Pelosi: it’s not the occupation

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), darling of the liberal left, made an extraordinary observation to the crowd at the AIPAC convention on May 24:

“There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist.” (US Newswire, May 24)

Pelosi should have a look at the following piece by Ha’aretz’ Palestinian affairs analyst Danny Rubinstein:

With such news, who needs incitement?
Danny Rubinstein
March 7, 2005

The Israeli demand that the Palestinian Authority halt the incitement against Israel in the Palestinian media and school system is well known. It is a justified demand. Ever since the Oslo agreement was signed more than a decade ago, the issue has come up again and again; school books have been examined in the West Bank and Gaza, joint committees that did not do very much have been established, and in practically every speech delivered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon he demands that the Palestinians cease their incitement.

The dictionary defines “incitement” as trying to urge or tempt into action. In fact, anyone listening to the Palestinian broadcasts on both TV and radio recently can testify there has been a significant change: The pounding rhetoric of the past is gone.

But what can be found in the Palestinian press – and in large quantities – are the news items about what is happening on the ground: detailed, daily reports with dramatic headlines accompanied by lots of photographs about what the Israel Defense Forces and the settlers are doing in the West Bank and Gaza.

Here are some examples. Every day last week, the Palestinian media carried high-profile reports about two wide-scale Israeli plans to confiscate Arab land and build new housing in West Bank settlements. The land expropriations amount to more than 10,000 dunams – actually 10,677, to be precise [some 2,700 acres] – from villages south of Mount Hebron, to build the separation fence, and for a project of more than 6,400 housing units for the various settlements in the area. The source of that information is the Israeli press, and the reports include reactions from Palestinian spokesmen. There is no need to point out that every Arab who sees and hears these reports gets angry.

The reports of proposed wide-scale land expropriation are nothing compared to the dozens of daily “petty” injustices that take place all the time everywhere in the territories. For example (and all these examples come from last week’s press): In the town of Dura, near Hebron, “three children were wounded in clashes with the occupying army,” and in Hebron, “the settlers have renewed their efforts to pave a road over Arab-owned land.” Also “a youth from the Jenin refugee camp died of his wounds”; a boy from Rafah “was wounded by tank fire”; “occupation bulldozers uprooted dozens of olive trees at Masha, west of Ramallah”; “the occupation army announced plans to demolish a building with three weeks in Wadi Pukin”; “occupation units harassed a resident of the town of Yata and turned his home into a military outpost”; “a curfew has been imposed in the village of Salam, and the towns of Abu Dis and Azzariyeh”; and “there are long delays at the Atara checkpoint.”

These are only a few examples of what was published. Sometimes it seems these types of reports are endless. Last Saturday there was a flood of reports and photographs of clashes between the army and residents of the villages of Beit Surik, Safa, Balin and Dir Balut – all west of Ramallah. The residents, said the reports, were trying to protect their land from the occupation army that threatens to erect the “racist separation fence” there. The photos showed elderly peasants kneeling on the ground for Friday prayers, some women in village dress weeping in a parade, and an elderly woman with a particularly sad expression holding a flag. The reports continued all week, coming from local reporters and the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa.

This kind of information has become routine. It is delivered in a dry, understated tone as it describes theft, humiliation and abuse of helpless women, children and ailing prisoners who are in isolation or undergoing repeated, lengthy terms of administrative detention without trial.

A Palestinian reading and hearing this flood of reports does not need any incitement against Israel. Even if the stories do not touch on them personally, the readers understand what the Israeli authorities are doing to their people.

See our last post on land conflicts in the Occupied Territories.