Zionist sympathisers make use of ideological myths and unjustifiable assumptions that attempt to exempt Israel from its obligations under international humanitarian law.
Assumption 1 – ‘right of return’: Zionist propaganda asserts that centuries of persecution and the Nazi murder of six million Jews during the Second World War gave European Jews the right to colonise Palestine. But no reputable historian has ever found evidence to support the myth that the Romans forced the Jewish people into exile from Palestine. The colonising of the indigenous Palestinian people’s land, the destruction of their villages and the removal of the inhabitants into refugee camps and exile, upon the pretext of an ancient historical event, is unjustifiable and irrational. The Zionist plan to colonise other people’s lands came long before the Holocaust, of course, and the racist European colonial mentality, taken up by Zionism, in effect transferred the onus for the crimes of Nazism onto Palestinians. It would take the space of a separate in-depth article to begin to answer this Zionist claim, upon which the founding of the state of Israel is based. Readers might, however, find it rewarding to read Mazin Qumsiyeh’s deeply researched, humanitarian approach to the subject, entitled: Sharing the Land of Canaan.
Assumption 2 – The Six-Day War; that the existence of Israel was at stake: Zionists claim that Israel launched the Six-Day War in 1967 in the belief that its very existence was threatened by powerful neighbours. As with the so-called forced exodus, the historical assumption is not supported by the facts. First of all, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin actually admitted in a speech to the National Defence College in 1982 that Israel’s war on Egypt in 1956 was a matter of choice. Begin said: “In June 1967 we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack . . . We did not do this for lack of an alternative. We could have gone on waiting. We could have sent the army home. Who knows if there would have been an attack against us? There is no proof of it.” Israel’s war was purposefully expansionist.
The Israeli people may have been told, as indeed was the rest of the world, that the Zionist State’s existence was threatened by Egypt, but the Israeli Government knew better. So did the CIA. A CIA assessment on 23 May 1967 was presented to President Lyndon Johnson, stating that Israel could “defend successfully against simultaneous Arab attacks on all fronts . . . or hold on any three fronts while mounting successfully a major offensive on the fourth”. A future Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, told Le Monde on 28 February 1968: “I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to the Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it.” In the aftermath of Israel’s Six-Day War and the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank, ten additional UNWRA refugee camps were established to accommodate a new wave of displaced persons, both refugees and non-refugees. The Zionist project had completed one more stage.
Menachem Begin, it should be noted, was the subject of a New York Times Op-Ed article written by prominent American Jews that included Albert Einstein, critical of a visit by Begin to the US on 2 December 1948. The article began: “Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the ‘Freedom Party’ (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organisation, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organisation in Palestine”. The article deplored the Party’s role in the terrorism and massacre that took place in the Palestinian village of Deir Yasin. Under sub-head Assumption 5 (below) can be read the views of the group Righteous Jews regarding Deir Yasin.
Assumption 3 – Israel must be an ethnically pure state: The United Nations partition plan proposed an Israeli state on 55% of Mandate Palestine but Israel continues to expand (the Zionist State refuses to declare its borders) and Israeli control of the West Bank (Area ‘C’) enables settlements to expand and ethnically segregated Jewish-only roads to divide ever more Palestinian land. Such actions have no moral or legal justification. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of an Occupying power’s civilian population into Occupied territory. Similarly, Israel’s annexation Wall (ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice) that Israel calls a ‘separation barrier’ continues to divide Palestinian communities from each other and from their agriculture.
Zionists claim that Israel is a Jewish state and refer to the indigenous people of Palestine not as Palestinians but as Arabs. Recognition of Palestinian history and culture is unacceptable in the Zionist narrative. Where in international law is it acceptable for any state to define itself as the state of one ethnic group above all others? Today, apartheid is considered anathema but the West has stood by while Palestinian villages have been obliterated and millions of Palestinians have been consigned to refugee camps. A large number of United Nations reports reveal the ethnic discrimination that prevails in Israel, especially in annexed East Jerusalem. In Israel, the merciless and continuing destruction of Bedouin villages exemplifies the Zionist attitude towards those it sees as necessarily having lesser rights.
