"The 'Peace Process' was from the start a conspiracy and a fraud" Prof.Tanya Reinhart
"You (Palestinians) shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave." Prof. Noam Chomsky quoting General Moshe Dayan
MID-EAST REALITIES © - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/20/2001: Professors Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, Tanya Reinhart -- Jewish American, Palestinian American, and Israeli -- all have explained this month why the "Peace Process" was a fraud, a deception, a conspiracy, from the start. Four years ago, long before it became popular to do so, MERTV produced a special program -- "Peace Process Real or Phony?" -- which can now be watched at http://www.MiddleEast.Org/mertv/116. And eight years ago, during the White House ceremony with Rabin and Arafat, MER's publisher, Mark Bruzonsky, pointed out even then the basic flaws and contradictions in the "Peace Process" while providing the live television commentary for Canadian National CTV -- which can now be watched at http://www.MiddleEast.Org/mabtv.ht
"What we feared has come true," Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling writes in Israel's leading newspaper. Jews and Palestinians are "regressing to superstitious tribalism.... War appears an unavoidable fate," an "evil colonial" war. This prospect is likely if the U.S. grants tacit authorization, with grim consequences that may reverberate far beyond.
There is, of course, no symmetry between the "ethno-national groups" regressing to tribalism. The conflict is centered in territories that have been under harsh military occupation since 1967. The conqueror is a major armed power, acting with massive military, economic and diplomatic support from the global superpower. Its subjects are alone and defenseless, many barely surviving in miserable camps.
The cruelty of the occupation has been sharply condemned by international and Israeli human rights groups for many years. The purpose of the terror, economic strangulation and daily humiliation is not obscure. It was articulated in the early years of the occupation by Moshe Dayan, one of the Israeli leaders most sympathetic to the Palestinian plight, who advised his Labor Party associates to tell the Palestinians that "you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave."
The Oslo "peace process" changed the modalities, but not the basic concept. Shortly before joining the Ehud Barak government, historian Shlomo Ben-Ami, a dove in the U.S.-Israeli spectrum, wrote that "the Oslo agreements were founded on a neocolonialist basis." The intent was to impose on the Palestinians "almost total dependence on Israel" in a "colonial situation" that was to be "permanent." He soon became the architect of the latest Barak government proposals, virtually identical to Bill Clinton's final plan.
These proposals were highly praised in U.S. commentary; the Palestinians and Yasser Arafat were blamed for their failure and the subsequent violence.
That presentation "was a fraud perpetrated on Israeli ... and international ... public opinion," Kimmerling writes accurately. He continues that, a look at a map suffices to show that the Clinton-Barak plans "presented to the Palestinians impossible terms." Crucially, Israel retained "two settlement blocs that in effect cut the West Bank into pieces." The Palestinian enclaves also are effectively separated from the center of Palestinian life in Jerusalem; the Gaza Strip remains isolated, its population virtually imprisoned.
Israeli settlement in the territories doubled during the years of the "peace process," increasing under Barak, who bequeathed the new government of Ariel Sharon "a surprising legacy," the Israeli press reported as the transition took place early this year: "The highest number of housing starts in the territories" since the time when Sharon supervised settlements in 1992, before Oslo. The facts on the ground are the living reality for the desperate population.
The nature of permanent neo-colonial dependency was underscored by Israel's High Court of Justice in November 1999 when it rejected yet another Palestinian petition opposing further expansion of the [Jewish] city of Maale Adumim established to the east of Jerusalem, virtually partitioning the West Bank.
The court suggested that "some good for the residents of neighboring [Palestinian villages] might spring from the economic and cultural development" of the all-Jewish city. While they try to survive without water to drink or fields to cultivate, the people whose lands have been taken can enjoy the sight of the ample housing, green lawns, swimming pools and other amenities of the heavily subsidized Israeli settlements.
Immediately after World War II, the Geneva Conventions were adopted to bar repetition of Nazi crimes, including transfer of population to occupied territories or actions that harm civilians. As a so-called high contracting party, the U.S. is obligated "to ensure respect" for the conventions.
With Israel alone opposed, the United Nations has repeatedly declared the conventions applicable to the occupied territories; the U.S. abstains from these votes, unwilling to take a public stand in violation of fundamental principles of international law, which require it to act to prevent settlement and expropriation, attacks on civilians with U.S.-supplied helicopters, collective punishment and all other repressive measures used by the occupying forces. Washington has continued to provide the means to implement these practices, refusing even to allow observers who might reduce violence and protect the victims.
For 25 years, there has been a near-unanimous international consensus on the terms of political settlement: a full peace treaty with establishment of a Palestinian state after Israeli withdrawal, an outcome that enjoys wide support even within Israel. It has been blocked by Washington ever since its veto of a Security Council resolution to that effect in 1976.
It is far from an ideal solution. But the likely current alternatives are far more ugly. (Los Angeles Times, 13 August 13 2001)
In the United States, where Israel has its main political base and from which it has received over $92 billion in aid since 1967, the terrible human cost of Thursday's Jerusalem restaurant bombing and Monday's Haifa disaster settles quickly into a familiar explanatory framework. Arafat hasn't done enough to control his terrorists; suicidal Islamic extremists are to be found everywhere, bringing harm on "us" and our strongest allies, driven by sheer human hatred; Israel must defend its security. A thoughtful individual might add: these people have been fighting tiresomely for thousands of years anyway; the violence must be stopped; there has been too much suffering on both sides, although the way Palestinians send their children into battle is another sign of how much Israel has to put up with. And so, exasperated but still restrained, Israel invades unfortified and undefended Jenin with bulldozers and tanks, destroys the Palestine Authority's police buildings plus several others, and then sends out its propagandists to say that it has sent a message to Arafat to curb his terrorists. In the meantime, he and his coterie are begging for American protection, doubtless forgetting that Israel is the one with US protection and that all he will get, for the 6,000th time, is an injunction to stop the violence.
The fact is that in America, Israel has pretty much won the propaganda war, and America is where it's about to put several more million dollars into a public relations campaign (using stars like Zubin Mehta, Yitzhak Pearlman, and Amos Oz) to further improve its image. But consider what Israel's unrelenting war against the undefended, basically unarmed, stateless and poorly led Palestinian people has already achieved. The disparity in power is so vast that it makes you cry. Equipped with the latest in American-built (and freely given) air power, helicopter gunships, uncountable tanks and missiles, and a superb navy as well as a state of the art intelligence service, Israel is a nuclear power abusing a people without any armour or artillery, no air force (its one pathetic airfield in Gaza is controlled by Israel) or navy or army, none of the institutions of a modern state. The appallingly unbroken history of Israel's 34-year-old military occupation (the second longest in modern history) of illegally conquered Palestinian land has been obliterated from public memory nearly everywhere, as has been the destruction of Palestinian society in 1948 and the expulsion of 68 per cent of its native people, of whom 4.5 million remain refugees today. Behind the reams of newspeak, the stark outlines of Israel's decades-long daily pressure on a people whose main sin is that they happened to be there, in Israel's way, is staggeringly perceptible in its inhuman sadism. The fantastically cruel confinement of 1.3 million people jammed like so many human sardines into the Gaza strip, plus the nearly two million Palestinian residents of the West Bank, has no parallel in the annals of apartheid or colonialism. F-16 jets were never used to bomb South African homelands. They are used against Palestinians towns and villages. All entrances and exits to the territories are controlled by Israel (Gaza is completely surrounded by a barbed wire fence), which also controls the entire water supply. Divided into about 63 non-contiguous cantons, completely encircled and besieged by Israeli troops, punctuated by 140 settlements (many of them built under Ehud Barak's premiership) with their own road network banned to "non-Jews," as Arabs are referred to, along with such unflattering epithets as thieves, snakes, cockroaches and grasshoppers, Palestinians under occupation have now been reduced to 60 per cent unemployment and a poverty rate of 50 per cent (half the people of Gaza and the West Bank live on less than $2 a day); they cannot travel from one place to the next; they must endure long lines at Israeli checkpoints that detain and humiliate the elderly, the sick, the student, and the cleric for hours on end; 150,000 of their olive and citrus trees have been punitively uprooted; 2,000 of their houses demolished; acres of their land either destroyed or expropriated for military settlement purposes.
Since the Al-Aqsa Intifada began late last September, 609 Palestinians have been killed (four times more than Israeli fatalities) and 15,000 wounded (a dozen times more than on the other side). Regular Israeli army assassinations have picked off alleged terrorists at will, most of the time killing innocents like so many flies. Last week, 14 Palestinians were murdered openly by Israeli forces using helicopter gunships and missiles; they were thus "prevented" from killing Israelis, although at least two children and five innocents were also murdered, to say nothing of many wounded civilians and several destroyed buildings -- part of the somehow acceptable collateral damage. Nameless and faceless, Israel's daily Palestinian victims barely rate a mention on America's news programmes, even though -- for reasons that I simply cannot understand -- Arafat is still hoping that the Americans will rescue him and his crumbling regime.
Nor is this all. Israel's plan is not just to hold land and fill it with dreadful, murderous armed settlers who, defended by the army, wreak havoc on Palestinian orchards, schoolchildren and homes; it is, as the American researcher Sara Roy has named it, to de-develop Palestinian society, to make life impossible so that the Palestinians will leave, or give up somehow, or do something crazy like blow themselves up. Since 1967, leaders have been jailed and deported by the Israeli occupation regime, small businesses and farms made unviable by confiscation and sheer destruction, students prevented from studying, universities closed (in the mid-'80s Palestinian universities on the West Bank were closed for four years). No Palestinian farmer or business can export to any Arab country directly; their products must pass through Israel. Taxes are paid to Israel. Even after the Oslo peace process began in 1993, the occupation was simply re-packaged, only 18 per cent of the land given to the corrupt Vichy-like Authority of Arafat, whose mandate seems to have been only to police and tax his people for Israel's sake. After eight fruitless immiserating years of the Oslo negotiations masterminded by an American team of former Israeli lobby staffers like Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross, Israel was still in control, the occupation packaged more efficiently, the phrase "peace process" given a consecrated halo that allowed more abuses, more settlements, more imprisonments, more Palestinian suffering to go on than before. Including a "Judaised" East Jerusalem, with Orient House occupied and its contents looted or carted off (there are invaluable records, land deeds, maps, that in a repetition of what it did when it stole PLO archives from Beirut in 1982, Israel has simply stolen), Israel has implanted no less than 400,000 settlers on Palestinian land. To call them vigilantes and hoodlums is not an exaggeration.
It is worth recalling that a couple of weeks after Ariel Sharon's gratuitously arrogant visit to Jerusalem's Haram Al-Sharif on 28 September, with 1,000 soldiers and guards supplied by Prime Minister Barak, Israel was condemned for this action by a unanimous Security Council resolution. Then, as even the merest child could have predicted, the anti-colonial rebellion broke out, with eight killed Palestinians its first victims. Sharon was swept to power essentially to "subdue" the Palestinians, teach them a lesson, get rid of them. His record as an Arab-killer goes back 30 years, before the Sabra and Shatila massacres that his forces supervised in 1982, and for which he has now been indicted in a Belgian court. Still, Arafat wants to negotiate with him and come perhaps to a cozy arrangement with him so as to safeguard the very Authority that Sharon is systematically dismantling, destroying, razing to the ground.
But he isn't a fool either. With every Palestinian act of resistance, his forces ratchet up the pressure a notch higher, tightening the siege more, taking more land, making a habit of more and deeper incursions into Palestinian towns like Jenin and Ramallah, cutting off more supplies, openly assassinating Palestinian leaders, making life more intolerable, redefining the terms of his government's actions, that it once made "generous concessions" while "defending" itself, that it "prevents" terrorism, that it "secures" areas, that it "re-establishes" control, and so on. Meanwhile he and his minions attack and dehumanise Arafat, even saying that he is the "arch-terrorist" (although he literally can't move without Israeli permission), and that "we" have no war with the Palestinian people. What a boon for that people! With such "restraint," why should a massive invasion, carefully bruited about to terrorise the Palestinians even more sadistically, be necessary? Israel knows that it can retake their buildings at will (witness the wholesale theft of Jerusalem's Orient House, plus nine other buildings, offices, libraries, archives there and in Abu Dis), just as it has all but eliminated the Palestinians as a people.
This is the real story of Israel's pretended "victimisation," constructed with such premeditated care and evil intent for months now. Language has been sundered from reality. Pity not the inept Arab governments who can and will do nothing to stop Israel: pity the people who bear the wounds in their flesh and the emaciated bodies of their children, some of whom believe that martyrdom is the only way out for them.
And Israel, stuck in a futureless campaign, flailing about mercilessly? As James Cousins, the Irish poet and critic, said in 1925, the coloniser is in the grip of "false and selfish pre- occupations that stand in the way of its attention to the natural evolution of its own national genius and pull[ed] from the path of open rectitude into the twisted byways of dishonest thought, speech, and action, in the artificial defense of a false position." All colonisers have gone that way, learning or stopping at nothing, until at last, as Israel turned tail from its 22 year occupation of Lebanon, they exit the territory, leaving behind an exhausted and crippled people. If this was supposed to fulfil Jewish aspirations, why did it require so many new victims from another people who had nothing to do with Jewish exile and persecution in the first place?
With Arafat and Company in command, there is no hope. What is the man doing, grotesquely fetching up in the Vatican and Lagos and other miscellaneous places, pleading without dignity or even intelligence for imaginary observers, Arab aid, international support, instead of staying with his people, trying to aid them with medical supplies, morale- boosting measures and real leadership? What we need is a unified leadership of people who are on the ground, who are actually doing the resisting, who are really with and of their people, not the fat, cigar-chomping bureaucrats who want their business deals preserved and their VIP passes renewed, and who have lost all trace of decency or credibility. A united leadership that takes positions and plans mass actions designed not to return to Oslo (can you believe the folly of that idea?) but to press on with resistance and liberation, instead of confusing people with talk of negotiations and the stupid Mitchell Plan.
Arafat is finished: why don't we admit that he can neither lead, nor plan, nor do anything that makes any difference except to him and his Oslo cronies who have benefited materially from their people's misery? All the polls show that his presence blocks whatever forward movement might be possible. We need a united leadership to make decisions, not simply to grovel before the Pope and the moronic George W Bush, even as the Israelis are killing his heroic people with impunity. A leader must lead the resistance, reflect the realities on the ground, respond to his people's needs, plan, think, and expose himself to the same dangers and difficulties that everyone experiences. The struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation is where every Palestinian worth anything now stands: Oslo cannot be restored or re-packaged as Arafat and Company might desire. It's over for them and the sooner they pack and get out, the better for everyone.