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No end in sight: Occupation marks 45th anniversary

IDF Hawara Checkpoint, June 2006 (photo: Magne Hagesæter)

Today, June 5, Israel marks a double anniversary: 45 years since the Six-Day War and 30 years since the first Lebanon War. The name of the latter is misleading – the war took place in Lebanon, but it was yet another attempt to solve our “Palestinian problem” by force. Israel conquered most of its neighbor to the north (including the capital), installed a puppet leader as president, and forced the PLO to sail all the way to Tunis. But the plan failed. Five years later, a popular unarmed revolt broke out in Gaza and spread to the West Bank. A little over a decade after the occupation of Beirut, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat entered Gaza.

Last weekend, Israeli newspapers devoted most of their pages to the Lebanon war. Yet its obvious lesson – that the Palestinian issue cannot be resolved by force, nor can it be made to disappear – was hardly discussed. Nor was any reference made to the Six-Day War’s anniversary. Israelis have all but forgotten the Palestinians. The longest military occupation in the world is entering its 46th year amidst a deafening silence.

A segregated street in Hebron. Palestinian are allowed only on the left side (photo: activestills.org)

The Palestinians are not the only people in the world who lack an independent state. Yet there is one fundamental difference between the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and, let’s say, the Chinese occupation of Tibet, not to mention the situation of the Basques in Spain or the Kurds in Turkey (both examples are often cited as comparisons by the Israeli right). In all of those cases, the “occupying” country annexed the territory at hand and turned the people living in it – sometimes against their will – into its citizens. Israel never did that. It let the army run the occupied territory. The Israeli occupation is also different from the American occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, because Israel has a claim to the land it conquered, because it is using the natural resources of this land, and because it moves the Jewish population into the occupied territory.

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is therefore a unique phenomenon. Between one-quarter and one half of the population under Israeli control (the exact number depends on how you estimate of the size of Palestinian population, and whether you count Gaza or not) does not enjoy the most basic of civil rights or any political representation within the regime that controls it. Israel is a decent democracy for its Jewish citizens. For Palestinians, it’s a brutal dictatorship.

PM Shamir's motorcade driving through one of the streets of Gaza City, 1988 (photo: Ayalon Maggai /GPO)

I was born in 1974, seven and a half years after Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza. I remember the day workers from the Territories standing in street corners early in the morning, waiting to be picked up. Later, Israeli singer Ehud Banai wrote a popular song about the Palestinians who are building Tel Aviv. Today, Palestinians are not allowed west of the Green Line. Instead, they are building houses for Jews in the settlements.

In one of my grandfather’s visit to Israel, he rented a car (we didn’t own one) and took us on a trip to the West Bank. I was fascinated  by the Jordanian products in the local groceries, including cans of 7up, which wasn’t sold in Israel. With time, as Israel took control of the Palestinian economy, they were replaced by products of the large Israeli manufacturers.

My first time in the Territories as a soldier was on the day the Oslo Accord was signed. During my mandatory service, I was stationed in and around Gaza, Nablus, Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem and especially Hebron (in between, there were also a couple of tours in south Lebanon). When I look back at my experiences, I feel that most people don’t understand the occupation. You need to actually be there in order to feel it. And once you do, it stays with you, one way or another.

The regime Israel has imposed on the Palestinians is not the most murderous in the world, and certainly not in history (a recent exception being the war in Gaza). The most striking element is not the level of violence Israel employs against the Palestinians, but the level of control it exercises.

The life of every Palestinian in the West Bank is at the mercy of any soldier he or she meets. We are talking millions of people, who haven’t got the most basic protections that civilians everywhere enjoy. All Palestinians are tried by military tribunals, where the prosecution and the judges wear the same uniform – that of the IDF. Palestinians are not allowed to travel outside the West Bank without an army permit. They are subject to long lines at checkpoints and to arbitrary searches whenever they meet a soldier. Soldiers enter Palestinian homes at any time – day or night – without a warrant. When a Palestinian is wronged by a soldier, there is little point in filing a complaint, as the army doesn’t have the checks and balances a civilian authority has. Palestinians are not just Israelis with lesser rights; they are more like the prisoners of Israelis. I know this, because I have seen the occupation in action and I have been directly involved in it.

And the worst thought of all: A Palestinian man my age has not been free for a single day in his life.

