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


Obama has made clear that the United States intends to retain a long-term major presence in the [ME] region. That much is signaled by the huge city-within-a city called “the Baghdad Embassy,” unlike any embassy in the world.

The Goldstone… conclusion was that the civilian areas were targeted and the devastation was deliberate… the criticism of Israel in the Goldstone report is justified… it is imperative that the United States and the international community take steps to assure that the rebuilding of Gaza be commenced, and without delay. The cries of homeless and freezing people demand relief.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asserted in January 2009, “We have proven to Hamas that we have changed the equation. Israel is not a country upon which you fire missiles and it does not respond. It is a country that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.”

“The top brass are not asking if there will be another military confrontation with Hamas, but when,” according to the cliche about the next war. But of course the only important question is not asked: “Why?” rather than whether or when. This is the question that reverberates.

The Obama administration is so focused on bringing the state actors — Palestinian, Arab, Israeli — back to the negotiating table that it has missed the signs of a resurgent activism among Palestinians around the world which is beginning to shape a new national movement.

Abbas’s acceptance of the Egyptian-mediated reconciliation deal with Hamas is only because that deal presents new ways for him to destroy his opponents, writes Azmi Bishara

The time has come for Obama to summon both sides for serious, continuous negotiations, accompanied by a timetable for establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel on the basis of the June 4, 1967 borders. There could be no clearer expression of the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security and its future as a Jewish and democratic state.

IOA Editor: There could certainly be no clearer expression of US commitment to all peoples in the Middle East, the inherent conflict between a “Jewish” and a “democratic” state notwithstanding.

When a settlement is born out of sin, the sin of stolen land, the gun rests during the first act, the act of illegally confiscating the land. But you can count on there always being someone to pull the trigger in the final act.

All of a sudden, after 10 months and who knows how many meetings, freezing construction in the settlements is no longer a precondition for negotiations. True, until now the Palestinians were willing to negotiate the end of the occupation while their partner made it worse. That is how we have gone from 109,000 settlers – not including East Jerusalem – when the Oslo Accords were signed 16 years ago to more than 300,000 today.

Goldstone’s standing in the world will only rise as a consequence of Israel’s short-sighted attempts to discredit the man, the report and the facts. That our own government has chosen to join in this unworthy exercise should be a source of deep embarrassment and shame.

Most [friends of Israel] cannot understand the clear conscience of “the only democracy in the Middle East,” which does not hesitate to hold an entire people under occupation and siege, and at the same time punctiliously presents itself as always, in any situation, as the innocent victim of the hostile gentiles.

IOA Editor: This commentary is important in that it reflects the concerns of enlightened Israelis for the loss of the support Israel historically enjoyed in the West. In other words, global pressure against the Occupation and violations of international law works and must continue.

I want to know how and why it was decided to embark on Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip and to expand it into a ground offensive… I want to know if those who gave orders to the Israel Defense Forces assumed that hundreds of Palestinian civilians would be killed, and how they tried to prevent this.

A country’s conditions do not remove its obligations under international law… Whether a state is an aggressor or acting in self-defense, whether it faces a regular army or insurgents that commit abuses, the laws of war apply, imposing a duty to minimize civilian harm. And being a democratic country prevents Israel from committing wartime abuses no more than it stopped the United States from torture and unlawful detentions at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

I believe we should be amending the Basic Law: Human dignity and Liberty, and decide that the State of Israel is committed to maintaining the liberty and dignity of a person only if he’s Jewish; Just like we have land that is only for Jews and roads that are for Jews only. By modifying the Basic Law as suggested, we will know that “dignity and liberty” in the Jewish state are only reserved for Jews.

Goldstone uses the term “continuum,” assessing [the Gaza attack] as part of a chain of events, which also includes the complete closure of the Gaza Strip for three years, the policy of razing homes, the arrests, the interrogations and torture, not only in the Gaza Strip but also in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In short, Operation Cast Lead is not an “incident.” It is a link in a chain as old as the occupation itself… Goldstone puts the symptom under the microscope and derives the illness. The result is a textbook whose title should have been “A manual for the occupier in the fifth decade.”

IOA Editor: Ground breaking commentary.

In praise of… Amira Hass

24 October 2009

Only Amira Hass could have received the International Women’s Media Foundation lifetime achievement award by saying her life as a journalist had been a failure. By her standards maybe, but then she sets them high… But make no mistake, the Haaretz columnist fully deserves this award.

Israeli governments have avoided dealing with Hamas not because they fear that engaging the organization might not produce a peace agreement, but because they know they could not manipulate Hamas the way they have been able to manipulate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – namely, by using content-less peace talks as a fig leaf for the continued expansion of the settlement enterprise.

Turkey was shocked by Goldstone’s report on the Gaza conflict, but Israel is seeking other explanations for deteriorating ties.

Gideon Levy: A nation alone

22 October 2009

Any legitimate criticism is immediately labeled here as anti-Semitism, including Richard Goldstone, the Jewish Zionist. We are pushing everyone into a corner roughly and hope they will change their opinions and suddenly be filled with a deep understanding for the killing of children in Gaza.

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?

Israeli democracy is being administered by four elites: the political elite (which includes influential journalists), the financial elite (which excels in extraordinary cowardice when it comes to opposing the powers that be), the military elite (whose power is greater than anyone would like to admit), and the academic elite (whose role is to legitimize the other three elites).

The siege against Gaza, which began years ago, tightened to an almost total lockdown in June 2007 and continues to this day. And though the United States, Egypt, the EU and the UN move slowly – if at all – international groups and activists are working to end it.

Abu Awad lost 70 olive and 10 almond trees in the pogrom. A neighbor, Sudki Abu Aleiah, lost 120 olive trees. The Shehadah family lost 120 olive and 20 fig trees. Altogether, 340 fruit trees were cut down in one night of savagery… On one of the stumps, a single branch has survived, torn and twisted sideways. Abu Awad cuts it off and hands it to us as a memento. An olive branch from a tree that has been cut down. There are tears in his eyes.

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.

Gideon Levy: The Golda wars

15 October 2009

Cast Lead is what is bringing down Israel’s standing, not the reports written in its wake. Those are intended to prevent another Cast Lead, of the kind that the Goldas monstrously characterize as creating “an infrastructure of stability.” Nearly 1,400 were killed and tens of thousands were maimed and left homeless for an “infrastructure of stability,” which is neither an infrastructure nor stable.

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.”

Amira Hass: Lucky pasta

13 October 2009

Lucky pasta! When an American senator discovered Israel bans importing pasta into the Gaza Strip, a storm broke out. And ever since, senior Israeli defense officials have included noodles on their list of permitted products. And calves, how did we forget them? That was approved by the highest levels of the Defense Ministry. After all, the bureaucrat-officers would never have dared violate the siege directives.

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.”