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The Real Obstacles to Peace.

During the negotiations of every part of the peace process in the Israel-Palestine conflict, Israel has continued to increase the number of settlers and settlements in the West Bank of Palestine. They have continued to confiscate land never allotted to them by the United Nations and have continued to build Israeli only highways on Palestinian land, doing everything they can to make life difficult for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian people have been forced to live with the indignity of a brutal and illegal military occupation of their lands. Israel has demolished over 25,000 Palestinian homes and have continued to deny the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. During this time Israel has killed thousands of Palestinians (many of them children), far more than the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians.

All this has only provoked the Palestinians to further resistance, as could be predicted by any sane person. A peace process in continual paralysis has definitely suited the cause of Israeli dispossession of Palestinian Arabs. Stalled negotiations have definitely not helped the Palestinian cause. So why is it that we believe that the Palestinians are the ones who have been the real party putting up obstacles to peace when it has clearly not been in their favour to do so? The answer is simply that this is the Zionist spin that is forced, uncritically, down our throats by the western media.

Israel has always benefited by stalled negotiations and intransigence towards finding peace. The Zionists have never wanted REAL peace. They have only wanted a cessation of fighting on their terms completely. They have been empowered to do so by the west because it is Israel (not the dispossessed Arabs) who have pledged to support western economic and strategic interests in the region. The Zionist state has wanted peace without justice and this is the real reason why the conflict continues to this day.

Christians are called to be  not just peace lovers, but to be peace makers. They have been entrusted with the Gospel of reconciliation. Reconciliation can only start when previous wrongs have been acknowledged. While the Zionists do not take responsibility for the crucial role they have played in Palestinian dispossession, while they continue to deny the overwhelming evidence of the crime of ethnic cleansing that was perpetrated in their name in 1948, while they continue to peddle the odious lie that Palestine was “a land with no people for a people with no land”, peace will be illusive. But at this stage, that is fine with them. They are happy in their illusion of denial. That’s just the way denial goes.

The Zionist state seems happy to keep provoking the Palestinians by claiming entitlement to the land of Palestine over and above all logic and reason. While Israel claims that Jewish migration to Israel (even if it occurred yesterday) has an innate legitimacy while indigenous Arabs  have no rights to ownership of their land in the same way that Jewish newcomers do, we will see continued hostility in the Middle East.

How have we let such an appalling situation develop? How is it that we have come to accept as normal and reasonable the idea that a Jewish person can migrate to Israel tomorrow with full rights and legitimacy to a state of his/her own, when an Arab Palestinian whose family has lived there for hundreds of years, or even a Palestinian who has only lived there for 10 years, can not do the same, and that any protest to this absurd notion is met with cries of racism and anti-Semitism?

The fight against anti-Semitism starts with a fight against all racism. It does not start with the idea of unconditional support of  Israel.

The Zionist state has no innate title to any of the land of Palestine. If it does not dignify all who live there regardless of whether they are Jewish or not, it will continue to grow in its status as a rogue nation.  Israel is an apartheid state by the decrees of Zionism, not by the decrees of God. Dignity means equality. Dignity means Arabs owning the state of Israel in a manner identical to the way that it is owned by Jewish people. Nothing else is acceptable to God or international law.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE

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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.

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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