Mon 25 Sep 2023 9:14 am - Jerusalem Time

Returning to the issue of normalization

For some reason, the word “normalization” was translated as “normalization,” even though it is derived from “normal.” The Israelis have become accustomed to using the term and emphasizing it no less than their emphasis on peace agreements with Arab countries, which they fear will remain formal and superficial if they are not followed by the normalization of relations, so that “peace” takes root, and settler colonialism in the Arab region turns from aggressive power relations that contradict everything. It is normal to normal, and people are accustomed to the fact that relations with Israel, in the presence of occupation and practices of apartheid, are normal.

The African countries that boycotted South Africa and refused to normalize relations with it were much poorer than the Arab countries, and more in need of economic relations with the abnormal party located next to them. Nor was it more democratic, nor less authoritarian, than the Arab countries. But there are positions on which countries (peoples and regimes) agree, including racism and colonialism, as well as its continuation in the era of liberation from it. There is no doubt that racist South Africa at the time, and Israel (which remained its ally until its last days) were remnants of the colonial issue. In our region, the unity of the position (at least apparent) on the last open colonial issue has collapsed.

If we put the moral position aside (and it should not be set aside for purposes other than discussion, as such a departure constitutes a prelude to social and cultural collapse) and consider the step as resulting from the awakening of a practical, “pragmatic” style of thinking, we find that there was no need for it from this perspective, even when it was attached. The matter concerns the countries neighboring Palestine, as well as those that did not participate, officially, in any wars against it. There are illusions related to Israel's contribution to strengthening or fortifying the relations of normalized regimes with the United States.

The truth is that whoever arranges his internal situation to the minimum required to maintain stability (we are not talking here about justice), and acts responsibly in foreign policy, imposes his respect on others in the East and West. From an economic standpoint, relations with Israel did not contribute to reviving any country's economy. Ask the countries that have normalized since the Egyptian-Israeli Camp David Accords!

The truth is that the leaders of countries know this. Those who met the Israelis noticed their pushy, inquisitive, vulgar, and colloquial manner, and realized that their goal was to benefit, not to benefit. But they are pushing in this direction because they want Israel as their ally in the West as opposed to nearby adversaries. The latest examples of this competition in getting closer to Israel came from Libya and Sudan. The motive in this case was the rivalries within each country, as each party within Libya and Sudan feared that the other alone would enjoy this “glory.” As for the regional conflicts and rivalries and competition for the affection of the United States that have pushed the parties towards Israel, as in the case of the Gulf and Morocco, they do not need explanation.

Will normalization with Israel solve the internal Arab conflicts or contribute to fueling and inflaming them?

Normalization is taking place at the expense of the Palestinian people. This is a given. What requires reflection is that concessions to Israel are made at the expense of the Arabs as a nation and people. It is enough for a person to quickly look at this region to be shocked by the combination of political and moral deterioration and the gap between regimes and peoples in the context of which normalization is taking place.

If Arabs do not want to bother themselves with arguments about the justice of the Palestine issue, even though they are convincing arguments and have convinced wide circles of Americans, then the “pragmatic” argument that can be presented to the elderly Biden, for whom normalization will not bring a single additional vote, and who is rushing to put pressure on the Arab countries Motivated by his Zionist convictions, they are summed up in the fact that every Arab step toward normalization with Israel so far has increased the latter’s extremism, intransigence, and conviction in its position that intransigence and the logic of force are what works with the Arabs, who are moving from one peace initiative to another with less conditions. This can be supported by evidence. What about normalization in the presence of the current government? It is an incentive reward for the practices of the Israeli government, and for settlers who are not interested in normalization with the Arabs. This is a convincing answer even for Biden. But those who want normalization will not do so, because their motives are different, and they are looking for justifications to do so, not for a way out of it.

There is no need to talk about the benefit that the Palestinians will reap, as the normalization steps so far have shown that the marginalization of the Palestine issue is structural because it is based on the fact that normal relations with Israel are possible without resolving the Palestinian issue. It is a confirmation of Israel's point of view since the Nakba regarding the marginality of Palestine in the context of what was once called the Arab-Israeli conflict, which still exists only in terms of the peoples.

The truth is that the Palestine issue has nothing to do with the motives of the normalizers, whether positive or negative. The issue is demands and expectations from the United States. This does not hide taking pictures with Mahmoud Abbas, nor even with Hamas leaders, nor wearing a shawl in the colors of the Palestinian keffiyeh. This folklore is repulsive and consuming. Israel is not prepared to sacrifice settlements for the sake of peace agreements, nor even the unity of its coalition.

But the matter goes beyond the lack of connection with the Palestinian issue to justifying some of their steps towards Israel with a retrogressive effect for themselves by attacking the Palestinians, and even the Arabs in general. No normalization so far has been without media choirs that excel at bridging the gap between moral conscience and practice, and between convictions and actions (cognitive dissonance) by silencing conscience and changing convictions. This falls within the deterioration of the moral and political cultural conditions that constitute the context of such steps.

Archives indicate that a large number of Arab leaders communicated with the Zionist movement before the Nakba and with Israeli officials after it, and that the almost complete cessation of this occurred during the period of rule of the nationalist parties. But Sadat went beyond those who were secretly managing relations when he signed peace and normalization agreements with Israel, turning the issue into bilateral border settlements. At that stage, Egypt was removed from the Arab League, which moved its headquarters to Tunisia, and a steadfastness front was established to confront opposition to this approach.

But the approach continues. No official fronts or conferences were formed against normalization, and some began to argue that normalization was a sovereign step, as if the debate was legal about the powers of states to conclude bilateral peace agreements. The debate is not legal, but rather political and moral, and this is generally the nature of disagreement with the sovereign steps taken by states, from waging wars to concluding peace agreements.

The Palestine issue remains, and it is becoming less usable by Arab regimes. On the other hand, Israel, which insists on expanding settlement and actual annexation, is transforming the settler occupation system into a system similar to apartheid in the heart of the Arab region, which cannot become a natural matter, and it is impossible to accustom the Arab peoples to accepting it.


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