Don't Celebrate the Israeli Occupation's Impending Demise Just Yet

The world will continue to pay hollow lip service in the form of absurd steps, like marking products from the settlements, for which it doesn’t stop apologizing.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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File photo: Palestinian school children walk past a section of Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Abu Dis, on the outskirt of Jerusalem.
File photo: Palestinian school children walk past a section of Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Abu Dis, on the outskirt of Jerusalem. Credit: AP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

DUBLIN — His stay in America did Michael Sfard good. He returned filled with optimism. “One day the occupation will end,” he wrote, in a heart-warming, soul-reviving article that described that not-so-distant day in rosy colors.

He described how the occupation will collapse in a very short space of time, how Israel will change abruptly, how suddenly everyone will say that they were always against the occupation. His description ignites the imagination, infuses hope, invigorates and stimulates us to continue the struggle.

It happened in South Africa, the Soviet Union and Berlin – and it could not happen here. It is so delightful to read Sfard, so easy to be tempted to believe him – and so difficult to be a party pooper.

And yet, there are a few factors that could determine the Israeli occupation’s ability to endure, maybe not for ever, but certainly a lot longer than Sfard envisions in his wishful thinking from Manhattan. Observe, Michael, what is happening here in the meantime; see how a 13-year-old girl with a knife is executed to the cheers of the crowd, or at least to its silence, and tell me what denoument to the occupation you are talking about.

Nobody predicted the end of apartheid in South Africa – but apartheid never had the strong allies and generous financers that Israeli apartheid in the territories has. There wasn’t an American president who humiliated himself before that evil regime and gave a speech in its Washington embassy, in another embarrassing act of flattery to a state that has never heeded his advice and an ambassador who has done nothing but undermine him.

There’s no state in the world that would dare to act that way toward a global power – and Barack Obama continues to bow and scrape to Israel. This is certainly not the way to bring an end to the occupation.

When France passes an incredible law forbidding the boycott of Israel, it is absolutely clear that the occupation is here to stay and nothing will stand in its way. Israel will never end it willingly; it has never intended to do so for a moment. The world will continue to pay hollow lip service in the form of absurd steps, like marking products from the settlements, for which it doesn’t stop apologizing. At the same time, it continues funding, arming and supporting the continued occupation. With that kind of conduct the occupation won’t come to an end.

Unlike Israel, South Africa didn’t have a captive America, nor a guilt-ridden Europe by its side. So it was possible to organize a worldwide sanctions campaign that ultimately led to the collapse of its regime. There may be differences in world public opinion, but the media and politicians are still very much afraid of Israel, for unclear reasons.

Against the Afrikaner abomination stood exemplary figures – Nelson Mandela and others, blacks and whites, including quite a few Jews whose caliber has not been seen in these parts. Israel is too strong and the Palestinians are too weak and divided. Sometimes, it seems their leadership has already given up and given in. That won’t contribute to the occupation’s end, either.

Israeli society is galloping toward the opposite extreme. With its deep-rooted chauvinism and racism, its life lived in denial, its lies and brainwashing, how can one foresee a situation in which Israel awakens from its slumber? Why should it? It can continue with the occupation as long as it likes, so why should it end?

What incentive does a gleeful, blind society have to end the occupation? For what? Who cares about the Palestinians? And who cares what the anti-Semitic and Israel-hating world thinks, anyway. There are no signs of hope, either internal or external, dear Michael.

I write these lines in my hotel room in Dublin, opposite the General Post Office where the decisive stage in the struggle for independence began, exactly 100 years ago. It took the Irish 750 years to get rid of the British occupation, which was much less brutal and ferocious than the Israeli one.

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