UPDATE: As Hjalmar notes below, this is from the Guardian website referring to the original op-ed: This article was amended on 20 August 2009. The online version originally referred to “Palestinian-frei”, while the print version had been edited to say “Palestinian-free”. This editing change should have been applied to the online version. [As I’ve been thinking about it, I’m not sure how much difference this actually makes, however.-SO]
The level of discourse about Israel is sinking lower and lower. While I hesitate to even post this given the often unproductive discussions I’ve engaged in online and in-person with people about these issues, I’m just kind of annoyed. An idiotic op-ed from Zizek appeared in the Guardian the other day. I will say this; when Zizek writes:
When peace-loving Israeli liberals present their conflict with Palestinians in neutral, symmetrical terms – admitting that there are extremists on both sides who reject peace – one should ask a simple question: what goes on in the Middle East when nothing is happening there at the direct politico-military level (ie, when there are no tensions, attacks or negotiations)? What goes on is the slow work of taking the land from the Palestinians on the West Bank: the gradual strangling of the Palestinian economy, the parcelling up of their land, the building of new settlements, the pressure on Palestinian farmers to make them abandon their land (which goes from crop-burning and religious desecration to targeted killings) – all this supported by a Kafkaesque network of legal regulations.
there is some element of truth to this. Yes, the “occupation” does not stop. It won’t stop until, if we take Zizek seriously, there will be no possibility for a Palestinian state. I’m not so sure about that at all, however, the issue is that I don’t think it’s possible for Israelis to merely dismiss the occupation as the major problem in this conflict today. For any progress on that front we need to wait for a new administration, but the manner in which Zizek procedes throughout the article is shameless. Here are two absolutely idiotic statements from Slavoj Zizek:
Palestinians often use the problematic cliché of the Gaza strip as “the greatest concentration camp in the world”. However, in the past year, this designation has come dangerously close to truth. This is the fundamental reality that makes all abstract “prayers for peace” obscene and hypocritical. The state of Israel is clearly engaged in a slow, invisible process, ignored by the media; one day, the world will awake and discover that there is no more Palestinian West Bank, that the land is Palestinian-frei, and that we must accept the fact. The map of the Palestinian West Bank already looks like a fragmented archipelago.
The conclusion is obvious: while paying lip-service to the two-state solution, Israel is busy creating a situation on the ground that will render such a solution impossible. The dream underlying Israel’s plans is encapsulated by a wall that separates a settler’s town from the Palestinian town on a nearby West Bank hill. The Israeli side of the wall is painted with the image of the countryside beyond the wall – but without the Palestinian town, depicting just nature, grass and trees. Is this not ethnic cleansing at its purest, imagining the outside beyond the wall as empty, virginal and waiting to be settled?
Now, let me first say that I am not a supporter of the settlements, nor am I pleased with the most recent election results that placed “Bibi” back in office. However, the latter quotation is really Zizek at his worst. Bluntly, it’s a a pathetic projection and at best idiotic pop psychology. There is absolutely zero nuance in Zizek’s analysis throughout the article (even when rather broadly I agree with him, e.g. tacit government support of the settlements must stop and is detrimental etc). For one, throughout the article he continually conflates Gaza and the West Bank. I wonder if Zizek actually thinks that Qassam rockets from Hamas controlled Gaza are actually correlated to the situation on the Fatah dominated West Bank. Regardless, in the first quote above Zizek makes use of a technique of “Nazifying” Israel in order to denigrate it. Obviously, the term “Palestinian-frei” is an inversion of the Nazi term Judenfrei (literally, “free of Jews”). Besides the purposeful hyberbole here, is Zizek really suggesting that Israel is planning to –at some point–remove all Palestinians from the West Bank in a viscious act of ethnic cleansing? The notion is, I think, without any reasonable foundation and patently false. Not to mention counter-productive…
This op-ed is far better: http://bit.ly/1j0zWe