The most important news coming out of occupied Palestine in the past week was not the blow delivered to Benyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu or Gantz, it will be business as usual, now that the elections are over: more attacks on Gaza, possibly a large-scale war on Gaza, possibly a war on Lebanon, or Iran, who would know, as Israel always has a profusion of targets.
No, the most important news was not the elections but the killing of a Palestinian woman on the west bank, only a few days after a 10-year-old boy, Abd al Rahman Yassir Shtewi, had been shot in the head by a soldier near the northern West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum during a demonstration over the closure of an access road. He was taken to hospital in critical condition.
The woman, Alaa Wahdan, was shot with an assault rifle as she walked towards a checkpoint near the Qalandiya refugee camp, built for refugees after the massacres and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Lydda and Ramle in 1948.
She was walking on the road, having missed the pedestrian lane allotted to the Palestinians. That was the crime for which she had to die. She was told to stop. According to the five heavily armed men who blocked her way, she pulled out a knife, a small yellow-handled thing photographed lying on the road. Alaa was five to seven meters away and the knife could have been knocked away with the butt of a gun but one of the armed men shot her instead, the bullet apparently severing an artery in her leg.
Alaa fell to the road and was left there unattended for half an hour, bleeding to death. The Palestinian Red Crescent said it was prevented from attending to her. The soldiers watched her drag herself along the roadside on her front, the blood pouring out of her body, leaving a long, wide red stain behind her. Not one of them made any attempt to comfort her or staunch the wound. They watched her bleed to death. They let her die, in line with unstated state policy.
Who Alaa was precisely, a mother, a sister, a daughter or an aunt, was of no interest to the occupiers. She was a down-page story in the media, not even worthy of being given a name, no more than the African ‘terrorists’ of the 1940s or 50s were worthy of being given a name by the British or French occupiers of their land who tortured and murdered them. In the words of Mickey Rosenfeld, the police gauleiter of occupied Jerusalem, she was no more than a “female terrorist” who was “injured moderately.” If this is so, Mr. Rosenfeld, why did she die?
In the background, while Alaa crawled along the road, her lifeblood draining away, the spivs, the thieves and the war criminals quarreled over who should be next to take over the occupation of Palestine. The choice was between Netanyahu and Gantz, the outcome of the elections so close that the ‘kingmaker’ will be Avigdor Lieberman, the Moldovan immigrant who arrived in Palestine when he was 20 and lives with his wife and children on Palestinian land in the settlement of Nokdim.
Like Menahim Begin in the 1970s, Lieberman was once regarded as a thug and fanatic who would never make it into the mainstream of Zionist politics but as the mainstream has shifted further right year by year it finally reached him. He once advocated the bombing of the Aswan dam as a means of shutting up the Egyptians. He thinks the ‘Arab’ members of the Zionist ‘parliament’ are the allies of terrorists. He wants Muslim and Christian Palestinians to be required to swear an oath of loyalty to a state which has declared itself to be a Jewish, which has practically stripped them bare of all they possess and which plans to keep going until nothing is left.
His philosophy can be summed up in his own words: “Whoever is against us there’s nothing to do …. We have to lift up an axe and remove his head … otherwise we won’t be here.” The option of handing back part of what has been stolen as a means of making peace is not even within his realm of thinking.
As for Netanyahu, his campaigning was nakedly racist. He warned against an ‘Arab’ party ending up in government and his Likud party stationed cameras outside polling booths to intimidate Palestinians and prevent them from voting. It didn’t work. They turned out in higher numbers than ever. It is the measure of this individual’s vile nature that he wanted to attack Gaza either to win or postpone the elections, riding to eventual victory over the bodies of more dead Palestinian men, women and children. Gantz got in his way, but only for the same electoral reason, because he also is a killer of Palestinians, and currently the subject of prosecution in the Netherlands for the bombing of an apartment building in Gaza in 2014 which killed six members of the same family.
As the Palestinians well know, it makes no difference which of the parties is in power because their policies – more war, more killing, more settlements, with annexation now only a few steps away – are all the same.
The pathology of the Zionists puts them beyond reason. They do not connect up with any laws or values except their own, and trying to reason with them on the basis of international law and universal values is a waste of time, pebbles thrown against the side of a tank.
