Opinion |

Occupiers of the World Unite!

Michael Sfard
Michael Sfard
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People take part in a demonstration in support of the Sahrawi people's rights in Malaga, Spain on November 28, 2020.
People take part in a demonstration in support of the Sahrawi people's rights in Malaga, Spain on November 28, 2020.Credit: JORGE GUERRERO / AFP
Michael Sfard
Michael Sfard

Occupation. Thousands of members of the occupied nation are refugees in the countries of the region. The organization that represents the occupied is illegal, and many of its activists are under arrest. For decades international human rights organizations have been reporting that the freedom of expression of regime opponents in the occupied territory is limited, and that attempting to achieve independence is considered sabotage.

The occupier built settlements in the occupied territory and transferred hundreds of thousands of its citizens to them. Demonstrations against the occupation and the settlements and in favor of independence encounter tremendous force, including the use of rubber-tipped bullets, and their organizers are arrested. Even human rights activists from the occupied nation, who are working for the benefit of the occupied, are a target of incitement and delegitimization.

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The government of the occupier to keep its critics under surveillance. During one of the violent outbreaks between the occupied and the occupiers, the occupying army shelled civilian areas with white phosphorus. Hanging the national flag of the occupied is illegal, and provides an excuse for arrest. The occupier even built a separation wall hundreds of kilometers long in the middle of the territory, which the occupied claim is their land.

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It’s hard to expect a country like Israel, which itself and denies it elementary rights, sucking in its land and using it for its own needs, to behave with empathy towards other occupied people – and in yet. Who has even heard of them, the nomadic tribes (and perhaps semi-nomadic) there in the Sahara? How do you even say it? Saharans? No. The Israelis sleep well at night with their occupation, and therefore there’s no reason to assume that they will lose sleep because they helped make another occupation permanent. And an occupation of quasi-Bedouin in Africa yet.

Today Israel is the spearhead of the Front for Restoring the World to the Pre-World War II Era. It is trying to erase the conclusions reached by humanity from the two wars in which tens of millions were killed and murdered – conclusions that were anchored (partially, not completely, of course) in modern international law. The main lesson, that the use of force in international relations is inacceptable (except in self-defense), was anchored in the United Nations Charter and fortified in the principle that sovereignty is not acquired by force.

That’s why the world does not recognize Russian sovereignty in the Crimean Peninsula. That’s why the world doesn’t recognize Israel’s sovereignty in and . That’s why the world does not recognize Morocco’s sovereignty in Western Sahara.

And now, towards the end of the tenure of who believes in the cruelest sort of Social Darwinism. Israel is helping him plant mines in the heart of international law. It happened when Israel was the only country in the world that was considered a democracy yet also did business with the apartheid regime of South Africa. In doing so it undermined the battle against institutionalized racism.

This attack at the heart of international law has also been happening in recent years, when, in exchange for a blow to the struggle for freedom, we are making alliances with authoritarian regimes, and thereby providing additional support to the downfall of democracy. And it happened again last week, when we mobilized our influence in Washington to break the barrier of non-recognition of Moroccan sovereignty in Western Sahara in return for direct flights to Rabat or Casablanca.

Yes, Israel has interests, and sometimes its interests must take precedence over the interests of others – but we are also supposed to have a red line. The problem is that when we entrench ourselves in the injustice that we are doing to others, and refuse to end it, we have no choice but to join the coalition of the world’s enslavers. That’s the nature of Israeli-style normalization: Occupiers of the world, unite!

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