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    Middle East
     Jun 6, '14

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A struggle against Israeli soft power
The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah

Reviewed by Jim Miles

With the latest round of US-led peace talks being dead, what happens in Israel/Palestine? Settlements will continue to be built, dispossession will continue against Palestinians, slowly the "apartheid" context of Israel will become more and more obvious.

While the peace talks were in process, The Battle for Justice by Ali Abunimah was published and pre-emptively indicated that the peace process is/was essentially over and done with regardless of ongoing talks. The main context of the book is of the elements of apartheid and the associated boycott, divestment, and sanctions

movement (BDS) that is sending disconcerting messages to all the pro-Israeli/anti-Palestinian two staters.

Not that a two-state solution has not been possible in the past, but that it is beyond being a possibility now, leaving essentially two solutions, a single apartheid state (the considered de facto state as it is now) that is proclaimed to be Jewish, or a state with democracy inclusive of equal rights for all its citizens.

In the preface, Abunimah indicates that the Palestinians are winning - not necessarily on the ground where settlements, annexation, blockades, and military rule remains - but winning in the general knowledge of the world from the impact of the BDS movement. The real indicator to this are the many methods and great amount of money and time that is being used to discredit the BDS movement in particular within the US.

As the US is Israel's largest benefactor, the work starts with a comparison of Israel and the US, not the usual demographic statistics (although those are interesting as well), but a comparison based on racial considerations. Racial profiling, discriminatory laws and courts, and the disproportionate prison populations that result, the huge industry of security and surveillance, and the training of security forces (for "interoperability") all play into the comparison.

The underlying basis for it is the colonial-settler mindset: in the US it is African-American/first nations subject to discrimination; in Israel it is Arabs/Palestinians facing discrimination. A populist fear factor from this racial bias (crime, drugs, terror, religion) assists with the cowing and manipulation of the colonial-settler population.

Demographics and apartheid
Demographics is the main concern of Israel. It is the real threat to a "Jewish and democratic state". Israel does not want two states as that removes part of Eretz Israel from its domain. At the same time, a one-state solution being Jewish and democratic is not possible with a resident population of Palestinians that is overtaking the Israeli population. As argued by Abunimah:
The already present reality is a de-facto bi-national state, albeit with apartheid conditions, throughout historic Palestine.
Two other apartheid states are used as a comparison for Abunimah's arguments for a one state solution that overcomes apartheid. South Africa and Northern Ireland provide his case, the former an obvious racial apartheid state, the latter a perhaps not so obvious religious apartheid state. The main commonalities to sustain the apartheid status are the creation of the "other" as a mortal threat against a superior society, a demographic threat (obvious in South Africa with its much larger black population), and the creation of a sense of victimhood, that the "other" is the cause of the problems.

The section ends with a return to a comparison within the US of economic apartheid, an awareness of the economic "Jim Crow" that exists in the US and a recognition that South African apartheid was rescinded based on the accession to the Washington consensus economic agenda of neo-liberalism - in other words, the economic status quo of white control would not be interfered with.

Neoliberal Palestine
One of the more interesting parts of the discussion is that of the neoliberal economic patterns that have been imposed on Palestine, especially in the West Bank, although Gaza's status as a large concentration camp hanging in isolation could be a forewarning of what might come to the US homeland concept of neoliberalism. Regardless of that speculation on my part, Abunimah examines what he calls Fayyad-ism. Salam Fayyad has in the meantime resigned as prime minister, a position that he was not elected for (as no member of the current Palestinian governance has been elected).

As a digression from reviewing to commentary, the New York Times described Fayyad in very positive terms:
Fayyad, an American-educated economist, had gained the confidence of the West and of many Israelis, building up the credibility of the Palestinian Authority [PA] by introducing transparency, accountability and stability. Since being appointed to the premiership in 2007, he has championed law and order in the West Bank after years of chaos and focused on building the institutions of a future state.
The New York Times comment is typical neoliberal hogwash, extolling the virtues of "transparency, accountability and stability" without any sign of any of them. And while he has "has championed law and order in the West Bank" it has been for his Israeli masters at the expense of the Palestinians people, other than the select few PA associates who manage the money.

The Guardian provided a bit of a rejoinder to that rhetoric:
A former World Bank economist, Fayyad was appointed by a presidential executive order in 2007 following the collapse of the Palestinian national unity government and Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip. While he was one of the few senior politicians to frequently visit marginalised communities and ask after their concerns, tax and commodity price hikes repeatedly stoked angry street protests against him.

Palestinian unemployment has risen to almost 25% and real GDP growth is set to fall from an average of 11% in 2010-11 to just 5% in 2013, according to the World Bank.
Apart from the statistics, which coming from the World Bank are presumably rigged as most Western economic statistics are, Fayyad was obviously not as popular at home as he was within Israeli circles and international economic circles.

Continued 1 2

Shaking the pillars of Israel's history ( May 2, '14)



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