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What is normal about normalization?

The anti-normalization movement plays into the hands of the state of Israel’s policy of separation. By refusing to engage and even on some level cooperate with Israelis, Palestinian anti-normalizers accept this policy.

Anti-normalization is one of the hottest topics in the Palestinian community, although very few people can define exactly what it should mean. It is a term that gained strength in the 1980s against accepting the status quo of the occupation. Those who supported anti-normalization then were concerned about the occupation becoming a secondary issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A growing number of Palestinians working for Israeli businesses, a lack of political vision or a strategy for ending the occupation and the absence of the Palestinian case from the international discourse were alarming trends for Palestinian activists.

However, since the Oslo Accords “normalization” has become an out-moded term, a catch-all argument against Israeli-Arab cooperative efforts and a cover for character assassination in Palestinian politics.

When it comes to Arab countries and Israel, normalization is commonly understood as any relationship or ties between an Arab country with the state of Israel. However, some would accuse an Arab who visits Jerusalem of normalization, even if he did not meet any Israelis on his trip. That also means that visiting occupied East Jerusalem could be considered normalization. The same goes for meeting with Israelis for any reason, anywhere in the world, which can result in an Arab being labeled as a normalizer.

In Palestine, there are many definitions for normalization – it seems there are as many definitions as there are Palestinians themselves.  Some Palestinians would define normalization as any contact whatsoever with Israelis or even Jews, regardless of their political stances. They would describe joint protests in the West Bank against the separation wall or settlements as normalization, and refuse to take part in them.

Others define it as contact with the official institutions in Israel, or any cooperation with people who work in these institutions. Joint work or attendance at events featuring Israeli academics who have been outspoken against the occupation could also result in accusations of normalization.

Perhaps the most confusing definition of normalization is any contact with Israelis who do not recognize the occupation, and are not actively working for the freedom of Palestinians. But this definition is problematic because the interpretation of it has led to different conclusions.

As an intellectual exercise, consider a Palestinian activist who meets Israelis in order to describe to them the effect of occupation on his life. Is he a normalizer? What if the meeting is with right-wingers, or even soldiers? What about a joint meeting between Israelis and Palestinians who support a bi-national state or a confederation? Many people who engage in these kinds of activities are labeled normalizers.

Organizations like the Parents Circle, Combatants for Peace and others who speak to classes at schools in Israel and give students an introduction to the implications of the occupation and conflict on the Israeli and Palestinian communities could be labeled as normalizers by some of the definitions above. The Israeli Ministry of Education doesn’t share the anti-normalization notion and therefore has recently banned the Parents Circle from having Palestinians speak in Israeli schools.

Another example would be +972 Magazine, which is sometimes criticized for not having more Palestinian bloggers. Many Palestinian bloggers are hesitant to write on a site with Israelis for the fear of being painted as normalizers. They don’t want to be smeared by the anti-normalization campaign and lose their reputation.

There is nothing normal about these “normalization” activities. Writing about life under occupation on a magazine with Israeli writers is not normal. Speaking to classrooms about life in Palestinian cities is not normal. Meeting with Israelis in a dialogue group to discuss how to change the current status quo is not normal. Normalization better describes armchair critics who complain about the occupation without taking action. Normalization is pretending that Palestinians can end the occupation by ignoring Israelis.

It is sad that some anti-normalization activists are so focused on protesting “normalization” activities that they have forgotten to show up to protest against growing settlements in Jerusalem.

Instead of mobilizing Palestinians to protest a joint Israeli-Palestinian event, Palestinians should be mobilizing to increase the numbers of Palestinians protesting in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.  It is ironic that many of the Palestinians constantly present at these protests are labelled “normalizers.”

East Jerusalem and the anti-normalization dilemma

Growing up in East Jerusalem, I was very active in the Fatah youth movement. I was an anti-normalization activist, and at that time, I opposed any dealings with Israelis. I attacked people for being normalizers, and I used my writings to taint peoples’ names for working with the “enemy.”

Years later, I have come to understand that this position was immature and blind. My high school, Al-Rashidiyeh, which was the only school my parents could afford, was supported by the Jerusalem municipality. My parents had to pay taxes to keep their residence in Jerusalem.  My father was hospitalized for heart problems in an Israeli hospital, while I was telling others that talking to Israelis is an unforgivable sin.

The reality in Jerusalem is too complex for some anti-normalization activists to understand. When my brother Tayseer was killed by Israeli soldiers, we had to get a permit from the Israeli government to bury him in Jerusalem. However, some extreme activists would say we were normalizing with an Israeli institution.

Anti-normalization activists ignore the reality in places like Jerusalem. Most Palestinians in East Jerusalem work with or for Israelis in West Jerusalem. If they work in the West Bank, they could lose their Jerusalem residency on grounds that their center of life is outside Jerusalem. Should they quit their jobs and endanger their residency status? If so, why has this not been brought up by the anti-normalization movement in Jerusalem?

Most Palestinians in East Jerusalem use the Israeli health care system, pay taxes to Israel, and receive social security benefits. The anti-normalization movement is blind to these realities, and is unable to define itself because of the implications.

Now, I wonder how many of those who protested the Israeli Palestinian Confederation gathering at the Ambassador Hotel and the Palestine Israel Journal event at the Legacy Hotel are subscribed to these services from the state of Israel. Would that make their protest hypocritical?

Anti-normalization activists and separation policy 

A few weeks ago, a group of Palestinian and international activists boarded Israeli buses in the West Bank, to highlight the separation policy implemented by the Israeli state. Their message was that they don’t accept being treated as inferior to Jews in the West Bank. They wanted to show that roads and buses for Israelis only is not an acceptable practice.

According to many of the definitions above, their actions would be considered acts of normalization. They wanted to ride Israeli buses supported by the Israeli government. They wanted to ride buses with settlers who confiscated their own lands. These activists could have been painted as supporters of integration with settlers and therefore normalizers. It is true that the overall goal of these activists was to highlight the separation policy in the West Bank, but the Palestinian activists’ challenge to it was implemented through a normalization action.

The anti-normalization efforts play into the hands of the separation policy that the state of Israel is implementing in the West Bank. By refusing to engage and even on some level to cooperate with Israelis, Palestinians accept the state separation policy, they accept segregation and then cry foul about the separation and segregation policies.

This is not to say that all cooperation with Israelis is good, there is a place for non-cooperation as a method of  nonviolent resistance. However, a clear strategy must be drawn – not emotional reactionary behavior that leaves the definition of non-cooperation or normalization vague and broad. I myself practice some of these non-cooperation strategies which I cannot discuss due to an Israeli law.

Perhaps the most confusing argument against normalization is the one made by those who support a one-state solution, yet at the same time consider themselves anti-normalization. If one supports a bi-national state of Israelis and Palestinians living together with equal rights then the best way to achieve that is to increase contact between the two sides and not limit it. A bi-national state with two separate populations is an apartheid state, therefore, those against “normalization” and for one-state are advocating apartheid.

Supporters of a bi-national state shoot themselves in the foot by refusing to create a model to advocate for. Demonstrating how a bi-national state would function by working together would be much more effective in achieving their goal than disengaging from Israelis.

In effect, some anti-normalization activists actually enforce the Israeli government strategy of segregation. If Palestinians believe that the current Israeli government is turning the West Bank into a ghetto, then they should be challenging the policy and not reinforcing separation.

Cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians recognizing the goal of ending the occupation is an important act.  It is not IPCRI and other types of joint Palestinian-Israeli organizations that Palestinians should be fighting, as some campaigns in the West Bank have been focusing on.  It is the occupation. We as Palestinians must rethink what is normal so that we can truly fight normalization, which is accepting the status quo without action. Israelis standing hand in hand with Palestinians for freedom and human rights are brothers in arms and there is nothing “normalizing” about that except common humanity.

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    1. Laila

      I would have to correct you Mr. Aziz in so many ways, there is a slight difference between a normalizer and not a normalizer. It depends on the action in hand and the person you are dealing with. If you are dealing with an Israeli Activist who identifies him/herself as a Zionist, pro Palestinian state behind the wall of the Israeli state.. That is normalization. Those protesting in Jerusalem are not protesting for the rights of the Palestinians but for the rights of Palestinians having their own state away from Israel and Israelis.

