In 1978, on the occasion of US President Jimmy Carter’s presiding over a meeting of the Israeli cabinet, the only non-Jew to have ever chaired such a meeting, Carter was told by then Minister of Agriculture, Ariel Sharon, that there already was a Palestinian State, that it was Jordan, and that Carter could take for granted that within the next few years there would be two to three million Jews living in the occupied territories. Sharon added that “even as we speak, Jewish families are migrating into Judea and Samaria.”
Mr Sharon’s decision to remove 8,500 Jewish Settlers from Gaza (that’s 1.97 % of the total number of settlers in the territories occupied by Israel in the ’67 War) is nothing more than a tactical move in which he has given up what Israel little wanted in return for Israel’ greater consolidation of its hold of East Jerusalem and the massive settlements in the West Bank. For this trade, Sharon gained the endorsement of George Bush who reversed 38 years of American diplomatic momentum and tradition.
Sharon is now attempting to transform the Gaza Strip from a seething source of guerilla resistance, home to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in to a giant outdoor prison. The Gaza Strip is the residence of 1.4 million Palestinians, mostly refugees from 1948 or 1967 or their descendants, crowded into a six mile by 28 mile strip and constituting the densest and most impoverished concentration of people anywhere in the world. Gaza will be surrounded by barbed wire and electric fences and guard towers and where all traffic or commerce into and out of Gaza is carefully controlled by Israel as is its airspace and water resources. There are even plans for an offshore fence in order for Israel to have control complete control of its coastal boundary.
Since the formation of Israel 57 years ago, Israel has killed 50,000 Palestinians, according to estimates by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe (see Pappe, For. Policy, Mar-Apr. 2005). Occupying no more than 6% of the land area of Palestine at the beginning of 1948, Israel captured 80% of it by the year’s end in a wave of ethnic cleansing that saw the expulsion of 800,000 of the indigenous Arabs and massacres in about 30 Arab villages with from 2 to 3 thousand Arabs massacred. More than 500 Arab villages were destroyed by Israeli bulldozers in order to prevent future claims of Arabs trying to return as well as to destroy the remnants of Palestinian history and culture in Palestine. Israel now exercises control the entirety of Palestine as it also controls the population living within the territory captured in the “67 War who are obliged to face daily humiliation and degradation as Israel confiscates their property and subjects them to multiple checkpoints that prevent or severely restrict their travel and commerce. Forty seven percent of the residents of the occupied territories are now living on less than $2 per day owing to Israel’s destruction of businesses, transportation routes, and agricultural capacity.
Israel has destroyed 12,000 Palestinian homes and over one million olive and citrus trees since its capture of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in 1967. As of this past spring, with the recent killing of two Palestinian boys who were protesting the construction of the Apartheid wall in the village of Beit Loqya west of Ramallah in the West Bank, Israel, since October of 2000, has killed 3,847 Palestinians. That comes to 71.24 Palestinians killed by Israel per month over the five year period, or 2.38 killed per day, a fact you never hear about on CNN or on the rest of the American media. The fact is that Israel can kill Palestinians with total impunity, and does so.
Zionism, a product of the 19th century thinkers such as Theodore Herzl and others, consist of two basic principles: first, that a Jewish state should be established which is exclusionary of Christian and Moslems and Arabs to every extent possible, and secondly, that the indigenous Arab population must be ethnically cleansed and driven from their homes and ancestral lands to the surrounding Arab states.
This ethnic cleansing has taken place with the 1948 as well as the 1967 refugee population expanding to approximately 4.5 million Palestinian refugees, the largest and longest standing refugee population in the world.
The fact of the matter is that Zionism and a Jewish state is intrinsically incompatible and inconsistent with the human rights of the indigenous Palestinian population. This is true because the state of Israel is intrinsically expansionist. One cannot have it both ways, and that is the reason that 38 years of negotiations has failed to produce a peaceful settlement. The continued existence of Israel as a state for Jews only, as a fulfillment of the Zionist ideal of its founders, necessarily entails the continued ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Arab population. The intrinsic inconsistency and incompatibility of a racially exclusive Jewish state with the human rights of all of the people of the Middle East entails that the maintenance of “peace” negotiations from a platform that preserve the present character of the Jewish state will necessarily fail to protect the Palestinians and preserve even the small amount of land on which they now live.
The continuously ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has taken place under both labor and Lukud governments (more during Labor’s Ehud Barak than under his Lukud predecessor Benjamin Natanyahu) and myriad governments ministries as well as American charities and, in particular, the World Zionist Organization aid financially and otherwise in the expanding housing units in the settlement blocks of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and also in the burgeoning spontaneous establishment of outpost which are not officially authorized but which eventually become full fledged settlements. (See, IRMEP: US Tax-Exempt Charitable Contributions to Israel, http://www.irmep.org/tec.htm; also The Sasson Commission Opinion Concerning Unauthorized Outpost, http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/
The world can realize the human rights of all the Middle East people or it can have Zionism and a racially exclusionary Jewish state which continues the ethnic cleansing of 1948, but it cannot have both.
I believe it is time that all moral and thinking individuals consider the justice of the continued existence of a racist and racially exclusionary state and simultaneously ask, “Is it worth the subjugation and continued ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people?”