Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian Right of Return

Part 10. Ten Myths on Israel: Not how a “Democratic State” behave (by Ian Pappe)

No, Israel Is Not a Democracy

Destroying Palestinians’ Houses Is Not Democratic

By lan Pappe

From Ten Myths About Israel, out now from Verso Books.

June 12, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –  Israel is not the only democracy in the Middle East. In fact, it’s not a democracy at all.

In the eyes of many Israelis and their supporters worldwide — even those who might criticize some of its policies — Israel is, at the end of the day, a benign democratic state, seeking peace with its neighbors, and guaranteeing equality to all its citizens.

Those who do criticize Israel assume that, if anything went wrong in this democracy, then it was due to the 1967 war.

Destroying Palestinians’ Houses Is Not Democratic

House demolition is not a new phenomenon in Palestine. As with many of the more barbaric methods of collective punishment used by Israel since 1948, it was first conceived and exercised by the British Mandatory government during the Great Arab Revolt of 1936–39.

This was the first Palestinian uprising against the pro-Zionist policy of the British Mandate, and it took the British army three years to quell it. In the process, they demolished around two thousand houses during the various collective punishments meted out to the local population.

Israel demolished houses from almost the first day of its military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The army blew up hundreds of homes every year in response to various acts undertaken by individual family members.

From minor violations of military rule to participation in violent acts against the occupation, the Israelis were quick to send in their bulldozers to wipe out not only a physical building but also a focus of life and existence. In the greater Jerusalem area (as inside Israel) demolition was also a punishment for the unlicensed extension of an existing house or the failure to pay bills.

Another form of collective punishment that has recently returned to the Israeli repertoire is that ofblocking up houses. Imagine that all the doors and windows in your house are blocked by cement, mortar, and stones, so you can’t get back in or retrieve anything you failed to take out in time. I have looked hard in my history books to find another example, but found no evidence of such a callous measure being practiced elsewhere.

Crushing Palestinian Resistance Is Not Democratic

Finally, under the “enlightened occupation,” settlers have been allowed to form vigilante gangs to harass people and destroy their property. These gangs have changed their approach over the years.

During the 1980s, they used actual terror — from wounding Palestinian leaders (one of them lost his legs in such an attack), to contemplating blowing up the mosques on Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem.

In this century, they have engaged in the daily harassment of Palestinians: uprooting their trees, destroying their yields, and shooting randomly at their homes and vehicles. Since 2000, there have been at least one hundred such attacks reported per month in some areas such as Hebron, where the five hundred settlers, with the silent collaboration of the Israeli army, harassed the locals living nearby in an even more brutal way.

From the very beginning of the occupation then, the Palestinians were given two options: accept the reality of permanent incarceration in a mega-prison for a very long time, or risk the might of the strongest army in the Middle East. When the Palestinians did resist — as they did in 1987, 2000, 2006, 2012, 2014, and 2016 — they were targeted as soldiers and units of a conventional army. Thus, villages and towns were bombed as if they were military bases and the unarmed civilian population was shot at as if it was an army on the battlefield.

Today we know too much about life under occupation, before and after Oslo, to take seriously the claim that nonresistance will ensure less oppression. The arrests without trial, as experienced by so many over the years; the demolition of thousands of houses; the killing and wounding of the innocent; the drainage of water wells — these are all testimony to one of the harshest contemporary regimes of our times.

Amnesty International annually documents in a very comprehensive way the nature of the occupation. The following is from their 2015 report:

In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israeli forces committed unlawful killings of Palestinian civilians, including children, and detained thousands of Palestinians who protested against or otherwise opposed Israel’s continuing military occupation, holding hundreds in administrative detention. Torture and other ill-treatment remained rife and were committed with impunity.

The authorities continued to promote illegal settlements in the West Bank, and severely restricted Palestinians’ freedom of movement, further tightening restrictions amid an escalation of violence from October, which included attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinians and apparent extrajudicial executions by Israeli forces. Israeli settlers in the West Bank attacked Palestinians and their property with virtual impunity. The Gaza Strip remained under an Israeli military blockade that imposed collective punishment on its inhabitants. The authorities continued to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank and inside Israel, particularly in Bedouin villages in the Negev/Naqab region, forcibly evicting their residents.

Let’s take this in stages. Firstly, assassinations — what Amnesty’s report calls “unlawful killings”: about fifteen thousand Palestinians have been killed “unlawfully” by Israel since 1967. Among them were two thousand children.

 

Imprisoning Palestinians Without Trial Is Not Democratic

Another feature of the “enlightened occupation” is imprisonment without trial. Every fifth Palestinian in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has undergone such an experience.

It is interesting to compare this Israeli practice with similar American policies in the past and the present, as critics of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement claim that US practices are far worse. In fact, the worst American example was the imprisonment without trial of one hundred thousand Japanese citizens during World War II, with thirty thousand later detained under the so-called “war on terror.”

Neither of these numbers comes even close to the number of Palestinians who have experienced such a process: including the very young, the old, as well as the long-term incarcerated.

Arrest without trial is a traumatic experience. Not knowing the charges against you, having no contact with a lawyer and hardly any contact with your family are only some of the concerns that will affect you as a prisoner. More brutally, many of these arrests are used as means to pressure people into collaboration. Spreading rumors or shaming people for their alleged or real sexual orientation are also frequently used as methods for leveraging complicity.

As for torture, the reliable website Middle East Monitor published a harrowing article describing the two hundred methods used by the Israelis to torture Palestinians. The list is based on a UN report and a report from the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Among other methods it includes beatings, chaining prisoners to doors or chairs for hours, pouring cold and hot water on them, pulling fingers apart, and twisting testicles.

Israel Is Not a Democracy

What we must challenge here, therefore, is not only Israel’s claim to be maintaining an enlightened occupation but also its pretense to being a democracy. Such behavior towards millions of people under its rule gives the lie to such political chicanery.

However, although large sections of civil societies throughout the world deny Israel its pretense to democracy, their political elites, for a variety of reasons, still treat it as a member of the exclusive club of democratic states. In many ways, the popularity of the BDS movement reflects the frustrations of those societies with their governments’ policies towards Israel.

For most Israelis these counterarguments are irrelevant at best and malicious at worst. The Israeli state clings to the view that it is a benevolent occupier. The argument for “enlightened occupation” proposes that, according to the average Jewish citizen in Israel, the Palestinians are much better off under occupation and they have no reason in the world to resist it, let alone by force. If you are a noncritical supporter of Israel abroad, you accept these assumptions as well.

There are, however, sections of Israeli society that do recognize the validity of some of the claims made here. In the 1990s, with various degrees of conviction, a significant number of Jewish academics, journalists, and artists voiced their doubts about the definition of Israel as a democracy.

It takes some courage to challenge the foundational myths of one’s own society and state. This is why quite a few of them later retreated from this brave position and returned to toeing the general line.

Nevertheless, for a while during the last decade of the last century, they produced works that challenged the assumption of a democratic Israel. They portrayed Israel as belonging to a different community: that of the nondemocratic nations. One of them, the geographer Oren Yiftachel from Ben-Gurion University, depicted Israel as an ethnocracy, a regime governing a mixed ethnic state with a legal and formal preference for one ethnic group over all the others. Others went further, labeling Israel an apartheid state or a settler-colonial state.

In short, whatever description these critical scholars offered, “democracy” was not among them.

Ilan Pappe is an Israeli historian and socialist activist. He is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter, director of the university’s European Centre for Palestine Studies, and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies. Most recently, he is the author of Ten Myths About Israel.

This article was originally published by “Jacobin 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

======

Richard Boyd Barrett | Israeli slaughter of Palestinian protestors was cold-blooded murder

300 prominent global figures accuse Israel of committing ‘war crimes’

Join the Discussion

Part 2. Ten Myths on Israel: Not how a “Democratic State” behave (by Ian Pappe)

No, Israel Is Not a Democracy

Subjugation of Minorities in Israel Is Not Democratic

By lan Pappe

From Ten Myths About Israel, out now from Verso Books.

