The first time, the area between what was Phoenicia (today – northern Lebanon and Syria), and Egypt to the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, was clearly called Palestine was by the Greeks in the
5th century BC. Though Palestine had always been there and has been called many other names. The region was among the earliest to see human habitation, animal domestication, agricultural communities and civilization.
The descendants of earlier peoples, such as the Kebarian culture, who lived in the area from about 20,000 to 12,000 years ago, were the hunters and gatherers, the Natufian, who created an Eastern Mediterranean culture which would be the first to implement the concepts of agriculture; originally developed to feed their livestock, and the first cultivation of cereals, specifically rye. The Natufian dominance lasted from 14,500 to 11,500 years ago. One of its settlements, now called Jericho, is the oldest inhabited city in the world. It lies near the Jordan River in the West Bank.
The next peoples were the Canaanites, a mix of many tribes, whose languages and cultures would be influenced by the civilizations of Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Phoenicia, Minoan Crete and Syria. Later, the region would be controlled by the Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks and Romans.
About 4,000 years ago, other groups of people began to arrive from the Aegean Sea region of Greece and Turkey and mix with the tribes of Canaanites and over the next couple of centuries, the many tribes of Palestine would become collectively known as the Philistines. Many of the people of Palestine had by now inhabited the area for over eight thousand years and were living predominately within small city-states and while the area was once covered in cedar and pine forests, over the centuries it had been nearly stripped clean by various empires, specifically the Ancient Egyptians, and the area had become a barren, eroded, hilly country with few and limited resources, nothing but a narrow ribbon of land squeezed between desert and sea, as little as 65 kilometres (40 miles). It also possesses the saltiest body of water on the planet, and the lowest point on its surface, that being the Red Sea, at 412m (1352ft) below sea level.
At about the same time, around 1900 BC, in Upper Mesopotamia (present day Kurdistan and Northern Iraq), an Ur, of the tribe of the Chaldees, and descendant of the ancient Sumerians, began to have visions, and a voice in his head telling him of a new promised land to the west. The voice told him that his tribe were the chosen people, and that they would have to toss aside their devotion to their numerous pagan gods and believe in only one god, which the Ur called El. After the death of his father, this Ur, forever known as Abraham, gathered up the few small tribes of the Chaldees and left their ancestral lands forever. Already being somewhat of a nomadic people, they migrated out of Mesopotamia, constantly wandering about in search of water and grazing land for their flocks of goats and sheep. Making their way through Syria and Jordan, they would eventually end up in Egypt, where after only a few years would be banished for “indifference” to the pharaoh at the time, Nebkaure Khety IV. They gathered their flocks and headed into the Sinai wilderness and onwards to the land of Canaan, which they entered for the first time, eventually settling down in Hebron, about 30 km (19 mi) from Jerusalem, in about 1850BC.
Both very elderly by now, Abraham and his first wife, Sarah, had never been able to have children together, though Abraham had gathered many wives. One of them, Hagar, had given birth to his first son, who had been named Ishmael. Sarah, now well past child bearing years became spiteful and talked Abraham into banishing Hagar and Ishmael from the tribe. It is said that with a heavy heart, Abraham banished them both into the Arabian Peninsula. But Hagar and Ishmael survived, with folklore and oral traditions recognizing Ishmael as the founder of the Arab nation.
Abraham had continued to have visions and spoke with his god El often, who one day told Abraham that Sarah, though very old, would produce a son as a “gift from God”, in his appreciation of Abraham’s obedience and discipline. Sure enough Sarah gave birth to her first child, a son whom they named Isaac. Still jealous and resentful of Abraham’s other wives, Sarah became ever more protective of her son’s inheritance, and once again talked Abraham into banishing another favourite wife of his, Keturah, along with the six sons she and Abraham had together. This was also carried out, and Keturah, her sons and a small group of supporters headed out into the Arabian wilderness, where they would eventually become the ancestral tribal leaders of the Midian, in north-west Saudi Arabia. where 3,000 years later, the prophet Muhammad and Islam would be born. Dying in about 1830 BC, Abraham and Sarah were buried in the cave of Machpelah, in Hebron. A Muslim mosque marks the spot today. Abraham would become the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Isaac meanwhile, would lead his father’s tribes into becoming the Hebrew.
It is said, that this is the point in time where the seed of hatred began between Arab and Jew and would accumulate, and cause all the future confrontations between them, even up to the present day in the Israeli-Arab conflict, where they wish each other to be erased off of the planet. Four thousand years of resentment and loathing caused by, basically, a family feud and what particular god each family believed in.
Meanwhile, Canaan at the time was inhabited by dozens of tribes, split between nomadic herders, and farmers huddled around springs and wells. Most all of Canaan’s city states would grow up either on or near a well, where eventually walls would be built to protect the precious water from the goats and sheep of the herders. Because of this and either times of unrest, famine or drought, the herders had to often immigrate to surrounding areas to feed and water their flocks and themselves, or just as often becoming enslaved and relocating as refugees or slaves.
With one of the first civilizations in the world, the Sumer of Mesopotamia, disappearing into history and the Egyptian pyramids already more than 800 years old, many tribes in Canaan, including the Hebrew would end up in Egypt, as slaves, farmers, herders and craftsmen.
The Hebrew tribes emigrated, perhaps enslaved, to Egypt a couple of centuries after Abraham’s death and would stay for two hundred years. Over the generations the majority of them in fact did quite well, with many arising to respectful positions as craftsmen, traders, scribes and advisers to the Egyptian Royal Courts. One of the Hebrew, Moses, had been raised by the pharaoh’s daughter and had become a prince of the Royal Court, as well as a respected military commander. But after killing an Egyptian for beating a slave, Moses headed for the hills. Over the next few years he became a herdsman and wandered the hilly desert country as a nomad. Meeting other Hebrew herders and their small clans, Moses came to learn that the Hebrew people were descendants of Abraham, the patriarch with whom their one god had formed a covenant. Growing up reading and writing various texts and languages, he had studied ancient Sumerian, Ur and Babylonian tablets, which told epic stories of great floods and described the laws of the earlier Sumerian people. Linking oral traditions of Moses’ ancestors and earlier cultures, along with these readings, he began to discover his own roots and the origins of his own people, as well as enhancing earlier ideologies into the narrative which would become the concepts of Judaeo and Christian traditions. He also began to have visions and a voice in his head, which also spoke to him through his staff, rocks and burning bushes. Moses was told that he should lead the Hebrew back to their promised land. The voice in his head introduced himself as Yahweh, the only one true god of the Hebrew.
Around 1400 BC, Egypt entered a time of environmental and economic collapse, which coincided with one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, the Santorini or Thera eruption, which destroyed the Minoan civilization, and effected most all the populations of the Eastern Mediterranean area. It was at this time that Moses would return from his self-exile and then lead the Hebrew tribes out of Egypt.
After leaving Egypt, the Hebrew would spend the next fifty years wandering about the Sinai wilderness. Moses explained to his people that Yahweh not only promised them their land around Hebron, but all of Palestine, and that it was their divine right. But they could not enter their promised land until the generation of people that had come out of Egypt with Moses, along with their ungodliness behaviour and attitude began to die off and a new generation could emerge to carry out their god’s will. And sure enough, soon after Moses died the tribes of Hebrew would swarm out of the hills of the Sinai and sweep across Palestine, bent on war and conquest. The earlier aspects of their faith – extinction of will, passive meditation, mournfulness, mysticism, and the softness of the Sun of Abraham’s time, would not do. To achieve victory they now needed their god Yahweh to become a fierce and jealous god of vengeance with an “eye for eye” brutality. And he did.
Palestine was inhabited at the time by many powerful and prosperous kings, in strong walled cities surrounded by agricultural communities, the population a melting pot of tribes, including the Ishmaelite, Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Midianite, and Qahtanites, with much of the population still living on lands where thousands of generations of their ancestors had lived, hundreds of centuries before Abraham.
But over the next four hundred years, the Hebrew would pillage, raze cities and towns to the ground, and beat much of Palestine into submission. Attacking the peoples that had always lived in these lands with the modus operandi; after conquering a farm, village or city, every man, woman, child, and domesticated animal, be put to the sword. It worked. By 900 BC many of the original inhabitants of Palestine had been killed, displaced or assimilated into the surrounding populations, losing nearly all of their distinctive and vibrant cultures. Eventually the loose confederation of Hebrew tribes would unite to become a nation themselves. Samuel, a religious judge, was appointed the king of the new united kingdom of Israel. With Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin proclaimed king and war-leader soon after.
The still being written books that would make up their bible, the Torah (Old Testament), gave birth to their distinct religion, which they called Judaism and themselves, Jews. From the beginning they placed themselves apart from all other humans and religions, by making Judaism only for their race and no other, and very unique at the time, they only had the one god. Though the Torah speaks about tolerance, this attitude of Judaism would foster racism and the Jewish people would from then on become persecuted for such beliefs.
In about 600 BC, the Babylonians would invade Palestine and Israel, and then return to Babylon with nearly half the Jewish population in tow as slaves, though many would return over the next decades, with many having worked once again as scribes and advisers, and studied in the greatest libraries in the world at the time, in the greatest city of it’s time Babylon. Soon after returning, the books that make up the Torah would be copied and edited a few more times and eventually became the collection of books it is today.
Less than five hundred years later a greater Diaspora would occur when the Romans, having already conquered and attempted to subdue Palestine, would squash the rising of the Jews fighting against the oppression of Roman tyranny and the Jews would leave Palestine en mass. During the hostilities and rebellions, a Jew called Jesus was crucified, and nearly a hundred years later another new religion would come into being, centred on both, the Torah and the teachings of Jesus, and be called Christianity. At about the same time the Diaspora had run its course and very few Jews were left in Palestine after 100 AD.
Over the next 1800 plus years, the Palestinian people would be controlled by the Byzantines, the Sunni Arab Caliphates, the Shia Fatimid Caliphate, Crusaders, Mameluks and Ottomans. During the “war to end all wars” in 1917, the British captured Palestine and Jerusalem from the Ottomans-Turks and were awarded a mandate to govern the region in 1922, though revolts by non-Jewish Palestinians were a continuous thorn in their side, the way they carried on about wanting rights and such things.
In 1920, the League of Nations reported that there were 700,000 people living in Palestine, with 80% being Muslim, including small groups of Arab Bedouin and peoples of mixed races. There were some 77,000 Orthodox Christians, who also spoke Arabic, and other minorities of Latin and Greek Catholics, while the Jewish population was about 76,000.
From about 100 to 1850 there were always only a handful of Jews in Palestine, by the end of the 19th century perhaps a couple of hundred, but after the persecutions in Russia and especially after World War Two and the holocaust, the Jewish people began to return to Palestine in greater numbers. By 1948 the population of Palestine had risen to 1.9 million, of whom 68% were Arabs and 32% Jews. The intolerance, racism and hatred each race held for each other, and the British, escalated and continued unabated until 1947, when the British had had enough and wished to terminate the mandate.
The United Nations General Assembly recommended partitioning Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state and a resolution that the city of Jerusalem be designated a Special International Regime. The Jewish leaders agreed while the Arab leaders did not, and the day after the establishment of the State of Israel was declared in 1948, civil war began before the sun was up. More than 700,000 Palestinians had to flee or were driven from their ancestral homes and would be never allowed to return. More than 110,000 refugees made their way into Lebanon, the rest into Jordan, Syria and Egypt, while in the three years after the war, about the same number of Jews would immigrate to Israel from surrounding Arabian areas. The Arab-Israeli war of 1948 would last for nine months with over 15,000 deaths and many times more causalities. When the smoke cleared, Israel kept all the area given to them by the UN, took control of almost 60% of the land that was given to the proposed Arab state, including Jaffa, Galilee and territories in the West Bank and captured West Jerusalem. Jordan captured the remainder of the West Bank and East-Jerusalem, while Egypt took the Gaza Strip. No Palestinian state was created.
The heart of Palestine has always been Jerusalem, the holy city of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. During its long history, Jerusalem has been completely destroyed, twice, withered under siege 23 times, attacked over 50 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. The place may be the shrine of the three main religions but the stench of violence, hatred and intolerance that pervades over it forever lingers. Even today, the status of Jerusalem is one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Nineteen years later, during the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel would capture East Jerusalem and then annex it, though the international community rejected this annexation as illegal and consider East Jerusalem a Palestinian territory under Israeli military occupation. Israel refers to Jerusalem as their “undivided capital” even if no one else does, and though all branches of the Israeli government are located there, Israel’s commercial capital city is Tel-Aviv. Today there are more than 720,000 people living in Jerusalem; 465,000 are Jews, mostly living in West Jerusalem and about 250,000 Palestinians, mostly Muslim and mostly living in East Jerusalem.
Besides East Jerusalem, the Israelis would also capture the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria. Overall, Israel’s territory grew by a factor of three, gaining at least 300 km in the south, 60 km to the east, and 20 km in the north. And though the Camp David Accords of 1978 would return the Sinai to Egypt, Israel would keep the rest, for as US president John F. Kennedy stated years earlier, “Israel was not created in order to disappear, Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.”
Israeli casualties numbered about 800 killed, 4,500 wounded, 15 captured, with 46 aircraft destroyed. In contrast, Egypt alone had 10-15,000 killed or missing. All be told, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq’s casualties were over 22,000 killed, 5,000 captured and untold numbers of wounded. They also lost hundreds of tanks and had an estimated 452 aircraft destroyed. For every Israeli who was killed, 27 Arabs would lose their lives. But then as proven 3000 years ago when the Israeli’s first conquered Palestine, they are very adept at killing fellow human beings and would ever become more proficient at it as time went on.
The Palestinians, now led by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), were devastated, with over one million Palestinian Arabs placed under Israeli military control in the newly captured territories. The PLO would relocate its headquarters to Jordan, already home to thousands of Palestinian refugees. During the war 300,000 Palestinians had fled from the West Bank and Gaza to Jordan, Egypt and other Arab countries, while in the Golan Heights about 100,000 Syrians also had to flee. The end of the Six-Day war launched new Israeli policy to secure their captured territories through the process of creating permanent settlements. Dozens of villages were destroyed, both as punishment and to chase away those who lived there. In a few cities a third of the homes would be razed to the ground, evicting thousands of Palestinians. In the Jericho area alone, over 70,000 Palestinians had to flee; altogether, over 25% of the population of the West Bank were either forced and intimidated to leave or fled voluntarily in panic and fear. Though a few months later Israel announced that it would allow the return of these refugees, in reality perhaps 16,000 were allowed back.
