THE PEACE PROCESS: PALESTINE ERODED PIECE BY PIECE
Morgan Duchensey, Ottawa – Sept. 14, 2009
This article is an oppositional explanation of the seemingly endless struggle between the Israeli state and the Palestinians. I offer facts and a perspective ignored and minimized in the Canadian and U.S. corporate media. The U.S. government has consistently and effectively sabotaged any possibility of peace or a genuine two-state settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Middle East instability is a strategic element of the U.S. government’s plan for full spectrum dominance or global military preeminence. Since critics of the Israeli state are routinely accused of anti-Semitism, I deconstruct the concept of anti-Semitism and provide some historical context to the ongoing struggle between the Israeli state and their subject people, the Palestinians. I also explain the significance of U.S. military support for Israeli and refute the fantasy that this backing is primarily an altruistic exercise in the promotion of Middle East democracy . I describe the current situation in Gaza and the West Bank so the reader might understand why Palestinians are so embittered towards the Israeli state. As well, I employ my interpretation of Edward Said’s thoughts on Orientalism to explain how critics of Palestinian guerilla tactics denigrate their resistance to Israeli state terrorism as typical of the clichéd Arab stereotype: irrational, volatile and vengeful. Finally, I present my thoughts on how a lasting peace might be achieved.
Juxtaposed against the popular interpretation of terrorism is the dissonant concept of state terrorism. The corporate media in the West have successfully manufactured the public perception that only the violence of non-state actors can be considered terrorism. In the words of playwright Arthur Miller, “The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.” It requires a great deal of mental discipline to deny the fact that any act perpetrated to instill terror can legitimately be considered terrorism. State terrorism is the use of military force and secret police tactics against the domestic and foreign opponents of a state conducted either within that state or on foreign soil. State terror tactics have traditionally included outright invasions, air strikes, Special Forces operations, assassination programs, kidnapping, arbitrary imprisonment, extrajuducial killings, torture and the provision of direct support to brutal regimes. Such tactics require a statist mindset prepared to criminalize legitimate opposition to state policies like trade liberalization, inequitable resource allocation and forced population displacements.
The successful practice of state terrorism rests on the concept of exceptionalism. In other words, whatever “we” do is justified because we are inherently noble and our opponents are evil because they are terrorists, communists or whatever label suits the occasion. For example, the U.S. and Israeli governments habitually justify their state terrorism by claiming to be beacons of freedom and democracy. Historically, exceptionalism has been employed by every powerful state requiring an excuse to oppress others. The state of Israel has been practicing state terrorism against the Palestinians since Israel's 1948 war against the Arab states. Syria, Egypt and Jordan objected to the fact the creation of Israel seemed to require the systematic mistreatment of Palestinians who were forced off their land.
Conveniently, these state terrorists sanitize their militarism by calling it counter-terrorism in defense of the only functioning democracy in the Middle East. Even this claim is doubtful, as Israel’s parliamentary system is currently experiencing a period of upheaval. Many Israelis are extremely disappointed with their government’s treatment of the Palestinians because they are ashamed of being privileged citizens of an apartheid state.
ANTI-SEMITISM: SUBJECTIVITIES AT PLAY
Anti-Semitism is popularly understood to describe comments or behaviour harmful to Jewish people but since both Arabs and Jews are Semites it is both fair and accurate to describe as anti-Semitic any comment or behaviour harmful to Arab or Jew. I offer this distinction as an introduction to an article that concerns itself with how Western perceptions of the Middle East have excused the most outrageous abuses of power and privilege by the world’s only remaining superpower and its Israeli client state.
Reasoned criticism of the Israeli government’s conduct is not anti-Semitism, although it is frequently referred to as such by those who will accept no criticism of Israel. While expansionist Zionism influences the Israeli government’s aggressive militarism, it has little to do with Judaism. Those who dare to critique Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians are often accused of anti-Semitism. This lazy and emotive accusation is a reasoning fallacy designed to shame the critic by evoking the Holocaust. How convenient it is to have your potential critics so terrified of being considered sympathetic to Nazism that they hesitate to expose even your most outrageous excesses. Canadian politicians like Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney have been notable for casually smearing critics of Israel with the brush of anti-Semitism. The normalization of such comments among North American and European politicians has created an effect similar to libel chill.
