Shalom Boguslavsky, Rewriting Life Before Oslo

Shalom Boguslavsky, Rewriting Life Before Oslo

Image: Hagiler 66 years in 60 seconds

The Israeli Right has taken on the re-writing history. And they are successful. In November 2015, I published a post about my personal impressions of the twentieth anniversary of Rabin’s murder entitled Forgetting and Forgiving Rabin’s Murder, capturing my surprise when I encountered last year’s non-political-nonpartisan Rabin commemoration. How Rabin the peacemaker turned into Rabin the IDF chief of staff and “Leftists like former President Peres, who attended the rally, were not allowed to speak, but representatives of religious Zionism – were.” 

Last week, when former President Shimon Peres collapsed on the twenty-third anniversary of the Oslo accord, I was surprised to see the myth-making around the Oslo Accord. These are stories of the good-old-days before radical anti-Zionist leftists (i.e. Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin) inspired by Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History decided to destroy it all and pursue a fantastic vision of a new Middle East.

Shalom Boguslavsky’s text translated by Ayala Emmett confronts this newly written history of the pre-Oslo times. Between the lines you can learn about the strange beliefs Boguslavsky is fighting. We need to know this if we are to help Israelis fight it. 

Maya Haber


 

Shalom Boguslavsky, Rewriting Life Before Oslo

From my perspective the Oslo Accord was an enormous leap, which from the outset, in retrospect and for various reasons rather than land successfully on the other side –fell flat on its face.

I want, however, to talk about the pre-Oslo phase, because twenty years after there are people reconstructing the history of that time as an imagined utopia – no borders, Arabs working for Jewish employers and the rare terrorist attacks.  Occasionally the first Intifada sneaks into this idyllic story.  But when it does it is accompanied by a newly invented interpretation: it was not Palestinians in the Territories who rebelled demanding independence after 20 years of military occupation. It was the fault of “The Leftists who had released thousands of terrorist prisoners” in the Jibril Accord.  Where have all the thousands of terrorists come from in that utopian period that ended when Oslo destroyed it? Nu, do we really have to explain how an Arab become a Terrorist? It’s the force of nature.

Or is it perhaps because in the good old days, Palestinians were imprisoned en masse not only for “terrorism,” which indeed existed, but for things like owning “banned books,” at home. On Palestinian history, for example.

It was a time when soldiers were instructed to order people on the street to climb electric poles to remove “PLO flags.” On one such occasion a man lost both his hands and the State Attorney, the settlements’ hero, Plea Albeck argued that the man should not be compensated because there was no harm done. He could still make Falafel with prosthetic hands.

At that time Israeli soldiers were stationed at every street corner in the centers of Palestinian cities.  During my army service I sat for coffee with some older reserve soldiers who shared nostalgic memories about “the good old days.”

One of them recounted how he and a friend were bored one day and decided to stand in the middle of market place and whenever a Palestinian with a wristwatch walked by one of them would hold the Palestinian’s hand and the other would smash the watch with a club.

Another told how he caught children who threw stones and brought them to his unit. The other soldiers “of course started beating them.” He went to fill out forms and when he came back he found two dead bodies.

These were not testimonials of Breaking the Silences. The soldiers were not beating for the Sin committed. They just offered entertaining anecdotes sipping coffee.

According to the newly constructed history, however, pre-Oslo time was great. The Arabs started the Intifada not because we had been in a violent conflict for decades. Neither because in the conflict’s latest phase they suffered a restrictive military rule in which a Palestinian could not operate a Shawarma kiosk without the permission of a Jewish officer.  No, the problem was Leftists who woke up with peace fantasies.

What else is new. You would have heard similar stories from slave owners in the US South, French landowners in Vietnam and British Gentlemen in India.

My personal views of the Oslo Accord, its promoters and fundamentals are mostly negative. Maybe I’ll write about it in the future. But let’s not get confused here. Oslo did not damage an acceptable situation. It was an attempt to fix a terribly broken condition.

When you encounter those who repaint a not-so-far history in nostalgic, warm and soft filters with flashes of Instagram—ask them to restore it. Let’s see what they’ll say then.

I can promise that it’s not going to happen. They will tell you how they are dying to restore it; but the Leftist and the High Court of Justice, the European Union and all the oldies-do-good just won’t let them.

The truth is that those rewriters of pre-Oslo life don’t really want to change things. Oslo never brought much but a few Palestinian enclaves surrounded by walls and check points, and public distrust that the conflict would ever be resolved.  And those who re-write history just love life post Oslo.

Original text: Shalom Boguslavsky in Drop the Scissors and Let’s talk about it (Taniakh Et haMisparaim v’bo Nedaber Al Ze), September 14, 2016

Translation: Ayala Emmett

Introduction: Maya Haber

Ayala Emmett
This post was written by
Ayala Emmett was born in Israel in Tel Aviv and grew up in Ra’anana in an Orthodox Socialist community. After high school she served in the IDF on a border kibbutz. She studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and graduated with a B.A. majoring in Anthropology, Sociology and English Literature and a minor in Jewish History. She got her M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Rochester and joined the faculty of the department of anthropology at the University of Rochester in 1987. She was one of the founders of the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies at the university. Ayala Emmett is the author of a book on women’s peace activism in Israel, Our Sister’s Promised Land: Women, Politics, and Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence (reissued in 2003 in paperback edition with new introduction). Emmett has edited special volumes and written numerous articles on peace, justice, gender, and religion. She is the recipient of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology Fiction Award and published short stories in the journal Anthropology and Humanism. She served as chair of national and local committees and was the anthropology editor for the journal Sex Roles. Ayala Emmett is the founder and director of Seeds for College Foundation, a foundation to support inner city minority students to graduate high school and go to college. She is one of the founders of JWCR (Jewish Women for Child Refugees) in Rochester N.Y. Emmett is a past president of Temple Beth David and a current member of Congregation BHBI and Temple Brith Kodesh. In January 2014 Ayala Emmett was appointed Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Rochester. She founded, together with two other editors, Peter Eisenstadt (U.S.) and Matia Kam (Israel), The Jewish Pluralist a website that gives space to wide and diverse Jewish voices, American and Israeli, commenting on Jewish and non-Jewish life and committed to Jewish values and ethics. The website locates itself within the long history of Jewish concern with justice, peace, and human dignity

1 Comment on "Shalom Boguslavsky, Rewriting Life Before Oslo"

  • Mattie says

    If you dream about writing & formatting po&8ss#t230; and then wake up wishing you could remember what you wrote about! Great list Rachel! Have a wonderful time at Allume!!

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