Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

November 2009

Jonathan Cook: A recent report from Israel’s National Insurance Institute showed that half of all Arab families in Israel are classified as poor compared with just 14 per cent of Jewish families.

Haaretz: Release Barghouti

29 November 2009

Barghouti is considered a Palestinian leader. Before he moved on to subversive activities and running a terrorist cell, he was a peace activist and sought to hold meetings between Israelis and Palestinians. He considered the Oslo Accords the basis for dialogue. From his cell he developed, along with Hamas leaders, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Document and has not abandoned diplomatic discourse. Anyone who thinks that keeping him behind bars will contain his political power and standing is welcome to learn from South Africa, which imprisoned Nelson Mandela for decades only to see him become president.

IOA Editor: This Haaretz editorial reflects the domestic discussion in Israel on the impending Shalit-prisoners exchange deal.

Hamas proved its prestige in 2006, when it won a large majority in the Palestinian general election. Back then, it did not need an Israeli captive or a prisoner release. It seized authority in Gaza because no party – not Israel nor Fatah, nor the countries of the Quartet – agreed to recognize its esteemed position. Hamas continued to grow stronger as it became clear that without it, there was no point in holding diplomatic discussions on any part of Palestine.

IOA Editor: Barel’s commentary reflects the domestic discussion in Israel on the impending Shalit-prisoners exchange deal.

Netanyahu is not even deceiving Obama. The American president knows full well that this is all play acting. He is very intelligent. He is not very courageous… This is a great victory for Netanyahu, his second over Obama. Not yet the decisive victory, but a victory that bodes ill for the chances of peace in the near future.

IOA Editor: Avnery is able to see through Thomas Friedman’s ‘advice,’ but he’s not considering the possibility that Obama is actually going exactly as far as he wants to, and entirely by choice: a verbal pursuit of Peace in the Middle East, not the sort that requires any action.

Peacemaking takes strategic skill. But we see no sign that President Obama and Mr. Mitchell were thinking more than one move down the board. The president went public with his demand for a full freeze on settlements before securing Israel’s commitment. And he and his aides apparently had no plan for what they would do if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said no.

IOA Editor: Even Mr. Obama’s natural allies, the US “liberal media elite” are not impressed by his ME peace initiative. What should the rest of us think? “Hope?” “Change?” Blah, blah. Incidentally, the New York Times has no criticism of Israel. None.

“… [W]e know the incident I was involved in was not an unusual one, but one that happens a lot… The only difference is that in my case it was documented and that’s how the entire world saw and heard about it… The Israeli courts have proved and taught us that they are part of the occupation system. It’s like the judge, the defendant and the prosecutor are the same thing, as they are part of one system. How can the same system judge itself?”

Rabin on the killing of 250-400 Lydda residents under his command in 1948: “There was no way to avoid the use of weapons and warning shots in order to force the residents to march 10 to 20 kilometers… The residents of Ramle observed what was happening and learned the lesson. Their leaders agreed to evacuate voluntarily.”

IOA Editor: Not so, for both towns, according to Segev’s coverage. Despite the differing views among Israeli researchers, and the still restricted sources, it is clear that Palestinians did not leave their homes ‘voluntarily.’ Undoubtedly, another reason to award Rabin the N-Prize.

[T]he head of the Civil Administration, Yoav Mordechai, came and proposed to the residents that they move eastward… they were also explicitly told they would not be given building permits… In his letter to Mordechai, [human-rights attorney Michael] Sfard says the proposal to uproot the village is an expression of “the Civil Administration’s ‘transfer’ policy, whose aim is to ‘cleanse’ the seam area of its Palestinian inhabitants … Even if you believe that there is a big difference between forced transfer and so-called ‘voluntary transfer,’ the difference is really minimal.”

A majority of Israelis seem to get by just fine with the occupation, while B’Tselem is met with suspicion and accused of treason. Despite this, over the years in which targeted assassinations, smart bombs, closures, checkpoints, detentions without due process, lack of running water, poverty and a separation fence five minutes from Kfar Sava have all become routine, B’Tselem has continued to undermine the passion for denial, and to defend the rights of Palestinians and thus also the image of Israeli society.

If not for B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, the State of Israel would look different today. The occupation might have been even crueler, or just as cruel, but we certainly would look different. In its 20 years of existence, this important human-rights organization may not have succeeded in changing reality, but at least it has made it possible for us to know what that reality was.

Israel will release Fatah strongman Marwan Barghouti as part of a deal to secure the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, [reports] Al-Sharq al-Awsat… If Barghouti is released in the prisoner exchange, it could have far-reaching strategic implications on internal Palestinian balance of power, and attempts to strike a peace deal with Israel.

UPDATE More recent reports now suggest that Israel is refusing to release Marwan Barghouti. See Haaretz story

“In a Muslim-majority country like Indonesia, it might come as a surprise to learn that Jews are critical of Israel,” Loewenstein tells The Jakarta Post… “I’m trying to challenge people’s perceptions that I’m Jewish, and I’m proud to be Jewish, but I’m pro-Palestine,” he says. “Israel is still occupying Palestine, and it’s my moral responsibility to fight against it in my own ways.”

Why is it permissible to talk to Hamas about the fate of one captive soldier and another several hundred prisoners, but forbidden to talk to them about the fate of two nations? Never has Israeli logic been so distorted… Israel must remove the criminal siege against Gaza and call on the international community to remove the boycott against Hamas, which was imposed under Israel’s leadership.

When Hillel [was asked] to cancel Eitam’s meeting because of his previous violence and hate speech… it refused. Hillel and other Eitam supporters responded that the scrupulously-documented charges made against him were a “medieval blood libel”; that Eitam never said or did these things; that he was misquoted… or quoted out of context; that the leading Israeli newspapers reporting his words and deeds were part of a vast left-wing conspiracy; and that even if Eitam did say and do these things, he represents an important sector of Israeli opinion that should be heard.

For years, Israel has developed an entire industry of institutionalized voyeurism. It is a bureaucratic apparatus employing high technology, which not only enhances its methods of control, but also manufactures justification for that control to persist. Israeli society warmly embraces these professional voyeurs and their explanation that their work stems from “security demands.”

IOA Editor: See also Jonathan Cook’s: Israeli spies ‘infiltrate’ Johannesburg airport.

The human rights organization Yesh Din says not one of the 69 complaints filed during the past four years on damage to Palestinians’ trees in the West Bank has resulted in an indictment.

The United States is expected to ease its opposition to incorporating Israeli systems in the F-35 if Israel expedites its order for the stealth strike fighter… a version of the F-35 that would include command and control systems developed in Israel, as well as the ability to carry advanced missiles that are made in Israel.

On June 19, 1967, a week and a half after the end of fighting in the Six-Day War, ministers, including Menachem Begin, were willing to give up on the gains made on the Syrian front in exchange for peace.

The young trainee was spotted by a female passer-by as he planted a fake bomb under a vehicle in the capital.

IOA Editor: Israeli agents have a long history of bomb-planting throughout the Arab World, from Egypt in the 1950s to Syria and Lebanon in recent years.

“For now he is doing nothing, but he has invited us to revive the peace process. I hope that in the future he can play a more important role,” Abbas said in an interview.

Of greatest concern is what is happening on American campuses, which are slowly becoming pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli. That is dangerous because this is where America’s future leaders are bred. But our opponents are not motivated by anti-Semitism, as our political hacks like to claim. If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then anti-Semitism is the last refuge of the occupier.

IOA Editor: Marcus, historically, a defender of the Occupation, is beginning to appreciate the significance of Israel’s diminishing popularity. This Israel-centric commentator marks the early signs of change, and a welcome indication of the success of BDS and the global anti-Occupation movement.

In recent months there is a growing tendency among opponents of Israeli oppression and defenders of Palestinian rights to refer to Israeli policy towards the Palestinians as “apartheid”… I would like to warn against an unthinking use of this misleading analogy between Israeli policy and that of the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa. It is theoretically false and politically harmful.

IOA Editor: This very important discussion of the similarities and differences between the Occupation and Apartheid, originally published in 2004, is again timely, in view of recent commentaries, including on the IOA.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz appears to have been unaware of some important facts when he said at a recent conference on discrimination that Arab society in Israel is partially responsible for the low levels of employment for Arab women.

“Our research showed that the checks conducted by El Al at foreign airports had all the hallmarks of Shin Bet interrogations,” said Mohammed Zeidan, the director of the Human Rights Association. “Usually the questions were less about the safety of the flight and more aimed at gathering information on the political activities or sympathies of the passengers.”

First we shape a new reality for ourselves; then we expect the entire world to adopt it, demand that our neighbors pay the cost, and complain that we have no partner for peace.

Currently around 130 Palestinian citizens of Israel are incarcerated as security prisoners. Hamas… is concentrating on the 22 who have been in jail for more than 15 years, much longer than the average for offenders sentenced to life… None are Hamas members. Some are serving life sentences, although they were not convicted of murder or manslaughter. In most cases, a minimum term before eligibility for parole has not been set, in others it has been set at 40 or 45 years.

IOA Editor: Another example of Israeli takeover of land and property owned by Palestinian individuals or institutions by “legal” or illegal means – based on the winner’s ability to write the law. This convoluted case – based on special Israeli laws written to legalize, and thus legitimize, the takeover of “abandoned properties” left by Palestinians after the Nakba – shows how Israel’s war against Palestine continues, 61 years after 1948.

A current case, different circumstances, different legal basis, but the very same theme: HERE.

“To the best of my knowledge, there’s probably no other country in the world… which is subject to such an intrusive regime of aerial surveillance,” UN special envoy for Lebanon Michael Williams said this month.

[The US] defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” The Hebron settlers’ violence is certainly premeditated. It is, by their own admission, politically motivated. It is perpetrated solely against noncombatant targets (overwhelmingly children), and it is obviously the work of a subnational group – the settlers themselves. The business of the Hebron settlers is terrorism, pure and simple.

Noam Chomsky: ME Questions

20 November 2009

Noam Chomsky in BBC interview:The war in Afghanistan is “immoral.” He spoke to Stephen Sackur and answered viewer questions, among them several on the Middle East.

US embassy: “To stir up controversy at the same time that we are trying to get people back to the [negotiating] table, is not productive… It is only natural that Senator Mitchell would be paying attention to that – and the US government as well.”

IOA Editor: The spirit of Kahane is alive and well (as they used to say, “Kahane Chai” – “כהנא חי”)… Thriving from the hills of the West Bank all the way into Israel’s Knesset. This would serve only as the latest excuse for the US failure to get “people back to the table,” with the primary reason being the woefully one-sided, twisted US foreign policy – one that accepts Occupation of one nation by another as a normal state of affairs.

“Apartheid” is a word bomb akin to “lynching” or “untouchables.” It explodes upon the page, ripping the scabs off the wounds of state-enforced segregation in South Africa, a system that ended only in 1994… We have used the word “apartheid” to describe Israel’s system of rule over the Palestinians with eyes wide open to the incendiary quality of the term… Our purpose in making this comparison is not to shock… Rather, we seek… to stare hard, cold realities in the face and to participate in the discussion about how to transcend them without compounding the loss and dislocation they have already caused.

Israeli Occupation Forces have escalated their systematic campaign against Palestinian civilian construction activities… Areas classified as Areas C in the West Bank are currently subjected to extensive Israeli campaigns aimed at undermining the Palestinian presence. Israel is also expanding construction activities in settlements and the annexation of new areas of Palestinian lands in Area C, including occupied East Jerusalem and its surroundings.

[I]t’s no exaggeration to propose that this idea, although well-meant by some, raises the clearest danger to the Palestinian national movement in its entire history, threatening to wall Palestinian aspirations into a political cul-de-sac from which it may never emerge. The irony is indeed that, through this maneuver, the PA is seizing — even declaring as a right — precisely the same dead-end formula that the African National Congress (ANC) fought so bitterly for decades because the ANC leadership rightly saw it as disastrous. That formula can be summed up in one word: Bantustan.

IOA Editor: See comments on article page.

[Lacking] the most essential elements of statehood: independence and sovereignty, and effective control over its territory… A Palestinian state that is recognised under these circumstances, with its territory partitioned, and subdivided into cantons, surrounded by walls, fences, ditches, watchtowers, and barbed wire, would scarcely be a state worthy of the name.

Officials at Al-Bireh city hall see a connection between the stop-work order, and the Palestinian refusal to return to the negotiating table as long as Israel does not freeze construction in the settlements… “This is a typical kind of Israeli pressure, which means: ‘Either you go back to negotiations or we’ll punish you. We’ll do whatever we can to upset your lives.'”

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