My Israeli Friends: This is Why I Support Palestinians – ILAN PAPPE

Palestinians mourn the victims of the Israeli aggression on Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Ilan Pappe – The Palestine Chronicle  

It is not always easy to stick to your moral compass, but if it does point north – towards decolonization and liberation – then it will most likely guide you through the fog of poisonous propaganda.

It is challenging to maintain one’s moral compass when the society you belong to – leaders and media alike – takes the moral high ground and expects you to share with them the same righteous fury with which they reacted to the events of last Saturday, October 7.  

There is only one way to resist the temptation to join in: if you understood, at one point in your life – even as a Jewish citizen of Israel – the settler colonial nature of Zionism, and were horrified by its policies against the indigenous people of Palestine. 

If you have had that realization, then you will not waver, even if the poisonous messages depict Palestinians as animals, or ‘human animals.’ These same people insist on describing what took place last Saturday as a ‘Holocaust’, thus abusing the memory of a great tragedy. These sentiments are being conveyed, day and night by both Israeli media and politicians.

It is this moral compass that led me, and others in our society, to stand by the Palestinian people in every way possible; and that enables us, at the same time, to admire the courage of the Palestinian fighters who took over a dozen military bases, overcoming the strongest army in the Middle East.

Also, people like me cannot avoid but raise questions about the moral or strategic value of some of the actions that accompanied this operation.

Because we always supported the decolonization of Palestine, we knew that the longer Israeli oppression continued, the less likely the liberation struggle would be “sterile” – as it has been the case in every just struggle for liberation in the past, anywhere in the world.

This does not mean we should not keep an eye on the big picture, not even for a minute. The picture is that of a colonized people fighting for survival, at a time when its oppressors had elected a government, which is hellbent on accelerating the destruction, in fact the elimination of the Palestinian people – or even their very claim to peoplehood. 

Hamas had to act, and quickly so.

It is hard to voice these counter arguments because Western media and politicians went along with the Israeli discourse, and the narrative, however problematic it was.  

I wonder how many of those who decided to don the Parliament House in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris with the colors of the Israeli flag truly understand how this seemingly symbolic gesture is received in Israel. 

Even liberal Zionists, with a modicum of decency, read this act as a total absolution of all the crimes Israelis have committed against the Palestinian people since 1948; and therefore, as a carte blanche to continue with the genocide that Israel is now perpetrating against the people of Gaza.

Fortunately, there were also different reactions to the events which unfolded in the last few days. 

As in the past, large sections of civil societies in the West are not easily fooled by this hypocrisy, already at full display in the case of Ukraine. 

Many people know that since June 1967, one million Palestinians have been imprisoned at least once in their lives. And with imprisonment, come abuse, torture and permanent detention without trial. 

These very people also know about the horrific reality Israel had created in the Gaza Strip when it sealed the region, imposing a hermetic siege, starting in 2007, accompanied by the relentless killing of children in the occupied West Bank. This violence is not a new phenomenon, as it has been the permanent face of Zionism since the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Because of that very civil society, my dear Israeli friends, your government and media will ultimately be proven wrong, as they will not be able to claim the role of victims, receive unconditional support, and get away with their crimes. 

Eventually, the big picture will emerge, despite the inherently biased Western media. 

The big question, however, is this: will you, my Israeli friends, be able to clearly see this same big picture as well? Despite years of indoctrination and social engineering? 

And no less important, will you be able to learn the other important lesson – one that can be gleaned from recent events – that sheer force alone cannot find the balance between a just regime on the one hand and an immoral political project on the other?

But there is an alternative. In fact, there has always been one: 

A de-zionised, liberated and democratic Palestine from the river to the sea; a Palestine that will welcome back the refugees and build a society that does not discriminate on the basis of culture, religion or ethnicity. 

This new state would labor to rectify, as much as possible, the past evils, in terms of economic inequality, the stealing of property and the denial of rights. This could herald a new dawn for the whole Middle East.

It is not always easy to stick to your moral compass, but if it does point north – towards decolonization and liberation – then it will most likely guide you through the fog of poisonous propaganda, hypocritical policies and the inhumanity, often perpetrated in the name of ‘our common Western values’.

– Ilan Pappé is a professor at the University of Exeter. He was formerly a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa. He is the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, The Modern Middle East, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, and Ten Myths about Israel. He is the co-editor, with Ramzy Baroud of ‘Our Vision for Liberation.’ Pappé is described as one of Israel’s ‘New Historians’ who, since the release of pertinent British and Israeli government documents in the early 1980s, have been rewriting the history of Israel’s creation in 1948. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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  1. I agree whole heartedly, I am from the UK and I cannot believe we are taking sides especially with Israels incremental genocide of the Palastinian people. Invading the land that was mandated to them and what? They don’t expect any reaction. When these people have been oppressed for so so long.

    I do not condone any ciolence towRfs innocent people, but I think Israel is disgusting for their actions and they are unfortunately reaping exactly what they have sewn. I dont think the West should be taking this stance whatsoever

    • I agree 100% I shall have used Hitlers playbook to the letter pretty much all along and also degrading their ancestors who were killed by like minded people that Israelis have become their ancestors worst nightmare but seem yo be proud of this why?

  2. I remind myself that since the Romans were never very keen on exiling people who could be more profitably taxed, the Palestinians have been there since before there was a kingdom in either the north or the south of the highlands. And that if I am to be guilty by association for my support of the Palestinian right of resistance, what then shall we say about the lack of guilt of Israelis, who by the incorporation – not hanging – of Lehi (Stern Gang) and Irgun (EtzL) into the conscript army the IDF, are thereby guilty by association of Lehi and Irgun’s attempts to ally themselves with Hitler and the Third Reich at the time the Final Solution began.

  3. It’s sad to see this destruction and the World one sided news media coverage.
    The Isreali people have suffered so much but seems to have no empathy or moral judgement to what they are doing to the Palestine people. Taking their land. Throwing people out of their own country. Stop the ethnic cleansing. Stop the genecoide . Stop the racism. Stop the apartheid.

  4. I consider myself well-versed on the Israel-Palestine topic and because of that, I support the Palestinian cause and the end of the Israeli apartheid. And I ache for those in Gaza right now, may God protect them. That beings said, I will never, ever bring myself to justify the assassination of innocent people. No matter the side. No matter the circumstances. Ever. I admire Prof. Pappe’s work but I do believe he should have condemned Hamas’s killings in much stronger terms.

  5. The present conflict-spiral between the two groups will foment more anger and hatred. Vengeance will triumph over compassion and reconciliation.
    If more reference, discussion and illumination were given to the subliminal, emotional and spiritual drivers of their attitudes and behaviours, one towards another, resolution would be enhanced and accelerated.
    The elephant in the room is being avoided.

  6. A friend and I have a fundamental disagreement about the whole situation and they’ve even admitted they don’t know that much about the history of Israel. Their reaction is pretty much deep down emotional visceral anger towards the P and total support of I and any and all reactions. But that history is so important, after watching Prof Pappe in an interview from 6 years ago about his book, The 10 Myths, I feel so enlightened and am strongly supportive of the Palestinians.

  7. Hi, since you say you are well versed in the history, can you recommend any sources I can use as research to understand the bigger picture. I wholeheartedly support Palestinian liberation, but I also want to know more on the historical background.

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