History repeats itself
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Jordan Times 7/24/04
On Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to accept the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Israel's apartheid wall and demanded that Israel dismantle it. The vote was 150 countries in support and six against (US, Israel, Australia, and three US-dependent Island states). The wall literally makes concrete the colonisation of roughly 30-40 per cent more of the 22 per cent of Palestine that remains. Palestinians will end up with about 12-15 per cent of their land, but even this will be in disjointed, large prisons/ghettos that will have no sovereignty.
Israel is in defiance of over 35 UN Security Council Resolutions and countless General Assembly resolutions. Israel was also shielded from many others by US veto or threat of veto. But this will be different.
In 1971, despite US objections, the UN General Assembly asked the ICJ to rule on South Africa's violations of international law in Namibia. An international movement to dismantle apartheid in South Africa followed the ruling. The movement succeeded because of resistance within South Africa buttressed by an international boycott and divestment campaign. Already such campaigns are being initiated against Israeli apartheid.
The epicentre of this problem is the ethnic cleansing of Christian and Muslim Palestinians while opening the gate for any Jew or convert to Judaism to take their place. Some two-thirds of the nine million Palestinians are refugees or displaced and that number increases daily with new home demolitions. Their right to return to their homes, lands and businesses cannot be signed away by anyone, notwithstanding what George Bush and John Kerry have to say to woo the money and votes of the Israeli lobby.
A state with different laws for different segments of its society and a “law of return” that allows people of a certain religion to acquire automatic citizenship while denying it to those born and raised there cannot be called democratic. Adding insult to injury by building large prisons/ghettos surrounded by walls, ditches and fences is apartheid and racism, no more and no less.
Increasingly, more and more nations are resisting US diplomatic, economic and military pressures. Here in the US, many groups have resisted the pressure and chose to speak truth to power. The Green Party and the Presbyterian Church community are but two examples of groups which recently joined the chorus calling on the US to stop supporting Israeli apartheid.
Many mainstream US media outlets are trying in vein to shield the public from knowing the extent of Israeli atrocities or the extent of world condemnation. But anyone with access to unfiltered news is amazed at the range of groups and countries that have now simply declared “enough is enough”. An endless war to protect colonialism and accompanying ethnocentric separation is now waged. People around the world refuse this philosophy of “might makes rights” and proclaim in unison that humanity deserves better.
Israeli economic, physical and psychological onslaught on native Palestinians has gone on now for six decades, first with the support of the British government and now with the support of the US government. Israeli colonial activity, including the wall, violates a number of international laws and covenants: The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, UN resolutions (e.g., 242, 338, UN General Assembly resolutions 181, 194), the Hague Regulations, the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights/Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, UDHR, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Israel's human rights violations have been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, Israel's human rights organisation B'tselem and many other groups.
US military and economic assistance ($5 billion per year) and diplomatic shield is aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is contrary to US law.
Violence always kills more native civilians than the settlers/colonialists (a ratio of five Palestinians to one Israeli). But violence is a symptom of the disease of colonialism. Peace can only be accomplished by justice and disbanding apartheid and racist laws. Careful research debunks many Zionist myths used to prevent peace. The only viable solution is one based on the right of return for refugees and coexistence in a pluralistic and democratic society.
As happened in South Africa, the logic of boycotts and divestments by the world community is materialising. In South Africa, the US and Israeli governments remained defiant of the will of the international community until they realised the tide was not stopping. History indeed repeats itself.
The writer is associate professor at Yale University and author of “Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle”. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.