In 2013 Mehdi Hassan interviewed Dani Dayon as the centerpiece of an Oxford Union debate. Until recently Dayon was the head of the Yesha settler council. Sitting in the front row, Ghada Karmi, born in Al Quds to a family that owns land on the West Bank taken over by foreign settlers like Dayon, had to endure the lies and delusions that flowed from this man’s mouth. Cutting through the arrogance and his smiling, self-assured attempts to deceive the audience, she told him what he actually was in her eyes and the eyes of the world – a common thief.
There is no mystery about what has ‘happened’ in Palestine. There is no ‘conflict of rights,’ ‘contested narratives’ or ‘disputed’ ownership. These are all propaganda phrases designed to conceal the indisputable reality. From the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, Palestine has been stolen by people whose moral right to stay there can only be conferred on them by the people whose land they have stolen. Had they ever accepted this principle, had they ever apologized for their crimes, had they agreed to share instead of wanting to take the lot, using all the brutal means at their disposal, this moral right could have been secured but they forfeited this possibility long ago, preferring endless war to the possibility of peace. There is no ‘two-state’ solution in sight. Add it to the list of myths still being purveyed. There is no solution in sight at all, at least not one based on rational discussion and the application of international law.
There is no statute of limitations here. The land was stolen and will remain stolen no matter how long the Zionists hold it. There is no ‘land of Israel’. There is no ‘Temple Mount’ and no ‘tomb of the patriarchs’ in Hebron. These are all deceptions sitting atop a mountain of lies intended to bury the truth. There is Palestine, there is the Haram al-Sharif, the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron, where the settler state pogrom against the Palestinians continues without pause, and countless other sites on the map, all of them occupied and renamed. Not a drop of water in the sea or a speck of sand on the beach belongs to the Zionists. It has all been stolen.
As soon as the elections were over, ‘kingmaker’ Lieberman, leading the party of Russian ‘immigrants’ to an illegally occupied land, started stitching together a ‘national unity’ government. As excited or as preoccupied with the process as the Zionist population of Palestine might be, there is no prospect of change for the Palestinians except change for the worse.
Gantz is as much a warmonger as Netanyahu or Lieberman and as the Palestinians will continue to resist occupation of their land where and when they can, as is their natural right and their right under international law, more large-scale violence is only a matter of time. In their arrogance the Zionists are ignoring all the warning signs, the cries of ‘Death to Israel’ from the Houthis, the tens of thousands of missiles in Hizbullah’s armory and the determination of Iran to defend itself and its allies. The Zionists can kick the Palestinians around, but not these powerful enemies, who have behind them the support for Palestine of Muslims everywhere, not to speak of the numerous defenders of Palestine and Palestinian rights in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and many other countries.
The Zionists came to the Middle East as a ‘rampart’ of ‘western civilization’ and that is where they have remained, on the ramparts, behind the palisades, the fences and the wall, fencing others out and fencing themselves in. They wanted to be in the Middle East but not of the Middle East. It was beneath them. They hijacked those aspects of its culture that suited them but looked down with contempt on the rest and they still do.
In any case, western domination was the accurate phrase, not western civilization. The ‘west’ has never been civilized, not in the Middle East or in any other lands against which it went to war and occupied. Rather, it has been utterly barbaric, as the word is generally understood, and Zionism has been part of that barbarism.
Not wanting to be part of the Middle East except on its own unacceptable terms, Zionism has to rely on powerful outside backers, a role currently filled by one of them, the United States. However, will it always be there to give the Zionist state the support it demands, will it always be capable of giving it the support it demands, will it ultimately be willing to put its own life on the line for a small state far away that is held in contempt by much of the world, not for bad reasons but for perfectly understandable ones, and one that is held in contempt as well by an increasing number of Americans?
Only arrogance could be the reason for the willingness of the Zionists to stake their future on such uncertainties, when for a small price, except in their own greedy eyes, they could have secured their place in the Middle East long ago. There is one other reason for their confidence, though, and that is their possession of nuclear weapons. At the worst, backs finally against the wall, they can take everyone down with them.
Take a serial killer out of the psychiatric ward, hand him a machine-gun and wait to see what happens. That is the prospect ahead of the Middle East as long as the Zionist state remains a killer at large.
Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East. His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)