June 30, 2006
"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."
-- Ariel Sharon, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
"What is driving the conflict is the radical inequality between the Jewish minority, that rules all of the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and the disenfranchised Palestinian majority, who are paying the price for the luxury that Israel lives in…But what pays for that normality for Israelis is the total dispossession of the majority population. And Israel believes that it can hide them behind walls, in ghettos, as was done to Jews in Europe in the 1930s and '40s". Ali Abunimah "Electronic Intifada"
The Palestine Chronicle conducted an informal internet poll on Wednesday which showed that nearly 75% of the people questioned believe that the "reinvasion of Gaza was preplanned". This tells us that most people, who follow developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, know that Israel’s actions are not simply a spontaneous reaction to the kidnapping of one of its soldiers, but are part of a broader strategy for achieving their political objectives. The abduction of Gilad Shalit is simply being used as a pretext for more ethnic cleansing and land expropriation. These are the means by which Israel has traditionally achieved its territorial objectives.
The Gaza invasion is better understood in terms of the statement made by Ariel Sharon at the beginning of this essay. Sharon’s comments are far from original. In fact, similar statements have been made by every Israeli prime minister since the founding of the state in 1948. David Ben Gurion put it this way in 1937, "We must expel Arabs and take their places". Ben Gurion’s blunt declaration is no different from Sharon’s or any of his successors. It merely summarizes the prevailing sentiment of the Israeli leadership for the last 60 years.
Golda Meir elaborated on Ben Gurion’s comments by denying the existence of the indigenous people altogether, saying, "There’s no such thing as a Palestinian people. It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist".
Meir’s denials may seem foolish but they are consistent with the stated beliefs of every Israeli prime minister who has served since she left office in 1970.
Yitzak Rabin’s assertions are nearly identical to those of Meir and Ben Gurion. He said,
"[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the west Bank to Jordan. "
How different is this from Prime Minister Olmert’s comments three weeks ago when he addressed the US House of Representatives, "I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land"?
There is absolute unanimity among Israel’s leaders past and present, liberal and conservative, on this one, critical issue. The rhetoric many vary, the politics may differ, but there is no substantial difference. In reality, the settlements went through their greatest period of expansion under the "dovish" Labor party.
Labor and Likud; two parties, one policy.
The invasion of Gaza has nothing to do with the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier or even with Hamas’ rise to power. It is simply a continuation of the same, unalterable policy of annexation through brutality and subjugation. This is simply the latest manifestation of Israel’s territorial ambitions.
The immensity of operation "Summer Rain", suggests that plans have been in place for quite some time and that the aims may be farther reaching than is now apparent.
Could this be the beginning of "Transfer"; the Israeli scheme to force Palestinians off their land by creating (as Rabin said) "conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration"?
It’s very possible. The intentional destruction of electric power plants, water lines, bridges, and other vital infrastructure, as well as the cutting off of food, financial resources and medical supplies, indicate that Israel is tightening the noose on the Palestinians in an effort to make life untenable in the West Bank and Gaza. Why else would they unleash their venom against objects that are in no way related to the kidnapping of the soldier and will, probably, only put him in greater danger?
Israel is doing whatever it can to make human survival impossible in the occupied territories. It is paving the way for a second Palestinian Nakba.
Ariel Sharon knew that spreading misery’ throughout the territories was the only way to deal with the "demographic problem". He said, "You don’t simply bundle people onto trucks and drive them away. I prefer to advocate a positive policy, to create, in effect, a condition that in a positive way will induce people to leave." (Ariel Sharon Aug 24, 1988)
In the minds of Ehud Olmert and the Israeli leadership, the invasion of Gaza is a "positive policy" which will "induce" vast numbers of Palestinians to leave. The humanitarian crisis they are precipitating is not seen as a disaster, but an opportunity. Every Palestinian, who is driven from his homeland by grinding poverty, racism or violence, provides another inch or two of ground for Israel to claim as its own.
And, when the unilateral borders are finally set and Israel owns everything from the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, Olmert will have realized his dream of "Greater Israel". The rivers of blood that have fed that vision will mean nothing.
Menachem Begin said much the same over 20 years ago when he proclaimed, "The partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized…Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And, forever."
God help us.