A excellent example of the anti-Semitic smear tactic was employed by Barbara Amiel in the May 4, 2009 issue of MacLean’s magazine where she wrote that, “ The excuse that current criticism of Israel (which is the home of the Jewish people) is not anti-Semitic fails when its supporters hold Israel to standards totally different to those they apply to every other country in the world.” I assume she is referring to the anti-Israeli violence of Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups but Ms. Amiel leaves the reader guessing. As a person who rejects the use of violence to achieve political goals, I apply the same standard to every nation on earth, especially the wealthy industrial states with histories of brutal colonialism or in the case of Canada and Israel, client state behaviour.
While Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah have certainly killed many Israelis, the Israeli state has suffered a significantly lower loss of life than the Palestinians. The recent Israeli invasion of Gaza that resulted in 1400 Palestinian deaths versus 13 Israeli soldiers offers a typical example of this deadly imbalance. As usual, the Israeli military’s overwhelming technological advantage was the deciding factor. With the exception of a few mild rebukes, the dominant states of the world largely approved of the Israeli invasion. What would happen if 1400 Israelis had been slaughtered? The post 911 vengeance wrought by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq provides a stark example of what happens when the powerful suffer the fate they traditionally have casually dealt to any who dare oppose them.
Those who might call me anti-Semitic will also likely emphasize that the majority of the Arab states have not offered much help to the Palestinians. This contention is a red herring – the failings of despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia and Syria do not excuse Israeli responsibility for what can reasonably be called a system of apartheid. Israel’s policies regarding the Palestinians have nothing to do with Judaism and everything to do with economics, racism and their role as a U.S. client state. Israel has not yet recognized an incentive powerful enough to convince them to reach a fair accommodation with the Palestinians.
According to noted Zionist philosopher, the late Nachem Goldman, ”… it is a sacrilege to use the Holocaust as a justification for oppressing other people.” He was referring to the Israeli government habit of using the spectre of another Holocaust to justify the brutal treatment of Palestinians unfortunate enough to be living under Israeli military control. Nachem was so despised for his honesty that the World Zionist Organization refused to send a delegation to the 1982 funeral of this founding father of Israel. Accusations of anti-Zionism may soon replace the reliable but tired tactic of anti-Semitic smearing. Either way, the purpose of such accusations is to mute and generally discourage reasoned criticism of Israeli conduct
The following account is a timely example of the chilling power of the anti-Semitic accusation. The United Church of Canada (UCC) has recently bowed to such accusations delivered by the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC). The UCC had recently suggested that Israel be sanctioned for its harsh treatment of the Palestinians. They were considering the wisdom of a general boycott of Israeli businesses, cultural and academic institutions resembling the anti-apartheid boycott of South Africa. The CJC warned the UCC that all ties between the two religious groups would be severed if the UCC adopted the Israeli boycott resolution at its 40th General Council on August 12. While the UCC subsequently distanced itself from formally endorsing an anti-Israeli boycott, UCC spokesman Bruce Gregson in the August 13 Ottawa Citizen encouraged individuals to, “study, discern and pray, and to undertake their own initiatives, which may include an economic boycott as a means to ending the occupation [of Palestine by Israel].”
HISTORICAL CONTEXT: PALESTINE BECOMES THE MODERN STATE OF ISRAEL
While I acknowledge the ancient historical and religious significance of Israel/Palestine to Jew, Muslim and Christian; I plan to confine my discussion mainly to modern events because the historical considerations seem largely irrelevant in a situation where military might and the requirements of geopolitics consistently trumps reason. Whether or not any state has, as the Israelis claim, a right to exist, is also beyond the scope of this article. That being said, I am unaware of any other national entity that claims an inherent right to exist. This claim is unprecedented and uniquely Israeli. The concept is unknown in international law. Countries do have a right to live in peace and defend their borders but this so-called right to exist is another fantasy created to justify the endless oppressions perpetrated in the interests of state capitalism and state security ideology.
