Those of us who have been veteran comrades in the struggle for peace and justice in Palestine have quite often been frustrated by the inability to galvanize enough support in the political and media establishments in the West against the brutal occupation of the West Bank and the strangulation of Gaza. We believed that clear cut evidence of the oppression and the highly visible criminal policies that raged since 1967 should have at least triggered a world reaction similar to the one that now takes place against Libya, and even more so.
But we know all the reasons why it did not, and will not happen. And yet we may have overlooked one particular reason, indeed one successful ploy of the Israeli peace camp that seems to have aborted any such effort in its buds. The liberal Zionists believe strongly in the existence of two discrete entities one Israel and one that lies on the other side of the 1967 green line which have very little in common. The acceptance of this line as a hard fact is the main justification given in the West for the inaction against Israel (one which is also supported by some of Palestine’s best friends and of course the Palestinian Authority). The line drawn is not just a political boundary it is mainly a moral border. Everything that is happening in the occupied world is diametrically opposed to life in democratic Israel and hence the argument is that if you treat Israel as a pariah state then you will also harm the ‘good’ part, the pre-1967 state. This is also the basis to the continued support for the two states solution that bases peace on the ability of moral Israel to re-invent itself in the pre-1967 borders.
I hope this distinction would at least disappear from the vocabulary and dictionary of the Western solidarity movement with Palestine (where it can still be heard in loyalty to the peace camp in Israel, the PA and the invisible lord of realpolitik).That this distinction is false was proved once more this week (20 March, 2011) when yet another apartheid law was passed in Israel. This new law allows Jewish settlements built on state land inside Israel not to admit Israeli Palestinian citizens as residents and legalizes the wish of these new settlers not to sell land to the Palestinians citizens of the state. This is one of many such laws passed recently (the loyalty oath law that turns the Palestinians in Israel to second class citizens by law and one which does not allow them to live with their Palestinians spouses from the occupied territories are two of the more famous apartheid laws passed recently). The new law, like the previous others, institutionalize the Apartheid State of Israel or for short ASOI.
ASOI is now one of worst apartheid regimes in the world. It controls almost all of Palestine (apart from Gaza which it imprisoned hermetically since 2005). It has, in absolute terms the highest number of political prisoners (China was reported to have less then 1000, Iran has few thousands); Israel holds nearly 10,000 of them. It has the largest number of apartheid laws and regulations than any country in the world and apart from the Arab regimes that are now collapsing and rogue states such as Miramar and North Korea, has the longest imposition of emergency laws and regulations that rob citizens of their most basic human and civil rights. Its policies against the discriminated native population, now composing nearly half of the overall population in ASOI, include atrocities such as barring people from using water sources, from cultivating their fields, building more houses, from getting to work, schools or universities and it bans them from commemorating their history and in particular the 1948 Nakbah.
ASOI is protected by left wing philosophers, mostly Jewish but not only, in the USA and the West as well as by the new members of the European Union whose deplorable record during the holocaust may explain their unconditional support for ASOI. It enjoys the unconditional backing of many Jewish communities in the World, Christian Zionists and cynical corporations who benefit from ASOI’s military elite’s proclivity to use lethal weapons at will and from the state’s progressive banking system and a high tech know how.
ASOI could become the Free Republic of Israel and Palestine (FRISP) or any similar name, where people would enjoy the same rights now fought for all over the Arab world and which the West claim to disseminate and protect all over the world. If ASOI will not become FRISP, any action such as the one taken now by the West in Libya would rightly be regarded suspiciously as cynical and dishonest.
Linkage has lost it attraction since it was misused by Saddam Hussein in 1991. But now is the time to revive it. It is time to realize that there will not be a new Middle East – in fact, there will no world peace – if ASOI continues to enjoy immunity and is not curbed and stopped – and hopefully one day – replaced by the democratic FRISP.
Ilan Pappé is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, director of the university’s European Centre for Palestine Studies, co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, and political activist. His books include A Modern History of Palestine, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and Gaza in Crisis (with Noam Chomsky).