By Alan Hart
Because Israel’s leaders prefer land to peace and there’s nothing any American president can do about that so long as the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress call the shots on U.S. policy for Israel/Palestine, it’s obvious that the Palestinians have nothing to gain, only more to lose, from politics and diplomacy. So what, really, can they do themselves to press their claim for an acceptable minimum amount of justice? (By definition an acceptable minimum amount of justice requires a complete end to Israel’s 1967 occupation with provision for Jerusalem to be an open, undivided city and the capital of two states).
Way back in the early 1980′s, Major General (then retired) Shlomo Gazit, the best and the brightest of Israel’s former Directors of Military Intelligence, said the following to me in a private conversation. “If we (Israel’s Jews) had been the Palestinians, we’d have had our mini state long ago.” He meant that they would have played the terror card. Simply stated (he knew he didn’t have to spell it out to me), they would bombed Israeli government offices and commercial centres and properties of all kinds and blasted transport and other communication facilities to cause maximum disruption and destruction.
And they would have done so knowing that their terrorism, provided it was ruthless enough and sustained, would be effective, would eventually cause many Israeli Jews to say to their government, “We’ve had enough, do a deal with the Palestinians.” (They would also have had the evidence of their own experience to go on. In 1947/48, mainly by terrorism, they drove out first the occupying British and then about 800,000 Arabs).
Though all governments deny it, a truth is that terrorism does work provided it is ruthless enough and sustained. And there’s no mystery about why. In many countries, especially those in which citizens are free to express their thoughts and feelings (the so-called democracies), there are limits to the amount terror-created disruption and mayhem the soft underbelly of public opinion will tolerate. All politicians know this.
There’s a case for saying that the Palestinians might have had some real bargaining power if they had played the terror card effectively at an early point in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip (as the Zionists would have done if they had been the Palestinians). Arguably a good time to have played it would have been after the UN Security Council caved in to Zionist-driven American pressure and came up with a resolution, 242, which effectively put Zionism in the diplomatic driving seat. It did so by refusing to condemn Israel as the aggressor, by not demanding its immediate withdrawal from occupied Arab territories and by allowing it to attach conditions to its withdrawal. As I have explained in previous articles and my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, the Security Council should have put Israel on notice that it would be subjected to sanctions and diplomatic isolation if it settled occupied territory.
Today, and even if they wanted it, the Palestinians do not have a terror option. And again there’s no mystery about why. In addition to the blockade of the Gaza Strip and checkpoints which are in place partly to humiliate the Palestinians who must pass or seek to pass through them, Israel’s state-of-the-art surveillance makes it almost impossible for Palestinians on the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip open prison to have conversations which are not electronically bugged or listened to by one means or another. Palestinian organizations and groups are also riddled with informers, mostly Palestinian men who become Israeli intelligence assets in order to protect their women. The proposition often put to those who become informers is that if they don’t do what Israel wants, their mothers/wives/sisters will be rapped.
Simply stated there is not an environment in which the occupied and oppressed Palestinians could organize and execute a sustained terror campaign.
So if the Palestinians have nothing to gain from politics and diplomacy and don’t have a terror option, what can they do?
In theory their best weapon is their very existence and the demographic time-bomb it represents, but… It’s reasonable to assume that Israel will continue to work on defusing it by means which could go all the way to a final round of ethnic cleansing.
It was Sharon as prime minister who started the work of defusing the demographic time-bomb of occupation by ordering the withdrawal of Israeli settlers and IDF forces from the Gaza Strip. At the time, and with the assistance of the mainstream Western media which (generally speaking) is terrified of offending Zionism either too much or at all, it was presented as Sharon seeking to advance the peace process. That was Zionist propaganda nonsense.
According to a recent report in Ha’aretz by Barak Ravid, even Netanyahu has now accepted that Israel must make some withdrawals from the occupied West Bank “if it is to preserve a solid Jewish majority inside the State of Israel.” After his return from America that’s what he told a shocked cabinet meeting when he presented to it a report by the Jewish People Policy Institute on demographic changes among Jews and Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank. The report was based on the demographic data of Prof. Sergio DellaPergola which shows that, in a number of years, the demographic trends will result in a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
So very probably the time is approaching when Netanyahu, if he can overcome the opposition of some of his lunatic cabinet colleagues, will announce Israel’s intention to make some limited withdrawals from the occupied West Bank. He will present them as “painful concessions” on Israel’s part and proof that it is serious about peace. The truth will be rather different. The withdrawals, if they happen, will be for one purpose and one purpose only – defusing the demographic time-bomb of occupation in order to preserve a solid Jewish majority in a somewhat reduced Greater Israel, a Zionist state with borders taking in about 40% of the West Bank including all of Jerusalem.
As things are and look like going, that (about 60% of the West Bank with bits and pieces of pre-1967 Israeli land thrown in under the heading of “swaps”) is the best deal the Palestinians are ever likely to be offered by any Zionist leadership; and it is, of course, totally unacceptable. So back to the main question – What, really, can the Palestinians do themselves to get some bargaining power?
The answer I want to float came into my mind when I was reading a recent column by Uri Avnery. He was writing about the “nightmare” that has haunted Israel since 1948. What is it? “The 750,000 refugees and their descendents, some five million by now, will one day get up and march to the borders of Israel from North, East and South, breach the fences and flood the country.”
In my view getting up and marching to the borders of pre-1967 Israel is what the Palestinians should now do, and not only the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip prison camp. They should be joined by Palestinian refugees from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. To guarantee peaceful proceedings on their part, the Palestinian marchers should be completely unarmed – not only no guns, but no stones.
Of course Israel would seek to prevent it happening by banning Palestinians assembling in numbers on the West Bank and, also, by threatening the frontline Arab states with reprisal attacks and even war if they allowed Palestinians in numbers to enter I967 Israeli occupied Arab land from their territories. But with effort and commitment on the part of the Palestinians it could be made to happen.
Just imagine it… Several hundred thousand or better still one or two million Palestinians or more marching peacefully to the 1967 borders.
For what purpose? When they got as far as they could go, they would demand that the governments of the world do whatever is necessary to oblige Israel to stop defying international law and end its illegal occupation of the West Bank and its criminal blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Such an event would demand and command the attention of the world’s media, and it’s by no means impossible that the coverage would light a fire of understanding throughout the Western world; understanding of the fact that the nuclear-armed Zionist state of Israel is the aggressor, the land thief and the oppressor and that the Palestinians are its victims. Such a fire, if it was lit, could trigger a people power response in the Western nations that would make it impossible for Western governments, even the one in Washington D.C., to go on supporting Israel right or wrong.
If Israel’s leaders were stupid enough to order the IDF to break up and disperse the Palestinian marchers by shooting to kill, there would be a bloodbath. In that event it’s possible, in my view probable, that the fire of understanding the Palestinians had lit in the Western world would become an inferno of anti-Israelism that would force Western governments, including the one in Washington D.C., to call and hold the Zionist state to account for its crimes.
Though it would further isolate Israel and America, I don’t think a UN General Assembly resolution recognizing a Palestinian state in 1967 borders would change the facts on the ground. But if a vote in the General Assembly was taken against the background of the demonstration of Palestinian people power as outlined above, that could be a game-changer.