Archive for August, 2003

Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets

August 7, 2003

By Samia Khoury
Thursday, August 7, 2003

“Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.” (Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael.)

Every time there is a meeting between the leadership of Israel and the USA, a lot of rhetoric is heard regarding easing restrictions or releasing prisoners. A removal of a couple of roadblocks from amongst hundreds is certainly not going to change the ugly reality of the occupation.

Neither is the release of a few hundred prisoners, whose terms are about to end anyway, from amongst thousands who should have been released a long time ago. In fact, with the Oslo Accords all political prisoners should have been released, so there is nothing new about Israel not abiding by agreements, or United Nations resolutions. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority did not press the issue of the prisoners in the context of the Oslo Accords hard enough. It kept dragging its feet on the issue until the Oslo Accords themselves were dragged into the grave. The way things are going, the Road Map will probably face the same fate.

I might sound skeptical about the fate of the Road Map because there are no signs or guarantees that Israel will not continue creating new realities on the ground. That is why I think the Palestinian Authority is naïve for thinking that the U.S. is really going to offer us a Palestinian state on a silver platter when Israel has its grip over the political system of the U.S. administration.

The first impression one gets is that Mr. Bush is upset about Sharon’s determination to continue building the security fence which has become known as the “Apartheid Wall.” But it does not take long for Mr. Bush to express his understanding for Israel’s point of view since “the fence is a sensitive issue.” So once again the gimmick of “Israel’s security” is easily bought with the understanding and blessing of the USA.

Recently, however, Israel thought of a new gimmick that sounds just as ridiculous. Because Israel is the “only democracy in the region,” it does not need to have a constitution. And because it does not have a constitution it is continuously introducing laws and bills to be passed by its Knesset to fit its “security” needs and its “greedy” demands, which are basically tailored to deprive Palestinians of their land and their rights. So the latest Israeli law, which passed its first reading with a vast majority, contends that the territories are not “Occupied Territories.”

Did you hear that? What were UN resolutions 242 and 338 about? And why are the military forces all over the territories? Why the road blocks, and why the seperation wall? Why the different colors of identity cards and license plate numbers, and why the long queues at the Ministry of Interior? The Arab world did not look at this law seriously. In fact many thought that the issue is ridiculous, because the whole world knows that these are occupied territories. But that is exactly the issue; Israel always gets its way in spite of the wishes of the whole world.

Despite the glaring injustice inflicted upon the Palestinians 1948, we have been struggling for over fifty years to regain our rights, our country, and our identity. We were so sure in 1948 that the whole world knew that the land Israel usurped was Palestinian, that we did not think there was a need to even raise our voice, especially since the United Nations General Assembly had already passed resolution 194 for our return. When you own a house you do not go crying out in the street that this is your house. But when you steal a house, you have to create and forge so many documents to prove that the house is yours. Likewise, Israel created a narrative by twisting facts and distorting history to an extent that the Israelis themselves started believing them, and eventually these facts became a reality which the whole world accepted.

So if Israel starts claiming that the territories are not occupied, the claim will gradually become a fact. We have seen the international community, and basically the U.S. administration, watering down such realities like the settlements. They were considered illegal at the beginning, and then they became “an obstacle to peace,” and later on they became just “unhelpful.” Nowadays there is an understanding for their expansion “to accommodate natural growth.”

In the fifties there was a popular song “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.” That is exactly the way Israel has been behaving since the inception of the its state. In Fateful Triangle, Noam Chomsky writes “In internal discussion in 1938, [David Ben-Gurion] stated that ‘after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine. . . The state will only be a stage in the realization of Zionism and its task is to prepare the ground for our expansion into the whole of Palestine.'”

So this new law should not be taken lightly. If the territories are not “occupied,” then Israel will not feel obliged to abide by United Nations resolutions, the Geneva Convention, or any international law. Furthermore, it will get away with confiscating more land and building more settlements.

Israel faces a dilemma. If these are not occupied territories, then all the inhabitants of the territories have to be equal citizens — or else it will become an apartheid state. It is already heading towards that situation with the new law that was passed in the Knesset just recently. I will probably need to write a whole article on that law on its own. The law basically deprives spouses of Israeli Arabs, who are from the Palestinian Territories, from their right to acquire Israeli citizenship or even to reside in Israel. For us in the Occupied Territories we have faced a similar procedure for years, whereas a Palestinian from Jerusalem is not allowed to have his or her spouse from the West Bank come live with his or her spouse in Jerusalem under the reunification of the family scheme.

If, however, the territories are occupied, then Israel cannot continue to defy United Nations resolutions, the Geneva Convention and international law. Maybe eventually that will lead to the option of a binational one-state solution.

In spite of this paradox, I continue to believe in a God of Justice and in the human being. The Palestinian who is determined to be liberated and to live in dignity. And the Israeli soldier, mother and professor who want to regain the humanity of the nation lost in the process of this brutal occupation.