“This bum Wilson gets the title shot— outdoors in the ballpark! And what do I get? A couple of bucks and a one way ticket to Palookaville.” Marlon Brando On the Waterfront
When the state of Israel was founded in May 1948, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, announced no territorial boundaries. Today, Israel remains the only nation in the world without formally declared borders. Very clever from the creation. Now in its 36th year of usurpation via squatter-settlement of Palestinian lands (West Bank and Gaza), the seedling planted by Ben-Gurion now blossoms in terrible flower bearing bitter fruit. Furthermore, Israel remains a nation not just of its citizens but of Jews everywhere. Jews of all nations can return to live in their Biblical “homeland,” Israel, borders undefined. This “right of return” does not apply to dispossessed Palestinians, who themselves and their generations have actually lived on and worked the soil, sacred or not. Here, as in all matters dealing with the oppressed Palestinians, Jews-only need apply. So much for racial and religious tolerance, and democracy. But this is not new.
“Some of them would die and most of them would turn into human dust and the waste of society, and join the most impoverished classes in the Arab countries,” said Israeli government analysts dealing with the Palestinian ‘problem’ back in 1948.
(Source: Israeli State Archives regarding Palestinian refugees in 1948, as cited by Avi Shlaim, Collusion across the Jordan, Columbia, 1988).
Human dust, indeed. And now, having winked at the near-total destruction of the Palestinian Authority and the brutal, grinding abuse of the Palestinian people, a road map for peace is presented, courtesy of the peaceful and freedom-loving United States of America. Who kids whom? Israel’s deep-pockets sugar daddy, arguably a co-conspirator to destroy the Palestinian presence under the name of the War-Against-Terror, and packed with neo-conservative Zionist Middle East advisors … I mean, can this Bible-thumping Bush administration be serious? Sadly, they probably are. But their proposal is more road-kill than road map.
Setting aside the obvious duplicitous position of the United States, the Road Map has two impossible, initiating actions. First, Israel must only “begin” to dismantle its post-1967 West Bank settlements. Aside from symbolically tumbling a few outpost shanties, nothing else will happen. The romantic, pioneering experience of gazing over Biblical lands is too compellingly ingrained into being an Israeli. Not that the Israeli settlers work the land. They don’t.But the Palestinians do, or try to, always under the malevolent gaze of the settlers. But here romance gives way to the politics of usurpation. The map of the Palestinian land is blotched with Israeli settlements, many of them enormous, permanent compounds. This disruption of any unifying trend or notion of geographical continuity for a homeland called Palestine is apparent by simple inspection. Resettling the settlers is a logistical and political impossibility. Complicit with the United States, Israel has flagrantly violated international law for years on this issue. And it has paid off. So much for the rule of law.
The second condition to start the road map rolling (or whatever road maps do) is that the Palestinians, but not the Israelis, must stop “the terror.” Absent armament of any consequence, they must cease resistance to the brutal occupation. But, as usual, the occupation goes on and on. All Israel must do is say that they “may” rethink their settlement policy. Fat chance of that, given that Sharon is the mother of all settlement planners. And no dice calling the Israeli occupation terror. No, no, not Jenin, and surely not Ramallah, and Rachel Corrie, and the bell-ringer at the Chuch of the Nativity in Bethlehem. These were just examples of Israel’s right to defend itself, using its crushing American-financed military power, the Israeli Defense Force. Get it? No? Well neither do the Palestinians. When an American-financed Apache gunship fires an American-financed Hellfire missile into a noontime marketplace in Gaza, that’s definitely not terrifying. No, not in the least.
Not surprisingly, the speeches at Aqaba delivered by Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas were written by the United States. And not surprisingly, soon thereafter all hell broke loose. Another Israeli assassination attempt on Hamas that, as usual, killed innocents. Another bus bombing by Hamas in Jerusalem that, as usual, killed innocents. And today I heard the BBC jumble the metaphor further by wondering what will get the Road Map “back on track?”
The answer? Nothing.
Because the fundamental principle of Israeli Zionism – now in full and radiant flower in both Israel and the government of the United States – has always been the elimination of the Palestinian presence. As Ben-Gurion wrote in a letter to his son in 1937, “We shall drive them out and take their place.”
But this urge to purge goes back even farther than Ben-Gurion, all the way to Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism. “We shall try to spirit the penniless populations across the border by procuring employment for them in the transit countries, while denying them employment in our own country,” wrote Herzl in his diary in June 1895. Incidentally, Palestinian unemployment in the occupied territories is now 54%.
As a military and geo-political strategy, the post-1967 settlement policy has worked brilliantly for Israel. How? It has saturated the Palestinian West Bank with high-ground settlements of profound tactical importance that place Palestinians under constant surveillance. A network of connecting roads, tunnels, and bridges provides free movement between settlements and Israel proper, for both settlers and the Israeli army, but of course, not for Palestinians. And now a defensive wall snake-dances its way around the West Bank shattering further any cohesive integrity of Palestinian land. And just who finances all these exclusionary construction projects that support and encourage the illegal occupation of the West Bank?
Right. Uncle Sam.
Not only are the roads controlled by Israel, so are other basic amenities, like water. The Mountain Aquifer, located in Palestinian territory under the West Bank supplies almost half of Israel’s water. Moreover, the Israeli settlements (representing only 10% of the West Bank population) have independent pumping wells. They use 40 % of the West Bank water. To complete the cycle, Israeli settler sewage spills from their mountain-top citadels into the Palestinian lowlands. As for sewage treatment plants? Israel has impounded the money. So much for sharing.
So the immobilized Palestinians have no use for a road map. They are in deep-lock, their government a shambles, no control, no power, no influence. Every automobile, telephone call, radio transmission is monitored. Targeted by airborne reconnaissance platforms, under observation night and day, subject to Hellfire missile attacks and bulldozer tumblings, still they resist the occupation. Do you think the Palestinian people care about another US-Israeli scheme, this time called a Road Map? Please be serious.
Israel has destroyed virtually all Palestinian Authority governmental mechanisms. Yet Israel and the United States cry out like mad men for the Authority to do more to control “terror.” In effect, Israel has annexed the West Bank via its illegal settlement program. Will Israel renounce that victory? Not likely. Will the Palestinians be satisfied with a homeland riddled with Israeli settlements? Not likely.
“If we had been one army, not several armies,” wrote David Ben-Gurion, “and if we had acted according to one strategic plan, we would have been able to ‘empty’ the (Palestinian) population) of the upper Galilee, Jerusalem, and the road to it, Ramallah, Ludda, southern Palestine in general and the Negev in particular.”
Today, thanks to America, Israel has one army. And the Palestinians have nothing, except their bodies. And that’s why the Bush Road Map is Dead-on-Arrival, in Palookaville.