On this blog, I posted the full text of the Urgent Appeal regarding what might happen once the Israeli army begins the unilateral disengagement. Some discussion of it took place in the venues I sent it to, the Alef list, particularly. At a certain point, the persons with whom I had been discussing decided to commence the discussion in Hebrew, even after a request on my part to not exclude anyone who did not know this language, myself included.
It was out of that discussion that a counter appeal was created by Michael Warschawski. Here is Jeff Blankfort’s comment on that which he sent to his mailing list.
Earlier this month, I sent out an Urgent Appeal from Ilan Pappe, Uri Davis, and Tamar Yaron, warning that Ariel Sharon was planning on using the forthcoming “withdrawal” from Gaza as an excuse for an all out attack on the Palestinians in Gaza in response to their continued resistance to the Israeli occupation which will continue oppress their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank, an attack that will be more brutal than anything that they or we have yet seen..
In this response, Michael (Mikado) Warschawski, argues that the trio have got it wrong and that the Gaza “disengagement” is designed to solidify Israel’s hold on the West Bank and to weaken international pressure opposing it. He raises a number of points here that were not covered in the Urgent Appeal, but none, I am sure, that either Pappe, Davis, or Yaron would disagree with. It is a matter of what should be emphasized in the immediate future, and that is the likelihood of a massive attack by Israel on Gaza in the not too distant future, a threat that is very real and immediate.
What weakens Warschawski’s position is
(1) that he seems to consider the threat of a secondary nature and
(2) what he urges the “anti-occupation forces” to do instead
“Locally—the priority of the anti-occupation forces should be to denounce and to fight against the settlement policy, and the new Israeli consensus in support of the annexation of the ‘settlement blocs.’ Internationally, to demand from the international community institutions—the UN, the EU, the Quartet, the governments etc.—to impose on Israel an immediate and total freeze on settlements activities, including the wall and the bypass roads, and to establish, under the hospices of the UN, an International Settlements Freeze Watch, mandated to implement this freeze.”
Given the limited size and general impotence of “the anti-occupation forces,” both in Israel and world-wide, these demands have as much chance of being implemented in the real world as do the placards that have been carried for years by Palestine solidarity activists that demand the same thing. It might be as good a time as any, to stop using such slogans as “end the occupation,” which implies a static situation and describe the situation for what it is and has been for years,ethnic cleansing. “End the Ethnic Cleansing” and “No War on Gaza!” would be more appropriate demands, regardless of the size of our ranks.
The appeal by Michael Warschawski
Wrong Analysis, Wrong Initiative
By Michael (Mikado) Warschawski
A few days ago, I received through my email, a new political statement initiated by well-known figures of the Israeli anti-colonial movement. The fact that one of the signators was Ilan Pappe made me almost sign the statement without reading it. For Ilan is, in my eyes, one of the most clever progressive Israeli intellectuals, with whom, in the recent years, I have had very few, if any, disagreements. Fortunately, I got a phone call from a friend, asking my opinion about the statement, which she considered very problematic. Before answering her, I had to read it more carefully.
I did, and decided not to sign, because this statement is doubly a mistake: both in its analysis and in its practical implications.
In the statement titled “Raising the Alarm—What May Come After Evacuation of Jewish Settlers From the Gaza Strip,” one can read: “We believe that one primary, unstated motive for the determination of the government of the State of Israel to get the Jewish settlers of the Qatif (Katif) settlement block out of the Gaza Strip may be to keep them out of harm’s way when the Israeli government and military possibly trigger an intensified mass attack on the approximately one and a half million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, of whom about half are 1948 Palestine refugees. The scenario could be similar to what has already happened in the past—a tactic that Ariel Sharon has used many times in his military career—i.e., utilizing provocation in order to launch massive attacks.”
Wrong: the reason for the evacuation of a few thousands settlers from the Gaza Strip is to help in creating a “Gazastan,” part of the old Sharon plan of “cantonization of the occupied territories.” The unilateral redeployment from Gaza is part of a broader and extremely coherent political project, the objectives of which are well summarized by Yehudith Harel and Yaakov Manor, in their answer to the above mentioned statement:
“[…] 1) To improve positions and shorten the border […] i.e. a tactical military redeployment;
2) To weaken international pressure, and to obtain international green light for the perpetuation of the Israeli control of the settlements blocs, and the lands which are on western side of the wall;
3) To strengthen among the Israeli public the idea that there is no partner for negotiation […].
4) To make a joke of the Palestinian Authority institutions;
5) To create a trauma among the Israeli public, by pretending that the redeployment from Gaza is the maximum of compromise possible with the Palestinians, and that any additional compromise will provoke a terrible civil war;
6) […] To continue the construction of the wall and settlements in the West Bank […]”
These are the objectives of Ariel Sharon’s redeployment plan, and definitely not to massacre thousands of Palestinians. Identifying the political objectives of our enemies is of crucial importance, if indeed we want to understand the politics we are denouncing and trying to struggle against. Will the planned redeployment be implemented? No one can guarantee it, but Sharon is definitely interested in doing it, for the above mentioned reasons.
Will it include military repression and even massacres of Palestinian civilians? Unfortunately, it cannot be excluded, and one should be extremely vigilant threats coming from the Israeli senior officers and to every move of the Israeli occupation forces, before, during and after the unilateral redeployment. Our main task, however, is not to “warn against the worse scenario,” but to identify what the Israeli government intends to realize under the smokescreen of the unilateral redeployment. is intended to remain hidden, i.e. accelerating the colonization of the West Bank and cantonizing the Palestinians behind the Wall.
Locally—the priority of the anti-occupation forces should be to denounce and to fight against the settlement policy, and the new Israeli consensus in support of the annexation of the ‘settlement blocs.’ Internationally, to demand from the international community institutions—the UN, the EU, the Quartet, the governments etc.—to impose on Israel an immediate and total freeze on settlements activities, including the wall and the bypass roads, and to establish, under the hospices of the UN, an International Settlements Freeze Watch, mandated to implement this freeze.
This is the only answer to Sharon’s long-term political plan, and definitely not to highlight brutal threats of a military general or a politician, aimed to terrorize the Palestinian people as well as to divert our attention from the strategic goals of the Israeli establishment.