Why the occupation is no accident


I took this photo on my way into Ramallah in Palestine this summer.  Any Palestinian town or city can be shut in, nothing comes in and nothing comes out without the Zionists say so and they make movement a BIG hassle. This causes economic and every other type of stagnation for  Palestinian life.

The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories by Ilan Pappe, Oneworld Books (2017)

As early as 1963 – four years before the 1967 War – the Israeli government was planning the military and administrative takeover of the West Bank, according to The Biggest Prison on Earth, a new book by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.

The planning for that operation – codenamed Granit (granite) – took place over a month on the campus of Hebrew University in the Givat Ram neighborhood of western Jerusalem. Israeli military administrators responsible for overseeing Palestinians within Israel joined military legal officials, interior ministry figures and private attorneys to create the judicial and administrative decrees required to rule over the one million Palestinians then living in the West Bank.

These plans were part of a larger strategy for placing the West Bank under military occupation. That strategy was codenamed the Shacham Plan for the Israeli colonel, Mishael Shacham, who authored it, and was formally presented by the Israeli chief of general staff to the army on 1 May 1963.

Pappe has long maintained that the 1967 War and the occupation that followed was not the “accidental empire” described by liberal Zionists. A “Greater Israel” was envisioned as early as 1948, Pappe argues, and planning for it occurred as early as the 1956 Suez War.

What is new in The Biggest Prison on Earth is Pappe’s detailed accounting of exactly what the Israeli planners were contemplating in 1963; namely, “the largest ever mega-prison for a million and a half people – a number that would rise to four million – who are still today, in one way or another, incarcerated within the real or imaginary walls of this prison.”

System of control

Pappe’s description of the Givat Ram meetings is reminiscent of the way he opened his best-selling book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, with its depiction of the Red House in Tel Aviv where Plan Dalet (Plan D) – to expel nearly a million Palestinians – was hatched about 15 years earlier.

And in a sense The Biggest Prison on Earth completes a trilogy, including also The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel, encompassing the history of the Palestinian people under Zionism from 1948 until today.

Pappe argues that the Israeli government understood in 1963 that it would be unable to carry out massive expulsions on the scale of the Nakba, the forced removal of Palestinians in 1948, due to international scrutiny.

That explains why it set about designing a system of control and partition that would ensure a successful colonization of the West Bank, deprive Palestinians of their fundamental human rights by not granting citizenship and guarantee that their status as non-citizens in their own country would never be subject to negotiation.

Although the 1967 War did result in the expulsion of another 180,000 Palestinians (according to the United Nations) and perhaps as many as 300,000 (according to Robert Bowker’s book, Palestinian Refugees: Mythology, Identity, and the Search for Peace), the Givat Ram meetings and those that followed envisioned a kind of prison administration for the remaining Palestinians, Pappe argues.

As early as 15 June, three days after the conclusion of the war, a Committee of Directors General, comprising all the government ministries responsible for the newly occupied territories, began building what Pappe calls an “infrastructure for the imprisonment” of Palestinians. All of this planning, he writes, is now available in two volumes of public records totaling thousands of pages derived from the minutes of the committee meetings.

Almost immediately upon conclusion of the war, Israel began implementing a plan envisioned by Yigal Alon – a member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. The plan was to create de-Arabized “wedges,” chains of Jewish-only colonies in the West Bank “that would separate Palestinians from Palestinians and essentially annex parts of the West Bank to Israel.”

These wedges, initially in the Jordan Valley and the eastern mountains, would later be perfected by Ariel Sharon, Israel’s housing minister and later prime minister. Eventually, they would assume the concrete manifestations of a prison in the form of checkpoints, an apartheid wall and other physical barriers.

Pappe takes issue with the argument that the Jewish settlements, illegal under international law, resulted from a messianic religious nationalist movement, an argument advanced most articulately by Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar in their book Lords of the Land: The War Over Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007.

Instead, he provides evidence showing that secular Zionist governments, including that of Golda Meir of the Labor Party, courted this movement and used it to promote Israel’s expanded colonization.


It did not take long, however, before the government’s scheme engendered mass resistance, beginning with the first intifada of 1987-1993. The Oslo accords attempted to address this resistance

Pappe shows that the Oslo accords were never meant to result in Palestinian statehood and merely codified the creation of small cantons resembling apartheid South Africa’s bantustans with the added benefit that the costs and responsibilities of the occupation were largely transferred to major international donors and organizations – notably the European Union – and the newly created Palestinian Authority.

