Blogs > Cliopatria > Neve Gordon: Review of Lisa Hajjar's Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza

May 9, 2005 5:18 am


Neve Gordon: Review of Lisa Hajjar's Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza



Mr. Gordon teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University and is currently a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights and Middle East Centers. He is the editor of From the Margins of Globalization: Critical Perspectives on Human Rights, and can be reached at neve_gordon@yahoo.com.

An Israeli Jew and a Palestinian meet in transit right after having been sentenced in court. The Palestinian asks the Jew how much time he got. "Three years," says the Jew. "The judge was relatively lenient, though, and took into account that the guard who tried to stop me from robbing the bank didn't die from his wounds. How much time did you get?"

"Seven years for driving without my headlights on," says the Palestinian.

"Wow! That is a hefty punishment," the Jew exclaims.

"On the contrary, my judge was also lenient. He noted that if I had been caught driving without headlights during the night he would have sentenced me to fifteen years."

Black humor like this circulated in Israel during the first intifada, functioning as a coping mechanism for liberal sabras bewildered by the egregious violations their country was perpetrating against Palestinians. This particular joke alludes to the discriminatory and often absurd logic of the military court system in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, a system that is explored in depth for the first time in Lisa Hajjar's Courting Conflict.

Hajjar, a professor in the Law and Society Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, argues that the military court system has been the centerpiece of Israel's controlling apparatus in the occupied territories. It has served as an extremely important component within the broader range of governing institutions and practices in which Palestinians are tracked in grids of surveillance, subjected to restrictive codes of conduct and physically immobilized through the use of closures, curfews, checkpoints, walls and prisons. During the first intifada (December 1987-93), between 20,000 and 25,000 Palestinians were arrested every year, the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world at the time. Even though arrest rates later declined, the estimated number of prosecutions since the beginning of occupation in 1967--half a million out of a population of 3.5 million--underscores the carceral nature of Israeli military rule. Thus it is not surprising that virtually all Palestinians have had some experience with the military court system, whether personally or through the arrest and prosecution of relatives, friends and neighbors.

While the bulk of Hajjar's book discusses the workings of the military courts, she begins her investigation with an analysis of the complex legal system that Israel put in place in the occupied territories, showing how this system serves as the backdrop for the courts themselves. Immediately following the 1967 war, Israel formulated a policy that rejected the applicability of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, the most important humanitarian law pertaining to the occupation of conquered territories and their civilian populations, to the West Bank and Gaza. Next, it set up a legal system composed of Ottoman, British Mandatory, Jordanian and Egyptian law, and Israeli military orders. The military orders are decrees issued by military commanders that immediately become law for all Palestinians living in the area.

Over the years, military commanders have issued at least 2,500 such orders--orders that regulate every aspect of the occupied population's life, from publishing newspapers and traveling abroad to grazing sheep and using donkeys for transferring goods. The commanders were vested with powers not only to enact laws but to cancel and suspend them, which enabled them to continuously reshape the legal system in accordance with Israel's political objectives.

Hajjar, the daughter of a Finnish mother and a father of Syrian descent, conducted her research in Israel and the occupied territories primarily in the 1990s. Both Palestinian and Israeli officials often mistook her for a Jew. She spent much of her time observing trials, where she established relationships with the various parties on both sides, and came to understand what made the military courts tick. One chapter is dedicated to the judges and prosecutors, while another concentrates on defense lawyers, some of whom are motivated by a powerful conviction that the law is a crucial tool for producing justice. There is, of course, a chapter on the defendants themselves, and one on the Druse soldiers who spend their three years of military service as translators in the courts, responsible--ostensibly--for facilitating communication between Jewish-Israeli judges and prosecutors and the Palestinian defendants and their lawyers. In these chapters, Hajjar takes the reader on a journey to the courts themselves, providing her audience with a sense of the random bargaining and humiliation and the seemingly endless tension informing the judicial interactions.

There is, for example, the story of a Gazan lawyer who lost a case after a soldier testified that he had seen the attorney's client throwing stones at 9:15 am in the Jabalya refugee camp. Several days later the same soldier appeared in court and testified against another client, reporting that he had seen the man throwing stones at 9:30 am on the same day as the earlier case, only this time in the Rafah refugee camp. Asked by the Palestinian lawyer how long it takes to get from Jabalya to Rafah, the soldier said no less than forty-five minutes. When the lawyer then asked the judge to dismiss the case because the soldier could not possibly have been in both places, the judge threw the lawyer out of court on the grounds that his line of questioning insulted the soldier. Courting Conflict is full of such stories, but it also underscores that not all judges rule in favor of the prosecution, and that the efforts of defense attorneys are not entirely in vain.

Hajjar's intervention is unique in the literature on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even though an enormous amount has been written on the occupation, only a few books actually analyze--rather than describe--Israel's controlling apparatus in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Among the exceptions are Naseer Aruri's Occupation: Israel Over Palestine, James Ron's Frontiers and Ghettos and A Civilian Occupation by Rafi Segal and Eyal Weizman. Courting Conflict is in this select company.

From time to time, however, Hajjar's evidence belies her conclusions. She characterizes the courts not only as a site of control, oppression and subordination but also as a site of Palestinian resistance; yet her descriptions do not lend themselves to this claim. It was the Israeli prisons, rather than the courts, that engendered organized resistance. They were considered universities of sorts, where thousands of Palestinians deepened their ideological convictions, received operational training, improved their Hebrew skills and created alliances with the members of other political factions--all of which prepared the inmates for continuing their struggle once they were released.

This struggle is generally understood as a classic national conflict. Hajjar, however, seeks to recast it as a struggle over human rights--from the right to health, education and a livelihood to freedom of speech, association and movement. It is a well-intentioned effort, given how foul nationalist politics can be, but her own descriptions challenge this theoretical assertion, since the national divide figures on every other page. Although numerous rights have been invoked by Palestinians to codify their demands, at least since the 1970s, the national aspiration for statehood ultimately overshadows and informs all other rights claims.

But these flaws in no way diminish the value of the book. Especially striking is Hajjar's chapter on the Druse translators, since it reveals both the complexity and the insidious nature of Israeli rule. In order to grasp their position in court, Hajjar persuasively maintains that one must first understand the particular niche that the Druse--Arabs who practice an offshoot of Shiism established in Cairo in the eleventh century by followers of Caliph al-Hakim--occupy within the sociopolitical order of Israel/Palestine. Immediately after independence Israel began distinguishing Druse from all other non-Jewish sectors of Israeli society. By 1962 a distinct national category was officially created, and Israeli ID cards accorded the Druse their own unique identity separating them from the "Arab."

This engineered "non-Arabness" of the Druse was crucial for incorporating them into the military. "Arab Arabs" are not conscripted, since they are closely associated with the state's enemies. Thus, Druse became preferred candidates for the role of translators, since they have both bilingual skills and a "non-Arab Arab" status. Not unlike the natives who lent their services to the colonizers of old, Druse soldiers accept the state's authority and the legitimacy of its policies. Having been given a stake in the system, they tend to become complicit with Israel's oppression of Palestinians. "Palestinians are guilty," one Druse translator blithely told Hajjar. "They hate us. They throw stones. If they don't throw stones today, they will throw stones tomorrow." Like many of his fellow translators, this Druse has become a mimic man, adopting the worldview of the prosecution.

But just as the reader begins to comprehend the precarious position of the Druse translator, Hajjar adds another twist, showing that translation within the courts is less about communication between people who speak different languages and more about establishing the legitimacy of the judicial process. The Druse soldiers are not professional legal translators, and they only translate the general meaning of the proceedings so that each party will get a sense of the argument made by the other side. The defendant often does not know what is being said, since the translators frequently fail to translate the interactions between the judge and the two lawyers, leaving him (and in some cases her) completely in the dark. Imagine, for a moment, being on the stand as a defendant without knowing exactly what the prosecutor or judge is saying. Imagine being a defense lawyer and understanding only the general thrust of the prosecutor's claims.

The irony is that the lack of adequate translation is unimportant, since the legal argumentation has few if any implications for the defendant. The outcome is predictable, if only because some 90 to 95 percent of Palestinians who are charged with crimes are convicted and more than 97 percent of all cases in which charges are brought are determined outside the court in a plea bargain. Hajjar likens the judicial process taking place outside the courtroom to a souk, or marketplace, where defense lawyers bargain for a better deal like merchants. One lawyer suggests that his role is simply to beg for mercy in a merciless environment.

Despite the staggering percentage of defendants whose convictions have been determined by plea bargains outside the military courts, Hajjar shows how the courts and the complex legal system that Israel established in the territories set out to sanction the legality and morality of the occupation. This is crucial. Israel has always been wary of rejecting the law outright, attempting to project an image of an occupation informed by the rule of law and principles of justice. Courting Conflict thus undermines simplistic conceptions regarding the significance of the rule of law by laying bare how the judiciary institutions in the West Bank and Gaza were used to legitimize egregious human rights violations and the use of violence.

While Hajjar's book provides the necessary background for understanding the role of law and military courts in the occupied territories, the situation in the West Bank and Gaza has changed in a fundamental way in the last few years. If up until September 2000 Israel controlled the occupied inhabitants primarily through the application of the law--including, to be sure, the enforcement of draconian laws that both legalized the incarceration of thousands of political prisoners and permitted deportations, house demolitions, extended curfews and other forms of collective punishment--perhaps the most striking characteristic of the second intifada is the extensive suspension of the law. In the first intifada any suspension of the law was still considered an exception to the rule; in the second one it became the norm.

The paradigmatic example of this suspension is Israel's pervasive employment of extrajudicial executions: 469 Palestinians have been killed in the past four and a half years in this way, and even Israel concedes that 288 of them were "innocent bystanders." The fact that not one Israeli soldier has been tried for these killings and that they are in fact part of an overt policy suggests that the occupied inhabitants have been reduced to what the Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben has called homo sacer, people who can be killed without it being considered a crime. At least for these Palestinians, the military courts have become superfluous, since Israel is no longer interested in trying them.

In order to understand this dramatic change in Israel's relation to the law, it is important to examine its application to Israeli soldiers rather than to Palestinians. Since the eruption of the second intifada, 3,161 Palestinians have been killed, 636 of them minors. Moreover, of the 751 Palestinians who were killed in 2004, two-thirds had not participated in any kind of fighting. And yet the military prosecutor has opened only 104 investigations concerning unlawful shootings during the past four and a half years, and of these, twenty-eight were actually prosecuted and eighteen found guilty. One soldier who killed a 95-year-old Palestinian woman was sentenced to sixty-five days in prison.

The first intifada was very different in this respect, since most military offenses were subjected to legal scrutiny. From 1987 to 1990, Israel killed 743 Palestinians, 154 of whom were minors--fewer than it killed in 2004. The military, however, carried out an investigation of every killing and initiated a total of 1,256 investigations against soldiers who were suspected of breaching the regulations. Although the military ended up prosecuting only forty soldiers for unlawful killings, the soldiers' actions were, nonetheless, constantly investigated by the judicial authorities. Thus, if a defining feature of the first intifada was ongoing legal scrutiny, the second intifada can be characterized by the extensive withdrawal of the law. Of course, it also further unmasked the true face of power that stands behind the application of law, and laid bare the relationship between occupier and occupied.