Palestinian children, Hebron 1997. The fact that I was in uniform when I took this picture is evident in the children's eyes (photo: Noam Sheizaf)

If that’s not enough, there are the settlements. The first one was born less than a year after the Six-Day War, with the blessing of most of the Zionist left. Contrary to popular belief, there was never a real argument in Israel over the settlements, only over the location, the nature and the size of them. In the eyes of the consensus, colonizing East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza was fair game. The result: there are over half a million Jews east of the Green Line today.

Israel’s democratic institutions took part in the decision. At some point in the late 70s, Israel decided that all the state land in the Territories is available for it to use. Government offices facilitated construction of homes for Jews in the West Bank, the Supreme Court approved confiscation of land and the widespread use of Palestinian natural resources – at times, it even approved confiscating privately owned land – and the Knesset voted overwhelmingly in support on the rare occasions such matters even reached the Knesset.

The worst turn of events took place under the Oslo Accord. The agreement divided the West Bank into three areas, the largest being under full Israeli control. The idea was that a permanent agreement under which the occupation would be terminated would be signed in six years, but it never was. So instead of letting Oslo expire, Israel made another brilliant move – it began acting as if Area C (the one under Israeli control) was officially handed to it. Today Israel builds roads, even new neighborhoods, commercial spaces and culture centers in the West Bank, while pushing the Palestinian population from those areas to the crowded cities and villages (a good graphic of the land allocation can be found here). Hundreds of “illegal” Palestinian homes are being destroyed every year, and no permits for new ones are given. This systematic displacement and confiscation has been taking place for almost half a century. The problem with the settlements is not the settlers. It’s the state.

An IDF post inside a Palestinian home (photo: Breaking the Silence)

In recent years, the occupation has reached its most sophisticated level. It is the greatest national project Israel has launched. The best and the brightest take part in it: the high-tech industry invents new means of control and supervision over the local population (the army has become so good at this job, that Israel has exported much of the knowledge it gained in the West Bank and Gaza to other occupying countries); the best legal scholars come up with loopholes to allow the ongoing confiscation of assets and deprivation of rights; and the most skilled diplomats are taking part in a propaganda war meant to convince the world that the Palestinians are to blame for the occupation. Astonishingly, the international community is buying this nonsense, treating what is basically a massive-scale human rights violation as if it was a remote border dispute between two sovereign nations.


Recently, I attended a meeting with a group of scholars and elected officials from a European country. They were genuinely full of good will, upset by the deadlock, concerned for both sides and asking what could be done, suggesting joint civil society projects and other trust-building measures which could “bring Israelis and Palestinians together.” But such efforts are bound to fail on every level, and lately, I have begun to think that they do more to maintain the occupation than to help end it. Meetings between Israelis and Palestinians might look promising to an outsider, but they continue to feel awkward and staged, because the two sides are unequal, one possessing all the privileges and the other not having even basic human rights. The prisoners should not be expected to make friends with their guards, even if those are the nicest prisoners, and the best-intentioned of guards.

There is another, more fundamental problem: The status quo is good for Israelis and bad for Palestinians. I say that as an Israeli who wants to continue enjoying the great life this country can offer to (some of) its citizens. With both solutions – one state or two states – being so costly and dangerous, keeping things as they are seems like the best option for Israeli decision-makers. As long as the Israeli government has the power to maintain the status quo, it will. Most of the Israeli public agrees, and the international community is not willing to spend any political capital on changing its mind. Rightwing politicians here and in the United States are selling the public fantasies, as if it’s possible to keep the West Bank forever or give the Palestinian the right to vote for the Jordanian parliament or “an enhanced autonomy,” or other similar ideas which are just code names for Apartheid. Under such circumstances, debates on solutions are a meaningless intellectual exercise. There is truly no end in sight.

West Bank checkpoint, November 2007 (photo: Chris Yunker / flickr)

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    1. Anonymous

      “Can anyone in the Palestinian territories or the Arab world form a party that advocates peace, coexistence and harmony with Israel? On the contrary, the only voices that are being heard among Palestinians and other Arabs are those who seek to boycott and delegitimize Israel.
      Any Palestinian or Arab who dares to talk to Israelis or visit Israel is accused of being a traitor for promoting “normalization” with the “Zionist enemy.”
      In Israel, hundreds of thousands of people once took to the streets to protest against the Israeli war in Lebanon and the killing of innocent civilians in refugee camps. The mass protest resulted in the resignation of then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.
      During the last war in the Gaza Strip, more protests took place inside Israel than inside most Arab capitals or in the West Bank — where the Palestinians worked hard to suppress protests.
      In Israel, there is a large movement called Peace Now that effectively endorses most of the Palestinians’ demands. Has anyone ever heard of a Palestinian or Arab “Peace Now” group?”


