Alain Finkielkraut receives Benjamin Barthejournalist specializing in the Middle East, having written in collaboration with Gilles Paris and Piotr Smolar a series of articles for Le Monde entitled “ The endless war – Israel-Palestine” And Armand Laferrèremember of the editorial committee of the journal Commentaire, having published this winter “ Israel: this massacre that changes the world”. Together, they return to the last act of this interminable confrontation, October 7, 2023 and the war in Gaza that followed, and attempt to answer this question, the simplicity of which is dizzying: how did we get here?
“The story did not begin on October 7” Armand Laferrère
For Benjamin Barthe, in order to understand the events of October 7 and those that followed, it is necessary to place them in the long term. Going back in history to the 1950s, he describes the different stages of the conflict and endeavors to show that “the past resembled, in a reduced version, what we have been witnessing since October 7. There was already at the time this enormous tension at the border with Palestinian infiltrations, with Israeli responses which were disproportionate in the eyes of observers.”. For him, if the events of October 7 showed a “paroxysmal version” of this conflict, it remains necessary to place them in a certain historical continuity in order to measure their scope.
Armand Laferrère does not believe that this “long term past” can provide an explanation for the attacks of October 7 and prefers to focus on a shorter period: “We got to this point because Hamas prepared this operation. For 16 years, the entire Gaza Strip was militarized and all the money that came in was used to build an underground military infrastructure.” According to him, October 7 is a paradigm shift in the conflict, and characterizes it, using the words of Emmanuel Macron, as “the largest anti-Semitic massacre of the 21st century”.
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Territorial compromise: is the essential impossible?
Recalling the various attempts at political negotiations and territorial compromises which have succeeded one another in history – the partition of 1948, the Oslo agreements, the Camp David negotiations and that of Annapolis in particular – Alain Finkielkraut questions the reasons for their repeated failures.
According to Armand Laferrère, it is the “systematic refusal of the Palestinians which is at the origin of these failures”. “I recall that Ernest Bevin, when he returned Palestine’s mandate to the UN in 1947, wrote in a letter that he arrived at the following conclusion: the two-state solution is impossible because there are two communities on this land and one of them has the sole objective of having a State, while the other has the sole objective of the first not having a State.” He pursues : “Until today, the Hamas Charter speaks of the liberation of Palestine, but does not speak of a Palestinian state. That’s not the point. The subject is to prevent Jews from having a state.”
“Indeed, there has historically been a refusal of the two-state solution by the Palestinians” recognizes Benjamin Barthe, “but the Palestinians have come a long way politically.” […] “Even Hamas is changing a little. In 2017, the Hamas Charter was amended, they expurgated it of most of its anti-Semitic excesses and recognized that the two-state solution is the subject of a Palestinian consensus.” According to him, to understand this conflict, “you have to listen, without being naive” the demands of Hamas and their political dimension: “They say their conflict is with the Israelis, with a political system, a system of occupation and oppression. This is how they present their fight.”
What can we hope for?
According to Armand Laferrère, “the absolute objective” is that Hamas no longer governs Gaza after the war, and “we can’t give up because otherwise there will be new October 7”. Benjamin Barthe considers this objective illusory, because Hamas is a “multifaceted movement” : “it is an armed militia, a political movement, a social infrastructure for the population. Even if Yahya Sinouar surrenders there will be another Hamas leader tomorrow, and if it is not Hamas it will be another movement” because Hamas “thrives on the denial of Palestinian rights.”
Bibliography of the show:
Time for debate