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On anti-normalization, dialogue and activism – a response

“Those who reject dialogue as a means of ending occupation are alienating even the most sympathetic activists by positing replacement of one monumental injustice – occupation oppression and dispossession – with another: envisaging the disappearance of most Israelis from the region.” An argument for why the Palestinian struggle could benefit from a new approach to dialogue.

Palestinian and Israeil flags (Activestills)

By A.M. Poppy

On 10 September 2012, Noam Sheizaf wrote here that his experience with the anti-normalization debate shows “the futility of any form of ‘dialogue’ at this point in time. As long as the political issue remains unsolved, such contacts make both sides more angry and ‘extreme.’” I don’t share this perspective. On the contrary, I seriously wonder whether dialogue may be the key tool for the radical peace movement.

The debate over the value of dialogue and joint actions has become central in many activist groups. The arguments for rejecting dialogue have solid radical credentials. They include a contention that it doesn’t work even for the individuals who participate in it —they remain unchanged, and there is some evidence that the adversarial experience only hardens participants’ position. In addition dialogue demonstrably doesn’t have any effect on the wider search for peace. Furthermore, in trying to talk to each other “as equals” dialogue also posits peace without justice (“normalizing the occupation”), and it provides positive PR cover for Israel to intensify oppression of the Palestinians.

But the context in which this rejection was formulated was the Oslo period. The repudiation of dialogue came after the years of the Oslo process during which huge amounts of barely-accountable money flowed in from abroad to feed the “kissing cousins industry.” (The Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information estimates that between September 1993 until September 2000 US$20-$25 million was allocated for funding people-to-people projects).

It benefited the well placed and powerful (the Israeli side), and exacerbated the asymmetry of power in the dialogue room, where encounters were improvised on a vague premise called Contact Theory. They gave rise to frustration, hostility and ever hardening positions. But with the al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, Oslo collapsed, the people-to-people dialogue industry collapsed, and the Israeli mass peace camp collapsed. Things have become worse. What reaction should we have to this? Should we change our analysis in the face of new facts, or simply look for factors in the new situation to strengthen our previously held positions?

Some radicals (see Faris Giacaman) ask, how laughable is it to imagine Mandela or Gandhi advocating dialogue with the oppressor to better to understand his point of view? But the proponents of dialogue (see Gershon Baskin) ask how not talking can possibly help end the occupation?

Those few dialogue initiatives that survive, persist in a very different context from the Oslo period. In the new political landscape of stringent closure and separation policies, the existing dialogue initiatives are tiny, embattled, under-funded, and also structurally transformed. Organizations such as Seeds of Peace, Hands of Peace, Combatants for Peace have established centers in both Israel and in the OPT, they share decision-making through structures that straddle both sides, and they don’t leave politics at the door of the dialogue room and thus don’t neutralize the conversation as had been often been the case previously. They use more sophisticated methods of moderating and leading the discussion. They have learned many hard lessons and rethought their approach to dialogue. They justify their work by saying that dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians is the only glimmer of hope in a very bleak landscape, and the sole bulwark against extremism.

Admittedly, this subjective rationalisation might be seen as a copout. Dialoguers have told me that reaching out to members of the other community is a moral obligation, and good in and of itself. I have enormous sympathy for them. “I don’t want to look my grandchild in the eye and say I did nothing to further peace,” one Palestinian combatant for peace is quoted as saying. But in truth, these are not satisfactory justifications on their own. They need also to show that in the objective, real world more good than harm is being done.

And it seems they can. They prove the anti-normalizers wrong who claim that dialogue has no beneficial effect on the individuals in the process. On the contrary, all the radical, non-Zionist Israeli activists I’ve come across quote some early dialogue-framed contact with Palestinians as important in their difficult journey away from Zionism. The programs I cite above can introduce you to the shministim (The movement of Israeli high schoolers who refuse to serve in the IDF) they have produced.

Meanwhile, can the anti-normalizers back their continued aversion to dialogue? Can they show that the remaining dialoguers, marginalized liberals, are still paving a path to perpetual occupation? Can they show that the middle-class English-speaking Palestinians who camp abroad or tour Europe with an orchestra really help to build apartheid and dispossess the people? Or is that actually done despite them?

