[Tel Aviv University, Philosophy] Anat Biletzki is on the board of 'Israeli Occupation Archive': Occupation must be opposed, attacks on Palestinians are violation of law.
Biletzki, Anat email@example.com 03-6407247 Faculty: Philosophy Department: Philosophy of Language; Political Philosophy, Logic; Hobbes; Wittgenstein
The Israeli Occupation Archive was founded on the belief that any occupation is morally wrong and must be opposed. The takeover of a land, the denial of equal rights to its inhabitants, and their forcible eviction, are all fundamentally unacceptable and must be rejected.
It is also our conviction that punitive actions carried out by the state of Israel against native Palestinians over the years, such as the bombing of civilian population centers, cannot be justified under any circumstances. Such actions are in direct violation of international laws and conventions set out after World War II, and fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
The Israeli Occupation Archive is grateful to the members of its Advisory Board for their invaluable support and guidance.
Members of the Advisory Board
Bashir Abu-Manneh is a professor of English at Barnard College specializing in global literature, Palestinian and Israeli literature, Marxism, and postcolonialism. He is a Palestinian born in Haifa and is active in Middle Eastern affairs.
Mustafa Barghouthi is the Secretary General of Al-Mubadara (the Palestinian National Initiative), MP of Palestinian Parliament, and former information minister in the Palestinian National Unity Government. He was a candidate in the 2005 Palestinian presidential elections.
Anat Biletzki is a professor of philosophy at Tel Aviv University, and an Israeli peace and human rights activist for many years. She was the chairperson of the board of B’Tselem – the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (2001-2006).
Noam Chomsky is a linguist, philosopher, and a life-long anti-war and human rights activist with extensive involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Occupation. He is a prolific author, and an Institute Professor emeritus at MIT.
Irene Gendzier is a professor of political science at Boston University specializing in international political economy and Middle Eastern Studies. She is an activist and prolific author, writing about US foreign policy in the Middle East and problems of development.
Assaf Kfoury is a mathematician, computer scientist, and a professor of computer science at Boston University. An Arab American who grew up in Beirut and Cairo, he is a political activist, focused on the Middle East.
Stephen R. Shalom
Stephen Shalom is a professor of political science at William Paterson University. He is a frequent lecturer and is the author of numerous publications, including extensive coverage of the Middle East.
Salim Tamari is the Director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies, a professor of sociology at Birzeit University, and editor of Hawliyyat al Quds and the Jerusalem Quarterly. His most recent book is The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Soldier.
Howard Zinn is a historian, social critic, life-long civil-rights and anti-war activist, prolific author and lecturer. His best known work is “A People’s History of the United States.” He is a professor emeritus of political science at Boston University.
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Forty two years after the Six Day War of 1967, only Israelis in their late fifties and older can remember Israel before the Occupation. For the vast majority of Israelis, the Occupation has become a part of Israel: while the occupied territories are not integrated into Israel, the Occupation itself is part of the daily reality and political culture. So much so that even the use of the term ’occupation’ – typically understood to mean a temporary status – is shunned by most Israeli Jews. The Israeli Occupation Archive was founded on the belief that any occupation is morally wrong: the takeover by one nation of land inhabited by another is fundamentally unacceptable. Furthermore, it is our conviction that certain actions, such as the bombing of civilian populations, and violations of fundamental human and civil rights common under occupation, cannot be justified under any circumstances. Such actions are also in violation of international laws and conventions set out after World War II, and fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. We believe that no one nation stands above all others, and that no nation should be allowed to violate international laws for so long with impunity.
Those following the Israeli occupation since 1967 have witnessed the unending chain of violence directly resulting from the Occupation. In fact, it is the Occupation itself that is fundamentally violent: it constitutes violence against the indigenous population, and against the most basic personal freedoms – the freedom of movement, the freedom to live in dignity, to enjoy economic opportunities and basic social services, as well as personal safety and security. Also, the occupation subjugates an entire community – a people with history, deep connection to the land, and national aspirations – to the rule of the occupier.
Over these four decades, Israel has changed the occupied territories beyond recognition: it has established settlements and developed new, massive population centers in towns and neighborhoods restricted for Jewish residents only; it has invested many billions of dollars in infrastructure, again, for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers and Israeli citizens; and it has made significant investments in exploiting the local natural resources, such as water, to the benefit of Jewish settlers and Israelis living in Israel proper. All of these activities involved the forcible dislocation of the indigenous population – from individuals to neighborhoods and to entire villages consisting of thousands of people – again, in direct violation of international laws and conventions which specifically address such behavior by an occupying power.
As a result, and in a carefully planned and calculated manner, the West Bank has been carved into many small areas, fragmented by Jewish settlements and roads from which the local Palestinian population is disallowed, and surrounded by the Separation Wall that frequently prevents Palestinian land owners from reaching their lands, work places, and essential community services – in other words, making normal life impossible for an entire nation.
The Israeli actions described here make a common future, for Palestinians in their homeland alongside Israelis in theirs, each enjoying national independence, virtually impossible. After more than 40 years of colonization, there is nothing on the ground or in the political reality to suggest that an end of the Occupation is even a passing consideration for the Israeli leadership.
Indeed, it is as though an entire community, Israeli Jews, has been pretending, for so very long, that the Occupation does not exist and hence not worthy of serious public discussion. This is not entirely new or surprising: Historically, Israeli leaders, and people, have chosen to deny the existence of Palestinian nationhood, not even as a distinct community with roots, ancestors, and a legitimate connection to Palestine. The reluctant, partial recognition that emerged, perhaps a decade into the Occupation, never translated into recognition of national rights, particularly not where it counted the most: in the various peace talks that took place over the past twenty years.
The extensive settlement and infrastructure development that took place in the occupied territories was carried out by all Israeli governments in power since 1967, from Labor to Likud, and with the active participation across nearly the full Jewish-Israeli political spectrum. Clearly, the widely-based political support for Israel’s colonial venture is consistent with the original refusal to recognize Palestinian national rights.
The expansion of the Occupation continues unabated, barely interrupted by the occasional burst of far greater violence, as seen during Israel’s most recent attack on Gaza in early 2009. At the same time, the Palestinian population remains isolated in fragmented areas across the West Bank, severely restricted by some 600 Israeli military checkpoints and surrounded by a Separation Wall – facing a bleak future: their economy shattered as a direct result of the movement restrictions, and with no real prospects for change of status. Their Gaza brethren are faring even worse, barely surviving on subsistence in the wreckage left of the Gaza Strip after repeated Israeli bombardments, with no running water or sewer system, no health services and other essential social services, and a non-functioning economy.
Israel’s focus on, and investment in, the Occupation was made possible by unprecedented US financial support by Republican and Democratic administrations alike. The importance of US support of the occupation – financially, militarily, and politically – cannot be overemphasized: Since 1948, no important Israeli action could have taken place, or lasted, without US approval. Indeed, the close relations between the US and Israel are a crucial component of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Thus, while officially advocating a solution to the conflict based on two states, Israel and a Palestinian state, co-existing side by side, the US has in fact been the enabler of the Occupation – the exact opposite of a solution based on equal co-existence. There is every indication that the new Obama administration brings no reason for either hope or change on this matter.
With this in the backdrop, the Israeli Occupation Archive website was set up as an archive of the Occupation with the objective of documenting some of the public discussion on the subject. After Israel’s attack on Gaza in December 2008 – January 2009, the most violent in the history of the Occupation, the importance of monitoring, documenting, and publicizing events that are common today but would have been considered unthinkable in earlier times is greater than ever. All the more so now, with newspapers around the world facing a very real risk of extinction: in Israel’s case, it is Haaretz which has been a key source of invaluable reporting and critical commentary on the Occupation.
Finally, we feel that it is vitally important for the rest of the world to understand and appreciate how central the Occupation is to the conflict, and what the ’only democracy in the Middle East’ has been perpetrating upon the Palestinians – daily, for more than four decades now.