A Shalom Kiwi article entitled “Where is there a safe space for Jews?” asks the wrong question.The seemingly anonymous writer’s website is called Shalom Kiwi, which ought to suggest thatthey should feel safe in New Zealand. Or does Shalom Kiwi not believe that Jews are accorded equal rights here at home? Jews are also regarded as equal citizens elsewhere of course. On 9 July, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau, said 85% of American Jews never visit Israel. Speaking at a conference organised by the ultra-Orthodox daily newspaper Hamodia, hesaid that the biggest issues facing American Jews were intermarriage and apathy about the Jewish state. Lau is quite right of course, Jews are also feel safe and at home in the UnitedStates.
Zionism constantly seeks to divert attention from its human rights abuses by suggesting that without Israel, Jews would not be safe. On 27 January this year, the NZ Holocaust Centre issued a Press Release on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Referring to the recent targeting of minorities in the US and other Western countries, the statement included the following remark from a speaker at the Wellington commemoration:
“Sadly we are not immune in New Zealand. There was a rapid rise in hate speech against the Jewish community following the Government’s support of the United Nations Resolution on Israel.”
This shocking news seemed to suggest that the New Zealand Government’s support for Security Council Resolution 2334 had in some way encouraged or instigated hate speech. Because there were no instances of such in their Press Release, we emailed the Centre, asking them to send us examples of it, along with the identities of the perpetrators. Hate speech must always be challenged, never ignored. They replied to us on 30 January in an email that read, in full:
“Whilst the Holocaust Centre agrees with the Race Relations Commissioner that hate speech must be combated vigorously, the further circulation of such material will not be coming from this office.”
We then asked the Holocaust Centre how we might obtain examples of the hate speech to which they had drawn attention but, to date, we have received no response.
Shalom Kiwi’s writer also claims that “Zionism is colour blind” and treats its citizens equally. Tell that to Israel’s Bedouin citizens! On 20 July, the Israeli Government destroyed a Bedouin homein the village of Wadi Na’am in the Naqab, southern Israel. The village of Wadi Na’am is one of 35 Bedouin villages in the Naqab region not ‘recognised’ by the Zionist state. The Arab Follow-up Committee, which advocates for Arab rights in Israel, said more than 200 Arab families in the Naqab have received demolition or evacuation orders. It set up several protest tents around the Naqab area, which will remain in place until 27 July, when a regional rally is planned to protest against anti-Arab measures taken by the Israeli Government in the Naqab, home to 240,000 Bedouin. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Israel refuses to ‘recognise’ more than half of the Naqab Bedouin villages. ACRI said the government uses a variety of measures to pressure Bedouin to move into government-planned urban centres that disregard their lifestyle and needs. Whole communities have been issued demolition orders and others have no option but to continue living in ‘unrecognised’ villages that are denied basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water.
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 Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Mount Herzl – on the land of the Palestinian village of Ein Karem, 1400 metres south of the 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 the group:
“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.”
Righteous Jews 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 Loewenstein, 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.
UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, supports the Palestinian refugees’ right both to return and to receive financial compensation for lost property: “. . .refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property . . .” The state of Israel claims legitimacy, derived under UNGA Resolution 273 admitting Israel as a member state to the UN on 11 May 1949, dependent upon Israel implementing other UN resolutions, includingResolutions 194 and 181.