As the situation worsens and hope dwindles on both sides of the Green Line a more extreme position is gaining currency. The more extreme radicals are turning away from pursuing the South African model (where a single state was created for all its people), and are turning towards the Algerian model (where the colonisers left the country when decolonisation came). This is a very disturbing development. Far from delegitimizing Israel, this position delegitimizes the struggle. It is self-defeating. It offers no vision, no leadership, and no hope for a just way to end of occupation.

This extreme radical position plays right into the hands of the fanatics on both the sides who want to see the other eliminated. Paradoxically, these radicals meet the fanatics coming from the other direction. They alienate even the most sympathetic activists by positing replacing one monumental injustice -occupation oppression and dispossession- with another: envisaging the disappearance of most Israelis from the region.

Where does dialogue fit in? I have begun wondering whether it is perhaps time for the radical camp to mirror the rethinking that the liberals have undertaken since Oslo, and reconsider their attitude to dialogue. Maybe it’s appropriate to reclaim dialogue from the Zionists; to reframe it in new, radical ways that could serve the struggle. That would firstly be a nursery for more Israeli activists (where will they come from otherwise?). And importantly, it will be a positive and tangible way to distinguish politically-informed radicals from the fanatics whose hatred is busily delegitimizing the struggle.

A.M. Poppy is a Sabra journalist and peace worker living in London. She has just completed an MA in international conflict and development at Sussex University. This blogpost is based on the dissertation she wrote for that degree.

Related:
On anti-normalization, dialogue and activism
Thoughts on a joint but unequal Palestinian-Israeli struggle

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Richard Witty

      From the presumption “we are both here”, reconciliation in various forms are possible.

      From the presumption, “maybe they will leave if we are mean enough”, war is the only possibility.

      In war, Israel would win. Don’t give the new likud bloc that amount of power.

      Reply to Comment
    2. AYLA

      this is an interesting, novel frame on the frame–thank you. It’s easy for me to appreciate your bottom line because it supports mine, but at the same time, you helped me sympathize with the other side more. For me it always comes down to your point that most activists can trace their activism back to a moment of intentional dialogue. And while I really wish we’d all keep the term “zionist” out of our arguments since it means such vastly different (emotionally charged) things to different people, I appreciate your use of it here while keeping the anti-norm audience–and their definition/experience–in mind.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Interesting post, thanks. I completely agree with the last paragraph: It’s important to recognize that any dialogue is being framed by someone, usually by one of the parties to the dialogue. If you can condition things so that you’re the one framing the dialogue, then you’re well on your way to achieving your goal. That requires a light touch, because if people feel they’re being manipulated – which they always are – they get angry.

      You did a good job in this very article, identifying the feel-good word “peace” with one particular political stand. That’s how you frame a dialogue!

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    4. sh

      The word normalization means a successful transition from an abnormal situation to a normal one. Things have become so distorted here that even normality has become abnormal. I take Faris Giacaman’s point about dialogue groups though, not because I agree with his political analysis but because the proof of the pudding is in the eating and indeed, Seeds of Peace and many (but not all) of the other peace endeavours have not produced groups comprising individuals that end up seeing one another as being *on the same side*. How are we to fight for what is right if we are not able to agree that what’s wrong is evil enough to motivate us to fight for better? Barenboim celebrated his 70th birthday a couple of weeks back. German TV station Arte did a series of programmes on him and his East-West Divan orchestra. What brings them together is music not words. But in between rehearsals the musicians unwind over a drink, a snack, a cigarette. We were shown one of the Palestinian musicians describing his journey to the rehearsal. The checkpoints he had to pass through, the one he was stopped at and sent back home from because it was closed and the PA police on his side couldn’t tell him why the IDF had closed it or when it would open again because they themselves hadn’t been told. He missed one rehearsal and arrived the next day. His Israeli colleagues listened, Barenboim listened. But what could they say besides being sympathetic? What could they do?

      That said, being together, even without dialogue, is better than ignoring each other. Keeping us apart is exactly what the current Israeli government and Palestinian extremists want. And being from the stronger party, it’s up to us to make our opposition heard loudest.

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      • AYLA

        like.

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      • The Trespasser

        Just FYI things here became distorted after Arafat had unleashed 1st Intifada.

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      • “His Israeli colleagues listened, Barenboim listened. But what could they say besides being sympathetic? What could they do?”

        These questions remind me of the ones that a defensive border policeman once asked me in Hebron, his palms held out flat: “What do you want me to do? What do you want me to do?” The idea that there is nothing to be done is a way of salving conscience and it isn’t true. There are things that WEDO’s Israeli musicians could do and don’t do. To begin with, how many of them are reservists? Why are they still accepting the call-up for military duty? Can you imagine how it would be if a Palestinian musician joined WEDO whilst announcing that he was willing to be drafted in by Al Qassam Brigades at any time – and expected everyone to just take that little item for granted? This is at the core of normalisation: the presentation of military rule as something quite natural, to the point where men can play in a so-called peace orchestra one day and theoretically put on the uniform of the occupying army the next. Then when Palestinians refuse to take part in events like these, people accuse them of impeding peace and – worse yet – alienating the poor Israeli liberals, who would come riding in on white chargers to save the whole situation if only Palestinians would just sit with them and talk to them and help them to understand.

        A lot of dialogue groups function on this premise, and this is why they fail. Personal responsibility isn’t addressed. Crucial practical questions aren’t addressed. After Susan Nathan tried to raise the water shortage and Palestinian lack of political expression in a dialogue group in the village of Yabad, she received an indignant e-mail from an Israeli participant, who had gone as ‘an emissary of love’ and was upset to have ‘heard words of political agendas’ when apparently the purpose of dialogue should be the establishment of ‘a social spiritual foundation’. I’ve sat in on a fair few dialogue meetings in the past, and this reaction isn’t far out of the common way. Given the choice between suffering through such a spiel again and going back to Hebron to chat with that magavnik, I’d do the latter, because at least he didn’t have his head stuck in the sand.

        Reply to Comment
        • Good comment. I’m reminded of Hannah Arendt’s conclusion in “Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship”: Hence the question addressed to those who participated and obeyed orders should never be, “Why did you obey?” but “Why did you support?”…Much could be gained if we could eliminate this pernicious word “obedience” from our vocabulary of moral and political thought.

          Reply to Comment
        • sh

          If indeed they go to the army at all they probably play in a military orchestra, but as a matter of principle, it would be nice to think of them as taking a stand, I agree.

          I’ve no doubt Barenboim made a few phone-calls afterwards (he’s not known for shutting his mouth) but at that moment, in a rehearsal break, they looked variously sympathetic, embarrassed and kind – B gave the boy a bear-hug. But you got a sense of how desolate the young man was at the futility of his efforts to do the normal thing for a musician, which practising and getting to rehearsals on time, when in fact he was doing the normal thing for a defenceless person, which is exploding from frustration and then being sorry he opened his mouth.

          I don’t think Barenboim has his head stuck in the sand, Vicky. The whole episode was exactly the reason he and the Saids formed that orchestra.

          Normalization or anti and despite hesitations and vacillations on the part of Hamas, they managed to get permission to perform in Gaza (via Egypt) last year.

          Reply to Comment
    5. Kolumn9

      Normalize, don’t normalize, it doesn’t matter. The terms of reference are pretty much set. Either the frame is entirely non-political or it will be a two state frame in which predictably there will be two narratives presented on basically equal footing. What was it that you suggested? Oh, right. Yes, please do have the Palestinians reclaim dialogue from the ‘Zionists’. This is going to be a fascinating experiment in a dialogue without involving the people that are in conflict. In fact the Israeli left-wing has been conducting this kind of dialogue in Israel for many years with impeccable results. Sometimes there is even an agreement or two achieved between the two sides.. no I mean one side.. no I mean two sides of the same coin.

      The Palestinians that wish to avoid ‘normalization’ or ‘coexistence’ gatherings/meetings are really only shooting themselves in the foot. They are confirming the Israeli right-wing narrative that the Palestinians don’t accept the presence of Jews in this land. Not only that, but even whatever perceived Israeli isolation anti-normalization can achieve plays into the same right-wing narrative that the world is against us and there is no point making concessions because it always will be. Then again the anti-normalization activists would never know this since they don’t want to talk to Israelis in the first place and the ones they are ever likely to meet will just confirm their pre-existing biases. Obviously the counter-argument is that the purpose of such move is to deprive Israel of international support which will somehow force Israel into compliance with diktats for its own dissolution. This derives from the conception among some Palestinians that Israelis are settlers sent by some foreign metropole and the metropole can be pressured into abandoning them or taking them back. Good luck with that..

      Reply to Comment
    6. To give K9 a laugh: In the early days of Gandhi’s Indian Independence movement, a Hindu mob burned an imam’s house. Hearing of it, Gandhi spent several days and nights in its shell, with the owner. Hindus would come and demand, “why are you in there, with a Muslim.” Gandhi’s reply: “To talk with you, here, now.”

      The human particularism of a lost house was the focus; the target “populations” both Muslim (in support) and Hindu (critical). If peace is to have a stable meaning, no side may be granted immunity for its actions. You are confronted with several years of hostile aloofness from the State. Your actions may be minor, of little global import, but they may be major for one or more lives. Violence is the opponent, not Israel, and so sometimes fellow Palestinians. In dialogue you know another lives; in lecture, you tell others how to live. Both are employed in our micro worlds all the time. Human particularism of real result, knowing another lives and acting for that end, is the only ground this outsider sees. It is a ground which authority–of many kinds–will try to deny. Refusing that denial is the stand I see.

      Zionism as the free ingress of Jews into Israel is unalterable. Real change within Israel proper will have to preserve it. This is socio-political reality, and those who want to push Jews out because their Palestinian parents and grandparents were pushed out invite unending personal destruction. That destruction can be in moral value as well as socio-economic death. The space is small, so one must build into the air.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        While Gandhi was sitting in that house Jinnah was building a political party that took 75% of Muslim votes in pre-partition India and led to the creation of Pakistan followed by several wars. In other words, Gandhi’s sitting in that house was indeed of very little global import, so while it might be a wonderful anecdote let’s not pretend that it can serve as the basis for policy.

        The somewhat disappointing thing about humanity is that we are so much easier to rouse with fear and self-righteousness than with compassion and balance, especially in choppy times.

        Reply to Comment
        • Which shows you see your conflict in the same light as that of the Pakistan/India partition. Nor is your logic in that case as inevitable as you would like. There is no sense of Gandhi solving all racial and religious hatred. The question is one of improvement, and I think, even with the mass violence sporadic in India, improvement has been made. It is true that the British warned him of massive religious/racial violence upon their departure and he refused to listen (thinking it a ploy to devide Hindu and Muslim, which it partly was). In fact, I think it quite likely that he saw himself as, globally, failing. That does not mean, however, that he had no positive effect.

          An evolutionary view of nonviolence does not have it saturate the population. The question is not the irradiction of violence but reducing its frequency of occurrence and perhaps its form, trajectory. It focuses as much on the creation of alternative social organization for nonviolent options as on direct confrontation with the structural occupation.

          Perhaps you know some who died in the suicide bombing war. Many in Northern Ireland could say something similar. Yet change did happen there. By consistently pushing down all thought unrelated to corporate Israeli protection, which, by defintion, cares little for anything else, you harm possibility both among your own and those currently not being occupied because occupation is impossible, definitionaly. In the example I provided, Gandhi spoke in oppostion to his avowd people in support of an “other.” If you condemn that, you condemn your grandchildren. To be so afraid of cross conflict interaction as to try and stamp it all out in words bespeaks of a deep assault in one’s past. When asked to think only as the assaulted, I reply we should be grateful that not all have been assaulted, for it may be only there that alternative arises.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Yes, Gandhi failed. His theories were proven wrong within the very context in which he experimented. His theories were proven wrong elsewhere as well, but I don’t want to get into the whole Gandhi and Hitler thing at the moment. Did he improve something? Yes, he made you and many others believe in a view of the world that was proven very limited, but which makes you hopeful and optimistic which probably generally improves your life satisfaction. I would say that is a job well done in the grand scheme of things.

            The evolutionary view of non-violence is just a vague abstraction of the overall progressive view of the world. We are all moving towards this global peaceful nirvana where conflict will be forgotten and we can all sit around a campfire, smoke weed and compete with each other on our disgust for meat and vaccines. Let’s talk about good things, ignore how people act, and hope for the best. It makes for happy, optimistic and uplifting slogans and bad policy.

            I don’t condemn Gandhi’s action at the house, I do condemn adhering to Gandhi’s worldview which was demonstrated a failure in his own life experience. I refuse to pretend that there is no underlying conflict between corporate bodies because it would make you feel better. I am hardly alone on the matter and given the flaws of humanity I don’t believe mutual suspicion, hate and fear between large groups of highly politicized individuals can be resolved with gestures while a conflict is kept alive by their political elites. There will be plenty of time for sympathy, compassion and dialogue when a real basis for dialogue is achieved within a framework of mutual strategic interest. Until then my view on the matter is identical to that of Yaron’s comment below.

            Reply to Comment
    7. Aaron Gross

      Could someone identify the accompanying photo? What was the context? I’ve said lots of times that if Palestinians and Israeli leftists wanted to talk to Israelis, they’d carry Palestinian and Israeli flags together during their demonstrations. I’d love to see more pictures like this.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Are you quite certain that the photo isn’t one of a confrontation outside TAU?

        Reply to Comment
        • Aaron Gross

          Wow, you’re right, it looks like a confrontation between Palestinian and Israeli flags. So I guess I’ve still seen not one single Palestinian demonstration that flew Palestinian and Israeli flags together.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Well, technically you probably have. It is just that the Israeli flag tends to get engulfed in flames pretty early on.

            I agree that the absence of Israeli flags at these rallies is somewhat telling.

            Reply to Comment
          • What does it tell you? When people are packed into the outdoor cage at Bethlehem checkpoint in summer, waiting to be processed, people inevitably end up fainting in the heat and there are vendors wandering up and down the outside trying to jam bottled water through the bars. There is an Israeli flag flying near this delightful scene. Roadblock, Israeli flag. ‘Snatch’ Land Rover barreling its way through Dheisheh, Israeli flag. It is a symbol of power and control over the Palestinian population. It doesn’t suddenly become neutral and lose those associations because it’s being carried in a protest. This, in a way, is very relevant to whole normalisation debate: two states aren’t meeting together to protest on the pavement, both on equal footing. A bunch of people are meeting, and it seems pretty reasonable to avoid using a symbol that is routinely used to signal the state’s control over one group.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            It tells me that there is an underlying rejection of the state of the Jewish people and all its symbols. It tells me that they come to replace it rather than make peace with it.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            I’ve seen the two flags together at protests an never seen either burned. Gush Shalom have a flag or symbol where both appear together. I have seen Palestinian flags snatched from protesters by police though.

            Reply to Comment
        • sh

          It looks more like Jerusalem, demo and counter-demo.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            You are right. It is Hebrew U.

            Reply to Comment
    8. Palestinian

      “both sides”
      “the radicals”
      “delegitimizing Israel”

      The writer pretends that she and her colleagues are “moderate” and those “radicals” on “both sides” are the problem while the real problem lies in the fact that the vast majority of Israelis dream about a Jewish state in Palestine,refuse to acknowledge the Nakba,believe in fairy tales and dont want us back .On the “other” side Palestinians refuse to give up their land and rights, and cant recognize the legitimacy of an entity that massacred their people , stole their land and is occupying them.

      And the question remains , how does normalization (which I think is part of the problem) help the Palestinians (because they are the ones who are suffering not the Israelis)?

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Well, normalization helps Palestinians because they are the weaker party and have no viable recourse except appealing to the good nature and best interests of Israelis.

        Reply to Comment
        • Palestinian

          You are here to convince me that Israel cares about the Palestinians, thats why it supports and finances the so-called dialogue and peace groups .This is your logic : you better befriend the daughter of the terrorist who is keeping you hostage to please him”

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Well, I suppose it depends on whether you have any other way of freeing yourself from captivity, especially if the terrorist thinks that you would murder his daughter were he to free you.

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            His daughter knows I’m not a murderer.She knows very well her father is the real problem ,he shouldnt have broken into my house in the first place .

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Actually, no, she doesn’t know that you are not a murdered because you keep announcing that once you get free you plan to kill her and when you have had the chance you have tried to attack her. She is entirely convinced that her father is trying to keep her safe.

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            Thats what her father wants her to believe,she is under the effect of years of continuous brainwashing.She met my children and found them peaceful,she tried to blame her father so he punished her .

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            She met your children and they threw crude bombs at her.

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            It was meant to hurt the terrorist not his daughter.Did she ask her father why he broke into my house ?

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Because it was his house before you got there. They threw bombs at her. So, yeah, she met your children and they weren’t peaceful.

            Reply to Comment
    9. Richard Witty

      Normalization creates a new reality.

      Anti-normalization creates the likud dream.

      Reply to Comment
      • ‘Normalisation’ refers to the presentation of the occupation as somehow normal and acceptable, and to the promotion of the myth that this is a conflict between two equal sides. ‘Normalisation’ doesn’t create any new realities, it just fudges and covers up the very ugly current one.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          No Vicky, normalization in this context refers to any contact that presents individual Israelis as human beings. Some other fronts in this anti-normalization struggle: no contact between Palestinian and Israeli journalists, no participation in any joint academic forums, a rejection of the visit of Israelis to a concert in Amman… None of these have anything to do with any supposed framework or presentation. They are just attempts to prevent all contact with Israelis.

