By Arab News
By Samar Al-Sayed
Last week’s decision by an Israeli court to clear its army of any wrongdoing in the killing of American activist Rachel Corrie in 2003 brought it all back. The grunts, the condemnations, the “official” UN statements, the usual.
No one with an inkling of sympathy for the Palestinian cause would bat an eyelid at such a verdict. The usual rhetoric undoubtedly takes over the horizon of solidarity. The UN is a neocolonialist tool guaranteeing Israel immunity through the superpowers’ right to veto, Israel is protected by America, Israel is above international law, Israel is bad.
Even in uncharacteristic cases of dissidence, such as Vice President Joe Biden’s condemnation of Israeli settlement expansion in March 2010, I had noted at the time that the act of lashing out at the settlements would create its own headlines and camouflage the fact that they would go ahead anyways. Indeed, they did.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the judge ruling in the Corrie case declared, “the deceased put herself into a dangerous situation. She stood in front of a giant bulldozer in a place where the operator could not see her. She did not distance herself as a reasonable person would have done.”
He further added that the International Solidarity Movement that Corrie represented acts as a proxy for families “involved in terrorism” and shields “terror activists wanted by the Israeli security forces.”
Rachel was thus an obstacle to the act of Israeli self defense, an apologist for fugitives. The words “judge,” “reasonable” and “bulldozer” being in the same sentence, it is safe to say that justice has mutated through a subjective whirlwind of perversion. And that is the very oxymoron that sees the terms “Israel” and “peace process” come together so often.
But we all know that. What we need to remember is why. We need to untangle core, unchangeable facts that undercut the volatility of this situation to finally lay to rest the myth that is the “peace process.” A process that has gone through decades of Camp Davids and Tabas and has emerged more nonexistent than ever. Welcome to Israel 101.
In this conflict, there are three categories of advocates: Apologists (pan-Arab, Islamist, Zionist and American), pragmatists and well-informed radicals. Take Benjamin Netanyahu as an example of the latter. He is perhaps the only Israeli prime minister who graces the farcical international stage with enough integrity to manifest his ruthless indifference to what French colonialists referred to as “the other.” Not even Ariel Sharon managed to refrain from ever mentioning his worst nightmare, the Palestinians.
I do appreciate Netanyahu’s honest compliance and nonhypocrisy in the face of the facts, unlike predecessors such as Barak, the “good guy” who offered a painful 95 percent of the cage that was to be the new Palestine, or Peres, the Nobel prize winner who “didn’t know” of the Qana massacre when it happened.
The fact is that the Jewish character of the state — founded on 78 percent of the land that was once Ottoman and then British Mandate Palestine — necessarily precludes and excludes the “other” from existing within its borders. The fact that political Zionism dictated that there would be a geographical territory that would be destined for Jews and Jews only as a solution to their lack of assimilation in Europe. Clean-cut homogeneity, ethnic purity was the dream (well, ethnic insofar as Judaism is considered an ethnic group, but that is an entirely separate can of worms.)
In short, an ethnocracy, or what academics call, democratic exceptionalism. While we’re on the topic, I can’t help but ask, would I, as a marginalized, persecuted minority — for whatever reasons that was — board a ship I am told will take me to freedom and guarantee me a hassle-free existence? Sure. Can we, on our journey to honesty and self-reflection, at least admit that the newcomers to the land were ignorant of their imperialist saviors plan of action?
Originally, Herzl’s plan had outlined 55 percent for the would-be Jewish state, but the 1948 war saw the victorious Israelis conquer more than they had bargained for. Existing in a sea of hostile neighbors containing millions of refugees, the less fortunate “residual” Arabs in residual Palestine, pan-Arabs and Islamists, Israel developed what Israeli historian Avi Shlaim calls “the iron wall”, or, the act of engaging with an adversary from a position of military strength. How else could they possibly survive the imminent floods that could potentially inundate a horizon of settler huts in an ocean of angry waves? By building castles, military castles that emanate a might so unrivaled they are number 4 in the world. That, as we know all too well, is why the Israelis have been able to ignore Corrie, her American government and its UN proxy for so long.
In the years leading up to Nasser and his pan-Arab team’s defeat in the Six-Day War, imperialist expansionists, who, dissatisfied with their current parameters of power and under a religious banner, awaited a pretext to espouse their interpretation of Biblical claims to the entire area of historic Judea & Samaria (another one up for grabs in the debate but which Israelis claim include part of the remaining 22 percent of land that is the West Bank). In 1967, Samaria, the Golan Heights and Sinai (the latter since liberated) was theirs.
But religion is not the real reason for their continued transgression. The iron wall, however, is. How else can they possibly push back against 300 million or so followers of Islam who uphold Jerusalem as the first of its holy sanctuaries and the location of their day of reckoning? In short, the Israelis have been fighting George Bush’s pre-emptive war for the past 65 years.
All the more wonder, then, that the Israeli plebiscitary system is one of the most concise and well-executed voting systems of the post-war era. The one man, one vote within the 78 percent that is Historic Palestine is pristine, putting many of its other democratic counterparts to the annals of mediocrity.
Now for the facts in 2012. Israel’s Arab population is growing at almost double the rate of the Jewish population. A fifth of Israeli citizens are Arab. A writer for the British daily The Independent recently noted that Arab-Israeli ratio would be 1:1 by the year 2020. Not even the genius methods of countering this time bomb — through revoking citizenship of anyone who so much as breathes the word Palestine, ousting an Israeli citizen who had the audacity to fall for an inhabitant of the wretched of the earth (the West Bank or Gaza) and offering lucrative incentive to virtually anyone from anywhere on earth to become a soldier in the army — can save them from the wrath that is Palestinian procreation.
That is why the Israelis have no choice but to preclude law from their rule of law, democracy from their democratic system and peace from their peace process. And this is why Rachel Corrie and everyone else since 1948 has lost so ungraciously in their bid for justice where justice has no place.