West Bank


Brilliant piece by Joseph Massad, from Palestine Thinktank

The reason for the ongoing “violence” in Israel and Palestine is not on account of Israeli colonialism at all but rather a direct result of mistranslation. Joseph Massad provides an abridged lexicon of Zionist terminology

“Colonialism is peace; anti-colonialism is war.” This is the unalterable equation that successive Israeli governments insist must determine the basis of all current and future relations between Israeli Jews and the Palestinians. Indeed, the deployment of the rhetoric of peace between Palestinians and Israeli Jews since the 1970s has been contingent on whether the Palestinians would acquiesce in this formula or insist on resisting it. The Oslo Accords were in large measure a ratification of this formula by the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Nonetheless, Palestinian resistance, violent and non- violent, to understanding “colonialism as peace” never fully subsided, even as the Palestinian Authority insisted that it become the law of the land.

The deployment of the rhetoric of peace however was more than anything else a deployment of the rhetoric of the “peace process.” In his book about the peace process, William Quandt traces the history of this deployment:

“Sometime in the mid-1970s the term peace process began to be widely used to describe the American-led efforts to bring about a negotiated peace between Israel and its neighbors. The phrase stuck, and ever since it has been synonymous with the gradual, step-by-step approach to resolving one of the world’s most difficult conflicts. In the years since 1967 the emphasis in Washington has shifted from the spelling out of the ingredients of ‘peace’ to the ‘process’ of getting there… The United States has provided both a sense of direction and a mechanism. That, at its best, is what the peace process has been about. At worst, it has been little more than a slogan used to mask the marking of time.”

I disagree partly with Quandt’s conclusion, mostly because the “peace process” since 1993 has been a mask for nothing short of Israeli colonial settlement and attempts by the Palestinian people to resist it and by the Palestinian Authority to coexist with it.

As has become clear even to the staunchest believers in the peace rhetoric, the Oslo Accords have not only been the main mechanism by which Israel subcontracted its occupation of the Palestinian people to the Palestinian Authority but also the main instrument through which Israel maintained its colonial control of Palestinian lands. While the occupied territories had been subjected to a different set of military laws since 1967 that governed the Palestinians and their land, the Oslo Accords began to institute the principle of separation, or in South African lingo, Apartheid. It was Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s former prime minister and the ethnic cleanser of the Palestinian population from the cities of Lydda and Ramleh in 1948, who would express Israel’s separation principle on 23 January 1995: “This path must lead to a separation, though not according to the borders prior to 1967. We want to reach a separation between us and them.” The separation or Apartheid principle will ultimately translate into Israel’s construction of the Apartheid Wall, which has already swallowed up more than 10 per cent of West Bank lands and will swallow more once it is completed. Let me remind you here that the South African Apartheid regime itself was not terribly comfortable with the term Apartheid, which means separateness in Afrikaans, and began to replace it since the 1970s with the term “separate development”.

But this Israeli separation and colonial appropriation of land was again articulated through the rhetoric of peace. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel has more than tripled its colonial settler population in the West Bank and more than doubled it across the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. Israel continues to confiscate Palestinian lands for colonial purposes and suppresses all Palestinian resistance to its colonial efforts. In 1993, there were approximately 281,000 colonial settlers in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem (124,200 in the West Bank, 4,800 in Gaza, and 152,800 in Jerusalem). At the end of 2009, there were approximately 490,000 colonial settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As of September 2009, there were 301,200 colonial settlers in the West Bank and 190,000 in East Jerusalem. Israeli leaders have maintained that their colonial settlement did not detract from Israel’s commitment to peace. On the contrary, Israel is clear that it was the Palestinian Authority who is to blame for the cessation of negotiations. Current Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not only committed to “colonialism as peace”, he, like his predecessors, insists that the Palestinian Authority protests that Israeli colonial settlement must stop for negotiations to begin is nothing short of an imposition of “pre-conditions” for negotiations, which he cannot accept.

