This Sunday, 29 November, the United Nations Organisation and human rights supporters globally commemorate an annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, established in 1977. At 7pm in Auckland, the Palestinian Community of NZ and the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) will play their part, holding an event at the Western Springs Garden Community Hall, 956 Great North Road. There will be a number of speakers and it is hoped, but not yet confirmed, that our new Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, will also attend. Everyone is welcome and the occasion will also be available for live viewing.
Zionist propaganda in New Zealand
In a somewhat personalised criticism of PSNA Chair, John Minto, published on the Israel Institute of New Zealand’s website, Sheree Trotter takes particular exception John mentioning Israel’s brutal, criminal suppression of the Great March of Return protests in Gaza. She does so by quoting from a case study for the ICRC that was prepared by a student at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Its language largely reflects Israeli and Zionist lobby versions that put the blame squarely on unarmed civilian victims of superior Israeli military force. The student’s account differs strangely in tone to facts already recognised by the Academy which has acknowledged, for instance, that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip has been “catastrophic for the population”. Regarding Israel’s military Occupation of the West Bank, the Academy has also noted that: “President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel happens in a context where efforts to expand settlements in Palestinian-owned land have continued, particularly in East Jerusalem, leading to an increase in evictions of Palestinian families.”
Trotter accuses John Minto of “spouting a distorted picture of what is a complex conflict”. Towards the end of her piece, she asserts also that he had delivered a “distorted narrative about a conflict on the other side of the world . . .” That sounds rather as though she is telling New Zealand to mind its own business when it comes to Israel’s crimes against humanity. As for a “distorted narrative”, simply compare the Geneva Academy student’s version of events during the protests and the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Gaza protests, then judge which is closer to the truth. Here are some excerpts from the Inquiry:
UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on 2018 Gaza protests
“The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that during the Great March of Return, Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
“More than 6,000 unarmed demonstrators were shot by military snipers, week after week at the protest sites by the separation fence. The Commission investigated every killing at the designated demonstration sites by the Gaza separation fence on official protest days. The investigation covered the period from the start of the protests until 31 December 2018. 189 Palestinians were killed during the demonstrations inside this period. The Commission found that Israeli Security Forces killed 183 of these protesters with live ammunition. Thirty-five of these fatalities were children, while three were clearly marked paramedics, and two were clearly marked journalists.
“There can be no justification for killing and injuring journalists, medics, and persons who pose no imminent threat of death or serious injury to those around them. Particularly alarming is the targeting of children and persons with disabilities.
“The Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognisable as such.
“These serious human rights and humanitarian law violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.
“The Commission finds that these protests were a call for help from a population in despair.
“The Israeli authorities did not respond to repeated requests by the Commission for information and access to Israel and to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Israel Institute of New Zealand
In a recent IINZ article criticising New Zealand policy towards Palestine, David Cumin expressed anger at a people he discriminately chose to call “Arab Palestinians” for daring to have “pushed for statehood through the ICC”. He also claimed that Palestinians “promoted terror in schools” and accused MFAT officials of “attempting to justify spending Kiwi taxpayer money on schools that incite violence”. An article in The New York Jewish Week offers a quite different perspective from that promoted by Cumin, quoting from what it describes as “an in-depth comparative study of Palestinian and Israeli school textbooks” entitled Palestinian Textbooks Do Not Incite Hate. The study was conducted by the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, a multi-faith body that aims to “prevent religion from being used as a source of conflict, and to promote mutual respect”. While the Israeli Government did not co-operate with the study, the Palestinian Authority did.
The irony here is that as textbook researcher Samira Alayan from the Georg Eckert Institute for the Study of Textbooks has revealed, Palestinian textbooks are severely controlled and censored, not only by Israel but also by European and American bodies that finance their production (see “Images of identity: Self and other in school text books of the Palestinian Authority”, June 2011 [PDF]). However, there is another aspect that is hidden from public view with, for example, the study skirting around the racism in Israeli schoolbooks and confining the concept of ‘incitement’ only to the side that is militarily Occupied and dominated. The Wye River Memorandum — signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1998 — included an “explicit statement about incitement” stating that “the Palestinian side would issue a decree prohibiting all forms of incitement to violence or terror, and establishing mechanisms for acting systematically against all expressions or threats of violence or terror. This decree would be comparable to the existing Israeli legislation which deals with the same subject.” There is no such provision demanded of the Israeli Occupation regime. Professor Nurit Elhanan-Peled‘s ‘Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education’ Library of Modern Middle East Studies, 2012, reveals how, in Israeli schoolbooks, Arabs are regularly portrayed as villainous aggressors and Jews as their victims.
Cumin’s article, “Possibilities for the future of New Zealand’s approach to Israel”, referred to above is nothing but Zionist propaganda. A far more rational approach to future policy, one that would facilitate the long overdue right of Palestinians to Resistance and self-determination, has been outlined in a Press Release by Alternative Jewish Voices and Wellington Palestine entitled Normalise Palestine, Not The Occupation. For too long, their Press Release reminds us, the most that has been offered in regard to help for the Palestinian people has been a degree of protection. Alternative Jewish Voices and Wellington Palestine deplore the waste of time and energy resulting from the “Trump-Netanyahu embrace” and call instead for recognition of the State of Palestine. They note, however, that “since our diplomatic initiative on UN Resolution 2334, our government has fallen decidedly quiet about Palestine.” The Press Release also informs us about their submission of “a briefing on Palestine to the incoming Foreign Minister, urging her to uphold the laws that governments have signed in our names. We want our government to call for an end to the blockade and recognise the State of Palestine, to condemn the detention of children, to formulate policy that recognises Palestinians as whole people and indispensable partners in any real solution.”
The Zionist regime denies Palestinian land rights as well as their right to adequate fresh water. Alternative Jewish Voices and Wellington Palestine “hope that Nanaia Mahuta will have the courage to ask why Aotearoa-NZ has helped to withhold such basics from the Palestinian people for so long.”
Israel – demanding, aloof and self-isolating
Returning to David Cumin‘s article, he not only refers to the Security Council Resolution 2334 as “biased and improper” but also dismisses the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) as “discriminatory”. Whenever Israel loses the argument it demands to be exempted from conformity with accepted standards of behaviour. New Zealand should be on its guard and understand that the Israel Lobby exercises pressure on governments, to the extent that in many cases successfully undermine democracy. Take the recent French Government decision to defy a formal judgement from the European Court of Human Rights that protects the right of people to call for the boycott of Israeli products. French President Emmanuel Macron is furious because, in a unanimous decision, the Court overturned criminal convictions against 11 Palestinian rights activists in France. These convictions, the Court concluded, violated the European Convention on Human Rights’ guarantee of freedom of expression, and it ordered the French Government to pay each of the activists approximately $US8,000 in damages plus their legal costs. Frighteningly though, the Macron Government’s justice ministry issued a memorandum to prosecutors last month, ordering them to continue investigating BDS activists. The memorandum claimed the “anti-Semitic character of a boycott call could result directly from words, gestures and writings of the accused, and can also be deduced from the context of these”.
Last year, the German parliament voted to condemn BDS as anti-Semitic, a move welcomed by Israel, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posting on Twitter: “I hope that this decision will bring about concrete steps and I call upon other countries to adopt similar legislation.” Tell those that accuse others of what they call ‘anti-Semitism’, to be more precise. If they really mean that a person’s views are anti-Jewish, then they should say so – and explain why and how.
Palestinians and Israelis call for a single democratic state
While, in the name of Jews worldwide, the Zionist regime continues its violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and distances itself ever further from civilised norms of behaviour, a majority of world opinion demands a complete end to injustice and discrimination. One example of this is a call from One Democratic State Campaign. On 23 November, the campaign invited international civil society to join in “building an effective anti-colonial, liberation movement to create a democratic state in historic Palestine.” Read more here and see list of notable signatories.
Plain speaking and responsibility
The world is waking up to the Zionist threat, and the movement to resist the ideology’s manipulation of language to disguise its true purpose is being seriously challenged. Just this week, Shlomo Sand, commenting on a Haaretz article by the Israeli historian, David Engel, advised human rights supporters to stop using the term ‘anti-Semitism’, reminding us that: “There is no such thing as a Semitic race. There are only Semitic languages. I am a Semite because I speak and write Hebrew. My parents were not Semites because they spoke Yiddish.” Haaretz refers to Professor Engel, a scholar of modern Jewish history, noting that “he has avoided using the word ‘antisemitism‘ for 30 years in his articles or books. The word has been banished from his professional lexicon, even when he is writing about the Holocaust.”
The outlawing of BDS is an assault on human rights. Israel’s powerful influence and obsessive desire to control must be firmly resisted everywhere. The IINZ article are welcome – because they reveal the weakness of Zionist argument and open the opportunity for debate, which mainstream news media silence disables. Under cover, politicians evade their responsibilities and allow ‘strategic’ and commercial interests to be placed ahead of human rights. We await our new Foreign Minister‘s response to the briefing sent to her by Alternative Jewish Voices and Wellington Palestine. Let us hope that she will affirm New Zealand’s adherence to the principles of Security Council Resolution 2334 and demand that Israel and its allies respect the Palestinian people and their rights under international law including, in particular, the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.