Israel's Kafkaesque "Matrix
by Stephen Lendman, February 2007
Finding an equitable solution to the intractable,
festering decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Gordian
Knot that must be cut to achieve peace overall in the Middle East.
Today, no solution is in sight nor are any serious efforts planned
to find one despite occasional rhetoric to the contrary like what's
now being heard from Washington with similar disingenuous echos
Palestinians know otherwise from long
experience. They've heard this siren song before. It's the same
old tired refrain going nowhere and not intending to. The so-called
"road map" goes nowhere, and the "peace process"
guarantees only more conflict because Israel wants it that way
to justify its harshness and refuses to discuss the most fundamental
Palestinian concerns. Unless they're resolved there can never
be peace. They include a sovereign integral independent Palestinian
state, the Right of Return, status of Jerusalem Palestinians want
as their capital, settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
(OPT) that must be removed, and established borders. They also
include ending what Palestinian-American scholar and activist
Edward Said once called Israel's agenda of "refined viciousness"
against the Palestinian people. Since Hamas' Palestinian Authority
(PA) January, 2006 legislative electoral victory, there's been
nothing "refined" about it.
As long as these issues and present conditions
go unaddressed, this long-running tragedy will go on without end
destroying the lives of new generations of young Palestinians
who nonetheless continue their valiant struggle for freedom and
justice even against overwhelming odds. Today they're greater
than ever as the tiny Israeli state with six million Jews (including
those in OPT settlements) is a world nuclear power compared to
a virtually defenseless Palestinian population of about five million.
Included are 1.4 million Arab Israeli citizens. They're denied
all rights Israeli Jews get and are subjected to constant abuse
and neglect. They're a fifth of the population but are forced
to live on 2% of the land plus 1% more for agricultural use.
The Jewish population gets nearly all the rest.
Another 3.9 million Palestinians in Gaza
and the West Bank only get the right to live under the boot of
a hostile occupier. They live under "vicious" repression
and are denied all rights including the fundamental one to their
own home on their own land that may be bulldozed to rubble anytime
for any reason because Israel wants the land for Jewish settlements
and relentlessly takes it and the lives of many Palestinians as
Then there are the refugees. About five
million are in the Palestinian diaspora including about 260,000
internally displaced and living inside Israel. Most others live
within 100 miles of Israel's borders in neighboring Arab states.
Half are in Jordan, 15% in Lebanon, another 15% in Syria while
others live throughout the world including in other Arab countries
like Egypt and the Gulf states. Many live with a dominant dream
so far unfulfilled - the absolute universal "Right of Return"
affirmed in UN Resolution 194 passed in December, 1948 resolving
that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live
at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at
the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be
paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for
loss of or damage to property....made good by the Governments
or authorities responsible."
This "universal right" is also
established in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and under various Geneva Conventions. Israel won't recognize
it and adamantly refuses to include it in negotiations even though
the Jewish state doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. In 1948-49,
its leaders ethnically cleansed 800,000 Palestinians slaughtering
many in the process. They also destroyed 531 of their villages
in their "War of Independence" all Palestinians call
the Nakba or catastrophe. Many refugees dream one day of returning
to their homes, and all Palestinians want and deserve their own
sovereign independent state never losing hope they'll get it.
Israel exacerbates their plight practicing
a rigid policy of police state control while ignoring binding
legal provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights. Its preamble cites the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and UN Charter, that's also binding international law,
stating "civil and political freedom....can only be achieved
(if) everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights (and that
it is the) obligation of States under the Charter of the United
Nations to promote....human rights and freedoms (for everyone)."
Its many Articles also affirm:
-- The right of self-determination and
freedom to freely determine one's political status and freely
pursue one's economic, social and cultural development.
-- The inherent right to life and freedom
from subjection to torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment
or punishment and to be free from arbitrary arrest or detention
or deprived of liberty.
-- The right to liberty of movement and
freedom to choose one's residence.
-- The right freely leave any country
and not be deprived of the right to return to it.
-- The right to freedom from arbitrary
or unlawful interference with one's privacy, family, home or correspondence.
-- The right to freedom of thought, conscience
-- The right to have equal access as all
others to public services in one's country.
-- The right of all persons to equal protection
of the law without discrimination.....and much more.
In the way it treats Palestinians, Israel
willfully violates all the above provisions as state policy and
has done so for six decades and gotten away with it. People of
conscience must condemn this lawlessness and demand Israeli leaders
be held accountable for their crimes of war and against humanity
so the long-suffering Palestinians one day have the same rights
and freedoms as all Israeli Jews. They and all others deserve
Jeff Halper's Concept of An Israeli "Matrix
Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) based in Jerusalem.
He's also a professor of anthropology at Ben Gurion University
and has lived in Israel since 1973. ICAHD was originally formed
as a non-violent, direct-action group to resist Israeli home demolitions
in the OPT. It's activities now include resistance to settlements,
land expropriation, fruit and olive tree uprootings and other
crop destruction, bypass road construction, policies of "closure"
and "separation," denial of civil and human rights,
and all other elements of repression of a people under occupation
it wants to help end to achieve an equitable and sustainable peace
only possible once Palestinians have their own sovereign integral
Halper established the concept of a repressive
"Matrix of Control" to explain how Israeli governments
dominate Palestinian life. For these long-suffering people ever
to achieve justice and a land of their own, this system chaining
them in bondage must end. Here's how it works.
Halper explains it's composed of three
layers of control. The first one is "physical control"
of key "links and nodes." It's done through illegal
OPT settlements on expropriated land, use of military zones, industrial
parks, control of aquifers and other natural resources, checkpoints,
control of all border crossings, a network of bypass roads for
Jews only, national parks for recreation underneath which are
former Palestinian villages destroyed and their history erased
to make way for them, and the oppressive (World Court ruled) illegal
Separation or Apartheid Wall claimed for security but, in fact,
another part of a land grab and confinement agenda. It's being
built to continue ethnically cleansing Palestinians and keep
those remaining virtual prisoners in restricted cantonized OPT
areas. They're isolated from and unconnected to others as part
of Israel's policy of ghettoization, repression and social control.
Halper's second control layer is bureaucratic
and legal encompassing a host of policies constricting Palestinians
in a maze of procedures and restrictions. These include harassing
zoning and other regulations governing the following:
-- Allowable home and village construction.
-- Building permit restrictions.
-- Home demolitions for violations of
-- Land expropriation designated for Israeli
-- Agricultural restrictions and crop
destruction for violations.
-- Licensing and inspection of Palestinian
-- Closures anywhere, any time, for any
-- Movement and travel restrictions within
and outside the country.
-- Many other politically motivated harassing
rules and regulations designed to make life impossible for people
forced to abide by them. These are politically motivated actions
confining Palestinians to designated enclaves or cantons. Israel
claims they're legal, but, in fact, they're not. They deny fundamental
human and civil rights guaranteed under numerous international
laws, covenants, and protocols established by Geneva Conventions
and the UN governing a broad definition of rights and freedoms
including economic, social, cultural, political and other ones
in peace and war.
Israel is a signatory to these laws yet
flagrantly violates them. It's also brazenly ignored over five
dozen UN Resolutions going back decades condemning or censuring
it for its actions against the Palestinians or other Arab people,
deploring it for committing them, or demanding, calling on or
urging the Jewish state to end them. Israel flaunts the rule
of law observing only what comes out of its Knesset. It arrogates
to itself the right to act in its own interest, law or no law,
and gets away with it because its supportive partner and paymaster
in Washington winks and nods approval, funds it lavishly, and
supplies it with the most modern weapons of war to use against
any adversary. Palestinians, on the other hand, are vulnerable
and defenseless. They have only crude weapons, their bodies and
redoubtable spirit to use in self-defense.
Halper's third "Matrix" layer
uses violence as a means of social and political control. It
includes military occupation, mass imprisonment and routine use
of torture as documented by Israeli human rights monitoring group
B'Tselem saying it's flagrant and widespread and violates the
Fourth Geneva Convention, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and 1984 UN Convention Against Torture. It also relies on an
elaborate use of collaborators, pressure on families to sell their
land, and military and civil authority oppression in the OPT.
All this is falsely justified in the name of security just like
harsh US laws and their enforcement are here. In fact, they're
just police state measures to harass and round up dissenters and
control a restive population resisting a hostile government harming
Most people in the US know little about
what's happening in the OPT because information about it is suppressed
in the corporate-controlled media. The Israeli public is better
informed but not well enough about the "Matrix." Americans
are willing to sacrifice some freedom for security not realizing
when they do they lose both. Israelis, on the other hand, want
peace and are willing to give up some territory for it. Palestinians,
however, are victims and understand the "Matrix" well
because they live under its harshness affecting their daily lives.
Achieving their dream one day depends not only on gaining their
own independent state, but also freeing themselves from "the
key nodes of the Matrix" Halper explains do the following:
-- Gives Israel full control of all aspects
of Palestinian life in the OPT.
-- Most often lowers Israel's military
profile creating an image of administration and Israel's right
to defend itself hiding the ugly reality on the ground of an oppressive
-- Creates a cramped space for a Palestinian
cantonized mini-state relieving Israel of an obligation to service
-- Deflects international opposition beneath
the cover of conventional administrative and bureaucratic mechanisms.
-- Creates deplorable conditions leading
to despair and belief a truly sovereign independent state is unachievable
hoping Palestinians will accept the crumbs offered them or give
up and leave.
This bureaucratic web of containment disguises
a hard line Kafkaesque system of social control and oppressive
enforcement harshly treating anyone resisting it. Visible on
the surface under a military head of a "Civil Administration"
is a face of "proper administration, upholding the law, and
keeping public order and security." It makes the occupation
invisible except for its victims disciplined by it harsh rules.
Halper describes the control mechanisms:
-- Military assaults against the civilian
population and infrastructure (including targeted assassinations
and willful collateral killing). It's now ongoing daily in Gaza
and the West Bank and documented by the Palestinian Centre for
Human Rights, B'Tselem and others on the ground.
-- Use of collaborators and undercover
"mustarabi" army units, mass arrests, administrative
detentions, (kangaroo court) trials and widespread torture of
-- Absence of civil law replaced by military
rule supplemented by Civil Administration policies.
-- Mass expropriation of Palestinian land
mostly in the OPT but also affecting Arab Israeli citizens.
-- Construction of over 200 settlements
on occupied land for 400,000 Israeli Jews since 1967 in the West
Bank including Palestinian East Jerusalem.
-- Dividing the OPT into Areas "A,"
"B," "C," and "D" in the West Bank;
"H-1" and "H-2" in Hebron; nature reserves
for Jews only; closed military areas; security zones; and "open
green spaces" for Jewish-only housing developments in over
half of East Jerusalem leaving Palestinians confined to unconnected
cantons surrounded by Israeli settlements, restricted roads and
-- An interconnected restricted highway
and bypass road system linking the settlements and effectively
incorporating them into Israel proper like suburbs are to downtown
areas of US cities.
-- Controlling aquifers and other key
natural resources including rainfall Palestinians are forbidden
to collect by law even though they have limited access to other
-- Controlling OPT holy places as pretexts
to maintain a "security presence" there.
-- Maintaining permanent "closure"
of the West Bank and Gaza.
-- Restricting movement using a discriminatory
system of work, internal and external travel permits.
-- Schemes to displace those unwanted
by exile, deportation and revoking residency rights.
-- Home demolitions, land expropriation,
denial of basic services and impoverishment.
-- "Master plans" to continue
settlement expansion and develop of new ones.
-- Agricultural restrictions along with
hundreds of thousands of olive and fruit trees destroyed since
1967 and other crop land disrupted or expropriated.
-- Using various other means of social
control and harassment against an unwanted people in a racist
Jewish state wanted for Jews only.
All this is a scheme to traumatize, intimidate
and break the will of the occupied people hoping they'll give
up and leave vacating the land for Jewish development and settlement.
It hasn't worked for six decades and never will because too much
is at stake, and Palestinians, like Jews, want a land of their
own land one day they intend to get. It worked for the Jews and
one day will for Palestinians as well. But for decades Israel
hasn't stopped trying to prevent it, and there's no sign it intends
giving up. It has full support of its policies from the US, the
West and most Arab states aligned with the Global North for benefits
they receive believing sacrificing Palestinians' interests is
a small price to pay.
Halper believes settlements are central
to maintaining the "Matrix" because all other development
is woven around them including connecting roads, industrial areas,
military installations and zones, and the entire security scheme
of checkpoints and other mechanisms of control. The only way
to end the "Matrix" is to remove all settlements from
the OPT, replacing checkpoints and border restrictions with normal
transit arrangements just like in any other country or between
them. It also means ending military occupation and rule allowing
the Palestinians the right to a real integral state they govern
freely and not Israeli dictated cantons unconnected to others
that are effective open air prisons by any other name the way
they're now conceived and laid out.
Life on the Ground Today in the OPT
Palestinians have endured six oppressive
decades under Israeli rule, four of them in the OPT since Gaza
and the West Bank were occupied after the 1967 war when the Israeli
Defense Forces (IDF) seized the Territories. Throughout this
time, they faced the kinds of repressive harshness explained above
including loss of their personal, political and economic freedoms
and any chance for justice in a land only affording those rights
For the Jewish "chosen people,"
Israel is a democratic state, but for non-Jews, especially Arab
Muslims, it's their worst nightmare. It's a daily struggle to
endure and survive in a hostile racist apartheid land wanting
to exclude them from society, and all rights in it, and since
1948 has had an agenda of state-sponsored ethnic cleaning amounting
to genocide to rid the land of most non-Jews and all Muslims making
the state one for Jewish habitation only. This policy is no different
than Nazi Germany's Nuremberg Laws governing Jews under that state's
Racial Policy asserting Aryan race superiority. In Israel, Jews
are the "Master Race" and Arabs are the persecuted "Jews."
That ideology shows in the demonizing
characterization and depiction of Arabs by former Israeli prime
minister and 1978 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Menechem Begin who
once said: "Our (Jewish) race is the 'Master Race.' We are
divine gods on this planet. We are as different from the inferior
races as they are from insects....other races are beasts and animals,
cattle at best. Our destiny is to rule over the inferior races.
The masses will lick our feet and serve us as our slaves."
Begin also called Palestinians "cockroaches" and "beasts
walking on two legs." Ehud Barak referred to them as "crocodiles,"
and Golda Maier said "There was no such thing as Palestinians,
they never existed."
With its leaders voicing these kinds of
sentiments, it's no wonder Israel imposes harsh treatment on a
people it equates with wild animals and insects it wants to eliminate.
It makes life grim to impossible for Palestinians at all times,
but it hit a new low after the democratic election of a Hamas
government in January, 2006. Relations then deteriorated to a
state of belligerency and chaos after the world community for
the first time in history placed an occupied people under the
siege of economic and political sanctions violating the Fourth
Geneva Convention that obligates the international community to
protect an occupied civilian population.
It wasn't to be and got far worse erupting
into virtual warfare following Hamas' capture of an IDF soldier
last June. Israel responded with overwhelming force in Gaza and
the West Bank in an operation planned months earlier to destroy
Hamas. It used the June incident as a pretext to launch it to
with devastating results still ongoing mostly unreported and below
the radar. What is reported in Western media refers to Palestinians
and Muslims generally as militants, gunmen, terrorists, Islamic
extremists, Islamofascists and more. Israelis, however, are always
seen as victims defending themselves, even their pilots in US-supplied
F-16s and helicopter gunships firing missiles against defenseless
civilians in their crosshairs.
In the past seven months, these kinds
of IDF assaults killed or wounded hundreds of Palestinian civilians,
including women and children. Many hundreds more were arrested
and held without charge in an operation raging daily adding to
the intolerable toll already inflicted. The military also destroyed
agricultural land; buildings (including government ones); homes
and essential infrastructure including electricity and water to
refugee camps; bridges; key roads and more. It's been done to
make life intolerable for people as well as destroy the Hamas
government Israel won't deal with because its leaders refuse to
serve as Jewish state enforcers which the corrupted Fatah is always
willing to do under its quisling leader, chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
It's the reason he's seen publicly with Israeli prime minister
Ehud Olmert, and he's invited to meet with George Bush in the
White House. "Real" democrats never get that "privilege."
Fatah corruption and its betrayal of its
people is revealed in a document Palestinian activist, writer
and lecturer Ali Abunimah obtained and reported on in his Electronic
Intifada web site on January 27. It's an Israeli Ministry of
Defense Powerpoint presentation showing more of the dark side
of a racist apartheid bureaucracy. The document details some
of what was covered above including movement restrictions, ethnic
cleansing policies and collaboration with Palestinian traitors
selling out their people for benefits Israel affords them.
It outlines Palestinian Fatah chairman
Mahmoud Abbas' complicity with the Israeli government as well
as an official inside glimpse into Israel's "Matrix of Control"
with token easing of it to its collaborators and for PR purposes.
Mentioned in it is the following:
-- the US supplying Fatah with millions
of dollars of weapons and equipment for use to oust the democratically
elected Hamas government.
-- Israel affording special privileges
for "the movement of VIP and senior Palestinians (meaning
Abbas and his allies) facilitating (their) movement without security
-- Special permits for 505 Palestinian
"businessmen" exempting them from pass laws forbidding
overnight stays in Israel, fewer security checks and other privileges
-- Allowing a privileged "42,899"
Palestinian laborers to work in Israel and exempting 2000 agricultural
ones from pass law requirements.
-- Restricting Palestinians with foreign
passports called "foreign nationals" (including ones
from the US and Europe) to tourist visitations totaling a cumulative
27 months stay. But even this limitation may be hardened with
re-entry being denied those leaving the country for any reason.
-- Listing categories of "humanitarian"
workers including religious ones, lawyers, teachers, and hospital
and hotel workers less restricted by the pass laws.
In sum, this official document provides
an example of Israeli repressive control that can be altered,
hardened or manipulated any time in any way to suit a harsh colonial
occupier. While making life intolerable for the vast majority
of Palestinians, it affords its collaborators enough privileges
and rule exemptions to buy them off so they'll go along with cracking
down on their own people.
Doing it creates the harshness of the
occupation that affects the entire OPT, but since last June Gaza
got the worst of it. Renowned investigative journalist and documentary
filmmaker John Pilger explained what's happening there is little
reported in the West and almost totally ignored in the US corporate
media that views the conflict through the prism of Jewish victims
responding to Palestinian terrorists that, in fact, turns reality
on its head.
On January 22, Pilger wrote an article
called "Terror and starvation in Gaza." In it he referred
to a genocide "engulfing the people of Gaza while a silence
engulfs its bystanders." He quotes former Swedish foreign
minister Jan Eliasson and former senior UN relief official Jan
Egeland who describe a people "living in a cage, cut off
by land, sea and air, with no reliable power and little water,
and tortured by hunger and disease and incessant attacks by Israeli
troops and planes." He added UK Doctor David Halpin's comment
that the people of Gaza are going through a "medieval siege"
will daily killings by artillery, rockets, air strikes and small
Children have been especially affected,
and Pilger quotes the results of a "remarkable (and horrifying)
survey" told him by psychiatrist Khalid Dahlan. It showed
99.4% of children studied in Gaza suffered trauma because 99.2%
of their homes were bombarded, 97.5% were exposed to tear gas,
96.6% witnessed shootings, 95.8% saw funerals resulting from bombardments,
and nearly one-fourth saw family members injured or killed.
Pilger also cites the writing of Jewish
Israeli Haaretz reporters Gideon Levy and Amira Hass. In November
Levy wrote people were beginning to starve to death and that "There
are thousands of wounded, disabled and shell-shocked people, unable
to receive any treatment" in a cauldron he called "monstrous."
Hass has lived in the West Bank and Gaza. She calls the Strip
a prison shaming her people and reminding her of her mother's
trevails when taken to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in
Nazi Germany in 1944. Pilger describes what's ongoing in the
Territories as "Israeli atrocities" and condemns the
US Congress, Western journalists and ordinary bystanders including
Jews who know what's happening but stay silent out of cowardice
or complicity with the powerful Zionist Lobby allowing the Israeli
government to commit mass murder with impunity.
One example among many almost daily happened
last November 8 when the IDF shelled Beit Hanoun in Gaza killing
at least 18 civilians and wounding dozens more. It was barely
reported in the West and faded quickly from the collective memory.
On November 11, ironically the day commemorating the end of "the
war to end all wars" - WW I, the US vetoed UN SC/8867 condemning
The resolution called on Israel "to
scrupulously abide by its obligations and responsibilities under
the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons
in Time of War of 12 August 1949." It also called for an
end to violence in the OPT and requested the Secretary-General
establish a fact-finding mission to investigate the incident.
The US alone objected with its veto ending any hope for justice
for the innocent people killed or hurt. The Western press ignored
the vote as it's done dozens of other times when the US alone
or with one or two small Pacific island allies (plus Israel) vetoed
other resolutions condemning Israel for its abusive, hostile
actions or that harmed Israeli interests. The Western press also
ignores shocking new data showing an 85% poverty rate in Gaza
with that percent of the population forced to get by on less than
$2 a day.
Pilger's account of what goes on in Gaza
also is part of daily life in the West Bank, and the Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights documents it all in the OPT daily from
its vantage point on the ground in the Territories. It makes
for gruesome reading this writer covered in detail in a previous
article. Overall these are grievous crimes of war and against
humanity as are the rigidly enforced restrictions and regulations
causing misery and death that are part of Israel's six decades-long
planned ethnic cleansing, genocidal assault and daily harassment
against virtually defenseless people fighting back to survive
with only crude weapons and their bodies and spirit but paying
a dreadful price doing it.
Look at some Israeli-imposed travel and
routine movement restrictions Palestinians must endure just reported
by Amira Hass on January 19 in Haaretz. She listed 16 prohibitions
from information her paper got from the UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs and Machsom Watch. A few include:
-- Palestinians from Gaza are forbidden
to stay in the West Bank.
-- Palestinians are forbidden to enter
-- Palestinians are forbidden to enter
the Jordan Valley.
-- Palestinians are forbidden to enter
Nablus in a vehicle.
-- Palestinian residents of Jerusalem
are forbidden to enter Area A in the West Bank.
-- Palestinians are forbidden to use Ben-Gurion
Airport for foreign travel.
-- Gaza residents aren't allowed to reside
in the West Bank.
The other nine prohibitive regulations
are just as restrictive and still others apply only periodically
imposing even more hardships. If the word "Jews" is
substituted for "Palestinians" in them, these rules
sound like what Jews endured in Nazi Germany under their racist
Nuremberg Laws in the 1930s and 40s.
Amira Hass included more of them documenting
75 manned checkpoints in the West Bank as of January 9, 2007 and
about 150 mobile checkpoints as of last fall. In addition, there
are 446 obstacles placed between roads and villages including
concrete cubes, earth ramparts, 88 iron gates and 74 kilometers
of fences along main roads. There are also 83 additional iron
gates along the Separation Wall dividing lands from their owners
with only 25 of them opening occasionally.
These impediments are part of daily life
for Palestinians in the OPT. They're in place to harass and discourage
those forced to live under them making life so intolerable people
will want to leave for a better life elsewhere and become another
They're also part of the long-running
conflict planned in stages from when Israel first became a state.
This conflict, in Halper's judgment, is "the single greatest
cause of instability, extremism and violence in (the) region (but)
is the simplest conflict in the world to resolve." He notes
that Palestinian leaders for the past 20 years (including Hamas)
and a large majority of Israelis and Palestinians support a Jewish
state within pre-1967 war boundaries leaving the other 22% of
the West Bank and Gaza for a sovereign integral independent Palestinian
state free from Israeli occupation including the oppressive settlements
making it impossible.
Another key to conflict resolution is
the Right to Return that Israel must acknowledge under international
law and abide by like all other civilized countries. Halper notes
Palestinian sociologist Khalil Shkaki conducted an extensive survey
finding only about 10% of refugees (around 500,000 today), mainly
the aged, wish to settle in Israel. That's a number the Jewish
state can easily absorb if there's political will to do it, but
so far there's none nor any hint of any forthcoming. It's because
Israel bases its strategy for regional dominance and acceptance
on an agenda of conflict and territorial expansion gotten by iron-fisted
militarism supported and funded by the US with the West overall
going along. Israel also believes the Palestinians are irrelevant,
and it can make separate peace and other arrangements with Arab
countries and the Muslim world overall.
Halper thinks otherwise saying the Palestinians
have a critical "trump card: They are the gatekeepers to
the Middle East" in his judgment. For Muslims, this unresolved
conflict defines the so-called "clash of civilizations"
along with Israel settling territorial disputes with Syria and
Lebanon. For Halper, solving this conflict is key to Israel's
ability to normalize relations with its Arab neighbors and other
Muslim countries as achieving it can weaken the forces of anti-Israeli
fundamentalism and militarism fueling conflict. But as long as
Israel remains obstinate continuing to deny Palestinians their
right to self-determination and maintains its repressive occupation,
no progress to peace is possible, all the disingenuous rhetoric
about seeking it notwithstanding.