The PLO, founded in 1964 by Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader and President of the Fatah political party (founded in 1959), would grow in importance and strength after the Six-Day War, with Arafat spending much of his life fighting for Palestinian self-determination; “where a state has the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status, with no external compulsion or interference so long as such rights are based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, with no concern as to how the decision is to be made, or what the outcome should be, whether it be independence, protection, some form of autonomy or even full assimilation.”- Geneva Convention.
The PLO’s ideology would further embrace the concept and political strategy of what would become known as Sumud, meaning “steadfast perseverance” or “firm and unwavering,” through the understanding of the nature of “logical argumentation of oppression and resistance.” There are two forms of Sumud. The first is “static Sumud” which is passive and defined as the “maintenance of Palestinians on their land.” The second is “resistance Sumud” which is much more forceful and whose aim is to seek ways of building alternative institutions to resist and undermine the occupation of their lands.
By September 1970, King Hussein of Jordan felt he was losing control over his monarchy with the influx of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, and moved to suppress the militancy of Palestinian organizations operating within his borders. Thousands, especially Palestinians, died. By July 1971, the PLO and thousands of its fighters would be finally driven out of Jordan. They would flee to Southern Lebanon, joining hundreds of thousands of fellow Palestinian refugees from the war in 1967.
By 1975 there were over 300,000 refugees in southern Lebanon, with the PLO creating a state within a state, which caused a demographic imbalance within Lebanese society and its democratic institutions. With the PLO’s arrival, fighting along the Israeli-Lebanese border escalated. The PLO would align themselves with the Lebanese National Movement, a coalition of Muslims, and Arab nationalists and leftists who opposed the rightist, Christian, ancestral Maronite-dominated government of Lebanon, and before too long civil war broke out in Lebanon which would fulminate for ten plus years. Eventually Iranian-supported Shi’a militant groups from Syria would also join in on the fighting.
In 1982, with the civil war spilling over its border and concern over Syrian influence of Lebanon, Israel invaded southern Lebanon. Initially Israel’s objective was to push the PLO forces back 40km (25mi) to the north but after attacking the PLO, Syrian, leftist and Muslim Lebanese forces, they found themselves occupying all of southern Lebanon. After surrounding the remaining PLO and elements of the Syrian army in West Beirut, the Israeli’s laid siege, killing upwards of 5,000 fighters and civilians. Under a truce and International peacekeeper protection, Arafat and the PLO were allowed to relocate to Tripoli and within a few weeks of fighting, Israel’s forces would defeat most of the Palestinian militants left in Lebanon. By 1985, with continuing international outrage over Israel’s role in Christian led massacres of Palestinian refugees, as well as the Israeli population’s disillusionment with the war, Israel would withdraw to a 10km (6mi) occupied strip of South Lebanon.
The 1982 Lebanon War lasted but a few months while the actual conflict would continue on in seemingly tit for tat skirmishes up to the present day. The human cost of the war was typical for this holiest of lands; either 368 or 657 Israeli’s killed versus 9,800 Syrian and Palestinian combatants, along with perhaps 16,000 Lebanese civilians, with over 30,000 wounded.
The resistance movement of Islamic militant groups, such as the Shi’a and other Palestinian guerrilla forces, would consolidate with the Shi’a political party, Hezbollah, and the Lebanese party, Amal, and with remnants of the PLO, would carry out guerrilla warfare against Israel over this tiny occupied strip of southern Lebanon for the next 18 years. Though by the early 1990’s, the Palestinian organization’s political and military infrastructures in Lebanon, which had taken 15 years to build, ceased to exist. The Lebanese civil war abated in 1990 when Syria would establish complete dominance over Lebanon.
The Palestinians, in their ongoing struggle for national liberation and an end to the Israeli illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza would continue to fight and retaliate up to the present day, countering apartheid and the Israeli “defence forces” might and technology, with everything from armed attacks on Israeli soldiers, police and civilians to suicide bombings, launching rockets and mortars into Israel, kidnapping of soldiers, shootings, assassinations, stabbings, stoning and lynching to non-violent actions such as civil disobedience and resistance, mass protests, general strikes, graffiti and barricades.
To counter the Palestinians wrath, the Israeli’s created their “Iron Fist” policy. A policy devoted to erasing any idea of Palestinian nationalism whatsoever. A policy “founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation,” with an “all-pervading element of humiliation.” Over a six year period in the eighties the Israelis would arrest more than 120,000 Palestinians. By 1990, one Israeli prison alone, in the Negev, held about one out of every 50 West Bank and Gazan males older than 16 years. Israeli tactics also included seriously curbing Palestinians movements, with checkpoints and enforcing a strict curfew in certain areas. This was accompanied by economic integration and increasing Israeli settlements such that, the Jewish settler population in the West Bank alone, nearly doubled from 35,000 in 1984, to 64,000 in 1988, reaching 130,000 by the mid nineties. With both sides guaranteeing that all future generations of both Muslim and Jew would grow up with continuing anger, racism and hatred towards each other just from the daily stress of potential conflict.
Since 1988, when the Palestinians put forth their “Palestinian Declaration of Independence,” three-quarters of the world’s countries recognize the West Bank and Gaza as being the State of Palestine, except by the United Nations, Israel, the United States, Canada and a few other Western nations. To this day Palestine has more ambassadors around the world than Israel does. In 1993, for the first time face to face, Israel would meet with the PLO, the representative of the Palestinian people, in what would become known as the Oslo Accords. It provided the creation of a Palestinian interim self-government, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), who would be responsible for the administration of the territory under its control. The Accord also called for the withdrawal of Israel from parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Main issues such as Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, and security was not discussed and neither the Oslo Accords nor the 1995 Oslo II Accords, promised Palestinian statehood. As to the Gaza Strip, Israel would finally get around to withdrawing their settlers and military presence in 2005, though maintained control of the airspace and coast, while they continue to systematically set up illegal settlements in the West Bank.
The Oslo Accords also declared that the West Bank territory to be divided into three separate areas and administration divisions. Area A, covering about 18% of Palestinian land and 55% of the Palestinian West Bank population, would be under the control of the Palestinian Authority and include most of the major Palestinian cities, the PA would also be responsible for security control. Area B covers 21% of the territory and about 44% of West Bank Palestinians and is mostly rural communities, under Palestinian civil administration and joint Israeli security control, while Area C is under complete control by the Israeli’s and includes all the areas they have established settlements. Today Area C encompasses more than 60% of Palestinian territory, yet only 4% (about 150,000) of the Palestinian population live there because they face severe restrictions on planning, building and accessing services and the area’s natural resources, with 70% of the area off-limits to Palestinian construction and a further 29% heavily restricted. Israeli plans call for less than 1% of Area C to be for Palestinian development.
