THE UN’S MORAL FAILURE

 

The United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973) defines apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”

Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads, while nearby Jewish settlers enjoy all of these state-provided benefits… While Israeli settlements flourish, Palestinians under Israeli control live in a time warp – not just separate, not just unequal, but sometimes even pushed off their lands and out of their homes. This is apartheid!

On March 15, 2017, the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) published a report on Israeli practices and policies toward the Palestinians. Using international law as its comparative criterion, the report came to a definitive conclusion that “Israel is guilty of apartheid practices.” The term Apartheid was used in the report as a descriptor of fact based on the evidence and the accepted legal meaning of the term.

Such was the immediate uproar from the United States and Israel that U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in a moment of moral failure, ordered the report’s withdrawal.

The head of the ESCWA, Rima Khalaf, declared that she could not, in good conscience, do so and tendered her resignation.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, declared that “when someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the U.N. it is appropriate that the person resign.”

Before making such statements I would urge the US’s Ambassador to the U.N. to look at the record of Israeli statesmen who have already condemned Israel as an apartheid state.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, famously said in a radio interview in 1967 that “Israel would soon become an apartheid state if it did not rid itself of the territories and their Arab population s soon as possible.”

Former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak:: As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state. (2010)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished. (2007)

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem: Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime … is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past such as the Apartheid regime in South Africa. (2002)

Former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel: In the situation that exists today, until a Palestinian state is created, we are actually one state. This joint state — in the hope that the status quo is temporary — is an apartheid state. (2013)

Israeli newspaper Haaretz editorial: The de facto separation is today more similar to political apartheid than an occupation regime because of its constancy. One side – determined by national, not geographic association – includes people who have the right to choose and the freedom to move, and a growing economy. On the other side are people closed behind the walls surrounding their community who have no right to vote, lack freedom of movement, and have no chance to plan their future. (2007)

Former Israeli admiral and Knesset member Ami Ayalon: Israel must decide quickly what sort of environment it wants to live in because the current model, which has some apartheid characteristics, is not compatible with Jewish principles. (2000)

Former Israeli attorney general Michael Ben-Yair: In 1967 we enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one – progressive, liberal – in Israel; and the other – cruel, injurious – in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That oppressive regime exists to this day. (2002)

Former Israeli Minister of Education Yossi Sarid: What acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck – it is apartheid… What should frighten us, however, is not the description of reality, but reality itself… The Palestinians are unfortunate because they have not produced a Nelson Mandela; the Israelis are unfortunate because they have not produced an F.W. de Klerk. (2008)

Former Israeli Minister of Education Shulamit Aloni: Jewish self-righteousness is taken for granted among ourselves to such an extent that we fail to see what’s right in front of our eyes. It’s simply inconceivable that the ultimate victims, the Jews, can carry out evil deeds. Nevertheless, the state of Israel practices its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population. (2007)

Israel has successfully hidden its apartheid regime in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. This has been done through imposing thousands of regulations and a civil administration that is run by the military. Dr. Jeff Halper, Coordinator of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions in Jerusalem, calls the system ‘the Matrix of Control.” According to him it is composed of three layers:

Military actions which include using undercover units and collaborators who undermine the fabric of Palestinian society;

Creating “facts” on the ground: expropriation of land; construction of settlements; carving the occupied territories into areas which confine Palestinians in some 200 + islands; a massive system of highways for Israeli-use only; control over aquifers and exploitation of holy places.

The most subtle, bureaucratic and legal restrictions, which entangle Palestinians in a web, including: closures, work discrimination; entrance and travel permits restricting movement; displacement through exile, deportation and induced emigration; land expropriation; house demolitions, transfer schemes; a freeze on the natural development of Palestinian towns and villages; and restrictions on the planting of crops and their sale. All these come under bureaucratic controls. More details on the Matrix of Control can be found in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with both Sides.

Over the entirety of its 65-year existence, there has been a period of only one year (1966-1967) that Israel has not ruled over large numbers of Palestinians to whom it granted no political rights simply because they are not Jewish.

An objective consideration of Israel’s behavior makes it hard to escape the brutal reality of Israel’s condoned apartheid practices.

The moral failure at the U.N., represented by the withdrawal of the report, is the result of Secretary General Guterres’s decision to acquiesce in a denial of reality—the reality of Israel’s practice of apartheid.

The other moral failure is the corrupted view of our politicians and international leaders who refuse to stand up for a people repressed and occupied for 50 years.

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ONE STATE OR TWO, PRESIDENT TRUMP?

