Palestine 103: Making Occupation Work

Reactions in the United States to Israel’s capture
of the “Karine A,” the ship carrying tonnes of
weapons allegedly destined for the Palestinian
National Authority, and the recent rampage by
Israeli occupation forces, which left hundreds of
Palestinian refugees in Rafah homeless once again
and destroyed what was left of “Gaza International
Airport” illustrate, in the starkest terms, the
increasing distance between American perceptions
of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and what must
be done to solve it.

2002.01.20

Reactions in the United States to Israel’s capture
of the “Karine A,” the ship carrying tonnes of
weapons allegedly destined for the Palestinian
National Authority, and the recent rampage by
Israeli occupation forces, which left hundreds of
Palestinian refugees in Rafah homeless once again
and destroyed what was left of “Gaza International
Airport” illustrate, in the starkest terms, the
increasing distance between American perceptions
of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and what must
be done to solve it.


Rocky Mountain News columnist Holger Jensen was one of the scarce voices who pointed to holes in Israel’s story about the Karine A, and observed that since Arafat was labelled “irrelevant” by Sharon’s government and “thus no longer a partner in the peace process” if anything is left of it “he may feel he has every right to arm his people to oppose a
34-year-old military occupation.” (Jan. 10)


This rare exception notwithstanding, American
commentators seized on the ship as
incontrovertible evidence of the wickedness of the
Palestinians and their desire to harm Israel. The
Chicago Tribune railed that “the arms shipment
serves blunt notice that Palestinians are
preparing for war, not for peace.” (Jan. 12).


The paper called a Jan. 9 attack by Hamas which
killed four armed Israeli soldiers near the
occupied Gaza Strip “terrorism pure and simple”.
The Tribune dismissed the notion that the weapons
on the captured ship could be for Palestinian
self-defence, because “they were offensive
weapons. They were weapons of terror: Katyusha
rockets, anti-tank missiles, mortars, ammunition
and plastic explosives.”

If this is the case, what is one to make of the fact
that there is not one kind of offensive weapon in its
vast arsenal, from small arms to artillery, from tanks to helicopters, from death squads to F-16s that
Israel has not used against the Palestinian
people, all allegedly in “self-defence?”


The only weapons that Israel has yet to try on the
Palestinians are nuclear, chemical and biological.
Despite all this, neither The Chicago Tribune nor
any other major American newspaper has referred to
Israel’s brutal aggression against Palestinian
civilians as “terrorism”.

Amidst its indignant tirade, The Chicago Tribune found not one word to say about Israel’s Jan. 10 demolition rampage in Rafah. Nor did it comment on the destruction of the airport once viewed as a symbol of emerging Palestinian independence, and built with international aid money. This was no exception; I could not find a single editorial in a major US newspaper that condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza.

This vitriol against Palestinians, on the one
hand, and boundless indulgence of the Israelis, on
the other, while typical of the US response,
contrasted with the editorial in the leading
Israeli daily Haaretz which attacked the Rafah
demolitions as “blind cruelty” and “one of those
acts over which the black flag of blatant
illegality is flying.” (Jan. 13)

Nor is this view restricted to well-meaning
outsiders: Brigadier General Dov Zedaka, head of
Israel’s civil administration in the occupied West
Bank was quoted by Haaretz columnist Gideon Samet
as saying: “Nowadays, I want to avoid ending up in
the high court in The Hague for war crimes,” (Jan.
16).


The routine suppression of information about the
daily experience of Palestinians under Israel’s
occupation logically leads to a situation where
many Americans cannot imagine that Palestinians
might have a right to defend themselves, and that
it would be surprising only that people under the
occupation of a superior military power were not
attempting to import weapons to resist it.


In this looking-glass world, New York Times columnist William Safire and National Public Radio commentator Daniel Schorr were among many who seethed that Iran was implicated in the Karine A affair. While the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer wrote that the Palestinian ship was a “candy store of terror,” no ink was spilled or breath wasted worrying about how the United States alone in the world is fuelling the bloodshed by furnishing
Israel’s shopping mall of destruction.

Thus, we are now at a point where everything is
permitted to Israel in furtherance of its occupation
and colonisation of Palestinian land and its refusal
to engage in peace negotiations — including
attacking unarmed civilians with naked
ruthlessness in reprisal for guerrilla actions
against combatant Israeli soldiers.


By the same token, nothing at all is permitted to
the Palestinians in self-defence. What the US
government and a large segment of the media demand is a perfect occupation. The occupier must be allowed a free hand to colonise, brutalise and
control, while if the occupied react in any way at
all, except with complete subservience and
expressions of recognition and warmth for the
occupier, they immediately join the ranks of
“terrorists” and can be crushed by any and all
means.


Working from Israeli government talking points,
the army of pro-Israeli commentators issue ever
longer lists of demands and threats against
Arafat, but give no indication at all that Israel
is expected to change its destructive behaviour in
any way.


For the foreseeable future, this structure will
ensure great suffering for Israelis and far greater
suffering for Palestinians.

In the long-run, the occupation will, like all
efforts to maintain colonial domination, fail.

Palestine and the Palestinians will survive all
Israel’s efforts to wipe them out and will, one day,
co-exist in peace with the Israeli people, either
as neighbours in two equal and sovereign states or
as citizens in one democratic state for all.

What is far from certain is whether Israel in its
present ethno-nationalist form, egged on by its
ultra-Zionist supporters in the United States,
having rejected a historic territorial compromise
that would give it 78 per cent of Palestine, can
survive what it is doing to itself — economically, morally and politically — in the process of trying to crush the Palestinians and make them disappear.


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Author: Ali Abunimah

News Service: The Jordan Times

URL: http://www.jordantimes.com/Sun/features/features1.htm