[News] Whatever Happened to Palestine?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 20 12:27:12 EDT 2007


http://www.counterpunch.org/

September 20, 2007


Justice Forgotten


Whatever Happened to Palestine?

By KATHLEEN CHRISTISON

A group of anti-war leaders held a conference call at the end of 
August under the sponsorship of Michael Lerner's Network of Spiritual 
Progressives to do some long-term strategic planning for the anti-war 
movement. The discussants included leaders of the country's best 
known peace groups -- United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, Pax 
Christi, the Department of Peace, and others -- as well as Lerner 
himself and Democratic Congressmen Lynn Woolsey and Jim Moran. They 
talked about Iraq, of course, but of virtually nothing else. There 
was a bit about "peace and justice" in general, one passing mention 
of trying to stop an attack on Iran, and a whole lot of talk about 
avoiding action on all issues, including even Iraq, until Woolsey and 
a couple of progressive colleagues try their hands at manipulating 
weak-kneed congressional Democrats into "showing some backbone" on a 
withdrawal from Iraq. This must be a new concept in opposing war: do nothing.

You would think there was nothing else wrong in the world. There was 
no talk of the U.S. aggression in Afghanistan (which is assumed even 
by the anti-war movement to be a "good" war, despite the excessive 
number of innocent civilians -- never remembered -- who have been 
killed there). There was nothing about safeguarding Lebanon from 
frequent Israeli attack and nothing, of course, about supporting 
Palestinian human and national rights or opposing Israel's gross 
violation of these rights. There was nothing, in short, about any of 
the massive injustices perpetrated around the world by the United 
States, primarily as part of the so-called war on terror, and ignored 
by the anti-war/peace movement. This is a peace movement but 
apparently not a justice movement.

Interestingly, two of the discussants, Lerner and Rick Ufford-Chase, 
a representative of the Presbyterian Church (USA), now lead 
organizations formed after earlier efforts to address the 
Palestinian-Israeli issue failed in the face of strong opposition 
from Israeli supporters. Lerner formed the Network of Spiritual 
Progressives after his Tikkun Communities faced too much opposition 
from the Jewish community over the Tikkun effort to tread a middle 
path between Israel and the Palestinians. Ufford-Chase was the 
principal Presbyterian spokesman when the church launched a campaign 
in 2004 to divest from companies supporting Israel's occupation, but 
after the church backed away from that position in 2006 under heavy 
attack from Israeli supporters, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, 
headed by Ufford-Chase, formed a new organization focused 
specifically on Iraq, called Christian Peace Witness for Iraq.

Thus has the anti-war movement abandoned Palestine and the 
Palestinians to the Israeli-U.S. pro-war machine. This abandonment is 
not new by any means; it just gets more and more unjust with time. 
United for Peace and Justice has always been chary of speaking out on 
behalf of the Palestinians. It organized a demonstration in June 
opposing the Israeli occupation timed to coincide with the 40th 
anniversary of the occupation, but this was such a pro forma event 
that the section of UFPJ's website dealing with its 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0520217187/counterpunchmaga>
[]
"Palestine/Israel Just Peace Campaign" has not been updated since 
mid-2004. Pax Christi regularly tackles nuclear disarmament, the 
School of the Americas, Iraq, immigration, Haiti -- as, of course, it 
should -- but Palestine? Rarely if ever. And so on, with a few 
notable exceptions, through the catalogue of peace movements.

Scott Ritter's latest book on strategizing for the anti-war movement, 
Waging Peace, makes no mention of the very unpeaceful situation in 
Palestine-Israel. MoveOn.org and other political organizations give 
little indication that they have ever even heard of Palestine. The 
same for liberal talk radio hosts on Air America, particularly Thom 
Hartmann and Randi Rhodes. Grassroots initiatives such as the 
Declaration of Peace make no mention of Palestine and the very 
preventable tragedy evolving there. None of the excellent films about 
the Bush administration's aggression around the world -- neither 
Fahrenheit 9/11, nor Uncovered, nor Hijacking Catastrophe, nor No End 
in Sight, nor any of the others that have come out in the last 
several years -- contains a word about the very large part Israel 
plays in the U.S. imperial machine or about the carte blanche that 
U.S. war-mongering has given Israel to step up its oppression of the 
Palestinians and its murder of the Palestinian nation.

