Palestine as a Millennium Dome: Globalization, Exceptionalism, Americanism, Zionism and Palestinization of the World

Dr. Saied Reza Ameli
Dr. Saied Reza Ameli is a professor of sociology and mass communications and is the Director of the Institute for North American and European Studies at the University of Tehran and assistant professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences. He is also a member of the international committee of the Global Studies Association, UK. He is one of the founders of the Islamic Human rights Commission.

This article tries to shed some light on America’s attitude towards Palestine vis a vis Israel. Through an analysis of Eurocentrism, Americanism and Zionism, the author finds a disturbingly similar trend in the practice of the Americans towards the Native Indians with the treatment of Palestinians by the Zionists.


The evolution of most societies in history has been constrained by the basic reality that people were many and resources few. Land was one of the major resources that became the key to survival and owning and controlling it the criteria for power and leadership (Gutfelt, 2002). In Europe, people were many and there was not enough land to provide for their needs, therefore the feudal system emerged. While it has been understood that following Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, many German Jews led by approximately 2000 Zionists who were members of Zionistische Vereinigung fúr Deutschland (ZVFD) immigrated to Palestine (Stone, 1997: 171). Zionists were looking for an independent land to establish the state of Israel, therefore the bloodshed, disaster and mass killing in Palestine followed. Lilo Stone (1997) proved that even two decades before the Holocaust, German Zionists had been planning to establish a Jewish state in Palestine as the fulfilment of Utopian aspirations. Samuel Halperin (1960) stated that ‘in 1930, organized American Zionism stood on the brink of complete collapse, leaders and followers alike had generally ceased talking of the near-term prospects for a sovereign Jewish State’.

Palestine was an ideal place for Zionists because Palestine was a geographically central place throughout history. As Quicy Wright (1926: 384) stated, Palestine was the meeting place of Hittite, Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman armies, Empires and cultures in ancient times. In the Middle-Ages, it was also the meeting point of Christian and Muslim armies and at times passed under the political dominance of each. The fact that Palestine was the Holy Land of Jewish, Christian and Muslim means it has been the focus of religious interest and pilgrimage, while its position near the Suez Canal has given it strategic importance.

As Alexander Scholch (1992:39) argued, to understand the issue of Palestine in the early twentieth century, and more specifically how the Palestine conflict was imposed on the Near East, one needs to delve into the foundations of European policy in particular Britain in the ‘Holy Land’. These foundations were laid in the nineteenth century. The role of Britain in terms of military (McTague Jr., 1978), political and economic interferences in Palestine is very critical (see Cohen, 1976, Ovendale, 1974 and 1980, Stein, 1991, Lockman, 1993, Huneidi, 1998). Frank E. Manuel (1955) analyzed the Italian Diplomacy in Palestinian problem as well.

Cohen (1979) reflected also on the genesis of the Anglo-American Committee on Palestine. On the other hand Ignacio Klich (1988) examined the relationship between Latin America, the United States and the birth of Israel. Some sociologists not only emphasize upon ‘utopian character’ of Zionism, but also articulate the failure of any reaction or resistance against the general trend of the Zionist movement. For example Walter Laqueure (1971: 161) by referring to the world assimilation and world orientation towards cosmopolitanism, a one-world culture; reduction national distinction in terms of economic and social developments, has emphasized that ‘the attempt to arrest the movement of history, to resist this trend (Zionist domination in Palestine and the whole region) was utopian and reactionary’.

The issue of Palestine has been studied from different perspectives. E. Ray Casto (1937) focused on the economical geography of Palestine. Casto (1939: 237) stated that ‘in 1918 the Jewish population in Palestine was 65000 which was 9 percent of the total population of 722,000. The great increase in population has been due to the rapid movement into Palestine of Jews who are investing their money and their lives in the development of the Palestine.’ Edward Hagopian and A. B. Zahlan (1974) examined the demographic history of the presence of Palestinian Muslims since 1918 at the time of the Ottoman Empire. Many scholars looked at Palestine from political perspectives; Ritcie Ovendale (1979) focused on ‘the Palestine policy of the British Labour Government between 1945-1946’. Michael Cohen’s approach was mainly around the theme of British and Anglo-American policy in Palestine (Cohen, 1976, 1977, 1979).

This paper will look at the crime against Palestine from a dialectical perspective. That is, I shall examine the way in which the hegemonic pursuit of the central value underlying globalization - namely, exclusion of the Other without regard for justice – paradoxically engenders or provokes the very opposite: that is inclusion of the Other through the implementation of justice. The case of the Zionist oppression of the Palestinians demonstrates with great clarity both the aggressive application of this central value, and the progressive or positive possibilities for reacting to injustice through global mobilization. It is in this way that Palestine, and al-Quds in particular can be upheld as not only a key sign of our times, but also as a true ‘millennium dome’; a dome which encompasses the values for which all lovers of global humanity strive, and protects all the rights of the excluded and the dispossessed. The central significance of al-Quds as the meeting place of the three Abrahamic faiths comes in this way to embrace the whole of humanity, by espousing the very ideals by which all human beings, sensitive to their humanity, wish to live their lives. The injustices of globalization and exclusionism thus come to produce, by dialectical reaction, a global force for inclusion.

The theme of this paper is relatively related to the hermeneutic studies. The Palestine/Israel conflict can not be understood deeply, unless one studies the conflict in its social text and socio-political context which has dominated Palestinian/Israeli world view. To do so, we will first examine symbolic structuralism and then we will elaborate three interconnected dichotomies in relation to hermeneutic analysis of text and context: 1) Americanism and Eurocentrism, 2) American and Zionist Exceptionalism, 3) Exclusivism and Inclusivism. Although these three dichotomies do not only explain Zionist/Palestinian conflict, but they indeed explain major foundations of ‘ideological thought’ that justified war and imposition. In the final part of the paper the dialectical reaction of pressure and resistance will also bring to the discussion to explain why Intifadah emerged.

1. Hermeneutic Understanding of Palestinian/Israeli Conflict and War

To understand Palestine as a ‘resistance’ text and Zionism as a ‘political domination’ in relation to the socio-political and cultural context in a local and global level, hermeneutic study is inevitable.

The Muslim Palestinian movement has been projected as violence, hostility and bloodshed and the Israeli Jew as a victim of the Holocaust and Palestinian terrorism. To understand how this justification and codification emerged, we need interpretation in the hermeneutic method.

Since interpretation is a central aspect of human life (Pressler and Dasilva, 1996), mass media has been involved in injection of meaning in the interpretation of the audiences. Injection of meaning takes place in a coding-decoding process in such a way that at the end, the audience will decode meanings that have been targeted originally by the organizer of power. The process of decoding relies on ‘freedom of choice’ and is portrayed in a ‘democratic’ form. That is why symbolic structuralism is very important in advance to understand the surface and infrastructure of social and political phenomenon. Therefore here we will first look at the symbolic structuralism then we will move to explain three socio-philosophical dichotomies which portray the fundament context that support humiliation and war against ‘others’.

2. Symbolic Structuralism

To understand the significance of Palestine for the Muslim World and Israel for the Jewish Community (in particular Zionists) one needs to study symbolic structuralism when making the interconnection between ‘political culture and political symbolism’ (Dittmer, 1977). Structuralism is principally derived from the linguistic work of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) and is concerned with ways of making visible the invisible framework and structures which constitute culture and social reality. Society and culture are seen as being determined by deep social and psychological structures that are independent of human thought and action (Casey et al., 2001: 233).

Eisenstadt (1995) suggested a new approach to structuralism which has been combined with symbolism in the last 20 years. Structural symbolism ‘dealt with the place of symbolic dimension in the construction of social life and its relationship to the organizational aspects and workings of social groups and systems’ (ibid, page 142). Symbolic structuralism basically discusses the symbolic orientations and patterns of codes as hidden structure of political and social order (see Rossi, 1982). It is also important to realize that the capitalist system of power produces abstraction, deterritorialization, privatization and legitimating power as a predominant social code (Kinloch, 1981). Power of symbols are important because it shows why organizers of power try to change the reality or the interpretation of the reality through a variety of types of symbolic language. There are many political examples for instrumental use of symbols for demolishing or reducing the power of supposed enemy, and there are two main works discussing this. Claes Arvidsson and Lars Erik Blomqvist (1987) edited a series of essays on the function of symbols and symbolic acts of Soviet-type societies. Anthony D. Buckley (1998) has also edited an interdisciplinary collection of essays which displayed some of the symbols found in Northern Ireland, many of these political and religious symbols have had so much impact in Ulster’s Trouble.

The Palestinian movement can be read and discussed as a political social order that has been codified by ideological symbols such as terror, barbarism, uncivilized behavior and poverty. The hidden face of such codification is legitimization of Zionism in order to establish an Israeli State in Palestine. This is a type of symbolic encoding that signifies the oppression of the oppressor (Israeli) and the oppressor of oppressed people (Palestinians). The owner of the land should be blamed all around the world for asking for their own land. This is a decoding end that the organizer of the symbolic process has been targeted. This is a type of ‘symbolic violence’ (Bourdiew and Passeron) which combines two faces; an overt face which is pleasant and delightful and a covert face which is irrational, dark and disturbing. The decoding process in the political arena is usually ended by a significant linkage between the ‘dominated power’ and the ‘pleasant face’ of events and a close relationship between the ‘enemy’ and the ‘violent face’ of events. Palestinians are shown as uncivilized suicide bombers and Zionist Israel portrayed as a rational liberal democratic state that has been interrupted by Palestinians.

Two different types of research, one in 1975 by Edmund Ghareeb and his colleagues and the second one in 1997 by Ilan Pappe, examined the representation of Palestinians and Arabs in American and Israeli Media. Both research studies substantiated the biased, prejudiced and ideological report and found unprovoked hostility against Palestinian and Arabs within public opinion.

Edmund Ghareeb and his colleagues provide many interviews with journalists to find out their justification about Arabs and Palestinians position in the US media. Peter Jennings, an ABC correspondent who worked in the Middle East for five years, stated that: ‘I think coverage has been given to the Israeli side than to that the Arabs… I would agree that American reporters generally are very misinformed about the Middle East, particularly about the Arab World (Page 128).’ Jennings throughout his interview emphasized that the situation is changing, because the audiences are becoming more educated, they were ignorant before and ignorance is a good basis for misinformation or a one-sided directed report. Ronald Koven, Middle East Editor of the Washington Post, in response to the question that why the Israelis have presented their side of the Middle East conflict to Americans more effectively than the Arabs, replied: ‘I think there is a cultural factor involved. The Israelis are of European origin, and they have an advanced public relations sense. They know how to play the public relations game, and how to speak our language. They understand how we reason, and they are able to use that to their advantage. The Arabs as a group have not even really played the public relations game. Moreover, there is a cultural barrier… now I think things are changing, both because the American press in finally beginning to pay better attention to the Arab world and because the Arab world is beginning to understand public relations (ibid, Page 132-133).’

Ilan Pappe (1997) in his article on ‘Post-Zionist Critique on Israel and the Palestinians Part II: The Media’ proved that although since the late 1980s the press has been partially privatized and by the political situation in Lebanon, the representation of the Palestinians and Arabs in the news columns is still fundamentally unchanged. This is due to the predominant influence of the Zionists and it is indeed the result of the post-Zionist movement.

Ronald Koven, touched a very important factor, that is the similar European basis of the Israelis. By considering the Eurocentric policy of Europe and pro-Western orientation of the West including the United States as leadership position in terms of culture, politics and economics, one could argue that there is extensive ground for the justification of Zionist action against the Palestinians, regardless of the injustice of such a claim. Eurocentrism alongside American Exceptionalism promotes not only political and economic violence against the Palestinians, but also creates ‘cultural hostility’ within the public sphere. A particular perception of the West about what Edward Said (1978: 3) called ‘oriental mind’ and also a set of special cultural, political and even racial characteristics explain a particular ‘socio-cultural context’ which articulate differences in understanding and reading of Palestinian history and current affairs. By structural changes taking place in the globalized world, one could emphasize on the impact of ‘educational improvement’ and ‘self provided news’ independent from formal media, that it happens these days through fluency of news around the world within a ‘virtual world’. Such circumstances created serious hope for the better mutual understanding between the West and the Middle East countries. Formation of global sympathy towards individuals and community without racial, gender, nationality nor religious considerations, is gradually under construction. The global movement against the war, the pro-Palestinian demonstrations all around the world, particularly in Europe is a very hopeful sign of a change in the world culture and human orientation towards the ‘Other’. It seems oneness gradually will replace ‘Othernesses not in the political and economic arena, but in the cultural and public sphere.

3. Americanism and Eurocentrism

Zionism is relied on and supported by Americo-centric and Eurocentric Ideologies against non-Euro-American Palestinian Arabs. To understand the entity of this relationship one needs to examine the Americo-Eurocentric values and ideologies. If one examines Americanism ideology as a colonial and imperialistic way of thinking and acting in relation to the domination philosophy, then one will find a significant relationship between Zionism and Americo-Eurocentrism. Such a world view caused mass deconstruction of the majority non-military society by a minority militant power.

On the other hand, Eurocentrism and Americanism are two interlinked concepts which explain parallel disciplines of thinking, which are embodied in ‘globalism’ and ‘Westernism’. For many sociologists globalization can be understood simply as the global diffusion of Western modernity, that is, Westernization. World system theory, for instance, has equated globalization with the spread of Western capitalism and Western institutions [Cvetkovich & Kellner (1998), Beyer (1994, 1998), Featherstone (1995), Mazrui (1998)]. By contrast, others draw a distinction between Westernization and globalization and reject the idea that globalization is synonymous with Westernization (Giddens, 1990).

Beyer (1998: 82) suggested that ‘globalization is a Western imposition on the non-West; meaning that the West is more global and the non-West more local.’ In this sense, globalization is Western Imperialism, whether economic, political, technological, or broadly cultural. However, Beyer suggested that globalization theories cannot describe the contemporary global society as simply as the extension of a particular society and its culture (that is, as one part becoming the whole), because the cultures they extend into also change dramatically in the process. Zionism in this respect means imposition over the non-Israeli, meaning that the minority immigrant Israeli has considerable more right to the land for themselves compared to the host Palestinian society.

In this respect ‘Westernization’ might serve as a substitute term for ‘modernization’ and thus continue as a legitimatising ideology for the Westernization of the world, obscuring cultural differences and struggles. For Cvetkovich and Kellner (1998) globalization is a continuation of imperialism, which displaces focus on the domination of developing countries by the developed ones or national and local economics by transnational corporations. Based on such disciplines of thinking, the occupation of Zionism which is philosophically supported by mono-centric Westernism would be precisely understandable.

3.1 Eurocentrism

Many important sociologists and leftists have discussed the issue of Eurocentrism and Westernization processing as a means of facilitating the development of Western Empire [See, Amin (1989); Lowy (1995); Sayyid (1997); Stam (1997); Dussel (1998) and Mazrui (1998)]. For them, Eurocentrism is a very important factor in bringing these standards to the forefront of European cultural and political policy. Historically, this has lead to the compilation and writing of the history of civilization and science based predominantly on the work of Western scientists (and Western cultural heritage), without any acknowledgement of the contributions made by philosophers and scientists from civilizations in other parts of the world. In this sense, history and civilizations without the West is meaningless.

Lowy (1995: 714) identifies Eurocentrism as a process through which Europe and European values became a foundational source of meaning through which individuals, groups, and nations from the continent can develop attitudes based on proposing ideologies of racial, religious, cultural, or ethnic supremacy over the various indigenous peoples that they encountered during the period from about 1450.

Amin (1989) proposed that Eurocentrism refers to an essential dimension of the capitalist ideology, whose manifestations would be characteristic of the dominant attitudes of all of the societies in the developed capitalist world, the centre of the world capitalist system. Amin charges Eurocentrism with a lack of ability to see anything other than the lives of those who are comfortably installed in the modern world.

According to Amin, Eurocentrism can be retrospectively viewed in the context of the Renaissance and the forces and processes that produced what we now call the modern world: ‘With the Renaissance begins the two-fold radical transformation that shapes the modern world: the crystallization of capitalist society in Europe and the European conquest of the world. These are two dimensions of the same development, and theories that separate them in order to privilege one over the other are not only insufficient and distorting but also frankly unscientific (Amin, 1989: 71.’ He proceeds to argue that the New World is freed from ‘the domination of metaphysics’ even while the material foundations for capitalist society are laid. Thus ‘the cultural revolution the modern world opens the way for an explosion of scientific progress and its systematic use in the service of the development of the forces of production, and for the formation of a secularized society that can successfully carry the democratic aspiration to its conclusion. Simultaneously, Europe becomes conscious of the universal scope of its civilization, henceforth capable of conquering the world’ (ibid, p. 71).

For Stam (1997), Eurocentrism is the discursive residue or precipitate of colonialism, the process by which the European powers reached positions of economic, military, political and cultural hegemony in much of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In this framework, ‘Eurocentrism is ethnocentrism gone global’. Stam argued that Eurocentrism is an ideological substratum common to colonialist, imperialist and racist discourse, is a form of vestigial thinking that permeates and structures contemporary practices and representations even after the formal end of colonialism. Stam has also attempted to place polycentric multiculturalism in place of Eurocentrism. For him the notion of polycentrism involves globalized multiculturalism. Within a polycentric vision, the world has many dynamic cultural locations, many possible vantage points. From his point of view, ‘the emphasis on “polycentrism” is not on spatial relations or points of origin but on fields of power, energy and struggle. The “poly” does not refer to a finite list of centres of power but rather introduces a systematic principle of differentiation, relationality, and linkage’ (Stam, 1995: 102). From this perspective, there is no epistemologically privileged single community or part of the world, whatever its economic or political power.

