Antisemitism, anti-Zionism and ‘the occupation’

The main reason why many people have turned against Israel is “the occupation.”

A new Zionism (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A new Zionism
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The main reason why many people have turned against Israel is “the occupation.”
This has two parts: 1) the “occupation of Palestinian territory” and 2) the “occupation of Palestinian people.” Many in the international community and some Israelis, therefore, have accepted what they believe is a threat to Israeli democracy and a corrosive moral problem. But is the accusation true?
The first argument has been refuted extensively, the second has not.
Recently, Micah Goodman wrote in The Atlantic that Israel was guilty of the second offense, and offered a number of suggestions which would minimize this. He and others argue that Israel is guilty of a moral transgression – controlling the lives of “another people,” Palestinians. This resonates with many who are concerned about humanitarian, moral issues.
Especially for Jews, if Israel is guilty of “stealing Palestinian land,” “depriving Palestinians of their civil and humanitarian rights,” and “persecuting” them, then opposition to Israeli policies is justified.
For many, such as Senators Lindsey Graham and Cory Booker, and for Joe Biden, the “two-state solution” – an independent Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria – is the only reasonable alternative to what they call the “one-state” situation that now exists. Although simplistic, it is a persuasive argument because it seems to make sense: One nation (Israel) should not dominate another nation/people, the Palestinians.
Missing, however, is a fundamental question: Does Israel have the right, duty and obligation to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state which poses a threat, and to control the lives of Palestinians in order to protect itself? This raises an additional question: Is “the occupation” undermining Israeli democracy, its values and its society?
The issue of “occupation,” therefore, must be confronted seriously and at all levels. It cannot be dismissed in favor of loyalty to Israel. It is not enough to invoke Jewish history and to suggest that the State of Israel has “messianic” implications. If Israel is guilty of wrongdoing, it should admit its mistakes and correct them. This explains why the issue of “occupation” is so powerful and persuasive. It explains the popularity of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, even among those who know little about the Israel-Palestinian conflict and have no interest or stake in the issues. 
Ignored by those who oppose “the occupation” and support a “two-state-solution” is the nature of Palestinian society and its leadership – that is, one that rejects Israel’s right to exist, foments Jew-hatred, and promotes incitement and terrorism. Given this reality, Israel has no choice but to defend itself. As long as Palestinian leaders and most of its population are a threat to Israel and the world, it must do whatever is necessary to contain and eliminate that threat. This threat is enhanced by Arab countries, such as Iran, and Jihadist groups which engage in terrorism and declare their intention to wipe out Israel and attack Western targets around the world.
AT A much deeper and problematic level, there is a problem with Islam. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali and others have pointed out, Islam is not a “religion of peace.” It is a religious movement which seeks to dominate and, if necessary, exterminate all non-Muslims. For Islamists, the mere existence of a non-Muslim, infidel state in the region is an affront and unacceptable. Although some Muslim countries are willing to make a political compromise to accept Israel’s existence, it cannot be tolerated theologically. That Israel is supported by nearly all Western countries makes those countries culpable as well.
In the final analysis, the issue of human rights is paramount, and pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel organizations and propagandists have focused the world’s attention on the issue of “occupation” in their efforts to destroy Israel. They present a simple paradigm: Israel is persecuting Palestinians and the Palestinians are, therefore, victims. As a mantra, no critical thinking is necessary. The images are also enhanced by presenting a chilling turn-around: Jews were persecuted by the Nazis, and now Israel persecutes Palestinians; the Holocaust in Europe is being re-enacted in Israel/Palestine and the Jews are culprits.
This has resulted in a unique and unusual alliance between Muslim and Christian Jew-haters who share a common enemy. It also provides room for some Jews who see Israel as a threat to their religious and national identity.
For 25 years, thanks to the Oslo Accords, Israel and the international community have enabled a corrupt, violent, terrorist-supporting dictatorship that has not produced anything of value and which subjugates its own people. That is the real occupation. And that is where “Palestinian liberation” and “ending the occupation” must begin. Condemning Israel, however, is only an excuse for their own failures.
“The occupation” will end only when Palestinians and their leaders decide to accept Israel’s right to exist and prefer to send their children to school rather than train them to become suicidal “martyrs.” It will end only when the Palestinian Authority and Hamas end their programs of hatred, incitement and support for terrorism. It will end only when they decide to end the conflict, as they promised in the Oslo Accords. It will end only when they decide to develop their human resources rather than support an anti-human, antisemitic and anti-Zionist ideology.
The problem, therefore, is not only the existence of Jewish communities (“settlements”) in Area C of Judea and Samaria, but whether the nation-state of the Jewish people has the right to exist at all. Is the conflict over territory or is it conceptual and ideological? Do Palestinians and their supporters want to end the conflict or perpetuate it?
The author is a PhD historian, writer and journalist.

Tags Occupation