Palestine: “Well…It Is an Occupation!”

Apartheid Wall

Apartheid Wall

I recently returned from North Africa and Palestine. I found myself giving a talk to a group in the USA where I mentioned my trip as a way of discussing the manner in which events can unfold very rapidly. I mentioned that I had been to North Africa and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Barely had I finished speaking before an individual rose from their chair and moved toward the front of the room. When the session broke, the individual approached me and challenged my use of the term “occupied Palestinian territories,” claiming that that terminology is inflammatory and that I should have used a more neutral term like “West Bank” or “the disputed territories.”

I looked at the individual and listened to what they said. I then responded: “Well…it IS an occupation!”

It is difficult to describe the Occupied Territories. I have followed the Israeli/Palestinian conflict since the June 1967 War and I have been an advocate for peace and justice for the Palestinians since the spring of 1969. I have studied countless documents, articles, speeches, etc. I have seen pictures of the so-called settlements and the apartheid separation Wall. Yet, to be honest, I still was not prepared for what I actually experienced.

I was part of a labor delegation. When we crossed from Jordan into the Occupied Territories we immediately experienced the arrogance of the Israeli occupiers.

While waiting on line to go to the first passport control I was watched by an Israeli security person. I somehow knew that this was not a good sign. When my delegation awaited clearance to actually enter the Occupied Territories this same security person came up to me and me alone (in my delegation) and proceeded to ask me all sorts of questions about the objectives of my visit. Perhaps it was my naturally curly hair, or perhaps it was that I am told that I look North African, but in any case, there was nothing approaching politeness in this exchange.

The Israelis held us at the border for about two hours for no apparent reason and then let most of my delegation through. They then held one member of my delegation – not me – for an additional hour, again for no apparent reason and without explanation or apology (when they were released).

Driving from the border to Nablus is actually quite beautiful except for a few things. You drive past these so-called settlements. You can clearly distinguish an Israeli settlement from a Palestinian village or town, both by the newness but also by the often lush character of the surroundings of the settlements. But here it is important for me to note that even the use of the term “settlement” does not convey what you see. You see, in effect, either very big farms or you see suburban communities. I don’t know about you but when I hear “settlement” I tend to think about something that can be easily disassembled. Forget that idea, my friend. These settlers have no intention of going anywhere.

This brings up another point or question of terminology. What is going on in the occupied Palestinian territories is not really an occupation; it is an annexation-in-progress. The Palestinians are being squeezed out, with the obvious Israeli hope being that they will simply give up and move out of the West Bank and go to Jordan, Lebanon, or who knows where ever, but just out of the area.

When you think about an occupation, you think about the troops of one country taking over another—which, of course, happened to the West Bank—but you do not normally think about settlers moving in, unless you are thinking about the way the United States expanded west; the manner in which Morocco took over the Western Sahara; or what we have been witnessing in Palestine.

Whatever the original ambitions of the Israelis in the aftermath of the June 1967 War, it is clear that the settlements are no longer a bargaining chip but are there as part of a process of annexation.


  1. says

    Mr Fletcher’s piece raises four especially interesting issues.

    (1) The piece determinedly disregards larger historical context just in relation to the two peoples of British-mandate Palestine. Mr. Gibbons has given many relevant facts about this context.

    (2) The piece expresses a uniquely focused obsession on Palestine as if it were the world’s worst – or even sole – case of ‘occupation’ or domination of one people by another.

    Even so:
    *Tibet: it IS an occupation.
    *Kurdistan: it IS an occupation – a three-way occupation.
    *Darfur: it IS an occupation.
    *Buryatia, Chechnya – or any number of other allegedly ‘autonomous’ ‘national’ districts in the
    Russian ‘Federation’: it IS an occupation

    And by the same token, even if these cases are in implementation apparently far more benign:

    *Navajoland – or any other native tribal land in the USA (for a tribe which even still has recognized tribal land): it IS an occupation

    *Hupa or Pala or Morongo, etc. (for those who have the stomach to consider homegrown California cases): it IS an occupation

    (3) The piece focuses on complaining about a ‘violent’ occupation as a bad fact, without discussing any pathway to a better situation.

    Maybe there is a reason for this. When you look at the history behind the allegedly intolerable (Obama’s concept) fact of no Palestine Arab state, you learn that in 1939 and 1947 and 2000 and 2008 – and indeed even now in 2011 – a workable version of the idea was and has been rejected not by the Jews and Israelis but by what has passed for the Palestinian Arab leadership. Mr Netanyahu has endorsed a Palestinian Arab state that Israel can live with. However, a few months ago Mr Abbas wrote in the NY Times that UN blessing for a Palestine Arab state was finally (67 years after 1947) being sought, rather than rejected, because the main purpose of such a state now would be to more effectively fight Israel. (Whereas back in 1947, the leadership envisioned that such a state would get in the way of eliminating the Jews.)

    (4) The piece defines the occupation as ‘violent’ primarily in that Israel (in response to a grim history of terrorist incursions) has imposed defensive and security conditions – such as a so-called ‘wall’ (95% of which is a see-through double cyclone-type fence, not the depicted sort of recent US-Mexico-style wall).

    The piece complains that the security fence doesn’t follow the old 1949-1967 ‘green line’ of the 1949 armistice agreements but rather goes through ‘Palestinian territories’ – territories of a putative state which the Palestinians themselves have been in no rush to set up. Thanks to the lack of permanent peace agreements (sought by Israel but rejected in principle by all the belligerent Arab states for many decades until 1977 and until now by most) the green line was never more just an armistice line. Contra sanctimonious Obama, there is no compelling reason why that armistice line should be the basis of a border between Israel and a Palestinian Arab state. Given that Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Yemen right now still claim to remain in a state of war with her, Israel cannot base her concept of defensible borders solely on what would be adequate for relations just with Palestinian Arabs.

  2. Bill Gibbons says


    As I have clearly shown, Arab states have killed far more Palestinians than the Israelis ever did, but nobody is condemning them. Its just the fashion among left-leaning academics and liberal elites to bash Israel at every opportunity. Yet they know full well that nowhere in the Arab world are things like basic human rights, let alone gay rights guaranteed. At least Arabs can prosper in Israel, whereas no Jew is allowed to even live, let alone prosper in a Muslim country.

  3. Marta says

    Isn’t if hilarious when someone justifies murder by quoting the bible? This so-called sacred book is more sadistic, and gorier than any Stephen King novel

  4. Marta says

    It’s more than an occupation, it is ethnic cleansing, and the irony is that they always mention GOD– God’s on our side, blah blah blah.
    god’s the perfect excuse. Just flip through the bible.

    • Don Duitz says

      The Jews as the chosen people is old and no longer relevant as are so many things is both the new and old testament. The nazis spoke of God being on “our” side. The Jews do not use this as justifying their place in Israel. They do speak, as do the Arabs, about their long term residency and for the Jews legal right the the land.

  5. Bill Gibbons says

    I think itmis high tinme that many anti-Israel liberals in the West need to review their history before commenting on the Palestine situation.

    Let\s start ny looking at the ARAB states that have killed tens of thousands of Palestinians before focusing on Israel. In September 1970, King Hussein of Jordan sent his 60th Armored Brigade to attack the headquarters of a Palestinian organization in Amman, including Palestinian camps in Irbid, Salt, Sweileh, Baq’aa, Wehdat and Zarqa. Yasser Arafat claimed that the Jordanian army killed between 10,000 and 25,000 Palestinians, with the survivors being pushed out of the country for good. This action followed the PFLP’s (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) repeated attempts to assassinate the king, and the hijacking of four airliners belonging to Swiss Air, Pan AM, TWA and BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation).

    In 1982, the Syrian army shelled the Palestinian city of Hama, killing up to 40,000 Palestinians, mostly men, women and children. Assad leveled an entire city with an air bombardment followed by artillery and tank fire. Why? The Palestinians were anti Baath party, and apparently in 1982 in Syria that was a death sentence. Those who tried to flee the carnage were simply shot by the Syrian army. Survivors later told how they were made to stand over pits full of charred bodies and shot, Nazi style.

    In 1991, Kuwait expelled over 400,000 Palestinians through an open act of brutal ethnic cleansing after Arafat and the PLO sided with Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War.

    As of July 2010, Egypt has partially lifted its own blockade of Gaza at Rafar, which has been in effect since 2007, to allow humanitarian and medical aid into the Gaza Strip, yet still WITH RESTRICTIONS on what kinds of supplies can enter. The Egyptians were candid enough to admit that (A) they hate the Palestinians as much as the Israelis do (B) they don’t want any Palestinian refugees in their country, and (C) they hate the Israelis and would rather have all supplies go through them into Gaza.

    So much for “brotherhood” among Arabs!

    Yet no protests were ever made against Egypt. I wonder why? Where was the outraged international media, the UN “emergency” meetings and the hordes of “peace’ activists when the above atrocities were committed?

    And people think Israel is bad?

    So, let’s look at the facts about Israel. This is a country that was founded in 1947, long after most Arab nations were established, and with their own clearly defined boundaries. It is the only true democracy in the region and with a far better record on human rights than ANY of its Arab neighbours. For example, you can have a gay pride parade in Israel, but try to do that in any Arab country, even the Gaza strip, and you will be hanged or stoned to death, guaranteed. This one reason why groups like “Queers for Palestine” are a complete joke. Israel is smaller than Lake Michigan, or if you like, only 1/19th the size of California, and has a population of only 7.3 million people, but with a thriving economy and a First World standard of living. Approximately 75.4% of the population are Jews, with 20.3% identified as Arabs, and the remainder are classed as “other,” meaning a mixture of largely western residents.

    In 2006, the official number of Arab residents in Israel was 1,413,500 people. About 98% of East Jerusalem Palestinians has either Israeli residency or Israeli citizenship. Imagine Palestine giving a Jew “citizenship” with the right to live peacefully and run a thriving business?

