Wednesday, June 1

The Occupation and Humiliation

There are certain facts on the ground, despite Israel's attitude to cover up certain brutalities to the Palestinians that should be borne in the mind of the reader in order to gain further insight into this conflict. This includes possible reasons for animosity towards Israel by the Palestinians. At the same time, one cannot view the occupation as the only reason. There is no refuting the fact that Israel's problem with her neighbors is existential, but the settlers in the occupied areas aggravate the situation even further.

Since the intifada of 2000 which, to all intents and purposes, has reached a certain uneasy halt with apparent cessation of terror. Is this the lull before the storm? Only time will tell.

Most of the settlers living in the occupied areas after the Six Day War are legal from the Israeli point of view, as the previous governments had legalized their settling in these areas. The term "illegal settlers" is a misnomer in this context. This does not apply to those who have unilaterally occupied various areas within the occupied areas without permits.

However, having said that, the question remains as to whether these settlers have a moral right to establish settlements in the occupied areas in the past and expanding them in the present and future.

The reason for all Israel's wars is well documented. Israel just cannot afford to lose even one war. This would mean her total destruction. However, having occupied these territories because of the Six Day War of June 1967 has compounded a problem, which could have been avoided.

Had Israel not encouraged Jewish settlement in the occupied areas and declared these settlements illegal, Israel's case against her Arab neighbors would have been stronger.

It is very difficult for Israel to maintain that she does not seek to occupy another people when the facts on the ground prove the opposite. Settlers have occupied Palestinian lands. They justify their occupation because of their strong attachment to their faith, land and use biblical quotations at every opportunity. They see themselves as carrying on the wishes of their biblical ancestors. In their eyes, their attachment to the concept of the land of Israel (including the occupied areas) is an integral part of Jewish destiny in this part of the world.

The results have not worked in Israel's favor at all. The settlers have destroyed much of the Palestinian olive trees not to mention destruction of agricultural lands. They exploited them for cheap labor. They encroached on their lands with the religious zeal that only they are capable. Israel had done nothing to curtail settlement activity in the occupied areas. In fact, the government had been encouraging these settlements and offering benefits to those who wish to settle in the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and even East Jerusalem.

Israel is a strong country militarily. The Palestinians are no match for them. A strong country like Israel, with its settlers in the occupied territories, cannot prove to the world that it is a victim despite the terrible suicide attacks against innocent Israelis during the last few years.

The record of accomplishment of the settlers in the occupied territories in their treatment of the Palestinian population is poor. The blame for the hatred of Israel can be laid at the settler's door. The Palestinians view them as heartless occupiers who usurped their lands. This being the case, in retrospect, and the catastrophic economic situation of the Palestinians has created conditions of hate for Israelis, which had tragic results for both sides. The Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad took advantage of the situation in order to release a cruel form of terror against Israel in the form of suicide bombings.

Prior to the intifada, Palestinians workers would stand in very long queues to get into Israel to seek work. Their day usually started at 3.00 a.m. The humiliation and the checks, which had caused incredible delays, had played its part in fomenting hate. Many Israeli building contractors also exploited these workers. Their wages were pitiful.

What about those many sick Palestinians who were in urgent need of medical attention? The delays to get to a doctor were unbelievable and caused much suffering. Pregnant women had difficulties in reaching hospitals to give birth. There were cases of women giving birth at check posts under humiliating circumstances. The treatment meted out to Palestinians, most not connected with terror, was disgusting and cruel. However, there is a faint sign of some hope. The Physicians for Human Rights Organization has tried to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian sick although their fight is miniscule. Israel, as an occupying power, should shoulder the responsibility for health service to the Palestinians.

When the soldiers at checkpoints were asked why he does not use his discretion, the answer was "The Palestinians are to blame for the situation because of the terror. If they stop the terror, their treatment would improve. Apart from that we are carrying out orders".

The biggest obstacle to peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state today is the settlers in the occupied territories. It is obvious that settlers have to return to Israel within the green line. The idea of creating settler blocs in the Palestinian areas will create a logistic problem that will be very difficult to solve if not impossible. The Palestinian state will be in the West Bank and Gaza.

The occupation has to end. It is eroding Israeli society and creating a situation whereby Israel rules the Palestinians. This is morally indefensible. Now with the calm existing it is important that Israel and the Palestinian leadership negotiate a just and lasting peace with security to both sides. Both peoples deserve a future of hope and promise of prosperity. Both nations have their destinies intertwined.


zac said...


This is why your latest article is naive. Please forgive me, but I think you had some things to get off your chest, for whatever reason and needed to rant. Your justifications for Arab/Muslim attacks and the Intifada totally ignores history and their Islamic agenda. Their history must be looked at from the beginning and obviously from at least the beginning of the last century. I suspect you have fallen under the influence of your Arab correspondents and feel the need, as per the Oslo Syndrome, to ingratiate yourself to them. Your justifications are shallow and just imagine if it was you at the border post and one of the arabs described below and in the Jerusalem Post article I will send immediately approached you as you stood guard and had to decide whether to let them pass or not. Also remember that the arab lands are now judenfrei and how our people were treated for hundreds of years. Never mind the "glory" of living under then during the Golden Age in Spain.
Think of Dhimmi and how Saudi Arabia, for example, at this very time, tolerates, or rather, does not tolerate any other peoples or religions in their midst and how they even treat their own who might be deemed not to follow Islam enough by some crazy mullah's spontaneous decree.

Your very wrong on this one. I respect your liberal point of view and your obvious kindness and humanity. It is misplaced. While the frummies are often a pain in the arse and I am personally not crazy about them for reasons that could fill hours of discussion, remember we are a democratic people and accept and suffer diversity amongst ourselves. Within the spectrum that makes us up as Jews, there is and should be place for all our people who all contribute something to the whole.
Read the "Oslo Syndrome" again and draw from it the need for education and knowing who we are and consider the real possibility that what you say in your article could also be influenced by the very thing it refers to , namely the need to be accepted and liked and why. No other people on earth has had to endure what we have had to and still do on a daily basis. Consider what your neighbors in Tulkarm and Qalkilya would do to you or how you would be treated if they were in control.

You've now got my gist and I nevertheless encourage you to keep on thinking and writing, but
some reading and historical background would stand you in good stead. The reading I am referring to must be far broader than Avi Shlaim or some of Bennie Morris' revisionist name seeking works.


zac said...

Thank you very much for your response and criticism. This is what I am seeking in my writings as from criticism one has much to learn and I certainly do not exclude myself from that. If only more people would pick holes in my articles and respond as you did, I would benefit.

However, I must admit, this article was the result of a TV programme that I had watched on Israel TV Channel 2. One of Israel's most well known TV commentators Chaim Yavin produced it – an Israeli veteran newscaster who reads the news every night on Channel 1 for as long as I remember. He had armed himself with a video camera and did the interviews himself. I did not need the Palestinian Press to get my information. I find their information inaccurate, filled with fantasy and untrue in many cases.

He had portrayed and filmed the seemingly endless queues of Palestinians waiting to get permission to see the doctor for medical attention. There were many pregnant women in the queue waiting to give birth. The soldiers were in an unenviable situation whereby they had to tell the good from the bad. The results are heart rendering. Suffering is never easy to see.

The moaning queue of Palestinian humanity was very tough viewing for anybody who has some form of compassion for the human condition. It is not a matter of history of how badly the Jews were treated. Many soldiers are ignorant of Jewish history and suffering anyway. This does not justify the treatment that these Palestinians were receiving. We cannot justify our injustices to our fellow human beings because we as Jews had suffered persecution as a minority in the countries of Europe and to a certain extent in Arab countries as well.

Tragic Jewish history does not justify ill treatment of innocent Palestinian people whose crime is that they happen to belong to the same race as the suicide bombers and terrorists. Collective punishment is not justice. Living in this area and being exposed to much that occurs in order to prop up Jewish religious fanaticism and extremism has left me very troubled indeed.

On the other hand, and I have made this very clear in all my writings, I support the Israeli Army in their pursuit of Arab terrorists wherever they are. Every country has a basic right to defend her citizens against terror for whatever reason. Those victims of terror are those who are innocent and the damage that it causes is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms on a worldwide basis. My wife Malka had a narrow escape in Netanya from a terrorist bomb. The use of terror is inhuman and indefensible. Unfortunately, the world ignores Israeli victims of Arab terror for a number of reasons. One reason is the dependence on Arab oil and the other reason is that they wish to prove to the Arab states that they are against the Israeli Occupation in order to prevent the repeated use of the oil embargo against them. They play the game of expediency which is to be condemned.

The purpose of my article was to reinforce certain facts on the ground. My main argument is that Israel's biggest mistake was encouraging religious fanatics to settle in occupied territories since the Six Day War. The settlers' treatment of Palestinians is poor. They were driven out of their areas in order to make allowances for settlement in occupied territories. It is not easy for mainstream Zionists to accept this fact. The results are there for all to see.

Perhaps I can use a simple analogy. Imagine that you had land that you had inherited from your ancestors. A group of people come to you and says that according to the Bible the land that you and your family have occupied for generations is not yours. They tell you that they are prepared to live with you in peace on condition that you can live with them on their property. Would you accept that? What has happened here is that Israeli religious fanatics have taken away land that is not theirs with government consent and forced themselves onto a hostile Palestinian population. Surely, this is an added prescription for hate!

One cannot always justify Israel's behavior towards the Palestinians because of injustices towards the Jewish People in the past. As I said, I am aware of the terror and security problems of this country. I had seen the results of suicide bombing in the hospital where I work and it does fill one with revulsion. However, the point that I am trying to make is that the settlers in the occupied areas had received encouragement from preceding Israeli governments to colonize and occupy. This was a serious blunder resulting in Israel paying a heavy price.