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
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail