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From: arens@ISI.EDU (Yigal Arens)
Report No. 116 Israel Shahak, 9 February 1993
The mass expulsion and Israeli politics
The brutal expulsion of 415 Palestinians, effected under the circumstances and for the reasons already described in report 115, has had a deep and evidently long-lasting impact on Israeli politics. This mass expulsion was carried out by Labor with the wholehearted support of the Zionist "left" as represented by the Meretz party. When properly digested by politically concerned Israeli Jews (who are far from being few in numbers compared to the apolitical masses), the expulsion may yet well turn out to be more pregnant with consequences than any political event in Israeli history since the Six Day War of 1967.
For the expulsion shatters the delusory hopes, lingering since 1967, that the camp comprising Labor and the "left" really desired a peace involving a compromise with the Palestinians and the Arab states and a recognition that the Palestinians had some rights. Perhaps not the self-evident political rights such as the right to national independence, but at least some individual rights, such as the right to be consulted about their own fate. Outside Israel the delusions to this effect still persist, especially in liberal circles. In Israel, however, the wholehearted support of the entire Zionist left, not only for the expulsion itself, but also for the government apologetics proffered in its justification, and for the infamous Israeli Supreme Court ruling which, besides finding the expulsion legal - virtually opened the gates to a mass transfer of the Palestinians from the Territories - could not but lay all such delusions to rest. No room is left for doubting that the entire Israeli power elite views the Palestinians as mere objects of decisions reached by Israel either unilaterally, or in consultation with the U.S. or - in possible cases of exceptional urgency through paying some heed also to the interests of Europe or other powers whose support Israel needs. But the Palestinians, along with the Lebanese and all other Arabs, are never to be consulted on matters vital to them. Such matters are to be determined by Israel alone, pending an American O.K. ex post facto. The brazen violation of Lebanon's sovereignty by "dumping" the expelled Palestinians on its territory and then accusing the Lebanese government of "not letting the matter pass away" is the best case in point with significance comparable to the expulsion itself. Rabin proclaimed this doctrine repeatedly, for example in his Knesset speech reporting "a compromise" reached with the U.S. He then said: "I am concerned about American attitudes [to Israel] but I could not care less about what the Palestinians may think about that agreement" (Yediot Ahronot, February 3, 1993). In the referred-to agreement with the U.S., the doctrine in question was formulated explicitly in the provision that the agreement will bind the United States irrespective of what may be the opinions of the Palestinians. And the same holds true for another section of that agreement between Israel and the United States stipulating that it is up to the Arab states to absorb the 300 expellees. No wonder the Israeli government has been presenting that agreement with the United States as its great accomplishment and a triumph of its doctrinal principles. The new Meretz minister Yossi Sarid (dubbed by the Hebrew press' satirists as "Rabin's private parrot"), hailed that agreement in his own fashion, saying that its main purpose was "to do Clinton a favor" and that the Palestinians were none of its concerns (Akiva Eldar, Haaretz, February 3).
An exchange between Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon during the first Knesset debate on the expulsions was significant in this respect. Donning the cloak of a guardian of international law, Sharon protested against expelling the Palestinians from the West Bank to Lebanon. Being Jordanian citizens, they should not be "expelled to a foreign country". In Sharon's argument, only be the Gazans could be expelled to Lebanon. Since they are stateless, they should be received by any Arab state. But Jordanian citizens should, in Sharon's view, be expelled to Jordan alone. In response, Rabin and the Meretz ministers were careful not to contradict Sharon on principles. Rabin confined himself to explaining that, in view of the amicability of Israel's current relations with the Hashemite kingdom, Israel did King Hussein a favor. The Palestinians were not expelled to Jordan in order not to put the King's standing at risk. The obvious implication runs that Israel has the right to expel the Palestinians to Jordan and presumably to any other country but it can sometimes graciously forfeit this right for the sake of rewarding those regimes which behave obligingly towards Israel. This is the position shared by Rabin, Sharon and the entire Zionist left alike. In addition to this political doctrine, Israel also professes a "psychological" doctrine concerning the presumed "nature of the Arabs", as "known" to racist Israeli "experts". The two doctrines interplay in Israeli politics. mutually reinforcing each other. The "psychological" doctrine assumes that the Arabs respect and fear Israel because of the latter's resolve and high-handedness. Hence the doctrine commands Israel to never retreat, even for the sake of rectifying its past mistakes, or at least not to retreat before a considerable time lapse. As the former commander of the Israeli military Intelligence, General (reserves) Shlomo Gazit, argues with his usual lucidity in explaining the basic principles of Israeli policies (Yediot Ahronot, February 1): "The files of Hamas expellees should not be rechecked" because any "such recheck would amount to an admission of error on the [Israeli] authorities' part". The Arabs must remain convinced that those authorities are infallible. "The blow" administered to the Palestinians by the expulsions will, according to Gazit, lose all its force, unless "they are absolutly convinced that Israel never falters in standing fast by its decisions. Hence Israel must not only stick firmly to its decision to let no terrorists return ahead of the time Israel itself has fixed but also to its determination to resort to mass expulsions or temporary removals whenever it perceives terror as increasing". The quoted words are perfectly compatible with Gazit's advocacy - mentioned in report 115 - of Israel's replication of Japanese and Nazi methods of governing conquered territories during World War II. There can be no doubt that, notwithstanding the constraints stemming from Israel's evergrowing financial dependence on the United States, Israel is indeed doing its best to emulate Japan and Nazi Germany in this respect out of conviction that their methods were "effective".
In the same vein, "a senior political source" (probably the Director General of the Prime Minister Office, Shimon Sheves) told Nahum Barnea that the mass expulsion had been intended "to shock the Palestinian masses psychologically". The source added that in light of the information in the Israeli government's possession, this effect was indeed achieved (Yediot Ahronot, February 2). The achivement has been due to the fact "that they are now afraid that Israel may proceed to another mass expulsion as soon as tomorrow". As long as they stick to this salutary belief, "they will keep quiet". Even more cogent is Meron Benvenisti's explanation of the "psychological" reasons behind the expulsion, especially since he places them in a historical perspective (Haaretz, February 4). His analysis deserves to be quoted extensively: "Israeli attitudes [towards the Palestinians] have always rested on power. Israelis have always believed that they could blot out Palestinian hostility by displays of resolve. They have always believed that the Palestinians could be forced to accept the status quo by the use of naked power. Now, however, against all that logic, the Palestinian community refused to submit to brute force. By so doing, Palestinians dashed Israeli hopes that Israeli power alone could guarantee order on Israeli terms... But a democratic society finds it difficult to reconcile itself with arbitrary use of naked power alone. Hence, it searches for excuses and self-justifications. At later stages of the expulsion affair, a number of apologias were proffered in a confused manner. They were of the same sort which have been regularly invoked to appease guilt throughout the history of Zionism. First, the use of force was said to be justified in self-defense against the threats to very survival. Second, the use of force was said to be justified in order to bring the enemy to his senses, to let him make a reasonable estimate of his chances of winning and to thus open an era of mutual understanding. Third, the use of force was said to be justified when it `conforms to the law'. Fourth, anyone not sharing in the experience of the formation of Israeli Jewish society was said to be incapable of understanding the situation. Fifth, our problem was said to be not with the Arabs but with the world outside [the Middle East]. All such apologias share something in common: they all seek to prove that the new status quo resulting from the expulsion needs to be treated im isolation and requires separate solutions. "Such apologias have been instrumental in shaping Israeli policies in the wake of the expulsion. First, it was imperative to make it axiomatic that the expulsion could not be reversed, because any reversal would amount to `our surrender' and to whetting the Palestinian appetites for further concessions. Second, if humanitarian gestures intended to provide some relief to particular persons as individuals are permitted, any recognition of the existence of the Palestinians as a nation is strictly forbidden, for reason no other than the supposedly `proven' perpetual hostility of theirs toward us. Third, any negotiations intended to limit the damage done can be conducted only with the United States, never with the Palestinians themselves, since that would put us on an equal footing with them and be interpreted by them as our concession or even as our renunciation of arbitrary use of brute force against them". I agree with this analysis wholeheartedly, but I wish to supplement it with two additional points.
In the first place, every brutality and every injustice (the killings included) the Israeli authorities commit against the Arabs is deeply believed to be done in the best interest of the Arabs themselves. More than that: all such atrocities are believed to be committed for the purpose of "educating" the Arabs even if the latter, because of their "Arab nature", remain unable to appreciate our educational intentions. Such beliefs may be judged insane but in history of the Zionist Labor movement they amount to a long-standing tradition. The torturers of Shabak and the murderers serving in the "special units", the majority of whom have been recruited from the ranks of the Zionist Labor movement, tend to genuinely believe in all such nonsense. A recent example of that is an interview with "a senior Shabak staffer" which appeared in Al Hamishmar, the organ of Mapam party now one the constituent parts of Meretz (January 8). Straining himself to find some arguments to justify the expulsion (which had been recommended by the Shabak in advance), he said that "had the elections been held today in the ranks of Shabak alone, a large majority would have voted either for the Labor party or for Meretz". Other branches of the Israeli Intelligence and the "elite units" of the Israeli army also tend to be "left-wing", in the sense of holding such beliefs and of course so do the Labor and Meretz politicians. My second point in supplementing of Benvenisti's analysis is that, all "threats to Israel's survival" that he refers to, have at least since 1967 been sheer concoctions of Israeli official propaganda. True, there are quite many who still cling to the belief that Israel's survival is constantly threatened: but they are like dope addicts clinging to their fix, losing all touch with reality in the process. No matter how distorted these realities in Israeli propaganda may be, especially in communications originating from any branches of Israeli Intelligence, the facts show something completely different. On the one hand, rather remote threats to Israel's survival can indeed exist, the best case in pont being Iran acquiring nuclear bombs and long range missiles in order to possibly launch them on Israel. Paradoxically, however, Israel's survival is perceived as jeopardized by something else. Any Palestinian resistance, active or passive, military or commercial, is immediately decried as posing a threat to Israel's very existence. For example, in the last four weeks the Israeli authorities discovered two new "existential threats" to the survival of the state.
The first occurred when some Gazan vegetable merchants were supposedly found to rent surreptitiously plots of land belonging to Jewish moshavim farmers and to grow their own vegetables there, while "consuming the subsidized water to which only the Jews are entitled". If this ignominy is allowed to spread, said the Israeli ministry of Agriculture backed by "other authorities" (which of course means Shabak), the very existence of Israel will be put at risk. The second case occurred when some MKs attempted to add to the currently drafted "Human Rights Law" a section prohibiting discrimination in trading any privately-owned real estate. The bill is in the initial stages of a Knesset committee debate. The prospect of its enactment is dim because all religious parties oppose the very concept of "Human Rights" as inimical to the Jewish religion. Nevertheless, "the authorities" (again the cover name for the Shabak) deemed it fit to warn the public that, if a law containing the proposed section is passed, Israel's very survival may be jeopardized, as "the Arabs, with all their Saudi money", can be then expected to buy out speedily all the privately owned Jewish real estate in Israel. In fact, no more than 8 percent of Israel's territory is privately owned. The remaining 92 percent belongs to the state. Non-Jews can not even rent it for periods of any duration and it cannot be sold to anybody in view of the government's policy to use it solely for the benefit of Jews. This shows what kinds of things are defined by the Israeli authorities as a threat to the survival of the state! Yet in my opinion those authorities genuinely believe in fictions of their own making.
The realities of the Israeli bid for domination over the entire Middle East, which with the backing of the mentioned "psychological" doctrine has already been achieved over the Palestinians, could have been recognized by Israeli Jews ever since 1967. Yet a large part of the nation have chosen to ignore those realities or to delude themselves about their nature or else to accept the Israeli search for regional hegemony flatly using all kinds of excuses. Before the rise of Likud to power in 1977, it was customary to blame Golda Meir and the politicians of her generation for failure to reach peace. Yet with all rigidity of her mind and her obstinacy, she actually pursued more moderate policies than both the present Israeli army generals and the younger generation of Labor politicians like Rabin and Peres. For example, as I pointed out in report 85, it was Golda Meir in 1973 who vetoed the Chief of Staff's ideas to use nuclear weapons against the Syrians.
This needs to be compared with the overt advocacy of the use of nuclear weapons by Rabin and other Laborites. (See report 115.) It has also been conveniently forgotten that the most abhorrent Israeli policies, like the settling of Jews in Palestinian areas within the Gaza Strip and the West Bank or the downright Israeli genocidal meddling in Central America or in countries like Zaire, began during the first government of Rabin in 1974-77 and that Peres as the Defense minister in that government was no less involved in them than was Rabin. After 1977 the Israeli moderates found it fashionable to put all the blame on Likud, even though Rabin during his long incumbency as Defense minister (1984-1990) could not have been any less responsible. Before the 1988 elections Rabin was taking pride in the fact that he had demolished more Palestinian houses and expelled more individual Palestinians than any Likud Defense minister. Yet his factually accurate boasts have been soon explained away by nearly everybody concerned, and then conveniently forgotten.
The PLO leadership, including Yasser Arafat, have fallen prey to such delusions without any second thoughts. They have kept portraying the Labor and Zionist "left" as "the best hope for peace", so interacting with Israeli delusions and reinforcing them. As this report is going to show, the expulsion affair brought in this respect a change, by shattering such delusions or else by proving them intellectually unsound in the extreme. At the same time institutions, like the Supreme Court which used to be regarded as being beyond reproach, are now exposed to the fiercest possible criticism. In fact, in the aftermath of the mass expulsion of Palestinians, the Hebrew media no longer bow to any sacred cows.
The Israeli Supreme Court's record of servility toward Shabak and the Israeli army and of prejudice against the Palestinians and against Jews defending Palestinian rights is extremely bad. A few days after the Six Day War, the Supreme Court, after a solemn deliberation, pronounced the Territories to have been "liberated" without bothering to ask the inhabitants how they felt about it. The pronouncement accorded perfectly with the Israeli doctrine that the Arabs are never to be consulted about their own affairs. As pointed out by Baruch Kimmerling ("The Supreme Court should withdraw from the Conquered Territories" Haaretz, January 29) "the Supreme Court has long ago become the most important or perhaps even the only institution bestowing imagery of legality (which the public equates with `legitimacy' and `justice') to a whole series of acts of the [Israeli] conquest authorities which really contradict, not only the principles of natural justice, but also international conventions and even the legal norms which retain their force in the State of Israel". Kimmerling shows how, with one exception (the "Alon Moreh case"), the Supreme Court has, without demanding any proof, accepted all claims of army authorities or Shabak that their measures were "warranted by the security of the state", while dismissing all claims of Palestinian defendants to the contrary. As Kimmerling notes, "as a matter of routine, the Supreme Court professes its absolute trust in what is being said by whoever happens to be responsible for the state's security at a given time, be it government representatives, the army or any other security-related agency. For example, if a former Chief of Staff contradicts in his testimony a local military government officer's claim to the effect of a supposed `security need' for anything done, or desisted from being done, the Supreme Court will, as a rule decide in favor of the latter as `actually in charge'. Apart from what is defined as `security', in no other walk of life is the Supreme Court willing to refrain from exercising its own judgement so completely, to the point of even refusing to hear experts who do not represent the government. Even the very definition of what is covered by the 'security needs' has been left to discretion of the executive branch". The case of the Supreme Court dismissing testimony of "a former Chief of Staff" did actually happen in the 1970s. On other occasions, the Court dismissed testimonies of the former Defense minister and Airforce commander Ezer Weizman and several reserve generals questioning the absurdities claimed by some "local military government officers".
In the 1985 Nafsu case it turned out that the Supreme Court had been for years routinely accepting as true the versions of Shabak agents who had been ordered to perjure themselves in their testimonies. As a rule, the perjuries consisted of denying interrogatory torture or maltreatment allegations of Palestinian defendants. Subsequently, however, the Supreme Court upheld the Presidential pardon for the perjurers. The disclosure of the whole affair was due to some intrigues within the ranks of Shabak, not to any suddenly aroused suspicions on the part of the judiciary. In spite of that disclosure, the Supreme Court's attitude of unlimited trust toward the Shabak has not changed in the slightest. While recently hearing the petition to halt the expulsion and later in its final ruling on the matter, the Supreme Court didn't hesitate to name all the 415 expellees as "Hamas members" and "dangerous terrorists" solely on the basis of Shabak's evidence.
The investigations carried out by the Hebrew press (especially by the prestigious Haaretz correspondent Danny Rubinstein who presented his findings in a whole cycle of articles) clearly showed the opposite. They showed that a majority of expellees were highly respected public figures, preoccupied with charity or community work, or else religious figures of high standing, or intellectuals and academics. Available evidence points to their having been picked by the authorities for expulsion precisely because they enjoyed the respect of their communities. What the authorities apparently wanted to do was to further undermine the cohesiveness of Palestinian society which has always been their goal.
By condemning the 415 without bothering to hear them, the Supreme Court indeed violated what Kimmerling refers to as "the principles of natural justice" which require that no one be condemned without being first heard. But the Supreme Court has thus prejudiced the expellees' case in hearings before the so-called "appeal committees". Those "appeal committees", to be comprised of appointees of the same power which had ordered the expulsions, were mandated by the Supreme Court to hear ex post facto the expellees' appeals which the government was instructed to let them submit. But since the appellants' case has already been prejudiced, the "committees" can be hardly be expected to do anything else besides rubber-stamping the expulsion decisions. Kimmerling accuses the Supreme Court of violating "international conventions" no less so than "natural justice". In the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 there is a section which unconditionally prohibits displacement of anyone from an occupied territory to anywhere else. Since long ago, Israeli position has been that the section does not mean what it says. The learned Israeli judges opined that since the Convention had been enacted shortly after the defeat of the Nazis, it had "really" been meant to prohibit only the practices comparable to those of the Nazis. Hence the conclusion that any expulsion which would stop short of the Nazi level of brutality would be perfectly legal. Needless to say, this legal opinion has hardly enjoyed popularity among the authorities on the international law. The lack of appreciation for their doctrine, however, has not deterred the Supreme Court judges. They have been careful not to go into any specifics about how, exactly, the Israeli expulsions differed from those prohibited by the Convention. And they have been remarkably generous in upholding the expulsions, without bothering to set any upper limit upon their number, and thus at least preclude the possiblity of transferring all the Palestinians wholesale. Deep down in their hearts, they probably think that it makes all the difference whether the Jews are expellees or expellants: the former being bad, the latter just fine.
It was Amnon Birman (Kol Ha'ir, February 5) who specifically dealt with the Supreme Court's attitude toward the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 on the occasion of its approval of the expulsion. He begins by observing that all the institutions formerly cherished in Israel as sacred cows are now held in contempt at least by those capable of exercising their judgement with some intelligence. He lists a number of such past sacred cows, but concentrates on agencies most instrumental in engineering mass expulsions, namely "the security services which, after having been tainted by some murky affairs, are now widely regarded as despicable in their methods, in their constant lies and prevarications, and on top of that as just useless". Birman happens to be a committed defender of human rights who has spoken up against the recent mass expulsion. His opinions about the quality of the Israeli security services are nevertheless widely shared by commentators very far from being dovish who might have even stoutly defended the recent mass expulsion as just or necessary. One of them is Amnon Abramovitz, a hawk par excellence. He pokes fun mercilessly at Shabak's recent claims to the effect of having uncovered a "Hamas center" in the U.S. (Maariv, February 5). He says that for him it is by no means clear whether the detention of three American citizens on the charges of supplying money to Hamas "was carried out by the General Security Service or by a Service of Publicity Seekers". He conjectures that the whole affair was fabricated for the consumption of the Americans.
Abramovitz also comments on Shabak's recurrent announcements that Hamas has already collapsed. He believes that such announcements "must be intended to convince Hamas members that they have already been defeated". But subject to his particular derision is Shabak's claim "repeated every morning" that "a proof of the expulsion's great success can be seen in the fact that Hamas members in the Territories are now shaving off their beards out of fear. Why does the Shabak need to reiterate that story every morning? After all, whoever shaves off his beard must shave every morning. But while Hamas members may shave out of fear, an aftershave is being sprayed on them by Israeli spokesmen eager to celebrate their great success".
As a Holocaust survivor, I recall how at an early stage of the Nazi occupation of Poland, in 1939 before the Jews were rounded up into the ghettoes, Nazi soldiers often beat up or harassed particularly those Jews (and occasionally the Poles) who wore beards. As a consequence, many Jews did then shave off their beards to escape being picked up for a beating. Selective persecution of beard-wearing Jews also occurred in other periods of Jewish history. This resemblance between what the most savage of antisemites were once doing to the Jews and what the authorities of "the Jewish state" now boast of doing to the Arabs is striking.
Gazit's recommendations that Israel emulate the Nazi methods of conquest are apparently being followed! But this fact also vindicates Professor Leibovitz's frequent use of the term "Judeo-Nazis". The whole story of the supposed Shabak's success in prompting the Palestinians to shave off their beards can only be treated as a symptom of Nazification of the Israeli polity (and especially of the "left" component of that polity). As long as the U.S. continues to support Israel, it can only be conjectured that this tendency may possibly culminate either in a transfer or in another Holocaust, to be trumpeted as done "for the sake of the peace process".
