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It is generally claimed that there are between 550,000 and 600,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank of Palestine in 2014. Since the earliest days of the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, the number of settlers in the West Bank has only ever increased, even during peace negotiations or even during the unilateral withdrawal by Israel of Israeli settlements in Gaza in 2005.
These settlers are generally divided into two categories: ideological and economic. The term, economic settler, refers to those settlers that have chosen to live in the West Bank because of the great economic benefits that the State Of Israel confers to such people. This group consists of some 85% of all settlers and one could postulate that the vast majority of them would not be inclined to live in the West Bank had not the state of Israel made the prospect of such a move into “enemy territory” so enticing.
The other 15% of settlers fall into the ideological category and are a vastly different group of people to deal with. Many Israelis find this group of settlers to be offensive and are often embarrassed at the violence and racism that often accompanies the behavior of these highly motivated Zionists.
The experience of my fellow EA’s of ideological settlers has completely vindicated the view of these Israelis as violent, religious, gentile hating fanatics. All of my colleagues have related that they feel a sense of dread and even fear for their safety/lives when these types of settlers arrive on the scene. Ideological settlers are possessed by a fanatic belief in their entitlement to all of the land of Palestine/Israel and they see Palestinians as a disease upon the land that must be cleansed in order to redeem the land and make way for the coming of the Messiah. Their religious zeal is centered on possessing the land rather than obeying the ethical and moral teachings of the Torah that emphasize social justice and mercy to the “alien” in the land.
My experience of ideological settlers has thankfully been limited to the stories told to us by various Palestinian farmers in the West Bank who have the misfortune of living near settlements like Gilad, near the Palestinian village of Far’arta.
One such farmer is Abu Wael, who lives in his house on a hilltop in the village of Far’ata. We visited his house a few weeks ago to hear his story and offer him some moral support. Abu Wael has had many dunams of land confiscated by the settlement of Gilad which contains some of the most extreme ideological settlers in the West Bank. He told of his many encounters with settlers coming onto his land while he has been working; threatening to kill him and his family if they did not leave the land at once. Abu Wael often called the military to come and protect him but found, like many other Palestinians, that the military seemed more intent on “protecting” these settlers rather than the people who were most powerless and vulnerable. He told us how one day his son was in the fields with him when settlers came down and started arguing with Abu Wael and his son. One of the settlers struck Abu Wael’s son, fracturing his skull. Though there were numerous witnesses to this event, no charges were ever brought against the settler and the threats of violence and intimidation continue.
Abu Wael from the village of Far’arta
Abu Wael’s son. Brutally beaten by settlers.
This is but one of the many incidents that we have heard from eye witnesses while in the Jayyus area. So far during our stay in the West Bank, there have been 48 recorded instances of violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians that have resulted in personal injury or damage to property according to OCHA’s weekly protection of civilians report. No arrests have been made.
With the State of Israel and the Western media very recently fixated on the actions of some 5,000 Hamas militants who are locked up in Gaza, no attention is paid to the nearly 35,000 ideological settlers who run free in the West Bank. These settler groups include people like Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 people in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, while they were praying, in 1994, in an act that triggered Hamas to engage in suicide attacks on Israeli civilians in order to try and even the score. A cold shiver goes up my spine when I see the increasing power in Israeli politics being wielded by Zionists who are seen as heroes by the ideological settler movement,
It has been overwhelmingly my experience, while here in the West Bank, that Palestinians reject this type of extremism and believe that the majority of Israelis, like them, want peace. They reject the Israeli Government stance that Hamas, with it’s so called rejection of the right of the State of Israel to exist, is a barrier to a two state solution. If a Palestinian state with ’67 borders, no settlements in the West Bank allowed and East Jerusalem as its capital, was offered by Israel, ALL Palestinians would accept it and if Hamas continued to resist such an offer, it would simply be political suicide for them as Palestinians would ignore them by the million.
I still passionately believe that peace and justice is possible in this region. We just need the will to make it happen.
I am participating in a program as an Ecumenical Accompanier serving in the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The views contained here are personal to me and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Council of Churches Australia or the World Council of Churches. If you would like to publish the information contained here (including posting on a website), or distribute it further, please first contact the EAPPI Communications Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) for permission. Thank you.
Supporters of the Zionist State of Israel often claim that it is fundamentalist Islam that has been the reason for the continuance of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Middle East. Uri Avnery looks at the relationship between Israel and the growth of fundamentalist Islam.
How Israel helped Islamist movements to flourish across the Middle East
by Uri Avnery
31 December 2011
Uri Avnery charts Israel’s role in the growth of Islamist movements in the Middle East – Hamas in Palestine, Hizbollah in Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Shi’i theocracy in Iran.
If Islamist movements come to power all over the region, they should express their debt of gratitude to their bete noire, Israel.
Without the active or passive help of successive Israeli governments, they may not have been able to realize their dreams.
That is true in Gaza, in Beirut, in Cairo and even in Tehran.
Let’s take the example of Hamas.
All over the Arab lands, dictators have been faced with a dilemma. They could easily close down all political and civic activities, but they could not close the mosques. In the mosques people could congregate in order to pray, organize charities and, secretly, set up political organizations. Before the days of Twitter and Facebook, that was the only way to reach masses of people.
One of the dictators faced with this dilemma was the Israel military governor in the occupied Palestinian territories. Right from the beginning, he forbade any political activity. Even peace activists went to prison. Advocates of non-violence were deported. Civic centres were closed down. Only the mosques remained open. There people could meet.
But this went beyond tolerance. The General Security Service (known as Shin Bet or Shabak) had an active interest in the flourishing of the mosques. People who pray five times a day, they thought, have no time to build bombs.
The main enemy, as laid down by Shabak, was the dreadful Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), led by that monster, Yasser Arafat. The PLO was a secular organization, with many prominent Christian members, aiming at a “non-sectarian” Palestinian state. They were the enemies of the Islamists, who were talking about a pan-Islamic Caliphate.
Turning the Palestinians towards Islam, it was thought, would weaken the PLO and its main faction, Fatah. So everything was done to help the Islamic movement discreetly.
It was a very successful policy, and the security people congratulated themselves on their cleverness, when something untoward happened. In December 1987, the first intifada broke out. The mainstream Islamists had to compete with more radical groupings. Within days, they transformed themselves into the Islamic Resistance Movement (Arabic acronym Hamas) and became the most dangerous foes of Israel. Yet it took Shabak more than a year before they arrested Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the Hamas leader. In order to fight this new menace, Israel came to an agreement with the PLO in Oslo.
And now, irony of ironies, Hamas is about to join the PLO and take part in a Palestinian national unity government. They really should send us a message saying shukran (“thanks”).
Our part in the rise of Hizbollah is less direct, but no less effective.
