FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is the Anti-Occupation Movement Driven by Defenders of Genocide?

by Dr. PAUL LARUDEE

If there is one message that unifies critics of Israel and advocates for Palestinian rights, it is “End the Occupation.”  As with many unifying messages, however, it is successful partly because of its ambiguity.  What land and which people are occupied?  And what are the terms under which the “occupation” will be ended.

The ambiguity allows groups as disparate as Hamas and J Street to chant the phrase with very different images in mind. Hamas and other anti-Zionists argue that all of the land defined by the British Mandate of Palestine is occupied territory, while J Streeters and other “soft” Zionists commonly refer only to Israel’s 1967 territorial conquests as “occupied.”

The dividing line between these two views has been articulated By Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi of JBIG (Jews Boycotting Israeli Goods):

…there are many people within the movement who share the opinion – which is general throughout the West – that Israel needs to exist as a Jewish state, should exist as a Jewish state.  And there are many Jews and others in the movement who don’t want to criticize that fundamental fact.[i]

Wimborne-Idrissi is undoubtedly correct in her assessment: public opinion in the West generally supports what is called “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”[ii]  However, most Palestinians fail to understand why this “right” should trump their rights and why Palestinians should be made to pay for its exercise with expulsion from their homes.

Indeed, they may be forgiven for doubting the sincerity of people that claim to advocate for justice on their behalf but fail to defend their right to return to their homes.  On the one hand, these “defenders” of Palestinian human rights claim to oppose Israel’s expulsion of Palestinians, both inside the internationally recognized borders of Israel and in other areas under Israeli control.  On the other hand, these same champions of Palestinians will not lift a finger to correct and defend against the more massive ethnic cleansing that occurred in 1948.  It is as if 1967 is the dividing line between which criminal activity must be accepted and which must be resisted.

Do such persons really oppose ethnic cleansing as a matter of principle or merely as it suits their whim?  The passage of time does not appear to be an issue.  If 1948 seems like a long time ago, let us remember that there is no statute of limitations on such matters, as the prosecution of Nazi war criminals from an even earlier era illustrates.

J Streeters and other “soft” Zionists may appear to be allies of Palestinians, but they are not.  Their overwhelming consideration is to create and maintain a Jewish state, and to mould it into their image of a liberal democracy that they can feel proud of.  Palestinian rights and welfare are entirely subsidiary to that objective.

This explains why J Streeters defend Israel’s “right to exist,” i.e. the ethnic cleansing of 1948.  They may not like ethnic cleansing, but it was necessary for the creation of a Jewish state, which has a higher order of priority.  On the other hand, they see the current ethnic cleansing policies of the state of Israel as corrosive to the kind of state they would like to have.  This is why they want to “end the occupation.”  Look what it is doing to Israeli youth!  Look at how it is driving Israel into the hands of “extremists.”

Let us therefore be clear.  We are dealing with people whose opposition to ethnic cleansing is not very firm and whose primary interest in “ending the occupation” is to do what is good for Israel, not for humanity and least of all for Palestinians.[iii]

Indeed, one wonders why these advocates for Israel oppose a massive expulsion of the remaining Palestinians in all of the land held by Israel.  Expulsion is clearly not a “red line” for them, and it is an expedient method of  “ending the occupation.”  I suspect that they harbor a nagging guilt for the theft and massacres of 1948, but not enough to want to give up the stolen property.  Rather, they hope to expiate their guilt by returning a portion of the territories seized in 1967 for the purpose of creating Palestinian Bantustans.  (The South African Bantustans served a similar purpose of assuaging the guilt of white supremacists.)

Regardless of the hypocritical games that Jewish supremacists in the movement play amongst themselves, Palestinians and human rights advocates must not be lured into false partnerships with them just because we share some of the same immediate tactics and objectives, such as stopping the growth of Jewish settlements, boycott of (some) Israeli products and institutions, an end to land confiscations, etc.  Rather, we must expose the racist foundations and objectives of these ethically inconsistent elements within “the movement,” and avoid alliances with them.

Currently, I fear that we may be doing the opposite, i.e. allowing the “end the occupation” movement to be driven by the interests of people whose agenda requires Palestinians to give up inalienable rights and which rewards those who take those rights away from them.[iv]  It is not in the interest of Palestinians and principled human rights advocates to make common cause with such morally compromised persons.

Dr. Paul Larudee is a human rights advocate and one of the co-founders of the movement to break the siege of Gaza by sea.  He was deported from India on 31st December, 2012.


[ii] International law does not provide for the right of states to exist.  Rather, states come and go as a matter of historical and social forces.  International law describes the rights and obligations of states, but does not require that any given state must exist.

[iii] Gilad Atzmon (The Wandering Who, Winchester: Zero Books, 2011, p. 102) makes a similar argument with respect to Jewish anti-Zionists, i.e. that they are motivated by what is good for Jews and that they believe that a Jewish state is bad for the Jews.  Atzmon contends that this is just another instance of Jewish exceptionalism, which will be the cause of injustice even if the form of the injustice is not Zionism per se.  Even if this is the case, social justice groups are notorious for pursuing justice while failing to practice it, and this may be an instance of such.  I do not discount the possibility that cliquishness, tribalism and exceptionalism are causes of injustice in many cases, but ridding human nature of this tendency is beyond the scope of most advocacy efforts, even if it deserves a place in all of them.

[iv] An instance of this is the Palestinian BNC (BDS National Committee).  Although nominally Palestinian, its main website is in English, with the Arabic translation largely unfinished.  An unauthorized amendment to its original mission statement, inserted at an unknown time, appears to remove the property seizures of 1948 from consideration as occupied Palestinian Arab land.  This appears to be a concession to “soft” Zionist elements within the BNC-led BDS movement.  The amended statement does not appear in any authorized Arabic version of the mission statement.

Paul Larudee is on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 03, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Matthew Vernon Whalan
Obama’s Legacy
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Christopher Brauchli
Parallel Lives: Trump and Temer
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail