Veteran Israeli peace activist and former Knesset member Uri Avnery points out in his latest article "Obama's Empathy Deficit in Palestine" that there are two completely divergent Jewish and Arab narratives driving each other's current claims to the territory once called Palestine.
Our conflict is tragic, more than most. One of its tragedies is that neither side can be entirely blamed. There is not one narrative, but two. Each side is convinced of the absolute justice of its cause. Each side nurses its overwhelming sense of victimhood.
Avnery is very upset that President Obama had apparently chosen to empathise with the Jewish narrative during his recent visit to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman.
The trouble with Obama is that he has completely, entirely, totally embraced one narrative, while being almost completely oblivious to the other. Every word he uttered in Israel gave testimony to his deeply-rooted Zionist convictions. Not just the words he said, but the tone, the body language, all bore the marks of honesty. Evidently, he had internalized the Zionist version of every single detail of the conflict.
The reasons Avnery attributes for Obama empathising with Israel are shallow and misconceived.
It was really amazing. He must have studied us thoroughly. He knew our strengths and our weaknesses, our paranoias and our idiosyncrasies, our historical memories and dreams about the future.
And no wonder. He is surrounded by Zionist Jews. They are his closest advisors, his friends and his experts on the Middle East. Even from mere contact with them, he obviously absorbed much of our sensitivities.
As far as I know, there is not a single Arab, not to mention Palestinian, in the White House and its surroundings.
This shabby explanation indicates little understanding of the multitude of advice that is received by any President from a variety of sources and the need for the President to ultimately sort the wheat from the chaff.
Avnery's outburst regrettably leaves his readers in the dark by failing to actually quote President Obama's carefully crafted remarks:
For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations. It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice, pogroms and even genocide. Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home. And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea – to be a free people in your homeland.
It is indeed this Zionist idea that has been rejected both by Avnery personally and by the Palestinian Arabs in their narrative.
The Palestinian Arab narrative ignores Obama's sweep of history - starting its narrative from 1948 by characterising the conflict as the "Israeli - Palestinian conflict" - thus allowing such narrative to completely ignore a host of critical events that occurred between 1917-1947.
This rejectionism is clearly evident in article 20 of the 1968 PLO Charter:
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