And this is the key point: Israel's war machine is essentially a part 
of the U.S. war machine, Israel's assault on Palestinians is part of 
the U.S. "war on terror," the U.S. and Israel do not go to war 
anywhere in the region without close coordination and cooperation. 
The U.S. enables Israel's occupation and oppression of Palestinians; 
Israel facilitates and pushes U.S. war policy. One does not act 
without the other, and the Palestinian plight cannot therefore be 
separated from whatever other atrocities this war machine perpetrates 
elsewhere in the Middle East, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, 
or Iran. Although Israeli supporters roundly condemn any attempt to 
link Israel to planning for the war in Iraq, they never hesitate to 
link the Palestinians to the "terrorists" against whom the Iraq war 
and the "war on terror" are supposedly being fought.

In their new book on the Israel lobby, John Mearsheimer and Stephen 
Walt provide masses of evidence revealing Israel's and the lobby's 
role in pushing for and enthusiastically backing the Iraq war. 
Indeed, the war was heralded by its neocon proponents as a path to 
Palestinian capitulation ("the path to Jerusalem goes through 
Baghdad") -- the idea being that by defeating and humiliating Saddam 
Hussein and Iraq, the U.S. would so intimidate the Palestinians that 
they would surrender easily to Israel. But the peace community 
studiously avoids recognizing the Israeli connection to the war. It 
also studiously ignores the interlocking realities of the 
U.S.-Israeli relationship when it argues that the Iraq war is the 
urgent issue these days, that this is where Americans are being 
killed and this is where protest efforts must be concentrated. One 
wonders why "peace and justice" did not concern this peace community 
before the Iraq war, when Palestinians had already been suffering 
injustice and oppression at the hands of Israel and the U.S. for decades.

Outside the U.S., the interrelationship between conflict in 
Palestine-Israel and turmoil in the rest of the region is well 
understood. Public opinion polls in Europe and the Middle East have 
demonstrated repeatedly that U.S. support for Israel is the principal 
cause of increasing anti-Americanism everywhere. In Ireland, 
according to the chairman of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity 
Committee, James Bowen, writing in Haaretz, "disgust" with Israel's 
injustices perpetrated against the Palestinians -- and particularly 
with the land confiscations and home demolitions so reminiscent of 
British practices in Ireland a century ago-- has reached "such a 
level that even highly conservative institutions that normally try to 
avoid politics are driven to express concern." A state-sponsored 
Irish academy of artists, usually apolitical, issued a call early 
this year encouraging Irish artists and cultural institutions to 
"reflect deeply" before cooperating with state-sponsored Israeli 
cultural events and institutions. "Detestation is spreading around 
the world," Bowen wrote. In Britain as well, academic, cultural, and 
labor boycotts of Israel have been called by various organizations.

But not in America. Despite disgust in Ireland, boycotts in England, 
detestation around the world over Israel's U.S.-financed oppression 
of another people, the peace community and the anti-war movement in 
the U.S. are unfazed. Gross injustice to the Palestinians raises 
little concern among those concentrated on the urgent problem in 
Iraq. Yet the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, specifically the dire 
situation of the Palestinians, is now, and has been since well before 
Iraq became urgent, the central issue in Middle East politics, the 
volatile center of the most volatile region in the world. It forms 
the basis for the Arab people's strongest grievance -- a grievance 
against Israel as perpetrator, against the U.S. as Israel's armorer 
and benefactor, against the Arab state leaders who have failed to 
help or stand up for the Palestinians. The anti-war movement ignores 
the most explosive issue, the one underlying all others, when it 
turns its back on the Palestinians and ignores Israel's increasingly 
brutal treatment. By looking away from Palestine, it is looking away 
from justice toward a false, at best incomplete peace.

So the anti-war movement essentially contents itself with protesting 
the Iraq war for self-centered reasons, because it is killing 
Americans and diverting huge monies from domestic needs. The anti-war 
movement in many ways reflects the thinking and feelings of society 
at large, and the fear among protesters, as among Democratic 
politicians, of being perceived to be not "supporting the troops," 
not adequately supporting America, and therefore not properly 
patriotic, is strong and pervasive because society in general has set 
up this issue as a major focus.

