CAN YOU PASS THE HAMAS QUIZ?
By Jeffrey Rudolph (June 2010; last update January 2013)
The degree of mainstream media distortion concerning Hamas is endemic in the US and Canada. In my local newspaper, The Montreal Gazette, one searches in vain for meaningful coverage of the respected Goldstone Report yet reference to Barak’s mythical “Generous Offer” persists and ahistorical reporting on Hamas rockets dominates.
While one cannot entirely absolve Palestinians for their dire situation, three categorical truths should always be borne in mind to ensure that there is no confusion between victim and victimizer:
Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land;
Occupied people have the legal right to resist occupation; and,
Palestinians are the only occupied people to suffer international sanctions (while Israel enjoys significant economic, military and diplomatic support from powerful states).
The following quiz is intended to provide needed context to the inadequate reporting of Hamas in the mainstream media.
THE HAMAS QUIZ
1. Has Hamas ever deliberately attacked an American target?
-No. According to Kenneth Pollack, former CIA analyst, Middle East expert and former National Security Council staffer, “[H]amas…[has] never deliberately attacked American targets. The PLO did…”
Pollack adds that in recent times Palestinian militant groups have all concentrated on Israel and one another and not the US “despite the tremendous levels of anti-Americanism in the region, the popularity that al-Qa’ida has garnered for its attacks on the United States, and the lopsided pro-Israel policies of the George W. Bush administration. Consequently, it is difficult to suggest that Palestinian terrorist groups are a direct threat to the United States….[T]hey do not constitute the same kind of threat to American interests as al-Qa’ida and therefore do not merit the same response.” An objective observer is left to conclude that it is Hamas’s independence from the US orbit of control, coupled with the power of the Israel lobby, that engenders relentless US rebukes. (Kenneth M. Pollack, A Path Out of the Desert: A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East, Random House, New York: 2008, 170.)
-It should be obvious that simply killing “terrorists” in say, Gaza, without changing the conditions that produced them is ineffective since new “terrorists” will simply arise. For example, “Israel has assassinated dozens of Arab political and military leaders….What have the results been? Overall – nothing positive. Israel killed Hizbollah leader Abbas al-Moussawi, and got the vastly more intelligent Hassan Nasrallah instead. They killed Hamas founder Sheik Ahmad Yassin, and he was replaced by abler men. [They killed Hamas military leader Ja'abari whose] successor may be less or more able. It will make no great difference.” http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1353080494/
2. True or False: Israel supported Hamas in the past.
-True. “For well over two decades after the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel…[supported] the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot Hamas in Gaza as a counterweight to the nationalist…(PLO). This reached the point where the Israeli military occupation encouraged Brotherhood thugs to intimidate PLO supporters.” (Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, Beacon Press, Boston: 2007, xxviii-xxix.)
-According to Anthony Cordesman, respected Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies, Israel “aided Hamas directly—the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO.” http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2002/06/08/1320881.php
-It is worth noting that in 2007 the US and Israel not only opposed a Palestinian unity government but, in a failed effort to destroy Hamas, “backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.” (Apparently, divide-and-rule continues to be a useful tool of control.) When the plot failed, Israel, with the support of the US and Egypt, “imposed a blockade designed not only to prevent Hamas from importing weapons, but to punish Gazans for electing it.” The result was devastation for Gaza’s economy. For example, by “2008, 90 percent of Gaza’s industrial companies had closed.” http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804 (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 76.)
3. Which groups committed the following terrorist acts in Palestine to further nationalist goals during the British Mandate period?
3.1 July 22, 1946: Terrorists blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem killing or injuring more than 200 persons.
3.2 December 19, 1947: Terrorists attacked a village near Safad, blowing up two houses, in the ruins of which were found the bodies of 10 persons, including 5 children.
3.3 December 30, 1947: Terrorists attacked the village of Balad al Sheikh, killing more than 60 persons.
3.4 March 3, 1948: Terrorists drove an army truck up to a building in Haifa and escaped before the detonation of 400 pounds of explosives that killed 14 persons and injured 23.
-3.1 The Irgun: Zionist paramilitary group led by future prime minister Menachem Begin. It was classified as a terrorist organization by Israel itself when it became a state in 1948.
-3.2 The Haganah: Jewish paramilitary organization which became the core of the Israel Defense Forces. Members of the Haganah included future prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon.
-3.3 The Palmach: Elite fighting force of the Haganah. (The Palmach’s last operation as an independent unit was against the Irgun. Perhaps right-wing Jews should not be so smug when they hear of fighting between Fatah and Hamas.)
-3.4 The Stern Gang: Radical Zionist paramilitary group that split from the Irgun in 1940. Future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir was among its leaders.
-It is not disputed that Hamas has engaged in terrorism — some of it with the clear intention of frustrating peace efforts by other Arab actors. The relevant point now, however, is that Hamas should be accepted as an important and legitimate Palestinian party.
4. Who said the following in 1998? “If I were a young Palestinian, it is possible I would join a terrorist organization.”
-Ehud Barak: Prime Minister of Israel, 1999-2001, and former Minister of Defence. This was Barak’s response to Gideon Levy, a columnist for Ha’aretz, when Barak was asked what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/yossi-sarid-if-you-or-i-were-palestinian-1.267316 http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0306/25/se.13.html
5. True or False: The Palestinian school curriculum incites hatred and anti-Semitism.
-False. Nathan Brown, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University, after a detailed study on The Palestinian Curriculum, writes: “[T]he Palestinian curriculum is not a war curriculum; while highly nationalistic, it does not incite hatred, violence, and anti-Semitism.”
Right-wing supporters of Israel, seeking reasons why Palestinians harbor resentment against Israel and Jews, often point to Palestinian textbooks that purportedly instill such hatred. Prof. Brown demonstrates that a better explanation is to be found in the harsh occupation administered by Israel. As Prof. Brown writes in his conclusion, “With the effects of conflict felt on a daily basis, what textbooks and teachers say is probably irrelevant in any case.” http://home.gwu.edu/~nbrown/Adam_Institute_Palestinian_textbooks.htm
6. Identify the Middle East entities responsible for the following promulgations:
6.1 “Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase.” We aim “at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.” “The…establishment of the state of Israel [is]…entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time…”
6.2 “The [entity]…flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River.”
6.3 “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
6.4 “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” “[We strive] to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security…”
-6.1 The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). These are portions from the 1968 Palestine National Charter.
It is important to note that Israel negotiated peace accords with the PLO despite the fact that the 1968 Palestinian National Charter was in force at the time of the relevant negotiations. Clauses from the Charter were rendered void only after the 1993 Declaration of Principles was signed. http://www.cjpme.org/DisplayDocument.aspx?DO=795&RecID=195&DocumentID=297&SaveMode=0
-6.2 The Likud party. This explicit rejection of a Palestinian state was part of Likud’s platform at the time of the 2009 Israeli elections; the elections led to a Likud-led government. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/02/09/f-rfa-armstrong.html
Despite this offensive clause, which contravenes international law, Hamas has shown willingness to support talks with Israel.
At least Likud has been consistent: “In a speech to Likud’s central committee a few months after taking office [as prime minister in 1996], Netanyahu flatly declared, ‘There will never be a Palestinian state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan.’ To make good on that pledge, Netanyahu created a government dominated by parties hostile to the peace process, and repeatedly used their hostility as an excuse for avoiding the steps that Oslo required.” While Netanyahu endorsed a Palestinian state in 2009, the conditions he attached made the endorsement meaningless. (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 118, 133.)
-6.3 Israel. This is a clause of one of Israel’s Basic Laws. http://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/basic10_eng.htm
Despite this official law of Israel, which contravenes international law, Hamas has shown willingness to support talks with Israel. Even the US does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; the US embassy is located in Tel Aviv.
Martin Indyk, Clinton’s ambassador to Israel, argues that “It was not reasonable to expect that Arafat, or any Arab leader…, would agree to an end-of-conflict agreement that left sovereignty over the Haram-al-Sharif [Temple Mount] in Israeli hands forever.” (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 72).
-6.4 Hamas. The portions are from the Hamas Charter. https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AZbAXItgbF6XZGo2enJrcV8xMTZjZ2pnMjZnYw&hl=en
While the Charter is one tool used by Israel to refuse to deal with Hamas, similarly odious clauses—provided above—did not prevent Israel from negotiating with the PLO. And, in any event, would it make a difference to Israeli leaders if a Hamas leader made more conciliating statements? See question 7.
7. Who made the following statements in 2007? “[T]here will remain a state called Israel—this is a matter of fact.…The problem is not that there is an entity called Israel. The problem is that the Palestinian state is non-existent.” “As a Palestinian…I speak…for a state on 1967 borders. It is true that in reality there will be an entity or state called Israel on the rest of Palestinian land.”
-Khaled Meshal: Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jan/11/israel/print
-A study by “an official U.S. government agency [concluded that] Hamas ‘has, in practice, moved well beyond its charter…has been carefully and consciously adjusting its political program for years and has sent repeated signals that it is ready to begin a process of coexisting with Israel.’” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End, OR Books, New York: 2012, 290.)
It should be noted that the impressive economic and political performance of Turkey under the Justice and Development Party–Turkey is the fifteenth-largest economy in the world–demonstrates that political Islam can coexist with a sound economy and democracy.
-Ethan Bronner, the Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times, had this to say concerning Gaza under Hamas in early 2009: “Honestly, the idea that this is some totalitarian spot where you can’t write honestly is not true….Hamas is not al-Qaeda….I can’t tell you whether they are going to accept Israel. What they basically say…is if we can go back to the ’67 borders and we can deal with the question of a right of return and all Palestinians agree…we won’t stand in the way….[A]s a broad observation, it seems almost impossible to imagine that there could be a Palestinian state that doesn’t include Hamas as part of a political structure. And if that’s true, then Israel will not have the security of being a Jewish democratic state, not an occupier, without some relationship with the Hamas movement.” http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=99901768
-According to an October 2012 New York Times article, “Hamas…is working to suppress the more radical Islamic militant groups that have emerged [in Gaza]. The jihadist extremists, known as Salafists and inspired by the ideology of Al Qaeda, are challenging Hamas’s informal and fragile cease-fire with Israel.” After the 2006 elections, “militant jihadists began attacks against Israel and also against Internet cafes, restaurants and women’s hair salons in Gaza, places they saw as being at odds with their deeply conservative interpretation of Islam.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/world/middleeast/hamas-works-to-suppress-militant-groups-in-gaza.html?_r=1&src=rechp&pagewanted=print
-In an important 2012 book by Shlomi Eldar, Getting to Know Hamas, high-level officials in Hamas, such as its political chief Khaled Meshal, are shown to be strategic and pragmatic, not fanatical ideologues as commonly portrayed by Israeli leaders. For example, after “Shalit was seized by Palestinian militants in a 2006 cross-border raid” a detailed document was “sent by messenger to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.” The document included the following: “Hamas offers two alternatives: 1. A separate track, dealing only with the release of Gilad Shalit in return for 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners. 2. A release of prisoners will take place in the broader context of a strategic approach (as follows), and the number of prisoners released will not be in the hundreds.”
The detailed document, “whose existence and transmission to the prime minister were denied completely by Olmert’s office at the time, constituted an offer by Hamas to conduct a multilevel dialogue with Israel, beginning with discussion about a cease-fire and the building of long-term trust, and ending with a coexistence agreement to last 25 years, and the establishment of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders.”
The book explains that the “Shalit kidnapping was a premeditated action carried out by the Hamas military wing, led by Ahmed Jabari; the Popular Resistance Committee, headed by the Abu Samhadana family; and the Army of Islam, led by the Dormush family. Eldar describes it as an independent operation carried out despite the Hamas political leadership’s opposition. This and other…examples [in the book] offer proof that the organization is rife with divisions.”
Israel’s lack of understanding of Hamas, according to Eldar, “may be rooted in Israel’s acceptance of Hamas activities before the first intifada broke out in 1987, when Israel believed that it was worthwhile to let a religious and social movement compete with Fatah, as a way of neutralizing the influence of then-Fatah leader Yasser Arafat in the occupied territories. The first intifada, and even more so the second one, [wrongly] made clear to Israel that the double front it had hoped to create between Hamas and Fatah and between Israel and Fatah was to all intents and purposes a single and more violent front…” http://www.haaretz.com/culture/books/giving-israel-a-new-look-at-hamas.premium-1.465584
-Question 7 clearly shows that Hamas accepts the existence of the state of Israel. Nevertheless, right-wing Jews argue that “words are cheap,” and Hamas doesn’t keep its word. However, see question 8.
8. Which party, Israel or Hamas, broke the six-month ceasefire that was agreed to in June 2008?
-Israel. In June 2008, “Egypt had brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas…[that] was a success: the average number of rockets fired monthly from Gaza dropped from 179 to three. Yet on 4 November Israel violated the ceasefire by launching a raid into Gaza, killing six Hamas fighters.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/03/gaza-tony-blair-betrayal
-In a “document entitled ‘The Hamas terror war against Israel,’ The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides striking visual evidence of Hamas’s good faith during the lull. It reproduces two graphs drawn up by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center: [Graphs provided] The graphs show that the total number of rocket and mortar attacks shrank from 245 in June to 26 total for July through October, a reduction of 97 percent.” http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10123.shtml
-Hamas has demonstrated that it in fact does keep its word. Therefore, Israel knows how to stop rocket attacks from Gaza: enter good faith talks with Hamas. However, it is precisely Hamas’s potential as a serious and independent negotiating partner that threatens “Greater Israel.” Israeli policymakers know that upon proper negotiations, Israel will have to give up land and resources. (As Prime Minister Rabin stated, “Peace has a cost.”) But, uninformed supporters of Israel argue: What about Barak’s famous “Generous Offer”? However, see Question 9.
9. Who stated the following on February 14, 2006? “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.”
-Shlomo Ben-Ami: Israel’s Minister of Public Security in 1999, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2000-2001, and Israel’s top negotiator at Camp David and Taba negotiations. http://www.democracynow.org/2006/2/14/fmr_israeli_foreign_minister_shlomo_ben
-Mainstream commentators continue to reproduce the baseless Israeli claim that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak was very generous in the offer he made to the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000. The quote by Ben-Ami should be sufficient to end this harmful myth.
-The conclusion of questions 6 to 9 is that Israel won’t deal fairly unless forced by US pressure—for example, in March 1957 Israel was forced to withdraw from Gaza, following the Suez War, after US President Eisenhower applied heavy diplomatic pressure and threatened economic sanctions—or Arab strength—for example, Egypt’s effectiveness in the 1973 war led to Israel’s willingness to negotiate a meaningful treaty. Without such pressure, Palestinians will continue to suffer from tactics such as the one presented in question 15.
Besides Eisenhower in 1957, other US presidents have applied pressure on Israel when necessary. “After Israel attacked Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, the Reagan administration had not only supported a UN resolution condemning Israel, it had delayed various arms sales. Between 1990 and 1992, George H. W. Bush’s administration had not only conditioned loan guarantees on a settlement freeze, it had backed six UN Security Council resolutions criticizing the policies of the Jewish state. [Bush's tough stance contributed to Shamir's dethroning as prime minister.] In 2004, after Israel repaired and upgraded an unmanned aerial vehicle it had sold to China, the Pentagon had demanded the resignation of the director general of the Israeli Defense Ministry.” (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 136.)
-It should be noted that the Palestinians did try a largely non-violent resistance to Israel’s occupation during the first intifada (1987-1993). And, in September 2000, Palestinians again launched a rebellion, the second intifada (2000-2006), which was overwhelmingly nonviolent at its inception. However, in both cases, Israel responded with disproportionate, lethal force.
According to a leading American academic specialist on nonviolent resistance, commenting more than a year into the uprising, “The [first] intifada has thus far been distinguished on the Palestinian side by predominantly nonviolent forms of struggle…Considering…the severity of Israeli repression in the form of beatings, shootings, killings, house demolitions, uprooting of trees, deportations, extended imprisonments and detentions without trial, and so on, the Palestinians…have shown impressive restraint.” “Amnesty [International] reported that the number of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons during each of the first years of the [first] intifada hovered around 25,000, of whom 4-5,000 were administrative detainees.” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End, OR Books, New York: 2012, 103, 108-9.)
It is telling that one of “Israel’s early acts of retaliation [during the first intifada] was to deport the Palestinian-American pacifist Mubarak Awad of the Center for the Study of Nonviolence” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End, OR Books, New York: 2012, 114).
In the 2000 rebellion, instigated by Israel’s growing occupation and Sharon’s “walk” to the ultrasensitive Temple Mount, “Palestinians began throwing stones…Israeli forces responded with rubber bullets, killing six. In the days that followed, the Palestinians escalated to Molotov cocktails and Israeli forces kept firing, discharging over a million bullets in the first three weeks of violence” (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 70).
10. Who, after serving six US secretaries of state on Arab-Israeli negotiations, wrote the following? “For far too long, many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel’s attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations. If the United States wants to be an honest and effective broker on the Arab-Israeli issue, than surely it can have only one client: the pursuit of a solution that meets the needs and requirements of both sides.”
-Aaron David Miller: Middle East negotiator and adviser on Arab-Israeli affairs at the US State Department for 25 years.
-During the Clinton administration, Miller “saw Bibi [Netanyahu] as a kind of speed bump that would have to be negotiated along the way until a new Israeli prime minister came along who was more serious about peace. In the words of Miller’s boss, Dennis Ross, ‘neither President Clinton nor Secretary Albright believed that Bibi had any real interest in pursuing peace.’ But every time the Clinton administration tried to drag Netanyahu in the direction of a viable Palestinian state, Netanyahu rallied American Jewish groups and conservative Republicans to his defense.” Netanyahu has remained consistent in his vision. “In 2005, he resigned as Sharon’s finance minister to protest Israel’s dismantling of settlements in Gaza.” (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 122, 123.)
11. Who said the following? “Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples [in the Middle East and surrounding regions].”
-General David Petraeus: US Army general, former Commander of the US Central Command, and former director of the CIA. http://www.haaretz.com/news/u-s-general-israel-palestinian-conflict-foments-anti-u-s-sentiment-1.264910
12. According to the United Nations 1947 Partition Resolution was the Gaza Strip to be part of the Jewish State or the Arab State?
-Arab State. Arab rejection of the Partition Plan is understandable as Jews made up 37% of the population of mandatory Palestine, owned 7% of the land, yet the Jewish state was given 55% percent of the land. (Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881 – 2001, Vintage, New York: 2001, 186.)
-After the 1948-9 War, Gaza came under Egypt’s administrative control. And, as a result of the 1967 War, Gaza was occupied by Israel.
“The persecution of Gazans took new forms when Israel conquered the Strip in 1967. From recent Israeli scholarship we learn that the goal of the [Israeli] government was to drive the [Palestinian] refugees [in Gaza due to the 1948 War] into the Sinai, and if feasible the rest of the population too. Expulsions from Gaza were carried out under the direct orders of General Yeshayahu Gavish…Expulsions from the West Bank were far more extreme, and Israel resorted to devious means to prevent the return of those expelled, in direct violation of Security Council orders. The reasons were made clear in internal discussion immediately after the war. Golda Meir, later Prime Minister, informed her Labor colleagues that Israel should keep the Gaza Strip while ‘getting rid of its Arabs.’ Defense Minister Dayan and others agreed. Prime Minister Eshkol explained that those expelled cannot be allowed to return because ‘We cannot increase the Arab population in Israel’ — referring to the newly occupied territories, already tacitly considered part of Israel. In accord with this conception, all of Israel’s maps were changed, expunging the Green Line (the internationally recognized borders)…” http://chomsky.info/articles/20121201.htm
-According to Sara Roy, a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University (and child of Holocaust survivors), Gaza under Israel’s occupation suffered “de-development” as “the native population [was deprived] of its most important economic resources—land, water and labor—as well as the internal capacity and potential for developing those resources.” According to the respected Israeli historian, Benny Morris, “like all occupations, Israel’s was founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation”. (Norman G. Finkelstein, This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion, OR Books, New York: 2010, 16-17.)
13. Whose account of the forced expulsion of Palestinians by Jewish fighters in 1948, on the orders of David Ben-Gurion, was censored from his memoirs?
-Yitzhak Rabin: Prime Minister of Israel, 1992-1995. (David Gardner, Last Chance: The Middle East in the Balance, I.B. Tauris, New York: 2009, 161-2.)
-In July 1948, Ben Gurion gave orders “for the operations in Lydda and Ramleh: ‘Expel them!’ he told Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin – a section censored out of Rabin’s memoirs, but published thirty years later in the New York Times.” http://mondediplo.com/1997/12/palestine
-It was as a result of expulsions and fighting that “Approximately 250,000 Palestinians driven out of their homes during the 1948 war and its aftermath fled to Gaza and overwhelmed the indigenous population of some 80,000.” (Norman G. Finkelstein, This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion, OR Books, New York: 2010, 15.)
14. When Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, approximately what percentage of the population of Gaza was Jews and approximately what percentage of the land of Gaza was controlled by Israel and Jewish settlers?
-When Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005, Jews constituted 0.6 per cent of the population (as approximately 8,000 Jewish settlers and 1.5 million Palestinians lived in Gaza); and, Israel and Jewish settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and a disproportionate share of the scarce water resources. (Avi Shlaim, Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations, Verso, London: 2009, 308.)
-The 2005 withdrawal was seen as a victory for Hamas and a humiliation for the Israel Defence Forces.
-As indicated in question 15, the withdrawal was not intended to enhance peace prospects. In fact, in the year after the withdrawal another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank—hardly a sign of Israeli goodwill. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/what-do-you-mean-when-you-say-no-1.233463
-In terms of land mass, “the Gaza Strip encompasses just under 1.5 percent of the total area of British Mandate-era Palestine, (or ‘Greater Israel’ as the settlers like to call it). However, that same tiny area is [in 2012] home to approximately 1.7 million Palestinians, or over a quarter of the total Palestinian population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. So, in divesting itself of just 1.5 percent of the land, Israel significantly recalibrated the so-called ‘demographic equation’ (the ratio of Jews to Arabs in the area under its control). [This recalibration] paves the way to permanent Israeli control of 98.5 percent of the land. West Bank Palestinians can either join their left-behind-in-1948 confreres as second-class citizens in an enlarged Jewish state or continue their stateless existence in insecure and disconnected enclaves of limited autonomy, a kind of Bantustan status. Meanwhile the inhabitants of [Gaza] remain isolated in an area that a recent United Nations report concluded might not be ‘a liveable place’ by 2020.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/opinion/seven-lean-years-of-peacemaking.html?_r=1
15. Who made the the following 2004 statement indicating the primary motivation for Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip? “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process…And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of [the US] Congress.”
-Dov Weisglass: Senior adviser to then Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/top-pm-aide-gaza-plan-aims-to-freeze-the-peace-process-1.136686
-Ariel “Sharon and his top advisors said…that the Gaza evacuation was meant not to create a Palestinian state, but to forestall one. By 2004, the second intifada had fizzled, Arafat was dead, and America’s sequel to Oslo, the Road Map, was going nowhere. Into the breach came two initiatives. The first was the offer, drafted by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the entire Arab League, to recognize Israel if it returned to the 1967 lines and negotiated a ‘just’ and ‘agreed upon’ solution for the Palestinian refugees. The second was the Geneva Accord, a model peace agreement signed by former Israeli and Palestinian negotiators that would have required Israel to dismantle major settlements like Ariel. These moves terrified Sharon, a lifelong opponent of a Palestinian state who feared international pressure to agree to the kind of deal that Clinton has proposed in December 2000.” (Thus the above Weisglass quote clearly reflected Sharon’s goal to exploit an Israeli unilateral withdrawal to prevent Israel from being “dragged into dangerous initiatives like the Geneva” Accord and the Arab League offer.)
Despite the Gaza withdrawal, argued former Israeli foreign minister “Shlomo Ben-Ami in 2005, ‘Sharon’s hidden agenda, which he has been harbouring for years, remains unchanged…the confinement of a Palestinian homeland within scattered enclaves surrounded by Israeli settlements, strategic military areas and a network of bypass roads.’” (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 72-3.)
-According to Human Rights Watch, “While Israel has since [its 2005 withdrawal] declared the Gaza Strip a ‘foreign territory’ and the crossings between Gaza and Israel ‘international borders,’ under international humanitarian law (IHL), Gaza remains occupied, and Israel retains its responsibilities for the welfare of Gaza residents. Israel maintains effective control over Gaza by regulating movement in and out of the Strip as well as the airspace, sea space, public utilities and population registry.” Israel also bars most Palestinians from roughly one-third of the arable land inside Gaza. “In addition, Israel declared the right to re-enter Gaza militarily at any time in its ‘Disengagement Plan.’ Since the withdrawal, Israel has carried out aerial bombardments…” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, UC Press, Berkeley: 2008, xvii.) (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 77.)
16. Who stated the following concerning Hamas’s victory in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections? “The boycott of Hamas after winning a free and fair election in 2006, and subsequent punishment of the people of Gaza, have backfired and the group may be more popular than ever. Polls show that Palestinians voted for Hamas members because of frustration with corruption in the dominant party, Fatah, and because Hamas’ humanitarian efforts and good governance of municipalities had helped people educate and provide for their children amidst a crippling occupation. The same polls show that popular support for Hamas in 2006 was not based on support for the group’s religious or political ideologies. The international community and Israel should have seized on the opportunity to persuade more Palestinians to participate in the political process, which would have done more to undermine extremist ideologies than the current course.”
-Jimmy Carter: President of the United States, 1977-1981. The Carter Center, in partnership with the National Democratic Institute, sent an 85-member team to observe the election which was found to be peaceful, competitive, and genuinely democratic. http://www.cartercenter.org/news/features/p/conflict_resolution/gaza_questions_042108.html
-A “report by the Congressional Research Service noted that the election ‘was widely considered to be free and fair.’” Nevertheless mainstream American Jewish groups “supported an Israeli blockade aimed at undoing that victory via economic pain.” (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 50, 51.)
-In fall 2012, Fatah did poorly in municipal elections across the West Bank. “The old Fatah leadership has already lost most of its moral prestige, having bet it on being able to deliver a state with American and European backing….Four more years of Netanyahu [and his Greater Israel policies] and Hamas will be the only force in Palestine left standing.” “Because of the rift between Fatah and Hamas, there were no elections in the Gaza Strip, and no official Hamas candidates competing in the West Bank.” http://bernardavishai.blogspot.ca/2012/11/what-does-israeli-right-really-want.html http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/world/middleeast/west-bank-elections-show-mixed-results-for-fatah.html?_r=0
17. What is the name of the Israeli soldier who was captured on 25 June 2006 by Palestinian fighters in a cross-border raid and was subsequently held as a prisoner in Gaza by Hamas?
-Gilad Shalit: He was probably the world’s best known captive. (Shalit “was released on Oct. 18, 2011, as part of a deal between Hamas and Israel under which over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were to be freed.” http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/gilad_shalit/index.html)
-After the 2006 election victory by Hamas, the US and Israel “quickly moved from a crippling financial siege of the PA, with the aim of bringing down that government, to an escalation of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian militants, and to artillery and air attacks in Gaza that killed and wounded scores of civilians. Hamas had for 18 months observed a cease-fire in the face of these and earlier provocations (other factions were not so restrained, firing rockets into Israel). However, after a major spike in Palestinian civilian deaths and the particularly provocative Israeli assassination of militant leader Jamal Abu Samhadana, whom the PA government had just named to a security post, Hamas finally took the bait and responded with the capture of one Israeli soldier [Shalit] and the killing of others. The predictably ferocious Israeli response—even more killings of civilians, more assassinations, and ground incursions in Gaza…” (Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, Beacon Press, Boston: 2007, xv-xvi.)
-Ignoring immediate Hamas offers of a truce after the 2006 election, Israel launched attacks that killed 660 Palestinians in 2006, mostly civilians, one-third minors. The escalation of attacks in 2007 killed 816 Palestinians, 360 civilians and 152 minors. The UN reports that 2879 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire from April 2006 through July 2012, along with several dozen Israelis killed by fire from Gaza. http://chomsky.info/articles/20121201.htm
18. What are the names of the two Palestinians that were kidnapped from Gaza by Israeli soldiers on 24 June 2006 (i.e., one day before the Shalit capture)?
