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Occupation magazine - Commentary

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Another Occupation government – and more aid from Obama
By Shmuel Amir
Hagada Hasmalit
7 June 2015

Original Hebrew:

I confess that I am not much interested in the faces in the new government
that was recently sworn in. I am not really interested in who heads the
Justice Ministry or even whether Moshe Kahlon will make certain changes in the
Israeli economy – in any case he has already backed down on his promise of
controlling the tycoons’ natural gas. I do not fall off my chair when Tzipi
Hotovely says that our right to the Land was delivered to us by air-mail
directly from God Himself. Workers at the Foreign Ministry raised an eyebrow
when they were told this in a briefing, not due to the claim itself but
because they know that in the outside world you just do not say such things.

Within our country the vast majority will believe the new deputy minister. I
am reminded of the words of Professor Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, who once said:
“the Zionists did not believe in God, but they believed that He gave us the
Land.” Of course, I appreciate small changes for the better that will benefit
the general public that can happen even within a capitalist regime, but
Israel’s problem is altogether different.

Its problem is existential, for the near and distant future as well as the
here and now. Israel’s problem is that it came into existence based on the
expulsion of the local population that was here before we came. That fact
overshadows all other problems, big and small, that we face. That fact is the
basis of Israel’s never-ending war with its surroundings, which we must never
forget comprises 200 million Arabs and another billion Muslims. That fact also
makes us dependent on our allies, the USA and Europe, who themselves are not
exactly loved in the world for their colonialist policies of the past, which
continue in one way or another today.

Most residents of Israel put their trust in the army and in force in general.
They do not want to know that our lauded army is not as strong, brave and
certainly not as moral like they want to believe. Now retired generals are
telling us that our leaders did not dare to use ground forces for fear that
they would not “deliver the goods”. Thus it was in the Second Lebanon War as
well as in “Solid Cliff” (aka “Protective Edge”). It was feared that soldiers
would be lost. It is easier to sacrifice civilians. But in spite of all that,
who now speaks of the more than 70 soldiers fell in Solid Cliff? Who submitted
a report on that? Who is responsible? Who paid the price for that? Those
questions not are not considered patriotic. And so it is easy to silence the

We can call 17-year-old Arab youths “murderous terrorists who want only to
kill innocent Jewish civilians”, but the fact is that it is anger at the
Occupation and oppression that drives those youths to go out and attack well-
trained soldiers, who usually can overpower them. Their objective is not
murder of civilians but liberation from oppression and humiliation – and the
former will not stop until the latter stops. If they are terrorists then we
must also admit that freedom fighters all over the world were also terrorists.

If Marwan Barghouti is a terrorist who deserves all the punishment that can be
meted out to him, then Nelson Mandela too was a terrorist. And so was Ho Chi
Minh, Mao, Jomo Kenyatta and even George Washington. All those and many others
rebelled against colonial rulers. And is there any oppressed and imprisoned
country that not did not liberate itself eventually? And after they liberated
themselves did the world not applaud them? Who does not remember the
enthusiastic reception Mandela received all over the world, even in New York,
after the victory over the Apartheid regime in South Africa?

It is not a few youths or terrorists we are dealing with; it is the entire
Palestinian people, who will not give up their rights and their liberation.
Once again: the source of the conflict is the expulsion of the local
population. Anita Shapira’s recently-published biography of David Ben-Gurion
tells of how he saw the disappearance of the Arabs in the 1948 war as a great
miracle, one of the most important in that year of miracles. The prospect of a
hostile population comprising about 40 percent of the population would not
have boded well for the future of the new state. Shapira writes that Ben-
Gurion was willing to accept the borders of the 29 November 1947 Partition
Resolution, along with the Arab population, but in war things happen as they
will in war: now we were no longer bound by those borders. And as for the
population – those who left could not return. In July 1948 the government
decided not to allow the Arab refugees to return. Shapira tries to show Ben-
Gurion in a positive light, saying that “he was not a racist”. But what about
the famous hand-gesture that signalled the expulsion of the Arabs from Lydda
that Yitzhak Rabin told of, or the letter (now for sale) in which he instructs
Abba Hushi not to allow the return of the Arabs of Haifa who had fled from
their homes? Incidentally, the “Visionary of the State”, Theodor Herzl,
evidently envisioned this as well: in his diary Herzl recorded that “we will
let the local population leave the country to seek work, but we will not let
them return.”

The Nakba of 1948 and the Occupation of 1967 are the open wound from which the
blood of the Palestinian people flows. The keys of the houses from which they
were expelled are unforgotten living reminders. Their “sumud” (steadfastness)
on their land is the ongoing struggle. There can be no peace and coexistence
without reparation of these injustices. The Palestinian people will not forget
and will not let this be taken off the agenda. And yet it is that very
expulsion and Occupation that peacemakers of various stripes are striving to
overcome or to ignore.

President Barack Obama, for example, was shocked at Netanyahu’s words on
election day, as if he did not know about the Israeli government’s treatment
of the Arabs-Palestinians. He hints at harm to the already chilly Israel-US
relationship, but meanwhile he reiterates yet again the US promise to protect
Israel’s security. A Palestinian state and its security are not part of the US
President’s vocabulary. As compensation for the agreement with Iran he (the
Pentagon) has approved for Israel 8,000 smart bombs; 14,500 smart-bomb
guidance systems; 50 bunker-buster bombs; 4,100 “small bombs” (just 110 kg of
explosives) and 3,000 hellfire missiles for Apache helicopters. The total cost
of the arms package is estimated at about 1.8 billion dollars; and in addition
the US will sell Israel more F-35 stealth bombers. Thus does the American
President take care of our security. And what a celebration awaits us in our
next war. The victims and the destruction of “Solid Cliff” will be dwarfed
compared to what the IDF is now able to wreak. After all that, can anyone be
surprised when an Israeli peace-lover like Uzi Baram publishes an article
under the heading “Inspiration from President Obama” (Haaretz, 25 May 2015) in
which he sings the praises of the president who sends us all these toys? And
can anyone ignore Baram’s connection to the Zionist Union, and is it possible
to ignore Meretz’s promise to support Herzog wherever he goes?

Nevertheless I am fully convinced and confident that no one can stop the
Palestinian struggle for freedom and their own state next to the State of
Israel. True, the Palestinians’ struggle looks in bad shape right now – very
bad shape. It is impossible to conduct a struggle for independence when you
are conducting “security cooperation” with the occupier. The Palestinians
deserve a different leadership, leaders like Marwan Barghouti, who is rotting
in an Israeli prison.

Translated from Hebrew by George Malent
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