Netanyahu: Coming to a City Near You!
by Susan Abulhawa
“Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories."
-- Benjamin Netanyahu to students at Bar Ilan University
(from the Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989).
The former Prime Minster of Israel has been busy appealing to American audiences for support of Israel’s “war on terror” by equating Israel’s merciless colonial designs with the US war against Al Qaeda. Ostensibly, the aim is to appeal to American sensitivities, post 9-11. Tuesday, he’ll speak in Pittsburgh.
In some ways, he exemplifies the imperialist nature of his assertions. He is the son of immigrants to Palestine, turned impertinent master with nefarious solutions to “deal” with the “problem” of the natives, who have lived on, cultivated, and loved the land for centuries.
He speaks of “cleaning out” the occupied territories, “attacking terrorist nests,” destroying “terrorist dens,” (or any other choice zoological habitat.) So efficient is the Israeli propaganda machine that a whole nation of human beings is reduced to little more than a “den” of “terrorists” such that no matter what sheer wanton killing and destruction Israel inflicts, it is done without so much as a peep of compassion from our absurdly pro-Israel government.
An armada of apologists, Netanyahu among them, hold up the exhausted and fantastic claim that Israel, the world’s sixth most powerful military force, is “fighting for its survival” against a besieged civilian population with no defenses: no army, no navy, no airforce and no refuge.
Where is the context of the occupation? Where is the context of an entire nation forced to teeter on the margins of humanity without basic human rights, subjected daily to the humiliation, grinding oppression and arbitrary thievery of land and water by the Jewish state for 35 years?
Where is the context of broken agreements, the ever-metastasizing Jewish-only settlements (35 brand new settlements in the past two years alone!), or Israel’s repeated flaunting of international law and defiance of over 65 UN Resolutions? Where is the memory of 500 Palestinian villages wiped out in 1948 and their inhabitants dumped like garbage into refugee camps?
US media has so blindly accepted Israel’s claims of self-defense that few pause to consider or report (in any meaningful way) the overwhelming devastation, the unimaginable brutality, the children (as young as 10) who languish in hideous “detention centers,” the curfews that last months, the closing of schools, the cutting off of water and electricity, the prevention of medical treatment, the unrelenting attacks on medical personnel and facilities, or the systematic destruction of civil institutions, like the Ministry of Education, or the Ministry of Statistics.
By what ruthless standard is it self-defense when Israel pounds a refugee camp, home to 13,000 souls, for ten days with helicopter gunships, unremitting tank fire, and missile strikes by the hundreds each day? By what logic is it self-defense when Israel obliterates 2000-year-old Christian and Muslim architecture in the old city of Nablus then places its people under a curfew that has, thus far, lasted 94 days, without food or medical supplies!
Only by the most racist logic is it self-defense when Israel drops a one-ton bomb in a civilian neighborhood of Gaza, the most densely populated spot on earth, killing and injuring scores of human beings in their sleep. It is only by the bigoted standards of the Netanyahu sorts that placing a booby-trap in a refugee camp (which killed five school boys, 8 to 12 years old, on their way to school), is “self-defense.”
Netanyahu’s dubs these measures as “cleaning out” the territories. His choice of words are ironic, considering that Israeli soldiers defecated and urinated all over the West Bank when they “swept” through it. In Jenin alone, it seemed every house or mosque I walked through, where the IDF had set up camp (to keep out journalists) was turned into a toilet. Consistently, they made a point to use pages from the Quran as toilet paper.
Netanyahu speaks of Israel’s need to “destroy the terrorist infrastructure.” Everywhere in the occupied territories, the Israeli army has rampaged with tanks, destroying buildings, homes, water pipes, and electric lines. They have looted businesses, paralyzed education, and defiled places of worship, leaving Palestinians without an intact structure for sustenance or life. It is the infrastructure of Palestinian existence, which Israel has destroyed. And it is a war crime!
In defiance of all tenets of democracy, of law, and human decency, Israel acts with impunity, always justifying its crimes for “security.” International law and morality are subdued before Israel’s “security needs.” Why? Why must Israel’s self-perpetuated security concerns undermine the rule of law and international sense of justice?
Israel’s security problems arise NOT from some inherent bestiality of Palestinians, but from its own ideology of religious superiority and entitlement. It arises from its continual denial of Palestine’s right to exist; from its colonial aspirations and notions of a divine real estate agent; from its brutality and utter disregard for Palestinian life. Its plans for walled-in Palestinian “entities,” (which Netanyahu advocates as a “necessary security measure”) are no more than blueprints of glorified concentration camps, a source of subjugated cheap labor.
Ultimately, no matter the propaganda and misinformation. The basic facts remain unaltered: Israel is an occupying military force, illegally colonizing the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinians are an occupied civilian population who have gone to great measures in pleading, negotiating, terrorizing, and conceding in order to secure freedom and statehood.
Yet, oblivious to the depravity of the Israeli occupation, we line up to listen to the MIT graduate weave his deceptions. Few rub their sleepy eyes before the facts. Few know or mention the historical context of conquest, dispossession, occupation and injustice against the Palestinian people.
The remaining hope is that the notion behind the words of Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is finally felt in the United States, Israel’s financier.
Robinson said, before the international community: “The situation in the Occupied Territories is well known to us all. I say to you simply but with all the force I can: I call you to conscience. I invite you to let conscience move in this situation taking place before our very eyes.”
Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian living in Pennsylvania. She is the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, a non-profit organization dedicated to building playgrounds and recreation areas for Palestinian children living under military occupation. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org