Thursday, January 15, 2009

Past utterances of language 

Meron Benvenisti, former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, in 2004:

When George Bush referred to Ariel Sharon's unilateral separation plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip as a historic event, he wasn't exaggerating - even if it is not clear that he grasped the implications of his words for the future of the Jewish state.

Nor did the Palestinians [i.e., Arafat, Abu Mazen, lackeys, criminals] err when they compared his statement to the Balfour Declaration (the British government's first world war promise to establish a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine) - even if they perhaps failed to grasp that the statement is liable to have implications yet more grave [for the actual Palestinian people] than the 1917 pledge, and will compel a substantive strategic change in their struggle....

What's the connection between, on the one hand, the end of the conquest in the Gaza Strip and the dismantling of settlements and, on the other, the establishment of a binational state? After all, the goal of disengagement is to improve the demographic situation by removing a million and a half Palestinians from Israeli control and thereby reducing the danger that the country will cease to be a Jewish state. The surprising fact is that this "conceptual transfer" is accepted by the Israeli left, which continues to believe in anachronistic slogans about the "end of the conquest" and the "dismantling of settlements".

And [Ariel] Sharon [this was before he consummated his identity by sustaining a coma-inducing paralytic stroke] will be surprised to discover that in Washington he was pushed into embracing an accelerated process of founding the state of Israel as a binational state based on apartheid. [I'm not sure Sharon would have been surprised.]

The report about a tacit agreement being reached between the Peace Now movement and Sharon's aides - Peace Now will suspend its "evacuate settlements, choose life" campaign so as not to harm public relations efforts for Sharon's separation plan - illustrates the profoundly confused state of public discourse in Israel. As the Israeli left sees it, the confinement of one and a half million people in a huge holding pen fulfils the ideal of putting an end to the occupation, and furnishes some relief about how "we are not responsible".

Similarly, when in South Africa a failed attempt was made to solve demographic problems by creating "homelands for the blacks", liberals originally supported the idea, and even a portion of the international community viewed the measure as a step toward "decolonisation". But, after a short time, it became clear that the ploy was designed to confer legitimacy on the expulsion of black people, and their uprooting. The bantustans collapsed, demands for civil equality intensified, and the world mobilised for the defeat of apartheid.

The bantustan model for Gaza, as depicted in the disengagement plan, is a model that Sharon plans to copy on the West Bank. His announcement that he will not start to disengage [from the West Bank] before construction of the fence is completed along a route that will include all settlement blocs (in keeping with Binyamin Netanyahu's demand), underscores the continuity of the bantustan concept. The fence creates three bantustans on the West Bank - Jenin-Nablus, Bethlehem-Hebron and Ramallah. This is the real link between the Gaza and West Bank plans. The link is not what those politicians who will provide a "security net" for Sharon in a Knesset no-confidence vote [i.e., the deluded Israeli and American "left"] call "the precedent of the dismantling of settlements".

And thus, with breathtaking daring, Sharon submits a plan that appears to promise the existence of a "Jewish democratic state" via "separation", "the end of the conquest", the "dismantling of settlements" - and also the imprisonment of some 3 million Palestinians in bantustans. This is an "interim plan" that is meant to last forever. The plan will last, however, only as long as the illusion is sustained that "separation" is a means to end the conflict.

The day will come when believers in this illusion will realise that "separation" is a means to oppress and dominate, and then they will mobilise to dismantle the apartheid apparatus...

And some more recent thoughts (2008) from Benvenisti:

...After more than 40 years, the Israeli governing system known as "the occupation," which ensures full control over every agent or process that jeopardizes the Jewish community's total domination and the political and material advantage that it accumulates, has become steadily more sophisticated through trial and error - without planning, but in response to the genetic code of settler society.

This status quo, which appears to be chaotic and unstable, is much sturdier than the conventional description of the situation as a temporary "military occupation" would indicate....

This explosive status quo survives due to the combination of several factors: fragmentation of the Palestinian community and incitement of the remaining fragments against each other; enlistment of the Jewish community into support for the occupation regime, which is perceived as protecting its very existence; funding of the status quo by the "donor nations," which cause corruption among the Palestinian leadership; persuasion of the neighboring states to give priority to bilateral and global interests over Arab ethnic solidarity; success of the propaganda campaign known as "negotiations with the Palestinians," which convinces many that the status quo is temporary and thus they can continue to amuse themselves with theoretical alternatives to "the final-status arrangement"....

It's great that a thoughtful man like Benvenisti can express his thoughts in language published in widely read newspapers. The publication of Benvenisti's words allows other people to read them, and to learn about reality. Then, they can make informed judgments about what to do.


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