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Home arrow Blog arrow April 2009 arrow April 6, 2009

April 6, 2009
April 6, 2009: On Apartheid and Israel, Prophets and Truth
Alison Weir is a journalist and founder of If Americans Knew. Jeff Halper is the Founder and Coordinator of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
Related links follow.



The truth about Israel
by Alison Weir
Saturday April 04, 2009,


After so many violent injustices, it's time to rethink

In his op-ed "If there were no Israel" (March 15), Edward Glick asks what the Middle East would look like if Israel had never existed.

Instead of answering this, however, he simply gives his own xenophobic distortion of the region today. Worse still, he doesn't explore how many of the region's real woes are attributable to Israel's violent creation 60 years ago and of its actions since.

This is as though 9/11 attackers had not only destroyed the Twin Towers but had also remained occupying Manhattan, and as though a columnist asked what New York would be like without 9/11 and went on to describe ruins, layers of dust, and traumatized, angry survivors, suggesting that Americans are inherently inferior -- sloppy, lazy, neurotic, violent citizens.

Glick asserts that without Israel "Palestinians would still be unemployed and unemployable." However, in 2007 the World Bank reported that "Palestinian businesses have the craftsmanship, ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to succeed. They are reliable, committed and hard-working suppliers of high-quality products."

Glick states, "East Jerusalem and the West Bank would be still ruled from Amman," and goes on to claim that "the Gaza Strip would still be ruled from Cairo." However, none of this was the case for pre-Israel Palestine, which had been under the Ottomans for centuries, and then under the British. Jerusalem was undivided, and Muslims, Christians and Jews were living side-by-side without strife.

When Christian denominations could not decide who should hold the keys to Jerusalem's ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre, they were entrusted to a Muslim family.

Into this multicultural mix came Zionist immigrants with the goal of creating a Jewish-only state -- which meant pushing out the Muslims and Christians who made up 95 percent of the population. As former Time magazine Senior Editor Donald Neff wrote, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "began as a conflict resulting from immigrants struggling to displace the local majority population. All else is derivative from this basic reality."

In Israel's founding war of 1947-49, Zionist forces committed 33 massacres and expelled 800,000 people -- many of these before Arab armies, their combined numbers smaller than Israeli forces, belatedly entered the fray.

Israel refused to allow these refugees to return, appropriating their land and wealth. United Nations analysts estimate that 80 percent of Israel's total area belonged to these refugees, stating that this extremely valuable property was "one of the greatest contributions toward making Israel a viable state."

These now-destitute Palestinian refugees filled the Middle East, forming a desperate, politically destabilizing element in post-colonial nations working to modernize. When they tried to return to their cities and farms, Israel labeled them "infiltrators," shot them and attacked the countries they came from.

Israel, fearing its neighbors might defend Palestinians' rights and wishing to maintain regional hegemony, used a combination of military attacks, divide-and-conquer tactics and great power manipulation to undermine their development. In all of its wars except one, Israel attacked first.

Since it is impossible to know what the Middle East would look like if this violent injustice had not been stabbed into its heart, a more useful effort might be to ponder present possibilities.

What would happen if Americans -- whose $7 million per day to Israel funds Israel's continued, ruthless and systemic violence not only against Muslims but also against descendants of the world's very first Christians -- finally decide to keep our money home?

Former journalist Alison Weir is the executive director of If Americans Knew, a research institute dedicated to providing information on Israel-Palestine to the American public. She lives in Portland.

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2009/04/the_truth_about_israel.html


On the road to apartheid

Jeff Halper

It was appropriate that April 1 marked the first day of the new Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak government. For the notion that Israel acts against the Palestinians out of concern for its security, that it maintains its Occupation of 42 years for defensive reasons, that it really attacked Gaza in such a vicious and disproportional way because of an actual security threat or that it genuinely wants peace is increasingly seen by thinking people as an April Fool's joke.

In fact, Israel - since the Occupation began in 1967, if not before - has always striven for control of the entire country "from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea," as we refer to it in Israel. This is the Land of Israel, and in Zionist ideology, which drives all Israeli governments including the present "unity" one, it belongs exclusively to us, the Jews. We deny the very existence of a Palestinian people, certainly its claims over "our" country.

