By Haidar Eid
Normalizing oppression has always been one of the tools used by the colonizer against the resistance of the oppressed and colonized. It is cheap and it works! It turns native against native, and all the oppressor does is sit and watch.
Britain, France, America, Apartheid South Africa, are just a few of the colonizers who l used it as a tool of dominance: they privileged one sector of the colonized population, by offering them some crumbs of the master’s table, which then made them willing propagandists who sang the praises of, and “justified” colonization and its mission civilisatrice.
Apartheid Israel does exactly the same.
With unending aid from the United States of America, a settler-colony itself, Israel has been able to dispossess the Palestinian people, while portraying itself as a ‘modern’ Western country surrounded by Arab and Muslim savages who it oppresses as a favor to protect western interests in the Middle East. And there is no shortage of ‘civilized’ Palestinian natives, janissaries, ‘house niggers’ who understand and can ‘justify’ Israel’s role. It is only these natives who can appreciate its modernity, ‘democracy,’ and– most importantly—its generosity in granting them ‘some of their rights.’
Therefore, the hasbara machine is able to create two categories of Palestinians-Arabs: the grateful and the ungrateful!
There are the Uncle Toms, the grateful, ‘the good Arab,’ whose ultimate goal is to appease the Israeli master, or those who support him, i.e., western powers. Those natives, called ‘sell outs’ by their people, are not inherent normalizers, but they begin to start showing symptoms of being so, while vehemently denying that they are normalizers of oppression, apartheid, and colonization.
I am thinking here of Anwar Sadat of Egypt, Qatari officials who regularly visit Israel, Saudi Emirs who don’t shy away from meeting and even taking selfies with Israeli war criminals.
I am also thinking here of Palestinian officials who defend the grotesque “security coordination” with Israel, those who believe that “life is all about negotiation,” notwithstanding the fact that Zionism is an ethno-religious ideology rooted in aggressive exclusion of others, including “good Arabs!”
But the list also includes those artists, civil society organizations, and some academics who normalize for very selfish reasons, namely, to boost their careers and, subsequently, get even more wealth!
Ironically enough, there are those who normalize but claim not to know what normalization is all about, nor have any knowledge of the agreed-on definition of the term, in spite of the fact that it has been in the media and online since 2007.
Normalization in a Palestinian-Arab context is defined “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.”
In spite of the near consensus among Palestinians and Arabs on rejecting the treatment of Israel as a “normal” state with which business as usual can be conducted, you still get those argue otherwise! There are repetitive patterns in the arguments made by normalizers:
Symptoms of Normalization
1- You start feeling “fed up” with the “conflict” between the “two sides”
2- You start believing that it all began in 1967
3- You start defending the idea of “dialogue between the “two parties”
4- You blame “extremists” on “both sides,” especially Palestinian “terrorists”
5- You keep repeating: “both parties are to blame for the ongoing bloodshed”
6- You keep saying/parroting: “both peoples are suffering and this has to come to an end”
7- You become more pragmatic about the right of return which becomes “impossible to implement”
8- You start thinking that the best way to resolve the refugees’ dilemma is by finding “an agreed upon” solution
9- “Partition,” for you, becomes THE solution; two states for two peoples based on their ethno-religious backgrounds; 77 per cent of Palestine for Israeli Jews, and the rest is negotiable.
10- You start getting the attention of CNN, BBC, possibly Fox News, NY Times, and the Washington Post.
As much as the South African Apartheid regime tried to normalize racism and tried to justify it, the world stood up against it by heeding the call made by native South Africans and their allies.
We are, slowly but surely, approaching that moment when Israel’s occupation, colonization, and apartheid in Palestine will be treated as abnormalities that should be isolated, regardless of attempts made by very few Arab janissaries!
(Note regarding title: Not to be confused with Remi Kanazi’s great poem “Normalize This!”)
– Dr. Haidar Eid is an Associate Professor at the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine. He is also a one-state activist and a member of Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). He contributed this article this article to PalestineChronicle.com.