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


Nicolas Pelham: Gaza Diary

22 October 2009

While a new entrepreneurial class dines in restaurants, four out of five Gazans… live in poverty; 20,000 war victims are still displaced. Gazans in rural areas continue to scavenge for basics, and mercantile families have begun to collect UN food rations. Short of gas, old men bent double haul bundles of wood. It’s not just the loss of their savings: Gazans complain that their leaders sheltered underground during the war, leaving their people exposed to the shelling.

The hawks seem to think that if only J Street is crushed, American Jews will obediently fall back into line behind Israel’s every action. But I think they misread the mood of the Jewish community, the changes it has undergone in recent years, and the extent to which J Street is designed to play a moderating, rather than a radicalizing, role on Jewish public opinion.

IOA Editor: Indeed, a moderating role – AIPAC-lite. Moderately against the Occupation? Perhaps an Obama-like Occupation policy? Only time will tell. In the meantime, already behaving much like AIPAC, J Street Booted a Poet from its conference program. This after having pleaded with right-wing Israeli ambassador Oren to speak there (“what J Street shares in common with you far outweighs that on which we disagree”)… Alas, they were snubbed by Mr. Ambassador – maybe for being Occupation-lite?

Richard Goldstone responds to Israel: “In Gaza, I was surprised and shocked by the destruction and misery there. I had not expected it. I did not anticipate that the IDF would have targeted civilians and civilian objects. I did not anticipate seeing the vast destruction of the economic infrastructure of Gaza including its agricultural lands, industrial factories, water supply and sanitation works. These are not military targets.”

[T]he [Gaza] victory was a Pyrrhic one. Israel did not realize that the rules have changed with Barack Obama’s election as U.S. president… the Gaza campaign continues being fought – in the diplomatic arena and in public opinion – and Israel must cope with its consequences in a less-friendly Obama era.

IOA Editor: This is a useful, Israel-centric analysis in that it reflects Israel’s concerns for its ability to maintain an upper hand in view of global opposition to the Occupation. Benn’s implied assertion that there is a profound change toward Israel under the Obama administration is, at best, premature; more likely, it is simply unfounded. So far, there is no evidence of US pressure on Israel to ‘change its ways’, and this ‘would-be’ pressure can only be added to the long list of theoretical, invisible Obama changes of past US ME policies – widely assumed, incorrectly.

Also, unlike Benn, some pointed to Israel’s failed Gaza attack soon after it took place. To cite the obvious, see Gideon Levy’s Everyone Agrees War in Gaza Was a Failure – aside from its profound immorality, which Levy has been pointing to repeatedly from day one.

[U]nderneath those still waters on which Israel’s ship is sailing lurks an iceberg. The Goldstone report marked the iceberg’s first appearance. Turkey turning its back on Israel was the second. Attempts by European courts to try Israel Defense Forces officers were the third; the boycott of Israeli products and companies in various places round the world was the fourth;

IOA Editor: Shavit represents Israel’s self-righteous center-right: profoundly immoral – in fact, evil. In Gideon Levy’s The Golda wars, Shavit falls into the category of Israeli Government and IDF “demagogic cheerleaders:” he cheered Israel’s Gaza attack, and now he whines about the Goldstone report.

Shavit omits the most obvious: it’s Israel’s own actions that delegitimize Israel – the Gaza closure and attack being only the most recent. Rather than proposing a “diplomatic initiative that would prove that Israel is truly and genuinely striving to end the occupation,” how about taking actual steps to End the Occupation? It could start with a complete freeze on settlements and a large scale release of Palestinian prisoners, followed by a unilateral declaration of intentions to withdraw, etc. Instead, Shavit goes back to “Hasbara” – the propaganda approach to gaining legitimacy: an old, familiar Israeli method.

Importantly, Shavit’s “iceberg appearances,” above, can form the basis for an effective anti-Occupation campaign.

Dr. Samir Awad, Birzeit University: “The Turks could bring pressure to bear on the Israelis to moderate their treatment of the Palestinians as Israel values its strategic relations with Turkey. The Palestinians can only benefit from this… Turkey could also exert influence on the Americans to lean on their Israeli ally”.