June 12, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –  Israel is not the only democracy in the Middle East. In fact, it’s not a democracy at all.

In the eyes of many Israelis and their supporters worldwide — even those who might criticize some of its policies — Israel is, at the end of the day, a benign democratic state, seeking peace with its neighbors, and guaranteeing equality to all its citizens.

Those who do criticize Israel assume that, if anything went wrong in this democracy, then it was due to the 1967 war.

Subjugation of Minorities in Israel Is Not Democratic

The litmus test of any democracy is the level of tolerance it is willing to extend towards the minorities living in it. In this respect, Israel falls far short of being a true democracy.

For example, after the new territorial gains several laws were passed ensuring a superior position for the majority: the laws governing citizenship, the laws concerning land ownership, and most important of all, the law of return.

The latter grants automatic citizenship to every Jew in the world, wherever he or she was born.

This law in particular is a flagrantly undemocratic one, for it was accompanied by a total rejection of the Palestinian right of return — recognized internationally by the UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948.

This rejection refuses to allow the Palestinian citizens of Israel to unite with their immediate families or with those who were expelled in 1948.

Denying people the right of return to their homeland, and at the same time offering this right to others who have no connection to the land, is a model of undemocratic practice.

Added to this was a further layering of denial of the rights of the Palestinian people.

Almost every discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel is justified by the fact that they do Not serve in the army.

The association between democratic rights and military duties is better understood if we revisit the formative years in which Israeli policy makers were trying to make up their minds about how to treat one-fifth of the population.

Their assumption was that Palestinian citizens did not want to join the army anyway, and that assumed refusal, in turn, justified the discriminatory policy against them.

This was put to the test in 1954 when the Israeli ministry of defense decided to call up those Palestinian citizens eligible for conscription to serve in the army. The secret service assured the government that there would be a widespread rejection of the call-up.

To their great surprise, all those summoned went to the recruiting office, with the blessing of the Communist Party, the biggest and most important political force in the community at the time.

The secret service later explained that the main reason was the teenagers’ boredom with life in the countryside and their desire for some action and adventure.

Notwithstanding this episode, the ministry of defense continued to peddle a narrative that depicted the Palestinian community as unwilling to serve in the military.

Inevitably, in time, the Palestinians did indeed turn against the Israeli army, who had become their perpetual oppressors, but the government’s exploitation of this as a pretext for discrimination casts huge doubt on the state’s pretense to being a democracy.

If you are a Palestinian citizen and you did not serve in the army, your rights to government assistance as a worker, student, parent, or as part of a couple, are severely restricted. This affects housing in particular, as well as employment — where 70% of all Israeli industry is considered to be security-sensitive and therefore closed to these citizens as a place to find work.

The underlying assumption of the ministry of defense was not only that Palestinians do not wish to serve but that they are potentially an enemy within who cannot be trusted. The problem with this argument is that in all the major wars between Israel and the Arab world the Palestinian minority did not behave as expected. They did not form a fifth column or rise up against the regime.

This, however, did not help them: to this day they are seen as a “demographic” problem that has to be solved.

The only consolation is that, still today, most Israeli politicians do not believe that the way to solve “the problem” is by the transfer or expulsion of the Palestinians (at least not in peacetime).

Note: Israel is emulating the USA incremental genocide strategy on the “other minorities”

 

It has ripened: racial apartheid in Israel

On November 5th 2014, Naftali Bennet published an opinion article titled “For Israel, Two-State Is No Solution” in the New York Times, asserting that “Israel cannot withdraw from more territory and cannot allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank.”

Instead, Bennet proposes, Israel should control the entire West Bank, creating clusters of ‘upgraded’ Palestinian Autonomy that will be “short of a state,” not being allowed to “control its own borders and… to have a military.” (But all of the West Bank is already controlled by Israel)

Although within Israel this publication went relatively unnoticed, it was a momentous action, signaling the beginning of the public unmasking of the one-sided Israeli solution; making visible a system of apartheid that evolved over a long time, but did so in increments and in a way that allows those in power to deny its existence.

