The dead can still speak through their writings. I caught this diary over at MyDD by Mainstreet, which featured a dead speaker, Tanya Reinhart, and thought enough of it to reprint it as a contribution along the lines of what the European Tribune calls a Lazy Quote Diary (LQD). Lazy it is, but because I learned quite a bit from it, I felt it was worth passing on. The original title was Israeli Apartheid, Inevitable.
Tanya Reinhart, a former Professor at Tel Aviv University, Utrecht University, and New York University, is now dead. But before her death, she established herself as one of the most insightful analyst/writers about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her capacity to take apart historical agendas, to relate past to the present, and to deconstruct realities was widely appreciated by the public, as in her last book, The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003.
If I may paraphrase a review, The Road Map to Nowhere is essential reading to understanding the state of the Israel/Palestine crisis since 2003 and the propaganda that infected its coverage. It argued that the Bush Road Map failed to bring real progress and that, under the cover of diplomacy, Israel was using the Road Map to strengthen its grip on the remaining occupied territories. Israel not only failed to give any attention to the required freeze on settlements, but settlement building, as in the 90s, accelerated. Reihart’s book was called “an urgent and searing exposé of the “peace process” by a prominent Israeli thinker.”
Just what was Israel doing?
The Road Map was supposed to be a road map to peace, but that is believable only if one lacks knowledge of the historical perspective.
It was earlier, in 2001, that Tanya Reinhart blew the lid off of Israel’s hidden (in plain sight) agenda for the Palestinian territories, the one that today still drives the grass under the Zionist project to expand Israel’s territory and eventually annex major portions if not all Palestinian lands in the territories to attain a Greater Israel. It is not difficult to see how Apartheid is inevitable if millions of Palestinians remained, once the last principle advocate of transfer ala 1948, Ariel Sharon, shifted course.
Tanya Reinhart’s article was entitled, The second half of 48: The Sharon-Ya’alon Plan.. The implication of the title already tells us that getting rid of Palestinians is a central feature of this Plan. I encourage readers to follow the link.
Ever since the 1967 occupation, the military and political elites (which have been always closely intertwined in Israel) deliberated over the question of how to keep maximum land with minimum Palestinian population. The leaders of the ‘1948 generation’ – Alon, Sharon, Dayan, Rabin and Peres – were raised on the myth of redemption of land. But a simple solution of annexation of the occupied territories would have turned the occupied Palestinians into Israeli citizens, and this would have caused what has been labeled the “demographic problem” – the fear that the Jewish majority could not be preserved. Therefore, two basic conceptions were developed.
The Alon plan consisted of annexation of 35-40% of the territories to Israel, and self-rule or partnership in a confederation of the rest, the land on which the Palestinians actually live. In the eyes of its proponents, this plan represented a necessary compromise, because they believed it is impossible to repeat the 1948 ‘solution’ of mass expulsion, either for moral considerations, or because world public opinion would not allow this to happen again.
The second conception, whose primary spokesman was Ariel Sharon, assumed that it is possible to find more acceptable and sophisticated ways to achieve a 1948 style ‘solution’ – it is only necessary to find another state for the Palestinians. -“Jordan is Palestine” – was the phrase that Sharon coined. So future arrangements should guarantee that as many as possible of the Palestinians in the occupied territories will move there. For Sharon, this was part of a more global world view, by which Israel can establish “new orders” in the region – a view which he experimented with in the Lebanon war of 1982.
That Sharon continued to believe in “transfer” on a par with the ethnic cleansing of 1948 is evident in a quiet policy he instituted as Minister of Agriculture in the 1990s called the “dunam by dunam” policy (a dunam is a quarter acre of land), in which settler-IDF soldier teams would harass Palestinian families out of the territories through house demolition, destruction of farmlands and orchards, violence, and various forms of harassment. This “transfer” policy, however, was mainly directed at West Bank and East Jerusalem residents, as Gaza was too densely populated (half of its residents were actually refugees from their villages in original Palestine), a fact that would later convince Sharon as Prime Minister to abandon Israeli settlements in Gaza in order to concentrate on the other territories.
Reinhart provides further history on how these plans played out. She stated that in Oslo, “the Alon plan triumphed,” and that as part of the plan, Arafat would be brought to rule the Palestinian enclaves that could not be colonized, the planned “Palestinian state, “while Israel expanded settlements in the other “Arab free” areas like state lands, security zones, and land reserves for the settlements. Indeed, after Oslo, during the Clinton administration, the rate of settlement and the number of settlements in the West Bank actually doubled. Furthermore, Oslo divided the West Bank into areas, in which two, Areas A and B would be controlled by the Palestinian Authority, but Area C would remain in Israeli hands. Why? That area surrounded Jerusalem where there were plans to expand it and connect it to adjacent settlement cities, effectively cutting the West Bank in half.
Through Oslo, an apartheid configuration was formally made possible. In retrospect Oslo was pure deception. Still, as Reinhart informs, “the victory of the Alon plan wasn’t complete and dissatisfaction with Oslo was voiced. Even the little that the Palestinians did get seemed too much to some in the military circles…”
The details are available in Reinhart’s article.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that after 30 years of occupation, the two options competing in the Israeli power system are precisely the same as those set by the generation of 1948: Apartheid (the Alon- Oslo plan), or transfer – mass evacuation of the Palestinian residents, as happened in 1948 (the Sharon plan). Those pushing for the destruction of the Oslo infra-structure may still believe that under the appropriate conditions of regional escalation, the transfer plan would become feasible.
In modern times, wars aren’t openly started over land and water. In order to attack, you first need to prove that the enemy isn’t willing to live in peace and is threatening our mere existence. Barak managed to do that. Now conditions are ripe for executing Sharon’s plan, or as Ya’alon put it in November 2000, for “the second half of 1948”.
But we know what actually happened just after the Camp David/Taba negotiations predictably failed in 2000 (Barak could not dismantle any settlements): Sharon instigated the second Intifada, the Palestinians revolted, Israel reoccupied the West Bank, over 300 Palestinian civilians were killed including 86 children, Palestinians retaliated with suicide bombing, Sharon announced Oslo dead, killings upon killings occurred, Israel erected the Wall, and then the assassination of Arafat (Uri Avnery). It halted the Oslo peace process in principle. but not in its Apartheid intent.
In the meantime, a bulb apparently went off in Sharon mind: the ethnic cleansing of 1948 will not happen again. He instead chose to create a new political party, Kadima, and proposed his Disengagement plan: Israel’s would withdrawal from Gaza and selected settlements outside of the Jerusalem corridor. He essentially adopted the Alon plan. Although the Gaza pullout was achieved, Sharon’s stroke intervened, but his replacement, Ehud Olmert, merely offered another version of disengagement called “Convergence.”
All of it, the Alon Plan, Oslo, Sharon’s Disengagement and Olmert’s Convergence never added up to anything more than Apartheid.
As the last word in her article, Tanya Reinhart offered one bit of advise: “Before we reach that dark line, there is one option which was never tried before. Get out of the occupied territories immediately.” That was 2001. It never happened.
Israel’s trajectory toward Apartheid remains today the inevitable consequence of Israel’s colonialism as conceived by the Sharon-Alon Plan. That is why two states remains the only alternative.
Live and learn.