Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Power of Naming

Robert Azzi has an interesting new article entitled "Challenging the Power of Privilege" where he discusses Jewish control of the narrative of Israel's creation. Referring to Israel's so-called New Historians, he notes: "It took Israeli historians to legitimize the Palestinian story. It took Israeli historians to legitimize the truth." Point taken. Sadly, Azzi has not the courage or insight to acknowledge that Jewish, not "Israeli", is the operative identity. No Palestinian Israeli historian (or non-Jewish Euro-American, for that matter) would have achieved even the limited accceptance and credibility accorded to the Jewish Israeli revisionist historians.

There is then another power that Azzi and most others won't discuss or fight for and that is the power of naming. The dominant form of oppression in Palestine today is Jewish supremacism and it enjoys the support of the overwhelming majority of Jews worldwide but you'd be hard-pressed to find very many people in the West--Palestinian or otherwise--who will say that publicly.

As the pseudonymous Sara said in "The Forgotten '-ism': An Arab American Women's Perspective on Zionism, Racism, and Sexism": "In this country, progressive circles are Zionist circles. ... You might be able to say Palestinians are victims but you can't say they're victims of Jews. ... You can't name Jews as your oppressor, but it's the Jewish state." Or as Paul Eisen said in "Jewish Power": "The crime against the Palestinian people is being committed by a Jewish state with Jewish soldiers using weapons displaying Jewish religious symbols, and with the full support and complicity of the overwhelming mass of organised Jews worldwide. But to name Jews as responsible for this crime seems impossible to do."

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