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How every Israeli profits from the occupation

Israel’s government, economy and citizens regularly exploit everything they can from the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians the bare minimum for survival. If Israelis want change, they’ll have to come to terms with reality.

A Palestinian vendor sells coffee outside the entrance to an Israeli military checkpoint separating Bethlehem and Jerusalem, June 12, 2014. (Activestills.org)

A Palestinian vendor sells coffee outside the entrance to an Israeli military checkpoint separating Bethlehem and Jerusalem, June 12, 2014. (Activestills.org)

Contrary to popular belief, the boycott is not the greatest threat facing Israel, at least not at the moment. However, now that BDS has become a household name, it is perfect opportunity for Israelis to have an honest conversation about the occupation. As opposed to the angle being peddled by Yedioth Ahronoth — which has been leading an open campaign against the BDS movement through a series of articles and op-eds — it is clear that the support for the BDS movement overwhelmingly stems from our control over millions of people in the West Bank and Gaza who lack basic rights.

The occupation is one of Israel’s biggest national projects, if not the biggest. Every single part of the population — not to mention the Israeli economy — take part in it. From the hi-tech industry that develops our most advanced combat and surveillance devices, to the major Israeli corporations of the Israeli economy, to the thousands of people who have manned checkpoints and patrolled the streets of the West Bank over the years — everyone has had a role.

There are those who claim that the occupation is a burden on the State of Israel. Perhaps they are right. But we cannot ignore the fact that it is also profitable, even for those who live in central Israel and are convinced that the “extreme right” is to blame for everything. First and foremost, there are the profits that come from a number of business ventures in the West Bank: the mines that Israel controls, which bring down the costs of building across the country; tourist sites; or just about any industry that relies on the cheap Palestinian labor.

Even the land itself is profitable for Israel. The Israeli government solved the housing crisis in the ultra-Orthodox community by moving over 100,000 people to two cities on the other side of the Green Line. Imagine how much this kind of land would be worth in central Israel. Or what about Jerusalem, which for years has ceased expanding westward, only eastward?

The markets of Ramallah and Khan Younis carry Israeli goods. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are a captive market for Israeli products, worth billions of shekels a year. Perhaps the Palestinians would prefer to buy cheaper goods from Jordan and Egypt, but developing open trade under occupation is nearly impossible.

Palestinians Burn Settlment Products in Front of the Karmei Tzur Settlement. Picture Credit: Joseph Dana

Palestinians burn Israeli settlement products in front of the West Bank settlement of Karmei Tzur. (photo: Joseph Dana)

And what about all those smaller forms of profit that we’ll never actually be able to quantify. Imagine a truck that leaves from Eilat toward Kiryat Shmona on the northern border — how much would the drive cost if it had to circumvent the West Bank? What if it had to pay a toll to the Palestinian Authority? What would happen if we had to pay the Palestinians to use Route 443, which cuts across the West Bank? Or if we leased the land beyond the Green Line upon which the high-speed railway to Jerusalem is slated to be built? And what about air space, aquifers or electromagnetic frequencies?

Partner, the local Israeli supplier of Orange, a French cellphone company whose CEO stated late last week that he intends to stop doing business in Israel — has antennas all across the West Bank, much like every other other major Israeli cellphone company. The problem does not only stem from land theft; Israeli companies alone have the right to operate 3G networks across the country. The Palestinian network, on the other hand, allows only for phone calls and text messages. As a result, thousands of Palestinians who want to use 3G must obtain it through Israeli companies. This is a clean profit for Partner and the other companies. And this is without even getting into strange stories, like how Orange paid rent to Israeli settlers who illegally established an outpost on privately-owned Palestinian land.

The bottom line is very simple: Israel — its government, economy and citizens — regularly exploits everything it can from the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians the bare minimum for survival. There is no such thing as “democratic Israel” to the west of the Green Line and “occupying Israel” to its east. Occupying Israel exists in Tel Aviv as well.

