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40 Years of Occupation and 60 Years of Wars: Enough


Mazin Qumsiyeh • 4 June 2007

Those who planned the 1967 "six day war" and we the people who came under Israeli occupation could not foresee its impact on our lives let alone Americans and Iraqis today. I was a 10-year old kid growing up in the Shepherd's field at the time the occupation began and my memories of the initial onslaught are vivid. After I immigrated to the US in 1979, I still go almost every year and maintain residency there. I saw it get worse and worse every year from 1967 (and I dread my trip this summer). What can be said after 40 years of illegal occupation, after over 450,000 Israeli Jewish colonial settlers in the West Bank, after over 18,000 of our homes demolished, after causing massive economic dislocation (Palestinian unemployment is at twice what it was for Americans during the Great depression), after over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners now in Israeli jails, after over 10,000 fellow Palestinian civilians killed? Should we focus on the price the world has paid including the unfolding tragedy in Iraq and soon Iran? How about the over $1 trillion that Israel cost the US in these 40 years?

As in most wars, the first casualty is the truth. Israeli General Matityahu Peled admitted: "The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which was born and developed after the war...To pretend that the Egyptian forces massed on our frontiers were in a position to threaten the existence of Israel constitutes an insult not only to the intelligence of anyone capable of analyzing this sort of situation, but above all an insult to the Zahal Israeli army" (Ha'aretz, 19 March 1972).

The clearest evidence of Israel's intentions was the commencement of immediate Israeli settlement of the occupied areas. Israel also annexed 10% of the West Bank (expanded "greater Jerusalem") and all the Golan Heights. Israel hoped that through economic pressures, land and natural resource confiscations and physical violence, they would be able to annex the rest once the native population was reduced, especially on the richest land. That is why Israeli colonies/ settlements (which violate International law) sit atop the Western and Eastern water aquifers and encircle Jerusalem (all in the West Bank). It is also why Israel still holds the Golan heights (for its water). The charade of colonial need for security (from those irrational and violent natives) has always been the mantra used for further colonization and expansion, whether by European settlers in the Americas, the Apartheid regime in South Africa, or in Israel.

For making all of this possible, the US lost credibility around the world. Votes at the UN General assembly now routinely see 160 countries voting one way while Israel and the US vote another. Attacks on civilians by US supplied F-16s, Apache gunship helicopters and cluster bombs are seen in other parts of the world as state terrorism, not as Israeli "self-defense." Europeans polled have, by a large majority, identified the US and Israel as the two most dangerous countries in the world. The shelving of the investigation of the deliberate Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 due to the Israeli lobby shows that the war was not what cemented the so called "special relationship" between Israel and the US (see ). Any person with simple library research skills can find ample documentation of the Israel lobby agents like Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith et al dragging America into endless wars (currently conveniently packaged as a "war on terrorism").

The rabid attacks on President Carter, Mearsheimer and Walt and all who dare to question the lobby ironically prove their thesis. Thanks to the internet, it is becoming more difficult to silence the truth. So even if this article is not published in a US mainstream newspaper, it will eventually be read by tens of thousands anyway.

America in the past, and Israel more recently, adopted visions of "manifest destiny" that justified the conquest of untamed "wilderness," against which the indigenous people were the main obstacle. Vilifying the natives was thus a common feature of America culture then as it is in Israel today. The solutions are not too difficult to imagine and it starts with dissecting the myths about this "special" relationship that is contrary to US interests. The history of this issue, and its solution, based on International law, are well recognized around the world, but are obscured and reviled in America thanks to the hijacking our institutions by those with ideologies and agendas that are contrary to basic human rights of native people. At the core of any viable solution is the right of Palestinian refugees and displaced people to be allowed to return to their homes and lands (see and For a real roadmap to peace, all we need is to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to implement all relevant UN Resolutions, starting with UNGA 194 of 1949. Segregation in the Jim Crow South and in Apartheid South Africa were symptoms of the disease, so why do some still consider them solutions in Israel/Palestine?

It is time to seek genuine reconciliation both in America and Israel. On June 10, thousands will be in DC for a rally and march demanding an end to the occupation (see May the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Palestinian dispossession (November 1947) be a new turning point towards real peace, based on justice and equality and the recognition that we are all human beings.


Dr. Qumsiyeh is a member of the steering committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and author of "Sharing the Land of Canaan".





































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18 June 2007

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