The Israel Institute of New Zealand (IINZ) has welcomed a New Conservative Party NZ press release, urging the New Zealand Government to “do more to support Israel”. The IINZ backs the New Conservative demand that our country move its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, commenting: “Putting a New Zealand ambassador in Jerusalem will send two strong signals: that the relationship is valued and important; and that New Zealand understands that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.” It also supports another New Conservative demand that New Zealand “recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights”, noting with satisfaction that: “It is notable that the recent US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights caused some media attention but no significant or violent opposition from Arab states.” In yet another assault against international law, peace and stability, the IINZ endorses the New Conservative Party call for New Zealand to “apologise” for our “sponsoring of Resolution 2334”.
On 18 November, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, speaking at the State Department, justified Washington’s shift in policy towards Israeli settlements by declaring that they did not violate international law. He claimed that his decision to take the view of Israeli courts that “the legal conclusions relating to individual settlements must depend on an assessment of specific facts and circumstances on the ground” had been made after “carefully studying all sides of the legal debate.” This unreserved complicity with Israel completely ignores a 1978 State Department legal opinion declaring that Israel’s settlements in the Occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.”
The “specific facts and circumstances on the ground” referred to by Israel are, of course, that the Zionist regime is taking advantage of its military Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to seize land, in order to transfer a portion of its population into settlements on Occupied territory. This not only violates the Fourth Geneva Convention but also impose a fearful cost upon the native Palestinian population. It is interesting to note that Pompeo, while he took care to say “we are not addressing or prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank”, then goes on to dismiss the Palestinian people’s right to a swift end to Israel’s illegal Occupation and colonisation of the territory, by claiming that “this is for the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate.”
It is barbaric to suggest that a defenceless people should be compelled or required to negotiate with their oppressor while being held in the thrall of foreign military Occupation. How could any agreement be determined as just or equitable under such stand-over circumstances? Human rights and the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention are non-negotiable and every United Nations member state is bound by them.
In his statement, Pompeo made a chilling and irrational observation – he said: “there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.” Zionism and its allies are determined to undermine international law and rules-based international agreements whenever and wherever they see them as conflicting with their interests. For them, peace has nothing to do with justice but must be enforced on their terms. This has to be resisted before it is too late.
The New Conservative Party appears to regard the plight of Palestinian refugees with cold indifference. The IINZ‘s new ally says it is committed to “Encourage and financially assist surrounding countries (Arab nations) to accept and grant full citizenship to refugees.” With cynical approval, the IINZ states: “Sadly, the refugees that fled the British Mandate of Palestine were not welcomed by their Arab brothers and sisters.”
The Palestinians were brutally and callously terrorised and driven out of their homeland by Israeli forces. It is Zionism that does not welcome Palestinian refugees; it is Israel that denies their right of return. What Zionism cannot tolerate is that UN refugee camps for Palestinians illustrate the dreadful consequences of Zionism’s discriminatory purpose and ambition.
The Israel Institute believes that the permanent removal or “absorption”, as it puts it, of Palestinian refugees “would be in keeping with all other displaced people in the world and put an end to the exceptionalism that is applied to the Arab Palestinians.” Another Zionist ploy, to divert attention elsewhere! For Israel, naming and holding the perpetrator responsible for past and present war crimes is “exceptionalism”.
The United Nations
The New Conservative Party condemns UNRWA and calls for an immediate end to New Zealand’s funding of the organisation. The IINZ supports this, repeating the Zionist claim that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency “is an obstacle to peace.” Neither of these Zionist organisations will give recognition to the fact that the status of Palestinian refugees derives from the principles of international law. The role of UNRWA is to provide a level of social services for refugees – UNRWA does not, and cannot itself, determine who is and who isn’t a refugee. Chapter 1, paragraph 6 of the UNHCR Handbook reminds the world that the right of refugees to return to their country of origin is fully recognised in international law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) established in article 13 (2) that: “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country” and “sets the code of conduct and serves as a point of reference for all universal and regional human rights instruments subsequently adopted.”
IHRA definition of anti-Semitism
The New Conservative Party affirms its commitment to adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working definition of antisemitism. The Israel Institute states that the definition is “especially useful in identifying the ‘new antisemitism’ that manifests as a denial of the right of Jews to have self-determination in their indigenous lands.”
In truth, the definition threatens the right to free expression. Anyone, whether Jewish or not, has the right to campaign for a single-state solution that would allow a democratic, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Palestine to be established. In fact, many Jews and non-Jews alike are united in their support for such an outcome. Geoffrey Alderman, writing in The Jewish Telegraph last July, expressed his views as to why the IHRA anti-Semitism definition is flawed. The link to the article has been updated with a different subject by the same author but it has also been presented elsewhere, including the Independent newspaper and Jewish Voice for Labour. In Justice Magazine, a journal published by the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Michael Whine discusses the UK Government’s adoption of the definition, observing that, in spite of the deference afforded it, including that from many other elected UK bodies and political parties, it is still, nevertheless, not “a binding legal act”.
The IHRA Working Definition is couched in confusing language. It maintains that what it calls ‘antisemitism’ “may” be expressed (but not necessarily) as hatred towards Jews, it gives no indication as to how else it might be expressed. The definition condemns, as Alderman puts it, “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”. But as Israel is not alone in being accused of carrying out policies reminiscent of the Nazis, how can such a comparison be construed as anti-Semitic? Alderman takes care to point out that he does not “believe any Israeli government has, in fact, ever pursued policies remotely reminiscent of the Nazis.” Others, however, may feel that Zionist acts of racism and gross abuses of human rights are carried out in the spirit, if not to the same degree, as those committed by the Hitler regime.
Racism and contempt for ‘the other’ is very apparent in the daily conduct of Israel’s military Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. At present in Tel Aviv, a new photographic exhibition will stand as witness for former Israeli soldiers detailing the abuses they saw and even took part in. The Exhibition is due to close on 5 December. A former sergeant, Omry Balely, recalled enduring weeks of boredom at a roadblock near Jericho: “When you’re at a checkpoint, you’re in a daily routine of controlling the lives of other people. Who enters and who doesn’t is in your hands – a 19-year-old kid with power.” The soldiers would entertain themselves by taunting the Palestinians, “denying entry or exit to those who said the ‘wrong’ thing. The ex-soldiers‘ protest organisation, Breaking the Silence, hopes the exhibition will show the public something of the reality of everyday life for Palestinians. The soldiers stand up at great personal risk, there has even been an arson attack on their office. Yehuda Shaul, an ex-combat soldier, writes of what he called “deterrent firing”, that is “shooting every day before the Palestinian militants had even started attacking.” Some would describe that as provocation and it is certainly reminiscent of the enormous disproportion between the numbers of Israeli Gaza ceasefire violations and those from the Palestinian side.
The Israel Institute, the New Conservative Party NZ and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) use only one term to collectively describe not only anti-Jewish prejudice but also criticism of Zionism and the State of Israel. That term is ‘anti-Semitism’. Why would they not prefer to employ the more direct term ‘anti-Jewish’? They never do and it is, perhaps, time to seek a working definition of Zionist rhetoric. The chief victims of the Zionist enterprise are the Palestinians, themselves a Semitic people. Remember, the Israel Institute believes that the permanent removal or “absorption”, as it puts it, of Palestinian refugees “would be in keeping with all other displaced people in the world and put an end to the exceptionalism that is applied to the Arab Palestinians.” Zionism would have the world imagine that the term ‘Semitic’ applies only to Jews and, accordingly, would prefer Palestinians to disappear, both from our consciousness as well as from Palestine.
The Zionist Manifesto
The Zionist lobby is all-powerful in the US and, in the UK, it also has disproportionate influence. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, which claims to represent all Jewish people in Britain, has recently published an update to what it calls The Jewish Manifesto. Here are some quotes, along with counter-Zionism responses:
■ “Israel often receives disproportionate attention at organisations such as the United Nations Human Rights Council in regard to its everyday actions.”
Israel makes no attempt to reform, accept accountability or even apologise for its over 70 years of relentless violations of international humanitarian law. Instead of changing its behaviour, the Zionist regime evasively complains of what it calls ‘disproportionate attention’ to what it admits are its “everyday actions”.
■ “Israel is of great strategic importance to the UK. As an ally, Israel offers stability in a region characterised by growing political uncertainty.”
With human rights routinely falling victim to Great Power strategic interests, Israel is a good customer for the profitable UK arms industry. Nothing could be more destabilising than the exercise of Zionist hegemony over the Palestinian people.
■ “During the Holocaust, the Nazis and their allies and collaborators used state apparatus to confiscate Jewish property: including both private property, such as homes, businesses, art and jewellery, and communal infrastructure.”
It was Britain’s Mandatory government that introduced the demolition of Palestinian houses, as a form of collective punishment from 1936 to 1939. It is a tool that appealed to European Zionist ideology. From the very beginning of the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Israeli Army began destroying Palestinian homes, and so it continues.
Israel annexes Palestinian land as it pleases, its armed forces frequently destroying Palestinian water storage and reticulation facilities, businesses and even livestock shelters. Solar panels donated by the EU are often seized or destroyed and Israeli soldiers, invading Palestinian homes, even commit armed robbery, seizing cash, jewellery, computers etc. The Army also collaborates with illegal settlers imposed by military force upon Palestinian land.
Israeli Occupation and blockade update
From 13 to 26 November inclusive, there were 98 Palestinian and 139 Israeli (including 87 air strikes) Gaza ceasefire violations. Israeli forces killed 24 Palestinians and wounded/injured 104 (including 14 children and youngsters – aged from 2 to 17). There were no Palestinian ceasefire violations for ten days, whereas Israeli ceasefire violations occurred every day except for one during the same period.
Among the many, daily, human rights violations perpetrated by Israel during the period, Occupation settler fanatics invaded Qarawat Bani Hassan, slashing the tyres of 20 vehicles and spray-painting racist graffiti on the walls of several homes, while in al-Tuwani village a Palestinian olive harvester, Basil Al-Adrat, was injured by a savage dog during a raid by settler. In Hebron, militants from the Beit Hadasa Israeli Occupation settlement outpost invaded a Palestinian home, and began building living accommodation for themselves on the roof of the house. On 21 November, settler arsonists destroyed around 100 Palestinian olive trees and on 22 November, Israeli settler militants attacked and hospitalised 11 Palestinians, bringing the total of wounded and injured to 82. On the following day, an 18-month-old child and two adults became hospitalised victims of yet another settler assault. On the 25 November, Israeli settlers raided Sabastya village and set fire to approximately 40 olive trees, and there were more racist settler vandalism raids.
For its part, the Israeli Army arrogantly demonstrated its malevolence by seizing, for its own use, land in four West Bank Palestinian village areas. Israeli forces also raided a Bedouin community in the Jabal Al-Baba area of al-Eizariya, destroying a road and a water pipeline that serviced the Bedouin community. Israeli forces also continued with home invasions and a variety of oppressive population-control methods. On the 25 November, Israeli Army bulldozers laid waste to a Palestinian olive grove. The 26 November saw a huge increase in Israeli Army and settler violence in the West Bank.
End the silence
While these atrocities may be acceptable to the IINZ and the New Conservative Party, Israel’s brutal and discriminatory military dictatorship over millions of people must be challenged, as must its pretence of being democratic.
Throughout the world, the BDS movement embodies civil society’s growing opposition to the impunity granted to Israel by Western political elites. To counter this, Israel is desperately searching for alliances to shore up its influence. John Minto, in his latest Blog, draws attention to Israel’s Pacific Israeli Rim alliance campaign “which is offering development money in return for Pacific countries voting with them at the United Nations.” Israel is hoping the alliance “could one day unite the Pacific to vote as one with Israel inside the UN”. No doubt the IINZ/New Conservative Party alliance will assist Israel with this, in every way they can.
Israel and its allies must not be allowed to force their will upon the majority through stratagems and subterfuge. We must do everything in our power to alert the public, here and in the wider Pacific, to Israel’s daily criminal, human rights abuses! Government and mainstream news media silence concerning the Zionist regime’s daily crimes against humanity amounts to complicity. Publicity can make all the difference and true democracy requires a well-informed public. The New Zealand Government needs to stand with global grass-roots opinion and demonstrate true independence. At stake is the survival of a rules-based world order, in which respect for human rights and international law are held to be paramount.