According to Dussel (1998) Weber situates the ‘problem of universal history’ with the question: ‘to what combination of circumstances should the fact be attributed that in Western civilization, and in Western civilization only, cultural phenomena have appeared which lie in a line of development having universal significance and value. This means that Europe possessed exceptional internal characteristics that allowed it to supersede, through its rationality, all other cultures. Hegel clearly described it as a German hegemony - ‘the German spirit is the spirit of the New World.’ For Hegel, the spirit of Europe (the German spirit) is the absolute truth that determines or realizes itself through itself without owing anything to anyone. According to Dussel, Eurocentrism imposed two paradigms. Firstly, it imposed itself of the entire intellectual realm of the world periphery. Eurocentrism suggests that from the Italy of the Renaissance to the Germany of the Reformation and the Enlightenment, to the France of the French Revolution; Europe is Central and the rest of the world peripheral (Dussel, 1998: 4). Secondly, Eurocentrism embodied ‘the culture of the centre of the world system, of the first world-system, through the incorporation of Amerindia, and as a result of the management of this centrality.’

Eurocentrism is a cultural phenomenon in the sense that it assumes the existence of an irreducibly distinct cultural variant that shapes the historical paths of different peoples. Although Eurocentrism is a force of global hegemony, it is also an anti-universalistic phenomenon, since it is not interested in seeking possible general laws of social evolution. But it does present itself as universal, for it claims that imitation of the Western model by all peoples is the only solution to the challenges of our time. This view sees all the creations, phenomena, innovations and ‘general thinking’ theories in all the sciences as being European. In such an atmosphere, the great human civilizations, which have ancient historical track records, are neglected and forgotten.

Mazrui (1998: 10-11) suggested several fundamental factors related to the contradiction between the Eurocentric world and Muslim society. He explained that two-thirds of the Muslim world: from Kano to Karachi, Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, and Dakar to Jakarta, was colonized by the West in the first half of the twentieth century. In this period the Muslim world became more fragmented than ever and even more receptive to Western cultural penetration. This type of Western domination may be categorized as pre-globalization processing. It occurred before the appearance of communication technology, the growing impact of Western media upon the distribution of news, information, and entertainment, ranging from magazines, cinema, television, and video to the new world of computers. The omnipresent technology of the West is a force that carries with it not only new skills but also new values. Here the net result is a form of globalization of aspects of culture. Eurocentric and Americo-centric brands of globalization masquerade as universally true and so other cultures eventually embrace one aspect or another of Western culture.

3.2 Americanism and Americanization

Americanization as a projective and ideological process relies on an ideological philosophy called ‘Americanism’. According to Cvetkovich & Kellner (1998) most of the new global popular culture that produces resources for identity-formation supposedly comes from North American media industries. From this perspective, globalization becomes a form of Americanization, which imposes on the world such figures as Rambo, Madonna, Beavis and Butt-Head, gangster, rappers, and other figures from American culture. These figures produce seductive models for new identities that find their adherents all over the world.

Many European and even some American thinkers examining the rise of the United States in recent years and its global cultural impact, even in Europe based upon the idea that ‘The American empire is the only one in the world. It is absolutely supreme, and it is the first time in human history that this curious phenomenon has survived. The United States is a unique empire: it is a major producer of all sorts of goods as well as an avid consumer. Its history from the very beginning is marked by an extreme tendency toward expansion’ (Abu-Rabi, 1998:27). This is the theme of many theories that define Americanism ended by globalization.

From this perspective, the asymmetries in the availability of, and access to, production equipment, distribution networks, venues, etc. leads to a structural bias that favour some producers at the expense of others. This bias brings to mind a system of colonialism, and notions of cultural colonialism (Shiller 1976). These global pessimists see the cultural domination of the United States overriding the sundry national cultures. For this school of thought, the Canadian example is the most illustrative. Because of Canada’s geographic and cultural proximity to the United States, it has the longest experience in fighting the forces of "globalizing" culture. The results have been catastrophic for the Canadian cultural industry: In Canada, about 96% of the films in movie theatres are foreign, most of these American. US Television dominates Canadian television; seven American firms control the distribution of sound recordings in Canada; three quarters of the music on Canadian radio is not Canadian; 89% of magazines on newsstands are non-Canadian; and six in every ten books are foreign, mainly American (Cvetkovitch and Kellner 1997:11, The Economist, Sept. 12, 1998).

Jameson (1998) suggested that for those people around the world who watch exported North American television programs, it is enough to realize that this cultural intervention is deeper than anything known in earlier forms of colonization or imperialism, or simple tourism. At the same time many Western sociologists raise the same idea of hegemonization of American culture via globalization. Anthony Giddens (1990) argues that the consequences of modernity are becoming global in scope, that what used to characterize a few western societies, with the United States as a frontrunner, is becoming a global characteristic.

Trent (1998) has focused on the use of video and films as a means of community organization and as a tool for social change in the process of cultural globalization. As a member of the Frankfurt School, she examined the impact of Hollywood on the productions of indigenous filmmakers in the context of ‘culture industry’. She argues that, ‘the highest award-winning filmmakers in Mexico, those who have won awards in Mexico that are similar or identical to the Academy Awards in the United States, cannot find theatres in Mexico to release their films’ (Trent, 1998: 230). While Spanish films do not require subtitles - they cannot find theatres. At the same time Hollywood’s English films which require Spanish subtitles have been victorious throughout the cinema theatres of the world.

On the other hand, some cultural relativists working in the discipline of modern ethnography have argued against these kinds of universalistic tendencies by pointing to the variety of cultures in terms of authentic, self-contained wholes. Samuel Huntington (1996) claims, in the context of his widely discussed and much criticized theories about the ‘clash of civilizations’, that the main axis of international conflict on a world scale will be the difference of cultures rather than of nations and between political and economic systems or standards of development. He stated that ‘For the relevant future, there will be no universal civilization, but instead a world of different civilizations, each of which will have to learn to coexist with the others’ (Huntington, 1996: 23).

Such a cultural context based on mono-centric ideology is the main reason for social conflict, cultural and political confrontation and total war (Barbera, 1998). Emergence of Zionism as an ideology and destruction of Palestinian generations as well as mass homicide of innocent children and non-military people in Palestine can be related to such an ideology backed by the United States and European’s philosophical world view.

4. American Exceptionalism and Israeli Exceptionalism

American Exceptionalism refers to the idea that the Americans ‘proudly emphasized their uniqueness, their differences from the rest of the world, the vitality of their democracy, the growth potential of their economy (Lipset, 1996:17).’ This is an idea that an emphasis on American culture should be considered as a superb potential to dominate cultures all over the world. The political and economic leadership has also considered this as a unique, remarkable and the only workable power system for the new world order. Seymour Martin Lipset (1996) described American Exceptionalism in relation to Americanism as a particular ideology, which includes a set of dogmas about the nature of a good society. For him, Americanism is ‘an ‘ism’ or ideology in the same way that communism or fascism or liberalism are isms’ (ibid, page 31).

Lipset (1996: 31) argues that the idea of American ideology can be defined in five basic terms: liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism and laissez-fair. These values represent the spirit of the new society that was created in America, a society that no longer emphasized the monarchies of post-feudal Europe. The revolutionary American ideology which became the American creed is liberalism in its eighteenth and nineteenth-century meanings, as distinct from conservative Toryism, statist communitarianism, mercantilism and noblesse oblige dominant in monarchical, state-church-formed cultures.

The major covert or implicit element of American uniqueness and Exceptionalism is political violence. Arnon Gutfeld (2002: 91) stated that ‘American history is replete with violent, emotional and irrational reactions to problems both real and imaginary. Repeated eruptions against other, and hostile behaviour toward ideologies not considered American, are rampant throughout American history.’

This element of political violence, overt and covert, can be clearly observed throughout American history, from the inception of the American state up to the policy of world domination, and the proclamation of the ‘axis of evil’. The genocide of the Native Americans is one of the most striking examples of this overt violence in the 18th century. Arnon Gutfled (2002: 152) documented the correspondence between the commander of the British Forces in North America and a colleague. He referred to the Indians as ‘beasts of the forest’, and asked: ‘could it not be contrived to send the small pox among those dissatisfied tribes?’. The officer replied that he would attempt to distribute germ-laden blankets among the Indians and added, ‘it is pity to expose good men against them, I wish we could make use of the Spanish method, to hunt them down with English dogs ... who would , I think effectually extirpate or remove that vermin.’

For Gutfeld (2002: 90) American political violence ensured that the ‘haves’ and ‘will haves’ would share in American’s plenty; he also refers to the special environment of America - the vast natural resources that induced the frontier-expansion process, and the upheavals that accompanied the changes that the United States underwent in its transformation from a rural to an urban industrial society. Secondly, the paralegal manner within the civil society of the United States is another indicator of political violence. Vigilantes and lynch law were accepted and promoted often by the upper strata of society in order to maintain law and protect the economic-political-social status quo.

According to Madsen (1998: 41) Exceptionalism in relation to the Native Americans means ‘white policies to control Indian communities’. The price of such an idea was that Indians had been slaughtered for 300 years, ever since the white man first appeared on the shores of the New World. In the 19th century Sitting Bull, one of the great leaders of the Sioux Nation, described in a very simple yet compelling manner the transformations that had occurred in the lives of the Native Americans since their encounter with the white race and especially since the establishment of the United States, until their virtual demise at the end of the nineteenth century:

‘When I was a boy the Sioux owned the world; the sun rose and set on their land; they sent ten thousand to battle me. Where are the warriors today? Where are our Lands? Who owns them?... Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am a Sioux; because I was born where my father lived; because I would die for my people and my country?’ (Quoted in Phillip Weeks, 1990:150).

