In a Scoop Independent News Parliament column dated 27 October, the United Future Leader, Peter Dunne, noted that, “Since World War I, the West has shown an unerring ability to get involved in the Middle East with constant disastrous consequences”. While he reflected on the history of the process and the record of various interventions by Western interests, Dunne completely omitted any reference to the main destabilising source of injustice and outrage in the Middle East – the Balfour Declaration and the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. New Zealand has historically tended to follow in the footsteps of Britain, the US and other Western powers (the best and most honourable exception being our anti-nuclear policy) and it is no surprise, therefore, that our country supported the imposition of Zionist control over the Palestinian homeland through partitioning and colonisation.
In 2013, Israel became the first country to withhold co-operation from a United Nations review of its human rights practices, in spite of efforts by the United States and others to encourage it to participate. It is the only country that stands perennially on the Human Rights Council’s agenda and more than half the resolutions passed by the Council have had to deal with Israel’s relentless military Occupation of East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, together with its inhumane blockade and periodic blitzes of the Gaza Strip. However, a statement by the New Zealand Government refers to its “strategic co-operation” with Israel and the wish to continue developing “this special relationship”. Last month, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully even went so far as to side with Israel over its hijacking, in international waters, of a defenceless vessel crewed by women, one of whom was a New Zealander.
The New Zealand Government claims to be a friend equally to both Israel and Palestine but its advocacy of abandoning the Palestinians to ‘negotiate’ directly with the Occupying power has resulted in nothing but ever greater losses of land for Palestinians and, for Israel, the economic benefits of increasing illegal settlement. There is something simple that we could do to start making amends and show the world what non-discrimination really looks like. At present we privilege Israelis with visa-free visiting to our country but deny Palestinians the same favour. If the NZ Government’s intentions were truly even-handed it would either: a) accord Palestinians the same visa-free entry to New Zealand as it does Israelis or b) subject Israelis to the same obstacle-strewn difficulties faced by Palestinians.
Special relationship or not, Israel and New Zealand certainly have little in common regarding nuclear weapons. It was Israel that introduced nuclear WMDs to the Middle East, with the connivance of Western powers. In 2006, the BBC’s Newsnight programme revealed that, when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, the UK supplied Israel with quantities of plutonium. In Harold Macmillan’s time, the UK had already supplied uranium 235 and the heavy water which facilitated the start up of Israel’s nuclear weapons production plant at Dimona. The sale referred to on Newsnight was completed, despite a warning from British Intelligence, and it enabled Israel to manufacture atom bombs 20 times more powerful than the one that destroyed Hiroshima.
In 2015, The Economist estimated that Israel had 80 nuclear weapons in its arsenal. Israel’s US-supplied F-15 and F-16 aircraft can deliver these weapons anywhere in the Middle East. The Israeli Air Force has twice destroyed the nuclear power programmes of other countries in the Middle East: in Iraq (1981) and Syria (2007). France (the state that sent its terrorists to blow up the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour, causing the death of a photographer) provided the early Israeli missile programme with the technology for what is now known as the Jericho medium-range missile system. The latest version of the Jericho (2015) has a range of 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles). In spite of (or perhaps as a result of) receiving massive military aid funding from the United States, Israel still refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and fails even to co-operate with the IAEA.
The Zionist military Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem has ruled the lives of Palestinians for almost 50 years and its truly appalling record of human rights abuses cannot be emphasised too strongly. UN Security Council resolutions refer to them with “deep shock” (Res. 57), expressing “the strongest censure” (Res. 101). As the growing success of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) demonstrates, there is growing world-wide opposition to Zionist inhumanities and injustice.
The first anti-Zionists were Jewish
The founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, encountered so much opposition from German Orthodox and Reform rabbis, especially in Munich, that he was forced to change the venue for the First Zionist Congress in 1897 from there to Basle, in Switzerland. Sir Arthur Balfour, author of the proposal known as the ‘Balfour Declaration’ for the founding of a Jewish state in Palestine, had also been sponsor of the 1905 Aliens Act to restrict Jewish immigration to the UK. For Balfour, Zionism was the solution to what he called the ‘Jewish problem’. In an introduction to Nahum Sokolow’s, History of Zionism, Balfour concluded: “For as I read its meaning it is, among other things, a serious endeavour to mitigate the age-long miseries created for Western civilisation by the presence in its midst of a body which it too long regarded as alien and even hostile, but which it was equally unable to expel or to absorb. Surely, for this if for no other reason it should receive our support.” Balfour plainly believed that Jews constituted a separate race and did not belong in Europe and, while the Aliens Act could hardly be called pro-Jewish, Balfour’s attitude towards the Palestinian people was also, to put it mildly, dismissive.
The declaration of a British Government commitment to a Jewish homeland in Palestine was actually delayed by leading figures in the British Jewish community itself, including a Jewish Cabinet member who called Balfour’s pro-Zionism “anti-semitic in result”. The additional and tragic irony of the whole Zionist project is that the Palestinians are also a Semitic people! Balfour’s views exemplified the essential Zionist belief that, because hatred towards Jews is inevitable and unavoidable, Jews must isolate themselves and retreat to a self-imposed Jewish ghetto-state. The ideology does not believe in enlightenment or the duty to fight racism but rather holds that the irrationality be accommodated. There runs in the subconscious of the Balfour Declaration, an imperialist, racist attitude towards both Jews and Arabs.
The Transfer Agreement
The Zionist determination to serve the purpose of its European-inspired colonialist project ahead of the duty to uphold universal human rights and natural justice is exemplified in the movement’s opposition to the 1933 boycott of Nazi Germany. In March 1933, the persecution of Jews had prompted American and European Jews to lead a boycott campaign against Nazi Germany. At that time, German Jews who wished to get out of Germany were forced to surrender their property to the Nazi regime before leaving. Through their opposition to the boycott, the Zionist leaders in Germany and Palestine were able to negotiate a deal with the Nazis known as the Transfer (Ha’avara) Agreement. This enabled Jews leaving Germany, who chose to go to Palestine, to be compensated for their loss of property through the transfer of German goods to the Jewish colonies. One of the chief parties to the Agreement was the Anglo-Palestine Bank (then known as ‘The Jewish Colonial Trust’, the financial arm of the World Zionist Organisation (WZO) which, in 1950, became the Bank Leumi – today the largest bank in Israel. In addition to breaking the boycott, the deal signed with the Nazis benefitted Germany further by facilitating the expansion of German exports to Britain. Sixty per cent of all capital invested in the Jewish colonies of Palestine between 1933 and 1939 came through the Transfer Agreement. The German Zionist Federation was the only Jewish organisation in Germany to support the 1935 Nazi Nuremberg laws that racially separated German Jews from German ‘Aryans’.
Zionist ideology is not against boycotts in principle – far from it. The Zionists were pioneers in their use of boycotts to effect racial separatism. Before the formalisation of Zionist settler colonialism with the First Zionist Congress of 1897, Russian Jewish colonists in Palestine had, since the 1880s, employed Palestinian farm labour in order to save money. After 1887, the Zionists set about developing the racially separatist policy of ‘Hebrew labour’ promoted by the Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion. Regulations were eventually imposed requiring the employment of exclusively Jewish labour throughout the Jewish settler-colony. Out of the boycott of Palestinian labour came the exclusive Ashkenazi, Jewish Kibbutz movement developed in the first decade of the 20th Century. Ben-Gurion defined the purpose of the Kibbutz as a way to “guarantee [separatist] Jewish labour”. In 1920 he wrote that “Jews and Arabs should live and work in separate settlements and economies”. Moreover, he pronounced himself in favour of dividing unions along ethnic lines, even in workplaces such as the Palestine Railways. The Zionist leader admitted that Hebrew Labour grew out of ethnic separatism and that Labour Zionists should put ethnic interests above notions of class solidarity.
Today, Palestinian refugees are denied their UN-recognised right of return as if the Fourth Geneva Convention had never existed and the last remaining 20th Century, European, state-sponsored racist ideology, has been allowed to dominate every aspect of Palestinian life. Israel’s claim to act on behalf of all Jews is deeply offensive to all anti-Zionist Jews who feel equally insulted and embarrassed by the propaganda used by non-Jewish organisations and individuals in support of Israel’s claims. Anti-Zionist Jews respond to Israel’s violations of human rights by telling the Zionist state and saying to the world: “Not in my name”.
Jewish soldiers also bear witness to Israeli state inhumanities
In the book Breaking the Silence, hundreds of Israeli soldiers, in testimony collected over the decade 2000 to 2010, reveal on a human scale and in vivid detail how, with the determination to thwart any possibility of independence, the Israeli Army has enforced its ‘separation of populations’ programme. Israel’s toll on Palestinian life, limb, liberty and property can be seen in the daily newsletters and reports at www.palestine.org.nz. The Zionist regime, in common with the earlier state-sponsored separatists that preceded it, has created myriad ‘laws’ in order to strengthen and maintain the purpose of its rule.
Legalising discrimination and the absence of a Constitution
David A Kirshbaum (Israel Law Resource Centre), in his analysis of the legal foundations of the Israeli state, ISRAELI APARTHEID – A Basic Legal Perspective – demonstrates how “in order for it to accomplish its national goals of creating a Jewish State with a majority Jewish population to dominate its democracy, the Zionist organisations and the Israeli government have had to both oppress its native Palestinian Arab population and drive it out of its ancestral home-country – both crimes against humanity – grave violations of international law – legally and commonly known as apartheid and ethnic cleansing.” Kirshbaum sets out in detail the contradictions and contortions required in accommodating Zionism’s ideological requirements. He explains that “. . . many believe this is the reason the Knesset has not been able to develop a real Constitution or Bill of Rights. In their stead they have created a set of ‘Basic Laws’ which are not able to be used to control the law-making activities of the Knesset, and a quasi-Bill of Rights that mentions a few civil rights such as right to privacy, but still does not mention equal rights, as does Israel’s declaration of independence.”
The challenge New Zealand faces
Peter Dunne made the timely observation in his column that “New Zealand’s challenge is to determine its future role”. He reminded us that “during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 New Zealand won plaudits for not joining the so called Coalition of the Willing, saying that as a believer in a rules-based international system it preferred to be working to a United Nations mandate. It is time once more to recommit to that approach.”
As the world descends a steepening slope towards an abyss of universal chaos, Permanent Security Council members seem incapable of learning from their mistakes. New Zealand’s profit-serving ‘special relationships’ have caused us to turn a blind eye to injustices that keep the world divided. We should be using what little time we have left at the Security Council to persuade world leaders that the very survival of humanity depends upon the urgent salvation of respect for international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention enshrines the lessons that were supposed to have been learned from the horrors of the Second World War. It embodies the best that is in all of us – to turn our backs on it now would be an irrational and perilous betrayal of humanity.