Israel slowly losing support

By Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan

Ottowa, Ont.: Israel's ongoing oppression of helpless Palestinians is eroding support for Israel among American Jews and the Israeli government is now courting Christian Zionists for support. This was stated by Israeli historian and academic Ilan Pappe, history professor at the University of Exeter, at a function sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East in Ottawa.

Though Pappe asserts that the Middle East will remain unstable and a threat to peace as long as the dispute simmers, he differs from some Israeli dissenters, such as Israeli journalists Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, in that he says he is optimistic for a durable and just settlement sooner than people expect.

Pappe made statements about Israeli violation of the Palestinians' basic rights that have also been made by UN and other observers. But he differs from those who blame the illegal settlers and the right-wing Netanyahu regime for blocking a just peace. Pappe argues, after combing Israeli archives, that it is Israeli society as a whole that supports denying Palestinians their basic rights and perpetuates the conflict.

Pappe says that huge military and economic aid from the U. S. enables Israel to have its way. But he asserts that most of the world sees it as a rogue state that violates core Jewish values, rules the Palestinians by brute force and maintains an apartheid-style system in the occupied territories and in Israel itself.

Pappe has been described as Israel's "bravest, most principled, most incisive historian" by journalist and filmmaker John Pilger. His critics revile him as anti-Semitic and he receives death threats.

He was born in Haifa to Jewish parents who fled Nazi persecution in the 1930s. He joined Israeli defense forces and fought in the Yom Kippur War. He graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and got his PhD from Oxford University. He taught at the University of Haifa and chaired the Emil Toouma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies in Haifa. He has written several books on Palestinian and Israeli history.

He discovered from Israeli archives that the Palestinians were expelled from Jewish- controlled areas under the Plan Dalet that Israel's future leaders had drawn up in 1947. Israeli military and political leaders wanted to seize all of Palestine in 1948 and kill or exile Palestinians as was done in the Galilee. Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, however, vetoed this proposal. He had agreed to let Jordan seize the West Bank in return for participating in the 1948 war only in a minor way; he also feared that ethnically cleansing the West Bank would turn the world against Israel.

Pappe stated that in 1965 the Israeli military and government met on the Hebrew University campus, built on an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village, to finalize plans about administering the West Bank once they had conquered it. They implemented the plan swiftly on taking over the West Bank in the 1967 war that President Gamal Nasser had precipitated. Pushed by Generals Moshe Dayan and Yigal Allon, the cabinet decided that Israel will annex the West Bank but deny West Bank's Palestinians citizenship and other rights and harass them, forcing them to barely subsist or to leave forever.

Since then West Bank Palestinians have been harassed constantly. Jobs, building permits, essential health and municipal services are severely restricted and civic rights denied. They face check- points, cannot travel freely to their own fields, their houses are demolished, they cannot return if they leave the area briefly, their trees are uprooted and they are detained without charge indefinitely. Three- fourths of the Palestinians have suffered this fate, Pappe stated.

Palestinians within Israel fare better, Pappe said. They can vote, elect their leaders and speak out. But they were subject to military rule for decades and still face huge obstacles and discrimination that perpetuate poverty and despair. The country's laws favor Jews and denies similar rights to Christians and Muslims.

Though western governments, media and elites are cowards, Pappe said, civilized society around the world has condemned Israeli policies. The Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement is gaining world-wide. The Israeli government has had more meetings to discuss the powerful BDS movement than it has had on peace proposals. Pappe stated that though Israel has military and economic might, its policies, based on force and on racial and ethnic discrimination, cannot be sustained. Israel cannot violate fundamental Jewish and universal values still be considered a Jewish state.

Pappe said a two-state solution is now impossible because Israel has seized land, built exclusive roads for settlers and encouraged illegal settlements. He expressed the hope, however, that a peace settlement will be reached which respects the legitimate rights of the Israelis and Palestinians and provides them equality.

Pappe received a thunderous applause at the University of Ottawa from Canadians of all ages and all walks of life. They share his vision for peace based on justice, equality and the rule of law. They hope that the Middle East, which is the cradle of great religions, will become a place where these values are implemented and not violated every day.

Pappe's tour of Canada was sponsored by Canadian for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, a group of individuals who seek to inform Canadians about the real situation in the Middle East to counter the biased and distorted version they get from their own government and the mainstream media.
Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan is a retired Canadian newspaperman, civil servant and refugee judge

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2012 on page no. 17

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