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Israel’s Kafkaesque "Matrix of Control"

Saturday 3 February 2007

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by Stephen Lendman

Finding an equitable solution to the intractable,
festering decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is
the Gordian Knot that must be cut to achieve peace
overall in the Middle East. Today, no solution is in
sight nor are any serious efforts planned to find one
despite occasional rhetoric to the contrary like
what’s now being heard from Washington with similar
disingenuous echos inside Israel.

Palestinians know otherwise from long experience.
They’ve heard this siren song before. It’s the same
old tired refrain going nowhere and not intending to.
The so-called "road map" goes nowhere, and the "peace
process" guarantees only more conflict because Israel
wants it that way to justify its harshness and refuses
to discuss the most fundamental Palestinian concerns.
Unless they’re resolved there can never be peace.
They include a sovereign integral independent
Palestinian state, the Right of Return, status of
Jerusalem Palestinians want as their capital,
settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
(OPT) that must be removed, and established borders.
They also include ending what Palestinian-American
scholar and activist Edward Said once called Israel’s
agenda of "refined viciousness" against the
Palestinian people. Since Hamas’ Palestinian
Authority (PA) January, 2006 legislative electoral
victory, there’s been nothing "refined" about it.

As long as these issues and present conditions go
unaddressed, this long-running tragedy will go on
without end destroying the lives of new generations of
young Palestinians who nonetheless continue their
valiant struggle for freedom and justice even against
overwhelming odds. Today they’re greater than ever as
the tiny Israeli state with six million Jews
(including those in OPT settlements) is a world
nuclear power compared to a virtually defenseless
Palestinian population of about five million. Included
are 1.4 million Arab Israeli citizens. They’re denied
all rights Israeli Jews get and are subjected to
constant abuse and neglect. They’re a fifth of the
population but are forced to live on 2% of the land
plus 1% more for agricultural use. The Jewish
population gets nearly all the rest.

Another 3.9 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West
Bank only get the right to live under the boot of a
hostile occupier. They live under "vicious"
repression and are denied all rights including the
fundamental one to their own home on their own land
that may be bulldozed to rubble anytime for any reason
because Israel wants the land for Jewish settlements
and relentlessly takes it and the lives of many
Palestinians as well.

Then there are the refugees. About five million are
in the Palestinian diaspora including about 260,000
internally displaced and living inside Israel. Most
others live within 100 miles of Israel’s borders in
neighboring Arab states. Half are in Jordan, 15% in
Lebanon, another 15% in Syria while others live
throughout the world including in other Arab countries
like Egypt and the Gulf states. Many live with a
dominant dream so far unfulfilled - the absolute
universal "Right of Return" affirmed in UN Resolution
194 passed in December, 1948 resolving that "refugees
wishing to return to their homes and live at peace
with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at
the earliest practicable date, and that compensation
should be paid for the property of those choosing not
to return and for loss of or damage to
property....made good by the Governments or
authorities responsible."

This "universal right" is also established in Article
13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
under various Geneva Conventions. Israel won’t
recognize it and adamantly refuses to include it in
negotiations even though the Jewish state doesn’t have
a legal leg to stand on. In 1948-49, its leaders
ethnically cleansed 800,000 Palestinians slaughtering
many in the process. They also destroyed 531 of their
villages in their "War of Independence" all
Palestinians call the Nakba or catastrophe. Many
refugees dream one day of returning to their homes,
and all Palestinians want and deserve their own
sovereign independent state never losing hope they’ll
get it.

Israel exacerbates their plight practicing a rigid
policy of police state control while ignoring binding
legal provisions of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights. Its preamble cites the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Charter,
that’s also binding international law, stating "civil
and political freedom....can only be achieved (if)
everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights (and
that it is the) obligation of States under the Charter
of the United Nations to promote....human rights and
freedoms (for everyone)."

Its many Articles also affirm:

— The right of self-determination and freedom to
freely determine one’s political status and freely
pursue one’s economic, social and cultural

— The inherent right to life and freedom from
subjection to torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading
treatment or punishment and to be free from arbitrary
arrest or detention or deprived of liberty.

— The right to liberty of movement and freedom to
choose one’s residence.

— The right freely leave any country and not be
deprived of the right to return to it.

— The right to freedom from arbitrary or unlawful
interference with one’s privacy, family, home or

— The right to freedom of thought, conscience and

— The right to have equal access as all others to
public services in one’s country.

