20th Century Genesis
Zionism (Jewish nationalism) strives to build one nation for all followers of Judaism. In the 1930’s, the Zionist movement gained strong traction during the exodus to Palestine under the slogan “A Land with No People for a People with No Land”. While this slogan is emboldening, it is inaccurate – in fact and in doctrine. The land we know as Palestine has, in fact, been inhabited for centuries. Most contradictory to Zionist’s claim of Palestine’s vacancy is the integral role the land played during the industrial revolution. Palestine was ruled by the Ottoman Empire during the 19th and early 20th century. During its occupancy, the Empire went through, what economists call, an integration and peripheralization process. That is, the Ottoman Empire became a part of the world economy and was a supplier of raw materials to the global market. Centralized agencies were formed by the Ottomans which drew taxes from the farmers who supplied raw materials, and codified generational rights to the land. This hardly reflects the desolate picture painted by original Zionist settlers. The contentious quagmire is further exacerbated by the notion that followers of a religion qualify as a nation: the central tenant of the Zionist movement being ‘the Jewish nation’. Interestingly, in doctrine , the Torah reads that not until Olam Ha-Ba (the new world proceeding the messiah’s return) will all Jewish people return from their exile among the nations to their home in Israel (Hosea 3:4-5; Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 23:8). As such, many Jewish individuals condemn the transformation of Judaism from a religion into a national movement, scorn the occupation of Palestine and do not recognize the state of Israel. It must be noted that many followers of Judaism believe that gathering all members of this faith together will bring about the second coming of the messiah. However, nowhere in the Torah does it mention that settling within Palestine will produce this result.
When Suzerainty Is Not Enough
Contentions of the forced genesis which created the Israeli state are transcended by what took place after the 6 day war of 1967. The end of this war led to the native inhabitants of a Palestine occupied by a foreign power. The nomenclature of Israel’s illegal and internationally condemned expansion past the Green Line is vast and misleading. For example, it has been called a “liberation”, “independence”, “parting” and “segregation” to name only a few bifurcating adjectives. The official term employed by the Israeli government is Hafrada – Hebrew for separation. Wonderful; convenient. Separation seem like the two-state solution actualized: no interference by either state in the affairs of the other, no intrusion by the other state on foreign land or impingement of foreign citizens, authority by and within the state – in a word: sovereignty. However, to truly illustrate the systematic separation of Jews and Palestinians, we must borrow a familiar Afrikaans word. This is because Hafrada is really just Apartheid.
“[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 to 20 years, conditions which would attract the natural and voluntary migration of refugees from the West Bank and Gaza to Jordan”
-Former Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin
Sovereignty holds that a state has control of its borders. 16% of the land within the West Bank is under Palestinian self-governance; however, the borders of each ‘island’ of Palestine are controlled by Israel. The most overt example of apartheid within the occupied territories is the security wall which began construction in 2002. The wall was intended to cut off the west bank from Israel along the Green Line. However, it is twice as long as the Green Line and only follows about 15% of it with certain areas penetrating 20km into the West Bank. The effect of this wall is more than a chronic restriction of movement. It cuts Palestinian villages off from one another, farmers from their land, and individuals’ access to water, food, work and hospitals. The wall has created a myriad of ghettos and transformed the state of Palestine into an atomized Galapagos of unworkable enclaves.
Bridging each Israeli settlement is a system of vast interconnected Israeli-only roads known respectively as ‘sterile roads’. The government issues Israeli citizens yellow licence plates which allow the military to distinguish them from Palestinian vehicles. Below these mega structures are Palestinian roads which can be shut down whenever by Israeli soldiers and are often as advanced as the original road to Jerusalem. It is clear that the West Bank operates under two laws: Israeli citizens follow the Israeli civil law while Palestinians suffer under Israeli military law. For example, Palestinians must carry identification documents with them at all times. If they are unable to produce these documents, they can be detained. The sheer number of checkpoints, often controlled by 18, 19 year-old conscripted military personnel, generates long queues which, at best, can turn a few kilometer journey into a whole day’s effort or, at worst, results in the death of sick, injured individuals. The military stops ambulances as well. To further stress the callousness of this system, a conservative estimate by the Grassroots Jerusalem organization notes that 40 woman have given birth while waiting to pass through.
As an act of defense, frustration and disobedience, Palestinians often resort to stone throwing. As such, the Israeli government has outlawed stone throwing as a criminal act. Not considering it a form of Palestinian self-defense, many on the Israeli right demand that stone throwing be considered an act of terrorism. This law has allowed Israel to throw over 350 Palestinian children in prison. Ironically, the second Intifada in Gaza, which caused the deaths of 1,100 Israelis and 4,900 Palestinians, saw the Israeli government use attack helicopters and F-16 planes to fire and drop phosphorus bombs on Palestinian communities. Calculated strikes were targeted at the amenities of Gaza, destroying the sewage and electricity plants. Since the attack, amenities have yet to be fully restored as Israeli border enforcement will not allow the necessary construction materials into Gaza. This results in issues like daily blackouts that further endangers the lives of those already in hospital.
The Horizon And The Two State Solution
“We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them, … we’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years time, neither the United Nations nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.”
-Ariel Sharon, 1973
On one hand, the gradations of illegal Israeli settlements can be seen as a willing disregard of conflict resolution and human security; while on the other, a masterclass in self-absolution under the guise of religious rights. As Israeli settlement expansions increase, so too does the zeal of Zionist settlers. It is interesting to observe the oxymoron that is contemporary history; to notice how literature, that may have laid threadbare on the edges of human tapestry for centuries, is quickly woven back into the contemporary fabric of reality. Dystopias and utopias (the two are not always diametrically opposed) are often plumbed for their presentiment and perspicacity. The cloning era which saw Dolly the sheep, the first sheep to be put on a pedestal, also saw Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World become a best seller once again. During World War 2, Plato’s Republic was seen as justification for the fascism which enveloped the world. In more recent times, George Orwell’s 1984 has again become a bestseller with its references to how the USA now brings on cliché induced cringes. Perhaps it is the inoculating nature of fiction which allows us to immerse, question and work against the manifestation of print into reality. In the case of the Israel Palestine conflict, we do not need to turn to fiction for answers or predictions. Hafrada has a photographic resemblance to the South African Apartheid. By superimposing the two regimes, we are able to see an alternative to the now 50 year occupation: the dissolution of the two-state solution and the implementation of one state. While a majority of Israelis and Palestinians would prefer an end to conflict using the two-state solution, when negotiations take place, which they have numerous times, no deal can be reached. Take a second to view a map of the settlements within the West Bank and try to imagine a viable two-state solution. With nearly 600,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank today, Sharon’s gambit has been successful. Multiple generations of Israelis have grown up on this land and feel it is rightfully theirs and under the desperate demarcation outlined in the Oslo Accords it is. It is no longer an option to complete withdrawal Israel settlers to the parameters of the Green Line. Therefore, there is no two-state solution.
During the Apartheid, the African National Congress had to resort to militant action for their pleas for liberation to be heard . The same has been and will continue to be done by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. During the Apartheid, the international community placed embargoes and boycotts until South Africa became an egalitarian society. Once again in this case, the international community is intrinsically linked to a peaceful resolution and the same isolation must be used against the state of Israel. To be sure, Yitzhak Rabin has fulfilled his promise to create an atmosphere so intolerable and unviable that it forces Palestinians to leave. But in an interconnected and globalized world, each individual can add to the economic pressure of Israel. Each person can request their government to cease interactions with regimes that flout international law. Each person can say “Wait a second. Is it not archaic for a nation to be based solely on religious affiliation?” The United Nations Security Council resolution 2334 demonstrates that soft power can create new norms. This is not simply a geopolitical or Middle Eastern issue. The unfounded persecution and repression of any individual affects us all.
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