Some Zionists assert that there is no such thing as Palestine, going so far as to deny its culture and history. The history of Palestine goes back at least to the 5th century BC. (See also Mazin Qumsiyeh’s Sharing the Land of Canaan.) As Tony Greenstein has observed, even the Zionist newspaper, The Jerusalem Post was once named The Palestine Post and many Zionists, such as Shimon Peres, became citizens of Palestine before they became citizens of Israel. In earlier days, Zionists did indeed recognise the Palestinian people – but merely as an obstacle to colonising their land. In 1923, the founder father of Israel’s Army, Vladimir Yevgenievich Jabotinsky, wrote an essay entitled The Iron Wall in which he noted that: “Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonised . . . it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting Palestine from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority.”
Earlier this month, in the Israeli-Occupied Palestinian West Bank, people gathered in front of a checkpoint in Hebron to protest against the military occupation. Around 40 Israeli soldiers and police officers, firing stun grenades and tear gas, had raided the district of Bab al-Zawiya and occupied the roofs of Palestinian homes. On video, as Israeli Occupation forces were intimidating international volunteers expressing sympathy for Palestinians, an Israeli officer can be clearly heard referring to Hebron as being in Israel. This ideological brainwashing gives away Israel’s true purpose behind Zionist military rule in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem. On the 22nd of this month, came the announcement that Israel is to build 650 new settlement units in West Bank. All the talk of ‘negotiations’, and of Israel’s ‘search for a partner for peace’, evaporates into thin air with such announcements.
The paucity of news media coverage regarding Israel’s recent armed and totally unjustifiable hijackings of Freedom Flotilla vessels in international waters was mirrored by the shameful failure of Western governments to condemn the Zionist state’s brutal treatment of the defenceless crews and passengers. The lack of outrage has added to Israel’s growing impunity.
On Thursday, 9 August, an Israeli air strike deliberately destroyed a multi-storey building that housed a theatre and cultural centre. Not just an arts centre, the building also provided a recreation centre for children traumatised by repeated Israeli air strikes and shelling. In Britain, 14 leading playwrights and directors, appalled at UK news media and UK Government silence, in a letter to The Guardian, severely criticised the bombing, calling it a “devastating loss for the already isolated community”. The letter’s authors acknowledged the deep pain felt with “the obliteration of this symbol of Palestinian culture and identity” as the people of Gaza “mourn the destruction of one of the few large venues for theatre and music performances in besieged Gaza.” This air strike occurred on the same day that a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old daughter were killed in an Israeli air strike on their home.
Further silence has greeted the news that Israel’s intensified blockade enforcement has now forced a halt to chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients in Gaza. A UN report has found that Israel conducts “deliberate attacks on civilians” with “the intention of spreading terror” and has determined that the Gaza blockade deprives “Palestinians . . . of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country.” In other words, Israel is guilty of war crimes. And this control of the entry of goods extends also to the rest of Palestine. A New York Times article dated 15 August reports the delivery of mail held up by Israel for eight years and that a 2016 ‘agreement’ to allow the Palestinian postal service to receive mail directly has never been honoured by Israel.
For how much longer will the world continue to stand by and ignore Israel’s use of war planes and tanks to attack defenceless Palestinians? In the West Bank, Palestinian homes are frequently invaded, very often in the middle of the night, with children and other minors terrorised. Blindfolded and shackled, youngsters are taken away from their families to face travesties of justice in Israeli military courts. The heartbreaking cutting down of Palestinian olive trees, the bulldozing of crops and other acts of spiteful agricultural sabotage are carried out by both the Israeli Army and settlers. Then there is the destruction of Palestinian family homes and even whole villages. None of it attracts much, if any, mainstream news media interest and practically none, either, from our politicians. With unconditional support from America and deferential semi-silence from other governments, Israel literally gets away with murder – and why? An article entitled, Israel is an inextricable part of the West, published by the Friends of Israel Initiative, reveals the politics.
Bringing Israel to account
The International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel’s separation barrier, annexing land in the Palestinian West Bank, is illegal. The advisory opinion goes further, also ruling that Israel must both dismantle the barrier and offer reparation to those it harmed. Every signatory to the fourth Geneva convention – that is, most UN member states – is obliged to bring pressure upon Israel to comply with international humanitarian law. So far, the world community has made no attempt to enforce the Court’s ruling. Instead, the Palestinian people have been, and are still being, pressured to negotiate away their non-negotiable rights. This principle totally favours Israel. There is only one way to describe this, and that is stand-over coercion. No legally recognisable, sustainable agreement can emerge from ‘negotiations’ between, on the one hand, an immensely powerful Occupying power and, on the other, a defenceless population being subjected to relentless daily terror. The process serves Israel’s Zionist agenda by circumventing not only the International Court of Justice’s ruling but also consideration of all the other Israeli violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, including the denial of right of return to ethnically-cleansed Palestinians. The so-called two-state solution is, in any case, a myth because Israel has made it perfectly clear that it will never allow a Palestinian ‘state’ to have either sovereignty over its airspace or any means of defence.
BDS – setting the example
Tired of Western politicians avoiding their responsibility for the observance of international law and the upholding of Palestinian human rights, an international movement has emerged that sets a real and practical example to the world. Advocating freedom, justice and equality, it is called the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. A basic BDS demand is that, while Israel continues to Occupy and oppress millions of Palestinians, there should be no “business as usual” with the Zionist regime. The movement has had significant achievements since its inception 13 years ago and it has awakened the world to some very fundamental principles with regard to resisting the racist Zionist objective.
The Palestinian Authority’s security and economic collaboration with the Israeli Army and its military Occupation regime has been exposed and the anti-Occupation struggle has widened further to one against Zionist apartheid. Major businesses have been targeted and deterred from profiting further in the Zionist enterprise. Film festivals, concerts, exhibitions, academic and sports organisations, all have been affected and, in many instances, brought to support BDS. The movement has exposed the very nature of Zionism for what it is, the real source of Israel’s undemocratic practices and the unjustifiable privileging of Jewish over non-Jewish rights, especially the denial of the right of return of Palestinian refugees. For BDS, freedom, equality and justice mean: freedom for the residents of the militarily-Occupied territories, equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel and justice for Palestinian refugees, including the right to return to their homes.
BDS has opened minds to the reality that Israel, through its conduct and laws, is acting against human rights. The demands of Palestinian citizens of Israel for equality, and of refugees for return, are central issues which, until now, have been ignored. The BDS movement’s charge of apartheid against Israel is based upon legal precedent, namely the crime of apartheid as defined in international conventions and the founding statute of the International Criminal Court, “an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime”.
BDS does not just provide a voice for the Palestinian cause. It unravels the ideologically-inspired equivocation and diversions, behind which Zionism believed it could develop its project, largely unobserved. The game is up now, especially since the passing of Israel’s latest Basic Law – Israel as The Nation State of the Jewish People. This Basic Law reflects the common cause of all Palestinians and it shines a powerful light upon the racist ideological purpose of Israel’s founding ideology. The evolution of the Zionist programme has driven the Palestinian people into various states of humiliation and subservience. In Israel, Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem they live subject to foreign military rule, in Gaza they exist as prisoners in a blockaded ghetto. Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza have no refuge from Israeli military brutality and the remainder are banished to live in the diaspora. All are denied their right of return.
Follow the example
BDS is the global response to America’s obstruction of international law that has so far shielded Israel from accountability. It offers rational guidance and education for those confused and misled by Zionist hasbara and the movement sets an example, based solidly upon international human rights law that every UN member state can, and should, follow. International law forbids Israel from annexing territory acquired by force, yet we do nothing to help the Palestinian people obtain justice. The supporters of Zionism would have us see the daily injustice and cruelty as commonplace and therefore unremarkable, even acceptable. But these violations are against international human rights law and thus challenge the whole world community.
The One Democratic State Campaign
The success of BDS in awakening the world to a greater awareness of the true nature of Zionism has helped to bring about a new initiative for renewed serious debate on how to achieve a single democratic state in all of historic Palestine. The programme is just beginning and intends to, in the words of the Mondoweiss editor “reach out to many more people, both in 1948 Palestine and in the West Bank, Gaza, Palestinian communities in the exile and the wide international solidarity movement.” The campaign organisers hope to launch a wide conference before the year’s end, in which contributions from new participants could be included to update the programme in preparation for a launching on an even greater scale.
The One Democratic State (ODS) is based upon the following, summarised principles:
■ The establishment of a single constitutional democracy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River as a state belonging to all its citizens, including the Palestinian refugees.
■ Full implementation of the Right of Return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants, those who were expelled in 1948 and thereafter, whether living in exile abroad or currently living in historic Palestine, including those with Israeli citizenship.
■ No State law, institution or practices shall discriminate among its citizens on the basis of ethnic identity, national or cultural belonging, or on the basis of colour, gender, language, religion, political opinion, property or sexual orientation.
■ The Constitution will also protect collective rights and the freedom of association, whether national, ethnic, religious, class or gender.
■ Normal procedures for obtaining citizenship will be extended to those willing to immigrate to the country.
■ Common civil institutions, in particular educational, cultural and economic.
■ Economic policy must address the decades of exploitation and discrimination which have sown deep socio-economic gaps among the people living in the country.
■ The State shall uphold international law and seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts through negotiation and collective security in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
■ The ODS Campaign will join with all progressive forces in the Arab world struggling for democracy, social justice and egalitarian societies free from tyranny and foreign domination.
■ The ODS Campaign views itself as a part of the democratic and progressive forces striving for an alternative global order that shall be pluralistic and sustainable, more just, egalitarian and humanistic and free of exploitation, racism, intolerance, oppression, wars, colonialism and imperialism.
For further detail see The One Democratic State
The Zionist ideology’s colonialist attitude towards the Palestinian people, their land and their property, has resulted in 70 years of injustice and inequality. A Jewish National Fund (JNF) website comments that the 1967 Six-Day War “started a fresh page in the history of Israel and the JNF was enlisted to develop new areas for settlement.” Over the years, Israeli belligerence has reached ever-outwards, with 50 years of military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and 11 years of stifling blockade that has totally crippled the Gaza economy. In July this year, Israel came more out into the open with the adoption of a ‘basic law’. The status of the Arabic language is downgraded and, regarding settlements, the law confirms that: “The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.” Israel’s Basic Law: Israel Lands (1960) stipulates that ownership of the land is “controlled by the state, Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Development Authority.” The JNF has a “hugely influential” role in Israeli land policies and Palestinian citizens are barred from leasing about 80% of the land.
As Gideon Levy explains in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, talk of Israel being “Jewish and democratic” is nonsensical. It is, as he says, “a combination that never existed and could never exist because of the inherent contradiction between the two values that cannot be reconciled, except by deception. If the state is Jewish, it cannot be democratic, because of the lack of equality; if it’s democratic, it cannot be Jewish, because a democracy does not bestow privilege based on ethnicity.” The years of pretending that the privilege enjoyed by Israeli settlers in Hebron, along with the terror and insecurity it foists upon the Palestinian people there, must surely be over. Can we still ignore the destruction of Bedouin homes and villages in the Jordan Valley and not acknowledge that it is all part of the one Zionist regime?
The BDS and ODS campaigns expose the bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the so-called Two-State Solution and the Oslo Accords for what they are, time-buying diversions created to facilitate the incremental realisation of everything Zionism set out to acquire. The Jewish Virtual Library quotes Jabotinsky revealing the true Zionist view of ‘negotiations’ – “We cannot offer any adequate compensation to the Palestinian Arabs in return for Palestine. And therefore, there is no likelihood of any voluntary agreement being reached. So that all those who regard such an agreement as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say “non” and withdraw from Zionism.” As the US-based attorney and human rights activist, Stanley L Cohen so aptly expresses it: BDS compels no one to join it; it constrains no one but by force of reason, and the logic of justice. After 70 years, including over half a century of the Zionist regime’s military occupation outside its internationally-recognised borders, it is time to awake to the reality. A Zionist regime cannot possibly represent all Jews. Jewish and non-Jewish opponents of Zionism alike, have deplored the ideology’s assumptions and prejudices and warned of the consequences that would ensue if the world were to surrender to its ambition. If there is to be peace, the path undertaken over past decades is clearly not leading towards it; rather it has inexorably led to disaster.
There is no future in continuing to work for peace with ‘traditional allies’ who still cling to failed policy, particularly the US, which has surrendered completely to Israel’s demands. Noam Chomsky, the renowned American author and laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona, has recently highlighted the Zionist regime’s influence over US politics. In an interview, he said that Israel’s influence extends “. . . even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies — what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015.” Chomsky went on to emphasise that Israel exercises overwhelming influence in US politics.
Joining the path to peace
News, on 22 August, from the J-Wire Newsdesk, of the official launching of a New Zealand-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, included an expression of hope from the Israeli Ambassador, Dr Itzhak Gerberg, that formation of the group will lead to “closer collaboration between the two countries”. Israel is anxious to gain greater political influence here, especially since we sponsored Security Council Resolution 2334. The Ambassador even referred to what he called “Israel and New Zealand’s shared liberal values.” New Zealanders must firmly remind the Ambassador that ethnocentric ideology is not welcome, either in New Zealand or, for that matter, anywhere in the civilised world of the 21st century.
With the BDS and ODS campaigns comes the opportunity for contribution and participation towards a civilised alternative. Are New Zealand’s lawmakers and politicians willing to join the debate and help shape the future? A fresh approach, based upon unwavering support for human rights and international law could lead to an enlightened future, freeing the Holy Land from Zionist colonialism. The foundation of a truly democratic state in all of historic Palestine would be the best guarantee of real peace and a brighter future for all. Uniting towards this common goal would, once more, bring to the fore those sorely neglected principles of justice and humanity upon which the future of all humanity depends.