Abe Hayeem, an architect and founding member of Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine writes about Tel Aviv and its deeply-rooted colonial history.

Key questions:
- What are the implications of a Turkey-Israel rift on the international effort to stop Iran’s nuclear quest?
- Does this signal a dramatic change in relations between the Turkish military and the moderate Islamic Administration of the ruling AK party?
- Will the Turkish ban on Israel prove to be the first tangible boycott by a country allied with Israel?
- And, what effect will this have on Israel’s obdurate policies with respect to easing their unrelenting pressure on the Palestinians?

“Israel has no intention of relinquishing its control over all of Palestine and, moreover, that it is actually bent on destroying Palestine as a nation through killing or expelling its people, appropriating its land, and strangling its economy.”

Israel’s relationship with Turkey’s military, which is highly secular and generally supportive of Israel, has remained strong. The apparent disruption of the two countries’ strategic military cooperation is therefore a sign that something is going terribly awry.

His Middle East policy is collapsing. The Israelis have taunted him by ignoring his demand for an end to settlement-building and by continuing to build their colonies on Arab land. His special envoy is bluntly told by the Israelis that an Arab-Israel peace will take “many years”. Now he wants the Palestinians to talk peace to Israel without conditions.

[Israeli West Bank outposts] “are snapshots of the way many settlements looked a decade or two ago and, in fact, how towns inside Israel looked after its 1948 conquests. They are symbols of Zionism’s onward march.”

In looking for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then, we should once and for all stop looking to governments and officials (elected or otherwise), in the US, Israel, or among the Palestinians themselves. As the Obama administration has already demonstrated, the US government, in the present political conjuncture, will never put peace and justice in Palestine ahead of internal domestic pressures and politics; the Israeli government will not for one moment back down from its continually expanding colonization plan in the West Bank and East Jerusalem until it is compelled by outside pressure to do otherwise; and the Palestinian government — well, there is no such thing.

Even supporters of the Palestinian Authority admit that it was clearly outmanoeuvred by the Israelis and the Americans, and was seen to be totally out of touch with its own public and the Arab and international supporters.

IOA Editor: Illuminating coverage of the background to the Abbas’ decision, and valid practical advice to the PA. However, stating that the Israeli government stood up to “tremendous US pressure” is not supported by by facts: there is no evidence of any actual US pressure.

We strongly urge the leadership to reconsider its decision, and to begin to forge an independent path of diplomacy based on respect for international law that can lead to genuine justice and durable peace.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ (PCHR) new report, titled “Through Women’s Eyes,” highlights “the Gender-Specific Impact and Consequences of Operation Cast Lead” and the ongoing siege.

A Response to Uri Avnery: No Israeli who claims to support the national rights of the Palestinian people can, decently, turns his or her back to that campaign: after having claimed for years that “armed struggle is not the way,” it will be outrageous that this BDS strategy will too be disqualified by those Israeli activists. On the contrary, we must all together join to “Boycott from Within” in order to provide Israeli support to this Palestinian initiative.

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies.

“Anyone who thinks that peace is possible with the current Israeli government and was not possible with the previous governments is being delusional.”

The Palestinian leadership—under heavy international pressure lead by the United States—deferred the draft proposal at the Human Rights Council endorsing all the recommendations of the UN Fact Finding Mission (the Goldstone Report). This deferral denies the Palestinian peoples’ right to an effective judicial remedy and the equal protection of the law. It represents the triumph of politics over human rights. It is an insult to all victims and a rejection of their rights.

Obama was right in speaking out against the delay in movement in the peace process. Instead of this false symmetry in which charges are fabricated to appear balanced, the US president should simply lay out who was responsible for the delay. Only by chiding the right party can there be hope of real progress in this decades-old conflict.

The establishment of a state commission of inquiry to investigate the Goldstone report’s allegations of Israeli war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza is the only appropriate response the Israeli government can make.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “I lend my full support to Justice Goldstone’s report and its recommendations. I fully agree with him that the prevailing impunity for human rights violations in the Middle East conflict must end.”

The report’s findings demand action by the international community, including the United States. The importance of U.S. action is elevated because the U.S. currently holds the Presidency of the U.N. Security Council, the U.N. body charged with enforcing the report’s conclusions.

‘We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the era of impunity,’ Nadia Hijab, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Palestine Studies, was quoted by IPS in response to the findings of a 574-page report by a four-member United Nations Fact finding mission.

Only one thing does bother the Israelis, according to the polls: fear of a diplomatic embargo and an international boycott. The Goldstone Report and the International Court of Justice in The Hague are arousing concern and interest, far more than Obama’s peace speeches.

IOA Editor: The importance of this commentary is the confirmation of the growing public concern in Israel about possible global isolation due to the boycott campaign and the increasing, however slowly, diplomatic pressure. The assessment of Obama’s ME failure is rather narrow, leaving out the close alliance between the US and Israel – the fundamental reason for Obama’s non-action. See: US ships arrive ahead of joint drill, covered here earlier this week.

While Obama, Abbas and Netanyahu are posing for the photos, President Obama should use the presence of the press to state what the Road Map obliges the Quartet to do. Publicly point his finger to the party which has not fulfilled its obligation to the international will.

Meshal clearly stated that the Palestinian struggle was anything but a conflict between Muslims and the Jewish people. He insisted that the Palestinians were fighting against the occupier who had dispossessed them of their homes and lands, regardless of religion, creed or race.

One of the dangers of the right-wing Zionists’ tactic of smearing as “anti-Semitic” all criticism of any Israeli policy is precisely that they end up trivializing this deadly, soul-killing phenomenon, and by crying wolf so often may actually decrease vigilance toward the real thing.

“What if [the Israelis] fly over anyway?”
“Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.”

The conflict is the outcome of aggression and occupation. Our struggle against the Israelis is not because they are Jewish, but because they invaded our homeland and dispossessed us. We do not accept that because the Jews were once persecuted in Europe they have the right to take our land and throw us out. The injustices suffered by the Jews in Europe were horrible and criminal, but were not perpetrated by the Palestinians or the Arabs or the Muslims.

American failure to pressure Israel is increasingly frustrating the Palestinian leadership which dreads a repetition of the futile peacemaking efforts that characterised the Bush administration. One Palestinian official was quoted this week as saying that the Mitchell approach was “unconvincing and raises a lot of question marks”.

I ACCEPTED with hesitation my United Nations mandate to investigate alleged violations of the laws of war and international human rights during Israel’s three-week war in Gaza last winter. The issue is deeply charged and politically loaded. I accepted because the mandate of the mission was to look at all parties: Israel; Hamas, which controls Gaza; and other armed Palestinian groups. I accepted because my fellow commissioners are professionals committed to an objective, fact-based investigation. But above all, I accepted because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the laws of war, and the principle that in armed conflict civilians should to the greatest extent possible be protected from harm.

[I]t’s important for me to tell you, my worldview-sharing [Israeli] compatriots, that many settlements have already almost swallowed up all the agricultural lands from villages in their vicinity. No construction freeze will return them to their owners, most of whom have become day laborers, working or unemployed without any kind of social benefits. They and their wives and children don’t go to the expensive shopping malls in Ramallah.

[A]ny plan, proposal or initiative for peace in Israel-Palestine must be filtered through the following set of critical questions: Will this plan really end the occupation, or is it merely a subtle cover for control? Does this plan offer a just and sustainable peace or merely an imposed and false quiet? Does this plan offer a Palestinian state that is territorially, politically and economically viable, or merely a prison-state? Does this plan genuinely and justly address the refugee issue? And does this plan offer regional security and development?

Two cases brought before Israeli courts last week revealed the attitude of the establishment towards Palestinian Arab citizens of the state. One shows how Palestinian citizens are treated as victims of police brutality, and the second shows how they are regularly victimised because of their opposition to injustice.