Ideological Barriers to Peace

e Egyptian-brokered cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas and the subsequent events that have taken place since the June 19th truce has once again exposed not only a number of truisms about the nature of Israeli-Palestinian relations, but also has brought to light the not so new ideological barriers from which we understand the conflict.

The agreement, which went into effect shortly after an Israeli air strike killed six Palestinians in Gaza, “is designed to halt Israeli incursions into the Gaza Strip, and to stop missiles being fired from Gaza into southern Israel,” as reported by the BBC. The truce also requires Israel to ease its economic strangulation of the Gaza Strip, to allow certain goods inside at first, and to gradually end the siege. Israel is also obliged to open the desperately needed Rafah crossing that connects Gaza into Egypt.

Up to this point Hamas has kept its end of the deal as it has halted all of its rocket attacks, and has arrested other militants involved in firing rockets. Some Qassam rockets have been fired into southern Israel since the truce by other non related fringe resistance groups, such as Islamic Jihad which describes their acts as retaliatory, for Israel’s killing of several Palestinian fighters in the West Bank, where the cease fire does not apply.

The Hamas mufti has condemned anyone who fires a rocket at this time, a ‘criminal.’ We should also remember that in regards to the ability of Hamas to govern the Gaza Strip and control other militants during a time of cease fire, that Israel has placed insurmountable obstacles in its way, first undermining the democratically elected Hamas government, and then isolating it in Gaza, driving it out of the West Bank by supporting a puppet regime and refusing negotiations for peace.

Had Hamas been able to operate without extreme economic strangulation, massive military intervention, and the withholding of hundreds of millions of desperately needed Palestinian paid taxes, all aimed at its destruction, perhaps we would not be discussing the role of fringe groups during a cease-fire.

Israel, during the cease-fire has blatantly violated every aspect of the agreement. Israel has refused to open the Rafah crossing into Egypt. Israel has also refused to ease the near 15 month siege of the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million inhabitants. The siege of Gaza was initiated in June 2007 by Israel as a means to isolate and apply “pressure” to Hamas and “weaken” the legitimate government of the Palestinians, an ongoing act which was condemned by the United Nations and countless human rights agencies as “collective punishment of the Gaza population” in violation of the Geneva conventions or international law, constituting a war crime.

Translated into simple terms, Israel is holding 1.5 million Palestinians (half of which are children) hostage in an open air prison in an attempt to undermine the internationally recognized and legitimate government of the Palestinians because Israel doesn’t like them.

The U.S. Army Code definition of terrorism includes “acts that are dangerous to human life that appear to be intended to coerce or intimidate a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction.”

But we cannot use this clear and simple definition of terrorism when Israel proclaims that they must continue to “pressure” Hamas in order to “put an end to the organization’s control over the territory” as proclaimed by Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, Haim Ramon, which in the matter, Israel has apparently, “no choice.” If we apply minimal moral and legal standards to ourselves and Israel, as we apply to others, the ideological constraints no longer exist and Israel and the U.S. become leading terrorists states, by definition.

Furthermore, through Deputy PM Ramon, Israel made clear that “a truce will not prevent a military operation” in Gaza, despite the fact that the truce was partially centered around preventing a military operation in Gaza. Clearly, Israel is stating, again in laymen terms, that they reserve the right to violate the cease fire agreement by using “force and violence to achieve political and ideological goals” (terrorism definition again).

In perhaps the most callous and arrogant violation of the cease-fire agreement, the Israeli Army, according to a Hamas statement, on the very first day of the truce, “opened fire towards the city of Khan Younis in Southern Gaza.” Hamas has also reported, as has the nonviolent Palestine based International Solidarity Movement, an organization made up of international peace activists, that Israel has been routinely firing at unarmed Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza coast.

In ISM’s most recent report dated September 1st, the opening day of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, “two Gazan fishermen were injured when Israeli naval vessels fired on Palestinian fishing boats,” one of which is in “serious condition,” as he was hit in the head with shrapnel. ISM has also listed detailed reports on its website of IDF gunmen firing on Gazan fishing boats after being informed of the presence of international volunteers.

The Gaza fishermen that have been subjected to Israeli violence during the cease-fire period have also kept in accordance with previous agreements as their boats were within the “fishing boundaries” signed and agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Oslo 1996.

Perhaps we can imagine the reactions in Israel, and indeed the U.S., if Hamas soldiers routinely fired at unarmed Israeli fishermen off the coast of Israeli territory, resulting in death or injury to Israeli Jews during this fragile cease-fire agreement.

Meanwhile, during the respective period of time of the truce, Israel has been carrying out and continuing its usual violence, subjugation and terror in the Occupied West Bank, which is internationally recognized Palestinian territory as well. Several Palestinian people have been shot, injured, and in multiple cases, even killed during this cease-fire period in the West Bank, including ten year old Ahmad Moussa, who was shot in the forehead by an IDF soldier in Nilin in late July. According to paramedics, Ahmad died instantly.

Moussa’s murder came amidst peaceful protests of Palestinians and international volunteers regarding the illegal confiscation of Palestinian land to make way for the ongoing construction of Israel’s “separation fence” which de facto annexes 50% of the West Bank, to secure control over Palestinian water resources and most importantly, to permanently absorb into “Greater Israel” Israel’s colonial Jewish-only settlements.

