The Ending Of History
The Ending Of History
In 1989 Francis Fukuyama argued in â€˜The End of Historyâ€™ that â€˜communismâ€™ was defeated and liberal capitalist democracies were the natural end-point of political evolution. In Palestine/Israel Fukuyamaâ€™s over-publicised thesis is being borne out through other means; an axis of liberal capitalist democracies is putting an end to the history it doesnâ€™t like.
Of all the statistics accompanying the violence in occupied Palestine and Israel - 1600 Palestinians killed and 20,000 injured, up to $10 billion worth of damage to the Palestinian economy, 190 attacks in three months on Palestinian ambulances - perhaps the most sobering are that eighty per cent of British people do not know where the four million Palestinian refugees come from, and only nine per cent knows that it is the Israelis who are the occupiers.
Extensive research by the Glasgow University Media Group (GUMG) found that British TV news coverage focuses on violence and neglects historical analysis. Palestinian violence is magnified through stronger language than that used for the overwhelmingly larger Israeli violence, from Israelis speaking twice as much on television news as Palestinians, and, contrary to Israeli violence, Palestinian attacks never being â€˜in retaliationâ€™.
Less than 0.5 per cent of media text on this second intifada explained the crucial history to the conflict. Ignored are the basic facts: that the state of Israel came into being in 1948 on 78% of Palestine; that for this to happen 530 Palestinian towns and villages were ethnically cleansed of 800,000 inhabitants and, according to the former director of the Israeli armyâ€™s archives, â€˜in almost every village occupied by us during the War of Independence (what Palestinians call the Nakba, the Catastrophe), acts were committed which are defined as war crimes, such as murders, massacres and rapesâ€™; that UN Resolution 194 calls for the immediate return and compensation of Palestinian refugees and has been reaffirmed 135 times by the UN General Assembly; and that UN Resolution 242 demands that Israel withdraws from all territories occupied since the June 1967 war (The West Bank - including East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Syrian Golan Heights).
The GUMGâ€™s findings are all the more startling given the character of Ariel Sharon and his Spring Offensive. The occupying Israeli army targeted, in addition to security institutions of the fledgling Palestine Authority, civilian ministries, civilian infrastructure, medical facilities and personnel, thousands of homes and civilians, the mass media and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Amnesty International (AI) concluded that the Israeli army â€˜acted as though the main aim was to punish all Palestiniansâ€™.
Israeli soldiers took sledgehammers to equipment in Palestinian media offices; transmitters were blown up. Al-Quds Educational TV, which produced a flagship Palestinian-Israeli version of Sesame Street, was one of many centres ravaged. The offices of Palestine Monitor, Al-Nasr TV, Manara Radio, Love and Peace FM, Al-Quds FM, Amwaj TV, Ajhal FM, Angham FM, Tariq al Marhaba FM and Watan TV were destroyed. NGOs received similar treatment. Most of the equipment and research of the Health Development Information Policy Institute was destroyed. Ditto the humanitarian law organisation MATTIN, where looted material included 19-yearsâ€™ of unpublished documents. Ditto the human rights organisation Al-Haq, an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists. Similarly attacked, vandalised and looted were the Bisan Centre for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, the Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners, the YMCA, the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, (named after a Palestinian who died helping a Jew), the National Conservatory of Musicâ€¦and so on. The looting of Palestinian documents is a common Israeli act. Last year Orient House was occupied by Israeli troops and its invaluable records, land deeds and maps were stolen. The same happened in Beirut in 1982 when the invading Israeli army stole the PLO archives. As with all peoples who have the misfortune of being colonised and expelled, the Palestinians should have no voice and no history.
Israeli soldiers acted obscenely throughout the rampage. They shat throughout the offices, homes and mosques that they occupied. They burned family photographs. Inside Palestinian homes they painted Stars of David and pictures of the Dome of the Rock being blown up. Before destroying Watan TV station, soldiers used the studio to broadcast pornography. Numbers were printed onto Palestiniansâ€™ forearms. Civilians were used as human shields. Women in labour and people needing emergency medical treatment were denied health-care. Ambulances were prevented from transporting emergency blood supplies. Undoubtedly there were massacres - on 12 April the Israeli army admitted hundreds had been killed in Jenin alone.
