It’s Not the Occupation – It’s the Settler Colonial System

PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 19 Jun 2017

Jews for Justice for Palestinians – TRANSCEND Media Service

Reserve army of labour: outside industrial parks in the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians work for Israeli-owned farms. Photo by Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

Fifty Years of Occupation

A Forum (Part 2)

By Gershon Shafir, Omar Jabary Salama, Sobhi Samour, Mandy Turne and Andy Clarno, MERIP
June 07, 2017

Read part 1 of this forum

***********************

Notes on a Preoccupation

By Omar Jabary Salamanca, MERIP
June 07, 2017

Around 2002, as Palestinians were again up in arms to defy Israel’s relentless and vicious colonial policies, a renowned Israeli graphic designer, David Tartakover, released a poster series titled “Stain.” The prints display a glowing red blot in the shape of the West Bank over portraits of Israeli politicians and of Tartakover himself. Later, the artist recycled this design into other works, including a piece to mark “35 years of occupation,” the book cover of A Civilian Occupation and a poster titled “Stain, Herzl,” which features Theodor Herzl, one of the founding fathers of Zionism.

The later image is for me evocative of a hostile and widespread settler imaginary, with critical material effects to be sure. This imaginary for the past five decades, and particularly since the signature of the Oslo colonial treaty, has come to define how insiders and outsiders to the Israel question are often socialized into, think about and act on Palestine. It is, in many ways, a fabulous visual illustration that reduces a people´s century-old struggle to its contemporary minimum expression.

The West Bank, the red stain in this image, reveals itself as an abstract and dislocated figuration that can be read in terms of the elisions and erasures it produces. The most obvious is the spatial fragmentation that occurs in the replacement of contemporary Palestine, from the river to the sea, with what could well be a place called Judea and Samaria. Attached to the spatial imaginary is a temporal obliteration, the seamless transcendence of 1967 as singular historical point of departure and the collapsing of everything prior. The elusiveness of this hollow land, like cartographic depictions often do, additionally severs the social body politic within and extending beyond its opaque boundaries—Palestinians, with as many inhabitants living in the diaspora as in the land of milk and honey, are nowhere to be seen.

Though more subtle, perhaps, is the conceptual partition emerging from this representation. Occupation, now as ontological certainty with its own spatial and temporal boundaries, disavows the broader collective experience and structural condition of Palestinian dispossession and displaces it with a singular, exceptional and temporary event.

In the shadow of oblivion, a particular fiction begins to sink in. Palestine becomes the West Bank; the West Bank, and the West Bank only, becomes synonymous with occupation; and, in turn, occupation redefines, decentres and whitewashes the settler-colonial and racial capitalist nature and trajectory of Zionism—after all, kibbutzism was always a bigoted negation of socialism and, today, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, not Modi’in Illit or Beitar Illit, are the major colonial settlements in Palestine.

This abstraction, however, also operates as a productive and cautionary tale. Occupation, understood as a legal and technocratic affair, corrupts the soul of an otherwise moral and necessary settler utopia—one marked by its own modern experience of erasure yet inevitably haunted by emptied houses, erased villages, devastated communities and the ghosts of those that die(d) for living.

The West Bank metamorphoses into a convenient container for settlers on the proper side of a malleable Green Line, a site to dump their own sins, fears and pangs of conscience. This safe space absolves Zionism, and Israel itself, of confronting its criminal past while attempting to contain its boundless thuggish present. Simultaneously, the West Bank and the possibility of an end to its occupation, enables a refuge for liberal ideas of reconciliation and peace without social justice—an illusion that temporarily appeases embarrassment and guilt while cementing an endless time of injustice.

The West Bank blood-stain on the face of Theodor Herzl, father of modern Zionism and forefather of the later state of Israel. Image on a poster by David Tartakover

In the last instance, the perimeter of this blood-like stain, contained by the personification of Zionism and a lingering emblem of occupation, determines and prefigures an impossible Palestinian futurity. If there is a cure for the Zionist haemorrhage, then the answer must necessarily pass through and be contained within the strict boundaries of the West Bank.

Relinquishing this territory, however, becomes itself an impossibility sustained through capital, violence, colonial amnesia and existential settler anxieties. The West Bank story becomes tautology; the stain must somehow disappear. But the stain won’t go away. The cracks in this settler imaginary have become so deep, its contradictions so surreal, that they are no longer possible to hide and repair. The haemorrhage is terminal.

Underneath, out of the fissures of this madness, a rebellious people are finding oxygen in unfettered imaginaries and practices that reclaim different ways of looking and listening, seeing and hearing—beyond the hollow promise of the state, outside the modern glossary and imperatives of racial capitalism and colonialism, past technocratic formulas of messianic solutionism.

This radical imaginary is both necessary and transformative. It renders visible and challenges the ways in which structural oppression and inequality operate, recognizes how these mechanisms of domination are made common sense, and ultimately threatens to dissolve the iron cage.

We mark the determination of a people to remain alive and stay on the ground as they continue a struggle for return, land, dignity, freedom and autonomy.

These dangerous potentialities constitute a fierce battlefield, and, as on other occasions, are being responded to with an extraordinary degree of violence, in Palestine and elsewhere. Amid the hypocrisy of imperial insolence and the crumbling ruins of the current disorder, today, like yesterday, we observe a century of settler-colonial occupation, we mark the determination of a people to remain alive and stay on the ground as they continue a struggle for return, land, dignity, freedom and autonomy.

We cheer the courage of a movement, beyond the certitudes of government and party politics, with its ups and downs, learning from past and present mistakes, in dialogue and solidarity with other struggles, accumulating knowledges and experiences from Palestine to Standing Rock, from Rojava to Chiapas, and from Ferguson and South Africa to Andhra Pradesh and Mahalla. We support recurring eruptions as moments that define a movement in motion, situated in the longue durée, navigating different understandings of what we are and who we could become in spite of all odds.

We are in this together but not everybody stands in the same power position. This understanding is crucial for thinking how our various communities can and should be in solidarity with one another. When Palestine and Palestinians are seen in this light, in transition, beyond the narrow perspective of Zionist settler-colonialism, tied to other struggles for liberation, we can begin to envision collectively what Palestinian futurity might look like and how we might bring it into being.

Omar Jabary Salamanca is lecturer in the Department of Conflict and Development at Ghent University.

************************************

Against Occupation

By Sobhi Samour, MERIP
June 07, 2017

Once the e-mails announcing talks, conferences and book projects about the fiftieth anniversary of the “occupation” started landing in my inbox, I felt a sense of trepidation, foreboding and irritation. My annoyance was caused, in many instances, by the regurgitation of conventional wisdom and moralizing about the irrationality and unsustainability of the “occupation.”

As Salim Tamari observed in 1994, “[N]o Arab society has been researched, analyzed and written about as much as Palestinian society, and yet remained so poor in the theoretical treatment of its subject.” In the age of instant punditry, think tanks and self-promoting experts, this assessment sounds even more pertinent.

What, then, is left to say about the “occupation”? One could start by noting that it is a misnomer, as it suggests both temporariness and a static situation devoid of movement. Israel without the “occupation” is 19 years old; Israel with the “occupation” 50; and, to boot, the Oslo process that some think was supposed to end “occupation” is almost half the age of the “occupation” itself. And throughout this process, the size of the territory that Israel (presumably temporarily) occupies has steadily increased, hilltop by hilltop.

One must live in an acute state of cognitive dissonance to assume that Israel could sever itself from the “occupation” in much the same way that an army would withdraw from a foreign territory. Indeed, giving the “occupation” an explanatory primacy—often the result of tying one’s research agenda to the downward trajectory of the Palestinian leadership, giving credence to the feigned concern of EU diplomats, ignoring the double-speak of Washington or basking in the warmth emanating from the fuzzy rhetoric of liberal Zionists—has had devastating consequences for the development of critical scholarship.

It is inconceivable that Israel will ever voluntarily end the “occupation.”

This is not to suggest that “occupation” is permanent or that its everyday horrors do not require our attention and documentation.

Nor is it to say that the demand to end “occupation,” along with defence of the Palestinian right to self-determination, should not be at the forefront of mobilization for international solidarity. But just as Israel bars Palestinian refugees from returning to their land and hinders Palestinians inside Israel from achieving equal rights, so it is inconceivable that Israel will ever voluntarily end the “occupation.”

