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Ilan Pappe's months of coming and going for the destruction of Israel

Monday, September 29, 2008
'Thinking Palestine' booklaunch
This should be of interest to people in London. There's a booklaunch of a new collection of essays on Palestine in SOAS this Wednesday, October 1st. Anyone interested is cordially welcome. Ilan Pappe and Ronit Lentin will be speaking; the book is called 'Thinking Palestine' and is edited by Dr. Lentin.

Should be an interesting evening (disclosure: one of my articles - on study trips to Palestine - is in the book) and it kicks off at at 7 pm. The exact address is The Khalili Lecture Theatre SOAS, University of London, Russell Square, London WC1.

For a review of the book: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9743.shtml
Book review: "Thinking Palestine"
Raymond Deane, The Electronic Intifada, 6 August 2008

In September 2006 I attended a multidisciplinary two-day conference called "Palestine as State of Exception - A Global Paradigm," organized by Ronit Lentin of the Department of Sociology in Trinity College Dublin (TCD). A few weeks earlier Israel had launched its so-called "second Lebanon war," inflicting more than 1,000 civilian fatalities. For this reason an associate assured me he would not be attending the conference as "this wasn't the right time for academic discussion," as if actual violence in some way precluded the theoretical discussion of its causes.

Although I disagreed with this perception, I was filled with unease as I sat through hours of sometimes impenetrable exposition and argumentation. I felt almost as if I were present at a religious ritual, in which the participants exchanged gifts of jargon, the significance of which was apparent only to the initiated.

Now the upshot of this conference has been published as Thinking Palestine. I write "upshot" because the book is by no means a straightforward transcript. Individual contributions have often been drastically revised, three new contributors have come on board, and Ilan Pappe has replaced his original contribution with an entirely new essay. The result is an invaluable collection of articles on race, "biopolitics and the state of exception," and "contested representations." In effect the original conference served as a kind of workshop for this project, with the welcome transition from spoken to written word making it easier to separate sense from jargon.

Those still unconvinced of the relevance of academic theorizing should be reminded of the existence of the Israeli army's Operational Theory Research Institute, where academically trained soldiers and civilians co-opt such radical thinkers as Georges Bataille, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in the interests of rethinking urban military operations. If the enemy believes that such researches are worthwhile, then it would be foolhardy to concede the theoretical terrain without a struggle.

The original title of the TCD conference was inspired by the radical Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, whose theorization of the state of exception, derived from a deep reading of the works of Walter Benjamin, Carl Schmitt, Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault, seems tailor-made to describe the reduction of the Palestinian people to "bare life" by Zionism. Agamben counterpointed Foucault's conceptual couple biopolitics/biopower with their opposite: thanatopolitics/thanatopower ("the management of death and destruction"), seen by Honaida Ghanim as "the appropriate conceptual frame for understanding the [management] of colonized occupied spaces and subjugated populations."

Yet the Agamben connection is not uncontested. For Lentin herself, his concept of "bare life" "runs the risk of erasing the active agency of the Palestinian subject, represented as either passive victim of Israeli dispossession or aggressive insurgent, but with interpretative control wrested away."

For Pappe, the fact that Agamben has been enthusiastically seized upon by the Israeli right and by liberal Zionists sets alarm bells ringing. He claims that "the inclusion of Israel in the state of exception debate" is not only wrong, but dangerous. Adding that "tempting as it might be, it can reinforce the global immunity Israel receives for its membership in the camp of democratic states ... The very discussion of Israel within the parameters of this debate assumes that Israel is another case of a western liberal democracy dangerously deteriorating into the abyss dreaded by Agamben." Israel is neither a democracy nor is it in a state of exception: it is a "state of oppression."

I sense that for Agamben this process is less one of "deterioration," whereby a formerly democratic condition is validated and its subsequent degradation condemned, than of exposing the seeds of that degradation within the very soil of liberal democracy.

In Pappe's reading, Agamben sees the state of exception (prior to its becoming an end in itself) as "defending democracy" whereas "Israel uses oppression to defend it against democracy ..., leading to the maintenance of the state of oppression." Pappe sees Israel as characterized by "the hegemony of the security apparatuses" -- not just an army with a state, but a secret service with a state. In short, a mukhabarat state, and therefore more at home in the neighborhood of the Arab dictatorships -- now including Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authoriy -- than is assumed by standard propaganda.

Whether or not one accepts Pappe's reading of Agamben, this startling and typically provocative conclusion is an illuminating one. Pappe concludes that "de-democratizing Israel could give Palestinian resistance hope for change ... If Israel is seen as a permanent state of oppression, the Palestinians may glimpse a light at the end of their tunnel of suffering and abuse."

The other component of the conference's original title, "A Global Paradigm," has also been sacrificed, with Israel itself now being cited as a threatening paradigm. Raef Zreik, surveying Israeli constitutionalism, asserts that "Israel is a scandalous case of the modern paradigm of sovereignty because it reveals what lies beneath the smooth surface of other countries. The persistence of the exception in Israel, the ongoing state of emergency, the violent moment of birth, and the persistence of its ethnic nature are features that one might find in some countries at some points in time. Israel is unique in that all of these features are present most of the time."

The dangers of ascribing paradigmatic status to Palestine are evoked by Gargi Bhattacharyya, who asserts that "Palestine has become the emblematic solidarity movement of our time ... our Spanish civil war, our Cuba, our Nicaragua ... the use of Palestine as shorthand for inter-ethnic conflict and seemingly intractable difference has taken on a new significance -- with outcomes that are bad for Palestinians and for antiracism in many other places." There is a risk of too much "talk about Palestine without much attention to the situation of Palestinians."

"Racial Palestinianization" also exercises David Theo Goldberg. He traces the motif back to Britain's Peel Commission of 1937 which refers to the "racial antagonism" between Jews and Arabs, characterizing Jews as "a highly intelligent and enterprising race backed by large financial resources," while Palestinians are "a comparatively poor, indigenous community, on a different cultural level." Goldberg warns against Israel's power to determine the representation of Palestinian resistance: "It is not that might makes right in this case; it is that might manufactures the conditions and parameters, the terms, of political, and by extension historical and representational possibility."

Lentin takes up this theme, uncomfortably aware of her "problematic position as (an exiled) citizen of Israel, and as such a member of the perpetrator group, in relation to representing Palestinian subjectivity." This awareness informs her analysis of the practices of Zochrot, a much idealized Israeli organization chaired by Eitan Bronstein, devoted to uncovering, in its own words, "a kind of memory that was deliberately and systematically hidden" from Israeli Jews, and to "Hebraicizing" the Nakba, or the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948. While Zochrot's positive aspects are welcomed, Lentin adduces worrying undercurrents which imply that the organization attempts "to subsume the Palestinian voice" while, for example, executive members continue to serve as Israeli army reservists.