But an even larger problem for the anti-war movement is the fear of 
being labeled soft on terrorism and soft on Islam. In an era in which 
the right wing is manufacturing a "clash of civilizations" between 
the West and the Muslim world and a strong anti-Muslim bias 
increasingly colors public discourse, it is simply too uncomfortable 
for many on the left to be caught on the wrong side of the 
barricades, advocating justice for Palestinians or any Arabs and 
Muslims. Anti-war protesters fear being associated with Iraqi 
insurgents and even more with Palestinians, who are all considered 
"insurgents" and "terrorists" against Israel. Many who never caviled 
at being labeled communists for supporting the Viet Cong during the 
Vietnam war now fear being labeled Islamo-fascists (whatever that is) 
or terrorists or, horror of horrors, PLO lovers. Being seen to 
support Muslim or Arab rights at a time when Muslims are opposing 
Americans in Iraq and Israelis in Palestine and elsewhere is simply 
intolerable for most on the left. And so the us-versus-them attitude 
of the Bush neocons has in many ways overtaken the anti-war movement 
as well, even when this means allowing injustice to flourish.

Justice First

Some people call this racism. Israeli-British jazz musician and 
activist Gilad Atzmon, an irreverent anti-Zionist who comments 
frequently on Middle East issues, gave 
<http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2007/04/gilad-atzmon-jazz-and-jihad-discourse.html>a 
talk at the University of Denver in April in which he castigated 
Western society in general for its "collective indifference" to 
crimes committed in the Middle East "on our behalf and in our names" 
and charged the anti-war movement with a self-indulgence that makes 
it indifferent as well to the worst injustices. Noting that there is 
a "common denominator between Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan" 
largely attributable to the influence over U.S. policy exerted by 
Israel and its supporters ("America has been operating officially as 
an Israeli mission force . . . currently fight[ing] the last 
sovereign pockets of Muslim resistance"), Atzmon pointedly accused 
Americans and Europeans in general of caring about Muslims only "as 
long as they stop being Muslims." The notion of a clash of cultures 
and civilizations, he said, has resonance even in the solidarity movement.

"Naturally, we tend to expect the subject of our solidarity to 
endorse our views while dumping his own. As much as Blair and Bush 
insist upon democratizing the Muslim world, we, the so-called left 
humanists, have our own various agendas for the region and its 
people. In Europe some archaic Marxists are convinced that 'working 
class politics' is the only viable outlook of the conflict and its 
solution. Some other deluded socialists and egalitarians are talking 
about liberating the Muslims of their religious traits. The 
cosmopolitans within the solidarity movement would suggest to 
Palestinians that nationalism and national identity belong to the 
past. Noticeably, many of us love Muslims and Arabs as long as they 
act as white, post-enlightenment Europeans."

Western society, including the anti-war movement, Atzmon charged, has 
"managed to continuously fail to act for the people of Iraq, 
Palestine, and Afghanistan." Supporting Muslims is "probably a bridge 
too far for most Westerners." We cannot accept the "otherness" of 
Muslims, and so we "self indulge with peace ideologies at the expense 
of other people's pain."

This is a harsh indictment, but in fact, the truth is that the 
anti-war movement today cares little about justice for those who are 
different, whom it considers "other," and this gravely undermines the 
movement's impact. It cares least of all about justice for those whom 
Israel considers enemies. Ultimately, a little outrage is in order. 
The anti-war movement needs a new focus, concentrated on achieving 
universal justice around the world first, as a prerequisite for a 
true peace. Only this new approach can accomplish the peace community's aims.

When CounterPunch published Bill Christison's article, 
"<http://www.counterpunch.org/christison082707.html>A Global Justice 
Movement" on August 27, he received numerous comments in a favorable 
vein indicating that the concept of "justice as a prerequisite for 
peace" or "justice before peace" was a new and revolutionary idea, 
coming as a kind of epiphany for many people. This is an indication 
of how little justice enters into the thinking of ordinary citizens 
and peace activists. It should not be such a novel concept.

There were also a few comments from critics who claimed that the idea 
of putting peace in a secondary position after justice was wrong 
because Gandhi and Martin Luther King always worked for peace. But 
this is a misunderstanding of Gandhian thinking and purpose. Gandhi 
very clearly did not struggle for peace at the price of injustice, 
for peace at any price. He already had that; India was peaceful under 
British rule, but it was not just. The essence of Gandhi's 
satyagraha, and of King's civil rights movement, was resistance to 
injustice through nonviolent civil disobedience -- precisely, in 
other words, to disturb the peace by conducting direct nonviolent 
action against unjust laws.

