The Mentality of Occupation


I believe the Palestinians deserve a state. But as a Jew and a Zionist I’ve long believed that you don’t have to care about justice or fairness or anything else for the Palestinians or care anything about the Palestinians at all to support the creation of a Palestinian state. It is obviously in Israel’s interest. To be clear, I’m not at all indifferent to the Palestinian people and their aspirations for a state and the dignity of self-determination. Quite the opposite. My point is simply to say that if your thing is the fate of Israel and the Jewish people, self-interest is – or should be – entirely adequate to come to this conclusion.

I note that by way of flagging two pieces J.J. Goldberg has written at The Forward over the last couple days. The first is this one about former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin. The second is this one from today about Diskin and current Mossad chief Tamir Pardo. The upshot is that both – and this pretty is clearly true of the Israeli security establishment in general, not all but most – see the unresolved state of the Palestinian issue as the deepest threat facing Israel. For Pardo, apparently, Iran doesn’t even figure in the top list of security challenges.

I remember an interview Marwan Barghouti gave during the Second Intifada but before his arrest. (Barghouti has been imprisoned since 2002 for complicity in attacks during the Second Intifada; that’s him in 2012 in the picture above.) I’ve mentioned it before, although I haven’t been able to track down the actual text. (If someone remembers the one I’m talking about and has a citation I’d be in your debt if you’d email me.) In it he said, among other things, that he truly believed that the Second Intifada would be or was ‘the Intifada of Peace.’ But he said it wouldn’t happen until the Israelis gave up the ‘mentality of occupation.’ That phrase has rattled around my head ever since. I think he was right.

The country is now gripped in a new round of barbarity and mutual violence – the brutal killing of three Israeli teenagers hitch-hiking in the West Bank followed by the barbaric revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem. Israel launched a massive operation in the West Bank, amidst calls for a campaign of revenge from the Israeli right. Rioting has spread to Arab-Israeli towns in the North. This weekend Israel arrested six Jewish extremists suspected in the killing of the Palestinian teenager.

I could not find a word to better describe the place we’re talking about than a ‘country’, even though there are more clearly than ever two countries here that we’re talking about, one subjugated to the other. There’s a professor of negotiation/mediation in the US who has the formulation, one land, two states, which I think captures some of what must be the path forward. But these are just words which matter little without some life breathed into them.

How long? Hopefully, not long.

Postscript: TPM Reader CF sent me this article from Yediot Ahronot. It’s a translation archived on another site. I don’t think this is the article. But I’m not sure that’s the right way to look at it. Presumably Barghouti gave many interviews around the same time, saying a similar range of things. In any case, it contains some of the same points so I’m adding the link.

Post-Postscript: TPM Reader DR found and forwarded along this page. I don’t know the provenance of the site. But it quotes an article from the Israeli Maariv, albeit with what it is now a dead link. I reprint it on that basis. Buyer beware. But I believe it to be genuine and it captures a key part of Barghouti’s argument that I referred to.

Oslo died with Rabin. How would you feel if on every hill in territory that belongs to you a new settlement would spring up? If your best friends, with whom you fought shoulder to shoulder, continue to rot in jail? I reached a simple conclusion. You don’t want to end the occupation and you don’t want to stop the settlements, so the only way to convince you is by force. This is the Intifada of peace. I’m serious. This Intifada will lead to peace in the end. We need to escalate the conflict. It will be hard. Many of us will be killed, but there is no choice. Every one of us is willing to sacrifice himself. We have decided that Sharon will not bring you security, and we have succeeded. It’s been 274 days since he was elected, and what has happened? Is there security? No. Nothing will help. Only a just agreement, the 1967 borders, a sovereign state, Jerusalem and a solution to the refugee problem. This is the formula and there is no other, and no one has the right to give up on it. (Maariv)