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

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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.”

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.

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.

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.

Israel apparently has bombed inside Syria, as most people that follow the news know by now. Originally, the propaganda or PR around this event was that they were bombing chemical weapons on their way to Hezbollah. Now the story seems to be they were taking out some kind of advanced rocketry that was being sent from Iran to Hezbollah. One way or the other, Israel does not seem to be hiding the fact that they made such a strike. Political economist Shir Hever discuss Israeli strategic thinking in all of this.

Akiva Orr was a larger than life character. He was a natural communicator, a performer and a raconteur in search of an audience… From the outset, his trajectory would lead him to critically engage Zionism as a movement laying claim to a libratory essence. Ultimately in the years following Matzpen’s establishment, Aki broke completely with Zionism’s tenets.

Zionism is viewed [by Moshé Machover] as a colonial-settler project, not a national liberation movement. Its particular aims, “based not on exploiting the labor of the indigenous people but aiming to exclude and expel them,” are more characteristic of the U.S. model than the South African one. The fact that the Israeli state is not only a product of this settler project, but a force for its extension and expansion, produces the ever-present danger of new ethnic cleansing.

A senior IDF officer: “As we learned during Cast Lead, it [white phosphorus] doesn’t photograph well, so we are reducing the supply and we will not purchase beyond what we already have.”

The “Land of Israel” is barely mentioned in the Old Testament: the more common expression is the Land of Canaan. When it is mentioned, it does not include Jerusalem, Hebron, or Bethlehem. Biblical “Israel” is only northern Israel (Samaria) and there never was a united kingdom including both ancient Judea and Samaria.

I support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign because, especially in our instantly connected world, an injustice committed against one, or against one group of people, is an injustice against all, against every one of us; a collective injury.

The ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas in Cairo after eight days of fighting is merely a pause in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It promises to ease movement at all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, but will not lift the blockade. It requires Israel to end its assault on the Strip, and Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets at southern Israel, but it leaves Gaza as miserable as ever.

Actor Wally Shawn explains why the Russell Tribunal on Palestine is, at this moment in time, crucial, and why you should join.

Tzipi Livni: “The national solution for Israel’s Arabs lies elsewhere: in order to maintain a Jewish-Democratic state we must constitute two nation-states with clear red-lines. Once this happens, I will be able to come to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, whom we label Israel’s Arabs, and tell them that their national solution is elsewhere.”

The Occupation is the embodiment of disaster for Israel. Greater Israel, the enthusiasm to conquer, rule and colonize in the very heart of a dense Palestinian population, that sweeping wave was fostered in the very bosom of Zionism that sees itself as civilized, secular and socialistic. The term “Greater Israel” germinated not in the Likud or in the yeshivas of national-religious Judaism, rather it was coined at Kibbutz Ein-Harod by poets, writers and intellectuals, nearly all of them from the moderate secular stream.

A brilliant work by Shimon Tzabar (1926, Palestine – 2007, London), an artist, writer, poet, satirist, amateur mycologist, and a vocal fighter against the occupation of Palestinian land by Israel. As relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1968, well before the term ‘racial profiling’ was known.

A new bill is being debated in the Israeli Knesset: compulsory civil service for all citizens, including Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox Jews, the two groups that have been exempt. If passed, the bill would force every 18-year-old citizen who is exempted from military service to serve in another public institution for between one and two years… In 2008, about 250,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel signed a petition rejecting compulsory civil service, the largest such petition in history, and a wide coalition of youth groups and civil society organisations have campaigned against the service under the motto: “We won’t serve our oppressor.”

Israel has always denied Bedouin their rights to the land they owned before 1948, because they had no official documents from the Ottoman and British periods to prove their ownership. In those periods, however, Bedouin acquired lands under their own tribal law, the law then valid in the desert, which accepted such transactions based on oral guaranty and dispensed with written proof.

