Earlier this month Benjamin Netanyahu visited Teresa May in London to commemorate the centenary of the infamous Balfour declaration
Earlier this month Benjamin Netanyahu visited Teresa May in London to commemorate the centenary of the infamous Balfour declaration. Balfour’s declaration supported the Zionist vision of a secure home in Palestine for the Jewish people persecuted throughout Europe: “a land without people for a People without a land”. The only problem is that the land they selected did have a people: predominantly Muslims with some Jews and Christians.
The Balfour declaration only supported a Jewish homeland, not a Jewish nation or state. And it was on condition that “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.
But in 1947, in the wake of the holocaust of WWII, the Jewish people were given a state, Israel, and thus began the expulsion of the native Palestinians.
Unfortunately, unlike the Indians in America, the Palestinians did not die off after contact with the invaders. They were forced into refugee camps, within Palestine and in bordering countries, where they have grown in number.
Today the Palestinian people are divided into different separate groups: in the West Bank, in Gaza, in Israel, in refugee camps, and in a diaspora around the globe. And Israeli restrictions on their movement prevents them from coalescing.
Israel’s long-term ambition is the occupation of all the land of Palestine from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean sea. And to achieve this they have continued with a program – overtly and covertly – of ethnic cleansing, by stealth.
They have in place a myriad of rules and regulation to restrict the movement of Palestinians. They have laid siege to Gaza, and they are using legal and illegal means to populate the West Bank with Jewish people.
Their definition of Jew is very unclear. Any of us Gentiles here in Ireland could convert to Judaism and gain automatic citizenship of Israel and the right to live in Jerusalem. But Palestinians born in Jerusalem do not have Israeli citizenship, and have to go through a regulatory obstacle course to be allowed live in their own home.
Despite the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, the Israeli state is never going to grant the Palestinians complete autonomy or independence. As recently as last week in London Netanyahu said there could never be an independent Palestine. So they have to actively maintain a state of conflict, and heightened security.
The infamous wall has been built under the pretext of “security”. Supposedly along the so-called Green line, the 1947 border, between Israel and the West Bank, the wall actually encroaches on Palestinian communities, cutting people of from their hospitals, schools and workplaces; cutting farmers off from their farms. People can easily – if illegally- get into Israel from the West Bank if they really need to. But legally they must come through the checkpoints. So the wall is not there for security, but to intimidate, and marginalise Palestinians. And to confiscate their land.
The signs at the borders between Israel and Palestine Area A read:
“The Entrance For Israeli Citizens Is Forbidden, Dangerous To Your Lives, And Is Against The Israeli Law”.
The army is also very important to maintain this pretence of security.
Sahar Vardi in an Israeli woman, a peace activist from Jerusalem, born to a father who refused to do his obligatory military service during the first intifada, she has been protesting since her early teens. She has been imprisoned “seven or eight” times for refusing to do her military service. Her description of the role of the army in Israeli life is reminiscent of the Catholic church in Ireland 40 years ago. Everybody from an early age is taught to look up to it, to accept it unquestioningly, and to take it for granted that they must serve their time (three years for men, two for women) for the security of the state.
It starts at the age of seven when children make presents in school for their soldiers. For some it starts even earlier if they join the scouts.
But according to Vardi the army have said they no longer need this conscription. They want people to train as professional soldiers, to make a career in the army doing skilled jobs. They don’t need unskilled short-term soldiers. But the Israeli government maintains the draft to instil the belief that it is necessary for security and loyalty to the state.
But there is another reason why Israel wants to maintain the high level of security.
June this year saw the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, when Israel invaded the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. It also saw in Tel-Aviv the 8th ISDEF exhibition, “the premier international defence and homeland security expo, catering to the needs of the Military, Police, Special Forces, and HLS by exposing them to the products and solutions provided by innovative defence and security companies worldwide”.
A group of peace-activists managed to crash the event and stage a minor sit-down protest. The ten activists were wearing black tee-shirts with the slogan, “Israeli military industries profit from the occupation”.
Military and security technology is a major export for Israel: sniper rifles and missile systems to the Serbs fighting in Bosnia; assault rifles to the South Sudan army in violation of an EU arms embargo; surveillance equipment to the Ugandan government to spy on LGBTQ activists; the Arava cargo plane was used by Mexican, Argentinean, and Guatemalan governments during the “Dirty wars” in these countries, to kill and disappear dissidents by dropping them into the ocean in what became known as “death flights.”
So the conflicts in Gaza and the Occupied territories provide an excellent testing ground for all this technology; they are in effect a showcase for the producers, who can show that the equipment they are offering has been field-tested and is “battle-proven”.
And the Israeli people don’t realise what is being done in their name.
After a tour of Hebron recently, the Israeli guide – a former soldier, told us (a group from Ireland) that we now know more about the situation there than most Israelis.
Or as one woman, Barbara, told Joe Duffy (Irish Radio) recently, the Israeli government keeps the Israeli people in a state of fear about Palestinians.
Art O Laoghaire
(Palestinians going through checkpoint to get to work in Jerusalem)
Entrance to Israel from Bethlehem, by Art O Laoghaire