This Israeli position is hardly new. Israeli leaders have always insisted that Israeli colonialism is not only compatible with peace, but that the Palestinian leadership’s acquiescence in it will ensure peace, while it was Palestinian resistance to it that causes war and terrorism.

One of the most pressing arguments often made by Israeli leaders since 1948 is how they have always been committed to peace with the Palestinian people and their Arab neighbours only to be rebuffed time and again by them. Israeli leaders from David Ben-Gurion to Netanyahu have insisted that all the wars Israel fought were not of Israel’s choosing but imposed on it by Palestinian and Arab rejection of Israel’s right to colonise. While Israel is ready to fight all wars, they insist, its preference has always been for peace. Golda Meir had declared in 1969: “We have always said that in our war with the Arabs we had a secret weapon — no alternative.” This is not just a question of political propaganda, but also a reflection of Israel’s sincere commitment to “colonialism as peace.”

Political wisdom in Israel has it that Israeli Jews have prayed and worked for peace for the last 62 years only for their peaceful offers to be turned down by their Arab enemies. What Israelis mean by this is that they have prayed that they could continue to colonise Palestinian lands and also have peace at the same time, but instead they have had to deal with war, terrorism, and resistance to their “peaceful” colonial efforts. It is true that finally one Arab, Anwar El-Sadat, met Israel’s extended hand with a peace agreement in 1979, but he was unique in his efforts. It took King Hussein 15 years to follow suit under international pressure. Still even these peaceful agreements have not resulted in normalisation of relations with Arab states or of popular acceptance of Israel by the Arab peoples. The Palestinians while pretending to offer peace to Israel have been proven to be deceptive and not serious about peace at all, as they insist on resisting its colonial efforts. What is Israel to do in this belligerent and “tough” neighbourhood in which it lives? How can it deal with such bellicose people intent on destroying it when all it asks for is peace and security for its colonial settlement?

Just a few weeks ago President Shimon Peres insisted: “I want to say in the name of the state of Israel at large: We do not seek war… We are a nation that yearns for peace, but knows, and will always know, how to defend itself.” Even the much maligned Netanyahu also declared a few weeks ago: “We are a peace seeking nation who prays for peace… our one hand is extended in offering peace to our willing neighbours, while the other wields a sword to protect ourselves against those who seek to destroy us.”

In order to understand Israel’s commitment to peace, we need to understand what it means by that term and its commensurate companion, the term “security”. These are key concepts in the language of Zionism. Many of Israel’s detractors believe Israel is lying when it insists on peace and security. I will argue that these detractors are wrong. Israel is dead serious about its commitment to peace and is honest when it insists that war is something imposed on it by its enemies. The problem is one of translation. Israel’s enemies do not seem to understand the language of Zionism — and by that I do not mean the Hebrew language! I will translate from Zionism to English one more time: Colonialism is Peace, Anti-Colonialism is War. (more…)

31 May 2010:

An American solidarity activist was shot in the face with a tear gas canister during a demonstration in Qalandiya, today. Emily Henochowicz is currently in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem undergoing surgery to remove her left eye, following the demonstration that was held in protest to Israel’s murder of at least 10 civilians aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters this morning.

21-year old Emily Henochowicz was hit in the face with a tear gas projectile fired directly at her by an Israeli soldier during the demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint today. Israeli occupation forces fired volleys of tear gas at unarmed Palestinian and international protesters, causing mass panic amongst the demonstrators and those queuing at the largest checkpoint separating the West Bank and Israel.

“They clearly saw us,” said Sören Johanssen, a Swedish ISM volunteer standing with Henochowicz. “They clearly saw that we were internationals and it really looked as though they were trying to hit us. They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”

Henochowicz is an art student at the prestigious Cooper Union, located in East Village, Manhattan.

The demonstration was one of many that took place across the West Bank today in outrage over the Israeli military’s attack on the Gaza freedom flotilla and blatant violation of international law. Demonstrations also took place in inside Israel, Gaza and Jerusalem, with clashes occurring in East Jerusalem and Palestinian shopkeepers in the occupied Old City closing their businesses for the day in protest.

Tear gas canisters are commonly used against demonstrators in the occupied West Bank. In May 2009, the Israeli State Attorney’s Office ordered Israeli Police to review its guidelines for dispersing demonstrators, following the death of a demonstrator, Bassem Abu Rahmah from Bil’in village, caused by a high velocity tear-gas projectile. Tear-gas canisters are meant to be used as a means of crowd dispersal, to be shot indirectly at demonstrators and from a distance. However, Israeli forces frequently shoot canisters directly at protesters and are not bound by a particular distance from which they can shoot.

Israeli occupation forces boarded the Mavi Marmara, one of six ships on the Freedom Flotilla at 5 a.m. this morning, opening fire on the hundreds of unarmed civilians aboard. No-one aboard the ships were carrying weapons of any kind, including for defense against a feared Israeli attack in international waters. At least 9 aid workers aboard the ship have been confirmed dead, with dozens more injured. The assault took place 70 miles off the Gaza coast in international waters, after the flotilla was surrounded by three Israeli warships. The Freedom Flotilla, carrying 700 human rights activists from over 40 countries and 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid, was headed for the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip. The Israeli blockade on Gaza, combined with the illegal buffer zone, has put a stranglehold on the territory. 42% of Gazans are unemployed, and food insecurity hovers around 60% according to figures from the Palestine Centre for Human Rights.

Palestinian Solidarity

RAMALLAH: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said on Monday that a new Israeli military order that allows the country’s government to expel thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank is “a new Nakba for Palestinian people.”

Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic and is a term used by Palestinians to describe the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. “(It is) a new form of racism and part of the forced displacement Israel has committed against the Palestinian people,” a PLO statement said of the Israeli order.

The decision, in its earliest phase, would target Palestinians whose ID cards had been issued in the Gaza Strip. Foreign women married to Palestinians would also be deported later, according to Haaretz.

The order also allows Israeli authorities to deal with those affected as infiltrators, who then might face a detention sentence of up to seven years. “(The order aims to) torpedo the geographic and democratic continuity of the Palestinian people and to create the independent Palestinian state on isolated islands,” the PLO statement said.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said: “These military orders belong in an apartheid state. They make it infinitely easier for Israel to imprison and expel Palestinians from the West Bank.”

Human rights activists said on Sunday the new orders could make almost any Palestinian liable for expulsion from the occupied West Bank.

Ten Israeli rights groups condemned the orders, saying in a statement that the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank have never been required to hold an Israeli-issued residency permit. “The military will be able to prosecute and deport any Palestinian defined as an infiltrator in stark contradiction to the Geneva Convention,” the statement said. The groups said they feared the broad wording of the orders could enable the military to expel tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Syrian President Bashar Assad urged the international community to adopt “a clear stance on Israeli attempts to adopt a policy of ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and to expel Palestinians from their homeland.”

Arab League chief Amr Moussa said: “For as long as this lasts, things will get worse and it will be more difficult to bring true peace” to the region, adding that the Arab League council would hold an “urgent meeting” on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Arab News

Tristan Anderson, an American citizen shot in the head by the Israeli military, remains critically ill following brain surgery. His girlfriend describes how he was shot while taking photographs at a peaceful protest in Occupied Palestine.

An American activist from Oakland, California was critically injured Friday when Israeli soldiers fired a tear gas canister directly at his head at the close of a weekly non-violent protest against the wall in the West Bank village of Nalin. 37-year old Tristan Anderson underwent brain surgery on Saturday and parts of his right frontal lobe and shattered bone fragments were removed. He remains in a critical condition. We go to the hospital in Tel Aviv to speak Andersons partner, Gabrielle Silverman and to Andrew Parker, the US Consul General in Tel Aviv.

Gabrielle Silverman: “We were at a demonstration against the wall, against the Israeli apartheid wall in the West Bank village of N’alin, which is about twenty-six kilometers west of Ramallah. I was very close to him when he was shot. I was only a few feet away. The demonstration had been going for several hours. It was wrapping up; it was almost over. Most people had already gone home.

