|By Shmuel Amir|
13 October 2017
Who better than Gideon Levy to point out painful facts to a public that wants to be left alone without pangs of conscience? This time he is asking the moderate Left, which has staged a stormy demonstration in Petah Tikvah against Attorney-General Mandelblit, whether that is the most appropriate target these days, while the oppression, humiliation, land-theft, denial of human rights and the whole accursed Occupation, which has lasted for fifty years now, are running rampant. Shouldn’t the emphasis be on ending the Occupation?
Such an evasion of the heart of the matter, he calls cowardice.
But what about the many opponents of the Occupation, at least in newspapers like Haaretz? They, after all, do not settle for merely being angry at Netanyahu; they make a firm demand to end the Occupation and leave all the Occupied Territories. Surely they are not cowards?
There’s a wonderful and courageous statement against the Occupation from an article by Ilana Hammermann in Haaretz, 14 September 2017. She even calls for “civil disobedience”! She comes out in defence of those who are revolting against the Occupation and who are called terrorists, because “if terror is war against civilians, then collective punishment, confiscation of land, destruction of houses, schools and entire communities, … arrest of hundreds of thousands (more than a million people since 1967) and the permanent denial of human and civil rights under the cover of military government – all those are acts of terror, and not [the acts of] those who are resisting them.”
Strong and wonderful – is anything left to add? And yet for all that, I ask: who is financing all these horrors of the Israeli Occupation that Hammerman condemns?
Who gives Israel vast sums of money to maintain and perpetuate the Occupation (as of next year nearly four billion dollars a year)? Who has defended Israel and its conquests over 50 years of Occupation, in all the important international fora in the world? Who, in short, is actually maintaining aggressive and racist Israel? Could Israel alone and without help maintain the all the horrors of the Occupation?
All that is hardly discussed, even in radical articles. And where do the weapons that enforce the Occupation come from? Here is a headline in Haaretz (18 August 2017): “Israel has signed a deal to acquire 17 more F-35 aircraft. The planes will comprise two F-35 squadrons, and the air force is examining the need to acquire more aircraft for a third squadron”. In her benevolence German Chancellor Angela Merkel is adding another 9 submarines … (Compensation for the Holocaust? No?)
On the issue of financial support for the Occupation army, Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz said in his time that Israel has an iron fist swathed in American dollars.
That “support” and “help” inspire both the confidence and the provocative arrogance of the Israeli leadership. Not that that prevents it from presenting itself in heartrending terms as a victim in international propaganda, to all who are willing to listen.
Has it not occurred to our liberals (and even some of the radicals among them) that if the Americans really wanted to end the Occupation, they could get Israel out of the Palestinian territories without much difficultly? After all, without multilateral American support (with money, diplomacy, international relations and sophisticated weapons) Israel could not keep those territories even for one day. But let there be no mistake, the USA not is not acting at the behest of the strong Israeli lobby in the USA (that is a fantasy that both the US and Israel disseminate occasionally). The USA sometimes shows who’s the boss, and even humiliates Israel.
A small recent example. When Israel set up metal detectors on the Temple Mount, an outcry was raised all over the Muslim world and beyond. Israel’s response was uncompromising – withdrawal from the Mount is a concession on our rights on the Temple Mount! Our history and our national honour are involved! And a public movement arose against any withdrawal from this place that is most holy to us. But then we suddenly packed up the pekalach (metal-detectors) and got out of there. A clear message came from overseas, first through the king of Jordan, but afterwards explicitly from the Americans, to leave the Temple Mount! The hint was understood immediately: Israel withdrew, and the outcry against withdrawal subsided along with the national honour.
This is not the first time that the USA has taken Israel to task. It did it of course for its own interests, and out of consideration for its other clients in the region and the world. But in any case the people of Israel were not insulted – the public has been educated to love America.
I am reminded of how we seized on President Obama as a prophet of peace (after all, he had already received the Nobel Peace Prize before he even got started), how we loved to hear his speeches oozing with optimism and hope for peace. Yes, he spoke of two states, but at the end of every speech he never forgot to say that the USA will protect Israel’s security – a code-word for supporting an Israel that keeps the Territories. Meanwhile he provided the most advanced fighter planes and also signed the cheques. He was also a faithful partner of Israel in the conduct of the “peace process” with the Palestinians, a game that has been played for fifty years now.
Love for America requires not loving the adversaries of America, and certainly not supporting them. And this leads to a terrible dilemma for many radical opponents of the Occupation among us. Because it is none other than those very “enemies” of America that are demanding Israel’s withdrawal from the Occupied Territories and the creation of a Palestinian state. Who are those countries? Russia, China, North Korea. Venezuela and Cuba and of course all the entire Third World including the Arab world and the Palestinians. (We should not be impressed by America’s dependent and faithful servants like the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the Jordanian king and their ilk. The publics in their countries are anti-American.)
The American incitement press is working tirelessly against those countries. Starting with The New York Times, The Economist (British), and most of the “respectable” Western media. They appear all over the (Western, it must be said) world as experts on these enemies of America. The incitement is to a great extent a preamble to international sanctions and even military attack. I still have a copy of The New York Times’ apology to its readers whom it had misled with a plethora of stories about the nuclear weapons Iraq supposedly had, thereby facilitating the American invasion. An invasion that concluded with the destruction of Iraq and hundreds of thousands of killed and homeless, but the objective was achieved, the oil is flowing to American companies again. And the newspaper’s apology? Presumably it was passed on to the families of the dead.
The current horror propaganda against those countries is no different, and no one laps it up more enthusiastically than Israel. Haaretz, “our” liberal newspaper on foreign affairs, is an emphatically pro-Western newspaper. In Haaretz, it is mighty North Korea that is threatening the poor United States, not the other way round. Every day its pages feature poisonous cartoons showing America lying helplessly while the North Koreans fire nuclear missiles at it. And the Haaretz editorial staff outdid itself when in the spot reserved for important articles it published an article by Dan Margalit that calls on America to carry out a military operation against North Korea right away – no less!
The peace-loving liberal Left is caught up in cognitive dissonance. Is it possible to support the US in its policies against all those countries and to oppose the Occupation of the Territories and be in favour of peace between Israel and Palestine? Here is a small but a typical and important example. China recently announced that it would not allow its workers in a joint project with Israel to work in the Occupied Territories, and the prime minister of China declared that this is an official position of China, which opposes the Israeli occupation of the Territories and Jerusalem.
However much we may not want to hear this, the struggle against the Occupation is an anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist one. The American camp supports or at least is willing to allow the Occupation to continue; the other camp is against the Occupation. America is the biggest imperialist power in the world – occupation, oppression and exploitation are the nature of colonialism and imperialism all over the world, not just Palestine.
The decent and honourable way of our faith is to speak the truth: there is no hope for peace at the initiative of the USA. Politically that means joining the Palestinians in this country and participating in a united front with the Palestinians. To struggle for peace that means first and foremost withdrawal from all the Occupied Territories with recognition of the right of return according to the UN principle, agreed return of a number of refugees or payment of compensation. That will be proof that the believers in peace in Israel are not afraid.
Translated from Hebrew by George Malent