There are now about 350,000 Jewish-Israeli settlers who live in Area C, with about 15,000 added every year. As of 2010, there were 192,000 Israeli’s living in settlements in East Jerusalem, with a further 100 settlements not officially recognized by Israel and which are illegal under both the Geneva Convention and even Israeli law, but none the less have been provided with infrastructure, water, sewage and other services by the Israeli authorities. In 2011 alone, Israel demolished more than 560 Palestinian structures, including 46 rainwater collection pools, in Area C, instantly making more than 1,200 people homeless. Today more than half a million Israel settlers are living in enclaves within the Palestinian territories. The consensus of the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab league and the majority of legal scholars, hold that all Israeli settlements on the West Bank beyond the Green Line (the demarcation line set out in 1949) are illegal under international law.
The eventual conclusion for Area C, according to Israel, is for all the Palestinians still living there to move to Areas A and B, where it will be easier to contain them, a’la Gaza. But truth be told, they need the land for their ever growing population. Make no mistake; Israel’s number one concern is its maintenance of its Jewish demographic majority. Indeed much of their policy making is based on the threat of non-Jewish population growth, immigration and water rights. While the key issues we are told through the media are mutual recognition, borders and security, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements and Palestinian freedom of movement.
The governments of Palestine and specifically Israel are placing incredible pressure on the current stress levels of their populations and environment, especially considering how small the area is and how densely packed their cities are. Including the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, Israel covers 22,072 square km (8,522 sq mi), with a population of 7,933,200 people as of 2012 and is the 34th most densely crowded country in the world. 78% are Jewish, (nearly 6.2 million), 20 % are Arabs (just over 1.4 million), while the remaining population is listed as “others.” In contrast, the Palestinian territories cover 6,220 sq km (2400 sq mi) with a population of an estimated 3.8 million people, including the 1.7 million living in the open air prison called the Gaza Strip, with 10 to 11 million Palestinian refugees, scattered in nearby countries and around the world.
In comparison, the largest island on the west coast of North America is Vancouver Island, at over 32,000 sq km (20,000 sq mi) with a population of 759,366 people. An area larger than Palestine and Israel combined. Most Vancouver islanders live on its southern tip, in the 13 municipalities which make up the Greater Victoria District, an area covering 2,341 sq km (903 sq mi), though metro Victoria actually covers only about 696 sq km (268 sq mi), with a combined population of just over 340,000 people. The Gaza Strip meanwhile is only 41km (25mi) long, 6 to 12km (3-7mi) wide and a total area of 365sqkm (141sqmi), one-sixth the size of the Greater Victoria district, but with a population of 1.7 million.
Though many attempts have been made for a Palestinian state, with the reasonable and logical solution of a two-state solution, the fighting is seemingly never ending, whether conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, terror cells, secret police or individuals. Not only do the Israeli military and Palestinian freedom fighters loathe each other to the point where they view each other as not being human beings, their societies despise each other as well, even though, according to a number of polls taken in 2007, the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians prefer the two-state solution as the means to resolve the conflict. An independent Palestinian state living alongside an independent Israeli state is a great idea, the most logical for sure. But with only about 3.8 million Palestinians still existing by surviving in the present day territories and Israel bulging at the seams with its ever growing population of 7 million and need for land, water and resources, I sadly see why the Israelis do what they do, which causes retaliation and ever more hatred. I am sure they would love to just go for it all and erase the Palestinian people off the planet by however means and then just move in. And then after another decade, their population growth and need for resources and water would dictate they expand even more, maybe Lebanon or Jordan or even Syria would be next.
The most significant threats to a two-state solution are the Israeli settlements within Palestine, the number of Palestinian refugees, and as mentioned, water. First off, the enclaves that Israel sets up in occupied territories are populated with “settlers” we are told. The word bringing up thoughts of families made up of good and hard-working folks, moving into the frontier to create a life for themselves, a just, empathic, tolerant and law-abiding people, simple homesteaders. While in reality any “settler” who decides to move onto land that is not theirs, and which was only recently vacated of its native population through incitement and cruel violence would have to be psychotic. Each “settler” knows very well what environment they are entering and are no doubt very well prepared, supported and armed. Then after moving in they often wake up in fear of their very own survival. Not a place for a family or a “settler,” but as already mentioned, in May 2012, over half a million Israeli settlers illegally live on Palestinian soil. To-date Israel has ignored nearly 100 UN Security Council resolutions calling for them to withdraw to pre-67’ borders. In May 2012, 27 ministers of the European Union condemned the escalating incitement and settler violence. Israel paid them no mind.
In 2008, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, determined that; the segregated road network in the West Bank, with 500-600 checkpoints throughout the territories; the continuous construction of separation walls of monolithic proportions; the expansion of Israeli settlements and restriction of growth of Palestinian towns; the discrimination in granting of services, budgets and access to natural resources; blatant violations of human dignity; and the ethnically cleansing underway in Jerusalem is “reminiscent of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.”
Today there are approximately 4.7 million Palestinian refugees, 1 .5 million of them living in refugee camps, scattered throughout, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank. Most were born outside of Israel, but are the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees who had to flee in 1948 when their land was given to the Israelis. Israel, above all else, is a country which lives in constant fear of the Palestinians returning to their original lands en force. But this would not be allowed to happen because realistically, two to five million Palestinians returning to Israel would be the end of Israel.
As to water, Israel receives most all of its water from two large underground aquifers, both running under the 1948 boundary, the Green Line, and into the West Bank. Israel consumes 95% of the output of the Western Aquifer and 82% of the North-eastern Aquifer, not leaving much for the millions of Palestinians in the West bank and Gaza. In 2012 it was reported that the 450,000 settlers living in the West Bank used more water than the 2.3 million Palestinians who also live there. Because of climate change, where in 2012 the Jordan River ran at its lowest level in recorded history, water will become much more an issue in the near future, not only for Israel and Palestine, but for many areas of the planet. Globally, wars over water are already being fought, with many more just around the corner, for as the population of the planet escalates each artificially distinct society of the one species of man will want to be the lone survivor.
The estimates for people killed between 1948 and 2009 in Palestine vary from 13,000 to 30,000 though these numbers are even more inaccurate when taking into account the true civilian death toll, which most always seems just a guess and/or afterthought, and the unknown hundreds, perhaps thousands of deaths from landmines and explosive remnants of war. After reading multiple lists and numbers, it seems the “official” death toll, from direct conflict between Israeli and Palestinian for the fifteen years between 1987 and 2011, and attributed to either Israeli military operations, artillery shelling, rocket attacks, search and arrest campaigns, barrier demonstrations, targeted killing and settler violence, is 8,096 Palestinians killed, 1,633 of them under 16 yr s, with 1,514 Israelis killed, 147 of them under 16 yr s. More recent estimates determine that altogether, deaths from the Israeli-Arab wars from 1945 to 2010, exceeds 92,000 people.