      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      Great op-ed, Noam. I agree that Israel’s occupation is not the most murderous regime in history, but then again, neither was South Africa’s apartheid regime. You can’t judge a wrong by comparing it to the most heinous atrocities in history. Each must be judged according to a universal standard. My personal standard is quite simple: Would Israeli Jews agree to live even one year in the conditions the Palestinians have been living in for 45? Of course, it’s a rhetorical question, but it serves as my yardstick for judging the level of despicability the state of Israel has reached, and a 45:1 ratio is pretty despicable in my book. I share your conclusion that no end is in sight, but I hope web sites like +972 can educate the world community and spur them to action, like it eventually did with South Africa. Till then, continue the good work!

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      This is a good article and I agree with much of the premise overall but largely misleading since China has occupied Tibet since 1950, Kurdistan has been occupied by many states since the end of the first world war at least, and there are other places in Asia and Africa that have been occupied by central governments. These articles though important rarely approach the issue that once Israel leaves “the territories” there still will not be a peaceful solution and Israel will still face troubles.

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    4. Louis

      Very good piece and indeed Israel uses the fact that its Occupation is not the quantitatively most murderous etc… but all in all the Israel of today is the worst Israel of all times… and with no end to this in sight.

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    5. caden

      Noam, I’m curious, if you were PM with 94 seats in the knesset, what would you do. Not being sarcastic, I’m actually interested.

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    6. Noam

      So why exactly do you say that “Right-wing politicians here and in the United States are selling the public fantasies, as if it’s possible to keep the West Bank forever.”

      Of course NOTHING is forever, but why cant Israel keep the West Bank – in more or less the same legal limbo as now – for another 45 years? Or 100 years?

      I ask this honestly, as someone who agrees with you that the current situation is immoral. But many of immoral situations can last a VERY long time. Marx (and Hegel) were wrong. The Revolution (aka progress / the end of history / the Messianic era) is not inevitable. Or do you believe otherwise?

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    7. What a shit country!

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    8. Italian-English Dictionary

      Pitocco – one who begs, panhandler, pauper; impoverished person, indigent.
      Typical example – Marx, who made shit of half of the world.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Rehmat

      YES, 45th anniversary of unprovoked aggression to fulfil Theodor Herzl’s dream of Eretz Israel.

      There were no Arab armies planning to “push Israeli Jews” into Sea – a lie the Zionist regime have kept alive for the last 45 years. The ‘Six Day War’ was a US-Israel pre-planned expansionist aggression. Israel’s prime minister and former leader of Jewish terrorist organization (Irgun), Menachem Begin, admitted in 1982: “In June 1967 we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove that (president of Egypt) Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him“.

      “We were not threatened with genocide on eve of Six Day War, and we had never thought of such a possibility,” Gen. Haim Barlev (d. 1994), former Israeli chief of staff, admitted in 1972. Barlev was member of Jewish terrorist militia Palmach, which was lead by Israeli prime minister Gen. Yitzhak Rabin.


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    10. caden

      How is that holocaust denial going Rehmat?

      Reply to Comment
    11. XYZ

      As usual, a well-thought out piece by Noam, although it is only a partial picture of the situation. One of the problems is that there is a lack of clarity of definitions. Noam, like much of the Zionist and post-Zionist Left assumes that the word “occupation” refers to the territories captured by Israel in 1967. But for many people (including most Palestinians?) the “occupation” began in 1948.
      Thus, having Israel withdraw from the West Bank would not end the “occupation” in the eyes of these people.
      But, beyond that, even for those who do define the “occupation” as beginning only in 1967, ending the occupation would not even begin to solve the problems of the Palestinians. The Israeli Left convinced itself and much Left/Progressive thought in the world that the Palestinians are yearning for “self-determination”. That is why proposals are constantly being floated for a Palestinian state with temporary borders. This, the theory goes, would satisfy Palestinian “pride” by giving them a sovereign state (which would still be dominated by Israel one way or another), full membership in the UN and other things to be proud of. Yet, the Palestinians, aware of the problems I have pointed out, vehemently reject such a thing, because “pride” and “self-determination” are not really what they are after because the Palestinian dilemma and crisis would remain. This includes the Palestinian Refugee problem. It is NOT a “humanitarian” problem, to be solved, as they see it, by scattering them around the world or dumping them on the West Bank which has no room for them nor the desire to have the local power-structured overthrown by the influx of new people who have no roots in the area.
      This brings us the crux of the problem with Noam’s analysis. He views it strictly from the viewpoint of the Palestinians being “victims” and bringing up the question “what is Israel going to do about it to make them feel better about themselves”. As I have pointed out, giving them self-determination over the West Bank would not even begin to alleviate their problems, which is why the Palestinian leadership will never agree to a compromise peace with Israel since this would leave a lot of the Palestinian people (the refugees, and the Israeli Arab population ,for that matter) out of the equation and feeling embittered and abandoned. Thus, there is no solution to the problem. There may be attempts in the future to again carry out a unilateral attempt to force a state on them without solving the other problems, but as we have already seen, this would make another big war inevitable and I don’t know how many people would be prepared to handle the instability that would flow from it. Ariel Sharon had a big repuation as a security expert and so people naively assumed he knew what he was doing when he pulled out of the Gaza Strip, but this, as we all know, blew up in everyone’s faces. Today, there is no one with the stature to carry out a further move of this sort.
      As we say in Hebrew: TEKU (deadlock).

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    12. To begin with, may I just comment on the pestiferous Caden: here we see a perfect example of Jewish brainwashing in action. The mere assertion that someone finds something implausible about the canonical account of the so-called ‘Holocaust’ in enough to brand him by insinuation as a genocidal racist. Jewish logic: QED.
      Now I wanted to say that like the whole of +972 this article, while excellent, honest and essential reportage, is almost entirely decontextualised. Even the discussion of the European efforts takes place in a political vacuum. Humanitarian efforts do not proceed in a political vacuum, though liberal humanist newspapers often collude with the aid organisations to create the illusion that they do, producing the effect of “gee whiz, what a shame they won’t let us feed these starving kids in this here war zone.” Everything has a specific geopolitical context, including Israel, and this is where the taboo comes into action.
      The taboo, as you all know, is on discussing the nature and extent of Jewish global political power. Oddly, the taboo feeds into the myth of the right-wing (the real right wing, this is) that the USA is ruled by a ZOG (a zionist occupation government). Superficially, it’s hard not to believe that that is indeed the case. Everyone who even mentions Israel is walking on eggshells. No one mentions the ethnicity of the financial elite at all (not even “Occupy Wall Street,” though because in fact the financial elite is Jewish, OWS get accused of anti-Semitism anyway). Any suggestion that any major political crime, from the assassination of JFK to 9/11, has a “Jewish angle” is necessarily anti-Semitic. This is thought control, and the USA is trying to globalise it. If you don’t address this, Noam et al, you are wasting your own and everybody else’s time and raising typically empty liberal humanist expectations where nothing can be done. Bite the fucking bullet already, OK?

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    13. sh

      Rehmat, Begin might have admitted that in 1982 but in spring 1967 Eshkol conveyed to the Israeli people the possibility that our neighboring countries would attack and that Israel risked annihilation. That’s what the public believed. It is the public that elects governments. Subsequently, Eshkol was perceived as a bumbling weakling that got lucky and Begin was perceived as one who believed, like much of the population, that a miracle had occurred. That’s how politics works. How is it where you live?
      On the subject of militias, under Mubarak, did you see the Egyptian army as a terrorist militia or as a (proto-?) junta?

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    14. sh

      Noam, what troubles me most about your analysis is the implication that Israel as any kind of state that is not rogue can now only be saved from the outside.

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    15. XYZ

      Rehmat is giving us the usual “double-think” that anti-Israeli propagandists love to dish out….on the one hand, Israel is a vile, despicable state that has committed the worst crimes in history against the Arabs and more, specifically, the Palestinians, BUT, ON THE OTHER HAND, the Arabs have only behaved peacefully with Israel. Perish the thought, PERISH THE THOUGHT that Nasser would really want to get rid of Israel. Never (even though he said it…even Yossi Sarid and David Grossman have admitted that). Perish the thought that the Arabs would ever initiate military action against Israel, even though they believe the existence of Israel is an injustice, an abomination. Rehmat and the others tell us that the Arabs have every RIGHT to get rid of Israel but would never attempt to do so.

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    16. John

      Re: first photo from June 2006, Hawara checkpoint is not currently being used (though the facility is still there).

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    17. caden

      Noam, Rowan obviously speaks the truth. All major political crimes have the Jews in back of it pulling the strings. Don’t you know that. From the Kennedy assasination to 9/11 and everything in between. Hell, didn’t we also kill Lincoln and archduke Ferndinand

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    18. Robynne

      This just makes me sad.

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    19. AYLA

      Noam, this is so moving and–because it is starkly true–depressing. I hope it is widely read.