(But all Israel’s actions have been one-sided when it suits its policies. Israel never followed up on any negotiation deal)

Bringing apartheid through the back door. (But Israel blatantly exhibits its apartheid policies up-front to the world community)

Na’aman Hirschfeld published this Nov. 23, 2014

Conditions are ripe for the racial apartheid that Israel has been gradually imposing on the territories since 1967

Coming out in the open – with a public primed to applaud and accept it.

 

The separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank.

The separation barrier (The Wall of Shame) between Israel and the West Bank. Photo by Nir Kafri
(No see Palestinians, No fear them: They don’t exist)

In South Africa apartheid was publicly visible from the onset, being the official state ideology, underlying its law, policy and actions.

In Israel by contrast, apartheid was developed in a way that masks its nature, employing the imposition of martial law and military control on the Palestinian population, to create a geo-social and physical separation between Israelis and Palestinians, while simultaneously facilitating the seizure and settlement of Palestinian.

For most Israelis, as well as many international observers, this apartheid is invisible because the first and to a degree primary purpose of this system is the restriction of Palestinian presence within Israeli space – geographically, socially, judicially, economically and culturally.

This effect is, by its nature, almost transparent within Israel itself: It occurs elsewhere – in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas into which most Israelis never venture and are in fact often not allowed to enter.

The Israeli settlers who do live in those areas, be it because of their ideological commitment or because of governmental economic incentives, as well as the military forces, governmental personnel, non-profit organizations, and commercial concerns that operate there, are actively and aggressively imposing this apartheid as “facts on the ground.”

Indeed this is the special characteristic of this apartheid: rather than being the foundational Ideology of the state, it is an apparatus that is seemingly extrinsic to it – a de facto system of oppression and segregation that is wholly unspoken of in official rhetoric and almost all Israeli media.

Although this apartheid was developed and shaped by the policies of almost all Israeli governments since 1967, it manifests primarily in praxis. This allows citizens and politicians alike to deny its existence (even to themselves.)

After all, no Israeli government ever publicly discussed enacting “apartheid”, and the system that does exist is disjointed, composed of many different elements that act in unison but not through the aegis of any single official entity or government directive.

This is now changing. Two days after Bennet published his article, the government approved a bill that extends Israeli civil law into the settlements automatically (settlers are already subject to civil law) and thus officially extends the state’s civil jurisdiction into the west bank, which being an occupied territory, is currently governed through martial law.

Alongside this territorializing action, which seeks to dissolve the distinction between the occupied and non-occupied, the democratic and secular basis of the state is under attack with the proposed “Jewish Nation-State Basic Law,” which Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to push through as soon as possible.

The first clause of this law states:

“a. The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people in which it realizes its aspiration for self-determination in accordance with its cultural and historic heritage;

b. The right to realize the national self-definition in the State of Israel is exclusive to the Jewish people;

c. The Land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and the place of establishment of the State of Israel.”

It further asserts the significance of “Jewish tradition as a source of inspiration” in legislation, demotes Arabic from being an official language into a secondary language, and sets the “basics of liberty, justice and peace envisioned by the prophets of Israel” as a defining characteristic of the state alongside democracy.

Erasing the Palestinians

If this bill becomes law, it would force the Supreme Court to give more weight in judicial decisions to the Jewish element than the democratic one in all instances in which there is a clash between the two, curtailing the judiciary and removing key checks and balances that have thus effectively prevented the enactment of a de jure apartheid through legislative and executive actions.

It would also dramatically exacerbate the bias against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens (euphemistically referred to in Israel as “Israeli-Arabs”,) while introducing the denial of the Palestinians’ claim to a homeland and of their right to self-determination into the legal foundation of the State of Israel itself; making the erasure of Palestine and Palestinians into the law of the land while enabling the expansion of the state to include the entire territory of the Land of Israel / Palestine.

There is little hope for those who wish to stop this process. The political discourse in Israel is so powerfully controlled by the right, that this government – which is the most right-wing in Israeli history – is often criticized publicly for being ‘leftist.’

