On October 24 of this year, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which, according to its website, “…was founded in 1913 ‘to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all’,” printed an overview of what it called ‘Anti-Israel Activity on Campus After Operation Protective Edge: A Preview of the 2014-2015 Academic Year’. This article provides information about student groups that were appalled at Israeli cruelty during that country’s so-called ‘Operation Protective Edge’, the ridiculous name of the most recent invasion and carpet bombing of the Gaza Strip. It discusses the increase in student activity opposing Israeli policies, and projects that it will probably only continue to grow.
It is certainly true that opposition to Israel’s decades-long, brutal occupation of Palestine is growing. But the ADL made some statements in the article that belie belief. A look at one sentence suffices: “Student groups that constitute today’s anti-Israel movement hurl a multitude of hateful accusations against Israel, falsely claiming that Israel is guilty of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and a number of other war crimes in an effort to demonize Israel.”
Let us break this amazing sentence down into its component parts, and see what we can learn from it.
‘Student groups that constitute today’s anti-Israel movement’. Certainly, it can’t be denied that college campuses not only in the United States, but also throughout the world are seeing more opposition to Israeli practices. But such groups do not constitute this movement; they are simply a part of greater, ad-hoc organizations around the world that are finally waking up to Israel’s unspeakable cruelties.
‘Hurl a multitude of hateful accusations against Israel’. It would not be difficult to diffuse these ‘hateful’ accusations. If Israel is indeed innocent of these charges, all it would need to have done would be to have cooperated with any of the international investigations of the last few years, or that are currently ongoing, into its practices. If Israel has nothing to hide, why not show the facts to the world? On the other hand, if the facts are already there for all the world to see, why not try calling them ‘hateful accusations’ and see if that accomplishes anything?
“Falsely claiming that Israel is guilty of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and a number of other war crimes”. Are these false claims? A quick Internet search shows this definition for apartheid: ‘any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.’. Palestinians in the West Bank cannot drive on the same roads that Israeli’s use. They are hindered in their daily activities by countless checkpoints that Israelis establish and man arbitrarily. A Palestinian arrested in the West Bank may spend months incarcerated without charge, and without access to legal representation. An Israeli arrested in the West Bank is either charged or released within hours, and has access to legal representation immediately. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank need to ask permission from Israel to farm their own lands, and to harvest their own crops. No such restrictions or requirements are placed on Israelis.
Is Israel guilty of ethnic cleansing? Going to the same Internet source, this is how ‘ethnic cleansing’ is defined: “The elimination of an unwanted ethnic group or groups from a society, as by genocide or forced migration.” Israel was established in 1948 only after the forced removal (‘migration’) of 750,000 Palestinians from their ancestral homes. In the decades since that time, Palestinian homes have been, and continue to be, routinely demolished to make room for illegal Israeli settlements, in which only Israelis can live.
Now let us look at the charge of genocide. Returning again to the same dictionary site, genocide is defined thusly: “The deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political or cultural group.” When three-quarters of a million Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homes in 1947 and 1948, at least 10,000 of them were killed. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were completely destroyed, leaving no trace of mosques, museums, schools, cemeteries or other signs of Palestinian culture. Since then, countless mosques, schools and other vital structures of Palestinian culture have been obliterated by Israel, in order to make room for more, Israeli-only, illegal settlements. Ironically, in June of 2011, Israel bulldozed the ancient Muslim cemetery, Ma’man Allah, in order to build a ‘Museum of Tolerance’ on the site.
During Israel’s recent horrific bombing of the Gaza Strip, many more ancient mosques were destroyed, further decimating Palestinian culture.
These student groups accuse Israel of ‘a number of other war crimes’, says the ADL article. According to International Law, an occupying force (Israel) cannot move permanent settlers into the occupied territory. Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu has stated flatly that he has no intention of giving up the West Bank, where over 500,000 settlers live illegally. It is also in violation of international law to remove residents from their property, something Israel does routinely, and has done for decades, causing the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, many who had to leave their homes for refugee camps.
International law also says that in war time, schools, hospitals, residences, places of worship and press and media facilities cannot be bombed. During the recent bombing of the Gaza Strip, Israel bombed all of these, as well as clearly-defined United Nations refugee centers, with apparent impunity.
All possible care, according to international law, must be taken to prevent civilian casualties. Yet IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers (read: terrorists) blatantly targeted children playing a beach, killing them in front of international reporters.
The protection of the occupied people is also a requirement of international law. Yet in the West Bank, IDF soldiers and illegal settlers constantly harass Palestinians, and routinely shoot and kill Palestinians, including children. When this happens, if there is any international outcry at all, Israel says it is ‘investigating’. Yet nothing substantive ever comes of these ‘investigations’.
Like many other organizations that exist ostensibly to protect poor, vulnerable little Israel from the non-existent power of its enemies, the ADL attempts to defend the indefensible. The many crimes that Israel commits on a daily basis may once have been hidden behind a wall of secrecy. But that was before Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media enabled everyone with a cell phone and an internet connection to broadcast facts to the world. People around the globe see the horrors that Israel perpetrates, and understand it as all the things the ADL denies: apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and a number of other war crimes.
That students are waking up and taking action is another positive sign for Palestine. That Israel is becoming more and more isolated in the world community, with more and more countries recognizing Palestine and sanctioning Israel, is also very positive. That the ADL and other similar organizations are in panic mode, no longer able to defend a cruel, racist, apartheid regime, bodes well for a better future for Palestine.
Perhaps Israel felt it could once again bomb the Gaza Strip, and kill youths in the West Bank who have no weapons other than stones, with complete impunity. It must not be blamed for believing so; that was the model that was followed for years, and Israel can’t be faulted for not paying attention to sea changes that were occurring. Now that those changes have hit it in the face, full force, it can’t avoid seeing them. This new knowledge makes Israel all the more dangerous; any wild animal cornered will lash out, however erratically, in instinctive defense. Yet like the cornered animal that is eventually captured and controlled, this is what Israel can realistically expect. It will take time, but the process has begun, and it cannot be stopped now. Despite all Israel’s efforts to obliterate Palestine, it will fail; Palestine will be free.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).