Only slightly less a hawk than Abramovitz, Alex Fishman is even more scathing about Shabak's incompetence ("Shabak's spectacles", Hadashot February 5). He dryly observes that "in its publicity stunts, Shabak has not been particularly concerned with accuracy", because "in Shabak's view what matters is not what actually happens but what the media say about it". The list of Fishman's examples of Shabak's misrepresentations of its failures as successes is rather lengthy. No wonder he credits Shabak's great success "in the capacity of an impresario of spectacles" for the consumption of the Americans. He recommends that Shabak "establish a new department in partnership with Prime Minister's Office, to be named `department of happenings, press conferences and fake exhibitions of "hostile" clothes discovered in the mosques'".
Shabak's incompetence has already been recognized by most professional commentators of the Hebrew press. Yet at the same time various other political commentators, noted for their pro-Rabin stance, want Shabak to be strengthened so as to be in the position to inflict more atrocious and more refined tortures on Palestinians. Such commentators go as far as attributing the successes of Hamas and the very outbreak of the Intifada to constraints imposed on Shabak in practicing torture, as well as to reluctance of Israelis to come out with public support for Shabak. (This subject will be treated in a future report.) But there are commentators who go farther. They continue to trust Shabak unconditionally, while dwelling upon Rabin's good intentions which "the Palestinians cannot appreciate". Such commentators clearly belong to a separate category, that of official Israeli "experts on the Arabs". Within that category, I have noticed in the last two months no single exception. Even those Orientalists who, like Yehoshua Porat or Emmanuel Sivan, had previously displayed some moderation, in the last two months endorsed all Shabak's doings with all zeal.
If Birman's opinions about Shabak are hardly different from those of other commentators, his critique of the Supreme Court breaks a new ground if only because that Court's attitude toward the Palestinians had only been rarely criticized before the recent mass expulsion. Of main concern for Birman is the Court's refusal to take notice of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. "I read the verdict again and again, seeking an answer I had been sure that I would find there, but I didn't. I very much wanted to know whether the Court considered the expulsion to be permitted or not permitted by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. The Convention is mentioned only once in the document, in a summary of the petitioners' claims. But after repeatedly reading its following pages, I found that the petitioners' argument that the expulsion violated the Convention was neither accepted nor rejected. There was simply no answer to it, as if it had not been voiced". Birman says that the Supreme Court ignored the international conventions studiously, as if they had no relevance to mass expulsions. Yet curiously, after already approving the expulsion, the Court did not hesitate to insert a long quote from its earlier verdict containing a vague expectation that Israeli officials in the Territories "would behave better than what the norms of international conventions require. Trying to be more Catholic than the Pope is always intended to impress the people. Still, the fact remains that the question of the expulsion's permissibility or impermissibility by international law was not answered. Instead, the judges paid much attention to minutiae, such as the right [of the expellees] to be heard prior to their expulsion, which implied their acceptance of the expulsion itself as a fact. But what about the legality of that fact? While approving the expulsion, the Supreme Judges preferred not to discuss its legality at all. Were it not so sad, this could even be quite funny".
Few commentators have criticized the Supreme Court as strongly as Birman. Most remarkably, however, for the first time in Israel's history, the ranks of the Supreme Court's critics were joined by some highly respected retired judges. Let me only quote the retired President of the Tel Aviv District Court, Binyamin Cohen (Interview with Oded Lifshitz, Al Hamishmar, January 29). He assesses the Israeli occupation authorities and judiciary as "worse than the British". He pokes fun at the Supreme Court's preoccupation with "the right of being heard", supposedly granted the expellees ex post facto, commenting that it amounts to "enabling mass expulsion", provided this right is granted the expellees thereafter. Cohen also argues that the Supreme Court's approval of "an expulsion to a country with which the expellees had no legal links and which is not under Israeli control, implies the lack of any legal obstacles against expelling Palestinians in the future to Antarctica and settling them on glaciers in the company of penguins". My private informants anticipate that the next Israeli expulsion may well be into some no-man's land. Concretely, they anticipate that a chunk of Lebanon (or Jordan if King Hussein will not be obliging enough) may be conquered and cordoned off by the Israeli troops from the rest of the thus invaded country, for the sake of dumping the expellees there. In any event, there would now be nothing illegal in it. Since Cohen makes an issue of the legalization of "any exile destination" by the Supreme Court, he apparently suspects the same. Indeed, an Israeli Siberia for Palestinian "terrorists" and "saboteurs of peace" is now a distinct possibility. It is even quite likely.
Another problem is the Supreme Court's disregard for elementary rules of natural justice, concretely by the adversarial nature of judicial procedure which commands the judge to respond to legal arguments advanced by both contending sides. For the Supreme Court, however, the Palestinians are not an adversary. As Kimmerling puts it, their claims have no standing even, when supported by Jewish experts. Those mindful of the Supreme Court's past record, as my friends and I myself are, had actually expected the expulsion case verdict to be no different than it has turned out to be. Yet curiously, most of Israeli opponents of expulsion and of those who vacillated in their judgement professed complete trust in the Supreme Court. Even the PLO leadership tended to trust it. As already noted, the verdict shattered such illusions, hence its political importance. It does not mean, however, that everybody's illusions have been shattered. Most Israeli Jews, together with their power elite, including its "leftist" component, tend to persist in them.
Why? There are many reasons, the most important of them being the continuing and even steadily increasing flow of American financial aid and political support for Israel. The economic editor of Yediot Ahronot, Sever Plotzker, known for his access to competent informants in both Washington and Jerusalem, is an all-out hawk. Relying on the data of a staunchly pro-Israeli American expert, Professor Stanley Fisher (January 31), Plotzker informs us that "in 1992 Israel's trade deficit amounted to $8.5 billion and that even if security-linked imports and the interest on debts are subtracted from that sum, it still amounts to $6 billion, which is the record trade deficit in Israeli history". By the way, "the interest on debts" refers only to commercial loans, because the "loans" which Israel borrows from the U.S. government are being repaid by the so-called "U.S. economic aid" under the Cranston amendment.
How can Israel afford to accumulate a so huge a trade deficit, which, in proportion to the country's population, beats all world records? Plotzker admits that "even a large western state would have find it difficult to cope with a trade deficit of such magnitude" and that "had the burden of this deficit lain on us alone, our economy would soon virtually collapse". But, as he notes cheerfully, "the deficit is most generously covered in its entirety by the U.S. i.e. by the U.S. government and U.S. Jewry". The information about the U.S. Jewry is not accurate. As the Hebrew press recurrently reports, and the government ministers occasionally admit, only a small fraction of enormous sums of money donated by the American Jews "to Israel" (a convenient term insofar as the U.S. income tax authorities are concerned) actually reach Israel. Barely a few weeks ago Shimon Peres admitted that "only a small fraction" of the Bonds money reach Israel, the remainder being "spent within the U.S." The American Jewish donations "to Israel" scarcely suffice to cover the expenses of Israeli propaganda and pro-Israeli lobbying within the U.S. and, as my trusted informants conjecture, the expenses of Israeli Intelligence operations in various countries. The mentioned trade deficit is therefore covered almost in its entirety by the U.S. government, which means by the American taxpayer, whereas the role of the organized U.S. Jewry largely amounts to picking the pockets of their neighbors to extract from them steadily growing amounts of money needed to balance the Israeli budget.
Incidentally, Plotzker's own data point to the absence of any foreign investment in Israel in recent years. The flood of "cheap money" from the U.S. may not be the only factor deterring the foreign investors, but it certainly is a major deterrent, even if Plotzker wouldn't say it straight. Interestingly, Plotzker's economic views are ultra-Reaganist. Logically, such views, whether Plotzker's or of the Americans sharing them, should dictate opposition to the flood of "cheap money" to Israel. But in matters concerning Israel, neither American conservatives nor liberals adhere to principles they urge to apply elsewhere, the U.S. included. Their hypocrisy mightily helps build Israeli political strength in the U.S.
This is why Plotzker is right when he says that the Security Council debates on the expulsions are devoid of importance. "Even if the members of Security Council turn out to be hypocritical and unjust enough to impose on us economic sanctions in retribution for the expulsion which we were both forced and entitled to carry out, this will be devoid of importance. In the first place, it can never happen, because the U.S. can be presumed to foil it. The only thing that matters is therefore the nature of Israeli relations with the Clinton Administration. As long as Rabin is clever enough to establish and maintain amicable relations with the Clinton Administration, Israel's economy is secure. But if he fails in it, we are in trouble, with or without the U.N."
Except for one point, Plotzker's analysis of how the Israeli economy has been and still is functioning can in this report be ignored. The point is that Plotzker takes it for granted that anything owed to the flow of "cheap money" from the U.S. such as absorption of new immigrants, is Israel's economic success. Accordingly, Plotzker expects the U.S. to increase its financial support for Israel markedly, "in order to finance immigration of another half a million Jews from the former USSR". The implication is that these Jews won't immigrate to Israel unless enticed to do so by sufficient support paid for by the U.S. In view of such goals, it can be understood why Plotzker favors "the peace process to appear to go on". But he is careful not to voice any hopes that it might produce any results. It cannot be doubted that the unconditional American support for Rabin's policies as guaranteed by the already-discussed agreement is bound to seriously paralyze any potential Israeli opposition. Yitzhak La'or (Haaretz, February 9), sees a precedent for that in the events which followed the June 1982 invasion of Lebanon. "During the first week after the expulsion, public discussions were highly reminiscent of what had been said in the first days after the invasion of Lebanon. Right after the invasion, there were some who got together and drafted a declaration opposing the Israeli army's invasion of Lebanon and demanding its immediate withdrawal. No more than several thousand then came out in support of this formula. But those several thousand were the first, and for some time the only demonstrators against the war. Much larger numbers, including some who condemned the invasion, opposed that formula vigorously, especially its crucial demand that `the Israeli army withdraw at once'".
In a similar way, argues La'or, much larger numbers are now willing to condemn the expulsion than to demand an immediate return of the expellees. Both then and now, a mere condemnation of Israeli doings became acceptable. Considered "ultra-radical", or an "intolerable breaching of the national concensus" are demands to undo what has been done, when dictated by imperatives of justice. As La'or puts it, "a logic which forbids the reversal of anything Israel has already done was implicit in the Supreme Court's ruling. In this ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the reigning ideology that `in any confrontation between the Israeli army and the Arabs, the Jews ought to take the army's side'". By bowing to such chauvinism, the Supreme Court has in La'or's opinion turned its back on the very foundations of justice. Pursuing his analogy further, La'or notes that while in 1982 the protests against the invasion were spreading, "those who in 1982 opposed Israeli withdrawal [from Lebanon], tended to persist in their opposition to this crucial demand until three years later", that is until the Lebanese guerrillas in 1984-85 had already inflicted heavy and steady casualties on Israeli troops. From the fall of 1982 to the beginning of 1984, Lebanese resistance to the Israeli conquest was still rather meager, and Israel benefitted from firm U.S. support (even though not as firm as now). During all that time, except for a short period after the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, Israeli opposition against the war in Lebanon was rather contained, even though that war involved a conquest of about the third of the Lebanese territory and an indirect control over the second third of Lebanon via an alliance with the Falangists with whom Sharon, with U.S. backing, conducted a "peace process" which culminated in a properly signed "peace treaty". For a long year, Israeli domestic opposition was severely undermined by a dramatic increase in U.S. financial aid to Israel, which both Houses of Congress voted by huge majorities barely weeks after the Sabra and Shatilla massacres. Israeli opposition to the continuing occupation of roughly a third of the Lebanese territory became strong again and growing in strength, only as a result of the steady successes of Lebanese resistance to the Israeli conquest. La'or's observations apply mainly to those whom he labels "side steppers": i.e. those ready to support the conquest when convenient and turning against it when it became unprofitable and incurred heavy military losses. We can already see the portents of similar developments in regard to the Palestinians. The point at which some earlier supporters of the mass expulsion began for pragmatic reasons to change their minds can be identified with a degree of exactitude. A successful guerilla attack of Hamas on an Israeli patrol in the settlement Ganey-Tal in the Gaza Strip, with two Israeli soldiers killed, was an event which upset the "side steppers".
