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After just over 10 years of supporting the cause for justice and self determination for Palestinians, I have gotten somewhat used to being called an anti-Semite by the fanatical supporters of the Zionist State of Israel. It is the most crass and obvious ploy imaginable to get any criticism of the Zionist State shut down. And this most disingenuous strategy has been clearly admitted to even by members of the Israeli Knesset.

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Picking the difference between anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of Israel is really quite simple. To put it plainly, anti-Semites just hate Jews and everything about them, period. They hate Jewish anything. Jewish language, Jewish culture, Jewish religion. They hate Zionists, religious Zionists, Orthodox, Reform or liberal Judaism. They hate Jewish scientists, Jewish musicians, Jewish politicians, Jewish doctors, Jewish plumbers! They hate any mathematical, scientific, philosophical or political contributions made by Jews. They hate the Old Testament, the Torah and the Talmud. For anti-Semites, Jews can do no right, no good. They either want them to disappear, die or go live altogether somewhere where no one else needs to see them! They believe that most, if not all wars, are started by Jews and think that there exists a world-wide conspiracy of Jews to dominate the world. Many Christians believe that the anti-Christ mentioned in the book of Revelation will be Jewish. Are you starting to get the picture? And of course, they hate Israel. Their hatred of Israel has nothing to do with the human rights of Palestinians. They would hate Israel regardless of whether or not the creation of the Zionist State upset or dispossessed anyone in any way. They would hate and criticise every policy issued from the Knesset regardless of the topic, whether it involved the treatment of Palestinians, its policies on climate change, gay and lesbian rights or abortion rights. Anti-Semites, strangely, both deny the Holocaust and believe that the Jews got what they deserved in the Holocaust that they deny even occurred! Anti-Semitism is totally irrational and evil.

In the 10 years that I have been involved in this issue I have never been to a single Palestine solidarity rally or meeting that didn’t entirely focus on one issue and one issue alone. And that issue is, of course, the treatment of Palestinians (be they Christian, Muslim or otherwise) by the Zionist State of Israel. No other criticism of Israel or Jews in general, is ever made. If I believed, as many Israelis do, that the survival of the entire Jewish people absolutely depends on the existence of Israel, then I would be forced to support the Israeli State. As it is, I don’t remotely believe in such an obviously false concept.

Israel, funnily enough, although it has now got incredibly right-wing political leaders, is quite a liberal and progressive country. For Jews that is. Israel has about 20,000 legal abortions every year (which is about the same number per capita as my country, Australia), and is a self-declared beacon for gay and lesbian rights. Israel doesn’t have same sex marriage legislation like Australia, but it does recognise the same sex marriages of Israelis that were performed outside of Israel. It recognises such couples as having full adoption rights in Israel. Israel has universal health care and government subsidised tertiary education. Even the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is an advocate of Global Climate Change due to human agency and proudly boasts Israel’s development of Green technology. Netanyahu has declared that global warming is as bigger threat to the world as any other security issue. Israel, historically, has had a strong labour Union movement. It has had strip clubs and brothels and drug traffickers as well, just like most western countries. At the moment, Israeli feminist groups are trying to shut down strip clubs and brothels.

The crazy thing is that the Christian Right-wing, particularly of the English-speaking countries, pretty much despises most of these ideas as “godless, liberal or left wing” ideology, while at the same time unconditionally supporting the Zionist State in its project to take all of historic Palestine without allowing self-determination of Palestinians. When countries like Australia, England, Canada and the U.S. indulge in these policies, cries of Godlessness and imminent judgement from God can be heard from nearly every conservative Christian pulpit. But Israel gets a free pass on these issues even though on top of this the State of Israel’s state sanctioned ideology, Zionism, denies outright the divinity of Christ as being a valid belief for any truly Jewish citizen of Israel to indulge in!

And if that wasn’t enough to make your head spin, most Muslim countries in the world agree with the Religious Christian right on nearly all of the values or ideas mentioned above yet the Religious right feel totally entitled to demonise such countries day and night!

Anti-Semitism comes in many forms and degrees, just like any type of bigotry or racism. For my part, I will state my beliefs on the record here for all to see and later quote.

I believe in the right of Jews and Arabs to live in Israel/Palestine with self-determination, safety and security. I do not believe that Israel is the state that represents all Jews, nor do I believe that Benjamin Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of all Jews. I believe that Zionism is a secular movement whose goal is to change the traditional Jewish identity from a religious identity centred on the Torah, to a national identity like the nation states of Europe. Many Jews, both religious and otherwise, do not support or identify with the State of Israel. Criticism of the treatment of Palestinians by the State of Israel, nor anti-Zionism in general, is not anti-Semitism. For sure, anti-Semites would nearly always end up being anti-Zionists as well but the logic simply doesn’t go the other way around. It is no more anti-Semitic to criticise the State of Israel for its policies in regard to Palestinians as it is anti-Asian to criticise the Communist Government of China. Anti-Semitism, racism, Islamophobia, Christa-phobia, Homo-phobia, all belong in the dustbin of history.

I believe that Jews and Arabs (Christian, Muslim or secular) have a long history of mutual cooperation and respect for each other in the Holy Land before the Zionist era as Albert Einstein noted:

“There could be no greater calamity than a permanent discord between us and the Arab people. Despite the great wrong that has been done to us, we must strive for a just and lasting compromise with the Arab people. Let us recall that in former times no people lived in greater friendship with us than the ancestors of these Arabs” (cited in Jerome, 2009, p.70).

The real home of anti-Semitism is in Christian Europe, not the Middle East.

I believe that the best solution to the issue is the creation of one state, call it Israel if you must, that is a state for all its citizens equally. Neither a Jewish state, nor an Arab state. A democratic state much like the one dreamed of by Zionists like Albert Einstein and millions of Palestinians and Jews throughout the world.

CRAIG NIELSEN

February, 2020

 

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

 

 

Having been one myself for a number of years, it suffices to say that conservative Christians fascinate me.

Most secular and non-Christian people wrongly associate conservative Christian faith with some sort of Fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is then connected to a type of Biblical literalism which often includes ideas like Six-day Creationism, Premillennialism and the Rapture and a general belief in the miraculous stories of the Bible as literal, real historical events.

This categorisation of Christians overlooks a large amount of important theological distinctions that exist between conservative Christians. The real unifying factor for these types of Christians is really not their theology. When it comes to issues like Creationism, the End Times, Biblical miracles, Justification by Faith, Predestination or the Eucharist, conservatives can argue with each other just as intensely and divisively as anyone. Conservatives are equally likely to be Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox. They can be Baptists, Lutherans, Uniting Church, Methodist, Church of England or Pentecostal. Left wing, liberal or progressive Christians can also be found in all these denominations as well.

In my opinion, being a conservative Christian is far more about one’s politics rather than one’s theology. Their conservative politics often seems to be far more important to them than Biblical theology. Let me explain what I mean.

Biblically speaking, a person’s confession of Christ as God, Lord and Saviour, has long been seen as a major issue in deciding if any given person is a Christian or not. Of course, this confession needs to be heart felt and accompanied by repentance from sin. But it seems that for conservative Christians, this is often a side issue. I passionately believe that Jesus died for me on the cross and shed His blood as a covering for my sin. I believe that He is God, come in the flesh, the only begotten Son of God the Father and that He was bodily raised from the dead. I am saved by grace alone by the death and resurrection of Christ.

Yet I can hardly count the number of times that my faith has been denounced, even though I have made this confession publicly on many occasions. This denunciation has always come from conservative believers and normally for the same reason. That reason is nearly always related to my lack of allegiance to the Zionist State of Israel and my support for Palestinian human rights and justice. I’m seen as a deluded backslider at best, satanic infiltrator at worst.

Many others, who make similar confessions with regards to Jesus, have received the same treatment. Their issue may not have anything to do with Palestine. It maybe that they support gay and lesbian rights, abortion rights, believe in climate change due to human industry, denounce US imperialism, racism, sexism and fight for equality, workers and human rights and, in the worst-case scenario, support the demon of Socialism! All of these are basically recognised as the domain of leftists and liberals. They advocate for justice and mercy for Muslims and any minority group in general that you can think of.

Any of the above can earn you the title of non-follower of Christ, by conservatives regardless of any confession of Christ as Saviour, no matter how heart felt you feel your conviction is.

Conservative Christians are united by their conservative politics and allegiance to conservative and right-wing political parties like the Republican Party in the US, the Conservative Party in the UK and the Liberal/National Party Coalition in Australia. Many times, I have felt that their conservative politics is far more important to them than their Christianity.

I know that in my own case, I felt that the Christian faith was innately conservative. In some ways I still believe that this is true. Christians seek to conserve, or preserve the original essence of the faith as God revealed it to humanity in the first place. While Christian theology has clearly developed over the centuries, it is generally agreed that it cannot develop in such a way as to contradict the original concepts of the faith. It cannot progress beyond a certain limit. In this sense Christianity is conservative by nature. Finding out what these limits are, however, is another question entirely. It’s an endeavour that is far easier said than done in practice.

I long felt that somehow conservative politics owned the Christian faith with its conservative moral values. While liberals and progressives might have some interesting points to make, the real home of Christianity, politically speaking, was right-wing conservatism. Christian values would be safer in the hands of conservative governments.

I’ve since come to believe that this view is both un-Biblical and quite naïve. I think the best example that demonstrates the truth of this is the case of Palestinian Christianity. When I first got involved in the Christian faith I was told that I had many hundreds of millions of brothers and sisters in the faith all around the world. I thought that in the end, there must be some type of solidarity between Christians regardless of their theological differences. It wasn’t long before I started reading a bit of church history and finding out that this was far from the case. But at least I thought Christian faith would tie people together despite their political differences!

But the case of Palestinian Christianity blows this sky high. Conservative Christians, especially in the US, dominate the ranks of Christian Zionists. They passionately believe that it is their religious duty to unconditionally support the Zionist State of Israel in its project to colonise the region known as historic Palestine. These Christians have no pity for the Muslim people who have suffered due to this Zionist project, after all, they’re only Muslims! Enemies of God to be sure! Justice for Muslims in the Israel/Palestine conflict is a contradiction in terms.

But you would think it might be a different thing altogether when it comes to the case of Palestinian Christians. Palestinian Christians are Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic. They are Lutheran, Church of England, Baptist and even Pentecostal. Yet their cries to conservative Christians in the West about injustice and oppression perpetrated on them by the Zionist State of Israel gets completely ignored. Not an ounce of solidarity exists. Every year, the heads of the Palestinian Christian denominations make their suffering known to the Western conservative church via means like the Kairos Document and numerous conferences and meetings. All this gets ignored. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of Christian Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza recognise that their oppressor is the Zionist State of Israel, (not Muslim Palestinians). The voices of one hundred and seventy thousand Palestinian Christians are ignored, while the voice of one Palestinian convert to Christianity that supports Christian Zionism is heralded around the world in every Christian bookshop you can find!

In 2015, I went to the West Bank to observe this myself. I lived for 3 months in a conservative Muslim village in the West Bank as part of a program ran by the World Council of Churches. The program was called for by the Jerusalem heads of churches, (all of which are Palestinian). They wanted there to be a continuous western presence in the West Bank to observe the reality of the oppression that is the occupation. This program has had a continuous presence all over the West Bank for some 20 years now. Many of the people who have participated in this program have been from conservative Christian backgrounds like myself. We met Palestinian Christians who have visited the west only to find that their Christian faith was denounced when they owned up to being an Arab Christian that doesn’t support the dispossession of their own people by a secular state like Israel.

What motivates conservative Christians is not simply stated. To say that it is their theological beliefs, however much that they proclaim that it is, is still too simplistic. It is obvious that their political beliefs inform their conservative theology and vice versa. An uncomfortable fact for conservatives is that virtually no professional theologians in the English-speaking world endorse Christian Zionism. It is utterly bereft of any rational Biblical support but this seems to make almost no impact on them whatsoever.

Conservative Christians in the US routinely herald any President that seems to come from the right-wing as God’s man of the hour, come to save the world from judgement regardless of how immoral their actions might be on a personal level. Australian conservative Christians are often not far behind them.

When the excesses of a conservative President are finally brought to the public eye, the American public are reminded of their Christian duty not to judge, but to support their leader! But God have mercy on a non-conservative President, regardless of any professed Christian faith! God must be a Republican…surely?

So many conservative Christian friends of mine bemoan our secular, godless state with its permissive values. One particular sore point is the acceptance, by ultimately both political parties, of gay and lesbian marriage rights. Criticism of this judgement comes thick and fast from conservative pulpits. Yet the Zionist State of Israel has plans to follow this path. One of the reasons that the State of Israel says that it should be supported by the western world is its tolerance of gays and lesbians in contrast to the conservative values of Muslim countries.

Apparently these liberal, progressive values are all ok in a secular Israeli State, but deserve wrath and condemnation in our own western countries. It seems that the only duty of Israel is to take all of the land into its possession and sovereign control. Anything else it may do is irrelevant. This backflip on the moral values of God’s chosen people is hard to justify Biblically, but once again is not even acknowledged by conservative Christians in the west.

My belief is that Christianity is not owned by either side of the political divide. We are free to accept or reject political ideas without fear of abandoning God’s own political party. God’s politics don’t conform to the ideology of any political party, nor does His politics encourage us to turn a blind eye to the corruption and injustices perpetrated by those that we perceive as being our political friends. Nor does it prevent us from listening and learning from those whom we traditionally feel are not the friends of the faith. We are free to listen and to learn from anyone. Free to use our own God given reason and our knowledge of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as revealed in the scriptures with humility.

Unfortunately, conservative Christians are greatly in error when they unconditionally support the State of Israel with regard to its policies towards the Palestinian people. This does not mean that conservatives have nothing positive to offer or that progressives have all the answers. For Christians, humility and the mercy and justice of God for all humanity is our eternal duty. Amen.

CRAIG NIELSEN

December 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Zionists, as well as religious Zionists in Israel and throughout the world, believe that Jewish people have an absolute entitlement to the lands of Israel including the occupied territories (OPT).

They claim that this fact is unambiguously stated in the Bible and can be seen to be so by anyone who bothers to take the time to read the Old Testament scriptures. They believe this fact is so clearly and obviously proclaimed that it is indeed a dividing line between those who honour God’s word and those who don’t.

Anyone declaring that the Israeli settlements are illegal, no matter what legal arguments are used to defend such a position, are denounced as being in league with Satan. The very concept of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Gaza or the Golan Heights is a contradiction in terms. The recent denial of the illegal status of Israeli settlements in the OPT by the current US administration has been met with rapturous approval by Christian Zionists the world over. This would be seen as further proof, as if any were needed, that the US is indeed God’s instrument on Earth in worldly affairs.

Any protests against Israeli settlements are met with accusations of anti-Semitism and racism against Jews. The spectre of Nazi Germany is quickly invoked to demonise anyone even thinking about Palestinian rights. Palestinians rights are the rights of the devil!

I well remember once telling an avid Christian supporter of Israel that Palestinian Christians didn’t share his view of Zionist entitlement. His only answer was a sarcastic, “Have they read their Bible?”

A “no concession” policy is rigorously held to by Christian Zionists when it comes to any type of negotiations with Palestinians. After all, you don’t negotiate with the devil!

But the simple fact remains that the settlements ARE illegal under the clear and reasonable demands of International Law, and the concept of illegal Israeli settlements, within the bounds of what is considered “the promised land”, is completely compatible with scripture and the justice and mercy of God as revealed in both Testaments of the Bible. I believe it is not only compatible with, but is indeed demanded by those same scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation.

My defence of this position is based on a two-pronged argument:

  1. The Bible does not teach that Jewish people, simply by virtue of their Jewishness,

have an absolute and unconditional entitlement to the “Promised Land”. Jewish

occupation of the land can indeed be illegitimate in God’s eyes.

  1. International Law on this issue is completely compatible with God’s will for how

nations should deal with each other and hence it’s clear dictates need to be

respected by ALL Christians who claim to believe in the rule of law.

I will start with a defence of point one.

From the very first instances in scripture, when God promised the Land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants, we see that the relationship of the Promised Land (TPL) to the Jewish people was conditional. God delayed Abraham’s taking of TPL by some hundreds of years so as to make sure that no injustice was done to the people then occupying the land. It was not until God judged the people in the land as being guilty of innumerable sins and hence needing to be justly removed from the land that Abraham’s descendants were allowed to enter TPL.

But even then, as the scriptures clearly tell us, there was no unconditional entitlement of Jews to enter the land. We see that even Moses, hardly a more prominent Jewish person could there have been, was not allowed to enter TPL. The most obvious question to be asked is, “Why wasn’t he allowed to enter?” Even a cursory glance at the text shows that it was his behaviour that was the key reason that he was barred from entering TPL, and this provides us with the basis for the whole concept of the totally conditional nature of the Jewish people’s relationship to the land.

God indeed made a covenant with the Jewish people in that the only way that they could legitimately enter and occupy the land was that they faithfully obey the commands of God. Many of these commands relate to how they treat non-Jews living in the land with them. The punishment for disobedience with regards to this issue was expulsion from the land.

Every orthodox Jew in history will tell you that the occupation of the land for Jews is tied up with the concepts of redemption and exile. Jews are currently in a state of exile and are therefore forbidden to try and take control of the land. No Jewish Rabbi anywhere in the world would dare declare that the exile is over! So, if that be true, how is it that the State of Israel is in existence with half the world’s Jews living there?

The answer is that the responsibility for the creation of the State of Israel was in the hands of Zionists, not Jews who were faithful to the Torah and its traditional teachings about exile, redemption and the coming of the Messiah. Orthodox Judaism had taken oaths, as far back as 130 AD, to never even try and take TPL even if all the rulers of the Earth commanded it, even if the land itself was empty, even if it did not involve any kind of violence whatsoever.

Exile was a spiritual problem and required a spiritual, not military or even diplomatic, solution.

Scripture clearly relates that the Jewish people are God’s tenants, not landlords in TPL. If they do not obey God’s covenant with them, they will be expelled from the land, just like any other nation or people that defiled the land. Their Jewishness would not confer any special privileges for them if they were disobedient. If anything, it made them more accountable. God’s covenant with Abraham would not mean that they could unconditionally enter and occupy the land. Being in exile would not, however, make the covenant with Abraham void. This covenant was still in operation regardless of whether the Jewish people were in exile or not. Exile came when the Mosaic covenant was broken by the Jewish people while in the land. The Mosaic covenant could be broken but the covenant of God with Abraham could not. God would never give up on the Jewish people no matter how many times He had to cast them from the land. Orthodox Jewish tradition holds that this expulsion has already occurred twice. The end of the current exile will be heralded by the miraculous coming of the Messiah and not before. This event will come in God’s sovereign time.

God’s command that Jews treat the “alien”, (non-Jew) in the land fairly and justly and as an equal, stems from the fact that when Israel was in bondage as slaves to Egypt, God stood up for them against the oppressor and gave them freedom. In scripture God continually reminds the Jews to remember how they were slaves in Egypt and in doing so therefore do not oppress the non-Jews living amongst them. Failure to do this would bring consequences to the Jews almost too horrible to think of!

So, the question can legitimately be asked, “Is the Zionist regime in Israel legitimately occupying TPL?” The simple fact of their confessed Jewishness is not sufficient, regardless of any claims about fulfilled prophecy. End times prophecy can never be twisted in such a way so as to negate the righteous demands of God for the descendants of Abraham to live up to their obligations to God with regards to their relationship to the land. A secular Zionist state does not get a free pass any more than Moses did!

I will now move on to my second point:

The basis of the United Nations Charter and International Law with regards to how nations should deal with one another is grounded in the desire to avoid violent conflict and oppression by powerful nations over less powerful nations. This is clearly stated in the concept of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by means of force. This acquisition of territory in order to gain access to living space, resources or anything else by force is seen as the main motivation for armed conflict in our world. Making this type of acquisition of land illegal, by any nation, is a clear a deterrent for conflict between nations by removing the legitimacy of the very motivation for conflict.

This is obviously a good idea, and I see nothing in this that is somehow innately anti-Semitic or against God’s word. Whether or not this concept has been applied fairly and consistently is another matter entirely.

We need to remember that all members of the United Nations must sign on to this principal. Australia, the US, Israel, Canada and the UK have all signed on to this principal as a matter of law.

In 1947, the United Nations created a partition plan that gave the Zionists 55% of historic Palestine for the creation of a Jewish state and 45% of the land to the Arabs for the creation of a Palestinian state. The Zionists accepted this plan. The current regions known as Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights were not part of the land that was given to the Zionists in the 1947 partition plan. These regions are currently under Israeli control since they entered these areas by force in 1967. As such they are under Israeli military occupation.

The validity or fairness of this partition plan will not be dealt with here. At this stage it suffices to say that the Zionist State is in control of lands that it acquired by means of military force and is holding onto these regions by military force as well, despite the fact that International Law and UN Resolutions have demanded Israel’s ending of the occupation way back in 1967.

The Fourth Geneva Convention, of which all member states of the United Nations must sign on to, clearly states that no occupying power may transfer any of its population into the areas being occupied. Israel has clearly been in breach of this since 1967 when it started building Israeli only settlements in both the West bank and Gaza. It entices Israeli citizens to come and live in the OPT with significant financial incentives. These settlements are fully integrated into the rest of the state of Israel via Israeli only highways that connect the settlements back to greater Israel. Palestinians are forbidden to travel on these roadways.

The Israeli government rejects this judgement based on the fact that they do not consider the OPT to be occupied and hence International Law does not apply. This idea is based on the fact that the West Bank and Gaza had no official governance at the time of the 1967 War and so International Law does not apply.

This judgement has been rejected by the entire international community. The issue of governance is not the point. The fact is that Israel has gained access to territory by means of force. This territory was not granted to any Israeli government in the 1947 partition plan that the Zionists did agree with. That territory was inhabited by a people who did not identify as Jewish and hence are not represented by any Zionist government.

The Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been judged as illegal right from the start and this decision has been reviewed and verified on numerous occasions since then by the best legal minds in the world. This judgement is firmly based in International Law.

From the above we can see that the Israeli settlements are clearly in breach of International Law and that International Law in this particular context is neither anti-Semitic or un-Biblical.

It is possible, and I would say, highly likely, that God respects and agrees with the judgement that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal.

CRAIG NIELSEN

December 2019

 

The other day, while attending the regular BDS protest in Adelaide’s CBD, I was informed by an Israeli sympathizer that I was  a “f…ing leftist”. I find it quite ironic that a Christian person like myself, who regularly gets labelled as a conservative because of my Christian beliefs about Jesus, would get such a comment. I’m a person who doesn’t really like to be pigeon holed into the left or the right. I like to hear a person’s view point and try and evaluate what is being said on its own merits. The irony only increases when others see my criticism of Israel as evidence of some type of latent Nazism within. So what am I…right wing Nazi or left wing Nazi? Fortunately I don’t look to the supporters of Zionism to discover my identity. I know what I believe and why I believe it and I do it with a clear conscience. I have found that the vast majority of the supporters of Israel that I encounter here in Adelaide have absolutely no interest in finding out anything about why I support the cause of the Palestinian people. They simply want to take the easy way out and call me names and move on. I guess it takes all kinds.

The labeling of supporters of Palestinian rights to justice and self determination as being Nazis, by those of us who support the state of Israel, is an issue that is well know to Jewish people who can’t seem to find any justification for the policies of the Zionist state of Israel. A Jewish person who doesn’t get on the Zionist bandwagon is considered to be a self-hating Jew or a traitor. An Arab who doesn’t support the Palestinian cause is deemed a prophet. Have you ever heard the term “self hating Arab”? The pressure on Jewish people to support Israel is immense. Just ask Antony Loewenstein. Philip Weiss, of Mondoweiss website fame, posted the following insightful article on the phenomenon of Jewish criticism of Israel on 4/08/2011.

Rightwing Jew can call leftwing Jew a Nazi, but if leftwinger turns the tables, he’s an anti-Semite

by Philip Weiss on August 4, 2011

At DailyKos, Assaf relates a story about being smeared by an Israeli academic as a “Tsorer” [a term used traditionally for someone persecuting Jews with a genocidal intent] because of his advocacy for Israeli-soldier-refuseniks. Assaf says this is an example of the “bigotry by mainstream Jews against dissident Jews who challenge the “Israel good, Arabs bad” dogma.” And goes on, “In the mainstream Israeli (and older generation Disapora-Jewish) psyche there is a red line, usually referred to in Israel as a social-mental ‘Fence’, separating, supposedly, “legitimate” criticism and activism – but really demarcating tribal solidarity – from crossing over to become one of ‘them'”. And he adds that the charge of anti-Semitism is used, too: “Here are the rules of ‘Nazi Gotcha’, as far as I’ve managed to understand them:”


1. Anyone, at any time, can compare Israel’s current and past enemies to the Nazis – and we are even encouraged to do so.

2. No one, at no time, can compare Israel’s current or past actions to the Nazis. This is an immediate red card.

3. It is completely okay for Jews criticizing other Jews from the right to the left (e.g., the right criticizing the centre, the centre criticizing the left, etc.), to compare their criticism’s target to the Nazis. For example, in 1995 during the Oslo process a centre-right commentator said to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to his face on prime-time live broadcast, that he is a member of a “Judenrat Government”. That commentator, Tommy Lapid, later became a political star and even served under Sharon as a senior cabinet minister alongside Peres.

4. It is completely not okay, for Jews criticizing other Jews from the left towards the right, to use similar imagery. Never. Barring highly exceptional circumstances, this offense also carries an immediate and irrevocable red card.

5. In other cases, we will send the “jury” (composed always of centre and right nationalist Jews) out to deliberation, but in general if you are Jewish and not suspected of “anti-Israelism”, it is okay. For example, I don’t think Jerry Seinfeld paid any penalty for introducing the term “Soup Nazi” to English language and American pop-culture.

6. The meaning of a red card. If you were unfortunate to be issued a red card under rules 2, 4 and possibly 5 – then you are forever marked as someone “beyond the pale”, an “Antisemite”, a “self-hater”, or even worse. Pretty much nothing you will do can undo this verdict.

7. (almost) Finally…. any nationalist Jew is authorized to issue the red card to Jews on his left, or to non-Jews, upon witnessing an offense.

Would the real anti-Semites please stand up?

I define anti-Semitism as the  belief that Jewish people are innately evil, inferior, corrupt or immoral in comparison to other people groups . Anti-Semitism is therefore  one type of racist belief amongst many racist beliefs. This definition may not satisfy everyone, but is a good enough place to start.

Anti-Semitism is no lesser and no greater an evil than any other type of racism. To believe anything else would be racist in itself. To repudiate racism requires one to first accept that all forms of racism are equally abhorrent. Religious anti-Semitism is virtually always based in racial anti-Semitism. The whole question of whether or not being Jewish is a racial or religious identity has been dealt with elsewhere in this blog.There is absolutely no doubt that anti-Semitism has had a long history in the world and the fight against it must be continued and  ever vigilant just as the fight against all forms of racism must be continued and  ever vigilant.

Given this definition, I think the following questions are worth asking:

 1) Can a Jewish person be anti-Semitic?

I guess it is possible for a Jewish person to be an anti-Semite, but such a person would be a very emotionally sick individual indeed! I would expect such a person to be generally quite disturbed and dysfunctional. Quite like the victims of childhood sexual abuse who are tormented by feelings of inadequacy and self loathing. Some gay friends of mine have been accused of being self hating homosexuals because of their strident criticism of the gay community. This is a very hurtful allegation and should not be thrown around arbitrarily.

The term, self hating Jew, is used very often by Zionists when describing Jewish people who advocate for the Palestinian people or who are overly critical of the Zionist state of Israel. Interestingly, I have never personally heard the term used by the Jewish opponents of Zionism when describing their critics. Zionists are described as oppressors, colonialists or racists, but seldom if ever referred to as self hating Jews or anti-Semites. While I think it quite possible that a Jewish person could be an anti-Semite, I feel that this tag has often been used as a convenient way to vilify Jewish people who do not accept the Zionist narrative of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It helps to perpetuates the myth of the virtual identical nature of Zionism and being Jewish.

2) Can a Zionist be anti-Semitic?

I think that most Zionists would tell you that it is virtually impossible for a Zionist to be an anti-Semite. This comes from what I see as their belief that they are the real Jews: the true spokespersons for the Jewish peoples true interests and survival. How else could they claim that Jews who do not subscribe to their ideology are anti-Semites and self hating Jews with such confidence?

I  think that it is just as likely for a Zionist Jew to be a self hating Jew (if indeed such people exist) as it is for a non-Zionist or an anti-Zionist Jew. Sometimes I have heard extremely racist comments by Orthodox religious Jews (mostly by religious Zionists) regarding gentiles, but rarely have I heard them making comments that I would construe to be anti-Semitic. Zionist ideology is very much built upon the idea that Jewish integration or assimilation into the gentile world is impossible, hence the need for their own state. The reasons given for this inability to live amongst gentiles without persecution varies. Some may say it is because gentiles are by nature anti-Semitic. This belief seems to be racist in itself. It seems to imply that gentiles are basically inferior or less civilised than Jewish people. Some Jews may say that the inability of Jews to live safely with gentiles is a simple fact of history and read no more into it than that.

Zionisms rejection of Orthodox Torah Judaism, especially in its early years, is considered by many Orthodox religious Jews today to be fundamentally anti-Semitic.

3) Can a Christian Zionist be anti-Semitic?

Over the past few years I have definitely come to believe that Christian Zionists consider the state of Israel to be more important to them than it is for the Jewish people themselves. Having said that, you would think that their unconditional support of the Israeli state would put them on the least likely list of suspects for anti-Semitism. But you would be wrong. I have heard many Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews claim that Christian Zionist anti-Semitism is revealed in their theology, particularly their eschatology which is really the driving force for their understanding of the whole Israel-Palestine conflict.

Added to this is the whole notion of unconditional support for the Zionist state. I  do not think that any one who would unconditionally support me  in reality is acting as a true friend to me. Even my own parents never unconditionally supported me in life, and neither they should  have. Unconditional love and unconditional support are clearly two different things. Would a parent be truly a good and loving parent if they were to  support their child in their endeavors to rob, murder and steal if their son or daughter choice to go down those roads as many do? Of course not.

The so called unconditional support of Christian Zionists towards the state of Israel is loaded with self interest to say the least. Their support is entirely related to the convergence of their end goals with that of the Zionists i.e, for all Jews to live in Eretz Israel. If the Zionists had chosen to create a state any where else but Palestine, these Christians would probably revert back to the same type of religious anti-Semitism that has been common in Christian history for the past two thousand years. Even now many Christian Zionists believe that the Anti-Christ will be a Jew and that the vast majority of Jews will be hurled into the lake of fire upon Christ’s return to be tormented for all eternity.

Whereas Orthodox Judaism has understood the final return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel to be the ushering in of a great age of peace and Godly service of all humanity, Christian Zionists see it as bad news indeed for most of humanity and especially for the adherents of Torah Judaism.

4) Are Palestine solidarity activists anti-Semitic?

There is no doubt as well that there are Arabs, and non-Arabs, who oppose the state of Israel  not so much because they are concerned for Palestinian rights to justice and self determination, but because they are anti-Semites. However, I must say that I personally have never met one Palestine solidarity activist that would fall into that category. Such people are quite easy to spot within the ranks of the solidarity movement when they do occur. This is simply because their criticism of the Israeli state is completely based on racial grounds and their contempt for Jewish people still remains even in the case of Jewish people who resist the Zionist narrative and stand up for Palestinian rights. They usually indulge in ridiculous conspiracy theories about Jewish world domination or even pseudo religious theories of demonic or satanic connections to the Talmud and Torah Judaism. The mere existence of the lunatic fringe  in any movement (including Zionism) does not refute the basic validity of that movement.

I can say emphatically that the overwhelming majority of the Palestine solidarity movement abhors anti-Semitism and is motivated by the concern for the suffering and injustices that they see have been committed on the Palestinian people by the Zionist state of Israel. Anti-Zionists are no more anti-Semitic than anti-Communists are anti-Slavic or anti-apartheid activists are anti-Dutch. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine will not be stopped or justice be done by the ethnic cleansing of Israel. Justice in the Middle East will be justice for both people groups living together in equality and peace just as they did for centuries before the European colonialist ideology of Zionism took hold in the minds of many vulnerable Jewish people.

5) Does the Zionist understanding of how to fight against , or protect Jews from anti-Semitism cause and/or justify racism against those whom the Zionists perceive as being threats to Zionism?

A Jewish friend of mine, who grew up in Israel, once told me that she was taught as a child while she was in Israel that the Holocaust must never happen again…to us! (i.e. the Jewish people). It seems that the consensus was that the Jewish people must do whatever they must do to ensure their safety. Damage done to others in the process was of secondary importance at best. This destructive entitlement, is common in peoples who have been the victims of grave abuse and injustice (some Palestinians feel this way too) and is an attitude I have picked up in the language of many Zionists that I know. Being victims of the Holocaust simply does not give the Jewish people, or any people, a license to oppress and dispossess others. It may be argued that any security that is gained at the expense of others will indeed be temporary. It will not end anti-Semitism but probably only give more ammunition to the anti-Semites already in existence.

6) Do anti-Zionist Jews unwittingly help promote the cause of anti-Semitism?

Rather than promote anti-Semitism, I have found anti-Zionist Jews to be at the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism. Many times have I heard of people who felt that they did not like Jewish people because of the oppression of the Israeli state towards the Palestinian people, change their minds about Jews when they discovered Jewish people who stood up for Palestinian rights in the face of a barrage of abuse by Zionist Jews. Zionism is a political ideology, not a racial or religious identity. To be anti-Zionist and Jewish takes immense courage and in my opinion reveals the real essence of being Jewish. To me, being Jewish is not really about ones lineage, but is about ones ethics and beliefs about human value.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE

The ideological basis of Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing of Arabs in Palestine.

The root cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict lays squarely at the feet of Zionist colonialism and those European and western powers who have empowered and enabled the Zionist State of Israel to oppress the Arabs of Palestine. This oppression has provoked a people (previously enjoying good relations with Jews throughout the Arab world) to violence against the tyranny of the Zionist State of Israel. Unfortunately some Arabs have (in their despair and sense of powerlessness) resorted to acts of terrorism, just as the Zionists had done during the British Mandate period when they felt overwhelmed by those more powerful than them. However, the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs have resisted the Zionist State in a dignified and peaceful manner.

Though there were and still are many strains of Zionist thought, the one that has dominated in Israel has always been one that sought to dispossess the indigenous Arab population of Palestine in order for a Zionist (majority Jewish) state to exist in a land were Jews were not in the majority and had not been in the majority for some 1800 years. Zionism’s reaction to gentiles was based on their unshakable belief that integration or assimilation of Jews into a hostile gentile world was impossible. Just as the anti-Semites had believed, Zionists also espoused that Jews and non-Jews can not live together. Before 1945, the crime of ethnic cleansing was nowhere acknowledged as a crime and hence statements made by Zionist thinkers concerning Arabs were much more candid than any made by Zionists today. A list of just a few of the many statements made by Zionist thinkers (and European politicians complicit with them) regarding the ethnic cleansing of Palestine are given below.

1. Pamphlet by founder of socialist Zionism, Nahman Syrkin, says Palestine “must be evacuated for the Jews”. (1897)

2. The diaries of Theodore Herzl reveal Zionism’s intent towards the indigenous population of Palestine…

“We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the borders by procuring employment for them in the transit countries while denying any employment in our country. “(The Complete Diaries of Theodore Herzl, New York 1961, p. 88)

3. Israel Zangwill states Jews must drive out the Arabs or “grapple with the problem of a large alien population…” (1905)

4. One of Zionism’s most liberal thinkers, Leo Motzkin, said

“Our thought is that the colonization of Palestine has to go in two directions. Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel and the resettlement of the Arabs of Eretz Israel in areas outside the country. The transfer of so many Arabs may seem at first unacceptable economically, but is nonetheless practical. It does not require too much money to resettle a Palestinian village on another land” (1917)

5. Zionist Commission members at the Paris Peace Conference say “as many Arabs as possible should be persuaded to emigrate”. (1919)

6. Winston Churchill wrote “There are Jews, whom we are pledged to introduce into Palestine, and who take it for granted that the local population will be cleared out to suit their convenience.” (1919)

7. Stephen Sizer reports a disturbing letter, written in 1919 by Lord Balfour to Lord Curzon, showing the racism inherent in British attitudes towards Arabs:

“For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country…the Four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires or prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land… “(cited in Sizer, 2004, p. 60, 61).

8. Zionist leader Jabotinsky writes “…the Arabs must make room for the Jews in Eretz Israel. If it was possible to transfer the Baltic peoples, it is also possible to move the Palestinian Arabs.” (1939)

9. David Ben Gurion’s diaries show clearly Zionism’s desire for a Greater Israel with as little Arab presence as possible and how that might be obtained.

“The Jewish State now being offered to us is not the Zionist objective. Within this area it is not possible to solve the Jewish question. But it can serve as a decisive stage along the path to greater Zionist implementation. It will consolidate in Palestine, within the shortest possible time, the real Jewish force which will lead us to our historic goal.”

10. In private correspondence, Ben Gurion pushed the point even further.

“I have no doubt that our army will be among the world’s outstanding – and so I am certain that we won’t be constrained from settling in the rest of the country, whether out of accord and mutual understanding with the Arab neighbours or otherwise.”

11. Aharon Zisling, one time Minister of Agriculture in David Ben Gurion’s provisional government and member of the Haganah and participant in the founding of the Palmach, said:

“I do not deny our moral right to propose population transfer. There is no moral flaw to a proposal aimed at concentrating the development of national life;” (Finkelstein, 2003, p. 16).

12. On 17 November 1948 he told the Provisional State Council (the forerunner to the Knesset);

“I couldn’t sleep all night. I felt that things that were going on were hurting my soul, the soul of my family and all of us here (…) Now Jews too have behaved like Nazis and my entire being has been shaken.”
(The expulsion of the Palestinians re-examined Le Monde Diplomatique, December 1997)

13. Moshe Dayan, Israeli General

“What cause have we to complain about their fierce hatred to us? For eight years now, they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers have lived.” (Moshe Dayan, Israeli General, 1956)

Many more statements could be added. In 1919, at the Paris Peace Conference, the World Zionist Organisation put forth a map showing the land that they wanted for a Zionist state. Anyone looking at this map can see that no room has been made for an Arab state. The Zionists had no intention of sharing the land of Palestine with the Arabs and their continued illegal occupation and colonization of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza are indisputable legacies of this Zionist attitude towards non-Jews in the land of Palestine.

References

Sizer, S. (2004). Christian Zionism: Road-Map to Armageddon?
Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove, Illinois.
Finkelstein. N. (2003). Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. (second edition) Verso

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Zionism and Racism

It would be a mistake to assume that Zionism is encompassed fully by the teachings of the likes of Ben Gurion, Jabotinsky or Benjamin Netanyahu. I have discovered, over the years, a number of Zionist thinkers that proclaim a type of Zionism that I find far more reasonable than the Zionism that is evident in Israel today. The version of Zionism put forth by Brit Shalom, a political movement created in Palestine in 1925, sought a peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews, to be achieved by renunciation of the Zionist aim of creating a Jewish state. This alternative vision of Zionism was to create a centre for Jewish cultural life in Palestine placing great emphasis on the ethical and cultural traditions of Judaism while remaining secular in outlook as a whole. Brit Shalom, literally meaning “covenant of peace”, advocated the concept of a Jewish Homeland rather than a Zionist State, the latter explicitly requiring a Jewish majority in Israel. Martin Buber was an advocate of the ideology of Brit Shalom and Albert Einstein was known to be highly sympathetic to those same values.

Unfortunately the voices of Brit Shalom advocates were few in number and became drowned out by the cries for Israeli nationalism. Professor Yakov Rabkin tells us that:

“Among the many tendencies within Zionism, the one that has triumphed set out to reach four principle objectives: 1) to transform the transnational Jewish identity centred on the Torah into a national identity, like the ones then common in Europe; 2) to develop a new national vernacular based on biblical and rabbinical Hebrew; 3) to transfer the Jews from their counties of origin to Palestine; and 4) to establish political and economic control over the “new old land” if need be by force” (Rabkin, 2006, p. 5).

Uriel Zimmer, an Orthodox Jew and former United Nations reporter for several newspapers, states the ultimate goal of Zionism:

“The real aim of Zionism is the one stated innumerable times by the various Zionist thinkers and ideologists from its earliest conception until this day. From the essays of Achad Haam to the speeches of Ben Gurion, we can hear definitions of one goal, in various versions and phrases but with never-changing content:
TO CHANGE THE IDENTITY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE!” (Zimmer, 1961, p. 14)

Zimmer’s words echo the criticisms of Orthodox Jews against Zionism that are articulated by anti-Zionist religious Jews like those found at Neturei Karta. Jewish Orthodox intellectual, Yesayahu Leibowitz, has this to say about the historical concept of Jewish identity.

“The historical Jewish people was defined neither as a race, nor as a people of this country or that, or of this political system or that, nor as a people that speaks the same language, but as a people of Torah Judaism and of its commandments, as the people of a specific way of life, both on the spiritual and the practical plane, a way of life that expresses the acceptance of the yoke of the Torah and of its commandments. This consciousness exercised its effect from within the people. It formed its national essence; it maintained itself down through the generations and was able to preserve its identity irrespective of times or circumstances. The words spoken by Saadia Gaon more than 1,000 years ago, “Our nation exists only in the Torah” had not only a normative but an empirical meaning. They testified to an historical fact whose power could be felt up until the nineteenth century. It was then that the fracture, which has not ceased to widen with time, first occurred: the break between Jewishness and Judaism. The human group recognised today as the Jewish people is no longer defined, from the factual viewpoint, as the people of historical Judaism, whether in the consciousness of the majority off its members, or in that of the non-Jews. There indeed exists within this people a substantial number of persons who strive, individually or collectively, to live the Judaic way of life. But the majority of Jews – while sincerely conscious of their Jewishness – not only does not accept Judaism, but abhors it” (cited in Rabkin, 2006, p.35).

Zionism’s attempt to change Jewish identity struck fear in the hearts of the Orthodox for many reasons. Its seeming agreement with ideas about Jewish identity held to by anti-Semites was a major one. Rabkin says:

“Zionists and the anti-Semites saw eye to eye on three key issues: 1) the Jews were not a religious group but a distinct nation; 2) the Jews could never integrate in to the country in which they lived; and 3) the sole solution to the Jewish problem was for them to leave” (2006, p. 82).

The concept of a Jewish race is not taught in scripture and has not been the reality for Jews over the last 2,000 years. Being Jewish was fundamentally a religious, not racial, identity. Zionism sought to change that. Jews are now not defined so much by their acceptance of the Torah, but far more by their adherence to Zionism and Israeli nationalism. Being Jewish is not primarily about one’s religion, but about one’s support for secular nationalism in Israel.

Zionism is, in a sense, a capitulation to anti-Semitism. It recognises the ultimate separateness of Jews and non-Jews, just as the Nazis had believed.
For Zionists, anti-Semitism is an evil, but an evil that is absolute in its reality and can never be eradicated from the mentality of gentiles. As such, Jews must find a place to live that is separate and safe from the inevitable tide of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has no ultimate cure according to the ideology of Zionism: integration or assimilation are impossible. Hence many have claimed that Zionism itself is deeply racist.

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted on November 10, 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), “determined that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. The resolution is often referenced in debates of Zionism and racism. Resolution 46/86 revoked the resolution on December 16, 1991. In the history of the UN, this is the only resolution that has ever been revoked. It was revoked as part of a deal to coax the Israelis back to the peace negotiations table.

Judaism as a faith embraces all peoples. The racist tag that Jewish people have had to wear over the past 60 years finds its origins far more in the ideology of Zionism than in the faith of Judaism which clearly reveals the Almighty’s concern for all peoples of the earth.

Ref
Rabkin, Y. (2006). A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition
to Zionism. Fernwood Publishing: Canada, Zed Books: London.
Zimmer, U. (1961). Torah-Judaism and the State of Israel. Jewish Post
Publications, London, England.

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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