03.26.2007

Monday 03.26.07 – Jimmy Johnson – The Matrix of Control

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Date/Time: 26/03/2007 12:00 am


Monday 03.26.07 – Jimmy Johnson – The Matrix of Control
1. about this Monday 03.26.07
2. three points to refer to
2.1 Israel’s Military Diplomacy: The diplomatic shield of the arms trade
2.2 Civil liberties in the US and the Conflict in the Middle East
2.3 The Matrix of Control: the mechanisms of domination in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
3. about Jimmy Johnson
4. The Matrix of Control
5. links
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1. about this Monday 03.18.07
What: Talk / Discussion
When: Monday 03.26.07
Where: 16Beaver Street, 4th Floor
When: 7:30 pm
Who: Free and open to all
We are glad to have Jimmy on his tour in the US talk and discuss some of the important issues in relation to Israel.
Please join us.
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2.1 Israel’s Military Diplomacy: The diplomatic shield of the arms trade
2.2 Civil liberties in the US and the Conflict in the Middle East:
3. about Jimmy Johnson
4. The Matrix of Control
5. links
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is destabilizing at a regional level
in one of the key geo-political regions in the world. It resonates
with Muslims all over the world as one of the last “colonial
invasions” of the Muslim world. Negative political developments in
the conflict directly linked to spikes in energy prices. Yet Israel’s
occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem & Gaza continues unabated.
With such a high cost to the world, how does Israel get away with it?
One of the main reasons is Israel’s military industry and experience.
The diplomatic effects of the arms trade and military relationships
are an undiscussed secret in world politics. The development,
production and transfer of military techniques and technologies warp
civilian diplomacy worldwide. As the fourth largest arms exporter in
the world in 2006 (on any given year between 3-6), Israel plays an
international role disproportionate to its size and resources. All of
the main arms exporters reap similar benefits and several also have
conflicts they need to shield from international pressure (US –
UK/Iraq, Russia/Chechnya). The presentation/discussion will talk
about military diplomacy and how it warps civilian diplomacy using
Israel as a model.
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2.2 Civil liberties in the US and the Conflict in the Middle East:
How the perpetuation of distant conflicts affects civil liberties at home
and create tools of war
Israeli police and intelligences services train their colleagues all
over the world. The Israeli military similarly provide technical
expertise to a variety of armies, going so far as to build a model
Arab town in the Negev to train US forces going into Iraq. Israeli
monitoring and surveillance technology is in place on the London
Underground, Stockholm’s Puiblic Buses, and countless other
destination across the globe. Each of these developments has a
plausible security aspect, and an equally strong use against civil
liberties and human rights. The only reason Israel can export such
technology is due its extensive experience in monitoring and
controlling the Palestinians. Just as new tools of control and
warfare are being developed by US & UK forces in Iraq, the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue to work as a laboratory for
security systems and techniques of control.
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2.3 The Matrix of Control: the mechanisms of domination in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
What is the matrix of control? It is an interlocking series of
mechanisms, only a few of which require physical occupation of
territory, that allow Israel to control every aspect of Palestinian
life in the Occupied Territories. The matrix works like the Japanese
game of Go. Instead of defeating your opponent as in chess, in Go you
win by immobilizing your opponent, by gaining control of key points of
a matrix so that every time s/he moves s/he encounters an obstacle of
some kind. This strategy was used effectively in Vietnam, where small
forces of Viet Cong were able to pin down some half-million American
soldiers possessing overwhelming firepower. The matrix imposed by
Israel in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, similar in
appearance to a Go board, has virtually paralyzed the Palestinian
population without “defeating” it or even conquering much territory.
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3. about Jimmy Johnson
Jimmy Johnson has worked as a researcher for the Israeli Committee
Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) in Jerusalem for most of the last
three years. His work there included documenting human rights abuses,
organizing and practicing civil disobedience, and guiding governmental
and civil society groups from all over the world in political tours of
East Jerusalem and environs. For two years he has researched Israel’s
arms industry to develop a model of the country’s military diplomacy
and is the co-author, along with Prof. Jeff Halper, of a upcoming book
on the subject from Pluto Press.
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4. The Matrix of Control
by Jeff Halper
The Japanese and East Asians have a game called “Go.” Unlike the Western game of chess, where two opponents try to “defeat” each other by taking off pieces, the aim of “Go” is completely different. You “win” not by defeating but by immobilizing your opponent by controlling key points on the matrix. This strategy was used effectively in Vietnam, where small forces of Viet Cong were able to pin down and virtually paralyze some half-million American soldiers possessing overwhelming fire-power.
In effect Israel has done the same thing to the Palestinians on the West Bank, Gaza and in East Jerusalem. Since 1967 it has put into place a matrix, similar to that of the “Go” board, that has virtually paralyzed the Palestinian population. The matrix is composed of several overlapping layers.
First is the actual physical control of key links and nodes that create the matrix of control – settlements and their extended “master plans;” a massive system of highways and by-pass roads (including wide “sanitary” margins); army bases and industrial parks at key locations; closed military areas; “nature preserves;” control of aquifers and other natural resources; internal checkpoints and control of all border crossings; areas “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” “H-1,” “H-2″ and much more. These define the matrix of constricted Palestinian enclaves and effectively divide them from one another. They also give Israel control of key “nodes.”
The second layer of the matrix is bureaucratic and “legal” — all the planning, permits and policies that entangle the Palestinian population in a tight web of restrictions. These include political zoning of land as “agricultural” in order to freeze the natural development of towns and villages; a politically motivated system of building permits, enforced by house demolitions, designed to confine the population to its constricted enclaves, land expropriation for (solely Israeli) “public purposes;” restrictions of planting and the wholesale destruction of Palestinian crops; licensing and inspection of Palestinian businesses; closure; restrictions on movement and travel; and more. Although Israel is careful to present its policies as “legal,” in fact they are not. The failure to guarantee Palestinians the basic human rights provided by the Geneva Convention and other international covenants – upon which Israel has signed – is patently illegal. The extensive use of Israeli court system, which invariably rules against Palestinians, as a means of controlling the local population makes a mockery of the link between law and justice. All these confine Palestinians to isolated cantons, control their movement and maintain Israeli hegemony.
The third layer of the matrix involves the use of violence to maintain control over the matrix — the military occupation itself, including massive imprisonment and torture; the extensive use of collaborators to control the local population; pressures exerted on families to sell their lands; the undemocratic, arbitrary and violent rule of the Military Commander of the West Bank and the Civil Administration. What Israelis know of this system they justify in terms of “security.”
The average Israeli has no concept of this matrix, and so for most Israelis “peace” means simply giving up the minimum territory that would “satisfy” the Palestinians and ending “terrorism.” Average Palestinians are highly attuned to the presence of the matrix, since they hit up against it every time they move. But it is crucial to the achievement of a just and viable peace that the nature of the matrix as an integrated system of control be fully comprehended. The Palestinians can wrest 95% of the Occupied Territories from Israel, can oversee the dismantling of almost all the settlements and can establish a recognized state, but unless they effectively dismantle the “matrix of control” a viable Palestinian state will elude them. It is not control of territory alone that is important; it is identifying and neutralizing the key nodes of the matrix.
The structure and workings of the matrix – and especially its controlling nodes — are subtle and require careful analysis. Some of its control points are obvious. The “E-1″ area of 13,000 dunums between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim that was recently annexed effectively cuts the West Bank in two and is antithetical to any notion of a viable Palestinian state. Still, Barak apparently promised the National Religious Party that the order would not be rescinded, and not much protest to that has been voiced. Other nodes are less obvious. The Israeli-conceived road system of Jerusalem and the West Bank, for example, converges in the area of Ma’aleh Adumim. Even if the Palestinian gain control of the surrounding region but leaves that one settlement, Israel simply has to declare Ma’aleh Adumim a “closed military area” in order to paralyze movement within any Palestinian entity. Even more subtle nodes of control exist elsewhere. Only a several meter-wide strip between Ramallah and Bir Zeit, just enough for one Israeli military jeep, is sufficient for controlling movement in that area. A narrow Israeli strip between Bethlehem and Beit Sahour, as well as similar slivers all over the West Bank, contribute to the matrix of control.
Settlements are crucial to preserving the matrix not so much because of the land they occupy, but because of the control mechanisms that necessarily surround them. Thus, while the settlements take up only about 1.5% of the West Bank, their master plans cover more than 6%. Add that that the supporting infrastructure of roads (by-pass roads, conceived in Oslo as being only minor roads connecting settlements, have become a major mechanism of control), of industrial areas, of military installations and other “security” arrangements, of checkpoints and so on, and it becomes obvious that leaving a tiny yet strategically-located settlement in place effectively nullifies the gaining of territory around it.
The only meaningful way to dismantle the matrix is to eliminate it completely. That means removing all the settlements from Palestinian territory, replacing closure and checkpoints by normal (and minimal) border arrangements agreed upon by both sides, and removing Israeli military presence to agree-upon security points on the external borders only for a limited period of time. But if this turns out not to be possible and an Israeli presence remains, it is imperative that it not constitute a matrix of control. Understanding the matrix and its workings is critical for Palestinian success in the negotiations. The very gap between Israel and Palestinian map-making abilities and uses is worrying. As an Israeli who seeks a just and viable peace between our peoples, I hope the Palestinian negotiating team utilizes all the expertise at its disposal to avoid concessions that will in the end leave Palestine little more than a Bantustan.
Jeff Halper (53) is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and a Professor of Anthropology at Ben Gurion University. He has lived in Israel since 1973.
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5. links
www.icahd.org
www.arij.org
www.btselem.org
www.alternativenews.org

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