Normalization with Israel: Is it a Good Idea?

“Normalization” is a much-misunderstood word. Essentially, normalization refers to activities that make relationships (e.g., cultural, business, academic, etc.) between Palestinians and Israelis “normal” and not defined by conflict.

Normalization sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Palestinians and Israelis studying together, dancing together, playing sports together, engaging in joint business ventures — aren’t these good?  If Israeli and Palestinian relationships become “normal,” won’t the Palestinian-Israeli conflict end and won’t peace reign in the Middle East?

Source: Common Ground Blog

But most of the Palestinians I know are adamantly against normalization, and while many internationals think it’s because Palestinians don’t like Israelis as people, that’s not the reason. The reason why Palestinians (and me) are against normalization is because it’s pursued as a substitute for a political settlement. Moreover, many of these efforts are shockingly naive. I’ve spoken to people who want to do joint Israeli-Palestinian acupuncture, Israeli-Palestinian meditation, and other activities that sound harmless, but scratch a bit and you’ll often find a colonial attitude underneath: “I will bring Palestinians and Israelis together and they will realize that we’re all human beings and the conflict will be ended through my intervention!”

This week, I had occasion to attempt to influence an internationally-known cultural figure who wants to initiate joint Israeli-Palestinian cultural activities. This is what I shared in my note to her:

There are essentially three related reasons not to bring Palestinians and Israelis together for cultural activities:

1-There is no “cultural” problem between Israelis and Palestinians. There is only a political problem.
Joint cultural activities distract from conflict resolution rather than contribute to it. They come from an erroneous analysis that we need to advance personal relationships between people BEFORE we resolve conflict when, in fact, we cannot advance personal relationships between people UNTIL we resolve the conflict. This is because the problem is not one of misunderstanding, but rather, structural inequality. Can you imagine bringing slave owners and slaves together to dance? No. You would have to end the structural inequality first and then folks could dance together. Now, Palestinians are not slaves, but there are currently 2.5 million Palestinians under military occupation in the West Bank, another 1.5 million under occupation and blockade in Gaza, and another 1.5 million who are colonized as second class citizens inside Israel. The rest of the 11 million Palestinians worldwide are refugees, dispossessed of their internationally enshrined rights by Israel’s unwillingness to abide by UN resolutions. This is structural inequality. I hope there will be a time when we can all dance together, but now is not that time.

2-Joint activities are over-funded and have lost credibility.
Unfortunately, there are many, many people who hold the fantasy of bringing Palestinians and Israelis together and then magically, one or the other group will say, “I’m sorry” and the conflict will be over. That’s one reason why there is so much funding for joint activities, like summer camps, theater projects, etc. Another reason is that some governments (the US included) invest in joint cultural activities precisely because they are irrelevant to conflict resolution. They don’t want all-out war, but they profit greatly from the lack of peace. The Israelis, who cannot get international development aid since they aren’t a “developing country”, run around looking for Palestinians to sign on as “partners” (usually on paper only) in order to access the funds that are set aside for joint “peacebuilding.” It’s an industry, a scam. For this reason, most of these activities have been discredited, and that makes even the genuine ones suspect.

3-There is a cultural boycott against Israel.
One of the most important Palestinian, nonviolent civil resistance activities ever is the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). It is patterned after the international boycott against apartheid in South Africa, which, along with the local grassroots movement, played a major role in isolating South Africa to the point where Apartheid was too costly and power-sharing became a viable alternative. The PACBI website now features Alice Walker’s refusal to re-publish Color Purple in Israel until the occupation is over. There is also a campaign against Circe du Soleil because they are performing in Tel Aviv in violation of the cultural boycott. Many big stars are boycotting, and many others who have performed in Israel despite the boycott have been subject to international media campaigns.

What do you think? Should internationals support the Palestinian call for an end to normalization ? Or is normalization the path to peace? Should internationals support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions? Or does the BDS movement exacerbate the conflict?


  1. JeffB says

    Hi Nora. 4 levels deep maximum so I guess comments have to zig-zag.

