For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



The pull-out is just part of the game; it is always followed by a push-in, as in a rape scene.

Much ado about Gaza

Israel Shamir 

An Englishman leaves without bidding farewell, a Jew says his farewells but does not leave, says a Jewish joke. This is the case with Israeli withdrawals from Bethlehem, Ramallah and now the grand slam, Gaza disengagement. A fortnight ago, Israeli army left Tul Karem amid fanfares. Newspapers described it a “trust-building measure” the Palestinians have to work hard to justify. A few days later, Israeli tanks rolled back into Tul Karem; they killed a few policemen in cold blood, carried away a wagonload of captives and were ready for the next well-publicised withdrawal. We went through this motion so many times, that one should be a great enthusiast to care about Gaza show provided by courtesy of Ariel Sharon.

Gaza disengagement is nothing. This is a non-event, though presented as a great news. This one is not the first, and surely not the last. In Palestinian history, Gaza withdrawals are a dime a dozen. I remember even Gaza withdrawal of 1956, but people with shorter memory probably remember the ballyhoo around Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 1993, in accordance with Oslo Accords. There were so many arguments, whether there should be ‘Gaza first to go’, or ‘Gaza and Jericho first to go”. After plenty of acrimony, the Palestinians “got” Gaza and Jericho. Eventually it turned out that Israel granted some prisoner autonomy to what became Gaza Concentration Camp and Jericho Open Prison, on a par with the five-star VIP prison of Ramallah.

Disengagement is sham, but the wall is real. The Israeli News agency announced that “The IDF is to build another security fence around the Gaza Strip. In the end, the system will comprise of three fences, state-of-the-art electronic and optical sensors as well as remote control machine guns. The system should be completed in less than a year for a total cost of $220 million”, naturally, paid by the US taxpayer.

If for some reason, the prisoners will become restive, Israel has enough planes to bomb them into submission without moving a single soldier. The disengagement is good for Israel of Sharon, as it allows him to cut expenses, to cut down unpopular reserve duty and to make servicing of the Gaza Concentration Camp so much easier. This is no secret: Israeli officials expressed this view on numerous occasions.

Our friend Uri Avnery called upon the Palestinian resistance “not to play into the hands of Sharon” and refrain from all military activity until the withdrawal is completed. The sad reality is that the Palestinians have no options. If they keep quiet, they will be immured beyond the high walls of Gaza. If they misbehave, they will be bombed, strafed and immured beyond the high walls of Gaza. There is no carrot, just a stick.

Our friend Ilan Pappe warned us of a possibility of large-scale killings in Gaza Strip when the pull-out is completed. He called upon us ‘to keep our eyes on Gaza’. But I doubt there will be something that dramatic. There are too many people in Gaza to kill them off; there is no place to expel them to, either. No reason to rush: the imprisoned population will be there for future punitive actions whenever they will be required.

The pull-out is just part of the game; it is always followed by a push-in, as in rape. Gaza will remain a jail, without even an air or sea link to freedom. But it is a mistake to concentrate on access only: for ordinary Gazans air link will not feed their families. Gaza can’t stand on its own feet – no city, neither Tel Aviv nor London can. Gazans will have but a little chance to make living by working the fields that belonged to their families, for Israeli farmers prefer cheaper and undemanding Thais. Gaza will become the preferred place of exile of Palestinian activists from the West Bank and Jerusalem, a big jail, nay, a place of entombment.

Recently I went to the Biblical village of Bethany in vicinity of Jerusalem where the deep rock-cut tomb of Lazarus forever reminds of faith’s ability to bring back to life even the stinking dead soul of man from under thick shell of stone and masonry. It is a powerful and relevant symbol for there are forces that bring spiritual death to souls, immuring them in pursuit of material goods and casting off sunlight of God. But the broad well-paved highway to Bethany was abruptly cut off by a huge monstrosity of a wall; 25 feet tall concrete slabs blocked the way and dimmed sunlight. A paint-sprayed sign read: Welcome to the Ghetto of Bethany.

Beyond the wall, blue-eyed and suntanned Palestinian children in their best Sunday clothes stared in disbelief on the Israeli workers’ team that relentlessly erected the slabs entombing them in their village. They reminded me of a Gothic story[1][1] by Allan Edgar Poe, about a vindictive Spaniard who immured his chained live victim in a cellar of his castle after enticing him to come down and try his amontillado wine. He laid a brick upon a brick, poured mortar with gusto, vigorously walled up the entrance of the niche, while disbelief in the eyes of the victim was turning into horror of recognition. His lips wisped ‘Amontillado!’ as the last brick immured him for his slow and dreadful death in darkness of the cellar. Poe knew we fear entombment more than we fear death.

We can’t stop Israel from entombing a million of Gazans. But we may and should stop Israel from earning feathers on his hat by this dastardly act. Thanks for nothing, General Sharon. You do the evil deed of Zimri, and demand the reward of righteous Phineas, as Bible-minded folk says. We should attend to people who let him sell redeployment as a great sacrifice - people in the media. Instead of watching with shudder one million live human beings being immured, the vast world-wide Jewish media machine, from Sulzberger’s New York Times to Rothschild’s Liberacion, concentrates on “the settlers’ plight”. This is another sham. Last month, Israelis destroyed the village of Tana and expelled its population, practically unreported; but tears of each settler are avidly documented and served to the viewers all over world.

Nobody pushes these settlers away but their own government. They may stay as equals in Gaza. Probably they would be able even to keep much of their illegally obtained assets. The PNA may do well stating that publicly. The hullabaloo is done to enforce the idea that Jews may not live with goyim together. Alas, this idea is supported by Jewish pro-peace activists: Michael Warshawski stated that

“the priority of the anti-occupation forces should be to denounce and to fight against the settlement policy, … to impose on Israel an immediate and total freeze on settlements activities, including the wall and the bypass roads, and to establish, under the hospices of the UN, an International Settlements Freeze Watch, mandated to implement this freeze.”

Warshawsky’s call amounts to support of Sharon’s concept of separation from the left. He is against the wall being built away from the Green Line; so the Gaza Wall should suit him perfectly. But it is too little, too late to ask for a freeze that never comes, for the walls being build along old armistice lines. ‘Anti-occupation’ became the shibboleth of Zionism-lite. There is just one possible solution: instead of removing settlers and building more walls, to integrate Gaza and the West Bank in Israel, warts and all.