Occasionally, this writer will read an article from an Israel publication. Often, there is a survey which pops up when he clicks on the article, and the question often is this: ‘Do you believe Israel has the right to defend itself?’
The question is not a valid one. Any nation, one supposes, has such a right, but Israel has not had to defend itself for decades, if ever. Responding to ineffective ‘rocket’ fire from the Gaza Strip is not defense. An occupied nation has the internationally-recognized right to resist with violence the occupation. The occupier is not ‘defending’ itself; it is merely enforcing the occupation.
So why ask the question? Let’s look at the two possible answers that may shed light upon that reason.
A ‘yes’ response indicates that Israel is justified in its periodic carpet-bombing of the Palestinians. The publication issuing the survey can proclaim, therefore, that X% of its survey respondents support Israel.
A ‘no’ response, on the other hand, will be seen as anti-Semitic, denying Israel its basic right of existence. Why, the publication can ask, do Y% of respondents deny Israel its right to self-defense? People would only respond in this way if they hate Jews.
The question, in many ways, is reminiscent of the old political question, ‘Do you still beat your wife?’ ‘Yes,’ is wrong for obvious reasons. ‘No’, however, is still wrong, since it would indicate that spousal abuse was, at one time in the past, something the responder did, but no longer does. So a man who never beat his wife would have no right answer for that question.
So in answering the question about Israel’s right to defend itself, the thoughtful respondent has no right answer. ‘Yes’, gives Israel more ammunition to say that the world supports it, and ‘no’ is dismissed as the response of an anti-Semitic bigot, showing again, in Israel’s view, the great existential threat that it faces.
Israel and the people and publications that support it must resort to such deceitful tactics, since they are without a moral leg to stand on. Reviewing a few facts of international law relating to occupation, and Israel’s blatant and constant violations of them, may be helpful:
Law: An occupying power must not move its own citizens permanently onto the occupied nation’s land. Temporarily housing soldiers on a short-term basis there to maintain peace and the safety of the occupied people is allowed.
Israeli violations: Israel has moved over half a million Israelis into the West Bank, and Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu has stated categorically that not one of them will be removed.
Law: The people of the occupied lands must not be displaced permanently.
Israeli violations: Millions of Palestinians have been forced from their homes to make room for illegal Israeli settlers.
Law: The culture of the occupied land must be respected.
Israeli violations: Israel has done much to destroy and obliterate the culture of Palestine. The destruction of entire towns and villages, mosques and historical sites is ongoing. In one particularly egregious example, Israel bulldozed the ancient Ma’man Allah cemetery, dating at least to the 12th century and possibly earlier, and constructed a ‘Museum of Tolerance’ on the site.
Law: The occupying power must ensure the safety of the occupied peoples.
Israeli violations: Bombing the Gaza Strip, breaking into the homes of Palestinians in the West Bank at all hours of the day and night, arresting men, women and children without charge, shooting peaceful protesters in the back, cannot be seen as ensuring their safety, and protesting these atrocious crimes does not make one anti-Semitic.
The list is long; a short, representative sample is all that has been given here.
In addition to this, Israel refuses to cooperate with any investigation into its ‘alleged’ war crimes. If, as Israel continually proclaims, it has the most moral army in the world, why would it not welcome such investigations, to prove the falsehood of such allegations? Why not assist the United Nations, and the International Criminal Court, in thoroughly examining each charge, if Israel is confident that each is false?
Of course, Israel knows it is guilty of war crimes, and labors under the mistaken belief that it can continue to commit them, because the United States will always protect it.
Although it can’t be said that anyone has neglected to advise Israel that the rules of the game have changed, for some reason, the information has not been received. Transmission, obviously, does not equate to reception. Today, Israel continues to destroy entire Palestinian villages to make room for illegal settlements; IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) terrorists continue to shoot and kill innocent men, women and children in the West Bank, and arrest without charge men, women and children. None of this is new; what is new is that the world is now aware of it. The news media, which now actually gets paid by organizations and individuals to run ‘news’ stories that are written by lobbyists, corporations, and other major advertisers, has not seen fit to report this information. Massive demonstrations in support of Palestinians in major cities in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East are not seen on the evening news, but that is no longer the only venue for information. Social media gives everyone with a camera and an internet connection a worldwide audience, and that audience is seeing atrocities it never knew existed. As a result, the ostracization of the rogue state of Israel is ever growing, as more churches and businesses divest from Israeli companies, and performers and academics refuse to appear in that apartheid nation.
This writer always ignores the question, ‘Does Israel have a right to defend itself’, and will continue to do so. A ‘yes’ only gives Israeli atrocities a false veneer of legitimacy which is untenable.
Apartheid Israel is a world power in decline, and therefore very dangerous. Yet despite the mad behaviors it may still indulge it, its decline is snowballing, and cannot be stopped by anything but justice for the Palestinians, and the Arabs, Africans and other people living within its much-disputed borders. That day cannot come soon enough.