Why Israel won't survive

Issue 

Once again, Israel demonstrated that it possesses the power and the lack of moral restraint necessary to commit atrocities against a population of destitute refugees it has caged and starved.

The dehumanisation of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims has escalated to the point where Israel can with full self-righteousness bomb their homes, places of worship, schools, universities, factories, fishing boats, police stations and claim it is conducting a war against terrorism.

Yet, it is Israel as a Zionist state, not the Palestinian people, that cannot survive this attempted genocide.

Israel's "war" was not about rockets — they served the same role as the non-existent weapons of mass destruction did as the pretext for the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Israel's real goals were to destroy any Palestinian resistance to total Israeli-Jewish control over historic Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

With Hamas and other resistance factions removed or fatally weakened, Israel hoped the way would be clear to sign a "peace" deal with chief Palestinian collaborator Mahmoud Abbas to manage Palestinians on Israel's behalf until they could be forced out once and for all.

The US-backed "moderate" dictatorships and absolute monarchies led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia supported the Israeli plan hoping to demonstrate to their own people that resistance — whether against Israel or their own bankrupt regimes — was futile.

United resistance

To win, Israel had to break Palestinian resistance. It failed.

On the contrary, it galvanised and unified Palestinians like never before. All factions united and fought heroically for 23 days.

According to well-informed and credible sources, Israel did little harm to the modest but determined military capacity of the resistance.

Israel not only unified the resistance factions in Gaza; its brutality rallied all Palestinians and Arabs.

Millions of people across the region marched in support of Palestinian resistance, and the Arab regimes who hoped to benefit from the slaughter in Gaza have been exposed as partners in the Israeli atrocities.

If there was ever a moment when the people of the region would accept Israel as a Zionist state in their midst, that has passed forever.

Israel's problem is legitimacy, or rather a profound and irreversible lack of it.

Israel was founded as a "Jewish state" through the ethnic cleansing of Palestine's non-Jewish majority Arab population.

It has been maintained in existence only through Western support and constant use of violence to prevent the surviving indigenous population from exercising political rights within the country, or returning from forced exile.

Despite this, today, 50% of the people living under Israeli rule in historic Palestine (Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip) are Palestinians. And their numbers are growing rapidly.

Palestinians will never recognise the "right" of a settler-colonial society to maintain an ethnocractic state at their expense through violence, repression and racism.

For years, the goal of the so-called peace process was to normalise Israel as a "Jewish state" and gain the Palestinians' blessing for their own dispossession.

When this failed, Israel tried "disengagement" in Gaza — essentially a ruse to convince the rest of the world that the 1.5 million Palestinians caged in there should no longer be counted as part of the population.

In his notorious May 2004 Jerusalem Post interview, Arnon Soffer, an architect of the 2005 disengagement, explained that the approach "doesn't guarantee 'peace,' it guarantees a Jewish-Zionist state with an overwhelming majority of Jews".

Soffer predicted that in the future "when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful."

He was unambiguous about what Israel would have to do to maintain this status quo: "If we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day."

Soffer hoped that, eventually, Palestinians would give up and leave Gaza altogether. Through their resistance, Palestinians in Gaza have defeated this policy.

Israel is not the first settler-colonial entity to find itself in this position.

When F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid president, came to office in 1989, his generals calculated that solely with the overwhelming military force at their disposal, they could keep the regime in power for at least a decade.

The casualties, however, would have run into hundreds of thousands, and South Africa would face ever greater isolation.

Confronted with this reality, de Klerk took the decision to begin an orderly dismantling of apartheid.

What choice will Israel make? Left to its own devices, Israel will certainly keep trying to massacre Palestinians into submission.

Global movement

But what prevented South Africa's white supremacist government from escalating violence to Israeli levels of cruelty and audacity was not that they had greater scruples than the Zionist regime.

It was recognition that they alone could not stand against a global anti-apartheid movement that was in solidarity with the internal resistance.

Israel's "military deterrent" has now been repeatedly discredited as a means to force Palestinians and other Arabs to accept Zionist supremacy as inevitable and permanent.

Now, the other pillar of Israeli power — Western support — is starting to crack. We must do all we can to push it over.

Israel began its massacres with full support from its Western "friends". Then something amazing happened.

Despite the official statements of support, despite the media censorship, despite the slick propaganda campaign, there was a massive, unprecedented public mobilisation in Europe and even in North America expressing outrage and disgust.

Gaza will likely be seen as the turning point when Israeli propaganda lost its power to mystify, silence and intimidate as it has for so long.

Even the Nazi Holocaust, long deployed by Zionists to silence Israel's critics, is becoming a liability; once unimaginable comparisons are now routinely heard.

Jewish and Palestinian academics likened Israel's actions in Gaza to the Nazi massacre in the Warsaw Ghetto. A Vatican cardinal referred to Gaza as a "giant concentration camp".

British MP Gerald Kaufman, once a staunch Zionist, told the House of Commons, "My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow, [Poland]. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed."

Kaufman continued, "my grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza".

There have been unprecedented expressions of support for boycott, divestment and sanctions from major trade unions in Italy, Canada and New Zealand.

An all-party group of city councillors in Birmingham, Europe's second largest municipal government, urged the British government to follow suit.

Israel is extremely vulnerable to such a campaign. Little noticed amid the carnage in Gaza, Israel took another momentous step towards formal apartheid when the Knesset elections committee voted to ban Arab parties from participating in upcoming elections.

Dying project

Zionism, an ideology of racial supremacy, is a dying project, in retreat and failing to find new recruits. With enough pressure, and relatively quickly, Israelis too would likely produce their own de Klerk ready to negotiate a way out.

Every new massacre makes it harder, but a de-zionised, decolonised, reintegrated Palestine affording equal rights to all who live in it, regardless of religion or ethnicity, and return for refugees is not a utopian dream.

It is within reach, in our lifetimes.

But it is far from inevitable.

We can be sure that Western and Arab governments will continue to support Israeli apartheid under the guise of the "peace process" unless decisively challenged.

The mobilisations of the past three weeks showed that a different world is possible and within our grasp if we support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

[Abridged from http://www.electronicintifada.net. Ali Abunimah is the co-founder of Electronic Intifada.]

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