Israel: A Nation Out of Step with Time

The Israeli military is introducing orders that allow for the deportation of so-called "infiltrators", defined as anyone who does not hold an Israeli permit to reside in the West Bank. Mordechai Peargut sent us this comment from Israel.

The sun did eventually settle on the remnants of the once mighty British Empire. The Soviet Union and the East European bloc it dominated are now no longer. Colonialism is no longer with us, at least not in the form of direct military occupation – except for Iraq and Afghanistan and a few other countries where imperialism is spreading “democracy”.

But wait, I see a little country that is in a time warp. It thinks that usurping another people’s land, occupying it, and subjecting its people to virtual slavery, hunger, lack of proper medical facilities is still politically acceptable. Where is this country, what is its name? Why Israel of course.

When the first settlers came to what was then Palestine in the latter part of the 19th Century, most of them came with good intentions, to cultivate the land, to build communes (known the world over as the Kibbutz) where all would live together, share equally what each produced, the idyllic “socialist dream”. But and it is a big but these well intentioned, well educated Europeans, with their highly skilled trades, and professions forgot one, well in fact two minor things. Firstly, the land was not empty of souls, and secondly they did not ask permission. Now I may be an old fashioned sort of person, but I was taught to ask politely before you enter someone’s home, and avail yourself of their possessions.

These Zionists (I’ll explain soon what a Zionist is) regarded the indigenous population as being below them, and worthy of nothing more than contempt. In other words these settlers were your typical colonialists. To be fair, these Jews were escaping from persecution. So you would think they would act in a benevolent way towards the Palestinian Arabs already living in Palestine. But where have we heard this story before? Well, of course, it happened in North America. British people persecuted for their beliefs fled to the New World, and subsequently all but wiped out the native peoples of that land.

Now to Zionism: Zionism is the doctrine of resettling the biblical land of Israel with Jews, who around two thousand years ago as related by Jewish history were exiled from Palestine as it was then known, by establishing a wholly Jewish State, and removing the indigenous population, i.e. the Arabs.

Slowly but surely the settlements grew into villages, which became towns, and some became cities. More Jews came from the Arab countries and Europe. All this immigration inevitably caused friction with the Arabs, and there were violent skirmishes between the two peoples. While all this was happening the ruling Turks of the Ottoman Empire were replaced by the British, the Turks having lost out to the Brits in the First World War.

Although the Jews by now had become a significant number, their goal of establishing a state was still a dream. This was all altered after the end of the Second World War, when the atrocities of the Holocaust came to light. It was decided that a state had to be established.

The surviving Jews of Europe were brought to Palestine through the Jewish Agency, despite the efforts of the British to stop it. This caused the Jews to adopt terrorist resistance fighting against the British, much as in the same way the Palestinians fight Israel today. Through wheeling and dealing at the UN in 1948 the State of Israel finally came into being. The British demoralized and weary after the Second World War left ignominiously.

Immediately, the surrounding Arab states attacked the fledgling state, but despite being heavily outnumbered the Israelis won. During this war the Arab population of the new country was evicted, or “ran away” it depends upon which version you want to believe. As a matter of fact in dozens of attacks and one major massacre (that of the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin) the Jewish militias pushed out a large part of the Palestinian inhabitants from their homes. The UN accounted for 750,000 Palestinian refugees by the end of 1948. Israel was now a fact, but it was very small and beleaguered, constantly having to guard its borders against attacks from what were called then the Fedayeen Arab fighters.

In 1956 Israel colluded with the French and the British to attack Egypt. The new Republic of Egypt, having deposed the corrupt King Faruk, had nationalised the Suez Canal that had previously belonged to the French and the British. They both lost out in this adventure, but Israel had captured Sinai. Under pressure from the United States Israel was forced to return the Sinai to Egypt. So once again Israel was still a tiny place.

In 1967 the famous Six Day War broke out. What caused this war is open to debate, but I won’t go into that here. Israel won the war, and subsequently increased its size, but with the territory came its inhabitants, more Palestinians from Jordan in the west, and from Egypt in the east Gaza. Israel was quite happy to relinquish Gaza, but Egypt said thanks, but no thanks. There were also the Golan Heights to the north that belonged to Syria.

Israel now had the land it wanted, but also a further increase of Arabs that it did not want, although for a long period Israeli capitalists hugely benefited from the exploitation of the cheap labour in the occupied territories. It now had a huge demographic problem, as the Palestinians tend to have more children than the Jews, Israel could see its numerical advantage being diminished over a short time.

An intensive effort was now made to bring more Jews to the Zionist state. It was initially hoped that these would came from the wealthy educated west. So incentives such as tax breaks were introduced for the new immigrants, to the chagrin of the highly taxed Israelis. This only produced a small trickle from the west, but some Jews did manage to come from the eastern bloc. After the breakup of the USSR, a massive influx of Russians came to Israel increasing its population by a near 15%.

From 1978 onwards except for one small period. Israel’s political scenario changed from a sort of leftish leaning one to a rightist one. This has gradually swung more and more to the position we have to day of an extreme right-wing government in power with an agenda to rid Israel once and for all of the Palestinians.

Recently Israel has found itself at odds with its closest ally the US. It now finds itself out on a limb, as this policy towards the Palestinians does not fit in too well with that of the new administration in Washington, which has been taking a stance that is somewhat hostile towards Israel’s new settlement policy. This seems to have prompted an extreme response, and Israel has decided to go the whole hog, and to take a step that will solve the “Palestinian Problem” once and for all as reported here in this report from the Israel human rights organization Hamoked on Tuesday April 14th.

Two military orders, which authorize the Israeli army to deport Palestinian residents from the West Bank, came into effect recently, revealed Israeli human rights organization HaMoked. "Signed but not revealed by Israeli authorities, the orders are worded so broadly, such as theoretically allowing the military to empty the West Bank of almost all its Palestinian inhabitants," stated HaMoked. The military orders, with prevention of infiltration and security provisions, view anyone who is present in the West Bank without an Israeli permit as an "infiltrator," said the rights watchdog.

The vast majority of Palestinians now living in the West Bank have never been required before to hold such kind of permit. By the new rule, the so-called "infiltrators" will face deportation or up to seven years in prison. According to a report of the local daily Ha'aretz, the first Palestinians likely to be targeted under the new rule will be those who were born in the Gaza Strip, including their West Bank- born children. Tens of thousands of West Bank residents' spouses, who hold foreign passports, will also be subject to the new order, explains HaMoked.

The orders are amendments to a 1969 military law dealing with infiltration from neighbouring Arab countries into Israel. The amendments significantly expand the original order, which defined infiltrators as someone who illegally stayed in Israel after having passed through then enemy states such as Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

According to the original 1969 text, the definition of "infiltrator" was: "A person who entered the area knowingly and unlawfully after having been present in the east bank of the Jordan, Syria, Egypt or Lebanon following the effective date (of the order being given)." The new order now reads: "Infiltrator a person who entered the area unlawfully following the effective date, or a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit."

The amendment allows Israel to deport any suspected "infiltrators" within 72 hours. Either that or they can be imprisoned for up to seven years. And already we have the first victim of this new order, Ahmad Sabah, who was freed recently from prison. He holds a Gaza ID card, but prior to being imprisoned in 2001 was living in the West Bank when arrested and that was where he was expecting to be sent. His family in fact was waiting for him in the West Bank but he was sent to Gaza instead.

There are thousands of Palestinians from Gaza living in the West Bank and any of these could face the same treatment. Especially after the take-over of Gaza by Hamas, its opponents have been harassed and victimized and many have preferred to move to the West Bank. The new order means many of these could be sent back.

To prevent the orders from being enforced, 10 human rights organizations, including HaMoked, appealed to Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak. In their co-signed letter, the human rights groups demanded Barak to delay the entry into effect of the amendments, but received no reply from the authorities, explained Elad Cahana, spokesperson for HaMoked, one of the signatory organizations.

Israel is behaving like a wounded animal, and when an animal is wounded it is at its most dangerous, but it is also weak, and is prone to make mistakes. The dominant mood in Israeli society is a reactionary one. There is a siege mentality fomented by the mainstream media and the government. This new order introduced by the military could backfire, and if implemented could cost ordinary Israelis dearly.

Israeli society has reached a fork in the road, which way will it go, to the left or the right? Dear comrades we know which prong of the fork is the right one. This mad path that Israel is taking must be stopped or it will lead to a huge catastrophe for all the peoples in this region. Only the road to socialism can bring peace to this region, and the rest of the world. I believe that in the end common sense must prevail, and the left fork will be taken.