The profitable business of Israeli occupation
“On Jan. 26, it was UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s turn to provide Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with justification for his weekly lecture that “the whole world is against us” and “the Arabs want to annihilate us.” After US Ambassador Dan Shapiro played into Netanyahu’s hands by daring to criticize Israel’s settlement policy in a Jan. 18 speech, the secretary-general took his chances and decided to step on Israel’s toes. Not only did he call construction in the settlements “provocative acts,” he also drew a direct link between such activity and Palestinian terrorism. Ban stressed that he does not justify firing rockets from Gaza or incitement against Israel, but, he said, “As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.” Ban noted that Palestinian frustration was increasing under the yoke of half a century of occupation and paralysis of the diplomatic process.
In response, Netanyahu claimed, “The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state — they want to destroy a state, and they say this openly. They want to murder Jews.” He further insisted, “They do not murder for peace and they do not murder for human rights.” For the sake of this article, let us assume that Netanyahu’s diagnosis is correct and that the motive of a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy in stabbing Jews was the desire to destroy the State of Israel and annihilate the Jews. If so, then what about the more than 99% of other Palestinians living under Israeli occupation? Do they also not want to build a state of their own? Do they only want to destroy the State of Israel?
The answer, and a suggestion for remedying the situation, can be found in comments made Jan. 18 by Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff. “The populations are mixed,” said the country’s top soldier. “Despite the terror wave, we insist on differentiating between terrorism and the population, and 120,000 Palestinians must go out to work each day in Israel and in Judea and Samaria in order to provide for their families. I think this is in Israel’s interests. It’s a moderating force.”
There is a problem with the remedy proposed by the chief of staff. Modern history, including the annals of the State of Israel, proves that it has a largely limited effect on a population suffering from chronic colonialism. The IDF is deployed in the West Bank not only, and perhaps not even mainly, to protect the residents of the State of Israel. The soldiers, police and Shin Bet operatives are also an inseparable part of the settlement enterprise. There is absolutely no connection between this enterprise and Israel’s diplomatic and defense needs, not to mention ethics and democracy. The Israeli occupation is a business that generates sizeable revenue for its owners. Colonial capitalist regimes — Israel being the only remaining practitioner of this type of system in the world — are based on the exploitation of the natives’ natural resources and their cheap labor. A few more employment opportunities for Palestinians at construction sites in Israel and in the settlements are totally useless.