The result of these sweeping and disturbing changes is a pervasive despair prevalent in Israel/Palestine, which is well captured in Hajjar's book despite its failure to address some of the essential features of the second intifada. This, one should keep in mind, is not how most people felt during the first intifada. Even amid the horror there was always a ray of light. This sense of hope was conveyed in the joke about Dita, the switchboard operator at the Defense Ministry.

Dita was puzzled by a man who called every morning, asking to speak with Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. Each morning she would tell him that Sharon was not the minister of defense, and he would reply, "Oh, thank you!" before hanging up. Finally, after three weeks, Dita asked the man, "Sir, every morning you call up and ask to speak to Mr. Sharon, and I keep telling you that he is not minister of defense. Why do you keep calling?" The response was immediate: "It's so encouraging to hear; it gives me some naches for the rest of the day."

The fact that Sharon is not defense minister but prime minister surely does not help those who want to take a step back, if only for a moment, and laugh at the quagmire the two peoples have sunk in. More important, though, the ruthless violence that both societies have been subjected to in the past few years has left little room for joy. It is therefore no surprise that this intifada has not produced any new jokes.


Reprinted with permission from the Nation. For subscription information call 1-800-333-8536. Portions of each week's Nation magazine can be accessed at http://www.thenation.com.




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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Moshe
No matter how much you and others write the basic facts of the Palestinian/Zionist-Israeli conflict can not be altered nor denied.
These are:
-The demographic composition of Palestine was radically changed AGAINST the express will of the indigenous Palestinian people.
-This forced radical demographic change transformed the small Jewish minority, 10% of total population in the ,pre mandate ,early 1920s,into a sizable minority in the 1940s with presumed "national rights".
-That this transformation was initiated, protected and achieved by the British mandate in collusion with the Zionist movement despite their full awareness that it was imposed on the Palestinians against their express will and relentless opposition.
-That this demographic transformation was an act of "conquest" achieved by the force of British then Zionist/Israeli arms.
-That Zionist organizations perpetrated massacres and mass expulsions of civilian populations to ethnically cleanse as much as possible of Palestine from its indigenous Arab, Moslem and Christian, inhabitants to clear the way for Jewish settlers.
-That Zionist organizations perpetrated acts of terror to hide hide these massacrres mainly the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN mediator.
-That after the cessation of hostilities displaced and dispossessed Palestinians were denied the right to return to their homes and regain their possessions.
-That displaced Palestinians were supplanted by aliens (Jews) selected on a pure RACIAL/RACIST basis.

These are the essential historical facts that led to the dislocation, dispossession and subjugation of the Palestinian people from and in his homeland
and the establishment of the nation/state of Israel in Palestine.
Being the output of the Zionist conquest of Palestine the creature thus begotten is neither LEGAL nor MORAL and the Palestinian people are within their natural rights of self defense in opposing it as an aggressive , racist and alien usurping entity with all available means.
AS to your bafflingly ridiculous contention that:"I am unaware of any attempt or movement of Palestinian nationalism prior to the creation of the state of Israel, are you? " I indicate hereunder several links for you to persue that document the Palestinian/Arab nationalist movement .
-http://www.palestineremembered.com/index.html
-http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Palestine-Remembered/Story564.html
-http://palestine-studies.org
-http://www.al-awda.org//


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Zionism then Israel had had an impossible mission to achieve: legalizing the innately illegal and endowing with a moral content the intrinsically immoral…without being found out for as long as possible!
The following irrefutable historical facts indicate the progress of the Zionist colonialist conquest of Palestine; how both legality and morality were bypassed and flouted up to the birth of Israel and thereafter whenever the need arose!


AAA:Zionism then Israel had great needs to create then maintain the appearance of a "civilized" movement and nation/state, a champion of "Human Rights" while simultaneously denying the indigenous people of Palestine their Right to Self Determination.
This was achieved, in collusion with the British mandate, by the forced alteration of the demographic composition of Palestine by admitting,against the express will of the overwhelming majority of its indigenous inhabitants, Jewish and Zionist immigrants until a small minority becomes a large minority with "national rights" !

BBB: It was essential for both to transform a land inhabited by an indigenous people into a" land with no people" for it to become " the land of the people with no land".
This was substantially achieved by a relentless campaign of terror aiming at the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs through mass massacres and expulsion of civilians as in Deir Yassin and Tantoura.

CCC: To achieve racial/confessional (Jewish) demographic predominance over Palestine and plunder the legitimate possessions of the Palestinian people the nation/state that bases its claim of a legitimate birth on UN resolutions adamantly refuses to implement UN resolutions that would hamper its ethnic cleansing strategy.
Israel has consistently rfused to implement UNGA Resolution # 194 which guarantees the Palestinians' Right to Return to their homeland from which they were displaced during hostilities and the repossession of their legally acquired properties.

DDD:To retain properties plundered from the Palestinian people Israel enacted laws re "absentee ownership" while always denying "absentee owners "the right to Return, thus disallowing them the possibility of annulling their "absentee" status and regaining their properties.
The perfect vicious circle that takes a Zionist mind to conjure!
However more perversion of the "law" was still to come; after the 1967 war and the annexation of East Jerusalem "absentee owners" residing in East Jerusalem were still deemed" absentee owners" despite the annexation and legally treated as "resident aliens" in their homeland!
So what we have according to Israeli "laws" are "absentees" who are present and native" aliens"!