When Ariel Sharon rolled into Lebanon in 1982, his troops had to cross the mainly Shi’i south. The Israeli soldiers were received as liberators. Liberators from the PLO, which had turned this area into a state within a state.
Following the troops in my private car, trying to reach the front, I had to traverse about a dozen Shi’i villages. In each one I was detained by the villagers, who insisted that I have coffee in their homes.
Neither Sharon nor anyone else paid much attention to the Shi’is. In the federation of autonomous ethnic-religious communities that is called Lebanon, the Shi’is were the most downtrodden and powerless.
However, the Israelis outstayed their welcome. It took the Shi’is just a few weeks to realize that they had no intention of leaving. So, for the first time in their history, they rebelled. The main political group, Amal (“Hope”), started small armed actions. When the Israelis did not take the hint, operations multiplied and turned into a fully-fledged guerrilla war.
To outflank Amal, Israel encouraged a small, more radical, rival: God’s Party, Hizbollah.
If Israel had got out then (as the Israeli satirical political magazine Haolam Hazeh demanded), not much harm would have been done. But they remained for a full 18 years, ample time for Hizbollah to turn into an efficient fighting machine, earn the admiration of the Arab masses everywhere, take over the leadership of the Shi’i community and become the most powerful force in Lebanese politics.
They, too, owe us a big shukran.
The case of the Muslim Brotherhood is even more complex.
The organization was founded in 1928, 20 years before the state of Israel. Its members volunteered to fight us in 1948. They are passionately pan-Islamic, and the Palestinian plight is close to their hearts.
As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict worsened, the popularity of the Brothers grew. Since the 1967 war, in which Egypt lost Sinai, and even more after the separate peace agreement with Israel, they stoked the deep-seated resentment of the masses in Egypt and all over the Arab world. The assassination of Anwar al-Sadat was not of their doing, but they rejoiced.
Their opposition to the peace agreement with Israel was not only an Islamist, but also an authentic Egyptian reaction. Most Egyptians felt cheated and betrayed by Israel. The Camp David agreement had an important Palestinian component, without which the agreement would have been impossible for Egypt. Sadat, a visionary, looked at the big picture and believed that the agreement would quickly lead to a Palestinian state. Menachem Begin, a lawyer, saw to the fine print. Generations of Jews have been brought up on the Talmud, which is mainly a compilation of legal precedents, and their mind has been honed by legalistic arguments. Not for nothing are Jewish lawyers in demand the world over.
Actually, the agreement made no mention of a Palestinian state, only of autonomy, phrased in a way that allowed Israel to continue the occupation. That was not what the Egyptians had been led to believe, and their resentment was palpable. Egyptians are convinced that their country is the leader of the Arab world, and bears a special responsibility for every part of it. They cannot bear to be seen as the betrayers of their poor, helpless Palestinian cousins.
Long before he was overthrown, Hosni Mubarak was despised as an Israeli lackey, paid by the US. For Egyptians, his despicable role in the Israeli blockade of a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza Strip was particularly shameful.
Since their beginnings in the 1920s, Brotherhood leaders and activists have been hanged, imprisoned, tortured and otherwise persecuted. Their anti-regime credentials are impeccable. Their stand for the Palestinians contributed a lot to this image.
Had Israel made peace with the Palestinian people somewhere along the line, the Brotherhood would have lost much of its lustre. As it is, they are emerging from the present democratic elections as the central force in Egyptian politics.
Islamic Republic of Iran
Let’s not forget the Islamic Republic of Iran.
They owe us something, too. Quite a lot, actually.
In 1951, in the first democratic elections in an Islamic country in the region, Muhammad Mossadeq was elected prime minister. The Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had been installed by the British during World War II, was thrown out, and Mossadeq nationalized the country’s vital oil industry. Until then, the British had robbed the Iranian people, paying a pittance for the “black gold”.
Two years later, in a coup organized by the British MI6 and the American CIA, the Shah was brought back and returned the oil to the hated British and their partners. Israel had probably no part in the coup, but under the restored regime of the Shah, Israel prospered. Israelis made fortunes selling weapons to the Iranian army. Israeli Shabak agents trained the Shah’s dreaded secret police, Savak. It was widely believed that they also taught them torture techniques. The Shah helped to build and pay for a pipeline for Iranian oil from Eilat to Ashkelon. Israeli generals travelled through Iran to Iraqi Kurdistan, where they helped the rebellion against Baghdad.
At the time, the Israeli leadership was cooperating with the South African apartheid regime in developing nuclear arms. The two offered the Shah partnership in the effort, so that Iran, too, would become a nuclear power.
Before that partnership became effective, the detested ruler was overthrown by the Islamic revolution of February 1979. Since then, the hatred of the Great Satan (the US) and the Little Satan (Israel) has played a major role in the propaganda of the Islamic regime. It has helped to keep the loyalty of the masses, and now Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using it to bolster his rule.
It seems that all Iranian factions – including the opposition – now support the Iranian effort to obtain a nuclear bomb of their own, ostensibly to deter an Israeli nuclear attack. (This week, the chief of the Mossad pronounced that an Iranian nuclear bomb would not constitute an “existential danger” to Israel.)
Where would the Islamic Republic be without Israel? So they owe us a big “Thank you”, too.
However, let us not be too megalomaniac. Israel has contributed a lot to the Islamist awakening. But it is not the only – or even the main – contributor.
Strange as it may appear, obscurantist religious fundamentalism seems to express the zeitgeist. An American nun-turned-historian, Karen Armstrong, has written an interesting book following the three fundamentalist movements in the Muslim world, in the US and in Israel. It shows a clear pattern: all these divergent movements – Muslim, Christian and Jewish – have passed through almost identical and simultaneous stages.
At present, all Israel is in turmoil because the powerful Orthodox community is compelling women in many parts of the country to sit separately in the back of buses, like blacks in the good old days in Alabama, and use separate pavements on one side of the streets. Male religious soldiers are forbidden by their rabbis to listen to women soldiers singing. In Orthodox districts, women are compelled to swathe their bodies in garments that reveal nothing but their faces and hands, even in temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius and above. An eight-year-old girl from a religious family was spat upon in the street because her clothes were not “modest” enough. In counter-demonstrations, secular women waved posters saying “Tehran is Here!”
Perhaps someday a fundamentalist Israel will make peace with a fundamentalist Muslim world, under the auspices of a fundamentalist American president.
Unless we do something to stop the process before it is too late.
The Children Killed in the Norway Terror Attacks Got What They Deserved – according to pro-Israel champions of freedom.
The following article was published in Mondoweiss on 5/08/2011. It shows the pitiless hatred of many westerners who fancy themselves to be champions of a democracy they know nothing about.
Meet Debbie Schlussel, who says Norway’s ‘HAMAS Youth’ got what was coming to them
Aug 05, 2011 09:19 am | Paul Mutter
One of Pamela Geller’s cohorts, Debbie Schlussel, has explicitly stated that those killed at Utoya got what was coming to them because they were “HAMAS Youth” and (at the same time) “Fatah PLO” terrorists.
Schlussel may not be as well-known as Geller (perhaps because Schlussel has not exercised a leading role in anything as prominent as the “Ground Zero Mosque” furor), but she is a politically active Republican and more mainstream than Geller because she is also a culture writer with a strong media presence. (Not that she separates this work from her anti-Islamic campaign – she has criticized the film industry for not doing enough to portray Islam “correctly”).
Her opinion on the Norway terror attacks can be summed up with these quotes taken from her ongoing screeds against the terror victims:
“Based on these pics, seems like he’s [Glenn Beck’s] spot on, though he should have added, HAMAS Youth camp, too. As we all know, Nazis boycotted Jews and were Jew-killers. And these hateful, privileged brats at the camp boycotted Jews and sided with Jew-killers.
But what goes around comes around. You support terrorists against innocent civilians in Israel, then you get attacked by terrorists who are upset with your support . . . .
Frankly, the HAMAS charter and HAMAS’ behavior, all of which these kids at the Norwegian HAMAS youth camp cheered on, is a lot more scary than the screed and deeds of Breivik . . . .
I shed no tears for these HAMASnik campers with a Scandinavian dialect. Perpetrators are not victims. Sorry. HAMAS collaborators don’t get my pity. They never will.”
Far stronger words than Geller was willing to use. But they are par for the course as far as Schlussel is concerned.
Her prominence derives from her utility to the male conservative-dominated anti-Islamic movement. The fact that she is a woman (and also the daughter of Holocaust survivors) speaking out against Islam gives greater credence to an ideological group whose most well-known speakers are white Christian males like Newt Gingrich, Geert Wilders and Pat Robertson (the movement is, as a whole, dominated by sociopolitically conservative men, although many are not Christians).
Gingrich and Robertson, for instance, denounce Islamic attitudes towards women, while still being hostile to “feminism” under the cloak of “family values.” Having women on their anti-Islamic bandwagon helps prove their “point” about Islamic backwardness and their moral righteousness, which is a combination of faux-progressivism (treating Geller and Schlussel as intellectual co-equals) and paternalism (evoking Orientalist images of rapacious Muslim brutes). A similar logic animates the GOP embrace of Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and Michele Bachmann. Schlussel and Geller, among others, are useful for the right (while at the same time, they castigate individuals on the left for being Islam’s “useful idiots”).
But back to Schlussel’s own anti-Islamic agenda. Before this most recent denunciation of insufficiently Zionist individuals, she famously responded to Osama bin Laden’s death by quipping “1 down, 1.8 billion to go.” When a family of West Bank settlers were murdered earlier this year, she approvingly quoted PM Netanyahu’s son’s remarks that “terror has a religion and it is Islam” and “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”
Schlussel is an ardent Zionist – Hamas and Fatah are basically the same thing, in her analysis, and are dedicated to ending Israel forever. With this in mind, few individuals or institutions are pro-Israel enough for her: Republican Governor Chris Christie, for instance, is “Hamas GOP” because he appointed Pakistani-American Sohail Mohammed, a Muslim attorney who defended individuals (including Hamas supporters) that the federal government sought to extradite from the U.S. after 9/11, to the NJ State Supreme Court. Whole Foods is “anti-Israel” because it sells fair trade products from Palestinian farmers in the West Bank and has dared to wish its customers a good Ramadan (there is ill-intent behind this marketing ploy, of course). And, like Robert Spencer and Pat Robertson, she believes that mainstream media is “anti-American” (and thus, anti-Western) and panders to Islam because it is anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-Western.
Both Congressmen Ron Paul (who has called for a U.S. withdraw from the Middle East and an end to the US$3 billion in aid Washington sends Israel annually) and Dennis Kucinich (who condemned the Israeli assault on the first Freedom Flotilla) are “for” Hamas, according to Schlussel. That a libertarian who caucuses with the GOP and one of the most lefit-wing members of the Democratic Party are somehow colluding to advance Hamas’s agenda is well within the realm of possibility for Schlussel: either you are with Israel (and the West – which, by extension, means you’re “with” civilization), or against it. For Schlussel, no Muslim can ever be “for” those things.
As Southern Poverty Law Centre’s Hate Watch asked in its coverage of her work, why did Schlussel even bother saying that she doesn’t support Anders Breivik when she says that “I can’t feel sorry for those who support my would-be assassins. And I don’t get too upset when they face the karma that is their fate.”
<The author would like to thank Mondoweiss’s readers for bringing Schlussel’s response to his attention>.
People continually ask me how anyone can negotiate with a group like Hamas that vows to wipe Israel off the face of the map. What they don’t do is realize that it has never been a goal of Zionism to share the land of Palestine with an Arab state. Just take a look at the map that the World Zionist Organisation offered at the Paris Peace conference in 1919 for a Zionist state. Just take a look at the dozens of documented statements by influential Zionist leaders way back before 1900 that said that their intention was to dispossess the Arabs of Palestine in order to make room for the newly arrived Jewish population. Just read Ben Gurions statements about the Zionist attitude to the 1947 Partition Plan. Just look at the response made by the Israelis when in 1993 Yasser Arafat officially recognised the right of the state of Israel to exist with safe and secure borders. Just read the documentation made by Israeli historians showing the ethnic cleansing of 800,000 Palestinians in 1948. Just look how Israeli settlements have increased in the West Bank over the last 43 years. All of this and much more would lead any reasonable person to conclude that so far as a Palestinian state is concerned, Israel has never wanted it to exist. Israel has never needed to make a statement that they wish to wipe a Palestinian state off the map because they have simply done everything they could over the last 80 years to make sure that it never could come into existence in the first place. The Zionist desire to make sure that any Palestinian state will be still born is at the basis of the claims by groups like Hamas. Just look at the case of my homeland, Australia. Do you think the British ever came here to share the great South Land with an indigenous state?
The following article was published on the Mondoweiss website on July 29th 2011
What does secular mean? ‘J Street’ official says American Jews ‘ideally’ want the whole ‘land of Israel’
Jul 29, 2011 09:21 am | Philip Weiss
Last Sunday night I went to hear a J Street director speak in Cape Cod, in a community with many Jews, and I kept looking around the room for ones I knew from my childhood summers. Only one—and afterward I had a fight with my mother about the issue. Which is really all I’ve asked for, a battle inside the Jewish family over Zionism. I will get to the fight with my mama before long but meantime it is important to relate what Steven Krubiner, the young well-spoken J Street man had to say. For it speaks to the backwardness of the American Jewish community on the Israel/Palestine issue and underlines a theme here, we Jews fell in love with Zionism some time ago and it will take a long time to break up the romance, and it is very hard to make any progress if the conversation is only inside the Jewish community. No, we Jews must open our ears to the likes of Ali Abunimah and John Mearsheimer and Andrew Sullivan.
