Saturday, May 17, 2003

Ruminations on the Palistinians

Recently I stumbled upon a copy of Edward Said's The Question of Palestine, and I reread parts of it. For those of you who don't know, it is Said's seminal work justifying the Palestinian cause. It established Said as a Palestinian spokesman, and established the academic study of Orientalism as a so-called mainstream course of study. I found the book at a garage sale, put on sale by a former philosophy student at University of Washington. It is a sad comment that this is the work that philosophy students are given to establish their background in Palestinian history. It is neither a history, nor is Said truly a Palestinian, if such a thing truly exists. As Said defines the type, there are about four million Palistinians, but he defines it the way the Supreme Court defines pornography. You know it when you see it. Since Said has made something of a career out of his supposed Palistinian background, we can understand his motivation. I guess it is similar to Jerry Rivers having no success in his career until he changed his appellation to Rivera and claiming Mexican status for himself.

Anyway, Said refers continually to the Zionist Entity as a colonial occupation, which begs the question of the original homeland for the colonists. No opposing view is given anywhere in the book, so the fact that the original Zionists bought the land, or the fact that the United Nations granted the land to the Jewish people is nowhere to be found. Personally, the fact that the local Arabs sided with Hitler in the war makes the choice of territory particularly sweet, but a more objective source might note that the fact of continuous Jewish habitation in the region for three thousand years before the Balfour Declaration gives the Hebrews at least as much "right" to live there as the Egyptian Said family.

What is particularly galling about the book is the complete absence of any reference to Islam, or any Islamic responsibility to provide for their co-religionists. He notes the continued status of the Palestinians in the region as refugees, without discussing the reasons for their continued status as such, when all other refugee populations assimilated somewhere over fifty years. The fact that their evacuation of the land was voluntary, all of the wars against the Jews were promulgated by the Arabs, and that the only nation in the region who gives the Palistinians a fair shake is Israel, is completely missing from the book as well.

Twenty four years after the copyright of the book, a few items stand out as portents for the future of the "Palestinian" people. First, their two best friends, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, have gone a long way towards making the American polity an enemy of any group that wages Jihad using terrorist means, against any American ally or American electoral constituency. Another good sign is the resurgence of patriotic thought here. Funny what a mere few thousand murders of American innocents can do to change American resolve. The election of an American president who is not afraid to say, and to act on what he truly believes is refreshing as well, and a source for optimism in the heart of this conservative American Jew.

Said's main emphasis is the colonial nature of Israel and it's imperialist master, the United States. Recently in the Guardian's review of Said's latest book, they referred to him thus:
Said's main argument: that much of western scholarship and journalism on Asia and Africa helped, directly or not, western imperialists in "dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient" ... Said is billed mainly as the politically correct academic who accuses all western writers on the Orient of racist and imperialist bias.
If even the Guardian is growing ever so slightly apart from this academic windbag, there may be hope for the future of the Jews after all. If only the Palestinians would realize that they can not succeed in killing all of the Jews, or driving them into the sea, they might be able to make and live in peace. There is precious little evidence that such is the case. But little by little, reality seems to be appearing in the debate over the question of Palestine.