EEE: To realize its doctrinaire /dogma promise Zionist Israel had to create a "Jewish" state while maintaining a progressive, multiethnic and democratic "image"!
A "Law of Return" was enacted that recognizes the "right of return" of the descendents of a people that presumably lived in Palestine centuries ago while denying this right to the people that were recently displaced.
This "right" is being granted or denied on a pure, unadulterated RACIAL/CONFESSIONAL basis; anybody with a Jewish lineage, no matter how tenuous, can "return " to Palestine, Palestinians can not!

That is how, in essence, Zionism and Israel achieved the uprooting and dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian people and supplanting them with aliens from all over the world.
The excellent book by Professor Hajjar and no less outstanding review by Professor Gordon document the day to day workings of Zionist and Israeli legality and morality.
It objectively depicts the continuous implementation of an old Zionist tradition of total disregard of the most basic tenets of LAW and MORALITY that gave birth to Israel in the first place and sustains its occupation of Palestine today!




omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Moshe
Your statement:
"Omar,
Most of the “facts” that you mention are absolutely right and I do not challenge them. " is the proof, if any is needed, that Israel is the outcome of an act of aggression that led to the dislocation and dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian people and supplanting them by aliens chosen on a RACIAL/RACIST basis.

That is enough, in my book , to make ZIONIST Israel irredeemably ILLEGAL and IMMORAL and as such to be resisted by all, including decent Jews, with all available means.

You have read me describing and qualifying both Zionism and Israel to, primarily, remove the deceptive image in the general public mind in the West about its true identity and mode of birth!

You know nothing where I stand re the future so please do not jumb to conclusions!

I salute your basic honesty for your above statement but definetly not the rest of your post which , as usual, is an attempt to condone the illigal and the immoral and justify the unjustifiable .


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Moshe
I note that you did not dispute any of the "irrefutable historical facts" I have included in my post nor my conclusion about "...the continuous implementation( by Israel) of an old Zionist tradition of total disregard of the most basic tenets of LAW and MORALITY that gave birth to Israel in the first place and sustains its occupation of Palestine today!

The interesting thing though about your post is that, in the same tradition of total disregard of the most basic tenets of LAW and MORALITY, you contrive to justify the utterly unjustifiable, namely:
-The denial of the Palestinian people his right to Self Determination post WWI
-The premeditated politically motivated ethnic cleansing campaign via mass civilian massacres and expulsions by Zionist organizations in the 1948 war then by the state of Israel
-The "legal" Israeli fiasco that deems present resident as "absentee" and the native born resident as "alien"
-The bare faced Israeli contempt of the will of the international community as expressed in UNGA resolutions, that you describe as mere "suggestions, while failing to mention that the "partition" plan was also a UNGA resolution
-The declared unmitigated Racist criteria on which the decision to grant or with hold the Right of Return to Palestine is made
-The "legal" machinations and perversions through which Israel contrives to retain the plundered possessions of the Palestinian people

Your attempt to justify these utterly unjustifiable and indisputably illegal and immoral actions by Zionism and then by the state of Israel, the alter ego of Zionism, seems to me to be an admission on your part of the innate illegality and total immorality of the Zionist doctrine and the alien creature it gave birth to ; Israel.

Nothing surprising here to us and a progressively recognized fact worldwide!

However two things in your post DO surprise me:

1-Your bizarre contention that pan Arabism is racially "based" when ,in your defense of the RACIST nature of the (Israeli) Law of Return , you state:"...and Pan-Arabs believe in the ideal of a united Arab state encompassing all Arabs, " implying that it is equally racist !
2-Your inane comment that:"...there is no evidence that the people we now call “Palestinians” ever had any nationalistic ambitions." which even Ben Gurion and Jabotinsky publicly acknowledged , the Arab/ Palestinian anti Zionist nationalist movement and ambitions, your statement reeks of an obscene RACIST mentality !
To imply, to say nothing about stating, that the Palestinian people was unaware or unconcerned and did not strongly resist British assisted Zionist conquest and designs on his homeland and had "no nationalistic ambitions" is not only to belie glaring historical facts but equally , and more importantly, can only spring from a sickly malformed, racially blinded and supremely self centered mind totally oblivious to his surrounding and the consequences of his designs; which is the real essence of Zionism .



omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Moshe
1- The very admission and presence of Zionist Jewish immigrants into Palestine intent on colonizing it AGAINST THE EXPRESS WILL of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous Palestinian people was and is in itself an act of aggression.
As you well, or should, know a pre WWI Jewish minority of 10% , versus 80% Arab/Palestinian(Moslem and Christian)majority, was transformed by British/Zionist collusion into 38% in the late forties.
Concurrently with the admission of Jewish immigrants into Palestine was the the formation of armed Zionist terrorist organizations intent on colonizing and Zionizing Palestine ; making it :" ...as Jewish as France is French" according to Chaim Wieseman , the first President to be of "Israel".


Both , the forced demographic distortion of Palestine and the formation of terrorist armed Zionist organizations, were undertaken and achieved by and under the protection of British ,then Zionist ,arms always AGAINST THE EXPRESS WILL of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous Palestinian people.

The 1948 war was the, failed, attempt to abort and preempt the aggressive act of colonizing and Zionizing Arab, Moslem and Christian, Palestine.

