|July 2000 - Current Index Complete Index This Month MiddleEast.Org 7/15/00|
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MER WEEKEND READING:
- Part 1
in our own time, one of history's grandest
ironies is that at the very time things are moving
in one direction in Southern Africa, they are moving
in the very opposite direction in the Holy Land."
of all the daily details, removed from the
blinding imitations on historical perspective imposed
by a preoccupation with current events, the broadest
picture is that of Palestinian subservience to a
dominating European civilization financed and
encourged and pushed forward by the American empire."
MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 7/15/00:
This article titled "Geronofat" was originally published in a number of Middle East newspapers shortly after the Oslo Agreement and the ceremony on the White House lawn that brought Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin together for the first time. It was written at that time by Mark Bruzonsky, now the Publisher of "Mid-East Realities". Bruzonsky has met with Arafat personally a number of times, including in Beirut, at a private dinner with him in Cairo in 1985, and at another private meeting in Tunis in 1991. Bruzonsky was the live on-air commentator for Canadian national television (CTV) throughout the White House Arafat-Rabin signing ceremony in September 1993. His books about the Middle East have been published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian, Congressional Quarterly, and National Geographic. The author can be reached by email at MAB@MiddleEast.Org and by phone at (202) 362-5266.
G E R O N O F A T
A n d T h e P a l e s t i n i a n R e s e r v a t i o n s
By Mark A. Bruzonsky*
"WE ARE NOT RED INDIANS...
"WE WILL NOT LIVE ON BANTUSTANS"
[Washington - 2 Jan 1994]
When a more powerful culture takes charge -- as has happened repeatedly of course throughout history -- natives rarely accept the realites of their fate without protest.
And such protests, oftentimes, quickly become violent.
And such violence, oftentimes, is called "terrorism" by the more dominant society that is determined to take over.
Oftentimes as well such protests designed to fend off the encroaching culture have much the opposite result bringing about escalating repression through superior force which the more powerful culture is able to enlist in its behalf.
Those struggling to retain their lands and way of life are usually outgunned -- however noble, however just, and eventually however futile their resistance.
At the same time, those taking over usually find all kinds of social, legal, and even spiritual ruses to justify their suppression and conquest.
Eventually the "terrorists" are defeated or otherwise neutralized.
In some cases, as with the United States, eventually the more dominant society becomes so victorious it can even afford to look back with guilt and remorse; though without redemption.
In contemporary modern history, in a few cases at least, violent protest and armed resistance has been able to push back the encroachment of the new society.
Take the situation in South Africa, for instance, where after generations of struggle against White rule, after decades of blood-letting, there is now a shift that is likely to result in black majority rule, albeit rule that will at least in the beginning be considerable dominated by the white minority.
China is an example of a soceity that was able to resist the encroachment of both the West and Japan in modern times.
Japan itself has made an amazing transformation from a vanquished enemy
to a resurgent nation -- incorporating bits of Western culture along the
integrating itself into the dominant western international economy.
But in most cases in the history of the past few hundred years, the expansion of white European civilization has been unrelenting in asserting itself culturally, economically, and politically.
The fate of the American Indians, for instance, still remains a matter of considerable guilt in the new world.
In this context the current hit movie GERONIMO is a vivid cinematic manifestation of the White Man's burden in having brutally subjugated the "native Americans" as they are now termed.
And before GERONIMO, a few years ago on the silver screen there was THE MISSION, a chilling rendition of how the cynical European business class, in coordination with the subservient Catholic church, destroyed the indigenous civilizations of South America in the process of grabbing control of the riches of that continent.
It was just two few years ago during the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus's arrival in the new world, that historians were competing to point out just how vicious was the assault of the Europeans on the native population of the Americas.
Today, in our own time, one of history's grandest ironies is that at the very time things are moving in one direction in Southern Africa, they are moving in the very opposite direction in the Holy Land.
On the southern tip of the African continent the dispossession of the indigenous Black population and the attempt to corral them onto territorial "homelands" is finally being reversed. This was not inevitable -- history could have taken a different turn with far more bloodshed and slaughter. Indeed, it still might.
But in the area today called Israel and Palestine, a different scenario is being played out. The September 13th handshake of Yasser Arafat on the south lawn of the American White House, the very symbol of American superpower hegemony, clearly demonstrated Palestinian capitulation.
Most telling, it was the Palestinian leader himself who had the idea of actually taking off his gun holster and handing it over to the American President in front of the entire world -- while it was the Americans who understood such a gesture to be far too demonstrative and thus convinced Arafat to play his part with less theatrics and less blatantness.
Looked at in these broad historic terms, the contemporary fate of the Palestinians of the Holy Land is but one more episode in the ongoing saga of Western suppression of native populations. For some decades now they have been rounded up, relegated to places called refugee camps and prisons. In the occupied territories there cities have been surrounded. In the Gaza Strip they have been reduced to ghetto existence.
True enough, in the case of the Jews versus the Palestinians there are considerable sui generis factors -- the holocaust, the religious dimensions of Zionism, the fragmentation and balkanization of the Arab world, the hegemonic ambitions of the West in the region because of oil and more recently the petrodollars oil has created.
Nevertheless, stripped of all the daily details, removed from the blinding imitations on historical perspective imposed by a preoccupation with current events, the broadest picture is that of Palestinian subservience to a dominating European civilization financed and encourged and pushed forward by the American empire.
While the Blacks of South Africa will be reemerging in their own society, a solitary state based on secular values, the Palestinians enjoy no such a turn in their own fate.
For them the future is to see their cities and ghettos increasingly turned into reservations and bantustans in a system of Middle East apartheid based not on color but on a unique combination of Western colonization and religious heritage.
Yasser Arafat, a modern-day Geronomo if you will, occassionally bursts out with expressions that "We Palestinians are not Red Indians", "We Palestinians will not live on Bantustans."
It would take quite some political psychiatrist to delve into Yasser Arafat's mental pathways and psychological complexities. Still, one can conclude that Arafat occassionally lashes out with these concepts precisely because he is aware of their relevance, precisely because his hopes to deflect their use by his enemies, precisely because having surrendered he continues to want to pretend he is still leading his people to something else.
CONTINUED TOMORROW WITH PART II OF "GERONOFAT":
Rabin and Arafat have a very frank heart-to-heart talk.
* Mark Bruzonsky has visited the Middle East region over 150 times.
about the Middle East have been published by the Woodrow Wilson International
Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian, Congressional Quarterly, and National
Geographic. Bruzonsky is a international affairs graduate of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School and was a Root-Tilden Scholar at New York University Law School.
He can be reached at MAB@MiddleEast.Org and at 202 362-5266.
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