*Settlements, Judaization, and Anti-Semitism

Part III of Dispossession, Despair, and Defiance:  Seventy Years of Occupation in Palestine


Map of Israel, West Bank, and Gaza.  Source;  londonbds.org

All occupations are brutal. The greater number of the Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 were shepherded into the narrow strip called Gaza. Israel’s first occupation of Gaza, in 1956, lasted about a year before Gaza was returned to the jurisdiction of Egypt.  The 1967 war was calamitous for Arabs:  among its other consequences, Gaza was reoccupied, and Israel only disengaged with Gaza in 2005. That would pave the way, the following year, for elections and the triumph, which took Israel and the West by surprise, of Hamas. For all of the American celebration of electoral sovereignty as the greatest possible outcome for any nation, the United States could not allow that Hamas had achieved an outcome that none had countenanced and few thought possible. Gaza has since been blockaded by Israel, Egypt—which borders Gaza to the south—and the United States, and the movement of people into and out of Gaza has been severely restricted over the course of the last decade.  There are graphic accounts of the implications of the blockade, in myriad respects: unemployment among young men runs exceedingly high, and Gaza may well be described as the largest open-air prison in the world.

Mideast Israel Palestinians

A Palestinian boy ferrying animals in a cage, Gaza City, January 2009.  Photo:  Ben Curtis/AP.

I said that all occupations are brutal, but Gaza and the West Bank, divided from each other by Israeli territory, have been subjected to a regime of political regimentation and surveillance that have immensely diminished the prospects for any genuine peace.  As those involved in progressive movements around the world have often witnessed, most ‘gains’ made by progressives and activists are more frequently than not just recovery of ground lost to the state; in such circumstances, even minor concessions gained after numerous rounds of negotiations seem noteworthy.  The settlements are a case in point:  every negotiation used to end with an assurance from Israel that settlements would be curbed, but some alleged act of commissions or omission on the part of the Palestinians, or more precisely Hamas—rocket attacks on Israel, the killing of an Israeli soldier, the attempted assassination of Israeli diplomats or consular officers—led to the abrogation of the agreement; by the time another agreement was negotiated a few years later, the settlements had further encroached on Palestinian land.  Lately, with the advent of the Trump administration in the US and its avowed defense of Israel, even the pretense of curbing settlements has all but been done away with.

The West Bank has a settler-only road network: here, if one were searching for it, is clear evidence of the apartheid structure of the Jewish state.  Prime Minister Netanyahu made no effort, when he inaugurated yet another settler-only road in January 2018 that is part of a system of by-pass roads that connect Judaea and Samaria in the occupied West Bank to the rest of Israel, to disguise this blatant violation of international law.  Of criminals it can be said that they generally act in the defiance of law, and almost always under cover; but of Netanyahu it can be said that he belongs to that smaller cohort of international outlaws who are brazen in the execution of their designs in open daylight. The settlers have, then, become a veritable state unto themselves, positioning themselves as the most formidable vanguard of Zionism.  Many commentators have spoken, as well, of the Judaization of Jerusalem, and of Israel’s designation of all of Jerusalem as part of sovereign Israeli territory in defiance of international law and opinion. Now, with the recent relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which did not initiate the latest round of resistance from Palestinians who have sought unsuccessfully to breach the border even as it greatly aggravated the situation, Israel is undoubtedly feeling even more emboldened to claim all of Jerusalem as its own rightful and ancestral territory.

To speak of Israel’s appropriation of Jerusalem in its entirety, in defiance of agreements that award the Palestinians joint sovereignty over the holy city, means less than we might imagine, if only because, as a rule, the insolent abrogation of international norms has characterized Israel’s conduct for decades.  Israel acts with the assurance that it has the patronage of Western powers; and the United States, in particular, can reliably be counted upon, as a permanent member of the Security Council, to veto UN resolutions critical of Israel.  Israel tirelessly projects itself, not without success considering the unstinting support it has received from the US and its other allies since its foundation, as an oasis of democracy in a desert of dictatorships and authoritarian states.  In the more colorful language of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Israel is “a villa in the jungle.”


The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion.  The text was widely distributed across Europe and, of course, in the United States.

