In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
=== News Update ===
Palestine: Forty Years of Occupation
May 23, 2007
This June will mark an anniversary that will live in infamy for the people affected by the event it commemorates following a far greater one 19 years earlier on May 14, 1948. On June 5, 1967, Israel launched its so-called “Six-Day (preemptive) War” against three of its neighboring Arab states – Egypt, Jordan and Syria – claiming it was in self-defense to avoid annihilation Israeli leaders later admitted was spurious and false cover for a large-scale long-planned, calculated war of aggression it believed it could easily win and did.
The New York Times quoted Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s (1977 – 83) August, 1982 speech saying: “In June, 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that (President Gamal Abdel) Nasser (1956 – 70) was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”
Two time Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (1974 – 77 and 1992 – 95) told French newspaper Le Monde in February, 1968: “I do not believe Nasser wanted war. The two divisions which he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been enough to unleash an offense against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”
General Mordechai Hod, Commander of the Israeli Air Force during the Six-Day War said in 1978: “Sixteen years of planning had gone into those initial eighty minutes. We lived with the plan, we slept on the plan, we ate the plan. Constantly we perfected it.”
General Haim Barlev, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief told Ma’ariv in April, 1972: “We were not threatened with genocide on the eve of the six-day war, and we had never thought of such a possibility.”
Other Israeli leaders and generals voiced the same sentiment that in June, 1967 Israel was under no threat, yet preemptively undertook a war of aggression falsely telling the world it had no other choice. It had a clear one. It could have chosen peace, but didn’t and never did earlier or since to the present because discretionary aggressive wars of choice serve Israeli interests as they do its US imperial partner.
In 1967, it was the Jewish state’s third major aggressive war that grew out of the founding of Zionism in 1897 by Theodor Herzl aiming to establish a permanent Jewish state. He planned the first Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, became its first president, and envisioned a permanent Jewish homeland in Palestine justified by what Professor Norman Finkelstein called the “colossal hoax” Jews got there first establishing their ancestral home on “a land without people for a people without land.” It became the state of Israel in May, 1948 during the new Jewish state’s first preemptive aggressive so-called “War of Independence” Palestinians call “al-Nakba” – the catastrophe.
From it, Jewish forces seized 78% of British Mandatory Palestine establishing the state of Israel May 14 when the Mandate ended. It was 40% more territory than UN Resolution 181 of November, 1947 allowed with a 56 – 44% division that already gave Israel most of the fertile land, nearly all urban and rural territory, and 400 of over 1000 Palestinian villages their residents lost by UN mandate, with no right of appeal, to the Jewish population comprising one-third of the total at that time.
The 1948 negotiated cease-fire line became known as the “Green Line.” Egypt occupied Gaza, and Jordan controlled the West Bank. It was Israel’s moment of triumph. The war lasted six months, expelling and killing about 800,000 Palestinians. It destroyed 531 Palestinian villages, 11 urban neighborhoods, and was a clear case of ethnic cleansing international law calls a crime against humanity. Guilty Israeli leaders were never held to account for it or forced to admit what, in fact, they indisputably did according to recently declassified Israeli archival material Israeli historian Ilan Pappe used for his important new book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Noted British journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger calls him “Israel’s bravest, most principled, most incisive historian.”
In his book, Pappe documented Israeli crimes including cold-blooded mass-murder; destruction of homes, villages and crops; rapes; other atrocities; and massacres of defenseless men, women and children shown no mercy. It happened because British Mandate forces did nothing to stop it, and when neighboring Arab states finally intervened, they acted pathetically without conviction against a superior Israeli fighting force easily able to defeat the small, ill-equipped and unmotivated token forces matched against it.
Israel’s second war of aggression was launched along with Britain and France October 29, 1956 against Egypt following President Nasser’s decision to nationalize the Suez Canal. Invading forces gave in to US and Soviet pressure to cease fighting eight days later, and after the Federal Reserve began selling large amounts of British pounds undermining the dollar-pound exchange rate. It ended when Israel withdrew its last troops March 8, 1957.
On June 5, 1967, Israel launched its third major war of aggression but hardly its last with another one always planned and ready to unleash on the flimsiest pretext almost no other nation could get away with. It did it for the usual reasons nations go to war when under no external threat to do it – territory, resources (for Israel Golan’s water was key), and a desire for unchallengeable regional dominance. As it always did since, Israel falsely claimed its security was threatened by creating myths Syria was shelling Israeli farmers; legitimate, non-threatening Egyptian military exercises masked a preparation for war; and that “incendiary Arab rhetoric” proved it. With plans set and a date picked, Foreign Minister Abba Eban flew to Washington May 26 to inform Lyndon Johnson of Israel’s intentions and was assured the US backed them.
The war began preemptively June 5 and proved to be an impressive display of overwhelming power with Israel destroying 90% of Egypt’s 300 + aircraft on the ground and two-thirds of the Syrian Air Force the first day. After 24 hours of conflict, Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Mordechai Hod announced the combined Arab air forces were destroyed, and the devastating toll on them proved it. Israel lost a mere 19 fighter aircraft while Egypt lost about 300, Syria 60, Jordan 35, Iraq 15, and Lebanon one or more. The Palestinians were about to lose much more – the remaining Gaza and West Bank parts of their nation leaving them stateless.
On day 2, Israel invaded Gaza and the West Bank; on day three Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) entered northern Sinai, devastated Egyptian brigades, captured Jerusalem, and got Jordan to surrender. On day four, the IDF invaded Haram Al-Sharif and central Sinai, and by day five had advanced to the Suez Canal, taking all of Sinai and the Syrian Golan Heights. The war was practically over before it began, but Israeli forces showed no mercy using their unopposed air power to massacre thousands of defenseless Egyptian troops on the ground. It was a turkey shoot made possible largely because Washington supported it providing Israel with the latest munitions including tarmac-shredding explosives preventing undamaged planes from taking off making them sitting ducks to follow-up attacks. In addition, a US carrier group provided intelligence and communications help standing ready to intervene if needed.
Though nothing like today, even then Washington showed its commitment to Israel, and ignoring and covering up the USS Liberty incident highlights it. The intelligence ship was in the Mediterranean about 13 nautical miles off the Sinai Peninsula when Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked it with full knowledge it was a US vessel as the senior Israeli lead pilot later admitted. Thirty-four on-board were killed after which Johnson Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered an inquiry that concluded the incident was a case of “mistaken identity” despite knowing full well it wasn’t. Later, retired Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Thomas Moorer said the incident was “one of the classic all-American cover-ups” for a close ally Washington has made excuses and allowances for ever since along with providing huge amounts of financial aid and modern weaponry and munitions in near-limitless amounts.
Israel used what it got then for its one-sided blitzkrieg ending June 10 with Israeli forces completing the job left unfinished following their 1948 “War of Independence.” They took the remaining 22% of ancient Palestine comprising Gaza and the West Bank, and on June 6, 2007 will have held the territories for 40 repressive years of the longest continuous illegal occupation in the world under which Palestinians (including Israeli citizens and Palestinian Christians) lost their personal, political and economic freedoms under Israeli rule affording those rights only to Jews.
Worldwide Solidarity Actions Opposing the Illegal Occupation
To commemorate this infamous anniversary, the International Coordination Network on Palestine (ICNP) was launched at the annual UN civil society conference in 2006. It supports the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people under their banner, “The World Says No to Israeli Occupation.” ICNP called for global days of protest June 9 – 10 demanding an end to the occupation; the realization of the Palestinians’ inalienable rights including their right to self-determination; their Right to Return to their homeland; and to establish an independent, sovereign Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem where it rightfully belongs.
ICNP is building nonviolent global action campaigns for boycotts, divestment and economic and political sanctions. In addition, it engages in a wide range of educational and cultural activities with the same aims in mind. It insists governments across the world stop providing Israel economic, political and military support and work instead together to end an occupation that never should have been tolerated in the first place. It wants it replaced with a “just and lasting peace.”
Hundreds of other organizations, networks and groups across the world are also mobilizing for a global protest day June 9. One of them is the “Occupation 40″ coalition calling for “six days” of actions (from June 5 – 10) marking 40 hellish years of occupation. In addition, a Global Day of Action was called for on Saturday, June 9. The coalition is comprised of grassroots Israeli groups and organizations, peace activists, artists, student groups, internal Palestinian refugees, anarchists, animal rights activists, and leftist groups including socialists and communists. There will be a six-day convergence in Israel including demonstrations, direct actions, discussions and cultural events.
