Beautiful as ever spring came to Palestine. It is lovely time, when pale fire of
almond blossom lit the mountain valleys, grass is unusually green (soon it will
be scorched by sun), sky is blue and soft, without its summer glare, and plump
white sheep crawl uphill. Creator of Spring is apparently unconcerned with the
human doings, or He knows better.
On the 16th month of Intifada, ease of Israeli intrusions into the autonomy
areas makes transparent the legal fiction of the Palestinian quasi-state.
Friends of Palestine were worried the Autonomy will become an Arab Bantustan in
the Greater Israel. We can rest assured: the Autonomy is not up to a Bantustan.
It is a big game reserve. Probably Sharon and his Minister of Tourism, the
settler Beni Elon, consider it will attract adventurous tourists to Israel,
instead of South Africa or Kenya.
Edward Herman[i] of Znet wrote of approaching ‘final solution’ for the
Palestinians, along the lines of German ‘final solution’ for the Jews. The same
thought occurred to the IDF. Our generals learn from the German suppression of
Warsaw Ghetto rebellion, Haaretz reported[ii]. They are excited by extremely low
casualties of Wermacht in 1943, and hope to repeat their feat if and when they
will crush the remainder of the Autonomy.
On the other hand, there are more signs of civil disobedience and Israeli
officers’ refusal to implement ‘the final solution’. I went to the demonstration
at the Tel Aviv Museum, and found there many wonderful young men and girls,
standing next to old peace fighters. It was real peace camp, without quotes.
They applauded a message of Arafat, supported the refusing officers. Peace Now,
a Labour-affiliated movement, didn’t join: they feel uncomfortable with any
refusal to obey army orders. It is never easy to refuse orders, though IDF is
quite tolerant to dissent. The rebels will be discharged from the commanding
posts, at worst, not court-marshalled. Their refusal to serve on the Palestinian
territories is a blow for the Israeli war machine, though hundreds of other
soldiers and officers expressed their desire to fill the vacated place at
checkpoints and snipers’ nests. They made an important first step by deciding to
stay away from evil.
Local weekly, Ha-Ir, published brief (less than 100 words each) explanations of
the soldiers why they decided to refuse orders. It is a grim reading, replete
with checkpoint mistreatment, torture and starvation of the Palestinians. Murder
of children, an integral feature of the Jewish state, occupies a prominent place
in this table of horrors. The anti-Semites of old claimed Jews murder Christian
children. This revolting bloody myth was shattered and destroyed in Israel. We
murder Muslim children as easy as Christian ones, without prejudice. Even Ami
Ayalon, tough, lean, bald, mean ex-Head of the dreaded State Security Service,
wondered aloud why so few Israeli soldiers refuse to kill children.
I am a notch less jubilant than I should be, as Israelis have a wonderful
facility to use protest in their own interests. For instance, after the Sabra
and Shatila massacre there was a giant demonstration, of a few hundred thousand
persons. But it was utilised to make Israelis feel good. Another seventeen years
passed until the torture centre al Hiyam was closed and occupation of the South
was over. Sharon, the butcher of Sabra and Shatila, was elected as a Prime
Minister. There is danger that the brave act of the officers will be used to
promote good feeling among Israel supporters, instead of changing things.
How now, Israel and Palestine? What will happen next?
Sharon could try to push on with the Final Solution, creation of
Palestinian-free Palestine. Until now he hoped the Palestinians will run away
from the unbearable living conditions. Relatively wealthy and well-connected
people do emigrate until better days. But the Jews leave much faster. Young
Israelis move abroad, to study, and do not come back. A gifted musician, Adi
Schmidt, my friend’s son, announced his intention to leave for good and
performed on his farewell concert in Tel Aviv. Shekel entered the free fall
zone, investments zeroed. That is why the government has to make bold steps.
They would love to provoke a civil war among Palestinians. More pressure in
connection with this or other action of militias, meetings with some PA
ministers, demands to arrest and surrender activists were supposed to cause it.
But unexpectedly the Palestinians do not rush into self-destruction.
Failing that, Sharon has means to provoke the Palestinians and Israel’s
neighbours, and to cleanse the land from its Goy inhabitants in the aftermath of
the provocation. He can break into Al Aqsa Mosque, the beautiful complex built
by Umayyad Caliphs in 7th century, the naked nerve of Palestine. In 1996, Bibi
Netanyahu opened a tunnel near the Mosque, and caused 96 deaths. Sharon’s own
violation of the Mosque 16 months ago jumpstarted the Intifada. Recently Sharon
obtained a useful recommendation of the Shabak to open the Mosque for the Jewish
In normal circumstances, non-Muslims are allowed to visit al-Aqsa. Its broad and
shady courts, the supreme harmony of Qubbet as-Sahra, the Dome of the Rock,
spacious naves of the main building of the mosque make it a perfect place for a
pleasant stroll, rest and contemplation. Millions of tourists, and tens of
millions of believers used to come here. But for a long time, Israeli government
stops Muslims from coming to the place where the Prophet, peace upon him, prayed
with other prophets. A Jerusalem Muslim has to be over forty years of age to
pass the Israeli police blocks on his way to prayer. A Muslim from Gaza or
Ramallah can not come to pray hither at all. The mosque leaders do not want to
see the strangers in their home, while their sons are not permitted to enter.
Parts of the Mosque grounds were already confiscated by the Jews. The broad
square at front of the Western Wall was the site of a picturesque Mughrabi
neighbourhood. It also belonged to the mosque, but after Israeli conquest of
Jerusalem in 1967, it was razed. Some of its dwellers remained buried under the
ruins; such was the haste of the conquerors to eliminate the Palestinian
presence. The Western Wall is a part of the Mosque grounds, too. According to
the age-old tradition, confirmed by the British authorities, the Wall belongs to
the Mosque, while the Jews are entitled to pray at it. After 1967, it was
confiscated, as well as the Southern Wall.
The Jewish nationalist right wing would like to build a Jewish temple on the
ruins of the mosque. They believe the mountain has magic qualities, and while in
Jewish possession, it would forever enshrine Jewish supremacy over the Christian
and Muslim world[iii]. The Jewish temple will overshadow the Holy Sepulchre, as
well. For them, takeover of the mosque is not just a means to provoke more
violence, but the end itself.
This opinion is shared by the ‘Christian Zionists’, an American religious group
which effectively denies the New Testament, rejects Eucharist and the Virgin and
believes in chosenness of Jews. The Christian Zionists consider their duty to
serve Jews by hastening the big war. As the rise of such a sect at the end of
the days was prophesied by the Church fathers, their opponents call them ‘The
Church of Antichrist’. The US President George W. Bush and some of his advisers
are extremely close to this church of ‘Armageddon wishers’. They will oblige the
Jews and threaten Israel’s neighbours, Iran and Iraq with nuclear destruction,
while Israel takes over the mosques.
If the takeover will pass peacefully, Sharon will confirm his name next to that
of King Herod, the builder of the previous Jewish temple. If it will cause big
disturbances, Sharon will be able to kill and expel the Palestinians. If it will
cause a big war, Armageddon-wishers will be well pleased.
There is a contingency plan for less starry-eyed. Sober if devious Zionists
considered the election of Sharon as a certain stage in the realization of Oslo
strategy. The Palestinians rejected Barak’s proposal of an ‘independent
Palestinian state’ i.e. a chain of Bantustans without refugees’ return, without
Jerusalem, without own borders and without hope. But they suffered so much since
then, and lost many best men and women.
A Jewish folk tale tells of a man who felt miserable in his small and crowded
house. His Rabbi advised him to take in his goat. The man came a week later in
tears, as now it was truly impossible to move in the house. The Rabbi allowed
him to remove the goat, and he became a contented and happy citizen.
Sharon is the goat of this fable. When he will be removed, the Jewish media of
the US will praise our great humanism. Europeans will bless us for our
benevolence. The nice guys that refused to serve in the territories will become
heroes. The place of bloody Sharon will be taken by his not less bloody Minister
of Defence Fuad Ben Eliezer, or by Avrum Burg, the second man in the Labour
party. The army will withdraw from Nablus and Ramallah. Happy Palestinians will
agree to Oslo plan in Barak’s interpretation minus end-of-conflict declaration.
They will return into their enclaves, into slow strangulation of Barak’s days.
They will have to forget about their confiscated lands and houses, about al Aqsa
mosque, about Jerusalem.
Israeli right-wing and its allies in AIPAC will present it as an American
betrayal, to be quoted next to General Eisenhower’s orders of 1956. Independence
of the US administration from the Jewish lobby will be confirmed. The painful
events of intifada and its end will be presented as victory of Good over Evil.
They will not mention that the Zionist Good and the Zionist Evil sat around the
same table and planned it together. But for an objective observer it would mean
something different. Again, for the nth time, the ‘bad cop’ passed his softened
Palestinian victim into tender hands of the ‘good cop’.
Yes, the soldiers and the officers who refused to participate in the oppression
are very good guys and they did a good deed. But I am worried it will be used to
promote good feeling of Israel’s supporters, to legitimize the very structure of
apartheid. Their brave words are already used to support the ‘unilateral
separation’, a code word for fencing the Palestinians into one big well guarded
zone. One can’t change the paradigm of the Jewish state, the paradigm of
oppression and apartheid, from within. A character of Raspe’s book, Baron
Munchausen (probably familiar by Terry Gilliam’s movie) extracted himself and
his horse out of deep bog by pulling up his plait (see the picture below). If
you believe this “tall story”, you may believe that the good guys can change
Israeli Jewish society without joining forces with Palestinians.
A much better solution was offered by the Jewish religious Orthodox congregation
of Neturei Karta, the sons of pre-Zionist Jewish community of the Holy Land.
They were mistreated almost as much as other native sons of Palestine, mainly
for their steadfast refusal to participate in Zionist atrocities. These wise men
in big black hats, like my Tiberias uncle, a peaceful and pious Rabbi, remind me
that the Jews once lived like good neighbours with the Palestinians. In
impassioned call, they say: “the crux of the problem is the very existence of
the ‘Jewish’ state. The only realistic hope for a lasting peace is, with the
assistance of the United Nations, the total dismantling of the Israeli state and
return of sovereignty over it, to Gentile auspices”.
Once, Stalin jokingly asked, how many battalions the Pope can field? Still a
Pope saw the Soviet Union dismantled. Neturei Karta Jews have no battalions, but
I think they will see the state of Israel dismantled and a new Palestine, a
country of all its sons and daughters will take its place.
Israel Shamir is an Israeli writer and journalist. He lives in Jaffa. His
other articles are available on the site www.israelshamir.net They can be
freely transmitted and displayed on the Web. For the hard copy publications,
write to shamir@IsraelShamir.com