Instead of rolling our eyes and crying “anti-Semites” like the Right does, or blame the settlers and Netanyahu — like the Left does — the time has come to recognize these facts. Only then will we be able to start making a change.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Pedro X

      Just the other day, 972mag said the presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria cost Israelis dearly. http://972mag.com/the-economic-costs-of-military-rule/107482/

      Now Noam suggests that all of Israel profits from the territories.

      The truth is that some things can not be measured in money. The Jewish attachment to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria cannot be measured in monetary terms. Jews have lived here for thousands of years since cultivating their own unique religion, customs and culture. Of the Canaanite peoples, the Jewish people together with a small number of Samaritans are the only ones to survive to the present from the populations of the Bronze age. The historical connection is very strong.

      For some Jews, Judea and Samaria connects them to the Hebrew religion. The temple mount and wailing wall are an inseparable part of Jewish religion and culture even for Jewish atheists. You cannot measure these connections in monetary terms.

      Nor can one measure in money the protection which Israeli communities provide the main population centers of Israel. If Israel was to abandon all its communities in Judea and Samaria, central Israel would find itself under the same missile attacks as Sderot. The firing of missiles at the main international airport would bring international travel to Israeli to a halt. Suicide bombers would return to the streets of Jerusalem. Arab snipers would fire into Gilo, Jerusalem and French Hill again. Israeli lives would be lost and families shattered. Can one put a price on the safety and well being of Israel’s citizens?

      Of course if Israel removed itself from Judea and Samaria likely a civil war would erupt between Hamas and Fatah. Without Israeli military support of the PA, the PA forces would collapse as they did in Gaza or the Iraqi army in the face of ISIS. Judea and Samaria would once again serve as a jumping off point for the murder of Israeli children, women and men going about their ordinary every day lives.

      At some point Israel would have to impose order on the West Bank with a heavy loss of Palestinian lives and likely many Palestinians would have to return home to Jordan and other Arab countries from which ancestors came.

      The cost of maintaining the status quo is much cheaper, if you value Jewish and Palestinian lives.

      Reply to Comment
      • rose

        Pedro, there is nothing like “…Of the Canaanite peoples, the Jewish people…”. The Canaanite were a people and at their time there was no 1 single Jew around. Stop twisting things. If you support the occupation on religious ground, please be coherent and ask to the State of Israel to return the coast between ashdod and ashkelon, that was never Israelite for 1 single day in its history.

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          Rose, try to learn a little history. Lester Graabe in his book “Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It” states:

          “Israelites were as much Canaanite as anyone else.”

          and

          “but once Israel had its own identity (as indicated by the Mernepath inscriptions [13th century BCE])it was seen separate from both the Canaanites and Shasu.”.

          Canaan was inhabited by a number of ethnicities, a number of which joined to form the Israeli people in the bronze age. The ethnogenesis of the Israeli people had many factors but the adoption and worship of a national deity and mutual military defense are at the core of the emergence of a separate Israeli people from among all the different ethnic groups who made up the population of Canaan.

          The song of Deborah in Judges speaks to an unity of tribes having come together for common defense. The Mernepath inscriptions confirm the existence of the Israeli people in the Bronze age.

          The fact is that the Jewish people were part of the ethnicities which made up the Canaanite population until they coalesced into the the Israeli people and later founded the Jewish nation state.

          Reply to Comment
          • rose

            Thank you Pedro, now I got what you meant. But I am afraid that you are conflating many different issues and topics.

            It is an anachronism and is quite misleading to write that “of the Canaanite peoples, the Jewish people…”: You can refer to proto-Israelite in case, something quite different. Polytheism was the norm throughout much of the biblical period. It was not until after the 587 B.C.E. Babylonian conquest and exile of many Jews to Babylon that monotheism became the dominant religious. You are implying that the “Jewish people” were polytheists.

            According to the Bible God commanded the following: “However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites — as the LORD your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 20:16-18).

            In Yahweh’s eyes, the Canaanites with their culture and religion were exceedingly evil sinners and in the Bible they are commonly described as a people who had been annihilated.

