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When representatives of the Zionist State of Israel are asked by the media regarding what it is that Israel ultimately wants, the answer inevitably is that all they want is peace. All they want is a place where Jews can live in peace.

Any half reasonable person would have to validate that answer as a good and decent thing for anyone to want, let alone a people who had just recently suffered the horrors of the Holocaust.

But while that may be the reality so far as what the Zionist State wishes for it’s (Jewish) citizens, it is the way that they are going about reaching this goal that is so offensive to any reasonably minded person. If we unpack Israel’s desire for peace we find that this goal contains three basic goals within it.

The first of these goals is that Israel be a Zionist State. Zionism is an ideology whose goal it is to transform Jewish identity away from its historic roots in Torah Judaism into a secular nationalistic identity like the European nation states of the last century. As a Zionist state, Israel desires to be a Jewish state in that it is a state that belongs to the Jewish people in a way than non-Jews living in Israel can never attain to. As it stands, Israel has some fifty laws that discriminate between Jews and non-Jews living in Israel, in favour of Jews.

Secondly, Israel wants to be a democracy. This is a very controversial point as the reality of the situation is that Israel is really only a democracy for Jews in Israel. In effect, Israel has four systems of law for the people that it rules over in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. The first is the system of democracy for Jews who live in Israel and the settlements in the West Bank. The second system is for Palestinian citizens of Israel that are clearly discriminated against even though they have voting rights and can be members of Parliament. If this were not so, then in what way could it be said that Israel was a Jewish state? The very demand for Israel to be a Jewish state inevitably creates discrimination against non-Jews living in Israel. By any other name, this is racism. The third system is for Palestinians living in the West Bank. They live under the extremely harsh rule of the Israeli military. The fourth system is really no system at all. This system relates to the Gaza Strip, which Israel declares as an “enemy entity”. As such, Gazan’s are persona non grata. Israel considers itself free to treat the Gaza Strip in anyway it sees fit with no recourse to International Law in any way.

Thirdly, Israel wants territory. At the moment it desires to be in control of 100% of historic Palestine.

The problem is that Israel simply can’t have all three of these things at once. If Israel annexes the West Bank and Gaza, then it will somehow have to incorporate millions more Palestinians into the greater state of Israel. It really has only two choices of how to do this. One, it gives Palestinians equal voting rights as Jews. This would put the whole Zionist nature of the state in jeopardy. This is because Palestinians would have electoral power because of their increased numbers. Palestinians would have a chance of having an Arab political party in power and they would inevitably overturn the Zionist nature of the state. The alternative is that they do not give equal voting rights to the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza and Israel would officially become an Apartheid state. This situation would be intolerable in the sense of support from the International community, even the U.S.

In 1948, The Zionists ethnically cleansed nearly 800,000 Palestinians from their homes. This was done so that the newly created Jewish state would have a Jewish majority. Soon after this, Israel instituted laws that gave any Jewish person in the world the right to come to Israel while at the same time it forbade the return of any Palestinians to their former homes. This meant that the state of Israel now had a means of having a permanent Jewish majority within its borders. It was only after Palestinian resistance in Israel had been effectively crushed, that, in 1967, Palestinians in Israel were given voting rights. This ensured that even though Palestinians could vote in Israeli elections, they would never have enough numbers to have any real electoral power.

It is the demand of Israel that they succeed in all these three goals that is the cause of violence in this dispute. Israel does want peace, but in endeavours to get peace in a way that will never obtain it because it continually creates injustice for Palestinians. Without justice, peace has no chance.

CRAIG NIELSEN

January 2019

 

 

Theology and Colonialism in the Israel-Palestine Conflict

 

In order to understand the particular historical narrative concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict that is adopted by Christian Zionists, we must understand the theological context that underpins the basic presuppositions of the Christian Zionist worldview regarding the Zionist State of Israel. The historical narrative adopted by Christian Zionists regarding this conflict is virtually identical to the Zionist colonialist mythology of the State of Israel, with very few exceptions. The reasons for this marriage between the sectarian Christian theology of Christian Zionism and secular Zionist mythology is that this union is an absolute necessity for Christian Zionists in order for them to justify the unconditional support they give the State of Israel. Christian Zionists must contend that their support for the Zionist state in no way contradicts the obvious mandate, in both Old and New Testaments of scripture, for God’s people to care for the oppressed and marginalised. For Christian Zionists to adopt the narrative of the conflict as espoused by scholars like Pappe, Finkelstein and the Palestinian people as a whole, would force them to admit that their theological stance regarding the Zionist State of Israel has lead them to a position of supporting outright oppression and injustice. Adopting such a position would lead to a faith crisis of cosmic proportions and so all measures are taken to avoid it.

Christian Zionists maintain that non-Jews have no entitlement to the land of Palestine regardless of how long they may have occupied the land and in whatever number. An Arab majority presence in Palestine is completely irrelevant. Jewish people own the land of Palestine and have an entitlement to it by virtue of their Jewishness alone. Hence the dispossession of Palestinian Arabs from their land of birth is not a crime, it is completely just. Palestinian Arabs occupy the land “illegally” in the minds of Christian Zionists regardless of how long they have been there or how great a majority they have been at any one time in the past, present or may be even in the future.

When the brutal reality of Palestinian dispossession confronts Christian Zionists, they often resort to arguments that amount to “blaming the victim”. The brutality of Arab dispossession is entirely the fault of the Arabs themselves since they were unwilling to welcome the Zionists or leave the land of their birth if they could not tolerate the new arrivals. Resistance to the Zionists is clear evidence of both their unwillingness to subject themselves to the will of God as well as their in born hatred of Jews. Since no injustice has been committed against the Palestinians, that is not ultimately their fault, any real compassion or desire to advocate for their position is unwarranted and against the will of God. All that is afforded them is a weak sentiment of sympathy that is ultimately extinguished by the self assertion of Christian Zionists that all would have been different if they had only agreed to self-dispossession. A corollary to this position is that the Arab leadership are really the ones to blame for the circumstances of Palestinians, not the Israelis. Whatever spin is adopted by the Christian Zionists, the final judgment must, and of necessity be, one that portrays the Israelis as being in the end without basic fault. When Christian Zionists get “squeamish” about the obvious oppression and unfairness of a minority imposing their wishes on the majority, they once again resort to the Zionist colonialist mythology to come to the rescue.

This Zionist mythology has some basic elements that are vital to Christian Zionism.

1.                  The land of Palestine was basically vacant before the Zionist migrations.

2.                  The continuous presence of Jews in Palestine for thousands of years, underscores the Jewish people’s entitlement to the land over and above the wishes of other inhabitants of Palestine. Arab migration into Palestine is “invalid” when “compared” to Jewish migration. Migration to Palestine by Arabs confers no concept of rights to self determination regardless of when it occurred.

3.                  Arabs had no real interest in Palestine until the Zionists made it into a land of “milk and honey”. Arabs had done “nothing with the land”.

4.                  The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was “miraculous” and gave legitimisation before the world community to the entitlement of Zionists to Palestine.

5.                  The 1948 War of Independence was “miraculous” as was the ‘voluntary flight” of thousands of Arabs from the newly created Israeli state in that same year. Hence   there was no “ethnic cleansing” of Palestine. The Arabs left of their own free will and no foul was done to them by the Israelis as a whole.

6.                  All Israeli wars with Arab nations are therefore the result of pure anti-Semitism and have no basis in alleged injustices against Palestinians.

7.                  Arab nations have never wanted peace; they have deliberately sabotaged all attempts by the Israelis and their allies to create a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

8.                  The Six Day War of June 1967 was, once again, “miraculous” and evidence of the hand of Providence, legitimising the state of Israel’s existence.

9.                  Palestinian terrorism is entirely unprovoked and hence provides further evidence of their basic anti-Semitic tendencies.

10.              The Israeli state is under constant threat of annihilation.

This mythology (every single point has been thoroughly and rigorously refuted by Jewish and Arab scholars) perfectly deflects any criticism thrown at Christian Zionists for their unconditional support of Israel. Hence there are no embarrassing facts of history that would lend credence to the idea that Christian Zionist theology leads to an unbiblical ethical stance towards Palestinian Arabs. Israel is “squeaky” clean and so is Christian Zionist theology. Any errors are only minor and of no ultimate consequence. Christian Zionists can lie in their beds with the assurance that they are righteous and justified in their determination to see Arabs dispossessed in Palestine.

Colonialist myths are designed to justify the “entitlement” of the colonial power in taking land that is basically not theirs. The basis for this entitlement can be a conflation of religious and non-religious ideas. Crimes against humanity, committed by the colonialists, are covered up and written out of the history books. In my own case I can testify how, when it came to Australian history, I was not taught of the massacres and dispossession of Australia’s previous inhabitants. Only the courage, hard work and sacrifice of the white settlers and pioneers was worthy of mention.

Jewish people growing up in Israel are likewise not told of the ethnic cleansing that was an integral part of the creation of the state of Israel. Christian Zionists have a vested interest in promoting the colonialist mythology of Zionism over and above the version of events as told by the Palestinian Arabs who have lived in the land for centuries. The Christian supporters of Israel are therefore not even remotely dispassionate and unbiased when “analysing” the historical evidence pertaining to the history of the Zionist state of Israel. Their view of this history is fundamentally coloured by their theological pre-suppositions. Until they can remove these pre-suppositions, their view of events will always be suspect.

It has been my experience that the findings of Israeli and Jewish scholars that take into account the Palestinians perspective are much more reliable. They often do this at great personal risk. They are the ones labeled “traitor” and “self hating Jew”. They suffer all the same persecutions suffered by anyone challenging the colonialist myths of their resident nations or people’s. They are the “whistle blowers” of history. They span political and religious denominations. Their concern is not to validate sectarian religious doctrines or to help the ruling class with their project to indoctrinate their citizens with nationalist propaganda. Their research stands on its own merits.

CRAIG NIELSEN

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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