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Israel’s Snap Election: The view from Gaza

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Five months ago, I wrote a piece for Middle East Eye on Israel’s parliamentary elections in which I argued that those elections change absolutely nothing for us Palestinians, the indigenous population of this land. And today, Israelis went to the polling stations again in what seems to be a repeat of what happened in April. Still, Israelis do no know who their next Prime Minister is going to be.

But we Palestinians are certain that he will be a white, Ashkenazi male committed to the Zionist consensus prevalent these days across party lines regardless of the domestic agenda. Whether it is Benny Gantz, a war criminal by all means, or Benjamin Netanyahu, or any other leader, the new Israeli prime minister will not accept an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, and/or the return of Palestinian refuges scattered in refugee camps in neighboring countries, and/or Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem, and/or eviction of Israeli, Jewish settlers from Israeli colonies in the West Bank. Almost all political parties competed in the elections are Zionist, with the exception of the Joint Arab List.

The competition this election was between politicians who have boasted over the years about who has killed more Palestinians. Benny Gantz has bragged of “[sending] parts of Gaza to the stone age” after “destroying 6,231 targets”. Netanyahu has celebrated the racist nature of the state of Israel: “Israel isn’t a state of its citizens…Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people—and it alone!” Add to these 19th Century nationalistic attitudes Avigdor Liberman’s blatant call for the ethnic cleansing of Israeli Palestinians and his defense of “chopping of” with an ax the heads of those “Arabs”  who are against Israel. And Naftali Bennet’s bragging about “killing lots of Arabs!” One  gets a clearer picture of where Israel is heading from these quotes.

There is nothing for us Palestinians to celebrate. The oppressed blacks of South Africa did not get excited when the apartheid regime held elections in which they were not allowed to vote. Neither did they want to show a “preference.” For them, PW Botha or Eugène Terre Blanche, or even the leaders of the Liberal Party, were all the same as long as apartheid remained intact. Similarly, what needs to be challenged in apartheid Israel is the multi-tiered system of oppression that characterizes it as a settler-colony that is founded on the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians. Not a single Israeli party is ideologically capable of doing that; i.e. raising the necessary questions about equality, return of Palestinian refugees, and taking their leaders (who happen to be the winners in the elections) to the Hague. Even the Joint List at one point, was prepared to flirt with war criminal Benny Gantz in order to bring down another war criminal, Netanyahu, as if that would mean anything to the besieged and slaughtered Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank!

What would make sense to us, 12 million Palestinians, living in the West Bank and Gaza, and those living in the Diaspora, in addition to 1.6 second class citizens of Israel, is a de-Zionization of the state of Israel as a start, and a commitment to the immediate implementation of international law, from the withdrawal of troops from the West Bank and Gaza, to allowing refugees to return to the villages and towns from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948. In sum, only secular democracy under the rule of law and in which ALL citizens are treated equally regardless of ethnic and religious origin is what should be celebrated. Anything short of that is a recycling of 19th century ethnic nationalism disguised in slogans that mean absolutely nothing to us Palestinians.

Haidar Eid

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza's al-Aqsa University. He has written widely on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including articles published at Znet, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, and Open Democracy. He has published papers on cultural Studies and literature in a number of journals, including Nebula, Journal of American Studies in Turkey, Cultural Logic, and the Journal of Comparative Literature.

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4 Responses

  1. hophmi on September 19, 2019, 9:36 am

    Oh, really? That makes sense to you? The majority view in Gaza is that there should be a secular democracy? You voted for Islamist fundamentalists. You’re ruled by autocrats. Tell you what: establish a democracy is Gaza first. Overthrow Hamas. Take Islam as a state religion out of your constitution. Treat women equally. Stop killing gay people. Then we can talk about “secular democracy.”

    • eljay on September 19, 2019, 10:07 am

      || hophmi: Oh, really? That makes sense to you? The majority view in Gaza is that there should be a secular democracy? You voted for Islamist fundamentalists. You’re ruled by autocrats. Tell you what: establish a democracy is Gaza first. Overthrow Hamas. Take Islam as a state religion out of your constitution. Treat women equally. Stop killing gay people. Then we can talk about “secular democracy.” ||

      Wow, you’re really good at “outreach”.

