11/25/07 History & Memory: Sub-planting Palestinian Memory Dialectics of Terror Meaning of M.E. 'Peace'

Sub-planting Palestinian Memory
By Dr. Elias Akleh

“If you look for Palestine on any modern map you will not find it. Palestine had been wiped off the map and replaced by Zionist Israel.”

“After the Jewish Holocaust the whole world cried “never again”. Yet the same victims of the Holocaust, and their descendents, are now perpetrating a similar Holocaust against the Palestinians …. The international slogan “never again” had thus become an empty cry.”

The attached report was presented to scholars at the 41st Oral History Convention in Oakland, California on November 27th, 2007. It has been slightly modified to fit publications.

Palestinians share one common experience with North and South American Native Indians, with Australian Aborigines, and with New Zealand Ma’oris. They all have been subjected to settler colonialism.

Settler colonialism, usually technologically and militarily more advanced, is based on the erasure of already existent people, their culture and their memory, and substituting it with new foreign national entity that builds new culture, new history and new memory. To do this, settler colonialists have to get rid of the native people, their physical evidence, their history and their memory. They have to wipe off their existence from the world collective memory.

In the case of Palestinians, the name of their country has already been wiped off the map. If you look for Palestine on any modern map you will not find it. Palestine had been wiped off the map and replaced by Zionist Israel.

The plan of wiping Palestine off the map originated within the First Zionist Congress in 1897, when a programme for the colonization of Palestine by Zionist settlers was approved to pave the way for the establishment of an exclusive Jewish state in the heart of the Arab World.

Britain, the super colonial power at the time, adopted the programme, which started to materialize with Balfour Declaration in 1917 when the British government promised to use “its best endeavours to facilitate the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

This decision was taken regardless of the Palestinian’s national aspiration and without asking them whether they wanted to give their country away to strangers or not. Palestinians were dehumanized and disregarded, their existence was not even acknowledged, hence came the Zionist slogan “Land without people for people without land”.

To establish a Jewish settler-colonization in Palestine, Zionists needed land, people (settlers), and economy. They started to acquire land, and to encourage Jewish immigration and settlements and building a segregated economy. This process continued from 1918 to 1948 when the state of Israel was declared on usurped Palestinian land.

Although Jews were then a minority comprising only 30% of the population and possess a mere 6% of the land, still they announced the establishment of the state of Israel. Subsequently Arabs declared war on Israel. Hearing this, one would imagine that Arab countries had amassed huge well equipped armies to attack Israel. The fact was that most of the Arab countries at that time were still either under occupation or had just come out of it and had poor resources. Arab countries were able to amass only 23 thousand troops while Israel had 93 thousand well equipped troops. Israel was receiving heavy arms from Europe through communist Czechoslovakia (through Zatic military base). The defeat of the Arab armies thus was clear and inevitable.

As a result of this war Israel occupied 78% of Palestine, about 75 hundred thousand Palestinians (two thirds of population) were kicked out of their homes and made refugees, and more than 400 Palestinian villages were completely razed off the ground.

Occupying most of Palestine ushers the first phase of establishing the Zionist colonial settler entity. Setting up the base was accomplished. The second phase is to get rid of the people.

In his book, “Birth of Palestinian Refugee Problem”, Israeli historian Benny Morris quoted Yousef Weitz, the director of the Jewish National Fund’s Land Department, from his diary as saying:

“It must be clear that there is no room in the country for both people (Palestinians and Jews) … the only solution is a Land of Israel, at least a western Land of Israel without Arabs. There is no room here for compromise … There is no way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries … Not one village must be left, nor one Bedouin tribe.”

In his book “Dispossed- the Ordeal of the Palestinians” (1982) the Israeli writer David Gilmour states that expulsion was the most common method used to make people leave their homes by force. Terrorism and the use of propaganda to spread fear of terrorism were the most grotesque. Here are some eyewitness accounts of such method. A Palestinian woman from “Safsaf” describes what happened in her village when Israeli troops occupied the village:

“As we lined up, a few Jewish soldiers ordered four girls to accompany them to carry water for the soldiers. Instead they took them to our empty house and raped them. About seventy of our men were blindfolded and shot to death, one after the other, in front of us.”

Many similar atrocities were perpetrated at several places and are well documented. Let us look at an alternative viewpoint from an Israeli soldier, who himself described the actions of his fellow Israeli troops:

“They killed some eighty to one hundred Arabs, women and children … Another soldier boasted that he raped an Arab woman and then shot her. Another Arab woman with a day-old baby was employed in cleaning jobs in the yard … She worked for one or two days and then was shot with her baby. … Cultured and well mannered commanders who are considered good fellows … have turned into low murderers, and this happened not in the storm of the battle and blind passion, but because of a system of expulsion and annihilation. The less Arabs remain, the better”

The second phase of settler colonialism is the erasure of natives’ physical evidence. I would like to emphasize here that wiping off Palestinian villages was a pre-meditated scheme planned and partially implemented long before the establishment of the state of Israel.
Zionists started by buying Ottoman’s feudal properties from absentee rich families and kicking out by force the Palestinian farmers, who lived on and cared for the land for hundreds of years. One such example was the property of “Sarsaq” family consisting of 240 thousand Donums of land in Haifa Valley and “Marj Ibn Amer” valley with 23 Palestinian farm towns on the land. In 1921 the “Sarsaq” land was acquired by the National Jewish Fund, who forcefully kicked out 8 thousand Palestinian farmers and leveled 21 out of their 23 villages. Some of the razed Palestinian villages were Jinjar, Sufsafa, Tel Alfarr, Jalod, Alfulah, Al-Affula, Tel el-‘Adas, Jeeda, Tel al-Shummam, Quamoon, Jibata, Khuneifus, Al-Harithia, and Al-Harbaj.
They also acquired similar properties in Hula Valley and Beesan Valley, where they razed 70 other Palestinian farm villages and evacuated their inhabitants.
Many Palestinian villages, which survived destruction during 1948 war, were later erased (wiped off) after the war. Records of the Association of Archeological Survey, housed in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, show that a plan to wipe off Palestinian villages was implemented jointly by the Israeli Lands Administration and the Jewish National Fund in 1965, and was carried on for several years. The plan intended to wipe off all traces of Palestinian villages in order to destroy any hope for the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

The Israeli Association of Archaeological Survey was established in 1964 to issue permits for the destruction of Palestinian villages. By 1967 this association had approved the wiping off of about 100 villages inside 1948-occupied Palestine (Israel). After 1967 the Association turned its attention to destroying Palestinian villages in West Bank and Golan heights. On December 2006 Roni Bar-On, Israeli Interior Minister declared his ministry’s approval on a plan to demolish more than 42,000 homes of Palestinian Bedouins in Negev Desert. This plan will wipe off 45 Palestinian villages housing more than 86,000 Palestinian Bedouins, who in 1958 were evacuated out of their land and confined to a piece of land in the desert known as the Triangle. Although paying taxes to Israeli government like any other town, these 45 villages were not recognized by the Israeli government, and received no civil services at all.

The destruction of Palestinian history, culture, and wiping off their memory, continued by changing names of Palestinian towns and villages, and replacing them with Jewish names. Moshe Dyan, a previous Israeli Defense Minister, said in a lecture he gave at the Technion University in Haifa in March 19th 1969:

“we came here to a country that was populated by Arabs, and we are building here a Hebrew, a Jewish state; instead of the Arab villages, Jewish villages were established. You even do not know the names of those villages, and I do not blame you because these villages no longer exist. There is no single Jewish settlement that was not established on the place of a former Arab Village. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul, Kibbutz Gv’at in the place of Jibta, Kibbutz Sared in the place of Huneifis, and Yehushua in the place of Tel al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” (Haaratz, April 4th, 1969).

The policy of wiping off Palestinian names and replacing them with Jewish names was adopted by first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion since the establishment of Israel in 1948 when he established a special committee from historians, geographers, geologists and Torah experts, whose task was to wipe off the Canaanite and Palestinian Arabic names and substitute them with Jewish names. So Tel Rabi’ became Tel Aviv, Um Rashrash became Eilat, Shu’fat became Nevi Yachob, Beit Jala became Gilo, Za’tara became Tabbuch, Beisan became Beit Shean, Qualandia became Atarot, Beit Mahseer became Beit Me’er, Artof became Hartuv, and so on.

