FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Israel’s Latest Bureaucratic Obscenity

The same malign intent from Israel towards the Palestinians is stamped through its history like the lettering in a children’s stick of seaside rock. But despite the consistent aim of Israeli policy, generation after generation of Western politicians, diplomats and journalists has shown a repeated inability to grasp what is happening before its very eyes.
The Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi once noted that the first goal of Israel’s founders as they prepared to establish their Jewish state on a large swath of the Palestinian homeland in 1948 was to empty Palestine’s urban heartlands of their educated elites.

Even before Israel’s Declaration of Independence on 15 May 1948, most Palestinians had been terrified away from the two wealthiest cities in coastal Palestine, Jaffa and Haifa. Other Palestinian cities soon fell during the war of 1948: Israeli forces mostly cleansed Lydda, Ramle, Acre, Safad, Tiberias, Baysan and Bir Saba of their native populations. Today all these cities have been repopulated with Jews — as well as renamed.

Khalidi has written: “These refugees from the urban areas of the country generally tended to be those Palestinians with the highest levels of literacy, skills, wealth, and education”. Or, in other words, the small number of Palestinians allowed to remain in their homeland by Israel were peasant families living in isolated rural communities.

These Palestinians posed little threat to the new Jewish state: they lacked the education and tools to resist both the wholesale dispossession of their people and their own personal loss as their farm lands were expropriated by the state to establish the Jewish farming communes of the kibbutz and moshav movements.

And so history repeats itself. As Israel’s violent siege of Gaza continues, the Associated Press reported this week that dozens of Palestinians with American passports have left Gaza, escorted out of the Strip in a convoy of United Nations vehicles. One Palestinian American mother said she and her children could no longer stand the terrifying sonic booms produced by Israeli aircraft flying overhead during the night.

These fleeing Palestinians have two things that most of their kin in Gaza lack: they have lots of money that they might have invested in rebuilding Gaza’s economy were Israel not intent on destroying it; and they are familiar with a language and ideas that might have conveyed very effectively to Western audiences the horror currently being endured by Gaza’s civilian population.

They are also among the least radicalised elements of Gaza’s population and might have been the ones most willing to start a dialogue with Israel — had Israel shown any interest in negotiating.

But of course their absence from Gaza, and flight to America, will not be mourned by Israel.

How much Israel fears the presence in the occupied territories of Palestinians who have lived in the West — those who have money and influence, and speak in a language the non-Arab world can understand — was highlighted in another piece of news this week that went mostly unnoticed.

According to the Haaretz newspaper, Israel’s interior ministry has been quietly implementing a new rule since April that allows it to refuse entry to Palestinians holding foreign passports to Israel and the occupied territories. Most of those affected are Palestinians who today have citizenship in America or Europe.

Israel has this power over these Palestinians’ lives because, since its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, it has usurped control of the borders of the Palestinian territories. In another sign of how mistaken Western observers are in believing that the occupation of Gaza somehow ended with the withdrawal of Jewish settlers last year, Israel is still able to prevent Palestinians with a foreign passport (as well as those from the West Bank) from entering Gaza.

This new policy of exclusion affects thousands of the wealthiest and most educated Palestinians, some of whom have been living in the occupied territories for a decade or more investing in the economy as entrepreneurs, teaching in the universities or establishing desperately needed civil society organisations.

In another irony, many of these Palestinians have a foreign passport only because Israel stripped them of their rights to residency in the occupied territories in violation of international law. Using its control of the area’s borders since 1967, Israel revoked the residency of these Palestinians while they were studying or working abroad.

As the Israeli journalist Amira Hass documented in a recent dispatch, some of these Palestinians eventually came back to the occupied territories after marrying a local Palestinian resident but were refused rights of residency they should be entitled to according to the normal principles of family unification.

Instead most Palestinians with foreign passports have remained in the occupied territories at Israel’s discretion: as long as they renewed their tourist visa every three months by crossing the border into Jordan or Egypt, they were left in relative peace.

But Israel is now unilaterally changing the rules (as it always does), even if it has been too embarrassed to declare the fact openly. Apparently the US embassy has been aware of the change for some time but does not think it should intervene in the “sovereign decisions” of another country — or, more accurately, in the decisions of a sovereign country, Israel, in violating the rights of an occupied people, the Palestinians.

Palestinians with US passports have been told by Israel that, when their three-month visas expire, they will no longer be entitled to enter the occupied territories to visit their families — except in rare “humanitarian cases” such as a close relative dying. Some will be separated from their spouse and children, while others will lose their businesses and everything they have invested in them.

With these foreign passport holders forced to leave the occupied territories, the pressure is sure to grow on their families left behind in Gaza and the West Bank to seek ways to emigrate abroad to be with them again.

The purpose of Israel’s current bureaucratic obscenity is the same as it was in 1948 when its highest priority was the clearing of the Palestinian cities of their elites to make way for the establishment of the Jewish state.

This time Israel needs to empty the ghettoes it is crafting for the Palestinians of the most educated and well-connected of their number so that it can more credibly claim that there is no one “moderate” to talk to. Any Palestinian with a stake in an Israeli-imposed peace, even one that damages Palestinian national interests, will have been forced out by Israel’s policies long before.

Those who remain behind, trapped by walls of concrete and steel, will be powerless to resist the unilateral and illegal expansion of Israel’s borders explicit in Ehud Olmert’s convergence plan.

When the only noise heard from the Palestinians in their cages is the occasional whine of a home-made Qassam rocket flying out of the ghetto into the Jewish state, we will be told by Israel and its US ally that terror is the only language the Palestinians know.

But, in truth, it may well be the only language we have left the Palestinians to speak.

JONATHAN COOK is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the author of the forthcoming “Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State” published by Pluto Press, and available in the United States from the University of Michigan Press. His website is www.jkcook.net

 

 

More articles by:

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail