Ian Joseph

A Convenient Fiction, Inconvenient Facts

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“We have no solution… You [Palestinians] shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads.” ~ Moshe Dayan (Speaking of the Palestinians, in Mehiro shel Ihud (Revivim, 1985) by Yossi Beilin, p. 42)

 “There is no more Palestine. Finished…” ~ Moshe Dayan (Interview with Time Magazine, 30 July, 1973 as Quoted on Pg  316 of The Iron Wall, Avi Shlaim)

“There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” ~ Moshe Dayan (from an address Dayan gave to Technion University students on March 19, 1969. A transcript of the speech appeared in Ha’aretz on April 4, 1969.)

“[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to Jordan. To achieve this we have to come to agreement with King Hussein and not with Yasser Arafat.” ~ Yitzhak Rabin (quoted by David Shipler in the New York Times, 04/04/1983)

“”There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.” ~ Golda Meir (statement to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969)

“To subdivide this land into two unstable, insecure nations, to try to defend what is indefensible, is to invite disaster. Carving Judea and Samaria out of Israel means carving up Israel.” ~ Benjamin Netanyahu (A Place Among the Nations, 1993)

“It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” ~ Ariel Sharon (as Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, Nov. 15, 1998)

Embed from Getty Images

Israel has not, as yet, formally annexed the West Bank as it has annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. But, to all intents and purposes, the entire West Bank is de facto, if not de jure, a part of Israel. The creation of new suburbs in East Jerusalem, new towns, cities, villages, farms, and universities in the West Bank together with roads, water, electricity, and telecommunications infrastructure, supported and abetted by every Israeli government since 1967, further supported and abetted by every large Israeli business who support and supply all the settlers and settlements, have resulted in 240,000 Jewish Israelis living in East Jerusalem and a further 500,000 living in exclusively Jewish Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The close to three-quarters of a million Jewish Israelis, living over what was known as the Green Line, have created such a large Jewish Israeli presence scattered throughout the West Bank, that there is no viable possibility of a contiguous second state in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

The convenient fiction referred to in the title is that what we see in this area is temporary, an occupation that will end when Israel withdraws and a Palestinian state is created. Many Israelis refer to these areas as ‘disputed territories’ rather than ‘occupied territories’ further maintaining the fiction that at some point there will be a partition and a second state will be created. The fiction of occupation or disputation is a convenient one to maintain as long as possible, while the fiction exists and is accepted, it allows for Israeli actions of oppressing the Palestinians and denying them equal civil and political rights that can be justified as either needed due to security (for Israelis, not security for Palestinians) or as temporary measures that will end when the occupation ends. As long as it is seen as temporary, so too can Israel take actions in the West Bank that would be unacceptable if all the territory were formally a part of Israel proper, such as military rule for Palestinians and civil rule for Jewish Israelis.

Further contributing to the fiction is the specious argument that the PA has autonomy and the Palestinians have their own government with control over their own destiny. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel still retains control over water, telecommunications, borders, the population registry, airspace, military roadblocks in areas supposedly under PA control, and the IDF enters areas controlled by the PA at will to raid and demonstrate a presence to Palestinians living in the PA areas.

The inconvenient facts are:

  • Total non-Jewish residents of the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean are – 2.5 million Palestinian Israelis, 2.1 million Palestinian Gazans, and 3 million West Bank Palestinians for a total of 7.6 million Palestinians. 
  • The total number of Jewish residents in the same area is 7.5 million. A small minority.
  • The Palestinians are not going anywhere and neither are the Jews.
  • The 500,000 Jews who have settled in the West Bank are not going to leave.
  • The Palestinians are not going to give up their right to self-determination, and neither are the Jews.
  • The Palestinians, by a majority, prefer to use violence, in the armed struggle, to resist the occupation.
  • The only way to maintain the fiction of an ethno-nationalist Jewish state is to deny equal political and civil rights to the Palestinians.

As a result of the de facto annexation of the West Bank, there are only three possible options available to Israel today:

  1. Continue the fiction of a Jewish state by oppressing Palestinians via an apartheid-like system, or
  2. Formally annex all the territories and confer equal citizenship and rights on all the inhabitants, or
  3. Expel millions of Palestinians from Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank

The first option is today’s status quo, an attempt to maintain an ethnic-nationalist Jewish state, which is destroying Israel’s image in the world, will only result in more violence and death, effectively destroying any notions of Israel being a democratic member of the progressive West, while further eroding the remnants of Israel’s moral capital.

The second option means the end of the ethno-nationalist Jewish supremacist notion of a Jewish-ruled state. Jewish Israelis will resist giving up power and continue with the first option for as long as they can and as long as the world will tolerate it.

The third option while theoretically possible would be unacceptable to the world, extremely difficult to implement, as surrounding states would violently resist, and not a viable option.

As long as Israel continues to formally stand by the fiction, and the world continues to accept it, so too there will be no progress towards ending the hundred-year war with the Palestinians. So too will the status quo of the first option above be the default. Israel cannot imagine a future with its neighbors or its own Palestinian citizens in which it would no longer rely on force. The ‘Iron Wall’ is not simply a defense strategy: it is Israel’s comfort zone. Without bold Israeli leadership recognizing the facts and abandoning the fiction, there will never be peace between the Israeli minority and the Palestinian majority in their midst.

About the Author
Born and educated in South Africa, a graduate of Jewish day school and Habonm Dror, Ian Joseph served in the IDF as an officer in combat units, and currently resides in North Carolina and Cyprus. Ian holds an MBA from Shulich School of Business in Toronto, is certified as a Master Instructor by the American Sailing Association and is currently retired from IBM. Among other pursuits Ian edits a weekly newsletter of Israeli news items, teaches sailing around the world and certifies sailing instructors.
Related Topics
Related Posts