So, not only did they erase the indigenous peoples’ memory, they have sub-planted a new memory in its place.

Israel is intent on destroying all Palestinian and Islamic cultural city landmarks. Religious places and buildings, especially Muslim mosques, were destroyed, neglected to collapse, or turned into museums, art galleries, pups, clubs, senior citizens shelters, and stables for farm animals.

Muslim Palestinians were not allowed to renovate or build new mosques. Renovation and strengthening the bases of Al-Aqsa mosque for example was hindered by Jerusalem municipality. Building permits were withheld, and building materials were not allowed to pass through Jerusalem old gates to the mosque. The ancient Islamic Council building and its adjacent Islamic “Ma’man Allah” cemetery in West Jerusalem are important historic and cultural Palestinian landmarks. The Israeli government is destroying the internals of the Islamic Council building to build western-style apartments, and digging up the cemetery to build a Jewish Museum of Tolerance on its place. It is so ironic and hilarious to destroy someone’s historical place to build a museum of tolerance!!!!

After the Jewish Holocaust the whole world cried “never again”. Yet the same victims of the Holocaust, and their descendent, are now perpetrating a similar Holocaust against the Palestinians. It is true that Palestinians are not being gassed, yet their children are targeted daily by Israeli snipers, their civilians are routinely murdered by Israeli artilleries and air raids, their homes are destroyed by Israeli bulldozers, their land is being usurped by Israeli settlers, their natural resources are exploited and abused by the Israeli government, and their economy is being choked by restrictions and sieges. Palestinians are imprisoned within a high wall snaking through and around their cities. They are being starved to death. If this is not another Holocaust I don’t know what is. All this is happening while the world is watching silently. The international slogan “never again” had thus become an empty cry.

Dialectics of Terror 

“If you kill one person, it is murder. If you kill a hundred thousand, it is foreign policy.” Anonymous 
by M. Shahid Alam

I doubt if I have come across a more pithy statement exposing the hypocrisy of America’s war against terrorism; but this is what I read, well before September 11, 2001, on a car-sticker in the commuter parking lot in Attleboro, Massachusetts, USA. 

States are founded on a monopoly over violence, which has nearly always included the right to kill. In fact, that is the very essence of the state. States seek to enforce this monopoly by amassing instruments of violence; but that is scarcely enough. They also use religion, ideology and laws to deligitimize and root out violence stemming from non-state agents. 

This monopoly over violence creates its own problem. Unchallenged, the state can turn the instruments of violence against its own population. This leads to state tyranny. The state can also wage wars to enrich one or more sectional interests. This defines the dual challenge before all organized societies: restraining state tyranny and limiting its war-making powers. 

Often, there has existed a tradeoff between tyranny and wars. Arguably, such a tradeoff was at work during the period of European expansion since the sixteenth century, when Europeans slowly secured political rights even as they engaged in growing, even genocidal, violence, especially against non-Europeans. As Western states gradually conceded rights to their own populations, they intensified the murder and enslavement of Americans and Africans, founding white colonies on lands stolen from them. Few Westerners were troubled by this inverse connection: this was the essence of racism. 

The United States is only the most successful of the colonial creations, a fact that has left its indelible mark on American thinking. It is a country that was founded on violence against its native inhabitants; this led, over three centuries of expansion, to the near extermination of Indians, with the few survivors relocated to inhospitable reservations. Its history also includes the violence – on a nearly equal scale – perpetrated against the Africans who were torn from their continent to create wealth for the new Republic. Such a genesis, steeped in violence against others races, convinced most Americans that they had the divine right – like the ancient Israelites – to build their prosperity on the ruin of other, ‘inferior’ races. 

In addition to the manipulations of a corporate media, this ethos explains why so many Americans support the actions of their government abroad – in Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Vietnam, Iran, Palestine or Iraq, to name only a few. It is unnecessary to look too closely into these interventions since they are undertaken to secure ‘our’ interests. Even if they result in deaths – the deaths of more than three-quarters of a million children, as in Iraq – to borrow a felicitous phrase from Madeline Albright, “the price is worth it.” 

Of course, few Americans understand that their country has long stood at the apex – and, therefore, is the chief beneficiary – of a global system that produces poverty for the greater part of humanity, including within the United States itself; that this system subordinates all social, cultural, environmental and human values to the imperatives of corporate capital; a system that now kills people by the millions merely by setting the rules that devastate their economies, deprive them of their livelihood, their dignity and, eventually, their lives. The corporate media, the school curricula, and the Congress ensure that most Americans never see past the web of deceit – about a free, just, tolerant and caring United States – that covers up the human carnage and environmental wreckage this system produces. 

The wretched of the earth are not so easily duped. They can see – and quite clearly, through the lens of their dark days – how corporate capital, with United States in the lead, produces their home-based tyrannies; how their economies have been devastated to enrich transnational corporations and their local collaborators; how the two stifle indigenous movements for human rights, women’s rights, and worker’s rights; how they devalue indigenous traditions and languages; how corporate capital uses their countries as markets, as sources of cheap labor, as fields for testing new, deadlier weapons, and as sites for dumping toxic wastes; how their men and women sell body parts because the markets place little value on their labor. 

The world – outside the dominant West – has watched how the Zionists, with the support of Britain and the United States, imposed a historical anachronism, a colonial-settler state in Palestine, a throw-back to a sanguinary past, when indigenous populations in the Americas could be cleansed with impunity to make room for Europe’s superior races. In horror, they watch daily how a racist Israel destroys the lives of millions of Palestinians through US-financed weaponry and fresh-contrived acts of malice; how it attacks its neighbors at will; how it has destabilized, distorted and derailed the historical process in an entire region; and how, in a final but foreordained twist, American men and women have now been drawn into this conflict, to make the Middle East safe for Israeli hegemony. 

In Iraq, over the past thirteen years, the world has watched the United States showcase the methods it will use to crush challenges to the new imperialism – the New World Order – that was launched after the end of the Cold War. This new imperialism commands more capital and more lethal weapons than the old imperialisms of Britain, France or Germany. It is imperialism without rivals and, therefore, it dares to pursue its schemes, its wars, and its genocidal campaigns, under the cover of international legitimacy: through the United Nations, the World Bank, IMF, and World Trade Organization. In brief, it is a deadlier, more pernicious imperialism. 

Under the cover of the Security Council, the United States has waged a total war against Iraq – a war that went well beyond the means that would be needed to reverse the invasion of Kuwait. The aerial bombing of Iraq, in the months preceding the ground action in January 1991, sought the destruction of the country’s civilian infrastructure, a genocidal act under international law; it destroyed power plants, water-purification plants, sewage facilities, bridges and bomb shelters. It was the official (though unstated) aim of these bombings to sting the Iraqis into overthrowing their rulers. Worse, the war was followed by a never-relenting campaign of aerial bombings and the most complete sanctions in recorded history. According to a UN study, the sanctions had killed half a million Iraqi children by 1995; the deaths were the result of a five-fold increase in child mortality rates. It would have taken five Hiroshima bombs to produce this grisly toll.... 

The terrorist attacks of 9-11 shocked, perhaps traumatized, a whole nation. Yet the same Americans expressed little concern – in fact, most could profess total ignorance – about the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians caused by daily bombings and crippling sanctions over a period of thirteen years. Of course, the dollar and the dinar are not the same. American deaths could not be equated on a one-to-one basis with Iraqi deaths. If indeed so many Iraqis had been killed by the United States, those were deaths they deserved for harboring ill-will towards this country. They were after all evil. And evil people should never be given a chance to repent or change their evil-doing propensities...
However, it would appear that there is greater political cunning at work in the conception of these attacks. Al-Qaida gave the Bush hawks what they wanted, a terrorist attack that would inflame Americans into supporting war against the Third world; and the Bush hawks gave al-Qaida what they wanted, a war that would plant tens of thousands of Americans in the cities and towns of the Islamic world... An act of terror is nearly always attributed to a failure of intelligence, security, or both. Instantly, President Bush declared that 9-11 was an act of war (making it the first act of war perpetrated by nineteen civilians), and proceeded to declare unlimited war against terrorists (also the first time that war had been declared against elusive non-state actors). In the name of a bogus war against terrorism, the United States claimed for itself the right to wage preemptive wars against any country suspected of harboring terrorists or possessing weapons of mass destruction (what are weapons for if not mass destruction?) with an intent (US would be the judge of that) to use them against the United States... 
In the more recent past, Islamic societies have been divided, fragmented, backward, outstripped by their European adversaries, their states embedded in the periphery of global capitalism, and their rulers allied with Western powers against their own people. These divisions are not a natural state in the historical consciousness of Muslims....  since 1917 the Arabs have faced settler-colonialism in their very heartland, an open-ended imperialist project successively supported by Britain and the United States. This Zionist insertion in the Middle East, self-consciously promoted as the outpost of the West in the Islamic world, produced its own twisted dialectics. An exclusive Jewish state founded on fundamentalist claims (and nothing gets more fundamentalist than a twentieth-century imperialism founded on ‘divine’ promises about real estate made three thousand years back) was bound to evoke its alter ego in the Islamic world. When Israel inflicted a humiliating defeat on Egypt and Syria in 1967 – two countries that were the leading embodiments of Arab nationalism – this opened up a political space in the Arab world for the insertion of Islamists into the region’s political landscape. One fundamentalism would now be pitted against another.  This contest may now be reaching its climax – with United States entering the war directly. It is an end that could have been foretold – this did not require prophetic insight. In part at least, it is the unfolding of the logic of the Zionist insertion in the Arab world. On the one hand, this has provoked and facilitated the growth of a broad spectrum of Islamist movements in the Islamic world, some of which were forced by US-supported repression in their home countries to target the United States directly. On the other hand, the Zionist occupation of one-time Biblical lands has given encouragement to Christian Zionism in the United States, the belief that Israel prepares the ground for the second coming of Christ. At the same time, several Zionist propagandists – based in America’s think tanks, media and academia – have worked tirelessly to arouse old Western fears about Islam, giving it new forms. They paint Islam as a violent religion, perennially at war against infidels, opposed to democracy, fearful of women’s rights, unable to modernize, and raging at the West for its freedoms and prosperity. They never tire of repeating that the Arabs ‘hate’ Israel because it is the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East. 

There are some who are saying that the United States has already lost the war in Iraq; though admission of this defeat will not come soon. One can see that there has been a retreat from plans to bring about regime changes in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. There is still talk of bringing democracy to Iraq and the Arab world, but it carries little conviction even to the American public. There is new-fangled talk now of fighting the “terrorists” in Baghdad and Basra rather than in Washington, New York and Los Angeles. And now after two years of bristling unilateralism, after starting an illegal war which sidelined the Security Council, the United States is courting the Security Council, seeking its help to internationalize the financial and human costs of their occupation of Iraq. It is doubtful if Indian, Polish, Pakistani, Egyptian, Fijian, Japanese or French mercenaries of the United States will receive a warmer welcome in Iraq than American troops. This ‘internationalization’ is only likely to broaden the conflict, possibly in unpredictable ways. 

What can be the outcome of all this? During their long rampage through history, starting in 1492, the Western powers have shown little respect for the peoples they encountered in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia. Many of them are not around to recount the gory history of their extermination through imported diseases, warfare, and forced labor in mines and plantations. Others, their numbers diminished, were forced into peonage, or consigned to mutilated lives on reservations. Many tens of millions were bought and sold into slavery. Proud empires were dismembered. Great civilizations were denigrated. All this had happened before, but not on this scale. In part, perhaps, the extraordinary scale of these depredations might be attributed to what William McNeill calls the “bloody-mindedness” of Europeans. Much of this, however, is due to historical accidents which elevated West Europeans – and not the Chinese, Turks, or Indians – to great power based on their exploitation of inorganic sources of energy. If we are to apportion blame, we might as well award the prize to Britain’s rich coal deposits. 

In the period since the Second World War, some of the massive historical disequilibria created by Western powers have been corrected. China and India are on their feet; so are Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. These countries are on their feet and advancing. But the wounds of imperialism in Africa run deeper. The colonial legacies of fragmented societies, deskilled populations, arbitrary boundaries, and economies tied to failing primary production continue to produce wars, civil wars, corruption, massacres, and diseases. But Africa can be ignored; the deaths of a million Africans in the Congo do not merit the attention given to one suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Africa can be ignored because its troubles do not affect vital Western interests; at least not yet. 

Then there is the failure of the Islamic world to reconstitute itself. As late as 1700, the Muslims commanded three major empires – the Mughal, Ottoman and Safavid – that together controlled the greater part of the Islamic world, stretching in a continuous line from the borders of Morocco to the eastern borders of India. After a period of rivalry among indigenous successor states and European interlopers, all of India was firmly in British control by the 1860s. The Ottoman Empire disintegrated more slowly, losing its European territories in the nineteenth century and its Arab territories during the First World War, when they were divvied up amongst the British, French, Zionists, Maronites and a clutch of oil-rich protectorates. Only the Iranians held on to most of the territories acquired by the Safavids. As a result, when the Islamic world emerged out of the colonial era, it had been politically fragmented, divided into some forty states, none with the potential to serve as a core state; this fragmentation was most striking in Islam’s Arab heartland. In addition, significant Muslim populations now lived in states with non-Muslim majorities. 

Why did the Muslims fail to reconstitute their power? Most importantly, this was because Muslim power lacked a demographic base. The Mughal and Ottoman Empires – the Ottoman Empire in Europe – were not sustainable because they ruled over non-Muslim majorities. More recently, the Muslims have been the victims of geological ‘luck,’ containing the richest deposits of the fuel that drives the global economy. The great powers could not let the Muslims control ‘their lifeblood.’ They suffered a third setback from a historical accident: the impetus that Hitler gave to the Zionist movement. Now there had emerged a powerful new interest – a specifically Jewish interest – in keeping the Arabs divided and dispossessed. 

It does not appear, however, that the Islamic societies have accepted their fragmentation, or their subjugation by neocolonial/comprador regimes who work for the United States, Britain and France. We have watched the resilience of the Muslims, their determination to fight for their dignity, in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Palestine, Chechnya and Mindanao – among other places. In the meanwhile, their demographic weakness is being reversed. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Muslims constituted barely a tenth of the world’s population; today that share exceeds one fifth, and continues to rise. Moreover, unlike the Chinese or Hindus, the Muslims occupy a broad swathe of territory from Nigeria, Senegal and Morocco in the west to Sinjiang and the Indonesian Archipelago in the east. It would be hard to corral a population of this size that spans half the globe. More likely the US-British-Israeli siege of the Islamic world, now underway in the name of the war against terrorism, will lead to a broadening conflict with unforeseen consequences that could easily turn very costly for either or both parties... 

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. His last book, Poverty from the Wealth of Nations, was published by Palgrave in 2000. He may be reached at m.alam@neu.edu. Visit his webpage at http://msalam.net.© M. Shahid Alam  http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0913-05.htm 

[Liberal imperialist-zionists claim] Palestinians have been under occupation for 40 years - since 1967. In fact, Palestine has been militarily occupied since 1948, 59 years. The call purposely omits the massive stealing of land between 1948 and 1967. This position is characteristic of Zionists who think the state they have set up in Palestine is ultimately legitimate, that at least the land besides the West Bank and Gaza is rightfully "Israeli." This is an idea that should be rejected[in U.S. left 'end the occupation' circles]
Richard Hugus, http://www.onepalestine.org/index.html

(from) What 'Israel's right to exist' means to Palestinians
Recognition would imply acceptance that they deserve to be treated as subhumans.

By John V. Whitbeck
...To demand that Palestinians recognize "Israel's right to exist" is to demand that a people who have been treated as subhumans unworthy of basic human rights publicly proclaim that they are subhumans. It would imply Palestinians' acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues to be done to them. Even 19th-century US governments did not require the surviving native Americans to publicly proclaim the "rightness" of their ethnic cleansing by European colonists as a condition precedent to even discussing what sort of land reservation they might receive. Nor did native Americans have to live under economic blockade and threat of starvation until they shed whatever pride they had left and conceded the point...

The original conception of the phrase "Israel's right to exist" and of its use as an excuse for not talking with any Palestinian leaders who still stood up for the rights of their people are attributed to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It is highly likely that those countries that still employ this phrase do so in full awareness of what it entails, morally and psychologically, for the Palestinian people.

However, many people of goodwill and decent values may well be taken in by the surface simplicity of the words, "Israel's right to exist," and believe that they constitute a reasonable demand. And if the "right to exist" is reasonable, then refusing to accept it must represent perversity, rather than Palestinians' deeply felt need to cling to their self-respect and dignity as full-fledged human beings. That this need is deeply felt is evidenced by polls showing that the percentage of the Palestinian population that approves of Hamas's refusal to bow to this demand substantially exceeds the percentage that voted for Hamas in January 2006...

The Myth of Middle East Peace
Deception as Truth
...How can any serious person consider the probability of peace in Palestine when the Olmert government includes the racist party of Avigdor Lieberman who advocates the expulsion of Palestinians from their land, and has, in effect, achieved a "Targeted assassination" of the summit before the invitations went out (Ha'aretz, Yossi Verter, "Assassinating Annapolis," 15/11/07)? How can any serious person consider the probability of peace when the broker of record is the United States, the erstwhile Godfather of the Neo-con Zionists that control both Israel and the multitude of AIPACs ... the hypocrisy of our government and that of Israel for putting forth yet one more time a faux peace plan that will do nothing but provide the Israeli dominated think tanks with fodder to show how ungrateful the Palestinians are for not accepting the remnants of the land left to them as Israel locks them into Bantustans where millions have to survive on pittance, dependent on the world for basic necessities since Israel has stolen their water, their crops, their access to waterways on the east and west, and requires that they recognize the legitimacy of the state that devastated their culture while that state has yet to recognize the right of Palestine to exist; and worse, that they stop their legitimate defense of their occupied country in full compliance with international law while Israel cries wolf becoming in their turn the Mandate government they, as terrorists, fought against, asking the world body to condemn the just and protect the criminal; and, finally, as a feeling world reacts with weeping and supplications to the international community that justice might at last come to the Palestinians...
How ironic to cry to the world that Jews are victims of terrorists, heartless terrorists who blow themselves up killing in the process innocent people while they are the children of such slaughter, as the blowing up of the King David Hotel attests and as the Hagana admit they executed, only they had the means to blow up the innocent without killing themselves, and for that one becomes a terrorist and the other a defender of his country. How ironic that Israel goes before the UN to decry Iran's proclamation by its President that "Israel will be wiped off the map," when that translation is not correct but serves their purpose, calling on the UN to condemn Iran for intended genocide while they have been in the slow, agonizing process of ethnically cleansing the people of Palestine for 60 years. How ironic that our American main stream press touts the new peace initiative as one proffered by Israel attempting to provide yet once more peace in Palestine when Olmert's government can remain in place only if he denies the very premise of peace, the just return of Palestinian land to its owners and full recognition of a contiguous Palestinian state capable of managing its own affairs independent of Israel... Thus does deception masquerade as truth ...the "redemption of Zion" means in reality a "sovereign Jewish state which would embrace Palestine and probably eventually Trans-Jordan," in short, a plan to steal lands already occupied by other people. www.counterpunch.org/cook11232007.html: http://www.uruknet.de/?p=38525

Unconstitutional Ramallah Government Wage War on the Poor and Needy
Hiyam Noir, PalestineFreeVoice
On the WestBank the care-taker government of Fatah has made a decision to disband the Palestinian aids giving committees.Hamas described these measures as - "a war on the poor." Salam Fayyad, said Thursday - that his Ramallah "government" ( Fatah affiliated, illegal and supported by USA) were disbanding and restructuring the aid - giving committees to eradicate factional partiality, Riyad Al-Maliki the Fatah, "information minister " - said, the reason for the decision to destroy well established social aid programs, is to "restructure the committees to be able to exclude committee members, whom were elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council and to local councils"...Read the full article / Leggi l'articolo completo: http://www.uruknet.de/?p=38536

Facts regarding Israel's Fuel and Electricity Cuts to the Gaza Strip
Regarding the fuel cuts: * On Sunday, October 28, Israel's military ordered the private fuel company, Dor Alon, to provide 15% - 20% less fuel than the quantity ordered for Gaza residents.Gaza residents purchase fuel from Dor Alon via an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, and the fuel is transferred through Nahal Oz, on the Gaza-Israel border. Israel does not permit fuel to enter Gaza via the sea, the airspace, or the border with Egypt. * Essential services, including purifying and pumping drinking water, treating sewage, operating garbage collection trucks and ambulances, and operating the generators that power hospitals and other public buildings depend on fuel and the electricity generated by fuel.... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=38534

"our own...", referring to U.S. must include Palestinian ...as well as other amerikan state sponsored genocidal holocausts
Our Own Holocaust Denial: One Million Dead in Iraq
By Mark Weisbrot
Institutionally unwilling to consider America’s responsibility for the bloodbath, the traditional media have refused to acknowledge the massive number of Iraqis killed since the invasion. The estimate of more than one million violent deaths in Iraq was confirmed again two months ago in a poll by the British polling firm Opinion Research Business, which estimated 1,220,580 violent deaths since the US invasion. This is consistent with the study conducted by doctors and scientists from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health more than a year ago. Their study was published in the Lancet, Britain’s leading medical journal. It estimated 601,000 people killed due to violence as of July 2006; but if updated on the basis of deaths since the study, this estimate would also be more than a million. These estimates do not include those who have died because of public health problems created by the war, including breakdowns in sewerage systems and electricity, shortages of medicines, etc.

Statement by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine on the Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration:
The Balfour Declaration led to the dispossession of land and displacement of the Palestinian people.  The colonization of Palestinian can be seen as the most recent overt manifestation of colonial history lasting for centuries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The same European powers that sought to divide up the non-European world in 1917 occupied Turtle Island (the North American continent) in 1492.  As Europeans ethnically cleansed the Americas of their indigenous populations, they claimed that they were bringing "civilization." These same powers forced millions of Africans onto boats and brought them here against their will as slaves in the name of American "freedom."  And  it is these same racist powers today who continue to force their way of life  onto the rest of the world, finding ever-new justifications for doing so, in  complete contempt of decency, humanity, and world opinion. The rhetoric of "manifest destiny" has been replaced by the "war on terror" but the methods and goals are equally racist and genocidal.

On November  2nd, Palestinians all over the world remember that the Nakba ("catastrophe") of 1948 was the direct result of the European colonial project articulated by Balfour in 1917. [Continued]

Slave Sovereignty: Palestinian Elections Under Occupation

Many Palestinians are boasting that they will soon enjoy, again, the most free and democratic elections in the entire Arab World. The only problem is that electing a Palestinian president while still under the boot of the occupier is an oxymoron. Sovereignty and occupation are mutually exclusive. The world, including many well-informed readers, seem to think that the Palestinian people is actually practicing the ultimate form of sovereignty by freely choosing its own president. This is easily extrapolated in the heads of many to mean that Palestinians are in a way free. So what's all this talk about occupation? Notice, for example, how little media attention is given now to the almost daily killings of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli occupation forces. Of course, the only thing that matters is who is running; who is not; what Mahmoud Abbas might have intended to say; or what Marwan Barghouti could have done only if . Bulldozing houses in Rafah, expanding colonies in Hebron and killing innocent children in Beit Lahya is simply a bore, a peripheral story, an ordinary occurrence in the midst of an election extraordinaire.

There are several things wrong in this picture, least of which is the fact that it is false.

First, some facts. This Sunday, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will be electing the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), not the president of the Palestinian people. The former is an organ created according to the 1993 Oslo agreements between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the government of Israel, according to which the PA will do little more than run the educational, health, municipal and taxation services. In addition, it will do its very best to provide security for Israel, mainly by clamping down on the armed resistance factions.

Israel and the United States helped create the PA specifically to control the occupied territories, -- while maintaining the foundations of occupation, of course -- and eventually to sign some "peace" treaty that would exonerate Israel from its legal and moral obligations to allow the repatriation and compensation of the Palestinian refugees, to comprehensively withdraw its entire colonial apparatus from the West Bank and Gaza -- not just by removing its army but also its Jewish colonies, illegal under international law -- and to end its system of racial discrimination against its own Palestinian citizens.

Ironically, the PA at best represents a minority of the Palestinian people, those in the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip. The majority of Palestinians, refugees and Palestinian citizens of Israel, are not represented by the PA. Here's where the real paradox lies: how can an entity that represents no more than one third of the people of Palestine be expected to meaningfully and legally sign away the rights of the remaining two thirds? Easy. Redefine the Palestinians to preclude those unwanted two-thirds. Since Oslo, the mainstream media in the west, and puppet Arab media as well, have done just that. They have used the term Palestinian exclusively to mean those resident in the occupied West Bank and Gaza alone. Problem solved!

Well, not quite. Those two-thirds cannot be easily written out of history and out of the identity of Palestine. They are increasingly becoming well-organized, politically active and they have developed their own channels of expression, if not yet their own frames of representation. Plus, many Palestinians in the occupied territories are themselves refugees who yearn to return to Haifa, Jaffa, Lydda, Majdal and Acre, all in what is now Israel. In all semi-accurate public opinion polls, the number one issue of political interest for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has consistently remained the right of return for the refugees. So it seems that the PA project may not after all yield the expected returns on the Israeli-American investment.

Given this picture, shouldn't any form of sovereignty, albeit limited, help Palestinians declare their independence of Israel? But that's precisely the problem. The Palestinians are not free; they should not be giving the world the impression that they are. They are a nation under a very real and brutal occupation that is committing crimes with utter impunity and passé colonial arrogance. They should remind the world in every occasion that the only just and enduring solution to the conflict in the region can be attained by ending Israel's oppression -- in all three forms mentioned above -- not by changing the Palestinians' perception of it. They should struggle to revive the moribund structures of the PLO, the only organization that ever represented all Palestinians. All three components of the Palestinian people urgently need a single, democratically elected body to represent their interests and to shoulder the responsibility for their fate. This task is well beyond the ability, the job description or the best intentions of the PA.

Ten years after Oslo, the PA's political function seems to have become restricted to acting as an accessory to colonial rule, allowing Israel to maintain its oppression, while appearing to the world as engaged in some peace process. Since Oslo, the formerly closed doors have opened to Israel: in Europe, Africa, Asia and even in the middle of the Arab World. The once formidable Arab boycott of Israel has all but collapsed, allowing Israeli businesses to reap massive profits, boosting the Israeli economy to record growth rates, just before the second intifada broke out. In fact, the only peace that this Oslo process has achieved is the deadly silence of the oppressed while the oppressors go on with their regular business.

A presidential election under these circumstances can only help Israel cover up its speeding colonization of what remains of Palestine, while the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are busy celebrating their superior "democracy."

When the slaves are distracted with "free" elections of their deputy jailers, the masters can only rejoice.

Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian political analyst. His article "9.11 Putting the Moment on Human Terms" was chosen among the "Best of 2002" by the Guardian. He can be reached at: jenna@palnet.com

Anti-Israel? For Arabs to recognize Israel means surrender of their legitimate sovereignty... this could be construed as anti-Arab.
by Kim Petersen

 “Has any People ever been seen to give up their territory of their own free will? In the same way, the Arabs of Palestine will not renounce their sovereignty without violence.”

-- Vladimir Jabotinsky, early-20th Century Zionist

The western corporate media is apoplectic over remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to students attending a conference in Tehran called “The World without Zionism.”

Ahmadinejad rejects Iran granting recognition to Israel or normalizing relations with the Jewish state. And why should Iran?

The geographical territory on which Israel is demarcated is land that was stolen from the indigenous Palestinians in a most violent manner, nowadays referred to as ethnic cleansing.

Ahmadinejad did not mince words when he said: “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury, [while] any [Islamic leader] who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world.”

The New York Times and Associated Press both characterized Ahmadinejad’s statements as anti-Israel. [1] In other words, Ahmadinejad is accused of being opposed to something that he doesn’t even recognize as existing -- an absurd accusation.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres declared Ahmadinejad’s comments “tantamount to a crime against humanity” and he called for the expulsion of Iran from the UN -- a rather hypocritical ploy.

In June 1967, then Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban revealed Israel’s contempt for the UN: “If the General Assembly were to vote by 121 votes to 1 in favor of ‘Israel’ returning to the armistice lines [pre-June 1967 borders], ‘Israel’ would refuse to comply with the decision.”

There is nothing unusual in this statement. Israel, after all, by its own reckoning points out that from 1967 to 1988 the UN Security Council passed 88 resolutions against it. The UN General Assembly passed 429 resolutions against Israel during that time. This makes Israel the most flagrant violator of international law. [2]

That the UN agreed to a partitioning of Palestine in 1947 was treasonous. It was a sop to imperialism, racism, ethnic cleansing, and human decency.

Nonetheless, in 1950, the UN General Assembly granted membership to Israel but under certain conditions. UN General Assembly Resolution 273 decreed that Israel must implement UN General Assembly Resolution 181 that defines the borders of Israel and Palestine and Resolution 194 that recognizes the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Israel has so far refused. UN General Assembly Resolutions, however, are not binding under international law.

Ahmadinejad has a violent solution. He cited the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: “Israel must be wiped off the map.”

Here Ahmadinejad words accord completely with the expectations of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion:

Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country. Why should they accept that? [3]

Was Ben Gurion therefore anti-Israel?

As for Iran, how can it be anti-something that it doesn’t even recognize? For Arabs to recognize Israel means a surrender of their legitimate sovereignty. Contradictorily, this could be construed as being anti-Arab.

Kim Petersen, Co-Editor of Dissident Voice, lives in the traditional Mi'kmaq homeland colonially designated Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. 

[1] Nazila Fathi, “Iran’s New President Says Israel ‘Must Be Wiped Off the Map,’” New York Times, 27 October 2005 [2] Reference Desk, “The U.N.'s Record Vis a Vis Israel,” Arutz Sheva. [3] Quoted in Nathan Goldman, “The Jewish Paradox” in Tony Seed and Gary Zatzman (Eds.) Dossier on Palestine (Shunpiking, 2002), p 72. The dossier is a most informative compendium on Palestine.

The Reconciliation Game is for Saving the Occupier his Criminal Operatives . Beware of it Beware of those playing the Double side Game
Sheikh Majeed Al-Gaood
...The Reconciliation they want is the one leading to normalization with the Occupation his Project , the acceptance of all his Results . It also means the complete submission to the current situation imposed on Iraq his people . Wich means the ending of the National Resistance the acceptance of the Sectarian Ethnical! Division of Iraq . This Reconciliation is the way to grant success to the American Project his enlargement to include all of the Arab Countries ; which would allow Israel to realize all its goals in the region . The goals representing a part of the American-Zionist Project..

The Notion of the “Jewish State” as an “Apartheid Regime” is a Liberal-Zionist One 
by Gary Zatzman 

The cause of Palestine consists of the restoration of the national rights of
the Palestinian people and enabling the Palestinians to exercise their right
of self-determination in their own territory. Theirs is the territory
illegally mandated to Great Britain by the League of Nations in 1920-21 and
subsequently "partitioned" by the United Nations in 1947 to establish a
so-called "Jewish state" enclave for the Zionist movement. Enabling the
Palestinians to exercise their right of self-determination in their own
territory means implementing the Palestinians' right to return to their
lands and to be restored in the property/properties that were taken from
them in the course of acts of conquest by the Zionist movement, and in clear
cut violation of international law, during 1947-48 and again in June 1967. 

Many activists in this highly just cause have been drawing comparisons
between the regimen of bantustans and separate laws imposed on the native
population by the tiny apartheid white-racist minority's regime in South
Africa between 1948 and 1991 and the "legal" regime by which the
Zionists' regulatory authorities at all levels -- up to the
Knesset/legislature and the Cabinet/executive, as well as throughout the
armed forces -- have continued to secure their own presence and dominance by
extending their control over every possible aspect of Palestinians' lives. 

Although not identical, the colonialist and racist pedigrees and impacts of
each system of oppression are structurally comparable. However, whereas the
solution in South Africa always turned upon finding some new form of state
in which majority rule would prevail and white-racist privilege be finally
extirpated, the cause of Palestine entails eliminating the Zionist junta's
so-called "Jewish state" of European-American colonialist privilege and
restoring to the Palestinians what the Zionists stole. How does disabling
the racist provisions of the laws and regulations of the State of Israel,
and reforming the "Jewish-only" element to become fully inclusive of the
entire population, bring the Palestinians any closer to restoring what the
Zionists stole? 

