| Post-colonialism, post-apartheid: Peace Without Occupation!

Peace Without Occupation ~ Stephen Lendman.

For millions of occupied Palestinians, diaspora ones, and legions of global supporters, it remains a distant unfulfilled dream.

It’s been this way for decades. Rogue Israeli governance prevents responsible change. So does one-sided Washington support for its worst crimes.

Yuval Diskin is a retired high level Israeli official. He’s a former IDF commander. From May 2005 – May 2011, he headed Shin Bet.

It’s Israel’s General Security Service. It calls itself “the unseen shield.” It’s one of three main intelligence agencies.

The others are Aman (military intelligence) and Mossad (foreign intelligence). Shin Bet duties involve state security and related issues.

Diskin became outspoken in retirement. In January, he criticized Netanyahu. He called him “weak,” “wavering,” and “unreliable.”

He’s “possessed” by Iran, he said. He “shirk(s) responsibility.”

He represents “a crisis in leadership here, a crisis of values and total contempt for the public.”

“Maybe people will think I’m exaggerating, but I’m telling you. From close up it looks even worse.”

Diskin doesn’t trust him. He lacks “leadership qualities.” He has messianic ambitions.

“I have a very deep feeling that when it comes to Iran, Netanyahu is possessed by Menachem Begin, who attacked Iraq’s nuclear reactor, and by Olmert, who many claim is responsible for the attack on Syria’s (alleged) reactor,” said Diskin.

“Bibi wants to go down in history as the person who did something on this size a scale.”

“I have heard him belittle what his predecessors have done and assert that his mission on Iran is on a much grander scale.”

Post-Geneva, what perhaps he has in mind bears close watching. Diskin expressed concern for his children.

“When I see the current leadership, I am worried about what we’ll leave for them,” he added. Rogue leaders initiate rogue policies.

In July, Diskin’s Jerusalem Post op-ed headlined “Israel nears point of no return on two-state solution.”

Perhaps it’s “already crossed,” he said. He’s concerned about longterm occupation. It’s improperly addressed, he stressed.

“(T)his subject has a place in our essence, in our identity, in our souls, in our security, and in our perception of morality – as a society or nation that has come to rule another nation.”

Diskin remains outspoken. On December 4, he said:

“I want a homeland that does not require the occupation of another people to maintain itself.”

“(F)ailed negotiations are far graver for Israel’s future than the Iranian nuclear program.”

“We need an agreement now,” he stressed. He said so on the tenth anniversary of the so-called Geneva Initiative. More on that below.

Diskin wants to “know that our home here has clear borders, and that we’re putting the sanctity of people before the sanctity of land.”

He “want(s) a homeland that does not require the occupation of another people in order to maintain itself.”

“The Geneva Initiative is a solid foundation for a solution of two states for two peoples.” More on that below.

“The negotiations have worn thin. (It’s time) for a decision to be made.”

Netanyahu-led Likudnik extremists make achieving one impossible, he believes.

Diskin supports new Israeli governance. He wants peace-supporting officials in charge. Too many Jews live in Occupied Palestine, he said.

Settlement expansions defeat peaceful conflict resolution. Diskin wants Israel becoming a nation “prefer(ring) the sanctity of its people over the sanctity of its land.”

Longterm occupation is self-defeating. So is America’s role. One-sided Israeli support is longstanding policy. It continues unabated.

On Wednesday, an unidentified State Department official said Washington prepared new peace agreement terms. Current negotiations went nowhere so far.

Don’t expect resolution going forward. Not unless Palestinians unconditionally surrender. They did before. They may again. Israel demands no less.

On Thursday, Netanyahu was briefed on what Washington has in mind. According to the State Department, “many details and specifics” were included. (They’re) a piece of what will be a larger whole.”

It prioritizes Israeli security. Expect old wine in new bottles when more details are known. It’s been this way for decades. Don’t expect significant changes going forward.

An unnamed Palestinian rejected America’s proposal. It’s disingenuous on its face. It’ll prolong and maintain occupation harshness, he said. It benefits Israel at Palestine’s expense.

The 2003 Geneva Accord (also called the Geneva Initiative) sounded promising when announced. It was far less than met the eye.

Preamble language obscured what followed. Articles 1 through 17 alone mattered.

Israeli/Palestinian negotiators spent two years preparing it. Yossi Beilin, Yasser Abed Rabbo, and others on both sides were involved. They rigged one-sided pro-Israeli terms. They pretended fairness.

They didn’t obligate either side. On December 1, 2003, they were formally introduced in Geneva.

Broad international support followed. Then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rejected terms straightaway. Why tinker with one-sided Israeli rights. Why confuse things with Plan B.

In September 2009, an expanded Geneva Accord was released. It supplemented the original proposal. It solidified Israeli rights. It outlined one-sided implementation measures.

Final status issues were addressed. Palestinian rights were ignored. Israeli ones were recognized.

They got what they wanted with regard to borders, settlements, airspace, security, diaspora Palestinians right of return, water and other resources, as well as control over virtually all East Jerusalem.

Negotiators called for ending an era of conflict. Beginning a new one was prioritized. Both sides stressed basing it on “peace, cooperation, and good neighborly relations.”

High-minded rhetoric substituted for binding fairness.

Implementing agreed on terms meant ending claims on both sides.

Doing so would forfeit decades of land and resource theft, compensation for lost lives, and other long denied reparations. These and other major issues would be considered resolved. No further claims would follow.

Israel would recognize sovereign Palestine. At most it would be an unacceptable rump state. It would exist on isolated cantons.

All rights and obligations would be observed. They’re one way. Israel alone would benefit. Palestinians would lose out altogether.

Full diplomatic and consular relations would be established. Both sides would exchange ambassadors. They would do so within one month of mutual recognition.

Both Parties would commit not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs. They’d cooperate in areas of mutual interest. UN Charter provisions would be observed.

An implementation and Verification Group (IVG) would be established. It would consist of America, Russia, the EU, UN and other parties.

It would be involved in all aspects relating to implementation and resolving potential disputes. A Multinational Force (MF) would provide security.

Agreements involving America, supportive EU states, and subservient UN officials assure sacrificing Palestinian rights too important to lose.

MF security means repressive UN Blue Helmets. They’re imperial enforcers. They’d support Israeli interests. Palestinians would lose out in the process. Persecution would continue like now.

At the time, Yasser Arafat praised the “brave initiative that opens the door to peace.” Israel rejected it straightaway.

Washington’s endorsement concealed one-sided Israeli support. George Bush sided with Sharon. He stressed Israeli security priorities. He said waging war on terror must continue.

Dozens of global presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, and other officials endorsed agreed on terms wholeheartedly. Doing so was less than met the eye.

Agreed on terms excluded even-handed fairness. Israeli rights were recognized. So were Palestinian obligations.

Many Palestinians opposed agreed on terms. They called them Oslo 2.0. They said far too much was sacrificed for smoke and mirrors in return.

Most Israeli settlements were annexed. Land swap terms were vague. Ambiguity substituted for clarity.

Israel got near total control of Jerusalem. It got virtually everything it wanted. Diaspora Palestinians lost out altogether.

A corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza was mandated. A viable Palestinian state required it. Agreement terms placed it “under Israeli sovereignty.”

Doing so would assure closure or other harshness any time at Israel’s discretion. “Territorial integrity” and “political independence” were ill-defined.

So were other agreement terms. They recycled unfairness. Israel’s apartheid wall was ignored.

Wiggle room assured Israel would take full advantage. Palestinians would continue being easily exploited. Ill-defined rights meant denying them altogether.

Hardline Israelis claimed Palestinians got too much. They said agreed on terms didn’t go far enough. They wanted Palestinians totally denied. They wanted binding language assuring it.

Conflict resolution failed. It’s no nearer now than earlier. Two states were possible years ago. No longer. Israel controls over half the West Bank and much of East Jerusalem. More is added daily.

One state for all its people remains the only viable option. Nothing else works going forward. Achieving it requires strong international support.

Peace negotiations remain one-sided. They’re dead on arrival. Israel won’t relinquish territory it controls. It wants Palestine ruthlessly exploited. It rejects statehood.

It wants Palestinians living in isolated bantustans. It wants them on worthless scrubland. Israeli moderates and hardliners agree.

Land theft and ethnic cleansing remain official policy. Peaceful conflict resolution remains an unfulfilled dream. Occupation harshness persists.

Equal rights for all is a nonstarter. Israeli intransigence makes it impossible. It wants permanent legalized occupation. Palestinians want sovereign freedom.

Democratic legitimacy requires institutionalizing equal rights. It means treating Arabs and Jews alike. It demands rule of law principles be observed.

It requires ending decades of occupation, colonization and apartheid. It involves binding statutes mandating new policies. It requires enforcing them.

It requires commitment to do the right thing. It requires achieving what earlier proved impossible.

It requires proving a new day arrived. It’s been nowhere in sight up to now. It looks no better going forward.

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| Film-maker captures Israeli spy chiefs’ doubts over covert killing operations!

Film-maker captures Israeli spy chiefs’ doubts over covert killing operations ~  in Jerusalem, The Observer.

Director rejects charge that Oscar-nominated secret services documentary is one-sided.

The Gatekeepers

Avraham Shalom, Ami Ayalon, Yaakov Peri, Yuval Diskin, Avi Dichter and Carmi Gillon in The Gatekeepers. Photograph: Sony Pictures/Allstar Picture Library

By the time Dror Moreh had finished filming more than 70 hours of interviews with six former chiefs of Israel‘s shadowy Shin Bet secret service agency, the director knew he had “dynamite in my hands”.

The result, The Gatekeepers, a 97-minute documentary which has just opened in the UK, is indeed explosive. The Oscar-nominated film has played to packed audiences in Israel, many of whom emerged stunned at what they had seen and heard.

“I thought if I could manage to get all [six] to speak openly about their experience in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it will create a shockwave,” Moreh told the Observer. “I was right – it created a huge storm.”

The recollections and reflections of the former chiefs weave a riveting narrative of Shin Bet’s activities throughout Israel’s 46-year occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. But the punch comes from their conclusions. “We are making lives unbearable,” says Carmi Gillon; “We have become cruel,” says Avraham Shalom; “You can’t make peace using military means,” says Avi Dichter; “We win every battle, but we lose the war,” says Ami Ayalon.

“I was surprised at the extent to which they think in this way,” said Moreh. “They are all saying: enough of occupation. They are not saying it’s easy to reach a solution, but they all say it’s in the best interests of Israel to pursue that.”

It is the first time the six men, who ran Israel’s intelligence operations in thePalestinian territories for almost 30 years, have given in-depth interviews. Much of the film’s potency comes from their cumulative testimonies; “the power of six is more than the power of one,” as Moreh put it.

The film opens with footage, presumably filmed from an Israeli military aircraft or unmanned drone, of a targeted assassination. A Palestinian vehicle is tracked before being destroyed in a blast. The urgent question, says Yuval Diskin, is to “do it or not do it. ‘Don’t do it’ seems easier, but it’s often harder.”

Later the movie dissects the killing of Yahya Ayyash, the Hamas bomb-maker known as the Engineer, who was behind numerous suicide attacks in the early 1990s, by remotely detonated explosives concealed in a mobile phone as the militant spoke to his elderly father. The security chiefs also discuss dilemmas over approving operations that may result in the deaths of innocent family members or passersby.