    When it comes to purely harmless cultural activities like joint art shows, joint artistic performances, or say a joint soccer league I think they are part of an environment of normalization (using the term deliberately) which is very important. What they do from a political standpoint is:

    a) Create Israelis who have positive emotions about Palestinians. In particular, given the collapse of West Bank economic integration since the last decade create Israelis that know Palestinians and might have a Palestinian friend.

    b) Create American Zionists who have positive emotions about Palestinians….

    c) Create large numbers of Palestinians who understand how to engage with Israeli’s political culture. Cultural knowledge can be very important for effective negotiation when we talk about petty issues, but they can also be very important for effective negotiation when dealing with the day to day life as an oppressed peoples.

    d) Create an environment where low importance deep understanding political dialogue can take place, often involving people who a decade or two later will be influential.

    e) The institutions which run these exchanges create structures of cooperation which allow for informal dialogue if political problems start to get out of hand.


    So I think normalization activities are extremely important in the aggregate in fixing political problems. I think Palestinians are shockingly self destructive in their anti-Normalization beliefs.

    Consider the difference between Western Europe’s relationship with Eastern Europe (i.e. Orthodox Catholic) and Asia (China and Japan’s) during the 16th-19th centuries. Would an America of Anime fans (like the current generation) have been nearly as willing to engage in firebombing and a nuclear attack against Japan? For that matter if Japan had understood America better would they have been able effectively ease some Republican fears Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere? Might they very well have had American support or at least acquiescence for the project? Mexico has successfully negotiated a very complex relationship with America in the last 150 years, and they’ve done so because they have a deep cultural understanding of America.

    Conversely not having had these experiences can cause situations where the lack of cultural knowledge makes diplomacy too difficult. I think the Palestinian history is a textbook example of how poor cultural knowledge and a lack of desire to understand the other leads to violence. Going in the other direction, Josephus’ The Jewish War, explains how Jews got themselves in the mess they eventually did that caused them to lose Israel in the first place. And fundamentally not being willing to look at the world from the Roman’s point of view was the reason. There never was any possibility of an equal relationship between the Jews and the Romans. But there certainly was the possibility of a relationship that didn’t involve the Romans deciding to destroy the Jewish state, persecute the Jewish people to near extinction and leave behind cultural relics that would haunt the Jews to this current day. The Palestinians should be thrilled that Israeli has enough of a liberal cultural to go out of their way to create propaganda opportunities for Palestinians.

    Your objection seems to be partially the agencies. Again I disagree if cultural programs create a group of Palestinians middle class executives conspiring with the Israeli middle class executive partners to get money from liberal donors that’s fantastic! That’s a group of semi-powerful, semi-influential Jews and Palestinians who like each other and are able to work together. Even if they didn’t then turn around and lower cultural barriers for hundreds of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians that would be a good thing. The Palestinians at this point desperately need semi-influential Israelis that are effectively on their side.

    I guess the core of our disagreement is you believe that the alternative to normalization now is some sort of successful struggle for equality and then normalization later. I believe the more likely outcome of anti-Normalization is partial annihilation over the next five generations and then some sort of post trauma normalization. As bad as Israel is today, most ever Knesset member has had personal warm personal relationships with Palestinians. What do you think happens to the the Knesset in twenty years when that isn’t true?

    • Nora Lester Murad says

      Sorry, Jeff, that I couldn’t reply sooner, and my response may disappoint. Although your argument is sound theoretically, it just doesn’t bear out in fact. Pretty much all the top Palestinian leaders and many of the Israelis have YEARS and YEARS of experience in dialogue, and may have long-standing personal friendships “on the other side.” This cultural familiarization is good in human terms, but does not lead to policy change, and should not replace political pressure (e.g., boycott, divestment and sanctions). When cultural relations are manipulated to distort, postpone or undermine political pressure, they should be resisted and without apology. Sadly, nearly all the “programmatic” and “funded” cultural programs do just that, and many do so unapologetically.

  2. JeffB says

    This is an old post but I don’t agree with your 3 reasons at all.

    1) Of course there is a cultural problem between Palestinians and Israelis. Israelis need to decide what relationship with any are they willing to have with Palestinians. Are they intractable enemies and need to be treated as such? Are they a hostile population whom they need and want to keep at arms length? Are they potential good citizens? Are they interested in mixing with the Palestinians to form a single nation? Those are all cultural issues.

    Conversely the Palestinians have to make decisions on their side? Is Judaism a legitimate national identity or is it only acceptable as a minority religion within a muslim state? Are they willing to adopt a Israeli identity? Should their goal be moderation of Zionism so as to eliminate the civil rights aspects or should they be striving for the elimination of Zionism and/or the population supportive of it?

    You have two tribes who have been moving since the 1980s towards ever lower levels of cooperation and coordination that have to decide whether they really truly and deeply hate one another and have no desire to mutually coexist or whether they want to pursue coexistence and if so what sorts of coexistence. I don’t see how that’s anything but cultural.

    Incidentally slaves and slave masters had lots of social interactions in the Virginia system and in the deep south and in the west after the land was cleared. Without those interactions there might very well have been much more extensive violence in the 1880s onward.

    Your point (3) is just asserting that this misguided policy has support. That’s a given. There has been an Arab boycott against Zionism of varying degrees since the 1920s. The compromises that existed that promoted peaceful coexistence (like in the 1930s or in the 1970s in the disputed / occupied territories) also had support. The question is which policy is better able to achieve the goals of a civilized resolution.

    As for (2) I don’t see them as having lost credibility. Lost credibility with whom? The Palestinians? If so then you are right that more Palestinians are becoming anti-Normalization in their politics. That doesn’t mean they are right. I think creating a generation of Israelis that don’t know any Palestinians and have no personal goodwill towards them, is rather dangerous for the Palestinians.

    • Nora Lester Murad says

      Hi Jeff. I’m so glad you shared your views on my blog. I actually think we agree on point no. 1, but you’re using the terminology “cultural” (which I put in quotes because the folks I was writing about using in the most narrow terms, e.g., performing arts, visual arts). What you are describing here as cultural, I would describe as political. But that’s not a big deal.

      As for programmed and funded peace projects having lost credibility, I guess I meant to say that they have lost credibility with me. I’m sure I’m not the only one. But you’re right that I should speak for myself.

      And when you say, “creating a generation of Israelis that don’t know any Palestinians and have no personal goodwill towards them, is rather dangerous for the Palestinians,” I also agree! But it is Israeli policy that has made it impossible for Israelis to know Palestinians as anything other than victims, targets, threats, or workers. There is no way for folks to know one another as human beings in the current state of inequality. That’s precisely why I think we need to end inequality and THEN do the human-to-human stuff, rather than pretend that dancing together, cooking together or going to Cyprus together will accomplish anything at all in terms of policy.

      I hope I’ve understood you correctly?

      • JeffB says

        Hi Nora. Yes I think you did understand me correctly! And I also agree we agree on (1). I would agree with you that the Israelis are unlikely to relate to Palestinians as anything other than victims, targets, threats, or workers. But which one they pick from that list matters a great deal.

        If they relate to them primary as threats the likely result is going to be widespread systematic violence. For example right now Israel is perfectly happy to be inducing a situation which is semi-permanently damaging the long term water supply in Gaza. They are relating to Gaza as an enemy and quite rationally they dislike and fear Gazan Palestinians enough that they are willing to destroy 2 major acquirers in their own / nearby territory just to potentially dislodge and disadvantage an enemy population. Conversely during the 1970s and 1920s-mid 1930s they related to them primarily as underclass workers. Palestinians economically benefited from the Israel’s prosperity. There was a lot of talk of peaceful coexistence…

        People can know one another on a human to human level in a state of inequality. My daughter (14) has a meaningful human-to-human relationship with me though a very unequal one. I have a good human-to-human relationship with my employees and I’ve had good ones with previous bosses. Wives and husbands in bitterly sexist societies and cultures still love one another.

        Obviously resentments and systematic injustice make forming good quality human-to-human relationship harder than in an environment of justice but they don’t make it impossible. People can share meaningful moments. To pick your example the memoirs of slaves have stories of masters that worked to reunite families as a reward and thus earned their slave’s love and affection.

        If Israelis uniformally viewed Palestinians as victims for whom an ethical solution must be found that would be a huge step forward from them viewing Palestinians as intractable enemies whose harmful influence needs to be effectively neutralized with as little blowback as possible. So hopefully you get my point that even if those are the only options, which open gets picked matters a great deal.

      • Nora Lester Murad says

        People can certainly know one another on a human-to-human level in a state of equality, but in that case, the inequality is part of what defines the relationship, don’t you think? (I have a 14-year old daughter, too.) But my point wasn’t that we can’t know one another, at least that’s not what I meant, but that we can’t achieve peaceful and stable relations. My point in the original blog post was that programmed “cultural” programs that restrict relations to “cultural exchange” and don’t deal with real, political issues do not advance peace and they do distort the issue and waste money. I’m wondering what your position is on that.

