'Tag Meir' anti-'price tag' candle lighting 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy of 'Tag Meir')
There is nothing normal about “normalization.” It sounds like a good
word, but to many Arabs, not all of them political extremists, “normalization”
is a very bad word. Normalization means to Arabs what anti-Semitism means to
Jews. It’s a word with very negative connotations. Yes, it is that bad.
As you might imagine, I have been accused of “normalization” a lot. I
talk to Jews. And visit Israel, and Palestine, as if there was nothing wrong. I
did stand-up comedy with Israelis (not just Jews) and that angered a lot of
extremists who still attack me every chance they get to this day.
understand their attacks. I recognize they are incapable of achieving anything
on behalf of the “Palestine cause” and that in attacking me, they are assuaging
their guilt and failure. Israeli critics are the same. They can’t save Israel,
either. Both sides are failures, in truth.
They can stop things but they
can’t make things happen. They can destroy things but they can’t build
anything. That’s one reason why Israelis have never achieved their dream
state, and why Palestinians have never established their own
Recently, a group of normal Palestinians and Jews decided to come
together at a conference to explore the idea of
“Confederation.” Basically, the idea is to create two states, each with
their own sovereign governments, and at a higher level, a confederation
government shared by Israelis and Palestinians. (I wrote about their efforts a
few weeks back).
The meetings were to take place at the Ambassador Hotel in east
Jerusalem and in Beit Jala but Palestinian activists – extremists, really –
protested, made threats and blocked the conferences.
Al Quds University
President Sari Nusseibeh, who I admire, was to have been a speaker. He
canceled. Palestinian fanatics have never forgiven him for suggesting that
Palestinians compromise on the issue of the “Right of Return,” something I also
The principles of the unprincipled criticism of “normalization”
are simple: Those who oppose “normalization” fear that if Israelis and
Palestinians start treating each other with respect, the conflict will disappear
without ever achieving a resolution.
BUT THE fanatics don’t want the same
conclusion that the moderates (who are attacked for “normalization”) are
seeking. Fanatics want the other side destroyed. Israeli fanatics
hope that Palestinian aspirations for statehood will one day
disappear. Palestinian fanatics hope that Israel will eventually be
destroyed and the Jewish state will be replaced by an Islamic state.
moderates believe compromise can’t work without an attitude adjustment.
Compromise can’t be achieved unless the two sides compromising accept each other
That’s the real power of “normalization.” Because it
really works both ways. When Palestinians “normalize” with Israelis, it also
means Israelis are “normalizing” with Palestinians.
When people normalize
with each other, instead of demonizing each other, compromise becomes easier to
achieve. And that’s why the fanatics want to stop normalization. They
don’t want compromise. They want conflict because conflict maintains
their chances of achieving their real goal, to destroy the other
Many Israelis still do not recognize Palestinians as a people and
turn to racist hatred to claim they never existed. It’s no different than what
Palestinian extremists are doing.
Just because I am willing to treat
Israelis like human beings does not mean that I support Israel’s extremist
government policies. And it doesn’t mean that I will stop criticizing Israeli
policies and actions.
I don’t mind normalizing with Israelis, even though
I wish more Israelis would speak out against the growing extremism in
I oppose the expansion of Israeli settlements. It
contributes to the conflict and encourages violence; and violence is happening
on both sides with Palestinians firing rockets are Israelis and Israelis firing
missiles at Palestinians. Civilians are killed on both sides of the fence, and
all of those deaths are an unmitigated tragedy.
change the facts, either. And the facts are clear to anyone who wants to see
them. More Palestinians are being killed in this conflict than Israelis, so who
is responsible for the violent nature of our relationship?
not stop me from criticizing Israeli practices including the immoral policy that
severely restricts Palestinian Christians and Muslims from entering Jerusalem.
Most of my own relatives are banned from entering the so-called “open
But normalization means that I accept a different way of
addressing these grievances. I reject violence of all kinds, by
Palestinians and Israelis alike. I reject the calls for one state by Palestinian
fanatics and by the Israeli fanatics, too.
Normalization is what makes me
believe there are many Israelis who support genuine and fair peace, too. It
encourages me to try and convince the rest of Israeli society to take their
heads out of the sand and see the real threat that a future of continued
conflict holds for us all.
Normalization may not be “normal” in the
Middle East or in regard to Palestinians and Israelis relations. But it
is the first step towards ending this conflict through compromise and creating a
Palestine State while insuring Israel’s continued
Normalization may not be popular, but it is the only answer to
the growing fanaticism that is gripping both peoples, Palestinians and Israelis
The writer is an award winning columnist and radio talk show host.
He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com.