By Hasan Afif El-Hasan
Western leaders and media label any Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation as terrorism, but it refuses to give Israel the same label when its military commits daily crimes against the Palestinians. Israel destroyed Gaza and committed massacres, starves the Palestinian population and bulldozes their houses in Jerusalem and the West Bank. It does not approve residency permits for Palestinians returning to their homes in the occupied lands and expels thousands of Palestinian families from Jerusalem.
The Arab population of Israel today stands at a little over one million, but the state has refused to allow them create a single new Arab community to accommodate the natural population growth. The result is chronic overcrowding while the land lost to these Arab towns and villages has simply been passed to Jewish settlers for their benefit. Israel denies the right of the Arab-Israeli to marry Palestinians from outside Israel and Palestinians unlike Jews are not allowed to have dual citizenship.
Jewish settlements continue to grow rapidly in the Palestinian occupied lands while it is extremely hard for Palestinians to obtain permits to build homes on their own lands. “Peace Now” organization found that 94% of Palestinian permit applications for building in East Jerusalem and in the 60% of the West Bank that is referred to in Oslo agreements as “Area C”, have been refused since 2000, when such data has been available. Palestinian houses built without permits are considered illegal and routinely demolished while the state provides water, electricity and military protection to Jewish outposts that are built without permits in the West Bank.
When a Palestinian in Jerusalem or in the West Bank could no longer live in his parents’ home and decides to build a home on his family land that Israel has not yet confiscated, the planning authority refuses him a building permit. At the same time endless housing developments are springing up all over the illegally occupied territories for Jewish families only.
Where is the next generation of the Palestinians in the occupied lands including Jerusalem to live? What is the future envisaged for the next Palestinian generation by Israel? The denial of permits for Palestinians on such a large scale is part of Israel’s plans to force a ‘silent transfer’ of the Palestinian population from the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Israel promotes a profoundly racist view of the Palestinians and enforces a system of land apartheid. It is the only member of the United Nations that is an apartheid state, but anyone who criticizes what it is doing to the Palestinians is called anti-Semite or Jew-hater. Disproportionate part of the Western media coverage of anti-Semitism concentrated on tarring critics of Israel’s action against the Palestinians with any unpleasant label.
It is sad to see the West led by the US following the hypocrisy as their main guiding principle on the question of the Palestinians. It leads me to ask a question that is on the minds of the frustrated victims of Israel’s human rights violations: “why do the US leaders hate the Palestinians so much?” The West defends and even supports Israel inhumane, cruel and unusual actions against the Palestinians.
Richard Falk, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories has come under fire by the US officials for posting what has been described as an “overtly anti-Semitic” cartoon on his blog. US Ambassador to the UN, Eileen Chamberlain Donadoe said on July 8: “Mr. Falk’s continued comments and postings to his personal blog are deeply offensive, and I condemn them in the strongest terms.” She suggested that Falk should resign his post in the UN saying: “his continued status as a UN mandate holder is a blight on the UN system.” The US criticized Falk several times before for his stance on Israel and Palestine.
When former President Jimmy Carter dared to title his book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, the US media was up in arms against Carter even before the first copy of the book was on the shelf.
Jews and the Western media have demanded exclusive rights to certain comparisons, such as nothing can be compared with the Jews suffering in Europe. Anyone who challenges that exclusive right, by suggesting that the Israeli Jews depopulated four hundred Palestinian villages and towns in 1947-48 and they are trying to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from the 1967 occupied lands, is dismissed as anti-Semite.
Germany had accepted its responsibility and atoned for the Holocaust, whereas Israel is still pretending that the 1947-48 Nakba had never taken place. The Nakba marks the period when 750,000 Palestinians were terrorized or expelled from their homes and beyond the state and tens of massacres were committed by the Jewish military and militias. Plenty of evidence has emerged including official documents concerning a military operation known as “Plan Dalet”, to suggest that it was always the intention of the Jewish leaders to rid Israel of its Palestinian inhabitants. Germany had been paying large sums of compensation to individual Holocaust survivors and to the state of Israel, but Israel has yet to apologize for the mass expulsion of the Palestinian population. No one with authority dares calling Israel an apartheid or outlaw state despite the obvious.
Israel cooperated in the past with the most notoriously brutal regimes, including Argentina’s military dictatorship, Pinochet’s Chile, and Apartheid South Africa. Its intimate alliance with Apartheid South Africa was the most extensive. The Israeli-South African relation was a marriage of interests and ideologies. Nancy Murray, the director of “The Middle East Justice Network”, wrote that the history of Israeli-South African cooperation is evidence of the two countries shared racist roots and “moral and political congruence” between their systems of government.
In the end, Apartheid South Africa collapsed and Apartheid Israel survived. According to the Israeli citizen and human rights advocate, Uri Davis “following the dismantlement of the legal structures of apartheid in South Africa, Israel remains the only member of the UN that is apartheid state.” In Israel, the parliament, the judicial system and the law enforcement bodies impose racist and xenophobic policies against the Palestinian population in Israel proper and the occupied lands.
The Israelis forced many facts on the ground including transforming Palestine into a “Jewish state” owned by Jews and privileges Jews both inside the country and outside it in the Diaspora while denying the Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. The “Law of Return” openly states that it offers special privileges to the Jews only, and many other laws state simply that the benefits apply only to anyone who qualifies under “the Law of Return”-that is Jews.
Some of South Africa’s own anti-apartheid leaders have said that the system of racial discrimination Israel is implementing is even worse than what they suffered. Israel acts worse than latter-day South Africa by building Jews-only settlements and access roads; erecting the apartheid wall, countless military checkpoints on confiscated lands in the West Bank and Jerusalem to ensure compliance with the apartheid rules. And in Israel proper, 93% of the land is designated in law as state land for settlement, cultivation and development for Jews only, and less than 7% is private land that is theoretically accessible to the non-Jews indigenous people.
John Dugart, the chairman of a UN commission on human rights, concluded that “Israel is a serious violator of human rights and is in serious violation of international law.” And in a report released in 2007, Dugart wrote that “It is difficult to resist the conclusion that many of Israel’s laws and practices violate the 1966 Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination.”
The tragedy for the Palestinian people is that Israel and its supporters have succeeded in convincing the vast majority of the West population to accept the myth of Apartheid-Israel as “the only liberal democracy in the Middle East” as an article of faith and dismiss the Palestinians’ history and culture as irrelevant or nonexistent.
– Hasan Afif El-Hasan is a political analyst. His latest book, Is The Two-State Solution Already Dead? (Algora Publishing, New York), now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.