Israel’s supporters are directing spiteful and ridiculous accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ towards Britain’s Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Their intention is to create the impression that anyone who speaks out in defence of Palestinian human rights and against Israel’s violations of international law is anti-Jewish. But instead of saying this plainly, they choose instead to use the term ‘anti-Semitic’. As Arabic is a Semitic language, such self-defeating circumlocution will inevitably invite growing attention to the wider, essential reality – the racism of Israel’s founding ideology towards the people of the Middle East.
The Zionist plan for Palestine depended upon the intervention and continuing support of European imperialism. A statement, known as the Balfour Declaration, addressed to British banker and Zionist, Lionel Walter Rothschild, on 2 November 1917, dismissively referred to the Palestinian people as “existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. Zionism was imbued from the outset with an imperialist European attitude towards the Middle East. The Hebrew word for Germany is ‘Ashkenazi’ and the Ashkenazim come from Russia, Eastern Europe, France and Germany. Inside Israel, Ashkenazim discriminate against Jews of Middle Eastern, North African and Iberian descent.
Sephardi is the Hebrew word for Spain, the home for nearly 800 years of Al-Andalus, the Muslim empire in southern Spain.
“Spain was home to by far the largest and most brilliant Jewish community in Europe; elsewhere, the Jews were hounded and persecuted.”
So writes Lewis Hopfe in his book Religions of the World.
“Although non-Muslims paid more in taxes than the Muslims, it was by far less than any previous government had imposed upon them . . . it obviously wasn’t much of a burden, however, since non-Muslims freely opted and longed to live under Muslim rule.”
In 1492, the Christian re-conquest and end of Muslim rule in Spain saw most Jews exiled from Spain, and those that remained forced to become Christians. Today, the description ‘Sephardic Jews’ is often subdivided, to include North Africa and the Middle East, into Sephardic and Mizrahi (meaning ‘Eastern’).
On 18 July, the Israeli Opposition leader Isaac Herzog warned of what he called “growing hatred and racism” in Israel. The Hebrew-language news-site NRG reported Herzog as saying: “We hear hatred at every turn, whether it is directed towards women by military rabbis, by Ashkenazi Jews against Sephardi Jews and Mizrahi Jews against Ashkenazis . . .” Many non-European Jews are forced to hide their identity and culture. Rabbi Haim Amsalam says personal progress often depends on whether your family name is Mizrahi or not:
“I know many people who’ve reached high-ranking positions. They had no choice but to adopt Ashkenazi speech and physical appearance and gradually adopt Ashkenazi culture . . .”
He asks: “Why should I abandon my culture and heritage?”
Zionist anti-Arabism is clearly expressed in this quote from David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister:
“We don’t want Israelis to be Arabs. It’s our duty to fight against the Eastern spirit that spoils individuals and societies; and to preserve the authenticity of Jewish values that evolved in the Diaspora.”
The Zionist claim 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 alike.
Democracy and non-Jews fare just as badly
The Israeli Army’s Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot, has publicly proclaimed and supported the promotion of a Colonel Eyal Karim to the rank of Brigadier General and the position of chief rabbi. As military chief rabbi, Karim will be responsible for making decisions regarding religious matters in the armed forces. Before being promoted, he served as the second-highest-ranking religious official in the Israeli Army. In 2013, as head of the Military Rabbinate’s beit midrash, Eyal Karim published a booklet stating that “the concept that non-Jews have equal rights with Jews in Israel goes against the opinion of the Torah, and the state’s representatives have no authority to act against the Torah’s will.” This has not prevented support for his nomination to the top post from the State of Israel’s two chief rabbis and Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman.
A former Israeli prime minister, Golda Meir, expressed the Zionist viewpoint when she told MK Shulamit Aloni: “After the Holocaust, Jews are allowed to do anything”. And so, by cynically exploiting the Holocaust tragedy, Israel, in the name of all Jews, justifies its criminal violations of human rights.
Not in our names
In March this year, Rabbi Brant Rosen, Co-Chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council, observed that:
“growing numbers of Jews and others identify as anti-Zionists for legitimate ideological reasons. Many profess anti-Zionism because they do not believe Israel can be both a Jewish and democratic state. Some don’t believe that the identity of a nation should be dependent upon the demographic majority of one people over another. Others choose not to put this highly militarised ethnic nation-state at the centre of their Jewish identity. Far from being discriminatory, their beliefs are motivated by values of equality and human rights for all human beings. Blurring the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism muddles the definition of anti-Semitism to the point that it becomes meaningless.”
Jonathan Ofir, an Israeli musician, conductor and blogger, writing in February this year, noted that there was little hope for a just Israel without:
“the involvement of the international community – whose help we need so badly – not for more cash, weapons, or apologetic “understanding”, but rather for its intervention in what we are apparently unable, and mostly unwilling, to fix.”
For those who still didn’t appreciate the extent of Israel’s criminality he also referred his readers to a piece by Yair Auron in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “I translated and put it out here and on my Facebook page.” Ofir’s article bears the title “Barbarism by an educated and cultured people.” He writes that Israel was guilty of “barbarism of a degree which indeed could be, and should be, and has been, compared to those whom we love to hate – the Nazis.”
The educated and cultured German people were also overcome and indoctrinated, in their case through the enormous propaganda power of Nazi leaders. It can happen in any society – and that is why we should be forever vigilant.
Accused of anti-Semitism in an article by Alex Ryvchin, Peter Slezak, Associate Professor of Philosophy in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales, wrote an article in response, entitled Denouncing Israeli violence is not anti-Semitism. The piece also dealt with the anti-Semitic slurs contained in a book by two Australian Jewish academics, Philip Mendes and Nick Dyrenfurth. Slezak noted in his article that the authors carefully omitted any reference to:
“Israel’s cantonisation and annexation of the West Bank, which represents 22% of historical Palestine. There is no mention of the immensity of the settlements or the wall on Palestinian land, all declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. There is no mention of the 40,000 houses demolished by Israeli forces or the million olive trees destroyed, to say nothing of the abuse of children in administrative detention or 8,000 unarmed civilians shot dead since the year 2000.”
Ryvchin denounced a speech by Slezak as anti-Semitic and full of the “hatred that underpins the anti-Israel movement”. What Slezac actually said was:
“ . . . we join hundreds of thousands of decent people in cities around the world to express our humanity. But each of these rallies have been described as hate-filled and anti-Semitic. I want to re-affirm what speakers have said in previous weeks, it is not anti-Jewish to be critical of Israel. It is for humanity. Most of my family were victims of anti-Semitism – exterminated in the Nazi Holocaust. My parents were both survivors. My 89 year old mother is a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. So, I think I can recognise anti-Semitism when I see it and I don’t see any anti-Semitism here.”
Those who smear Israel’s critics refuse to condemn the racist settlers who spray-paint ‘Arabs to the gas chambers’ on the walls of Palestinian homes.
Supporters of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), so virulently denounced by Zionism’s idealogues as ‘anti-Semitic’, include Israelis such as Uri Avnery, Gideon Levy, Jeff Halper, Ilan Pappe, Miko Peled and Amira Hass. Two children of Holocaust survivors, Sara Roy and Norman Finkelstein, also bear witness to a horrific and undeniable reality that is also attested to by Anna Baltzer and Israeli human rights organisations Btselem, Gisha, Breaking the Silence and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, as well as Amnesty International, the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Al Haq.
A merciless travesty of justice
Arutz Sheva, a Zionist website that claims to cover what it calls ‘Arab Terror in Israel’ defends the imprisonment without trial of a Palestinian Resistance activist, Bilal Kayed, and justifies the practice known in Israel as ‘administrative detention’, by claiming that it allows Israel “to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence”. Kayed served his full 14-and-a-half year sentence but he remains incarcerated even though evidence against him has still not been presented. In an article published in Haaretz on 30 July, journalist and author Gideon Levy reveals the merciless manner of Bilal Kayed’s imprisonment and he goes on to describe the present mental and physical cruelty that Shin Bet, Israel’s notorious ‘security’ agency, is using to abuse Kayed further. A Haaretz editorial recognises that the Israeli regime “has made the exclusion and isolation of this country’s Arab citizens the backbone of Israeli patriotism.”
Every person born in the Holy Land, Palestine, now divided between Israel and Israeli-Occupied Palestine, has the right to live in peace and equality, free from fear and every kind of discrimination. The deliberate partition of the land along racial lines is at the heart of the injustices and violence that now plague the Middle East. The ‘single state’ solution, has been put forward by non-Zionists as the most rational way to encourage a shared sense of commitment for economic wellbeing and willing recognition of interdependence. The cultural flowering that such a coming together could nurture might produce something of a renaissance in the Middle East. It has happened before; people of different religions and backgrounds have for centuries shown that they can amicably thrive together. First, the world must repudiate Zionism as an utterly unacceptable anachronism. What stands in the way of this is the support for it by vested outside interests.
Heed the voices of peace
Israel’s victims are given little attention or understanding, just as Jewish voices for peace also go largely unreported, if not totally ignored. The ‘Security’ Council only ever speaks of Israel’s security; the absence of security for the defenceless Palestinian people is never given consideration. New Zealand’s voice at the Security Council, instead of forthrightly condemning the Zionist state’s hateful violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, calls instead upon Palestinians to make compromises! New Zealand still has until the end of the year to do the right thing but its record so far has been abysmal. Earlier this year, a New Zealand Government Press Statement implied that the Golan Heights are in Israel. The statement read “Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee will today arrive in Stuttgart, Germany, following his first visit to NZ Defence Force (NZDF) troops at South Camp in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights in Israel.” Following my Press Release drawing attention to this, the statement was changed to read “Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee will today arrive in Stuttgart, Germany, following his first visit to NZ Defence Force (NZDF) troops at South Camp in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Israel, and the Golan Heights.”
The New Zealand Government must be called to account. It is shocking that it could be, to put it charitably, so careless over such an issue. Although the international community views the Golan Heights as belligerently-Occupied territory, the New Zealand Government appeared to take sides with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stated at a Cabinet meeting in April that “after 50 years, the time has come for the international community to finally recognise that the Golan Heights will remain under Israel’s sovereignty permanently.” Syria is awaiting return of its territory, which continues to be monitored by UN peacekeeping forces. Supporters of the BDS movement and Palestinian Human Rights must insist that our Government do the right thing and demand justice and freedom for the Palestinian people. Until our leaders summon up the courage to witness for truth, they must be given no rest. That the Government Press Release was altered shows us that our leaders are conscious of criticism. What is needed now is a change of heart. There is an urgent need for New Zealand to recognise that the Security Council’s policies towards Israel and Palestine are blind and unjust. The Government must be told to shoulder its responsibilities because failure to restrain Israel in accordance with the UN Charter is a shameful betrayal of all humanity.