Letters to the Editor

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 2020, pp. 6-7

JEFF HALPER’S BOOK UNVEILS ISRAEL’S DEHUMANIZING POLICIES

I am reading a book by a Jeff Halper, an Israeli who works to stop Palestinian homes being demolished by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The book is called War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification.

I've read Halper for decades. I must quote from the first page of Chapter 7. It is intense, more intense, more vividly real than ever, a description of the prison in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

“The Occupied Palestinian Territory has been transformed into probably the most monitored, controlled and militarized place on earth,” he writes. “It epitomizes the dream of every general, security expert and police officer to be able to exercise total bio-political control. In a situation where the local population enjoys no effective legal protections or privacy, they and their lands become a laboratory where the latest technologies of surveillance, control and suppression are perfected and showcased, giving Israel an edge in the highly competitive global market. Labels such as ‘Combat Proven,’ ‘Tested in Gaza’ and ‘Approved by the IDF’ on Israeli or foreign products greatly improves their marketability.”

On p. 149, he reveals the horrible reasoning of the Israelis. There is a “compelling framing that turns the oppressed into the threat and the oppressors into the victims merely defending themselves,” he says. “It is a play in which everything is turned around, making it look as if the Israelis are the victims.”

On p. 150, the author mentions “the expulsion of half the [Palestinian] villages, towns, expropriation of their lands, destruction of 536 villages....the demolition of some 60,000 homes.”

On each page of this chapter, we can really see for ourselves quite clearly the ongoing drama, the stolen land, the torture and murders by the IDF and far more.

This is why I write letters nearly every day to elected officials, publications and others. We must push harder to create healthy change. We are all aware that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will soon return to that “wonderful plan” of President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and if so, there won’t be any land for the Palestinians that is arable. As for rights? Forget it. The occupation will continue with more of the same.

Carol Rae Bradford, Somerville, MA

Jeff Halper does a masterful job of outlining the depravity of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. Like you said, it is important that we don’t merely bemoan the reality in Palestine. We must, as you do, share the truth of the situation widely so that more people can come to see the U.S.-sponsored injustices being perpetuated in the Holy Land. Halper’s book, War Against the People, is available from Middle East Books and More.

FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE, A ONE-STATE SOLUTION IS NEEDED

The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. The declaration was contained in a letter dated Nov. 2, 1917 from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.

Fast forward to the global Black Lives Matter movement. Palestinians have eagerly embraced the symbolism with large banners saying “Palestinian Lives Matter” on prominent display in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Since its birth Israel has displaced the local indigenous Palestinian population by brute force, supported by billions in U.S. military aid prodded by AIPAC and other powerful pro-Israel organizations.

Meanwhile, an estimated 640,000 illegal Jewish settlers now live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Even the leaders of Israel’s center-left parties increasingly no longer support such a fragmented Palestinian state, and now openly support Israeli annexation.

The Trump-Kushner disastrous “peace plan” envisions an archipelago of Palestinian towns, scattered across the West Bank, under tight Israeli military control, much like the bantustans of apartheid South Africa. This is a profoundly cruel “remedy” perpetrated by Netanyahu’s right-wing government in close collaboration with the Trump administration. The only practical, equitable way forward is one state where all Palestinians and Jews enjoy the same equal rights, otherwise Israel’s claim to being a Jewish democratic state is patently absurd.

Highly respected writers such as Peter Beinart, Yousef Munayyer and the late Edward Said have argued that equality comes in the form of one state that includes Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

Recent history provides convincing examples where such remedies have been successfully implemented. A peace agreement between Protestant Northern Ireland and the Catholic South ended decades of bloody strife.

Another poignant example is the settlement between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda. Rwanda is currently one of the most progressive states in the African subcontinent. Decades of foreign “divide and rule” mischief (Britain in Ireland, Belgium in Rwanda, and the U.S. and Britain in Israel) was responsible for creating death and misery for many millions of innocent victims.

Jagjit Singh, Pal Alto, CA

To many, a one-state solution suddenly appears to be the most humane and practical outcome to this “conflict” that has defined the region for far too long. While we don’t take a stance on the one-state v. two-state debate, we recognize the importance of finding a solution that ensures full human rights.

The problem, of course, is that Israel seems to want neither a one- nor two-state solution, instead apparently preferring to progressively annex and occupy Palestinian land. This, of course, ultimately leads to a de facto one-state reality in which Palestinians face a separate and unequal legal regime. It’s no wonder more and more people now refer to Israel’s policies in Palestine as apartheid.

CANADA’S QUIET HYPOCRISY ON IRAQ

Many pundits and politicians have claimed that ungrateful Iraqis rejected America’s gift of freedom and chose sectarian violence after the 2003 U.S. invasion. That slipshod incursion created the conditions for violent chaos and inspired al-Qaeda, and later ISIS, to enter the country.

Since the illegal 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, over 1.5 million Iraqis have been killed by military assaults, sectarian violence, terrorism, starvation and disease. This is a conservative estimate that may be compared to the over two million Vietnamese civilian fatalities during the 1965-1975 period of U.S. aggression in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

The Canadian Press news agency recently reported that Canada’s accurate 2003 assessment of Iraq’s WMD (nuclear, chemical, biological weapons of mass destruction) capabilities contradicted the U.S. position later used to justify the invasion and occupation of Saddam Hussain’s Iraq. The George W. Bush government’s desire to control Iraq’s vast oil resources has since been revealed as their actual motive for the invasion.

In spite of then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s refusal to commit Canadian troops to Iraqi combat, he approved ammunition sales to the U.S. military for use in Iraq. SNC-TEC, an SNC Lavalin subsidiary, was awarded a 2004 contract to manufacture and supply 300-500 million bullets.

According to John Tirman of MIT, “...expediency [has] usually trumped principle in U.S. foreign policy…the result has predictably been a growing antipathy for America and its hypocrisies…the avatar of that antipathy has been militant Islam. We remain deaf to this lesson, at our peril.”

Morgan Duchesney, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Your sobering analysis of the build-up to the Iraq War and its consequences is an important reminder that war is truly hell. Americans are rightly angry at the amount of blood and treasure we have wasted in fruitless wars since Vietnam. But as you sadly note, the biggest price has been paid by the citizens of Vietnam, Iraq and elsewhere. Imagine where the world would be today if we invested in people and peace rather than weapons and war. Instead, governments continue to defy their people and pursue budgets and policies in conformity with special interests, rather than their citizens. Candice Bodnaruk highlights this on p. 44 of this issue, where she cites a new poll showing most Canadians object to their country’s U.S.-aligned Middle East policies. 

 

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