But the idea of justice first is a novel thought in most people's 
minds. Think how many anti-war organizations list only peace or 
"peace and justice," in that order, in their names. United for Peace 
and Justice comes to mind. But what if we reversed priorities and 
spoke of "justice and peace" instead? Think of the much-touted Middle 
East "peace process" as instead the Middle East "justice process," 
and a new light is cast on the issue, forcing us to recognize that, 
no matter how much we may all talk about "peace and justice," few of 
us truly have much concern for the justice half of that equation. And 
justice fades away altogether as a concern when the perpetrator of 
injustice is Israel; few, even in the active peace and anti-war 
community, will deal in any way with Israeli injustice. The anti-war 
movement is a "peace-at-any-price community," and for most activists, 
achieving peace without achieving true justice for all peoples would suffice.

But the mere end of shooting is not peace. Justice does not simply 
come along with peace as a kind of side benefit; justice must be 
actively worked for, and it must be achieved before there can be real 
peace. Peace is an empty concept without justice. The oppressed never 
call for peace; their struggle is always for justice. Ending the war 
in Iraq without bringing justice to the Iraqi people will not bring 
real peace and, even more important, ending the U.S. role in Iraq 
will most definitely not bring justice or true peace to the Palestinian people.

The concept of "justice" is not easy to define, but there do exist 
standards of justice in international law and custom that limit the 
concept and make an agreed definition readily discernible. The body 
of international human rights laws drafted after World War II 
provides an enlightened guide to ensuring the dignity and worth of 
individuals and to guaranteeing the rights that "are considered vital 
to life in a just society," as the Israeli human rights organization 
B'Tselem puts it. These laws include the 1948 Universal Declaration 
of Human Rights, which defines the rights of individuals and the 
obligations of states toward those individuals, as well as various 
covenants and conventions on political and civil rights. In addition, 
humanitarian laws, such as the Hague and Geneva conventions, 
governing the conduct of war, particularly the conduct of combatants 
and occupying powers in war.

Similar standards of "peace" do not exist either in law or in custom. 
"Peace" means something different for everyone, and one person's 
peace is often another person's injustice. For Israel, peace means 
security -- even if, and perhaps particularly if, Palestinians are 
disadvantaged and denied justice. For Palestinians, peace means a 
redress of injustices done to them for almost 60 years.

Many of history's most epic struggles for good have been struggles 
not for peace but for justice. Why, for instance, have humanists 
opposed bigotry and racism in modern times? Not primarily because 
these fundamental violations of human decency impede peace, but 
because they violate common standards of justice. White South Africa 
lived peacefully during much of the apartheid period. Southern 
slaveholders in the pre-Civil War United States lived in peace while 
oppressing blacks. Israel has enjoyed peace for most of its nearly 60 
years, even while dispossessing the Palestinian people, occupying 
Palestinian territory, killing and ethnically cleansing Palestinians. 
But South African blacks and American slaves had no justice despite 
living in peace. Palestinians have had no justice since Israel's creation.

If we think about justice as the first priority and allow the 
principles of justice to be the guide in moving toward a just and 
peaceful end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, we gain a clearer 
picture of the situation and the only way out of it. We are led back 
inevitably to 1948 and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, the 
only time and event where justice rendered will ultimately resolve 
this conflict. The Palestinians' dispossession is a fundamental 
injustice from which all subsequent injustices have sprung, one that 
can only be rectified by some mutual agreement on the Palestinian 
right of return. This is the only way to true peace. It is important 
to understand that Israel exists as a Jewish state only because it 
was founded in 1948 on a grave injustice to the Palestinian people. 
It is also critical to understand that Jews will not be "thrown into 
the sea" if Zionism and its injustices are ended -- any more than 
dismantling apartheid South Africa meant throwing whites into the 
sea. (See the Appendix for a description of some of the specific ways 
in which Israel perpetrates injustice against Palestinians.)

