It’s the Occupation
by Stephen Lendman
Haaretz contributor Amira Hass is right saying so. Current headlines highlight thousands of West Bank protesters.
Palestinians took to the streets against unaffordable rising prices. In some areas, things got violent. Demonstrators smashed windows, tried to storm a municipality building, and clashed with police.
On Sunday, trucks and taxis blocked the Bethlehem to Hebron road. In Ramallah, tires were set ablaze. Streets were blocked. University and other school classes were cancelled.
Duheishe refugee camp residents marched on Abbas’ headquarters. Beit Jala protest leaders urged nonviolence but joined others expressing outrage.
Balata refugee youths blocked Al-Quds Street. They forced traffic onto bypass roads. Traffic was also blocked in Jenin. Taxi union director Abu al-Wafa said strike action shut down 700 cabs and 120 buses. At issue is unaffordable fuel prices.
Public transportation across the West Bank is paralyzed. Thousands of drivers walked out. Tulkaren and Jericho residents also staged protests. Hundreds turned out.
One protest sign read:
“We’re tired of hearing about reform….a council after another….a minister after another….and corruption that hasn’t gone away.”
General strike calls resonate. Unelected Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is a longtime Israeli collaborator. He’s neoliberal, corporatist, and hardline. Rage targets him. He claims budget shortfall constraints. Palestinians want him out.
One youth spoke for others, saying:
“We’ll do anything, throw rocks, to get rid of the Fayyad government. They call it sabotage, but we’ll do whatever we need to get rid of him.”
He agreed to resign to cool things down. Fellow longtime Israeli collaborator Abbas defended him. He’s doing his job, he said.
At the same time, Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh asked Israel to amend the 1994 Paris Protocol. It’s the Oslo Accords economic agreement.
Abbas was chief negotiator. He sold out his people for benefits he derived. He got to be president. Israel rigged his election. He bears full responsibility.
He agreed to burden Palestinians with the same value-added tax as Israel. In September, it rose to 17%. Impoverished Palestinians are severely harmed.
Oslo also denies Palestinian farmers and businessmen normalized foreign trade. Those permitted can only go through Israel.
Partial and delayed salary payments compound intense public anger. Palestinian civil servants see no end in sight. Israel deserves most blame. Abbas, Fayyad, and other Palestinian collaborators share it.
Hass called Israeli negotiators “geniuses.” Negotiating a Palestinian Versailles assured they’d be blamed for economic crisis conditions they caused.
PA concern became panic. Speeches, interministerial committees, and other ways are sought to diffuse public anger and lower prices. Condescending paternalistic language doesn’t help. Protesters understandably are angry. Venting rage at PA officials lets Israel off the hook.
Oslo shackled Palestine’s economy to Israel. Palestinian salaries don’t approach Israeli ones. Regressive taxes make things harder. Unaffordable prices compound crisis conditions.
In all respects, Oslo was a Palestinian Versailles. Unconditional surrender defines it. Arafat, Abbas, Ahmed Qureia, and others went along. Eighteen years later, conditions are considerably worse.
More land’s been stolen. Israel has the choicest parts. It controls water and other valued resources. Settler numbers increased greatly. Intensified violence accompanied them. So has repression. PA security forces serve as Israeli enforcers.
It’s unsurprising they’re blamed for occupation harshness. Israelis get off largely scot-free. They establish rules. Militarized occupations enforces them.
Gaza’s isolated and suffocating. Extreme hardships exist. It’s economy is in shambles. Around 80% of its factories remain shut or barely operate. Unemployment is high. Poverty is severe.
Most exports are prohibited. Farming on much of its most arable land is prohibited. Its best fishing waters are off limits. Food insecurity, power shortages, inadequate healthcare, other unavailable or inadequate services, and extreme aid dependency punish 1.7 million people.
It’s called the world’s largest open-air prison. Frequent land, air and sea attacks target it. World leaders turn a blind eye. They’re mindless of West Bank abuses. Israel’s worst crimes are supported. Palestinian suffering remains out of sight and mind.
Everything benefitting Israel harms Palestinians. Zero sum repression works that way.
They’re locked down and economically strangled. Locking them up is policy if they resist. Institutionalized racism persecutes them. Sovereignty over their own lives is denied.
Security forces and settlers attack them. Children are treated like adults. Anyone not Jewish is considered subhuman. Muslims are persecuted for their faith, ethnicity and presence.
They’re unfairly called culturally inferior, dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy, religiously fanatical, violent, gun-toting terrorists. They’re targeted for wanting to live free. Innocent men, women and children are punished.
Punitive taxes harm them. Vital services are withheld. Wages are too low to live on. Land belonging to them is stolen. Homes and other property are destroyed. Refugees are prohibited from returning. Their rightful capital is called Israel’s alone. Peace roadmaps go nowhere.
Fear traumatizes children. Closed borders, checkpoints, roadblocks, electric fences, enclosed population centers, Jew’s only roads, and Israel’s Annexation Wall prevent free movement. Regular curfews are imposed.
Heroic freedom fighters fill Israel’s gulag. Collective punishment is policy. So are daily incursions, home invasions, lawless arrests, torture, targeted assassinations, and denial of fundamental human and civil rights.
Crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide are committed with impunity. Rule of law principles don’t protect them. A repressive foreign army occupies their land. Lives are lived in limbo.
Besides other notable areas, hell on earth resides in Palestine. Gaza is its epicenter. It’s been that way for 45 years and counting.
Occupied Palestine isn’t occupied said former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy. During his judicial tenure, he supported this view in a 2005 case. Other High Court justices rejected it.
Militarized occupation controls Palestine. Israel admits it. Permanency defines it. Anything Israel does is OK because what it says goes. Who’ll challenge policy no matter how lawless, ill-conceived, unjustifiable, and against even the most fancifully stretched normative standards.
Yes, we can, no, you can’t is policy. That’s what occupation is all about. Tyranny defines it. Author Sandy Tolan calls it the “show that time and the world forgot.”
It covers land the size of Delaware. It’s out of sight and mind to most people. Headlines don’t explain. Anything Israel does is OK no matter how lawless, disturbing, and harmful. Palestinian resistance is called terrorism.
Symbols matter. Lies become truths. Israel’s winning the battle for control over every square dunum it wants. Palestinians are marginalized and denied. Who cares about unwanted people? They’re forgotten out of sight and mind.
Palestinians thought Oslo granted them 22% of historic Palestine. Instead they got a 10% no-state solution at best. Once Israel steals all parts of Judea and Sumaria it wants, they’ll have canonized rump state isolation without sovereignty on worthless scrubland.
Control over their own land, air, resources, or borders is denied. Drilling for fresh water is verboten. Challenging Israeli authority risks injury, imprisonment or death.
It’s the occupation, stupid. Israeli intransigency perpetuates it. Freedom remains an unfulfilled hope. It springs eternal. Maybe next time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”