Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1228, (8 - 14 January 2015)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1228, (8 - 14 January 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Land, blood and betrayal

The international community is still silent in the face of Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian land and disregard for UN resolutions and international law, writes Hassan Afif El-Hassan

Al-Ahram Weekly

The passing of the year 2014 must be marked by the Palestinians as another year of no state, no prospects for a peace deal and no justice, only dashed dreams, broken promises and empty rhetoric.

Most Palestinians recall how they were optimistic and looking for a better future a year after the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords by the then chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Yasser Arafat. A year after the ceremony, Arafat crossed the border into Gaza as a triumphant hero, returning to his homeland and cheered by thousands of jubilant Palestinians who hoped that life under the Israeli occupation would soon end.

 The vast majority of Palestinians, including those who opposed the Accords like Haider Abdel-Shafi, and even those who did not like Arafat’s management style, welcomed his return. Only Hamas openly voiced its disapproval of the chairman’s return to Palestine, its spokesman saying, “Arafat’s visit is shameful and humiliating, as it occurs in the shadow of occupation and submission.”

Gaza was the home of the 750,000 Palestinians who waged the first Intifada uprising that led Israel to recognise the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinians and made the return of Arafat possible. Arafat promoted the Oslo Accords as the “peace of the brave,” a triumph that would lead to the creation of a sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital. He promised to deliver a vibrant state, economically prosperous like Singapore or Hong Kong. Many Palestinians believed him.

However, the Accords turned out to be a scam designed to recognise Israel’s occupation of 78 per cent of historic Palestine and provided no restrictions on its colonising of the remaining 22 per cent. When Arafat and his associates discovered that the agreement they had signed was a deliberate strangulation of the Palestinian national struggle, it was too late to reverse the conditions of occupation, dependency and submission.

Today, ten years after Arafat’s suspicious death, there is no Palestinian state, Gaza is besieged and in ruins, and there is no right of return for the Palestinian refugees. There has not been the removal of any Israeli settlement, or a change in Israel’s position of annexing Jerusalem and its surroundings. Israel now demands recognition of Israel as the “state of the Jews.”

Jewish settlers are running amok in the hills of the West Bank and Arab Jerusalem, attacking Palestinians and burning mosques, torching olive orchards, harassing farmers and travellers. Judging by the looks of the gun-slinging Jewish settlers walking on the Occupied Territories, an outsider might think that these were lawless gangs reminiscent of the nineteenth-century European ivory trade in Africa, or wild-west outlaws intimidating Native Americans in the United States.

 These settlers are the product of Israel’s collective behaviour and its policy of promoting the superiority of the Jewish people and a disregard for the human rights of others.

The Israeli writer Uri Avnery has written that the Torah tells the mythical story of Exodus in which the “Ancient Israelites [were encouraged] to steal their neighbours’ [the Canaanites] lands. The Exodus story sets the standards of the behaviour of the Jewish people, and it is used by the Israelis for indoctrinating their youth to steal the Palestinians’ lands today.”

Yitzhak Ginsburg, an American-born rabbi, is president of the Old Yosef Chai Yeshivah and a resident of Yitzhar in the West Bank, south of the Palestinian city of Nablus. In his book The Kingdom of Israel, Ginsburg writes: “The land of Israel should be settled by those who choose to become the people of God and observe his Torah. People today are too shy to say that the people of Israel are a light unto the nations, afraid to say that an Arab professor is less smart than a Jew.”

What kind of people seriously believe a Jew is necessarily more intelligent than an Arab? Are we not all the children of God? Ginsburg also wrote an article in 1994 praising the Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein for murdering 29 Palestinian worshippers in the Mosque of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Many of Ginsburg’s Israeli supporters and like-minded elites are policy-makers in the Israeli government and military.

 Israel has now become a lawless state and a “voodoo society,” according to Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Knesset. It refuses to terminate its occupation of Palestinian land as demanded by many UN resolutions.

Instead of complying with international obligations as an occupying power to desist from taking any actions that would result in changing the legal status, geographical nature or demographic composition of the Palestinian Territories, Israel has annexed Arab Jerusalem, built hundreds of Jewish-only settlements and hundreds of miles of road on confiscated Arab land.

It deports and expels inhabitants of the Occupied Territories and demolishes villages and houses. It denies the right of refugees and absent Palestinians to return to their homes. Israel assassinates, detains and jails tens of thousands of Palestinians, including children. It ill-treats and tortures many for resisting the Occupation peacefully.

Other forms of aggression include the siege and starvation of Gaza, which has been devastated by various attacks, the roadblocks that have divided the West Bank into separated cantons, the routine arrest of Palestinians in West Bank cities and villages, the contempt for Arab life, and practices in the city of Jerusalem where Judaisation projects are still underway.

The silence of the international community in the face of Israel’s intransigence, ongoing occupation, destruction of Gaza and constant disregard for UN resolutions and international law allows Israel to think that it can get away with more violations of international norms and conventions.

 Israel has no plans to recognise the Palestinians’ rights as long as it is getting the unconditional support of the US. Once a British colony, US policy-makers have not been able to provide a respectable rationale for supporting Israel’s actions to deprive the Palestinians of their rights. The case is simple: the Palestinians seek freedom from Israel’s tyranny, and Israel seeks free land and cheap Palestinian blood.

It is time for US policy-makers to live up to their consciences and the principles of the US Declaration of Independence, namely “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


The writer is a political analyst and author of Is the Two-State Solution Already Dead?

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