‘Occupation’ fails as an explanatory framework

Therefore, as an epistemological category, as a framework that informs our political praxis and commitment to emancipatory scholarship, “occupation” fails. Israel and the “occupation” are not independent categories that can be studied separately and then brought together, but rather must be understood as forming each other as the outcome of a larger historical process.

One may quibble about whether such a process started in Basel in 1897 or before, but it did receive a significant boost in 1917 in the form of the Balfour Declaration, gained a major diplomatic victory at the UN General Assembly in 1947, captured its “dowry” in 1967, was temporarily disrupted in 1987, institutionalized a political split in 2007 and, in 2017, had to grapple with a 40-day hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners.

The politics underlying each of these single dates, and many more, cannot be grasped individually but must be read together as occurring within a continuum. If, to use a Hegelian expression, the truth is the whole, then each of these parts—including the “occupation”—make up the settler-colonial whole.

A satisfactory contribution to theorizing the “occupation” can only be achieved if it is systematically interwoven with the conditions of Palestinian refugees and those living inside Israel to reflect on the persistence of the Palestine question.

Conversely, using the “occupation” as an overdetermining factor not only produces theory that revolves around appearance of “occupation” instead of its settler-colonial essence, but also, wittingly or not, feeds the fragmentation of Palestinians and undermines the collective political Palestinian identity informed by return, equal rights and an end to foreign domination.

Undoing this analytical separation, in which the epistemological category of “occupation” becomes an anti-dialectical device, can indeed provide theory as a weapon. In this theoretical arsenal, settler-colonialism supersedes “occupation.” The latter is not the cause of the conflict or a turning point but the consequence of Israel’s settler-colonial logic; it does not constitute a historical accident; it is not irrational; it does not persist due to institutional inertia, as questioning the legitimacy of colonizing Judea and Samaria would also mean having to question the legitimacy of colonizing the Galilee or the Naqab. Nor is the “occupation” an ugly appendage to an otherwise democratic Israel—to paraphrase Karl Marx, a people that occupies another cannot itself be free.

I do not intend to read the history of Zionist settler-colonialism as a process without a subject, or to understand “occupation” as a teleological product of it. The agency of those on the receiving end continues to throw a spanner in its works, thwarting it from achieving its ultimate ends. Rather, these reflections follow critical contributions that have seen through the veil of “occupation” and are grasping the essence underlying it—that ending the “occupation” cannot be achieved by demanding such, but only by overturning the whole that sustains it. Needless to say, the essence is only slowly trickling down to theoretical praxis and, categorically, has no chance of becoming the political praxis informing the existing Palestinian leadership. In both the occupied West Bank and the occupied Gaza Strip, Palestinians are increasingly referring to the ruling authorities as a second “occupation.” Israel has long tried to institutionalize indirect rule by entrusting an indigenous leadership to manage the unruly natives on its behalf. The Village League, for instance, ended in disaster. But one must grudgingly admit that, so far, the Palestinian Authority has been a relatively successful institution through which Israel mediates its rule by linking its collaboration with material rewards, which, in turn, cement a social base of support. As it is, and while I would like nothing more than to be proven wrong, I look forward to reading more reflections on the “occupation” on its sixtieth anniversary.

Sobhi Samour has a doctorate in economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and was Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Fellow at the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University during the spring 2017 term.  Israel Studies Association and author of A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict (California).

**********************************************

Notes on a Preoccupation

By Omar Jabary Salamanca, MERIP
June 07, 2017

Around 2002, as Palestinians were again up in arms to defy Israel’s relentless and vicious colonial policies, a renowned Israeli graphic designer, all images David Tartakover, released a poster series titled “Stain.” The prints display a glowing red blot in the shape of the West Bank over portraits of Israeli politicians and of Tartakover himself. Later, the artist recycled this design into other works, including a piece to mark “35 years of occupation,” the book cover of A Civilian Occupation and a poster titled “Stain, Herzl,” which features Theodor Herzl, one of the founding fathers of Zionism.

The later image is for me evocative of a hostile and widespread settler imaginary, with critical material effects to be sure. This imaginary for the past five decades, and particularly since the signature of the Oslo colonial treaty, has come to define how insiders and outsiders to the Israel question are often socialized into, think about and act on Palestine. It is, in many ways, a fabulous visual illustration that reduces a people´s century-old struggle to its contemporary minimum expression.

The West Bank, the red stain in this image, reveals itself as an abstract and dislocated figuration that can be read in terms of the elisions and erasures it produces. The most obvious is the spatial fragmentation that occurs in the replacement of contemporary Palestine, from the river to the sea, with what could well be a place called Judea and Samaria. Attached to the spatial imaginary is a temporal obliteration, the seamless transcendence of 1967 as singular historical point of departure and the collapsing of everything prior.

The elusiveness of this hollow land, like cartographic depictions often do, additionally severs the social body politic within and extending beyond its opaque boundaries—Palestinians, with as many inhabitants living in the diaspora as in the land of milk and honey, are nowhere to be seen. Though more subtle, perhaps, is the conceptual partition emerging from this representation. Occupation, now as ontological certainty with its own spatial and temporal boundaries, disavows the broader collective experience and structural condition of Palestinian dispossession and displaces it with a singular, exceptional and temporary event.

In the shadow of oblivion, a particular fiction begins to sink in. Palestine becomes the West Bank; the West Bank, and the West Bank only, becomes synonymous with occupation; and, in turn, occupation redefines, decentres and whitewashes the settler-colonial and racial capitalist nature and trajectory of Zionism—after all, kibbutzism was always a bigoted negation of socialism and, today, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, not Modi’in Illit or Beitar Illit, are the major colonial settlements in Palestine.

This abstraction, however, also operates as a productive and cautionary tale. Occupation, understood as a legal and technocratic affair, corrupts the soul of an otherwise moral and necessary settler utopia—one marked by its own modern experience of erasure yet inevitably haunted by emptied houses, erased villages, devastated communities and the ghosts of those that die(d) for living. The West Bank metamorphoses into a convenient container for settlers on the proper side of a malleable Green Line, a site to dump their own sins, fears and pangs of conscience.

This safe space absolves Zionism, and Israel itself, of confronting its criminal past while attempting to contain its boundless thuggish present. Simultaneously, the West Bank and the possibility of an end to its occupation, enables a refuge for liberal ideas of reconciliation and peace without social justice—an illusion that temporarily appeases embarrassment and guilt while cementing an endless time of injustice.

In the last instance, the perimeter of this blood-like stain, contained by the personification of Zionism and a lingering emblem of occupation, determines and prefigures an impossible Palestinian futurity.

If there is a cure for the Zionist haemorrhage, then the answer must necessarily pass through and be contained within the strict boundaries of the West Bank. Relinquishing this territory, however, becomes itself an impossibility sustained through capital, violence, colonial amnesia and existential settler anxieties. The West Bank story becomes tautology; the stain must somehow disappear.

But the stain won’t go away. The cracks in this settler imaginary have become so deep, its contradictions so surreal, that they are no longer possible to hide and repair; the haemorrhage is terminal. Underneath, out of the fissures of this madness, a rebellious people are finding oxygen in unfettered imaginaries and practices that reclaim different ways of looking and listening, seeing and hearing—beyond the hollow promise of the state, outside the modern glossary and imperatives of racial capitalism and colonialism, past technocratic formulas of messianic solutionism.

This radical imaginary is both necessary and transformative. It renders visible and challenges the ways in which structural oppression and inequality operate, recognizes how these mechanisms of domination are made common sense, and ultimately threatens to dissolve the iron cage. These dangerous potentialities constitute a fierce battlefield, and, as on other occasions, are being responded to with an extraordinary degree of violence, in Palestine and elsewhere.

Amid the hypocrisy of imperial insolence and the crumbling ruins of the current disorder, today, like yesterday, we observe a century of settler-colonial occupation, we mark the determination of a people to remain alive and stay on the ground as they continue a struggle for return, land, dignity, freedom and autonomy.

We cheer the courage of a movement, beyond the certitudes of government and party politics, with its ups and downs, learning from past and present mistakes, in dialogue and solidarity with other struggles, accumulating knowledges and experiences from Palestine to Standing Rock, from Rojava to Chiapas, and from Ferguson and South Africa to Andhra Pradesh and Mahalla.

We support recurring eruptions as moments that define a movement in motion, situated in the longue durée, navigating different understandings of what we are and who we could become in spite of all odds. We are in this together but not everybody stands in the same power position. This understanding is crucial for thinking how our various communities can and should be in solidarity with one another.

