FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israeli Occupation As Violence

by Edward Said

An ominous air is overtaking the Middle East, now that Ariel Sharon has come to and gone from the United States. A striking resemblance to the period before Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon has undoubtedly occurred to anyone with a memory long enough to recall what happened then. The same war criminal, Sharon (who should soon be sharing Milosevic’s fate in the Hague) came to see the then Secretary of State Alexander Haig and then went back with what he informed everyone was an American green light. Thereafter, his armies invaded Lebanon. And sure enough, he did the same thing this time with the inexperienced Colin Powell and the intellectually disadvantaged George Bush. Both those men have, in the space of less than a month, totally adopted the Israeli lie that the main problem is “the violence,” by which it is automatically assumed that violence is what Palestinians practice while restraint is Israel’s contribution. So all Sharon now has to do is to invade areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority and then claim that this is being done with restraint and US approval in order to safeguard Israeli security. Perhaps Colin Powell’s visit to Palestine and his suggestion that international monitors might supervise the truce will complicate matters slightly, but Sharon’s mindset doesn’t allow for more than invasion and destruction so far as Palestinians are concerned.

By now it has become clear that, because Western audiences are so poorly informed, Israeli public officials can say anything, including out-and-out lies. Last week a major television debate in the US between PA Minister Nabil Shaath and Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg confirmed this sad fact and demonstrated yet again that, for whatever reason, the Authority and its spokesmen seem unable to understand what is happening. Burg sat there and brazenly manufactured one falsehood after another — that as a democrat and a peace lover he was concerned there was no real Palestinian peace camp; that Israel is trying ever so hard to remain calm while Palestinian terrorists (encouraged by the Authority) threatened his daughter, no less, with brutal killing; that Israel has always wanted peace; that Arafat controls everything; that Shaath and he (Burg) are exactly the same except that he, Burg, is able to influence Sharon in restraint but Shaath cannot influence Arafat; and on and on. All of it making the point, in the style of classical propaganda (to repeat a lie often enough is to believe it), that Israel is victimised by Palestinians, that it wants peace, and that it is waiting for Palestinians to catch up with its magnanimity and restraint.

To this farrago of confections Shaath seemed to have no answer, except to say plaintively that Palestinians also want peace; that they want the Mitchell plan (as if that rubbishy piece of AIPAC-constructed nonsense had already become scripture: have Palestinian leaders like Abed Rabbo, Shaath, Erekat and the others forgotten that as senators, Mitchell and Warren Rudman, who were almost half the committee that produced the stupid report, were among the highest paid members of the Israeli lobby? Obviously yes); that they are trying to be restrained; that they long for the return of Oslo; and on and on. Rarely have I seen such a concentration of Israeli mendacity received with such cringing servility by Palestinians, and all this while millions of Palestinians are suffering the worst possible collective punishment.

When people like Shaath get a precious opportunity to deal with a criminal like Burg, they should not once let him forget that Israel is indulging in horrendous war crimes, people by the million are unable to travel, eat, get health care, 500 people have been killed, 2,000 houses have been demolished, 50,000 trees have been uprooted, thousands of acres of land have been confiscated, settlements continue — that all this has occurred during a “peace process.” Even a normally excellent and reliable spokesman like Ghassan Khatib has been infected with the virus of talking about violence and the Mitchell report and totally failing to mention the occupation, the occupation, the occupation, the occupation. Can’t these redoubtable spokesmen of ours concentrate on the daily reality of our people and their suffering, and can’t they once speak as human beings instead of as third-rate imitations of Kissinger and Rabin, who seem to have become their role models? What is wrong with us that we can’t ever speak concretely about the central fact of our existence, which is that on every level, for over 53 years, we have been oppressed by Israel and continue to be oppressed with blockades, sieges, aerial bombardment, missile and helicopter attacks, and that our refugees have not received one penny of compensation or even the hope of repatriation from the state that dispossessed them and has punished them ever since?

What puzzles me is that even after eight years of deception and betrayal, the official Palestinian mind finds itself incapable of saying what a disaster Oslo was and instead wants it brought back. That’s like asking the executioner if he wouldn’t mind sharpening his axe a little before having another go. Of course, one needs to stay in whatever political game is going on, and of course, one must be able to respond directly to questions about agreements, truces and so forth. But above all, what I find so dismaying is that our spokespersons show signs of being so totally remote from the daily horrors of life for average Palestinians that they never even mention it.

To them I want to say that no matter the occasion, no matter the question, no matter the newspaper or TV or radio journalist, every question must first be answered with a few basic points about the military occupation that has been in place for 34 years since 1967. This is the source of violence, this is the source of the main problems, and it is the reason Israel can never have real peace. Our entire political position must be based on ending the occupation and this must take precedence over any and every other consideration. When Erekat or Shaath or Ashrawi or Khatib is asked something, for example, about the Mitchell report or the Powell visit, the answer should always begin, “so long as there is a military occupation of Palestine by Israel, there can never be peace. Occupation with tanks, soldiers, checkpoints and settlements is violence, and it is much greater than anything Palestinians have done by way of resistance.” Something like that.

These estimable people have to remember that 99 per cent of the people reading newspapers or watching TV news all over the world (including Arabs) have simply forgotten — if they ever knew — that Israel is an illegal occupying power and has been for 34 years. So we must remind the world of that over and over. Repeat and repeat and repeat. This is not a difficult task, although it is, I believe, absolutely crucial. To remind everyone repeatedly about the Israeli occupation is a necessary repetition, much more so than stupidly inconsequential and sentimental Israeli and American-style remarks about peace and violence. Can we learn, or are we condemned to repeat our mistakes forever? CP

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail