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Some Condemnations of Israel's Occupation Only Help Maintain It

by John Spritzler

November 27, 2012


The typical Op-Ed or column article critical of Israel's violence against Palestinians hurts the cause of Palestinians far more than it helps them, regardless of its author's intention. These articles focus on the fact that far more Palestinians than Israelis are killed, and on the wrongness of the Israeli Occupation, meaning the overt occupation of the West Bank as well as the indirect occupation (by control of what can go in or out, plus periodic bombing) of Gaza that makes it a virtual outdoor prison.

I will be blunt. If I were being paid by the Israeli government to advise them on how to neutralize and weaken opposition to the Israeli government's oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, here is what I would tell them: Have your intelligence agency, Mossad, flood the mass media and blogosphere with articles that eloquently condemn Israel's Occupation and that emphasize how many more Palestinians are killed than Israelis. Period.

Make sure, I would stress, that these articles never--absolutely never!--explain that the root of the conflict is Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to make the population of the 78% of Palestine called Israel at least 80%* Jewish. Make sure that the readers of these articles do not learn that the movement that defines itself by its goal of creating and defending a Jewish state in Palestine--the Zionist movement--is an ethnic cleansing movement based on a racist idea: that non-Jews are innately anti-Semitic, and therefore Jews, to be safe, must live apart from them, even if it takes ethnic cleansing to accomplish this. Make sure the articles never explain that even if the Occupation were to end, Palestinians would still be denied justice because the Palestinian refugees would still be denied their right of return to their homes and villages inside of what is called Israel.

Make sure, I would warn, never to explain that millions of Palestinians living in refugee camps in Gaza and Lebanon and elsewhere, are people who themselves or whose parents or grandparents were in 1947-9 or in 1967 driven by Zionists out of their homes and villages in what is now called Israel, and who had their land and homes and other property stolen by Zionists claiming God had given it all to them, and who are to this day denied their right of return for no other reason than that they are not Jewish. Make sure never to point out that most of the people living in Gaza are refugees from inside of Israel, and what they and all the other millions of Palestinian refugees want is not merely the end of the Occupation but the end of the ethnic cleansing. Never explain that Palestinian anger is not from anti-Semitism but from being denied their right to live anywhere they wish in Mandate Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, as equals to Jews under the law, and to have their property returned or be fairly compensated for its theft.

Why would I give Israeli government leaders such advice? Would it not seem to them absurd, for Mossad to promote articles against the Occupation? Before I explain why this advice is very good advice for the Israeli government, let me point out that Israeli leaders and staunch pro-Israel media already seem to appreciate how good it is. The "New York Times" of Israel is Haaretz. Haaretz is no more opposed to Israel than the New York Times is opposed to the United States. Its editorial today, following Israel's recent massacre of people in Gaza, praises Israel's Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, as a "moderate." Yet Haaretz consistently opposes the Occupation. Its famous columnists, Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, write eloquently against the Occupation along the lines I would advise Mossad. Likewise, the Boston Globe, a solidly pro-Israel liberal newspaper, regularly publishes Op-Ed pieces that condemn the Occupation exactly as I would advise Mossad.

A Big Lie Will Easily Win Against a Covered-Up Truth

Articles that condemn the Occupation and keep silent about the ethnic cleansing are good--indeed very good!--for the Israeli government because they define the "anti-Israel" side in precisely the manner that the pro-Israel side needs it to be defined in order for the pro-Israel side to win handily. The pro-Israel side responds to this "one arm behind its back" anti-Israel side this way:

"Yes, it is awful the terrible things we have to do to the Palestinians. And it pains us greatly that we must do such things because we are a freedom-loving and democracy-loving people with the most humane values. But it is the only way to stop these anti-Semitic terrorist hateful people from using the West Bank and Gaza as staging grounds to launch attacks on Israel designed to destroy the Jewish state of Israel. And you don't deny that Israel has a right to exist, do you? Well then, what choice then do we have? Even if we gave them a Palestinian state and ended the Occupation, they would still launch attacks on Israel designed to destroy it. You always point out that we kill more Palestinians than they kill Jewish Israelis, as if this proves they are morally right and we are morally wrong. But this is not logical! Did the Allies in World War II become morally wrong on the day they killed more Nazis than the Nazis killed Allied soldiers? In any conflict it is the aims of the two sides that determine which is morally right or wrong, and our aim is the morally right one: to defend the existence of the state of the Jewish people from anti-Semites who wish to throw us into the sea. Thank God we are the militarily stronger side! If the Palestinians want to end the violence all they have to do is stop attacking Israel and leave us alone; it's that simple. You people who cry about the Occupation either don't understand the need for it because you are naive, or you just don't care about Jews, who have every right to say about the Holocaust, Never Again!"

Is it any wonder that the pro-Israel side wins this debate?

I am not worried that Mossad might read what I am saying here; they already understand it perfectly. The question is, why do so many good people, whose heart is in the right place, seem not to get it? I think I know the reasons, and I want to respond to them. First, many anti-Israel authors are writing to their fellow Jews, and these authors know that their audience believes the racist idea that all non-Jews are innately anti-Semitic and therefore Jewish safety requires a Jewish state, which in turn requires ethnic cleansing. To remain "credible" to their Jewish audience these authors avoid talking about the ethnic cleansing. These authors should instead rise to the challenge and confront the racism explicitly. They should tell their readers about how famous Jews such as Albert Einstein, Judah Magnes (the first Chancellor of Hebrew University in Palestine) and Isaac Asimov opposed the idea of a Jewish state as morally wrong. They should explain how the racist view of non-Jews as all innately anti-Semitic is false. If they don't know how to go about doing that, they should learn. One place to start could be by reading my article here.

Second, anti-Israel authors know that if they talk about the ethnic cleansing they will not get published in places like Haaretz or the Boston Globe, not to mention any of the other mass media that most Americans get their information from. The question is, what is the best way to respond to this problem? Catering articles to the "condemn the Occupation but don't mention the ethnic cleansing" requirements of the mass media amounts to doing the work of Mossad for them. Better to write nothing than to enable these mass media to use one's article to falsely claim to be providing their readers both sides of the story, especially when one's published article will be a sitting duck for a pro-Israel response that will make mince meat of it, and thereby persuade people that the anti-Israel side just cannot stand up to the pro-Israel side. The first priority should be to write solid articles that tell the whole truth and that, therefore, cannot be refuted by the pro-Israel side. Then we can wage struggles to get these good articles published where the pro-Israel forces try to suppress them. We may win or lose but in either case, in the course of our struggle, we will be spreading the truth, about ethnic cleansing being the root of the Israel/Palestine conflict, instead of covering it up.


* Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe's, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, page 48 of the hardcover edition, provides the following quotation from a speech by David Ben-Gurion (later Israel's first prime minister) given on December 3, 1947 in front of senior members of his Mapai party (the Eretz Israel Workers Party), in which he said (referring to the UN partition resolution):

"There are 40% non-Jews in the areas allocated to the Jewish state. This composition is not a solid basis for a Jewish state. And we have to face this new reality with all of its severity and distinctness. such a demographic balance questions our ability to maintain Jewish sovereignty...Only a state with at least 80% Jews is a viable and stable state."

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