- Finding an equitable solution to the intractable, festering
decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Gordian Knot that must
be cut to achieve peace overall in the Middle East. Today, no solution
is in sight nor are any serious efforts planned to find one despite occasional
rhetoric to the contrary like what's now being heard from Washington with
similar disingenuous echos inside Israel.
- Palestinians know otherwise from long experience. They've
heard this siren song before. It's the same old tired refrain going nowhere
and not intending to. The so-called "road map" goes nowhere,
and the "peace process" guarantees only more conflict because
Israel wants it that way to justify its harshness and refuses to discuss
the most fundamental Palestinian concerns. Unless they're resolved there
can never be peace. They include a sovereign integral independent Palestinian
state, the Right of Return, status of Jerusalem Palestinians want as their
capital, settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) that
must be removed, and established borders. They also include ending what
Palestinian-American scholar and activist Edward Said once called Israel's
agenda of "refined viciousness" against the Palestinian people.
Since Hamas' Palestinian Authority (PA) January, 2006 legislative electoral
victory, there's been nothing "refined" about it.
- As long as these issues and present conditions go unaddressed,
this long-running tragedy will go on without end destroying the lives of
new generations of young Palestinians who nonetheless continue their valiant
struggle for freedom and justice even against overwhelming odds. Today
they're greater than ever as the tiny Israeli state with six million Jews
(including those in OPT settlements) is a world nuclear power compared
to a virtually defenseless Palestinian population of about five million.
Included are 1.4 million Arab Israeli citizens. They're denied all rights
Israeli Jews get and are subjected to constant abuse and neglect. They're
a fifth of the population but are forced to live on 2% of the land plus
1% more for agricultural use. The Jewish population gets nearly all the
- Another 3.9 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West
Bank only get the right to live under the boot of a hostile occupier.
They live under "vicious" repression and are denied all rights
including the fundamental one to their own home on their own land that
may be bulldozed to rubble anytime for any reason because Israel wants
the land for Jewish settlements and relentlessly takes it and the lives
of many Palestinians as well.
- Then there are the refugees. About five million are
in the Palestinian diaspora including about 260,000 internally displaced
and living inside Israel. Most others live within 100 miles of Israel's
borders in neighboring Arab states. Half are in Jordan, 15% in Lebanon,
another 15% in Syria while others live throughout the world including in
other Arab countries like Egypt and the Gulf states. Many live with a
dominant dream so far unfulfilled - the absolute universal "Right
of Return" affirmed in UN Resolution 194 passed in December, 1948
resolving that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live
at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest
practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property
of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property....made
good by the Governments or authorities responsible."
- This "universal right" is also established
in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and under various
Geneva Conventions. Israel won't recognize it and adamantly refuses to
include it in negotiations even though the Jewish state doesn't have a
legal leg to stand on. In 1948-49, its leaders ethnically cleansed 800,000
Palestinians slaughtering many in the process. They also destroyed 531
of their villages in their "War of Independence" all Palestinians
call the Nakba or catastrophe. Many refugees dream one day of returning
to their homes, and all Palestinians want and deserve their own sovereign
independent state never losing hope they'll get it.
- Israel exacerbates their plight practicing a rigid policy
of police state control while ignoring binding legal provisions of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Its preamble cites
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Charter, that's also binding
international law, stating "civil and political freedom....can only
be achieved (if) everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights (and
that it is the) obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations
to promote....human rights and freedoms (for everyone)."
- Its many Articles also affirm:
- -- The right of self-determination and freedom to freely
determine one's political status and freely pursue one's economic, social
and cultural development.
- -- The inherent right to life and freedom from subjection
to torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment and to be
free from arbitrary arrest or detention or deprived of liberty.
- -- The right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose
- -- The right freely leave any country and not be deprived
of the right to return to it.
- -- The right to freedom from arbitrary or unlawful interference
with one's privacy, family, home or correspondence.
- -- The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
- -- The right to have equal access as all others to public
services in one's country.
- -- The right of all persons to equal protection of the
law without discrimination.....and much more.
- In the way it treats Palestinians, Israel willfully violates
all the above provisions as state policy and has done so for six decades
and gotten away with it.
- People of conscience must condemn this lawlessness and
demand Israeli leaders be held accountable for their crimes of war and
against humanity so the long-suffering Palestinians one day have the same
rights and freedoms as all Israeli Jews. They and all others deserve no
- Jeff Halper's Concept of An Israeli "Matrix of Control"
- Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee
Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) based in Jerusalem. He's also a professor
of anthropology at Ben Gurion University and has lived in Israel since
1973. ICAHD was originally formed as a non-violent, direct-action group
to resist Israeli home demolitions in the OPT. It's activities now include
resistance to settlements, land expropriation, fruit and olive tree uprootings
and other crop destruction, bypass road construction, policies of "closure"
and "separation," denial of civil and human rights, and all other
elements of repression of a people under occupation it wants to help end
to achieve an equitable and sustainable peace only possible once Palestinians
have their own sovereign integral independent state.
- Halper established the concept of a repressive "Matrix
of Control" to explain how Israeli governments dominate Palestinian
life. For these long-suffering people ever to achieve justice and a land
of their own, this system chaining them in bondage must end. Here's how
- Halper explains it's composed of three layers of control.
The first one is "physical control" of key "links and nodes."
It's done through illegal OPT settlements on expropriated land, use of
military zones, industrial parks, control of aquifers and other natural
resources, checkpoints, control of all border crossings, a network of bypass
roads for Jews only, national parks for recreation underneath which are
former Palestinian villages destroyed and their history erased to make
way for them, and the oppressive (World Court ruled) illegal Separation
or Apartheid Wall claimed for security but, in fact, another part of a
land grab and confinement agenda. It's being built to continue ethnically
cleansing Palestinians and keep those remaining virtual prisoners in restricted
cantonized OPT areas. They're isolated from and unconnected to others
as part of Israel's policy of ghettoization, repression and social control.
- Halper's second control layer is bureaucratic and legal
encompassing a host of policies constricting Palestinians in a maze of
procedures and restrictions. These include harassing zoning and other regulations
governing the following:
- -- Allowable home and village construction. -- Building
- -- Home demolitions for violations of code.
- -- Land expropriation designated for Israeli "public
- -- Agricultural restrictions and crop destruction for
- -- Licensing and inspection of Palestinian businesses.
- -- Closures anywhere, any time, for any reason.
- -- Movement and travel restrictions within and outside
- -- Many other politically motivated harassing rules and
regulations designed to make life impossible for people forced to abide
by them. These are politically motivated actions confining Palestinians
to designated enclaves or cantons. Israel claims they're legal, but, in
fact, they're not. They deny fundamental human and civil rights guaranteed
under numerous international laws, covenants, and protocols established
by Geneva Conventions and the UN governing a broad definition of rights
and freedoms including economic, social, cultural, political and other
ones in peace and war.
- Israel is a signatory to these laws yet flagrantly violates
them. It's also brazenly ignored over five dozen UN Resolutions going
back decades condemning or censuring it for its actions against the Palestinians
or other Arab people, deploring it for committing them, or demanding, calling
on or urging the Jewish state to end them. Israel flaunts the rule of
law observing only what comes out of its Knesset. It arrogates to itself
the right to act in its own interest, law or no law, and gets away with
it because its supportive partner and paymaster in Washington winks and
nods approval, funds it lavishly, and supplies it with the most modern
weapons of war to use against any adversary. Palestinians, on the other
hand, are vulnerable and defenseless. They have only crude weapons, their
bodies and redoubtable spirit to use in self-defense.
- Halper's third "Matrix" layer uses violence
as a means of social and political control. It includes military occupation,
mass imprisonment and routine use of torture as documented by Israeli human
rights monitoring group B'Tselem saying it's flagrant and widespread and
violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and 1984 UN Convention Against Torture. It also relies on an elaborate
use of collaborators, pressure on families to sell their land, and military
and civil authority oppression in the OPT. All this is falsely justified
in the name of security just like harsh US laws and their enforcement are
here. In fact, they're just police state measures to harass and round
up dissenters and control a restive population resisting a hostile government
harming its welfare.
- Most people in the US know little about what's happening
in the OPT because information about it is suppressed in the corporate-controlled
media. The Israeli public is better informed but not well enough about
the "Matrix." Americans are willing to sacrifice some freedom
for security not realizing when they do they lose both. Israelis, on the
other hand, want peace and are willing to give up some territory for it.
Palestinians, however, are victims and understand the "Matrix"
well because they live under its harshness affecting their daily lives.
Achieving their dream one day depends not only on gaining their own independent
state, but also freeing themselves from "the key nodes of the Matrix"
Halper explains do the following:
- -- Gives Israel full control of all aspects of Palestinian
life in the OPT.
- -- Most often lowers Israel's military profile creating
an image of administration and Israel's right to defend itself hiding the
ugly reality on the ground of an oppressive occupier.
- -- Creates a cramped space for a Palestinian cantonized
mini-state relieving Israel of an obligation to service it.
- -- Deflects international opposition beneath the cover
of conventional administrative and bureaucratic mechanisms.
- -- Creates deplorable conditions leading to despair and
belief a truly sovereign independent state is unachievable hoping Palestinians
will accept the crumbs offered them or give up and leave.
- This bureaucratic web of containment disguises a hard
line Kafkaesque system of social control and oppressive enforcement harshly
treating anyone resisting it. Visible on the surface under a military
head of a "Civil Administration" is a face of "proper administration,
upholding the law, and keeping public order and security." It makes
the occupation invisible except for its victims disciplined by it harsh
rules. Halper describes the control mechanisms:
- -- Military assaults against the civilian population
and infrastructure (including targeted assassinations and willful collateral
killing). It's now ongoing daily in Gaza and the West Bank and documented
by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, B'Tselem and others on the
- -- Use of collaborators and undercover "mustarabi"
army units, mass arrests, administrative detentions, (kangaroo court) trials
and widespread torture of detainees.
- -- Absence of civil law replaced by military rule supplemented
by Civil Administration policies.
- -- Mass expropriation of Palestinian land mostly in the
OPT but also affecting Arab Israeli citizens.
- -- Construction of over 200 settlements on occupied land
for 400,000 Israeli Jews since 1967 in the West Bank including Palestinian
- -- Dividing the OPT into Areas "A," "B,"
"C," and "D" in the West Bank; "H-1" and
"H-2" in Hebron; nature reserves for Jews only; closed military
areas; security zones; and "open green spaces" for Jewish-only
housing developments in over half of East Jerusalem leaving Palestinians
confined to unconnected cantons surrounded by Israeli settlements, restricted
roads and checkpoints.
- -- An interconnected restricted highway and bypass road
system linking the settlements and effectively incorporating them into
Israel proper like suburbs are to downtown areas of US cities.
- -- Controlling aquifers and other key natural resources
including rainfall Palestinians are forbidden to collect by law even though
they have limited access to other water sources.
- -- Controlling OPT holy places as pretexts to maintain
a "security presence" there.
- -- Maintaining permanent "closure" of the West
Bank and Gaza.
- -- Restricting movement using a discriminatory system
of work, internal and external travel permits.
- -- Schemes to displace those unwanted by exile, deportation
and revoking residency rights.
- -- Home demolitions, land expropriation, denial of basic
services and impoverishment.
- -- "Master plans" to continue settlement expansion
and develop of new ones.
- -- Agricultural restrictions along with hundreds of thousands
of olive and fruit trees destroyed since 1967 and other crop land disrupted
- -- Using various other means of social control and harassment
against an unwanted people in a racist Jewish state wanted for Jews only.
- All this is a scheme to traumatize, intimidate and break
the will of the occupied people hoping they'll give up and leave vacating
the land for Jewish development and settlement. It hasn't worked for six
decades and never will because too much is at stake, and Palestinians,
like Jews, want a land of their own land one day they intend to get. It
worked for the Jews and one day will for Palestinians as well. But for
decades Israel hasn't stopped trying to prevent it, and there's no sign
it intends giving up. It has full support of its policies from the US,
the West and most Arab states aligned with the Global North for benefits
they receive believing sacrificing Palestinians' interests is a small price
- Halper believes settlements are central to maintaining
the "Matrix" because all other development is woven around them
including connecting roads, industrial areas, military installations and
zones, and the entire security scheme of checkpoints and other mechanisms
of control. The only way to end the "Matrix" is to remove all
settlements from the OPT, replacing checkpoints and border restrictions
with normal transit arrangements just like in any other country or between
them. It also means ending military occupation and rule allowing the Palestinians
the right to a real integral state they govern freely and not Israeli dictated
cantons unconnected to others that are effective open air prisons by any
other name the way they're now conceived and laid out.
