August 5, 2006


by Gilles Deleuze

Why would the Palestinians be “valid negotiators” since they don’t have a country? Why would they have a country, since theirs has been taken? They have never been given any other choice than to surrender unconditionally. They have been offered only death. In the war that opposes them to Israel, Israel’s actions are considered legitimate reprisals (even if they appear disproportionate), while those of the Palestinians are treated exclusively as terrorist crimes. And an Arab death has neither the same value nor the same weight as an Israeli death.

Since 1969 Israel has continuously bombed and shelled South Lebanon. Israel explicitly recognized that the recent invasion of that country was not a reprisal for the Tel Aviv commando action (thirty thousand soldiers against eleven terrorists), but the premeditated, crowning moment of a whole series of operations whose initiative Israel reserved to itself. For a “final solution” to the Palestinian problem, Israel can count on the almost unanimous complicity of other states, with a variety of nuances and restrictions. The Palestinians, people with neither land nor state, are seen as obstacles by everyone. No matter how many weapons and how much money they have received from certain countries, they know what they’re saying when they declare that they are absolutely alone.

The Palestinian combatants also say that they have just won a certain victory. They had left only resistance groups in South Lebanon, groups which seem to have held up quite well. On the other hand, the Israeli invasion struck blindly at Palestinian refugees, Lebanese peasants, all the poor agricultural people. The destruction of villages and cities, massacres of civilians have been confirmed; the use of cluster bombs [bombes à billes] has been reported in several quarters. For several years this South Lebanese populace has been continuously fleeing and returning, in perpetual exodus, under Israeli blows that cannot very clearly be distinguished from terrorist acts. The current escalation has driven two hundred thousand people onto the roads without shelter. The state of Israel is applying to South Lebanon the method that proved itself in Galilee and elsewhere in 1948: it is “palestining” South Lebanon.

The Palestinian combatants are drawn from the refugees. Israel claims to defeat the combatants only by turning thousand of others into refugees, among whom new combatants will be born.

It’s not only our relations with Lebanon that make us say that the state of Israel is murdering a fragile and complex country. There is also another aspect. The Israel-Palestine model is determinant in current problems of terrorism, even in Europe. The worldwide understanding among states and the organization of a world police force with worldwide jurisdiction, currently under way, necessarily lead to an expansion in which more and more people are classified as virtual “terrorists.” We find ourselves in a situation analogous to that of the Spanish Civil War, when Spain served as the laboratory and experimentation for a still more terrible future.

Today, the state of Israel leads the experimentation. It is establishing a model of repression that will be converted in other countries, adapted by other countries. There is a great deal of continuity in its politics. Israel has always considered that the UN resolutions which verbally condemned it in fact proved it right. It transformed the invitation to withdraw from the occupied territories into the duty to establish colonies there. Currently it considers the deployment of the international force in South Lebanon an excellent idea…on the condition that this force is ordered to transform the region into a surveillance zone or a controlled desert. It’s an odd kind of blackmail, which the whole world will give up only if there is sufficient pressure to ensure that the Palestinians are finally recognized for what they are, “valid negotiators,” since they are in a state of war for which they are most certainly not responsible.

Translated by Timothy S. Murphy
(originally published in Le Monde, April 7, 1978)

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