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Michael Jansen: Feeble UN and EU efforts
February 09, 2018
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While the tide of global opinion has slowly but surely turned against Israel’s colonisation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the United Nations and European Union have adopted “face saving” policies rather than sanctions that punish Israel. The latest two efforts are typical.

 Two years ago the UN Human Rights Council — which is often critical of Israel — voted to create a “blacklist” of companies engaged in business in Israel’s colonies, branded illegal under international law and the Fourth Geneva.        

Writing on February 1st in the liberal Israeli daily, Haaretz, David Rosenberg called the effort “One Giant Shaggy Dog Joke.” He could be right. The list will not include all companies, Israeli and foreign, doing business in the colonies. Instead, the Council announced that 207 companies could be targeted for facilitating colonisation by providing finance, building materials, machinery, transportation of workers and colonists, exploiting Palestinian natural resources and dumping waste that harms Palestinians. Thus, the list could, he said, “make the (colonists’) life more difficult, and give a little help to the Palestinians.” It will, as he put it, “do the trick” by doing as little as possible.

So far, the names of the companies have not been revealed but it is known that 43 are based in Israel. Caterpillar, TripAdvisor and Airbnb are said to be on the list as well. Caterpiller is the most flagrant despoiler of the companies listed as its bulldozers not only build colonies on confiscated Palestinian land but also demolish Palestinian homes, animal shelters, schools and olive plantations.

Rosenberg accuses the Council of portraying Israeli colonisation activities in “hysterical terms” and quotes a Council report justifying the blacklist. “The violations of human rights associated with the settlements are pervasive and devastating, reaching every facet of Palestinian life. Businesses play a central role in furthering the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements.” The Council is correct not “hysterical.” But the Council is right too late in the day. This cannot be excused by reiterating the saying, “Better late than never.” What can be done about Israel’s 200-plus colonies now? 

 Reporting on February 1st from Jerusalem for The Guardian, Oliver Holmes cited a leaked report compiled by European Union representatives to the Palestinian Authority saying tourism to East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967, is being promoted as a political tool to convey the notion that Israeli colonies are justified by history. 

The report warns that archaeology and tourism exploited by the government and organisations involved in colonisation promote a “narrative based on historic continuity of the Jewish presence at the expense of other religions and cultures.” The report focuses on the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, dubbed by Israel the “City of David,” where the government has built an archaeological park which is operated by a settler organistion called Elad which, as can be expected, promotes “an exclusively Jewish narrative, while detaching the place from its Palestinian surroundings.” There are some 450 Israeli colonists living among 55,000 Palestinians in Silwan. 

The report and the write-up are, again, too little too late. The archaeological project is meant to provide proof positive of the existence of the Biblical kings David and Solomon. So far Elad has failed to find such evidence at this site. In December 2014, an inscription on a stone slab at the Metropolitan Museum in New York referred to “bytdvd,” translated as the “House of David.” But the inscription, the earliest non-Biblical reference to the House of David, dates to the 7th century BC, 150 years after the reign of the House of David had come to an end. 

On December 16th, 2014, Menachem Wecker, writing in The Times of Israel quoted Rabbi David Wolpe, author of a 2014 book about King David, as saying there is a consensus among scholars that he existed but “the size and scope of his kingdom were probably far less than was once thought.” Other scholars, apparently, disagree with those who argue for the existence of King David.  

In a Guardian article published on May 26th, 2010, Egyptian author Ahdaf Soueif quotes Professor Binyamin Ze’ev Kedar, chairman of the Israeli Antiquities Authority Council, who wrote in 2008: “The Israel Antiquities Authority is aware that Elad, an organisation with a declared ideological agenda, presents the history of the City of David in a biased manner.”

This has been a practice adopted by the Zionists since they began colonising Palestine in the 1880s. Their aim has been to find archaeological evidence of the sole independent Jewish kingdom that existed from about 1050-930 BC and of continuous Jewish presence in Jersalem over 3,000 years — although the latter claim is false.

The Palestinian narrative is, of course, dismissed although Palestine and Jerusalem were inhabited before the Jewish tribes turned up and after they left. Muslims ruled the holy city from 636 AD until the mid-20th century, minus 200 years during the first and second crusades. Israeli physical displacement of Palestinians living in Silwan has made it a flashpoint which cannot be ignored indefinitely. Not by the UN or the EU.

The problem with the UN Human Rights Council and the EU missions to the Palestinian Authority is they are dominated by the very Western powers which have supported the Zionist/Israeli conquest and colonisation of Palestine and have financed, armed and politically protected this endeavour. Although current members of these bodies understand perfectly well that Palestinian rights are denied and the Palestinians as a people are being deprived of their right to self-determination, these individuals do not have the political clout to do anything about it as long as their governments continue to let Israel to get away with the physical, ethnic, cultural and historical cleansing of Palestine and the Palestinian people.

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East
affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict

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