Under the 49th article of the 4th Geneva convention, which Israel is a signatory, the settlements are illegal, as the occupying power is prohibited from “transferring parts of its civilian population into occupied territory.”

Israel’s “separation fence,” which began construction in 2002, was ruled illegal as well, in a near unanimous decision by the World Court in 2004.

In Nilin, as it has been all over the occupied West Bank, throughout the cease-fire period, Palestinian civilian populations have been subjected to the same degradation, humiliation, and violence as they have been since 1967. What is odd though, is that the cease-fire agreement does not apply to the majority of Palestinian territory: the West Bank.

This recent cease-fire agreement, which is supposed to be promoting, at least, temporary peace, and a cessation of hostilities between the Palestinian and Israeli governments, leaves Israel full reign to continue carrying out human rights violations and atrocities in the majority of Palestinian territory.

No large media outlet seemed to find this odd, but let us consider a cease-fire agreement that ordered Hamas to cease its attacks on Sderot, but was clear that, for example, Tel Aviv did not apply to the truce, and Hamas took advantage of its ratified right to shoot at and violate at will, countless human rights of Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv. Of course this would be absurd. But, why then is it not unreasonable when applied to Palestinians?

This leads us to a better understanding of the ideological purpose of Israel’s 2005 so-called “Disengagement” of Gaza. Israel, by superficially absolving itself of responsibility for the Gaza population which it occupied, moved immediately to expand settlements, wall construction, land confiscation, and militarization in the West Bank. Israel is now using the same ideological weapon in creating an artificial separation of the Gazan Palestinians and the Palestinians in the West Bank, to imply that they are two separate nations and people. It requires little speculation to conclude that Israel wishes simply remove the legitimate Hamas government, stationed in Gaza, and the Gazan population from the immediate political conflict.

Israel though, of course, is still occupying the Gaza Strip as it controls everything going in and out, its borders, its waters and its airspace. It also reserves the right for itself to send troops and conduct air raids on the population and the government when it chooses. By definition occupation is one nation exerting effective control over a territory that does not belong to it. The Gaza Strip is still occupied.

Israel, by its own ideology, can afford to remove the people of Gaza and the democratically elected Hamas from the political conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, no matter how ludicrous it is, because it has ensured the relative stability of its puppet government in the West Bank, led by Mahmoud Abbas. Gaza makes no difference to Israel because they have put into power an illegitimate government subservient to U.S. and Israeli demands.

In fact, the ideological grip of U.S.-Israeli propaganda is so strong that Ehud Olmert’s comments during this cease-fire period, announcing to the BBC that the so called “peace talks” with the PA were “going well” failed to illicit any sort of response in any of the mainstream news outlets in the US or Britain, and presumably Israel.

The idea that Israel could be “seeking peace” and actually making progress with the Palestinians while simultaneously undermining and, by its own admission, seeking to overthrow the democratically elected, legitimate government of the Palestinians is fascinating.

While Israel is “seeking peace” they are by definition, continuing a terrorist policy towards the 1.5 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, which by denial of allowing medical patients access out of Gaza, has alone killed 200 human beings, not to speak of the inflicted mass poverty, unemployment, and food insecurity.

While boasting of the benefits of their “peace talks” with the illegitimate puppet Fatah government, Israel is, at this very hour, firing upon civilians and peaceful demonstrators, demolishing homes, continuing settlement expansion, continuing the construction of the illegal wall, and maintaining two sets of laws for Jews and Arabs respectively, in the Occupied territories. Only Israel, according to the official western doctrinal systems, can “pursue peace” while maintaining an apartheid system, violating a cease-fire agreement, continuing a 41 year occupation, and conducting terror daily through the means described.

It is for these reasons that if we are to play a meaningful role in bringing about justice for the people living in Israel/Palestine, that we must learn to see things as they are, and not how those in power want us to see them.

Max Kantar is an undergraduate at Ferris State University. He can be reached for comment at: Read other articles by Max, or visit Max's website.

3 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 12th, 2008 at 8:44am #

    we cld say that judeo-christian alliance for destruction of palestine, iraq, afghanistan, iran, some ‘stans, china, russia, et al, being so strong econo-militarily can also afford to be deliberately stupid.
    even mighty russia had to undergo the treatment.
    intentional stupidity may be used for more than one reason. whatever the causes for and rationalization for it, it wld be best for pals not to hear what judaists,zionists, and christians say.
    i try not to read what ashkenazic and christian peoples say.
    i wld have not read the piece by kantar but for the fact that writers on dv need support.

  2. Gliscameria said on September 12th, 2008 at 3:18pm #

    I have a hard time accepting that it could actually be this bad. I mean, surely the palestinians did something to provoke this. How can one group of people treat another so badly so blatantly? Why aren’t Israel’s non-jew neighbors burning the place down? Surely something is missing.

  3. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 12th, 2008 at 3:37pm #

    yes, actually much is missing. among many aspects, most important being vastly stronger econo-military-diplomatic West than even all muslims put together let alone arabs or pals.
    any military action against israel wld amount to an aggression against US.
    where US interests are that’s where US is. US had declared that in ’17. after u-booten had torpedoed US ships carrying supplies to UK, US declared that where US ships where that’s where US territory was.
    and in spite of the fact that angary gives a belligerent nation right to use or destroy property of neutrals.
    and US was not even neutral.
    if any arab land atacked israel it wld be suicidal. thank u.