In their own words

On the excellent ‘Promised Land’ blog, Noam Sheizaf draws attention to an IDF slideshow which lists “the principles of Israeli policy” towards the Gaza Strip, particularly with regards to restrictions on freedom of movement. One objective is listed as “separating/differentiating Judea and Samaria [West Bank] from Gaza”. Sheizaf notes that this “is the first time an Israeli official document publicly declares that the current policy objective is to create two separate political entities in the Palestinian territories”.

This is an example of how Zionist lobby spin can often be challenged using the words of Israeli officials. Last month, Netanyahu’s testimony before the Turkel Commission included the admission that, in the words of Gaza Gateway, “Israel’s decisions on what to allow or prohibit into Gaza were based not on concern for the welfare of the population in Gaza but rather about Israel’s image in the international media”. So much for ‘security’.

Then just a week ago, the same Commission heard testimony from Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, who said that “Israel declared economic warfare against the Gaza Strip and prevented the entry of goods – including certain kinds of food and other civilian items – that posed no security threat, with the goal of disrupting civilian life in the Gaza Strip”.

Finally, remember that in a 2007 legal case, the Israeli government’s State Attorney’s Office argued [PDF] that “harming the economy itself is a legitimate means of warfare and a relevant consideration even when deciding on allowing in relief consignments”.

Israel’s garrison-like hilltop settlements

It is a mark of how the US media’s uncritical coverage of Israel is eroding when you see Roger Cohen in the New York Times consistently being allowed the space to describe the desolate scenes in the West Bank which are punctuated by “garrison-like settlements on hilltops”. In his latest article he writes of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit there, in which he states: “If you’re looking for a primer of colonialism, this is not a bad place to start.” This type of language represents a promising shift in the Times’ op-ed pages.

The sparring between the United States and Israel has begun, and that’s a good thing. Israel’s interests are not served by an uncritical American administration. The Jewish state emerged less secure and less loved from Washington’s post-9/11 Israel-can-do-no-wrong policy.

The criticism of the center-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come from an unlikely source: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She’s transitioned with aplomb from the calculation of her interests that she made as a senator from New York to a cool assessment of U.S. interests. These do not always coincide with Israel’s.

I hear that Clinton was shocked by what she saw on her visit last month to the West Bank. This is not surprising. The transition from Israel’s first-world hustle-bustle to the donkeys, carts and idle people beyond the separation wall is brutal. If Clinton cares about one thing, it’s human suffering.

Continue reading “Israel’s garrison-like hilltop settlements”