The Romans mainly accomplished the most significant expulsion of Jews from what was called the Land of Israel around 132 AD although a small Jewish population remained. What followed was a Jewish Diaspora throughout the Middle East and later Europe. The so-called Holy Land changed hands frequently until the Ottoman Empire established dominance in 1516. From that point until the turn of the 20th century, the Land of Israel, or Palestine as it came to be called; was peopled mainly by Arabs with a small Jewish element. The situation changed abruptly in 1917 when the British government, under intense pressure from international Zionist organizations, passed the Balfour Declaration. This declaration promised a homeland to the world’s Jews, who were represented by a number of Zionist organizations active mainly in Britain and the U.S. During this pivotal period, the United Nations (UN) was under pressure from international Zionist organizations, and Arab nations, as well as the governments of Britain and the United States; each pursing their own agenda.
Immigration by European Jews into Palestine rapidly altered the population mix and territorial disputes between Arab and Jew naturally followed. Arab nations like Egypt, Jordan and Syria objected to the terms of the 1947 United Nations partition of Palestine. They felt that the tiny Jewish population should not be given such a disproportionately large share of the territory, including privileged access to precious fresh water and arable land. Eventually, this struggle culminated in the 1948 war that both created a new Land of Israel and subsequently marginalized the pre-1948 Arab inhabitants in an apartheid state where Jewish Israelis dominated the Arab residents of the territory.
In their self-interest, the British did two things that have bequeathed a legacy of strife to generations of Israelis, Palestinians, Iraqis and others. They drew artificial borders to serve their imperial requirements and created fresh strife and factionalism among those affected by this colonial cartography. Needless to say, the territory’s Palestinians and Christians were not consulted and their interests were not considered. In the case of Palestine, this careless colonialism resulted in the forced displacement of nearly three quarters of a million people from their ancestral homelands. They were herded into overcrowded desert refugee camps or encouraged to emigrate. When one includes Israeli efforts to diminish Palestinian culture, a case can be made for accusations of ethnic cleansing.
Perhaps a fair British-brokered arrangement between these two peoples could have prevented the subsequent bloodshed that has plagued this region since the official creation of Israel in 1948. The British simply abandoned the mess they instigated. While promising a homeland to the world’s displaced Jews was a noble and necessary policy, little concern was reserved for the region’s indigenous Arabs and Christians, whose presence in the region was considered an inconvenience by the British. The so-called right of return must infuriate Palestinians displaced by the arrival of Jews from Europe, Africa and North America. There is no right of return for Palestinians driven off their land by the Israeli government and this disputed right is a key stalling point in the peace process.
Currently, Palestinian territory includes Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. While these separate landmasses are not technically occupied by Israel, the integrity of their borders is tenuous. This is especially true of the West Bank, ostensibly Palestinian territory but subject to a gradual campaign of illegal Israeli settlements. The Israeli military controls all borders and air space and reserves the right to enter these territories without permission. Dispute over rights to the holy city of Jerusalem is another key point in the endless struggle. Both Palestinians and Israelis claim this ancient city as the sacred capital of their state.
Perhaps the greatest threat to the possibility of a secure Palestinian state is the relentless Israeli policy of illegal settlements. The West Bank and East Jerusalem endure illegal Israeli settlements while Gaza is subject to frequent Israeli invasions, targeted assassinations and air strikes. United Church of Canada official, the Rev. Hanns G. Skoutajan described the Palestinian situation in the August 2009 Ottawa Citizen, “They have been deprived of their land, locked into territory by walls that dwarf the infamous Berlin Wall. Settlement incursions into the West Bank continue in spite of [periodic] U.S. and UN objections. Arabs in East Jerusalem are summarily evicted from homes they have occupied for generations, to say nothing of the destruction of Gaza earlier this year.” How could any people, subjected to decades of such abuse by a powerful oppressor, not resist with any means at their disposal?
The current struggle is actually between two national groups, the indigenous Palestinians and immigrant Israelis and their descendents who currently receive massive military support from the U.S. government. Without this support, Israel would cease to enjoy its overwhelming regional military dominance. This struggle is mainly a matter of overwhelming military technology pitted against the crude guerrilla tactics of small arms, suicide bombers and unguided rockets. There is something particularly tragic and desperate about suicide bombing. While ugly and muderous, sacrificng one's life for a cause cannot be considered an act of cowardice.
This struggle is hardly a battle of equals in spite of corporate media portrayals. Further complicating matters is the tacit understanding that Israel is the region’s only nuclear power. The various Arab states are well aware of Israel’s military prowess and don’t currently seem to consider the Palestinian cause worthy of any direct military risk. Ultimately, war with Israel means a proxy war with the United States.
While continuing Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli are certainly a form of terrorism, these attacks are actually the latest violent manifestation of a long process of permanent but generally futile resistance to Israeli state terror. The Palestinians simply can’t compete militarily with the Israeli military and have traditionally been obliged to resort to guerilla tactics. Organizations like the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Hamas, Islamic Jihah and Hezbollah traditionally owe their existence to this simmering resentment. Such violent groups are born out of a David and Goliath desperation. It is interesting to note how the terrorism of the U.S. Revolutionary War and Israel’s 1948 anti-British terrorism are both conveniently excused as justifiable violence in the name of freedom and democracy. As previously stated, terrorism is commonly defined as what others do to “us”. This tactic is the ultimate in self-deluded vanity and its adoption by Western intellectuals is particularly disturbing. It requires great discipline to ignore the obvious in defense of the indefensible.
ORIENTALISM: THE ARAB AS “OTHER”
The Israeli state’s endless conflict with the Palestinians has been simplistically misrepresented by the mainstream corporate media as a struggle between Westernized (civilized) Israeli Jews attempting to accommodate volatile and primitive Palestinian Arabs who refuse to accept their situation and live in peace. This bias could be considered a symptom of Edward Said’s interpretation of Orientalism, that protrays the Arab as inscrutable, primitive, violent and emotionally volatile. I would imagine that decades of military oppression might create violent resentments among any population. While I lament the rigid attitudes of anti-Israeli groups like Hamas; I can understand the source of their hatred and desire for vengeance. It had nothing to do with race or religion, although much evil is excused in the name of faith. By way of contrast, the violent behaviour of the Irish and Highland Scots under British occupation certainly had nothing to do with their ethnicity. When any group of people is marginalized and mistreated, human nature indicates rebellion and resistance. Life in Gaza is still strained. As Naom Chomsky wrote in 1996: Palestine exists as, “…the largest and most overcrowded prison in the world, where over a million Palestinians can rot, largely cut off from contact with the outside by land or sea, and with few means of sustenance.”
Gaza's so-called autonomy is largely an illusion.
CANADA AND ISRAEL: U.S. CLIENT STATES IN ACTION
Western governments like Canada under Stephen Harper have displayed strong public support for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians using the generic excuse of supporting the Middle East’s only democracy. In context, that is not much of a distinction. Harper’s posturing has changed as he seeks to appease new U.S. president Barrack Obama. Prior to Obama’s election and his moderate public stance concerning Middle Eastern issues, Harper completely supported Israel's military solutions in Gaza and ignored its colonial incursions into the West Bank. Following Israel’s 2008 Gaza assault Harper was quick to condemn Hamas and congratulate the Israeli military for its, "measured response." He called it a reasonable reaction to Hamas steady unguided rocket attacks against Israeli targets both civilian and military. Is it possible to consider the 22-day onslaught as anything but a protracted atrocity and a reaction out of all proportion to the threat? The Israeli use of white phosphorous shells, cluster munitions, F15 fighter-bombers and Apache gunship helicopters against lightly armed opposition in civilian areas constitutes overkill. White phosphorous is a incendiary chemical capable of burning practically anything it touches. Since it is generally employed against armoured military targets like tanks and ships, the use of white phosphorous shells in civilian areas is a very questionable practice. Combining these facts with a kill ratio of 1400 Palestinians versus 13 Israelis defines the invasion as a lop-sided slaughter. Complicating matters further are recent admissions by Israeli soldiers that their commanders encouraged them to dismiss concerns about civilian casualties. There is a long but poorly documented history of conscript Israeli soldiers rebelling against the brutal orders of their commanders regarding the Palestinians. It requires severe indoctrination to successfully convince young men to shoot unarmed women, old men and children.
Harper, in common with Israeli leaders halfway around the world, is eager to demonstrate acceptable client state behaviour. The private reasons for this shameful stance are the economic and political benefits of supporting rapacious neocolonialism. The public reasons are globalization, democratization, trade liberalization and other vague terms employed to mislead the public. Complicit in these efforts to manufacture public consent are the mainstream corporate media, co-opted think tanks, institutions and academia. It has always been necessary for empire to justify and sanitize endless conquests, murders, arbitrary border creations, thefts and the imposition of unwelcome culture upon a succession of unfortunate peoples.
THE STRATEGIC VALUE OF MAINTAINING STRIFE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
President Obama has made some efforts to encourage peaceful negotiation between the Palestinians and Israelis, and while there are some encouraging signs, Israeli politicians like Benjamin Netanyahu are still determined to expand Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These Israeli leaders generally bend to the will of the more militant and expansionist elements in their parties. Netanyahu recently justified new Israeli settlement near the West Bank on the excuse that the land in question was, until recently, under the waters of the Dead Sea. At least he waited until the water receded.
The U.S. government since the 1970s has intentionally stalled the so-called peace process between the Palestinians and the Israeli government by abusing their UN veto power to torpedo any proposal not to their liking. This fact is not publicized because, as Chomsky writes“…history conflicts radically with the righteousness of our leaders so it must be discarded as politically incorrect.” This is an unthinkable thought and an unprintable concept in a mainstream corporate media that tends to serve and protect the interests of private power and concentrated wealth at the expense of peace and human rights.
Genuine peace and harmony in the Middle East will not serve the strategic interests of the U.S. government and the transnational corporations they serve. Rather, a state of permanent anxiety and uncertainty is required to justify the U.S. military presence in the region. Vital to the maintenance of this dangerous situation is the continuation of strife between the Palestinians and Israelis. The main reason for U.S. activity in the Middle East is their desire to control access to dwindling supplies of oil. As well, permanent strife in the Middle East guarantees a ready market for U.S. weapons and ammunition. Anyone who objects to this state of affairs, like the majority of Turkish voters who recently rejected U.S. military bases on their soil; are labeled enemies of democracy by U.S. politicians like Paul Wolfowitz.
I offer these Turkish examples as an illustration of how the U.S. government operates in the Middle East. U.S. operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and its military support to Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel are all designed to increase U.S. power and influence in the region. Public assurances about peace and security are a distraction.
After the Clinton administration armed Turkey during its 1990s anti-Kurdish independence campaign; a grateful Turkish government was quick to join the “Coalition of the Willing “ in Iraq. This Kurdish campaign was an orgy of killing, torture and destruction. It continues to this day with full U.S. support. Like all post-war U.S. governments, the Bush administration had redefined democracy as synonymous with whatever they chose to do. This is particularly hard to accept from a regime that officially sanctioned torture and which operated as an outlaw state, flouting all international laws and conventions that it deemed inconvenient. This is the traditional prerogative of empire and while Obama is an inspiring orator, I cannot believe that his government is going to suddenly abdicate U.S. global hegemony.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the U.S. government has no interest in a genuine two state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians. In fact, it takes quite a bit of discipline to ignore the evidence. The U.S. government seems dedicated to supporting the normalization of permanent strife in the Middle East to justify their military and economic presence in the region. The established U.S. record of supporting military dictators like Saddam Hussein and religious despots like the king of Saudi Arabia have consistently fostered discontent and resentment in the region, especially among young Arab men, 1200 of whom were recently interviewed by two University of Maryland political scientists. This evidence, reported in the January 2008 Ottawa Citizen, seems to indicate that the Muslim world does not hate the U.S. for cultural reasons but instead deeply resents U.S. interference in issues like the endless Palestinian/Israeli conflict. According to political scientists Peter Furia and Russell Lucas, “[they found]…no evidence that ordinary Arabs resent countries [U.S.] for what they are, and considerable evidence that they resent them for what they do.” This evidence contradicts George W. Bush's facile claim that Muslims hate Western freedom so much that they feel obliged to destroy the secular world.
Al Queda’s sudden interest in Iraq after the U.S. invasion is another example of the U.S. government’s forement of strife. Whether they invaded Iraq knowing Al Queda would enter the fray or whether they didn’t consider that possibility is equally damning. The first case demonstrates utterly cold calculation while the latter course could generously be called a massive strategic blunder. The Israeli/Palestinian issue is a cornerstone in their active Middle East destabilization efforts. The U.S. government accomplishes this through extensive economic and military support of their Israeli client state, the only ostensible democracy in the region.
According to Jeremy M. Sharp, writing in the [U.S.] Congressional Research Service’s U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, “…the U.S. gave Israel at least $2.5 billion in 2007. This does not include the $137.9 million we spent on joint U.S. Israeli missile defense projects or the $4.14 billion in loan guarantees made available to Israel in 2007.” Deceptively, the U.S. government has been slowly phasing out economic aid while simultaneously replacing it with military aid with the intention of actually increasing total Israeli aid. In a classic bait and switch, the economic aid cuts were publicly trumpeted while the sharp rise in military support was accomplished quietly. In this way, the U.S. taxpayer is unwittingly bolstering the destructive capacity of the Middle East’s dominant military power. The Israeli government reciprocates by sending military “advisors” to train the militaries of Latin American nations where the U.S. must keep a low profile. Columbia is a case in point, with a large number of U.S. military bases on their soil. Not surprisingly, there are no Columbian military bases in the U.S., although many Columbian soldiers have learned the brutal business of counter-insurgency at the School of the Americas, a military academy featuring a curriculum of advanced interrogation. To conclude, the U.S. first destabilizes to create a pretext to intervene and then expresses righteous indignation on the world stage when accused of military and economic aggression.
BRIEF CHRONOLOGY OF U.S. GOVERNMENT’S ROLE IN THE PEACE PROCESS
Here are a few evidentiary examples of the way the U.S. government has interfered with the so-called Israeli/Palestinian peace process. Space restrictions do not permit a full presentation of the evidence:
1971: U.S., through Henry Kissinger, convinces Israel to reject Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s offer of a full peace treaty in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories – this pretty much causes the 1973 Arab/Israeli War
1976: U.S. vetoes Syrian-initiated UN resolution calling for two-state settlement despite broad international consensus
1979: Camp David Accord – U.S. and Israel begrudgingly accept Sadat’s 1971 peace offer after eight years of continuous misery for Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories – Israeli army withdraws but still no two state settlement in sight
1989: with full U.S. support, the Israeli government unilaterally declares that there will be no “additional” Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan
1989: U.S. accepts Baker Plan – basically a full endorsement of the Israeli government’s position that it will impose whatever solution it sees fit
1989 (December 6): U.S. and Israel reject UN General assembly motion to secure a Palestinian state under UN supervision
2002: U.S. ignores Geneva Accord for two state settlements, despite broad international consensus.
While President Obama is publicly encouraging a peace deal between the Palestinians and the Israelis, he, like all U.S. presidents before him; faces the reality that Middle East strife is an integral part of U.S. global hegemony. Considering that fact, it is hard to imagine any genuine progress without a total paradigm shift. So far Obama has merely scolded the Israelis. The only significant benefit of his moderate rhetoric is the echo effect it has had on the Middle East policy of countries like Canada.
OCCUPATION AND THE CONTINUING EROSION OF EVER-TENUOUS PALESTINIAN SOVREIGNITY
Most Canadians and probably many Israelis, are simply not aware of the appalling conditions under which the average Gaza Palestinian lives. I refer to the terror of Israeli military incursions, poverty, unemployment, disease, constant uncertainty and limited access to social services like health care and education. Living in a state of impoverished and highly uncertain quasi-autonomy is hardly an improvement over the former state of Israeli occupation. According to Israeli historian Benny Morris, writing about the former Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory: “Like all occupations, Israel’s was founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers and daily intimidation, humiliation and manipulation. True, the relative lack of resistance and civil disobedience over the years enabled Israelis to maintain a façade of normalcy and implement their rule with a relatively small force…”
Palestinian resistance to the occupation of their land was and is considered terrorism by Israel and much has been made of the desperation of suicide bombers. Not surprisingly, armed conflict between Palestinians and the Israeli military has been presented as a contest of equals to justify the Israeli use of U.S. – supplied tanks, heavy artillery, fighter bombers and advanced attack helicopters against soft Palestinian targets. The Palestinians have never employed heavy weapons. The U.S. has blocked all their attempts to acquire any weapons that might even the odds.
