Kafkaesque "Matrix Of Control"
By Stephen Lendman
02 February, 2007
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 inside Israel.
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 well.
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
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
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
-- The right to freedom of
thought, conscience and religion.
-- 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 no less.
Jeff Halper's Concept
of An Israeli "Matrix of Control"
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 independent state.
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
-- Building permit restrictions.
-- Home demolitions for violations
-- Land expropriation designated
for Israeli "public purposes."
-- Agricultural restrictions
and crop destruction for violations.
-- Licensing and inspection
of Palestinian businesses.
-- Closures anywhere, any
time, for any reason.
-- 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 its welfare.
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 it.
-- Deflects international
opposition beneath the cover of conventional administrative and bureaucratic
-- 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
-- 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 detainees.
-- 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 checkpoints.
-- 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 water
-- 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 to Jews.
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
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
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
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 arms.
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
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 East Jerusalem.
-- 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
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
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
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 broke 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 region.
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 displaced persons)."
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 solution)."
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.
lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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