Régis Debray on Palestine

The current issue of Le Monde Diplomatique (August 2007 – #641) reprints a paper the previous [Chirac] government of France had asked the writer and philosopher Régis Debray to provide after, a fact finding tour of Palestine. Debray himself says that the piece is a “note diplomatique” (involving “concision and circonspection”) and so the language is rather guarded and far from radical/militant. And yet, the very description of the facts and the logical conclusions that RD draws from them are clear and unequivocal. Here, an excerpt, and the conclusion of the article entitled “For a Diet of Truth in the Near East”:

If, to the parcellisation of the territory – disconnecting any eventual central Palestinian leadership from the local managers, and the latter from each other – one adds the physical and methodical destruction of the “national” institutions, of the infrastructures and of the actual political cadres by the Israeli army, constituting a guarantee for internal anarchy, for the proliferation of gangs, clans and the settling of scores, in short, for endless chaos – it becomes clear that the road chosen is not that of the construction of a state, but that of the deconstruction of any possible governance on the other side of the wall. It is logical reverse of an annexation programmed for the middle term (30 years) and that will be ratified when the time comes “given the new realities in the field.”

…. What emerges, finally, instead of the Palestinian state, announced and wished for by all, is an as yet unnoticed Israeli territory with three Palestinian self-managed municipalities as enclaves. All parties find it useful to keep up this international pretence & trompe-l’oeil. The Israelis, because history advances masked. The Palestinians, because one cannot tell the truth to an occupied people that clings to hope, without inciting it to self-destruction; and because out of what has become a pious wish, the notables, the elected, and the government officials gain a source of income, a permanent appointment, some dignity and raison d’être. The Europeans, because they have chosen to buy themselves a conduct with large financial and humanitarian aid contributions, which exonerates their political passivity and voluntary blindness. And the Americans, mentally owing more to the Old than to the New Testament, because their existential link with Israel is of the filial type and therefore acritical. The shared self-protective illusion thus results in the coincidence of conflicting interests – therein lies the irony of history.

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