One could see a parallel discourse of this American Exceptionalism against Indians, in the Zionist Ideology against the civilians of Palestine:

“In our country there is room only for the Jews. We shall say to the Arabs: Get out! If they don’t agree, if they resist, we shall drive them out by force.” (Ben-Zion Dinur, Israel’s first Minister of Education, History of the Haganah, 1954).

The crisis of Palestine in relation to the emergence of Israel established a new type of Exceptionalism related to and supported by American Exceptionalism. However, Zionist and American Exceptionalism have provoked parallel modes of Exceptionalism that is non-military resistance-war without any military hardware, that is, the Intifadah. This war is based on meaning and value, this war is meaningful for those who see ‘life in death and death in life’.

Political violence arises from the ‘ideology of war’ (Losurdo, 2001), this is an ideological will construction based on ‘war and domination’, ‘war and expansion of power’. Any thing might make one nation unique against other nation. If a particular political nation emphasises types of uniqueness which humiliate other nations of the world, then world contradiction would be expected to be occurred. Exceptionalism from this perspective creates parallel Exceptionalism around the world, consequently all cultures, religions, nations have a right to feel exceptional in this way.

5. Exclusivism and Inclusivism

Exceptionalism ends up with two parallel orientations, one is exclusivism, which excludes everybody except those who are members of the ‘tribe Ideology’ defined in such ways as the ‘American Mind’ or the ‘Zionist Club’. The second consequence of Exceptionalism is the desire for development of membership -inclusivism, not that membership gives benefit to the members, but that membership expands the ‘forces of power’. The process of inclusivism takes place through Americanization, westernization and now globalization of the world.

Globalization through exclusive orientation stands for a particular ideology. From this perspective, one can examine globalization as an ideological process. Ideology is a ‘science of ideas’ that was closely tied to zoology (Wasburn, 1982: 235). Such a science will help to understand the process of formation and construction of a particular idea akin to Zionism and utopian state of power in the form of ‘Israel’. Ideology always creates a sort of monopoly politics (Miller, 1999) and Exceptionalism.

The relationship between Palestine and Israel can be discussed as an ideological process which induced ideological exclusivism, monopolism and Exceptionalism.

6. Resistance in Response to Pressure

Theoretically one can argue that imposition and pressure creates resistance, especially when one feels that one’s values, culture and past civilization are under serious challenge. Resistance increases when people are marginalized within their own homeland. But people can be free but at the same time suffer from isolation and humiliation. In Islamic history, there is a role model that can articulate resistance for Muslims. This is due to the fact that Islam emerged as a resistance movement. This is predicated on the fact that earlier Muslims were punished because of their faith and because the experience of being Muslim was subjection to harsh castigation, marginalization, loneliness and poverty. Accordingly, the Palestinian Movement can be perceived as a revitalization of Islam as it emerged from its beginnings and as it developed. As the city of Al-Quds is endowed with a particularly elevated standing for Muslims throughout the history of Islam, it has become a ‘millennium dome’ in the current century, not only because it is situated in a Muslim country but through constituting a symbol of power and powerlessness of the Muslims and Islam, and of justice/injustice as it is exercised between Muslim and non-Muslim. The true significance and status of this city - a place of peace and love and the holy land of prophets for the Islamic faith, as well as a symbol of the essential unity of the prophetic message in the three Abrahamic faiths - cannot be established without the liberation of Palestine, and Palestine would be of no value without Al-Quds.

Global, cultural, and political changes have also crystallized the inclination for a return to the past, for, it is said, everything true and good belongs to tradition, while the present is a degeneration of the past. The characteristics of resistance then are dominated by fundamental values. Castells (1997) sees the dissolution of legitimizing identities that used to constitute the civil society of the industrial era, as giving rise to resistance identities which are pervasive in the network society. He stated that resistance identity has emerged as a product of the impact of globalization. Resistance identities have become entrenched in communal abstractions, and refuse to be flushed away by global flows and radical individualism. They build their communes around the traditional values of God, nation, and the family, and they secure their encampments with ‘ethnic emblems’ and ‘territorial defences’. For Castells those who are formed by this type of identity communicate amongst themselves within the network society. But they do not communicate with the state, except to struggle and negotiate in pursuit of their specific interests/values. ‘Because the communal logic is the key to their survival, individual self-definitions are not welcome’ (Castells, 1997: 356).

Israeli self-imposition upon Palestine is a force of intense pressure that has provoked the popular non-organized movement - Intifadha - and crystallized resistance movements not only amongst the younger generation but also amongst children, young and old people. Here, everybody is involved, because everybody undergoes a fundamental loss of cultural, civilizational and religious capital.


