Here is another post by guest poster Abiezer Coppe, Israel’s Key Vulnerability. I agree with several of his points here. First of all, armed resistance to Israel by the Palestinians is clearly futile. What’s the point? They are up against the 4th largest army on Earth with 200 nuclear weapons. These measly rockets are going to beat them how. On the ground, there’s no contest. The Palestinians got creamed in this last invasion of Gaza.
I agree that it is absurd for Hamas to declare to a victory when they just got their ass handed to them in the worst way, but this is how Arabs are. An Arab will never admit he lost. Even if he gets creamed worse than Custer at Little Bighorn, it’s still a Great Victory for the Mighty Arabs.
I also agree that Israel has violated its own UN Charter that it signed in order to be admitted to the UN, and as such, I think Israel ought to be thrown out of the UN on its butt. This will never happen, but it’s a nice fantasy. I can see Abe Foxman and the US editorial pages squirming and writhing like Linda Blair in the Exorcist right now.
Boycotts of Israel are driving the world’s Jews and their media and government Gentile buddies into insane conniption fits, but it’s a great idea. It worked for South Africa. It’s important to note that South African anti-apartheid Blacks who have been to Palestine often say that the Israeli Apartheid regime under which the Palestinians live is worse than Apartheid South Africa. So if it was righteous to boycott South Africa, and I say it was, it is even more righteous to boycott Israel.
The Jews usually say an Israeli boycott is outrageously anti-Semitic because we are not boycotting all the other asshole countries on Earth. Instead we are singling out one asshole country, Israel, and letting the other anal pores off the hook. It’s Intra-Asshole Country Discrimination and dammit, it’s just not fair! Equal protection for assholes!
I really do not know what to make of this bizarre argument, except to ask if anyone ever used it against the South African campaign. To Israel, I say, yeah we’re singling out as one Asshole Country in a world full of Butt Nations. One Buttland at a time, please. We will get to the others later on.
I’ve long been a supporter of Fritz Fanon. The only anti-Semite I have ever met who truly hated Nazism was a Leftist Fritz Fanonist who likened the Palestinian liberation struggle to the Algerian Civil War.
Israel’s Key Vulnerability
Israel has once more sent out a message to the Islamic and Arab world with its onslaught on Gaza that the struggle for the Middle East will be uncompromisingly bloody and violent. It was the same message in the summer of 2006 with the invasion of the Lebanon, with the Qana massacre of 1996, with the invasion and the 18 year occupation of the Lebanon in 1982 to 2000, and all the way back to 1948.
For those who abjure violence in their personal lives, and for those, like me, who have never carried or used a gun, the boycott campaign is an important tool of nonviolent struggle against the Occupation of the West Bank, and the racist polity within the ever shifting borders of Israel, the borderless state in Occupied Palestine.
I admire Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s armed resistance against overwhelming force, but it should be by now clear after sixty one years that by itself armed resistance to Zionism will not lead to its overthrow. The most these organisations can do to Israel is harass, with as much impact as a wasp stinging a human being.
This in itself is not negligible. The main effect of the missiles launched over Israel’s border is psychological terror, and occasional fatalities, against which the fourth most powerful military machine in the world is powerless. Psychological terror may discourage new Jewish immigrants from arriving in Israel, and that is to the good.
However such tactics do not even elicit a pause from Israel’s political leadership, Right and Left, in the ongoing war on the Palestinians, the Zionist project of clearing the land of Arabs, and the continued illegal settlement by Jews of the Palestine’s West Bank.
Clearly Hamas and other resistance organizations are quite powerless by themselves to stop Zionism in its tracks. In a defensive struggle the Shi’ite organization Hezbollah did succeed in throwing the IDF out of Lebanon in the year 2000, and successfully frustrated Israel’s attempt to reoccupy the Southern Lebanon in 2006. Israeli expansionism was thus contained.
At no point in the last sixty one years have Arab armies succeeded in crossing Israel’s 1967 borders, or even in invading the annexed West Bank. Israel’s wars, including that of 1948, have been fought on the territory of other countries.
The Yom Kippur War of 1973, although a partial defeat for the Arabs, did eventually lead to the return of the Sinai to Egypt (under American pressure) during the Carter administration. The regional military balance has been shifting in Israel’s favour for the last sixty years (Mayer 2008). Talk of Hamas’ “victory” in Gaza in 2009 is in my view self-deluding and misplaced. An unopposed massacre of over 1400 civilians is not a victory.
I do not want to see the Palestinian resistance reduced to the equivalent of the Native American “ghost dances” of the 1880s, as the last resistance of the aboriginal inhabitants of Palestine is vanquished.
I do not think for a moment that this will happen, because the Palestinian Diaspora now numbers more than 7 million, but the weakness of the opposition to the Zionist colonisation of Palestine within Israel is very concerning, and a helping hand from an international citizens’ boycott of Israeli goods and services is its chief, but not its only hope. Arab resistance and Arab demography are other reasons to hope.
Armed resistance to military occupation, as enshrined in the UN charter, is legal: Israel itself is of doubtful legality, as outlined below.
As the infamous Irgun terrorist Menachem Begin and future Israeli Prime Minister remarked the day after the UN vote on the partition of Palestine in November 1947: “The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized…Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.”
Israel has not accepted a single UN resolution on Palestine from Day One, and its founding act as a state was a massive and violent process of ethnic cleansing, illegal in International Law. The current prime minster of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, is a direct descendant of the brand of Zionism represented by Begin.
In order to be accepted as a member state in the United Nations, in 1949, Israel was required to endorse General Assembly Resolution 194, which recognizes the right of return of the Palestinian refugees and commits itself to the return of all “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours” (700,000 in total at the time), to its sovereign territory.
Israel accepted, was made a member state and immediately after announced it had no intention of implementing the UN resolution. Israel thus announced its illegitimacy as a member state of the UN. The Security Council, dominated by the imperialist states of the West, and in particular the UK, which helped to implant Israel in the Middle East in the first place, went along for the ride, as did the Soviet Union.
Israel’s key vulnerability lies in its being a trading state with a highly skilled workforce but few natural resources.
The boycott of Israeli products, coupled with divestment in Israeli companies and a cultural embargo has to be a key way of supporting the Islamic and secular Palestinian resistance (PFLP), as well as a way of applying pressure to the Zionist establishment to moderate its penchant for atrocities, encouraging dissent within Israel and the deepening of existing fissures within Israeli society.
If an international boycott can be linked to the issue of Return for the Palestinians and the cancellation of the Jewish Right of Return, an uncontroversial strategic goal in support of the Palestinians can be flagged up for the movement.
In January 2009 479 Israeli citizens signed a document called A Call From Israeli Citizens calling for the boycott of Israeli products, divestment from and sanctions against Israel as the only way forward to begin the Civil-ization (in both senses – demilitarisation as well – Occupied Palestine to become a civilian society once again rather than a garrison state) of the Zionist military machine and stop the ongoing war on the Palestinian population.
In the 1980s Meron Benvenisti, an Israeli writer and ex-deputy mayor of Jerusalem, ran the West Bank Data Project, which analyzed the interaction of the Israeli and Palestinian economies in the Occupation.
The resulting study concluded that the West Bank had effectively been annexed by Israel, not merely occupied (Benvenisti 1995). As pre-1967 Israel was also an annexation by military force, accompanied by some strong arming of Truman and the infant United Nations by Zionist elements in the American Jewish community, the term “Occupied Palestine” correctly refers to the whole of the land between the river Jordan and the sea.
Any other designation fudges the evidence, which suggests that the military occupation of the West Bank will remain until the post-1948 colonial regime itself is either brought down or collapses under the weight of its own internal contradictions, to be replaced by a non-colonial political order and the re-establishment of political and economic equality between Arab and Jew.
Before 1967 Palestinian civilians of Israel also lived under a military occupation, and were in a similar position politically to those of the West Bank and Gaza now.
The Palestinian American writer Rashid Khalidi uses the term helot (a term from the Greek language of Ancient Greece to designate an indeterminate status between that of a slave and that of a citizen) to designate the position of Palestinian civilians who have neither the civil rights nor the political opportunity to influence the behaviour of the state that dominates and controls their lives in endlessly demeaning and demoralising ways.
Palestinian terror in the form of suicide bombing, a response of the powerless to the removal of liberty and civil rights and the ongoing illegal confiscation of land for Jewish settlements, first arose in Palestine in 1994, the year in which the grotesquely unjust Oslo Peace Process faltered.
In the same year, the Jewish physician and the extremist Kach Party member Baruch Goldstein, who now has a shrine in his honour drawing hundreds of tourists and supporters, murdered 29 Muslims at prayer and wounded a further 150 at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron.
Israeli Jews who view suicide bombing as a peculiarly Palestinian or Islamic pathology should recall the biblical story of Samson, the first recorded suicide attacker, and ask themselves under what extreme conditions of dispossession and oppression, and under what conditions of political despair, would they themselves consider such an act to be an attractive course of action.
Those who do not like equality before the law and citizenship for all will leave, just as the Algerian French did together with some of the pieds noirs in 1962, helping to solve the problem of housing some of the Palestinian refugees from Occupied Palestine at a stroke.
Frantz Fanon’s two most important books, Black Skin, White Masks, and The Wretched of the Earth, have now been translated into Hebrew as of 2004. I am sure that they have been available in Arabic for a long time, but the political culture of the Hebrews is backward and inward looking, which is to be expected in a colonial state.
Were the champion of the Algerian liberation struggle Fanon alive today (he would be 82 years old) he would certainly support the Palestinians. It is our privilege and duty as free citizens of the international community to do the same by supporting the boycott of Israeli goods.
Dorothy Naor, a 77 year old Jewish Israeli with whom I have been in email contact since the invasion of Gaza, is a signatory to the aforementioned boycott document A Call From Israeli Citizens, has been an Israeli resident of Occupied Palestine since 1958, immigrating from the USA.
Her activism starts from the premise that the occupation of Palestine, of which she is part as an American Jew, began in 1948, and can be reversed. She is one of a very small minority of historically conscious Israeli Jews. Reversing a colonial occupation, which in this case does not mean throwing the colonists out, is an enormously ambitious project, but it can be done, and the worldwide tide of protest and action is rising.
- Mayer, Arno J. 2008. Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel. London, New York: Verso Books.
Benvenisti, Meron. 1995. Intimate Enemies, Jews and Arabs in a Shared Land. Berkeley: University of California Press.