We’ve often discussed the impact it would have if Israeli Arabs began to rally in support of their rights in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. I’ve asked some Palestinians about this and their general sense is that this doesn’t happen for several reasons including a) more than 10 Arabs standing in a group will get arrested for being a security threat to Israel, making it almost impossible to get an actual demonstration going, b) Israeli Arabs face strict punishment for acting up, including losing their citizenship and c) the divisions among Hamas, Fatah and Israeli Arabs is so endemic that it makes organizing on behalf of a cause very difficult. Many Palestinians in Ramallah and Gaza see Israeli Arabs as akin to traitors for trading a few extra rights (but not many) for being a citizen of Israel.
I came across this article in +972 by Noam Sheizaf that I thought was interesting because it challenges the assumption that all of Israel’s border crossings and restrictions on travel/movement are security-based- they are not. Also, the autonomy of the PA in the West Bank seems to be a bit of a myth as it’s almost impossible to travel to and from the West Bank for any reason, let alone in a show of Palestinian solidarity:
Until now, visitors coming in solidarity with the Palestinians had to conceal their destination when questioned at the airport, or risk immediate deportation. A couple of years ago, American scholar Noam Chomsky was denied entry to Israel at the Jordanian border, after declaring his intention to give a lecture at Ramallah’s Bir Zeit University.
The closure over the West Bank works in the opposite direction as well: Many don’t know it, but Israel controls all air and land entries to the West Bank, not only to Gaza. Palestinians wishing to travel abroad must apply for special permission from the Israel authorities. Those wishing to travel to the United States must first obtain a permit to visit the American Consulate in East Jerusalem and obtain their visa.
Human rights organizations have often cited the complete authority over entries and exits from the occupied territories as further proof of Israel’s effective control over Palestinians’ lives, in stark contradiction to the claim that since the Oslo agreement, “Palestinians run their own business.”
That is significant because that sort of pervasive control over an Occupied people raises serious questions about compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention. Also, it is very clear that Israel is using it’s control of all access points to not prevent terrorists or arms from entering Israel/the territories but to prevent anyone with whom it disagrees.
It’s interesting how this sort of story is told in the Israeli news but never in the U.S. news. No wonder the media rarely refer to it as “Occupation”- they totally ignore all the tell-tell signs and refuse to describe the total control Israel has not only over Arabs within its border but within Gaza and the West Bank as well.