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

January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail