Prof. Tanya Reinhart
Indymedia News, October 25, 2000
The second stage in Israel's assault on the
started already. They waited for the Arab League summit to end
and then, away from the cameras, Barak started executing the big
There is hardly any media coverage of what is actually happening.
The propaganda technique for this week is to keep the issue in
the news, creating an impression of coverage, but in fact,
provide no actual information, or keep us busy with trivia -like
the Israeli coalition negotiations (as if there is any difference
between Barak and Sharon). Another smoke-screen is the heated
discussion of Barak's plan for 'unilateral separation' -a
recycled motive which has been brought up many times already in
the past. As disgusting as this plan is, it has nothing to do
with what is actually going on now, beside giving the impression
that business is, essentially, as usual.
But the picture which emerges from Palestinian
electronic reports of the last two days is different and
Already since last week "The West Bank and Gaza Strip is
complete siege. Every village and town has been cut off, making
travel between regions impossible. The closure has gravely
impacted health service delivery to Palestinians. Patients with
serious injuries requiring referral to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or
Egypt for specialized care are unable to be transported. UPMRC's
and other health organizations' medical teams are facing
incredible difficulties reaching sick patients. The Primary
Health Care system in Palestine has become paralyzed since
doctors cannot access clinics and patients in rural areas cannot
access city hospitals". (Report of Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, The
Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees).
In the last two days the siege was
severed. "In a highly
dangerous step, the Israelis have been enforcing the siege
imposed upon the Palestinian population centers especially the
cities of Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank. This morning the
belligerent Israeli Occupation Forces have blocked the entrances
of the two cities by cement walls. The imposition of siege upon
the Palestinian cities and blocking the roads connecting them
together leads to separating them from each other" (AL-MEZAN
Center report, 23.10).
The Israeli army prevents any movement in or out of the
areas. There are reports on people going to work in the fields
and getting shot on their way. It is now up to Israel whether the
locked people will have food and water in the coming days, when
the diminishing supply ends. Planes carrying aid are denied
entrance. Israel controls also their electricity and telephone
lines. Their disconnection is being discussed in Israeli media.
With the majority of Palestinians locked defenseless
towns, israel can turn undisturbed to the job of 'evacuation'
(transfer). They started with Palestinian neighborhoods in the
vicinity of Jerusalem. Beit Jala is already a ghost town.
Hundreds have fled. There is no telephone contact. Same with the
neighboring Aida refugee camp. Those who resisted Israel's
earlier call to evacuate "for their own protection" had to flee
when their homes got bombarded.
On Monday, Col. Raanan Gissin, an Israel army spokesman, promised
proudly that "Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and other (Palestinian)
places will turn into Beirut" (AP, 23.10). Beit Sahour, then, is
probably next. As for the 'other Palestinian places', Israel is
now bombarding several residential areas with rockets from attack
helicopters, tanks, heavy machine gun ammunition, and 'launched'
grenades. "Israeli helicopters shelled Bethlehem in the West Bank
and ordered the residents of the eastern parts of the city to
evacuate their houses because they were to be shelled". (AL-MEZAN
Center report, 23.10). It appears that in Hebron, they are trying
to expand the "Jewish quarters" and drive residents out of
Still, they view all this as just the beginning.
commander of the Israeli Army force " has threatened to bring the
weight of the air force down on the Palestinians if the current
unrest escalates" And he provides a detailed reasoning for
sending the air-force against unarmed civilians: "So far, Halutz
said,the risks of using the air-force have not outweighed the
benefits. No helicopters have been at risk. He added that the IAF
has no information that the Palestinians have shoulder-held anti-
aircraft missiles" ('Jerusalem Post, 24.10). Safe and clean
slaughter -lots of benefits. That's how they talk now in power
Trying to figure out the full picture, it is
hard to avoid
comparison to 1948, when the Israeli army, under Ben Gurion's
orders, drove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of their
homes, and confined the remaining to closed, restricted areas,
governed for years by military rule. Barak declared many times
that his role-model has always been Ben-Gurion. Perhaps we are
beginning to get a glimpse of what he meant.
1948 is already "in the air" in the public discourse in
The pervert Israeli self image, guided by massive propaganda, is
that it is the Israelis who are being under siege, fighting for
their independence, threatened by the Palestinian empire and the
whole Arab world, just like in 48. And we already hear main
stream commentators saying that "The Palestinians are using the
same tactics as in 48" (Zeev Shif to Amikam Rothman in radio B
morning program, 24.10).
Even the shamefully little that the Palestinians got in the Oslo
accords is too much for Barak. If we let him, Barak will carry
out his Ben Gurion vision. And it won't necessarily stop in one
front. Assured of US support, fascinated by his own power, he may
drag the whole area into a horrible war. Some analysts have
always warned that world war III - the final one - may start in
the Middle East. Israel is led now by a lunatic, megalomaniac
general, who keeps his plans secret even from his government. And
it is this general who is authorized to unleash Israel's nuclear
arsenal. This is not a risk the world can take.
But he can still be stopped. This time it is not like
Kosovo. Opposition to Israel around the world is enormous. The US
has not managed to mobilize even the Western world around this
new crusade, as it did then. They didn't prepare it carefully
enough. The propaganda machine did not start on time, and even if
it had, it is difficult to sell the world that it is the
Palestinians who are committing atrocities against the Israelis.
Empires fell in history precisely when they started to believe
they are omnipotent.
Tanya Reinhart is a professor of linguistics
and cultural studies
at Tel- Aviv University and the University of Utrecht.
For more articles visit www.Al-bushra.org and clcik on daring to speak out.