    Most Arab citizens of Israel are Muslim, particularly of the Sunni branch of Islam, and there is a significant Arab Christian minority from various denominations, among other religious communities. There is a growing Arab middle class, particularly in Galilee, where many are judges, lawyers and wealthy independent business people. What is most interesting to note is that the Arab citizens of Israel include the Druze, who were numbered at an estimated 117,500 at the end of 2006. All of the Druze living in what was then British Mandated Palestine became Israeli citizens after the declaration of the State of Israel. This condradicts much of the propaganda that asserts that the Arab population of the region was “pushed out” after the establishing of the new state of Israel.
    Though some individuals identify themselves as “Palestinian Druze”, most Druze do not consider themselves to be Palestinian, and consider their Israeli identity stronger than their Arab identity; indeed, Druze serve prominently in the Israel Defense Forces, and are represented in mainstream Israeli politics and business as well, unlike Muslim Arabs who, not surprisingly, are not required to serve in the Israeli military and choose not to anyway.

    Contrast this to Israels sworn enemies, which comprises of 22 Arab states covering an area 640 times greater than Israel, with a combined population 300 million Arabs. And those 300 million Arabs are part of a total of 1.4 BILLION Muslims world-wide who never cease to accuse Israel of being an “expansionist” state! How can Israel, which occupies one-sixth of one percent of the all land occupied by Arabs, be responsible for the political dissatisfaction of 22 Arab states with more land than they know what to do with? So all this talk of Israel giving up land for “peace” is absolute rubbish. Those 22 Arab states will never rest until Israel has been wiped off the face of this earth, and every last Jew is dead.

    Remember, world-wide there are only 13 million Jews – 5 million less than there were in 1939! Israel has constantly been under assault from Arab states in outright war, or via terrorism. At one point, the terrorist group Hamas was firing up to 500 rockets A DAY at “soft” targets from bases in Gaza and Lebanon. As of January 2009, over 8,600 rockets had been launched, leading to 28 deaths and several hundred injuries, as well as widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life. Most of the victims have been women and children, many suffering from horrific injuries, including loss of limbs.

    The Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center estimated that in 2007 the proportions of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip were:

    34% – Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Al Quds)
    22% – Hamas (Qassam)
     8% – Fatah (Kafah)
     6% – Popular Resistance Committees (al Nasser)
    30% – unknown

    In 2006, Israel grew tired of the indifference of the Lebanese government concerning the number of rocket attacks by HAMAS from within the its own borders, and ordered the army to intervene. Once again the world shrieked in indignation over Israeli “aggression.” yet Lebanon, which possesses a 54,000 strong army, refused to intervene and stop the rocket attacks within its own borders.

    More recently, the Israeli raid on six “aid” ships from Turkey again provoked hysteria from the “international community.” The ships in question were intercepted by the Israeli navy in international waters (which they have every right to do). The raid was simply to ensure that the ships were not ferrying weapons, explosives and ammunition to Gaza, considering that the Israeli army had destroyed most of the weapons smuggling tunnels that lead from Egypt into Gaza. As Israeli defence video clearly showed, the commandoes who dropped from a helicopter onto the deck of the Mavi Marmara were immediately attacked by “peace” activists brandishing metal bars, wooden clubs and other improvized weapons. This is in stark contrast to the claims of the activists on CNN that they used only their bare hands to resist the commandos when they landed on the Mavi Marmara. Several of the commandos were badly injured and could be seen being thrown from the upper deck of the ship by the activists. In the end, the commandos found that their paintball guns were insufficient to keep their attackers at bay, forcing them to draw their sidearms and opening fire on their attackers to protect themselves and their injured comrades.

    Finally, I truly believe that God’s divine protection still covers Israel. What other explanation could possible suffice for this tiny nation’s survival?

    Dueteronomy 28;1-68 And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. …

    • TheDecidicator says

      God gave up on the Jews a couple millenia ago. Lamentations is the proof. He recently turned the land over to Satan and the Zionists.

      Lamentations 1
      1How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!

      2She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.

      3Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.

      4The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.

      5Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.

      6And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer.

      7Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths.

      8Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward.

      9Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O LORD, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself.

      10The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things: for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into thy congregation.

      11All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see, O LORD, and consider; for I am become vile.

      12Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.

      13From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate and faint all the day.

      14The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, and come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the LORD hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up.

      15The LORD hath trodden under foot all my mighty men in the midst of me: he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men: the LORD hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a winepress.

      16For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed.

      17Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her: the LORD hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them.

      18The LORD is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity.

      19I called for my lovers, but they deceived me: my priests and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city, while they sought their meat to relieve their souls.

      20Behold, O LORD; for I am in distress: my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death.

      21They have heard that I sigh: there is none to comfort me: all mine enemies have heard of my trouble; they are glad that thou hast done it: thou wilt bring the day that thou hast called, and they shall be like unto me.

      22Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them, as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint.

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