In the debate over Zionist territorial claims to Palestine, the voices of non-Zionist Jews are never given equal opportunity or respect. Some Christians support the Zionist view because they believe the Bible gives it credibility and the colonialist Zionist ideology, although itself irreligious, is more than happy to pose alongside any faith or political movement that would afford it justification and respect. There is, on the other hand, recognition among many Christians, Jews and those, including Jews, who profess no religion, that Zionism in practise is inhumane, unjust and racist. In 1917, the Balfour Declaration gave Zionism the spur to begin building its enterprise, ignoring the views of an overwhelming majority of Jews who rejected it.
At that time, 90% of the population of Palestine was non-Jewish. How could Britain assign itself the right, legally or morally, to deny the Palestinian people their right to self-determination? Of course it could not – but human rights and respect for others count for nothing in the world of arrogant colonialism. An Israeli historian, Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University and Fellow of the British Academy, reminds the world that the author of the Balfour Declaration himself admitted as much when he wrote: “In short, so far as Palestine is concerned the Powers have made no statement of fact which is not admittedly wrong, and no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter, they have not always intended to violate.”
Israel Institute of New Zealand
On 24 June, the Israel Institute of New Zealand (IINZ) published an article, concerning the Israeli Government’s proposal to annex Occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, dismissing annexation as merely an “extension of Israeli sovereignty.” An ‘extension‘ of Israeli sovereignty to any land outside of Israel is, necessarily, land theft. It is also evidence of Israel’s determination to deny the Palestinian people their right to exercise sovereignty. The IINZ article notes that “. . . Netanyahu is almost certainly not going to suggest that Israel apply sovereignty to all the land from the river to the sea. This is because there is little historic Jewish connection to Gaza.” It then, however, proceed to contradict itself by quoting a claim by Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Professor Eugene Kontorovich, that “under international law, the borders of Israel should be the borders of the British Mandate just before May 1948.” Gaza was, of course, within the British Mandate.
IINZ also tell us Hamas “took control of Gaza”, no doubt hoping it will have been forgotten that Hamas was voted into office with a clear majority, in a universally-accepted free and fair Palestinian election. Inconsistency of argument helps to obfuscate truth. The IINZ also commented that Hamas had “fired rockets into Israel for the first time in at least one month.” In fact, while no group in Gaza had claimed responsibility for that, the report quoted says just one harmless missile was fired and that Israel responded to it with “air strikes and tank fire on Hamas posts and infrastructure”. Israeli forces move in and out of Gaza and violate its airspace whenever they please. Since 1 June this year, up until the time the IINZ article was published, there were 65 Israeli Gaza ceasefire violations, including six incursions, attacks on Palestinian fishing boats and air strikes.
Zionism has never had anything but contempt for the Palestinian people. In June 1920, the Zionist 1st Viscount Herbert Samuel was appointed to the position of High Commissioner of Palestine in 1920 by Sir Louis Bols of the British ‘Occupied Enemy Territory Administration’. Tom Segev, in his book entitled One Palestine Complete, reveals Samuel’s signing of an acknowledgment in the form of a ‘receipt’ for the handing over of Palestine, with the words: “Received from Major General Sir Louis Bols one Palestine complete.”
In 1937, Winston Churchill, during Parliamentary debates on British policy in Palestine, declared that the British Government should observe its 1917 promise to create a ‘Jewish national home‘ in Palestine and opposed the granting of Palestine self-rule because that would mean a Palestinian majority would rule there. He did admit (Gilbert, Churchill and the Jews, pp. 109 and 112) that: “We did not adopt Zionism entirely out of altruistic love of starting a Zionist colony; it was a matter of great importance to this country.” In his address to the Peel Commission enquiry concerning Mandatory Palestine on 12 March 1937, Churchill made the colonialist approach absolutely clear, dismissing Palestinians collectively as “a dog in the manger”:
“I do not admit that the dog in the manger has the final right to the manger, though he may have lain there for a very long time I do not admit that right.”
He did not stop there but even went on to remove any doubt that Conservative colonialism treats Palestinians just as it has all other subject people:
“I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
Churchill’s view of indigenous peoples was that “They had not the right, nor had they the power.”
In an article published in the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, on 1 July, the present UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, admitted “I am immensely proud of the UK’s contribution to the birth of Israel with the 1917 Balfour Declaration” recognising that “The UK has often stood in a small minority at the UN in defending Israel.”
Johnson’s alliance with great power politics was also made clear in his declaration “I welcome the commitment that President Trump has made to find a way forward. We will work tirelessly with the US – and other partners in the Arab world and Europe.”
Ultimately, for the power elite, military superiority is all that is required for them to have their way and determine the fate of people. You only have to look at the Israeli Army’s daily knee-on-neck population control to see it in action. Israel calls its military the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) but the term ‘defence’ is used nowadays by Israel and its allies to hide the reality that military superiority is for gaining control.
Richard Silverstein, who writes the Israeli Tikun Olam blog and whose work has appeared in Haaretz, the Forward, the Seattle Times and the Los Angeles Times, tells us that Netanyahu’s annexation plan is a sham that relieves liberal Zionists of responsibility for Israel’s broader apartheid system and ongoing Palestinian suffering.
“ . . . dishonours the persecution, displacement and genocide of European Jews by using their memory to justify and perpetuate European authoritarianism and colonialism. It is responsible for the extensive displacement and alienation of Mizrahi Jews (Jews of Sephardi, Asian and African descent) from indigenous identities, languages, histories, cultures and homelands and attempts to reduce all of our diverse cultural, religious, ethnic and racial identities to one of national identity. As such, it implicates us in the oppression of the Palestinian people and in the debasement of our own heritages, struggles for justice and alliances with our fellow human beings. We understand Israel’s historic and current policies and practices of colonialism, and the Zionist ideology and institutions propelling them, are unjust and unconscionable.”
The utterly misleading ‘anti-Semitism‘ ploy
Since its inception, the Zionist movement has used the term ‘anti-Semitism’ to deflect criticism of its ideology and to terrorise those who speak out against its increasing inhumanities. Far from being anti-Semitic, anti-Zionism calls for recognition, respect and equality for all Semitic peoples, including Palestinians. The whole racist purpose of the term ‘anti-Semitism’ is to drive one Semitic people from our consciousness and from their homeland. It also explains why Zionists never directly accuse critics of Israel of being anti-Jewish.
According to the online Oxford English Dictionary, the term anti-Semitism means “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews” yet it actually defines ‘Semite’ as: “A member of any of the peoples who speak or spoke a Semitic language, including in particular the Jews and Arabs. From modern Latin Semita, via late Latin from Greek Sēm ‘Shem’, son of Noah in the Bible, from whom these peoples were traditionally supposed to be descended.” To be consistent and logical, therefore, definition of the term anti-Semitism should surely at least read: ‘Hostility to or prejudice against any of the peoples who speak a Semitic language, including in particular Jews and Arabs.’
The persecution of Jeremy Corbyn
In Britain, accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ from political centres and the mainstream news media against the former UK Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, proved astonishingly effective. With absolutely no evidence in support of claims made against him, the ‘anti-Semitic’ slur has been elevated to appear unchallengeable. The Labour Party was even successfully pressured into adopting the ridiculous definition of anti-semitism that conflates criticism of Israel and Zionist ideology with hatred of Jews. Rejected by an appeal court judge, it was even repudiated by the lawyer who had devised it. In written evidence, US Attorney Kenneth S. Stern complained that his original definition had been misused and had never been intended as a legal or regulatory device to curb academic or political free speech. The dishonesty used in employing anti-Semitism smears is malicious in the extreme.
It is deeply offensive that Zionism commits its reprehensible violations of international humanitarian law in the name of all Jews. A Holocaust survivor, the late Hedy Epstein, whose parents perished at Auschwitz in 1942 commented:
“Israel would not be able to carry out its crimes against humanity without the United States, the world, permitting it to do so and the mass media, which, with few exceptions, dehumanises Palestinians and instils fear, ignorance and loathing of them and their culture.”
Zionism embeds itself in an Orwellian world of language manipulation, shared by Western governments and the mainstream news media. Simply failing to report the Zionist state’s daily inhumanities also serves Israel well. In many countries, the Israel lobby takes advantage of this, adding its own circumlocution and downright lies to threaten freedom of speech as well as silence all opposition. On 20 June, for instance, the UK Daily Telegraph published an article attacking the Black Lives Matter movement, suggesting that it is “antisemitic”.
Barnaby Raine, writing in the UK journal Jewish Voice for Labour, referred to the above Telegraph article and the sacking of Labour Party member, Rebecca Long-Bailey, from the Shadow Cabinet by the new Party leader, Keir Starmer. Raine comments: “Jews are conscripted as the alibi of white society. We are the useful props for a moral panic . . .” He gives it as an example of how “power defends itself by claiming a fragile, vulnerable group needs its protection from the savage hordes.” He also notes: “Once they saw us as dangerous Semites infesting European society. Now instead we are their favourite pets: heroic colonists in the Middle East and successful citizens in the West.” Referring to the wording in the Telegraph about “Extreme anti-racists” hating Jews, he comments in part that the accusation “. . . gives a thin progressive hue to their deep anxieties that the wretched of the earth . . . now it’s black protesters on our streets – constitute a threat to the white world order.”
“Israel, growing fascism and a racism akin to early Nazism“
On 30 June, Israeli settlers moved into a Palestinian home in Silwan that was due for destruction by Israeli forces. The house in the Jerusalem suburb was due for demolition because the Palestinian owners had not been issued a building permit by the Israeli Occupation. The sole reason for refusing the family permission to build was clearly racist. The settlers are gradually taking over in Silwan, moving in, house by house, and site after site.
Whenever critics of Israel’s behaviour go so far as to describe the cruelties and injustices the Zionist state inflicts upon the Palestinian people as fascist or akin to Nazism, they are immediately abused with accusations of anti-Semitism. Yet within Israel itself there is recognition that the state’s founding ideology has rendered it guilty of gross violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The UK Jewish anti-Zionist, anti-racist activist Tony Greenstein has written a tribute to the Polish-born Israeli historian, the late Zeev Sternhell, an expert on fascism who headed the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Greenstein tells us that Sternhell was “a child survivor of the Przemysl ghetto”, smuggled out by his aunt, uncle and Polish non-Jews to Lwów. He was brought up in Krakow and in 1951 he emigrated to Israel. In 2018, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article by Sternhell, entitled Israel, Growing Fascism and a Racism Akin to Early Nazism.
Bringing Israel to account
A war crimes complaint has been filed against Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump adviser, Jared Kushner, in the International Criminal Court (ICC). The complaint was filed by a law professor in the UK, William Schabas, on 30 June. On behalf of four Palestinians who live in the West Bank, the complaint states “there is credible evidence” that, according to article 15 of the ICC’s Rome Statute, Trump, Netanyahu and Kushner “are complicit in acts that may amount to war crimes relating to the transfer of populations into occupied territory and the annexation of the sovereign territory of the State of Palestine.” Israel is also guilty of violating Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an “occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies.”
Unsurprisingly, Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute and the Zionist state desperately maintains that Palestine is not a state so, therefore, is not under ICC jurisdiction. However, the UN General Assembly recognise Palestine as a non-member UN observer state and, since Palestine has acceded to the Rome Statute, it is entitled to be regarded as a member of the States Parties of the International Criminal Court.
It is tragic and shameful that a lone individual should be attempting to bring war criminals to account because UN member states are themselves failing to take the necessary steps. New Zealand can, and must, take the initiative towards demanding respect for international humanitarian law with an appeal to fellow UN member states to join us in taking action. The anti-Zionist call for recognition, respect and equal rights embraces EVERYONE – and that includes ALL Semitic peoples.