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


We found a growing sense of concern and despair among those who observe, as we did, that settlement expansion is continuing apace, rapidly encroaching into Palestinian villages, hilltops, grazing lands, farming areas and olive groves. There are more than 200 of these settlements in the West Bank.

Ben Gurion University students’ democracy lesson following the Neve Gordon Los Angeles Times article and reactions: “we are taught history, but we are forbidden to learn from it. In gender studies, we are taught to identify violent discourse, but we are expected to go on speaking the routine and familiar militaristic language. We are taught to be social workers, but not to identify with exploited cleaning workers. Learning is allowed, but not drawing practical conclusions – especially not in a newspaper, in English, with a large circulation.”

Palestinians have finally started to act in a different way. Instead of cursing the occupation, the new strategy is aimed at building up the desired Palestinian state. The idea is to force the Israelis to the negotiating table rather than beg them to come. The way to do that is to work for a state as if there were negotiations. This idea has been brilliantly developed by the Palestinian prime minister.

[Dr. Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University] believes, and so do I, that only when the Israeli society’s well-heeled strata pay a real price for the continuous occupation, will they finally take genuine steps to put an end to it… The vast majority retains its freedom to be indifferent, up to the moment that someone begs the international community for rescue. Then the voices rise from right and left, the indifference disappears, and violence replaces it: Boycott Israeli universities? This strikes at the holy of holies, academic freedom!

The blatant attack that Ya’alon has been waging ever since he slammed the door by leaving the Israel Defense Forces has shown acute anti-democratic symptoms. Ya’alon has lashed out at the High Court of Justice in particular and the justice system in general, while expressing scandalous support for illegal settlements, making irresponsible accusations against his colleagues and superiors and stating views that are considered illegitimate even in the right wing.

IOA Editor: We continue focusing on Ya’alon because he is a central figure of Israel’s government and, as described by Haaretz, in many ways he is the government.

[Joe] Stork wrote to Haaretz that rather than deal with the content of the report, Yemini chose to “shoot the messenger… The quotes he attributes to me are more than 30 years old. Most of them I do not recognize, and they are contrary to the views I have been expounding for decades now.” Stork wrote. “I have dedicated much of my adult life to the protection of human rights for all and to fighting the idea that civilians can be attacked for political reasons.”

IOA Editor: Israel Harel is a right-wing Israeli commentator, as is Ben Dror Yemini. Joe Stork is the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. This attack on HRW and its dedicated staff reflects the opinions of many Israelis who reject any outside criticism of IDF behavior and Israeli actions in the occupied territories.

See IOA coverage of the HRW report.

I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren’t citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right.

During the entire period of our rule in the territories, we have destroyed the existing leadership, which led to the rise of more extreme leaders. We destroyed the Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat, who had agreed to a two-state solution and was capable of “delivering the goods.” And we brought about Hamas’ seizure of the Gaza Strip. Now we are cultivating the third stage: Al-Qaida.

IOA Editor: This Israeli-centric commentary is rare in its honesty as to who is responsible for where the dialog between Israel and the Palestinians is. For Israel, the more extreme and violent the enemy, the easier it is to ‘prove’ the claim that “there is no one to talk to…” Whether this is brought about via an assassination campaign directed at Palestinian moderates (1980s), the derailing of the meaningful negotiations in Madrid by the introduction of Oslo, the settlement program, the violent crushing of the Intifada and the destruction of Palestinian national infrastructure, or the strangulation of and attack on Gaza – it all serves the same purpose: to crush Palestinian nationhood.

Ezra Nawi’s Appeal

18 August 2009

UPDATED 18 Aug 2009: Ezra Nawi’s sentencing hearing took place on August 16, 2009, and Jewish Voice for Peace was there with over 20,000 of your signatures. The judge will render her sentence on September 21st, 2009.

“I always knew that many people silently supported me, and that if I ever got into trouble they would stand behind me. This moment has come.”

Join Naomi Klein, Neve Gordon, Noam Chomsky and thousands of others and tell Israel not to jail Ezra Nawi, one of Israel’s most courageous human rights activists. His crime? He tried to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region.