  3. Jane Jackman says

    Dear Nora
    Thanks for opening a discussion on such a complex issue. On July 15 you wrote, ‘folks who read this blog will wonder how peace can ever happen if people don’t know one another as human beings.’ This is a crucial question. The news this week of an attempted lynching – according to news reports – of three Palestinian youths by a crowd of Jewish teens in Jerusalem’s Zion Square highlights just this issue. That the incident is deeply disturbing is beyond question, not least because hundreds of onlookers stood by and watched without helping the victims, thus complying with the prevailing attitude – and indeed the taunt that night – that ‘he’s only an Arab’. If this sounds like I’m advocating a policy of normalisation to overcome this kind of aggression, let me say right now that I’m not. It just occurs to me that perhaps it’s useful to distinguish between political normalisation and the racial hatred (or racial normalisation) exhibited in the Zion Square incident. So, leaving aside the racist element, which is horrifying enough, what Israel seeks is a political normalisation that totally ignores justice for the Palestinians, and expects the oppressed to adopt the belief that life under occupation (or as second-class citizens within Israel) with its routine dispossessions, humiliation, harassment and so on is the norm. Some call this strategy a colonisation of the mind. It’s a long-term strategy that requires Palestinians to accept their own subjugation in the hope that eventually they’ll be so worn down as to comply, or leave. You’ll know more about this than I do, Nora, but my impression from a recent visit to the West Bank is that there’s a very real danger of this because ordinary Palestinians are weary, disillusioned with their leadership and like the rest of humanity want only what’s best for their families. But a further problem with Israel’s policy of normalising the occupation is that it fosters racism, particularly among the young, as witnessed in Zion Square. What must be shocking many Israelis right now is that their own children are capable of behaving like (to borrow from the infamous San Francisco bus ad) savages for all the world to see (thanks to Facebook, I believe). No IDF cover-ups here. But it isn’t really surprising at all, rather it’s a case of ‘sowing to the wind and reaping the whirlwind’. Perhaps those Israelis who were shocked by this incident will begin to see what they otherwise have been blinded to…

  4. an Israeli says

    Well this is my last comment because I’m fed up with this “dialogue” as well.
    It leads nowhere if I write things in the clearest way there is and your reply is that you don’t understand what I mean, and that what I write makes no sense to you.
    In addition you show ignorance about the conflict . For instance when you write that the Palestinians have recognized Israel “many many times”. Which is flat wrong. They only first did so that the 1990s with the Oslo accords, which made it possible to reach this accord in the first place. In addition, even in this case we’re only talking about what was then PLO whereas, as you may have heard, there are other, very dominant sectors of the Palestinian society which not only don’t recognize Israel but also seem to be the ones that set the agenda in the relations between Israel and the Palestinians – i.e. no one fight these extremists and no one seems to want to fight them in the Palestinian society. Meaning Abbas cannot deliver if on the one hand he reaches agreements with Israel and on the other hand thousands of rockets hit southern Israel from Gaza. Not to mention that the Palestinian education system text books don’t even show Israel on the map and they educate to fight against and despise Israelis.
    I never wrote about it but since you mentioned it there’s is a GREAT difference between recognizing Israel’s existence and recognizing the “right” of Israel to exist. The first recognizes a fact on the ground (which can and maybe should be changed from a Palestinian point of view). The second recognizes the legitimacy of this fact. If you can’t see the difference well… By the way I wrote about a totally different thing which is recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a JEWISH state. Which is also a very important detail…
    You end your reply in a question addressed to me, like in your previous replies, which were the reason I continued to reply to your reply before, but since we both feel the uselessness of this conversation of the deaf, I will not be commentating anymore on your blog.
    To end I would like to say that in the end of the day it’s not about whose “winning” a debate. It’s the progress on the ground. I think I’ve been very clear and honest about my point of view, as an Israeli, on what should be done and what the problems are. In return I feel that what I got from you is an effort to be win a debate. You never really addressed the issues I wrote about and your replies were mainly that I don’t make sense. I think I make perfect sense, and again, I think it is the Palestinian side which is in more urgency to solve the conflict. If it chooses “not to understand” instead of address the real issues (like Israel’s security concerns, like relinquishing the right of return, like fighting their extremists, like recognizing Israel’s RIGHT to exist) they will stay exactly where they are now for another 64 years. As I’ve said before, the ball is in your court.

  5. an Israeli says

    “If Israelis are willing to give the Muslim and Christian quarter to Palestinians, why not just do it and see where it leads to?”

    You’re extremely naive or playing naive.
    Do you expect us to risk our safety by putting Palestinian gunmen within meters from our capital, from our streets, from our houses, from our holy sites?
    Your question is typical to the way the Palestinians are negotiating throughout the years. There’s no serious talk about ending the conflict, about ending the war. It’s always – you give us but we don’t give back anything. Which is really dumb of the Palestinians because they are acting as if they have all the cards and are in an advantage point to dictate, whereas the truth is that they have nothing while Israel continue to be built and develop.
    If the Palestinians really want to solve the conflict they should realize that by giving them territory Israel is compromising its security. We Israelis have all the reasons to suspect that getting the west bank and east Jerusalem will not be enough for the Palestinians and that they will attack us like they did in the past. Hell many of them say it out loud – that they want all of “Palestine” – Jaffa, Haifa, Acre. What’s the point then to make it easier for them to start another war? The Palestinians cannot just sit there saying – well first give us territories and then will see. They have to seriously commit to end the conflict, recognize Israel’s right to exist in the borders that are agreed upon (along the green line, with adjustments), fight their extremists, start educating their children about peace and not war, give up the right of return etc.
    There are enough examples that show that whenever Israel “just” gave up territory to the Palestinians they used it only to launch attacks on Israel – be it from the Gaza strip, be it the terror attacks amid the Oslo accord etc.
    Again, for a people which is in such dire straits I’d expect the to be more eager and serious about solving the conflict, but their long time attitude of – we take but we don’t give anything, has lead them nowhere and will continue to do so in the future.
    In the meantime we have a not so bad state and they continue to suffer. Smart negotiating strategy…

    • admin says

      You are the one who said most Israelis would agree to that. But it turns out that you now admit that they won’t. So I’m still really confused. Seems that Israelis really aren’t offering anything, are they?

      • an Israeli says

        Oh please… I’m very clear in what I write. What don’t you understand?!
        Did I say that most Israelis would agree to give the west bank and part of the old city to the Palestinians “just” like that?
        No, They would agree to do that for real peace. Do you think we Israelis are totally dumb? You (the Arabs) started wars with us. Killed and wounded thousands of our people and after we won and reached a strategic advantage by pushing you away from the immediate vicinity of our towns we would “just” give you the territories we ceased as a reward for being such a peaceful and nice bunch of people?
        Well NO. But as we did give every inch of the Sinai to Egypt for what we thought then is real peace (Egypt committed to real peace), and we will give territories to you for real peace. That’s when you have to give back something, like your wet dream to destroy Israel and get all of “your” Palestine, from the river to the sea. If you are not willing to give something back, like recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, then you’re not really willing so end the war. You just want Israel out of its free will to disappear from the map altogether. To give to you the west bank, east Jerusalem, the right of return and so in fact to give you on a plate the country the Jews have built as a present, because with the right of return Israel will become a country with an Arab majority in no time.

      • admin says

        When you first commented on my blog, I was glad to have a public dialogue with an Israeli. I’ve talked to Israelis many, many times, and I know that Israelis hold a wide range of views. But I thought that exchanging views with you might be interesting and enlightening for others. Now that we’ve gone back and forth a few times, and no one else has jumped into the conversation, I’m wondering if it is a useful conversation. I don’t feel you’re actually interested in or listening to anything I’m saying. This makes me wonder why you reached out to me. Moreover, you use inflammatory and dramatic language. I don’t want to get pulled into a silly conversation about the difference between recognizing Israel’s existence (which Palestinians have done many, many times) and recognizing the “right” of Israel to exist (which no country in the world has or has ever before asked for). And I don’t want to get into statistics about how Palestinians have accepted the idea of a state in the West Bank and Gaza, which is only 22% of historic Palestine (which makes it pretty hard to say that Palestinians aren’t willing to “give anything”). These are old conversations that I’m tired of. Right now, I think we need to realize that Israel is occupying, colonizing and dispossessing Palestine. There is not a mutual oppression. Israel is wrong morally and legally and Israel’s behavior leads to war and conflict. That doesn’t mean that Palestinians are perfect, but no change on the Palestinian side will change Israeli actions. Israelis have to. You have to. What will YOU do to bring peace with justice?

  6. an Israeli says

    I’m sorry I got a bit carried away..

    Here are answers to your questions (it’s long..)

    1. Don’t Palestinians draw Israeli in the darkest colors there are regardless of the truth? Is this new to you? I never heard a Palestinian say one thing positive about Israel. It’s always Israelis the murderers, baby killers, Nazis, terrorists, Israel the Apartheid state etc etc. And the hatred with which they educate their children from a small age that being a shahid is the greatest aspiration there is. It’s everywhere, in their school books, in their Sesame street tv program, it’s in the interviews they give to the press. I find it strange that you need me to explain what I mean by the Palestinians portraying Israel as the Satan when it’s so obvious and the examples are so abundant.

    2. When Israel conquered east Jerusalem in 1967 it annexed it as part of Israel and the then Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kolek tried really hard to make the Arabs of east Jerusalem part of the city. Israel offered them citizenship, the right to vote and be elected to the municipality, it built services for the population etc. However, most of the Arabs in east Jerusalem refused to get a blue id card (Israeli id card) or citizenship and refused to take part in the municipality elections because they view it as giving a legitimacy to Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem. So most of them got a resident card or status that gave them full movement in Israel, the right to work, and get all the social and medical services and stipends that are given to Israeli citizens except things like the right to vote and buy houses in Israel etc. They can get these rights as well if they choose to become citizens.
    As a consequence Israel spends billions on state stipends (for instance what we call in Hebrew Bituach Leumi) to east Jerusalem Arabs, on social aid and medical care even though they don’t even recognize Israel’s right to exist! not as a Jewish state anyway. Isn’t that marvelous for them?
    I saw a video on Youtube who was about the evil Israel, the Apartheid state that make the Palestinians suffer, and they interviewed a woman who had to go and live with her husband who was from the west bank on the other side of the fence because Israel refused to let him live in Israel (from an Israeli point of view that’s a survival thing because otherwise you’d get millions of Palestinians from outside Israel moving into Israel through marriages with Arab Israeli citizens or resident). So this woman complained how terrible it is of Israel to create this situation for her because now she can’t get the the help the specialist her children got in school, and all other service are so bad – not like the services she got when she lived on the Israeli side of the wall. So this woman didn’t even realize that her case is an example of how Israel is NOT an Apartheid state because it gives all the services that its citizens get to the Arabs in east Jerusalem as well.

    3. The population of Jerusalem is around 780,000 people and the Arabs population is around 350,000, so that’s almost half. Until recently – that is until the mamilla mall and the light rail opened there was a division between the 2 parts of the city. The Arabs used to be in east Jerusalem and the Jews in west Jerusalem. Of course there were always Arab (men usually) who worked in restaurants, hotels, construction etc in west Jerusalem, but you never saw Arab coming to west Jerusalem to have fun – to sit in the parks, shop, sit in coffee shops etc. They had there places were they shop and spent the leisure time and we had ours. In the last year or so, mainly because of the Mamilla mall and the light rail which connect both parts of the city, almost 50% you see of the people walking around, shopping, sitting on benches, sitting in parks in west Jerusalem are Arabs. Suddenly they discovered the developed west Jerusalem and suddenly it’s not the Jews’ part of town but theirs. Gangs of Arab youth walk all day in west Jerusalem center while the Jews are at school, army or work. Groups of Muslim women with head cover are everywhere on Ben Yehuda pedestrian street (The have no idea who Ben Yehuda is) etc. That’s what I mean by them taking over our city. You can’t sit anymore in your regular coffee shop, pizerria etc without hearing Arabic everywhere.
    Do I like it? NO. I don’t want them to be part of my immediate environment. I don’t feel they have anything to do with Israel and it bugs me that they enjoy the development in Jerusalem and Israel in general that is only due to the Jews brain, sacrifice and planning. They (the Arabs) have contributed nothing to Jerusalem or Israel’s development, on the contrary. Everywhere they are they bring their violence, primitivism, lack of any regard to the environment, bad treatment of women. These are not slogans. I see it every day on the streets. The way the look like animals at Jewish girls in shorts ot the way they harass them, or the way Arab families with parents and children walk all over the plants and flowers. Or the way they sit in independence park in west Jerusalem (Hello?! do they understand what that name stands for??), have a picnic and live all the garbage on the grass instead of using the trash bin meters away. It bothers me because they come to my part of town and try to turn it into the backward dirty part of town they come from.

    4. West Jerusalem IS a Jewish city (what’s to explain?) It was built and occupied by Jews.

    5. One of many examples:

    Not to mention the woman soldier who was stabbed recently on the light rail by an Arab who tried to flee to Ramallah.

    • admin says

      Well, you’re saying a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense to me. You’re saying Palestinians think Israelis are satan but want to have coffee in Israeli cafes. You’re saying Palestinians don’t say one positive thing about Israelis, yet you don’t say one positive thing about Palestinians. You’re saying that Palestinians in Jerusalem have equal rights, but you give an example of a woman who can’t access those rights. Then you say Palestinians are overrunning West Jerusalem, but then you say half the population of Jerusalem is Palestinian, but you’re using East and West Jerusalem numbers. The 350,000 Palestinians that you cite are nearly all in East Jerusalem.

      I guess all this doesn’t matter, though. The essence of your message is that you don’t like Palestinians. You don’t want them to have rights or to be present. So I guess it’s not too surprising that Palestinians, who perceive themselves as legitimate and equal, would not like your views. Or what exactly are you expecting from Palestinians? How do you see a fair and lasting solution to this conflict?

      • an Israeli says

        A fair and lasting solution to this conflict will be the 2 state solution. As I said before if it were up to me I’d give the Muslim and maybe Christian quarter to the Palestinians. If you asked most Israelis they’d agree to that. The only problem is that on the Palestinian side no one wants this solution. The sad fact is that the Palestinians don’t want only Jerusalem. They want Jaffa, Haifa, they want the right of return which means the end of the Jewish state. In short we go back to 1947 when the Jews accepted the UN partition plan and the Arabs rejected it. Bottom line is the Palestinians want all of former (British) Palestine and are not willing to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state anywhere in this land.
        That’s why there’s conflict. The “occupation” got nothing to do with it.
        The Arabs started wars against Israel in 1948 and before 67 when they had all of the old city of Jerusalem, Of course they couldn’t care less then about the Jews’ right to pray at the wailing wall and denied them access to the holiest site for Jews.
        So the ball is in the Palestinians’ side. Once they are willing to accept Israel’s right to exist they’ll have a state of their own with part of east Jerusalem as its capital. As long as they continue to try and deny the Israelis what they themselves want – self determination and an independence state, they’ll get nothing. Israelis built and achieved a lot in the last 64 years. What did the Palestinians do? nothing. Wars, terrorism and hatred and no state of their own.

      • admin says

        If Israelis are willing to give the Muslim and Christian quarter to Palestinians, why not just do it and see where it leads to?

  7. an Israeli says

    Haha, this post made me laugh. You people are so not in touch with what’s going on de facto in Israel.
    Your Arab brothers in east Jerusalem are sold. They can’t get enough of west Jerusalem coffee shops, stores, light rail, buses, parks, medical service and social aid.
    For some reason all the Arabs in east Jerusalem prefer to stay day and night in the Zionist (i.e. western) part of town.
    They don’t mind west Jerusalem Zionist municipality, Israeli flags, soldiers and Hebrew on the signs everywhere, as long as they can get another cup of Aroma coffee which they became so fond of.
    Israel introduced to these nationalistic Palestinians the first world and they can’t get enough of it.
    That’s what’s REALLY going on on the ground.
    Ask any Arab in east Jerusalem what they preferred – to live under Israeli rule or Palestinian rule they will all shout loudly ISRAEL. Their biggest nightmare is if their neighborhoods were to be given back to the Palestinians.

    • admin says

      I’m glad to have an Israeli voice in this conversation, but why does the idea that Palestinian Jerusalemites are “sold” make you so happy? Do you see that as a long-term solution to the problem?

      • an Israeli says

        It makes me laugh because of the dual game the Palestinians play. They keep bashing Israel on every stage as an Apartheid state, claiming Israel is the Satan himself, terrorizing the poor Palestinians, yet they show the opposite in their actual behavior and show no self “national” esteem by consuming with such enthusiasm whatever the Zionists provide and by wanting to be Israeli citizens (many ask for citizenship even though they get all rights and services even without being actual citizens).
        The truth is I don’t like the situation. I don’t like the hundreds of thousands of east Jerusalem Arabs completely taking over a city (west Jerusalem) they’ve got nothing to do with. Enjoying the standard of living made possible by the heavy sacrifice and brains of the Zionists who these Arabs fought and terrorized throughout the years. I would like west Jerusalem to stay as it was – a Jewish city. I don’t like how the Arabs behave and their mentality. They are wild, primitive, harass Jewish girls, drive like maniacs and litter the streets and parks. If it were for me to decide I’d give Shuafat, Beit Hanina, and the Muslim quarter to the Palestinian authority. The only problem with this is that once they get east Jerusalem they will probably make our life in west Jerusalem a nightmare – like they did before 1967 by shooting at civilians in the western part of the city, by shooting and Jews coming to pray at the wailing wall etc. So unfortunately we (The Jews in Jerusalem) make do with this reality of the Arabs’ new presence in our streets, coffee shops, pizzerias etc. We don’t like it but Israel is a democratic state which is governed by law. The Arabs know that we Jews will do nothing to physically hurt them even though we really don’t understand what they do in our neighborhoods day and night. The opposite of course it not true. The Arabs being the aggressive, barbaric, primitive people that they are miss no chance to try and lynch any poor Jew who happened to lose his or her way in their part of town.

      • admin says

        I’d like to have a reasonable conversation with you but I’m distracted by some claims that I don’t think have basis. Unchallenged and taken together they portray Palestinians in a way that is not in any way true to my experience. So can you start by helping me know the source of your very strong claims: 1) Palestinians claim that Israel is Satan himself, 2) Palestinians (in Jerusalem, presumably) get all the rights and services without being actual citizens, 3) hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have taken over west Jerusalem, 4) West Jerusalem was a Jewish city, and 5) can you cite any single lynching of a poor Jew who happened to lose his or her way in East Jerusalem?

        I’d like my blog to be a place for reasonable discussion, even among people with widely varying views, but they have to be shared responsibly. So, I look forward to your substantiation. Thanks.

  8. Yara says

    This is a very crucial issue Nora. I think that modern intellectual societies are becoming more sensitive to the issues of ‘tolerance’ or ‘accepting the other’ and much of the world’s conflicts are being put within that mold. Stripping the conflict of its political dimension and reducing it to a cultural misunderstanding is very dangerous and while it makes it easier to “do something” about the conflict and feel better at the end of the day, it’s not only useless on the long run; it allows the real causes to continue uninterrupted. Boycotting was proven very effective in South Africa like you have mentioned, and international Boycott of Israel can make actual changes on the ground.

  9. says

    The hypocrisy of much international development agencies (the most flagrant being USAID), in my opinion, stems from the fact that many of the countries they represent do not have the courage to sanction or take action against Israel, therefore choosing not to apply international law.

    Thus aid is a way to hug the Palestinians to find a soft spot to stick the knife in.

  10. Andrew Karney says

    Dear Nora,

    I agree 100% with what you have written.

    Its not just te “normalisation” that’s an excuse for not resolving the conflict, much of the aid that comes to Palestine allows the conflict to continue. Worse still some of it. particularly from USAID, is in Support of the occupation.

  11. Issa Rabadi says

    Dear Nora
    Thanks for highlighting this important issue. i would like to raise two additional issues.
    first, several researches, studies, PhD thesis’s …followed the effects of the ” joint” activities over the participants for the past decades and the most significant results were very disappointed for those that believe in ” normalization” as main tool for conflict resolution.
    second, i have UNPUBLISHED report that was done by intl professional organization for a European country that highlighted the use of the funds by ” joint organizations” in a corrupted way such as very high salaries ( in the report they use to compare between the salaries of the Palestinian & Israeli CO-directors and the high-tech companies), the false outputs….etc.
    this act is serving the continuation of the occupation and affects the BDS ability to be true tool to force the end of occupation.
    good luck in your work

    • admin says

      I am curious, Issa, if you believe there is more corruption in normalization activities than in other kinds of “development” work? Also, I suppose that folks who read this blog will wonder how peace can ever happen if people don’t know one another as human beings. Thoughts?

  12. Maisa Shquier says

    Dear Nora
    Thank you very much for writing about this; sadly lots of Palestinians (and non Palestinians) NGOs are working on normalization activities under different names, I see such activities are mutilating the Palestinian identity, in particular when they target children and teens. Thank you again. Cheers

    • admin says

      Thanks, Maisa. Your views are really important. But please say more for the benefit of people who live outside Palestine. How can bringing Israeli and Palestinian kids together for a summer camp mutilate the Palestinian identity?

  13. says

    This is a very sensitive issue that requires from any one to take into consideration the whole Palestinian actual perspective , not the ones who are making business of it , add to this the ongoing deterioration and ongoing violations by the Israeli Occupation accompanied by the silence / ignoring by the Israeli moderates and peace camp !
    ready to discuss this in full details . Bu the way my new coming book is dealing with this subject

    • admin says

      Dr. Ghassan, thanks so much for your comment. It IS a sensitive issue, and I would appreciate very much if you could share your views here so we can deepen the discussion. If I’ve got something wrong or missed a point, please say so. And please tell us more about your book and how we can get a hold of it!


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