“Another Acre and Another Goat”

    I am very happy to be able to publish this essay by veteran Israeli peace activist Amos Gvirtz of Kibbutz Shefayim. The essay vividly captures the continuity in the conduct of the Zionist settlement movement in Palestine from pre-state days to the present. It also captures, as Amos puts it, “the continuation of the slow and ongoing implementation of all the components of the ‘Nakba.'” Thanks, Amos! ~HC

Another Acre and Another Goat
By Amos Gvirtz
During my childhood in the 1950s I still heard echoes of the argument (from pre-state days) between the Zionist Labor Movement and the Zionist Right. The Labor Movement people criticized the Zionist Right for declaring the intention of the Zionist Movement to inherit the Land of Israel. They argued that these declarations would arouse Arab resistance to the Zionist enterprise. In their view, the state-in-the-making should be built quietly, according to the slogan “another acre and another goat.”
When one sees and hears what’s going on in the occupied territories today, one can only conclude that the same approach characterizes our own times as well, together with the same old argument between quiet action and declared intentions. Except that today, instead of buying land, it is taken by force. Along with the building of settlements, Palestinians are expelled and their houses destroyed. All these things are done on a small scale – after all, our entire existence depends on the international community that supports us. If Israel were to act on a larger scale, that support would decline. Only in the context of a war does Israel allow itself massive action, as was the case in the “Cast Lead” operation in Gaza, where the IDF killed 1400 people and destroyed more than 4000 homes!
Whoever follows these things in the news, hears from time to time about small land confiscations near settlements, for security needs or for paving a road. The very existence of the separation barrier (“the wall”) serves as a means for stealing land. After the separation barrier is built, as the years go by, additional lands are taken from their Palestinian owners on the grounds that they are not cultivated – even if there is no possibility of cultivating them since many landowners are denied permits to cross the barrier and work their lands. And if the IDF doesn’t confiscate the land, then land-greedy settlers attack Palestinian farmers. The IDF protects the attackers and expels the farmers. After three years when Palestinians are unable to or do not dare to enter their lands, the lands are officially declared “state lands” because they have not been cultivated.
It’s the same story with home demolitions. First they confiscated the granting of building permits from Palestinians by disenfranchising the work of the Palestinian building and planning committees. After that the Israeli authorities practically stopped granting building permits to Palestinians. And then, when thousands of Palestinian families had no choice but to build without permits, they were issued demolition orders. The demolitions are carried out little by little over time, so that the media loses interest.
The policy of expulsions works in a similar way. Permanent residency is denied to people who marry local Palestinian residents, even if they live in “Area A” (the Palestinian cities) which are under the full control of the Palestinian Authority. Even after decades of married life, these non-resident spouses are required to go abroad every three months and return to their families as tourists. Sometimes they are not allowed to return at all. It seems that the State of Israel wants these families to leave their homes in the occupied territories in the wake of the spouses who are denied residency.
And so it seems that we have returned to pre-state days. Israel has eradicated its borders with the occupied territories, ignores international law and international norms, and systematically acts to annex the West Bank and the Golan Heights. For this purpose the State steals lands, builds settlements, destroys houses and expels people.
In the 1980s the country was up in arms: The racist Rabbi Meir Kahane succeeded in becoming a Knesset Member! He announced in a loud voice what Israel was doing little by little. The shock was great. Legislation against racist incitement was passed – not, of course, against racist actions – and Kahane’s party was declared illegal. If a law against racist actions had been legislated, we would be in danger of placing Israeli governments outside the law.
On the eve of Holocaust Day, the headline in the Israeli newspaper “Ha’aretz” informed us of a military order issued by the Head of the Army Central Command that would enable the expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank. At this point I will take the risk of saying something that is prohibited among us: that’s how it started in Germany. They spoke about the transfer of Jews from Europe. Only when they realized that this was impossible did they decide on the “final solution.”
These days Knesset Members are busy initiating legislation that will prohibit commemorating the “Nakba” (the Palestinian catastrophe) of 1948… The only thing lacking is the initiation of legislation that would prohibit the continuation of the slow and ongoing implementation of all the components of the “Nakba.”