When Palestine and Palestinians are seen in this light, in transition, beyond the narrow perspective of Zionist settler-colonialism, tied to other struggles for liberation, we can begin to envision collectively what Palestinian futurity might look like and how we might bring it into being.

Omar Jabary Salamanca is lecturer in the Department of Conflict and Development at Ghent University.

*******************************************

Against Occupation

By Sobhi Samour
June 07, 2017

Once the e-mails announcing talks, conferences and book projects about the fiftieth anniversary of the “occupation” started landing in my inbox, I felt a sense of trepidation, foreboding and irritation. My annoyance was caused, in many instances, by the regurgitation of conventional wisdom and moralizing about the irrationality and unsustainability of the “occupation.”

As Salim Tamari observed in 1994, “[N]o Arab society has been researched, analyzed and written about as much as Palestinian society, and yet remained so poor in the theoretical treatment of its subject.” In the age of instant punditry, think tanks and self-promoting experts, this assessment sounds even more pertinent.

What, then, is left to say about the “occupation”? One could start by noting that it is a misnomer, as it suggests both temporariness and a static situation devoid of movement. Israel without the “occupation” is 19 years old; Israel with the “occupation” 50; and, to boot, the Oslo process that some think was supposed to end “occupation” is almost half the age of the “occupation” itself.

And throughout this process, the size of the territory that Israel (presumably temporarily) occupies has steadily increased, hilltop by hilltop. One must live in an acute state of cognitive dissonance to assume that Israel could sever itself from the “occupation” in much the same way that an army would withdraw from a foreign territory. Indeed, giving the “occupation” an explanatory primacy—often the result of tying one’s research agenda to the downward trajectory of the Palestinian leadership, giving credence to the feigned concern of EU diplomats, ignoring the double-speak of Washington or basking in the warmth emanating from the fuzzy rhetoric of liberal Zionists—has had devastating consequences for the development of critical scholarship.

This is not to suggest that “occupation” is permanent or that its everyday horrors do not require our attention and documentation. Nor is it to say that the demand to end “occupation,” along with defence of the Palestinian right to self-determination, should not be at the forefront of mobilization for international solidarity. But just as Israel bars Palestinian refugees from returning to their land and hinders Palestinians inside Israel from achieving equal rights, so it is inconceivable that Israel will ever voluntarily end the “occupation.”

Therefore, as an epistemological category, as a framework that informs our political praxis and commitment to emancipatory scholarship, “occupation” fails. Israel and the “occupation” are not independent categories that can be studied separately and then brought together, but rather must be understood as forming each other as the outcome of a larger historical process.

One may quibble about whether such a process started in Basel in 1897 or before, but it did receive a significant boost in 1917 in the form of the Balfour Declaration, gained a major diplomatic victory at the UN General Assembly in 1947, captured its “dowry” in 1967, was temporarily disrupted in 1987, institutionalized a political split in 2007 and, in 2017, had to grapple with a 40-day hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners. The politics underlying each of these single dates, and many more, cannot be grasped individually but must be read together as occurring within a continuum. If, to use a Hegelian expression, the truth is the whole, then each of these parts—including the “occupation”—make up the settler-colonial whole.

A satisfactory contribution to theorizing the “occupation” can only be achieved if it is systematically interwoven with the conditions of Palestinian refugees and those living inside Israel to reflect on the persistence of the Palestine question. Conversely, using the “occupation” as an overdetermining factor not only produces theory that revolves around appearance of “occupation” instead of its settler-colonial essence, but also, wittingly or not, feeds the fragmentation of Palestinians and undermines the collective political Palestinian identity informed by return, equal rights and an end to foreign domination. Undoing this analytical separation, in which the epistemological category of “occupation” becomes an anti-dialectical device, can indeed provide theory as a weapon.

In this theoretical arsenal, settler-colonialism supersedes “occupation.” The latter is not the cause of the conflict or a turning point but the consequence of Israel’s settler-colonial logic; it does not constitute a historical accident; it is not irrational; it does not persist due to institutional inertia, as questioning the legitimacy of colonizing Judea and Samaria would also mean having to question the legitimacy of colonizing the Galilee or the Naqab. Nor is the “occupation” an ugly appendage to an otherwise democratic Israel—to paraphrase Karl Marx, a people that occupies another cannot itself be free.

I do not intend to read the history of Zionist settler-colonialism as a process without a subject, or to understand “occupation” as a teleological product of it. The agency of those on the receiving end continues to throw a spanner in its works, thwarting it from achieving its ultimate ends. Rather, these reflections follow critical contributions that have seen through the veil of “occupation” and are grasping the essence underlying it—that ending the “occupation” cannot be achieved by demanding such, but only by overturning the whole that sustains it.

Needless to say, the essence is only slowly trickling down to theoretical praxis and, categorically, has no chance of becoming the political praxis informing the existing Palestinian leadership. In both the occupied West Bank and the occupied Gaza Strip, Palestinians are increasingly referring to the ruling authorities as a second “occupation.”

Israel has long tried to institutionalize indirect rule by entrusting an indigenous leadership to manage the unruly natives on its behalf. The Village League, for instance, ended in disaster. But one must grudgingly admit that, so far, the Palestinian National Authority has been a relatively successful institution through which Israel mediates its rule by linking its collaboration with material rewards, which, in turn, cement a social base of support. As it is, and while I would like nothing more than to be proven wrong, I look forward to reading more reflections on the “occupation” on its sixtieth anniversary.

Sobhi Samour has a doctorate in economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and was Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Fellow at the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University during the spring 2017 term.

*******************************************

Jekyll and Hyde in East Jerusalem

By Mandy Turner, MERIP
June 07, 2016

My research mostly focuses on the policies and practices of Western governments and multilateral agencies in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), and so I will concentrate my comments on these governments and agencies, to whom I will refer, for reasons of shorthand, as the “international community” (despite the label’s conceptual inadequacies). I will also focus on East Jerusalem, whose annexation by Israel in 1967 makes its experience of the occupation a specific one: It exposes the extensive practices of “Judaization” powered by Israel’s aspirations to make Jerusalem its undivided capital, isolation from the rest of the OPT by the separation wall and the permit system, and disintegration of the Palestinian economy and society. Indeed, the experience of annexation has meant that the East Jerusalemite Palestinian population has been marginalized while a number of struggles take place around it (but are largely beyond its control).

These struggles are between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority/Palestine Liberation Organization; between Israel and Jordan; and between Jordan and the PNA/PLO. East Jerusalemites are locked out of these crucial struggles because they lack leadership since Orient House, the operational residence of the PLO in the city, was closed down in 2001 by Israeli military order, and has not been allowed to reopen. Since then, any meetings in the city deemed to involve PLO officials are stopped by military order. And, of course, the PNA is not allowed to operate in East Jerusalem, either.

In this context, the policies and actions of the international community toward East Jerusalem suffer from a form of psychosis known as the Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome. The novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, tells of a man with a split personality—between someone who performs good works (Dr. Jekyll) and someone who does bad deeds (Mr. Hyde). The story has come to signify a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next—which, I argue, perfectly encapsulates the actions of the international community in East Jerusalem and the wider OPT.

The international community’s Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome is the product of two fundamental contradictions. The first relates to the disjuncture between what we could call the “high” politics of diplomacy and Track One negotiations related to the currently non-existent peace process (including discussions about the status of Jerusalem), and the “low” politics of aid and development cooperation (where the international community supports the Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem). The second contradiction relates to the disjuncture between, on the one hand, Western governments’ support for the state of Israel and their reluctance to use tools available to them to prevent Israel eradicating the Palestinian presence in the city; and, on the other hand, their declared support for a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of both states and international support for the Palestinian presence.

And it is these fundamental contradictions that allows the international community to claim it does a lot in East Jerusalem; but it means critics are right to say the international community is not doing enough.

To return to the Jekyll and Hyde analogy, if Jekyll supports the two-state solution with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states and gives money to the weaker party to assist in keeping this vision alive, Hyde makes sure that Jekyll does not put economic or political pressure on Israel, the dominant party, which is trying to undermine the internationally accepted solution. Maybe we can even stretch the analogy further. In the novel, Jekyll tries to destroy Hyde by drinking a special potion, but this potion allows the evil Hyde, not the ethical Jekyll, to take over. Maybe we can think about that potion as being the 1993 Oslo accords and the ensuing framework, which have accelerated the contradictions in the policies of the international community in Jerusalem.

One obvious form of the international community’s engagement is its insistence on the illegality of Israel’s occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem despite attempts by Israel to change the international consensus. It also continually confirms its support for the status quo regarding the Holy Sites as codified in the 1994 Wadi ‘Araba peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. The second is represented in the aid programmes funding key sectors of the East Jerusalem Palestinian economy and society, such as education, social services, health, economic development, cultural heritage and tourism.

There are, of course, dozens of donors and UN agencies operating in East Jerusalem (and the OPT), and they all have different emphases and mandates. Some are regarded as being more “pro-Israel,” while others are regarded to be more “pro-Palestinian.” These differences are visible each time there is a vote in the European Union among member states or at the UN on issues related to Israel and Palestine.

So much for Dr. Jekyll.

Now for Mr. Hyde.

By leaving discussion of Jerusalem to final status negotiations, Oslo largely gave Israel a free hand to try to change the status quo. In this context, the international community has not done enough to stop Israel from restricting Palestinian political activity and organization in East Jerusalem, or shutting off East Jerusalem to the rest of the OPT thus choking economic and cultural interchange.

There is a fundamental lack of political will to restrain and oppose Israel’s annexation and its policies that have created negative political, economic and social circumstances for East Jerusalemite Palestinians. And yet, in recent years, the international community has expressed increasing alarm at the accelerating problems for Palestinians in East Jerusalem. On paper it calls for the implementation of international law vis-a-vis East Jerusalem, but then fails to use any of the mechanisms it has to ensure they are implemented. Indeed, quite the opposite: While the UN is forced to steer a course of “neutrality,” relations between Israel and Western governments have never been better.

There is, of course, the “unshakable alliance” between the US and Israel: a free trade agreement since 1985, a $3 billion military aid package per year (including, as one of the last acts of the Barack Obama presidency, a ten-year pact with $38 billion of military aid, the biggest pledge of US military assistance ever made), and diplomatic support in international forums. And in terms of EU-Israel relations, in the past 20 years, economic, cultural and scientific connections have increased and deepened.

Certainly the EU is in confrontation with Israel regarding the labelling of goods from settlements in the OPT, but is this dispute really significant? Even when it comes to such an anodyne gesture as supporting Palestine’s membership in UNESCO, less than one third of EU member states voted in favour—while at the same time the EU continually draws attention to Israel’s erosion of Palestinian cultural heritage in the city and the wider OPT.

Consequently, unlike the character in the novel, Jekyll and Hyde have been able to coexist reasonably comfortably in the body of the international community in terms of how it relates to East Jerusalem. And while this situation persists, the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem and the Palestinians’ right to the city will continue to be undermined and eroded.

Mandy Turner is director of the Kenyon Institute in East Jerusalem and a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics’ Middle East Centre.

********************************

NOTES and Links:

Also on this MERIP page, articles by

Andy Clarno, Settler-Colonialism and Neoliberal Capitalism,

Kareem Rabie, A Constant Process of Becoming

Lisa Bhungalia, 1967’s Ghosts: Beyond a Truncated Imaginary

_________________________________________

Jews for Justice for Palestinians is a network of Jews who are British or live in Britain, practising and secular, Zionist and not. We oppose Israeli policies that undermine the livelihoods, human, civil and political rights of the Palestinian people. We support the right of Israelis to live in freedom and security within Israel’s 1967 borders. We work to build world-wide Jewish opposition to the Israeli Occupation, with like-minded groups around the world and are a founding member of European Jews for a Just Peace, a federation of Jewish groups in ten European countries.

Go to Original – jfjfp.com

 

Join the BDS-BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, SANCTIONS campaign to protest the Israeli barbaric siege of Gaza, illegal occupation of the Palestine nation’s territory, the apartheid wall, its inhuman and degrading treatment of the Palestinian people, and the more than 7,000 Palestinian men, women, elderly and children arbitrarily locked up in Israeli prisons.

DON’T BUY PRODUCTS WHOSE BARCODE STARTS WITH 729, which indicates that it is produced in Israel. DO YOUR PART! MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

7 2 9: BOYCOTT FOR JUSTICE!


Share or download this article:


DISCLAIMER: In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Comments are closed.