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

Commentary

Israel has for decades been able to frame the discussion about the Palestinians. But its control of the narrative is coming to an end. As Israel loses ground it will viciously and irrationally attack all truth tellers, even if they are American students, and especially if they are Jews. There will come a day, and that day will come sooner than Israel and its paid lackeys expect, when the whole edifice will crumble, when even students at Hillel will no longer have the stomach to defend the continuous dispossession and random murder of Palestinians. Israel, by ruthlessly silencing others, now risks silencing itself.

It is easy to forget, with eulogies casting him as the unexpected “peace-maker”, that for most of his long military and political career Ariel Sharon was known simply as The Bulldozer. That is certainly how he will be remembered by Palestinians.

Whether in military uniform or in politics, Ariel Sharon’s time in power was characterised by construction and destruction frenzies that decisively shaped the physical realities in which both Israelis and Palestinians still struggle to live. His legacy is not only that of a military man and a politician, but also that of an architect. Sharon, more than anyone else, has shaped the spatial realities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

The true goal of Sharon’s separation regime was never to end the occupation but to reinforce it under new parameters that would prevent the collapse of Israel’s international image. A top aide to Sharon, Dov Weissglass, revealed the real logic behind Sharon’s plans: “The disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”

A political project is purely utopian unless it can indicate a likely agent – a socio-political force able to realise it and whose long-term interests it would serve. In the present article I propose to apply this precept to the project of the ‘one-state solution’ for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the vision of a single democratic (or secular-democratic) state in the whole of so-called ‘historical Palestine’ – the territory of Palestine as it existed under the British mandate from 1923 to 1948.

There are two parts of the Arab world that remain effectively colonies: Western Sahara … and of course Palestine, where negotiations are underway conforming to the two essential US-Israeli preconditions: that there be no barrier to expansion of the illegal settlements, and that the negotiations be run by the US, which is a participant in the conflict (on the side of Israel) and has been blocking the overwhelming international consensus on a diplomatic settlement since 1976, when it vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for its basic terms, with rare and temporary exceptions.

Israel has been poisoned by the psychosis of permanent war. It has been morally bankrupted by the sanctification of victimhood, which it uses to justify an occupation that rivals the brutality and racism of apartheid South Africa. Its democracy—which was always exclusively for Jews—has been hijacked by extremists who are pushing the country toward fascism. Many of Israel’s most enlightened and educated citizens—1 million of them—have left the country. Its most courageous human rights campaigners, intellectuals and journalists—Israeli and Palestinian—are subject to constant state surveillance, arbitrary arrests and government-run smear campaigns. Its educational system, starting in primary school, has become an indoctrination machine for the military.

[I]t is assumed almost universally that there are two options for cis-Jordan: either two states — Palestinian and Jewish-democratic — or one state “from the sea to the river.” Israeli commentators express concern about the “demographic problem”: too many Palestinians in a Jewish state. Many Palestinians and their advocates support the “one state solution,” anticipating a civil rights, anti-Apartheid struggle that will lead to secular democracy… The analysis is almost universal, but crucially flawed. There is a third option, namely, the option that Israel is pursuing with constant US support. And this third option is the only realistic alternative to the two-state settlement that is backed by an overwhelming international consensus.

At the fringes, some observers reject the shared [US] assumptions, bringing up the historical record: for example, the fact that “for nearly seven decades” the United States has led the world in aggression and subversion — overthrowing elected governments and imposing vicious dictatorships, supporting horrendous crimes, undermining international agreements and leaving trails of blood, destruction and misery.

As [the conflict] is caused by colonization, resolution requires decolonization. In this specific case, as the cause is Zionist colonization, what is required is deZionisation, overthrow of the Zionist project and its state.

The negotiations provide a cover for Israel’s takeover of the territories it wishes to control and should spare the United States some further embarrassment at the UN.

“As international support for Obama’s decision to attack Syria has collapsed, along with the credibility of government claims, the administration has fallen back on a standard pretext for war crimes when all else fails: the credibility of the threats of the self-designated policeman of the world,” Chomsky said.

One prevailing assumption is that there are two options: either a two-state settlement will be reached, or there will be a “shift to a nearly inevitable outcome of the one remaining reality — a state ‘from the sea to the river’.” … There is a third option, the most realistic one: Israel will carry forward its current policies with full U.S. economic, military, and diplomatic support, sprinkled with some mild phrases of disapproval.

The greatest illusion about the cataclysmic events shaking Egypt is that, during the truncated one-year presidency of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military had been forced to accept civilian rule and then vacate the political stage. How much did we get from the New York Times (and other mainstream papers) to think otherwise? What information, or misinformation, did the Times pass on to its readers, so that the events since late June of this year would not hit them like a freak summer storm?

It may not have reached the level of fevered expectation unleashed by that famous handshake between Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the White House lawn in 1993, but the sense of hope inspired by the long-awaited revival of peace talks is both tangible and deeply misplaced.

Leaders from the [Israeli] Palestinian community, Christian and Muslim, who have spoken against this new [IDF] enlistment effort have been called in for investigation by Israel’s secret police. In an Orwellian inversion, they have been accused of “incitement to violence.”

Noam Chomsky covers the upcoming Israel-Palestine ‘peace talks’ and the history of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; settlements, the Occupation and the ‘One-State’ and ‘Two-State’ solutions; US strategic control of the Middle East; Syria and Egypt; the ‘Iran threat’; Edward Snowden, and much more.

Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad: “I want my films to put fear into Israelis. My job is to disturb their dreams, to wake them from the fantasy that there is no occupation.”

Watch US secretary of state John Kerry assuming the mantle of our lord: just as JC resurrected Lazarus, JK is about to revive the dead-as-a-doornail talks between the Israeli government and the captive so-called Palestinian ‘Authority’. Though, unlike old Lazarus, this corpse will talk and talk and talk … but will not walk.

Former Israeli defence (then industry) minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer: “People like to buy things that have been tested. If Israel sells weapons, they have been tested, tried out. We can say we’ve used this 10 years, 15 years.”

It is hard to make progress in the real world without making various compromises. I have no advice other than to say don’t let your wishes whip away the facts entirely. Be aware of the facts. We live in an actual world, with all its horror and ugliness, and we have to deal with it and make our decisions within it.

In his op-ed in Haaretz on Sunday, columnist Gideon Levy openly endorses a boycott of Israel as the “Israeli patriot’s final refuge.” He argues that it is in fact those who fear for Israel’s future that should reach the conclusion that it must be economically boycotted. He says that it is the “least of all evils” and that there is no other alternative left.

[Lawyers] and others argue that Israel is carrying out a systematic and intentional policy to drive Palestinians off their land to replace them with Jewish communities. This, they say, should be identified as “ethnic cleansing”, a term first given legal and moral weight in the Balkans conflict in the early 1990s.

Ten years ago, Aisha Mershani began a project to document the lives of everyday Palestinians non-violently resisting Israeli occupation. Since 2003, she have photographed and gathered testimonies from Palestinian communities that have resisted the building of the Wall. After six years away, she is returning to the West Bank in the summer of 2013 to complete this project. Thus far, Aisha has self-funded her work; she is now asking for your support with the completion of the last stage of this ten-year project.

IOA Editor: We highly recommend supporting Aisha’s work.

If Palestine ever does gain independence in something like the terms of the overwhelming international consensus, it is likely that its borders with Israel will erode through normal processes of commercial and cultural interchange, as had begun to happen in the past during periods of relative calm. Anyone familiar with Mandatory Palestine knows well how artificial and disruptive any partition must be.

While Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies on the far right were castigating an amusement park called Superland for separating Jewish and Arab children, they were busy backing a bill that will give Israeli Jews who serve in the army a whole raft of extra rights in land and housing, employment, salaries, and much more. Superland’s offence pales to insignificance when compared to that, or to the decades of state-planned and officially sanctoned discrimination against the country’s Palestinian minority.

Noam Chomsky on the Turkish protests around Taksim Square: The very brave people in Taksim Square are trying to protect the very last remnants of the commons from the wrecking block… That’s important for Turkey but it’s more than that. It’s the commons which globally we’re destroying; the environment and the atmosphere, by the same wrecking ball.

Rabbi Arik Asherman: The demolition of the el-Arabiyeh family home in Anata exceeds all the terrible things I have seen in my 17 years in Rabbis for Human Rights. The sight of a boy or a girl coming back from school and discovering that their house was demolished is something I would not wish my worst enemies to see.

Since it all began just after 1967, when Israel seized the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza following the Arab-Israeli war, this country has been committed to settlement expansion – knowing that such a policy would eviscerate the prospects of an independent Palestinian state, but doing it anyway. Indeed, Israel’s settlements grew most during the Oslo peace process that began in 1993.

If Palestine ever does gain independence in something like the terms of the overwhelming international consensus, it is likely that its borders with Israel will erode through normal processes of commercial and cultural interchange, as had begun to happen in the past during periods of relative calm. Anyone familiar with Mandatory Palestine knows well how artificial and disruptive any partition must be.

Noam Chomsky: I think the Sykes-Picot agreement is falling apart, which is an interesting phenomenon… But, the Sykes-Picot agreement was just an imperial imposition that has no legitimacy; there is no reason for any of these borders – except the interests of the imperial powers.

According to some well-placed Israeli commentators, the best Israel can hope for is that Assad holds on but only just. That would keep the regime in place, or boxed into its heartland, but sapped of the energy to concern itself with anything other than immediate matters of survival. It would be unable to offer help to Hizbullah, isolating the militia in Lebanon and cutting off its supply line to Iran.

In 1948, some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from more than 400 villages as the new state of Israel was declared on a large part of their homeland – an event known to Palestinians as the nakba, or “catastrophe”. The refugees – mostly descendants of those driven from their homes – now number around five million, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

With Europe’s most talented young footballers preparing for the kick-off of the under-21 championships on Wednesday, Israelis are celebrating the biggest footballing coup in their history… Last week Desmond Tutu, the leading South African anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel peace laureate, threw his weight behind the campaign. In a letter published by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Tutu and other prominent human rights activists argued that UEFA was acting to “whitewash” Israeli racism.

Israel, it seems, hopes that the Palestinian Authority, now permanently mired in financial crisis, can be arm-twisted with promises of billions of dollars in sweeteners. According to Palestinian sources, Mr Kerry’s plan is intended to leverage Mr Abbas into dropping his condition that Israeli must freeze settlement growth before negotiations can restart.

You can argue all you want that there are differences between America and Israel as far as racism goes, just as there are differences between Israel and South Africa when it comes to Apartheid. But the reality remains the same in all places: Palestinians living on the same land as Jewish Israelis are denied the dignity and equal rights they deserve because of the dominant ethnic group.