      As for Anti occupation and anti settlements protest, I am not sure I have seen your face in any of these, But have you ever heard of the concept “Co-resistance” It’s a concept we have adopted to replace the concept co-existence!

      There is no such thing as normalizing with Jews, our cause as Palestinians have always been about rights, rights to return and anti occupation since 1948 and it was never about religion.

      In fact, I found it funny you are writing about such a topic, since many Palestinians who are active on the ground see you as a normalizer.

      there is nothing normal about normality between occupier and occupied! Israelis wanting to help Palestinians need to identify with the Palestinian cause and demand; right to return on top of that list!

      According to the “BDS” movement, any action that makes anything look normal is consider normalization, the only way to get away with this is under a form joint resistance between Palestinians & Israelis for the rights of Palestinians and equality. And by rights I am talking about the right to return, Justice, equality and freedom.

      And to correct you, there is one approved and agreed on definition of Normalization, that is the one BDS have adopted.

      I don’t want to be crucial here, but from knowing you in person, knowing what do you for a living and what types of projects you have worked on, I can say 100% that you are a normalizer, and for that your voice is not credible to me nor it is to any of the activists in Palestine.

      Yes we have cancelled 3 meetings and 2 conferences last month and it’s been great, it’s time our society wakes up and realizes the trench of mistakes that our leadership has reflected on us.

      You state in the last part of your piece that we should not fight organizations such as IPCRI, and fight occupation. Let me tell you that another form of resisting is BDS, is the anti-normalization projects too. The only form of normalization that is being accepted is that of (Co-resisting), one form possibly happening in the future, is that you are talking about only after we Palestinians have gained and got our full and complete rights with a one state that guarantee equality, justice and freedom to all it’s citizens and maybe we should call it “The Holy Land” just so Israelis are not pissed off, I can live with this, can you?

      Reply to Comment
    2. ya3cov

      Laila, thank you for the insightful response.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Richard Witty

      There is no answer that is morally correct.

      The treatment of other human beings as less than human beings, even in resistance, is a violation of fundamental human values.

      Resistance that is affirmation is not constructed of that dehumanization.

      Even as a strategy, it will backfire. As Aziz mentioned, that opposition to normalization IS the likud argument. You are then making it together.

      It leaves permanent war, which to my mind is what is the same.

      I don’t want more of the same.

      I want something different from the same.

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    4. First, your memory is short, anti-normalization was a term used since the occupation in 1948.

      Second, It’s the occupied Jerusalem not the occupied East Jerusalem.

      Thirdly, using the term “contact with Jews” is racist that only used by you and sick racists that I’m not sure if they exist or if they’re big. I’ve never heard anyone boycotting an English Jewish man because he’s Jewish

      Fourthly, I’m not 20% through your article yet so I will not continue reading because that might lead to a long easy comment.

      Last, any form of dialogue that normalizes the current situation of occupation and injustice, or puts the Zionist racist ideas as a matter of discussion (Just like discussing if Nazi ideas were right or wrong) or in any form equalizes the oppressor and the oppressed is normalization.

      Being in contact with Israeli citizens who recognizes the Nakba and the right of the return and who recognizes that this is not a conflict between 2 equal sides this is not normalization, this is a perfectly natural contact.

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    5. Linah

      Well golly, Laila beat me to it.

      As I was reading your third paragraph, I was going to say (sarcastically) that meeting with Israeli activists in protests against the Apartheid Wall and settlements is normalization but OHMYGOD it was like you were in my head.

      Aziz, this article reeks. You questioned again and again what constitutes normalization, pointing out the personal definitions by Palestinians-inadvertently it came off looking as generalizations-but you didn’t not even once include the BDS’ definition of it. BDS represents close to 200 Palestinian civil society organizations. (Shoot can i say BDS on this site?)

      The definition is as follows: “the participation in any project, initiative or activity, in Palestine or internationally, that aims (implicitly or explicitly) to bring together Palestinians (and/or Arabs) and Israelis (people or institutions) without placing as its goal resistance to and exposure of the Israeli occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people.”

      You completely ignored this and spun your flimsy argument around the basis of these anti-normalizers being against Israelis, and more worringly, Jews. So, to break it down:

      There is no problem in meeting with a group of Israelis to for example discuss a bi-national state AS LONG AS THE ISRAELIS IN FULL KNOWLEDGE ACCEPT/ADMIT/ARE AWARE OF THE FACT THAT THEY EITHER DIRECTLY OR BY OTHER CLOSE MEANS ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE ONGOING COLONIZATION, OCCUPATION, AND DISPOSSESSION OF THE INDIGENOUS POPULATION, THE PALESTINIANS. That’s why it wouldn’t make sense in meeting with soldiers, or right-wingers. Sheesh, it’s not rocket science.

      Of course East Jerusalem is a different case! Unlike the rest of the occupied West Bank, Jerusalemites deal with Israelis other than the IOF in various aspects of their everyday lives simply because that is their reality.

      Palestinians applying for a permit to receive the body of their loved ones from Israeli authorities was never considered as normalization. It’s considered as another brutal policy of the Israeli occupation. Mustafa Tamimi’s mother couldn’t accompany her dying son to the hospital because she was waiting for a permit to be issued by Israel. Not normalization.

      Why should the occupied normalize with their Zionist occupiers? How will that bring about peace and justice?

      One thing is clear. You are so out of touch with Palestinians under occupation, Aziz.

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    6. Pango

      An interesting and important contribution. but I’d like to raise the issue of class which you have not touched on.

      You are of course right that the majority of ordinary Palestinians reject opportunities to interact with Israelis and in so doing they, ironically, run the risk of making the separation itself more normal. But this is not the case for Palestinian elites who regularly interact with Israel and indeed have profited greatly from opportunities interact with Israeli business (similar could be said for Jordanian elites in particular).

      Isn’t it important then to consider that some eliminate of the ‘anti-normalisation’ agenda is inspired by the fact that many ordinary Palestinians feel disenfranchised by those claiming to represent them?


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    7. Pango

      Sorry, in my comment above, “eliminate” should read “element”.

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    8. Woody

      @ Maath. He’s using the word Jews b/c that is how one refers to that portion of the population here in Palestine. He’s obviously not referring to refusal to meet with a British Jew.

      I’m with Aziz in general, but he goes a bit too far exploring the concept and it washes out strong arguments. I still haven’t heard a good response as to how the BDS definition of normalization interact with calls for one-state. I also think that many people treat the BDS-call document at bit too much like a religious document. What happened to adaptation to context?

      I can see where Aziz is coming from because those who are forced by their positions in this society (such as Aziz) are born normalizing. To live their life is to participate in the normalization. To declare such a harsh divide on who is and who isn’t a normalizer is going to alienate the required populations to change the Israeli state as it exists. I suspect that the people who are strict anti-normalizationists also outright rejected the J14 movement in Israel. Their error is one of ignoring the mechanisms in place that it will take to overthrow the current system. The occupation won’t end simply by ignoring and isolating Israel/is, there must be support for an insurgency, many of whom will start out as Zionists.

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    9. @Laila “if you are dealing with an Israeli Activist who identifies him/herself as a Zionist, pro Palestinian state behind the wall of the Israeli state”

      you prove my point that every one has his own definition of normalization. Yours is different from Palestinian youth against occupation ( http://pyan48.wordpress.com )which includes many students council from almost every Palestinian college and university. Here is how they define “normalization”

      is “participating in any project, initiative or activity whether locally or internationally, that is designed to bring together-whether directly or indirectly- Palestinian and/or Arab youth with Israelis (whether individuals or institutions) and is not explicitly designed to resist or expose the occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression inflicted upon the Palestinian people.”

      However according to you anyone supporting a two-state solution is a normalizer? Are you serious? This is masking your political agenda with patriotism.

      you said ” Those protesting in Jerusalem are not protesting for the rights of the Palestinians but for the rights of Palestinians having their own state away from Israel and Israelis.”

      Sure, I will make sure to pass your point to the Israeli soldiers who are attacking those protests. I doubt you and him are in agreement on this point

      As for me attending, I will make sure to take a picture next time and mail it to you so I can prove my patriotism to you. would that satisfy you? should it be when a soldier hits me? would that make you see me as a Palestinian then?

      The problem with your argument is that You think troubles me most about the “anti normalization”crowd. You think you are patriotic than everyone else because you fighting Palestinians who do joint work with Israelis. There are different ways to fight occupation and your approval is not required. Some are actually focused on fighting against the occupation instead of other Palestinians. It is a messed up world where patriotism is defined by those who fight their own people rather than those who fighting the occupation.

      As for BDS…The issue of normalization has been around before the BDS movement.

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    10. @Maath Musleh
      First, I am not surprised by your comments. It would have been a better idea not comment on something you cannot read in full. It is a good practice from now and then to read what you disagree with.

      you said “First, your memory is short, anti-normalization was a term used since the occupation in 1948.”

      Yes, it started then against the Palestinians who stayed in their homes under Israeli military control. Some people in the West Bank called them traitors and normalizers because they didn’t leave their homes.

      Actually, you are right to remind us of that time, because the current attitude of some of the “anti normalization” armchair critics is no different than those in 1948.

      those who stayed in their homes in 1948 are patriotic Palestinians. Those who staying in Jerusalem are patriotic Palestinians. The fact that we have to deal with Israeli systems more than those in the West Bank doesn’t make us any less Palestinians.

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    11. Miki

      There is actually been a long established definition of what anti-normalisation is – one which has been in place at least since the 1930s (possibly earlier). Anti-normalisation and normalisation is defined in a specific way, as Laila and Linah have explained.

      Basically, normalisation is any project or activity which “normalises” Israel’s colonial settler practices, including its occupation and apartheid practices, rather then exposing, opposing or resisting Israel’s colonial settler actions, occupation practices and policies.

      As Laila pointed out its hard to know where to start with your article there is so many things in it which you have either misrepresented or gotten wrong. For example, the Freedom Bus Rides, was in no way an act of normalisation. This was made absolutely clear in the press statements and information put out by the activists involved in the campaign.

      For example, Hurriyeh Ziadah, the media spokesperson for the group stated the following in relation to the aim of the action: “In undertaking this action we do not seek the desegregation of settler buses, as the presence of these colonizers and the infrastructure that serves them is illegal and must be dismantled. As part of our struggle for freedom, justice and dignity, we demand the ability to be able to travel freely on our own roads, on our own land, including the right to travel to Jerusalem”. Ziadah then went on to explain further how the freedom ride campaign dovetailed with a certain other anti-normalisation campaign which can not be advocated for on this site. (for the full press statement see: http://mondoweiss.net/2011/11/follow-the-freedom-rides.html )

      As for the recent anti-normalisation protests in Occupied East Jerusalem, your arguments that supposedly anti-normalisation activist are hypocritical is not only astounding non-sensical but also reek of normalisation rhetoric.

      Why is it that you fail to make any mention of the fact that since 1967, Israeli governments have repeatedly sough to repress Palestinian national identity, institutions and services in Occupied East Jerusalem? As a result, Palestinians living in OEJ have little choice but to pay Israeli taxes and/or access Israeli services, institutes and such but you fail to even acknowledge this fact in your diatriabe against activists engaged in opposing Israel’s colonial and occupation practices which enforce the repression of Palestinian insitutions and services.

      In relation to the conferences, pro-normalisation conferences by groups such as the Israeli-Palestinian Confederation: A quick look at the website of this group reveals the absence of the word “occupation” or any sort of acknowledgement that Israel is carrying out an occupation of the Palestian people. The so-called Israeli-Palestinian Confederation despite its name is predominately made up of non-Palestinian -out of the 14 people listed on their site, there are quite a few Zionists but only two Palestinian members listed.

      Also number of the people listed are involved in a group called the “Free Muslim Coalition”, which was established by a former Repuplican party candidate. This Coalition has organise “anti-terror” rallies which have been backed by Zionists and Islamophobes. Even Hussien Ibish from the conservative American Task Force on Palestine has pointed out the dodgyness of this group writing: “We are looking at everything from clothes shops in Arizona, Moonies, right-wing Zionists, and Christian fundamentalists, to Iranian monarchists, Iraqi supporters of the occupation, Darfurian exiles and Lebanese Phalangists”. http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2005/05/15/kamal-nawash-republican-campaign-rally/

      By failing to even acknowledge the fact that Israel is carrying out an occupation, the Israeli-Palestinian Confederation actively seeks to normalise Israel’s colonial practices and it gives the impression that somehow the conflict is a symmeterical one being carried out by two equal nations on a level playing field, instead of a assymetrical conflict between the colonial-settler occupier (ie. Israel) and a colonised occupied people (ie. the Palestinians).

      In relation to working with Israelis – as both Laila and Linah point out, every Palestinian anti-normalisation activist I have ever met have been more than happy to work with Israeli activists on co-resistance projects, actions and initiatives. The difference between these projects and pro-normalisation projects is that the Israelis active in these projects don’t seek to normalise Israel’s occupation and apartheid practices, instead, they actively work hand in hand with Palestinians to expose, oppose and resist Israel’s settler-colonial actions, practices and activities by supporting Palestinian demands such as ending the occupation, but also the right of return.

      Reply to Comment
    12. @Miki
      You say over and over that you agree with Laila. She defined normalization as protesting with Israelis who support two-state solution. That is very different than resisting the occupation. That is using “normalization” for a political agenda. So, you agree with her on that definition too?

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    13. sh

      @Laila – “there is nothing normal about normality between occupier and occupied!”
      In other words, it’s much more anti-normalization than what you’re describing. That’s exactly what I understood Aziz to be saying. You then read a script: “Israelis wanting to help Palestinians need to identify with the Palestinian cause and demand; right to return on top of that list!” Surely anyone wanting to help Palestinians needs first and foremost to be able to express what they think is sensible and either stand corrected, or have their observations enrich joint action, whichever is appropriate. So I’m wondering what normalization is. Perhaps you’d explain it. To me it sounds like you define it as what in countries occupied during WWII was called collaboration, but I’d like to be sure.

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    14. Lucy

      Well Aziz I’m sorry to say that this is a very, very poor article. It’s really hard to respond to this as there are so many misinterpretations

      There is only one definition of normalisation in the Palestinian/ Arab context and you can see it here:
      1) Normalization in the context of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Arab world

      “The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has defined normalization specifically in a Palestinian and Arab context “as the participation in any project, initiative or activity, in Palestine or internationally, that aims (implicitly or explicitly) to bring together Palestinians (and/or Arabs) and Israelis (people or institutions) without placing as its goal resistance to and exposure of the Israeli occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people.” [2] This is the definition endorsed by the BDS National Committee (BNC).”

      Now how is this different from what Laila said? If we looked at the general discourse of the ilk of the shiekh jarrah solidarity campaign or “left wing zionists” you see their support for a Palestinian state is not based upon a belief of equality, opposition to discrimination or oppression, but rather one based upon “saving the nature of the Jewish state”. A game of demographics and an understanding that if Jewish settlers start claiming property owned before 48- damn that means Palestinians might be able to do that too. There is no justice in their discourse. As a resident of East Jerusalem, like you Aziz, I stopped going to these demonstrations once I realised this.

      No one told you that you are any less Palestinian for living in Jerusalem and I have NEVER encountered that in this “anti normalisation crowd”. Your article just appears to be irrelevant, when I read this I just read someone who is so completely out of touch of the current discourse on the Palestinian street and is bending and making huge generalisations to fit a flimsy thesis. You try to portray and smear anti normalisation activists as “armchair critics” and try to insinuate that they sit there inactive about the occupation. Yet you get angry and state that there are “many different ways to fight the occupation”. Sorry to tell you Aziz but the people you are trying to smear are those who have been working tirelessly for the end of the occupation on the ground. Yet at the same time criticising other Palestinians, being anti normalisation, or being against the corruption and failed leadership of the Palestinian institutions is completely interlinked (and is just as important) with fighting the occupation.

      And it is hugely important that Palestinians are not complicit in such normalisation projects (as often it is a zionist agenda looking for – and here I quote a real life experience- “brown face/arab name in order to make it work”.

      Reply to Comment
    15. sh

      @Maath Musleh – “Being in contact with Israeli citizens who recognizes the Nakba and the right of the return and who recognizes that this is not a conflict between 2 equal sides this is not normalization, this is a perfectly natural contact.”
      And if you’re in contact with Israeli citizens who recognize the Nakba and the fact that the conflict is not between 2 equal sides, but who say the right of return has to be explained and discussed, you’re going to shun them nevertheless? I can tell you that my views have only evolved on that issue because people were generous enough of spirit to discuss it with me.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Matan Kaminer

      I am glad to read the debate that has developed around this article. I would like to point out, however, its ’67-centricity (to coin a phrase). I mean this in two ways: vis-a-vis the ’48 Palestinians and the larger Arab world. First, the BDS definition seems unworkable for ’48/dakhel Palestinians: if followed by them it means they will be unable to cooperate with Jewish Israelis on any topic except the occupation itself, and then only with the most radical groups. It effectively shuts the door in the face of those ’48 Palestinians who want to agitate with Jews in Israel, against the occupation or more generally. As Woody points out, it would certainly preclude participation in the J14 movement, but much more than that as well: even, say, protests against home demolitions in Al-Araqib would be prohibited unless all Jewish participants first agreed to the right of return.
      One could say that ’48 Palestinians were not what the formulators of the BDS call had in mind when making their definitions. But that is precisely the problem: this particular kind of anti-normalization discourse continues the marginalization of this group that Aziz points out historically speaking.
      The other aspect we need to discuss is the position on anti-normalization taken up by groups elsewhere in the Arab world, especially Egypt, which is in fact much more severe than that called for by the BDS organizers. It is and has for several decades been impossible for Israeli anti-Zionists to make any kind of institutional contact with the Egyptian left, despite numerous attempts I know of incorporating prominent activists on the Egyptian end.
      If the BDS movement is indeed taking a nuanced, thoughtful approach to the issue, and especially taking into consideration the need to exploit every possible opportunity of cracking the Zionist consensus within Israel, than it would do well to emphasize what kind of joint work it does see as positive and progressive, taking into account both the situation within Israel and across the Arab world. In the process it might be productive to shed the easily misunderstood term “anti-normalization” for another concept, perhaps a positive one like the “co-resistance” mentioned here.

      Reply to Comment
    17. @Sh The right of return is a right, it needs no explanation and in International law this has been ruled: right of every refugee to return back to their towns and properties. Of course, the mechanism of applying that right would be discussed after refugees achieve their rights. So I don’t see any contradiction here. and please read the BDS definition of normalization that Linah have stated up there and it will be clear for you.

      @Aziz first on your comment to @Laila the pyan48 is exactly the BDS definition, no wonder you didn’t notice that, but listen to cut this short please answer this question: Does ALL Palestinian refugees has the right to return back to their land in Palestine (Akka, Haifa, etc..)? Is or is not Zionism a for of racism? Is or is not the Israeli state illegally established and morally it should be dismantled?

      Reply to Comment
    18. Miki

      Aziz, since when has the Palestinian national struggle only been about ending the occupation of the WB, EJ and Gaza?

      Since its inception in the early 20th century, the Palestinian national struggle has always been about opposing Zionist settler-colonialism in ALL its guises and supporting Palestinian self-determination.

      Ending the occupation of the WB, EJ and Gaza is only one part of the Palestinian national struggle. While is this an important and central part of the struggle, it only addresses the demands of a small percentage of the Palestinian national population – i.e those living in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 and ignores the rights of the majority of Palestinians live outside of these occupied territories (ie. those Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed during the Nakba and who are now living inside the Zionist state and/or the Palestinian refugees living in exile around the world). Do you not support the right of return for Palestinian refugees as stipulated under international law?

      As I pointed out in my previous post, the concept of normalisation and anti-normalisation within Palestinian society has been around since the 1930s (or probably earlier) and is one which has sought to actively oppose the Zionist colonial settler project. So, yes, it has a specific political agenda as Laila has indicated. I would point out that pro-normalisation also has a specific political agenda as well – something you seem to fail to notice.

      The reason the term became, as you argue in your article an “out-moded” in the Oslo years is because Oslo actually sought to normalise the settler-colonial project and reduce the Palestinian struggle to only being a struggle against the 1967 occupation rather than a struggle for the national rights of all Palestians. Yes, this was agreeded to by the PLO and yes, even by many Palestinians civilians at the time but it was also recognised widely as being a specific political act of normalisation -ie. by agreeing to a two state solution and agreeing to accept the possible establishment of a Palestinian state only within the 67 borders on only a fraction of historical Palestine, the PLO in effect agreeded to “normalise” the Zionist occupation of rest of historical Palestine (ie. Palestine 48).

      This is why, I would argue as reflected in your article, why there is so much confusion about what “normalisation” is or isn’t. With the promotion of a two state solution, there was an attempt to redefine what “normalisation” was to accomodate this particular political agenda.

      In relation to you criticism of Laila in your comment addressed to her, I would argue you have sought to set up a number of straw arguments in your response to her. For example, in her comment, Laila makes it clear she agrees with the definition given by the BDS movement as to what normalisation is or isn’t. This definition is very similar to the one given by the Palestinian Youth Against the Occupation.

      You also seem to be creating a straw argument in relation to the BDS movement in response to Laila – at no stage did she say that the issue of normalisation had not been around prior to the BDS movement. She simply stated that the BDS movement had developed a definition which was supported by the majority of Palestinian civil society. This BDS definition of normalisation is simply a formalisation the definition normalisation which has existed in the Palestinian national movement since the 1930s – ie. normalisation is any project or activity which “normalises” Zionist colonial settler practices, , rather than exposing, opposing or resisting Zionist colonial settler actions and policies.

      I also thought it was interesting in your response to me that you did not bother to address the points I have made in relation to your misrepresentation of the Freedom Bus Ride or Israeli-Palestinian Confederation and their clear pro-normalisation agenda.

      I look forward to you addresses these two issues in a subsequent post, along with the points that both Linah and I made in relation to the issue of East Jerusalem and your failure to acknowledge the fact that Palestinians living under occupation in EJ have little choice but to accesses Israeli services because of the Zionist states repression of Palestinian institutes and services.

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    19. Ahmad

      my birth certificate has the IDF civil administration logo on the top, do u call this normalization.

      man u have a missed up understanding to normalization and the anti-normalization movement in Palestine.
      registering names in the occupation government in Jerusalem, is not an act of normalization, at the contrary it’s an act of resistance, because if the father didn’t do it his kid will lose residency right. so no, it’s not an act of normalization.

      you obviously never stepped a foot in the weekly protest in Nabisaleh”for example” to know what kind of Israeli who go there, and what kind of relationship we have with them, we trust them with our lives! and our future as well, yet this is not an act of normalization, because they declared their stand and showed solidarity to the Palestinian rights in self determination and the right to return.

      so i am sorry if i dont want my ppl to set in conferences with Zionist who has no purpose but to show the world… “Look, we are fine!!”

      well, we are not! so purse the bubble u live in before the soldiers heavy boots do it for u.

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    20. Richard Witty

      Please express your courage in mutual humanization, in the form of engagement with Israelis, even those that are unaware of or insensitive to the condition of current West Bank, Gazan and diaspora Palestinians.

      Boots come from policies. Policies come from elections. Elections come from hearts and minds.

      If hearts and minds diverge to the point of utter disconnection of the communities, then war is the result.

      Every time there has been a war, it has served to justify the dispossession of Palestinians.

      And, obviously, there is an unintended collaboration of likud and resistance to separate the communities, to make it more possible to dehumanize the other.

      I have a personal story, which pales compared to the problems that Palestinians face.

      That is that in 1986 before the first intifada, I visited cousins in Arad. They were associated with the Zionist folk festival that occurred there every summer. I arrived a week after the festival, but many of the Israeli, Druze, Bedouin and a couple Palestinian folk groups were still in the region, Arad and Beersheva.

      Every night for a week, my cousins took me to cafes, in which they sang with Zionists some nights, with Bedouin one night and with Palestinians one night.

      They were obviously not close friends, but definitely friends, more than chance meeting.

