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


Israel embarked yesterday on a mini Operation Cast Lead. Like its larger, losing predecessor, this operation had it all: the usual false claim that is was they who had started it – and not the landing of commandos from helicopters on a ship in open sea, away from Israeli territorial waters. There was the claim that the first act of violence came not from the soldiers, but the rioting activists on Mavi Marmara; that the blockade on Gaza is legal and that the flotilla to its shores is against the law – God knows which law.

Norman Finkelstein on Gaza Flotilla Attack (TV)

The Palestinian Human Rights Council condemns the unlawful assault by the Israeli navy on a flotilla of international ships bringing aid to Gaza early this morning. The assault is unprecedented and illegal under international law.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the crime perpetrated by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) earlier this morning, 31 May 2010, when Israeli Naval Forces attacked the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” in international waters as it was sailing towards the Gaza Strip. IOF used excessive and lethal force in its attack on the ships, which left dozens of international civilian solidarity activists who were on board dead or injured.

The Alternative Information Center (AIC) places complete responsibility with the Israeli government and we request that the international, legal, political and humanitarian bodies move immediately to condemn this crime and to hold Israel accountable for its harsh actions. We also request the immediate lifting of the siege on Gaza so supplies can enter without any conditions.

“Only a crazy government that has lost all restraint and all connection to
reality could something like that – consider ships carrying humanitarian aid
and peace activists from around the world as an enemy and send massive
military force to international waters to attack them, shoot and kill.”

And facing them on the seas has been the Israeli ship of fools, floating but not knowing where or why. Why detain people? That’s how it is. Why a siege? That’s how it is. It’s like the Noam Chomsky affair all over again, but big time this time. Of course the peace flotilla will not bring peace, and it won’t even manage to reach the Gaza shore. The action plan has included dragging the ships to Ashdod port, but it has again dragged us to the shores of stupidity and wrongdoing.

The word “Arab” is not mentioned in the legislation, but the bill is directed against the Arabs. Will anyone consider stripping Anat Kamm of her citizenship if she is convicted of espionage? … The problem is a viewpoint that considers a community, by its mere existence, ethnic origin, language and links with what are described as enemy states as the target for this legislation. Without Arabs there would be no need for such obscene bills, because only Jews can be loyal to the state.

How can we rely on those Palestinians? For 43 years, they have been building the settlers’ homes with the sweat of their brows, paving roads for them and building their fences, and then suddenly, out of the blue, a boycott? Is that the way for partners to behave? Is that how they pay us back after we educated them for so many years to be our hewers of wood and drawers of water?

[Mubarak] has developed a partnership with Israel on trade and ‘security’ that is far more extensive than Sadat could have imagined. Their intelligence services work closely together, and Mubarak has supplied weapons and training to the Palestinian Authority in its war against Hamas. The government is also doing what it can to maintain the siege in Gaza.

Mr Makhoul’s arrest had angered many in Israel’s Palestinian minority, nearly a fifth of the population, who suspect he is being persecuted for his leading role in promoting internationally the boycott movement against Israel and his prominent opposition to Israel’s attack on Gaza nearly 18 months ago.

Today is the 21st day since the arrest of Ameer Makhoul at his home in Haifa, Israel, under the cover of darkness, by officers of the International Crimes Investigation Unit and General Security Service (GSS or Shabak). The arrest was conducted in a brutal and terrifying manner.

Citing the US and Israeli refusal of the Arab Peace Initiative since 1976 until this day, Chomsky countered the mainstream argument that it is Palestinian rejectionism that is blocking a settlement. “These facts are not part of general discourse because they lead to the wrong conclusion. The most crucial facts are invisible if they do not conform to the interests of power,” he said. “If the US changes its policy, Israel has no option but to go along – the parameters agreed upon at Taba would be a start.”

Of all the world’s statesmen, the one closest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They have met four times since Netanyahu returned to power, and unlike U.S. President Barack Obama, Mubarak has no qualms about shaking Netanyahu’s hand in public. “Ties are much closer than they seem,” said a highly placed Israeli source.

IOA Editor: A credible analysis, from an Israeli-standpoint, of the very close relationship between the Mubarak government and Israel.

Israel faces unprecedented pressure to abandon its official policy of “ambiguity” on its possession of nuclear weapons as the international community meets at the UN in New York this week to consider banning such arsenals from the Middle East. Israel’s equivocal stance on its atomic status was shattered by reports that it offered to sell nuclear-armed Jericho missiles to S. Africa’s apartheid regime in 1975.

Defense Minister Peres, 1974: “This cooperation [Israel - South-Africa] is based not only on common interests and on the determination to resist equally our enemies, but also on the unshakable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and refusal to submit to it.”

President Peres on judge Richard Goldstone: “A small man, devoid of any sense of justice.”

Nawi’s conviction points to a relatively recent development regarding the restriction of resistance, to extremely passive modes of protest. And, in some cases, even these kinds of protests are prohibited, as in Sheikh Jarrah where activists are repeatedly arrested simply for demonstrating against the seizure of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian village of Sheikh Sa’ad has been essentially disconnected from the outside world by the Israeli defense establishment. This is one of those stories that make me, as an Israeli, feel truly shameful.

“Denying my entry to the West Bank was a minor event, but significant because it indicates irrational behavior on the part of Israel,” the linguist Noam Chomsky said at the start of his lecture last Tuesday to a few dozen students and faculty members of Bir Zeit University. He delivered his lecture, “Americans and the World,” by video conference, of course: He in Amman, his audience in one of the university’s lecture halls.

Noam Chomsky interviewed by a raving Israeli Channel 2 News reporter.

The state land authority has been allowed to hire or purchase land only for Jews. Non-Jews are not allowed… land that was ours in the past and confiscated. In the early 1950s, we [Palestinian Arab citizens] owned 80% of the private land. Now we own 3% of the private land.

[N]either Chomsky nor I are have any illusions about the limits of the aforementioned initiatives or their possible (if not probable) failure in the face of Israel’s hubris and the power disparity between the parties. But Chomsky also alluded to the lesson of a movement that succeeded, not by waiting for favorable political conditions to hand it the vision it sought, but by moving ahead with building its project and waiting for the right political conditions to incrementally achieve what it did.

Gideon Levy on Israeli-style democracy, one that is run by a military elite: “After we sent Prof. Noam Chomsky away, and there was no sharp rebuke by Israeli academics (who in their silence support a boycott of Bir Zeit University), we will be left with a narrow and frightening intellectual world.”

[C]reate a park at the site in memory of the people buried there, serving all the city’s residents… the part of the cemetery that remains should be restored and cared for; it should be turned into one of the sites that Jerusalem is proud of. The absence of construction on the excavation site must be part of the healing process that Jerusalem so needs: healing through tolerance.

“Israel,” Chomsky was informed, “doesn’t like what you say.” Is this a reasonable pretext for a democratic state to detain someone for questioning or hold him up at the border? And who is this “Israel” that doesn’t like what Chomsky says? The general public? The Interior Ministry? The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories? The government?

Mohammed Zeidan, head of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth: “We are used to our political leaders being persecuted but now the Shin Bet is turning its sights on the leaders of Palestinian civil society in Israel, and that’s a dangerous development.”

Chomsky spoke yesterday to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, whom he was supposed to meet in Ramallah. Fayyad’s office released a statement saying the two men “discussed the political situation and developments in Palestine.” Fayyad said he “strongly condemns the decision of the occupation forces to prevent Chomsky from entering Palestinian land.”

Noam Chomsky: “The first point was that they don’t like my opinions about Israeli policies, which is true of every other country but has never stopped me coming and giving lectures before. The second, most crucial point was that they didn’t like the fact that I was visiting the West Bank but then not going on to speak in Israel. The issue was going to Birzeit, just as I would any other university, without specific Israeli approval. I would say that is very unusual, perhaps unique, outside totalitarian states.”

I have never heard of a democratic state denying entry to thinkers… who neither call for violence or break local or international law. So what on earth is happening to Israel? … If anything, barring Chomsky gives ammunition to those who say that Israel is infringing on academic freedom in the Palestinian Authority, and that a boycott against its universities is therefore justified.

Palestinian activists: [W]hy shouldn’t the PA change the addresses of thousands of people, instead of having its officials turn them away while explaining obediently that “the Israelis don’t agree to it”? In this way, the PA will exercise its authority in accordance with Oslo. This would be a form of integrated civil disobedience: the leadership and the public together reject the occupiers’ dictates.

Amira Hass: Chomsky told Haaretz that he supports a two-state solution, but not the solution proposed by Jerusalem, “pieces of land that will be called a state.” He said that Israel’s behavior today reminds him of that of South Africa in the 1960s, when it realized that it was already considered a pariah, but thought that it would resolve the problem with better public relations.

IOA Editor: See also Al-Jazeera: Chomsky ban – “An end to freedom”?

Noam Chomsky… has been barred from entering the West Bank… across the Allenby Bridge from Jordan on Sunday. The linguistics professor, who frequently speaks out against Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, had been scheduled to give a lecture at Birzeit University in the West Bank. (Video interview with Noam Chomsky)

Noam Chomsky: “The government did not like the kinds of things I say and they did not like that I was only talking at Bir Zeit and not at an Israeli university too,” he said… I asked them if they could find any government in the world that likes the things I say.”

Mustafa Barghouti, one of the leaders of the struggle against Israel, was slated to accompany Chomsky on his tour of the West Bank and separation fence. He said that “Israel’s decision testifies to its racist nature. Even a person like Chomsky couldn’t avoid it. We are proud of Chomsky’s role in supporting the Palestinians and the struggle against the injustice of the occupation.”

IOA Editor: Neither Barghouthi nor Chomsky is a leader of “the struggle against Israel.” Rather, they both take part in the struggle against Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Each of them has clearly and specifically supported a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a two-states solution, Israel and Palestine, existing side by side, without Israel controlling and dominating the Palestinians. It is this last point which Israeli commentators like to twist as being “against Israel.”

In reality, the Israeli authorities denied Chomsky the right of entry into the West Bank — he did not seek entry into Israel — a territory Israel controls by military force, for nearly 43 years, against the wishes of its Palestinian inhabitants and in violation of numerous international laws, conventions, and UN resolutions. It is interesting that the Israeli media (both Ynet and Haaretz) misrepresent this story by referring to it as a denial of entry to “Israel.”

Amira Hass: Left-wing American linguist Professor Noam Chomsky was denied entry into Israel on Sunday, for reasons that were not immediately clear. Chomsky, who was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University near Jerusalem, told the Right to Enter activist group by telephone that inspectors had stamped the words “denied entry” onto his passport when he tried to cross from Jordan over Allenby Bridge.

IOA Editor:
The original language of this story referred to “entry into Israel;” it was subsequently revised to read “entry into Israel and West Bank.” In reality, the Israeli authorities denied Chomsky the right of entry into the West Bank — he did not seek entry into Israel — a territory Israel controls by military force, for nearly 43 years, against the wishes of its Palestinian inhabitants and in violation of numerous international laws, conventions, and UN resolutions. It is interesting that the Israeli media (both Haaretz and Ynet) misrepresent this story by referring to it as a denial of entry to “Israel.”

It would be possible to identify with these intolerant reactions were it not for the fact that Israel itself is one of the world’s prolific boycotters. Not only does it boycott, it preaches to others, at times even forces others, to follow in tow. Israel has imposed a cultural, academic, political, economic and military boycott on the territories. At the same time, almost no one here utters a dissenting word questioning the legitimacy of these boycotts. Yet the thought of boycotting the boycotter? Now that’s inconceivable.