After that attack not only the entire Hebrew press, but even the ultra-chauvinist Jerusalem Post began to voice doubts as to whether the expulsion had achieved its purpose. Symptomatic in this respect was the lead article in Hadashot (January 31), signed by Aharon Barnea. "Yesterday's guerilla operation should prompt us to most seriously reconsider the question whether the expulsion had served its purpose. The attack can be cited as evidence in favor of those who have always claimed that the expulsion, besides having been decided in a spur-of-the-moment fashion, could in no way contribute to the solution of Israeli problems in the Territories". Barnea says that "we should pay heed to the fact that, like all Hamas' guerilla operations prior to the expulsion, yesterday's operation was targeted at the soldiers. We cannot accuse them of practicing random terror which hits innocent women and children, because they don't". Barnea's is a slightly disguised challenge to two Israeli pet "theories" supposed to explain the expulsions: that Hamas was "a terrorist organization" and that "the expulsions were intended to help the PLO", i.e. an organization whose attacks are usually targeted at unarmed civilians. Even more significantly, the Jerusalem Post of the same day allowed its only honest correspondent, Jon Immanuel (who hardly ever published since the expulsion until that day), to write that "if the killers are not found quickly and more attacks occur, it will show that the deportations have failed to isolate Hamas gunmen. Indeed, they have provided Hamas with at least as much cover among sympathetic supporters as they had before the expulsions". Although stopping far short of noticing all the implications of Hamas' attack, Immanuel's words amount to a proof that even the Jerusalem Post, which normally adheres to values typical of cannibalistic tribes, can be influenced by Palestinian military successes, even if it remains impervious to all other considerations.
Neither mass expulsion, nor the apologias cited in its justification, nor the consent of the United States, nor other events described in this and in the preceding report, should by any means be considered deviations from Israeli political business-as-usual. But if so, it still begs the question why Israeli politics tends to be unremittingly misunderstood abroad, not just by Israel's supporters, but even more by all conceivable Arab sources, the core of the PLO emphatically included. In my opinion, the best explanation is rampant dogmatism. Typically, opinions are being formed on irrational ground and then held blindly, in disregard of any historical and political facts which may challenge them. The dogmatism of an overwhelming majority of the foreigners writing about Israel is usually combined with their flagrant ignorance of the country's social and political realities. The latter can be even explained by the fact that literature in foreign languages dealing with Jewish history, religion and popular attitudes contains notorious distortions. Crude falsehoods abound there, no less so than in Soviet literature under Stalin, except that they are usually more sophisticated than their Soviet counterparts were.
Dogmatism on the subject of Israel has two dominant varieties. One is the perception of Israel as a typical democratic state. The other is its perception of Israel as a mere "tool of imperialism", lacking any power deriving from social institutions of its own, or else as a "settler state" replicating all features of, say, South Africa. After what this report showed about the way that the Israeli Supreme Court had been functioning, any rebuttals of the concept of Israel is "the only democracy in the Middle East" may well be superfluous. True, if to discount its downright totalitarianism in the Territories, the State of Israel can still be said to retain some features of democracy, e.g. a considerable freedom of expression, which to some even if a lesser extent, benefit its Palestinian citizens as well. The writers who confine themselves to pointing to that fact are right. The crucial point to understand, which is seldom understood, is the coexistence of some democracy with all-out totalitarianism, depending on which population is concerned. The pattern of such coexistence is known from history. States meeting that pattern have existed in the past and still exist at present: the best case in point being the pre-1861 United States, when a substantial fraction of its population were legally defined as slaves and regarded as mere chattels. Before 1861 the U.S. Supreme Court was adamant in upholding the institution of slavery and even extending its scope. By denying the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular any say in determining their fate, Israeli politics-as-usual as explained in this report, vividly resembles the case od Black slavery in America prior to 1861. Even the repulsive custom of "left" Zionists and of most Western liberals to define the Palestinians as "a problem", or even as "a problem to be solved to Israel's advantage", vividly resembles the attitude of the run-of-the-mill "well-intentioned" Americans of that time, who defined the slavery as "an American problem", and thus felt free not to say a word against it. This is why the question of whether Israel is or isn't a democracy is not particularly relevant to its social and political realities, in the same way as the analogous question about the pre-1861 U.S. was not particulrly relevant when millions of slaves had the legal status of chattels.
