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Destroying Olives for Spite

Destroying Olives for Spite

On May 16, 2014, in Articles, by admin

Destroying Olives for Spite

By  Brian Cloughley



Many people like olives because they are delicious and produce wonderful oil. They were originally cultivated in Syria, Palestine and Crete and there is evidence that some existing trees are 2,000 years old, which is amazing.

But there aren’t any 2,000 year-old olive trees in Palestine nowadays. Indeed there are very few left in the Palestinian lands that have been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Since then, the Israelis have destroyed 800,000 Palestinian olive trees and last week the Israeli army cut down another 52 next to a village whose farmers are being driven into poverty by yet another vicious act of Israeli malice. The destruction was ignored by western politicians who say they want a solution to what US Secretary of State Kerry calls a “puzzle.”

Yes, it’s a puzzle. But even Kerry, in an off-guard truthful moment, ventured to say that if there is no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming “an apartheid state with second-class citizens.”

That was welcome acknowledgement of Israel’s arrogance (although of course he promptly withdrew it after shrieks of protest), but he ignored that Israel is already an apartheid state where Palestinians are non-citizens.

There is nowhere else in the world, apart from Britain’s mediaeval tribal areas of Northern Ireland, where twenty-foot high concrete barriers separate peoples of different religions. But the Israelis go further, because their barricades exemplify apartheid which is ‘a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race.’

Israel has 400 miles of walls separating Jews from Arabs, and one of its latest extensions involves a village near Bethlehem which grows olives in “unique terraced hills built by hand over millennia.” Its irrigation system was built by the Romans and has lasted 2,000 years, but it’s going to be destroyed by the Israelis. And nobody will do anything about it.

There will not be a squeak of protest from any western country, least of all the United States whose entire legislative system is controlled by the Israeli lobby. AIPAC, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, calls the shots in Washington and has given money to almost every senator and member of the House of Representatives. And why would it do that?

All decent people are in favour of donating to charities. But legislators of the US Congress are not charities. When they are given money by an organisation of any sort they are expected to produce results that are favourable to the donor – and in the case of AIPAC they certainly do that. President Obama isn’t a charity, either, and his speech to the 2011 AIPAC forum was grovelling and obsequious.

Obama declared that “I thought of all the centuries that the children of Israel had longed to return to their ancient homeland . . . [and] when an effort was made to insert the United Nations into matters that should be resolved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, we vetoed it (applause)” in what was probably the most pathetically sycophantic speech ever made by a US president. But he needed AIPAC support for his re-election campaign the following year.

Two days after Obama’s rejection of the Palestinian people the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, addressed both houses of Congress in a triumphant diatribe denying the rights of Palestinians. And for this he received adulation on a scale hitherto reserved for international figures of illustrious achievement.

Since the French hero of the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette, gave the first speech by a foreigner in 1824, dignitaries from each of France and Britain have spoken at eight joint meetings of Congress, the most by any countries (and Churchill’s three orations were historic), but there haven’t been any French or British luminaries welcomed in recent years. Guess which country has been honoured by the next highest number of appearances in front of the legislators of the world’s greatest democracy.

Washington has laid out the Congress carpet seven times for Israeli politicians, and Netanyahu leads with two imperial appearances. After his last triumphant performance it was reported that “President Obama got 25 standing ovations from Congress during his 2011 State of the Union address. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got 29 today.”

It is barely credible that this brutally racist prime minister could receive such adulation from the massed representatives of a nation having a Declaration of Independence declaring that “unalienable Rights” include “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Life? – A letter in Britain’s medical journal The Lancet notes that “the life expectancy table ranks healthy life expectancy at birth for men in Israel at ninth worldwide, compared with 86th for men in the neighbouring Occupied Palestinian Territory. Corresponding ranks for women are 12th and 97th, respectively. This astonishing gap highlights yet again the apartheid-like regime that is in place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

There is little liberty and no happiness for Palestinians in their own country, because almost all Arab lands have been seized by the Jews. Yet Israel’s persecution of Palestinians meets with the wholehearted support of America’s government whose taxpayers give Israel over three billion dollars a year.

The bankrolled legislators of America’s Congress contemptuously ignore UN Security Council Resolutions about Palestinian rights. In 1979, in spite of the US, the Council declared that

“the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

But resolutions mean nothing to Congress if they are critical of Israel. Money is much more important. Since then, Washington has vetoed 42 Council Resolutions intended to curb or criticise Israeli excesses.

While the recent talks between Israel and Palestine were going on the Israelis approved the illegal building of another 13,851 new settlement houses on Palestinian land. So of course the talks collapsed. They were never meant to succeed by either Washington or Tel Aviv.

You would think that Israelis might want to come to some sort of equitable arrangement with the Palestinians. But they don’t and won’t. Washington’s unconditional support means Israel will carry on rejecting olive branches of peace and continue destroying the olive groves of Palestine.

Brian Cloughley, 12 May 2014.  This article first appeared here and is reprinted with permission.  Brian Cloughley is a South Asian affairs analyst; his website is www.beecluff.com.  He can be reached at beecluff@gmail.com.


2 Responses to “Destroying Olives for Spite”

  1. admin says:

    There are, of course, frequent reports of the destruction of Palestinian olive trees. This in today from Ma’an: “Settlers circled around the field and watched as the fire burned olive trees, in a field that locals said belongs to the Iqneibi family.” http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=698162

    3 other reports on the ongoing issue:

    But of course, as Brian Cloughley notes, it is the impunity with which Israel imposes its will that is the ultimate concern.

  2. Mhara Castello says:

    Thank you for a first rate article on a truly tragic subject. Not even the ancient olive is spared israeli brutality. Are the trees a threat to ‘security’ too?? How much longer must the Palestinians suffer, before the world wakes up. Isn’t six decades enough? So many are ‘doing their bit’ in a myriad of ways, which slowly, surely, IS making a difference; BDS a prime example. But we need more. We did it for South Africa, we can do it for Palestine. Make your voice heard! Bring an end to this evil, fascist regime.

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