      But I think we can agree that we should encourage all the people of Partition-borders not-Israel (let’s call it the “State of Palestine”) to embrace justice, accountability and equality and to establish a secular and democratic state of and for all people living in and up to n-generations removed from its / Partition borders.

      I’m sure we can also agree that Israel should do its part by ending its decades-long and on-going military occupation and colonization of the State of Palestine and withdrawing to within its / Partition borders.

      And I’m quite certain we can agree that the U.S. can help by providing unquestioning economic, political, financial and military support similar to the support Israel has enjoyed and profited from for decades.

      • Misterioso on September 19, 2019, 10:26 am


        Lest we forget:
        Human Rights Watch, 2005: “…Israel will continue to be an Occupying Power [of the Gaza Strip] under international law and bound by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention because it will retain effective control over the territory and over crucial aspects of civilian life. Israel will not be withdrawing and handing power over to a sovereign authority – indeed, the word ‘withdrawal’ does not appear in the [2005 disengagement] document at all… The IDF will retain control over Gaza’s borders, coastline, and airspace, and will reserve the right to enter Gaza at will. According to the Hague Regulations, ‘A territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised’. International jurisprudence has clarified that the mere repositioning of troops is not sufficient to relieve an occupier of its responsibilities if it retains its overall authority and the ability to reassert direct control at will.”

        The International Committee of the Red Cross: “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, ratified by Israel, bans collective punishment of a civilian population.”

        “In practice, Gaza has become a huge, let me be blunt, concentration camp for right now 1,800,000 people” – Amira Hass, 2015 correspondent for Haaretz, speaking at the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University.

        To quote Dov Weisglass, PM Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser:
        “‘The significance of the [then proposed] disengagement plan [implemented in 2005] is the freezing of the peace process,’ Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass has told Ha’aretz. ‘And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda….’ Weisglass, who was one of the initiators of the disengagement plan, was speaking in an interview with Ha’aretz for the Friday Magazine. ‘The disengagement is actually formaldehyde,’ he said. ‘It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.’” (Top PM Aide: Gaza Plan Aims to Freeze the Peace Process, Ha’aretz, October 6, 2004)

        A just released summation of “Israel’s” killing and wounding thus far, of native Palestinians confined to the occupied Gaza Strip, the world’s largest prison, during their Great March of Return, which began on March 30/18:

        State of Palestine, Ministry of Health, September 11/19
        “Report of data collected on the number of martyrs and the number of injuries sustained during the Great March of Return, March 30/18 to September 7/19.”

        “This report presents data collected on the number of martyrs and the number of injuries sustained during the Great March of Return that started on 30 March 2018. The report documents Israel’s continued violation of human rights and disregard for International Humanitarian Law in the Gaza Strip through its killings, shootings and targeting of women, children, medical teams, journalists and citizens who claim their most basic rights, which are guaranteed under International Law.

        “The importance of this report is that it serves as an official document drawn up by the Palestinian MOH, benefiting from the input of multiple other stakeholders, human rights organizations and researchers. The total number of martyrs was 312, of whom 96.2% (300) were male and 19.6% (61) were children.

        “The total number injured was 34,282 including 18,642 (54.4%) who attended hospital 71.7 % of the all hospitals injuries were in persons aged 18 to 39 years. 48.0% of injuries were to the lower limbs, with 10.0% to the head and neck. 40.7% of injures were from live bullets, 6.6% resulted from rubber-coated metal bullets and 13.4% were the result of tear gas inhalation. There were four martyrs and 773 wounded among medical staff, who were injured by gunfire and tear gas inhalation, while 133 ambulances were partially damaged as the result of attacks.

        “Sources of Data: In the preparation of this report, the Palestinian Health Information Center relied on data from hospitals, primary health care centers of the Ministry of Health, NGO hospitals and medical points. Data was assessed to ensure quality control, eliminating duplication of names, and was analyzed statistically for publication in this report.”

    • Keith on September 19, 2019, 11:18 am

      HOPHMI- “Oh, really? That makes sense to you?”

      Perhaps if they weren’t occupied and oppressed they would behave differently. It is not pleasant being the lawn which Israel loves to mow.

      “There is, evidently, much satisfaction to be gained by careful inspection of those writhing under our boot, to see if they are behaving properly; when they are not, as is often the case, indignation is unconstrained.” (Noam Chomsky)

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