The Balfour Declaration of 1917 launched what amounts to a hundred years of war against the Palestinians. This war had a unique nature – it was formally sanctioned and authorized by the great powers of the day at different times during this century, and via different fora, such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, but it was mainly waged by other actors. A much distorted and maligned feature of this long war has been the Palestinians’ continuing resistance, against heavy odds, to what amounts to one of the last ongoing attempts at colonial subjugation in the modern world.
Irene L. Gendzier presents incontrovertible evidence that oil politics played a significant role in the founding of Israel, the policy then adopted by the United States toward Palestinians, and subsequent U.S. involvement in the region. Consulting declassified U.S. government sources, as well as papers in the H.S. Truman Library, she uncovers little-known features of U.S. involvement in the region, including significant exchanges in the winter and spring of 1948 between the director of the Oil and Gas Division of the Interior Department and the representative of the Jewish Agency in the United States, months before Israel’s independence and recognition by President Truman.
[T]here was also “straight talk” among US military and intelligence officials about the comparative strength of Israeli as opposed to Palestinian and Arab forces, the first of which they regarded as superior from the vantage point of training and equipment. US officials concluded that Israel had become the number two power in the Middle East after Turkey, and could be useful in contributing to US strategy in the Middle East.
“Can there be peace after the elections in Israel?”. Obviously … “peace” … [is] between the state of Israel and the phantom-state of Palestine; or perhaps between the Israeli Hebrews and the Palestinian Arabs. But the moment you spell it out, you begin to sense that there is something not quite right with this way of putting it. Talk of “peace” has a connotation of symmetry: two sides – states or nations – are at war with each other, and to end the war they must make peace. But the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is not really like this: it is highly asymmetric. At bottom it is about colonization: a conflict between the Zionist colonizing project, of which the Israeli settler state is both product and instrument, and the indigenous people of the country undergoing century-long and still ongoing colonization.
[I]n order to understand Israel’s behavior as a state in relation to the Palestinians, we must see Israel as a settler-colonial project. It is a continuation of late nineteenth century colonization. And its main feature lies in wanting to expel rather than exploit the native population. In contrast to South Africa, for example, where black labor was crucial for state building, expulsion in Israel was key to state formation. For the Israeli state, Palestinians are basically dispensable.
Netanyahu was not forced to call the election – he did it by choice because he had calculated that a new government, which he is now going to get, would be desirable. So if you want to know what his new government is going to do, you have to ask why the elections were called.
The March visit of the Israeli PM to Washington has aroused rapid opposition among Israel’s supporters in Congress as well as Democratic Party activists. At issue is the matter of protocol, not to say, principle. But there is something else afoot, namely, the realization that Netanyahu’s action risks alienating a political base that is increasingly skeptical of Israeli claims, including those about Iran’s nuclear arms that were exposed as false by Israel’s Intelligence agency. Then there was the PM’s analogy between his leadership of Israel in 2015 and that of David Ben-Gurion in 1948, that was rapidly written off by Israeli critics. At bottom, however, is the threat of blowing open the taboo on plain talk about Washington’s relations with Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Netanyahu has abandoned Israel’s traditional strategy of accommodating American presidential pretence of managing an Israeli–Palestinian ‘peace process’ aimed at a ‘two state solution’. Whereas more cautious Israeli leaders kept up the charade and made sure that the sham process would go on and on but lead nowhere, Netanyahu brazenly burst the hot-air balloon in the face of the exasperated secretary of state John Kerry.
For a century, the Zionist colonization of Palestine has proceeded primarily on the pragmatic principle of the quiet establishment of facts on the ground, which the world was to ultimately come to accept. It has been a highly successful policy. There is every reason to expect it to persist as long as the United States provides the necessary military, economic, diplomatic and ideological support.
The strategy of Israel’s leadership towards the ‘peace process’ is patently designed to prevent the supposed outcome of that process: a two-state ‘solution’, with a sovereign Palestinian Arab statelet ‘alongside Israel’.
US officials understood the Israeli reliance on force to expand and control territory, which they criticized while recognizing Israel’s military superiority as compared to that of surrounding Arab states. It was on the basis of such force that Israel altered the balance of power in the Middle East in 1948. And it was on the basis of such developments that Washington calculated that Israel could be useful in the protection of US regional interests.
Noam Chomsky: Israel’s Actions in Palestine are “Much Worse Than Apartheid” in South Africa.
Noam Chomsky’s interview on Democracy-Now (7 Aug 2014). A detailed discussion covering Israel’s attack on Gaza, the role of the US, changing public opinion in the US, BDS and the South Africa comparison, Palestinian violent vs. non-violent response to the Occupation, global reactions, and more.
A state engaging in an illegal occupation has no right of self-defense; it has an obligation to withdraw. A state enforcing an illegal blockade likewise has no right of self-defense, only an obligation to end its blockade. But Walzer ignores all this, wondering only how Hamas can be attacked without killing quite so many civilians.
[I]t is rather uncontroversial to conclude that for Israel the invasion of Gaza has essentially disrupted everyday life in the areas close to Gaza, but that for Palestinians in Gaza it has been experienced as devastation on an unprecedented scale. It will take years for Gaza to recover from the Israeli army’s material destruction, and even longer for Palestinians’ psychological scars, grief, and wounds to heal — if, that is, Israel allows them to live without bombs and invasions in the future.
It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. That is what Netanyahu is really saying, and that is what he now admits he has “always” talked about. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.
Rockets fired from Gaza also have the inestimable value for Israeli leaders of letting them do whatever they want to Gaza while receiving the usual pious US support for Israeli “self-defense.” This blanket support enables them to disregard the recent warning of a White House official that “Israel confronts an undeniable reality: it cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely. Doing so is not only wrong but a recipe for resentment and recurring instability.”
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Michael Sfard: “While talks are happening Israel gets away with anything. Land grabs, the expansion of settlements, even [Operation] Cast Lead was waged while there were peace talks.”