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    20. Caden, there is no such thing as ‘the Jews’. It’s brainwashing. I’ve been researching this entire issue for something like thirty years, in terms of reading, and fifteen years or so in terms of visiting synagogues of various denominations and experimenting with ‘conversion programs’. I’ve spent the last ten years researching it at a considerably accelerated pace via the web. I’ve also spent a really extraordinary amount of money on books about it. And my conclusion is this: you have allowed yourself to be brainwashed into believing that everything disagreeable anyone ever says about the role of Jews in modern history is a mere prelude to your annihilation. This is what your rulers, who cynically cultivate and exploit your paranoia, want you to do. The truth is, there is a global Jewish elite which cultivates and exploits your paranoia, which uses you as its hostage, so as to maintain itself immune from criticism. Some of this elite pose as liberals, some as conservatives, some even as marxists or anarchists, but they all hide behind their supposed Jewishness in order to remain immune from criticism. You have to accept that at least three quarters of the people who hold ‘anti-Semitic’ views are simply infuriated by this elite, which hides itself behind people like you, powerless victims whom it will probably sacrifice without a second thought in its insane wars and its inhuman exploitations. You have to accept that half the ‘anti-Semitic conspiracy theories’ about this elite are, minus a little exaggeration and a regrettable tendency to universalise, broadly true. You have to see through the con you’ve been brought up under.

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    21. max

      RB, I apologize… I never would’ve thought you’ll need to waste over 30 years of your life to reveal my nature! I do hope you managed to enjoy part of the journey. After all, investing that many years looking for The Truth shouldn’t distract from the joy of life!
      And after all this research, not being able to do better than “you have to accept” – what a shame!

      Reply to Comment
    22. Adam

      The first time in my life I ever experienced real anti-Semitism was during a post-graduate year in England. I overheard a fair-share of anti-Semitic comments from well-educated people, but I felt it mainly through the way people were obsessed with my Jewishness. Everyone I knew brought it up-my professors, my classmates, my friends. Usually they brought it up in a friendly way, though some people would excoriate me about Israel even though I had never expressed an opinion to them about Israel– the fact of my Jewishness was all the license they required. In Philip Roth’s novel THE COUNTERLIFE, Nathan Zuckerman says that it took 8 weeks for England to turn him into a Jew, referring to a country obsessed with Jews. Growing up on the east coast of the U.S., my Jewishness was a non-issue unless I wanted it to be. In the U.S. people are obsessed with race, and in England I directly experienced a society in which people were obsessed with Jews. I say all this to place RB’s anti-Semitism in a cultural context. He’s clearly obsessed with Jews– sometimes in a seemingly affectionate way, but other times in a darker fashion. Jews are at the center of his metaphysical universe. To me, his obsession with Jews– the same obsession I experienced when I lived in England– is the main symptom of the way his culture has conditioned his anti-Semitism.

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    23. sh

      @RB”The truth is, there is a global Jewish elite which cultivates and exploits your paranoia”
      I think it must be contagious Mr. Berkeley.
      “I’ve been researching this entire issue for something like thirty years”
      WHY on earth?
      Adam, interesting observation. But even if it’s a national obsession rather than insularity, rare must be the Brit who would trouble to study the species for thirty years solely via books and the web. What would prevent such a person from footing it to Clapton, Hackney, Hendon or Manchester and asking a few questions?

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    24. I’m English, and I can’t say I’ve noticed any of my fellow citizens going around ‘visiting synagogues and experimenting with conversion programs’ for a fifteen-year stretch. Nor have I seen any other signs of a particular national interest in Jews. Where were you studying, Alan?

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    25. Rehmat

      CADEN – Which Holocaust were you talking about?

      According to Dr. Norman Finkelstein’s mother, a Holocaust survivor: “Jews have no monopoly over Holocaust. Many people went through their Holocaust – American Indian had theirs, African had theirs, Koreans had theirs – And now the Palestinians are going through their Holocaust,” The Holocaust Industry.


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    26. What makes me sad, Rehmat, is that they will bring a second holocaust upon themselves precisely by going on in this brainwashed denial. If they broke out of the denial regarding the reality, which is that the global Jewish elite is using them as its hostages, then they could avert the second holocaust. That would be obvious to them if they weren’t brainwashed.
      I’ll tell tell you what you would do if you weren’t brainwashed, people. You would get real figures for the US, the UK,and the other supposedly rich countries. E.g. what proportion of the various top percentiles (0.1%, 0.5%, 1%, 2, 3% etc) of wealth and income are Jews? I address this suggestion particularly to Lisa Goldman, who has enough name recognition that she could probably get away with doing this. If she doesn’t know how, she could ask Connie Bruck at the New Yorker. But mind this: when you publish these figures, the JDL (in the US) and Kach (in Israel) will send people to kill you. No joking.