 

ONE STATE OR TWO, PRESIDENT TRUMP?

 

When asked in his February 15th press conference about whether the US was still wedded to a two-state solution, Trump broke with longstanding orthodoxy and responded:

“I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

This statement implies that President Trump is undeterred by Netanyahu’s refusal to commit to a two-state solution saying he didn’t want to focus on certain “labels.” Netanyahu had no trouble, however, reaffirming two conditions he’d consider for “peace:” Palestinians must recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” and Israel “must retain overriding security control over the entire Occupied Territories.”

This formula amounts, at best, to a Palestinian Bantustan under continued Israeli control. See my book Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with both Sides for more details on Israel’s military occupation.

Advocates of a two-state solution, including  all recent US administrations as well as many European governments, see this as a way to rescue Israel as a racist state that ensures its Jewish demographic majority through a battery of racist laws that they refer to as “peace,” meaning that Israelis have “peace” but the Palestinians don’t and won’t, ever.

Even before Trump’s remark, former Secretary of State John Kerry had already stated for the record that “the two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” He proved the opposite by describing in detail how Israel’s settlements are “increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality.”

Kerry went on to say: “Currently, there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. They can choose to live together in one state, or they can separate into two states. But here is a fundamental reality: if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic – it cannot be both – and it won’t ever really be at peace.”

That Trump even mentioned a possible one-state option has opened the doors in Washington, D.C. to a broader debate. Republican Senator Bob Corker who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations wondered, when questioning Trump’s nominee to be US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman “Are we helping the situation by continually talking about a two-state solution when having a military presence in the West Bank ad infinitum by Israel is really something different than a two-state solution?”

Such talk has been, until now, unheard of in the halls of Congress.

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, too, pressed Trump’s nominee to acknowledge that “the US could never support a one-state solution, or any solution, where Palestinians are deprived of their full and equal legal rights.”

While I cheer these suddenly fearless Congressional leaders, I would like to refer them and their colleagues to a top secret memorandum written on June 4, 1947 entitled “A Plan for the Future Government of Palestine.  Even though this 70 year old memorandum was never approved at the highest levels of government many of its recommendations are still relevant to today’s policy debate.

Here are some of its proposals:

Palestine should become neither an Arab State nor a Jewish State but a single independent Palestinain State in which all its people of whatever religion or blood may live together in concord.

All the inhabitants of Palestine should accept the responsibilities and share the rights and privileges of a common Palestinian citizenship.

The government of Palestine should represent all Palestinian citizens and should protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Conversely, every effort should be made to foster the active participation of all Palestinian citizens in the government of their country.

The various Holy Places of Palestine, which are sacred to Christians, Jews and Moslems, should be forever safeguarded.

In light of these reasonable points I have a recommendation for both President Trump and our illustrious members of Congress: Dust off a copy of the 1947 State Department Memorandum and study it.

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THE BALFOUR DECLARATION, 100 YEARS ON

There are only a few documents in Middle Eastern history which have had as much influence as the Balfour Declaration. The Balfour Declaration was sent as a 67-word statement contained within the short letter addressed to the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour on November 2, 1917. The declaration acknowledged the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine. The statement of the Declaration read as:

 

“His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this objective, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

 

The letter was addressed to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a British banker and a Zionist activist, who drafted the declaration with the help of fellow Zionist Chaim Weizmann and others. The declaration proved to be in line with the wishes of Zionist leaders who hoped for a homeland in Palestine. It was designed to encourage the intense immigration of Jews from all over the world to Palestine.

As Balfour was a part of the liberal government under Prime Minister David Lloyd George, they schemed to form a public opinion campaign stating that Jews had undergone injustices for a long time for which the West was to blame. Therefore, it was the responsibility of the West to find and establish a Jewish homeland. Their motivation for achieving a separate homeland for Jews was motivated by fundamentalist Christians like Lloyd George, who encouraged the idea for two reasons; to depopulate their own lands of Jews and to fulfill the Biblical prophecy, according to which the return of the Christ will occur after the establishment of a Jewish kingdom in the Holy Land.

The Zionist from the beginning were determined to turn Palestine into a Jewish nation-state but, being sensitive to British politics, their leaders denied the allegation that Jews had as aim to constitute a separate political nationality. The word the Zionist proposed for what they intended to create in Palestine was “heimstatte” which roughly translated meant something less than a state but equating a homeland.” It was to be used “until there was no reason to dissimulate our real aim.”

