Focus: The Forgotten Tragedy (3-3)
This goes a long way towards explaining why Israel is unconcerned about entering into genuine peace processes or resolving its conflict with the Palestinians. By warehousing them it has the best of both worlds: complete freedom to expand its settlements and control without ever having to compromise, as a political solution would require. By the same token, it explains why the international community lets Israel “get away with it.” Instead of presenting the international community with thorny issues that must be resolved – violations of human rights, international law and repeated UN resolutions, let alone the implications of the conflict itself on international politics and economy – it is instead seen as providing a valued service: developing a model by which “surplus populations” everywhere can be controlled, managed and contained.
Israel, then is in complete sync with both the economic and military logics of global capitalism, for which it is being rewarded generously. Our mistake, encouraged by such terms as “conflict,” “occupation” and “apartheid,” is to view Israel’s control of the Palestinians as a political issue which must be resolved. Instead, it will be “resolved” when the Palestinians are “disappeared,” just as people were “disappeared” in Latin American under its military regimes. Dov Weisglass, the architect of the Sharon government’s “disengagement” from Gaza, said as much in a revealing interview (“The Big Freeze,” Ha’aretz Magazine, Oct. 8, 2004):
The disengagement plan is the preservative of the sequence principle. It is the bottle of formaldehyde within which you place the president's formula [that Israel can retain its settlement “blocs,” including a Greater Jerusalem] so that it will be preserved for a very lengthy period. The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that's necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.
Is what you are saying, then, is that you exchanged the strategy of a long-term interim agreement for a strategy of long-term interim situation?
The American term is to park conveniently. The disengagement plan makes it possible for Israel to park conveniently in an interim situation that distances us as far as possible from political pressure. It legitimizes our contention that there is no negotiating with the Palestinians. There is a decision here to do the minimum possible in order to maintain our political situation. The decision is proving itself. It is making it possible for the Americans to go to the seething and simmering international community and say to them, “What do you want.” It also transfers the initiative to our hands. It compels the world to deal with our idea, with the scenario we wrote….
Warehousing is the starkest of political concepts because it represents the de-politicization of repression, the transformation of a political issue of the first degree into a non-issue, a regrettable but unavoidable situation best dealt with through relief, charity and humanitarian programs, together with schemes for economic “development.” It is a dead-end, a “given,” for which no remedy is available. This, of course, is not the case, and we cannot let it be presented as such. Warehousing is a policy arising out of particular interests of the most powerful. Our use of the term “warehousing,” then, should be to “name the thing” in order to give us a grasp of it, all the better to combat and defeat it. Again Israel provides an instructive (and heartening) example. Despite the almost unlimited and unchecked power Israel has over every element of Palestinian life, including the active support of the US, Europe and much of the international community, including some Arab and Muslim regimes, it has failed to nail down either apartheid or warehousing. Palestinian resistance continues, supported by the Arab and wider Muslim peoples, significant sectors of the international civil society and the critical Israeli peace camp. The conflict’s destabilizing effect on the international system grows steadily, so that it may eventually force the international community to intervene. Neither the Israelis nor the Americans (with European complicity) are able, despite their overwhelming power, to force on the Palestinians the outcome they seek.
The term “warehousing,” then, though referring to a real phenomenon, is also meant as a warning. We must continue our efforts to end the Israeli Occupation, even if this is means, ultimately, the creation of a genuine Palestine/Israel or a wider regional confederation, rather than apartheid-cum-two-state solution or warehousing. Looking at Palestine as a microcosm of a broader global reality of warehousing enables us to more effectively identify those elements appearing elsewhere and grasp the model which Israel is developing, all the better to counter it. Regardless, our language, and the analysis it generates, must not only be honest and unsparing; it must keep pace with political intentions and the ever more rapidly expanding “facts on the ground.”
By Alfatih Ziada, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, 10/07/2012