Krubiner’s message was the urgency of the U.S. pushing Israel to come to the two-state solution. The only way Obama will do so is if he feels political able, and the only way he will feel that political comfort is if the Jewish community doesn’t abandon Congress and the president over the issue. So Krubiner’s talk was directed at Jews: The hour is getting late, this is an existential crisis for the Jewish state, and you must allow Obama to pressure Israel or Israel is lost.
To make headway with his presumed Jewish audience, Krubiner began in a place of love and fear. He told us that he had been taught to love Israel as part of his Jewish identity – like all other Jews, he said and reader, I did not projectile vomit—and had not even realized there was a conflict over there till his 7th grade social studies teacher was killed in a bombing in Israel, evidently in the early 90s, and this had jarred him. Then Krubiner had helped lead a tour of Jewish communities in Europe and realized there were no thriving Jewish communities, they had been wiped out, an experience that convinced him that Israel was necessary for Jews. After college he had defied his parents to move to Israel. Again, not my storyline, nor the storyline of most American Jews. Zionism calls on a conservative impulse in the Jewish soul.
Krubiner is a liberal, surely thinks of himself as a liberal, but his messaging was very conservative. As I noted earlier here, he never talked about the occupation and didn’t mention settlements until the Q-and-A. Settlements isn’t J Street’s agenda. There was a lot of unpleasant demographic talk. If we make a 6 percent land swap, the state of Israel will go to 86 percent Jewish (yes, and what about the Palestinians dealt out of Israel into a Palestinian state, on ethnic transfer terms, will they dig that?). Or: If you put a GPS device on everyone in Jerusalem and made the Palestinian dots green and the Israeli ones blue, you would find that it’s very “clean,” Jews move around in West Jerusalem and Palestinians stay in East Jerusalem.
Mr. Clean! Not for me!
Krubiner said, “Ideally, especially for American and Israeli Jews they would want… all of the land… of Israel,” from the river to the sea. But they can’t have that without either sacrificing democracy or giving up the idea of a Jewish state. And therefore because J Street is “unconditionally” for a Jewish state in Israel, we must give up the land so that the inevitable Palestinian majority will have a place to go.
The revelation in these statements is that Krubiner is doing outreach to a very conservative community. You can talk all you like about secular Jews, but American Jews believe in a way that can only be called religious (because most have never seen the West Bank) in their right to the “Land of Israel.” And so when asked about settlements, Krubiner was somewhat apologetic about J Street’s backbone moment of February, when it criticized Obama for voting against the U.N. Security Council’s resolution opposing Israeli settlements. Yes, our position didn’t play very well in the Jewish community, Krubiner said. I.e., this community is behind the times, and it is driving policy.
Now as I have pointed out earlier, Krubiner is a smart guy who gets the story. He knows that the occupation is destroying Palestinian souls, as he stated in the one-on-one by the lectern after the speech. And when a questioner asked about democracy without regard to race in Israel and Palestine, Krubiner acknowledged that democracy was a virtuous thing, but he then said that it would take a “sad rollercoaster of violence” to get us to that place. A legitimate point of view of course. Though not in itself a justification for slavery. Remember: an American rollercoaster of violence, the Civil War, is justified historically on that basis, it was worth it to end slavery.
But generally speaking, Krubiner was addressing Jewish fears. He said that the longer we wait on the two state solution, the more frustrated Palestinians will come round to the view that we can just wait the Jews out, we will be the majority in this land in a few years, and “we’ll have the whole state to ourselves.”
I don’t know about that. I am not opposed to partition, but I don’t think that Palestinians want the whole place to themselves. The one-staters in our community want a democracy for the people who were born in that place–and for the people whose grandparents were born there. By playing the fear card, I think Krubiner is trying to get Jews off their butts and energize them politically.
Why doesn’t J Street take its teachings to a non-Jewish audience and try and energize them? The reasons are several. A, the Jewish community is where the Democratic money is and J Street is playing a Washington insider game, B, If you are a Zionist, well, you don’t fully trust the goyim with your fate– so how can you work with them, it goes against the Zionist understanding… C, And how could you trust American non-Jewish liberals anyway? The non-Jewish audience as soon as they become informed will question the right of Jews to have a Jewish state in a land that is not historically ours and at a time when Jews are way safer in the west and there are Jim Crow conditions across the West Bank and a ghetto in Gaza.
On the other hand, the problem for J Street in working inside the Jewish community is, their views are to the right of Atilla the hun. You can’t even talk about settlements. Krubiner made a point of bashing the neocons, saying they had driven policy in this area, so evidently neoconservative has high negatives even for Jews. But it’s not like liberal Jews are all that much better.
I want to conclude on the secular point. We grew up thinking that we were secular Jews. That’s the big category of Jewish cultural life: east coast secular Jews. But as Krubiner proves, there is a large percentage of secular Jews who believe in a religious idea: our right to the West Bank. Ed Koch believes it, it’s why he’s savaging Obama. David Mamet believes it, he doesn’t want to give an inch. We have the right to the Land of Israel. An idea we read in a book with leather covers and God inside, for which we have no evidence. A year or so back I heard that peace processor Aaron David Miller was speaking at a synagogue in Cleveland and said we have to give up the land and the rabbi said, But God gave us that land. Joke was on Miller.
I am saying that intolerant religious attitudes on Israel/Palestine are deeply embedded in the Jewish community. So what progressive would want to move policy forward by working only in that community? It would be like trying to wage the battle for abortion back in the 80s by organizing in the Catholic church. Or waging the battle for women’s lib by organizing in the Muslim community, which tends to be very traditional. All these communities can be moved on these religious questions. But it requires an outside force.
Israel’s Worst Nightmare.
Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “The Colour Purple” is about to set sail on the Gaza Flotilla.
Robert Zeliger, editor of Foreign Policy, interviewed her on JUNE 23, 2011. Here is her story of resistance to Apartheid and oppression which started in the deep south of the U.S.
The author and activist, who is setting sail for Gaza on a humanitarian mission, says Israel ‘is the greatest terrorist’ in the Middle East.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker will join the flotilla of ships next week that will try to break Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. She says the goal is to bring supplies and raise awareness of the situation there. Last May, during a similar attempt by activists, Israel raided six ships. On one, clashes broke out and Israeli commandos killed nine people.
Foreign Policy reached the author of “The Colour Purple”in Greece, where she is preparing for her departure.
Foreign Policy: Why are you taking part in the flotilla mission?