The questions of justice involved -- of compensation for damages inflicted,
including restitution of what was illegally taken, destroyed or disabled --
are very different in the two cases. For all its serious and undoubted evils
and the numerous crimes against humanity committed in its name, including
physical slaughters, South African white-racist apartheid was not premised
on committing genocide. Zionism, on the other hand, has been committed to
dissolving the social, cultural, political and economic integrity of the
Palestinian people, i.e., genocide, from the outset, at least as early as
Theodor Herzl's injunction in his diaries that the "transfer" of the
Palestinian "penniless population" elsewhere be conducted "discreetly and
circumspectly." The fact that the present day heirs of his outlook practice
this genocidal policy in ongoing slow motion, so to speak, over decades
rather than in one fell swoop, and that their assault on the Palestinians'
identity as a people is not confined to acts of physical extermination, does
not make their practice any the less genocidal. 

Strategically speaking, all those compelled to fight for their
self-determination against imperialist oppression must rely on organizing
and waging the struggle of their own people first and foremost. Utilizing
contradictions among their enemies may become tactically highly important at
very specific moments of these struggles. At such moments, the forces waging
the internal struggle may indeed organize their own external front of
support. However, actually to orient one's strategy according to what use
can be made of such contradictions is a waste of time that can even become
fatal for people's movements in our day. The world has already long been
witness to what befell the momentum for national liberation in South Africa
after international finance capital assembled a black-majority successor
regime to white-racist apartheid behind a façade fronted by Nelson Mandela
after 1991. The path to this betrayal was paved in the 1980s by the
excessive focus on the role of international boycotts and other activities
external to South Africa and -- most importantly -- beyond the control of
the forces actually fighting for national liberation (the most effective
were precisely those few actually organized by the fighting forces and their

Today, it is increasingly seen how many of those active in the cause of
Palestine who have been eliciting or repeating the comparison of Zionist
rule with white-racist apartheid rule are also advocating boycotts and
similar methods in the name of "strengthening the external front of
solidarity," etc. Professor Ilan Pappe, for example, who has been supporting
some forms of academic boycott of Israeli universities, has bluntly declared
that the reason to pursue the route of building such external pressure is
that the road of building such pressure "peacefully" within Palestine itself
has come to an end! If, however, the road of building such pressure
peacefully within Palestine itself has indeed come to an end, why not just
as reasonably conclude that the time has come to ramp up the struggle for
Palestinians' national liberation by better utilizing illegal alongside all
remaining legal opportunities to advance this struggle? The issue is neither
"peaceful" versus "violent" methods of struggle, nor the form of struggle
organized as external support (divestment, boycotts, etc.), but purely and
simply: what force organizes? 

The line of freelance organization of external "support" for the cause of
Palestine is liberal Zionism at its most diabolical: it is liberal Zionism
at work plotting to seize control of the Palestinian movement for national
liberation on one of its most vital points. Organization of external
"support" for the cause of Palestine is a matter for those actually waging
the struggle for national liberation within Palestine to tackle, to give the
direction and designate organizations and individuals to do it.
Interestingly, the comparison of Zionist oppression with white-racist South
African apartheid no longer passes muster with Archbishop Desmond Tutu or
other prominent leaders of the ANC-led struggle against apartheid. The
archbishop explicitly commented that what he was been able to witness and
learn about daily life under Zionist occupation in the West Bank alone is
already many times worse than anything he experienced during apartheid. If
such a determinedly non-revolutionary activist has already seen through the
falsehood of the analogy, the time would seem to have ripened to set this
analogy aside once and for all and remain clear-eyed about, as well as
vigilant against, the liberal Zionists' aim and presence in the cause of

Gary Zatzman is co-editor of Dossier on Palestine. He can be reached at:

Zionism is the Issue: Building a Strong Pro-Palestinian Movement In the US
By Lana Habash and Noah Cohen

“...[We are losing the media war,”] said Colonel Daniel Reisner, head of the international law branch of the IDF Legal Division, in an interview in the Fall 2002 Harvard Israel Review. “...It takes a long time to explain Israeli settlements to the uninitiated...”

In fact, Israel would have definitively lost the propaganda war a long time ago if the matter had been left entirely to its right-wing supporters within the US and Israeli political establishments. Faced with images of refugee camps buried in rubble from Israeli missiles, children attempting to hold off tanks with stones, and Palestinian cities surrounded by prison walls, our political leaders can think of nothing to say but the empty formula, “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Such phrases do not even emanate from the brain; they are a reflex reaction to any criticism of Israel. Since thought is no longer involved in framing this mainstream discourse, such leaders are incapable of adapting to the more and more widespread recognition of Israel’ s racism and its genocidal policies against the Palestinian people.

This is why Zionist critics of Israel have become so crucial in the effort to maintain support for the colonial regime. In a speech before the Jewish Federation in New Orleans in March of 2004, Alan Dershowitz acknowledged the seriousness of the current climate of opposition: “On 50 percent of American campuses there is not a single, not one, professor who is prepared publicly to speak on behalf of Israel and its right to exist as a Jewish, Zionist state. It is not cool to be a Zionist on campuses today in America.” He thus recommended to university students attempting to build support for Israel on US campuses that they must gain control of both sides of the discourse, and thus “assert the label pro-Palestinian.” At this point, the primary work of ensuring that no serious opposition emerges within the US against an untenable apartheid regime is performed by these self-appointed “pro-Palestinians,” who criticize Israel’ s most extreme actions while simultaneously asserting its “right to exist,” and— more importantly— denying any action to Palestinians that effectively exacts a significant cost upon Israel.

This crucial work of support shows itself most dramatically in the anti-war movement, where it is primarily carried out by “Middle East” or “Palestine/Israel” peace groups and task forces. These groups have succeeded largely in keeping the discussion away from clear positions of support for the Palestinian struggle as an anti-colonial liberation struggle against racism and apartheid, in favor of one with positions like the following:

— Opposition to the “cycle of violence,” according to which Palestinian acts of armed self-defense, or Palestinian attempts to reclaim land by exacting a cost on its colonial occupiers, are equated with Israel’ s programmatic genocide and structural violence against native Palestinians as if they were the same;

— Support for the “right to self-determination” of “both peoples” (meaning that settlers have a right to self-determination on land they have taken and now occupy by military force, and this right is somehow compatible with the right of native people to self-determination on their own land);

— “Dialogue” between Israelis and Palestinians as a “bridge to peace,” regardless of the material circumstances of injustice and racist oppression under which such “dialogue” takes place.

In general, the most important function of the Zionist pro-Palestinians is to enforce two boundaries in the discourse:

1) the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state; 2) the illegitimacy of violence against Israelis.

These two positions form a litmus test for inclusion in the forums of the “peace movement.” One is regularly asked to demonstrate a commitment to these two points before one is allowed to give a speech at a rally or a talk in an educational community event.

To talk about the inherent racism evident in Israel’ s foundation and formation (which necessarily brings into question its international legitimacy) or the necessity and legitimacy of an armed anti-colonialist Palestinian resistance goes outside the bounds of this discourse. When these boundaries are broken, the limits are reinforced through a series of accusations ranging from “anti-Semitism,” on the one hand, to “ideological purism,” “sectarianism,” and “divisiveness,” or, at best, being “impractical” or “not strategic” on the other. The first of these accusations tends to be made by ideologically committed Zionists; the last, by well-intentioned people who consider themselves representatives of the “tactical left,” persuaded that they must maintain an alliance with left-Zionists for the sake of credibility or other strategic gains. In this case, the left-Zionist position maintains its dominance precisely through such an alliance: without the tacit support of non-Zionists or anti-Zionists (in some cases cowed by the threat of the accusation of anti-Semitism, in some cases kept in line by an argument about the limits of “realism”) this dominance would be broken by those who reject Zionism as a form of racism.

As a result of the ascendancy of this alliance between left-Zionists and the “tactical left,” Palestinians and other anti-Zionists and non-Zionists are faced with poor options for participation in movements for Palestine solidarity. For a Palestinian, there is always political space for participation as a victim, as long as one offers only stories of human rights abuses, but steers clear of any analysis. When Palestinians question Israel’ s legitimacy or advocate for resistance that exacts a serious cost on Israel, they are accused of not supporting the peace agenda. “Peace” in this case is understood as maintaining the safety and security of Israeli citizens while Palestinians are subjected to racist domination and control. This leads many Palestinians and anti-Zionists to withdraw their support and consequently their voices from a broader movement that they find deeply racist and lacking in a strategy for liberation.

The tactical left’ s understanding of strategy bears some scrutiny. Palestinians bring a knowledge of nearly seventy-five years of direct experience with the failure of “strategic concessions.” From the Palestinian strikes of the 1930’ s to the first and second Intifadas, the practical concessions that Palestinians were told would help liberate what was left of Palestine have consistently and systematically been transformed into mechanisms for crushing resistance and facilitating colonization. The case of Oslo is a good example. As the popular civilian uprising of the first Intifada gained momentum and international solidarity, the practical effect of Oslo was to accomplish what Rabin’ s “Iron Fist” policy could not— crushing a popular civilian resistance. At the same time, the only long-term effect on the ground was the effective imprisonment of the entire Palestinian population through the creation of Israel’ s infrastructure of military bypass roads and checkpoints, paving the way for further colonial expansion in the form of settlements. The situation has grown steadily worse for Palestinians through this “peace process” no matter who has been in office, be it Labor or Likud in Israel or Republican or Democrat here, or whether the movement’ s call was to “support the Roadmap,” “end the occupation,” or “support a two state solution.”

A Palestinian friend in the West Bank said at the time of the Aqaba summit in 2003, “When Israeli political leaders start talking about peace, we start storing food and water.” While Israel escalates its military offensive in the West Bank and Gaza, and reaches new levels of horror in the technological refinement of its system of collective punishment through closure, the “peace” discourse grows ascendant throughout the entire ideological spectrum of Zionism. And yet this peace discourse is not merely a way of concealing the reality of policy, it must be seen as a strategic retreat in the propaganda war— a retreat to a line of defense in the face of historical circumstances that challenge the nature of the Israeli state. The simultaneous increase in militarism and ethnic cleansing, and the ascendancy of the rhetoric of peace, are both expressions of a fundamental crisis. It might therefore be useful to examine the significance of the two basic tenets of the discourse— the legitimacy of the state of Israel and the illegitimacy of violence against Israelis— within current history.

On the 'legitimacy' of the state of Israel

Half a century of victorious anti-colonial struggles offering immediate parallels to the liberation struggle in Palestine have changed the nature of the international debate about colonialism, settlement and racism. It is no longer possible for Zionists to speak openly in the language of “manifest destiny,” as Jabotinsky could do in the 1920s— both acknowledging the resistance of native people to settlement, and justifying the need to crush that resistance by violent means in the name of expanding a white civilization. In the aftermath of Algeria and South Africa, white settlement is no longer acceptable as destiny— neither morally nor in terms of force. Even some in Europe and the United States came to see the Algerian resistance against a settler community— one of much longer standing than the one in Israel— as justifiable “by any means necessary.” The campaign of international solidarity that worked to isolate South Africa as a pariah state— and ultimately to make Apartheid a crime against humanity— stands as an obvious threat to Israel, the last colonial state that practices racism by law.

On the level of propaganda, defending a colonial-settler state that defines itself in ethnic/religious terms is ultimately a losing battle. The majority of the world’ s people reject colonialism; their global consensus has been to oppose Zionism as a form of racism— the position that reemerged as recently as 2001 at the UN Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa. Those within the imperial nations who have allied themselves with anti-colonial and anti-imperial struggles will adopt this same consensus when the question is framed in terms of colonial history.

For Israel’ s defenders, it is thus crucial to shift the debate away from this terrain. The question must instead be about a timetable for the implementation of UN resolution 242; or about the application of the Geneva Conventions to the West Bank and Gaza; or about the limits of civil liberties for Palestinians with Israeli citizenship; or about the feasibility of a limited recognition of the right of return, possibly through a form of compensation etc. etc. Criticism of Israeli policy is not only admissible, but necessary: a line of battle must be drawn around issues like these, and must be hotly contested by passionate adherents pro and contra, in order to ensure that it does not move onto the terrain on which Israel is destined to lose the battle— its illegitimacy as a state built on racism and land-theft.

On the 'illegitimacy' of violence against Israeli violence

The second Intifada marks a point of departure for the tactics of the Palestinian resistance. Although the great bulk of popular action still follows many of the forms that characterized the first Intifada and the long history of resistance before that— from non-compliance with unjust authority to armed resistance against military targets— military operations inside the Green Line have assumed a significant role. For the first time, Israelis living in such places as Tel Aviv or West Jerusalem have become objects of retaliation for the violence of settlement and occupation. The logic is clear: Israel has used a spurious claim of the need to maintain a “security” zone in order to justify its ongoing hold on the West Bank and Gaza; meanwhile, it has moved forward with a program of land confiscation, settlement and territorial expansion. Armed settlers have been given free rein to commit atrocities against Palestinian civilians; the army moves in to clear territory in the name of “security” whenever the process of violent settlement meets opposition. The resistance has turned this framework of justification back upon Israel: so long as the occupation continues, formerly “secure” territories will now be at risk; the expansion of the Zionist state will bring violence and insecurity into its own center.

The current praise of the first Intifada as “non-violent” is a striking departure from its description at the time: every form of resistance that is effective is called illegitimate and “violent.” When Palestinians were able to exact a cost upon Israel through mass demonstrations and work strikes, Israel responded with devastating violence— a shoot-to-kill policy against the leaders of non-violent demonstrations, mass arrests, the “iron fist” policy of crushing the bones of young men and boys suspected of throwing stones at tanks. It then moved to eliminate Palestinians from the labor force, replacing them with settlers from Eastern Europe. Today the chorus of praise for the tactics of the first Intifada grows deafening, but only as a foil for the tactics of the second Intifada— tactics developed in the face of current necessity.

The second Intifada must be demonized precisely because it has been effective. In a recent interview on al-Jazeera— marking the fourth anniversary of the second Intifada— Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered the following comments: “What is the Intifada in its five years of existence? What has it accomplished to [sic] the Palestinian people? Has it produced progress toward a Palestinian state? Has it defeated Israel on the battlefield?...the Intifada has spawned terrorism and it has not achieved anything in these years, except the economy of the Palestinian communities has deteriorated, life in general has deteriorated, the Israelis have built fences to deal with this question, it has stopped us from being able to move forward with the many peace plans that we have put forward.”

Powell’ s need to minimize the significance of the second Intifada on the international stage is a clear sign of its achievements; his very use of the word Intifada, almost never uttered by members of the US political establishment, reveals the success of the resistance in setting its own agenda. In light of the U.S. and Israeli concept of “peace” demonstrated by Oslo— a peace which meant expansion of the area under Israeli control with a minimum of Israeli casualties and a minimum of international attention— Powell’ s statement is a very high, if inadvertent, tribute: The second Intifada has succeeded in stopping the US from “moving forward” with such a “peace plan.”

Powell’ s comments also reflect a growing desperation among US and Israeli officials facing resistance movements now in both Palestine and Iraq that will not yield to any amount of force, and that are deaf to the seduction of negotiations and “peace processes” aimed at co-opting their leadership and undermining popular momentum. None of the age-old colonial tricks have worked in stopping either the second Intifada or the Iraqi resistance— neither the carrot nor the stick. Israel goes on demolishing villages or walling in cities; the US proposes its “Road Map to Peace,” or sham elections for an occupation government; the Israeli Labor opposition proposes its Geneva Accord plan for Palestinian Bantustans; the resistance moves forward with a single purpose: strike the occupying force until the cost is more than it can bear.

The fact that the second Intifada has not crystallized its gains in the form of “diplomatic” or “political” achievements, as referred to by Powell, is a mark of its strength. Colonial regimes do not negotiate themselves out of existence in the interest of peace; they yield land when the cost of holding it— measured in lives and in privileges— is too high for their foot soldiers and their ordinary citizens to bear.

At the start of the second Intifada, Sharon promised to crush the uprising within “one hundred days.” Four years later, the most salient features of the current political reality are as follows:

— Immigration to Israel is now frozen; — more than 700,000 Israeli citizens live abroad and show no sign of returning; — tourism to Israel is at an all time low; — the Israeli economy is shattered, with unemployment at its highest (recent strikes by government employees in the aviation industry— on strike for lack of pay— show the close relationship between this item and the fall in tourism); — whereas Israel had once promised its citizens a whole host of benefits, it increasingly promises only one thing— security— and it is incapable of delivering even this; — the ratio of wealth between the poorest and the richest class within Israel has reached an unprecedented figure of about 1 to 21 (compared with about 1 to 4 in the 1950’ s).

Under these pressures, Israel now routinely engages in spasms of genocidal aggression— destroying whole villages, burying refugee camps in rubble— but for the first time, it has suffered significant losses. This has spawned a “peace movement” within Israel, concerned, like the peace movement in the US, primarily with minimizing the colonizer’ s own casualties.

A man in a village in the south of the West Bank near Khalil (Hebron), one of the areas hit hardest by settlement and by closure, put the matter succinctly in a recent conversation. Asked how people in his village were coping with the economic devastation wrought by the more than four years of closure imposed since the beginning of the Second Intifada, he said:

“It gets worse and worse; it’ s very hard. But this isn’t the first time we’ve had to deal with occupation. We have been living with colonialism and resisting it for a long time now. We had checkpoints under the British. We know how to live from the land; we know how to share what we have; we know how to survive. But for the first time, they too are suffering. I don’ t think they know how to cope with this.”

In the face of this reality, solidarity activists must carefully assess their role. The primary tactic of repression is collective punishment aimed at isolating the resistance from popular support. If the international peace community offers its solidarity only on the condition of the Palestinian renunciation of armed struggle by condemning both sides equally, then its “solidarity” easily becomes a part of the counterrevolution. When non-violent peace activists stand with Palestinians at checkpoints or during the olive harvest— both to be a shield against violence and to bear international witness— the value of their solidarity is compromised if it is tied to a call for Palestinians to lay down their arms. Ultimately, land will only be reclaimed by raising the cost of holding it; there is no long-term protection from settlement and the violence of settlement as long as Zionists maintain their hold on land in Palestine.

Building Palestine solidarity

One can draw divergent lessons from the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. On the one hand, the international anti-Apartheid movement demonstrated the possibility of building a successful international movement on broad anti-racist principles aimed at materially and politically isolating a racist regime. When the movement in the US against the South African Apartheid system started to gain momentum, American activists did not denounce isolated acts of repression but legitimize the white South African system as “democratic. “They did not support partition of South African indigenous land as a practical solution even if South African indigenous people rejected Bantustans.

On the other hand, the solidarity movement— with its overwhelming emphasis on pacifism and its attempt to frame the struggle against colonialism within the boundaries of a non-violent struggle for civil liberties— contributed to an international climate in which the ANC was pressured to negotiate peacefully with colonial landholders. Such negotiations have led to a situation in which Apartheid laws were defeated, but economic and resource Apartheid not only remained intact, but appear to be growing. Such recent developments as the privatization of water resources— with disastrous consequences for the native majority— illustrate the crucial failure of an anti-colonial struggle that fails to liberate land from settlement.

Palestine solidarity activists who wish to support a struggle for liberation can learn from both the successes and failures of past movements.

The task that lies before us in the United States is to build a movement that is genuinely pro-Palestinian. This means at least two things: opposing Zionism and supporting Palestinian resistance.

1) Building broadly on anti-racist principles

The discourse on colonialism and racism developed through the anti-Apartheid movement, and shared by anti-globalization activists who oppose neo-colonial economic conquest, offers an existing framework in which to build on anti-colonial and anti-racist principles. Such a framework can provide the means of supporting the full spectrum of Palestinian rights within the existing Palestinian communities: the rights of refugees evicted from their land in 1948 and in 1967; the rights of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who live in unrecognized villages, who pay taxes and receive no resources, whose homes are razed for the expansion of neighboring Jewish settlements, who are not allowed to organize themselves politically to oppose the definition of the state as one that fundamentally excludes them, and who are subject to military occupation whenever they rebel physically against racism; and the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, who live under constant military occupation. The attempt to build a movement that focuses exclusively on the last— the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza— plays directly into the hands of those who wish to split various Palestinian communities from one another and who have no strategy for winning significant rights for any of these communities. It lends itself to co-option by left-Zionists whose fundamental interest is in bolstering the state that they also criticize. Building a broad movement means building with those who share a common opposition to racism, and thus breaking the alliance with left-Zionists, since this alliance ultimately serves a racist agenda.

Israel’ s Law of Return and the Absentee Property Law of the 1950’ s codified the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion in the state of Israel. Palestine solidarity activists should educate people about this legal framework as a form of Apartheid. The solidarity movement should assert the idea that racist states do not have a “right to security” or a “right to defend themselves.” The role of the Palestine solidarity activist should include working to create insecurity in states committed to racism and genocide.

Inevitably, any attack on the legitimacy of the state of Israel results in spurious accusations of anti-Semitism. Our movement must have a strategy for dealing with such attacks that exposes rather than propagates racism. Unfortunately most Palestine solidarity groups deal with spurious charges of anti-Semitism by doing exactly what Israel expects and needs them to do— they engage left-Zionists to support Palestinian rights by promising support for the legitimacy and security of Israel. Instead, Palestine solidarity should be exposing the history of Zionism as a political movement that is deeply rooted not only in racism towards indigenous Palestinians, but in anti-Semitism and fascism in Western Europe. Instead of promoting an alliance with left-Zionists, Palestine solidarity should be building alliances with anti-racist groups and with others who are fighting against colonialism and for indigenous rights. For this reason, it’ s important to point out the history of Israel in propping up other racist colonial projects— for example, supporting the white regime in South Africa and channeling arms to pro-US dictatorships in Central America. Similarly, the role of Zionist organizations in the United States in opposing progressive movements should be exposed— for example, ADL’ s infiltration of leftist groups and collaboration with police and federal agents in the 1980’ s in San Francisco.

2) Supporting the resistance struggle of the indigenous people, as defined by the indigenous people

Palestine solidarity must build solidarity with Palestinian resistance. Not a dunum of Palestinian land will be freed without a cost to those who now occupy it; no rights worth mentioning will be won without liberating land. In the famous phrase of Malcolm X “by any means necessary,” the operative word is “necessary.” A solidarity movement that demands of the Palestinian people that they choose tactics of resistance that result in devastating costs for the Palestinian community, without significant cost to Israeli occupiers, can’ t be considered solidarity.

The US anti-war movement has repeatedly fallen into this trap: it has either explicitly denounced both the Palestinian and Iraqi resistance or has made its support for the self-determination of Arab people contingent on how they resist colonial oppression. By making itself the arbiter of appropriate tactics, it has denied the right of people facing genocide to determine the best methods at their disposal to inflict upon their oppressor a cost the oppressor is incapable of paying. The anti-war movement has not yet proven its ability to stay the hand of oppression, yet it has arrogated to itself a right to intervene in the tactical debate about opposing this oppression.

As part of the movement builds broadly on anti-racist principles, so should a sector of the movement play a strategic role in building support for the Palestinian resistance. These two areas of work must function in parallel. Participation in a broader movement should not be contingent on one’ s willingness to denounce the resistance in Palestine. To ask Palestinians and other Palestine solidarity activists to silence their support of resistance only furthers the agenda of people who have an interest in keeping the resistance isolated.

Freedom for Palestine will not come as a result of a solution imposed by the U.S., Europe, or any other power: it will come from a struggle for liberation waged on the ground— both in Palestine, and in the region surrounding it— or it will not come at all. A solidarity movement that is genuine must find effective ways to support that struggle.


Divide and Conquer: The Politics of Palestinian Human Rights
 by Lana Habash

" . . . the American human rights framework as it has been applied to Palestinians has not only failed to stop human rights violations, but has facilitated the colonization and genocide of Palestinian people. It has done this by accepting the validity of the Jewish state and by giving only limited and conditional support to certain human rights for certain Palestinians living in certain areas at certain times."[...]