Sound the Alarm on Transfer with an Swiss journalist's idea for a dramatic protest
by Stanley Heller
Whatever else you can say about Israel it is always pretty open about what it's going to do. 20 years ago there was an invasion of Lebanon that left some fifteen or 20,000 civilians dead. It was extensively talked about beforehand in the Israeli media.
Now the talk in Israel is of the physical removal of masses of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories. In Israeli parlance it's called "transfer". It's called "ethnic cleansing" by almost everyone else. Three parties that call for "transfer" of the Palestinians sit in the current Israeli government.
In April Professor Martin van Creveld, Israel's best known military historian and a political conservative, warned about transfer during an Iraq war. In an article in The Telegraph (UK) he wrote "They would not drag people out of their houses but use heavy artillery to drive them out; the damage caused to Jenin would look like a pinprick in comparison". In August Meron Benvenisti the former deputy Mayor of Jerusalem made a similar warning in the Israeli paper Ha'aretz.
In September Israeli intellectuals signed a letter saying "We are deeply worried by indications that the "fog of war" could be exploited by the Israeli government to commit further crimes against the Palestinian people, up to full-fledged ethnic cleansing."
It's not just right wing crazies who talk about transfer. At the beginning of October liberal Israeli historian Benny Morris wrote a long article for The Guardian of the UK. In what I think is a fair introduction to the article the Guardian says Morris, "argues the Middle East might now be at peace if Israel's first leader had driven out all the Palestinians in 1948". The article is an attempt to give a respectable pedigree to the notion of "transfer" showing that British, Jewish and supposedly even some Arabs saw the "iron logic" of the notion.
Last month the Jordanian government asked the Israeli government to formally renounce any idea of mass expulsions. Sharon's government refused.
The first transfer in 1948 was replete with massacres large and small. This one would be even more violent. Palestinians are much more determined not to leave now. On the Israeli side their Prime Minister is a man who has personally led the slaughter of Palestinians for 50 years and who has never suffered any long term political reverses because of it.
Let me lay out a possible scenario, the U.S. invades Iraq, a huge bomb goes off in Israel and the the IDF moves into action. Village after village is marched to the Jordanian border. The Jordanian Army refuses to let Palestinians cross the border and the IDF bombards them until they retreat. Then the Palestinians are driven across the border.
Impossible? A nightmare? Well, who would stop Sharon? Bush might if he thought it harmed the pulverizing of Iraq. If the war's going well, however, would he even lift a finger?
Shraga Elam a Jewish journalist living in Zurich reminds us that the goal of the Nazis until 1941 was deportation of the Jews. Then it moved on to extermination. He suggests that we stage protests using the most easily recognizable symbol of the Jewish catastrophe in WWII, the yellow Star of David. Beginning in 1939, the Nazis used this sign to mark Jews apart. Via http://www.haefely.info/ he has provided us with picture of the star the Nazis used overprinted with the word "Palestinian" and the words "Stop on the Ongoing Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians"
A further indication of Sharon's intention to expel the Palestinians
Shraga Elam, Nov. 28, 2002)
According to the enclosed Ha'aretz article, Sharon rejected a Jordanian request to issue a public declaration opposing "transfer" (mass expulsion) of Palestinians. By doing so he of course strengthens the overwhelming evidence that Israel plans to escalate the ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign and deport Palestinians from their country. The official Israeli position - as stated by, for example, Mark Regev, spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington - is that it is not necessary to issue such denials because "the Israeli government has never believed in the transfer option."(1).
This statement cannot be taken seriously, as several Israeli ministers repeatedly declared their support of such an intent. US assurances to Jordan that there is no danger of "transfer" must be viewed skeptically. Though Israel's devastating economic situation makes it more dependent than ever on the USA and therefore open to Bush administration pressure to make serious concessions, including revoking the "transfer" plans, should the Bush administration really wish to exert such pressure. But there are few indications that the US wants to dictate any essential change in Israeli policy. The Bush administration has till now at best just slowed down the tempo of Israeli escalation of ethnic cleansing. The Israeli-American cooperation has never been so strong as at the moment. Israel and its US supporters are essential to, perhaps even the engine of, the so-called anti-terror campaign. For example, Israel has the job of helping to break down German resistance to attacking Iraq. Last week, following a request from Washington (2), Israel wielded the "Auschwitz club" (3) and made Germany soften its opposition to the Iraq campaign. Following a signal from Jerusalem the German government declared its readiness to supply Israel with totally unnecessary "Patriot" rockets (most likely together with German soldiers!). This symbolic gesture is expected to be the springboard for further German concessions. At the first Iraqi retaliation against Israel, the German government will almost certainly withdraw its reservations and join the war efforts.