Everyone knew the Palestinians would not be content with the idea of a homeland for the Jewish people usurping them much less be relegated to an Old Testament role of a suppressed minority to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, but few cared. The word Palestinian was not even mentioned in the Balfour Declaration. It used, instead, the curious circumlocution of “the existing non-Jewish communities,” and focused on Jewish aspirations and avoided any mention of the Palestinians. It went on to specify that nothing should be done that would “prejudice” their “civil and religious rights,” again without specifying who the “they” and “their” was.

It was not until 1919, at the Paris Peace Conference, that an attempt was made to find out what the Palestinians wanted. President Woodrow Wilson sent a mission of inquiry, the King-Crane Commission, to find out. The British were annoyed by the American inquiry; they didn’t care what the “natives” wanted. Meanwhile, the British were becoming increasingly disturbed that the “heimstatte” actually meant more than the Brits had intended. When Winston Churchill became Colonial Secretary and was responsible for Palestine, he publically rebuked the Zionists for trying to force Britain’s hand and emphasized that in the Balfour Declaration the British government had promised only to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It did not commit Britain to make Palestine as a whole the Jewish homeland. (This is discussed in great detail in my book Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with both Sides.

The injustice done and the promises made were irreconcilable. So it is curious almost admirable the candor of Lord Balfour who in a statement in 1919 to his fellow Cabinet ministers admitted: “So far as Palestine is concerned, the Powers (Britain and France in their Sykes-Picot Accords) have made no statement of fact which is not admittedly wrong, and no declaration of policy which at least in letter they have not always intended to violate.”

Jump ahead one hundred years to a recent letter in the New York Times by the 5th Earl, Roderick Balfour in which he acknowledged that while one part of the Balfour Declaration, which gave Jews a homeland in Palestine had been fulfilled, the other, respecting the rights of the native Palestinian population, had not. He went on to say:

“In 1917, my forebear Arthur Balfour, as British foreign secretary, wrote the Balfour Declaration, a great humanitarian initiative to give Jews a home in their ancient lands, against the background of the dreadful Russian pogroms.”

The Earl continued: “We are conscious, however, that a central tenet of the declaration has all but been forgotten over the intervening 100 years: respect for the status of the Palestinian people.”

He went on to say that Israel’s inability to abide by UN resolutions to cease building illegal settlements and withdraw from the Occupied Territories is a key factor behind growing anti-Semitism around the world. The Israeli Prime Minister owes it to the millions of Jews around the world who suffer because of Israel’s internal politics, particularly as they pertain to the disenfranchised Palestinians, to change his policies.

The Earl insists the centenary of the Balfour Declaration cannot be properly commemorated without not only progress on a viable solution but a simultaneous push toward to declaring Jerusalem the internationally protected capital for all three Abrahamic faiths as it was always originally intended to be.

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ISRAEL’S NEW LEGALIZATION LAW

Israel’s new Legalization Law legitimizes under Israeli law dozens of so-called settlement “outposts” that were built without official approval from Israeli authorities but were tacitly supported by successive Israeli governments as part of an effort to colonize as much Palestinian land as possible.

This new law follows Israel’s approval of 6,000 new settlement units in just the last two weeks and the announcement that Israel plans to build its first entirely new settlement on occupied Palestinian land in more than two decades.

According to Jonathan Cook writing in The National on February 8, 2017, the Legalization Law was the right’s forceful response to the eviction in early February of 40 families from a settlement “outpost” called Amona.The eviction of these families was transformed into an expensive piece of political theatre, costing an estimated $40 million. It was choreographed as a national trauma to ensure such an event is never repeated. As the evicted families clashed with police, sending several dozen to the hospital, Naftali Bennett, the Education Minister and leader of the settler party Jewish Home called Amona’s families “heroes.” Netanyahu added: “We all understand the extent of their pain,” and promised them an enlarged replacement settlement along with monetary compensation.

The real prize for Bennett and his far right party was the legalization law itself. It reverses a restriction imposed in the 1970s and designed to prevent a free-for-all by the settlers. International law is clear that an occupying force can take land only for military needs. Israel committed a war crime in transferring more than 600,000 Jewish civilians into the Occupied Territories.

Israel’s Attorney General has refused to defend the law should it be brought before Israel’s Supreme Court. Very belatedly the lower courts drew the line in land confiscation in Amona and demanded that the land be returned to its Palestinian owners. This new law overrules the judges in the lower courts, allowing private land stolen from Palestinians to be laundered as Israeli state property.

 

In practice there has never been a serious limit on theft of Palestinian land but now government support for the plunder will be explicit in law. It will be impossible to blame the outposts on “rogue” settlers or claim that Israel is trying to safeguard Palestinian property rights.

I saw this injustice for the first time in March 2002 when my Palestinian guide, Naim, on our way to Bethlehem, stopped his car and pointed off to the left.

“My family used to live here,” he said, and began to tell me his story. One of the things which upset me was the part about the ancient olive grove. No one knew how old the hundreds of trees really were. Some of the old-timers swore the olive grove was 300 years old or perhaps even older. The trees probably didn’t need irrigation because they’d been there so long. Their roots intermingled with the rich, dark dirt and delved deeply into the earth. A small village nearby had an olive press and every day during the season the villagers brought their freshly-picked crop to be pressed for oil.

Naim still remembered the exact location of his house, what time the sun shone through the kitchen window, and where each tree was planted. He remembered because he was the one who scurried up the trees and shook the branches at harvest time, carefully aiming for the sheet spread around the base of each tree to catch the olives as they fell.

Now there is no sign of a Palestinian presence. The villagers, if not already dead, have been dispersed to one of the many refugee camps. As for the ancient olive grove, it was uprooted to make way for Har Homa, a massive Israeli settlement. It sits atop Abu Ghnaim Mountain, once a forest of some 60,000 pine trees and a refuge for wild animals and plants. One the southwest edge of Bethlehem, this entire area was stripped bare to build 7,000 identical red-roofed, multi-storied square housing units, arranged in layers some two kilometers in circumference. When completed, the project looked from afar like asymmetrical Lego blocks. Gilo, another Israeli settlement, dominates the eastern perimeter of Bethlehem, sandwiching the Christian village between these two Israeli colossi. These and other stories can be found in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with both Sides.

As opposition leader Isaac Herzog said: “The train departing from here has only one stop–the Hague, home of the International Criminal Court. If ICC judges take their duties seriously, we could see Prime Minister Netanyahu tried for complicity in the war crime of establishing illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land.

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JERUSALEM, A CORPUS SEPARATUM, NOT ISRAEL’S “ETERNAL AND INDIVISIBLE CAPITAL”

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 passed on November 29, 1947 provided for the full territorial internationalization of Jerusalem.

“The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations.”

Jerusalem holds unique spiritual and religious significance for the world’s Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Following World War 1, the victorious Principal Allied Powers recognized these as “a sacred trust of civilization,” and stipulated that the existing rights and claims connected to them should be safeguarded in perpetuity under international guarantee.

The United Nations General Assembly, therefore, does not recognize Israel’s proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. U.N. general Assembly Resolution 623/30 of 2009 states that “any actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and calls upon Israel to cease all such illegal and unilateral measures.”

Although the General Assembly cannot pass legally binding resolutions over international issues, the U.N. Security Council, which has the authority to do so, has passed a total of six Security Council resolutions on Israel on the matter, including UNSC resolution 478 which affirmed that the enactment of the 1980 Basic Jerusalem Law declaring unified Jerusalem as Israel’s “eternal and indivisible” capital, was a violation of international law.

The Security Council, as well as the U.N. has consistently affirmed the position that East Jerusalem is occupied territory subject to the provision of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The International Court of Justice in its 2004 Advisory opinion on the “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Territory” described East Jerusalem as “occupied Palestinian territory.”

This bizarre situation exists, in part, because most Palestinians in “undivided Jerusalem” are legally classified (by Israel) as “permanent residents,” rather than citizens of Israel, despite the de- facto annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel in 1967, deemed illegal by international law. As such, they do not enjoy the right to vote in national elections. Only an estimated 3,500 Palestinians of all ages, out of a total of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian population of 320,000 (37% of Jerusalem’s total population, have received Israeli citizenship between 2002 and 2012.

On every social, economic and legal indicator there is a huge, purposeful disparity between Jewish West Jerusalem and Palestinian East Jerusalem: Education, health, opportunities for professional employment, resource allocation from the municipality, the right to build, welfare spending (just 4.4% of Jerusalem Municipality welfare spending is allocated and spent in East Jerusalem yet Palestinians bear a heavier tax burden.) More on these issues can be found in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides.

Thus, the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the indigenous population under illegal Israeli control, are treated as non-Jewish immigrants to Israel. And why aren’t these Palestinian residents given Israeli citizenship? To do so would weaken the Jewish majority and the carefully gerrymandered political constituency of the state, and make them harder to expel.

The only place where Jerusalem is “the undivided capital of Israel” is in the fertile imaginations of ideologues like Netanyahu and his ilk. Nowhere else is there a prime minister so utterly detached from the realities of a city that he claims to be his nation’s “exclusive” capital. And when Netanyahu says he supports the two-state solution, but opposes anything less than an undivided Jerusalem under sole Israeli sovereignty, he is really saying: “I reject the two-state solution” (which as a solution is already dead in the water because of the extensive settlement expansion in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank making a contiguous Palestinian state now impossible.

But just when the myth of “undivided Jerusalem” was collapsing under the weight of its own fiction, President Donald Trump has stepped into the fray by announcing that his administration will move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

That this move would effectively contravene the recent UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemns all measures aimed at altering the status of the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is apparently of no concern to President Trump.

It seems unlikely that Donald Trump’s new pro-settlement ambassador to Israel has explained the catastrophic implications that will be seen as deliberately inflammatory by the Palestinians and by the Islamic world, this making Trump’s chances of brokering the “ultimate deal” as he’s called it, impossible to achieve. Rather than endorse a united Jerusalem, his policy will only serve to intensity gargantuan divides and make the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible.
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THE SYRIAN’S SEQUEL

When I wrote The Syrian, events in the region, circa 2006, were relatively straight forward. Syria was the link to Iran. Both Israel and the U.S. thought Iran was trying to undermine Sunni dominance and stir up Arab nationalism; so did Saudi Arabia and Qatar who sought to destabilize Iran through Syria. If Syria collapsed, so the thinking went, Iran would implode, making it easier for Israel to attack Hezbollah, its mortal enemy, and for Saudi Arabia and Qatar to attack Iran.

But this is the Middle East where things are never that simple.

In Damascus Street, the as-yet-unfinished sequel to The Syrian, events spiral out of control in the lead-up to the Syrian war which begins in 2011. As the story unfolds we discover a new plan that is even more dangerous than the ones that led to both the Iraq War and Israel’s war with Hezbollah in July 2006. This one calls for the U.S. government to commit a gross violation of international law by supporting a major military assault on the government of Syria and escalating tension with nuclear-armed Russia, with Al-Qaeda and its affiliates playing the lead role and Saudi Arabia and Qatar financing them.

In a scene from the sequel, Fouad, who is part of Lebanese intelligence, is speaking with the newly named U.S. Ambassador to Syria. Up to this point the American has been in Iraq, organizing Al Qaeda-linked death squads which he will use in Syria to ignite the uprising.

“I’ve just been named US Ambassador to Syria,” he tells Fouad. “The appointment will have to go through Congressional hearings, of course, but once it becomes official I’ll be able to direct the insurgency from our embassy in Damascus.”

“Congratulations, Mr. Ambassador, well done. And now that I’m part of your team, can I ask a few questions?”

“Fire away.”

“Generally, there’s something that triggers an uprising. In Lebanon it was the Hariri assassination. People demonstrated and demanded the expulsion of Syrian troops. How will you start the one in Syria?”

“For our luck we really won’t have to do too much. Nature’s done most of the work for us. Syria’s experiencing its worst drought in 900 years.”

“I didn’t realize it was that serious.”

“Without doing any recruiting locally we already have about 1.5 million angry, unemployed men, many of them farmers, who are ready to blame Assad for their misfortune. One little push from us and they’ll trigger the revolution for us.”

“So the goal is regime change with Assad completely out of the picture?”

“Our objective is to undermine Assad’s ability to govern the country without physically removing him from office.”

“Why not just remove him?”

“The Syrian people support him. And it isn’t just the Alawites. He also protects the interests of Christians and Druze. His army supports him, too. So, the idea is to make him irrelevant. We deploy jihadists to capture and hold large sections of the country and make it impossible for the central government to control the state.”

“That’s a tall order.”

“Not really, our plan breaks the country into disconnected enclaves, each ruled by an al Qaida affiliate.”

“And you expect this to be done by a bunch of crazed jihadists?”

“They’re just the fodder who’ll lead the charge. We’ll send in our Special Forces to do the heavy work and then initiate a country-wide no-fly zone.”

 

Because my story is historical fiction, it allows me to recount current events as fiction and reveal the plans not only for regime change but the usual selective, dubious and false information we saw in the frenzied war fever leading up to the Iraq War. More importantly, as with the WMD in Iraq, there are two key facts about Syria that Americans are not being told: one, the U.S. regional “allies” have been funding and arming radical jihadists groups, including Al Qaeda terrorists and two, the claim about “moderate” Syrian rebels is a fraud. The so-called “moderates,” have served as public relations cut-outs for the U.S. and its “allies” to supply Al Qaeda and its allies with sophisticated weapons while pretending they aren’t jihadists.

While the idea that the U.S. government was supporting Al Qaeda may be hard to believe, we should remember that the U.S. and Saudi Arabic jointly, each contributing billions of dollars, financed the jihadist mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s to defeat Russian troops who were defending the leftist secular regime then governing Kabul. This exercise in U.S.-Saudi realpolitik gave birth to the current jihadist movement.

Though the U.S. has come to fear the Frankenstein monster they helped create, they are inextricably tied to Saudi Arabic and its crusade to punish Saudi enemies from Iran to Syria and Iraq. To make matters worse, the Saudis have begun collaborating with Israel which shares Riyad’s view that Iran and the Shiite Crescent represent a strategic threat. Between Saudi money and Israeli political clout, especially with the US Congress, the two countries are able to fend off occasional U.S. anger, even to the point of getting the U.S. government to hide a 20-page chapter about Saudi financing for the hijackers from the Congressional 9/11 report for a dozen years.

For the past five years, the principal target of this powerful coalition has been Syria, with President Obama occasionally joining in—as he did in authorizing CIA and Pentagon programs to arm “moderate” rebels/jihadists—and occasionally bowing out—as he did in resisting pressure to bomb the Syrian military after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus in 2013.

By insisting on regime change and collaborating with our “allies in the region,” we have contributed to the deaths of between 375,000 and 450,000 Syrians, helped create 6.6 million internally displaced persons and sent 4.8 million refugees fleeing to neighboring countries.

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LAND CONFISCATION BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE

Even before Israel declared itself a State in 1948 the origins of modern Israeli land and planning law regimes had already been written. The Jewish National Fund, founded in 1901, was originally established for the purpose of acquiring land in Palestine, regardless of previous legal ownership, for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands.

By 1948, Israel had already begun enacting emergency legislation to deal with land acquisition. The Absentee Property Regulation was enacted to give control over “Absentee” (Palestinian) property to a Custodian of Absentee Property. The Custodian was entitled to seize such property and the burden lay on the Palestinian landowner to prove that he was not an “absentee.”  The role of the Custodian was put on more solid footing by the Absentee Property Law, enacted in 1950, which allowed the Custodian to transfer absentee land to a body called the Development Authority. This body was then entitled to transfer the land to the Jewish National Fund on behalf of the State of Israel.

The Palestinians who refused to flee what became Israeli-proper in 1948 were also forced from the land. The Defense Regulations was used to declare “closed military areas” effectively denying Palestinians access to their lands.

The Land Acquisition Law of 1953 was enacted to guarantee the “legality” of the confiscation of land during and after 1953. It did so by retroactively legalizing the seizure of land on the basis of “security and “development.” So successful was this takeover that by 1951 the State of Israel held 92% of the land.

As a result of the June 1967 war, over 500,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and land. By June 15, 1967, only five weeks after the end of the war, Israel quietly established its first settlements in the Occupied Territories despite promised to Washington that it had no intention of doing so. By the end of 2016, approximately 650,000 Jewish Israelis live in the Occupied West Bank and close to 200,000 in Occupied East Jerusalem, plus an additional 25,000 living in the Occupied Golan Heights.

On my first visit to Israel/Palestine in March 2002, I interviewed a high school teacher in Ramallah. According to Elias, “All land confiscation is legal according to Israel. It is, of course, a way to control and disperse Palestinians. Just take a look at all the Israeli settlements across the West Bank. This was all land previously owned by Palestinians. Once a parcel of land is declared absentee or in violation of some obscure Israeli law, the Israeli bulldozers turn up. The Arab home is destroyed, its 300 year old olive trees uprooted, effectively erasing any evidence of a Palestinian presence.” (The continuation of this and other interviews can be found in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with both Sides.)

 Israel’s controversial proposed new law known s the Regularization Bill aims to legalize unauthorized West Bank outposts, or, in Israeli jargon, Jewish clusters.

According to Oren Yiftachel, co-chair of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, founded in 1989: “This proposed legislation could join the ranks of global terra nullius legislation with honor.  In the name of invasion and colonial settlement—in this case, Jewish—this law would erase the validity of previous ownership systems in place for centuries. As settler leaders have reiterated, nothing will stop them from violating international law, and undercutting ethics and justice.

If passed, the new legislation will put Israel in its proper place as a pariah state.

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