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

Israel

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.

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.

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.

As Nazareth, the capital of Israel’s Palestinian minority, gears up for the country’s general election next week, the most common poster in the city features three far-right leaders noted for their virulently anti-Arab views. Paid for by one of the largest Palestinian parties, the posters are intended to mobilize the country’s Palestinian citizens to vote. They pose a blunt question in Arabic: “Who are you leaving it [the Israeli parliament] to?”

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.

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.”

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 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.

In Israel, the debate over whether to attack Iran has seen the political leadership of the Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, and the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, face a resistant security echelon with the heads of Israel’s intelligence agencies (and their predecessors) opposing such an attack. The question of Iran was at the top of the agenda at this year’s Herzeliya Conference last week.

Last summer, Israelis rose up in a mass movement inspired by the regional protests of the Arab Spring. Starting on Rothschild Boulevard, one of tel Aviv’s wealthiest neighborhoods, tent cities sprung up throughout the country, and Israelis poured to the streets to demonstrate. But in September, as quickly as the tent cities popped up, they disappeared. The protests stopped, and in a sweeping move, the government demolished dozens of tent cities throughout the country.

TRNN Senior Editor, Paul Jay, interviews Lia Tarachansky, The Real News’ correspondent in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. They are then joined by a panel, discussing current affairs in the region, the media, and TRNN’s coverage. Joining the panel are Shir Hever, Robert Naiman, Samah Sabawi, Ronnie Barkan, and Peter Larson.

Like Occupy Wall St. has done for the United States, Israel’s summer protests showed that there is mass discontent inside Israel in many sectors. If a majority of Israelis no longer benefit from Zionism, then Palestinian struggle may have some new and very powerful potential allies.

The dynamics that guard these protests are that of a social movement. However, the content of the demonstrators’ demands should be subjected to a serious discussion and critique. One of the major contradictory aspects of this movement is the exclusive understanding of the value of social justice. Social justice is a universal value, but for the protesters in Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, it is limited only to the internal dynamics of Israeli society.

Israel’s prison administration has refused Palestinian detainees’ demands as prisoners enter their eighth day on hunger strike, the minister of detainees’ affairs in Ramallah said Tuesday… According to latest reports from the Palestinian Authority, 6,000 Palestinians are being detained in Israeli prisons, including 219 in Administrative Detention who are held without charge.

Israel’s “March of the Million” brought out more people than any other protest in Israel’s history. Meanwhile the government has decided to keep quiet, only appointing a committee to look into the demands of the J14 movement. While many on the street have different ideas about how to move ahead, most have little faith in the committee.

Whenever a conflict between democracy and Jewish values arises, the new definition of Israel would allow courts and legislators to favour the latter. The proposed bill will also make halacha, Jewish religious law, “a source of inspiration to the legislature and the courts”. And, in the spirit of favouring the Jewish character of the state over a state for all its citizens, the legislation would also downgrade Arabic from an official language to one with “special status”.

Roubini says that the current global economic system – capitalism – will remain in a crisis – a crisis economist Karl Marx predicted more than a century ago – until major systemic reforms are implemented. He says that social unrest and demonstrations are all being driven by the same thing, capitalism’s most serious crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It stems from globalization, financial intermediation run amok, and a destructive redistribution of income and wealth from labor to capital.

Someone in the wild Sinai peninsula took a decision and sent a big, well equipped squad to infiltrate across the border into the Israeli Negev, attack buses and cars and engage in running battles with soldiers and shoot and kill and kill indiscriminately. And presto, in one minute the agenda changed and the public mood changed into a state of emergency and war at the gate and in all communications media there was no more talk of social protests, nothing but terrorism and army and security issues.

As the movement grows, some will continue to think and demand “justice” within the borders of one nation, at the expense of the other nation that lives in this land. Others will understand that this will never be a country of justice and welfare if it is not a state of all its citizens.

Nurit Peled-Elhanan: “People don’t really know what their children are reading in textbooks. One question that bothers many people is how do you explain the cruel behaviour of Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians, an indifference to human suffering, the inflicting of suffering. People ask how can these nice Jewish boys and girls become monsters once they put on a uniform. I think the major reason for that is education. So I wanted to see how school books represent Palestinians.”

On July 14th, eight Israeli students set up tents in the heart of Tel Aviv. Within days they were joined by hundreds of tents, and tent cities sprung up throughout the country. This movement, which became known as “July 14th” saw dozens of direct actions such as blockading the entrance to the Israeli parliament and massive protests with tens of thousands on the streets of Tel Aviv and nine other cities.

The activists, who belong to the extreme right, claim solution to housing crisis is construction in the West Bank; plan to set up dozens of more tents in coming days.

I hope that the activists in the Arab countries, especially in Egypt, will realise their vital and deep influence on the Israelis’ motivation to protest.

The time has come to stick their hand in the fire and fight for all the issues they have steered clear of so far – the security budget, the settlements, the occupation, the breaches of democracy and the rule of capital, without which no real rectification can be made, not even in the cost of rent.

Israeli authorities are suing residents of a makeshift Bedouin village for the cost of repeatedly evicting them and razing “illegal structures” where they live, an official said on Wednesday… An Israeli non-governmental group, Bedouin-Jewish Justice, reported in March that the homes there had been destroyed and rebuilt 21 times since July 2010.

IOA Editor: Dispossession neoliberal-style where the victim is charged for his oppressor’s operating expenses.

For Israel’s housing protest to succeed, it must be defined as political – and it must be translated into political acts. The issues it raises must be placed at the center of Israel’s democratic life. The argument over who gets what must find expression within political parties and elections.

IOA Editor: This domestic Israeli (Jewish and largely middle-class) housing campaign is rapidly spreading and may well threaten the stability of Netanyahu’s government.

However, so far, demonstration activists and their leaders have dealt with the housing crisis outside of any political context. They didn’t discuss the dramatic discrepancy between Israel’s domestic and West Bank housing development policies, let alone make the connection between Israeli governments’ (past and present) high priory for settlement construction and low priority for domestic development – both designed to increase the size of the settlement population. Similarly, they didn’t include Israeli Palestinians — whose community has suffered a far greater housing shortage for decades — in their national campaign.

This ‘missing’ context is a true reflection of the extent of this Israeli-Jewish struggle. It is also likely to constrain the significance of any ‘success’ resulting from this campaign.

Six governments preferred to encourage Israelis to go and live on settlements rather than in the periphery of the country. This had a critical effect on the level of supply in various regions, and therefore on the prices of real estate.

This is a politically opportunistic and anti-democratic act, the latest in a series of outrageously discriminatory and exclusionary laws enacted over the past year, and it accelerates the process of transforming Israel’s legal code into a disturbingly dictatorial document. It casts the threatening shadow of criminal offense over every boycott, petition or even newspaper op-ed. Very soon, all political debate will be silenced.

Esther Zandberg: “Although it is termed a preservation effort, it is in effect, paradoxically, an erasure of all memory of the original village.”
Eitan Bronstein: “The message is that we are finishing what we started in 1948.”

On Wednesday, 22 June 2011, Israel held the largest war exercise in its history. The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky interviewed Rela Mazali, the founder of New Profile, an organization working to demilitarize Israeli society, and Alex Cohn, a war resister who served five months for objecting to serve in the army.

Yaakov Amidror, newly appointed head of National Security Council, worked with many Ofer-controlled companies; the Ofer brothers are uspected of illegal trade with Iran through subsidiaries registered abroad.

IOA Editor: While Israeli leaders continue to raise the Iranian Threat as a diversion from Israel’s enhanced colonial efforts, prominent Israeli security officials have been exposed in the upper management tier of a leading Israeli conglomerate suspected of illegally trading with Iran. Hypocrisy knows no bounds, and the same goes for propaganda.

We say that most of us are in favor of the two-state solution, but we vote for parties that will do nothing to advance it. We vehemently oppose a one-state solution but we live, in fact for decades, in an apartheid state. We favor free access and worship at Joseph’s Tomb but not at Al Aqsa. We remember 1948 but without the Nakba. We oppose returning Palestinian property from before 1948 but we evict Palestinian inhabitants in Hebron and Sheikh Jarrah on the grounds that their homes were under Jewish ownership before 1948. We shoot passengers in Palestinian cars who refuse to stop at roadblocks, but when the Palestinian police do the same, we call it a “murderous terror attack.” We call the Israeli army Defense Forces, while most of its work is occupation.

IOA Editor: Brilliant!

And no one is a human being without recognizing that the other is also one, and that it is important to get to know him, both his shortcomings and hopes. No one is born a murderer and no one is destined to be murdered, and no nation has a monopoly on suffering and mourning. The warning sign before a holocaust, genocide, politicide, ethnocide or ethnic cleansing is the same everywhere and at all times. True, learned research distinguishes between each, but the victims don’t care about the minute distinctions.

A recent ruling demonstrates the bureaucratic machinery the state has created to restrict the Palestinians’ ability to enter, live and work on land west of the separation fence.

IOA Editor: This is an important news story which points to the ultimate effect of Israeli supreme court decisions: supporting Israel’s methodical process of ethnic cleansing, bit by bit — as the old Zionist saying goes, “duman here, and dunam there” — this time 9.5% of the West Bank territory. Next time what?

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