David Landy turns his attention to the phenomenon of political tourism, and in particular to tours organized by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). During the tour in which Landy participated he detected "Orientalist discourses of remaking and interpreting the East ..., especially the use of women's rights ... to construct a picture of Palestinian society as 'primitive,' and the tendency to present Palestinians as 'native informants' rather than experts." Participants "were not interested in hearing Palestinians present any overarching political narrative." In particular, the right of return tended to be left out of accounts, whereas it "is an issue which Israeli organizations need to promote more than Palestinian ones." A more authentic experience is provided by the Palestinian Alternative Tourism Group, although Landy deftly teases out the risks implicit in this concept of "authenticity."

Anaheed Al-Hardan counterpoints quotations from David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill in 1921, and Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert in 2005/2006, to demonstrate how the shared tropes of biblical discourse and mission civilatrice have led to a situation in which "the Israeli state continues to be the normative exception" to the international community's "political status quo" which "revolves around a principle of secular civic democracy, so much so that wars are waged on behalf of this desired norm ..." Nonetheless, "its status as a Jewish state remains unquestioned."

If the spirit of Agamben hovers over the essays on race and the state of exception, that of Edward Said informs those concerning contested representations. It could hardly be otherwise: Said's classic Orientalism (1978) is the cornerstone of any subsequent exploration of the representation and representability of "subaltern" peoples anywhere in the world.

Conor McCarthy demonstrates the almost prophetic percipience of the great Palestinian scholar. In The Question of Palestine Said defined Zionism's denial of the Palestinian other as the replacement of actual natives "with new (but essentially European) 'natives.'" That this is an absurdity has in no way hindered the Zionist narrative, bolstered by Israel's "policy of detail," from gaining acceptance in the world's centers of power. The Israeli state institutionalizes the Zionist narrative, while the abusive term "terrorist" serves to block pre-emptively any Palestinian counter-narrative.

Because its contributors -- sociologists, historians, legal experts and cultural critics -- work from within an activist perspective, Thinking Palestine escapes the trap of "scholastic reason" (Pierre Bourdieu's phrase), whereby the content of theory reflects the walled-off condition of the theorist comfortably ensconced in her/his "schola." The book should be read closely by serious pro-Palestinian activists wishing to sharpen their conceptual tools in the ceaseless battle against Zionist propaganda.

Raymond Deane is an Irish composer, author and activist.
Ilan Pappe on the Global Research News Hour on RBN
Program Details for Monday, Sept 22
Ilan Pappe is an Israeli historian, now living in the UK and teaching at the University of Exeter where he chairs the Department of History and is co-director of the Exeter Center for Ethno-Political Studies. Formerly, he was the academic head and founder of the Institute for Peace studies in Givat Haviva Israel (1992 - 2000) and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies in Haifa (2000 - 2008).

Pappe is an academic and human rights activist "who believes that commitment and professionalism do not necessarily clash, but rather reinforce each other."

He writes extensively on the Middle East and authored numerous books, including "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine."

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other Middle East issues will be discussed on the program.

TO LISTEN LIVE click below for details:


Ilan Pappe Blames West’s “Conspiracy of Silence” Condoning Israel’s
Ethnic Cleansing

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, August 2008, pages 44-45
Southern California Chronicle
Ilan Pappe Blames West’s “Conspiracy of Silence” Condoning Israel’s
Ethnic Cleansing
By Pat and Samir Twair 

PROFESSOR Ilan Pappé of Exeter University gave three separate lectures in
three days—May 14, 15 and 16—at the University of California at Irvine,
University of California at Los Angeles and the al-Awda convention. At UCLA
on May 15, the Oxford University-educated Israeli historian noted that, on
any other day, many in his audience would be protesting Israel’s criminal
acts against the Palestinians, but that on this date, people should
contemplate what happened 60 years ago on the pronouncement of the founding
of Israel.
According to Pappé, who resigned last year from his teaching post at Haifa
University because of right-wing harassment over his books and his support
of the boycott against Israeli universities, Zionists crystallized their
formula in the 1930s. Their credo was that in order to create a Jewish
nation, the indigenous population must be cleared.
By 1947, Pappé stated, it was obvious that the Zionists had failed, as
only 7 percent of the land had been purchased, and Jews—mainly
newcomers—accounted for only one-third of the population. In 1948, under
orders from soon-to-be Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Zionists opted for
ethnic cleansing, which meant razing 530 Palestinian villages and looting
all their possessions, including furniture, books and bank accounts.
A conspiracy of silence on the part of the International Red Cross and
Western journalists covered up the Zionist crime, Pappé continued. The
message to the Jews, he said, was that Europe wanted to atone for its
silence during the Nazi persecution of Jews. A go-ahead signaled that
building their state would bring closure to what the West allowed to happen
to Jews during World War II.
With the 1967 capture of Gaza, the West Bank and Golan Heights, Israel
seized more land—but also got more Palestinians. Israeli leaders
conducted extensive meetings from May 1967 to January 1968, Pappé said,
and concluded that Israel could possibly withdraw from the Golan, but that
the West Bank and Gaza were necessary to the state’s existence.
According to Pappé, following the 1967 conquest Israeli Prime Minister
Levi Eshkol and Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan decided not to annex the
West Bank and Gaza in order to deny full citizenship to the Palestinian
inhabitants. The Israeli leaders conceived a mega prison in which the
Palestinians could run their domestic affairs without interference from the
wardens. If they resisted, however, the population would suffer terrible
collective punishment.
The Israelis took pains to package their policy in the language of peace so
as to manipulate Washington into going along with the charade.
Pappe urged the audience not to use the word “conflict” when describing
what is going on in Israel/Palestine. “There is no conflict between the
rapist and his victim nor the occupier and the occupied,” he explained to
audible gasps in the audience.
“Your role,” he concluded, “is to convince the U.S. government that
it must be fair and that no solution that looks like another prison is


 Source: Detroit/Ann Arbor Friends of Sabeel
Author, Historian, Human Rights Activist Ilan Pappe to Speak At Sabeel International Conference
Peace, Palestine and U.S. Policy 1948-2008
DETROIT, Sept. 15, 2008 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ilan Pappe, one of the foremost Israeli historians, will speak at the Sabeel international conference, "Peace, Palestine and U.S.Policy 1948-2008," exploring U.S. policy and its relationship to the Palestinian issue. The conference will take place at the First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Michigan from September 25-27, 2008.
Pappe, author of the book "Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine," will speak about the myth of the "voluntary exodus" of Palestinians from their homes and villages. Pappe is a professor at Exeter University.
According to Jon Swanson, co-coordinator of the event, "We are fortunate to have this courageous pioneer as our keynote." He went on to say, "Professor Pappe will share his views regarding the occupation of Palestinians and their desire for peace and justice."
The conference will include the following speakers:
 Anna Baltzer, a young Jewish-American activist. Susan Nathan, Author of The Other Side of Israel. Ilan Pappe, One of the foremost Israeli revisionist historians. Phyllis Bennis, A fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in  Washington, D.C. Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winning former NYT foreign  correspondent. Joel Kovel, Psychiatrist, peace activist and author. Imam Mohammed Mardini, Leader of the American Muslim Center in  Dearborn, Michigan. Don Wagner, A top scholar of Christian Zionism. Naim Ateek, Sabeel's founder and Canon of St. George's Episcopal  Church, Jerusalem. Jean Zarou, Vice President of Sabeel and author, Occupied with  Occupation. John B. Quigley, Ohio State University faculty member and expert in  international law.
The cost for the three-day conference will be $110 for early registrants and $50 for students which includes a reception, a banquet and two lunches. Space is limited, so register and/or get more information online at www.fosna.org.
Sabeel is an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians. Friends of Sabeel North America supports the work of Sabeel by sponsoring educational activities that promote peace and justice in the Middle East.
The Detroit/Ann Arbor Friends of Sabeel logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=5409

   Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine and 'new anti-Semitism'
       Friday, 04 July 2008
   Power and History in the Middle East: A Conversation with Ilan Pappe
 "I do not think there is a new anti-Semitism. There is
anti-Semitism, rooted in the extreme right in Europe and the United
States. It has been silenced to a great extent since 1945 and it is
still a marginal phenomenon. There are strong sentiments against
Israel and Zionism both on the Left and among the communities of
Muslim immigrants. Some of the actions taken are reminiscent in form
and tone of the old anti-Semitism, but for the most part, these
actions have been taken against Jews who chose to represent Israel in
their own countries and thus became targets for legitimate and
illegitimate actions against them."
 Q: What is your background and how do you see your own development
as a historian?
 Pappe: I was born in 1954 to a German Jewish family in Haifa where I
lived in blissful ignorance about the world beyond the comfortable and
safe mount Carmel until I reached the age of 18. At that age I began
my military service which introduced me to other groups and to the
host of social problems facing Israeli society. But it was only in the
1970s, at Hebrew University, that I was exposed to the plight of the
Palestinians in Israel as an undergraduate in the department of Middle
Eastern History. It was then and there that I found my love for
history and developed my belief that the present cannot be understood
and the future changed without first trying to decipher its historical
 It was clear that this could not be done freely inside
Israel-especially if its own history was to be my subject matter. This
is how I found myself at Oxford in 1984 as a D. Phil student under the
supervision of two great supervisors, the late Albert Hourani and
Roger Owen. The thesis was on the 1948 war in Palestine, a subject
that has engaged me ever since my career as a professional historian
began. This is still a subject that haunts me and I regard the events
of that year as the key to understanding the present conflict in
Palestine as well as the gate through which peace has to pass on the
way to a comprehensive and lasting settlement in Palestine and Israel.
Intimate and strong friendships with Palestinians and the newly
declassified material in the archives produced my new look at the 1948
war. I challenged many of the foundational Israeli myths associated
with the war and I described what happened in Palestine in that year
essentially as a Jewish ethnic cleansing operation against the
indigenous population. This conviction informed not only my work as a
historian but also affected significantly my political views and
 I also ventured, in between my forays in the1948 story, into the
exciting-but always productive for me-world of historiosophy and
hermeneutics. I do think, in retrospect, that much of what I had read
and discussed influenced my attitude to historiography in general. I
treat history from a much more relativist point of view than many of
my colleagues and I was also highly impressed by the need-which
informs my work in the last few years-to write more a history of the
people and less a history of the politicians, and more a history of
the society and less of its ideology and elite politics.
 Q: You have often been associated with “revisionist
history” and the emergence of a “post-zionist”
discourse: what do these terms mean and how have they affected the
political climate in Israel?
 Pappe: Revisionist history means those books written by Israeli
historians about the 1948 war that question the essential foundational
Israeli myths about that war. First among them is that it was a war
between a Jewish David and an Arab Goliath. The new historians
described an advantage for the Jewish military side in most stages of
the war. They also pointed to the prior agreement between the Jewish
state and the strongest Arab army-the Arab Legion of Transjordan-that
neutralized the Palestinian force and limited its activity to the
Greater Jerusalem area. This prior understanding divided
post-Mandatory Palestine between the Jews and the Hashemites of Jordan
at the expense of the Palestinians.
 As for post-Zionism, this adjective is usually associated with
critical research in Israel on various chapters in the history of
Zionism and Israel. It includes sociologists who view Zionism as
colonialism, historians who doubt the sincerity of the Zionist effort
during the Holocaust, and it also criticizes the manipulation of
Holocaust memory within Israel. Among them you can find scholars
identifying with the fate of the Mizrachi Jews in Israel and who
deconstruct the attitude of the state, especially in the 1950s, toward
these groups employing paradigms of research offered by Edward Said
and others in postcolonial studies. Palestinian Israelis have done the
same in looking at the attitude of the Jewish state toward the
Palestinian minority and feminists have critically analyzed the status
of women and gender relations as they developed through time in the
Jewish State.
 In the 1990s, when most the works of the revisionist and
post-Zionist historians and scholars appeared, there seemed to be some
impact on the general public. You could see it in documentary films on
television, in op-eds in the printed press and in some textbooks and
curricula in the educational system.
 But after the outbreak of the second intifada in October 2000, not
much was left of the previous readiness of Israeli society to hear
critical voices on the past. The electronic media loyally towed the
official line; the printed press silenced critique in general; and
revisionist textbooks were taken out of the school system.
 One could probably say that it never affected the political system,
but it seems to have taken root in Israeli civil society and its
impact will, I think, be felt in years to come.
 Q: Your last book dealt with 1948 and you suggest that Israel is
still living with the consequences of choices made then. Could you
elaborate on this?
 Pappe: This was not my last book. My last book was A History of
Modern Palestine, published by Cambridge University Press. My last
book on 1948 is The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951
published by I. B. Tauris.
 Indeed, I think that the ethnic cleansing in 1948 will never allow
Israel to reconcile with the Palestinians and the rest of the Middle
East, nor to live in peace with its own Palestinian minority unless
Israel boldly faces the past. The ethnic cleansing included the
destruction of more than 400 villages, 11 towns and the expulsion of
750,000 Palestinians.
 The Israeli state, as a political entity, has to acknowledge the
ethnic cleansing. Until today it had failed to do so and it should be
made accountable for its deeds and offer compensation for the people
it wronged. This should be done on the basis of UN Resolution 194 that
allowed the refugees to choose between compensation and return.
 Q: The plight of the Israeli Arabs and those Arabs living in the
occupied territories is often underestimated: they are seen as poor
and exploited but, if I can put the matter this way, not particularly
more than any number of other peoples. Is there something systematic
here that is reminiscent of apartheid or even ethnic cleansing?
 Pappe: There are of course differences in the way Israel treats the
Palestinians living under occupation and those whom it regards as
citizens. But there are also common features of that policy. Let us
begin by charting the common ground. It is beyond the scope of this
interview to present the emergence of Zionist attitudes and
perceptions about the indigenous population of Palestine. What
suffices in this context is to point to the final formulations of this
process: a dehumanization of the Palestinians, their exclusive
depiction as a security problem and the wish to have a pure Jewish
state, empty of any Arabs or Arabism.
 The wish to retain the façade of a democracy complicated the
translation of these attitudes into actual policy toward Palestinians
inside Israel, those who are officially regarded as citizens. Until
1966, in the name of security, the rights of these Palestinians were
removed and they were subjected to cruel military rule. But when,
after 1967, the U.S.-Israeli alliance became the central source for
the Jewish State’s existence, one of the more democratic
features developed among them was the abolition of that military rule.
Racism and apartheid-which were official policy under military
rule-now became illicit and in a way more dangerous because it was
more difficult for human and civil rights organizations to expose
them. In the years since 1967, as a Palestinian citizen you could
never know where the racism and discrimination would hit you. It meant
that at any given minute, without prior knowledge, you were likely to
encounter de facto segregation, discrimination, abuse of basic rights
and even death. This is still the state of affairs today, and in many
ways it has worsened since the outbreak of the second intifada.
 On top of all of this, Palestinian citizens in Israel suffer from a
de jure discrimination as well. There are three laws in the country
that define most of the cultivated land as belonging exclusively to
the Jewish people and hence cannot be sold to, or transacted with,
non-Jews, namely Arabs. Other qua apartheid laws are the law of
citizenship that demands naturalization processes for the indigenous
population while the law of return grants it unconditionally to unborn
yet Jewish children everywhere in the world.
 There are clear policies of discrimination in the welfare system, in
the budgeting of public services and in the job opportunities,
especially in industry, of which 70 percent is termed “Arab
Free” as it is strongly connected to the military and security
sector. But I think it is the daily experience-as I described it
above-of the license for everyone who represents the state to abuse
you at will that is the worst aspect of living as a Palestinian in the
Jewish state. To this has lately been added the fear of ethnic
cleansing and expulsion.
 The situation in the occupied territories is far worse. House
demolitions, expulsions, killings, torturing, land confiscation and
daily harassment at will of the population has been going on from the
first day of occupation in 1967: it did not start because of the
suicide bombs which appeared for the first time in 1995 as a very
belated Palestinian response for more than 25 years of occupation. The
situation has only become worse in the last four years. There are
several spheres of brutality that should be mentioned: the collective
punishment, the abuse of thousands of detainees and political
prisoners, the transfer of people, the economic devastation, the
slaying of innocent citizens and the daily harassment at checkpoints.
Lately to this was added the fence that is ghettoizing thousands of
people, separating them from their land and their kin and/or
destroying their source of living and their houses.
 Q: This wall is being termed a “wall of separation.”
Perhaps you can offer some reflections on this symbol of oppression
and its implications.
 Pappe: I think the wall fits well into older Zionist notions of how
to solve the problem of Palestine while taking into account
realpolitik such as the need to maintain Israel’s external image
and keep a cordial relationship with the West and the United States in
particular. The aim has always been, and it still remains, to have as
much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians in it as
possible. Only very unique historical circumstances, such as those
that existed in 1948, allowed for mass expulsions of the Palestinians
on the way to realize the vision of a totally de-Arabized Palestine.
In the absence of, or while waiting for such circumstances, more
gradual means have been employed. The first is an internal Israeli
decision on how much of historical Palestine is needed for sustaining
the Jewish State. The consensus between Labor and Likkud today is that
the Gaza strip is not needed and that half of the West Bank as well
can be given up. The half of the West Bank that is left to the
Palestinians, however, is not a contiguous territory: it is bisected
by areas in the West Bank deemed necessary for Israel’s
survival, because they include water resources, historical sites,
strategic positions and large post-1967 Jewish settlements. The
drawing of this new map can either be done with the consent of a
Palestinian leadership or without it.
 The second device is a set of operations meant to cleanse the
indigenous population of those areas that were annexed to Israel from
the West Bank. Today there are about a quarter of a million people
inhabiting these regions. As in 1948, the issue is not just expulsion,
but also anti-repatriation. So the wall that is being built demarcates
the eastern border of Israel (so that the Jewish State will consist of
85 percent of original Palestine) and is meant to draw a clear
demographic line between the Jewish and Palestinian populations.
People who have already been chased out of their houses while the wall
and security zone around it was constructed, and those who are in
danger of being evicted in the future, will be blocked from coming
back by the wall.
 The third step is an Israeli willingness to define the Gaza strip
and what would be left of the West Bank as a Palestinian state. Such a
state cannot be a viable political entity and would be akin to two
huge prison camps-one in the Gaza Strip the other in the West Bank-in
which many people would find it difficult to find employment and
proper housing. This may lead to immigration and de-population that
may raise the appetite of Israel for more land.
 Two final points: the wall would leave the Palestinians citizens of
Israel, as a “demographic” problem inside the wall.
Zionist policies in the past and present Sharonite plans raise severe
concerns for the fate of these people, presently still citizens of
Israel who number more the one and a quarter million today. The second
point is that the wall will also turn Israel into a prison
hall-wardens and inmates are quite often both prisoners-which means
that the siege mentality that lies behind some of the most cruel and
aggressive Israeli policies inside and outside the country will
 Q: The Geneva Accords have raised the hopes of many: critics have
attacked their advocates, however, and emphasized the need for a
bi-national state rather than a “two-state” solution to
the current crisis. Where do you stand?
 Pappe: First, I do support a bi-national state and find it a far
better solution than the two-states solution offered by the Accords.
In fact, I will even go further than that and claim that only a
secular democratic single state will, at the end of the day, bring
peace and reconciliation to Palestine. It is the only political
structure that allies with the demographic composition on the
ground-the absence of any clear homogenous territorial communities,
the need to repatriate the refugees, and the danger of the politics of
identity on both sides if they are to become state identities and the
need to cater to crucial and urgent agendas such as poverty and
ecological problems that cannot be dealt with by a national structure
in either Israel or Palestine alone.
 The Geneva initiative is, like so many other peace plans in the
past, an Israeli dictate that seeks, and quite often finds,
Palestinian partners. This present peace plan, like the previous one,
has three assumptions that have to be deconstructed. The first is that
the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 is irrelevant to the making
of peace. The second is that peace excludes any solution for the
refugee question based on the right of return and Israeli
accountability for the catastrophe of 1948. The third, is that the
Palestinians are not entitled to a state, but a dependency over
roughly 15 percent of historical Palestine and for that they should
declare the end of the conflict.
 My point is that indeed everything possible should be done to end
the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip and liberate it
from Israeli control and pass it to Palestinian hands. But this can
only be a first step, because such a withdrawal does not solve the
predicament of most of the Palestinian people, who live in refugee
camps or are citizens of Israel. The end of the occupation is not
equivalent to the end of the conflict, as is stated in the Geneva
document, it is a precondition for peace.
 Israel has first to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of 1948 and
make itself accountable by implementing UN resolution 194. In the
meantime, given the realities surrounding the return of refugees and
the presence of so many Jews in Palestinian areas, there will be a
need to look for the appropriate political structure that can carry
this reconciliation. For me, the best is the one state structure.
 Q: What would you say to those who claim that the current policies
of the Sharon regime are in reality necessary in order to assure the
security of Israel from terrorist fanatics?
 Pappe: There are two answers. The first is that these policies were
intact from 1967, long before the first suicide bomber was even born.
The second is that we should say to them what we say to those who
claim that the neocons in Washington planned the occupation of
Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Iran because of 9/11. I think we all know
that 9/11 was a pretext for a strategy born in a certain American
school of thought of what America is all about and how it should
control the world politically, militarily and economically. The
suicide bombers are a pretext for implementing a harsher version of
policies of collective punishment meant to enable the territorial
enlargement of Israel and the de-population of further parts of
 Q: Israel is often depicted as the lone outpost of democracy in the
Middle East. How legitimate is this claim? Or, further, is a
redefinition of democracy taking place in your country?
 Pappe: I think that one of the major tests for a democracy is the
treatment of minorities. If this is accepted as a principal test case
then it is ludicrous to define Israel as a democracy, let alone as an
outpost of democracy. There are official and formal characteristics
which justify the definition of Israel as a democracy, but it is so
flawed in the field of maintaining basic civil and human rights, that
notwithstanding these attributes, one can still cast severe doubts
about the definition of the state as a democracy.
 As I have tried to show in the analysis of the Israeli attitude to
Palestinians as citizens or under occupation, the basic Israeli policy
is a mixture of apartheid practices and colonialist attitudes. But
also the role of religion in the state and the consequent violation of
basic rights as a result are additional reasons to look for a
different definition for Israel, rather than search a new definition
for democracy.
 Q: What do you make of what has been termed the “new
 Pappe: I do not think there is a new anti-Semitism. There is
anti-Semitism, rooted in the extreme right in Europe and the United
States. It has been silenced to a great extent since 1945 and it is
still a marginal phenomenon. There are strong sentiments against
Israel and Zionism both on the Left and among the communities of
Muslim immigrants. Some of the actions taken are reminiscent in form
and tone of the old anti-Semitism, but for the most part, these
actions have been taken against Jews who chose to represent Israel in
their own countries and thus became targets for legitimate and
illegitimate actions against them. Particularly appalling is the use
by the Israeli government and its supporters of the anti-Semitism card
in order to silence any criticism on its policies in Palestine.
 Q: Do you see any sources of change and hope?
 Pappe: Alas, not in the near future, but I am quite hopeful about
the long term. I think there are signs that elements of civil society
both in Israel and in Palestine are willing to take the issue of
resolving the conflict away from the politicians who hijacked it for
their own personal and narrow interests. Such actions on the part of
civil society, however, will unfortunately not prove effective or
assume a mass character unless there is strong external pressure on,
and condemnation of, the Israeli state and its policies. A more
hopeful scenario cannot materialize unless that occurs and more blood
will be shed in another round or two of violence.
 Q: Arab critics have described Zionism as a form of racism: how
would you deal with that assessment?
 Pappe: Zionism is both a national movement and a colonialist
project. Most national movements have an inherent racist element in
them. They differ in how significant this element in the national
discourse and practice actually is. In Zionism, it is a particularly
meaningful signifier of self-identity.
 Colonialism is also very closely associated with racism and there
are many features of Zionism in the past and the present that are
purely colonialist in character. The only thing I would object to in
identifying Zionism and racism is the tendency to neglect other vital
aspects of Zionism such as its importance for creating a Hebrew
culture, a new nation state, and a safe haven for some Jews.
 Interview taken from Logos Journal
 Ilan Pappe's recent books include, The Making of the Arab-Israeli
Conflict (1992), The IsraelPalestine Question (1999) and A History of
Modern Palestine (2003).
'Occupiers Cannot Also Be Liberal'

Interview with Israeli academic Ilan Pappe
ATHENS, Jun 18 (IPS) - Support for an academic boycott of Israeli universities exposed Ilan Pappe to death threats last year, forced him to resign as senior lecturer of political science at the University of Haifa, and leave the country.
His argument that the creation of Israel in 1948 was followed by a policy of cleansing Israeli territory of Arabs, his support to Hamas resistance despite rejecting its political ideology, and the denouncement of Israeli academia for justifying the occupation of Palestine have made him an unwanted person in Israel. But still he remains a firm believer that the only way to improve this reality is by exposing its worst aspects.

Pappe now teaches history at the University of Exeter in Britain.

In an interview with IPS correspondent Apostolis Fotiadis, Pappe discusses the situation in Palestine today, and the Arab-Israeli conflict 60 years after it began.

IPS: Can Barack Obama's victory make a difference?

IP: I think people who strive to hold the post of the strongest person in the world are not interested in moral issues, or are really moved by suffering and oppression. Obama is no different, and the morality of the issue or the suffering of the Palestinians would not move him. He would move in a different direction if he and his advisors would feel that showing less support for Israel enhances their political power. So far this is not the case. It is better to be pro-Israeli to win American elections and be re-elected for the second term. If there is any hope, this is from a second term, when the powerful men are brought back to their normal human size again, and may begin to think like you and me about injustice, oppression and occupation.

IPS: Do we experience today the worst moment of the Arab Israeli conflict since its beginning?

IP: I still think the worst moment was 1948 and the ethnic cleansing; but it is very bad indeed. It is the final stages of the Israeli unilateral attempt to divide the West Bank into two parts, one annexed to Israel and the other maintained as a big prison camp, or a Bantustan at best. The situation in the Gaza Strip is worse, there the 'prison' is already in place, and because of the resistance by the Palestinians to the imprisonment, Israel launches an escalating policy of massive killings. The world seems indifferent, and the Arab world uninterested.

IPS: During his last visit to the region U.S. President George Bush described Israel as an example of progress and democracy in the Middle East. How objective do you find his view?

