Forwarded from Ralph Johansen #3

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Apr 9 17:50:15 MDT 2002

"I am old enough to remember a childhood just after World War II. I
am filled with a mix of grief, helplessness, despair and anger as
Israel, pretending to act in my name and using the Nazi holocaust
against the Jews to exonerate its crimes, proceeds with a clear
effort to obliterate the economy, the social, political and cultural
institutions, and the entire infrastructure of the Palestinian

Speak Out


ZNet by Ellen Cantarow April 06, 2002


I am Jewish. I am a writer. From 1979 to 1989 I reported for The
Village Voice, Mother Jones, Inquiry and other US publications from
Israel and the West Bank. During those years I witnessed on the
ground the rapid growth of Israel's settlements and the seizure of
Palestinian land and water for them: today over half the West Bank's
resources now are in Israel's hands. (About a third of Gaza's
resources have suffered the same fate.)

I conducted in-depth interviews with ultra-right-wing settlers and
settler-leaders whose cry was: "Let them bow their heads, or let
Israel expel them." I interviewed Palestinian villagers who had
suffered settler vigilante actions and read accounts of these by
Israeli-Jewish reporters of conscience in HA ARETZ and other Israeli
papers. These vigilante actions ran the whole gamut: wanton
destruction of property and crops, rampages through villages with
cries of "Death to the Arabs" and smashing of car windows, casual
in-the-street humiliation of Palestinian civilians, beatings, murder.
Within Israel I witnessed the increasing polarization of Israeli
society by the occupation; the growing, virulent racism of new
generations. Take, for instance, the Moroccan Jews in Kiryat Shemona,
members of Menachem Begin's voting base about whom I wrote for THE
VILLAGE VOICE in 1982 and who most commonly told me, "The only good
Arab is a dead Arab."

When I first arrived in Israel in 1979, a "Master Plan for the
Development of Settlements in Judea and Samaria, 1979-1983" had just
been drafted. In it Matityahu Drobles, head of the World Zionist
Organization's Department for Rural settlement wrote: "The
disposition of the [Israeli] settlements must be carried out not only
around the settlements of the minorities" - by settlements Drobles
referred to towns and villages centuries old like Bethlehem and
Hebron - "but also in between them." Drobles's rationale for this was
that "over the course of time, with or without peace, we will have to
learn to live with the minorities and among them [ by "minorities"
Drobles meant the Palestinian people] while fostering good-neighborly
relations." Thus from the start of occupation Israeli policy-makers
projected the permanent colonization of the West Bank and, later,
Gaza. To single Ariel Sharon out as Israel's exceptional evil - if
only he were gone and polite, decent folks like Shimon Peres could
guide the nation - is to be oblivious of history. It wasn't under
Ariel Sharon that the Drobles Plan was drafted, nor under Sharon that
Kiryat Arba was established in 1968, but under Labor. Permanent
settlement, retention and expansion of the settlements: this has
driven Israeli policy under every government since 1967.

To rule the land into which it has made its incursions Israel from
the late 60s has enforced a military legal code completely separate
from the laws governing Israel. The army, the military courts and
other elements enforce military rule. Under it, for the past 34
years, collective punishment for the alleged acts of individuals has
been the order of the day - for example, 23-hour-a-day curfews
lasting for weeks on end; the bulldozing of homes. During the years I
was writing about the situation, stone-throwing and street
demonstrations were what most commonly brought collective punishment.
Suicide bombing is a post-Oslo phenomenon triggered by the doubling
of settlement population after the accords were signed and by the
dawning realization that Oslo consolidated a South African-style plan
for permanent Bantustanization of the West Bank. On all my stays in
the West Bank I witnessed the daily humiliation of Palestinians at
Israeli checkpoints; the casual landscape and social scenery of
apartheid (the most obvious and continual manifestations were the
checkpoints with differing treatment of Palestinians on the one hand;
Israeli Jews and internationals on the other, and the different color
of license plates - blue for Palestinians, yellow for Israelis). I
interviewed villagers whose homes had been blown up and/or bulldozed
by Israeli soldiers. I heard accounts by men and women jailed,
abused, and tortured in Israel's prisons (the practice is an
established fact acknowledged by Israel 's B'tselem and foreign human
rights organizations and is ongoing as I write: The Financial Times
April 6 reported, "The Israeli human rights organization B'tselem
yesterday petitioned the High Court after receiving reports of
torture at the Ofer detention center near Ramallah.") About all of
the foregoing the Hebrew press was quite open while the US press was
almost invariably silent.

We now arrive at the current nightmare. As I write, collective
punishment is ratcheted up a thousand fold in full-blown war
atrocities committed throughout the West Bank. Israel's war machine
has moved into the northern West Bank as well as in Gaza, from which
I received an American relief worker's e-mail this morning. For the
past week my computer has delivered to me daily - even hourly -
desperate e-mails begging for help from international human rights
organizations. They plead with me and others in my list serves to
call our congress people and senators, protest to the press. One
writer, a university researcher by profession, describes looting by
Israeli soldiers invading his home: "I had a little money (about 800
NIS) in the upper drawer of my desk which I got from the bank on
Thursday when an invasion was expected . . . I found [the drawer]
broken and the money gone." Another passage, from a different letter,
reads: "Their 'visits' to our houses are no different from [visits
by] gangsters. They went to . . . my very close neighbors' houses,
they start by asking all of them to stay in one room with their faces
against the wall, then they enter all rooms . . . go to the kitchen,
collect all the food . . . and start eating it . . . the rest of the
food they take . . . with them, they also take jewels, money and
electronic equipment . . . Two of my neighbors have heart problems.
The first thing they did when they knew about their sickness was to
go and get their medicine and destroy it in front of their eyes." In
London's The Inde[endent Robert Fisk confirms, "The Israeli army . .
. is proving once more - as it did in Lebanon - that it is not the
'elite' force it's cracked up to be. It is impossible to dismiss the
widespread reports of looting from homes in Ramallah (not least
because that is exactlywhat Israeli soldiers used to do in southern
Lebanon in 1983); and that brave Israeli academic, Avi Schlaim, has
himself charged Israel with extra-judicial killings in Ramallah."

Other e-mails describe ambulances shot at and stopped from arriving
at their destinations; hospitals invaded and medical personnel
prevented at gunpoint from carrying out their responsibilities;
people bleeding to death while soldiers block, at gunpoint and in
tanks, their safe passage to medical relief; corpses rotting in
hospital corridors (numerous e-mails warn of the threat of imminent
epidemics); relatives forbidden to carry out decent burials (one
group of the slain had to be buried in a Ramallah parking lot);
civilians shot if they venture out their doors; massive looting and
vandalizing of homes; cultural institutions invaded and files
destroyed; electrical systems for water pumps destroyed so that whole
urban areas have their water supplies cut off; internationals and
Palestinian press members wounded by Israeli gun-fire. As I write
this on April 6, the most urgent e-mail of today is entitled,
"Deliberately Created Humanitarian Crisis Reaches Intolerable Point
April 6th, 2001, 11AM," and describes six Nablus field hospitals with
scores of people in serious-to-critical condition, doctors forced to
operate with minimal equipment. In one such improvised center,
corpses rot in the operating room while Israeli snipers fire on
anyone trying to enter or leave. In Jenin 50 houses are reported
seriously damaged by Apache helicopter fire, 20 people injured and
bleeding in the street. There is much, much more.

Like Nero, President Bush has fiddled while Rome burns and has issued
too little too late. What is needed is an immediate order for
withdrawal and a threat of economic sanction (this is what President
Eisenhower did in the Suez Crisis of 1956, resolving it immediately.)
What is needed is for Colin Powell to be on the ground now, not a
week from now or this coming Sunday. Sharon, the Milosevic twin
ordering these atrocities, is the self-same war criminal who
commanded the infamous Unit 101 which killed 99 defenseless civilians
at Kibyeh in October, 1953; who in August, 1977 ordered the
destruction of 2000 Gaza homes and expulsion from them of 16,000
civilians during an Israeli "pacification" onslaught in the strip;
who oversaw the IDF while it enabled the Phalangist massacre of over
a thousand Palestinian civilians in the Beirut refugee camps Sabra
and Shatila in 1982; who triggered the second intifada when, with an
escort of 1000 soldiers, he "visited" Al Aksa mosque in September,
2000 - a visit followed next day by the IDF's shooting of Palestinian
demonstrators at the mosque.

I am old enough to remember a childhood just after World War II. I am
filled with a mix of grief, helplessness, despair and anger as
Israel, pretending to act in my name and using the Nazi holocaust
against the Jews to exonerate its crimes, proceeds with a clear
effort to obliterate the economy, the social, political and cultural
institutions, and the entire infrastructure of the Palestinian
people. Those who do not speak out against these abominations, these
horrors are complicit by their silence. Those who exonerate or
apologize for Israel as it commits them are guilty by association.

Ellen Cantarow, Medford, MA 02155 (address for identification
purposes only.)

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at on 04/09/2002

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