Undoubtfully, Edward Said was the one of the most important thinker of late 20th and early 21st centuries. His main contributions generally accumulate on the analysis of orientalism. In his book, the Orientalism, he tries to answer questions related to that analysis, for example why the West needs to analyse, or let’s say inspect, the Near-East and how does the West see the Near-East. His analyses are multi-dimensional, he refers an cites various philosophers such as Marx, Gramsci and Foucault. In this paper, my focus is on the book named “Yeni Binyılda Filistin Sorunu”, published by Aram Yayıncılık, which consists articles and conservations of Edward Said published in various newspapers and journals, not only on the issues and incidents related to the Palestine Question but also about Arab and Muslim worlds, during the dawn of new millennium.
Basically, the book consists twenty-one articles and reportages and all of them consists analyses on Israeli – Palestinian conflict the attitudes and positions of Western World. Not like the many of his contemporaries, in these writings, Said comments weaknesses of Arabian and Muslim world related to Palestinian issue and criticises obsolete, outdated, monotonic politic decisions of Palestinian leadership, which harms Palestinian people (Said, 2002). For example, in one of the article of the book, named as “Beklemeye Daha Ne Kadar Devam Edilebilir?”, Said concludes that:
And so, I feel that, as Arabs now, we are in fact waiting for all sorts of things to happen with very little certainty as to what they are, how they will affect us, and what will come after. It is nothing short of staggering how our powerlessness has induced in us a similar sort of unlimited attitude of just hanging on, waiting for the main event to take place while we play all sorts of banal little roles outside the main action, so to speak.(SaId, 2002, pp. 13–14)
In another article, “Oslo’nun Sonu”, we can frankly see how Said sees the Palestinian leadership. He harshly criticises the leader of Palestine, Yasser Arafat, by accusing him as ‘supported by MOSSAD and CIA. As he concludes:
With his…regime supported by both Israel’s Mossad and the CIA, Yasir Arafat continued to rely on US mediation, even though the US negotiating team was dominated by former Israeli lobby officials and a President whose ideas…showed no understanding of the Arab-Islamic world.(2002, p. 50)
In addition to Arafat administration, he mentions the conformist politics of other Arabian administrations and leaders of them:
Compliant but isolated and unpopular Arab chiefs (especially Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak) were humiliatingly compelled to toe the American line, thereby further diminishing their eroded credibility at home. Israel’s priorities were always put first.(2002, p. 50)
As I wrote in the first paragraph, said was like a “honey bee”, he uses various opinions of various writers, such as Gramsci. In the same article quoted above, Said refers to Gramsci and mentions about the lack of counter-hegemony for success against Zionist, Israeli hegemony. To success against Israel, strengthening the civil spheres is important, which are universities, media, research institutions. As he said:
As Antonio Gramsci said long ago, when dealing with non-military realities (military realities are beyond our reach, despite the ruinous Arab habit of over-spending on useless military hardware) the only policy to combat failure is one of developing a counter-hegemony against the ruling hegemonic powers.(2002, p. 18)
In addition to these, Said also mentions about lack of worldwide legitimacy of Palestinian Movement. The movement is right, however it should be legitimised all around the world, like anti-apartheid movement of ANC in South Africa, led by Nelson Mandela. As he concludes:
The first phrase struck me cruelly: why did the Palestinian struggle not (yet) capture the world’s imagination and why, even more to the point, does it not appear as a great moral struggle which, as Mandela said about the South African experience, received “almost universal support… from virtually all political persuasions and parties?(2002, p. 118)
Edward Said criticises Zionist and Neo-conservatist intelligentsia in Israel and the United, however, he does not hesitate to denounce Arabian intelligentsia who plays ‘three monkeys’. As he explains:
Arab intellectuals had made it a point of honour not to have any dealings with Israel, not to go there, not to meet with Israelis, and so on and so forth, but even they had been silent when, for instance, Egypt signed large deals selling natural gas to Israel and had maintained diplomatic relations with the Jewish state during frequent periods of Israeli repression against the Palestinians.(2002, pp. 135–136)
In conclusion, the book which we inspected can be a good resource to understand how Israeli-Palestine conflict and how the World has seen it. In addition to that, as the book consist writings about historical case, the reader can easily elaborate ideas and thoughts of Edward Said in his books (especially the “Orientalism”) by analysing and searching them in the book. In the last instance, Said tries to give consciousness against one-sided, Western analysis of Near-Eastern politics and societies, by analysing Israeli-Palestine question.
Said, E. W. (2002). Yeni Binyılda Filistin Sorunu. (A. Cüneyt, A. Kerem, & N. Ersoy, Eds.). İstanbul: Aram Yayıncılık.