Alice Walker: In 2009, I was in Gaza, just after Operation Cast Lead, and I saw the incredible damage and devastation. I have a good understanding of what’s on the ground there and how the water system was destroyed and the sewage system. I saw that the ministries had been bombed, and the hospitals had been bombed, and the schools. I sat for a good part of a morning in the rubble of the American school, and it just was so painful because we as Americans pay so much of our taxes for this kind of weaponry that was used. On a more sort of mature grandmotherly level I feel that as an elder it is up to me and others like me — other elders, other mature adults — to look at situations like this and bring to them whatever understanding and wisdom we might have gained in our fairly long lifetimes, witnessing and being a part of struggles against oppression.
FP: How long have you been involved in Palestinian activism? What drew you to it?
AW: It started with the Six Day War in 1967. That happened shortly after my wedding to a Jewish law student. And we were very happy because we thought Israel was right to try to defend itself by pre-emptively striking against Egypt. We didn’t realize any of the real history of that area. So, that was my beginning of being interested in what was going on and watching what was happening. Even at that time, I said to my young husband, well, they shouldn’t take that land, because it’s actually not their land. This just seemed so unjust to me. It just seemed so wrong. It’s really unjust because in America we think about Israel in mythical terms. And most of us have grown up with the Bible. So we think that we are sort of akin to these people and whatever they’re saying must be true — their God is giving them land and that is just the reality. But actually the land had people living on it. The people were in their own homes, their own towns and cities. So, the battle has been about them trying to reclaim what was taken from them. It’s important, when we have some new understanding — especially adults and mature adults — we must, I think, take some action so that younger people will have a better understanding of what they are seeing in the world.
FP: Is the goal of this mission, though, to just raise awareness, or is it to actually deliver supplies?
AW: Well, our boat is delivering letters. So what we’re trying to draw attention to is the fact that the blockade is still in effect. On the other boats there will probably be supplies. I haven’t checked but probably things like sewage supplies.
FP: But Egypt has partially reopened its border with Gaza. So, couldn’t you get supplies in through there?
AW: No, you can’t. You can get two suitcases. Not only that, they closed it. They opened it and then closed it. So, that has not been worked out. I know people like to rally around what they think is a positive thing, but it’s not that positive yet because it’s not firm. They limit the number of people. They close it. They say two suitcases. You can’t build a sewage system with two suitcases.
FP: Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations said the stated goal of “humanitarian assistance” was a false pretext for your mission — and it’s actually designed to serve an extremist political agenda, and that many of the groups participating in the mission maintain ties with extremist and terrorist organizations, including Hamas. Your reaction?
AW: I think Israel is the greatest terrorist in that part of the world. And I think in general, the United States and Israel are great terrorist organizations themselves. If you go to Gaza and see some of the bombs — what’s left of the bombs that were dropped — and the general destruction, you would have to say, yeah, it’s terrorism. When you terrorize people, when you make them so afraid of you that they are just mentally and psychologically wounded for life — that’s terrorism. So these countries are terrorist countries.
FP: How is the United States a terrorist country?
AW: It is. Absolutely, it is. It has terrorized people around the globe for a very long time. It has fought against countries that have tried to change their governments, that have tried to have democracies, and the United States has intervened and interfered, like in Guatemala or Chile. I feel that it is so unreasonable, and I don’t quite understand how they can claim everyone else is a terrorist and they are not when so many people right this minute are terrified of the drones, for instance, in the war in Afghanistan. The dropping of bombs on people — isn’t that terrorism?
FP: Of course Israel and the U.S. aren’t the only ones that use bombs. Hamas has fired rockets at Israel in the past.
AW: Yes. And I’m not for a minute saying anybody anywhere should fire rockets. I mean, I would never do it. Nor would I ever supply such a thing to anyone. But it’s extremely unequal. If people just acknowledge how absurdly unequal this is. This is David and Goliath, but Goliath is not the Palestinians. They are David. They are the ones with the slingshot. They are the ones with the rocks and relatively not-so-powerful rockets. Whereas the Israelis have these incredibly damaging missiles and rockets. When do you as a person of conscience speak and say enough is enough?
FP: Are you concerned at all that your trip could be used as a propaganda tool for Hamas?
AW: No, because we will never see those people. Why would we see them?
FP: You don’t think you’re going to see anyone from Hamas?
AW: No. I don’t think we would. If we manage to get through with our bundle of letters we will probably be met by a lot of NGOs, and women and children, and schoolteachers and nurses, and the occasional doctor, if anyone is left.
FP: But doesn’t Hamas control the security apparatus of Gaza?
AW: They may well control it, but we’re not going to see them. It’s like everyone who comes to D.C. doesn’t see the president.
FP: I have to ask, since the previous flotilla trip ended with an Israeli raid on one of the ships and nine people dead. Are you frightened?
AW: Sometimes I feel fear. And the feeling that this may be it. But I’m positive — I’m looking at it as a way to bring attention to these children and their mothers and their grandmothers, and their grandfathers and their fathers, who face this kind of thing every day. I grew up in the South under segregation. So, I know what terrorism feels like — when your father could be taken out in the middle of the night and lynched just because he didn’t look like he was in an obeying frame of mind when a white person said something he must do. I mean, that’s terrorism too. So, I know that feeling. And this is what they are living under. And so, if you ever lived under terrorism yourself — you know terrorism USA, Southern-style — then you understand that people don’t like it and they should not be subjected to it anywhere on the planet.
In 1985 the British singer, Sting, released his now famous song, “Russians”. In it he claimed that our only hope back then was to understand that the Russians love their children just as we do. The concept was that if the Russians love their children as we do then they will finally come to their senses and move in a direction so as to avoid the mutually assured destruction of a nuclear World War III.
Sting’s conviction that the Russians must surely be just like us who love our children above all else is not entertained by Christian Zionists with regard to Arabs, with particular reference to Muslims and especially to Hamas. These forces of the anti-Christ do not have the normal emotions towards their children as we do. They think nothing of forcing their women and children to take a bullet in the head for them, so they can live on to kill more Jews another day.
The issue of the use of human shields as a deterrent for hostile fire in armed conflict has raised its head again with the allegations that Osama Bin Laden’s wife offered herself as a human shield to protect her husband. The vast majority of the writing on the issue of human shields in our media fails to recognise a large number of important facts.
Firstly, almost all the cases of the use of human shields involve armed combatants forcibly using civilians from the opposing side as a deterrent to enemy fire. The use of people as human shields from the same side is extremely limited and really occurs only in cases of asymmetric conflict where one side is forced to fight a guerrilla war against a much more militarily powerful opponent. The forcible use of civilians from one’s own side as human shields is virtually unheard of and extensive reports on this matter by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have found no evidence of the forcible use of civilians as human shields by militants on the same side as the civilians. This is true in the case of Hamas or any other militant faction of the Palestinian resistance.
Apart from the obvious ethical issues, the reason for this is simply that no guerrilla resistance force, particularly like Hamas which is trapped with the civilian population in Gaza, would risk a revolt from the 1.5 million strong , as is the case in Gaza, civilian population that would inevitably ensue if Hamas embarked on a program of forcing Palestinian civilians, women and children included, to act as human shields. One must remember that Hamas, along with its independent and Christian candidates, were elected to power by the Gaza population in 2006 in elections that were considered free and fair by such international monitoring organisations as the Carter Center.
Secondly, over the last decade, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and B’Tslelm (an Israeli Human Rights group) have documented the widespread forcible use of Palestinian civilians as human shields in various military conflicts by the I.D.F. The evidence was so overwhelming that even the I.D.F. was forced to prosecute Israeli soldiers who were caught using Palestinian civilians in this manner. This behaviour of Israeli soldiers raises some questions about the use of Gazan citizens as human shields by Hamas. If Hamas militants are so indifferent to the lives of their fellow citizens of Gaza, then why would any Israeli soldier feel that a Gazan citizen would be an effective human shield against the attacks of Hamas extremists? If the Hamas militants are as evil and heartless as our media continually suggest, surely they would see a Gazan citizen being led in front of a group of Israeli soldiers as very little deterrent to them opening fire on the Israelis. If I were an Israeli soldier and I believed that Hamas are as evil as the media say they are, I would not be very confident in the ability of a Gazan to act as a deterrent to attacks by Hamas, yet the use of Palestinians as human shields by the I.D.F. has been documented as being widespread. Perhaps the Israeli soldiers aren’t really that convinced by the stories of Hamas being so indifferent to their fellow citizens.
Thirdly, what has been documented about the use of human shields by Hamas begins with an incident in November 2006, when Palestinian women volunteered as human shields to protect Hamas gunmen in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. A Hamas spokesman is alleged to have said that a crowd of women gathered in response to an appeal on the local radio station for women to protect the Hamas fighters. The tactic succeeded and it has been claimed that this inspired Hamas to use the tactic whenever there have been reports of imminent targeted assassinations of Hamas officials by the Israelis or in other situations where the I.D.F. threatened to attack. This tactic was a desperate last resort. Its success in that case has not deterred Israelis to any large degree since then according to the Israelis themselves. The I.D.F. has obviously decided to go ahead and kill Hamas militants even when they are surrounded by human shields. The Israelis claim that the high mortality count of Palestinian children as a result of I.D.F. attacks is due to the continued use of human shields by Hamas. Two things follow from this: the obvious ineffectiveness of the use of human shields by Hamas militants as a deterrent to Israeli fire has somehow evaded the notice of the Islamic militants in Gaza (its not working!) and the Israelis have decided to attack despite the use of human shields, willfully making the choice to kill civilians in Gaza (they “know” human shields are being used). The ethics of both sides should be challenged, not just Hamas.
Lastly, resistance to Hamas by Gazan’s is more common than represented by our media. The Goldstone report tells of a case where Hamas militants were chased away by Palestinian civilians when they noticed that the militants were planning to set up mortar fire against the Israelis in a position too close to the civilian’s home. Gazan Youth resistance groups have openly challenged Hamas on their websites. Hamas is not powerful enough to stifle dissent and resistance from all other Palestinian groups in Gaza.
Islamic militants were not the cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict; they are a product of it. The siege of Gaza is an ideal breeding ground for extremism and terrorism. The Israelis know this yet continue to provoke the Palestinians to resistance, legitimate or otherwise, in both the West Bank, with the continuation of settlement construction and a raft of illegal activities designed to confiscate land, and in Gaza in order to demonise the Palestinians before the world and gain the approval of the western media in the Israelis program to deprive the Palestinian people of their basic human rights.
The violence in Israel-Palestine continues because of the age long habit of the west in placating the Zionist state of Israel. Palestinian resistance will continue until this habit is broken and justice is seen to be done for all the victims of terror; Islamic or Zionist.
Jesus said, “If you, then,though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11
ACTION FOR PALESTINE
Christian Zionism and Palestinian Christian Arabs.
A few months ago I spoke to a Christian Pastor whose family had fled to Gaza in 1948. I pulled him aside after his talk to ask him the truth about how Hamas treats Christians in Gaza. He told me that Hamas was not really the problem. The oppression experienced by Gazans at the hands of the Zionist government of Israel does not discriminate with regards to religious belief. Muslims, Christians and secular Arabs all share in the suffering in Gaza. The Pastor told me that he thought the blockade of Gaza and Operation Cast Lead had only consolidated Hamas’ hold on Gaza, and that there were now even more extreme groups in Gaza than Hamas.
Any hope of removing Hamas by the same process that Hamas was elected to power in 2006 has been destroyed. What the real intentions of the Israeli government in dealing with Gaza in the manner they have are a mystery to me. Here we are in 2011 and Hamas shows no sign of giving up its resistance to the Zionists. Would Israel officially recognise the Palestinian people‘s right to a state of their own with safe and secure borders if Hamas laid down its arms? Would Israel stop its construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank if Hamas recognised Israel? I don’t think so.
I saw a photograph of a Baptist church right next to a Mosque in Gaza on the net just yesterday. Apparently members of the respective religious groups are not at each others throats. If anyone persecutes the Christians of Gaza (apart from the Israelis) it is the wealthy Christian Zionists in the West who will not make a sound about the sufferings of their brethren. In my country, Pentecostal churches will give the stage of their mega-churches to the few misguided Arab Christians that take on the doctrines of Christian Zionism while ignoring the testimony of the tens of thousands of Arab Christians in Israel and the Occupied territories simply because their stories don’t conform to the narratives of Christian Zionism. We are meant to believe that Arabs persecute God’s people, not the other way around.
The racist attitude of Christian Zionists towards Arabs crosses religious barriers. Palestinian Arab Christians can not be trusted to tell the truth about issues like the ethnic cleansing in 1948 or even just the history of Arab occupation of Palestine in the last 150 years. Palestinian Arab Christians are second class citizens in God’s Kingdom. The only Arab Christian that tells the truth is one that is enlightened by the teachings of John Hagee. I am quite sure that many Muslim extremists think that the only good westerner is a Muslim westerner…maybe. But we all know that Christian Fundamentalists are nothing like Islamic Fundamentalists. Or are they?
A documentary is about to be released by the name of “Pentecostals in Palestine.” The documentary follows the story of a group of pro-Israel Pentecostals who traveled to the West Bank to see for themselves the conditions that people are forced to live under due to the military occupation of the Zionists. Though I have only seen a small portion of the footage of the doco, it seems that the group from the U.S. was greatly shocked by what they saw to the point of making some radical changes to their theology and politics. This is highly commendable in my opinion but one aspect of the documentary (and remember I have only seen promos of the whole documentary) that was a bit disturbing was that the Christians mainly changed their minds when they saw that there were large numbers of Arab Christians that were suffering as a result of the occupation. It seemed that the suffering of non-Christian Arabs in the occupied territories might not have been enough to sway the minds of these Christians. Still, I will have to wait until the documentary is finally released to make a final judgment. The point is that Christian Zionists betray their brethren’s suffering in Palestine, and it seems that even when they do finally recognise the injustices that occur in the occupied territories, they still end up discriminating on the basis of religious belief even then. Why can we not show solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine while at the same time recognise that the suffering and loss of non-Christian Palestinians (and Jews be they Zionist or not) is equally unjust and hurtful in God’s view?
If our theology leads us in a direction that causes us to become blind and deaf to the injustices that go on in our world, them our theology is flawed no matter how big, powerful and wealthy the church and Pastor is that is telling us these “Godly truths”.
Craig Nielsen ACTION FOR PALESTINE
Only the crimes of Arabs and Muslims count in the Middle East.
When talking to Orthodox Jewish people who reject Zionism, I am always struck by the way they stress the importance of Jews taking responsibility for their own actions regardless of whether or not others are doing the same thing and “getting away with it”. Because of the particular God given mandate that they believe they have as a chosen people, they always look to their own behaviour first (and with extreme vigor I might add) with regards to the cause of any difficulty they might be facing with others in the world. For these Jews, their status as a chosen people of God only enhances their responsibility to humanity and God, rather than that status giving them privileges to do what ever they like since others in the world are “far worse than us”. Whatever privileges they have as God’s people, particularly with reference to the land of Canaan, come only when they are fully prepared to take on the “yoke” of the responsibilities that God has given them. Rabbi Moshe Sober, a former Zionist, talks of the attitude held (incorrectly) by many religious supporters of Israel:
“The notion that we can do whatever we please, to any kind of temptation, or engage in any form of foolish self-aggrandizement without fear of penalty because we have an inside track to the Almighty is the plain opposite of religious faith. It is in fact an affront to the Divine, whose authority to determine the course of history we are usurping. The traditional penalty for this sin is to be sent to face a hostile world with no lucky breaks, no Divine assistance whatsoever, until we learn that only those who are performing God’s will can count on His assistance. Such blind faith is not really a faith in God at all, but rather faith in ourselves. It makes a tool out of the Almighty. It turns Him into a kind of “secret weapon” whose purpose is to guarantee our success at whatever we fancy. It is an idolatrous concept that masks what is actually an irrational belief in our own invincibility” (Sober, 1990, p. 30, 31).
The attitude of the anti-Zionist Jews could not be in greater contrast to the mentality of most Zionists, be they Christian or otherwise, with regards to the behaviour of the Zionist State of Israel. At a recent BDS protest in Adelaide, South Australia, a banner stating, “STOP AUSTRALIA’S SUPPORT OF ISRAELI WAR CRIMES”, drew a near hysterical response from a Christian Zionist passing by. “What about the crimes of the Arab countries! Why don’t you protest against them!” Although I informed the man that we had all been involved in a number of protests in the past few weeks condemning the atrocities of the various dictatorships (virtually all of which have been backed by Israel’s greatest ally, the U.S.) in the Arab part of the world, his anger could not be cooled. It has been my consistent experience that even when we are able to show Christian Zionists that Israel has been involved in war crimes and human rights violations, they cast all these accusations aside by merely stating that all the Arab states are terrorist states that want to destroy Israel.
An enormous amount of facts are left out in the Christian Zionist explanation of why the Arab nations take issue with Israel and what the real attitude of the Arab dictatorships are toward the Zionist state. I will list a few that need mentioning here.
1. The undisputed fact that Arabs and Jews have peacefully co-existed in the Holy land for centuries prior to the Zionist colonization of Palestine.
2. Prior to the Zionist period in Jewish history, Muslims did not read in their copies of the Koran that they must “kill Jews”.
3. Anti-Semitism was never are part of popular or elite culture in the Arab world as it has been in Europe (the “home” of both anti-Semitism and Zionism).
4. The Arab grievance against Israel can be summed up by the words of Khaled Meshaal, the chief of Hamas’s political bureau, who stated in an editorial in The Guardian in January 2006,
“Our message to the Israelis is this: We do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture. Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion “the people of the book” who have a covenant from God and his messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him), to be respected and protected. Our conflict with you is not religious but political. We have no problem with Jews who have not attacked us — our problem is with those who came to our land, imposed themselves on us by force, destroyed our society and banished our people.”
Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/jan/31/comment.israelandthepalestinians. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
5. In 1993, Yasser Arafat wrote a letter to the Israeli Government stating that Israel has a right to exist with safe and secure borders. No reciprocal statement was made by the Israelis.
6. In 2002 the Arab Peace Initiative, first proposed by Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was proposed as a solution to Arab-Israeli conflict in general and the Israel-Palestine issue in particular. At the Beirut Summit on March 28th 2002, the initiative was published and was agreed upon again at the Riyadh Summit in 2007. The initiative gained the unanimous consent of all members of the Arab League including both the Hamas and Fatah factions of the Palestinian resistance. Unlike the other proposals in the peace process, the initiative spelled out final status borders based explicitly on the U.N. borders established before the 1967 Six Day War. It offered full normalization of relations with Israel, in exchange for the withdrawal of its forces from all the Occupied Territories, including the Golan Heights, to recognise an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as a just solution for the Palestinian refugees. The initiative called for no more than what the U.N. had mandated and predictably the Israelis rejected it outright.
7. Zionist thinkers had been stating, as far back as 1897. that Zionist intent was to rid the land of Palestine of Arabs.
8. In 1948, in order to create a Zionist state of Israel that had a majority of Jews, 800,000 Palestinian Arabs were either murdered or forcibly removed from their homes by Zionist terror gangs and militias. 300,000 Arabs were ethnically cleansed before even one non Palestinian Arab soldier entered Palestine.
9 Arab dictatorships in the Middle East are nearly all backed by the West and wish to have normalised relations with Israel because of the economic benefits that would bring to their countries. Israel has never wanted true democracy in the Middle East (neither has the U.S.) as any democratic state in the Arab world that truly represented the common person in the street would undoubtedly be far more anti-Israel than the U.S. controlled dictators that now exist. This is because most Arabs know what we choose to forget,i.e., that the west has exploited the Arab nations for decades.
10. Zionist settlers in the West Bank routinely call for the extermination of all Palestinian men, women and children.
The list could go on. The root cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict is not to be found in some imagined conflict between Islam and Judaism or some type of subliminal hatred of Jews by Arabs that has been fermenting for generations. The Palestinians have a genuine grievance against the Zionist State of Israel that has not only not been addressed, but has been exacerbated by Israel’s continued violation of International standards of Human rights. This continued violation has been aided and abetted by the U.S. If Israel finds itself surrounded by Arab enemies, it is largely due to the fact that it has created and continually provoked those enemies to a point where they have no trust of Zionist intentions in the Holy Land to say the least. Our complicity in the denial of the legitimacy of the historic grievance of the Palestinian people, done in the name of the War Against Terror or any other emotionally potent oversimplification, will only make peace and justice even harder to achieve.
