Hossam Abougabal
Last updated: 12 November, 2014

“You cannot speak of peace using the language of war”

Ultra nationalism, religious rights, terrorism, resistance, right to self-defence and all other phrases and terms used by Palestinians and Israelis alike are central to the problem that too often perplexes the international community, and leaves no solace for peace.

We could, as many have, talk for decades about the solutions for peace that provide both parties with what they want. But whilst talking we cannot avoid the use of many of the above terms, and the conversation itself becomes the biggest obstacle for peace.

THE ZIONIST BELIEF that the Jews are the chosen people is exacerbated through a right to self-defence and an expectation to live free of any aggressive threat. Hamas is often cited as the sole contributor that forces Israel to, as many will claim, terrorise, what they call the terrorists. Where as on the other hand, the Palestinians, at least those living in Gaza, claim that any resistance is legitimised when against military occupation, and it is a right enshrined not only in every law of the land, but also in the law of nature.

See. It has happened again, a sequence of phrases and taglines that have come to define the Palestinian conundrum.

This abuse of language is extended to the international community. Egypt continues to brand Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that destabilised the country during Mohammed Morsi’s tenure, and the US maintains its stance in standing by their friends. Whilst the UN continues to meet in order to condemn the atrocities on both sides.

“This abuse of language is extended to the international community”

In the same way that the black population of South Africa won the hearts and minds of the world, many will claim that the Internet and social media has meant the Palestinians are destined for the same path. Although this path is paved in the blood of many women and children, it is a path nonetheless.

FROM THIS, it seems that social media could serve as the catalyst that changes the language used for the Palestinian cause. Social media has translated the conflict that is now leading to international outcry over the humanitarian issue. Countless videos and pictures being shared have allowed the world to see Gaza for what it is, an impoverished warzone, where people have no recourse for peace.

But social media bears its own demons. The unregulated and, independent nature of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook breed a collection of posts and reports that are either unconfirmed, false or as with traditional media, abide by a particular agenda. Examples are found in pro-IDF Facebook pages and websites such as the electronicintifida.com that continue to use the language of war.

Either way, for this path to reach its final destination there needs to be radical rebranding of the radicalised struggle from both sides on the ground. The Israelis divine justifications have no place on any negotiation table, and there needs to be a restructure of igniting a secular resistance from the Palestinians. 

THE NEGOTIATION table should be limited to the words: freedom, justice, peace, dignity and end. 

Because until now it’s clear; root cause analysis hasn’t worked, compromise doesn’t fit and, the political will of those in power is non-existent. The Arab people must begin to reconceptualise the Palestinian cause in order to win the hearts and minds of the international community without the blood of thousands on their hands.

Change the language, and change the conversation. A shift to natural rights and dignity rather than dogmatic claims to land.

You cannot speak of peace using the language of war.

ALSO READ On the possibility of non-violent resistance in Palestine