— The right of all persons to equal protection of the
law without discrimination.....and much more.

In the way it treats Palestinians, Israel willfully
violates all the above provisions as state policy and
has done so for six decades and gotten away with it.
People of conscience must condemn this lawlessness and
demand Israeli leaders be held accountable for their
crimes of war and against humanity so the
long-suffering Palestinians one day have the same
rights and freedoms as all Israeli Jews. They and all
others deserve no less.

Jeff Halper’s Concept of An Israeli "Matrix of

Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli
Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) based in
Jerusalem. He’s also a professor of anthropology at
Ben Gurion University and has lived in Israel since
1973. ICAHD was originally formed as a non-violent,
direct-action group to resist Israeli home demolitions
in the OPT. It’s activities now include resistance to
settlements, land expropriation, fruit and olive tree
uprootings and other crop destruction, bypass road
construction, policies of "closure" and "separation,"
denial of civil and human rights, and all other
elements of repression of a people under occupation it
wants to help end to achieve an equitable and
sustainable peace only possible once Palestinians have
their own sovereign integral independent state.

Halper established the concept of a repressive "Matrix
of Control" to explain how Israeli governments
dominate Palestinian life. For these long-suffering
people ever to achieve justice and a land of their
own, this system chaining them in bondage must end.
Here’s how it works.

Halper explains it’s composed of three layers of
control. The first one is "physical control" of key
"links and nodes." It’s done through illegal OPT
settlements on expropriated land, use of military
zones, industrial parks, control of aquifers and other
natural resources, checkpoints, control of all border
crossings, a network of bypass roads for Jews only,
national parks for recreation underneath which are
former Palestinian villages destroyed and their
history erased to make way for them, and the
oppressive (World Court ruled) illegal Separation or
Apartheid Wall claimed for security but, in fact,
another part of a land grab and confinement agenda.
It’s being built to continue ethnically cleansing
Palestinians and keep those remaining virtual
prisoners in restricted cantonized OPT areas. They’re
isolated from and unconnected to others as part of
Israel’s policy of ghettoization, repression and
social control.

Halper’s second control layer is bureaucratic and
legal encompassing a host of policies constricting
Palestinians in a maze of procedures and restrictions.
These include harassing zoning and other regulations
governing the following:

— Allowable home and village construction.

— Building permit restrictions.

— Home demolitions for violations of code.

— Land expropriation designated for Israeli "public

— Agricultural restrictions and crop destruction for

— Licensing and inspection of Palestinian businesses.

— Closures anywhere, any time, for any reason.

— Movement and travel restrictions within and outside
the country.

— Many other politically motivated harassing rules
and regulations designed to make life impossible for
people forced to abide by them. These are politically
motivated actions confining Palestinians to designated
enclaves or cantons. Israel claims they’re legal,
but, in fact, they’re not. They deny fundamental
human and civil rights guaranteed under numerous
international laws, covenants, and protocols
established by Geneva Conventions and the UN governing
a broad definition of rights and freedoms including
economic, social, cultural, political and other ones
in peace and war.

Israel is a signatory to these laws yet flagrantly
violates them. It’s also brazenly ignored over five
dozen UN Resolutions going back decades condemning or
censuring it for its actions against the Palestinians
or other Arab people, deploring it for committing
them, or demanding, calling on or urging the Jewish
state to end them. Israel flaunts the rule of law
observing only what comes out of its Knesset. It
arrogates to itself the right to act in its own
interest, law or no law, and gets away with it because
its supportive partner and paymaster in Washington
winks and nods approval, funds it lavishly, and
supplies it with the most modern weapons of war to use
against any adversary. Palestinians, on the other
hand, are vulnerable and defenseless. They have only
crude weapons, their bodies and redoubtable spirit to
use in self-defense.

Halper’s third "Matrix" layer uses violence as a means
of social and political control. It includes military
occupation, mass imprisonment and routine use of
torture as documented by Israeli human rights
monitoring group B’Tselem saying it’s flagrant and
widespread and violates the Fourth Geneva Convention,
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 1984 UN
Convention Against Torture. It also relies on an
elaborate use of collaborators, pressure on families
to sell their land, and military and civil authority
oppression in the OPT. All this is falsely justified
in the name of security just like harsh US laws and
their enforcement are here. In fact, they’re just
police state measures to harass and round up
dissenters and control a restive population resisting
a hostile government harming its welfare.

Most people in the US know little about what’s
happening in the OPT because information about it is
suppressed in the corporate-controlled media. The
Israeli public is better informed but not well enough
about the "Matrix." Americans are willing to
sacrifice some freedom for security not realizing when
they do they lose both. Israelis, on the other hand,
want peace and are willing to give up some territory
for it. Palestinians, however, are victims and
understand the "Matrix" well because they live under
its harshness affecting their daily lives. Achieving
their dream one day depends not only on gaining their
own independent state, but also freeing themselves
from "the key nodes of the Matrix" Halper explains do
the following:

— Gives Israel full control of all aspects of
Palestinian life in the OPT.

— Most often lowers Israel’s military profile
creating an image of administration and Israel’s right
to defend itself hiding the ugly reality on the ground
of an oppressive occupier.

— Creates a cramped space for a Palestinian
cantonized mini-state relieving Israel of an
obligation to service it.

— Deflects international opposition beneath the cover
of conventional administrative and bureaucratic

— Creates deplorable conditions leading to despair
and belief a truly sovereign independent state is
unachievable hoping Palestinians will accept the
crumbs offered them or give up and leave.

This bureaucratic web of containment disguises a hard
line Kafkaesque system of social control and
oppressive enforcement harshly treating anyone
resisting it. Visible on the surface under a military
head of a "Civil Administration" is a face of "proper
administration, upholding the law, and keeping public
order and security." It makes the occupation
invisible except for its victims disciplined by it
harsh rules. Halper describes the control mechanisms:

— Military assaults against the civilian population
and infrastructure (including targeted assassinations
and willful collateral killing). It’s now ongoing
daily in Gaza and the West Bank and documented by the
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, B’Tselem and
others on the ground.

— Use of collaborators and undercover "mustarabi"
army units, mass arrests, administrative detentions,
(kangaroo court) trials and widespread torture of

— Absence of civil law replaced by military rule
supplemented by Civil Administration policies.

— Mass expropriation of Palestinian land mostly in
the OPT but also affecting Arab Israeli citizens.

— Construction of over 200 settlements on occupied
land for 400,000 Israeli Jews since 1967 in the West
Bank including Palestinian East Jerusalem.

— Dividing the OPT into Areas "A," "B," "C," and "D"
in the West Bank; "H-1" and "H-2" in Hebron; nature
reserves for Jews only; closed military areas;
security zones; and "open green spaces" for
Jewish-only housing developments in over half of East
Jerusalem leaving Palestinians confined to unconnected
cantons surrounded by Israeli settlements, restricted
roads and checkpoints.

— An interconnected restricted highway and bypass
road system linking the settlements and effectively
incorporating them into Israel proper like suburbs are
to downtown areas of US cities.

— Controlling aquifers and other key natural
resources including rainfall Palestinians are
forbidden to collect by law even though they have
limited access to other water sources.

— Controlling OPT holy places as pretexts to maintain
a "security presence" there.

— Maintaining permanent "closure" of the West Bank
and Gaza.

— Restricting movement using a discriminatory system
of work, internal and external travel permits.

— Schemes to displace those unwanted by exile,
deportation and revoking residency rights.

— Home demolitions, land expropriation, denial of
basic services and impoverishment.

— "Master plans" to continue settlement expansion and
develop of new ones.

— Agricultural restrictions along with hundreds of
thousands of olive and fruit trees destroyed since
1967 and other crop land disrupted or expropriated.

— Using various other means of social control and
harassment against an unwanted people in a racist
Jewish state wanted for Jews only.

All this is a scheme to traumatize, intimidate and
break the will of the occupied people hoping they’ll
give up and leave vacating the land for Jewish
development and settlement. It hasn’t worked for six
decades and never will because too much is at stake,
and Palestinians, like Jews, want a land of their own
land one day they intend to get. It worked for the
Jews and one day will for Palestinians as well. But
for decades Israel hasn’t stopped trying to prevent
it, and there’s no sign it intends giving up. It has
full support of its policies from the US, the West and
most Arab states aligned with the Global North for
benefits they receive believing sacrificing
Palestinians’ interests is a small price to pay.

Halper believes settlements are central to maintaining
the "Matrix" because all other development is woven
around them including connecting roads, industrial
areas, military installations and zones, and the
entire security scheme of checkpoints and other
mechanisms of control. The only way to end the
"Matrix" is to remove all settlements from the OPT,
replacing checkpoints and border restrictions with
normal transit arrangements just like in any other
country or between them. It also means ending
military occupation and rule allowing the Palestinians
the right to a real integral state they govern freely
and not Israeli dictated cantons unconnected to others
that are effective open air prisons by any other name
the way they’re now conceived and laid out.

Life on the Ground Today in the OPT

Palestinians have endured six oppressive decades under
Israeli rule, four of them in the OPT since Gaza and
the West Bank were occupied after the 1967 war when
the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) seized the
Territories. Throughout this time, they faced the
kinds of repressive harshness explained above
including loss of their personal, political and
economic freedoms and any chance for justice in a land
only affording those rights to Jews.

For the Jewish "chosen people," Israel is a democratic
state, but for non-Jews, especially Arab Muslims, it’s
their worst nightmare. It’s a daily struggle to
endure and survive in a hostile racist apartheid land
wanting to exclude them from society, and all rights
in it, and since 1948 has had an agenda of
state-sponsored ethnic cleaning amounting to genocide
to rid the land of most non-Jews and all Muslims
making the state one for Jewish habitation only. This
policy is no different than Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg
Laws governing Jews under that state’s Racial Policy
asserting Aryan race superiority. In Israel, Jews are
the "Master Race" and Arabs are the persecuted "Jews."

That ideology shows in the demonizing characterization
and depiction of Arabs by former Israeli prime
minister and 1978 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Menechem
Begin who once said: "Our (Jewish) race is the ’Master
Race.’ We are divine gods on this planet. We are as
different from the inferior races as they are from
insects....other races are beasts and animals, cattle
at best. Our destiny is to rule over the inferior
races. The masses will lick our feet and serve us as
our slaves." Begin also called Palestinians
"cockroaches" and "beasts walking on two legs." Ehud
Barak referred to them as "crocodiles," and Golda
Maier said "There was no such thing as Palestinians,
they never existed."

With its leaders voicing these kinds of sentiments,
it’s no wonder Israel imposes harsh treatment on a
people it equates with wild animals and insects it
wants to eliminate. It makes life grim to impossible
for Palestinians at all times, but it hit a new low
after the democratic election of a Hamas government in
January, 2006. Relations then deteriorated to a state
of belligerency and chaos after the world community
for the first time in history placed an occupied
people under the siege of economic and political
sanctions violating the Fourth Geneva Convention that
obligates the international community to protect an
occupied civilian population.

It wasn’t to be and got far worse erupting into
virtual warfare following Hamas’ capture of an IDF
soldier last June. Israel responded with overwhelming
force in Gaza and the West Bank in an operation
planned months earlier to destroy Hamas. It used the
June incident as a pretext to launch it to with
devastating results still ongoing mostly unreported
and below the radar. What is reported in Western
media refers to Palestinians and Muslims generally as
militants, gunmen, terrorists, Islamic extremists,
Islamofascists and more. Israelis, however, are
always seen as victims defending themselves, even
their pilots in US-supplied F-16s and helicopter
gunships firing missiles against defenseless civilians
in their crosshairs.

In the past seven months, these kinds of IDF assaults
killed or wounded hundreds of Palestinian civilians,
including women and children. Many hundreds more were
arrested and held without charge in an operation
raging daily adding to the intolerable toll already
inflicted. The military also destroyed agricultural
land; buildings (including government ones); homes and
essential infrastructure including electricity and
water to refugee camps; bridges; key roads and more.
It’s been done to make life intolerable for people as
well as destroy the Hamas government Israel won’t deal
with because its leaders refuse to serve as Jewish
state enforcers which the corrupted Fatah is always
willing to do under its quisling leader, chairman
Mahmoud Abbas. It’s the reason he’s seen publicly
with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, and he’s
invited to meet with George Bush in the White House.
"Real" democrats never get that "privilege."

Fatah corruption and its betrayal of its people is
revealed in a document Palestinian activist, writer
and lecturer Ali Abunimah obtained and reported on in
his Electronic Intifada web site on January 27. It’s
an Israeli Ministry of Defense Powerpoint presentation
showing more of the dark side of a racist apartheid
bureaucracy. The document details some of what was
covered above including movement restrictions, ethnic
cleansing policies and collaboration with Palestinian
traitors selling out their people for benefits Israel
affords them.

