In “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
Pro-Israel propaganda has so affected the thinking of Western Society that otherwise well-meaning people feel compelled to treat as equals the militarily superior, Occupying power, Israel, and the defenceless Palestinian population and refugees that it rules and controls. A blind eye is turned towards the plight of native Palestinians. To disguise or soften the reality of the ethnic segregation and other violations of human rights that Israel practises can only amount to complicity. The requirement that the Palestinian people negotiate with their oppressor while still under military Occupation is a colossal injustice, made more egregious by the failure to bring the perpetrator to account.
When the abusive term ‘anti-Semitism’ is used to intimidate Israel’s critics, Zionists intend that it should be understood solely as anti-Jewish bias, thereby excluding most Semitic peoples. Semitic languages are spoken in much of the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. The most widely spoken of these is Arabic; ancient Arabic and Hebrew were both dialects of Canaanite Aramaic. The persecution of Jews is a European sickness, as is the wider anti-Semitism that has driven European imperialism. Political Zionism, born in Europe, is an offspring of that tradition.
Discriminatory rights of return
The European colonisation of the indigenous Palestinian people’s land, the destruction of villages and the removal of the inhabitants into refugee camps and exile upon the pretext of a God-given ‘right of return’ is not just irrational, it is a gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Zionism also violates international humanitarian law by denying the UN-recognised right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes. Zionists further justify the dispossession of Palestinians by evoking the European Holocaust. 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.
The myth justifying the Six-Day War
Following a Parliamentary trip to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank in 2012, the then Labour Party Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson, Phil Goff, wrote an article entitled Chance for peace in Palestine should be grasped. It reflected the widespread belief, as Goff put it, that “when Israel launched the Six-Day War in 1967 it did so in the belief that its existence was threatened by universally hostile neighbours whose aim was to destroy the state of Israel”. This suggested belief is not, however, supported by the facts. First of all, former 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.”
Menachem Begin was the subject of a New York Times Op-Ed article written by prominent American Jews (including Albert Einstein) critical of Begin’s visit 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 Yassin.
The Israeli people may have been told, as was indeed 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 front . . . or hold on any three fronts while mounting successfully a major offensive on the fourth.” Another 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.
Israel must be an ethnically pure state
Phil Goff’s Chance for peace article commented that: “If Israel annexed the West Bank the Arab population in the wider Israel would soon approach that of the Jewish population with the Palestinian population growing faster.” It would appear that the Zionist obsession with ethnicity is perfectly acceptable to Israel’s supporters. Again, Goff expresses the pro-Zionist view: “The very essence of Israel is that it is a Jewish state. It could not remain so if it absorbed the Arab population, according them equal rights.” When it comes to discussing the nature and purpose of Israel, Phil Goff echoed the Western practice of referring to the indigenous people as Arabs rather than Palestinians. But where in international law is it acceptable for any state to define itself as the state of one ethnic group above all others? He goes on to say, “Expelling non-Jews or creating an apartheid state where some citizens had lesser rights would be utterly unacceptable.” It certainly is unacceptable to most people 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 practised by Israel.
Phil Goff expressed the Western view again when he said, “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, it seems, not even worth debate. All hope therefore of an end to the forced removal of Palestinians, their imprisonment without charge or trial, the destruction of their homes, night home invasions and abductions of children, the uprooting of olive trees and attacks on fishing boats – all must be abandoned, it seems, because Israel will not countenance a free and democratic society with equality for all! It is easy to understand why the so-called ‘negotiations’ process has been so fruitless. Just as Israel’s continual settlement expansion represents bad faith in negotiating a peaceful outcome, so also does the West’s unconditional support for Israel. This colossal injustice is fuelling instability but Western politicians and the corporate news media seem incapable of understanding the fact. That such lunacy has lasted now for so many decades is an indictment of generations of political leaders.
The United Nations partition plan
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 a third generation of Palestinians is growing up under the rule of Israeli Occupation. Israel, of course, continues to gradually take ever more Palestinian land for settlement expansion. This is accompanied by the destruction of Palestinian homes. A recent United Nations press release from Robert Piper, UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory reports: “The number of demolitions for just the first six weeks of 2016 is greatly alarming . . . Over 400 Palestinians have been displaced from their homes – equivalent to over half the Palestinians displaced in all of 2015.”
Israel and Zionism claim to 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 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 on the land of the Palestinian village of Ein Karem, 1400 metres south of the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. 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”. According to Righteous Jew:
“Deir Yassin is as important a part of Jewish, as it is of Palestinian, history. Deir Yassin, coming in April 1948, just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz in January 1945, marks a Jewish transition from enslavement to empowerment and from abused to abuser. Can there ever have been such a remarkable shift, over such a short period, in the history of a people?
“Deir Yassin 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 Yassin, 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.
The term violence is used only when referring to Palestinians
Phil Goff’s article certainly typifies the general political/news media approach to Palestine/Israel. Goff uses the term violence on five occasions in his article but never with reference to Israeli conduct. 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 states that: “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 that require closer examination. The first is ‘violence’ and the second is ‘Jewish people’.
Taking the term ‘violence’ first, the Israeli Occupation, blockade, land theft, sabotage of the Gaza fishing industry, bulldozing of crops, imposition of ethnically segregated roads, relentless home invasions (often in the middle of the night – with the abductions of minors) is somewhat more than what one could call ‘hard line’. If the Palestinians were to inflict a fraction of such suffering upon the Israelis it would be reported in our news media with outrage and banner headlines, and it would certainly be referred to as violence. But Israel has no intention of fostering non-violence. Most non-violent Palestinian protests are met with Israeli violence, usually in the form of rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and stun grenades, clubs and rifle butts. Sometimes the Israeli Army 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 or maimed. 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 Palestinian Resistance, including armed responses. Undeniably, Zionism does attempt to implicate Jewish people in Zionist state violence, which 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.
‘Negotiations’ and the Oslo Accords
Phil Goff again exemplified Western policy towards Israel and Palestine when he 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 – no mention of secure borders for Palestine! Indeed, one of Israel’s pre-conditions 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. 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 annexation, settlement expansion and Israeli-imposed restrictions of access to land, water and agriculture.
‘Harsh treatment’ or ‘terrorism’?
Reflecting orthodox Western attitudes towards Israel and the Palestinians, Goff’s article simply accepts that:
“Israeli justification of their harsh treatment of Palestinians and disproportionate reaction to Hamas missile strikes in the Gaza is that Palestinian militants pose a threat to the security of their people. Any form of terrorist action against civilians such as suicide bombers and rocket attacks deserves condemnation. There is no justification for the taking of innocent lives. Hamas must change its position and Iran must stop its support for violence by Hamas and the Hizbollah. Israel is right to condemn terrorism”.
Note the language employed here: “harsh” treatment by Israel but “terrorist action against civilians” by Palestinians. Is it not terrorism when children are killed in their homes by the Israeli Air Force? Harsh treatment?! Goff is absolutely right when he writes, “There is no justification for the taking of innocent lives.” The article echoes the West’s view that, “Hamas must change its position . . .” Does that mean that Hamas was wrong in declaring its recognition of Israel’s 1967 frontier, basing proposals for open-ended ceasefires based upon such recognition? “Iran must stop its support for violence”, says the article while there is no suggestion that the US must stop the arms supplies and diplomatic support that make Israeli violence so unstoppable. But then, of course, Western politicians and news media never acknowledge that Israel is violent. For them, Israel only ever ‘responds’ to violence. What initiated the violence? Was it Palestine that colonised Israel? Of course not. One of the most frequently repeated excuses for Israeli aggression, including the ruinous blockade of Gaza, is the claim that Palestinian missiles from Gaza are constantly raining down on Israel. Israel claims that its periodic blitzes on the Gaza Strip, with their massive tolls of slaughter and economic sabotage, are necessary to stop missiles from Gaza being fired towards Israel. What the mainstream news media fail to report, and Israel’s supporters choose to ignore, is that every missile-firing from Gaza occurs after prolonged and relentless Israeli provocation. Updated frequently, the Gaza Ceasefire Violations summary for 2016 reveals the true extent of this imbalance.
The so-called peace process is in thrall to Israel’s ideological pre-conditions. Zionism is the last survivor of the twentieth century’s state-sponsored ideologies of ethnic separation – it took a world war and the anti-apartheid movement to get rid of the others. The Zionist state’s exploitation of the Holocaust and accusations of anti-Semitism levelled at any criticism of Israeli violations of international law and human rights betrays both the memory of those who suffered and humanity’s hope that the necessary lessons will ever be learned. Political support for Israel is based upon ideologically-sponsored myths and unjustifiable assumptions that effectively exempt Israel from its obligations under international humanitarian law. The lessons of the Nazi Holocaust teach us that when put into practise, theories of ethnic ‘apartness’ lead to cruel acts of inhumanity; pandering to Zionist demands can only compound that suffering and betray its victims. A rational solution, therefore, must be sought elsewhere.
The voices of reason
Put very simply, the alternative to Zionism is a single bi-national state with equal rights for all, regardless of ethnicity or religion. The concept unites humanity worldwide. BDS – the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign sets an example that the UN Security Council should adopt and support. The following are just a few links to a variety of global grass-roots supporters:
The International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS) http://iwps.info/
Other women’s peace movements in Israel: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/peace-movements-in-israel
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/
Jewish Voice for Peace http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/