- Deconstructing the Israeli Socio-political Apartheid System
Will the recent Israeli war on Gaza, bring Palestine closer to liberation from occupation or will it lead to more creeping colonization?
Palestinians who have posed this question lately have had in mind only Israeli colonization of the West Bank. Very few have thought about the war in a broader context of historical Palestine or the continuous process of colonization in the Negev and the Galilee, regions in the south and north of the state of Israel, rather than the Palestinian Territories occupied in 1967. This essay sheds light on the Palestinian-Zionist conflict from an inside perspective, from which I understand the hidden aims of the last Israeli assault on Gaza as part and parcel of ongoing Israeli colonization. Since its establishment in 1948 as a settler-colonial entity Israel has aimed to dismantle Palestine as a social and political entity. The main goal of the continuous siege and attacks on Gaza is to prevent resistance to the process of colonizing Arab areas still populated by a majority or substantive minority of Palestinians.
The Israeli assault on Gaza in July–August 2014 is a fresh reminder of the Nakba as a series of catastrophes which have befallen the Palestinians since 1948. Most of the people of Gaza (about 70%) are refugees who have suffered the atrocities of several wars and repressed uprisings over the past six decades. In 1956 Israel occupied Sinai and the Gaza Strip, administering it for about half a year until the full and quick withdrawal in early 1957. Contrary to that short lived occupation, Israel has dominated the life of Gaza since the war of June 1967, notwithstanding the unilateral Israeli “withdrawal” in the summer of 2005. Furthermore, Israel has imposed a full siege since 2007, and inflicted three military assaults on Gaza in the last six years (December 2008–January 2009, November 2012 and July–August 2014).
On September 26, 2014 in his address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Palestinian President Abbas claimed that Israel had launched a new war of genocide against the Palestinian people. The Palestinian leader added that when he addressed the Assembly two years previously he had warned that Israel was preparing a new catastrophe for the people of Palestine. He appealed to the U.N. to “prevent a new Nakba and support the establishment of a free and independent State of Palestine now.”1 Abbas’s bitter speech reflected the rising despair amongst his people about the prospects for peace and liberation from Israeli occupation. Almost 67 years since the partition of Palestine and the beginning of the Palestinian Nakba, and 47 years since the June 1967 war, people cannot see an end to the long standing Israeli occupation, colonization and repression.
During the 2014 war on Gaza, Israeli society witnessed a growing polarization between Jewish and Arab citizens. Most of the Jews supported the government and the army, while most Arabs perceived the attack on Gaza as an unjustified war of aggression. The mass killing in Gaza (mostly of civilians, including hundreds of children and women) and the destruction of about 20,000 homes was a new disaster inflicted on the besieged 1.8 million Palestinians. The socio-political polarization itself was not a surprise, but the racist and undemocratic tendencies were very disturbing. On the other side of the divide, Palestinian citizens in Israel are showing more solidarity with their fellow Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and are participating more extensively in the struggle against Zionist colonization and military assaults which try to quell any resistance to it.
The Palestinians in Israel were largely silent about their fate in the Nakba during the first two decades that followed it (1948–67). The trauma of the catastrophe, their separation from the Arab world and the military government imposed on them until December 1966 prevented their resistance to the appropriation of their land to make way for the new Zionist settlements built on them. Memories of the Nakba and injustices inflicted on them became part and parcel of their identity and understanding of the conflict, which has crystalized since the 1970s when the colonization of...