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Absolutes have no place in conflict resolution

Once again Zoe Lawlor resorts to a distorted interpretation of reality to reinforce a hypocritical boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. 

To reinforce the BDS polemic Ms Lawlor introduces a flawed nexus which links personal narrative, moral relativism and political absolutism in order to impose a positive prejudice, or moral ambiguity on terrorist incidents like the bombing of a bus carrying Israeli civilians on Monday April 18.

Her deliberate choice of emotive terms such as “murder by the Israeli military”, and “occupation, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and siege” is a coded BDS language designed to portray Israelis as an inhumane collective that commits indiscriminate atrocities. Foucault identified that this type of prejudicial narrative cannot “be established, consolidated, nor implemented without the production, accumulation, circulation and functioning of discourse”.

Consequently, the BDS discourse is so one-sided, it depicts the Palestinian suicide bomber who blew-up the Jerusalem bus as nothing more than a ‘delinquent juvenile’, while depicting the members of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) tasked with preventing these attacks as ‘desensitised automatons’ intent on killing as many innocent Palestinians as they can get away with.

These linguistic distortions have worked as Israel has been re-conceptualised as a so-called ‘apartheid state’ and deligitimised as a genuine ‘liberal democracy’. This simplification empowers Hamas to dispatch suicide bombers, secure in the knowledge that the global community will excuse it as an act of self-determination.

The dichotomy between genuine two-state advocates and polemical organisations promoting the notion of a Greater Palestine was perfectly summarised by the late Christopher Hitchins in 2002 as he lamented the loss of a two-state solution to the ideologues who promote hate from both perspectives. He berated the United States for taking “the same line on Palestinian statehood as St Augustine took on chastity: It was something to be desired eventually, but not quite yet”. At the same time he emoted a visceral rejection of Palestinian nihilism as “the self-murder of pre-programmed individuals who have the massacre of civilians as their aim is not just disgusting in itself. It expresses very clearly the absolutism of the ideology it exalts it; a depraved religious mentality combined with a rigidly exclusive ethnonationalism”.

In other words, absolutes have no place in conflict resolution. Surely individuals of conscience can at least attempt to find a consensus recognizing a parity of esteem.

Dr Kevin McCarthy

Kinsale, Co Cork


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