Never let it be said that I'm incapable of thinking beyond the dogmas laid down by "jejune students eager for an anti-establishment cause," as the worldly wise editorial in Wednesday's Australian described UNSW's BDS campaigners.
And what an editorial it was! Every line, a revelation. Every idea, positively Solomonic!
Still, if I had to choose the one line/idea that particularly resonated with me, it'd be this one:
"The legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people present a worthy cause, yet to couch their campaign in hateful language about 'apartheid' and 'war crimes' is demonstrably inaccurate and offensive." (Unis tolerating intolerance: Racist anti-Israel protests expose lack of understanding, 1/5/13)
Now that, let me tell you, really got me thinking outside the current BDS square. Maybe, I thought, the Australian's onto something here, much as I hate to admit it. Maybe those "jejune students" really do need to just sit down together and come up with a more appropriate, less offensive way of plugging the "worthy cause" of Palestine.
And then it hit me: this kind of discussion has already taken place, and among Palestinian leaders no less!
A quick rummage through my files, and I soon had the document I wanted. After reading through it again, I was struck by the way its contents echoed the wisdom of the Australian's call for the adoption by the "jejune" BDS brigade of a more moderate, more Israel-friendly approach to highlighting "the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people."
Why, I asked myself, shouldn't the spirit of tolerance for Israel's position that informed that cross-factional, post Gaza Flotilla discussion back in 2010, act as a guide today for those "jejune" pro-Palestinian students at UNSW? After all, we can't be more Palestinian than the Palestinians, now can we?
And so, with that in mind, I'm posting here a transcript of what is surely the single most important, though unfortunately least known, of all the documents of the Palestinian resistance movement ever to have fallen off the back of a truck:
Meshal (Hamas): Everyone hooked up?... Okay, gentlemen, we have a big problem, so I'm just gonna say what needs to be said: We're screwing up the one thing we always agreed on - Israel's needs come first. We must - I mean must - find modes of resistance that don't offend the Jews. By the way, I just got a bootleg Avi Gefen CD and it kicks ass. I'll burn copies for you guys.
Shallah (Islamic Jihad): Cool. Listen, I couldn't agree more about re-calibrating strategy, Khaled. I really thought the settlement boycott would be OK, since it's stuff made on our land and all that, but it's just way too aggressive. We should've run it by the Yesha Council.
Fayyad (PA): And that Aid Flotilla - what a bright idea. Not! Look, we were warned. When Lieberman calls something a violent provocation, it's a violent provocation. Those crazy boats and what-have-you. Why? Because of a siege? It just makes Israel look bad.
Sa'adat (PFLP): Say, who's gonna talk to these hotheads in Ni'lin and Bi'lin? It's not okay to provoke tear gas and bullets and scrawl that potty-mouth stuff on the Wall. I don't want Jewish kids seeing that trash on TV.
Fayyad: You're blaming the Authority, I assume.
Sa'adat: Your turf, man.
Fayyad: My turf? Listen, I have -
Meshal: C'mon, c'mon. Guys, there's plenty of blame for everyone. Let's keep it positive.
Shallah: Hey, a rabbi, a sheikh and a midget walk into a brothel. The sheikh says-
Sa'adat: This the one where the rabbi says 'Oy vey, it's bigger than a palm tree'?
Shallah: You heard it already?
Meshal: Who hasn't? That joke's older than the Jewish presence in Jerusalem. Look, let's focus here. One suggestion - why don't we just ask the Israelis what protest they'll tolerate?
Sa'adat: No, no, no, no, no! Khaled, are you trying to make things worse? Every lover wants you to just understand them and not ask a lot of questions. Besides, you're just trying to shift responsibility to the Jews. As Abdullah said, it's our duty to figure this out.
Meshal: What about a Palestinian Gandhi?
Shallah: That's just another version of asymmetrical warfare. With Sharon under the weather, the Israelis don't have a comparable peacemaker.
Fayyad: How about we use protest letters? Firm but polite. Good quality paper.
Meshal: Better yet, does anybody know if the Israelis have a standard complaint form? We fill it out, submit it quietly through proper channels, we can't go wrong. It's their own form.
Shallah: That's good. Just let's not flood them with complaints. We'll look like a nuisance and it's not very nice.
Meshal: Right, exactly. Everything in moderation. Not too much and not too little.
Fayyad: Well, too little's okay.
Shallah: Of course. By the way, a friend sent me an old Jackie Mason album. Vinyl - mint condition! Guy makes me laugh so hard I plotz!
Sa'adat: Jackie takes something, like, half-formed in my mind and says it perfectly. Like he's in my head!
Fayyad: You wish, Ahmad!
Meshal: Hey, I hate to be a nudje, but we're burning minutes. Listen, how about something like this Flotilla Commission the Israelis put together? A focus group of really old Jews that detest us. If something doesn't offend those guys, it's good to go.
Sa'adat: Again you make the Jews responsible! Not only do you want painful concessions, you want them to tell you how to ask for them. Nutty.
Meshal: Okay, Mr Diplomat, make a proposal - for once. One constructive idea.
Sa'adat: Well, maybe if you listened a little more carefully, you'd know I've been suggesting a petition drive from day one.
Meshal: I like petition drives. I always said they're very effective with the Israelis. But what do we demand?
Meshal: Okay, not demand. Request.
Shallah: Something like, we, the undersigned, respectfully request... what?
Sa'adat: Negotiations?... Discussions about negotiations?
Fayyad: Preliminary discussions about preliminary negotiations?
Shallah: Jordanian citizenship and limited residency rights in restricted West Bank areas?
Sa'adat: No, no - that's to be negotiated.
Shallah: This's really hard. Ya know, I just don't think it's so wrong to ask the Israelis for a little guidance. They know what they'll tolerate.
Meshal: Do they? 2 Jews, 3 opinions.
Sa'adat: Why can't we be delightfully quirky like that?
Meshal: Lemme tell you something Abu Tir said the other day. 'Hamas wins parliamentary elections and they arrest 64 of us. So protest voting's obviously not allowed. After 4 years in prison, they revoke my Jerusalem residency. So even thinking about resistance is not allowed in territory they control. Maybe they just want us out of here.'
Fayyad: Khaled, c'mon, man...
Meshal: This never occurs to you? That everything we're talking about, the expulsions, the land grabs, the contempt, it's all on purpose to make us surrender?
Shallah: Wow. My brother, that's really paranoid.
Sa'adat: Worse, it's anti-Semitic incitement. Khaled, I'm very disappointed.
Shallah: Those Syrians slipped something in your falafel.
Fayyad: Look, if we present the right request in the right way at the right time, Israel will always consider it. Just like Oslo.
Meshal: Sorry. Guess I'm a little frustrated....
Shallah: Here's a good one. Arab walks into a bar on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem. Slaps a pile of shekels on the bar, says 'Let bygones be bygones - drinks're on me!' Bunch of Jewish guys get drunk, they jump the Arab and beat his ass. Week later, the Arab comes back in. 'Let bygones be bygones - drinks're on me!' Jews get drunk, beat his ass again. Another week, in comes the Arab. This time he says, 'I'm not buying you guys any more drinks.' Jewish guy says, 'Good, 'cause we're tired of you making us drink before we beat your ass!'
Fayyad: Now that's funny! I gotta tell that one to Tony Blair!
(Circus Israel, Palestinians strive to resist appropriately,13/7/10, circusisrael.blogspot.com.au)