Assumption 4 – What Israel requires is paramount: Following a Parliamentary trip to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank in 2012, former New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Phil Goff, wrote an article entitled The Israeli–Palestine dispute: time for compromise. Goff notes that: “A unified and secular state might in principle be a proper solution to this problem but Israel will not allow that to happen.” Israel will not allow that to happen! End of argument apparently. This is the ultimate give-away of Western assumptions and thinking. The only sane solution is dismissed because Zionism objects. The fact that accommodating Israeli intransigence for over 60 years has been counter-productive is apparently not even worth debate. All hope, therefore, of an end to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, their imprisonment without charge or trial, the destruction of their homes, night home invasions and abductions of children, cessation of the deliberate uprooting of olive trees and attacks on fishing boats, must be abandoned, it seems, because Israel will not allow that to happen! So much for ‘negotiations’! Just as Israel’s continual settlement expansion represents bad faith in negotiating a peaceful outcome, so does unconditional Western support for Israel. This colossal injustice fuels instability. But Western politicians and the corporate news media seem addicted to the process. In a world with sane, intelligent leadership this would be unacceptable and the fact that it is not is an indictment of generations of political leaders.
Assumption 5 – Israel and Zionism speak for all Jews: Phil Goff tells us: “As I went through Yad Vashem, the Israeli holocaust museum, I shed a tear for the brutal inhumanity towards and suffering of the Jewish people.” How many visitors shed a tear for the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Deir Yassin? A group calling itself Righteous Jews (http://righteousjews.org/) that established itself in 2003 felt that it was a way for its members “to commemorate the memory of those Palestinians who have been, and continue to be depopulated, dispossessed, humiliated, tortured, and murdered in the name of political Zionism and its quest to create a Jewish state in the lands between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.” Righteous Jews tells us that its founding was inspired by the website of the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem, located on Mount Herzl, (in fact, on the land of the Palestinian village of Ein Karem, 1,400 metres south of the Palestinian village of Deir Yasin. Yad Vashem lists the names of non-Jews who risked their lives, freedom and safety in order to rescue one or several Jews from the threat of death or deportation to death camps. For many years this list was referred to as the list of ‘Righteous Gentiles’ the list is now called “Righteous Among the Nations”.
The Deir Yasin massacre was in April 1948, three years after the liberation of Auschwitz in January 1945. According to Righteous Jews: “Deir Yasin is as important a part of Jewish, as it is of Palestinian, history”. The group reminds us that, “Deir Yasin also signalled the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians leading to their eventual dispossession and exile and was just one example of a conscious and premeditated plan to destroy the Palestinians as a people in their own homeland . . . since the establishment of the state of Israel, successive Israeli governments whether Labour or Likud, and whether by force as at Deir Yasin, or by chicanery as at Oslo and Camp David, have followed the same policy of oppressing and dispossessing Palestinians to make way for an exclusively Jewish state. Even now, when Israel could have peace and security for the asking, Israeli governments persist in their original intention of conquering the whole of Palestine for the use of the Jewish people alone. And all this was done, and is still being done, by Jews, for Jews and in the name of Jews.” The group lists, among the many people it calls ‘Our Initial List of Righteous Jews’, Albert Einstein, Amira Hass, Anna Baltzer, Antony Loewenstein, Gideon Levy, Hedy Epstein, Ilan Pappe, Jeff Halper, Jennifer Lowenstein, Lenni Brenner, Miko Peled, Norman Finkelstein, Richard Falk, Tanya Reinhart and Yehudi Menuhin. All have worked to expose the evils of the practice and ideology of political Zionism.
More than half the global Jewish population chooses not to live in Israel and at present many young Israelis consider Berlin to be a fashionable and cool place to hang out. Fearful of Brexit, some British Jews are taking steps to reclaim their German citizenship. The Zionist assertion that only in an exclusively Jewish state could Jews live free from persecution is manifestly disproven – but at a terrible cost to both Jews and non-Jews.
Assumption 6 – It is only Palestinians that are violent: In any discussion of violence, in the context of Israel and Palestine, it is only ever Palestinian violence that is condemned. The term violence is used five times in Phil Goff’s article but never with reference to Israel. Many people, in spite of the goodwill and humanity in their souls, simply cannot see how far Zionist propaganda has entered their psyche. The final reference to violence in Goff’s article reads: “If the threat of violence against Jewish people is removed, Israel has little justification to continue its hard line against the Palestinians.” There are two elements in this statement. The first is ‘violence’ and the second is ‘Jewish people’.
Taking the term ‘violence’ first, the Israeli Occupation is somewhat more than what one could call ‘hard line’. If the Palestinians were to inflict a fraction of such suffering upon Israel it would be reported in our news media with outrage and banner headlines, and would certainly be referred to as violence. Most non-violent Palestinian protests are met with Israeli violence, usually in the form of rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and stun grenades, as well as clubs and rifle butts. Sometimes the Israeli Army even uses live fire against protesters. But Western news media and politicians never refer to Israeli violence, even in the context of air raids in which homes are destroyed and children killed and injured. The term violence is censored whenever the perpetrator is Israel.
The second element in the statement ‘Jewish people’ prompts the question why not use the name of the Occupying power, Israel? It is the belligerent Occupation perpetrated by the Israeli state that prompts armed and other forms of Palestinian Resistance. Undeniably, Zionism implicates Jewish people in Israeli violence because the ideology arrogantly claims to speak for all Jews. That is why so many Jewish people refute Zionist ideology, oppose Israeli violence and risk abuse and physical danger through their steadfast support for Palestinian human rights.
Assumption 7: That ‘negotiations’ and the Oslo Accords are the path to peace: Phil Goff wrote in his article that: “The parameters of the solution have already been set out in the numerous initiatives taken over the last twenty years, including the Oslo Accords, the Arab Initiative and the renewal of the peace process at Annapolis in 2007. In return for a guarantee of peace and secure borders for Israel, the Palestinians must have a state which is economically and politically viable.” Note the omission – “In return for a guarantee of peace and secure borders for Israel” – yet no mention of secure borders for Palestine! Indeed, one of Israel’s preconditions in the so-called negotiations with the Palestinians is that Palestine must remain defenceless (Israel terms it ‘demilitarised’) and with no Palestinian sovereignty over Palestinian air space or coastal waters. The stark reality of Israel’s vision of a future Palestinian state can be already be seen in blitzed, blockaded and terrorised Gaza.
Which brings us to the nonsensical Oslo Accords that have served no purpose other than to enable Israel to buy time to annex more Palestinian land and resources. From 1916 to 1948, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) purchased 6% of Palestinian land near Jerusalem and from 1929 to 1947 30% of Palestine was lost, due to registration regulations imposed by Britain and Zionist organisations. In 1947, the UN Partition plan cost the Palestinian people a further 55% of their land. In 1948, the Palestinian loss of homeland amounted to 70%. The Six-Day War and interminable, fruitless so-called negotiations have resulted in a total loss of at least 85% of Palestinian land. Palestinians have to live with the consequences of Israeli-imposed restrictions on access to their own land, as well as outright annexation and settlement expansion. The Zionist view of the meaning of peace is best summed up in a Jerusalem Post article quoting Ariel Sharon speaking to a journalist, Winston Churchill’s grandson, at the time of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. “We have peace!” he said, “a piece of Egypt, a piece of Lebanon, a piece of Syria and a piece of Jordan!”.
Assumption 8 – Palestinians initiate violence – Israel simply responds: Israel justifies its brutality towards the Palestinian people in the Occupied territories, claiming that they pose a threat to the security of Israel. Of course, any form of terrorist action against civilians, such as suicide bombers and rocket attacks, deserves condemnation – but context is essential to understanding. Bearing in mind the extreme terrorism that Zionist militias employed to ethnically cleanse Palestine in the early days, can anyone believe that there would be no Israelis who would react violently if subjected to the same discrimination and cruel injustice suffered by the Palestinian people? A third generation of Palestinians is growing up under Israeli military domination. Most children have experienced either direct Israeli Army brutality or know family members and friends that have. The oppressive atmosphere of daily life under foreign military rule creates in young minds an indelibly ugly impression of hostile, heavily armed soldiers. The terror of night home invasions, destroyed homes and dead and injured relatives remains in their sub-conscious. Most learn to cope with the mental strain and concentrate on education, family and other interests but a few may not. A few lash out, irrationally, tragically, pointlessly. Each time this happens they hand Israel’s leaders another propaganda coup. As Amira Hass noted with regard to a Palestinian ramming attack on 8 January, the attacker’s relatives would likely be arrested immediately and beaten while in detention. Some might be fired from their jobs in West Jerusalem and others expelled from their homes and separated from their children. Their family homes will certainly be destroyed by the Occupying power. She reminds the world that between July 2014 and the end of December 2016, Israel demolished 35 Palestinian homes and ‘sealed’ (filled with cement from floor to ceiling) another seven. Militarily Occupied and dominated Palestinians have to cope with humiliating travel restrictions and crippling daily economic and agricultural sabotage. The Palestinian people do, however, draw spiritual strength from the support they receive from the world community. They know the support for BDS (the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement) is massive and growing. It is time for the UN Security Council and General Assembly to embrace BDS and give the Palestinian people cause for real hope.
Establishing peace with justice
To his credit, Phil Goff acknowledged that Israeli settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. He also writes: “The final status issues such as the status of East Jerusalem, right of return for refugees and water won’t be easy to resolve.” And why is that so? Zionism dictates, on the one hand, that Jews born anywhere in the world may ‘return to Israel’ and rejects, on the other, the UN-recognised right of ethnically-cleansed Palestinians to return to their homes and villages. The demand that a defenceless, belligerently-Occupied population (recognised as such in international law) must negotiate under duress with its oppressor is unprecedented. As we have seen, the so-called peace process is in thrall to Israel’s ideological pre-conditions. Zionism is the last to survive of the Twentieth Century state-sponsored ideologies of ethnic separation – it took a world war and the anti-apartheid movement to get rid of the others. The lessons of the Nazi Holocaust teach us that theories of ethnic ‘apartness’ lead to cruel acts of inhumanity, and pandering to Zionist demands can only compound that suffering and betray its victims. A rational solution, therefore, must be sought elsewhere.
The reference to the Fourth Geneva Convention points to one of two complementary pathways to a sustainable and harmonious solution. The international community must require of Israel that it respect and abide by the hard-won principles of international law, under threat of sanctions for non-compliance.
The second pathway is what Goff called, “People to people relationships”. Disappointingly, he also declared that these relationships “scarcely exist”. That is a measure of the influence of the assumptions that dominate the debate. We hear only of intractable disagreement and the apparent irreconcilability of opposing factions. Like so many other well-meaning people, many of our Parliamentarians seem to be unaware of the powerful grass-roots relations that have formed, both between Palestinians and Israelis, and the wider Jewish and non-Jewish communities. It would come as a surprise, therefore, for many people to learn, for example, that there were courageous Israeli women who risked their liberty when they smuggled Palestinian women into Israel to enjoy a day at the seaside. Both within Israel and beyond, organisations and individuals opposed to racial discrimination are working for change: Holocaust survivor, the late Hedy Epstein, who never saw her family again after they had managed to find a way out for her on the Kindertransport rescue effort to Britain. Actors, such as Miriam Margolyes and Warren Mitchell, comedian Alexei Sayle, and writers, including Israeli historian Ilan Pappe and Anna Baltzer, are just a few of large numbers of prominent individuals whose voices should be listened to. Jewish voices for peace are, for the most part, drowned out by amplified Zionist propaganda in the mainstream news media.
In a letter to the Anglican Church Times, welcoming a decision by the Church of England General Synod to support the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), the secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in Aberystwyth, Elizabeth Morley, wrote: “I have friends both in the West Bank and in Israel who tell me how invaluable is the work they do. And I have friends in the UK who have been accompaniers. So you could say I am biased. I am also Jewish and if I wanted, I could make Aliyah. But I believe it would be wrong to do so because non-Jews have been ethnically cleansed from Palestine to make way for people like me who have no family connections on that land. My great-grandparents and other members of my family who did not survive the Holocaust would not want me to do that, I am sure.”
Then there are the countless organisations whose voices should be listened to, among them:
Jewish Voice for Peace http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/
The International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS) http://iwps.info/
Jews for Justice in the Middle East http://ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html
Rabbis for Palestine http://www.rabbisforpalestine.org/
Neturei Karta rabbis http://www.nkusa.org/
ICAHD The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions http://www.icahd.org/
Gush Shalom http://www.gush-shalom.org/
Other women’s peace movements in Israel http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/peace-movements-in-israel
BDS – the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign http://www.bdsmovement.net/
Sharing the Land of Canaan
The many views represented above cannot be ignored forever. Together they offer far greater hope for humanity than the sterile, meaningless so-called ‘peace process’ fostered by the great powers and Israel. The Palestinian author and activist, US citizen, Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh, wrote Sharing the Land of Canaan. In the 1990s he worked for the rights of refugees, including the UN-recognised the Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return. His experience and the positive results achieved were examples to everyone of how action on the ground could change public perceptions. The book reminds us of how the people once co-existed with differing religious beliefs and how racism irrationally distorts our understanding. The question of Palestinian refugees makes notions of segregation/separation impossible. As Mazin points out, “It is the basic and elemental right of Palestinians, 11.5 million of us, 7 million of us are refugees or displaced people. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides a base for a real road map to a durable peace”. The book deals with the future of the environment, water, other natural resources and the tourism industry. The geographical and economical realities argue strongly against separation and segregation.
At fearful cost, power politics and an outdated ideology have betrayed humanity. It is not unreasonable to ask, therefore, that more representative voices be listened to. The best hope for humanity is rational observance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law – we can agree on that.