If Israel chooses to hide behind the sins of Hamas, (claiming that all resistance to the state of Israel is just another manifestation of anti_Semitism), it will one day find itself alone and without justification before the international community. The crimes of Hamas or any other Arab or Islamic group do not acquit the Zionists of their crimes against a people of whom Albert Einstein referred to as “no greater friends of the Jews”. Zionism has created only more enemies for Jewish people by ignoring the ethical and religious traditions of the God who called them into existence. God have mercy upon them.
Sober, M. (1990). Beyond the Jewish State: Confessions of a Former
Zionist. Summerhill Press, Toronto.
ACTION FOR PALESTINE
Zionist Apartheid and the Unconditional Embrace of God
Recently I asked a (Christian) man in his later years, who believes in the idea of unconditional support for Israel, whether or not Christians should have openly opposed and protested against Apartheid in South Africa. To my initial surprise, he answered that Christians should not have bothered, it was irrelevant, “just preach the Gospel”. Quickly I remembered that the Pentecostal Church in South Africa, staunchly Christian Zionist in its doctrines, had very little to say about Apartheid in that country that was negative. My attitude of surprise started to drift towards one of frustration and then resignation over the state of the understanding of social justice issues amongst many conservative Christians. A month or two ago, Glen Beck, a well known media personality and Religious Right advocate in the U.S., advised Christians in America to abandon their church congregation if it was even starting to display an interest in social justice issues.
With regard to the issue of Apartheid and Israel, I was deeply affected when I found out that both Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, men who have had extensive experience living under a system of Apartheid in their homeland, have declared, upon visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories, that the policies of the Zionist State of Israel towards the Palestinian Arab population are examples of Apartheid. Documentation of the discrimination experienced by Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Territories is vast to say the least. For anyone wishing to read a very accessible guide to this issue, I recommend Ben White’s Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide.
The most obvious symbol of this Apartheid regime is the “Separation Barrier” in the West Bank. Supporters of Israel are quick to demand that the decision to build the wall was forced upon Israel by the behaviour of the Palestinians, the suicide bombers in particular. They point to the fact that the suicide bombings have stopped since the wall’s construction as justification for the wall’s existence. The wall is fundamentally a security issue for Israelis. The lack of security felt by most Israelis that persists to this day is also evidence that the wall has also not brought any feelings of reconciliation between Arab and Jew in Israel either.
The claim that the wall is for security reasons requires deeper analysis. While regrettable, it is perfectly reasonable for someone to erect a barrier between themselves and a second party with whom they simply can not get along with to the point of violent confrontation. Everyone has a right to protect themselves. This is not the issue. We can easily imagine a scenario whereby two neighbours involved in a bitter dispute, that has led to violence,agree to erect a wall along the boundary line that divides the property of both parties. But when that wall, erected by the most powerful party in the dispute, is created in such a way that it invades into the very territory of the other neighbour, thereby including members of the family of this alleged foe on the side of the fence containing the property of the party that built the wall, we have to wonder about whether the wall has been erected as a pretense for something else.
Further to this, if the neighbour who built the fence also pays members of his own family to go and live on the other side of the fence on the property of those whom he say he feels unsafe from, then our confidence that the wall was made for security reasons crumbles. This scenario in fact mirrors that situation in Israel-Palestine today. Over 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank live on the “Israel side” of the Wall and Israel offers lucrative incentives for Jewish people to live on the other side of the barrier. The barrier separates Arab from Arab, puts allegedly “dangerous Arabs” on the Israel side of the wall and the government of Israel actively encourages Jews to live amongst these “hateful Palestinians”. I simply do not believe the justification given for the barrier by the supporters of Zionism in Israel. I think many Israelis find it equally hard to justify but somehow the insecurity they generally feel outweighs common sense. Ilan Baruch, the Israeli diplomat who recently resigned because he could no longer justify the policies of the current Israeli government regarding the occupation of the West Bank, is very much in the minority.
It is also well known that since the separation barrier is only 58% complete, it is relatively easy for Palestinians in the West Bank to travel to Israel illegally. The use of suicide bombers was thankfully repudiated by Hamas in 2006. This was far more due to a change in strategy than the existence of the wall. It seems that Hamas has seen that is far more profitable to Islamisize the citizens of Gaza than involve them in suicide bombing. The separation barrier is part of a strategy which includes the illegal settlements, checkpoints and Israeli only highways (all of which violate international law) which seek to further marginalise and oppress the Palestinian people, provoking them to further frustration and unfortunately even to the point of violence in a minority of instances.
Israel is a Zionist State, a state owned by Jews for Jews, as defined by the State of Israel. Whereas most governments are chosen by the people, in the case of Israel, the people are chosen by the government. Israel is a state for Jewish people in a way that it can never be for non-Jews. Israel may be able to afford a measure of human rights for Arabs but it can never afford equal rights between Arab and Jew in Israel. In the Occupied Territories, the situation has been described as “Apartheid on steroids”.
In 1989, The Israeli Supreme Court made a ruling about candidates and parties running for election in Israel. It ruled that the Central Elections Committee may prevent a candidates’ list from participating in elections if its objectives or actions, expressly or by implication endorse the negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. What this means is that for anyone to participate in Israel’s “democracy” one must renounce the idea that Israel should be a democracy, that is, a state for all its people. The notion that any state that is a democracy should of necessity be a state for all its people, is commonly accepted as the minimal requirement for a state to be declared democratic. If an Islamic state is deemed intrinsically to be undemocratic, then so must a Jewish State.
The state sanctioned inequality of rights between Jew and Arab in Palestine inevitable leads to oppression of the less privileged.
I can not help but be reminded of the demands of the Torah.
Ex 22:21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.
Eze 47:21 “You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel.
Eze 47:22 You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
Eze 47:23 In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,” declares the Sovereign LORD.
God’s intention in the land of Israel was for equality between Jew and non-Jew in accordance with the truth that God’s love and concern is for all people’s of the world. Whereas the Holocaust of Pharaoh was used as a means ( in scripture) to encourage Jews to specifically ensure that non-Jews in Israel were not oppressed, the Holocaust of the Nazis is used by the Zionists as a means to ensure that Jews do not suffer a similar fate in the future (a noble goal) but in a manner that ignores the oppression of non-Jews that is an inevitable consequence of the Zionist answer to the Jewish question.
In the end, the Torah’s authority will outlast the dogmas of Zionism however well intentioned they may seem at the moment to the supporters of Israel.
ACTION FOR PALESTINE