live Arabs gladly sharing the land with their political and social equals, the Jews of Israel. And finally, what a comforting thought that Khaled Diab’s one state solution in its reality would be any different than the one state solution of Hamas or Hezbollah. Because Diab says violence is counterproductive as opposed to just plain wrong. Neither the words nor the intent of Diab is being distorted. They are being clarified. And just to clarify further, when he talks of a one-state solution for those being oppressed, he means oppressed Arab Israelis just as much as he means oppressed Gazans and those on the West Bank. It is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish homeland. He calls it peace. He is correct if you define peace by extinction as peace. But then again maybe I’m the nitpicker, and Diab sees the happy future for the Jews of Israel that somehow eludes me when I ponder his one-state solution. Having been less than deafened by the shouts of Hamas and Hezbollah about the equality between Muslims and Jews, what person in his right mind would think that a one state solution is anything but the death of Israel. Massive distortion? More like washing the lipstick off the pig.

  9. AdamLevick:
    “Advocating for a one-state solution isn’t naive, its highly immoral.”
    But the Israeli right wants a one-state solution and its blind obsession on settlements is the proof. So what you are saying that their one-state solution is moral while Diab’s is immoral ? Are there 2 different one-states ?

  10. MTC

    Are there 2 different one-states ?

    Not exactly. There are many other Arab countries (including a Palestinian one) and only one Jewish state. The Jewish one-staters are not immoral, they may be stupids, blinds to the reality, rigid uncompromising fanatics – but not immoral.

    The Diab kind one-staters should be called zero Jewish staters – here lies their immorality. I don’t know any rightwinger Israelis (maybe in some mental institutions must be one or two) who says that the Arabs or the Palestinians have no right to their own homelands.

  11. Pretzel remember where Khaled Diab is writing. Remember also who’s paying his 75 pounds.

    Anyone who advances the notion that a one-state solution would be best for all parties is at best naive, at worst acting in bad faith. My money is on the latter.

    We know that it is in the nature of Islamic supremacists to force other religions to submit to Islam, for their sympathisers to ignore their excesses in this regard. Therefore, even to try to give equal rights to Jewish citizens of Israel would offend them mightily.

    The Arab/Muslim residents of the area got their chance of a state of their own, where Islam would be the dominant religion, in 1947 but they rejected it because they could not allow Jews to have a state for themselves or to settle on land which they thought belonged to them.

    That they have ever since been fruitlessly and idiotically engaged in trying to get it back, and remaining backward whilst Israel has forged ahead, has taught them nothing.

    Where other nations might focus on building their own state rather than on destroying their neighbour, Muslim Palestinians (as opposed to Jewish Palestinians) are content to live off us and UNRWA handouts and sit in their belligerent self-pity bemoaning a situation of their own making. It seems, however, that the west and the rest of the world is beginning to wake up.

    It would be a splendid gesture of solidarity with their fellow Muslims if the rich tunnel men and entrepreneurs in Gaza (think Roots) and on the West Bank could donate six months of their profits to the Pakistan flood relief funds, and agree to let the UNRWA divert some of its aid to them.

    But I shan’t hold my breath until that happens.

  12. Peter:

    ” The Jewish one-staters are not immoral, they may be stupids, blinds to the reality, rigid uncompromising fanatics – but not immoral.”

    That’s a relief 🙂

  13. Adam Levick:

    Here is a trivia question: Who said:

    “In contrast, Israelis and Palestinians carry the burden of decades of bloodshed and violence, dispossession, insecurity, economic inequality, and the balance of power is so skewed that it makes compromise difficult. But even if Mitchell’s efforts fail, as they probably will, I agree wholeheartedly with his view that:
    “”There is no such thing as a conflict that can’t be ended. Conflicts are created by human beings, and can be ended by human beings. It may take a long time. But with committed, active and strong leadership, it can happen here in the Middle East.””

    Answer : Khaled Diab (on CiF)

  14. Adam Levick:

    Here is another trivia question. Who said the following:

    “But as new generations of Mizrahi Jews discover a renewed pride in their heritage, this could lead to further corrosion of the simplistic polarity of the official narratives of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This, in turn, could prompt more dialogue with Arabs, which could eventually build the kind of understanding required to provide a solid foundation for peace.”

    Answer: Khaled Diab (in CiF)

  15. Adam Levick:

    Who said the following:

    “I had been invited to address a group of Israeli and Jewish fellows.
    In order to build understanding and find common ground, I always welcome the opportunity to engage in dialogue with Israelis and Jews, both to challenge and be challenged. Moreover, the chance to address, and perhaps influence, tomorrow’s possible opinion-shapers was an additional lure.

    I then went on to prescribe certain things the media could do, or do more of, to help advance the quest for peace – much of which I strive to implement in my own journalism. The media should be a channel for creative and novel approaches to the conflict, as well as a conduit for debate. It should highlight positives and not just fixate on negatives. Although we all know that violence makes headlines, non-violence should also be given prominent coverage.

