Jonathan Cook talks with Haifa U. Professor Asad Ghanem about divide-and-rule

Jonathan Cook has written about his talk with Haifa University Professor of Political Science, Asad Ghanem, who describes the divide-and-rule strategy that has been used so successfully against the Palestinians.

Professor Ghanem tells Cook that “the original goal of Israel’s founders was to use a sophisticated version of divide-and-rule to weaken an emerging Palestinian national movement that opposed Zionism. The war of 1948 that created Israel led to the first and most significant division: between the minority of Palestinians who remained inside the new territory of Israel and the refugees forced outside its borders, who today are numbered in millions. Since 1967, Israel has fostered many further splits: between the cities and rural areas; between the West Bank and Gaza; between East Jerusalem and the West Bank; between the main rival political movements, Fatah and Hamas; and between the PA leadership and the diaspora. Israel’s guiding principle has been to engender discord between Palestinians by putting the interests of each group into conflict, said Dr Ghanem. ‘A feuding Palestinian nation was never likely to be in a position to run its own affairs’. He is dismissive of plans by Mr Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, to try to revive the Oslo process by bypassing Israel and seeking the international community’s blessing for the establishment of a Palestinian state next summer. Palestinian leaders who have pursued statehood, Dr Ghanem added, have done so on terms dictated by Israel. First the rights of the refugees to be considered part of the Palestinian nation were sacrificed, then those of the Palestinians inside Israel. Next parts of East Jerusalem and all of Gaza were excluded. And now finally, he said, even significant parts of the West Bank were almost certain to be counted outside a future Palestinian state. ‘The core of the negotiations for Abbas is about ending the occupation, but he has progressively conceded to Israel its very narrow definition of what constitutes occupied land. The rights of the refugees and other Palestinians to be included in the Palestinian nation now exist chiefly at the level of rhetoric’.”

Then, the argument turns to become a prediction of a one-state outcome — as if the Palestinians have the luxury of that choice, an assertion that I no longer believe to be the case.

Cook writes that Ghanem says: “As fewer and fewer Palestinians cling to the belief that Israel will ever agree to partition the territory, the physical and ideological barriers between the Palestinian sub-groups are starting to crumble, he said. The separate struggles of the Palestinians — for civil rights among Israel’s Palestinian minority; for national liberation by those in the occupied territories; and for the right of return among the diaspora — were being superseded by ‘a common fight against the reality of an ethnic apartheid’. Dr Ghanem added that, when Palestinians came to realise that they would never be offered more than a ‘crippled state’ by Israel, the new paradigm would become ‘one binational, democratic state for all Palestinians and Jews in historic Palestine’. The different Palestinian factions would eventually merge their political platforms. The civil rights movement rapidly emerging among Palestinians inside Israel would then serve to complement the fledgling anti-apartheid struggle in the occupied territories”.

But, reality on the ground says that this is no more than very belated wishful thinking…

This Jonathan Cook article about his talk with Professor Asad Ghanem can be read in full here.

One thought on “Jonathan Cook talks with Haifa U. Professor Asad Ghanem about divide-and-rule”

  1. A very good article and an old and well worn strategy – divide and rule. The British being so brilliant at it.

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