“Occupation 40″ is also calling for international direct actions against the illegal occupation from June 5 – 10 including economic punishment against corporations profiting from an occupation that cost Palestinians their homeland. The planned agenda for these days is as follows:
- – June 5: An international action day against militarization, wars and occupations in advance of the June G-8 summit in Germany.
- – June 6 – 8: Protests against the G-8 by Palestinian and Israeli activists and Palestinian Solidarity groups across Europe where German authorities are already cracking down in advance of the June 6 – 8 summit of world leaders taking place at the German resort of Heiligendamm in the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommen on the Baltic coast.
Wherever George Bush travels, unprecedented levels of security are needed the result of intense worldwide anger against him and his administration showing up in mass public actions justifiably protesting his presence. As a result, the Heiligendamm resort is being turned into a luxurious armed military fortress with a huge protective wall around it costing $17 million a German newspaper called “the equivalent of a maximum security prison (in reverse) to keep people out.”
In addition, the Baltic Sea surrounding the resort will be patrolled by nine naval vessels supplementing 16,000 local police and 1100 soldiers guarding the area to keep protesters several miles from the meeting. Add to that the police state-style raids now ongoing targeting global justice and leftist organizations across the country on the phony pretext they’re involved in the “creation of a terrorist organization.”
- – June 6 – 12: Protest action days against the occupation in Palestine, Israel and internationally.
- – June 9: A mass rally in London along with a Global Day of Action Against the Occupation.
- – June 10 – 11: A protest, teach-in and lobby in Washington, DC.
All these actions across the world are intended to send Israel, G-8 governments and all nations around the world “a message they cannot ignore.”
End the Illegal Occupation Now
For 40 years under occupation on one-fifth of their original land and nearly 60 years after the “Nakba,” Palestinians are forced to endure the most appalling repression no one should have to face for a single day. Five million of them, including 1.4 million Israeli citizens, are denied all rights afforded Jews only and are subjected to daily abuse and neglect along with regular IDF assaults against which they’re defenseless. The Palestinians suffer for it, and the world community is silent except, like Israel, to shamefully call the victims the victimizers.
Then there are the five million refugees in the Palestinian diaspora (by some estimates the number is seven million) including 260,000 internally displaced and living inside Israel. Those outside the country are denied 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” was also established in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as various Geneva Conventions Israel won’t recognize just as it ignores over five dozen UN resolutions 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. One of them was UN Resolution 273 passed May, 1949 giving Israel UN membership conditional on its implementing Resolutions 181 of November, 1947 partitioning Palestine 56 – 44% in its favor and 194 passed December, 1948 giving Palestinians their absolute universally accepted “Right of Return.”
From 1948, when Palestinians lost 78% of their homeland, to 1967 when they lost the rest to a hostile foreign occupier, to the present, life in the OPT has been oppressive, intolerable and criminally imposed on a defenseless people helpless against it and unsupported ever since in their courageous struggle for liberation one day they’ll achieve because they’ll never give up till they have what they rightfully and legally deserve. For 40 years under occupation they have no recognized state of their own, no right of citizenship, and no power over their daily lives.
They live in a constant state of fear in the virtual open-air prisons of Gaza and the West Bank under Israel’s racist apartheid laws even the Israeli High Court shamefully upholds. They’re strangled economically and politically; denied free movement in their own country from a structure of roadblocks, checkpoints, electric fences and a land-grabbing “Apartheid Separation wall” the World Court in the Hague ruled (14 – 1) is “contrary to international law” because it “destroyed and (illegally) confiscated” property, it greatly restricts Palestinian movement, and it “severely impedes the exercise by the Palestinian people of (the) right to self-determination.”
For its Jewish citizens, Israel is nominally democratic, although far from perfect at the least. For its Arab Muslim and small Christian population, it’s a daily struggle for survival under the harshest conditions of all kinds imaginable those outside the territories and most Jews in Israel can’t possibly understand and too few even try. For 40 brutal years, Israel has illegally controlled all aspects of Palestinian life in the OPT with an iron fist it freely swings on the slightest pretext. It cantonized the indigenous population under deplorable conditions in refugee camps and bantustans surrounded and cut off from all other ones. It rules defenseless people by intimidation and repressive military might. It denies Palestinian people their right to a truly sovereign independent state and won’t allow Muslims, Christians and other non-Jewish legal residents in greater Israel the same rights as Jews including the right of citizenship and safety under one sovereign nation for everyone entitled to it.
Israel claims it wants peace but never negotiated in good faith to get it. The current so-called “road map” is a cruel hoax going nowhere. It’s as fraudulent as all other phony peace efforts before it. Beginning with Camp David in 1978, the US bribed Egypt with billions in “baksheesh” in return for peace with Israel leaving Palestinians out in the cold. The predictable result was festering anger that exploded in what became the First Intifada in 1987 killing hundreds of Palestinians that finally led to the Oslo Accords and their so-called Declaration of Principles in 1993. Under them, Israel got what it wanted giving back nothing more in return than the right of Palestinians to be Israeli enforcers in their own land. So highly touted and praised when signed, it offered no Right of Return, no independent Palestinian state, no portion of Jerusalem as a capital, and no Palestinian control over their own daily lives free from a foreign occupier. From then till now, things only got worse.
Oslo I led to Oslo II in 1995 that divided the West Bank into the way it exists today in Areas “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D”; “H-1″ and “H-2″ in Hebron; nature reserves (in the OPT) for Jews only; closed military areas; security zones; and “open green spaces” for Jewish-only housing developments in over half of Arab East Jerusalem (slowly being stolen entirely) leaving Palestinians confined to unconnected cantons surrounded by growing Israeli settlements, restricted roads, and all kinds of impediments restricting free movement preventing any semblance of normal daily life.
So-called “permanent status” talks then began in July, 2000 at Camp David resulting in another insulting betrayal. Portrayed in the West as a generous offer in good faith, it was, in fact, just another example of US-Israeli duplicity leaving out entirely what Palestinians most want – a free and sovereign state or a single multi-ethnic one with Jews and Palestinians having equal rights, the Right of Return, a portion of Jerusalem as a capital or the entire city as capital for both, and an end to foreign occupation. All that was offered in exchange for “peace” Israeli-style is what they now have – life locked down in unconnected cantons on mostly scrub land in virtual open-air prisons surrounded by expanding Israeli settlements continuing to encroach on Palestinian lands fast disappearing as Israelis take what they want dunum by dunum.
Again justifiable festering anger erupted into the Second (al-Aqsa Mosque) Intifada in September, 2000 following former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the holy al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem (the Noble Sanctuary for Muslims and Temple Mount for Jews and Christians). It became far worse following elections for Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) seats on January 25, 2006 when, fed up with years of Fatah-led corruption and betrayal, Palestinians democratically elected a Hamas government Israel, Washington and the West acted savagely against since to destroy because its leaders won’t act as a quisling government the way Fatah’s Yasser Arafat and current Fatah Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and his powerful National Security Advisor and “Gaza warlord,” Mohammed Dahlan (controlling Fatah security forces), were always willing to do and Abbas and especially Dahlan still are. For Hamas’ courage and dedication to their people, the Palestinians have paid dearly ever since and still do. This must end.
It’s long past time people of conscience everywhere take a public stand and demand 40 years of illegal repressive occupation end so Palestinians can finally have what all people have a right to expect and demand – to live freely in their own land the way international law mandates with nations supporting it accepting nothing less.
Palestinians and their legions of supporters worldwide aren’t waiting for conflict resolution that won’t ever come unless enough committed people everywhere demand their leaders act on it. A growing effort is building to convince them by calling for an organized global campaign for boycott, divestment and political and economic sanctions against Israel the same way they developed in the 1980s against the South African apartheid state that finally brought results.
It must include a demand that the world community of nations ends the “last taboo” of silence when it comes to Israel. It must be willing to expose and denounce what no longer can be tolerated that current South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils calls worse than apartheid saying Israel “behav(es) like fascists when they do certain things (like attacking Palestinians with helicopter gunships and tanks).” What better time to do what Kasrils is surely calling for than on the 40th anniversary of the longest continuous occupation in the world that no longer can be tolerated.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen each Saturday to the Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on www.TheMicroEffect.com at noon US central time.
BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW