It has been a week of horror for global justice and peace minded humanity as Israel and the Palestine returns to violence. The Washington Post was so precise as to speak of the Palestinians losing 147 so far, 47 of them children while putting Israeli loses at 10. Giving the difficulty of accurate figures in such conflicts as some wounded persons never recover, the figures could be more. Expressions such as ‘deeply disturbed’; ‘gravely concerned’ and ‘utterly appalling’ have been used in reference to the current escalation.
Speakers of such words must be rightly concerned, knowing the current configuration of power around the conflict and how that could produce any possibilities. In a totally unplanned manner, the conflict could take the world to a different outcome. One mistake here or an error of judgment there and we could all be in it. Hence, the error of reading the spate of violence as a Christian-Muslim conflict involving ‘the chosen people of God’ on one side and its opponent on the other side.
Violence has never really left the Israeli-Palestinian relationship since the birth of the Israeli State but it does not always come in the form of physical violence. Much of the time, it comes by way of structural violence – violence hidden in institutions, processes and practices, especially of space. Spatial practices of power involve mainly questions of who can go where at what time. The Palestinians have largely been at the receiving end of various dimensions of Israeli power.
But the violence is even worse when the question of why they are at war is posed. Israeli foreign and security policy intellectuals would say they are dealing with (Hamas) terrorists and fighting an existential war while Palestinian ideologues and combatants stick to it as a war for homeland. As such, the truth remains relative and completely dependent on power.
But, as power does not come from only missiles but also narratives, the Palestinian narrative has sold more than the Israeli narrative. The world, at least the United Nations, agrees with the Palestinian narrative even as the UN is, nevertheless, toothless in terms of resolving/ending the conflict. Its resolutions are ignored or blocked by those who have both the influence and the material capability to stop the bloodletting. The problem with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict thus becomes the problem of power in conflict resolution.
Thus the need for normative powers such as the EU to step up on what they have been doing towards resolution.