Aiming to be Arab-free

What we are seeing in Israel is the beginning of a curtailment of civil rights for Israeli Jews as well as Palestinians, reports Tony Greenstein

In the past two weeks there has been an increase in Israeli attacks on Gaza, culminating with the bombing by Israel of a factory and civilian areas on April 1. Presumably some form of April fool’s joke - with a vengeance.

However, the sporadic firing and shelling does not tell the whole story or even part of it. Israel continues to maintain its starvation blockade, which has in itself resulted in hundreds of silent deaths - ie, medical emergencies, the elderly and very young without nutrition, people living outdoors in the cold (concrete is barred from the list of imports).

The policy of Israel and the United States remains unchanged: to ensure that the compliant quisling regime in Ramallah, led by ‘president’ Mahmoud Abbas, also reigns over Gaza. That was the purpose of the attack on Gaza 15 months ago. It is still the policy. And why?

Israel’s solution to the Palestinian question, apart from transferring the Palestinians into Jordan and Lebanon, is a form of the indirect rule so favoured by Lord Lugard in the days of the British empire. Israel will continue to rule over what was mandate Palestine, but in the Palestinian areas responsibility for collection of garbage and the mundane tasks of civil government will be left to the Palestinian Authority and their henchmen. Sovereignty, except in a very formal sense, will remain with Israel.

Most areas of the West Bank will be Arabrein (Arab-free), with Palestinians acting as the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the settlers. The aim is to destroy their agriculture and turn Palestinian into landless labourers. Gaza, despite the atrociously reactionary politics of Hamas, which would like to reach a deal with Abbas and Fatah, is the focus of Palestinian resistance. Hamas, despite itself and its effective creation as an Israeli tool for dividing the Palestinians and creating a religious counterweight to secular Palestinian nationalism, has been forced to lead the struggle against Israel.

No-one should be under any illusions about this. Hamas has no strategy for linking up with any other oppressed group. It has little to say to ordinary working class Egyptians, whose country helps Israel to maintain the blockade. It hopes, via its support from Iran and Syria, to be invited to the negotiating table. Yet Israel has no desire to negotiate with anyone who represents any form of Palestinian independence.

This is demonstrated by its attitude to Palestinian civil resistance. In recent years, as the glamour of military struggle has disappeared and as reality has dawned, so increasing numbers of Palestinian alongside a minority of Israelis have taken to non-violent resistance. Israel’s response has been to batter them into submission, killing a few (including journalists who have witnessed Israeli attacks) arresting and torturing Palestinian activists[1] and ensuring that any notion of ‘Gandhian’ resistance (a much embroidered myth anyway) has been firmly quashed.

Israel has even begun targeting Jewish demonstrators such as Ezra Nawi, a gay activist and pacifist.[2] Just as it has targeted NGOs and other civil society groups.

What we are seeing in Israel, with the appointment of an open racist and fascist, Avigdor Liebermann of the Yisrael Beteinu party as foreign minister, is the beginning also of a curtailment of civil rights for Israeli Jews as well as Palestinians. Just as in South Africa, where there was a measure of democracy for the settler population, so in Israel attacks on the Palestinians are now spilling over into Jewish society too. Leftists are seen as the enemy.

We have just learnt about Anat Kam, a journalist for Ha’aretz, the most prestigious and liberal Israeli newspaper, who has been under house arrest for leaking military documents concerning the extrajudicial execution (assassination) of Palestinians in the West Bank. The military had promised that they would try and arrest those they were targeting and claims were later made that the murdered Palestinians had in fact been firing at their killers, but, as Kam helped reveal, this was untrue .

A second Ha’aretz journalist, Uri Blau, is in London, fearful that he will be arrested if he returns to Israel.


  1. See, for example, azvsas.blogspot.com/2010/01/israel-climbs-down-releases-palestinian.html
  2. See azvsas.blogspot.com/2009/08/ghandi-could-never-have-survived-in.html