The seizure of Palestinian territory has mainly been accomplished by intentionally stealthy increments. This incremental tactic is of long standing. It started long before the creation of modern Israel following the annexation of Palestine in 1948. As Morris writes, “Those familiar with the history of Zionism will recognize the method, dating back to the 1920s: dunam [settlement] after dunam, arousing as little attention as possible.” The modern equivalent was expressed in the 1996 comments of Israeli minister of housing, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer when he described Israeli expansion into the West Bank, “ I build quietly. My goal is to build and not encourage opposition to my efforts. What is important to me is to build, build, build and build some more.” The Israeli government, with full U.S. support, has traditionally chosen this subtle and gradual path of seizing Palestinian lands and perhaps more importantly, water resources. It continues to this day, generally with either U.S. indifference or mild rebukes. This is the reality of what is euphemistically referred to as the peace process; the erosion of Palestine, piece by piece.
A two-state solution recognizing the mutual right to national self-determination is the only reasonable solution to the Palestinian – Israeli divide. Only the U.S. government has the power and influence to create this reality. Only the U.S. has the military authority to ensure that established borders and agreements be respected. Only the U.S. has sufficient influence over the United Nations to convince Israel to accept UN peacekeeping forces on its territory in a buffer zone between Israeli territory and Palestinian territory. U.S. power is the only force capable of ensuring a fair allocation of water and natural resources between Palestinian and Israeli.
Perhaps the U.S., China and Russia should have their UN veto power rescinded? These powerful states have always employed the veto as a tool to arrange global affairs for their benefit. For the time being, at least, the U.S. government prefers to allow Israeli military power to be the dominant factor in the peace equation. As long as this is the case, a realistic peace agreement is impossible. Everyone concerned is well aware of these facts, including the Israelis, who wisely remain silent.
Even the most sympathetic of prominent Israelis have traditionally offered little hope for a fair two state solution. If we apply the laws of realpolitik to the situation the question looks like this: Why should Israel, with such a huge military advantage and the full support of the most powerful nation in history, do anything other than what serves its owns interests? There is an excellent explanation for this reluctance in the June 2001 issue of Economic Reform: “When dealing with politicians "...it is nearly useless to resort to reasoned arguments of a kind that the powers-that-be understand very well but consider not in their interests to recognize."
The following quote is a relevant conclusion because it reflects the ongoing official Israeli intransigence to dealing fairly with the Palestinians. Only the names of the players have changed – the plot of the tragedy remains true to the ongoing script. According to Morris, former Israeli general and cabinet minister Moshe Dayan’s modest sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians was notably absent when he offered these comments to the Knesset in the mid-1970s: ” …we have no solution, you [Palestinians] shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads.” We all know where this process has led and where it will continue to lead. It doesn’t have to be like this.
1. Chronicles of Dissent: Naom Chomsky - 1992
2. Failed States: Naom Chomsky - 1996
3. Ma’ariv (Israeli daily newspaper): various articles by Gideon Levy
4. Ottawa Citizen: various issues 2008/2009
5. Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories: Foundation for Middle East Studies - 1996
6. Revisiting the Palestinian Exodus of 1948 in The War for Palestine: Benny Morris – 2001
7. The Territorial Aspect of the Of the Israeli-Palestinian final Status Negotiation: Ha’ aretz (Israeli daily newspaper) Akiva Eldar – February 15, 18 2002
8. The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy: John Mearsheimer – 2007
9. U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel – 2007
Morgan Duchesney is a Canadian writer and martial arts instructor with an interest in social justice and international affairs. He has published work on the war in Afghanistan, Canadian democracy, the Canadian banking system and various martial arts topics. He holds an MA in Political Economy from Carleton University in Ottawa, where he resides.