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July 19, 2012

Israel's Illegal Migrant Hypocrisy

Morgan Duchesney

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Is the Netanyahu regime capable of responding humanely when an opportunity for accurate self-perception arrives? Recent events may provide the answer to this question that the corporate media would never dare ask. Israel, ostensibly a state built on the notion of asylum (at least for European Jews); is expressing outrage at the influx of illegal migrants into its sacred precincts. How ironic but yet, how fitting; considering Israel's established policy of expanding illegal settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

Over the last few years, approximately 60,000 South Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers have settled illegally in the Tel Aviv area; infuriating Israeli politicians like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his religious supporters. These Hebrew fundamentalists, sometimes called the Jewish Taliban; view Israel proper, Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem as the so-called Holy Land, reserved only for Jews, especially the subsidized Russian and American variety.  While Israel’s citizens are divided on support for the migrants; the voice of reason will likely be silenced by jingoistic howls of Old Testament xenophobia.

The African “infiltrators” have been added to a list of threats to the Jewish state. However; perhaps the greatest threat to Israel’s security is their tolerance of the ugly conduct of both religious and secular Zionist extremists settling illegally on disputed Palestinian territory. Of late; these “settlers” have been increasing their violence against Israeli police and military personnel; although the government is still reticent about calling them terrorists or treating them as such. The violent settlers abuse this hesitation to further their goal of gradually dominating the territories where a future Palestinian state might exist. This phenomenon is causing a crisis of cognitive dissonance among Israel’s security forces, which are loath to use deadly force against other Israelis, no matter how dangerous they may be.

I oppose Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians without reference to race or religion. It is mainly a conflict over historic land rights; similar to many others the world over involving ancient claims to contested territory.  While both sides have committed acts of barbarism; the Palestinians have suffered vastly more casualties; due mainly to Israeli military technology and their disproportionate responses to Palestinian violence. Israel’s air and land forces are superior to any of the European NATO members and they enjoy the full military and economic support of the world’s only superpower. Against this might, the oppositional Palestinians have naturally been obliged to adopt guerilla tactics. Of course, this dynamic had defined David and Goliath type conflicts since people first lifted weapons to defend their lands, homes and heritage but a persistent illusion continues in the Western mind; that terrorism is only committed by so-called insurgent forces hostile to civilization and “democracy”. The high-tech violence of uniformed soldiers is justified by its connection to ostensibly lawful authority. Ultimately, terrorism must be defined by the victim; whether that victim falls to the Zionist settler’s bullet, the Palestinian rocket or the Israeli smart bomb.

Israeli seizure of Palestinian territory has traditionally been accomplished by subtle increments. This tactic is an intentional policy that started long before the transformation of Palestine into Israel in 1948. European Jews like Ben Gurion; who entered Palestine at the turn of the 19th century, readily acknowledged that the indigenous Palestinians had equal rightsw to share the territory. Nevertheless, the Jewish immigrants proceeded to buy, occupy and finesse their way to a position of dominance using the excuse of ancient religious mythology. They even attempted to dominate Lebanon through failed alliances with that country’s Christians. The negative echoes of those machinations continue to vex Lebanon. The Palestinians’ greatest liability was their simple failure to organize effective resistance to the Jewish colonizers.

The Israeli government, with full U.S. support, has continued the practice of incrementally seizing Palestinian lands and perhaps more importantly, water resources. The practice continues to this day, again with full U.S. backing. This is the reality of what is euphemistically referred to as the peace process. Perhaps the threat of the recent African influx will encourage Zionistic Israelis to join their more moderate fellow citizens in respecting the national ambitions of the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s continued resistance to removing or even suspending West Bank settlements casts serious doubt on his government’s desire to achieve peace with the Palestinians and the larger Arab community. These West Bank and also East Jerusalem settlements are the crux of the conflict because they display a casual indifference to what fragile sovereignty the Palestinians enjoy in the territories tenuously ceded to them by their powerful neighbor.

While I am aware that Netanyahu requires political support from expansionist elements in Israel, he must also be aware of the antagonizing effect these illegal settlements have on a Palestinian people already marginalized by arbitrary borders, harsh security measures, limited mobility, substandard infrastructure, unemployment and restricted access to fresh water. The Israeli state is concerned that they are losing control of the so-called peace process, which is really just a permanent delaying tactic on the road to annexing all valuable Palestinian territory and absorbing it into Israel. Unfortunately, President Obama has not been particularly helpful on this issue, contrary to his past rhetoric. U.S. billionaire and political patron Sheldon Abelson may be right to call Obama a socialist; but he is dead wrong in accusing the U.S. president of being indifferent to Israel’s needs. Obama’s inaction is actually veiled support for Israel’s ongoing expansion.

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Dotan Rousso. Holds a Ph.D. in Law—a former criminal prosecutor in Israel. Currently working as a college professor in Canada.

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