By Iqbal Jassat
“A state that celebrates 50 years of occupation is a state whose sense of direction has been lost, its ability to distinguish good from evil impaired”, writes Haaretz correspondent Gideon Levy in his latest oped titled “Our Nakba”.
In his typical hard-hitting honesty, Israeli journalist Levy yet again pulls no punches as he argues that Israel must cloak itself in sorrow and weep over the fact that it is as corrupt and rotten as only an occupying country can be.
His theme is built around 1967 marked by what has come to be known as the Six-Day War. It is currently celebrated in Israel as jubilee year: 50 years after the greatest Jewish disaster since the Holocaust, 50 years after the greatest Palestinian disaster since the Nakba. According to Levy, for the Palestinians it is the jubilee of their second Nakba and Israel’s first.
Clearly a tale of two jubilees. Instead of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the “liberation” of the territories, Levy suggests that Israel should remember it as a disaster. As much as it was a great disaster for the Palestinians – who remain entrapped by its severe consequences – it was a fateful disaster for Jews in Israel.
What exactly is there to celebrate is the all-important question raised by Levy. Is it fifty years of bloodshed, abuse, disinheritance and sadism? Is the perpetual occupation? Is it the establishment of an apartheid regime? Is it the roadblocks? Is it the language of force?
These are questions intended to disturb, provoke and challenge notions of “victory”, “miracles” and “reunification”. Dubbed by Israeli propagandists as the mother of all jubilees and in sync with the regime’s extensive Hasbara program, the internet is abuzz with promotional tours to join the celebrations.
The official Israeli narrative of its occupation and settlement policy is in sharp contrast to legal prescribes. Whereas international law defines these as illegal, Israel celebrates it and bizarrely remains in defiance of conventions and civilised values.
One of Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior cabinet members, deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely symbolises this glaring disconnect between law and anarchy. At a recent meeting with ministry staff, she envisioned the jubilee celebration as a large permanent exhibition that would stress Israel’s connection to the West Bank, under the heading of “Coming home” or “Returning to the Jewish homeland.”
Known as a hawk and an ardent opponent of Palestinian statehood, Hotovely expects her employees in the diplomatic corps, including US born Arthur Lenk deployed to South Africa, to follow orders.
It requires spin and more spin to convince the world that the settlement enterprise is “moral, just and legitimate.” And in conflict with UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which declared settlements as having “no legal validity”, her instruction is to counter it.
Gideon Levy’s consternation can thus be best understood as Israel’s jubilee attempts to combat the notion of occupation and instead champions its connection and legal claim to “Judea and Samaria.”
As debate hots off, plans are afoot to kick off the official ceremony in the illegal settlement of Gush Etzion in the occupied West Bank. Radical extremist Naftali Bennet who serves as the apartheid regime’s education minister justified the enormous financial cost as necessary to celebrate “Israel’s glorious victory in the Six Day War and the liberation of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley.”
In understanding the tale of two jubilees against the background of Israel’s false euphoria, Palestinian journalist Ramzy Baroud recalls Palestine’s tragic anniversaries and makes a compelling case to re-articulate a unified discourse:
“Existing now are several Palestinian depictions of the history of their struggle against Israel, while the truth is that there can only be one way of understanding the so-called conflict – one that starts with Zionist settlements in Palestine and British colonialism 100 years ago.”
Controlling millions of people for 50 years, treading on their rights, attacking their dignity, imprisoning and torturing them, killing old and young men, women and children, withholding their lifeless bodies, dropping bombs on their homes, schools and hospitals…cannot be causes to celebrate!
– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of Media Review Network, an advocacy group based in Johannesburg. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.