IP: A society that endorses a 40-year occupation of another people cannot be a liberal one. A society that discriminates against 20 percent of its population because they are not Jews cannot be described as progressive. The problem in Israel is not the role of religion or tradition; it is the role of Zionism, a very clear ideology of exclusion, racism and expulsion. This ideology allows the army to play a significant role in most of the domestic and foreign policies, and it is probably right to say that Israel is not a state with an army, but an army with a state.

IPS: To what extent does the United States follow a policy of aggravating conflicts in the region while simultaneously call for revival of the peace process? Does something similar happen with Palestinian militants who capitalise on people's rage? Are we experiencing an organised hypocrisy in the Middle East?

IP: I am not sure everyone is hypocritical in the same way or degree. Political elites in general are manipulators of people's tragedies and dreams, but they do differ. The worst is the American administration as in its case the gap between words and actions is the widest. Talk of peace accompanies acts of war, support for negotiations in Palestine are actually the endorsement of Israel's occupation etc.

Israeli politicians are more transparent, their racism and oppressive plans are quite clear, but nobody in the West, and in particular Europe, is willing to do anything. On the other hand the Palestinian Authority (PA) is not a paragon of honesty, and in fact this is why Hamas won the election, but Hamas are trapped in an abnormality that would disable any political group from behaving differently. This is why the PA has to be dismembered.

IPS: On the other hand do you agree with those who see an advance of radical Islam never seen before in Palestine?

IP: Religion will continue to play for a long time a role in the life of the Palestinians, politically and socially. Whether it would be an aggressive stance or a constructive one depends entirely on the occupation and its oppressive realities. Once they are gone there is a better chance for building a political set-up that includes, rather than excludes, various ideological movements.

The advance of Hamas has a regional and local dimension. In the regional dimension it is part of the overall disappointment with the political regimes and their Western supporters. Locally, it is more directly connected to the occupation and the failure to liberate Palestine by the more secular forces. Most of Hamas support comes from the political vacuum and people's sense of defeat.

IPS: How has the abuse of history influenced the Arab-Israeli conflict up to today, and is there a way back to an objective understanding of what has happened.

IP: History was used especially in Israel to justify past criminal policies. This is the main abuse of history. It is also abused in the way that the historical narratives are employed to educate the next generations in one-dimensional, nationalist, one could say even, racist, mould. The most deplorable part of it is the abuse of the Holocaust memory which is used in Israel to Nazify the Arabs and the Palestinians, and justify criminal policies against them.

IPS: Where will this policy of suffocating Palestinians finally lead? Leaving aside the humanitarian aspect, can it become the reason for a new explosion of the Arab-Israeli conflict?

IP: It will not be a reason for another conflict, as the Arab regimes do not seem to care. But it can lead in the short term to the uprooting of Palestinians from the strip, genocide and ethnic cleansing. In the long run, it will make more difficult for future Palestinian generations to forgive and reconcile, and this could endanger the survival of Israel and the Jews living in it, as the Arab world and the Muslim world one day can change and become more effective and united, and Israel may lose its protector: the United States.

IPS: Has peace any change left after 60 years of war, and if yes, what is the direction?

IP: There is no chance for peace in the near future because the conditions for it are very fundamental changes in the reality, which take time. Israel has to be de-Zionised before peace is possible, and peace has to include the return of the Palestinian refugees, otherwise it would be a futile exercise. However, one can still hope that first from the outside, through pressure, sanctions etc. and then from the inside, led by the growing number of young Israeli activists who are getting organised and effective, new energies would come to allow this transformation to take place. I think it will happen, it is hard to say when, but only working for it can bring it about. (END/2008)



  June 6, 2008
On the Future of Israel and Palestine
An Interview with Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky
Barat: Thanks for accepting this interview. Firstly I would like to ask if you are working on something at the moment that you would like to let us know about?
Ilan Pappe: I am completing several books. The first is a concise history of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the other is on the Palestinian minority in Israel and one on the Arab Jews. I am completing an edited volume comparing the South Africa situation to that of Palestine
Noam Chomsky: The usual range of articles, talks, etc.  No time for major projects right now.

Barat: A British M.P recently said that he had felt a change in the last 5 years regarding Israel. British M.Ps nowadays sign E.D.M (Early Day Motions) condemning Israel in bigger number than ever before and he told us that it was now easier to express criticism towards Israel even when talking on U.S campuses.
Also, in the last few weeks, John Dugard, independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the U.N Human Right Council said that "Palestinian terror 'inevitable' result of occupation", the European parliament adopted a resolution saying that "policy of isolation of the Gaza strip has failed at both the political and humanitarian level" and the U.N and the E.U have condemned Israel use of excessive and disproportionate force in the Gaza strip.
Could we interpret that as a general shift in attitude towards Israel?
Ilan Pappe: The two examples indicate a significant shift in public opinion and in the civil society. However, the problem remained what it had been in the last sixty years: these impulses and energies are not translated, and are not likely to be translated in the near future, into actual policies on the ground.  And thus the only way of enhancing this transition from support from below to actual policies is by developing the idea of sanctions and boycott.  This can give a clear orientation and direction to the many individuals and ngos that have shown for years solidarity with the Palestine cause.
Noam Chomsky: There has been a very clear shift in recent years.  On US campuses and with general audiences as well.  It was not long ago that police protection was a standard feature of talks at all critical of Israeli policies, meetings were broken up, audiences very hostile and abusive.  By now it is sharply different, with scattered exceptions.   Apologists for Israeli violence now tend often to be defensive and desperate, rather than arrogant and overbearing.  But the critique of Israeli actions is thin, because the basic facts are systematically suppressed.   That is particularly true of the decisive US role in barring diplomatic options, undermining democracy, and supporting Israel's systematic program of undermining the possibility for an eventual political settlement.  But portrayal of the US as an "honest broker," somehow unable to pursue its benign objectives, is characteristic, not only in this domain.
Barat: The word apartheid is more and more often used by NGO's and charities to describe Israel's actions towards the Palestinians (in Gaza, the OPT but also in Israel itself). Is the situation in Palestine and Israel comparable to Apartheid South Africa?
Ilan Pappe: There are similarities and dissimilarities. The colonialist history has many chapters in common and some of the features of the Apartheid system can be found in the Israeli policies towards its own Palestinian minority and towards those in the occupied territories. Some aspects of the occupation, however, are worse then the apartheid reality of South Africa and some aspects in the lives of Palestinian citizens in Israel, are not as bad as they were in the hey days of Apartheid. The main point of comparison to my mind is political inspiration. The anti-Apartheid movement, the ANC, the solidarity networks developed throughout the years in the West, should inspire a more focused and effect pro-Palestinian campaign. This is why there is a need to learn the history of the struggle against Apartheid, much more than dwell too long on comparing the Zionist and Apartheid systems.
Noam Chomsky: There can be no definite answer to such questions.  There are similarities and differences.  Within Israel itself, there is serious discrimination, but it's very far from South African Apartheid.  Within the occupied territories, it's a different story.  In 1997, I gave the keynote address at Ben-Gurion University in a conference on the anniversary of the 1967 war.  I read a paragraph from a standard history of South Africa.  No comment was necessary.
Looking more closely, the situation in the OT differs in many ways from Apartheid.  In some respects, South African Apartheid was more vicious than Israeli practices, and in some respects the opposite is true.  To mention one example, White South Africa depended on Black labor.  The large majority of the population could not be expelled.  At one time Israel relied on cheap and easily exploited Palestinian labor, but they have long ago been replaced by the miserable of the earth from Asia, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere.    Israelis would mostly breathe a sigh of relief if Palestinians were to disappear.   And it is no secret that the policies that have taken shape accord well with the recommendations of Moshe Dayan right after the 1967 war : Palestinians will "continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave." More extreme recommendations have been made by highly regarded left humanists in the United States, for example Michael Walzer of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton and editor of the democratic socialist journal Dissent, who advised 35 years ago that since Palestinians are "marginal to the nation," they should be "helped" to leave.  He was referring to Palestinian citizens of Israel itself, a position made familiar more recently by the ultra-right Avigdor Lieberman, and now being picked up in the Israeli mainstream.  I put aside the real fanatics, like Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who declares that Israel never kills civilians, only terrorists, so that the definition of "terrorist" is "killed by Israel"; and Israel should aim for a kill ratio of 1000 to zero, which means "exterminate the brutes" completely.  It is of no small significance that advocates of these views are regarded with respect in enlightened circles in the US, indeed the West.   One can imagine the reaction if such comments were made about Jews.
On the query, to repeat, there can be no clear answer as to whether the analogy is appropriate.
Barat: Israel has recently said that it will boycott the U.N conference on Human Rights in Durban because "it will be impossible to prevent the conference from turning into a festival of anti-Israeli attacks" and has also cancelled a meeting with Costa Rican officials over the Central American nation's decision to formally recognize a Palestinian state. Is Israel refusal to accept any sort of criticism towards its policies likely to eventually backfire?
Ilan Pappe: One hopes it will backfire one day. However, this depends on the global and regional balances of power, not only on the Israelis 'over reacting'. The two, namely the balance of power and Israel intransigence, may be interconnected in the future. If there is a change in America's policy, or in its hegemonic role in the politics of the region, than a continued Israeli inflexibility can encourage the international community to adopt a more critical position against Israel and exert pressure on the Jewish state to end the occupation and dispossession of Palestine
Noam Chomsky: One can agree or disagree with these decisions, but they do not imply "refusal to accept any sort of criticism towards its policies." I doubt that these particular decisions will backfire, or will even receive much notice.
Barat: How can Israel reach a settlement with an organization which declares that it will never recognize Israel and whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state? If Hamas really wants a settlement, why won't it recognize Israel?
Ilan Pappe: Peace is made between enemies not lovers. The end result of the peace process can be a political Islamic recognition in the place of the Jews in Palestine and in the Middle East as a whole, whether in a separated state or a joint state.  The PLO entered negotiations with Israel without changing its charter, which is not that different as far as the attitude to Israel, is concerned.  So the search should be for a text, solution and political structure that is inclusive - enabling all the national, ethnic, religious and ideological groups to coexist
Noam Chomsky: Hamas cannot recognize Israel any more than Kadima can recognize Palestine, or than the Democratic Party in the US can recognize England.  One could ask whether a government led by Hamas should recognize Israel, or whether a government led by Kadima or the Democratic Party should recognize Palestine.  So far they have all refused to do so, though Hamas has at least called for a two-state settlement in accord with the long-standing international consensus, while Kadima and the Democratic Party refuse to go that far, keeping to the rejectionist stance that the US and Israel have maintained for over 30 years in international isolation.  As for words, when Prime Minister Olmert declares to a joint session of the US Congress that he believes "in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land," to rousing applause, he is presumably referring not only to Palestine from the Jordan to the sea, but also to the other side of the Jordan river, the historic claim of the Likud Party that was his political home, a claim never formally abandoned, to my knowledge.  On Hamas, I think it should abandon those provisions of its charter, and should move from acceptance of a two-state settlement to mutual recognition, though we must bear in mind that its positions are more forthcoming than those of the US and Israel.
Barat: During the last few months, Israel has accentuated its attacks on Gaza and is talking of an imminent ground invasion, there is also a strong possibility that it is involved in the killing of the Hezbollah leader Mughniyeh and it is pushing for stronger sanctions (including military) on Iran. Do you believe that Israel's appetite for war could eventually lead to its self destruction?
Ilan Pappe: Yes, I think that the aggressiveness is increasing and Israel antagonizes not only the Palestinian world, but also the Arab and Islamic ones. The military balance of power, at present, is in Israel's presence, but this can change at any given moment, especially once the US withdrew its support.
Noam Chomsky: I wrote decades ago that those who call themselves "supporters of Israel" are in reality supporters of its moral degeneration and probable ultimate destruction.  I have also believed for many years that Israel's very clear choice of expansion over security, ever since it turned down Sadat’s offer of a full peace treaty in 1971, may well lead to that consequence.
Barat: What would it take for the U.S to withdraw its unconditional support to Israel?
Ilan Pappe: Externally: a collapse of its Middle East policy, mainly through the downfall of one of its allies. Alternatively, but less likely, the emergence of a counter European policy. Internally: a major economic crisis and the success of the present coalition of forces working within the civil society to impact such a change.
Noam Chomsky: To answer that, we have to consider the sources of the support.  The corporate sector in the US, which dominates policy formation, appears to be quite satisfied with the current situation.  One indication is the increasing flow of investment to Israel by Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and other leading elements of the high-tech economy.  Military and intelligence relations remain very strong.  Since 1967, US intellectuals have had a virtual love affair with Israel, for reasons that relate more to the US than to Israel, in my opinion.  That strongly affects portrayal of events and history in media and journals.  Palestinians are weak, dispersed, friendless, and offer nothing to concentrations of power in the US.  A large majority of Americans support the international consensus on a two-state settlement, and even call for equalizing aid to Israel and the Palestinians.  In this as in many other respects, both political parties are well to the right of the population.  95% of the US population think that the government should pay attention to the views of the population, a position rejected across the elite spectrum (sometimes quite explicitly, at other times tacitly).  Hence one step towards a more even-handed stance would be "democracy promotion" within the US.  Apart from that eventuality, what it would take is events that lead to a recalculation of interests among elite sectors.
Barat: CounterPunch featured an interesting debate on the 1 state vs 2 states solution last month. It started with a Michael Neumann article saying that "the one state solution was an illusion" and was followed by articles from Assaf Kfoury entitled "One-State or Two-State?" - A Sterile Debate on False Alternatives" and Jonathan Cook entitled "One state or two, neither, the issue is Zionism". What's your opinion on this and do you think that in view of the "facts on the ground" (settlements, bypass roads...) created by Israel a 2 state solution is still possible?
Ilan Pappe: The facts on the ground had rendered a two states solution impossible a long time ago. The facts indicated that there was never and will never be an Israeli consent to a Palestinian state apart from a stateless state within two Bantustans in the West Bank and Gaza totally under Israeli control. There is already one state and the struggle is to change its nature and regime. Whether the new regime and constitutional basis would be bi-national or democratic, or maybe even both, is less significant at this point. Any political outfit that would replace the present racist state of affairs is welcome. Any such outfit should also enable the refugees to return and even the most recent immigrants to remain.
Noam Chomsky: We have to make a distinction between proposal and advocacy.  We can propose that everyone should live in peace.  It becomes advocacy when we sketch out a realistic path from here to there.  A one-state solution makes little sense, in my opinion, but a bi-national state does.   It was possible to advocate such a settlement from 1967 to the mid-1970s, and in fact I did, in many writings and talks, including a book.  The reaction was mostly fury.   After Palestinian national rights entered the international agenda in the mid-1970s, it has remained possible to advocate bi-nationalism (and I continue to do so), but only as a process passing through intermediate stages, the first being a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus.  That outcome, probably the best that can be envisioned in the short term, was almost reached in negotiations in Taba in January 2001, and according to participants, could have been reached had the negotiations not been prematurely terminated by Israeli Prime Minister Barak.   That was the one moment in the past 30 years when the two leading rejectionist states did briefly consider joining the international consensus, and the one time when a diplomatic settlement seemed within sight.  Much has changed since 2001, but I do not see any reason to believe that what was apparently within reach then is impossible today. 
It is of some interest, and I think instructive, that proposals for a "one-state solution" are tolerated within the mainstream today, unlike the period when advocacy was indeed feasible and they were anathema.  Today they are published in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, and elsewhere.  One can only conclude that they are considered acceptable today because they are completely unfeasible -- they remain proposal, not advocacy.  In practice, the proposals lend support to US-Israeli rejectionism, and undermine the only feasible advocacy of a bi-national solution, in stages.
Today there are two options for Palestinians.  One is US-Israeli abandonment of their rejectionist stance, and a settlement roughly along the lines of what was being approached at Taba, The other option is continuation of current policies, which lead, inexorably, to incorporation into Israel of what it wants:  at least, Greater Jerusalem, the areas within the Separation Wall (now an Annexation Wall), the Jordan Valley, and the salients through Ma'aleh Adumim and Ariel and beyond that effectively trisect what remains, which will be broken up into unviable cantons by huge infrastructure projects, hundreds of check points, and other devices to ensure that Palestinians live like dogs.
There are those who believe that Palestinians should simply let Israel take over the West Bank completely and then carry out a civil rights/anti-Apartheid style struggle.  That is an illusion, however.  There is no reason why the US-Israel would accept the premises of this proposal.   They will simply proceed along the lines now being implemented, and will not accept any responsibility for Palestinians who are scattered outside the regions they intend to incorporate into Israel.
Barat: During my recent trip to Israel/Palestine it became obvious (talking to people, reading newspapers, watching the news) that something scared Israel a lot: a Boycott. Are you in favor of this type of actions and do you think that they could bare fruit?
Ilan Pappe: Yes I am and I do think it has a chance of triggering processes of change on the ground.
Noam Chomsky: Boycotts sometimes make sense.  For example, such actions against South Africa were effective, even though the Reagan administration evaded congressional sanctions while declaring Mandela's ANC to be one of the "more notorious terrorist groups" in the world (in 1988).   The actions were effective because the groundwork had been laid in many years of education and activism.  By the time they were implemented, they received substantial support in the US within the political system, the media, and even the corporate sector.  Nothing remotely like that has been achieved in this case.  As a result, calls for boycott almost invariably backfire, reinforcing the harshest and most brutal policies towards Palestinians.
Selective boycotts, carefully formulated, might have some effect.  For example, boycotts of military producers who provide arms to Israel, or to Caterpillar Corporation, which provides the equipment for destroying Palestine.  All of their actions are strictly illegal, and boycotts could be made understandable to the general public, so that they could be effective.
Selective boycotts could also be effective against states with a far worse record of violence and terror than Israel, such as the US. And, of course, without its decisive support and participation, Israel could not carry out illegal expansion and other crimes.  There are no calls for boycotting the US, not for reasons of principle, but because it is simply too powerful -- facts that raise some obvious questions about the moral legitimacy of actions targeting its clients
Barat: Coming back from Israel/Palestine a few weeks ago, the director of ICAHD U.K said that, in spite of Annapolis, "not one thing on the ground has improved{...} witnessing Israel judaisation of the country left me feeling cold and angry". Seeing this, could Palestinian resistance (which has mainly been non violent so far) go back to an armed struggle and start the most brutal 3rd intifada?
Ilan Pappe: It is difficult to understand the 'could' - theoretically they can and they may, the question is whether it is going to produce different results from the previous two uprisings, the feeling is that it is not likely.
Noam Chomsky: My opinion all along has been that the Palestinian leadership is offering Israel and its US backers a great gift by resorting to violence and posturing about revolution -- quite apart from the fact that, tactical considerations aside, resort to violence carries a very heavy burden of justification.  Today, for example, nothing is more welcome to Israeli and US hawks than Qassam rockets, which enable them to shriek joyously about how the ratio of deaths should be increased to infinity (all victims being defined as "terrorists").  I have also agreed all along with personal friends who had contacts with the Palestinian leadership (in particular, Edward Said and Eqbal Ahmad) that a non-violent struggle would have had considerable prospects for success.  And I think it still does, in fact the only prospects for success.
Barat: What NGO's and charities working for justice in Palestine should focus on in the next few months?
Ilan Pappe: They know best and I hesitate to advise them. I think they gave us guidance with their call for boycott and if they continue with initiatives like this it can be very helpful. But most importantly it would be great if they could continue to work for reconciliation and unity in the Palestinian camp.
Noam Chomsky: The daily and urgent task is to focus on the terrible ongoing violations of the most elementary human rights and the illegal US-backed settlement and development projects that are designed to undermine a diplomatic settlement.  A more general task is to try to lay the basis for a successful struggle for a settlement that takes into account the just demands of contesting parties -- the kind of hard, dedicated, persistent educational and organizational work that has provided the underpinnings for other advances towards peace and justice.  I have already indicated what I think that entails -- not least, effective democracy promotion in the reigning superpower.
© Frank Barat – June 2008



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