by Jamal Ghosn, Al-Akhbar English
The dominant media narrative of the “Middle East Conflict,” with its accompanying “peace process,” has a hard time contextualizing today’s developments in the Shebaa Farms of the Golan Heights. According to that pro-Israeli narrative, the status quo in Palestine — and around it — is perfectly fine and any deviation from it must be rectified.
While the Israeli military was bombarding the besieged Gaza Strip last summer, even the most radical global protests only called for a stop to the bloodshed, and thus for a return to the pre-war status. Following the same logic, any “recognition” of the status quo is celebrated as progress towards ending the conflict. That is what happens when symbolic votes are held in European parliaments recognizing a Palestinian state. The implication of this is that the Palestinians have no qualms about the occupation they endure, and all they really want is for it to be administered by Abu Mazen instead of the Israeli generals.
That narrative is also parroted by local tools of occupation. The careers of the collaborators in the political class depend on a perpetuation of the status quo. When you keep repeating that narrative for years and decades, some people start believing it. They start believing that a ceasefire is stability. According to this narrative, Israel’s forced withdrawal from South Lebanon ended its occupation, and thus, the resistance can happily disarm. Daily violations of sovereignty upset the illusion of peace and are met with heads buried in the sand. The myth of dissociating Lebanon from a war in Syria is repeated matter-of-factly, as is the treatment of Gaza and the West Bank as different planets on diverging orbits.
But there’s another narrative, which is more popular in this region, even if it’s largely ignored by satellite news channels and news wire services. Parachuting foreign journalists dismiss it as nonsense because it does not sound like anything they’ve been exposed to in their newsrooms or journalism schools.
According to this alternative narrative, the status quo is not fine. Occupation is a problem. The settler colonial state of Israel and its apartheid practices are not acceptable. Every act of resistance to end the existence of this historical anomaly is normal. This narrative does not care if the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese or Syrian. Mahmoud Abbas giving up his right to visit his Galilee hometown of Safad is irrelevant.
In this narrative, no one is surprised by the presence of resistance fighters in Quneitra, Khartoum, and Sinai. They are expected to be there. It is also normal for an occupying force to be concerned with their activities and even to assassinate them. And accordingly, Israel should also expect to pay a price for doing so.
Settlers in all of Palestine should be paranoid. They should hear noises as tunnels are being dug under their settlements. That should be the status quo as long as Palestinians live under a military siege in Gaza, are humiliated on a daily basis at West Bank checkpoints, and are treated as second-class citizens within the demographically controlled “green line.”
What happened today in the Shebaa Farms is that a resistance faction has accumulated the strength and experience to retaliate proportionally against an occupier’s aggression. An eye for an eye, of sorts.
But this is not the war.
The “Middle East Conflict” started with occupation and ethnic cleansing. It will only end with liberation and the return of refugees. That is the war.