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Sat Jul 14, 2012, 07:03 PM

Report that claims ‘there is no occupation’ presents an opportunity

What is behind the left’s anger at a government commission report that rejects the existence of the occupation? The report presents an opportunity to replace empty political rhetoric and legality with a focus on facts on the ground.


By Itamar Mann


The Israeli left responded with a mixture of laughter and rage to former Justice Edmond Levy’s report on the status of the West Bank and its claim that “there is no occupation.” One commentator particularly baffled was human rights lawyer Michael Sfard, who wrote that the “report was written in Wonderland, governed by the laws of absurdity.” Instead of the laws of absurdity, Sfard wants us to continue embracing the laws of war.

Such responses reflect confusion. Their underlying assumption is that claiming what is going on in the West Bank is not an occupation means morally accepting it. But even though the report fails to describe the domination of Palestinian life in the West Bank, that conclusion does not follow. Why, then, are so many of us, within Israel-Palestine and internationally, so attached to the occupation category?

One of the central arguments the report makes is that the West Bank is not occupied, because occupation is a temporary situation. Israeli control in the West Bank, on the other hand, has no end in sight. This argument sounds quite pernicious. It assumes that just because Israel took violent custody over this area, it gained rights to it. However, while it is true that 20th century international law has forbidden the acquisition of land by force, such movements from fact to norm are not unfamiliar to international lawyers.

A more constructive approach should embrace parts of the conclusions, instead of rejecting it wholesale. The strategic goal should be to point out what does follow logically from sovereignty over the West Bank. West Bank Palestinians must immediately be granted the right to citizenship and political participation. Not granting such rights would augment growing accusations of apartheid against Israel. Alongside possible investigations by the International Criminal Court, this would fuel the transnational movement for democracy in Israel-Palestine – which Israelis and Palestinians are of course part of.

The occupation paradigm has historically served Israeli governments to fend off criticism by pretending to negotiate, and this report sends a clear message to audiences abroad. The golden age of negotiation is long gone. Rather than waiting for a messianic conclusion to “peace talks,” pro-democracy citizens of the world must support likeminded Palestinians and Israelis right now.

http://972mag.com/the-opportunity-in-the-report-claiming-there-is-no-occupation/50690/


And for anyone else who can't keep up with what we're supposed to describe the occupation as without being accused of being antisemitic, wanting to destroy Israel, etc, here's something you might find amusing...

The name game: What should we call the situation in West Bank?

First they told us we can’t call it “apartheid”.

Now, they say we can’t call it “occupation”.

But we have to call it something!!!!!

I’m waiting to hear your suggestions in the comments section below. Single-word terms/nouns are preferred (with short explanations even better). I’ll post some of the good ones I get from Twitter and Facebook here, too.

http://972mag.com/the-name-game-what-should-we-call-the-situation-in-the-west-bank/50708/

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