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Occupation Denial

jta.org

jta.org

As of late, the chorus from the right, and from the extreme-right wing of Jewish thinkers and followers is growing in strength and loudness, proclaiming that there is no such thing as occupation in the West Bank. Therefore, there is no such thing as settlements, either. Just Jewish people asserting, securing their legitimate right over their ancient land. I myself, unfortunately, cannot but define this movement as “Occupation Denial.” The followers as “Occupation Deniers.”

I say unfortunately, because that expression has connotations and similarities to Holocaust Denial. So first, let me be clear about it: There is no connection or relation between the most horrific, singular atrocity that was inflicted upon the Jewish people in Europe in 1939-45, of no fault of their own, and the ongoing attempt by today’s followers of Jabotinsky-Kahane to lay biblical claim to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. And second, most definitely when it comes to me personally, as a son of Holocaust survivors, I am very sensitive to any such false comparison and innuendos.

But, what needs to be said – must be said. So let’s make it easy on ourselves, and starts by how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word occupation: ‘the possession, use, or settlement of land: OCCUPANCY b : the holding of an office or position.” And “… the act or process of taking possession of a place or area: SEIZURE b : the holding and control of an area by a foreign military force c : the military force occupying a country or the policies carried out by it.” As you can immediately see, if we examine each section of these definitions as apply to our argument here, we clearly conclude that Israel, its Army and government, are occupiers par excellence, since their OCCUPANCY of the West Bank fit all these definitions like a glove.

They took “possession” of the land, and are “settling” the land. In terms of “occupancy,” and while they are “allowing” (for good measure) the “natives” some control over their day-to-day affairs, they are the rulers of the land, and the final authority of office and position there. And of course, the Israeli Army, militarily “took possession” of this land in 1967. It “seized” the territory and “controls” it still by military force, by an army and security forces which carry the decisions of the Israeli government. And so, if we only verify the “Occupation Denial” argument according with these simple terms, the claim of the “deniers” that there is no occupation falls flatly on its face.

Now as to their two main points of argument and dissension; and by saying distension, it is well-worth remembering that the entire civilized world, that is Europe and America, as well as most of the rest of the globe, accepts indeed the definition of the Israeli occupation of the West bank, as clearly defined by the Geneva Convention as such. So did the UN in 1967 with the Security Council Resolution 242, defining it as “territories occupied” by Israel; a resolution which, by the way, both Israel and PLO had accepted. But now to the deniers’ arguments. The first one is saying that since the West Bank was not a recognized state, definitely did not belong to the Palestinians when it was occupied – i.e. there was no, still isn’t, a Palestinian State – then the capturing of the land by the Israeli Army was not an occupation. It was, shall we say, “a free-for-all” land.

But of course, it was not. Pre 1967 and the Six-Day War, the land was part of Jordan, the Hashemite Kingdom. (Jordan itself was an “occupier” of the land, and annexed it illegally in 1950.) The Israeli army defeated the Jordanian army, and “seized” the land from it. It was not a free land. As result of that, and of the struggle of the Palestinians for a land to call their own, Jordan had decided to forfeit any claim to the land to the Palestinians. They were the “trustee of the land,” according to the Arab League. It can be argued, along this line, that one “occupier” replaced another “occupier.” It does not mean, however, that the land was free for the taking.

Here some facts on the matter: The United Nations “Partition Plan for Palestine” of November 1947, which ended the British Mandate and gave birth to the state of Israel, and brought about the 47-48 War of Independence (for the Palestinians The Nakba), was a resolution that recommended the “creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem.” As result of that war, Israel was created (with borders quite changed as result of that war). The Palestinian State is yet to be fully created on the land that the “Partition” resolution defined and designated as “Arab Land.”

So now that we cleared that out of the way, let’s deal with the other claim of the “deniers;” i.e. the Jabotinsky-Kahane claim that this land belongs to us. The Jews, The Hebrews. From biblical times. After all, for them the area is called Judea and Samaria. Now I myself do not “deny” the significance and importance of that claim, and of us Jews strong feelings – and yes, even claims – to our ancient historic land. However, does it mean it “belongs” to us? What about the native Palestinians, the Arabs, who had lived there for so many generations, and have their own religious, historical, national claim to the land? Even more so, there were other people living in ancient Israel – Land of Canaan – before Abraham had arrived there. Most definitely before King David had “captured” Jerusalem. Not long ago, Israeli archeologists discovered evidence of people who had lived in Jerusalem before King David had captured it.

It is well worth remember here that when the Zionist movement and endeavor had begun, an endeavor I support and believe in without reservations, the land was controlled by another foreign occupier, the British. The land was not a recognized state then. If at all, it was known as Palestine. Which is the exact stamp on my birth certificate. Even more so, the Jews making Aliya to the land of their ancestors did not “seize” it, or “capture” it by military force. The people streamed back slowly at first, and then more quickly, into the land due to the persecutions in Europe and elsewhere.

It is true that the Green Line that had separated Israel from Jordan prior to the 1967 war was an “armistice line,” therefore temporarily only in nature. It is also true that Jabotinsky claimed that there are “Two banks to the Jordan river.” In other words, the empire the Jews should ultimately claims as its own even a bigger chunk of the land. There is no end to that, my friends, until you “occupy” all the lands, all the way to the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. But that will not happen. And there must be an end at some point to the continuation of expansion, occupation, and settlement. A reality must take hold that that’s enough for us; we have our state; the home of the Jewish people; we must enable the Palestinians a state of their own, too. Otherwise, there is no peace. Only forever war.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

Clinton(s) and Israel

Clinton_Netanyahu_Abbas_Mitchell

Clinton_Netanyahu_Abbas_Mitchell

As we are fast approaching the November general election, it seems clear to me – I’ll bet whatever little money I have on this outcome – that unless an unforeseen event/disaster would to occur, Hillary Clinton will win the election and will become the next American President. It is time therefore to try to assess what shape the relation between the new administration and Israel will be, and what change Hillary Clinton might bring to this traditionally strong alliance; an alliance that has been shaken and hurt quite a bit throughout the Obama administration, but still withstood the constant struggle with the Netanyahu government.

This consequence was as result, mostly, of the different personalities of the two leaders, and their different outlook on the political international arena. Obama, essentially so, is a peace maker. A compromiser by nature. He won the election in large part on the fact that he objected to the war in Iraq, which Netanyahu supported, and had promised to do anything in his power to end that war, as well as the Afghanistan war, and to disengage America from the conflicts in the Middle East. These were his main objectives, and he has been mostly successful in enforcing this outcome; albeit with some troubling results, and ongoing conflicts.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, who has supported the Republicans in the American Congress and elections, as well as in all other issues throughout the Obama administration’s years in power – at times quite vocally and outrageously – is a different sort of a leader. To begin with, he is not a peacemaker; never was, never will. Peace with the Palestinians, resolving that conflict, is the last thing on his mind. Politically, unlike Obama – very much in the vein of Putin and Erdogan though — all he’s concern with is staying in power, and like these two leaders, if his opponents – remember Rabin? – would have to die and be buried because of that hunger for power, so be it. Because of this, and because of Obama’s preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan – but it must be said here, also because Netanyahu is a much more experienced leader — he was able to win most of his fights with Obama, and handily so I might add, except the last one concerning the Iran nuclear deal, in which Obama finally showed some muscles and guts in his fight against the Netanyahu-AIPAC-Republican-Adelson coalition, and has won that battle.

But Hillary Clinton is a different egg. To begin with, personality wise, she seems to be tougher than Obama, and her origin is in fact as a Republican by youth, nurture and maybe by inclination, which all point to personality traits similar to those of Netanyahu. It makes her, therefore, more capable of understanding his ruthlessness, and if found in a clash with him, not to tend to back down so easily as Obama has done. Even more so, she brings to the table her experience not only in the international political arena as a whole, but in the Middle East and with Netanyahu in particular. From the failed Sharm el-Sheikh peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in September 2010, which she had chaired, and which Netanyahu had derailed at the end with the resumption of settlement activity, to her famous clash with him on new housing units to be built in East Jerusalem (her infamous telephone conversation with him was well documented here on this blog on March 17, 2010*), to her instrumental tough stance that brought about a ceasefire in the belligerence escalation with Hamas in Gaza in November 2012. In short, she knows what a tough cookie Netanyahu is, and won’t easily be fooled by him**.

The big question is, would she invest the effort, time and resources in bringing an end to that ageless conflict. I’d say on record here that I think the chances are greater than in the Obama administration that she would. For a number of reasons. First, she is not carrying the burden, and necessity of putting an end to wars with direct American participation. She will be in charge of somehow defusing the turmoil that the Middle East is today. The burden that she carries is her support of the Iraq War in the Senate, and therefore bringing peace to the region might be of added personal challenge and importance to her. Not to mention that the need, internationally, to conquer terrorism and bring stability to this combustible region is of the utmost importance.

Whether she sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as some do, as the cause, or the seed of all the troubles in the region, I do not know. But it is fair to assume that at the very least she sees the enormous benefits – to America, to the region, to the world – from resolving this issue. It is my opinion that she is more equipped mentally, and much more experienced than Obama was to succeed there. Even internally, she might be better situated. She might be less afraid than Obama was of the wrath of the Jewish lobby for one; for second, better situated to deal with hostile Congress; and for third, more concern with the liberal, progressive Sanders-Warren led wing of the Democratic party, urging her to push ahead, and bring about an acceptable solution there. (Somehow, it might even affect a political change in Israel itself finally. Though that’s a different story.)

But here’s the kicker, my friends: Bill Clinton. It is my hope, and prediction too – at least by way of a reasonable possibility – that he not only will influence his wife on the matter, that’s a given after all, but that he will jump right in at an hour of need to help secure the peace. Remember, he was probably closer than any other American leader to bring about a resolution to the conflict with the Camp David Summit of 2000. If not the timing being very close to the end of his second term, and the vise of Yasser Arafat on the one side, who couldn’t see what a great opportunity it was for him and for his people, and Arik Sharon on the other side, who seized the day in Jerusalem in order to sabotage that agreement, it might have been a reality by now. Such a development would be Bill Clinton’s big chance; a déjà vu if ever there was one; for peace and for the Nobel peace prize as well. With the backing of his wife, he just might make it happen.

* Exclusive Transcript of Clinton and Netanyahu phone call Posted on March 17, 2010

** “In March 2009 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Israel. She said that Israeli settlements and demolition of Arab homes in East Jerusalem were “unhelpful” to the peace process. Clinton also voiced support for the establishment of a Palestinian state.” Wikipedia

*** The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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