A nation’s genesis is rarely pretty. Nations commonly emerge through violence, and the establishment of Israel has all the usual ugliness, protracted now over 75 years, heightened beneath the lens of modern media, amidst modern sensibilities. And it is ongoing. Just before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Barack Obama, and his speech before the UN, Israel released plans for it’s latest land-grab: a brand new 2600 unit housing development in East Jerusalem, part of the occupied West Bank.
We at the Field Guide beat up on Israel quite often, and for good reason. They are an exemplar of a democracy gone so horribly wrong that it is as tyrannically illiberal as any dictatorship to many of its subjects. The fact that we have to use the term subjects says it all. Millions of Arabs – across several generations and almost half a century – have been living subject to Israeli authority without ever having been granted citizenship, nor even a modicum of civil or political liberties. Israel has literally made them foreigners in their own land.
Israel invaded and occupied the West Bank in 1967, and has been colonizing it ever since, stealing land from Arabs a little bit at a time. The pace of their theft has only accelerated, despite Israel’s supposed participation in the “peace process.” Since the Oslo Accords 20 years ago, when Israel ostensibly agreed with the Palestinian Authority on a framework to resolve their differences, Israel’s colonial population in the West Bank has tripled. This latest housing development is yet another Israeli betrayal of that framework, lending support to the belief that Israelis cannot be negotiated with – that they only respond to violence.
At the UN last week, Netanyahu took aim at Hamas, and one can readily see why. Hamas helped make Gaza an exceptionally unpleasant place to colonize. Among the nastier groups in restive Gaza, Hamas was a factor in Israel’s unilateral withdrawal of its colonies and army in 2005. It is all but irresistible to compare Gaza’s success in driving out their colonizers with the West Bank’s failure – leaving one to wonder at the efficacy of the peaceful tactics of the Palestinian Authority.
One recalls Bush Duh’s analogous blunders with his proclaimed axis-of-evil. In the inimitable Bush Duh style, he managed to invade the one country out of three that did not have a WMD program! The lesson North Korea and Iran must surely have learned is the great value of having a nuclear arsenal – specifically to prevent a US invasion. Arabs in the West Bank cannot but wonder whether, analogously, Hamas’ rockets and mortars are a viable formula; and may yet recognize that Israelis have rewarded the West Bank’s pacifism as richly as Saddam Hussein was rewarded for cooperating with UN weapons inspectors.
Hamas and Netanyahu are both enemies of peace. It’s not merely the case that they deserve one another – they mutually reinforce one another. If Israel insists on demonstrating at every opportunity its unwillingness to work peaceably and in good faith toward bestowing human, civil and political rights on more than 2 million Arabs living subject to their rule in the West Bank, they succeed only in validating groups inclined to seize those rights by any and all means necessary. Despite Netanyahu’s condemnations, he remains Hamas’ unwitting advocate and ally.