A Look Ahead For Hopeful Change
Looking ahead, the question then is can
this policy of hostility and aggression ever work, or in the end,
will it fail. Israel believes it can muddle through as it has
for six decades. So far, it succeeded because its Arab neighbors
in the past were too weak to contest (and still are) and now prefer
allying with the West and tolerating Israel at the expense of
aiding the Palestinians. Most of all, Israel has a powerful ally
in the US, and each country serves the other's interests. It's
also supported by the West that up to now has turned a blind eye
on the region's most intractable problem thinking in time it may
go away or not matter much if it doesn't.
But that kind of thinking has gotten nowhere
since 1948, and that's proof enough it never will. Despite everything
Palestinians have endured, Israeli's military might never break
their redoubtable spirit nor likely ever will. That being so,
it begs the question why the Jewish state continues a failed policy
and is unwilling to try a new approach based on rapprochement.
Halper believes that kind of effort can achieve a real and lasting
peace, and if it's undertaken can progress quickly toward final
resolution acceptable to both sides and benefitting the entire
It has to happen sooner or later because
eventually the international community won't continue tolerating
a policy becoming too costly to back. It may be heading toward
it already because of the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon
over the summer showing US and Israeli belligerency failed and
it's time for an alternate course. The international community
may push a conflict resolution agenda even harder in light of
US hawkishness toward Iran threatening an even wider and much
more dangerous regional war. Black propaganda to the contrary,
it's unrelated to Iran's legal commercial nuclear program. It's
all about Washington's nearly three decade resolve for regime
change in a country unwilling to surrender its sovereignty and
submit to US imperial management rules. Rule number one explains
"who's boss" with no toleration of outliers or disobedience.
Palestinians aren't waiting for conflict
resolution or for Israel to see the error of its ways and decide
to pursue real peace. They intend keeping up the struggle for
their rights and freedoms and an end to six decades of colonial
abuse and repression. They took their fight to the seventh World
Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in late January and first one ever
held on the African continent. A 30 member delegation attended
representing all major Palestinian community and NGO networks
operating in the OPT, Israel and Lebanon. It came to issue a
political statement to the world and call to action on Palestine
for help in their struggle for "freedom, justice and (a)
durable peace" and an end to 60 years of repression. It
wants to build a "global Campaign for Boycott, Divestment
and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends its apartheid-like
regime of discrimination, occupation and colonization, and respects
the right of return of Palestinian refugees and IDPs (internally
It advocates "Consumer boycotts of
Israeli products; boycott of Israeli academic, athletic and cultural
events and institutions complicit in human rights abuses; divestment
from Israeli companies, as well as international corporations
involved in perpetuating injustice, and pressuring governments
to impose sanctions on Israel...."
The delegation stressed "official
diplomacy has failed in enforcing scores of UN resolutions and....international
law (to end) Israel's occupation, colonization, displacement and
dispossession of the Palestinian people." It condemned "US-led
Middle East diplomacy, favoring military intervention and unilateralism
(and its complicity with Israel) in wars and occupation in Iraq
and Lebanon (and) Israel's colonial regime in Palestine (and Washington's
active encouragement of) division and civil war in the region
(with) the US and the entire Quartet (comprised of the US, UN,
European Union and Russia) part of the problem in the region (not
The Palestinian delegation called on people
of conscience and civil society everywhere to join their struggle
denouncing Israel as a pariah state and to work cooperatively
for "justice and peace (in) the Middle East (and) reconciliation
and coexistence for everyone in the region, based on equality
and mutual respect for international law and fundamental human
rights." Organized actions like these ended the oppressive
South African apartheid regime that once had full support of the
US and the West. They can achieve the same result with Israel
if enforced long enough with teeth, and they must be. Eventually
this will happen in one form or other, and it'll work because
repression can never be sustained forever and won't be. The sooner
Israel accepts that, the quicker real peace will come to the Middle
East, and it can't happen any too soon.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog
site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.