In fact, we Israelis do not see ourselves in a "conflict," since a conflict needs two sides and we deny that the Arabs (as we call the Palestinians) constitute a "side." Instead, we are in a process of "redeeming" our ancient homeland, to use the Biblical phrase. Arabs may stay, of course, if they give up any national claims to what they call "Palestine" and acknowledge that the entire Land of Israel is Jewish, but if not, they will be expelled - or worse, as the attack on Gaza demonstrated. This is "The Message" Israel tries constantly to communicate to the Arabs through its military actions.

And since they do not get The Message - or at least have not yet submitted - we are justified in expelling them from our country. We began the process in 1947/48, when more than 700,000 Palestinians were driven from what became Israel (some 70 per cent of the Palestinian population) and their homes systematically demolished, and more than 60 years later that campaign of ethnic cleansing continues. It is evidenced nowhere more graphically than in Israel's policy of home demolitions.

One can only describe Israel's obsession with demolishing Palestinian homes in light of the exclusive Jewish claim to the entire Land of Israel harking back a century or more. It is not a policy specific to any particular time or place, nor is it confined to the Occupied Territories. In 1948 and for years after, Israeli governments systematically demolished more than 500 entire villages, towns, urban centres and neighbourhoods, both to prevent the return of the Palestinian refugees and to take their lands and properties.

Since the Occupation began in 1967, another 24,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished, including 4,000 in the latest attack on Gaza. And in 2004, the Israeli government announced the establishment of a Demolition Administration within the Ministry of Interior; targeted for destruction are 20-40,000 homes of Israeli (Arab) citizens classified as "unrecognised villages." (One Bedouin village in the Negev, al Twazil, has been demolished 18 times.)

It must be stressed that Israel has never explained or justified its long-standing practice of demolishing Palestinian homes by security. For the most part it has offered no explanations at all, treating the phenomenon as a purely internal matter. Occasionally it justifies the wholesale destruction of homes in military operations as "collateral damage." According to Ha'aretz, "Israel Defense Forces investigations into last month's offensive in the Gaza Strip indicate the army could face significant difficulties justifying the scale of destruction of civilian homes during the fighting. A military source involved in the investigation told Haaretz, 'It's clear to us that in a small portion of the combat sectors immeasurable damage was caused, and that is very difficult to justify from a legal perspective, particularly if such justifications are called for in legal proceedings with international organi[s]ations.'"

As for the thousands of homes demolished due to a lack of building permits, which Israel justifies on a legal basis, it neglects to say that its explicit policy since 1967 has been to deny permits to Palestinians, or to restrict them severely.

When one surveys the consequences of Israel's house demolition policy from 1948 until the present, the conclusion is inescapable: a systematic and ongoing campaign is being waged to either rid the country of its Palestinian population or, failing that, to confine the remaining Palestinians to tiny, delimited, disconnected and impoverished enclaves, in Israel as well as in the Occupied Territories.

House demolitions are illegal under international law, serve no obvious purpose, have severe humanitarian effects and fuel bitterness and extremism. Israel constantly complains about its security, but what of the security of the Palestinians living under its control these past 42 years?

Until Israel stops such inhumane practices, until it recognises the existence and rights of the Palestinian people and find a way to share their common country, until it is held accountable for its actions by the international community, there will be no peace in the Holy Land. And that, given the instability and extremism the Israeli-Palestinian conflict generates throughout the Muslim world, cannot be good news for Australians.

By all accounts the new Israeli government, while making the required nod toward peace with the Palestinians so important to the American, European and other world governments, Australia near the top, will continue the policy of ethnic cleansing or, if expelling almost four million residents of the Occupied Territories proves impossible, of locking them into small enclaves, creating a Bantustan a la apartheid South Africa and calling it a "Palestinian state."

Peace will come to Israel and Palestine when the Occupation truly ends and Palestinians gain their fundamental human rights, collectively in a state of their own as well as individually. Failing that, we must be prepared to support the establishment of a single state of all the inhabitants of Israel/Palestine. Ethnic cleansing, apartheid and occupation cannot be allowed to prevail.

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2533161.htm



Prophets on Apartheid: Part 1

Prophets on Apartheid: Part 2

   
 
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