In fact, it is rarely useful to compare the Holocaust and the ordeal of the Palestinians; it does not help us understand the reality of either. Sixty-four years have elapsed since the Nakba, 64 years during which Palestinians have been subjected to further wars, expulsions, and dispossession. They have been denied political, economic, and human rights… This is not genocide, but what name is there for it?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012, is the 64th Anniversary of Palestinian Nakba Day. This date commemorates the end, on 15 May 1948, of the so-called “Mandate” over Palestine “granted” to Britain by the League of Nations (the UN’s predecessor) following the end of World War I. The Mandate system was devised by the victorious powers, chiefly Britain and France, to give a veneer of legality to their post-war military occupation and rule over the former Middle Eastern Arab provinces of the defeated Ottoman Empire.

In the name of ["Never again to us, the Jews"], they end up denying the humanity of the victims of Israel, the purported “State of the Jews”, just as most oppressors throughout history have denied their victims’ humanity.

The Palestinian issue can only be resolved if Israel and its supporters in Britain abandon the dogmas of supremacy and truly adhere to the universal values of justice and fairness. Britain has a special responsibility in this, because it is uniquely responsible for our suffering: our national tragedy began with the Balfour Declaration.

Not a political organisation per se, the BDS is rather a manifestation of numerous collectives in uncountable cities and towns around the world. The decentralisation of the BDS is one of its greatest assets and also challenges. On the one hand, it cannot be easily thwarted. On the other hand, the efforts of a movement of this scope cannot be summoned into action through a single call by one or a small group of individuals. Its unity is not based on any political treatise or ideological framework.

The poem, originally published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, has created a heated debate in both Germany and Israel.

Israel sees its Arab citizens as a security threat, and their leaders are increasingly under attack. While cooperation and political participation once seemed feasible, systematic discrimination has led to an untenable situation. Secretary general of The National Democratic Party Assembly (Tajamoa) writes on missed opportunities and grim predictions.

Norman Finkelstein: “They don’t want Israel… They think they’re being very clever. They call it their three tiers… We want the end of the occupation, we want the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever, because they know the result of implementing all three is what? What’s the result? You know and I know what’s the result: there’s no Israel.”

Construction of the new cultural auditorium in Ariel, taking students on tours of the West Bank, and now the plan to turn the ‘university center’ in Ariel into a full-fledged university, are erasing the pre-1967 borders from the collective consciousness of both Palestinians and Israelis.

American politicians appear to be using precious little long-term thinking when it comes to Israel and Palestinians. Falsehoods declared on national television about textbooks are debunked by no one in the US government. The silence appears to be less a consequence of ignorance than of fear. Politically, there is little to gain from saying an honest word regarding US policy on Israel and Palestine.

Despite the focus on my new book and writing, this was not about me; it is all about targeting a Palestinian citizen who is determined to use the legal means available to her in order to fight for her people – whether they are Israeli citizens, inside the Occupied Territories, or expelled refugees.

Salim Tamari discusses his recent book, Year of the Locust: A Soldier’s Diary and the Erasure of Palestine’s Ottoman Past, and puts it in today’s geopolitical context.

The disingenuity of the Israeli government’s international comparisons is evident when one compares politicians’ rhetoric for audiences within Israel with the diplomatic discourse abroad.

US Likudniks, who had remained relatively restrained on [book talks] until now, could not stand it any longer. They launched a massive attack against me in the form of a smear article … written by two Campus Watch vigilantes and first published on FrontPageMag… From there, the article was reproduced by countless websites and blogs belonging to the same ideological swarm, and distributed by them to their extensive email lists.

Gilbert Achcar is Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London; his latest work is The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives. Achcar discusses what he calls the “Nazification” of the Arabs, what implications this narrative has had on the past and present political situation in the Middle East, and some of the context from which anti-Semitism and Holocaust-denial has taken root in a segment of Arab society.

Like thwarted spoiled bullies, both Israel and the US reacted with theatrical pique and fury. The US, never applying sanctions against Israel’s decades- long war crimes in Gaza and the OPT’s by suspending its steadfast cornucopia of billions in aid and arms, immediately withdrew its $80 million contribution to UNESCO as a collective punishment.

The responsibility of the solidarity movement … is not to get caught up in wonkish or wishful “one-versus-two-state” disputations, but to do everything we can to advance the bottom-up struggle where we are. This is all the more important because, while gains can be won now to get the occupation’s foot a little bit off the Palestinians’ neck, no lasting solution seems possible in isolation from a broader democratic revolutionary transformation of the region.