Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hauntingly Prescient Words: "Their Lives Must Be Made Unbearable..." - Ur Shlonsky (2002)

Zionist Ideology, the non-Jews, and the State of Israel, 2002 - The principal and explicit aim of the Zionist program and practice is to increase the number of Jews in Eretz Israel and shrink the number of non-Jews, i.e. the Arabs living there. The idea of expelling the Palestinians, called “transfer” in Israeli political language, is woven into Zionist discourse from its early beginnings. Recently, however, it has fully entered public debate. There is a hard-core or aggressive version of ‘transfer’, like that of ex-Minister Avigdor Lieberman. In the tradition of Orthodox Rabbi Meir Kahane, Lieberman proposed the physical expulsion of the Palestinians beyond the frontiers of Greater Israel, stretching from Jordan to the Mediterranean, if they refuse to sign a loyalty oath to Israel as a Jewish state. Then there is a soft-core version called ‘voluntary transfer’ proposed by the recently assassinated Rehavam Zeevi. Finally, one comes across Minister Efi Eitam’s transfer ‘under necessity’.

Questioned on his conception of the ‘voluntary transfer’ of the Palestinians, Minister of Tourism Rabbi Benny Eylon compared the ‘voluntary’ aspect of transfer with that of a Jewish husband who refuses to grant a divorce to his wife. Since the rabbinical court doesn’t have the authority to untie a marriage without the husband’s consent, the religious authority must use force: excommunicate the obstinate husband, beat him, and imprison him until he ‘voluntarily’ repudiates his wife. That’s the way to make the Palestinians leave ‘voluntarily’, he explained.

The program of the Likud-Labor government presently in power is to carry the Zionist enterprise to its conclusion by transforming all of Eretz Israel into a Jewish state with a minimum of non-Jewish inhabitants. The public debate centers on what ‘minimum’ means, in ‘left’ labor-party dominated research institutions, the consensus is that a proportion of 8/2 in the favor of Jews is ‘something we can live with.'

The consensual view of the political majority in Israel and that of the Sharon government was summarized succinctly by Israeli peace activist Uri Avneri: “The1948 war isn’t over: only 78% of Palestine has been liberated.” In effect, Shahak reminds us, the term used in Hebrew isn’t ‘liberate’ mechuxrar but ‘redeem’. The Hebrew word for redemption is ge’ula. It is borrowed from Jewish theology where it refers to redemption of the individual soul and of the Jewish people, which will be achieved with the arrival of the Messiah, once Jews govern the entire world. According to Zionist doctrine, ‘redemption of the land’ simply means that if a morsel of land is possessed collectively or individually by Jews, it’s ‘redeemed’.

The 1948 war left 22% of the land in non-Jewish hands and the nation’s essential task now is to redeem that part of Eretz Israel. A window of opportunity recently opened. Russia and Europe have effectively been eliminated as world powers, and the single remaining power, America, provides Israel with virtually unlimited political, economic and military support. It can be safely assumed according to Israeli analysts, that this support will continue even if some extreme measures are deployed. Besides, experience shows that even if some American government circles are occasionally troubled by Israeli actions, they end up keeping quiet. This seems to be a fairly precise evaluation of American policy.

Three conditions must be satisfied in order to guarantee the success of Israel’s program.

1. The Palestinian resistance must be broken.

2. Public support must be ensured and the active participation by at least a section of Israeli society needs to be counted on operationally.

3. International criticism must be silenced.

In regard to the first condition, Avneri identifies four means.

# a. Continuous military operations. The entire army must be involved in operations targeting the whole of Palestinian society. No distinction should be made between the movements and the political parties. Hamas Fatah etc. should all be equally attacked. The civilian population must be terrorized, assuring maximal destruction of property and cultural treasures.

# b. Massive expulsions like in 1948 can only be carried out under exceptional conditions, i.e., war. Action should therefore be taken to destabilize the regimes and societies of the region, to create conditions for a much wider war. In parallel, the daily life of the Palestinians must be rendered unbearable: They should be locked up in the cities and towns, prevented from exercising normal economic life, cut off from work places, schools and hospitals. This will encourage immigration and weaken the resistance to future expulsions.

# c. The Palestinian political class must be eliminated: either by direct assassinations, by detentions or by expulsions.

# d. Finally, it’s necessary to continue and expand the settlement activity and ‘redemption’ of land. After all, wasn’t it Nobel Prize winner Yitzhak Rabin, who proclaimed that “every Jew has an inalienable right to live anywhere in Eretz Israel”? (Interview in Ma’ariv on the eve of the 1995 Passover.)

It is patently clear that such ‘sociocide’ can only increase the terrorists’ motivation for launching suicide attacks. These should be encouraged. Terrorism poses no threat to the State, its army or its institutions and constitutes an investment with high returns: Arbitrary violence against civil society sows immense panic, feeds fear and hatred of the Arabs. It forms a central ingredient in the construction of an image of Israelis and Jews as persecuted victims. “We are besieged. We’re again fighting a battle of life and death,” proclaims Avi Shavit in an article in Ha’aretz. In short, the human bombs in the cafes and buses assure ever broader and deeper support for a project of ethnic cleansing. Israeli civil society is authorized and encouraged to use force that becomes justified as a means of self-defense. All the elements are put in place for what Des Forges, in another context, called ‘the genocidal campaign’. Further, continued kamikaze actions and the media coverage they elicit furnish a central element in the struggle to rally world public opinion to the Zionist cause.....

Ur Shlonsky is an Israeli peace activist who is Professor of Linguistics at University of Geneva. This piece, published March 7, 2002, was based on a talk he gave at the round table “Politico-religious overlaps in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: views from different vantage points”. University of Geneva, June 10, 2002.

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