Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is the Destruction of Palestinian Society Israel's Goal?

In his famous essay on Gaza, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Palestine Richard Falk wrote:

While talking about peace, the number of Israeli settlers doubled, huge sums were invested in settlement roads linked directly to Israel, and the process of Israeli settlement and Palestinian displacement from East Jerusalem was moving ahead at a steady pace. ...

On June 25, 2007 leaders from Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority met in Sharm El Sheik on the Red Sea to move ahead with their anti-Hamas diplomacy. Israel proposes to release 250 Fatah prisoners (of 9,000 Palestinians currently held) and to hand over Palestinian revenues to Abbas on an installment basis, provided none of the funds is used in Gaza, where a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds day by day. These leaders agreed to cooperate in this effort to break Hamas and to impose a Fatah-led Palestinian Authority on an unwilling Palestine population. Remember that Hamas prevailed in the 2006 elections, not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank as well. To deny Palestinian their right of self-determination is almost certain to backfire in a manner similar to similar efforts, producing a radicalized version of what is being opposed. As some commentators have expressed, getting rid of Hamas means establishing al Qaeda!

Israel is currently stiffening the boycott on economic relations that has brought the people of Gaza to the brink of collective starvation. This set of policies, carried on for more than four decades, has imposed a sub-human existence on a people that have been repeatedly and systematically made the target of a variety of severe forms of collective punishment. The entire population of Gaza is treated as the 'enemy' of Israel, and little pretext is made in Tel Aviv of acknowledging the innocence of this long victimized civilian society.

To persist with such an approach under present circumstances is indeed genocidal, and risks destroying an entire Palestinian community that is an integral part of an ethnic whole. It is this prospect that makes appropriate the warning of a Palestinian holocaust in the making, and should remind the world of the famous post-Nazi pledge of 'never again.'

That essay, whose honesty angered Israeli true believers, was written before the recent Israeli attack on Gaza. Israel's attack and continuing, intensifying collective punishment of the Gazan population since the attack make Falk's comments look almost like a defense of Israel. Far from "risking" the destruction of "an entire Palestinian community," Israeli policy now appears to be the conscious, intentional destruction of Palestinian society.


Israeli Hypothesis I = if collective punishment is sufficiently harsh, it will force the population to give its support to the oppressor

Israeli Hypothesis II = if collective punishment is sufficiently harsh, it will destroy Palestinian society

based on assumptions:

A. Israel can apply sufficient force to destroy Palestinian society;

B. the world will allow Israel to do so.


I recently suggested that in Gaza Israel was testing the hypothesis that "if collective punishment is sufficiently harsh, it will force the population to give its support to the oppressor." Israel may be testing a much nastier hypothesis: that it can completely destroy the Palestinians as a coherent, functioning society, i.e., that A. it can apply sufficient force to accomplish this, and B. that the world will allow it to do so. Although the result to date of Israel's Gaza attack has failed to confirm Hypothesis A, it has sadly provided considerable evidence in support of Hypothesis B.

It of course remains to be seen whether or not the Israeli government will remain (or become?) committed to testing the base hypothesis that it can destroy Palestinian society. The fact that Jews (that is, the East European & German ones) are one of only a handful of societies (including Rwandans, Cambodians, Palestinians in 1948, and American Indians) to have experienced ethnic cleansing in the last couple of centuries but nevertheless are now openly calling for ethnic cleansing (e.g., statements by Knesset candidate Ben-Ami and party leader Lieberman) gives cause for suspecting such a commitment will intensify. Watch closely Israeli policy in the West Bank bantustans.

1 comment:

joelsk44039 said...

Israel doesn't have to destroy Palestinian Society. The Palestinians have already done that themselves.