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    27. sh

      @Vicky – “I’m English, and I can’t say I’ve noticed any of my fellow citizens going around ‘visiting synagogues and experimenting with conversion programs’ for a fifteen-year stretch. ”
      People who engage in that kind of practice would probably be horrified if you had noticed. Interesting that such people don’t think of themselves as sneaky, obsessed as they must be with looking for sneakiness in the objects of their research. I must say that my experience – of London at least – would lean more to your impression, Vicky, but I can see how, for a Jew from the US, especially the New York area, Britain might come as a bit of a shock.
      Strange and regrettable how all the comments to the interesting topics posted on +972 seem to end up being about Rowan Berkeley.
      In a feeble attempt to get back to some aspect of the topic, here’s a link to Miko Peled’s op-ed of yesterday on the same day 45 years ago.
      “In early June 1967, as I cowered with my mother and sisters in the “safest” room of our house near Jerusalem — the downstairs bathroom — we feared the worst. ”

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    28. sam

      Rowan Berkeley
      So you have spent 30 years, a huge sum of money on books and visitations to synagogues and as of yet you have not figured it out.
      That is why the Jews get so many Nobel prizes.
      You don’t belong and thus you will never understand.
      You are the brainwashed dude. So brainwashed you will not even consider the possibility that you are.

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    29. Well, I’ve said all I have to say. Any further comments you see after this date and time anywhere on +972 will not be by me; they will be by one of these Jewish super-brains like sam, pretending to be me and putting, I assume, racist views into my mouth in order to discredit me. I shan’t bother to check back to see whether I’m right about this, but it would be par for the global Jewish genius modus operandi. In any case, my judgment is that as long as +972 remains inside the current brainwashed speech codes it is at best a sad exercise in liberal self-laceration and at worst a deliberate deception.

      Reply to Comment
    30. sam

      Rowan Berkekley
      Every where you are challenged you come up with ‘I shan’t’ which is indicative of the fact that you are basically envious of the Jews and lack all understanding of them/us.
      You claim there is no such thing as ‘the Jews’ but this ‘entity’ is driving you crazy.
      This ‘entity’ does exist and even if you claim they are running the financial world, etc you must give some credence to such a small ‘entity’ that is ostensibly ‘running’ the world.
      You contradict yourself constantly, you read books with depth beyond your understanding in a day or two and make a decision of what it is all about based on cursory readings.
      In short you are a diletante ותו לא.

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    31. max

      Without referring to the question of War of Choice or not, the text provided is a typical example of disinformation, getting text out of context to provide the opposite message from its intention.
      Unlike what many sites claim, Begin’s statement wasn’t an ‘unguarded’ revelation, and its implications have arguably been at the core of the reason for Israel’s government decision to not pre-empt (though by a few hours only) the October war.
      Begin stated the ‘choice’ element during a speech at the National Defense College on 8 August 1982, as part of a larger presentation.
      His statement was qualified, and he re-iterated that this was a self-defense war. His major theme – as I understand it – is encapsulated within his statements about “the terrible consequence of a war of no alternative” and “A free, sovereign nation, which hates war and loves peace, and which is concerned about its security, must create the conditions under which war, if there is a need for it, will not be for lack of alternative. The conditions much be such – and their creation depends upon man’s reason and his actions – that the price of victory will be few casualties, not many”
      Specifically, Begin continued and explained the ‘alternatives’: “We did not do this for lack of an alternative. We could have gone on waiting. We could have sent the army home. Who knows if there would have been an attack against us? There is no proof of it. There are several arguments to the contrary. While it is indeed true that the closing of the Straits of Tiran was an act of aggression, a causus belli, there is always room for a great deal of consideration as to whether it is necessary to make a causus into a bellum”.
      In short, the 1967 war had an alternative (waiting) but the Israeli government assessed that the risk of this alternative was too high – this is the risk Israelis felt, as SH points out; a government would be criminal if it didn’t act on such assessment.

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    32. Richard Witty

      How do you tell when the occupation is ended?

      You personally. Hopefully clear criteria.

      If there is no end by any specific action that Israel can do, then you are in effect advocating FOR the status quo.

      If there is a possible end to the occupation, then the question is one of reform, how to get there.

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    33. Richard Witty

      Between 1979 approximately and 1987, the assumption of the Israeli state and populace was that the West Bank had been annexed. All infrastructure, administration, even civil law administration was either entirely integrated into Israel or in the process.

      That was the time of apartheid, no voting rights in a functional single state. But, Israelis could travel through the West Bank and West Bank Palestinians could travel (with much less significant limitations than currently) through Israel.

      Because it was a sustained period of absence of violence, and even absence of polemic, when the 87 intifada happened, Israeli Jews were scared, but concluded that the two communities did deserve self-governance. The result was a series of meetings with the first culmination in the Oslo accords.

      Lots of intelligent people said they didn’t go far enough, and that the presumption of a final agreement as an already done deal, was a falsehood. (Ed Said for example.)

      They did not say that Oslo was not progress, real and significant change. At Oslo, the PLO demanded separation, a separate self-determination, separate infrastructure, separate administration.

      The few years following Oslo saw a great deal of assistance from Israel in the development of Palestinian infrastructure and economy.

      Subsequent agreements went further than Oslo.

      The mini-coup of the Rabin assassination and Netanyahu sabatoge of progress in the late 90’s set back the momentum.

      The cusp was the second intifada. The rage expressed over an extended period, even early, scared Israelis. The second intifada convinced Israelis and the rest of the world, that progress was NOT desired, that rage was.

      And, still progress on at least a proposal for political element of reconciliation proceeded, to the point that both Olmert and Abbas in 2008 declared that they were a few weeks from a proposal to legislatures and populace.

      The Palestine Papers described to radicals, those attracted to giving up on construction of a peace, that Abbas was a traitor for willingly compromising, even if only on language (right to day in court to make property claims and collective restitution, rather than literal “right of return”).

      To liberals, the Palestine Papers described that Israel had a negotiating partner, and that Palestinians had a negotiating partner. A hand reached out, but a handshake distracted.

      So close, and you are despondent over just a three year period.

      The despondency itself is the enemy of peace. With no hope, what is the point of effort.

      When, in reality, with effort, unexpected good happens.

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    34. sh

      I’d hoped someone would look at the main points of Miko Peled’s piece. No matter who started it and whether it was worth risking waiting, Max, the war was fought and won. It’s the consequences of it that should be examined. The pursuit of peace in the shape of the working towards a state for the Palestinians that his father (and a few others including Uri Avnery) proposed was eschewed in favor of dominion and domination. But the justifications given to the public were couched in terms that were to become ever more familiar over the following decades: security and “history”. We refuse to take risks for peace, peace in the public’s mind equals quiet. That large swathes of the public did want more was evident during the 1990s when it looked like finally, someone was working in that direction. I remember discovering a bilingual children’s magazine in the bookshops called Halonot-Shababik, or something like that and thinking that now things were really on the way. There is still a public that wants it, but we’ve no idea how numerous they still are and they have washed their hands of politics. Which is just as well because they have no political leaders who dare put the occupation at the center of everything, which is where it really belongs. No point in crying out to Obama to tell Bibi like it is. Obama’s got other things on his mind. What do WE do?

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    35. XYZ

      I can’t believe you still believe this nonsense that they were “a few weeks away from an agreement” between Olmert and Abbas. That is PROPAGANDA that each puts out for his own reasons….Abbas so that he keeps the US giving him handouts because he is a good boy supporting the “peace process” and because Olmert wants to seem like a “man of peace” to keep the prosecutors off his case and to keep the money people of the Left, like his benefactor Danny Abraham, happy.
      There were NO AGREEMENTS about ANYTHING substantive. They didn’t even discuss the “right of return”.
      Yossi Beilin made the same idiotic claim about the Taba negotiations between Arafat and Barak in 2001 while the terror war was raging outside. Beilin, IIRC said they were “days” away from an agreement. Do you really believe that nonsense? Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, as big a believer in the ‘peace process’ as anyone said later the same thing I pointed out above…there were NO AGREEMENTS on ANYTHING substantive. There is a whole ‘peace process industry’ that wants to keep people thinking there is some value in these dead-end negotiations.
      Olmert has no credibility whatsoever.

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    36. Katie Adler

      For all you readers who are swallowing this as a factual representation of reality, please understand that this is one man’s OPINION and bears little or no resemblance to FACTS.

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    37. Noam; In life one makes choices and merits the consequences. The Arabs refuse acceptance of the Jews in Eretz Yisrael, wage endless conflict, bombings, hatred and murder and have brought down on themselves the consequences. Now they ask for perfect justice. There are winners and losers. You are with the losers. Your musings also invite pseudo intellectual nut cakes like Rowan to continue to chatter about the mythical and evil Jewish elite that controls the world.