With Palestinian civil society crushed by the Israeli army and manufactured western ignorance at an all-time high, reasoned debate in Israel is equally besieged. In politics, for helping organise reunions between Palestinian citizens of Israel and relatives in Syria from whom they have been separated since 1948, and for recognising the right of people under occupation to resist, Knesset Member Azmi Bishara is being prosecuted under anti-terrorist legislation. International Law Professor Richard Falk contrasts this with extremist Zionists who are never officially challenged even when promoting â€˜imposed mass transferâ€™ of Palestinians. Falkâ€™s comparison is made starker by the research of the Israeli Jaffa Centre that shows extremism to be the norm. Fifty per cent of Israelis support â€˜imposed mass transferâ€™ of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories, 70 per cent support â€˜imposed mass transferâ€™ of Palestinian citizens of Israel from Israel itself. In June the Israeli Knesset even debated such â€˜imposed mass transferâ€™. Such promotion of the barely veiled euphemism for ethnic cleansing is condoned by the Israeli state and unchallenged by western media and governments.
Falk adds that Bisharaâ€™s stance is â€˜entirely reasonableâ€™ and international law clearly permits â€˜forcible resistance to forcible denial of self-determinationâ€™. In academia, Ilan Pappe, Political Science lecturer at Haifa University, is threatened with expulsion from his university for intending to teach the countryâ€™s first ever course on the Nakba. Teddy Katz, a former MA student of Pappeâ€™s, was already disqualified for discovering the Tantura massacre, one of scores of massacres in 1948 that caused the Palestinian population to flee. The Israeli Broadcasting Authority is also rewriting history by issuing orders prohibiting the use of the term "settlers" for Israelis living in the Occupied Territories. In music, Israeli diva Yaffa Yarkoni, 76, is no longer played on the radio after she said she supported the soldiers who refuse to serve in these Occupied Territories; the newspaper Maariv claimed that she had 'joined the ranks of the new anti-semites in Europe'. For his 1986 whistle-blowing on Israelâ€™s then several hundred nuclear warheads, Mordechai Vanunu still languishes inside Ashkelon Prison. Despite Israel now estimated to have a nuclear arsenal larger than Britainâ€™s, and the current discussion of potential nuclear war between Pakistan and India, Israelâ€™s nuclear identity is the hippopotamus in the living-room that noone sees.
Britain and the United States wallow in manipulated ignorance. Britainâ€™s historic responsibility for the conflict - exemplified by the 1917 Balfour Declaration that promised Jews a homeland in Palestine - is never mentioned. Phone the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and a spokesman will tell you â€˜Britain continues to encourage Israel to ratify the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear stateâ€™. British-made components are definitely in weapons systems used to commit war crimes - such as Apache assault helicopters, Merkava tanks and armoured personnel carriers - but the government looks the other way.
With a collective unconsciousness forged by Israel and its allies, a just solution is impossible. History and the present are rewritten and unreality rules. So, there was no Nakba. And the 4 million Palestinian refugees donâ€™t matter. There is not a brutal 35-year military occupation. State terrorism is an oxymoron. Israel never targets civilians. Resistance is terrorism. Barakâ€™s â€˜offersâ€™ to the Palestinians were â€˜generousâ€™. There are no â€˜settlersâ€™ and no Israeli nuclear weapons. British equipment isnâ€™t being used to commit war crimes. Britain and Israel are democracies and have free speech. Long Live the End of History.
Neil Sammonds is editor of the PSCâ€™s Palestine News and writes on freedom of expression in the Middle East for Index on Censorship (www.indexoncensorship.org)
Encourage your MP to sign Early Day Motion 321 demanding an arms embargo on Israel, EDM 1337 demanding Britain doesnâ€™t buy the Gil-Spike anti-tank missile practiced on Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, and EDM 1213 demanding that the government recognise Israel as a nuclear weapons state. More information at www.palestinecampaign.org