8 thoughts on ““Another Acre and Another Goat””

  1. It is the old story of how you boil a frog – a little more heat at a time so he doesn’t notice until it is too late. Or how you eat an elephant – one small bite at a time.
    If Israel had embarked on its current apartheid policies full force 20 years ago, the world would not have stood for it. But Zionists have learned the evil lessons of the benefits of gradualism through painful experience and they have applied the lessons well. There seems little doubt, from facts on the ground, of a secret, willful policy of total land seizure that has been going on since at least 1967, consistently whether under Labor or Likud; and it has been enormously successful.
    The cover provided by the “peace process” and the endless negotiations has been essential. Hence the eagerness of Netanyahu to get back to negotiations quickly to cover the rest of the final solution. Mearsheimer correctly, I think, predicts a complete, open apartheid policy within a decade which the world will recognize too late. But a policy which will inevitably lead to the eventual demise of the Jewish state over the next decades. The last chance for a democratic, Jewish state in the middle east has been missed.

    This video will answer the following questions:
    – How were the Jews treated by Arab before 1948?
    – Where and how did Zionism start?
    – Was Palestine empty when the Jews came?
    – What was the population of Arabs in Palestine between 1878 and 1948?
    – How many Jewish immigrants arrived to Palestine between 1878-1948 and how did the UN partition plan divided Palestine between Arab and Jews? Did Israel stick to this plan?
    – Did the Jews find “land without people” as they claim?
    – How did the Jews treat the Palestinians in the occupied lands?
    – How did the Nakba start and at what cost?
    – Where the Palestinians expelled before or after the neighboring Arabs countries engaged in a war with the Israeli occupiers?
    – What happened to the evicted Palestinian villages? How many were erased?
    – Can the Palestinian refugees return to “visit” their occupied villages and lands? And can the Jews visit the occupied lands?
    All these questions and more are answered in the above 10 min. documentary. A good video to pass to your friends who like to learn more about the history of the conflict and 1948 Nakba.

  3. More than 3,000 European Jews, including prominent intellectuals, have signed a petition speaking out against Israeli settlement policies and warning that systematic support for the Israeli government is dangerous.

    The petition’s signatories include French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a Greens leader in the European Parliament.

    Unconditional support for Israel ‘is dangerous

  4. it’s a good idea not to assume that the boiling of the frog will always be gradual. In fact, it’s looking more and more like a war with Iran will be a nice excuse for Israel to establish ‘greater israel’ in one swoop.

  5. Except that non-state-solutions existed in ’47-’67, when Palestinians existed in a limbo as a neglected part of Jordan, and no one insisted on the destruction of Jordan as a Hashemite state, except Fatah in 1970. There is no reason the Palestinians HAVE to become part of an Israeli state that as of this moment refuses sovereignty over the OPTs except Latrun and Jerusalem. What you are pushing for is Black September redux, which didn’t work so well the first time.
    It is possible that Israel may be trapped as the belligerent occupier of Oslo Area A for some time to come, but it is not forced to accept Palestinians resident east of the Green Line as citizens of Israel, and so far the vast majority of Palestinian East Jerusalemites have refused.

  6. For what it is worth, by way of helping to put frog boiling into historical perspective, I came across this letter from Thomas Jones, of the Pilgrim Trust, to Dr. Abraham Flexner, (first Director of theInstitute for Advanced Study, Princeton). Jones, a long time member of the Cabinet bureaucracy in London and an eminence grise,wrote:
    “Your letter about German Professors has just come following on your longer letter. I sent you two or three days ago a cutting showing what is happening here in the way of relief measures. I hear from Mrs. Dugdale ( Balfour’s niece) this morning that next week a world appeal to Jewry to give money for the Palestinian settlement of German Jews is to be launched, signed by Lord Cecil and L. G.,(Lloyd George) among others. Sieff, a partner in Marks and Spencer, and Charles Singer have written independently to the Pilgrim Trust, and I have encouraged them to send in an informal application for assistance for our next meeting.”
    The lines of continuity (and irony) in this story are various; one of them is that the current Israeli government is the last example of the fascist regimes, inspired by Mussolini that dominated the political landscape in 1933 (when this letter was written).

  7. Amira Hass has another excellent piece in Haaretz today (5/5/10) pointing out how the occupation mentality goes on with a life of its own regardless of PM’s; like a pilotless airplane.

  8. Bevin, do you mean that the current Israeli government was formed fifteen years before the State of Israel? Also, I was under the impression that the founders of Israel were socialists, not fascists. And that the letter you cite was part of a fundraising problem aimed at helping Jews escape Nazi Germany. Oh, and that the various forms of the Ba’ath Party in Syria and elsewhere and the Kataeb Party in Lebanon are the closest relatives of Mussolini’s fascism.
    Perhaps you’d like to rephrase yourself?

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