    There is a lot of demonisation going on. Journalists can help to counteract this by humanising the people on both sides of the divide. Bloggers, online forums and social networking sites are playing a crucial role in this respect.

    Although I strive to make my position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as balanced and non-partisan as possible, I wasn’t sure what kind of reception my message would get from this group of young people who are passionate about Israel and some of whom have been involved in pro-Israeli lobby groups such as AIPAC, with its fearsome reputation in Arab circles.

    That aside, we discussed a broad range of issues, including the quality of media reporting, the banning of journalists from Gaza, press freedom in the Middle East, the value of citizen journalism and blogs, and more general political questions. The keenness with which the fellows engaged with me – we ran way over time – and their thirst for dialogue is a promising omen for the future.

    I advised them that the best way for them to promote Israel’s interests – and the same applies for pro-Palestinians – is to move beyond the narrow us and them dichotomy. The best support they can provide to their own side is to advocate the cause of justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.

    We need more people who are willing to climb out of their trenches and venture into the no-man’s land and transform it into a common ground, even if it means occasionally getting caught in the crossfire.”

    Answer: Khaled Diab (on Cif)

  16. mindthecrap,

    Khaled Diab’s past comments don’t in any way obviate his current advocacy of a one-state solution, by which he means the end of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state. Israel offered the Palestinians their own state twice – in 2000 and 2008. If you want to know what precisely was offered and subsequently rejected by the Palestinians in 2000, see the map, linked below. Perhaps you may wish to consider that many Israelis are reluctant to withdraw from the West Bank due to past experiences with such unilateral concessions. Israelis were told that withdrawing from S. Lebanon would bring peace and security. Well, it did neither, and just emboldened Hezbollah. Their withdraw from Gaza was supposed to bring peace and security to the South, but it did neither, and only emboldened the most radical elements (Hamas) of Palestinian society.

    More broadly, don’t you understand that when folks advocate a “one state solution” it only makes Israel less likely to withdraw from the W. Bank? If, at the end of the day, even a withdraw to pre-1967 borders doesn’t represent a just solution in their mind, and won’t satisfy them, then what possible incentive is there to make such concessions?,r:0,s:0&tx=15&ty=61

  17. Adam Levick:

    If you bothered to read through all of his articles on I/P, you would read exactly why he supports a one-state solution, which is crucial to understanding this one.

    Please don’t bother with the history lesson; no matter what you post I can run rings around you.

  18. Mindthecrap,

    Ok, please humor me. Why does Diab support a one-state solution?

    As far as running rings around me. Again, please show your cards. Is the map incorrect? Did Dennis Ross, Clinton’s chief negotiator at the 2000 negotiations, simply lie when he produced this map in his book, The Missing Peace? Moreover, just to be clear, are you buying into the narrative that what was offered in 2000 didn’t represent a viable and contiguous Palestinian state?

    Am I wrong about the outcome of Israel’s withdraw from S. Lebanon?

    Am I wrong about the outcome of Israel’s withdraw from Gaza?

    Please, if you have time, I’d really like to hear how I have it all wrong.

  19. Adam Levick:
    Thanks for confirming what I suspected from the beginning – that you did not research Diab’s previous contributions to CiF before writing your article. You also would have noticed that he has written very few on I/P, i.e. he is not obsessed with the topic like most of the Guardian favourites. And since there are very few I suggest that you now read them and you will soon find his reasons for supporting a one-state solution.

    I never said that you “have it all wrong”. I apologize if my statement was not clear. I meant to imply two things:
    – that your tactics are wrong, not the facts. “Proving” who is “right” in this conflict is a dead-end street. Everybody is right and everybody is wrong simultaneously. No peace is possible unless everyone puts the past behind them. This basic principle was understood by great leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Anwar Sadat.
    – I found and read your bio. My instinctive impression was that you remind me in one way of Seth Friedman. Why ? If you read my many critical comments posted on his articles you will see that I often said that for Seth Middle-East history began when he arrived in the Holy land, i.e. his articles lack the historical depth that is acquired by living through the events and listening to the personalities on a daily basis. It is in this way that I “can run rings around you”.

    Anyway, the bottom line here is that Khaled Diab is obviously a person that can be engaged in the positive sense of the word, as opposed to some of our favourites like Ben White. Accept the fact that he and others have different opinions, occasionally say something stupid and occasionally associate with the wrong people. We all do. Your article serves no purpose whatsoever.

  20. Dear All

    I have to admit I was impressed with how articulate one can be with totally twisting people’s words around.
    Please enjoy the link


  21. labeeb:
    It’s amusing to hear speaches like that in the British Parliament considering that the number of civilians killed by British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq was far greater. Why not post links to similar speeches about those two places ? .. Oh there aren’t any … I wonder why. Of course the British invasions were justified because of the daily rocket attacks by the Taliban and Saddam on the south of England.