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

Israel

[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.

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.

Youths attacked an Arab cleaning man working for the city of Tel Aviv as he was emptying garbage cans. They broke a bottle over his head. The man, covered with blood, asked them why they were doing this to him. “Because you’re an Arab,” they shouted.

IOA Editor: Although not without several shortcomings, this article is important in that it is an example of mainstream European media finally beginning to cover ‘domestic’ Israeli racism towards Palestinian Arab citizens.

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.

“You know why Israel’s leaders can’t make peace?” a Palestinian friend asked recently. “Because if the conflict ever ended, Israeli Jews would start tearing out each other’s throats.” But any Palestinian who hoped the protest movements emerging in Israel might signal the beginning of Israeli society’s disintegration should think again. There are plenty of reasons to doubt that most Israeli Jews are ready to break free of the militaristic and nationalist thinking that has dominated Zionism for decades.”

In a society where graduates fresh out of high school are required to participate directly in military occupation at an early age, saying no can be a way of showing another path is possible, and retrieving one’s humanity in the process.

Israel’s increasing integration into European competitions, despite its refusal to revive peace talks with the Palestinians, respect human rights and halt illegal settlement, is, according to critics, contrary to sporting values and should be met with international opposition of the kind faced by apartheid South Africa.

Israeli security officials given approval to search email accounts of ‘suspicious’ travellers despite petition over invasion of privacy.

We are struggling not only to liberate the Palestinian people from the occupation and from Israel’s racist apartheid regime, but also to liberate you from the illness of racism, so you can stop inflicting harm on me and on millions of people who are the natives of this country. And then we can live together equally and peacefully.

On the occasion of the swearing in of the new Israeli government and the 19th Knesset (18 March 2013) and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (22 March 2013), Adalah is pleased to launch the Discriminatory Laws Database,

Israelis have been revelling in the prospect of an Oscar night triumph next week, with two Israeli-financed films among the five in the running for Best Documentary. But the country’s right-wing government is reported to be quietly fuming that the films, both of which portray Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in a critical light, have garnered so much attention following their nominations.

Far from marking a revival by the center-left, as most media presented the results, [Israel’s 2013] election results signaled a further rightward shift in the center of political gravity in Israel. Hana Suwayd of the Democratic Front, the least outspoken of all the Palestinian legislators, observed: “I believe that what happened in Israeli politics is a kind of transformation: The extreme right became the mainstream, and the most extreme people are sitting at the center of Israeli politics.”

Matzpen co-founder Akiva Orr died last week in Israel. He is remembered by friends and comrades around the world.

HRW’s Bill van Esveld: “The main concern is over the fact that a person cannot simply be disappeared. That is against the norms of international law. That person’s family needs to know what has happened to them. They have to be able to have access to a defence attorney and their government needs to be informed to permit consular access.”

This election has been a personal blow to Netanyahu, but not to the right. Netanyahu misread the public mood, but not on the central issues that should define the left-right divide in Israel: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and decades of belligerent Israeli occupation. Far from a collapse of the right, the election demonstrated that the right is continuing to push the center of political gravity ever further rightwards.

A recent report in the Haaretz newspaper, on an Israeli Jew who grows Christmas trees commercially, noted in passing: “hotels – under threat of losing kashrut [Kosher] certificates – are prohibited by the rabbinate from decking their halls in boughs of holly or, heaven forbid, putting up even the smallest of small sparkly Christmas tree in the corner of the lobby.”

IOA Editor: Merry Christmas, Israel!

MK Haneen Zoabi called the decision “anti-democratic and illegitimate”, a form of political revenge that reflected the tyranny of the majority. “No one will determine for the Arab minority who represents it other than Arab citizens themselves,” she said. “I was elected to represent my people and, through their support, I have a legitimacy that the committee cannot take from me.”

Jamal Zahalka: “Our problem is not that we are terrorists but rather that we are democrats in an environment that does not believe in democracy… We are tired of apologising for demanding full equality for all Israeli citizens. We’re tired of sitting in the dock for being patriotic Palestinians.”

On Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stepped down from his post following charges arising from a 13-year investigation against him. 972 Magazine’s Noam Sheizaf analyses Lieberman’s decision and what it will mean for Likud Beiteinu, the new joint list of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieberman’s party Yisrael Beiteinu.

Haneen Zoabi: “Legally, they have no case. I never imagined myself to be in the middle of a war like this. I don’t think they will disqualify me. If so, and if Balad is disqualified, there will be no election – the Arabs will not vote.”

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.

Jonathan Cook tells the story of Nazareth, a Palestinian town that survived the Nakba only to be subjected to massive land confiscations, economic strangulation, and systematic discrimination by all Israeli governments since 1948. An important report covering issues crucial for the understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: because the Occupation didn’t start in 1967, and because discrimination against Israeli Palestinians, at times violent, continues.

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.”

Sami Michael: “Israel is in danger unless its leadership understands it isn’t located in Europe’s tranquil north but in the Middle East’s seething center,” said Michael. “We may lose everything. Israel could be a transient construct, like the First and Second Temples.”

Raja Zatara: “From the perspective of the Arab population, which was part of the Palestinian people, David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin are not just prime ministers. The former is identified with the Nakba, from our perspective, and with the repression and land appropriation during military rule, while the latter is identified with the activities of Etzel, with the Lebanon War and the massacre at Sabra and Chatila…”

The National Democratic Party has accused Israel’s security services of repeatedly harassing one of its leaders each time he leaves and enters Israel. The NDP, which represents Israel’s large minority of Arab Palestinian citizens and has three members sitting in the Israeli parliament, has suffered a campaign of persecution from the Israeli security services for many years. The latest incident occurred last month, when Awad Abdel Fattah, the NDP’s secretary-general, returned from a speaking tour in Europe.

In recent weeks, incitement by government officials, rightist settlers, and poor community members against African refugees seeking asylum in Israel escalated into violence. In may Molotov cocktails were thrown into refugee homes, businesses and one kindergarten. The incident did not lead to casualties but inspired a wave of protests leading to a race riot on May 23rd.

Several U.S. tourists report being asked by airport security personnel for access to their personal email accounts; Israel’s Shin Bet security service says it acted within the law.

IOA Editor: Welcome to Israel! But please don’t be of Palestinian or Arab descent, and don’t even think of being an activist…

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.

Israel has been ranked in the top four countries that most negatively influence the word, according to a global public opinion poll conducted by the BBC… Where do the negative evaluations of Israel come from? Some 45 percent of participants said that Israeli government policy causes them to see Israel in a negative light, and 27 percent said their negative evaluation stemmed from the state’s treatment of its own people.

[The newly-created coalition] gives Netanyahu time to entrench moves towards authoritarianism. Netanyahu has been behind a series of measures to weaken the media, human rights groups, and the courts. At the moment his government is defying a series of Supreme Court rulings to dismantle several small Jewish settlements on Palestinian land that are illegal even under Israeli law. An uninterrupted 18 months will allow him to further undermine these rival centres of power. One of the promises he and Mofaz made yesterday was to overhaul the system of government. Netanyahu now has enough MPs to overturn even the most sacrosanct of Israel’s Basic Laws.

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.

Simultaneous Arab marginalisation and revitalisation also has manifested itself in initial efforts by its leadership to define the community’s political aspirations. The so-called “Vision Documents” advocate full Jewish-Arab equality, adamantly reject the notion of a Jewish state and call instead for a “binational state” – in essence, challenging Israel’s current self-definition. This, for many Jews, is tantamount to a declaration of war.

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.

Israeli-Palestinian Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran refused to sing ‘Hatikva’ at retirement ceremony of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, prompting calls for his removal.