As a conclusion I like to raise three points: first, based on what I have explained so far about mono-centric world views such as American and Israeli Exceptionalism based upon Americanism and Europeanism, one could conclude that such a worldview can only entail selfishness, imposition, violence, mass destruction of innocent people and more bloodshed, total war and animosity. In spite of the fact that it is preposterous for a historian to suggest that there is something exceptional or unique in the history of a specific society, the study of history highlights the “oneness” of all humanity’ (Gutfelt, 2002: X). At least today, world society is more than ever before looking for peace and rest, rationality and respectfulness.

Second: it seems to me that a totally independent world - a world without sympathy and co-operation is a ‘utopia with no topos’ (Bauman, 2002). Today, societies, cultures and civilizations have become more mobile and moveable more than ever before (within the virtual world). The static society is not realistically possible any more either. One should define independency within dependency in a way that the more powerful do not dominate the less powerful, but try to be more helpful and supportive, otherwise world conflicts and resistance are inevitable. From this perspective the Palestinian movement can be seen as a transnational movement that is three-fold: firstly Palestinians look for international support, with the shift out of internal hope. Support for the Palestinians draws strength from the very disenchantment and disappointment felt by large sections of the global populace in regard to global corporate power generally. For it is becoming increasingly clear that global corporate power greatly exceeds corporate legitimacy, opening a gap which can be exploited by humanitarian movements all over the world. Secondly, Palestinians have attempted to work together in the Intifada not on the institutional level but in the public arena locally, and, as regards the global context, outside the framework of governmental authority and international organisations. Thirdly, there is a sharpening contest to establish transnational political identities, breaking the containment of nation consciousness. The failure of the Palestinian attempt to liberate Palestine has initiated serious divisions of political identification into local, national and global levels. With heightened transnational integration of the Palestinian movement based on human values, there is less insulation or containment, and all levels operate simultaneously to constitute political resistance to revive efforts to liberate Palestine from Zionist domination.

Although world politics are still dominated by Western power, ‘globalization today can no longer be spoken of only as a matter of one-way imperialism. Action at a distance was always a two-way process; now, increasingly, however, there is no obvious direction to globalization at all, as its ramifications are more or less ever-present. The current phase of globalization, then, should not be confused with the preceding one, whose structures it acts increasingly to subvert’ (Gidense, 1994: 96).

Reverse globalization explains the reverse trend of globalization, that is, it reverses the processes normally associated with globalization. For these processes were expected to divide the world between the centre and the periphery-centrality for a particular superpower and its associates - and the periphery for the rest of the world. Reverse globalization explains how the rest of the world actually responds to globalization in concrete terms. It also explains the response of the world to that aspect of globalization centred upon American Exceptionalism. Therefore today one possible response to the American totalitarian international policy can be a mass reaction of the global community. The global community is in some sense a reality. The people of the world, despite differences in religious affiliation or nationality, manifest a humanitarian response towards obvious, clear-cut injustice: this humane response arises out of a shared sense of humanity. The Exceptionalism which motivates American superpower hegemonic aspirations, and which similarly underlies the policies of the state of Israel in regard to the Palestinians, is confronted by a reverse trend of inclusivism: those who are excluded by Exceptionalism - at whatever level-are recipients of the sympathy of all those who are motivated by the inclusive tendencies arising out of a shared humanity. On the one hand, there is the leveling out of difference through exclusion; and on the other, an abolition of difference through inclusion. In the first case, the Other is to be eradicated - whether this be the cultures standing in the way of globalization, or the nation standing in the way of the Chosen People; while in the second case, the Other is to be embraced as an inalienable dimension of oneself: oneself viewed as a human being, not as the bearer of any particular ideology or religion or culture. In this way, a reverse globalization takes hold. The individual reasserts his or her uniqueness through the very opening to other similarly unique individuals, who have the same-global-rights and status as a human being. This stands in total contrast to the elimination of the Other which exceptionalism/globalization/nationalism produces.

Accordingly today ‘official and institutional power’ are no longer the only source for international policy, but ‘people of the world society’ are strongly involved in the decision-making process. Furthermore, one need to realize that there is not a globalization but many globalizations (Berger and Huntington, 2002) at work. As Americanization is taking place, so too Palestinization has the potential to take its place as a globally salient symbol of resistance and of the quest for justice. Palestine can then stand forth as a true ‘millennium dome’: a dome under the shade of which all of those who are upright in justice, who uphold the rights of humanity, and who will not cease in their quest for truth, can take their place. Finally, it seems to me that ‘world society’ does not tolerate a system of ‘war followed by peace’ (Caplow and Hicks, 2002). Rather, world society is looking for ‘permanent peace and justice’ for not only the human being, but also for all creatures.


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