The Israel Institute of New Zealand (IINZ) website carries a video message from National MP Alfred Ngaro, dated 23 December 2018, with the title National MP Alfred Ngaro on Israel and 2334. The same video can also be seen on YouTube – but under the heading New Zealand MP Alfred Ngaro – a staunch Zionist. The IINZ introduction to the video says: “National Party List MP, Hon Alfred Ngaro . . . recorded this video in which he declares his personal commitment to Israel while reminding his viewers of New Zealand’s historic support for the Jewish nation”. In his less than five-minute delivery, Ngaro states repeatedly: “I am a Zionist”.
God’s chosen people
At the start of his video, the National MP tells us: “I was raised with a grandmother who was both a Cook Islander and a Jew.” Later he informs us that his Christian “faith has me believe in upholding the nation of Israel and the Jews as God’s chosen people.” He repeats the message further on, saying: “I am a Christian who holds Israel and Jews as God’s chosen people”.
In the video he asserts: “There is no stronger case than the Jews in proving their connection for over 3,000 years to their ancestral homeland, through archaeology and genetic studies and historical and biblical texts that confirm that Judea and Samaria are their Jewish homelands”. In the real world, Jewish academics, both Israeli and non-Israeli, provide abundant evidence to refute such Zionist propaganda. The author of the video would do well to read works by Israeli Professors Ilan Pappe and Shlomo Sand, as well as works by other non-Zionist authors, both within Israel and beyond. The ‘Judea and Samaria’ that the National MP refers to as Jewish homeland actually constitute what is internationally recognised as the Palestinian West Bank, illegally and brutally suppressed under Israeli military Occupation. Israel, in blatant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, is colonising the West Bank at fearful cost to the indigenous Palestinians, who are not, it seems, “God’s chosen people.” Nowhere in the video are the Palestinian people given the slightest consideration or even mention.
Israel, in fact, imposes a racist, military dictatorship over the West Bank, illegally imposing ever greater numbers of colonists in segregated Jewish-only settlements. Palestinian citizens in the West Bank are treated with contempt. Their land is seized and freedom of movement severely restricted, simply because they are not Jewish. While night home invasions of Palestinian family homes continue relentlessly, many others are being destroyed for not having the foreign Occupying power’s licence to build. Israel’s heartless population-control policy serves the Zionist determination to make life for Palestinians as miserable as possible.
Ngaro should listen to the voices of, for instance, Jewish Voice for Peace in the US or the UK’s Jews for Justice for Palestinians. They echo the feelings of non-Zionist Jews the world over, who are insulted by Zionism’s arrogant claim to speak for all Jews. Australia’s first Jewish Governor-General (1931-1936), Sir Isaac Isaacs, described Zionism as “a monstrous historical crime and curse.” Many Christians also repudiate the fundamentalism that chooses to look away from Israel’s crimes against humanity, or even exonerate them. Within Israel, the Zochrot movement supports the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their country. The very idea that any one people should be favoured over others ought to have died at the end of the Second World War.
Alfred Ngaro’s video address recalls the Allied capture of Beersheba, with the help of New Zealand forces, during the First World War. However, the video fails to acknowledge that support came also from native Palestinians who had been led to believe that defeat of the Ottoman Empire would be followed by self-determination. Anzac and Palestinian soldiers fought together, and there is a memorial commemorating Palestine on one side of the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Anzac war graves can be found throughout Palestine. Two of them are in Gaza — carefully preserved in Deir al-Balah and Gaza City. Today, ruthlessly denied self-determination, Palestinians in Gaza (over 40% of whom are refugees from other areas in Palestine) are imprisoned by Israel in what has been internationally acknowledged to be the largest ghetto in history.
On 1 November 2017, The New York Times described Beersheba, now re-named by Israel as Be’er Sheva, as an “ancient Palestine city, having much strategic value.” During the annual commemorations at Beersheba, even though being a mere 50 kilometres away, the population of Gaza is ignored as Israel continues its now almost 12-year-old increasingly crippling blockade.
Alfred Ngaro: “If seeing is believing then I challenge those who oppose and protest against Israel to go as I did and see for yourself, Israel, a place where people of all ethnicities, Jews Africans and Arabs and all religions, Muslim, Christian, and atheists can enjoy equality and live in freedom, and prosperity under democratic law.”
While visiting Israel, did Alfred Ngaro meet and speak with any of the courageous Israeli soldiers who speak up for the Palestinian people? Breaking the Silence describes itself as “an organisation of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. We endeavour to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life. Our work aims to bring an end to the occupation.” Has the National MP viewed any of the abundant photographic and video evidence of cowardly Israeli soldiers terrorising Palestinian children?
Contrary to the Zionist narrative, there is no guarantee of full equality between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. The Israeli Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) observes that “the right to equality is not yet enshrined in laws regarding most aspects of life, prejudice and discrimination still run rampant throughout Israeli society”. As the legal academic, Aeyal Gross, says: “Equality cannot be recognised on the constitutional level” since that would challenge “the inequality created by the complete identification of the state with only one group”. While Israel does not have a formal, written constitution, it does have a Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, adopted in 1992. That law, however, does not recognise equality as a stand alone, independent, right. Significant weight is given to the nature of Israel as a Jewish state and its goals, at the expense of the fundamental rights concerned. Freely admitted by senior officials, Israel is not a state of all its citizens. Palestinian citizens of Israel face systematic discrimination in law and policy. Take one example, the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, first adopted in 2003 (PDF), that imposes severe restrictions on the right of Israeli citizens to apply for permits for their Palestinian spouses and children from the Occupied Palestinian Territory to enter and reside in Israel for purposes of family unification.
Israel has a “nation-state” law asserting that only Jews have the right of self-determination in Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu told the Knesset that the passing of the law was “. . . a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel”. The law stipulates: “Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it”.
Equality, accountability and the rule of the law
Alfred Ngaro tells viewers: “I have an elected responsibility to uphold the democratic principles of equality, accountability and the rule of the law.” That being so, why does the National MP say in his video that New Zealand’s vote in favour of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 was a failure?
A reminder: Security Council Resolution 446 (22 March 1979) affirmed (yet again) that the Fourth Geneva Convention was “applicable to Palestinian land, including Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967”. The Resolution also determined that “the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories . . . have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”. This Security Council Resolution strongly deplored the failure of Israel to abide by UNSC Resolutions 237, 252 and 298, as well as General Assembly Resolutions 2253 and 2254. The Resolution specifically condemned any attempt by Israel to materially affect the demographic composition of territory Occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem in particular, and to desist from undertaking any transfer of parts of its own civilian population into Occupied Palestinian territory.
Zionists claim that Israel is unjustly singled out but, in reality, its isolation is self-imposed. The 14 members of the Security Council who passed UN Security Council Resolution 2334 are far more representative of world opinion than are the supporters of Zionism. Nonetheless, it will take more than the mere passing of UN resolutions to bring an end to the Zionist state’s dismal record of disregard for international humanitarian law. Marking UN Human Rights Day on 10 December 2016, a statement by European jurists reaffirmed the legitimacy of the right of world citizens to support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The statement came as a reminder of the failure of States to abide by their commitment, made in 2005, to “strictly respect the aims and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
Last month, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel refused to issue travel permits for hundreds of Palestinian Christians from Gaza to make Easter pilgrimages to holy sites in Jerusalem (the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) and Bethlehem (the Church of the Nativity). The Israeli human rights group Gisha described the discrimination as “a flagrant violation of the freedom of movement, freedom of worship and freedom of enjoying family life for the Christians in Gaza.” Father Ibrahim Shomali, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said worshippers should not even be required to get permits.
While Alfred Ngaro declares: “I am a Zionist because I am also a Christian”, his fellow Christians in Palestine have issued an appeal to the world through the Kairos Document (20 April 2019), about what is being done to Palestine: “Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God. We address it first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace.” The Christian community in Palestine appeals to reason and urges “the international community to stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle against oppression, displacement, and apartheid.”
Two essential principles of faith contained in the Christian Kairos Document remind us of our shared humanitarian responsibilities:
The commandment of love: Christ our Lord said: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34). He has already showed us how to love and how to treat our enemies. He said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous (…) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:45-47). Saint Paul also said: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil” (Rom. 12:17). Saint Peter said: “Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called” (1 Pet. 3:9).
Resistance: This word is clear. Love is the commandment of Christ our Lord to us and it includes both friends and enemies. This must be clear when we find ourselves in circumstances where we must resist evil of whatever kind. Love is seeing the face of God in every human being. Every person is my brother or my sister. However, seeing the face of God in everyone does not mean accepting evil or aggression on their part. Rather, this love seeks to correct the evil and stop the aggression.
Abhishek Solomon, Parish Superintendent at the Devonport Methodist Parish is asking New Zealanders to support an appeal from Global Kairos for Justice for signatures to its petition. The petition calls for action in local and regional events on or around 15 May 2019, the anniversary of the 1948 catastrophe (Nakba) visited upon the Palestinian people. The imposition of the State of Israel forced more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees from their homes and villages in 78% of Palestine. To this day, they and their descendants remain refugees, their right of return refused by Israel. As the prophet, Isaiah, wrote: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.” (Isaiah 1:17)
Supremacist ideologies run counter to “the democratic principles of equality, accountability and the rule of the law” that Alfred Ngaro admits to having “an elected responsibility to uphold”. Agencies, such as The Israel Institute of New Zealand, “dedicated to providing New Zealanders with a better understanding of the State of Israel”, will go on covering for Zionist violations of international humanitarian law, right up until the ideology’s inevitable demise. In a Press Release published on 28 April, ACT MP David Seymour took our Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt, to task because he had “failed to condemn” what he asserted was “the anti-Semitism of UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.” Hate speech against Corbyn, fostered by the Israel lobby, is spreading and now being openly expressed in New Zealand. [There will be more on this subject later – watch this space!]
Yet we must never give up hope for those who genuinely fall under the spell of ideology. Imagine a future in which Zionist Christians, awakened by voices of reason and justice, find themselves able to embrace their Christian brethren in the Holy Land and recognise our shared humanity with all who live there.