[News] Ali Abunimah - Israel's Catastrophe

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 24 16:54:44 EDT 2006

Israel's Catastrophe
Ali Abunimah, Sunday Business Post, 23 July 2006

Israel wants us to believe that its wholesale destruction of Lebanon 
and killing to date of nearly 400 civilians is about the capture of 
two of its soldiers by Hizbullah.

This focus on the "latest incident" is designed to obscure what truly 
lies at the heart of this ongoing conflict: Israel's violent takeover 
of Palestine.

Palestinians, expelled from their country in 1948, had continued 
their struggle against Israel from Lebanon. In 1982, Israel invaded 
that country in an attempt to destroy the Palestine Liberation 
Organisation, killing tens of thousands of civilians. On that 
occasion, Israel's official pretext was a failed assassination 
attempt against its London ambassador.

Rather than ending resistance, Israel laid the seeds for what we see today.

The mostly Shia villagers in southern Lebanon who bore the brunt of 
Israel's 1982 invasion are the core constituency of Hizbullah, 
founded in 1983 to resist Israel's occupation.

The fighting in Lebanon, and to the south in Gaza, are directly 
related to Israel's origins, and the regional violence will only 
spiral until there is a just solution to the Palestine question.

Israel was established in 1948 as an explicitly ''Jewish state'' in a 
country whose overwhelming majority population at the time was not 
Jewish and had no desire to live under such a government. Such a 
project could only generate enormous resistance.

Because of this, Israel has never gained legitimacy among the people 
who paid the price for its creation.

Lacking such legitimacy, Israel exists only by the constant exercise 
of brute force - first to expel the majority of Palestinians, to 
prevent the return of refugees and, after 1967, to settle as many of 
its Jewish citizens as it could in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and 
Gaza Strip.

Zionist leaders hoped that the transformation of Palestine from a 
multicultural, multireligious society into one ruled exclusively by 
and for Jews would have been completed by now, with the Palestinians 
merely a distant memory.

Instead, Israel created a catastrophe.

Today because of their determination not to be driven from what 
remains of their land, and due to their higher birth rate, 
Palestinians are once again becoming the majority population. Their 
struggle draws support across the Arab world, including from groups 
like Hizbullah.

For the first time since the 1948 expulsions accompanying Israel's 
foundation, Jews no longer form the absolute majority in the 
territory they control.

Israeli and Palestinian official statistics count 5.3 million Jews 
living in Israel-Palestine and 5.6 million non-Jews (this does not 
include millions more Palestinian refugees outside the country).

Israeli leaders understand what this means. Prime minister Ehud 
Olmert said in 2003: "We are approaching the point where more and 
more Palestinians will say 'There is no place for two states between 
the [River] Jordan and the [Mediterranean] sea. All we want is the 
right to vote'. The day they get it, we [Israeli Jews] will lose everything."

Olmert added: "I shudder to think that liberal Jewish organisations 
that shouldered the burden of struggle against apartheid in South 
Africa will lead the struggle against us."

The internationally-endorsed solution for the dilemma is a complete 
Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 so that 
Palestinians can establish a state in these areas, which amount to 
just 22 per cent of their original homeland.

Unfortunately, Israel used the years of the peace process, not to 
begin to end its occupation, but to entrench it - doubling the number 
of settlers in the West Bank. While it pulled 8,000 settlers out of 
Gaza last year, former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres explained 
on the BBC in August:' 'We are disengaging from Gaza because of demography."

Israel hoped that, distracted by the pulling out of a few settlers, 
the world would not notice its continued military control of Gaza, as 
well as its annexation wall and the massive expansion of Jews-only 
colonies throughout the West Bank.

Israel's full-scale assault on Lebanon and its round-the-clock 
bombardment of Gaza have nothing to do with the recent attacks on its army.

The indiscriminate killing of civilians can only be understood as an 
attempt to put fear back into the Arabs, in a desperate effort to 
maintain Israel as a Jewish-dominated garrison state surrounded by 
concrete walls.

But groups like Hizbullah and Hamas, which emerged as a direct 
response to the brutality of decades of Israeli occupation, and an 
absence of principled international intervention, represent a 
generation no longer cowed by Israel's US-supplied missiles and jets.

FW de Klerk, the last president of apartheid-era South Africa, 
calculated when he took office that the white government could retain 
power for many years, but only at the cost of inflicting enormous casualties.

Both he and Nelson Mandela concluded that nothing could be gained 
from further bloodshed and that the time had come to negotiate the 
peaceful end of apartheid.

Looking back on the apartheid regime's long history of violence, de 
Klerk wrote in his memoirs: "There is no evidence that the 
assassination of opponents had the slightest effect on the final 
outcome of the struggle, other than causing further personal 
suffering and bitterness."

It is only by ending their claims of superior rights and power that 
Israeli Jews, like white South Africans, will gain the legitimacy and 
acceptance from people in Lebanon, Palestine and across the Middle 
East that cannot be won with violence.

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, and author of 
the forthcoming book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the 
Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. This article first appeared in Ireland's 
<http://www.sbpost.ie>Sunday Business Post on 23 July 2006.

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