Subscribe to Our Newsletter





Follow LeftTurn:

Special Offer from PM Press

Now more than ever there is a vital need for radical ideas. In the four years since its founding - and on a mere shoestring - PM Press has risen to the formidable challenge of publishing and distributing knowledge and entertainment for the struggles ahead. With over 200 releases to date, they have published an impressive and stimulating array of literature, art, music, politics, and culture.

PM Press is offering readers of Left Turn a 10% discount on every purchase. In addition, they'll donate 10% of each purchase back to Left Turn to support the crucial voices of independent journalism. Simply enter the coupon code: Left Turn when shopping online or mention it when ordering by phone or email.

Click here for their online catalog.

Israel: Cornerstone of the “New Middle East”, Palestine: Cornerstone of Resistance

By: 
Jamal Juma
Date Published: 
October 1, 2006

Until the beginning of this year, Israeli colonialist plans had been going ahead smoothly. Almost half of the Apartheid Wall project—that steals 48% of the West Bank land—had been built. The de-Arabization of Jerusalem was progressing rapidly leaving the city almost completely isolated. The Orwellian terminals to funnel goods and workers among the Palestinian ghettos carved out by the Wall were edging closer to completion (for more information see Cementing Israeli Apartheid: The Role of the World Bank in the Oct/Nov 2005 Left Turn).

Unconditional US support, coupled with the perpetual silence and economic backing from the EU, has ensured the Israeli Occupation avoids any form of international pressure. The decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), condemning the Apartheid Wall and the Occupation, duly found its way into the history files of law experts. Palestinians were then caught up in a two-year-long electoral marathon, imposed and paid for by the international community, while the Occupation continued to lay the infrastructure for the ghettoization of Palestinians on 12% of their homeland.
The so-called disengagement from Gaza—the model for the West Bank—was internationally applauded as a “step in the right direction.” The strategy of encaging a population, keeping it under continuous threat of siege, and withdrawing costly Occupation Forces and colonies was easily legitimized. The only tasks ahead seemed to be the completion of the Wall in the West Bank with a good marketing strategy for the ghettoization of the West Bank along the lines of the Gaza model.

Yet not all the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place. Palestinians were not prepared to follow the prediction by Raphael Eitan, a former chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, that in front of the facts on the ground all Palestinians would “be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”

Unexpected results

The last step of the electoral process did not bring the expected results. It was a vote of resistance against the Occupation and a compliant Palestinian leadership. Since then colonialist strategies have stumbled from economic sanctions to war crimes, in disbelief that a “captive” nation can still fight for liberation and freedom.
Their actions have displayed the blind brutality and disdain held for Palestinians and human rights. The reaction of the Occupation and its backers to lay economic and material siege on the Palestinian people to punish them for their democratic elections has not brought about any of the expected results. It has laid bare the hypocrisy of their wars and occupations for “democracy” in the Middle East, while exposing the political elites from the Blair-Bush camp who seek to perpetuate injustice and oppression. It has exacerbated the economic crisis in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and attacked livelihoods and communities. But it has also served to strengthen the resolve and steel of Palestinians who remain steadfast to the ideals of liberation and freedom.

While farming communities lost their revenue from fields left isolated by the Wall, and commerce has been made almost impossible due to the checkpoints blocking transport, further strain was placed on Palestinian families, with one out of four employed Palestinians working for the Palestinian Authority (PA) not receiving salaries. The economic and military repression of the Occupation and its backers has led to acute fuel shortages, the malfunctioning of basic social services, and the potential collapse of the banking system. Yet, it has not led to the anticipated civil war within the Palestinian ghettos. Despite the escalating attacks on the Palestinian people—with daily killings, random arrests and curfews—internal tensions have not torn apart Palestinian society or struggle.

Unsurprisingly, as the factions worked towards the agreement of a national consensus paper, it was the people who suffered because of the continuous Israeli attacks and massacres. Most notable was the heinous attack on families at the beach in Gaza City when seven members of one family were killed by Israeli shelling on June 9. Palestinians responded to the escalating crimes by seizing of a soldier of the Occupation Forces and followed with demands to release the women and children among the 10,000 Palestinians currently lingering in Israeli jails.

The next wave of Occupation attacks on Gaza currently keep over a million people without sufficient access to electricity and water, while slaughtering dozens of Palestinians on a daily basis. Sonic booms and continuous shelling and bombings continued into August leaving the population terrorized. The complicity of the international community, as it watches from the sidelines, has aided and abetted the horrific acts of war made upon the Palestinian and Lebanese people.

No negotiation

In this scenario, chances of finding a compliant Palestinian partner for “negotiations” that imply the ghettoization of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have become increasingly distant. The credibility of Abu Mazen and his supporters has been severely damaged by the arrogance of the Occupation. They did not offer the Palestinian president even token gains while concurrently wielding their economic power and military might to dictate how the political processes of Palestinians should work. There was no better way to ensure the de-legitimization of the PA in the eyes of the people.

The Israeli claim of “lacking partners” appears nothing more than a projection of their own determination not to cede to any compromise. It is the Palestinians—and hence the PA built on and for the negotiations with the Occupation—who lack a partner and whose existence is now fundamentally threatened.

Is it the President of the Labor party, now commandeering as “Defense minister” with the aim of turning “Lebanese villages into sand boxes” with whom Palestinians should negotiate? Is it the Occupation prime minister, the heir of Sharon, who wants to ensure that “nobody in Gaza will sleep anymore?” Or is it the right wing parties who openly advocate the complete ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population?

Are we to seek justice through the Israeli High Courts that have established a sophisticated system of apartheid laws over several decades, and that have taken advantage of the last months to pass a long list of verdicts granting “legality” to the land theft and ghettoization of the Palestinian people? Or shall we turn to the international community and the UN where the Security Council was not even able to condemn the attacks on Gaza due to the US veto? Are we to negotiate ceasefires around our ghettoization in exchange for complete surrender? What are the options we have left to secure our rights and freedom?

Continuous resistance

Palestinian determination knows that only continuous resistance is the way forward, reconfirmed with every passing day as the international community refuses to move, and with every missile that hits our homes, schools, and streets.

Resilience in Gaza and the irrelevance of the Palestinian Authority however, bear a threat to the success of the entire current Zionist plans. If the pilot project of “Gaza” proves a failure, how are the West Bank ghettos to fair better?

It might be time that the Occupation wakes up to the fact that Palestinians might be something other than “cockroaches,” yet the current policies of “kill them all” in Gaza and in Lebanon suggest otherwise. The racism underlying the ideology of Zionism and war flourishes in the current climate where Olmert has stated that the “lives and well-being of Sderot’s [Israeli] residents are more important than the deaths of dozens of Palestinian innocents.”

It unveils one of the core pillars of Zionism; asserting the superiority of Jewish lives over Palestinian and Arab lives (if the latter are worth anything at all in the logic of the Occupation). The mere idea that bombings conducted with chemical and depleted uranium weapons in Lebanon and Gaza would lead to a “sustainable peace,” simply fails to comprehend that Palestinians and Lebanese—unlike animals—live for more than a basic instinct of survival. They have struggled over decades for dignity, freedom, and justice.

US stronghold

Israel is the cornerstone of the US project to “reshape” the Middle East. It is the US stronghold in the area. The Occupation has seen this new project as its own tool enforce the demise of the Palestinian struggle and to enlarge its influence far beyond the Jordan River. The transformation of Lebanon into another Arab client state for the US and Israel is an essential part of the “New Middle East” to ensure that the Occupation is bordered not only in the South and the East but as well in the North by compliant regimes.

The assassination of late Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri offered the western powers an opportunity to work towards the disarming of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah and/or a new civil war in Lebanon. Yet, the people in Lebanon have barred the way to civil war and voted for a coalition that is not willing to obey to foreign interests. If it was not possible to defeat Hezbollah diplomatically, the movement that has historically gained the only victory against the Israeli Occupation Forces had to be defeated militarily. Plans for war were ready by 2004 and military action had to kick-in at the beginning of this autumn.

Not only was Israel unwilling to let the Lebanese people get away with a victory, the US also wanted an end to Lebanese resistance given its proximity to the Palestinian struggle, and its broader connection within the context of the Middle East where Arab defiance of western interests is not to be tolerated.

Palestinians today keep a close eye to Lebanon, as they share the pain of the continuous shelling and the humanitarian hell known all too well in Gaza and by those who struggle in the ever tighter ghettos of the West Bank. They know that much of their chances to gain freedom will depend on the persistence of resistance in Lebanon. The Palestinian struggle, now more than ever, has become a struggle for liberation of the entire region from colonialism.

Today, the US-Israeli alliance is backed—at times perhaps reluctantly—by the rest of the Western world. They face the people of the Middle East who have proven they are more than obedient voters, tortured prisoners, and anonymous death tolls. What rises up in the Middle East today is far from a unified front. It may not be able to offer a unified vision for the future or the days of self-determination. Yet it is the outcome of a century of anti-colonial struggle, its setbacks and crises, and the unrelentless will of people to gain liberation.

Today this readiness for sacrifice for some of the most important human values, ensures that, from Kabul to Baghdad to Beirut and Jerusalem, the “New Middle East” has not materialized as planned. And it will not as long as the longest standing struggle at the heart of the Arab world continues.

Not cooperating

While Palestinians are simply not cooperating, taking up every chance to say “no,” resilience now has to transform into national strategies of struggle. Popular consensus on the principles of our cause has to relate again to all layers of Palestinian bureaucracy and leadership. While the stubborn refusal to comply brings the Israeli plans to a crisis, our struggle needs to reshape and assert itself, to overcome the Occupation.

As the Arab people stand up against the Israeli and US-led aggression against them, for the sake of their own freedom and the liberation of Palestine, it is high time that the people of the world join the call against oppressors and occupants.

Widespread mobilizations of people all over the world have demonstrated that many are standing up against war crimes in a show of unity among people at a grassroots level. It is crucial that this solidarity transforms into concrete power to stop the Occupation, the ethnic cleansing, and the running of war machines.

The time is ripe for global movements to understand that Palestine is inextricably linked to the war in Iraq. It is not a side event, but part of the core struggle of people in the Middle East for a world free from colonization and war.
The Palestinian call for the isolation of Apartheid Israel gives the people all over the world a powerful tool to support efforts to end the occupation and the expulsion of the Palestinian people. It can thwart the implementation of the “New Middle East” because Israel has only been able to continue its crimes in Palestine and in the region with international support for the Occupation through military, economic, cultural and academic ties. We are the ones to pay the price, but with every sacrifice brings more resilience that we will not leave our homes, our communities, and our land.

Jamal Juma’ works with the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. You can get more information about the campaign and how you can get involved at www.stopthewall.org.