It outlines Palestinian Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas’
complicity with the Israeli government as well as an
official inside glimpse into Israel’s "Matrix of
Control" with token easing of it to its collaborators
and for PR purposes. Mentioned in it is the

— the US supplying Fatah with millions of dollars of
weapons and equipment for use to oust the
democratically elected Hamas government.

— Israel affording special privileges for "the
movement of VIP and senior Palestinians (meaning Abbas
and his allies) facilitating (their) movement without
security checks."

— Special permits for 505 Palestinian "businessmen"
exempting them from pass laws forbidding overnight
stays in Israel, fewer security checks and other
privileges and benefits.

— Allowing a privileged "42,899" Palestinian laborers
to work in Israel and exempting 2000 agricultural ones
from pass law requirements.

— Restricting Palestinians with foreign passports
called "foreign nationals" (including ones from the US
and Europe) to tourist visitations totaling a
cumulative 27 months stay. But even this limitation
may be hardened with re-entry being denied those
leaving the country for any reason.

— Listing categories of "humanitarian" workers
including religious ones, lawyers, teachers, and
hospital and hotel workers less restricted by the pass

In sum, this official document provides an example of
Israeli repressive control that can be altered,
hardened or manipulated any time in any way to suit a
harsh colonial occupier. While making life
intolerable for the vast majority of Palestinians, it
affords its collaborators enough privileges and rule
exemptions to buy them off so they’ll go along with
cracking down on their own people.

Doing it creates the harshness of the occupation that
affects the entire OPT, but since last June Gaza got
the worst of it. Renowned investigative journalist
and documentary filmmaker John Pilger explained what’s
happening there is little reported in the West and
almost totally ignored in the US corporate media that
views the conflict through the prism of Jewish victims
responding to Palestinian terrorists that, in fact,
turns reality on its head.

On January 22, Pilger wrote an article called "Terror
and starvation in Gaza." In it he referred to a
genocide "engulfing the people of Gaza while a silence
engulfs its bystanders." He quotes former Swedish
foreign minister Jan Eliasson and former senior UN
relief official Jan Egeland who describe a people
"living in a cage, cut off by land, sea and air, with
no reliable power and little water, and tortured by
hunger and disease and incessant attacks by Israeli
troops and planes." He added UK Doctor David Halpin’s
comment that the people of Gaza are going through a
"medieval siege" will daily killings by artillery,
rockets, air strikes and small arms.

Children have been especially affected, and Pilger
quotes the results of a "remarkable (and horrifying)
survey" told him by psychiatrist Khalid Dahlan. It
showed 99.4% of children studied in Gaza suffered
trauma because 99.2% of their homes were bombarded,
97.5% were exposed to tear gas, 96.6% witnessed
shootings, 95.8% saw funerals resulting from
bombardments, and nearly one-fourth saw family members
injured or killed.

Pilger also cites the writing of Jewish Israeli
Haaretz reporters Gideon Levy and Amira Hass. In
November Levy wrote people were beginning to starve to
death and that "There are thousands of wounded,
disabled and shell-shocked people, unable to receive
any treatment" in a cauldron he called "monstrous."
Hass has lived in the West Bank and Gaza. She calls
the Strip a prison shaming her people and reminding
her of her mother’s trevails when taken to the
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Nazi Germany in
1944. Pilger describes what’s ongoing in the
Territories as "Israeli atrocities" and condemns the
US Congress, Western journalists and ordinary
bystanders including Jews who know what’s happening
but stay silent out of cowardice or complicity with
the powerful Zionist Lobby allowing the Israeli
government to commit mass murder with impunity.

One example among many almost daily happened last
November 8 when the IDF shelled Beit Hanoun in Gaza
killing at least 18 civilians and wounding dozens
more. It was barely reported in the West and faded
quickly from the collective memory. On November 11,
ironically the day commemorating the end of "the war
to end all wars" - WW I, the US vetoed UN SC/8867
condemning the attack.

The resolution called on Israel "to scrupulously abide
by its obligations and responsibilities under the
Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of
Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949."
It also called for an end to violence in the OPT and
requested the Secretary-General establish a
fact-finding mission to investigate the incident. The
US alone objected with its veto ending any hope for
justice for the innocent people killed or hurt. The
Western press ignored the vote as it’s done dozens of
other times when the US alone or with one or two small
Pacific island allies (plus Israel) vetoed other
resolutions condemning Israel for its abusive, hostile
actions or that harmed Israeli interests. The Western
press also ignores shocking new data showing an 85%
poverty rate in Gaza with that percent of the
population forced to get by on less than $2 a day.

Pilger’s account of what goes on in Gaza also is part
of daily life in the West Bank, and the Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights documents it all in the OPT
daily from its vantage point on the ground in the
Territories. It makes for gruesome reading this
writer covered in detail in a previous article.
Overall these are grievous crimes of war and against
humanity as are the rigidly enforced restrictions and
regulations causing misery and death that are part of
Israel’s six decades-long planned ethnic cleansing,
genocidal assault and daily harassment against
virtually defenseless people fighting back to survive
with only crude weapons and their bodies and spirit
but paying a dreadful price doing it.

Look at some Israeli-imposed travel and routine
movement restrictions Palestinians must endure just
reported by Amira Hass on January 19 in Haaretz. She
listed 16 prohibitions from information her paper got
from the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs and Machsom Watch. A few

— Palestinians from Gaza are forbidden to stay in the
West Bank.

— Palestinians are forbidden to enter East Jerusalem.

— Palestinians are forbidden to enter the Jordan

— Palestinians are forbidden to enter Nablus in a

— Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are forbidden to
enter Area A in the West Bank.

— Palestinians are forbidden to use Ben-Gurion
Airport for foreign travel.

— Gaza residents aren’t allowed to reside in the West

The other nine prohibitive regulations are just as
restrictive and still others apply only periodically
imposing even more hardships. If the word "Jews" is
substituted for "Palestinians" in them, these rules
sound like what Jews endured in Nazi Germany under
their racist Nuremberg Laws in the 1930s and 40s.

Amira Hass included more of them documenting 75 manned
checkpoints in the West Bank as of January 9, 2007 and
about 150 mobile checkpoints as of last fall. In
addition, there are 446 obstacles placed between roads
and villages including concrete cubes, earth ramparts,
88 iron gates and 74 kilometers of fences along main
roads. There are also 83 additional iron gates along
the Separation Wall dividing lands from their owners
with only 25 of them opening occasionally.

These impediments are part of daily life for
Palestinians in the OPT. They’re in place to harass
and discourage those forced to live under them making
life so intolerable people will want to leave for a
better life elsewhere and become another country’s

They’re also part of the long-running conflict planned
in stages from when Israel first became a state. This
conflict, in Halper’s judgment, is "the single
greatest cause of instability, extremism and violence
in (the) region (but) is the simplest conflict in the
world to resolve." He notes that Palestinian leaders
for the past 20 years (including Hamas) and a large
majority of Israelis and Palestinians support a Jewish
state within pre-1967 war boundaries leaving the other
22% of the West Bank and Gaza for a sovereign integral
independent Palestinian state free from Israeli
occupation including the oppressive settlements making
it impossible.

Another key to conflict resolution is the Right to
Return that Israel must acknowledge under
international law and abide by like all other
civilized countries. Halper notes Palestinian
sociologist Khalil Shkaki conducted an extensive
survey finding only about 10% of refugees (around
500,000 today), mainly the aged, wish to settle in
Israel. That’s a number the Jewish state can easily
absorb if there’s political will to do it, but so far
there’s none nor any hint of any forthcoming. It’s
because Israel bases its strategy for regional
dominance and acceptance on an agenda of conflict and
territorial expansion gotten by iron-fisted militarism
supported and funded by the US with the West overall
going along. Israel also believes the Palestinians
are irrelevant, and it can make separate peace and
other arrangements with Arab countries and the Muslim
world overall.

Halper thinks otherwise saying the Palestinians have a
critical "trump card: They are the gatekeepers to the
Middle East" in his judgment. For Muslims, this
unresolved conflict defines the so-called "clash of
civilizations" along with Israel settling territorial
disputes with Syria and Lebanon. For Halper, solving
this conflict is key to Israel’s ability to normalize
relations with its Arab neighbors and other Muslim
countries as achieving it can weaken the forces of
anti-Israeli fundamentalism and militarism fueling
conflict. But as long as Israel remains obstinate
continuing to deny Palestinians their right to
self-determination and maintains its repressive
occupation, no progress to peace is possible, all the
disingenuous rhetoric about seeking it

A Look Ahead For Hopeful Change

Looking ahead, the question then is can this policy of
hostility and aggression ever work, or in the end,
will it fail. Israel believes it can muddle through
as it has for six decades. So far, it succeeded
because its Arab neighbors in the past were too weak
to contest (and still are) and now prefer allying with
the West and tolerating Israel at the expense of
aiding the Palestinians. Most of all, Israel has a
powerful ally in the US, and each country serves the
other’s interests. It’s also supported by the West
that up to now has turned a blind eye on the region’s
most intractable problem thinking in time it may go
away or not matter much if it doesn’t.

But that kind of thinking has gotten nowhere since
1948, and that’s proof enough it never will. Despite
everything Palestinians have endured, Israeli’s
military might never broke their redoubtable spirit
nor likely ever will. That being so, it begs the
question why the Jewish state continues a failed
policy and is unwilling to try a new approach based on
rapprochement. Halper believes that kind of effort
can achieve a real and lasting peace, and if it’s
undertaken can progress quickly toward final
resolution acceptable to both sides and benefitting
the entire region.

It has to happen sooner or later because eventually
the international community won’t continue tolerating
a policy becoming too costly to back. It may be
heading toward it already because of the situation in
Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon over the summer showing
US and Israeli belligerency failed and it’s time for
an alternate course. The international community may
push a conflict resolution agenda even harder in light
of US hawkishness toward Iran threatening an even
wider and much more dangerous regional war. Black
propaganda to the contrary, it’s unrelated to Iran’s
legal commercial nuclear program. It’s all about
Washington’s nearly three decade resolve for regime
change in a country unwilling to surrender its
sovereignty and submit to US imperial management
rules. Rule number one explains "who’s boss" with no
toleration of outliers or disobedience.

Palestinians aren’t waiting for conflict resolution or
for Israel to see the error of its ways and decide to
pursue real peace. They intend keeping up the
struggle for their rights and freedoms and an end to
six decades of colonial abuse and repression. They
took their fight to the seventh World Social Forum in
Nairobi, Kenya in late January and first one ever held
on the African continent. A 30 member delegation
attended representing all major Palestinian community
and NGO networks operating in the OPT, Israel and
Lebanon. It came to issue a political statement to
the world and call to action on Palestine for help in
their struggle for "freedom, justice and (a) durable
peace" and an end to 60 years of repression. It wants
to build a "global Campaign for Boycott, Divestment
and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends its
apartheid-like regime of discrimination, occupation
and colonization, and respects the right of return of
Palestinian refugees and IDPs (internally displaced

It advocates "Consumer boycotts of Israeli products;
boycott of Israeli academic, athletic and cultural
events and institutions complicit in human rights
abuses; divestment from Israeli companies, as well as
international corporations involved in perpetuating
injustice, and pressuring governments to impose
sanctions on Israel...."

The delegation stressed "official diplomacy has failed
in enforcing scores of UN resolutions law (to end) Israel’s occupation,
colonization, displacement and dispossession of the
Palestinian people." It condemned "US-led Middle East
diplomacy, favoring military intervention and
unilateralism (and its complicity with Israel) in wars
and occupation in Iraq and Lebanon (and) Israel’s
colonial regime in Palestine (and Washington’s active
encouragement of) division and civil war in the region
(with) the US and the entire Quartet (comprised of the
US, UN, European Union and Russia) part of the problem
in the region (not the solution)."

The Palestinian delegation called on people of
conscience and civil society everywhere to join their
struggle denouncing Israel as a pariah state and to
work cooperatively for "justice and peace (in) the
Middle East (and) reconciliation and coexistence for
everyone in the region, based on equality and mutual
respect for international law and fundamental human
rights." Organized actions like these ended the
oppressive South African apartheid regime that once
had full support of the US and the West. They can
achieve the same result with Israel if enforced long
enough with teeth, and they must be. Eventually this
will happen in one form or other, and it’ll work
because repression can never be sustained forever and
won’t be. The sooner Israel accepts that, the quicker
real peace will come to the Middle East, and it can’t
happen any too soon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog
site at

Forum posts

  • Stephen,Don’t tell me ..Take it up with your "TRIBE" ...they are the one’s who need to be confronted with their pivotal role in the manipulation&destruction of humanity...for 1000’s of years...