Israel is likely to cash in heavily for its services; it seems only a matter of time before it gets more US funds and military materiel. To win the coming election any Israeli candidate has to be able to promise massive external financial support. The person with the best chance of getting the necessary assurances from abroad is of course Sharon, who is therefore interested that the US to escalate its military actions against Iraq before the Israeli election. Israel is likely to get a war dividend of some 14 billion dollars, whether or not it refrains from taking part in the military activities against Iraq.
The "transfer" scenario has a very high likelihood, for the following reasons, among others:
1. According to MK Benny Allon (quoted in the Israeli weekly Makor Rishon), Condoleezza Rice has asked US think-tanks to study the feasibility of deporting Palestinians to Iraq, Jordan serving 'only' as a transit country. Thus it might even be that US authorities are not lying in assuring Jordan that masses of Palestinians will not be (permanently) transferred to Jordan. The Jordanians may even be informed about the project and either trying to sabotage it or looking for an alibi in case it comes to pass.
2. The strategy of the Israeli military junta under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Ya'alon is obvious. They are working hard to finish the project of 1948: expulsion of the Palestinians from all of what was mandatory Palestine. Sharon declared recently that he is for a Palestinian state, but neglected to mention where. There is no chance that these generals will agree to return to the Oslo model, according to which Palestinian armed police forces were supposed to have the job of suppressing their people's armed resistance to Israeli occupation. Mofaz restated recently clearly his opposition to the Oslo model at the funeral of Col. Dror Weinberg. He said: "I don't wish to rely on the Palestinians [to do the dirty work for us] but only upon us."(4) The Israeli army has done its "best" to sabotage any efforts to achieve a cease-fire and a political solution. The IOF has also destroyed extensively the capability of Palestinian police forces to suppress Palestinian resistance. On the other hand, there doesn't appear to be an Israeli desire to return to the mode of full responsibility as an occupying power, with Israel exerting direct control over the Palestinians. Otherwise the Israeli army wouldn't have given way to such an orgy of destruction in the Palestinian territories. Israel would have to invest a lot of money to reconstruct damaged Palestinian infrastructures and generate jobs for Palestinians, if it intended to administer a Palestinian population in these territories. Such a mission is not to be found high on the Israeli agenda or in the budget. Thus the only real option for the Israeli military junta is "transfer." It is only a question of creating the necessary international conditions that will "justify" and enable the mass expulsion of the Palestinians. Two Anti-"Transfer"-Actions In order to try to prevent this horrifying scenario from happening I propose two actions:
1.The planned and ongoing ethnic cleansing fulfils the definition of Genocide according to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide from 1948 (http://www.preventgenocide.org/law/convention/text.htm): "Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, such as:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.2
This article was endorsed again in the Rome Statute from 1998 (http://www.preventgenocide.org/law/icc/statute/) and is accordingly integrated in the penal codes of many countries.
Therefore, in all these countries lawsuits should be initiated against the Israeli persons responsible for the crime of genocide and also against their collaborators, such as officials of Zionist lobbies outside Israel that support, consciously or not, these criminal acts:
"Article III: The following acts shall be punishable:
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide.
Article IV: Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals. " Lawsuits should be part of a campaign aimed to pressure the international community to fulfil its obligations and protect the Palestinians.
2. Considering that we're facing an escalating genocide and considering the fact that Israel abuses the Nazi Judeocide to justify its present crimes, all people who care for a peaceful and just solution in the Middle East should use, as a form of radical protest, the most easily recognizable symbol of the Jewish catastrophe in WWII, the yellow Star of David. Beginning in 1939, the Nazis used this sign to mark Jews apart. This was part of the effort to deport them from the 3rd. Reich. As of 1941/42 deportation came to mean systematic extermination.
With all the differences between circumstances in Nazi Germany and present-day Israel, still we cannot avoid seeing some very alarming similarities. For this reason such a strong but non-violent measure should be considered worldwide (see the enclosed yellow star drawn by http://www.haefely.info/).
Further references to this proposal are to be found at: http://www.redress.btinternet.co.uk/selam.htm. In the name of all of Nazism's victims we should protest against the Judaization of the Palestinians, and work to create powerful and effective non-violent methods to stop the ethnic cleansing.
Shraga Elam, Zurich
(1) USA TODAY September 29, 2002
(2) According to the Israeli TV
(3) The term "Auschwitz Club" was created 1991 by Prof. Michael Wolffsohn an Israeli/German historian
(4) Ma'ariv November 22, 2002
Ha'aretz November 28, 2002
PM rejects Jordan's request to rule out `transfer' in Iraq war: