Thursday, February 28, 2008

Disengagement and the Frontiers of Zionism by Darryl Li

More than an act of enlightened self-interest -- or, more bluntly, a recognition that “the virus doesn’t stop at the checkpoint”[2] -- the reported animal vaccine shipment is a clue to how Israel is reconfiguring its control over the Gaza Strip. The story of the recent restrictions, when told at all to the outside world, has been conveyed largely through statistics: 90 percent of private industries in Gaza have shut down, 80 percent of the population receives food aid, all construction sites are idle and unemployment has broken all previous records.[3] Journalists and NGOs have rendered individual portraits of ruined farmers, bankrupted merchants and trapped medical patients. But the stranglehold on Gaza is not simply a stricter version of the policies of the past five years; it also reflects a qualitative shift in Israel’s technique for management of the territory. The contrast between Israel’s expedited transfer of animal vaccines to Gaza and its denial of medicine for the human population is emblematic of this emergent form of control, that, for lack of a better term, we may call “disengagement.”

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Since its beginnings over a century ago, the Zionist project of creating a state for the Jewish people in the eastern Mediterranean has faced an intractable challenge: how to deal with indigenous non-Jews -- who today comprise half of the population living under Israeli rule -- when practical realities dictate that they cannot be removed and ideology demands that they must not be granted political equality. From these starting points, the general contours of Israeli policy from left to right over the generations have been clear: First, maximize the number of Arabs on the minimal amount of land, and second, maximize control over the Arabs while minimizing any apparent responsibility for them.

Read on

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Using a misleading scholarly jargon, this article portrays the "disengagement" as a further stage of oppression. In fact, it was a missed opportunity for the people of Gaza. It was very clear that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was a reharsal for a second withdrawal from the West Bank. The article fails to address the deliberate political decisions that transformed the disengagement into a "cage". Once more, the political movements claiming to represent the Palestinian people (Hamas) are treated as passive, innocent actors not responsible for the development of events on the ground. As usual, the cause of suffering is placed only outside. Bad analysis and blatant propaganda. And a bad service to the Palestinian people.

Anonymous said...

Using a misleading scholarly jargon, this article portrays the "disengagement" as a further stage of oppression. In fact, it was a missed opportunity for the people of Gaza. It was very clear that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was a reharsal for a second withdrawal from the West Bank. The article fails to address the deliberate political decisions that transformed the disengagement into a "cage". Once more, the political movements claiming to represent the Palestinian people (Hamas) are treated as passive, innocent actors not responsible for the development of events on the ground. As usual, the cause of suffering is placed only outside. Bad analysis and blatant propaganda. And a bad service to the Palestinian people.

Reader said...

"It was very clear that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was a reharsal [sic] for a second withdrawal from the West Bank."

The idea that disengagement was a rehearsal for withdrawal from the West Bank would come as a shock to Sharon's top advisor, Dov Weisglass, in a major interview he gave before the disengagement:

"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. ... The withdrawal in Samaria is a token one. We agreed to only so it wouldn't be said that we concluded our obligation in Gaza."
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=485929

Perhaps it can be said that the Israeli plan was one of wait and see: if the Palestinians behave themselves after disengagement, similar disengagements from parts of the West Bank would follow. But as the article demonstrates -- and as this comment ignores -- true self-determination for Gazans was never part of the disengagement plan since Israel maintained all the key elements of control at all times.

KGS said...

Not true.

Disengagement stems from the realization that there wasn't, still isn't, any Palestinian interest in ending the conflict.

In conjunction with the security fence, Israel would be prepared to hunker down and wait until a time when the Palestinians themselves have decided enough was enough, time for ending the conflict.

Your quote does not go far enough. what Weisglass was saying, is that since there isn't a serious party to negotiate with, there has to be a period where we "wait and see", that will allow to see what developes, not forstall any future negotiations that you appera to be implying.

"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. It places the Palestinians under tremendous pressure. It forces them into a corner that they hate to be in. It thrusts them into a situation in which they have to prove their seriousness. There are no more excuses. There are no more Israeli soldiers spoiling their day. And for the first time they have a slice of land with total continuity on which they can race from one end to the other in their Ferrari. And the whole world is watching them - them, not us. The whole world is asking what they intend to do with this slice of land.

Maneuver of the century

I want to remind you that there will also be a withdrawal in the West Bank.

"The withdrawal in Samaria is a token one. We agreed to only so it wouldn't be said that we concluded our obligation in Gaza."

You gave up the Gaza Strip in order to save the West Bank? Is the Gaza disengagement meant to allow Israel to continue controlling the majority of the West Bank?

"Arik doesn't see Gaza today as an area of national interest. He does see Judea and Samaria as an area of national interest. He thinks rightly that we are still very very far from the time when we will be able to reach final-status settlements in Judea and Samaria."

Does the evacuation of the settlements in Gaza strengthen the settlements in the West Bank or weaken them?

"It doesn't hurt the isolated, remote settlements; it's not relevant for them. Their future will be determined in many years. When we reach a final settlement. It's not certain that each and every one of them will be able to go on existing."

It ehlps to give the entire thought, not just a partial one, otherwise you would be leading the reader to conclude something otherwise...right?

Reader said...

Umm, this post accuses me of making misleading use of a quote but basically says the same thing.

You wrote:
"... what Weisglass was saying, is that since there isn't a serious party to negotiate with, there has to be a period where we "wait and see", that will allow to see what developes, not forstall any future negotiations that you appera to be implying."

I wrote:
"Perhaps it can be said that the Israeli plan was one of wait and see: if the Palestinians behave themselves after disengagement, similar disengagements from parts of the West Bank would follow."

Neither quote suggests that disengagement is aimed at preventing _any_ future peace agreement of any kind. Both quotes acknowledge that Weisglass' vision is to a. disengage b. wait and see what happens (with the possibility of either similar interim steps or a final deal).

The problem with a. is that disengagement left Israel in control over Gaza and hence there was no real self-determination. The problem with b. is that Israel has an incentive to delay a political process as long as possible because in the meantime it can keep building settlements so that _if_ there are negotiations it will be in the strongest possible position. The problem with both is that they distract from the real problems highlighted in the article about the fundamental inequalities and injustices of how Israel is structured.

Anonymous said...

I stand to my very first comment, which has been supported by the evidence quoted above. "Wait and see" means: try if a peaceful desengagement is possible in Gaza, in order to carry it on in other territories later on. This is what Kadima was all about.

The cage was in great part created deliberately by Hamas and it is perfectly functional to the assertion of its power against other Palestinian factions. This is what the Qassams are really about.

And I stand to the conclusion as well: bad scholarship and pure propaganda

Anonymous said...

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-op-halevi2mar02,0,5791667.story

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