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


“He’s made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture,” Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, said tonight. “He’s changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can’t think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect.”

IOA Editor: Howard Zinn, our friend, teacher, a life-long activist so many of us followed with great interest and admiration, and an IOA Advisory Board member, passed away today. Words cannot express how much he will be missed.

Howard Zinn – IOA Video Selection
Democracy Now! – a tribute

Yesh Din: “Past experience” fed suspicions that the Bnei Menashe would be encouraged to settle deep in the West Bank… Shavei Israel lobbies for other groups of Jews to be brought to Israel, including communities in Spain, Portugal, Italy, South America, Russia, Poland and China.

IOA Editor: An endless supply of lost tribes, and their relatively disadvantaged members, can provide a lifeline of fresh, enthusiastic ‘pioneers’ to Israel’s settlement frontier.

There are widespread fears among Israeli academics that calls for a boycott of Israeli universities will intensify following the Ariel College decision. Yaron Ezrahi, a professor at Hebrew University, called the decision the “academisation of the occupation”.

Israel, via the Interior Ministry, continues to spit in the face of friendly countries, and those countries continue to admire the falling raindrops. The ministry’s most recent gob of spit was the cancellation of the work visas that citizens of those countries who are employed by international NGOs have been getting for years.

The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest.

IOA Editor: The influence of multi-national corporations – led by US-based entities, with extensive participation of Israeli companies, on the ME and the Occupation, is enormous: from high tech and arms-manufacturers to ‘benign industries’ like aviation and transportation – all involved in political systems that, to varying degrees, deprive their subject-citizenry of meaningful political participation.

As far as Israeli citizens and their range of interests are concerned, the annexation of the territories is a fait accompli. Defining the territories as “occupied” is, in fact, an attempt to depict it as a temporary condition… This linguistic choice thereby contributes to the blurring and obfuscation of the reality in the territories, thus abetting the continuation of the status quo.

Two months after the government decision on November 26 to freeze construction in Jewish settlements for 10 months, you’d have to be blind, an idiot, or a member of the Yesha Council of settlements to use the term “freeze” to describe the real estate situation in Judea and Samaria.

Like the Clinton and Bush administrations… the idea that the United States ought to use its leverage and exert genuine pressure on Israel remains anathema to Obama, to Mitchell and his advisors, and to all those pundits who are trapped in the Washington consensus on this issue. The main organizations in the Israel lobby are of course dead-set against it — and that goes for J Street as well — even though there is no reason to expect Israel to change course in the absence of countervailing pressure.

IOA Editor: Whether effective lobbying or effective propaganda – Obama’s “cynical charade” – isn’t quite as obvious as Walt makes it sound.

Obama also needs to take on the Gaza blockade, imposed by Israel and abetted by Egypt. If private diplomacy shows no results soon and Israel does not end its wholesale restrictions on the movement of goods and people, the president should publicly criticize the blockade as collective punishment and specify consequences, including reductions in military aid.

The diplomatic stalemate and the provocations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in East Jerusalem harm not only the chance for peace in the future but also past fruits of peace. Fifteen years after the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan was signed, the two countries are now deep in a crisis the government is doing nothing to resolve.

The attempt to change the geography and demography of Jerusalem has been a relentless Israeli project since the occupation of the city in 1967 and its subsequent de jure annexation. While this “legal” annexation has been rejected by the international community as a violation of international law, action has been limited to verbal protests and condemnation.

The Sheikh Jarrah vigils started as an avowedly political act – an outcry against a system which allows Jews to reclaim property held in east Jerusalem prior to 1948, but prohibits Palestinians from doing the same in west Jerusalem… Silencing the drums of Sheikh Jarrah is akin to eroding the pillars of Israel’s freedom.

IOA Editor: Written from an Israeli-centric perspective, this commentary supports citizens’ right to protest. But it overlooks a 61-year long reality where the “pillars of Israel’s freedom” never applied to Israel’s Palestinian citizens. And, no country running a four-decade long violent colonial occupation project can make any claims to “freedom.”

[I]n 1948, the Israelis wanted to create a state without Palestinians, and they almost succeeded in driving them out. In 1967, their victory reunited the refugees with those who had remained in Israel. We were scattered, they brought us back together. The Israelis are sowing their own failure by their success. The colonization of Jerusalem and the West Bank, which makes impossible a two-state solution, will force Israel to live with a sizable Arab population and to reconsider its democratic system.

IOA Editor: Sari Nusseibeh has long advocated the Two-State solution. After decades of relentless Israeli colonial settlement in the West Bank, he now sees it as a near-impossibility.

A few days before Israeli physicians rushed to save the lives of injured Haitians, the authorities at the Erez checkpoint prevented 17 people from passing through in order to get to a Ramallah hospital for urgent corneal transplant surgery… So what if the Goldstone Commission demanded that Israel lift the blockade on the Strip and end the collective punishment of its inhabitants? Only those who hate Israel could use frontier justice against the first country to set up a field hospital in Haiti.

See also: Larry Derfner: The pride and the shame

Gideon Levy: Waltz in Batir

16 January 2010

“The Palestinians don’t have a real organization fighting for their rights and they can’t expect others to fight for them… No revolution in history was ever led by a government or a bureaucracy. We’ve became an agency of Israel and of the United States. You can’t lead a revolution and fly to America. Our leaders are too fluid in their views. A revolution requires toughness, not flexibility. In music, you can be flexible, but not when you’re leading a revolution.”

The increasing isolation of Gaza — and the ratcheting up of pressure — is designed to send a message to Gaza: that Hamas has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, from resisting Israel’s occupation, and that ordinary Gazans should turn their back on the Islamic movement.

Anyone who carefully reads the debates about the military government in Arab-populated areas in the 1950s and ’60s will see that… security arguments are linked to preventing Arab farmers from entering the land in question… Whatever the nature of the solution, from the Israeli point of view it always entails the removal of Arabs from areas where Jews live.

IOA Editor: A pro-Israel Democratic party activist enumerates the many ways in which president Obama supports Israel and its aggressive policies, including the 42 year long Occupation – no less, and perhaps more, than Republicans. A required reading for those who feel that the recently minted Nobel Laureate is a “Man of Peace.”

We’re at war with the Middle East, with Europe, with liberal Jews in the Diaspora and with a pathetically small handful of dissenters at home. We trust no one. We see anti-Semites everywhere. We’d like to build an Iron Dome over this whole country to keep the world out.

IOA Editor: Mr. Derfner has an interesting, but wholly unfounded, views on the differences between Republicans and Democrats. For a fact-based view on the differences, if any, between the two US parties, as it concerns Israel, see Steve Sheffey: Obama’s First Year: Pro-Israel. Although Derfner is not focusing on the party differences with respect to Israel but more in terms of war, Obama’s treatment of Israel is very much in line with his actions elsewhere – specifically, the two active war he’s currently commanding.

This new arrangement makes an already problematic situation even worse. Those same lands that the state expropriated from Arabs in the past for “public use,” and which were then added to the vast land reserves it controls, are now being privatized, meaning they are being sold to the highest bidder. As long as he’s a Jew, of course. Granted, you won’t find a sign anywhere saying “no entry for Arabs,” but aside from that, all the rules of the Wild West are in force.

IOA Editor: This is one of the most important issues in Israel today, defining the very nature of the nominally “Jewish and democratic” state. Excluding Palestinians who are Israeli citizens from land ownership has been the foundation of Israeli-statehood from 1948. (Much has been written on the subject, starting with Sabri Jiryis’ The Arabs in Israel, 1966.) This current twist is designed to continue the practice, which is anchored in a complex web of laws that are updated as circumstances change, and in order to circumvent Israeli Supreme Court rulings that threaten to undo the old order. The bottom line: the state legally bars its Palestinian Arab population – 25% of Israel’s total – from buying land in the ‘free market,’ demonstrating again that it is neither Jewish nor democratic – and how evil this very concept is.

Israel’s relentless drive to establish “facts on the ground” in the occupied West Bank, a drive that continues in violation of even the limited settlement freeze to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committed himself, seems finally to have succeeded in locking in the irreversibility of its colonial project. As a result of that “achievement,” one that successive Israeli governments have long sought in order to preclude the possibility of a two-state solution, Israel has crossed the threshold from “the only democracy in the Middle East” to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.

I wondered: Were the [Hamas] restrictions an order from above, or an unwise interpretation by lower ranks? Does Hamas think it can entirely prevent the few visitors – clearly pro-Palestinian – from hearing non-official versions? Don’t the people giving the orders realize what a bad image they were creating? Or was there really a security concern?

Many Israelis have no problems with this: Let the Muslims suffer for the sins of their brothers. But those of us who like to think of ourselves as liberal humanists find it too easy to ignore the sight of entire families having their luggage rummaged through in front of the entire terminal while we are waved through.

IOA Editor: Indeed, the dilemmas of the guilt-ridden Jewish (or other) liberal – could keep Woody Allen busy for decades. Warranted or not, this subject surely isn’t debated in Israel, which has long behaved as though it is exempt from “civilized-world” standards. As Seumas Milne argues powerfully in Terror is the price of support for despots and dictators (below), terrorism is the result of such support and “the occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land.” This point, and the profound questions that follow, do not receive the public attention a single case of a would-be terrorist act (in the West) gets.

From the wider international perspective, it is precisely this western embrace of repressive and unrepresentative regimes such as Egypt’s, along with unwavering backing for Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land, that is at the heart of the crisis in the Middle East and Muslim world… The poisonous logic of this imperial quagmire is now leading inexorably to the spread of war under Barack Obama.

It seems that the only value which we still have the power and means to instill is the value of refusal. To learn to say no. To teach our children who have not been poisoned yet to resist the brainwashing, to reject the viruses with which their brains are being injected. It is a hard and sysiphic task, but it is the only way of reasserting our humanity. To say no to evil, no to deceit and deception, no to trade in human beings, no to the racism which is spreading over here like wildfire… We stand here today as an alien and alienated minority, hated and persecuted. But together with our peace-seeking friends beyond the Wall, beyond the barbed wires, we might become a majority. Only the refusal to surrender to walls and checkpoints can open the gates of our ghetto so that we could pull down the walls of their ghetto. To see at last that there is an outside world, that there are regions around which the Jewish National Fund had not destroyed.

IOA Editor: Outstanding.

The Egyptian regime blocked access for the mission, citing “security” concerns, and refused to grant entry visas to the assembled group. Cairo’s position, undoubtedly backed by its masters the US and Israel, condemned most of the marchers as “hoodlums” and “criminals”. In fact, many participants were the elderly and the religious and non-violent, Gandhian tactics were the central ideology.

[T]his strategy seems to require the blurring of any distinction between peoples fighting for self-determination or struggling against foreign occupation or internal repression and al-Qaeda or similar terrorist organisations… Tzipi Livni’s response to the arrest warrant against her: “what needs to be put on trial here is the abuse of the British legal system. This is not a suit against Tzipi Livni, this is not a lawsuit against Israel. This is a lawsuit against any democracy that fights terror.”

Instead of addressing the question of how to destroy the Iranian nuclear project by military means, the real interest of all peoples in the Middle East, including the Israeli and Iranian peoples, is to safeguard their security not through nuclear arsenals but through denuclearization of all states in the area. The opposition to the nuclear threat cannot be a selective issue, and should not be handled with double standards.

BDS action is a life-saving antidote to violence. It is an action of solidarity, partnership and joint progress. BDS action serves to preempt, in a non-violent manner, justified violent resistance aimed at attaining the same goals of justice, peace and equality.

None of [the Gaza complexities] makes sense unless you bring in the larger picture of the occupation and the steadfast reluctance of Israeli governments to make peace. Seen in isolation, Gaza is too riddled with ambiguity to galvanize what’s left of the Israeli peace camp into action. The real contrast is with the burgeoning protests in East Jerusalem, in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah where several Palestinian families have recently been evicted from their homes and Israeli settlers planted in their stead.

“Genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation… It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.” (Raphael Lemkin, 1943)

In Israel… institutional discrimination is meant to preserve the supremacy of a group of Jewish settlers over Palestinian Arabs. As far as discriminatory practices are concerned, it’s hard to find differences between white rule in South Africa and Israeli rule in the territories; for example, separate areas and separate laws for Jews and Palestinians.

The real reason for harassing Vanunu is a vindictiveness towards a man who has been impertinent enough to come out of jail unbowed. Of course, if Vanunu had been allowed to leave the country, he would have drifted out of public consciousness. Now, every time he is arrested the world is reminded that Israel has a nuclear weapons facility, a fact used by its enemies to justify their own weapons programmes.

Cairo is currently experiencing civil disobedience, Western style… The fight is now with the Egyptian government and, according to Code Pink, their own embassies’ intransigence.

Like many of the names that Israel assigned to the new streets in the eastern part of [Jerusalem], the militaristic names that the rapid-transit stops are supposed to bear reflect the situation accurately: occupation.

IOA Editor: As Segev points out, the renaming of streets and transit stops reflects the Occupation. But he leaves a great deal out: The Renaming of Palestine is an important last part of a process, specifically designed to erase the past, thus enabling the re-Making of History as the victor would like future generations to know it. The current story is only the latest example. After 1948, nearly 500 Palestinian villages were removed: not only were they physically obliterated by the then-young State of Israel, but their names were either erased (from all maps and road signs) or “Hebraized” – turned into Hebrew. This is an important, and sinister, element in the historical process generally known as Ethnic Cleansing. For Israel it means This land is ours, and ours alone.

It’s not that we can’t imagine life in Gaza. It’s that we are determined not to try to imagine. If we did, we might not stop there. Next we might try to imagine what it would be like if our country were in the condition in which we left Gaza. And sooner or later we might try to imagine what we would do if we were living over here like they’re living over there. Or not even what we would do, just what we would think – about the people, about the country, that did that to us and that wouldn’t even allow us to begin to recover after the war was over.