Then there is the Israeli controlled ghetto, the Gaza Strip; 41 kilometres (25 miles) of beach, 6 to 12 kilometres (3 to 7 miles) wide; with a 11 km (6 mi) southern border with Egypt, a 51 km (32 mi) western and northern border with Israel, a population of 1.7 million Palestinians and a 3.2% growth rate, the 7th highest in the world. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but remained in control of anything or anyone going in or out of Gaza, whether by air, land or sea. In the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, the Palestinian Sunni Islamic organization Hamas, garnered the majority of votes and by 2007, after scrapes and skirmishes with the Palestinian political party Fatah and the Palestine Authority, held control of the Gaza Strip. Israel, United States, Canada, the European Union and Japan classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, countries that do not include Iran, Russia, Turkey and several Arab countries. Hamas was freely elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza to be their government on a platform based on their reputation for brutal honesty and that they are averse to corruption. Ever since, the Israeli’s have carried out a systematic, collective punishment on Gaza’s population while pretending to focus on the lunatic extremists that live within. While in reality Israel is creating terrorists faster than they can kill them, with their treatment of all non-Jewish people in Gaza about the same as South Africa’s treatment of non-whites was.
Daily life for a Palestinian living in Gaza is often made up of being harassed at checkpoints, imprisoned arbitrarily, denied clean water and sanitation, induced malnutrition and stressed of air bombardment or ground invasion that could happen at any time. Most of the population are permanently mentally scarred, living each day with the sound of either, jets, helicopters or drones overhead, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. There are no safe places in Gaza.
In June 2005 there were 3900 factories operating in Gaza with over 35,000 employed, by June 2007 only 195 factories were still operating with 1750 employed and only at 25% to 50% operating capacity. That same year Israel banned most all imports and exports and suspended 95% of Gaza’s industrial operations. In Feb.2008 Israel reduces electricity it sells to Gaza by 10%. The month before, knowing a person needs a minimum of 1200 calories per day to prevent a humanitarian crisis; Israel subtracts 8% to adjust for the “culture and experience of the Gazans” by intentionally allowing fewer trucks and supplies in to meet that need. While in the West, a Burger King Triple Whopper is 1,240 calories alone. In 2010 Gaza’s unemployment rate was 40% with 80% of its population living on less than $2.00 a day. Imports such as pipe and other building materials, which are being destroyed each time the Israelis strike, but which Israel deems could be used to make weapons, are banned.
In 2008-09, the 1st Gaza War, which the Israelis called “Operation Cast Lead” was fought and lasted three weeks, with over 1,400 Palestinians killed, including 930 civilians, and 9 Israeli deaths (3 civilian), 4 of which were from friendly fire. Of the Palestinian deaths, what sort of stands out is the seemingly intentional targeting of its hospitals and ambulances, with 17 health personnel killed and 26 injured, with a total of 29 ambulances damaged or destroyed by bombs or crushed by armoured vehicles. Emergency vehicles were often denied access to sites until it was too late to save the wounded, and then once they received clearance to enter, the Israelis would fire upon the site for the second time. Altogether 48% of Gaza health facilities were directly or indirectly hit by shelling.
Later that year, in Nov. 2009, a panel of international jurists, all veterans of human rights investigations in Sudan, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia, along with a detailed UN sponsored investigation which confirmed human rights abuse, came to the conclusion that war crimes were being committed by both Israel and Palestine. The United States immediately condemned the decision for failing to absolve Israel of any responsibility and blocked the United Nations from investigating.
The 2nd Gaza War,” called “Pillar of Cloud”, a “defensive action” by the Israelis, was fought from Nov. 14th to the 21st, 2012. It started weeks before, with Israel indiscriminately killing Palestinian civilians in several isolated incidents, including the deaths of a couple of youths out kicking a ball around, and then began in earnest after they assassinated the chief of Hama’s military wing. Gaza retaliated, duh. Israel stated that their aims were to stop such indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza and to disrupt the capabilities of extremist organizations operating within Gaza. Hamas declared that they, being victims living under violent occupation had the right to defend its people and respond to Israeli attacks. Indeed, the Article 1 (4) of protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention states that even a non-state, such as Palestine, or “any state or people under oppressive occupation, has the right to resist and use force to pursue the right of self-determination.” To suppress such actions goes against the Geneva Convention, UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. Though in this case, and once again, The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and other Western countries supported Israel’s right to defend itself, even though Israel is the oppressive occupier.
The Israeli military struck over 1,500 targets in Gaza, none being surgical in nature, for with Gaza being so dense, even one grenade takes out many and damages much. The strikes paid no heed to collateral damage such as actual people, targeting houses, apartment blocks, civil institutions, police stations, farms, the Islamic National bank, and numerous offices housing Hamas government ministries. Also hit were media outlets, suspected rocket launch pads, cache sites and Hamas command posts. The bombardment of Gaza was by air, land and sea, with the sky abuzz with drones, helicopter gunships and jets. Many neighbourhoods were reduced to rubble, displacing more than 10,000 Palestinians. In eight days of fighting, over 160 Palestinians would be killed, 90 of them being civilians, including over 30 children. An estimated 1,300 to 1,500 Palestinians were injured. For the population it would have been very hard to even just think clearly under such conditions, let alone survive through the trauma of each day. It has been estimated that the majority of the 1.7 million people and nearly all the children in Gaza suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).
At the same time, Palestinian militant groups fired over 1,400 rockets into Israel, with another 142 falling short and exploding within Gaza itself, killing Palestinians. Of the rest, 875 rockets fell in “open areas”, 58 actually hit urban areas in Israel, and more than 302 were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system. All told, Palestinian rockets killed four Israeli civilians, three of them in a direct hit on a home, two Israeli soldiers and an unknown number of Palestinian civilians. Israel announced afterwards that there were 21 Israeli’s injured by shrapnel, 28 injured during alarms and in the rush to hide, and more than 200 Israelis treated for anxiety. Since 2007, when Hamas came into power, up to Dec. 2012, the total number of Israelis killed by rocket, mortar or anti-tank fire from Gaza- 56, the number of Palestinians in Gaza killed by Israeli fire over that same time- 3,054.
The Palestinians in Gaza have no army, air-force or navy, nor airport or seaport. Their fighters consist of approximately 10,000 al-Qassam (Hamas) militant brigades, 10,000 other security forces and about 8,000 extreme Islam Jihadists. Israel had their entire Southern Command participating as well as 75,000 reservists prepared and ready to go on a moment’s notice. The deadliest weapon Hamas possesses is the longer range, 75km (46 mile), Fajr-5 rocket with an explosive payload of 175 kg (385 lb), the Israeli military prefers to strike back using their own MPR-500 advanced-penetration precision-guided bomb, which carries an explosive payload of 900 kilos (2,000lbs); and then there are the physical characteristics of the area, in that Gaza is only 365 sq km (141 sq mi), while Israel is over 20,000 sq km (7,900 sq mi).
Israel’s new toy, the U.S. backed Iron Dome missile defence system, consists of five truck-towed batteries of radar-guided interceptor missiles which engage only when rockets threaten populated areas of Israel and often will fire two interceptor missiles at once. Each battery costs about $50 million, each missile $62,000, while the estimated cost of one short-range Qassam M-75 rocket built in a Gaza workshop or garage, about $800. Israel has plans to eventually have 13 batteries in its Iron Dome system. During Pillar of Cloud they shot off about $30 million worth of missiles. But with overwhelming American support, in vast amounts of money and arms from their industrial military complex, Israel sees no reason to quit in its goal to become a colonial empire and fortress in the Middle East. In fact, besides the $3 billion per year the U.S gives to the Israeli military machine, two weeks after Palestine was recognized as a non-member state in the UN, the United States agreed to sell Israel $647 million in munitions to make up for what Israel expended during the eight-day Pillar of Cloud ravaging of Gaza. The deal included 6,900 precision bomb kits and 10,000 bombs of various kits. It is generous of the States, the three or four of the richest corporations in America will become even richer. Hell, weapons manufacturers and NRA (National Rifle Association) lobbyists in the States are making billions from their own population alone, not including the trillions that American weapons manufacturers and security companies are making and have made in Iraq and Afghanistan. With no iota of concern for such things as deaths, especially children, it is simply the cost of doing business.
During the Pillar of Cloud operations, 35 Palestinian children died from Israeli bombardments, of armaments mostly made in the United States. Five times the number of all Israeli deaths combined, which included no children. Meanwhile the United States has killed 168 children by drone attacks in Pakistan since 2006; another 231 children killed in Afghanistan in the first 6 months of this year alone, and another 921 children killed by US air strikes against insurgents in Iraq; in Yemen the numbers could be higher. While at home they are just as proficient. There have been 16 mass shootings in the U.S. just this year, leaving 88 people dead, including the 20 children killed with a military semi-auto in Newtown, Connecticut, where some of the children killed were shot up to 11 times, at point blank range. If one were to add the other 400 children in the US under the age of 15 who die from gunshot wounds each year and the tens of thousands of adults shot and killed, one could say the NRA and America’s leaders are responsible for killing more Americans in one year, than their enemies, real or imagined, even bin Laden, had at any time over the past twenty years. As it is, a gun kills someone in the United States every 20 minutes; twice the death rate of AIDS. In Duval County, in Florida, there have been 100 murders by guns in the past year, more than all of Britain, a nation of 63 million people. As one can see, wars don’t kill Americans, Americans kill Americans.
While in Palestine, over 53% of Palestinians are under the age of 18, growing up in basically concentration camps, with limited access to necessities like running water, food, electricity and education. Their daily lives are filled with the pressures of persecution, brutality, hatred, coercion and injustice, each child trying to deal with the stress from the ever potentiality of conflict, bombardment, and/or extinction of their race. It is estimated that over 92% of Palestinian children are coping with some sort of trauma, while the cloaking smell of revenge, oppression and death is quickly erasing their dreams of peace and security in their future. They are of a generation who are becoming numb to further pain and suffering. A generation of children who not only have abandoned hope for a better life but who also have had their dreams taken away from them, a life where common sense and compassion do not exist any more.
Other ways Israel is defending itself, before, during and after the latest Gaza War, include the concepts – since 70% of Palestinians in Gaza live on fishing, their fleet is limited to fish only up to 4.8 km (3 mi) offshore, instead of the Oslo Accords guaranteed 32 km (20 mi) limit. Often fired upon, the fleet is totally blockaded from leaving the beach at least a couple of times per month, though for only 2 to 3 days at a time, with the Israeli’s knowing full well if such blockades go longer than 4 days, people in Gaza would start starving to death, and people would complain. As it is about 80% of Palestinians in Gaza exist on food aid, with an anaemia epidemic running out of control. Another reason for the 3 mile limit could be because 5 km (3.5 mi) off Gaza lies a natural gas offshore drilling rig, which in reality should be a Palestinian drilling rig.
After a ceasefire was reached in the latest hostilities, Israel seized 35% of the agricultural land in Gaza, as a “buffer zone.” Any Palestinian farmer who gets too close to the newly erected fence is shot without warning of any kind. Israel also seized aquifers and seawater desalination plants which is quickly turning much of Gaza’s water supply into a health hazard, though many areas of Gaza have had no running water for years, while current and escalating restrictions have created such a breakdown of sewage infrastructure, that within ten years, Gaza could very well be not fit to be lived in. Another technique the Israeli’s employ is, in areas of Palestine and Gaza under night time curfew, anyone outside after dark is shot without warning, and then regardless of who they are, is listed as a terrorist. And lastly, Israel controls the Gaza economy, what little there is left, by occasionally withholding import taxes. What it all means is that Israel has dehumanized their prey, just like all true killers do. And yes, Palestinians dehumanize, retaliate and become killers as well.
This is not saying all Jews and Muslims of Israel and Palestine are psychotic serial killers, far from it, but when Israel states they are defending themselves by punishing an entire population and occupying Palestinian territory is simply wrong and immoral. In reality much of the violence and overwhelming suffering in Israel and Palestine is not created by the general population, but rather by fanatic extremist jihadists that Hamas cannot control, and other groups, such as the out of control and vicious Jewish settlers, whom Israel can’t or won’t control, and its racist military. And though both sides have committed great immoral transgressions against one another, Israel is much more capable in the killing department. Israel is by far the strongest military in the entire Middle East, in fact, the 2012 Global Militarisation Index, put out by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion, listed Israel as the world’s most militarised nation, followed by Singapore, Syria, Russia, Jordan and Cyprus. Israel also has one of the world’s highest standards of living and is heavily supported by the fading superpower, the United States. The Gaza Strip meanwhile is but an oppressed, impoverished ghetto with a weak government barely in control, making it through a complete and total blockade, living one day at a time, alongside a few thousand madmen.
While Israel and its Pillar of Cloud defensive operation was blitzkrieging Gaza, with Hamas and other Palestinian groups continuing to retaliate and fight for their independence and freedom, the Palestinian Authority was preparing for the upcoming meeting of the U.N., where it would be put to vote whether or not to give Palestine, United Nations “non-member observer state status”, and confirmation its state includes the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. You’d think this would no doubt force the resumption of a peace deal and get both sides talking as grown-ups should, abiding by international laws and values of humanity. But after decades of trying to negotiate an agreement with Israel to stop annexation and settlement in the West Bank and though they have, by as much as they can control, cooperated on many levels with both Israeli and American security forces, they have never even come close to getting an agreement or even initial dialogue with Israel for a formal two-state settlement. With Israel it is never going to happen, because it goes against its manifest destiny vision of a “Greater Israel” which includes all the Palestinian territories.
Before Pillar of Cloud, the Palestinian people were very aware of the upcoming UN decision, the Palestinian Authority had been working on it for decades, trying their best to stay off the angry road Israel strutted, and to instead pursue state status at the UN by adopting the non-violent, diplomatic and multilateral approach to gaining their freedom and dignity back, while at the same time trying to control the often foreign, gathering of lunatic extremist groups within their own population, and withstanding the extreme oppression of their people by Israel.
Preparing for the forthcoming UN decision, it was reported that the Palestine Authority, the military wing of Hamas and several Israeli civilian peacemakers were close to creating an agreement for a long-term ceasefire, while the world contemplated their hoped for status in the UN. For one reason or another, this was proving difficult to reach, but a short-term ceasefire agreement was being agreed upon. But just before such an agreement could be signed, the Hamas military’s leader was assassinated by an Israeli jet launched missile that bulls-eyed his car, as he drove downs a busy street in Gaza. Pillar of Cloud began soon after.