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe observed in his 2004 book 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521683157/counterpunchmaga>A 
History of Modern Palestine -- a history of struggle in Palestine 
from the people's perspective, which stands out as a kind of Israeli 
version of Howard Zinn's classic A People's History of the United 
States -- that "for any political peace initiative to succeed, the 
chapter of Palestine's dispossession needs to be closed." Far from 
closing this chapter, he noted, the Oslo peace process rather asked 
the Palestinians to forsake remembrance of that dispossession, "the 
only reason for their struggle since 1948." An historian with a rare 
sense of compassion and an even rarer sense of justice, Pappe went on 
to envision a future of justice and peace for Palestinians and Jews 
in Palestine: "Recognizing the very act of dispossession -- by 
accepting in principle the Palestinian refugees' right of return -- 
could be the crucial act that opens the gate to the road out of 
conflict. A direct dialogue between the dispossessed and the state 
that expelled them can refresh the discourse of peace and may lead 
people and leaderships alike to acknowledge the need to seek a united 
political structure which, at different historical junctures in this 
story, has seemed possible."

This is the hope and the promise of justice accorded to both sides.

Palestine stands as a challenge to the anti-war movement in this 
country. The Palestinian situation is a monstrous humanitarian 
catastrophe, of literally breathtaking scope. Until the anti-war 
movement begins to seek justice for the Palestinians and not merely 
some vague, undefined, and highly politicized "peace," it will never 
be respected throughout the world. Only when it honestly begins to 
protest injustice perpetrated against all peoples in the world 
regardless of their ethnicity and religion -- whether they are 
Palestinians, Iraqis, Israelis, Americans, or anyone else -- will the 
world look to Americans as a decent people. Until that day comes, the 
world can expect global injustice to deepen. The unfolding 
catastrophe created by U.S. policies will only worsen, wars will be 
endless, peace will never be achieved.



Appendix -- A Catalog of Injustices

Put plainly, Israel -- encouraged and supported morally, politically, 
and financially by the United States -- is doing grave injustice to 
the Palestinian people, and has been for 60 years. The first and most 
grievous injustice occurred in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were 
forced to flee their homes -- either because of fighting in their 
towns and villages or because they were deliberately expelled by 
Zionist/Israeli forces -- and were neither allowed to return to their 
homes nor compensated. Ilan Pappe describes in grim detail the 
Zionists' carefully laid-out and efficiently implemented plans for 
the Palestinians' expulsion and dispossession in his latest book, 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1851685553/counterpunchmaga>The 
Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Until these refugees, now with their 
descendants numbering over four million, receive justice by being 
allowed to return and/or being compensated under a mutually agreed 
formula, neither Palestinians nor Israelis will ever enjoy true peace 
and stability.

UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 1948 -- which stated 
that Palestinian 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" or should be compensated -- was the first 
of numerous international affirmations of what has come to be 
referred to as the Palestinian right of return. Justice will not be 
served, nor peace achieved, until this issue is resolved equitably 
and democratically, in a manner satisfactory to the human rights and 
the national aspirations of both Palestinians, including those living 
in refugee camps outside Palestine, and Israeli Jews.

Since Israel's creation in 1948, justice for Israelis has come at the 
cost of a succession of injustices to the Palestinians. In 
Palestine-Israel today, it is the Palestinians who live without 
justice. Simply by virtue of the fact that Israel enjoys total 
dominance over the Palestinians and over all the land of Palestine, 
there cannot be full impartial justice for Palestinians. The absence 
of justice in Israeli domination over the Palestinians is clear when 
one examines individual aspects of the Palestinian situation. The 
international community's demand, for instance, that any Palestinian 
governing authority accept three pre-conditions to negotiations -- 
recognition of Israel's right to exist, renunciation of violence, and 
adherence to past Palestinian-Israeli agreements -- without a 
reciprocal Israeli acceptance of the same conditions, cannot 
constitute impartial justice. True peace cannot be achieved until 
Israel is required to do equal justice to the Palestinians on these 
issues by recognizing the Palestinian people's right to exist as a 
viable nation, by renouncing its own violence, and by agreeing to 
adhere to all past agreements.

Justice is also violated as long as Israel retains control of land 
and property inside the West Bank expropriated unilaterally and 
without compensation from private and communal Palestinian ownership 
for the purpose of building colonies and roads for the exclusive use 
of Jewish citizens of Israel. Uncompensated seizure of land from one 
people for any use, and particularly for the exclusive use of a 
specific ethnic or religious population, cannot possibly be 
characterized as impartial justice. No peace will be possible until 
this grave injustice is first rectified. The Israeli organization 
Peace Now issued a report in November 2006, updated in March 2007, on 
the construction of Israeli colonies, or settlements, on privately 
owned Palestinian land. Entitled 
"<http://www.peacenow.org.il/data/SIP_STORAGE/files/6/2846.doc>G-U-I-L-T-Y!: 
Construction of Settlements upon Private Land -- Official Data," the 
report concludes that almost 32 percent of land appropriated by 
settlements is actually privately owned by Palestinians. A total of 
131 Israeli colonies sit entirely or partially on private Palestinian 
land . An earlier Peace Now report, entitled 
"<http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=195&docid=1513>Apartheid 
Roads," was issued in October 2005, describing the extensive network 
of limited-access roads throughout the West Bank, also built on 
Palestinian land and accessible only to Israelis, that connect 
Israeli colonies to each other.

Virtually all aspects of Israel's continued presence in and control 
over occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza ultimately 
deprive Palestinians of justice, as defined in international human 
rights law. International law requires, for instance, that Israel as 
an occupying power respect the right of Palestinians to move freely 
in the occupied territories. This right is recognized under the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in the 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Israeli 
human rights group B'Tselem has published a report, entitled 
"<http://www.btselem.org/English/Freedom%5Fof%5FMovement/>Restrictions 
on 
Movement<http://www.btselem.org/English/Freedom%5Fof%5FMovement/>," 
on these and other rights denied to Palestinians. The report also 
contains links to pertinent international laws . A more recent 
report, 
"<http://www.btselem.org/english/Publications/Summaries/20070807_Ground_to_a_Halt.asp>Ground 
to a Halt: Denial of Palestinians' Freedom of Movement in the West 
Bank," was published in August 2007.

Another, fuller B'Tselem report, entitled 
"<http://www.btselem.org/English/International_Law/Index.asp>International 
Law<http://www.btselem.org/English/International_Law/Index.asp>," 
describes how international law applies to the occupied territories . 
The reports provide links to a variety of international human rights 
and humanitarian laws, including the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, 
which provide for the protection of civilians during war and under 
occupation (and which Israel signed). The Fourth Geneva Convention 
Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War in 
particular applies to Palestinians living in the occupied territories 
and the conduct of the Israeli occupier. It prohibits, among other 
practices, collective punishment, deportation of the occupied 
population, settlement of the occupier's population in the occupied 
territory, and the confiscation of property belonging to the occupied 
population -- all of which Israel has carried out in occupied East 
Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

The separation wall that Israel has been constructing inside the 
occupied West Bank since 2002 constitutes a grave human rights 
violation against the Palestinians and a denial of justice. The wall 
-- composed for most of its length of a 50- to 100-yard-wide expanse 
including patrol roads, trenches, and coils of barbed wire on both 
sides of an electronic fence, as well as in urban areas a 
26-foot-high concrete wall -- is built almost entirely on Palestinian 
land inside the occupied territory. It appropriates approximately 10 
percent of the West Bank by placing this land on the Israeli side, 
where most of it is inaccessible to Palestinians. Many Palestinian 
villages are separated from their agricultural lands by the wall. As 
many as 50 Palestinian communities, home to 245,000 people, are 
surrounded by the wall on three and in some cases four sides; entry 
or exit to some of these communities is only permitted on foot, while 
the remainder can be reached only by one Israeli-controlled road. 
More than half -- up to 90 percent, according to some estimates -- of 
the Palestinians' fresh water wells are on the Israeli side. Scores 
of Palestinian homes have been demolished to make way for the wall.

The wall surrounds occupied Arab East Jerusalem, placing some 200,000 
Palestinian Jerusalemites on Israel's side of the barrier and cutting 
them off from their West Bank hinterland. The wall around Jerusalem 
also cuts off most West Bank Palestinians from their religious, 
political, and economic capital in Jerusalem. Altogether, the wall 
directly affects half a million Palestinians, cutting people off from 
schools, jobs, hospitals and destroying commerce. The Israeli human 
rights group B'Tselem has issued a detailed report, with several 
subsections, on the wall's consequences, entitled 
"<http://www.btselem.org/English/Separation%5FBarrier/>Separation Barrier".

In July 2004, the United Nations' International Court of Justice 
found by a vote of 14 to 1 (the lone dissenting vote was cast by the 
American judge) that construction of the wall is 
"<http://www.icj-cij/.org/icjwww/idocket/imwp/imwpframe.htm>contrary 
to international law" . Israel has defied the ICJ injunctions. No 
peace is possible as long as the injustice of the wall remains. Peace 
cannot exist when one people believes it needs a wall of any sort 
between itself and its neighbor. Building this wall deep inside the 
neighbor's territory is an even graver injustice, and the wall will 
remain an insurmountable obstacle to peace unless it is dismantled or 
at least entirely relocated inside Israel's recognized borders.

A wall also surrounds the tiny 130-square-mile territory of Gaza, and 
has done so since the beginning of the Oslo "peace process" in the 
early 1990s. Despite Israel's so-called disengagement from Gaza in 
2005 and the removal of Israeli settlers and Israeli soldiers, Israel 
maintains total control over Gaza, literally imprisoning its 1.3 
million inhabitants. Gaza's population density makes it one of the 
most heavily populated places on earth. Israel controls all four 
sides of Gaza, not only its northern and eastern borders with Israel, 
but also its southern border with Egypt and its coastline on the 
Mediterranean. Gaza's airspace is also controlled by Israel, and 
there is no functioning airport or port. Neither people nor cargo can 
enter or exit Gaza without Israeli permission, and in periods deemed 
by Israel to be crisis periods, entry and exit points are closed 
entirely, often for weeks on end, so that critical imports such as 
food are stopped; products for export, particularly produce, are 
halted; and Gaza's inhabitants cannot leave for any purpose, 
including for medical treatment and schooling. Israel controls, and 
occasionally halts, the supply of gas and electricity to Gaza. 
B'Tselem has issued a detailed report on the situation in Gaza, 
entitled "The Gaza Strip after Disengagement" 
[http://www.btselem.org/English/Gaza_Strip/].

Palestinians do commit injustices against Israelis -- primarily in 
the form of suicide bombings against civilians and the firing of 
rockets onto civilian areas in Israel, actions that must be condemned 
-- but as a non-sovereign governing authority with no security or 
judicial control over Israel or Israelis and little way to exert 
security control even over the Palestinian population, Palestinians 
are incapable of committing the kind of systematic abuse of justice 
that Israel perpetrates against them. Although Palestinian attacks on 
civilians are to be condemned, fairness and balance dictate that 
Israel's government-perpetrated terrorism against civilians be 
equally condemned, along with Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.

As a matter of justice, the Palestinians have the right to resist 
domination by Israel. Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions 
considers struggles against "colonial domination and alien occupation 
and against racist regimes" to be legitimate as part of any people's 
right to 
<http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/93.htm>self-determination. Ohio 
State international law expert John Quigley has laid out a legal case 
for Palestinian resistance in a 2005 book entitled 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0822335395/counterpunchmaga>The 
Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective. International 
law, Quigley makes clear, in the form of the UN Charter and repeated 
UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, affirms the 
right of peoples to enjoy self-determination and to resist 
infringements on that right by all means necessary, including force, 
but short of attacking civilians. In considering other cases of 
foreign domination over colonial peoples, the Security Council has 
even recognized a superior right by guerrilla organizations to use 
force against colonial powers, and in resolutions during the 1970s 
concerning Israeli reprisal attacks against Palestinian guerrilla 
raids, the Council found the latter to be lawful and "dealt with them 
as attacks by a colonized people entitled to the right of 
self-determination," according to Quigley.

The late Israeli sociologist and political commentator Baruch 
Kimmerling, writing in Haaretz shortly after the al-Aqsa intifada 
began in 2000, affirmed the Palestinians' right to oppose the 
occupation forcibly. The "continuing circumstances of occupation and 
repression," Kimmerling said, "give them [the Palestinians], by any 
measure, the right to resist that occupation with any means at their 
disposal and to rise up in violence against that occupation. This is 
a moral right inherent to natural law and international law."

Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and has worked 
on Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0520217187/counterpunchmaga>Perceptions 
of Palestine and 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/097125480X/counterpunchmaga>The 
Wound of Dispossession. She can be reached at 
<mailto:kathy.bill.christison at comcast.net>kathy.bill.christison at comcast.net.




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