2- How much do you know about terrorist acts commited by armed Zionist organizations , the to become the IDF ?
About the bombing of the King David Hotel, the assassination of Count Bernadotte and Lord Moyne, the civilian massacres in Deir Yassin ,Tantoura etc etc. Kufur Kassem and Qibya, Kana and the cold blooded murder of Egyptian Prisoners of war in 1967 ?
To maintain its occupation of lands conquered in 1967 Israel has used Abrams tanks, Cobra gunships, F14 and F18 aircraft, fragmentation and cluster bombs, guided missiles against CIVILIAN targets , there was no army facing Israel post June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza, cold blooded political assassinations of "suspected terrorists", demolition of houses , deportation and " admimistrative" detention !
That is " all available means" to Israel at its formation stage and maintenance stage!
Where do you stand on all that.... I am eager to know what you think of Zionism and Israel !


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Moshe
1- The very admission and presence of Zionist Jewish immigrants into Palestine intent on colonizing it AGAINST THE EXPRESS WILL of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous Palestinian people was and is in itself an act of aggression.
As you well, or should, know a pre WWI Jewish minority of 10% , versus 80% Arab/Palestinian(Moslem and Christian)majority, was transformed by British/Zionist collusion into 38% in the late forties.
Concurrently with the admission of Jewish immigrants into Palestine was the the formation of armed Zionist terrorist organizations intent on colonizing and Zionizing Palestine ; making it :" ...as Jewish as France is French" according to Chaim Wieseman , the first President to be of "Israel".


Both , the forced demographic distortion of Palestine and the formation of terrorist armed Zionist organizations, were undertaken and achieved by and under the protection of British ,then Zionist ,arms always AGAINST THE EXPRESS WILL of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous Palestinian people.

The 1948 war was the, failed, attempt to abort and preempt the aggressive act of colonizing and Zionizing Arab, Moslem and Christian, Palestine.

2- How much do you know about terrorist acts commited by armed Zionist organizations , the to become the IDF ?
About the bombing of the King David Hotel, the assassination of Count Bernadotte and Lord Moyne, the civilian massacres in Deir Yassin ,Tantoura etc etc. Kufur Kassem and Qibya, Kana and the cold blooded murder of Egyptian Prisoners of war in 1967 ?
To maintain its occupation of lands conquered in 1967 Israel has used Abrams tanks, Cobra gunships, F14 and F18 aircraft, fragmentation and cluster bombs, guided missiles against CIVILIAN targets , there was no army facing Israel post June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza, cold blooded political assassinations of "suspected terrorists", demolition of houses , deportation and " admimistrative" detention !
That is " all available means" to Israel at its formation stage and maintenance stage!
Where do you stand on all that.... I am eager to know what you think of Zionism and Israel !


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/17/2005

1) “The very admission and presence of Zionist Jewish immigrants into Palestine intent on colonizing it AGAINST THE EXPRESS WILL of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous Palestinian people was and is in itself an act of aggression.”

You are entitled to that opinion, but I disagree. The territory has always been a colonial territory, first by the Romans, then by the Ottomans, then by the West. It was never an independent political entity (at least, not for over 2 millennium). Jews immigrated there and Arabs from other parts of the Middle East immigrated there. The “indigenous Palestinian people” you speak is in point of fact, a very small number, Arab and Jewish immigration was great towards the end of the 19th century.

2) “As you well, or should, know a pre WWI Jewish minority of 10% , versus 80% Arab/Palestinian(Moslem and Christian)majority, was transformed by British/Zionist collusion into 38% in the late forties.”

This reminds me of xenophobes in the US who lament the increasing percentage of black and Latino Americans and suggest closing our borders to prevent further immigration. If the Jews increased their numbers legally and fairly, through immigration and land purchases, why does it matter what the indigenous people want? As an analogy, why should a Mexican who moved to the United States legally and fairly be called “aggressive” simply because some white Americans don’t want them here?

3) “Concurrently with the admission of Jewish immigrants into Palestine was the the formation of armed Zionist terrorist organizations intent on colonizing and Zionizing Palestine ; making it :" ...as Jewish as France is French" according to Chaim Wieseman , the first President to be of "Israel".

You are incorrect. The fist organizations to be created by Zionists were labor organizations. It was not until it became clear that the British would not protect them from angry Arabs in the 1920’s that they formed an army. This proved to be a pivotal decision, as it would later prove essential in 1948.

4) “Both , the forced demographic distortion of Palestine and the formation of terrorist armed Zionist organizations, were undertaken and achieved by and under the protection of British ,then Zionist ,arms always AGAINST THE EXPRESS WILL of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous Palestinian people.”

Of all of your historically incorrect statements, perhaps one of the most egregious is this illusion of some great British/Zionist collaboration. In the beginning of the 20th century, the British did indeed fully support the Zionist cause, but as soon as it was realized that Zionism was creating unrest amongst the local Arabs, the British immediately threw their support towards the Arabs, issuing several White Papers to restrict Jewish immigration in order to appease the Arabs.

5) “The 1948 war was the, failed, attempt to abort and preempt the aggressive act of colonizing and Zionizing Arab, Moslem and Christian, Palestine.”

I do not support Bush going into a country that poses no threat to us in order to “preempt” what nation MIGHT do, and I certainly cannot support Arab armies intending on committing another Jewish Holocaust simply to “preempt” some imaginary expansion.

6) “How much do you know about terrorist acts commited by armed Zionist organizations , the to become the IDF ?”

I am surprised you bring up the KD Hotel, since that was aimed at the British, which you claim stood side by side with the Zionists? In any event, the Irgun was not supported by the mainstream Zionist government, and even the Irgun did not wantonly murder innocent civilians if they could avoid it. King David was a military target, and the British were warned to evacuate BEFORE the attack.

As for other episodes like Deir Yassin, these were war crimes, carried out in the context of war. They should never be excused, forgotten, or dismissed, and they will forever be a mark of shame on Israel.

You are sadly mistaken however, if you believe that such war crimes only went one way.

I am unfamiliar of the execution of Egyptian prisoners of war, but will look at any reference you send me.

7) “Where do you stand on all that.... I am eager to know what you think of Zionism and Israel!”

It is unfortunate that in modern war, civilians often bear the brunt of the fighting. The difference however, is that when Israel kills civilians, it is as the unfortunate and unintended consequence of attacking a terrorist target. When Palestinians kill civilians, they ARE the target.

To the extent that ANY Israeli soldier, in ANY context, knowingly kills innocent civilians, that soldier is guilty of terrorism. Both of us agree on that. Where we disagree is that I also hold Palestinians accountable for their acts of terrorism whereas you seem to not.

Stop the terrorism and the culture of death that has permeated Palestinian society, and you will end the occupation. So long as you distort history to your own liking, and ignore one side of the story; so long as you assume that Israel alone has committed acts of aggression and violence; until you acknowledge the real reason why Israel is reluctant to give the Palestinians their independence, there will never be peace, only a continuation of the status quo.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/16/2005

1) “Israel is the outcome of an act of aggression that led to the dislocation and dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian people and supplanting them by aliens chosen on a RACIAL/RACIST basis.”

You are party right; Israel is the outcome of an act of aggression. Had Israel not been invaded and attacked with the expressed purpose of wiping Jess out of the region, there would have been no war in 1948. Your statement about race, once again, remains an attempt to provoke emotion rather than reason. There is nothing “racist” about Israeli policies.

2) “That is enough, in my book , to make ZIONIST Israel irredeemably ILLEGAL and IMMORAL and as such to be resisted by all, including decent Jews, with all available means.”

Including terrorism, correct? I do not want to put words in your mouth Omar, but that is what you are suggesting, just for curiosity sake, correct?

You are correct, I do not know where you stand, although my conclusions are based on your own statement, not from thin air, so by all means, feel free to correct me at any point.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/16/2005

Omar,
Most of the “facts” that you mention are absolutely right and I do not challenge them. However, some of the severely skew the historical record.

1) “-That this demographic transformation was an act of "conquest" achieved by the force of British then Zionist/Israeli arms.”

This is simply silly. Prior to WWII, the British restricted Jewish immigration to appease the Arabs, and the Jews that did immigrate did so legally, paying for their property, not “stealing it” as you suggest. After WWII, Jewish organizations orchestrated a campaign of violent resistant to the British presence in the region, finally forcing the British out.

The war of 1948 changed the demographics, but this was not started by the Zionists. It was a defensive war for them, one in which they won.

2) “-That Zionist organizations perpetrated massacres and mass expulsions of civilian populations to ethnically cleanse as much as possible of Palestine from its indigenous Arab, Moslem and Christian, inhabitants to clear the way for Jewish settlers.”

I would actually agree with this, although this was not official policy and it was not conducted by the regular military. I cannot simply let this statement stand however, as if you suggest that Arabs did not commit the exact same atrocities. They did.

3) “-That after the cessation of hostilities displaced and dispossessed Palestinians were denied the right to return to their homes and regain their possessions.”

Incorrect. In point of fact, there was NEVER a cessation of hostilities. No nation on earth can possibly be asked to absorb a hostile population intend on its destruction, especially when almost a million Jews were evicted from their homes in Arab countries even though they posed no threat. Those Jews were kicked out, as opposed to many Palestinians who left their homes of their own accord. Those Palestinians who did not leave were given Israeli citizenship.

4) “-That displaced Palestinians were supplanted by aliens (Jews) selected on a pure RACIAL/RACIST basis.”

I really don’t know what your fascination of that word is. I’ll tell you what, why not just say that everything in the world is racist and then everyone will be satisfied. There is zero, ZERO racial criteria for the right of return in Israel, I really don’t know how much more clear I can make it.

5) “the Palestinian people are within their natural rights of self defense in opposing it as an aggressive , racist and alien usurping entity with all available means.”

Ah, so the wanton slaughter of innocent men, women, and children is a natural right. Omar, my friend, your views are exactly the reason why there can never be peace. Not because of your distortion of history to fit your own ideology, but because this distortion allows you to fully justify babies being shot at point blank range, elderly people being blown up while celebrating a holiday, and children being murdered while at a coffee shop or club. How very sad.

I looked at the sites you sent. On the first site, I was unable to find anything to corroborate your statement, although in fairness I do not have the time to adequately navigate the site to find it. Perhaps you could simply send me the exact page for me to take a look at.

On the second site, I also see nothing except what substantiates my claim: in 1949, armistices were signed with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, but none with the Palestinians. If they were recognized as a nation by anyone in the region, why was nothing signed with them?

The third site also had nothing that I can see that would offer any evidence of what you say, and neither did the fourth.

I could offer you an equal number of pro-Israel web-sites but without specifying what you are referring to, I don’t have much comment on them.

I repeat the historical fact, Palestinian nationalism is a 20th century phenomenon, and this has been thoroughly documented by the history books.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/13/2005

Omar,
I apologize for the lengthy reply, but in your post, you accuse me of not refuting your facts. I decided therefore to answer your points as thoroughly and directly as I can (with a little cynical humor, I hope you will forgive).

1) “I note that you did not dispute any of the "irrefutable historical facts" I have included in my post nor my conclusion”

With respect, Omar, perhaps you should re-read my post. In fact, I challenge much of your historical facts, although I could have gone line by line. Zionism has no tradition of “of total disregard of the most basic tenets of LAW and MORALITY.” Indeed, Jewish immigrants to Palestine throughout history and up until the creation of Israel had purchased their land LEGALLY from Arabs.

When John Hope Simpson arrived in Palestine in May 1930, he observed: “They [Jews] paid high prices for the land, and in addition they paid to certain of the occupants of those lands a considerable amount of money which they were not legally bound to pay” (Hope Simpson Report, p. 51).

2) “The interesting thing though about your post is that… you contrive to justify the utterly unjustifiable, namely:
-The denial of the Palestinian people his right to Self Determination post WWI”

I am unaware of any attempt or movement of Palestinian nationalism prior to the creation of the state of Israel, are you? I do not deny the Palestinian “right” of self-determination (although I would like to know why any people, Jews included, have any such “rights” or what that means). I accept the historical reality that the Palestinian DESIRE to have a state of their own does NOT date back that far. The oldest Palestinian nationalist movement was created in 1957, created, according to its own website “as a Palestinian nationalist movement opposed to Arab nationalism.” As such, the Palestinians had no governmental infrastructure, not civil service, and no authority. Thus, I do not “deny” anything, I merely accept the historical reality.

http://www.pna.gov.ps/Government/gov/fateh.asp

I also offer up the following quotes to substantiate this claim:
http://www.afsi.org/MEDIA/newsLinks/shockers/m100.htm

3) “-The premeditated politically motivated ethnic cleansing campaign via mass civilian massacres and expulsions by Zionist organizations in the 1948 war then by the state of Israel”

You are wrong to suggest that I try to justify this since I cannot justify what I do not believe. Have you any evidence that this was “premeditated,” or that it constitutes “ethnic cleansing” (by the way, I love how this term has now become something of a fad among anti-Israel commentators since the 1990’s, when it was first coined… good to see that “genocide” is wearing a bit thin). Indeed, there is not much more to add than what I already have, so I will simply repost what I said above:

“Atrocities occurred on both sides, as they often do during war time, and I by no means justify or support Jewish atrocities that were committed over Arab atrocities. One could equally claim, however, that the Arabs initiated “a relentless campaign of terror aiming at the ethnic cleansing of” Jews “through mass massacres and expulsion of civilians.” The only difference being that whereas Jewish war crimes occurred in the context of war, almost 1 million Jews were expelled by Arab governments out of sheer anti-Semitism.”

4) “-The "legal" Israeli fiasco that deems present resident as "absentee" and the native born resident as "alien"

Once again, perhaps you did not read, or fully understand, my post. I stated the following: “I certainly do not support this action, but let us not pretend that this is somehow unique to Israel.” Maybe if you could explain how this statement “justifies” the practice, rather than its intent of explaining it.

5) “-The bare faced Israeli contempt of the will of the international community as expressed in UNGA resolutions, that you describe as mere "suggestions, while failing to mention that the "partition" plan was also a UNGA resolution”

You pick an odd example of a GA resolution to contend with my argument. BECAUSE GA resolutions are only suggestion, the Arabs rejected it! All of the Arab members states of the UN - Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen- voted against it. Upon the resolution's adoption, the Arab delegates declared partition invalid.

Thus, either the Arab world has been in violation of international law for all this time (which is not the case since it was only a suggestion) OR all those anti-Israel resolutions are equally suggestive. I will note again, by the way, that this decision proved to be one example of how Arab countries (and later Palestinians, since the UN denied them a voice, since they did not exist as a nation- see point #2 above) never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

6) “-The declared unmitigated Racist criteria on which the decision to grant or with hold the Right of Return to Palestine is made”

There is zero racial criteria for having a Right to Return. All races, be they Arab, African, Asian, Latino, or Caucasian are welcome. Indeed almost a million Arabs were welcomed with open arms when they were expelled from their native lands. Why were those Arabs welcomed? The same reasons they were expelled: they were Jewish. Israel is a declared Jewish state, just as many Arab nations are declared Arab states. Judaism is not a race, it is a cultural identity, and the law is not unique to Israel.

7) “-The "legal" machinations and perversions through which Israel contrives to retain the plundered possessions of the Palestinian people”

You are going to have to be a bit more specific, but if you are referring to the episodes mentioned in the article, then I would once again urge you to read what I wrote of it: “I must say that I honestly enjoyed this review, and consider this system totally unacceptable.”

8a) “However two things in your post DO surprise me:
1-Your bizarre contention that pan Arabism is racially "based" when ,in your defense of the RACIST nature of the (Israeli) Law of Return , you state:"...and Pan-Arabs believe in the ideal of a united Arab state encompassing all Arabs, " implying that it is equally racist!

Yes? What is it about the comparison that surprises you? My claim is simple: Zionism is for Jews what Pan-Arabism is for Arabs, or Pan-Africanism is to people of African decent. If any one of those things is “racist,” they all are, although since Zionism and Pan-Islamisism do not deal explicitly with race, it is difficult to sustain that charge against them.

8b) “your statement reeks of an obscene RACIST mentality !

So in other words, if I understand your logic, ANY position that does not wholly support the modern Palestinian view of history must be racist?!? Wow. I only wish that Arial Sharon had darker skin, that way I could dismiss your entire disdain for Israel on racism. But wait! I could still say you are an anti-Semite! Yes, I’ll do that, you only hate Israel because you are an anti-Semite. Nah, never mind, I still prefer to deal with facts rather than empty propagandistic accusations.

I already covered this REALITY above in point #2. What in the name of heaven does race have to do with anything? I will not give the Palestinians special treatment by re-writing history for them simply because of the color of their skin, sorry.

9) “To imply, to say nothing about stating, that the Palestinian people was unaware or unconcerned and did not strongly resist British assisted Zionist conquest and designs on his homeland and had "no nationalistic ambitions" is not only to belie glaring historical facts but equally , and more importantly, can only spring from a sickly malformed, racially blinded and supremely self centered mind totally oblivious to his surrounding and the consequences of his designs; which is the real essence of Zionism .”

Somewhere in that hateful and inflammatory rant, you had a point… let me find it… hold on one second. Got it. You are accusing me of denying that Palestinians “strongly resisted” Jewish immigration (I think). In point of fact, I do not deny this since this too is a historical reality. As soon as many local Palestinians realized that the aim of Jewish immigration was independence, there were massive resistance, culminating in the riots of 1920-1921. However, this opposition to Zionism did not translate into an independent desire for their own country.

As Thomas Idinopulos says in his concluding chapter on the history of Palestine, “from the beginning, the Arabs were so preoccupied with stopping Jewish immigration and driving out the Zionists, as to give scant meaning to the idea of an Arab state of Palestine… unlike Zionism, Arab nationalism in Palestine was never a truly popular political movement.” (Weathered by Miracles: A History of Palestine from Bonaparte and Muhahhad Ali to Ben-Guion and the Mufti).


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/12/2005

I must say that I honestly enjoyed this review, and consider this system totally unacceptable. I do think that the final points about the number of civilians killed leaves out the context of the conflict, and the brutal nature of the second intefadah, but otherwise, a very enlightening article.

Unsurprisingly, I disagree with Omar’s conclusions almost entirely, although I am pleased to see him distinguish between Zionism and Israel, 2 entirely separate things.

1) “The following irrefutable historical facts indicate the progress of the Zionist colonialist conquest of Palestine”

Israel did not “conquer” the territories, it retained them in a defensive war. Like the Rhineland after WWI, the territories were simply land that belonged to the enemy (Egypt and Jordan) and could act as a buffer against future attacks. Also, the territories are not colonial possessions any more than our presence in Afghanistan or Iraq.

2) “This was achieved, in collusion with the British mandate, by the forced alteration of the demographic composition of Palestine by admitting, against the express will of the overwhelming majority of its indigenous inhabitants, Jewish and Zionist immigrants until a small minority becomes a large minority with "national rights"

Your history is a bit skewed. Once the British saw the reaction of the Arab population, they issued 2 white papers in the 1930’s that limited Jewish immigration to a trickle. This quota was strictly enforced, even during the Holocaust, when greater immigration could have saved thousands of lives. As for the Demographic change, there is no evidence that the people we now call “Palestinians” ever had any nationalistic ambitions. The countries that did not want Jews were Jordan and Syria, who thought that the land should be theirs… certainly not so the Palestinians could be given independence.

3) “This was substantially achieved by a relentless campaign of terror aiming at the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs through mass massacres and expulsion of civilians as in Deir Yassin and Tantoura.”

Atrocities occurred on both sides, as they often do during war time, and I by no means justify or support Jewish atrocities that were committed over Arab atrocities. One could equally claim, however, that the Arabs initiated “a relentless campaign of terror aiming at the ethnic cleansing of” Jews “through mass massacres and expulsion of civilians.” The only difference being that whereas Jewish war crimes occurred in the context of war, almost 1 million Jews were expelled by Arab governments out of sheer anti-Semitism.

4) “the nation/state that bases its claim of a legitimate birth on UN resolutions adamantly refuses to implement UN resolutions that would hamper its ethnic cleansing strategy.”

Actually, the Arabs rejected the UN partition plan, which would have given them a far larger country than they can ever hope to achieve today. Furthermore, legally, General Assembly Resolutions are NON-binding on UN members, thus making the unquestionable bias against Israel in that hypocritical chamber merely suggestions, not orders.

Perhaps if they gave any thought at all to Jewish expulsions from their homelands, or to the murder of Israeli civilians, they might have more moral credibility but as it stands, more resolutions have been passed against Israel than any other nation on earth, including the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan, and the Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan COMBINED. The Palestinians have been subject to exactly zero resolutions.

5) “To retain properties plundered from the Palestinian people Israel enacted laws re "absentee ownership" while always denying "absentee owners "the right to Return, thus disallowing them the possibility of annulling their "absentee" status and regaining their properties.”

It is an unfortunate reality that whenever territory is acquired by new governments, such laws are seen. This was done by European governments after WWII and used to expel hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans of their land. It was done throughout the Middle East (and far worse) to expel Jews. I certainly do not support this action, but let us not pretend that this is somehow unique to Israel.

6) “This "right" is being granted or denied on a pure, unadulterated RACIAL/CONFESSIONAL basis; anybody with a Jewish lineage, no matter how tenuous, can "return " to Palestine, Palestinians can not!”

Very true. Just as Pan-Africanists believe that everyone of African descent should return to Africa, and Pan-Arabs believe in the ideal of a united Arab state encompassing all Arabs, and fundamentalists believe in one Islamic state to which all Muslims are welcome, Zionism believes in a Jewish state to be a refuge for all Jews.

Of course it makes little sense for any nation to also welcome people who pose a threat to national security and who would have no loyalty to the state.

7) “It objectively depicts the continuous implementation of an old Zionist tradition of total disregard of the most basic tenets of LAW and MORALITY that gave birth to Israel in the first place and sustains its occupation of Palestine today!”

I would not agree that the review was objective, but I would agree that it is excellent nonetheless. The arbitrary nature of Israeli law in the territories probably has more to do with the frustration and anger of the Palestinians than anything else, since it is completely impossible to live by. I look forward to reading the book.

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