            Joshua 17:12–13 notes, “The Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.”

            Judges 1:27–28: “Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely.”

            Either Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges..ect, are all myths (is this your claim?), or something is missing.

            Ammonites, Moabites, Israelites and Phoenicians undoubtedly achieved their own cultural identities. But the Israelites-are-Canaanites is an inaccurate thesis, unless you mean that they resided in the land of Canaan.

            It is true that there is uncertainty about whether the name Canaan refers to a specific Semitic ethnic group wherever they live, the homeland of this ethnic group, or a region under the control of this ethnic group. But it is sure that Canaan/Canaanites were there much earlier than any figure or group you referred to.

            Reply to Comment
          • rose

            And also “Canaanite population until they coalesced into the the Israeli people” is historically baseless. Ancient peoples like the Canaanites, Phoenicians, Philistines, Babylonians, Egyptians, Moabites…remained on the land. They simply changed identities, adopted different religious beliefs and move about.

            Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            Rose, you should learn something about history. The great weight of historians and archeologists, in the words of Israel Finklestein, is that the Israelis were a sub-culture of the Canaanite population. Or in Lester Graabe’s words they were Canaanites as much as anyone else. The Canaanites were not one ethnic group but many. Ezekiel stated about Jerusalem “your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.” The ruler of Jerusalem during the Armana period in the 14th century B.C.E was of Hurrian ancestry. The Jesubites were from Anatolia.

            Outside of Josh 10/11 in the Hebrew bible, the picture one gains from the other chapters of Joshua and Judges is that a significant Canaanite presence remained in the land, contrary to the decree to drive them out. The archaeological evidence shows that it was extremely difficult to differentiate Caananite and Israelite based on culture. The archeological evidence also shows that Israel did not wipe out the Canaanites. They lived together, separated and at times fought. The Israeli people survived as a people in history while the Canaanite people disappeared as a people.

            Reply to Comment
          • susy

            You continue to refer to “Jewish people” or “Israelis”, while the polytheist human beings to which you are referring to can at best be called proto-Israelites. These proto-Israelites were Canaanites in as much they lived on the same land and certainly at times they ‘intermarried’. Yu are claiming that “Outside of Josh 10/11 in the Hebrew bible”, but almost in all books in the Old Testament the Canaanites are depicted as an evil ‘other’. No idea why you refer simply to Josh 10/11. I quoted other books and I can quote few dozens more if you ask me so. The Exodus from Egypt ect..ect… are all myths, or not?

            “A significant Canaanite presence remained in the land”, as the Philistines did: they did not disappeared, they remained on the land and simply changed identities, religions, customs…ect..

            The Canaanites’ legacy is very much with us and the names of the city in the region, that in most cases predates Biblical times and anything connected to whatever you refer to with the word proto-Israelites, is a further confirm of this.

            Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            Suzy or is it Rose?

            In the 1990s historian/archeologist William Dever used the term proto-Israelite to differentiate between Israelis before the monarchy period and after. He said that Israel existed as an ethnic group in the 13th century B.C.E. He says it was a cultural and probably political entity that called itself Israel and was recognized by the Egyptians by that name. He says Israel was not organized like other city states but were a loosely affiliated people.

            Dever says:

            “This Israel was well enough established by that time among the other peoples of Canaan to have been perceived by Egyptian intelligence as a possible challenge to Egyptian hegemony.”

            So culturally, politically and militarily Israelis were on the map as a distinct and recognizable people within the land of Canaan. They were a sub culture of the people of Canaan. They lived among other peoples of Canaan. They fought with and against other peoples of Canaan and among themselves. They even inter married from time to time.

            The Israelites over time forged a Nation state and in the face of defeat, exile, return, independence, defeat and exile again, the Jewish people continued to exist as a distinct people and have reconstituted their nation state in the land in which they arose as people known as Israel.

            Meanwhile the Canaanites, Philistines and Phoenicians long ago disappeared as distinct peoples. Legacies may remain from these peoples, place names, an early alphabet and broken pottery, but the people did not survive as a distinct ethnic group. The Israelis did and they have greatly influenced western thought and religion and they continue to contribute to human kind in all areas of endeavors such as in medicine, science and technology.