          Reply to Comment
          • This article is on dialogue, and when people talk about ‘dialogue’, the immediate image to come to mind is the typical peace-hugs-and-marshmallows meeting that takes place in a restaurant in Area B. And if there is anything less productive than an awkward artificial meeting where frustrating constraints are placed on the discussion and ideas of false symmetry are promoted, it will be +972′s fourteen thousandth semantic debate on the meaning of normalisation, which will only lead me to want to remove my eyeballs with a pair of geometric compasses. While there are Palestinians who do not want to meet any Israeli in any context, this is a separate issue, and using their stance as the definition of anti-normalisation becomes a way of pushing aside any concerns about the dubious nature of certain projects. I am sticking with the original definition, the one that gave birth to the term co-resistance.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Vicky, this isn’t a semantic debate on the meaning of normalization. I gave you practical demands issued by anti-normalization activists.

            It doesn’t matter how you define anti-normalization if that isn’t how it is practically applied.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            Its’ just crystal clear to me that isolation will be far far worse for Palestinians than even the humiliation of someone not understanding their experience.

            Reply to Comment
    10. Yaron

      Dialogue is not a solution; in the current situation, it is the major excuse for the failure of a peace deal. We have become so desperate that we just take refuge in trial and error, like ‘dialogue’, hoping that something will bring an end to this endless struggle, but nothing works.
      What it all boils down to is: what needs to be done to ‘make’ peace? I’d say: concessions, compromises, agreements about what you agree on and what not. It is not about fun. It is not about ‘mutual understanding.’ What it is about is dealing. Dealing is not like dialogue. Dialogue is relaxing, pleasing, even fun. Dealing is about facts, numbers, borders, arms, leaders, fugitives, etc. If you aim for understanding, but you don’t have a deal, all you get is more frustration, anger and misunderstanding.
      Dialogue only works after the deal, when the contract has been signed, the deal has been settled, when everyone knows where the lines are set, what concessions have been made, who wins what and who loses what. That will not be part of the dialogue any more. After the deal, you have your tea and you chat. Then you know that you had a ‘partner in peace’ or whatever you want to call it. Before that, every ‘dialogue’ gets polluted by politics that should be part of the deal. Then, dialogue is only a sign of weakness.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Toby

      “They prove the anti-normalizers wrong who claim that dialogue has no beneficial effect on the individuals in the process. On the contrary, all the radical, non-Zionist Israeli activists I’ve come across quote some early dialogue-framed contact with Palestinians as important in their difficult journey away from Zionism. The programs I cite above can introduce you to the shministim (The movement of Israeli high schoolers who refuse to serve in the IDF) they have produced.”

      I’m quite certain that the vast majority of Palestinians doesn’t care about the the therapy needs of Israelis.

      The tiny anti-colonialist minority in Israel may all be swell guys and gals, but they don’t achieve anything, have never achieved anything for decades, and thus can be written off as useless.

      ‘Dialogue’ with marginalized, irrelevant people is an exercise in futility. Any halfway liveable solution for the Palestinians will only ever be achieved by pressure on the apathetic and/or hostile Israeli majority.

      Reply to Comment
      • A M Poppy

        Toby, I’m hugely sympathetic to your point of view – the pressure needs to be exerted IN ISRAEL. But who is going to do it, who isn’t totally committed, given the huge pressure against such a movement? I’d argue it’s the anti-colonialist minority you seek to write-off! The struggle needs to nurture more of those (through radical dialogue?) and then send them back home to make their voice heard, maybe. I wish I knew the answers. I’m groping here along with you all. I’m touched by the level of engagement with my piece.

        Reply to Comment
    12. Richard Witty

      Again,
      To those solidarity that think that anti-normalization is protecting their movement from distraction, it is in fact likud’s preferred way to characterize Palestinians.

      You are walking right into quicksand (except for maybe the 200-year-struggle for the “glory” of Palestine – that no one alive will ever see.)

      Reply to Comment
    13. JPFlintoff

      I’m sure that dialogue is the only way.

      But no dialogue will ever be fruitful unless both sides are genuinely willing to listen.

      And getting people to that stage is, clearly, the hard part.

      Reply to Comment
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