FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israel Must End the Occupation

by Robert Jensen

While I was standing at the edge of a recent campus rally in support of the Palestinian cause, students supporting Israel passed out fliers. One of those students and I engaged in a spirited exchange that made it clear how different were our accounts of the problem and potential solutions. One of her points was that Palestinians have to prove they are serious about peace.

“Do you think Israel is serious about peace?” I asked. “Of course,” she replied.

If that’s the case, I asked, why has the number of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank and Gaza almost doubled since the Oslo peace process began nearly a decade ago? Given that those settlements are one of the most serious obstacles to a peaceful solution, why would the Israeli government — during a so-called peace process — expand settlements in territory it illegally occupies?

The student steered the conversation back to the one issue on which we agreed — that civilians should not be targeted for political violence — and we parted on agree-to-disagree terms.

Though it is painful for many supporters of Israel to acknowledge, the actions of the Israeli government are consistent with a desire for power and resources, not peace. Much of the recent criticism of Israel has focused on the harshness of the current violence against Palestinians, especially the bombing of civilian targets. But just as important are the everyday actions of Israel — the expansion of settlements, demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of olive trees for the flimsy reason that snipers might hide behind them, the humiliations heaped upon Palestinians at roadblocks and checkpoints — which have long made it clear that peace is not foremost on the minds of the Israeli government.

Even more crucial for Americans is the simple fact that Israel can pursue those policies — and get away with them — primarily because the U.S. government supplies Israel with the necessary diplomatic cover, military assistance and economic aid (at least $3 billion a year). Without that U.S. backing, the longstanding international consensus for a political settlement likely would have forced Israel to honor U.N. Security Council resolutions and international law.

American pundits pontificate about what might be the mysterious “secret” to peace in the region, as everyone bemoans the supposedly intractable nature of the Israel/Palestine conflict. All this obscures the fact that the “secret” is no secret at all:

Israel must end the occupation, and the United States must withdraw support from Israel until it agrees to do so.

Since the end of the 1967 war in which Israel seized the territories, both sides have squandered opportunities to make progress. I am a fan of neither the Israeli government (whether Labor or Likud) and its colonialist, expansionist program nor the Palestinian Authority under the corrupt leadership of Yasir Arafat.

Nor am I na?ve; ending Israel’s 34-year illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza will not by itself bring peace, for there are many other problems and potential roadblocks. Still, there is no hope for movement toward a just and stable peace unless Israel ends the occupation.

That means not only returning land conquered in war but dismantling the system of Israeli security roads and checkpoints. It means the equitable sharing of water resources and a respect for Palestinian sovereignty. It will not be enough to allow a Palestinian state; it must be a viable Palestinian state.

Although there are forces within Israel that recognize these imperatives, the current government remains committed to power, not peace. The Bush administration, along with most Democrats in Congress, shows no sign of changing a decades-long policy of U.S. support for Israel’s rejection of international law and world opinion.

That means U.S. citizens can be key players in the creation of a real peace process, if we send a clear message to elected representatives: U.S. support for Israel must end if Israel does not end the occupation.

Certainly the complexity of the struggle over Palestine cannot be reduced to slogans. But those three words — end the occupation — capture a simple truth about the hope for peace.

Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas and author of Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Analysis from the Margins to the Mainstream

His pamphlet “Citizens of the Empire: Thoughts on Patriotism, Dissent, and Hope” can be downloaded for free at http://www.nowarcollective.com/citizensoftheempire.pdf He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu.

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of several books, including the forthcoming Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully (Counterpoint/Soft Skull, fall 2015). http://www.amazon.com/Plain-Radical-Living-Learning-Gracefully/dp/1593766181 Robert Jensen can be reached at rjensen@austin.utexas.edu and his articles can be found online at http://robertwjensen.org/. To join an email list to receive articles by Jensen, go to http://www.thirdcoastactivist.org/jensenupdates-info.html. Twitter: @jensenrobertw. Notes. [1] Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1996), p. 106. [2] Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). [3] Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, edited and with a revised translation by Susan McReynolds Oddo (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2011), p. 55.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rivera Sun
Nonviolent History: South Africa’s Port Elizabeth Boycott
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail