Book Review: The Rape of Palestine

By Jim Miles

Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied:  the Rape of Palestine. William A. Cook.  EXPATHOS, Groningen, Netherlands, 2008.

The cover of Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied: the Rape of Palestine tells a significant story on its own:  from a Palestine of green dotted with a few Jewish settlements, mainly in the north, transiting through the UN partition plan designation and the 1967 war to what is now the reverse – a small strip of green on the coast at Gaza, and a small sprinkling of isolated green bantustan communities huddled in the middle of Israel.  The Jewish community in Israel has been very successful in their ongoing purpose to achieve dominion over all the lands of Palestine. They have achieved this by abrogating and denying almost every international law that has been established to govern how one group of people should interact with another in times of peace and war, but mostly war. 

Of the many themes supported in William Cook’s powerful book, the most frequently reiterated is that of the corruption, abuse, and plain denial of international law. Combined with other themes, Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied sends out a very clear message:  that the Palestinians live under the control of one of the most brutal regimes in our current world. Certainly there are other despotic regimes in the world, but Israel seems unique in that it presents a façade of democracy and freedom, a thin shellac over the fully repressive measures it uses against the Palestinian population both within Israel (wherever ‘in’ might be with its undefined borders) and in the West Bank and Gaza. 

The double standards and hypocrisy between what Israel tries to present itself as (a bastion of democracy in a hostile world of terror) and what it actually practices (the subjugation and terrorizing of the Palestinian people) is probably the next most common theme in the work.  Both themes are greatly strengthened by the current unconditional support provided the United States that carries its own similar double standards about democracy, terror, and freedom, and its own complete denial of international law. 

Within the U. S. the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is recognized as the most powerful lobby group for foreign affairs – albeit operating outside the regulations governing other lobby groups – and receives Cook’s severely critical commentary in the later essays.  U.S. candidates for presidency are “shackled and in bondage” to AIPAC. This bondage becomes important when even “Haaretz, the leading Israeli newspaper, has admonished Israelis and Americans that the perception in the Arab world and in the EU of America’s total commitment of Israel is unwise and will erupt in a blowback against Israel itself;…that support for a country that has systematically persecuted another people without letup for 60 years, had made America a pariah nation subject to the frustration, anger, and outright hatred of those who condemn the injustice inflicted on the Palestinians.”

This umbilical tie between Israel and the U.S. carries significant meaning towards the U.S.:  the most obvious being “propelled …into war against Iraq with its inevitable consequences in death, destruction and debt leaving the nation bereft of a resolution;” and further that “Israel’s defiance of the UN resolutions demanding that it obey international law regarding right of return for Palestinians and return of occupied territory [among other injustices noted by Cook] is not just condoned by the U.S. but is the policy of the U.S., making the United States a co-partner in international crime;” and finally it has “placed America on the thresh hold of one more devastating war against a people…[who have] not occupied another nation’s territory, has not invaded another country, and has signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, all actions that are diametrically opposed to those of our client state, Israel.”

Woven into this argument are the elements of the Christian right, the doomsayers, the apocalyptic Armageddon bound fundamentalists waiting for the Rapture after Israel’s successful conquest of all biblical lands.  Other threads are woven less conspicuously throughout the essays.  The idea of collective punishment, and more, the idea of punishment and genocide from a people that suffered there own genocide before the UN creation of their state in 1948 – although the Zionist position on the exclusion of Palestinians from their land began well before that in the mid and late 1800s. 

Other discussions, briefer but no less forcefully presented include legalized torture, the Wall (declared illegal by the International Court of Justice, ignored by Israel and the U.S), the invasion of Lebanon fully supported by the U.S., the election of Hamas and its denial by Israel and the U.S. in spite of its democratic credentials, elements of the more recent revisionist history of Israel and, in a supporting role, criticism of the media for their biased presentation of Israeli problems while ignoring most of the terror in the occupied territories.

While all these arguments can be and are argued at the academic level, Cook does dig down into the grit of war and terror, describing graphically the mangled features of children, the destruction of homes and villages, the filth and ruin of infrastructure, and the fear and mental anguish of a people caught in the IDF and missile attacks against the Palestinian people as Israel protects and grabs more land for the settlers. His language is strong and forceful, and there is no room at all for doubt as to his underlying conviction that Israel is the aggressor nation, unleashing genocide on the Palestinians in a slow, methodical, highly effective manner, protected by the United States government ‘owned’ by AIPAC and served by a compliant media. 
The last essay is a rewrite of the “Iran War Resolution” focussing instead on the perspective as seen by the nations composing the United Nations General Assembly. It ends with a scathing comment on the current Congress, as “They have…surrendered their principles, their conscience, and their personal freedom to a ruthless, merciless, amoral force, willingly sacrificing in the process the people they represent.”  Unfortunately, given the comments of both McCain and Obama, those attitudes are not likely to change anytime soon.

Cook’s writing style is unique and powerful.  He uses metaphorical description widely, using his own imaginative imagery, drawing on sources such as Kafka and Conrad, as well as using biblical stories to represent his ideas.  He uses a lot of questions that juxtapose the hypocrisy and double standards that are the focus of the academically oriented arguments – questions that are unanswered, as the juxtaposition alone highlights the point of his argument. William Cook’s essays are written from the heart and from the head, a strong combination of academic logical common sense underlain with a strong emotional moral position that supports the rights of the Palestinian people as established under international law. 

-Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle.  Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

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