      After the intifada, the sentiment of opposition to normalization was reinforced, and the Paletinian groups didn’t come to the festival, didn’t meet at cafes, didn’t sing together, didn’t eat together, didn’t converse about politics or family or love of the land or spirituality.

      The discipline came from both sides. My cousins got pressure from more right-wing Zionists. The Palestinians got pressure from their community.

      In the CONSPIRACY of isolation.

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    21. As an American solidarity activist, I’m really trying to tease out the important elements of this and to see where it is constructive to engage in conversation and to change minds, and to see where normalization occurs and therefore to reject conversation.

      I think that calling it ‘normalization’ doesn’t fully explain why much of ‘normalization’ is so corrosive. Most of the anti-normalization work is an absolute rejection of Israeli hasbara and propaganda, and that, to me, feels like a very meaningful thing to do. But I think it is dangerous to reject that hasbara and propaganda as the basis for interactions without detailing specifically how those interactions continue and promote an ethnocentric Israeli state and cultural ethnocentricity.

      It’s like a critique of the occupy movement as a protest with demands. Many people keep asking ‘What are the demands?”, but that is assuming that the prevailing hegemonic powers have and will continue to have the authority to grant those demands. Whereas occupy is actually proposing the alternative to those hegemonic powers, effectively demonstrating how a different social contract is possible and necessary.

      It’s just my two cents, but that’s how I see the possibility for a nuanced approached to Israeli-Palestinian interactions based upon principles of justice and equality.

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    22. @Lucy
      you said “You try to portray and smear anti normalisation activists as “armchair critics” and try to insinuate that they sit there inactive about the occupation. Yet you get angry and state that there are “many different ways to fight the occupation”. Sorry to tell you Aziz but the people you are trying to smear are those who have been working tirelessly for the end of the occupation on the ground. Yet at the same time criticising other Palestinians, being anti normalisation, or being against the corruption and failed leadership of the Palestinian institutions is completely interlinked (and is just as important) with fighting the occupation”.

      My comment said that true normalizers are the arm chair critics who don’t work to end the occupation. It is not saying all those who oppose some form of “normalization” are arm chair critics. But surely some of them are.It is easier to criticize other Palestinians than to stand up to the Israeli occupation.

      I find it sad that in Jerusalem, there are more Jews that protest the Sheikh Jarrah eviction than Palestinians. Even if you disagree with them, where are the Palestinians on Wednesday instead of Friday? Why is our focus on these meetings instead of the occupation? Is it really that bad that we should put all our focus on stopping those meetings and even using violence and threats as in the case of the Ambassador hotel meeting? Do you ever think it might be also motivated by internal politics?
      YOU SAID : “And it is hugely important that Palestinians are not complicit in such normalisation projects (as often it is a zionist agenda looking for – and here I quote a real life experience- “brown face/arab name in order to make it work”.

      What I like to know is how not talking to someone like Gershon Baskin (who speaks against the occupation on regular basis) is going to give us freedom and end the occupation and establish a bi-national state (assuming you are not talking about deporting Jews from here)? What is the strategy proposed? I assume you understand that BDS on its own is not going to be enough to end the occupation!

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    23. @Maath Musleh
      you said
      @Aziz first on your comment to @Laila the pyan48 is exactly the BDS definition, no wonder you didn’t notice that, but listen to cut this short”

      Dude, you must be kidding, right? Laila herself disagrees with that definition. That was the point I was trying to get to you and her. Each one of you has his/her own interpretation of the definition. It is so confusing. The problem is that you are too angry to even see it.

      Your definition has a one major problem. It doesn’t describe how should Palestinians in East Jerusalem or Haifa or Jaffa deal with it. They have to use israeli schools, israeli colleges, israeli passport…etc what do you do with them. NORMALIZERS

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    24. AYLA

      @Aziz–thank you, for your painstaking review of the various definitions and especially for sharing parts of your own story. Your work is so brave, people can’t even imagine it; it’s easier to reject. I think what’s missing from this piece is something that possibly must be experienced first hand: the effect of Palestinians and Israelis sitting down together, working toward something common (ending the occupation), and hearing each other’s stories, questions, fear, hopes. To those who haven’t participated, this may sound Kumbaya, or it may just make some people angry: why should we empathize with them, or, as MM said, why should he have to explain a basic right to someone. But to those who have participated, they know how conflict resolution takes place one person at a time, beginning with the self; they know how being a part of a breakthrough interaction–whether the breakthrough in understanding is one’s own or another person’s–opens hearts, gives participants true hope, and goes on to have ripple effects that actually change the landscape in this region. The effect of anti-normalization activities is the opposite: the movement is fueled by anger, dehumanization, and separation, probably because the Occupation is so hateful and dehumanizing and separating; one is a product of the other. Tragically, though, the movement just feeds the snowball.

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      • Fan

        Hi Ayla,
        You beat me to thanking Aziz for the article, and the opportunity to debate around it.
        Could I possibly ask you a few questions about the conflict resolution and dialogue opportunities you touched upon? I am not a journalist, just very interested in this issue.
        Many thanks,
        givingpeacefaces (at) gmail dot com

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    25. AMIR.BK

      Just a reminder concerning the actual wording of resolution 194: “(The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date”
      My emphasis:”wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours”
      Normalization, and a cessation of hostilities, can definitely be interpreted as a prerequisite for the fulfillment of the right of return.the anti-normalization sentiment and movement just makes it easier for the Israeli government to keep flaunting the “Security issue” and claim it supersedes the right of return.

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    26. Although there is no rigid definition of normalisation that absolutely everyone adheres to (does such a definition exist for any political philosophy?) the PACBI definition is the one that is most commonly given in activist circles. It sees the occupation as institutionalised injustice, and it differentiates between institutions and individuals accordingly. It also recognises that because the occupation regulates Palestinian life in painstaking detail, it is impossible for any Palestinian to avoid being caught up in its mechanisms. For example, in the West Bank it is very difficult to avoid using Israeli goods or services, because economically it’s a captive market. East Jerusamelites pay taxes and get healthcare from the Israeli state because there is often no other way for them to access vital services – all because of the annexation. Palestinians in this situation aren’t normalisers and they aren’t hypocrites. It’s the occupation that has put them in this position. They aren’t there by choice. Normalisation creeps in only when this situation is glossed over and made to look acceptable.
      In reading this article I did get the feeling that you were dismantling a strawman, especially when you started to talk about the Palestinian freedom riders. In their official statement, they went out of their way to clarify that they weren’t just campaigning for the right to sit on the same bus as a settler. They explicitly stated that they were against the whole settlement enterprise. The freedom ride was designed to illustrate exactly how difficult it is for a Palestinian to move around freely in his own birthplace. You are attributing motives to them that they didn’t have. A group of Palestinians boarding a bus that drives on roads they are forbidden to use as a way of calling attention to the occupation’s injustices? Not normalisation, especially as they are using occupation’s infrastructure to subvert the occupation. The anti-normalisation movement is a refusal to give in to an unjust system (even though its victims are mired in it up to their eyes, through no choice of their own). It is not about the exclusion of individual people. Ahmad has already made this clear.
      You personally may have gone through a time when you didn’t want to talk to any Israeli at all, but you have written yourself that this was because you were grieving the murder of your brother by the Israeli army. I know people who have had the identical reaction to similar tragedies, and I wouldn’t say that they have made a rational political commitment to anti-normalisation – they are grieving, and often traumatised. There is surely a difference between feeling so angry and hurt that you can’t bear to be in a room with any Israeli (no matter who they are or what they think) and rationally choosing to dissociate yourself from institutions that prop up or whitewash occupation. The first is what you term ’emotional reactionary behaviour’ (and I don’t condemn that; it is not right to condemn grief). The second is worlds apart from that. I think the problem is that you are attributing your old thoughts and motivations to people who call for anti-normalisation, when they are inspired by something different.

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    27. ya3cov

      @amir.bk you really think that the Israeli government is EVER going to give up on the security threat argument?

      Your comment makes it seems as if people in the West Bank can mosey on down to Jerusalem/Tel Aviv and talk to Zionists, yet for the most part the only interactions they have with such people are in full uniform and carrying a large weapon.

      And from my understanding (and this is also an answer to the question of tactics that @Aziz proposes to @Lucy), there is no problem with debate, except when the debate skips over the part about all people deserving equal rights, including freedom of movement and the right to return to homes of origin.

      If the debate centers around a ‘subsequent’ issue because a Zionist refuses to state that they believe in equal rights, this is normalization, and unnecessary at that, since the debate question is there at the ready (‘do you support equal rights for all?’). If the Zionist refuses to have a debate on THIS question, and instead insists on debate about borders for example, and the anti-normalizer drops out, don’t blame them! Blame the Zionist who refuses to debate the most important issue of this conflict, whether Palestinians, and especially the refugees have the same rights that Israelis do.

      And once again, as it was stated before @Aziz, for those Jerusalemites that were illegally annexed in ’67 and those in 1948, it is not normalization to interact with Zionists, but an act of resistance.

      As Darwish eloquently stated: “Standing here, staying here, permanent here, eternal here…”, yet let us remember that Darwish also notes “one goal”, not to prosper off of ones privileged status within the Israeli legal structure by toning down ones identity or forgetting ones connection to all Palestinians regardless of location, but rather “to be”.

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    28. Laila


      Big mistake, I do not define normalization as supporting 2 states, but as not demanding the one essential thing about our cause, the core issue and that is right to return to the land of 1948 to those in exile. You get it now?? I hope u see the difference, because those Israelis protesting in Sheikh Jarrah although some might be good people, but to a certain extend they are scared that if Shiekh Jarah was taken from the Palestinian families then the Palestinians will demand every single house taken away from them..

      Do you see the bigger picture?? They want Palestinians awaaaaaaaay from them, but when our real demand as Palestinians was never for a state but yet a justice!

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    29. sh

      “I hope u see the difference, because those Israelis protesting in Sheikh Jarrah although some might be good people, but to a certain extend they are scared that if Shiekh Jarah was taken from the Palestinian families then the Palestinians will demand every single house taken away from them..”
      On what do you base this judgment, Laila, if you refuse to talk to them because you see that as normalization?
      Strikes me that anti-normalization is a kind of religion with its own myths and narratives.

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    30. Carmiel Frutkoff

      You highlight the contradiction – “Basically, normalisation is any project or activity which “normalises” Israel’s colonial settler practices, including its occupation and apartheid practices, rather then exposing, opposing or resisting Israel’s colonial settler actions, occupation practices and policies.”
      Hence all those who refuse to co-exist are normalizers while those who try and live together are not.
      There is nothing normal about trying to live with the other side. The “norm” for the last sixty odd years has been exactly the opposite.
      It saddens me to read all these comments.
      I have lived in Jerusalem my entire life and have spent many years since my early teens actively fighting against discrimination and promoting co-existence. There is nothing normal about that. The norm is to sit on the sidelines and not do a thing.
      I care very little for titles while choosing my friends. I love my religion but have much respect and see the beauty in others. I love my country, even though it has and is still currently making mistakes. I do not have to give up my identity to live with you. I don’t have to undermined who i am to fight for your rights as a human being, to believe that your national identity is no less important then mine.
      The norm has been to hate. I am so tired of all this hatred. It got old a long time ago. I want to try something different, I too want to be an anti-normalizer, I want to love you. Now imagine you loved me back – would that really be normal?

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    31. Liel

      I didn’t read all the comments. But, those that I have read criticized the article, its arguements and its author. After reading all these things, I have only one thing to say.

      I am an Israeli. I was born in Israel and lived there for 22 years without meeting even one Palestinian. Yes, they lived right beside me, but I was educated to see them as my enemy.

      On the other hand, for the last 4 years I went to several anti wall/anti settlements protests across the west bank. Except this, I worked in co-projects and organizations which try to build a different future for the Israeli and Palestinian populations through environmental development and education. On my free time, I write and advocate for justice to all people on this land without any difference related to religion or citizenship.

      One thing that I know is that I wouldn’t have done any of this, without having one “normalizer” that would agree to meet me through “normalizing” organizations and tell me what is going on in his life. As Israelis, personal meeting is almost the only way to understand the injustice of the situation. Because I know the impact of this meeting and how it changed my life, I am trying to bring more Israelis to those meetings and slowly slowly to create enough public support to end the occupation.

      I believe that this is our only way and I would like to thank very much those “normalizers” who changed my life.

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    32. Matan Lurey

      First of, Aziz, great article. The fact that you have so many angry persistent haters and nit-pickers means you really struck a powerful cord and this is their way of being uncomfortable.

      — @LAILA said ” hope u see the difference, because those Israelis protesting in Sheikh Jarrah although some might be good people, but to a certain extend they are scared that if Shiekh Jarah was taken from the Palestinian families then the Palestinians will demand every single house taken away from them..”

      So, in other words, those protesting against demolitions _are only doing so_ because they don’t want their OWN houses taken away by the powerful Palestinians? Interesting. (actually, psychotic thinking)

      My personal overview of this topic, working with both Israeli and Palestinian activists in the UC System in California, is that anti-Normalization has a lot more to do with politics than “just causes”. A close friend, from Ramallah, was called a “normalizer” by a – WHITE AMERICAN JEW – for having Zionist friends. That’s the reality of the “normalization” argument on college campuses, where it is being used a smear tactic on someone’s personal worldview and politics.

      That being said, I’m open to new interpretations. I am wondering, however, as Aziz pointed out, what the “goal” of anti-Normalization is. If it’s either a “just” two-state solution or a bi-national state or a Judenfrei state with all Zionists back in Europe, how is “anti-Normalization” going to succeed? Unless Palestine has recently obtained an F-35 backed military, or all Israelis have decided to become pacifists, a military solution is out of the question. And if the answer is civil-society and diplomacy (see Ireland, South Africa, Yugoslavia), then how are you going to convince at least a vocal minority of Israelis to accept your worldview without interaction?

      The sad reality, as pointed by Shaul (http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/in-the-end-kahane-won-1.403418) is that Israeli (I will say Israeli here, because some of the most troubling developments in Israel are in fact by ultra-Orthodox who do not ascribe to the “Zionist” label – e.g. do not recognize a secular government) discourse is moving farther-right, and with calls by the education ministry to stop “Parent’s Circle” meetings, the ‘Israeli’ form of anti-Normalization is growing. This would be fine and dandy, except the right-wing Israeli one-state/two-state is diametrically opposed to the one hailed by BDS activists.

      So now you have a race against time – will the right-wing Israelis with dreams of a new Kingdom of Israel and the Arabs “back to Jordan” win out, or the left-wing Palestinians with dreams that suddenly every Israeli will wake up and throw away their weapons?

      I also have a few open questions for critics of Aziz’s article

      (A) Norman Finklestein and Noam Chomsky are both internationally renown for their work and research in Palestine solidarity, yet both subscribe to a two-state solution, and both actually make the point to say that land swaps and a limited refugee solution is what both sides should strive for. Are they “normalizing”?

      (B) Let’s go one step further. Philip Weiss (who needs no introduction, I would hope at least) frequently attends J-Street (a Zionist organization) meetings, and blogs about his interactions and questions with liberal Zionist Jews. Is he “normalizing”?

      I’m confused, because by all of the definitions above, Chomsky and Weiss would be labeled traitors.

      Thank you for time and comments, has been a very insightful discussion.

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    33. Henry Weinstein

      Here Israel Channel 2 or Yul Edelstein wouldn’t have to misquote or distort the Anti-Israel communiqués posted on this thread by various political commissars: one thing for sure, there is not a single peaceful partner among these Anti-Normalization zealots, namely Laila, Maath Musleh, Linah, Miki, Lucy.
      I bet that’s why none of our usual Hasbarah providers have posted anything there, Bingo for them. Champagne!
      So the concept is “Co-resistance”, and the prohibition is to interact with Israelis, unless The Transfuge “identify with the Palestinian cause and demand right to return”, anything else “without placing as its goal resistance to and exposure of the Israeli occupation” SINCE 1948 would be normalization.
      And the Earth is flat, of course.
      So, as Maath Musleh put it explicitely, the criteria of obedience is to answer YES to the crucial question: “Is or is not the Israeli state illegally established and morally should be dismantled,”, i.e to confess publicly first and last to be ashamed to be Israeli Jew.
      And that’s the main dogma, Miki drops the hammer: “Aziz, since when has the Palestinian national struggle only been about ending the occupation of the WB, EJ and Gaza”?
      Miki has forgotten to add the Golan Heights, Mya would say.
      So Anti-Normalization means total war against Israel, just like BDS means total boycott against impure Israelis, the Only Worth Goal being the destruction of the Israeli state, aka The Notorious Zionist Anomaly.
      Just do it, baby.
      So it doesn’t matter if The Transfuge wants to end all forms of discrimination against Palestinians and start a new process, I mean Civil Rights & Social Justice struggle to begin, unless The Transfuge call for the removal of Israel.
      Removal by what?
      So I would be willing to ask:
      What are your achievements since 1948 with this logic?
      Do you believe Israel is weaker than in 1948?
      Do you really think it’s Israel which is under existential threat and not Palestine?
      Can’t you see Ultra-Zionits are Ultra-Anti-Normalizers, you are second-league compared to them?
      And so on.
      But I don’t expect any answer from the Anti-Normalization Anti-Israeli Side, because it would be normalization to talk with someone like me: I stand for Israel’s right to exist, I’m not ashamed by Israeli Jews, I CARE FOR ALL ISRAEL’S CHILDREN.
      Personal message: I love your comment, Carmiel.

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    34. Sinjim

      @Aziz: You keep saying “some believe” or “some accuse” and “some this” and “some that.” We’re all aware that there are many interpretations of anti-normalization, some of it entirely legitimate and sophisticated and some of it extreme and simplistic. You do not distinguish between them. You lump them all into one category and say they are all illegitimate.
      I notice that you did not respond to Linah’s criticism of your arguments. What do you have to say about the definition of normalization that is provided on the BDS website? Do you agree with that definition? Do you believe that this is the most common definition accepted by Palestinian activists or not?
      Also I would like to know who accused your family of normalization for interacting with the racist Israeli government to obtain the body of your murdered brother. Do you have any evidence that anyone attacked you or any other Palestinian family for this far too common tragedy and crime?

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    35. Sinjim

      @Henry: Do you have any idea who these people are? Maath and Linah are activists who protest on the ground against the occupation. Linah was at the Nabi Saleh protest when Mustafa was murdered by the Israeli thug terrorist. And here you are attacking them as racists and warmongers? Who the hell do you think you are to talk like that to these brave individuals who put their lives on the line for their people and their rights?
      What I’m seeing in the comments from Israelis is that they are all so worried about “co-existence”. Well, what concerns Palestinians is existence. Our very existence is threatened by your state and your government and its policies. They have been for the last 60+ years. How the hell is our first concern supposed to be this kumbaya khara of living and loving together when there’s no guarantee that we’ll even survive your government’s policies?
      When the majority of Palestinians tell you that refusing to lend legitimacy to the occupier or its policies is more important than making you feel good about yourselves, then the appropriate response — as citizens of Israel who are awash in Jewish privilege which grants you luxuries the likes of which your Palestinian subjects can only dream of — is to understand why they would say this, not to refute their arguments.
      In any case, mabrouk ya Aziz. You’ve been labeled a brave and moderate man, while the rest of us are hateful and psychotic cowards. Let’s see you do something with this acceptance. Yalla, maybe at the next Palestine Israel Journal conference, you can get Yuli Edelstein to accept the humanity of Palestinians.

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    36. Kevin Morrow

      I have to say that as I began reading over the responses to Aziz’s article, my eyes began to glaze over with all the fine hair-splitting of ideas relating to normalization and anti-normalization, and I while I honor people’s passionate desires to pursue justice and an end to the occupation through determining what level of interaction with Israelis is appropriate, I feel that most of you seemed to be missing a central point, and it is this: peace and justice will never be achieved by pure, unadulterated enmity against people, even if most people think they deserve it. It is one thing to boycott political organizations or political parties that are pouring gas on the open flame of Israeli apartheid racism and violence. It is another thing to brand all Israelis as the “enemy,” especially when a lot of the Israelis standing side by side with Palestinians against the occupation are recent immigrants from America or other western countries. If you are so dead-set on anti-normalization purity that you end up rejecting solidarity and assistance offered by Israelis who also hate the occupation, you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. We should never reject people of good will who come offering friendship and help, regardless of what side they come from. Like Aleksandr Solzhenitsen said, the line between good and evil does not run between nations or political parties, it runs through every human heart. There will most likely be a single state in the future, since the 2-state solution is probably dead, so it is in the interest of like-minded Palestinians and Israelis to begin creating a peaceful society NOW (the PA and Israeli governments won’t do it for you, that’s for sure). I have seen this alternate society in which Palestinians and Israelis live and work in peace together (usually, but not always united by their common resistance to the occupation). If you go up to Haifa, you can already see Israeli Arabs and Israelis living and working together without nearly as much conflict and discrimination as there is further south. All this to say that ultimately, normalization with Israelis who oppose the occupation will probably become the norm, so you might as well get used to it now.

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    37. Richard Witty

      “@Henry: Do you have any idea who these people are? Maath and Linah are activists who protest on the ground against the occupation. Linah was at the Nabi Saleh protest when Mustafa was murdered by the Israeli thug terrorist. And here you are attacking them as racists and warmongers? Who the hell do you think you are to talk like that to these brave individuals who put their lives on the line for their people and their rights?”

      Who are they? They are individuals of flesh and blood, neighbors of those that they describe to shun and to fascistically (yes) discipline their family and neighbors for regarding Israelis as similarly sympathisable flesh and blood.

      Human beings as the basis of political identification, not traitor versus ally only.

      “War, what is it good for, absolutely nothing.”

      Those that dance together (likud and such disciplining Palestinian solidarity) are the war advocates, the co-conspirators in the mutual murder dance.

      War is a losing proposal for Palestinians and for Palestine. Don’t be so “courageous” as to propose it in whatever form.

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    38. @Pango

      you said:
      “Isn’t it important then to consider that some eliminate of the ‘anti-normalisation’ agenda is inspired by the fact that many ordinary Palestinians feel disenfranchised by those claiming to represent them??

      I agree, I think many Palestinians are very frustrated with their leadership. By leadership I don’t only mean the Palestinian Authority but rather all Palestinian political leaders and parties.

      I would add another thing, the failed negotiations with Israel added to the elements of the anti normalization notion. It is understandable. My argument is that we have to reconsider these terms and have a working strategy not an emotional reaction.

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    39. “Who are they? They are individuals of flesh and blood, neighbors of those that they describe to shun and to fascistically (yes) discipline their family and neighbors for regarding Israelis as similarly sympathisable flesh and blood.”
      They have already made it abundantly clear that to them ‘anti-normalisation’ does NOT mean refusing to have friendships with Israelis or refusing to see them as fully human, but refusing to get involved with anything that whitewashes or tacitly supports Israel’s injustices against Palestinians. There is a major difference. It is alarming that people here can’t see it.
      These are people who live under occupation. It is not a pleasant existence. It is hard. It is dehumanising. It is often frightening. They have every right to try and break the machine that does this to them. Asking them to normalise is like asking them to be cogs in that machine instead, and it betrays a total lack of understanding of what their situation is like.

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    40. Bosko

      The reason why I for one have not posted here is because this attitude by SOME Palestinians, against normalisation, is OLD NEWS to me. I am not surprised about them. To them ALL of Israel is OCCUPIED by eeeeevil Zionists and they aim to displace Israel with a “secular democratic Palestine” in which Muslims, Jews and Christians would live together in Peace and harmony under Arab rule. I don’t know about you, but the IDEA of it appeals to me too. Unfortunately I can’t bring myself to believe that they would have the capacity to deliver it in reality. I am much more prepared to believe that “EEEVIL” Israel is more capable of delivering such a solution in it’s present format of 80% Jewish 20% Arab citizens living side by side with a 100% Arab Palestine.
      Unfortunately, given the current attitudes, there is going to be a lot of water flowing under the bridge before even that will happen. After all, not all that long ago, those who today are critical of those Palestinians who are for “normalisation”, were more than just CRITICAL of them. They labelled the “normalisers” as collaborators and that meant dire consequences for them.