Such idolization of Israel, however, is scarcely the most egregious aspect of the problem:  not only does the US purport to be acting out of fairness, intent to demonstrate that it will not permit censure of Israel when other nations are similarly guilty, but the message is that criticisms of Israel are perforce animated by sentiments of anti-Semitism and therefore cannot be tolerated.  There is no question, of course, that anti-Semitism remains pervasive among various communities, not least Arabs and Palestinians, and Mahmoud Abbas has done his kinsmen no favors with his recent rants against Jews as the consistent targets of attack owing to their “social role related to usury and banks”. Abbas, in fact, has a long, troublesome, and inflammatory history of Holocaust denial dating back to at least his 1982 thesis where he purposed to address the secret links between Nazism and Zionism. As Gilbert Achcar, whose own critical investigations of Zionism are judicious and grounded in thoughtful scholarly work, has demonstrated, a wholly spurious and deeply offensive text such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion has long animated many people in the Arab world.  Gamer Abdel-Nasser, who led Egypt from 1956 until his death in 1970, recommended the Protocols enthusiastically in an interview given to an Indian journalist on 28 September 1958 with the observation that it proved “beyond the shadow of a doubt” that “three hundred Zionists”, all known to each other, governed “the fate of the European continent.” [See Gilbert Achcar, The Arabs and the HolocaustThe Arab-Israeli War of Narratives, trans. G. M. Goshgarian (New York:  Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2009), p. 206.] The Protocols make its appearance in Article 32 of Hamas’s charter, though numerous other articles—7, 15, 22, 31—are equally virulent in their expression of anti-Semitic sentiments.

(to be continued)

For a Norwegian translation of this article by Lars Olden, see http://prosciencescope.com/del-iii-av-vising-fortvilelse-og-defiance-sytti-ar-med-okkupasjon-i-palestina/

4 thoughts on “*Settlements, Judaization, and Anti-Semitism

  1. Pingback: *The Abrahamic Revelation and the Walls of Separation: A Few Thoughts on the  “Resolution” of the Palestinian-Israel Conflict | Lal Salaam: A Blog by Vinay Lal

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  3. Hi Professor! I thought I would read through this blog post due to the new current conflicts between Israel and Palestine. I agree with your statement that all occupations are brutal: the Nazi occupation of Europe, the USSR occupation of East Germany, Japanese occupation of China, and on it goes. However, the occupation of Gaza is a particularly unique and brutal occupation as it often gets overlooked by much of the modern world due to the size of the country as well as the little concern that most first world countries have for Palestine. After the UN created Israel, it seemed that they believed they had solved the question of where the surviving Jews of the Holocaust would go and did not seem too anticipate the decades of bloody violence that would follow. In the decades since, it seems many countries save for a few have simply ignored the ongoing war between Palestine and Israel. The question of what should have been done with the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust is indeed a very interesting question that many people have debated since Israel’s creation and the ensuing problems that followed. I am curious on what your thoughts are on what should have been done with the Holocaust survivors. Do you think they should have been granted their own country or simply dispersed back to where they lived prior to the war? Or do you hold another opinion?

    One thing I find interesting is this US belief that if one is anti-Israel, one is anti-Semitic. I do not agree with this statement as disagreeing with the actions of a corrupt government and county is different than disagreeing with an entire religion, which I believe is not based solely upon a country. It would be the same thing as linking the entirety of the religion of Islam to Islamic terrorist groups, which many Americans do as well. It is ridiculous of the US government to portray this message, as not everyone who practices Judaism agrees with the actions of the Israeli government against Palestine. A religion is not defined by the actions of a group of their members, an idea that seems to have gone over the heads of many Americans as they have a tendency to group entire peoples into stereotypes based off the actions of a small group of said peoples. To hold this view is also dangerous in my opinion. By taking this stance, the US is portraying itself as more of a hypocrite when claiming to be a country dedicated to upholding freedom and liberty for all. What of the liberty of the Palestinian people and those in Gaza under continuous attack? In my opinion, by siding with Israel, the US simply ignores the values they uphold and disregards the principles it was built upon.


  4. Hi Professor! Similar to the comment above, I too wanted to read through this blog post because of the current conflicts arising from the occupation of Palestine. What most stood out to me was former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s characterization of Israel as a “villa in the jungle,” implying that Israel is a haven surrounded by dangerous nations. This is definitely another reason why countries such as the United States support Israel so strongly, by doing so they create an ally in the Middle East who is in close proximity to the many of the U.S.’s targets. As far as I know (I could be wrong) there is an American military base in Israel as well. This seems to me to be just another example of the United States preventing or supporting the prevention of a nation or group of people from exercising the same liberties and rights that it claims are so integral to human life. Another point I wanted to address is the idea that criticism of the state of Israel is often seen as anti-semitic. Firstly, it is important to point out that the current rise in conflict has resulted in a spike in hate crimes against Jews in numerous countries, which is quite obviously anti-semitic and unacceptable. Criticism of the actions of Israel however, is not anti-semitic and Jews have condemned its actions, pointing out that the displacement of families and seizure of Palestinian homes is eerily similar to what Jewish people had to endure in the earlier half of the 20th century.


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