Here is where Pappe’s prison metaphor becomes most perceptive. As long as the PA carries out its security responsibilities and Palestinian resistance is muted, Palestinians can live in a minimum-security prison “without basic civil and human rights” but with the illusion of limited autonomy. As soon as resistance manifests itself, however, Israel imposes the controls of a maximum-security prison.

Thus, in the ensuing years, the West Bank became the minimum-security prison and Gaza – with Hamas leading the resistance – became the maximum-security prison. Palestinians, Pappe writes, “could either be inmates in the open prison of the West Bank or incarcerated in the maximum security one of the Gaza Strip.”

Everything that followed the 1967 War, notes Pappe, follows the “logic of settler colonialism” and that logic in turn foresees the eventual elimination of the indigenous Palestinians. That outcome, however, is not inevitable. An alternative is possible, Pappe maintains, if Israel decolonizes and makes “way for the logic of human and civil rights.”

Rod Such is a former editor for World Book and Encarta encyclopedias. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and is active with the Occupation-Free Portland campaign.

Netanyahu’s devious campaign to sit at the world’s top table


Stung by support at the UN for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Israel now wants a seat on the Security Council.

There is a great irony in Israel seeking a seat on the UN Security Council. Since its establishment amid the ruins of Palestinian cities and villages in 1948, Israel has had the most precarious relationship with the world’s largest international body. It has desperately sought to be legitimized by the UN, while doing its utmost to delegitimize the UN.

After a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014 condemning Israel’s human rights abuses in the Occupied Territories, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu described the UN as absurd and vowed to “continue to denounce and expose” its “procession of hypocrisy.”

For years, Israel has undermined the UN and its various bodies and, with unconditional support from Washington, ignored UN resolutions on the illegal occupation of Palestine.

To a certain extent, the strategy has worked. With US vetoes blocking every UN attempt at pressuring Israel to end its military occupation and human rights violations, Israel was in no rush to comply with international law.

But two major events have forced an Israeli rethink.
First, in December 2016, the US abstained from a UN resolution that condemned Israel’s illegal settlement activities. After decades of shielding Israel from international censure, it appeared that Washington’s allegiance to Tel Aviv was uncertain.

Second, the rise of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement began changing the dynamics of international politics regarding the Israeli occupation.

The movement, which began as a call by Palestinian civil society to hold Israel accountable for its human rights violations, grew rapidly into a global movement. Hundreds of groups multiplied around the world, joined by artists, academicians, union members and elected politicians.

Within a few years, BDS has become a serious tool of pressure to denounce the occupation and demand justice for the Palestinian people. The UN Human Rights Council said it would release a list of companies that must be boycotted for operating in illegal settlements, and there were repeated condemnations of Israel’s human rights violations as recorded by the UN cultural agency, UNESCO.

UN bodies with no veto-wielding members grew in their ability to challenge the Security Council, spurring a determined Israeli-American campaign to delegitimize them.

Stung by support at the UN for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Israel now wants a seat on the Security Council.

The Trump administration and the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, have has waged a war against the UN, using intimidation and threats to withhold funds.

Nevertheless, UNESCO stood firm and the UNHRC said it would publish its list by the end of the year. It is thought to include Coca-Cola, TripAdviser, Airbnb, Priceline and Caterpillar, along with Israeli companies and two large banks.

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the UN was “playing with fire,” and the US and Israel would work together to start a “revolution” at the Human Rights Council.

Signs of this oddly termed “revolution” are already apparent. Aside from choking off funds to UN bodies, Israel is lobbying countries that have traditionally shown solidarity with Palestinians because of common historical bonds of foreign oppression and anti-colonial struggles.

Netanyahu has just visited Latin America, and in Mexico he offered to “develop Central America.” The price, of course, is for Latin American countries to support Israel’s occupation of Palestine and turn a blind eye to its human rights violations in Palestine.

The irony that escaped no one is that, in January, Netanyahu declared his support for Trump’s promise to build a wall along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it.

Netanyahu’s charm offensive was supposed to include an Israel-Africa Summit in Togo in October, but it was canceled because over half of African countries planned to boycott it.

Netanyahu has made African diplomacy a pillar of his foreign policy. In June he visited Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda, with a large delegation of business executives.

He promised West African leaders at a summit in Liberia that Israel would supply them with agricultural technology to prevent drought and food scarcity, provided they opposed UN resolutions critical of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Not all African leaders allowed themselves to be manipulated.

Israel’s aim is to undercut support for the Palestinians at the UN General Assembly, and sabotage the work of UN bodies outside the realm of US power.
Meanwhile, it also wants a seat on the UN Security Council.

The assumption is that, with the support of Haley at the UN, this is not far-fetched. In addition to the five permanent veto-wielding members, ten countries are elected for two-year terms. Israel’s charm offensive in Latin America, Africa and Asia is meant to win it a seat in the 2019-2020 term. The vote will take place next year, and Israel will stand against Germany and Belgium.

Israel’s strategy of elevating its status at the UN can also been seen as an admission of the failure of its antagonistic behavior. However, if it wins that seat it will use the new position to strengthen its occupation of Palestine, rather than adhere to international law.

It is unfortunate that the Arabs and the Palestinian Authority are waking up to this reality late. Israel has been plotting it since 2005 under the premiership of Ariel Sharon, but the PA is only now requesting an Arab League strategy to prevent it.

Palestinians are counting on the historical support they have among many countries around the world, especially in the global South. Most of these nations have experienced colonization and military occupation, and have had their own costly and painful liberation struggles.

They should not allow a colonialist regime to sit at the summit of the UN, obstructing international law while preaching to the world about democracy and human rights.

• Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California. Visit his website: www.ramzybaroud.net.

Co-Authors Reflect Ten years After Publishing Controversial Book, ‘The Israel Lobby’

A really interesting (and revealing) conversation, you should have a listen!

The 2007 book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy argued that a loose coalition of interests, which supports Israel, lobbies the U.S. government to skew U.S. foreign policy to Israel’s favor.

The authors also assert this reality damages, both America’s and Israel’s, long-term interests. “The Israel Lobby” ignited a firestorm of debate. Critics accused the authors of giving voice to historic anti-Semitic slurs. Supporters hailed the book as opening a door to needed dialogue on a taboo subject.

 Ten years later, the book’s co-authors, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, join Worldview to discuss the changes in Middle East dialogue in the decade since they wrote the book. Mearsheimer is professor of political science at the University of Chicago and authored numerous books including, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.
 Walt is a professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He also authored the book, Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy.

Pro-Israelists ‘Herd shaming’ Jews

Image result for true torah jews


“What’s wrong with you people?! Why do you tear down other Jews instead of building them up? We have to be united.”

Translation: “How dare you disagree with us?! Why do you tear down our ideology instead of blindly agreeing with us? We can’t allow any dissent.”

The above comment with its accompanying between-the-lines translation is indicative of the attitudes of many. The call for “unity” in the name of Jewish brotherhood being a seemingly invincible trump card to counter all criticism of Zionism.

Herd shaming has become de rigueur for Pro-Israelists, a convenient and fun-filled way to instantly label dissenting opinions as heartless and their proponents as self-hating Jews.

The method in which some plead for rapprochement is telling.

“Why even talk about it? The state is here for over close to seventy years, any talk is superfluous. Let’s just live together in peace.”

Notice the undertone of the message. “We’ve won. Just admit defeat graciously and move on. Stop talking about it.”

“Can’t we all just get along?” is the standard liturgy for Zionist supporters. The victors, Zionists, affably tell the losers, anti-Zionists, that it’s time Judaism, untouched by nationalist tendencies, threw in the towel, G-d forbid.

The denouement of this opera is that the victorious creed will allow the vanquished Torah Jew to believe in something but, from now on, there will be a new hierarchy. State first, G-d second.

One god, under nation.

“Unity” is a useful word. Those who can’t/won’t agree to the new Unity’s terms can automatically designated as impossibly contentious, unwilling to live and let live. It’s akin to one combatant offering “peace” in terms that he knows are impossible for the other side to accept.

“Israel”, incidentally, is a masterful practitioner of this style.

Following the prevailing logic, casting doubt on the “Israel” is subversive and clinging to what they considering a troublesome and inexplicably tenacious position become symptoms of baseless hatred against fellow Jews, a hackneyed allegation.

To level with our readers, True Torah Jews does what it does because of its concern for the safety and well-being of other Jews in particular and the world in general.

They fight so Judaism’s authenticity won’t be muddied or lost. The unity that’s being promoted by anti-Zionist detractors is that of a mass of lemmings racing headlong into oblivion.

With the death toll of Jews alone nearing fifty thousand since the establishment of the state, the price of “unity” seems to be rising inexorably higher.

Solidarity amongst Jews is a good thing. If it were to be characterized by Torah values and a commitment to truth.

Today, though, this concept is an oratorical weapon brandished at those who won’t tow the party line. For those who won’t drink the Kool-Aid.
Asking for the Pro-“Israel” Lobby to reconsider their views is far-fetched at the moment, but we at True Torah Jews do have one request.

Just say what you actually mean instead of camouflaging it in the guise of brotherly harmony.