Sometimes, says Diskin, “it’s a super-clean operation. No one was hurt except the terrorists. Even then, later, life stops – at night, in the day, when you’re shaving, we all have our moments, on vacation. You say: ‘OK, I made a decision, and X number of people were killed. They were definitely about to launch a big attack, no one near them was hurt, it was as sterile as possible.’ Yet you still say: ‘There’s something unnatural about it.’ What’s unnatural is the power you have … to take their lives in an instant.”

Over original footage and computer-generated sequences, the former spy chiefs describe methods of controlling the Palestinian population, intelligence-gathering, interrogation techniques and Jewish extremism. The assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish gunman opposed to the peace process is recalled as a major crisis for the Shin Bet. Gillon, the head of the security service at the time, describes coming to terms with the agency’s failure to protect the country’s political leader. He offered his resignation after consulting his wife. She, he says, just “tries to keep me alive”.

Another crisis, the hijacking of “Bus 300” in 1984, ended with two Palestinian militants being beaten to death in the custody of the Shin Bet. Shalom, who was in charge at the time, is initially reluctant to discuss it, saying he does not remember the details of the episode which eventually forced his resignation.

Then, chillingly, he says: “They were almost dead. So I said: ‘Hit them again and finish it.’ I think he took a rock and smashed their heads in.” It was, he admits, “a lynching”, but adds: “In the war against terror, forget about morality.”

Asked how he persuaded the six men to participate in the film, Moreh said he did not tell them in advance what the message would be “because I didn’t know what the message would be. I just said I wanted to tell the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the point of view of the people who have experience of the decision-making. No one could say they do not understand what they are speaking about. And I think they understood why their position, as heads of Shin Bet, will matter.”

There is no narration in the film, just the voices of the six men with occasional questioning from Moreh. “I came to hear them, I was very interested in what they had to tell me. It was very important for me to listen, and just to navigate these long conversations.”

There were many interviews, lasting four to five hours and mostly conducted in their homes – “in their environment, in the places where they feel most secure, to make them feel comfortable and allow them to open”. They were not ingenues, says Moreh. “They understand the power of the tongue, the power of language, because they used that all their lives.”

After the film opened in Israel, Moreh was accused of selectively editing his material. Moshe Ya’alon, now Israel’s defence minister, told Army Radio: “What was presented there was presented in a really one-sided manner, and therefore the film is slanted. [Moreh] took parts of long interviews and presented the clips that served his narrative.”

Moreh, who described his personal political viewpoint as centre-left “but more centre than left”, rejected the allegation. “One of the most important things was not to take their words out of context, not to distort what they had to say on such delicate matters. And since the first screening of the movie, not one of the six has said it twisted what he had to say. For some, it was very tough. But all six stand firmly behind the message of the movie.”

But should they have raised their voices earlier, when still in a position to influence policy? “They are professionals, they have a duty to protect Israel. They are not elected politicians, but appointed officials. As such they cannot criticise political [decisions] in a democratic society. Those who are public servants, if they don’t feel they should do something, they should resign. This is what they answered when I asked them why didn’t you say then what you are saying now.”

Since retiring from their posts, three of the six have entered politics as members of the Israeli parliament. Ami Ayalon represented the Labour party from 2006 until 2009, Avi Dichter the centre-right Kadima party from 2006 until 2012. Yaakov Peri was elected in January’s election to represent the centrist Yesh Atid party and is the current science and technology minister.

Towards the end of The Gatekeepers, Peri speaks over footage of a Shin Bet raid on a Palestinian home. He describes operations in which suspected militants are dragged from their terrified and sobbing families in the dead of night. Even when you know the details of what people have done, you have some doubts, he suggests. And then, “when you leave the service”, he adds haltingly, “you become a bit of a leftist”.

To Diskin, the most recent incumbent of the post, Moreh quotes the words of the late Israeli intellectual Yeshayahu Leibowitz, written soon after the start of the occupation. Ruling over the Palestinians, said Leibowitz, would effectively turn Israel into a police state, “with all that this implies for education, freedom of speech and thought, and democracy”.

“I agree with every word,” says the former Shin Bet chief.

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