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    38. Ilse Koch

      Its not 45 years of disaster that you should be marking, its 64 years. The UN has realized that it made a mistake in recognizing the zionists, and it has passed numerous resolutions trying to correct its error. Unfortunately, the UN doesnt have the muscle to correct its mistake, but perhaps with a second term Obama, there is hope

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    39. Alan Stein

      For most practical purposes, the so-called occupation ended with the failed Oslo process in the mid-1990s. Sheizaf is correct that there’s no end in sight to what little is left, but that’s only because the Palestinian Arabs still refuse to make peace. It takes two to tango; Israel is still the only party ready to dance.

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    40. Alan

      Ilse Koch. Very revealing pseudonym.

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    41. Rachel Golem

      We need one democratic state
      ……………….Like SYRIA!!!!!

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    42. XYZ

      Once again, the antisemite who choses names of SS officers (Kappler, Danneker) and others who collaborated with Nazis and their ilk (Stella Goldschlag, Nicholas Donin) is now posting here under the name Ilse Koch who was a female Nazi concentration camp guard. This person was banned. Is it possible for the moderators to be able to identify this person through an IP number to prevent this trash from appearing here?

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    43. Richard Witty

      There are two positions here.

      1. The radical positions (more than one), that there is no peace process, that no progress has ever been made, that peace is a distant malevolent pipedream, that there are no partners for peace (pick a side).

      I suggest that in that likud and the left and right wing radicals in the world collude to prevent reconciliation.

      2. That peace is possible and desirable, that the work needed is to construct it, by determined effort to reconcile substantive obstacles through bi-lateral, multi-lateral (both specific third parties and global scale facilitation and application), and on the ground reconciliation efforts.

      To my mind, the critics of Israel’s efforts towards actually achieving peace, have a much much more convincing argument than that Abbas is really just an opportunist and is never a partner for peace.

      I find that “Abbas is not a partner for peace” to be primarily an opportunistic position, taken by single-state Palestinian solidarity and likud solidarity alike.

      Enough Israel is enough.

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    44. Richard Witty

      Let the communities present a proposal. Don’t prohibit a proposal from the light of day, and from the right of the people themselves to consent or not.

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    45. Jules

      I want to remind us all of what that wise man Isaiah Leibowitz told us :
      Beware of those two fallacies
      – the fallacy of the Right that we can peacefully dominate a few million Arabs
      – the fallacy of the Left that we can make peace with them.
      How do you get out of this situation ? I for one do not have an answer and I am sceptical of those who think they do.

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    46. sam

      The answer is unfortunately clear.
      We cannot peacefully dominate them therefore we must use force until they accept{which at this point is a remote possibility}.
      This is in light of the Arab{Moslem} countries around the world where bedlam is the common denominator and it is unlikely for them to change their mentality.
      As for the Left-maybe they should just leave Israel so not to be witness to the horrible things a people must to in order to survive.
      They can criticize and sacrifice themselves in another country and in another society.

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    47. sh

      Jules you seem to have misunderstood Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the Right and the Left.
      1) The Right is not *peacefully* dominating a few million Arabs. If it were, some now on the Left might even be on the Right’s side.
      2) The Left does not necessarily think the Palestinians will make peace with them but deplores the cruelty and disregard for human rights and human life of the Right’s domination of a few million Arabs. Not to mention the way 45 years of it has changed the mentality of a few more million Jews.
      3) It would surprise me if Leibowitz worded it the way you cite him. It was he who first dared call the enforcers of the occupation Judeo-Nazis, he’s been dead for almost 18 years and had not only a razor-sharp intellect but a broad and very precise vocabulary until the day he died.

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    48. Kolumn9

      My count is a Holocaust denier, a Nazi and a raving anti-Semite in the comments, with some obvious commonalities between them. I wonder if the writers of 972mag will continue writing if all those that appreciate their work fall into one of those camps.

      This article is well written, though I am not sure from what perspective the Oslo Accord really was the ‘worst turn of events’.

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    49. Mary

      I live in America and came across this article via another that my soon to be niece in-law (Palestinian) posted on FB. Only in the last 2 years have I become a reader of world events and reading up on the settlements, I couldn’t believe our own Government acknowledging Israel as an ally. There is much more I have awakened to that goes on in this world. Thank you so very much for this article. I look forward to your readings and my prayers are with those Palestinians in their daily living situation… Sincerly, A fellow human being

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