“We were standing on some grass nearby a village mosque, and Tristan was taking pictures. He likes to take pictures and post them on Indymedia, sometimes under assumed names. And he was taking pictures, and he was shot in the head with the extended range tear gas canister. He fell to—nothing was happening immediately around us, by the way, I should mention. No one was throwing rocks around us. Nothing was happening. We were standing there…

“…The fact that Tristan was shot in the head on Friday has to do with one of two possibilities: either they shot Tristan in the head because they thought he was a Palestinian or because the army was randomly opening fire into the crowd. One or the other happened. And either way, this is a very serious problem, a very, very serious problem with the conduct of the Israeli army in Palestine.”

America’s Shame
By Paul Craig Roberts 

January 11, 2009
Source: vdare.com

Why does Israel have a right to exist, but Palestine doesn’t?

This is the question of our time.

For sixty years Israelis have been stealing Palestine from Palestinians. There are maps available on the Internet and in Israeli publications showing the shrinkage over time of what was once Palestine into what Palestine is today–a small number of unconnected ghettos or bantustans.

Palestine became “the occupied territory” from which Palestinians were ejected and Israeli settlements built for “settlers.” Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are full of refugee camps in which Palestinians driven off their lands by Israeli force have been living for decades.

Driving people off their land is strictly illegal under international law, but Israel has been getting away with it for decades.

Gaza is a concentration camp of 1.5 million Palestinians who were driven from their homes and villages and collected in the Gaza Ghetto.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency was created 60 years ago in 1949 to administer refugee camps for Palestinians driven from their lands by Israel. As of 2002, the registered Palestinian refugee population was 3.9 million.

Caterpillar Tractor makes a special bulldozer for Israel that is designed to knock down Palestinian homes and to uproot their orchards. In 2003 an American protester, Rachel Corrie, stood in front of one of these Caterpillars and was run over and crushed.

Nothing happened. The Israelis can kill whomever they want whenever they want.

They have been doing so for 60 years, and they show no sign of stopping.

Currently they are murdering women and children in the ghetto that they have created for Palestinians in Gaza. The entire world knows this. The Red Cross protests it. But the Israelis brazenly claim that they are killing “Hamas terrorists who are a threat to Israel’s existence.”

The American media knows that this is a lie, but does not say so.

Israel has been able to slowly exterminate a people for sixty years without provoking sufficient outrage to stop it.

The United States, “Christian America,” has been Israel’s greatest enabler in its long-term murder of the Palestinian people. Millions of “evangelical Christians” endorse Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The rest of the world condemns the Israeli military attack on the Gaza Ghetto. Last week the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution requiring a ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Israeli SS from Gaza.

The United States abstained.

While the rest of the world condemns Israel’s inhumanity, the US Congress–I should say the US Knesset–rushed to endorse the Israeli slaughter of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The US Senate endorsed Israel’s massacre of Palestinians with a vote of 100-0.

The US House of Representatives voted 430-5 to endorse Israel’s massacre of Palestinians.

The resolutions endorsed by 100% of the US Senate and 99% of the House were written by AIPAC, as were the speeches praising Israel for its inhumanity.

The US Congress was proud to show that it is Israel’s puppet even when it comes to murdering women and children.

The President of the United States was proud to block effective action by the UN Security Council by ordering the Secretary of State to abstain.

Be a Proud American. Swagger and strut. Pretend that you are not besmirched by the shame that your government has heaped upon you. Take refuge in your ignorance, fostered by 60 years of Israeli lies, that the murder of Palestinians and the theft of their lands is “Israel’s right of self-defense.”

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term.  He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

An informative analysis of the blatant lies which have been swallowed wholesale by much of the world media.

Source: From Occupied Palestine

Israel’s lies
HENRY SIEGMAN
London Review of Books v31no2 (29 January 2009)

Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network.

I am not aware of a single major American newspaper, radio station or TV channel whose coverage of the assault on Gaza questions this version of events. Criticism of Israel’s actions, if any (and there has been none from the Bush administration), has focused instead on whether the IDF’s carnage is proportional to the threat it sought to counter, and whether it is taking adequate measures to prevent civilian casualties.

Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. In an interview in Ha’aretz on 22 December, he accused Israel’s government of having made a ‘central error’ during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing ‘to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip . . . When you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues,’ General Zakai said, ‘it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire . . . You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.’

The truce, which began in June last year and was due for renewal in December, required both parties to refrain from violent action against the other. Hamas had to cease its rocket assaults and prevent the firing of rockets by other groups such as Islamic Jihad (even Israel’s intelligence agencies acknowledged this had been implemented with surprising effectiveness), and Israel had to put a stop to its targeted assassinations and military incursions. This understanding was seriously violated on 4 November, when the IDF entered Gaza and killed six members of Hamas. Hamas responded by launching Qassam rockets and Grad missiles. Even so, it offered to extend the truce, but only on condition that Israel ended its blockade. Israel refused. It could have met its obligation to protect its citizens by agreeing to ease the blockade, but it didn’t even try. It cannot be said that Israel launched its assault to protect its citizens from rockets. It did so to protect its right to continue the strangulation of Gaza’s population.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that Hamas declared an end to suicide bombings and rocket fire when it decided to join the Palestinian political process, and largely stuck to it for more than a year. Bush publicly welcomed that decision, citing it as an example of the success of his campaign for democracy in the Middle East. (He had no other success to point to.) When Hamas unexpectedly won the election, Israel and the US immediately sought to delegitimise the result and embraced Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah, who until then had been dismissed by Israel’s leaders as a ‘plucked chicken’. They armed and trained his security forces to overthrow Hamas; and when Hamas – brutally, to be sure – pre-empted this violent attempt to reverse the result of the first honest democratic election in the modern Middle East, Israel and the Bush administration imposed the blockade.

Israel seeks to counter these indisputable facts by maintaining that in withdrawing Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005, Ariel Sharon gave Hamas the chance to set out on the path to statehood, a chance it refused to take; instead, it transformed Gaza into a launching-pad for firing missiles at Israel’s civilian population. The charge is a lie twice over. First, for all its failings, Hamas brought to Gaza a level of law and order unknown in recent years, and did so without the large sums of money that donors showered on the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. It eliminated the violent gangs and warlords who terrorised Gaza under Fatah’s rule. Non-observant Muslims, Christians and other minorities have more religious freedom under Hamas rule than they would have in Saudi Arabia, for example, or under many other Arab regimes.

The greater lie is that Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was intended as a prelude to further withdrawals and a peace agreement. This is how Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass, who was also his chief negotiator with the Americans, described the withdrawal from Gaza, in an interview with Ha’aretz in August 2004:

“What I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements [i.e. the major settlement blocks on the West Bank] would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns . . . The significance [of the agreement with the US] is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with [President Bush’s] authority and permission . . . and the ratification of both houses of Congress.”

Do the Israelis and Americans think that Palestinians don’t read the Israeli papers, or that when they saw what was happening on the West Bank they couldn’t figure out for themselves what Sharon was up to?

Israel’s government would like the world to believe that Hamas launched its Qassam rockets because that is what terrorists do and Hamas is a generic terrorist group. In fact, Hamas is no more a ‘terror organisation’ (Israel’s preferred term) than the Zionist movement was during its struggle for a Jewish homeland. In the late 1930s and 1940s, parties within the Zionist movement resorted to terrorist activities for strategic reasons. According to Benny Morris, it was the Irgun that first targeted civilians. He writes in Righteous Victims that an upsurge of Arab terrorism in 1937 ‘triggered a wave of Irgun bombings against Arab crowds and buses, introducing a new dimension to the conflict’. He also documents atrocities committed during the 1948-49 war by the IDF, admitting in a 2004 interview, published in Ha’aretz, that material released by Israel’s Ministry of Defence showed that ‘there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought . . . In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them, and destroy the villages themselves.’ In a number of Palestinian villages and towns the IDF carried out organised executions of civilians. Asked by Ha’aretz whether he condemned the ethnic cleansing, Morris replied that he did not:

“A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on.”

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