Divestment and Israeli apartheid
Divestment and Israeli apartheid
by Mazin Qumsiyeh* 10/5/04
As submitted to The Chronicle at Duke
I spent six years at Duke as an Assistant and then Associate professor before I moved to Yale. I will be coming back to Duke as a speaker in the Palestine Solidarity Conference October 15-17th. Needless to say, I could not escape the barrage of emails regarding this issue. According to those organizing this coordinated campaign, they have agreed to focus on terrorism. This sounds rather familiar, ironic, and sad.
The oppressors always draw attention to the “savagery” of the “uncivilized” natives, whether natives are blacks fighting against apartheid in South Africa, Native American resistance to white colonisation or Algerian resistance to French colonisation. Colonizers always justify their actions by focusing on the extreme examples of the most cruel and violent attacks by the natives (e.g., burning people alive in South Africa, scalping and killing white settler women and children in North America, Algerian massacre of French settlers). Extreme violence and terrorism are the tail of a bell-shaped curve of resistance, most of it non-violent that is to be suppressed by extreme violence and reshaped by PR. Further, any rational student of history will find the occasional atrocities from the natives (whether suicide bombings, burning people alive in South Africa, scalping and massacres by native Americans) always pale compared to the level of atrocities by the colonizers/occupiers. In Palestine/Israel, the ratio of civilians killed has been 5 Palestinians to 1 Israeli. It is a shame that the mainstream media in the US clearly is not in sync with either reality or the media in the rest of the world. It is even more shameful that in the 21st century, we still dehumanize the natives by focusing on the right tail of the bell-shaped curve of resistance and hiding not only the non-violent resistance but the much larger (also bell-shaped) violence of the colonization and ethnic cleansing. In my medical field, this is equivalent to focusing on one symptom of leukemia (say skin lesion) and applying a soothing creme instead of addressing the etiology of the disease to cure all its symptoms with chemo or radiation therapy. The treatment here is nothing short of international pressure that would help Israel evolve to a post Zionist era in which Muslims and Christians are allowed to return to their lands and be treated with full equality under a constitution that protects all.
In the past week alone, and with essentially no US media coverage, nearly 100 Palestinians were murdered by the Israeli occupation forces, 85% of those killed were civilians not engaged in any acts of resistance. In one instance, an Israeli tank fired directly into a marketplace full of civilians. Community policing is now done routinely with Apache helicopters, F-16s and Merkava tanks. In the same week, dozens of homes were demolished and their residents join the nearly 6 million Palestinians who are refugees or displaced people. All are made possible by our taxes and US diplomatic and political support.
It turns out that the majority of those killed were killed not while exercising violent resistance but killed while going about their daily (subjugated) lives or in some cases while engaged in non-violent resistance. This is attested to by every single human rights organization that reported on this situation. No human rights organization accepts the Zionist PR/myth that civilians are not targeted. The massive non-violent resistance goes on largely unreported in the US media except on rare occasions. Even then, when an Israeli soldier used an American bulldozer to murder American Student Rachel Corrie, excuses are given and Congress refuses to open an investigation. In fact, the vast majority of the resistance to colonization and occupation in any setting is non-violent.
In the last four years, over 3500 Palestinians (mostly civilians) were killed including 670 children. The occupation army injured over 30,000 (1 in 100) Palestinians, equivalent to injuring 3 million Americans. There is nearly 70% unemployment as Israel tightens its siege/blockage. The civilian infrastructure has been decimated (schools, businesses, roads, hospitals). While 30% of Israeli children living below the poverty line (70% for Palestinians), two billion dollars (thanks to the US) is spent to build monstrous walls, ditches, and fences are now used to squeeze Palestinians into cantons that only differ from large prisons in the fact that the occupation need not feed the prisoners.
Israel is in violation of 65 UN security council resolutions (would have been over 100 had the US not used its veto power to block others) and the rulings of the International Court of Justice. For these violations and continued atrocities, the US rewards Israel with $5 billion in annual aid and goes against the will of the International community to advance Zionist special interests at the expense even of US public interests (as happened in the recent invasion and occupation of Iraq).
There has been very loud voices raised and tens of thousands of dollars wasted to "counter" the PSM Conference at Duke. Many toss labels like "anti-Semitic" and "self hating Jew" recklessly at those they chose to hate. Those attending the PSM conference will discover the extent of the lies and distortions foisted on us. They will find out how 530 Palestinian villages and towns were wiped off the face of the map. They will discover why the lengthy "Road Map for Peace" lacks four key words (International law and Human Rights) and will never bring a durable peace. They will find out why justice is the only road map to peace. Despite all the fancy attempts at silencing rational voices coming from people of all religions, students demand that not in our name will the US government and our corporations continue to fund, support, and profit from ethnic cleansing, colonization and occupation. Divestments and boycotts showed their power in getting the US corporations, media, and government officials to finally address the inhumanity of South African apartheid. Bishop Desmond Tutu in articulating why we need to divest and boycott Israel explained that the situation is even more dire than was the case in his country of South Africa. If Apartheid was the problem in South Africa, why is it being considered a solution in Israel/Palestine? It is time for the truth and for working for peace with justice.
* Associate Prof (Yale; previously of Duke). Co-founder and spokesperson, Palestine Right to Return Coalition (http://al-awda.org). Author, "Sharing the Land of Canaan" (Pluto, 2004) http://qumsiyeh.org