Eight days after the Pillar of Cloud Israeli assault on Gaza began a cease-fire was reached, negotiated by Egypt’s fundamentalist president, Mohamed Morsi. Then eight days after that, on Nov 29/12, the UN’s General Assembly met in New York City, 65 years to the day since Palestine was first partitioned by the UN. One hundred and eighty-eight countries of the world participated in deciding whether Palestine would be elevated to a “non-member observer state.” Of these, 138 nations, including the European nations France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland voted yes, 41 nations, including Britain and Germany abstained, while only 9 nations voted unequivocally no – Israel, the US, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, the Federated State of Micronesia; which the US is wholly responsible for their defence, the Pacific islands, Marshall and Palau; also influenced by the US, which provides both with defence, funding grants and access to social services, and another Micronesian nation, Nauri, the world’s smallest republic covering 21 sq km (8.1sqmi), with a population of just over 9,000 people. Also located within the Micronesian group of islands is Wake Island, the US Air Force base, airfield and missile facility.
Another recent UN resolution, approved by a vote of 174-6 with 6 abstentions, called on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) “without further delay” and open its nuclear facilities for inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Joining Israel in the negative vote were once again, the United States, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.
The NPT was a treaty signed in 1970 aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and technology and to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy. As of 2012, 190 parties have joined, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, Russia, France, the UK and China. More countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement in history. Not in the NPT are India, Pakistan, and North Korea, with all three having openly declared they do indeed have nuclear weapons and have openly tested them. Israel stands alone, admitting nothing behind an opaque curtain. At the same time they demand that other Middle Eastern countries do not, under any circumstances, develop nuclear technology. Estimates of Israel’s nuclear capacity range from 75 to 400 nuclear warheads, capable of being delivered by intercontinental missile, aircraft, and submarine. Israel most worries about Iran and its nuclear program, originally started and financed by the US and other Western European countries in the 1950’s and ending with the Shah of Iran’s exit in 1979, at which time the Iranians themselves continued any development and research. Israel worries of the Iranian rhetoric about wanting to erase Israel off the planet, while in reality if Iran ever did develop a weapon, somehow tested one, and then fired off a couple at Israel, they would, within seconds, be taken out themselves, entirely and completely, seriously, not a win-win situation. But then when has madness made any sense.
Though Palestine still cannot vote at the General Assembly, becoming a state rather than an entity does allow them other benefits such as membership in other UN agencies and organizations like the International Criminal Court (ICC), which scares the bejesus out of Israel. The fear that Palestine will bring forth a case over the illegal annexations and construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and/or the attacks on the West Bank and Gaza and/or war crimes, is one of the main reasons Israel and its supporters were adamantly against the General Assembly’s passing of the resolution. Palestinian officials have since stated that they have no immediate intentions to take such a road.
After the vote was taken, the Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the representatives of 188 countries; “The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: enough of aggression, settlements and occupation.” He also spoke about the need to resume negotiations with Israel and called the successful resolution the “birth certificate of the reality of Palestine,” at the conclusion of his speech the seated members of the UN General Assembly rose to a standing ovation, while those who voted against stayed seated and became invisible. It is clear that the Palestinians are trying to “create momentum for progress and credibility for legal and political solutions.” For beneath the hatred, oppression and persecution, the Israelis and Palestinians themselves are the ones who have to start listening to each other and find a way to live side by side. But for any negotiations to work Israel and Palestine, must start abiding by the laws of nations and humanity itself, and to know, like any human, we are or rather should be, held accountable for our actions. Their disgust for each other, the extreme ingrained insecurity they both possess, and plainly show to the world, and how both of their hypocritical scriptures have somehow replaced sorrow, compassion and empathy with hatred is beginning to wear thin with many fellow inhabitants of the earth. Collective disgust towards Israel and Palestine is accumulating the world over, unfortunately history has proven the next step is most always, more and more people will simply stop caring.
The countries who voted against the UN resolution were livid. US lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican voted that they would cut-off aid if the Palestinians used their new-found status against Israel in any way. Palestine I am sure is well aware of the cost they will be further taking. In 2011 Palestine was granted membership in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in retaliation Israel withheld millions of dollars in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority, which is always in financial distress, with the US following along and withholding millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians, as well as cutting off their financing to UNESCO entirely.
Canada announced angrily that they will take “retaliatory measures against the Palestinians for forcing the statehood issue onto the world stage.” Though not revealed, the most obvious option would be for them to suspend aid to the Palestinians, even though on the Canadian Foreign Affairs website it states that, “Canada believes that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority must fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law which is key to ensuring the protection of civilians, and can contribute to the creation of a climate conducive to achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement.” The tongue in cheek was well hidden, considering both Canada and the US have no qualms about looking the other way whenever Israel decides it should defend itself.
Israel declared that, “The Palestinians unilateral step at the UN is a blatant and fundamental violation of the agreements vouched on by the international community.” The next day they announced their plans to unilaterally build 3,000 new homes/enclaves within the area of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, called the E1 corridor, the illegal settlements would for all intents and purposes permanently slice the West Bank in half. As if human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law are not unilateral enough.
Both the US and Canada had to back pedal a bit. Condemning the move, they called Israeli ambassadors in to have a little chat. But Israel would go on to remind the world that “no matter the symbolic political games the UN General Assembly wishes to play, Israel alone controls the land, water and air of the Palestinian territories and will not waver on their intentions to permanently annex all three” and that the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip will continue. A few days after the UN resolution passing, Israel would confiscate over $118 million of tax revenues that they collected for the Palestinian Authority for the month of November, stating it was to offset continuing Palestinian debt to the Israel Electric Corporation.
Israel’s tone continues to clearly show they have no intentions of allowing talks about any peace process and seem to be literally dead set against one. The arrogance of Israel’s ethnicity and religious beliefs has blinded them. They continue to be oblivious to many aspects of the realities of human behaviour, such as when people realize that they are a part of the problem, only then do they tend to then become a part of the solution, and that those who gain the greatest opportunities and accomplishments in life and society are those who master the “we.” Or further, that the most respected leaders’ minds work selflessly, with mutual respect for mutual benefit, and understand that influence only begins when a person or population feels they are being listened to and that they are understood. They also understand that compromise is rarely win-win, because rarely are both sides truly pleased, but that creative cooperation most always leads to success. Proving such realities have been thrown to the side of the road years ago, not only in Israel but nearly everywhere else in the world as well, especially in the US and Canada, an Israeli government minister declared during the attack on Gaza, that Israel should “send Gaza back to the Middle Ages,” and when a popular Israeli model admitted she had prayed for the welfare of the people on both sides in the conflict, she was accused of being “an enemy of the state.”
As to Hamas, which combines Palestinian nationalism with Islamic fundamentalism, it is the bee in Israel’s bonnet. Israel may not agree much with Hama’s ideology and policies, but terrorizing an entire population is not the remedy for such a situation, especially considering that, though deemed terrorists by Israel and her allies, in reality Hamas devotes 90% of their estimated $70 million annual budget to social, welfare, cultural and educational services. Most of their budget comes from Saudi Arabia, other Arab countries, Muslim charities, Palestinians living abroad and which is the ire of Israel, they receive about $20-30 million from Iran. But since the situation in Syria started in 2011, Hamas, the majority of which are Sunni-Islamic, have distanced themselves from Shia-Islamic dominated Iran due to their support of the Syrian dictator al-Assad. And in the past couple of years it seems their disposition towards a more central-is tic decision making process is growing rather than diminishing, with the rhetoric of their founding charter calling for the destruction of Israel slowly changing and becoming old news. They have recently stated that they would promote a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and accept a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. Israel would rather this fact not be broadcast too loudly, once again totally ignoring the fact a two-state solution is the only answer.
The people of Palestine, and no doubt most decent Israelis, wish for peace and to simply just getting along as neighbours should, where the citizens of each have a sense of shared values. They obey the laws and act peacefully within their society, which hopefully possesses a certain degree of equality, and where unrealistic fears are diminished so that racism and abhorrence to a fellow human being’s existence passes and empathy moves in and embraces. Instead of comparing the best of one’s own ethnic culture to the worst of another, Palestinian Arab and Israeli Jew must somehow wake up and realize they are both of the same species, with the same needs, wants and desires, with the majority of each other’s populations innocent.
The problems lie with the hateful, egotistical and ambitious elite at the top pulling the strings and playing games. Living within a realm where there is no differentiation between politics, religion and business, for they are all but engines of consumerism, with the industrial military complex making the majority of the money by influencing government leaders to continue to seed their populations with fear, anger and insecurity. As the collapse of the international economy continues and climate change escalates, in droughts, flooding, the decline in crop yields, rising food prices and dwindling fresh water, the elites become an ever more secluded group, living within protected enclaves and fenced compounds gorging themselves on nothing but the best and lots of it. Meanwhile enraged populations the world over have become even more enraged as their societies break down. To keep the current inequality and severe imbalance in place between the haves and the never-will haves, the new paradigm of “modern warlords awash in terrifying technologies and weapons,” is turning many countries in the world into fascist police states, where freedom is lost and replaced with security.
Will Israel’s diplomatic, financial and military supporters continue to ignore, seemingly with near disdain, international law and basic human rights and continue funding Israel’s apartheid-like ways? As a Canadian I can say that though Canada has stated they will support Israel in its defence, whenever it goes on the offensive, it is a decision made by the Harper government of Canada alone. I and my fellow Canadians were certainly not asked of our opinion, much like also not being asked our opinion of how embarrassing Canada’s behaviour and attitude is at every international meeting that is dealing with climate change or how proud we are of being awarded the “Dodo Award” from the international environmental community.
If Israel, with its extreme nationalistic Zionism as its official value system, which opposes the assimilation of Jews into other societies and makes a key legal distinction between “Jew” and “Non-Jew”, continues unabated the end game is a Greater Israel that is erased of all non-Jewish peoples and settled by the Jewish people alone. Much like South Africa’s original intentions under their official value system of apartheid and which also made a key legal distinction but between “white,” “coloured,” “Indian” and “Black.”
Today Israel stands at a crossroads. One road leads to the above. It would be a violent road. Each step it took Israel would be increasingly at odds with civil society and then, hopefully, with other governments, as it takes over Palestine, expelling and killing every non-Jew in their path or who resists. Devastating sanctions would be made against Israel, much like what is now done to Syria, North Korea and Iran. In reality such a thing happening, as in Israel fulfilling their “destiny”, would involve so much maniacal violence and ethnic-al cleansing that peoples and countries would be unable to support them and not just stand aside and allow it to continue. At least one can only hope. Because the question remains, will enough people finally stand up, ignore the 24 hour news cycle, and demand their will upon their leaders to have the courage to do what is right for humanity and not for corporate, soulless entities?
Another road for Israel, which would also lead to violence and further bloodshed, is the road of not trying to exterminate the Palestinian people outright, but just take complete control of all Palestine. This would still create a Greater Israel, but the Jewish people could become a minority very quickly, just by the birth rate alone, and this goes against all that is Zionism. The entire area would become palaces, Jewish enclaves and city-forts, ghettos and the largest concentration camp ever, all on complete security lock down, with a population densely packed together like a Gaza Strip on steroids. Hatred, racism, revenge and intolerance would continue dripping off of people, as it does today, generation after generation.
The only solution is two distinct and separate countries living beside each other, just like the rest of the world does and for the most part quite peacefully. Security would be easier to establish and each country would then be judged on its own intrinsic worth and not by how much violence each one could inflict on the other.
Sadly, this will not happen, no matter how much the Palestinian Authorities become recognized and go about their quest for the right to self govern themselves in their rightful lands through the courts of international law and the United Nations. Because the Israelis continue to elect right-wing fanatical governments who still feel they need to strut around like the typical bully, and who have become both, very predictable and ever the more isolated. But then being imaginative and willing to engage in dialogue has never been one of the Israeli’s strong points. They also do not understand that in the reality that is war, even when you win, on many levels you lose. Indeed, I’m sure to many people all over the world who might care or have even heard of the Arab-Jewish conflict, Israel and Palestine have become yet another pair of bad actors, in an often repeated bad film where everyone knows how it will end and everybody dies.
While the Israeli, American and Canadian leaders were condemning Hamas, who were being merciless bombarded “hopefully back to the dark ages” in the latest Gaza war, not one of them realized that the true threat to Israel comes not from tiny, impoverished and oppressed Gaza but from the policies of the Israeli government itself. The holocaust of the Second World War we are told should forever be remembered so that it will never happen again. Yet it has happened many times since, from Cambodia to Rwanda to Serbia and to the Sudan, and it is what is happening in Palestine today, just not so quickly, but more apartheid-like, so nobody notices as much.
When Israel, and the few remaining countries in the world that support them, say the Palestinians should just go back from whence they came and allow a Greater Israel state to be created, there is a serious disconnect happening, while the words – delusional and ignorant – spring to mind. Because where the Palestinians came from is exactly where they are living now and therefore, there is nowhere else for them to go. So either the occupation ends and a two-state agreement is signed or everyone should just step aside and allow the Israelis to continue to immorally ethnically cleanse the territories they illegally occupy to the very point of Palestinian extermination. Then let the world condemn them for their actions, and at the same time allow the Palestinians the right to fight for their lives, their land and their existence by all means possible. Would they then be condemned by the world for their re-actions? The stench of unmentionable horrors each side would inflict on each other would bring outsiders into the fray, especially religious and corporate psychopaths. Then the supposedly holiest place on the planet would continue to be one of the most unholiest and nothing but a black hole of violence and hatred, while the rest of the world stands on the sidelines and watches. And then after the dust settles we’ll tell ourselves that we must remember what just happened and never forget, lest it ever happen again.
“Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All”, Chris Hedges
It’s mostly punishment…. Testimonies by Veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces from Gaza and the Occupied Territories, Oded Na’aman
Ten voices on the Palestinian bid for UN membership, CBC News