Even if the ruling coalition were to collapse, which appears to be a real possibility, the next government will be in all probability even more extremely right-wing, with the two real contenders for premiership being Netanyahu and Bennet.

Although the rise of the extreme-right in Israel has been in the making for many years, a development that notably accelerated since “Operation Cast Lead,” the past year saw a massive shift to the right in Israeli politics and society at large. This was not merely the result of events that occurred, or of conditions that ripened, but rather of intentional actions aimed at ushering this very reality.

While the Israeli move to cease the peace-talks this April was significant, this was mostly symbolic because these talks were a sham from the get go.

The policy of settlement that was initiated by the first Netanyahu government (1996-‘99) and continued ever since, made the two state solution a non-viable possibility: Even a cursory look at the geographic distribution of the settlements makes it abundantly clear that without the forced evacuation of a huge number of settlers from the West Bank the formation of an actual Palestinian state is impossible, and such an evacuation became an impossibility once Ariel Sharon ceased being premier (2006).

The facade of a “peace process” finally collapsed five months ago, when the kidnapping of three Israeli-Jewish teenagers was cynically used by the government to manufacture a war. Although the Israeli security services knew early on that the teenagers were dead, the government falsely claimed that the teenagers were alive.

This was done in order to justify the transformation of the search into a large scale military operation against Hamas, initiating the spiral of escalations that eventually served as the official cause of war. It was also simultaneously used as an excuse to conduct a veritable propaganda campaign meant to shape the public’s opinion and collective experience by instilling a false sense of hope and solidarity with the families of the kidnapped – a campaign in which the established Israeli media was a willing participant.

As expected, when the bodies were eventually found, this false hope shattered, transforming into collective grief and outrage, and giving rise to an unprecedented wave of racial hatred that swept Israel.

The resulting burning of Mohammad Abu Khdeir and the ensuing large scale Palestinian demonstrations in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, against the background of escalation in the IDF’s bombardment of Gaza and Hamas’ launching of missiles, were used to galvanize the public, channeling the Israeli public’s wish for revenge into a justification for war.

Although the war ended in mid-august, by late September it became apparent that the Israeli government is trying to bring about a full scale intifada through aggressive steps in East Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the West Bank.

At the same time, a full-scale media war was initiated against the Palestinian Authority – shifting the responsibility for the escalating violence to Mahmud Abbas, while in fact agitating for more violence. This is an ‘end-game’ maneuver: The Israeli government closed the door on negotiations and has finally proved that it really is “no partner for peace,” forcing a situation in which there is no longer a solution, only a resolution.

A race has begun:

As the Palestinian Authority attempts to achieve statehood, at least on paper, with a UN recognition of it’s being a state – an effort that already acquired substantial momentum, the Israeli government is maneuvering to create a reality that will empty these moves of all meaning, finally dissolving the last vestiges of the Oslo Accords by bringing the West Bank in its entirety back under Israeli control, consigning Palestinians to semi-autonomous territories that will resemble South-Africa’s “Bantustans” in all but name.

Although there is a chance this maneuver will fail, there is also a good chance it will succeed.

Since Israeli governments proved time and again that “facts on the ground” are very hard to change, and given the distinct possibility that the shifting balance of world-power will dramatically fortify Israel as an irreplaceable ally for the west, the successful enactment of apartheid will postpone indefinitely the creation of a Palestinian state and shift the site of conflict and oppression from the occupied territories to the very core of Israeli society.

This is the end of Zionism its final result – a Jewish state that embodies the rationale of anti-Semitism.

Note:

ISRAEL CONFIRMS A “JEWISH STATE” IS A RACIST STATE.

“The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved draft legislation that emphasized Israel’s Jewish character above its democratic nature.”

P.S. WHAT “democratic nature”?

The draft legislation emphasizes Israel’s Jewish character above its democratic nature, proposing to define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, a…
nytimes.com|By Isabel Kershner

 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,426,804 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 774 other followers

%d bloggers like this: