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Watching the Dissolution of Palestine

by JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN

Oxford, England.

For those who haven’t noticed, Israel opposes a two-state solution. It has been doing everything in its power to prevent a Palestinian state from emerging and will continue to do so as long as it can count on the complicity of its powerful friends and on abundant popular indifference. Under such circumstances, it is incumbent upon ourselves to ask why Hamas has therefore been ordered – by Israel and its same powerful friends –to accept “the two-state solution” especially when, unlike Israel, it has stated clearly and repeatedly that it would accept a Palestinian state on the lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Indeed, all of its key spokespeople have said this:Zahar, Haniye, Meshal, and Yassin and Rantisi before they were murdered.

Judea and Samaria which are, or were, the northern and southern West Bank, have been subdivided and parceled out over decades to hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers for their houses and orchards and gardens. They have been crisscrossed and circled with Jewish-only roads that bind the land, the houses and orchards and gardens, to Israel. They have been manned with guards and gunmen and tanks and blue and white Israeli flags that defend, protect and assure the settlers, their houses and orchards and gardens, that they are in fact Israelis belonging to a single Jewish state.

The settled lands with their settler families, their houses and gardens, shops and schools, clubs and cafes and pools, have been mapped and assigned, seized and secured from the Arabs in the shabby clothes in the rundown! villages who live outside of, or have been forced to leave, the protected colonial zones. The projected frontiers, the future borders, depend on the disappearance of these Arabs, which is anxiously anticipated and actively encouraged. Most of the eastern perimeter of the current state is a concrete wall erasing from view that Other Side, which is unmentionable in polite company. The eastern perimeter wall will soon be the western perimeter wall because the acting Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has just announced that the rest of the unincorporated West Bank land will soon be annexed to Israel: The Jordan Valley, the West Bank’s border with the state of Jordan, now to be Israel’s eastern border with the state of Jordan, will also be secured by the wall and off-limits to “non-Israelis,” meaning Palestinians, who will then be fully encircled in their stagnant reservations unable to access the outside world.

In the same breath as! he announces this latest unilateral declaration of confiscated lan d for a Jewish State, Olmert announces a sanctions regime against the Palestinians of the occupied territories for refusing to believe that this land transformation in which one society is strengthened and expanded and the other is dissolved into a thousand pieces is actually the two-state solution.

Israel allots to itself first use of the natural resources, especially water, from the territory it has appropriated or surrounded. An army of thieves and wreckers has turned the remainder– the pot-holed roads, the untended groves, the homes, the schools, the mosques and churches, the hospitals, universities, shops and remaining civil institutions — into a series of impassable mazes, a legal no-man’s-land, where travel restrictions, permits, coded IDs, passes, random searches, incursions and arbitrary accusations reduce the inhabitants into suspicious beings without names, faces, addresses or rights; a collective villain to be de-educat! ed and de-nationalized and, one day perhaps, deported for the sake of the Israeli raison d’etre. It is becoming as difficult for travelers from abroad to visit the occupied territories as it is for the rightful inhabitants to move freely among them. It is therefore more difficult for outsiders to corroborate that the dangers they are warned against come directly from Israel, not the hapless people they have besieged. The daily threat to life and property is growing not abating.

For those who haven’t noticed, there is no sign of this process coming to an end. Instead, in addition to the bizarre demand that Hamas accept the two-state solution that Israel has categorically rejected and each day renders even more geographically impossible, another two demands are added to it: Hamas must recognize Israel and it must renounce violence. In other words, it must recognize a state whose policies and whose leaders have worked tirelessly for decades to deny, undo, renounce, prevent and reject the existence both of Palestinians and of Palestine –not only in the present and future but also through erasing the past. Still, our media take it upon themselves to show the world a circus-mirror reality, grotesque in its distortions, in which a democratically elected government-without-a-state and its trampled, largely destitute people are made out to be holding hostage the hoodlums that are busy stomping them to death.

While they are being stomped, shot, beaten, demolished, assassinated, intimidated, robbed, despoiled, starved, uprooted, dispossessed, harassed, insulted and killed with bullets, missiles, armored bulldozers, tanks, helicopter gun-ships, cluster-bombs, fleshettes, fighter-bombers, semi-automatic submachine guns, sonic booms, tear gas, electrified fences, blockades, closures and walls, they must renounce violence so that the hoodlums won’t get hurt. If they defend themselves they lose. If they complain, they are insincere; if they ask for something in return, they are untrustworthy; If they ask for a fair hearing, they are advancing an “agenda;” If they hit back randomly, they are an instrument of terro! r. So when the furies of the thousands of dead, tens of thousands of wounded and detained, and millions of bound and gagged rise up together in a whirlwind to protest, they will be pointed to as evidence of innate evil that must justifiably be contained, justifiably occupied, with justified indignation and bottomless financial aid.

Hamas’ reward for coming to power just in time to provide all the aspiring Sharons the most perfect, served-up-on-a-silver-platter pretext for continuing their well-worn policies with a vengeance, has been for the Kadima party — the party of the future– to announce that it will put the Palestinians on a starvation diet for presuming to exercise their rights. Hamas’ reward for verifying the smashing success of Israel’s goal to destroy Fatah has been Israel’s insistence that it abide by all the agreements, treaties and accords that Fatah, essentially the PA, signed but which Israel shredded page by p! age. With every new brick laid for the settlements, every new road pav ed to Ariel, Maale Adumim, Illit, Gush Etzion and beyond, with every permit denied for work, education, medical care and travel, every truck left waiting with rotting produce at Sufa and Karni, every tax and customs dollar stolen from a people interned on their own land, Israel parades its contempt for human decency and gets standing ovations in the US Congress and elsewhere.

When Osama Bin Laden opines that it is legitimate for al-Qaida to murder Americans because, as citizens in a democratic country, they are responsible for their government, “civilized” society erupts, appropriately, in indignation. When Dov Weisglass and his smug, sadistic associates advocate appalling varieties of collective punishment against Palestinians for having had the audacity to democratically replace the failed Fatah with Hamas, “civilized” society nods its head in sanctimonious approval.

For those who haven’t noticed, Israel opposes a two-state solu! tion. It also opposes a one-state and a bi-national state, a federated secular state, and the zillion interim-state solutions that have been drawn up and debated and argued over the years. It opposes them because it opposes the presence of another people on land it has claimed as the exclusive patrimony of the Jews. This has to be the starting point for effective activism against the racist and hegemonic vision that Israel is implementing and the US guaranteeing, not faraway discussions on the most ideal solution. An effective opposition must not retreat into a slumbering or sidetracked lethal indifference.

JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN is a Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre. She has lived and worked in Gaza City, Beirut and Jerusalem and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, where she has worked as a free-lance journalist and a human rights activist. She can be reached at: amadea311@earthlink.net

 

 

Jennifer Loewenstein is a human rights activist and faculty associate in Middle East Studies at at Penn State University.  She can be reached at: amadea311@earthlink.net

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