Fatah has changed over the years. It started as a resistance movement of well-intended members, mostly students and young professionals in the 1950’s and 60’s. The young leadership was motivated by various factors, chief amongst them were the plight of the refugees, the lack of a truly independent Palestinian leadership and the failure of Arab governments to deliver on their promises to liberate Palestine. Resistance was in fact the core of Fatah’s liberation program.

The doctors of the Israel Medical Association have now been enlisted into the ranks of mouth-shutting patriots. The IMA announced this week that it is severing ties with Physicians for Human Rights. The announcement was preceded by a letter from the IMA chairman, Dr. Yoram Blachar, who also serves as president of the World Medical Association. In it, he states that “the outrageous situation is that PHR’s activity serves as fertile ground for anti-Semitism, anti-Israelism and anti-Zionism.”

It would seem that as long as Arab educators, academics and policymakers are excluded from planning, there will be no improvement. The Arab minority constitutes nearly 20 percent of Israel’s population, but has little to no real influence over its own education policy, budgets, standards or curricula.

Not only is it wrong for Israel to pass a law punishing those who extend aid to refugees, but we must pass a law that amounts to the opposite of this – a law that requires the state to assist refugees and allocates resources to the organizations and individuals that do so.

This is Cynthia McKinney and I’m speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies – and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

Ramallah’s intellectual elite, foreigners and curious spectators gathered last Saturday at the Friends School in Ramallah to hear writer and political activist Naomi Klein lecture to a packed auditorium… She chose to speak in Ramallah about her Jewish roots. “There is a debate among Jews – I’m a Jew by the way,” she said. The debate boils down to the question: “Never again to everyone, or never again to us?… [Some Jews] even think we get one get-away-with-genocide-free card… There is another strain in the Jewish tradition that say,’Never again to anyone.’”

One of the main accomplishments of the Israeli government’s bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip last winter was to inspire new vitality within leftist and peace groups in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice and liberation. This wave of activity has continued after the supposed ceasefire, with demonstrations and direct actions from New York to Los Angeles, Paris, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv. Most noteworthy has been a coming out of sorts of an increasingly large and vocal segment of the Jewish world that is not only opposed to the Israeli government’s wars and military occupations, but critical of Zionism itself.

[I]nside the occupied Palestinian territories [there] is a shadow state where the only real law is the law of the gun, where land is being taken away from its rightful owners every day, and where the very few who stand up to protest, without violence, like Ezra Nawi, are sent to prison. Bad times generally bring out the worst in most of us.

An important assessment of the realities of the West Bank settlement program, and why the Israeli Occupation is here to stay – unless Israel is forced otherwise.

A thinking, more enlightened Judaism is emerging, a necessity in the face of apartheid realities… Defining a humane Judaism in the 21st century means condemning the brutal military occupation in the West Bank and resisting the ongoing siege of Gaza.

A photo released by the White House, which shows Obama talking on the phone with Netanyahu on Monday, speaks volumes: The president is seen with his legs up on the table, his face stern and his fist clenched, as though he were dictating to Netanyahu: “Listen up and write ’Palestinian state’ a hundred times. That’s right, Palestine, with a P.” As an enthusiast of Muslim culture, Obama surely knows there is no greater insult in the Middle East than pointing the soles of one’s shoes at another person.

Apart from a few small nuances, George W. Bush could have delivered the same speech. On the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab issue, in particular, not only could Bush have delivered the same speech, he did – almost everything the current U.S. president said in Cairo was said many times over by his predecessor. It was not Obama, after all, who invented the maxim “two states for two peoples” – it was at the very core of his predecessor’s vision, our great friend in the White House, as early as 2002.

Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo… definitely lived up to expectations — provided we agree on what could have been expected. With regard to the form, Obama fully lived up to his role as the new black and human face of America in its relation with the rest of the world in general, and with the Muslim world in particular. He respected the specifications of his mission, seeking to repair the huge damage caused to America’s image and “soft power” by the previous administration… The world witnessed a spectacular attempt at seducing the Muslim world — its youth in particular.

The proposal to legally bar the commemoration of the Nakba on Israel’s Independence Day reflects growing trepidation in Israel about the inevitable encounter with the Palestinian Nakba and the understanding that the Nakba is a foundational part of Israeli identity.

On the eve of Netanyahu’s While House visit on Monday, a report by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & and International Studies was released today, reiterating earlier findings (see below). It criticizes any possible Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, and it points to the potential ramifications such an attack, and the continued Israeli-Palestinian stalement, may have on U.S.-Israel relations.

“President Barack Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raises some of the most serious issues in U.S.-Israeli relations. It is premature to judge how the Netanyahu government will deal with either the Arab-Israeli issue or Iran, but both could be major sources of tension if the two countries do not go deeper than their usual dialogue. The United States and Israel are allies, but this scarcely means that they have identical strategic interests or that U.S. ties to Israel cannot be a liability as well as an asset.”

“[A]ll the declarations about developing the operational capability of IAF aircraft so they can attack the nuclear facilities in Iran, and the empty promises about the ability of the Arrow missile defense system to contend effectively with the Shahab-3, not only do not help bolster Israel’s power of deterrence, but actually undermine the process of building it and making it credible in Iranian eyes.

The time has come to adopt new ways of thinking. No more fiery declarations and empty threats, but rather a carefully weighed policy grounded in sound strategy. Ultimately, in an era of a multi-nuclear Middle East, all sides will have a clear interest to lower tension and not to increase it.”

Reviewing Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas by Paul McGeough, Adam Shatz provides an excellent historical review of Hamas: tracing its history and Israel’s role in helping it become a prominent power in the Palestinian social and political arenas.

With renewed American interest in delivering a two-state reality, the leaderships in both Jerusalem and Ramallah appear to share one common goal: finding a comfort zone, a place where the peace process can continue ad infinitum, and hard decisions can be avoided.

The UN does not exist only to protect its personnel and installations. The UN flag alone ought to provide that kind of real protection… But Israel has repeatedly attacked UN facilities, schools, peacekeeping forces and personnel in Palestine and Lebanon knowing full well that it, not the UN, enjoys immunity for its actions. The next time Israel attacks a UN facility, part of the responsibility will lie with those who failed to act correctly this time around.

Protesters, activists and draft evaders are being targeted by a broad programme of state repression.

[The White House] could also inform the Israeli prime minister and his cohorts that they will be welcome to come and discuss continued American support once construction for Israelis in the occupied territories has truly come to an end.

For the last ten days or so, settlers from Bat ‘Ayin in the so-called Etzion Bloc have been paying violent daily visits to their Palestinian neighbors in Um Safa… They’ve already killed four innocents, and another eleven or twelve have been wounded by gunfire… the soldiers have apparently been making common cause with these settlers, opening fire readily at the villagers.

B. Michael says official Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics annual Independence Day report claiming that Jews comprise 75% of Israel’s population is inaccurate.

But in any event, discussion about a binational state should not be of interest only to the radical left. For if the two-state option melts away, the burden of coping with a binational reality will fall on all of us.

The fact is, soldiers who took part in the operation, and not only Israeli and foreign observers suspected of self-righteousness or hypocrisy, were revolted by what they saw, heard, and sometimes even did in the Gaza Strip. This revulsion, which the IDF officially rejects and seeks to contain, was recorded in Haaretz… and stirred up a storm. The presentation of the probes’ findings sounded like a belated defensive move, partly because senior people in the army and government are concerned about legal measures against them overseas.

On Friday evening, television news viewers witnessed the ultimate reality show – the murder of a human being on camera. The site of the killing was next to the West Bank village of Bil’in, 80 kilometers south of the ancient city of Jezreel, where a murder was committed under similar circumstances some 2,800 years ago. Bil’in is located 10 kilometers south of the village of Qibya, itself a notorious locale in Israel’s history for the 1953 IDF raid in which 69 Palestinian civilians, some of them children, were killed by troops commanded by a young Ariel Sharon.

The authorities consider him a traitor, even though he did not betray secrets to enemy countries, a terrorist organization or foreign security organizations. He exposed Israel’s nuclear secrets to the British Sunday Times… The justifications are weak and exaggerated. The claim is that Vanunu holds more secret information about Israel’s nuclear program. The entire world assumes Israel has nuclear weapons, so what further damage can he cause to the security of the state? Based on this logic, he may never leave Israel.