-Osama Abu Muamar and Mustafa Abu Muamar: Probably among the world’s least known captives. (Israel claimed the brothers were planning attacks on Israel.) http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5112846.stm
-According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, “At the end of Dec. 2012, some 4,517 Palestinian security detainees and prisoners were held in Israeli prisons. A few dozen other Palestinians…are held in IDF facilities for short periods of time.” http://www.btselem.org/statistics/detainees_and_prisoners
-According to Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian journalist and a former Ferris professor of journalism at Princeton University, Israel holds thousands of Palestinians, “some without charge or trial. Almost all of these prisoners are being held in contradiction to various international laws and treaties, particularly the Geneva Conventions, which regulate the actions of a prolonged occupying power.” http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/23/israels-gamble-in-a-prisoner-swap/#daoud
19. Who made the following 2006 statement when referring to the purpose of economic pressure exerted on Gazans after the election victory of Hamas? “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”
-Dov Weisglass: Adviser to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/apr/16/israel/print
-The forced diet (i.e., illegal collective punishment) is working as “data from UNRWA, [indicate that] children’s inadequate nutrition is stunting their growth in Gaza. Israeli military do not allow vitamins and other essential nutrients into Gaza, so older persons and children, particularly, suffer from malnourishment.” http://www.globalaging.org/armedconflict/unrwa_gaza.htm
-In 2012 “An Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, sued in Israeli courts to force the release of a planning document for ‘putting the Palestinians on a diet’ without risking the bad press of mass starvation, and the courts concurred. The document, produced by the Israeli army, appears to be a calculation of how to make sure, despite the Israeli blockade, that Palestinians got an average of 2279 calories a day, the basic need. But by planning on limiting the calories in that way, the Israeli military was actually plotting to keep Palestinians in Gaza (half of them children) permanently on the brink of malnutrition, what health professionals call ‘food insecurity’.” http://www.juancole.com/2012/10/creepy-israeli-planning-for-palestinian-food-insecurity-in-gaza-revealed.html
20. Which US leader said the following on 25 January 2006, the day after Hamas won the Gaza elections? “So the Palestinians had an election yesterday, and the results of which remind me about the power of democracy….And there was a peaceful process as people went to the polls, and that’s positive.”
-George W. Bush: President of the United States, 2001-2009. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=65146
-Bush had a stake in the election as his Administration had demanded them. However, soon after making the statement, Bush supported sanctions against the Hamas government. Apparently, democracy is the right to elect someone the US approves of—Venezuela, Iran, Gaza and others have learned this lesson.
Thomas Carothers, who was “director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment” published a book “reviewing the record of democracy promotion by the United States since the end of the Cold War. He finds ‘a strong line of continuity’ running through all administrations, including Bush II: democracy is promoted by the U.S. government if and only if it conforms to strategic and economic interests.” (Noam Chomsky, Hopes and Prospects, Haymarket Books, Chicago: 2010, 45.)
21. Who was the head of the United Nations fact finding mission mandated to investigate the 2008-2009 military operations in Gaza?
-Richard Goldstone: Former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and member of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University. He is not only Jewish but is also a self-declared Zionist who firmly supports Israel as the state of the Jewish people. He identifies the Nazi holocaust as the inspiration for his pursuit of international and human rights law.
The Goldstone Report found that Israel’s assault was based in a military doctrine that “views disproportionate destruction…as a legitimate means to achieve military and political goals,” and was “designed to have inevitable dire consequences for the non-combatants in Gaza.” Although Israel justified the attack as self-defense against Hamas rockets, the Report concluded that the attack was “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.” (Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, 25 September 2009, paras. 63, 1213-14 and 1893.)
22. Which human rights organization reported the following concerning the 2008-2009 military operation in Gaza ? “[We] found no evidence that Hamas…directed the movement of civilians to shield military objectives from attacks….In all of the cases investigated…of families killed when their homes were bombed…by Israeli forces…none of the houses struck was being used by armed groups for military activities.…[However we did find that Israeli soldiers] used civilians, including children, as ‘human shields’, endangering their lives…”
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/015/2009/en/8f299083-9a74-4853-860f-0563725e633a/mde150152009en.pdf pp. 3-4 and 76-77.
-Investigations by other, including Israeli, human rights organizations were likewise very critical of Israel’s—and to a much lesser extent, Hamas’s—actions.
-The war “took thirteen Israeli and fourteen hundred Palestinian lives. Despite Israel’s genuine efforts to limit civilian damage, the war partially or completely destroyed 14 percent of Gaza’s buildings, including sixteen hospitals, thirty-eight health clinics, and 280 schools, some of which were in session when the bombs fell” (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 77).
23. Who said the following concerning peace with the Palestinians on 29 September 2008: “We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the [occupied] territories, if not all the territories. We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace.”
-Ehud Olmert: Israel’s Prime Minister, 2006-2009.
Jeffrey Rudolph, a Montreal college professor, was the Quebec representative of the East Timor Alert Network and presented a paper on its behalf at the United Nations. He was awarded the prestigious Cheryl Rosa Teresa Doran Prize upon graduation from McGill University’s faculty of law; has worked as a chartered accountant at one of the world’s largest public accounting firms; and has taught at McGill University.
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