Notwithstanding all the disguises proffered in order to more efficiently milk the U.S. for money, Israeli policies consistently aim at either of two alternative goals: to enslave the Palestinians or to expel them. The "right" has a preference for the former, and the "left" for the latter. Without understanding this crucial matter, all opposition to those policies is doomed to fail. It follows that the stronger and less dependent on outside support that Israel becomes, the more will it be prone to discard the disguises and to implement its policies without bothering about what anyone may say. It also follows that Israel cannot be persuaded to halt or retreat except by force. All moral exhortations to the effect of "peace being in Israel's best interest" are sheer exercises in futility. Again, this doesn't differ from the situation in the U.S. before 1861. The Southern slave owners also refused then to listen to those who urged them to show some moderation for their own enlightened interest. There are precedents for Israeli retreats under a threat to use force (as in 1956) or as a result of an actual use of force, as after the 1973 War or in 1985. The analogy with the pre-1861 U.S. holds here as well. Without a civil war, the slaves could not have been liberated. Even more than that, racist discrimination practiced in the South until 100 years later was brought to an end not by Martin Luther King and peaceful demonstrations of his supporters, but by the U.S. army and federal marshals. The real role of the demonstrators and freedom riders lay in disseminating information about how the matters really stood and thus catalyzing changes in the public mind. But it was only an application of force by state authorities which changed things existentially. Domestic opposition in Israel plays a similar role in disseminating the truth abroad but inside Israel its potential impact is largely paralyzed by the strength of Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism. Accordingly, the only factors potentially capable of altering the status quo, are either successes of the Arab, and especially Palestinian resistance, or pressures exerted by other states, first of all by the U.S.
As noted earlier, the "settler state" model (whose pattern is South African) also doesn't fit Israeli realities. It ignores the fact that an overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews define themselves as Jews rather than as Poles, Arabs or Greeks following their ancestors for many generations. This makes Israel different from any other settler colony in two respects. In the first place, settlers in other regions defined themselves, at least initially, as nationals of the homeland that they had left. And secondly, settler states tended to admit a variety of immigrants, whereas Israel insists that only Jews have the right to settle in the "Jewish state". For years before the 1980s, the core of the PLO leadership maintained against all evidence that "Oriental" Jews were "Arabs of Jewish faith" and thereby "our brothers". Thus all the trouble had originated with the "European settlers", who can yet be expected to "return to their native countries". The European settlers had succeeded in deluding both their own folks and the "Oriental" Jews about the realities in Palestine, and thus bear a major blame for the present situation. Contrary to such fantasies, few Israeli Jews have any wish to return to their former countries, especially those who had left involuntarily from countries such as Iraq and Poland. Similarly among the immigrants from the former USSR, there are many who would like to emigrate to the Unites States, but not to return to any successor countries of the USSR. The only exception is the small population of immigrants from North America whose rate of reemigration exceeds 85%. In a deep sense, this exception confirms the rule. It is because those North-Americans are the only Jews who came to Israel completely voluntarily, whereas all the others were in one way or another were forced to emigrate.
This is not to deny the existence of similarities between South Africa and Israel. Still, the concept of the latter as a replica of the former is inaccurate and politically misleading. Let me stress just two differences out of many: In the rights to the land and in consequent determination of that land's future political status. South African advocates of Apartheid don't deny that the land belongs, by right, to the two (or more) peoples inhabiting it. Partitioning of land, however viciously inequitable, and the establishment of the Bantustans, nominally independent states, already implied a recognition that the Blacks had some rights, however minimal and unequal. But the Zionists, including their "leftist" variety, recognize only the exclusive right of the Jews - not just of Israelis but also of all foreign Jews - to "the Land of Israel" whatever may be its boundaries. By contrast, South Africa has never claimed that it belongs to all the whites of the world. The "left" Zionists differ from the "mainstream" ones only in that they argue that this inalienable Jewish right could be temporarily renounced for the sake of "peace", or "preventing further bloodshed", or "because of our weakness", or even "in order to attract American Jews to come to Israel". Such arguments, pragmatic on the surface but simply deceitful deep down, imply that the weakness of Israel or the strength of Palestinian resistance would constitute a prima facie case for a temporary renunciation of this right.
The best proof of how much Israeli realities deviate from the South African model lies in the fact that all Zionists alike staunchly oppose the creation of any Palestinian Bantustan. The South African model is ultimately derived from the experience of Western colonialism of bygone times, of the British in Egypt and India, of the French in Indochina and of the entire West in its relations with the Chinese and Ottoman Empires. In all those instances, the formal right to the land and its mastery has been conceded to indigenous authorities. Moreover, the latter have been paid all the outward shows of respect to the point of being recognized formally as equals, while the colonialist conquerors formally contented themselves with holding all the reins of real power. But respect, whether genuine or faked, is exactly what the Zionists refuse to pay to the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular. To cite just one case in point, in the early 1970s, King Hussein's persistent attempts to obtain some tokens of sovereignty over, no matter how small, a portion of the West Bank were rebuffed as staunchly as Palestinian demands are being rebuffed now.
It is sad to conclude that the only way to make the situation more tolerable, if not more equitable, is through the use of force in strength sufficient to impress the Israeli Jews enough to make them renounce at least some of their cherished articles of faith. Alternatively, this could be done relatively humanely by stopping the flow of money to Israel and thus exerting political pressure on it. This is to be ruled out under Clinton even more so than under Bush.
In view of this, only two realistic prospects remain:
(1) the increasingly effective Palestinian and Lebanese armed resistance (against which, however, Israel may escalate its retaliations to the point of a major war).
(2) the perpetuation of the Israeli conquest and the aggravation of its oppressions.