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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail