Debate on Annexation doesn’t stop violence against Palestinians
The decision by the United Arab Emirates to “normalize” relations with Israel is a one-sided gesture that only pauses but does not stop the larger “annexation” moves by Israel. Worse is the UAE effort also doesn’t stop the violence and the daily forms of annexation that take place. The word normalization really means the acceptance of Israel’s violations of international law, its war crimes and its racist apartheid, symbolizing a historic weakness in the Arab World
By Ray Hanania
With the Middle East engaged full throttle in a debate on Israel’s suspension of annexation of major areas of the West Bank, life goes on as violently now as it did before for Palestinian victims of Israeli racism.
The UAE’s decision to “normalize” relations with Israel in exchange for suspending the annexation of the West Bank is being hailed and criticized by many. But Special Middle East Envoy Jared Kushner insisted that annexation will not proceed without President Trump’s approval.
Although “annexation” is temporarily off-the-table, Israel continues to bomb the Gaza Strip and is moving forward with a more subtle form of annexation, the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank.
B’Tselem, the Israeli Human Rights organization, reported this week that Israel has moved forward with the destruction of six homes housing 26 Palestinians in the Bedouin village of Al-Muntar near Jerusalem.
The families have been targeted by violence from armed Jewish settlers living in nearby Jewish-only settlements in the Occupied West Bank. Those settlements have been built by Israel on Palestinian lands that have been formally annexed by Israel’s government, and taken away from the rightful Palestinian civilian owners.
The settlers hope to force Israel to “annex” the area to connect a group of settlements that encircle Jerusalem.
Many Palestinians, according to B’Tselem fear the UAE plan will eventually allow Israel to annex without formal annexation, taking Palestinian lands and replacing them with Jewish Israel homes, farms and property.
In other areas of the West Bank, Jewish settlers from the illegal settlement of Gilad torched vehicles and property owned by Palestinians in the village of Faraata in the Qalqiliya District in the West Bank. The settlers also spray-painted racist, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim slogans on buildings and property.
Every week, according to B’Tselem volunteers who monitor Israel’s violence against Palestinians, Israeli settlers with the apparent support of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attack Palestinian villages and homes.
In many cases, the settlers attack the Palestinians and then file false charges in court accusing the Palestinians of assaulting them.
As I listened to President Trump’s son-in-law and Special Envoy to the Middle East Jared Kushner expound on the greatness of the UAE deal in a tele-briefing Monday, and how Palestinians need to embrace Israel’s peace offers, I wondered about the fate of the Palestinian population that is caught in a never ending cycle of Israeli violence.
This violence rarely gets covered by the Israeli media or the American and Western media, but when it does get covered, it is always presented as an Israeli response to Palestinian violence.
Since the media is censored in Israel, it is rare for the Palestinians to be portrayed accurately as the victims of Israeli violence rather than the way they are portrayed as the inciters of violence against Israelis.
The year 2018 saw 3,122 stories censored by Israel’s military according to Israeli online websites like 972Magazine.
B’Tselem called the home demolitions “routine” occurrences, something rarely reported on in media like the New York Times which this week, in a Thomas Friedman Op-Ed column, praised the UAE-Israel deal as “a geopolitical earthquake” that will change people’s lives. Friedman, of course, didn’t roll up his sleeves to detail the blood-soaked reality of how lives were being altered, or the destruction of civilian homes.
There has been a civil rights earthquake taking place in Israel since 1948, and no one wants to take notice or acknowledge it.
Friedman, who softballs Palestinian suffering and exaggerates Israeli peace efforts all the time sees the deal mainly as shattering the close ties between indicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his alliance with the illegal and racist settler movement that Netanyahu has fueled over the years.
Is it really a “break” or just a philosophical disagreement between two radical sides of the same fence?
If the price for suspending annexation until an American president decides it can go ahead is normalization, I wonder what the price would be to prevent Israel from killing Palestinians or taking their land, in the slow by steady-paced dunam by dunam?
Maybe Friedman wants to write about that. I didn’t think so.
Instead, Palestinians are fighting an ongoing battle for survival in Israel. My own family land is under threatened confiscation by Israel’s government in Jerusalem. More than 8 acres (32 dunum) adjacent to the illegal settlement of Gilo, the land with the 160 olive trees cultivated by my mother’s family has been brutalized over the years by the Israelis – home there was destroyed, olive trees unearthed, road destroyed and water well sealed and redirected to the Jewish-only settlers.
I’d love to invite Kushner and Friedman to share some coffee with me in a Bedouin tent on my family lands sipping hot tea as we discuss the need for a genuine peace accord.
I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t come and I am even more sure that the Israelis wouldn’t let me share tea there.
Palestinians will welcome anything that will stop the violence.
The term normalization seems to suggest something else, considering that the “normal” in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories is one of continued violence, continued harassment and continued threats.
That’s the kind of normalization I hope ends.