            The Jewish contributions to the world would not have happened if the Jewish people did not separate out of the larger Canaanite population and become a people. Therefore the Jewish people can trace their existence as indigenous people of the land in which they live. The Jews have a long and ancient history and attachment to the land. This is their home.

            This attachment is not measurable in monetary terms as Noam does.

            Reply to Comment
          • Susy

            Your rise some important points, while I disagree with others.

            As once noted by french archaelogist Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau (1846–1923): “Arabs, who founded their empire on the ruins of the Byzantine and Persian Kingdoms, intentionally left untouched the civilization which they found already installed and in use …. the fellaheen of Palestine, taken as a whole, are the modern representatives of those old tribes which the Israelites found settled in the country, such as the Canaanites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Philistines, Edomites, ect.”.

            It is a simplistic way of addressing the history of the region to claim that ancient peoples like the Cana‘anites/“Phoenicians,” Philistines, Babylonians, Moabites, and others simply disappeared. They simply changed their identities, languages (actually not so much if you compare Ugaritic sound system and Arabic), customs, ect. We certainly cannot claim that the Palestinians of today are the Canaanites of once. But this is anyway irrelevant. The point is that very often the Arabs of Palestine continue to use exactly the same names of the cities establishes by the Canaanites, to keep many of their traditions..ect. The history of the region is based on continuity and it is at least problematic to see this continuity just between Jews of today and the proto-Israelites.

            Most Biblical texts (not just Josh) refer to the Canaanites as harsh enemies. Nobody and nothing could be more “Other” that the Canaanites in the Biblical texts. King David conquered Jerusalem by force. The Canaanites were already on the ground much before the Merneptah Stele and the proto-Israelites, and they were, later on, deeply despised by the latters. Now, assuming that your line protoIsraelites-Israelites-Jews-JewishPeople is so neat and clear as your words would seem to imply, this should not erase the fact that the 9/10th of the total population of the Palestine of 100 years ago was indigenous. A sentence by M.Rodinson that I once quoted for you: “It is ridiculous to call the English of today invaders and occupiers, on the grounds that England was conquered from Celtic peoples by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the fifth and sixth centuries. The population was “Anglicized” and nobody suggests that the peoples which have more or less preserved the Celtic tongues – the Irish, the Welsh or the Bretons – should be regarded as the true natives of Kent or Suffolk, with greater titles to these territories than the English who live in those counties.”

            The Arabs of Palestines have a very long and ancient history and attachment to the land. This was and is their home and until a very recent past they represented the huge majority of the total population. They lived or were part of this region. They paid a huge price so that you could fulfill your dream: I would start acknowledging this.

            “This attachment is not measurable in monetary terms as Noam does”: most of the settlements have little or nothing to do with historical or religious considerations but connected to “quality of life” and state benefits. History is misuded in a selective way. Anyone that supports the occupation of the Palestinian territories on religious or historical ground should also strive to give back the coast between Ashdod and Ashkelon: that was not Israelite for 1 single day in its history.

            Reply to Comment
          • susy

            Rose Susan + family name.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Gustav

      Peter you express my sentiments exactly.

      Pedro too makes a good point. All in all, I have come to believe lately, based on the articles in this magazine and some of the posters…

      That we are not really dealing with extreme left wing ideologues. We are dealing with sociopaths who have been given the task of convincing Western public opinion that no matter what the facts are, Israel is always wrong!

      They spin this way, they spin that way, but according to these people, Israel is ALWAYS wrong and to that end, they are prepared to ignore ALL facts which suggest otherwise.

      These people are pushing a wheelbarrow with the same monotonic message. Part of me admires their single minded dedication. They are people with a mission. But then again, I remind myself that serial killers are dedicated individuals too and there is certainly nothing admirable about them.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Noam

      Bad translation that changes the meaning of a crucial sentence. The original Hebrew version does not state “Israel is an occupier in both Hebron and Tel Aviv.”
      ישראל הכובשת היא גם תל אביב
      It states “Israel the occupier is also Tel Aviv”. Not and occupier “in Tel Aviv” – but that the country maintaining the occupation is the same country with the free, Tel Avivi, liberal face. It doesn’t say it’s an occupying force IN Hebron and Tel Aviv anywhere.
      The original version doesn’t even juxtapose Tel Aviv and Hebron together in one sentence at all, and doesn’t suggesting they’re both under occupation, as this translation does.

      I have no idea who translated this. I don’t believe it’s Noam Sheizaf because his interesting point is much better articulated the original Hebrew version than in this.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        More confusion in +972mag-fantasy-land!

        Gee!

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Thanks for correcting this translation mistake. Noam Sheizaf is very insightful about how the occupation is also profitable, and I think he articulates that even better in the 2012 article he links to above, especially his discussion of the main economic benefit hiding in plain sight: the land; and he goes on to touch on the issue of sanctions, a hotter topic in 2015 than it was in 2012:

        “…The lack of a debate on the benefits of the occupation prevents, I think, a better understanding of the forces at play in this conflict. It could explain, for example, the expansion of settlements that went hand in hand with the Oslo Accord. In the early 1990s, land and real estate prices in Israel skyrocketed because of immigration from the former USSR. One solution Israeli governments – including dovish ones – turned to was the West Bank, but by doing so they were undermining their own effort to separate the West Bank from the rest of Israel. It is also no coincidence that Palestinian resistance erupted in places like Bil’in or Ni’lin, whose land was confiscated for those very same projects, or that the ultra-Orthodox population that was sent to populate those houses is moving further and further to the political right, becoming almost one with the settler movement….

        Still, there is an even deeper level of meaning to the denial of the profitable aspect of the occupation, one that has to do with the way Israelis – even from the left – conceptualize this conflict: Ignoring the benefit to Israel from the occupation serves to blur its colonialist nature.

        Understanding the occupation as a burden helps portray the current state of affairs as “a tragedy” in which both people are caught, while hiding the connection between the political persecution of the Palestinians and their economic exploitation (cheap labor is another “benefit” of the occupation which I didn’t discuss here). We are repeatedly told that the colonial theory, or even elements of it, couldn’t be used to explain the nature of Israeli control over the West Bank, and the cost of the infrastructure Israel has built in the occupied territories serves as proof. But colonialism always requires expensive infrastructure, which doesn’t mean that it couldn’t serve other sectors or interests of the occupying society rather well.

        A third reason for ignoring the profitable side of the occupation is the implications it has on the legitimacy of sanctions against the entirety of Israeli society – a notion that even leftists (like myself) find very hard to swallow.

        It’s not always enough to oppose the occupation – one needs to understand its appeal as well. I have written in the past on the Israeli addiction to the political status quo, especially on the Palestinian question. I think that an honest analysis of the cost and benefits of Israeli control over the West Bank would support the notion that the occupation represents an Israeli interest, and therefore would never come to an end as a result of an internal Israeli process alone.”

        Reply to Comment
    4. Bruce Gould

      The occupation distorts the Israeli economy the same way the 600 billion U.S. defense budget distorts the American economy; it provides jobs and money for defense contractors (who then pay off legislators to keep the money flowing to them) and siphons money away from social programs, education, public health and so on. It’s the same in any country with a bloated defense budget; sure, it provides jobs for a sector of the economy but it’s not good overall.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        As Eisenhower warned. And to whom nobody listened. That was a great position Eisenhower took. (A huge mistake Eisenhower made was to build the interstate highway system and kill the great long distance and local train system the US still had and could have had greatly amplified, fatally entrenching Car Culture–another example of hidden monied interests (Big Auto) driving great decisions–but nobody’s perfect and what other president would have been that far sighted? But I digress.) The false sense of invincibility and the overconfidence the huge US military capacity gave him, along with the lobbying power of the military industrial complex, were of course factors in the GWB’s Great Bonehead Decision: the invasion of Iraq, a catastrophe the tragic consequences of which that President “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama is doing his best to extricate the US from.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Ellen

      On a recent trip, the taxi driver taking me to the airport from Jerusalem incorrectly concluded that I lived in Israel and drove via 443. When I asked him why he had taken this route, he simply replied (in Hebrew), “don’t you live here?” When I told him I was an American and lived in New York, he tried to explain that he took this route because there is less traffic, but it was fairly clear he would not have come this way had he known I was not Israeli. The lesson was clear enough: we drive on a road dotted by separation walls because we get where we are going faster, and what happens on the other side of those walls is really of no concern to us. Yet somehow he knew this premise wouldn’t sit too well with an outsider — and he wasn’t wrong.

      Reply to Comment
      • rose

        Thank you, Ellen.

        Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Between 2000 and 2006, after Ehud Barak’s peace offer which Bill Clinton described to Arafat as an opportunity of a lifetime, thousands of us were murdered or maimed by suicide bombers who came from the other side of where the security fence is now. On average, there were two suicide bombings every week.

        You come from New York. I wonder how New Yorkers would react to such a situation? Stop pointing the finger at our fence. It is a necessity, OK?!

        Reply to Comment
        • Ellen

          First of all, I am not pointing fingers at anything, but merely observing a phenomenon, which I stand by. Second of all, I am well aware of the situation that occurred between 2000 and 2006, and made two trips to Israel in that period, during one of which a suicide bombing took place a few blocks from where I was staying. Third, as a New Yorker, I lived through 9-11, in which nearly 3,000 innocent civilians died, so I do have some idea of the impact of terrorism. And I certainly don’t defend every US policy that is invoked in the name of fighting terrorism. There is more than one way to solve the conflict with the Palestinians, and while building a fence may reduce terrorist attacks (and please let’s acknowledge that there are additional reasons beside the fence that the Second Intifada came to an end) the toll that these “solutions” take on several million Palestinians and the very real possibility that they will create more anger and hostility in the long run never seem to be part of the calculation. The point of Mr. Sheizaf’s article is that Israelis benefit from the occupation in many ways seen and unseen, and the roadways through which Israelis can travel without the occupation interfering in their daily lives is merely one of them. Leaving aside the welfare of the Palestinian population for a moment, I’m certainly not convinced that the existence of a wall that allows Israelis to ignore what happens on the other side of it is in Israel’s best long term interest. Not being impacted by the occupation is an illusion. Every day that it continues is another day that Israel jeopardizes its standing in the world and its own long term future. And that’s what troubles me the most.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            ELLEN:”First of all, I am not pointing fingers at anything, but merely observing a phenomenon, which I stand by.”

            Stand by a phenomenon? What phenomenon is that? The phenomenon of what Israeli taxi drivers do? Well … glory be… halleluyah …

            ELLEN:”Second of all, I am well aware of the situation that occurred between 2000 and 2006, and made two trips to Israel in that period, during one of which a suicide bombing took place a few blocks from where I was staying.”

            It’s commendable that you are aware. It would be even more commendable if you would therefore accept that the security barrier has been erected as a consequence of those atrocites perpetrated by those who are on the other side of the fence NOW.

            ELLEN:”Third, as a New Yorker, I lived through 9-11, in which nearly 3,000 innocent civilians died, so I do have some idea of the impact of terrorism.”

            I asked “how New Yorkers would react…”, not how YOU react, ELLEN. I am a traveller too and I have been to New York and read about the reaction of New Yorkers to 9-11. It is fair to say that the vast majority of them backed Bush to the hilt when he invaded Afghanistan in reaction to 9-11. And I am sure too that if New Yorkers would have to face the kind of terror campaign which the Arabs have been conducting against us since the 1920s, before the “occupation”, before Irgun and Lechi, even before Israel was created, at the least, New Yorkers too would build a security fence. But I suspect that their reaction would be even harsher than ours.

            ELLEN:”And I certainly don’t defend every US policy that is invoked in the name of fighting terrorism.”

            No, I am sure you don’t. And look at how the Middle East looks as a result of Obama’s policies which I am sure you agree with. But do you think he is going to leave in better shape or worse shape than the Middle East that existed before he became president?

            ELLEN:”There is more than one way to solve the conflict with the Palestinians,”

            Really? Name one…

            ELLEN:”and while building a fence may reduce terrorist attacks (and please let’s acknowledge that there are additional reasons beside the fence that the Second Intifada came to an end)”

            I am glad that you admit that the fence reduced terrorism.

            I am also glad that you brought up the reasons for the second Intifada. Have you heard about what Suha Arafat (Arafat’s wife) said about it? Here…

            “Yasser Arafat’s widow, Suha, admitted that the late Palestinian leader planned the second intifada, in an interview with Dubai TV earlier this month, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

            “Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return…. Camp David had failed, and he said to me, ‘You should remain in Paris.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because I am going to start an intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so,’”

            http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Suha-Arafat-admits-husband-premeditated-Intifada

            ELLEN:”the toll that these “solutions” take on several million Palestinians”

            Then blame it on the Palestinian leadership. They represent the Palestinian people and they brought this disaster on the heads of their own people and on us.

            ELLEN:”and the very real possibility that they will create more anger and hostility in the long run never seem to be part of the calculation.

            Give me a break … just give me a break already … The Palestinian Arabs have been angry and hostile to us way before the security fence existed. The security fence is one of the outcomes of that anger and hostility not the other way around.

            It would be much better if paternalistic foreigners like yourself would direct your admonitions at “the poor Palestinian Arabs” to get over their anger and hostility (like we have to because we have reasons to be angry and hostile to THEM) so that peace can break out.

            ELLEN:”The point of Mr. Sheizaf’s article is that Israelis benefit from the occupation in many ways seen and unseen, and the roadways through which Israelis can travel without the occupation interfering in their daily lives is merely one of them. Leaving aside the welfare of the Palestinian population for a moment,”

            Yeah, yeah yeah. Read the first three posts on this thread. I am not going to repeat myself but I am sick and tired of the one sided take of perhaps some well meaning (I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt) but ignorant naive foreigners on this conflct.

            You might want to remember that in war there are no winners. We are not the ones who advocate/ed war in this conflict.

            ELLEN:”I’m certainly not convinced that the existence of a wall that allows Israelis to ignore what happens on the other side of it is in Israel’s best long term interest.”

            You are not convinced? You don’t have to be. You don’t live here.

            ELLEN:”Not being impacted by the occupation is an illusion.”

            On that we agree. Indeed most of us don’t like the occupation. Rabin tried to end it but terrorism actually increased after the Oslo accords were signed.

            Ehud Barak tried to make peace but he got a bloody Intifada instead.

            Olmert tried to end it, but Abbas ignored his offer for five long months and was relieved when Netanyahu won the elections.

            I could go on and cite opportunity after opportunity which went to waste because it seems that the leadership of your “poor Palestinian Arabs” refuse to sign a peace deal which would leave a viable Israel. They prefer to continue the occupation till they hope to pressure us (with the help of the international community, they hope) into a deal which would leave our state as a lame duck state which they can finish at the next round. But we won’t allow that to happen!

            ELLEN:”Every day that it continues is another day that Israel jeopardizes its standing in the world and its own long term future. And that’s what troubles me the most.”

            Maybe so. But the alternative would be worse. We already tasted the alternative between 2000 and 2006!

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    6. David Grant

      Thanks for the article Noam. Your description of how Israelis benefit from the occupation is try of any country which benefited from the exploitation of its underclass. I still think that BDS is a good tool to bring about change. I would be happy if my country weren’t complicit in this oppression.

      Reply to Comment
    7. David Grant

      Thanks for the article Noam. If there is to be any progress here is to not make the occupation profitable. I think isolating Israel will be key here. If they lost the right to host the Olympics, to play in FIFA, their concerts, trade shows, and other forms of economic activity, then that could be effective.

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