Israel: Trapped in an oxymoron

Readers may need to be reminded: There are Palestinians living in the state of Israel. One could be forgiven for not appreciating this given the way UK mainstream media reports the so-called ‘democratic’ protests within Israel.

But the truth needs to be told: Palestinians comprise around 20% of the population of the state, rising to just over 50% of the population if one includes the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – land Occupied by Israel and under its effective control.  

In an admittedly thoroughly unscientific assessment, based on my personal viewing/listening habits of mainstream media, I heard the word ‘Palestinian’ barely mentioned in reports on the ‘pro-democracy’ demonstrations, still less any examination of Israeli-Palestinian citizens’ perspectives. Palestinians are noticeably missing from the demonstrations, a fact that should at the very least aroused media curiosity as to why.

As to the 4.7 million Palestinians living under Israeli military law in Gaza and the West Bank, the Occupation itself making a mockery of pro-democracy rhetoric, mainstream UK media, as with mainstream Israeli opinion, generally sees no Palestinians, hears no Palestinians, speaks not of Palestinians.  We might dub this syndrome ‘negative affinity’: the way UK mainstream media replicates the lacunae, absences and seeming indifference to the perspectives of Palestinians.

Elastic words

A prerequisite for speaking intelligibly with another is agreement, implied for the most part, on the meaning that attaches to key words and concepts. True, language, being by its nature elastic, protean, allows for degrees of latitude in use, but there are limits beyond which the meaning of a word or concept cannot be stretched without doing violence to the possibility of speaking intelligibly with another.  

The question thus arises as to whether Israeli Jews, many of whom are demonstrating with passion and conviction to save ‘their’ democracy, have stretched the meaning of that word, ‘democracy’ beyond the degree of latitude that enables meaningful speech, thereby limiting the degree to which political action can be conducted in good faith.

Athenian democracy – you wouldn’t want it

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About Me

My name is Bernard Spiegal, I write mainly about Palestine/Israel and related issues; sometimes other stuff too


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