- Life on the Ground Today in the OPT
- Palestinians have endured six oppressive decades under
Israeli rule, four of them in the OPT since Gaza and the West Bank were
occupied after the 1967 war when the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) seized
the Territories. Throughout this time, they faced the kinds of repressive
harshness explained above including loss of their personal, political and
economic freedoms and any chance for justice in a land only affording those
rights to Jews.
- For the Jewish "chosen people," Israel is a
democratic state, but for non-Jews, especially Arab Muslims, it's their
worst nightmare. It's a daily struggle to endure and survive in a hostile
racist apartheid land wanting to exclude them from society, and all rights
in it, and since 1948 has had an agenda of state-sponsored ethnic cleaning
amounting to genocide to rid the land of most non-Jews and all Muslims
making the state one for Jewish habitation only. This policy is no different
than Nazi Germany's Nuremberg Laws governing Jews under that state's Racial
Policy asserting Aryan race superiority. In Israel, Jews are the "Master
Race" and Arabs are the persecuted "Jews."
- That ideology shows in the demonizing characterization
and depiction of Arabs by former Israeli prime minister and 1978 Nobel
Peace Prize laureate Menechem Begin who once said: "Our (Jewish) race
is the 'Master Race.' We are divine gods on this planet. We are as different
from the inferior races as they are from insects....other races are beasts
and animals, cattle at best. Our destiny is to rule over the inferior
races. The masses will lick our feet and serve us as our slaves."
Begin also called Palestinians "cockroaches" and "beasts
walking on two legs." Ehud Barak referred to them as "crocodiles,"
and Golda Maier said "There was no such thing as Palestinians, they
- With its leaders voicing these kinds of sentiments, it's
no wonder Israel imposes harsh treatment on a people it equates with wild
animals and insects it wants to eliminate. It makes life grim to impossible
for Palestinians at all times, but it hit a new low after the democratic
election of a Hamas government in January, 2006. Relations then deteriorated
to a state of belligerency and chaos after the world community for the
first time in history placed an occupied people under the siege of economic
and political sanctions violating the Fourth Geneva Convention that obligates
the international community to protect an occupied civilian population.
- It wasn't to be and got far worse erupting into virtual
warfare following Hamas' capture of an IDF soldier last June. Israel responded
with overwhelming force in Gaza and the West Bank in an operation planned
months earlier to destroy Hamas. It used the June incident as a pretext
to launch it to with devastating results still ongoing mostly unreported
and below the radar. What is reported in Western media refers to Palestinians
and Muslims generally as militants, gunmen, terrorists, Islamic extremists,
Islamofascists and more. Israelis, however, are always seen as victims
defending themselves, even their pilots in US-supplied F-16s and helicopter
gunships firing missiles against defenseless civilians in their crosshairs.
- In the past seven months, these kinds of IDF assaults
killed or wounded hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and
children. Many hundreds more were arrested and held without charge in
an operation raging daily adding to the intolerable toll already inflicted.
The military also destroyed agricultural land; buildings (including government
ones); homes and essential infrastructure including electricity and water
to refugee camps; bridges; key roads and more. It's been done to make
life intolerable for people as well as destroy the Hamas government Israel
won't deal with because its leaders refuse to serve as Jewish state enforcers
which the corrupted Fatah is always willing to do under its quisling leader,
chairman Mahmoud Abbas. It's the reason he's seen publicly with Israeli
prime minister Ehud Olmert, and he's invited to meet with George Bush in
the White House. "Real" democrats never get that "privilege."
- Fatah corruption and its betrayal of its people is revealed
in a document Palestinian activist, writer and lecturer Ali Abunimah obtained
and reported on in his Electronic Intifada web site on January 27. It's
an Israeli Ministry of Defense Powerpoint presentation showing more of
the dark side of a racist apartheid bureaucracy. The document details
some of what was covered above including movement restrictions, ethnic
cleansing policies and collaboration with Palestinian traitors selling
out their people for benefits Israel affords them.
