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Norman Finkelstein: Judge Israel's deeds, not words

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  • World View
    Judge Israel s deeds, not words By Norman G. Finkelstein Commentary Monday, October 10, 2005 http://www.dailystar.com.lb On the night of August 24, 2005,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 13, 2005
      Judge Israel's deeds, not words

      By Norman G. Finkelstein
      Monday, October 10, 2005

      On the night of August 24, 2005, Israeli troops shot dead three
      teenage boys and two adults in a West Bank Palestinian refugee camp.
      An army communique claimed the five were terrorists, killed after
      opening fire on the soldiers. An investigation by Israel's leading
      human rights organization, B'Tselem, and its leading newspaper,
      Haaretz, found, however, that the teenagers were unarmed and had no
      connection with any terrorist organizations, while neither of the two
      adults was armed or wanted by the Israelis.

      In Israel, as elsewhere, it's prudent to treat official pronouncements
      with skepticism. This is especially so when it comes to the "peace

      Israel's announcement that it would withdraw from the Gaza Strip won
      high praise in the American media as a major step toward ending the
      occupation of Palestinian land. Human rights organizations and
      academic specialists were less sanguine, however.

      In a recent study entitled One Big Prison, B'Tselem observes that the
      crippling economic arrangements Israel has imposed on Gaza will remain
      in effect. In addition, Israel will continue to maintain absolute
      control over Gaza's land borders, coastline and airspace, and the
      Israeli Army will continue to operate in Gaza. "So long as these
      methods of control remain in Israeli hands," it concludes, "Israel's
      claim of an 'end of the occupation' is questionable."

      The respected organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) is yet more
      emphatic that evacuating troops and Jewish settlements from inside
      Gaza will not end the occupation: "Whether the Israeli Army is inside
      Gaza or redeployed around its periphery, and restricting entrance and
      exit, it remains in control." The world's leading authority on the
      Gaza Strip, Sara Roy of Harvard University, predicts that Gaza will
      remain "an imprisoned enclave," while its economy, still totally
      dependent on Israel after disengagement and in shambles after decades
      of deliberately ruinous policies by Israel, will actually deteriorate.
      This conclusion is echoed by the World Bank, which forecasts that, if
      Israel seals Gaza's borders or curtails its utilities, the
      disengagement plan will "create worse hardship than is seen today."

      Matters are scarcely better in the West Bank. Although Israel has
      announced its intention to dismantle four of the 120 settlements
      there, this decision pales beside its relentless annexation of wide
      swathes of the West Bank.

      A recent UN report finds that the wall Israel is constructing
      encroaches deeply into Palestinian territory, resulting in the
      isolation of tens of thousands of Palestinians and the confiscation of
      fully 10 percent of West Bank land, "including the most fertile areas
      in the West Bank."

      According to Roy, Palestinians will have access to only half the West
      Bank once the wall is complete, "deepening the dispossession and
      isolation of Palestinian communities."

      Israel proclaims that it is building the wall for "security" reasons,
      but human rights organizations disagree. Its real purpose, they
      suggest, is "to make contiguous with Israel illegal civilian
      settlements" (HRW) and "to facilitate their future annexation into
      Israel" (B'Tselem).

      In a landmark July 2004 decision on the wall, the International Court
      of Justice unanimously agreed that establishment of these Jewish
      settlements "violates" (U.S. Judge Buergenthal) the Geneva Convention,
      and overwhelmingly ruled that construction of the wall was "contrary
      to international law."

      Yet, nowhere have official Israeli words about peace been more
      dramatically belied by bitter deeds than in Jerusalem.

      In a recent report entitled "The Jerusalem Powder Keg," the
      authoritative International Crisis Group finds that Prime Minister
      Ariel Sharon "risks choking off Arab East Jerusalem by further
      fragmenting it and surrounding it with Jewish
      neighborhoods/settlements." Hundreds of thousands of Arab
      Jerusalemites will be isolated from the West Bank and placed under
      stricter Israeli control inside the city's new borders, while tens of
      thousands of Arab Jerusalemites will be stranded on the outside and
      cut off from their city.

      In the meantime Israeli plans, well under way, to incorporate
      far-flung illegal Jewish settlements into Jerusalem "would go close to
      cutting the West Bank into two."

      Israeli annexationist policies in and around Jerusalem, according to
      Crisis Group, will have "arguably devastating consequences," not least
      because "it remains virtually impossible to conceive of a Palestinian
      state without its capital in Jerusalem."

      Although Sharon gives lip-service to a two-state settlement, the
      actions of the Israeli government, Crisis Group concludes, "are at war
      with any viable two-state solution and will not bolster Israel's
      security; in fact, they will undermine it, weakening Palestinian
      pragmatists, ... and sowing the seeds of growing radicalization."

      Those committed to a just and lasting peace in the Israel-Palestine
      conflict would do well to pay closer attention to Israeli deeds than
      to the official words accompanying them.

      Norman G. Finkelstein teaches at DePaul University in Chicago. His
      latest book is "Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and
      the abuse of history." This commentary, rejected by several U.S.
      newspapers, is reprinted by permission.



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