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    41. @Sinjim

      @Aziz: You keep saying “some believe” or “some accuse” and “some this” and “some that.” We’re all aware that there are many interpretations of anti-normalization, some of it entirely legitimate and sophisticated and some of it extreme and simplistic. You do not distinguish between them. You lump them all into one category and say they are all illegitimate.

      I do distinguish that not everyone in the “anti normalization” movement is the same and that there are different opinions. My argument is that you also have to be aware of those different opinions and how some people misusing the normalization term for political agendas.

      In my opinion it is a waste of our time to mobilize against a meeting in the Ambassador hotel of few Palestinians and Israelis instead of mobilizing against house demolishing or people being evicted from their homes. This is not where Palestinian activism should be focused. Why is that so hard to comprehend?

      For the other commentators who doubt my presence at protests, I have been to Nabi Saleh and other protests. I know quite a few people from the Tamimi family, some of whom are in prison now. my journey of protesting the occupation started when I was 7.

      The problem with the definition that Lina has is that I interpret it differently than her. I don’t believe engaging with Israelis to show the effect of the occupation on our life is normalization. She thinks it is. I guess we have to agree to disagree. If the Israeli government sees these meetings as a threat, then I don’t understand how it could be “normalization” and pro-Israel…etc .

      My main question to you is not about normalization but about what do anti normalization do with this disagreement? What does labeling another Palestinian as a normalizer mean?

      You Said:
      “One thing is clear. You are so out of touch with Palestinians under occupation, Aziz.”

      Just because I see resistance a bit different than you doesn’t mean I am out of touch of the occupation. I think you know better than that. The basic fact of living in Jerusalem doesn’t give anyone the luxury of being out of touch with the occupation.

      I chose to struggle against the occupation but in ways that don’t satisfy you. I am sorry, that is not good enough for you. But my opinion is relevant to the future of Palestine as much as yours yours.

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    42. Henry Weinstein

      Thanks to answer to my comment, even if i would have prefered you took more time before to write your answer, in the heat of the moment.
      So I will be emotional too, this time. A bit messy.
      Please read again my comment, and please take the time to hear my voice, my concern. I didn’t write this to label & accuse anyone. Quite the opposite, I was stigmatized by Anti-Normalization communiqués written by political commissars.
      It’s very sad to realize that people like Linah or Maath will only post comments on 972 to denigrate Aziz and suggest human beings like me are dirt. What I wrote – taking the time to read carefully what was said – is what I think right now. I don’t know how to deal with a lot of issues, without Palestinian answers. I’m left with Hasbarah and my own preconceptions. I think it’s the same situation for you and other Palestinians left with Intifada Channel. Words are dangerous when they imply automatic preconceptions.
      I’m not Israeli, Sinjim. Never been in Israel. Have no family, no property in Israel. I’m the son of an Untermensch. I have a tragic story, me too. I’m not a concept.

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    43. Sinjim

      @Aziz: I asked you a bunch of questions in your post about the PIJ panel in your post there which you never deigned to answer. If the panel was sponsored by or connected to the Israeli government or an Israeli municipality, then I disagree. We must avoid all contact and cooperation with the occupying entity if we can help it. If that panel had no connections to the government, then I absolutely agree with you that it’s a waste of time.
      I don’t believe your objection to the Linah’s definition of normalization makes sense. If you are engaging Israelis through NGO efforts to educate them on the demerits of the occupation and the racist policies of their country, the underlying premise is recognition of the occupation. BDS does not say you cannot meet with a group of Israeli settlers ever under any circumstances, for example.
      Going back to what is and what isn’t a waste of time, if the focus of Palestinian resistance should be house demolitions or people being evicted from their homes for their ethnicity, why on Earth are you using this platform that you’ve been given to attack your fellow Palestinians?

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    44. Richard Witty

      I loved the promise of the J14 movement, because it created a peer status on the basis of common needs that crossed ethnic, regional, associational barriers.

      Even that settlers identified as the people, was a post-Zionist reality (or at least suggestion).

      That was normalization. That was the assertion of “we are actually peers”.

      And, that is to my understanding the purpose of resistance, to shift the status from powerful/subordinated to peers that are different but still peers.

      I get that there are subtle different messages than “we are peers” in the privilege to attend a solidarity demonstration then walk back to one’s own neighborhood and not see a poor, disenfranchised Palestinian.

      But, there is normalization that IS the assertion by Palestinians in fact, of “we are peers, we self-determine”, and intended as such even by the liberal Zionists that are met, or if not originally intended as such, then learned of.

      I love that Gershon Baskin is a Zionist, who sees his neighbors and determines to regard them as kin, not as other. And, I love that his Palestinian colleagues express similarly.

      There is hope in that approach. Determination, and rigid forms of it, are NOT the only virtues in the world.

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    45. Sinjim

      @Henry: I know you’re French and not Israeli. Only the first paragraph was addressed to you specifically.
      And yes, I know that you are a human being and not a concept. So are Linah and Maath and Ahmad and Laila. You distorted the real positions of BDS activists and their beliefs to accuse them of boycott all Israelis; you distorted Miki’s comment about the rights of refugees and Palestinians inside Israel into something about violent destruction; you compared all of us to propagandists; and now you seem to be attacking Electronic Intifada, the first organized internet space devoted to providing a voice to our Palestinian humanity.
      I don’t know what your tragedies are, Henry, and I’m sorry that you have them. But understand that we Palestinians have our tragedies, too, none of which — not a single one — have been resolved. If you’re looking for Palestinian answers, outside of Israeli propaganda and your preconceived notions, why attack the people who provide them?

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    46. Zvi

      I think that there are two separate issues here:
      1) that reality for Palestinians may be far from “normal”
      2) whether or not contact and communication with the “enemy” has any value

      I expect that we can all agree on the first point, although there certainly would not be agreement on what should be done to address this issue.

      For me, it is the second point which is more relevant to this discussion. I think that efforts to build barriers to communication are counter productive. Why is it a bad thing for Israelis and Palestinians to talk? And what if they just talk about “normal” issues? I do not participate in political protests but I often engage with people on a personal level. On more than one occasion I have been the first “Israeli” or even “Jewish person” that someone has spoken with in their life. If I can get the point across that reality is rather complicated and that there are no simple solutions, then I think that this is a positive achievement.

      Also, I do not think that it is realistic to expect that Israelis (or Jews) “support the Palestinian cause”. Do you expect Palestinians to support Israel? Of course not! Palestinians and Israelis both need to recognize that the other side also has a legitimate narrative. And the only way that can happen is through communication.

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    47. Yoav

      I find this a very interesting discussion. However, i find it is completely theoretical. The proverbial bear has yet to be hunted and you are already arguing about how to divide the skin.
      The fact is, whether you like it or not, or whether i like it or not, the discussion is really over the ’67 lands. ’48 lands are lost to the Palestinians for at least 50-100 more years. possibly much much longer. The Jews waited 2,000 years.
      Is this just? no! Is it fair? no! But this is reality.
      While you waste time arguing about it, the ’67 settlers are building more and more roads, houses, schools. I understand and sympathize with the logic of BDS, but i think that when the ant ignores the elephant, it doesn’t help it achieve its goal.
      Over the past 60 years the Palestinian insistence on all of Palestine has brought very little success. By insisting on full justice (i accept that what was done to the Palestinians was a crime!) you may be denying yourself what little partial justice is possible in our imperfect world.

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    48. How about anti-ethnocentrism, rather than anti-normalization?


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    49. Bosko

      As long as we try it in Bosnia/Serbia too. Make Bosnia a one state solution in which Christian Serbs and Muslim Albanians live side by side each with full democratic rights as part of greater Serbia. Ditto with India/Pakistan, unify India with Pakistan and allow the return of millions of refugees to the homes from which they were displaced in 1948. Let’s see how it will work put in those two places after ethnocentrism would be eliminated. Then if it turns out to be a success, maybe we could try it in Israel/Palestine.
      Hey, and maybe after that, we could try it in Cyprus too. Let’s see how the Turks would react to that suggestion. Why does Israel have to be the first place where we try this noble experiment?

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    50. AYLA

      LIEL–Your comment cuts to the heart of this matter. Thank you.

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