- It outlines Palestinian Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas'
complicity with the Israeli government as well as an official inside glimpse
into Israel's "Matrix of Control" with token easing of it to
its collaborators and for PR purposes. Mentioned in it is the following:
- -- the US supplying Fatah with millions of dollars of
weapons and equipment for use to oust the democratically elected Hamas
- -- Israel affording special privileges for "the
movement of VIP and senior Palestinians (meaning Abbas and his allies)
facilitating (their) movement without security checks."
- -- Special permits for 505 Palestinian "businessmen"
exempting them from pass laws forbidding overnight stays in Israel, fewer
security checks and other privileges and benefits.
- -- Allowing a privileged "42,899" Palestinian
laborers to work in Israel and exempting 2000 agricultural ones from pass
- -- Restricting Palestinians with foreign passports called
"foreign nationals" (including ones from the US and Europe) to
tourist visitations totaling a cumulative 27 months stay. But even this
limitation may be hardened with re-entry being denied those leaving the
country for any reason.
- -- Listing categories of "humanitarian" workers
including religious ones, lawyers, teachers, and hospital and hotel workers
less restricted by the pass laws.
- In sum, this official document provides an example of
Israeli repressive control that can be altered, hardened or manipulated
any time in any way to suit a harsh colonial occupier. While making life
intolerable for the vast majority of Palestinians, it affords its collaborators
enough privileges and rule exemptions to buy them off so they'll go along
with cracking down on their own people.
- Doing it creates the harshness of the occupation that
affects the entire OPT, but since last June Gaza got the worst of it.
Renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger
explained what's happening there is little reported in the West and almost
totally ignored in the US corporate media that views the conflict through
the prism of Jewish victims responding to Palestinian terrorists that,
in fact, turns reality on its head.
- On January 22, Pilger wrote an article called "Terror
and starvation in Gaza." In it he referred to a genocide "engulfing
the people of Gaza while a silence engulfs its bystanders." He quotes
former Swedish foreign minister Jan Eliasson and former senior UN relief
official Jan Egeland who describe a people "living in a cage, cut
off by land, sea and air, with no reliable power and little water, and
tortured by hunger and disease and incessant attacks by Israeli troops
and planes." He added UK Doctor David Halpin's comment that the people
of Gaza are going through a "medieval siege" will daily killings
by artillery, rockets, air strikes and small arms.
- Children have been especially affected, and Pilger quotes
the results of a "remarkable (and horrifying) survey" told him
by psychiatrist Khalid Dahlan. It showed 99.4% of children studied in
Gaza suffered trauma because 99.2% of their homes were bombarded, 97.5%
were exposed to tear gas, 96.6% witnessed shootings, 95.8% saw funerals
resulting from bombardments, and nearly one-fourth saw family members injured
- Pilger also cites the writing of Jewish Israeli Haaretz
reporters Gideon Levy and Amira Hass. In November Levy wrote people were
beginning to starve to death and that "There are thousands of wounded,
disabled and shell-shocked people, unable to receive any treatment"
in a cauldron he called "monstrous." Hass has lived in the West
Bank and Gaza. She calls the Strip a prison shaming her people and reminding
her of her mother's trevails when taken to the Bergen-Belsen concentration
camp in Nazi Germany in 1944. Pilger describes what's ongoing in the Territories
as "Israeli atrocities" and condemns the US Congress, Western
journalists and ordinary bystanders including Jews who know what's happening
but stay silent out of cowardice or complicity with the powerful Zionist
Lobby allowing the Israeli government to commit mass murder with impunity.
- One example among many almost daily happened last November
8 when the IDF shelled Beit Hanoun in Gaza killing at least 18 civilians
and wounding dozens more. It was barely reported in the West and faded
quickly from the collective memory. On November 11, ironically the day
commemorating the end of "the war to end all wars" - WW I, the
US vetoed UN SC/8867 condemning the attack.
- The resolution called on Israel "to scrupulously
abide by its obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention
relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August
1949." It also called for an end to violence in the OPT and requested
the Secretary-General establish a fact-finding mission to investigate the
incident. The US alone objected with its veto ending any hope for justice
for the innocent people killed or hurt. The Western press ignored the
vote as it's done dozens of other times when the US alone or with one or
two small Pacific island allies (plus Israel) vetoed other resolutions
condemning Israel for its abusive, hostile actions or that harmed Israeli
interests. The Western press also ignores shocking new data showing an
85% poverty rate in Gaza with that percent of the population forced to
get by on less than $2 a day.
- Pilger's account of what goes on in Gaza also is part
of daily life in the West Bank, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
documents it all in the OPT daily from its vantage point on the ground
in the Territories. It makes for gruesome reading this writer covered
in detail in a previous article. Overall these are grievous crimes of war
and against humanity as are the rigidly enforced restrictions and regulations
causing misery and death that are part of Israel's six decades-long planned
ethnic cleansing, genocidal assault and daily harassment against virtually
defenseless people fighting back to survive with only crude weapons and
their bodies and spirit but paying a dreadful price doing it.
- Look at some Israeli-imposed travel and routine movement
restrictions Palestinians must endure just reported by Amira Hass on January
19 in Haaretz. She listed 16 prohibitions from information her paper
got from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and
Machsom Watch. A few include:
- -- Palestinians from Gaza are forbidden to stay in the
- -- Palestinians are forbidden to enter East Jerusalem.
- -- Palestinians are forbidden to enter the Jordan Valley.
- -- Palestinians are forbidden to enter Nablus in a vehicle.
- -- Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are forbidden to
enter Area A in the West Bank.
- -- Palestinians are forbidden to use Ben-Gurion Airport
for foreign travel.
- -- Gaza residents aren't allowed to reside in the West
- The other nine prohibitive regulations are just as restrictive
and still others apply only periodically imposing even more hardships.
If the word "Jews" is substituted for "Palestinians"
in them, these rules sound like what Jews endured in Nazi Germany under
their racist Nuremberg Laws in the 1930s and 40s.
- Amira Hass included more of them documenting 75 manned
checkpoints in the West Bank as of January 9, 2007 and about 150 mobile
checkpoints as of last fall. In addition, there are 446 obstacles placed
between roads and villages including concrete cubes, earth ramparts, 88
iron gates and 74 kilometers of fences along main roads. There are also
83 additional iron gates along the Separation Wall dividing lands from
their owners with only 25 of them opening occasionally.
- These impediments are part of daily life for Palestinians
in the OPT. They're in place to harass and discourage those forced to
live under them making life so intolerable people will want to leave for
a better life elsewhere and become another country's problem.
- They're also part of the long-running conflict planned
in stages from when Israel first became a state. This conflict, in Halper's
judgment, is "the single greatest cause of instability, extremism
and violence in (the) region (but) is the simplest conflict in the world
to resolve." He notes that Palestinian leaders for the past 20 years
(including Hamas) and a large majority of Israelis and Palestinians support
a Jewish state within pre-1967 war boundaries leaving the other 22% of
the West Bank and Gaza for a sovereign integral independent Palestinian
state free from Israeli occupation including the oppressive settlements
making it impossible.
- Another key to conflict resolution is the Right to Return
that Israel must acknowledge under international law and abide by like
all other civilized countries. Halper notes Palestinian sociologist Khalil
Shkaki conducted an extensive survey finding only about 10% of refugees
(around 500,000 today), mainly the aged, wish to settle in Israel. That's
a number the Jewish state can easily absorb if there's political will to
do it, but so far there's none nor any hint of any forthcoming. It's because
Israel bases its strategy for regional dominance and acceptance on an agenda
of conflict and territorial expansion gotten by iron-fisted militarism
supported and funded by the US with the West overall going along. Israel
also believes the Palestinians are irrelevant, and it can make separate
peace and other arrangements with Arab countries and the Muslim world overall.
- Halper thinks otherwise saying the Palestinians have
a critical "trump card: They are the gatekeepers to the Middle East"
in his judgment. For Muslims, this unresolved conflict defines the so-called
"clash of civilizations" along with Israel settling territorial
disputes with Syria and Lebanon. For Halper, solving this conflict is
key to Israel's ability to normalize relations with its Arab neighbors
and other Muslim countries as achieving it can weaken the forces of anti-Israeli
fundamentalism and militarism fueling conflict. But as long as Israel
remains obstinate continuing to deny Palestinians their right to self-determination
and maintains its repressive occupation, no progress to peace is possible,
all the disingenuous rhetoric about seeking it notwithstanding.
- A Look Ahead For Hopeful Change
- Looking ahead, the question then is can this policy of
hostility and aggression ever work, or in the end, will it fail. Israel
believes it can muddle through as it has for six decades. So far, it succeeded
because its Arab neighbors in the past were too weak to contest (and still
are) and now prefer allying with the West and tolerating Israel at the
expense of aiding the Palestinians. Most of all, Israel has a powerful
ally in the US, and each country serves the other's interests. It's also
supported by the West that up to now has turned a blind eye on the region's
most intractable problem thinking in time it may go away or not matter
much if it doesn't.
- But that kind of thinking has gotten nowhere since 1948,
and that's proof enough it never will. Despite everything Palestinians
have endured, Israeli's military might never broke their redoubtable spirit
nor likely ever will. That being so, it begs the question why the Jewish
state continues a failed policy and is unwilling to try a new approach
based on rapprochement. Halper believes that kind of effort can achieve
a real and lasting peace, and if it's undertaken can progress quickly toward
final resolution acceptable to both sides and benefitting the entire region.
- It has to happen sooner or later because eventually the
international community won't continue tolerating a policy becoming too
costly to back. It may be heading toward it already because of the situation
in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon over the summer showing US and Israeli
belligerency failed and it's time for an alternate course. The international
community may push a conflict resolution agenda even harder in light of
US hawkishness toward Iran threatening an even wider and much more dangerous
regional war. Black propaganda to the contrary, it's unrelated to Iran's
legal commercial nuclear program. It's all about Washington's nearly three
decade resolve for regime change in a country unwilling to surrender its
sovereignty and submit to US imperial management rules. Rule number one
explains "who's boss" with no toleration of outliers or disobedience.
- Palestinians aren't waiting for conflict resolution or
for Israel to see the error of its ways and decide to pursue real peace.
They intend keeping up the struggle for their rights and freedoms and
an end to six decades of colonial abuse and repression. They took their
fight to the seventh World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in late January
and first one ever held on the African continent. A 30 member delegation
attended representing all major Palestinian community and NGO networks
operating in the OPT, Israel and Lebanon. It came to issue a political
statement to the world and call to action on Palestine for help in their
struggle for "freedom, justice and (a) durable peace" and an
end to 60 years of repression. It wants to build a "global Campaign
for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends
its apartheid-like regime of discrimination, occupation and colonization,
and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees and IDPs (internally
- It advocates "Consumer boycotts of Israeli products;
boycott of Israeli academic, athletic and cultural events and institutions
complicit in human rights abuses; divestment from Israeli companies, as
well as international corporations involved in perpetuating injustice,
and pressuring governments to impose sanctions on Israel...."
- The delegation stressed "official diplomacy has
failed in enforcing scores of UN resolutions and....international law (to
end) Israel's occupation, colonization, displacement and dispossession
of the Palestinian people." It condemned "US-led Middle East
diplomacy, favoring military intervention and unilateralism (and its complicity
with Israel) in wars and occupation in Iraq and Lebanon (and) Israel's
colonial regime in Palestine (and Washington's active encouragement of)
division and civil war in the region (with) the US and the entire Quartet
(comprised of the US, UN, European Union and Russia) part of the problem
in the region (not the solution)."
- The Palestinian delegation called on people of conscience
and civil society everywhere to join their struggle denouncing Israel as
a pariah state and to work cooperatively for "justice and peace (in)
the Middle East (and) reconciliation and coexistence for everyone in the
region, based on equality and mutual respect for international law and
fundamental human rights."
- Organized actions like these ended the oppressive South
African apartheid regime that once had full support of the US and the West.
They can achieve the same result with Israel if enforced long enough with
teeth, and they must be. Eventually, this will happen in one form or other,
and it'll work because repression can never be sustained forever and won't
be. The sooner Israel accepts that, the quicker real peace will come to
the Middle East, and it can't happen any too soon.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.