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The Government of Australia pretty much tows the Israeli Government line that Israel has no partner for peace because of the alleged Palestinian refusal to refrain from violence/terrorism. The notion that Palestinian violence/terrorism might stop if Israel stopped oppressing Palestinians is not seriously considered. Maybe if more members of the Australian Government (and people) understood the facts on the ground, this attitude might change.

A case in point is that of house demolitions. Although the Israeli military has reinstated the practice of demolishing the homes of terrorism suspects and their relatives (against International Law), the vast majority of demolitions have nothing to do with acts of violence from Palestinians. These demolitions are a result of the planning and zoning policies of the Israeli Military, who govern the West Bank. There have been nearly 25,000 house demolitions in the West Bank since 1967 and over 90% of them have nothing to do with punitive measures against terrorism. All house demolitions in the West Bank by the Israeli Military are just as illegal under International Law (4th Geneva Convention) as the Israeli settlements that Israel is so determined to build.

These zoning and planning policies are chiefly devised to facilitate the construction of Israeli settlements and the accompanying infrastructure. As the Mayor of Bruqin told us, “They (the settlers) get houses and settlements, we (the Palestinians) get demolitions!”. Allowances made in the policies for the expansion and development of Palestinian housing and infrastructure are grossly inadequate. Nearly 70% of the West Bank is designated area C, for Israeli settlements and areas that come under full Israeli control. Palestinian homes and structures in area C are extremely vulnerable to demolition orders and building permits are virtually impossible to get even if the building is to be done on land that a Palestinian can prove is their own.

Obtaining a building permit is extremely expensive and statistics show that there is a 97% rejection rate of building permits in the West Bank. To even get the proper documentation together, which includes a very expensive land survey, for the application, can cost tens of thousands of shekels. Sometimes the cost of the application is more than the cost of the construction of the structure itself. These factors combined leave Palestinians with little choice but to build without a proper permit, hence leaving themselves open to demolition orders.

Another problem seems to be that the exact location for area C seems to be very hard to assertain. Area A, under full Palestinian control (in theory anyway), is for the highly concentrated areas of Palestinian population, like the towns of Bethlehem, Tulkarm, Nablus, Hebron, Ramallah, Qalqiliya and so on. Area B is for slightly less built up areas with area C taking up all the rest of the space. The only contiguous zone is that of area C. Area A and B comprise some 227 enclaves of Palestinian population “swimming” in an ocean of Area C. Yet we have been shown a hospital and main road right down the centre of Tulkarm which is designated area C.

Structures most vulnerable to demolition orders are those closest to the separation barrier, Israeli settlements, settlement roads and military zones. But this is not always the case. We discovered this when we went to the village of Hajja last week after hearing that six new demolition orders had been given by the Israeli Military. Amongst the buildings set to be destroyed was a furniture factory in the middle of the village which employs 45 people and a banquet hall. As well as this, there included a number of beautiful houses all of which were not within 10 kilometres of any type of Israeli settlement or settlement infrastructure. The logic seems hard to follow.

Wedding Venue under demolition order in Hajah (2)

Banquet Hall in Hajja, soon to be demolished.

Factory under demolition order in Hajah (3)

Furniture factory in the middle of Hajja, also soon to be demolished.

According to sources that I have been talking to over the last few weeks, it is virtually impossible to stop the demolition of a structure once it is ordered. Generally the best that can be done is to delay the demolition. It must be remembered that the cost of the demolition falls on the people whose structure is demolished. The only way to avoid this cost is, for the people owning the structure, to do the demolition themselves. We know of a case, in the village of Farun, where a man had been slowly building his dream home for his family for some 20 years. He started building the home before the separation barrier was even started and on the day that he finished building his house and was ready to move in, the house was demolished by the Israeli Military because it was too close to the barrier. I have seen many Palestinian houses closer to the barrier than the one in Farun that have no demolition order on them.

Since our EA team has been in the West Bank (5 weeks), there has been 84 structure demolitions displacing some 247 persons, according to OCHA’s protected persons weekly reports. With the housing situation already in crises due to land confiscation, poor planning and zoning policies and the desperate state of the Palestinian economy, these people are left in a desperate situation to say the least.

A recent increase in the number of house demolitions in East Jerusalem, along with threats by right wing settler groups to blow up the Al Asqa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and added to that the deaths of 6 Palestinians and injuries to nearly 600 others ( all in the last 5 weeks), all add up to a massive level of incitement by the Israeli Government that goes largely unreported in the western media.

Ordinary Palestinians keep asking me how it is that any country can take Israeli Government statements about the Israeli desire for peace seriously, when they continue to maintain this “status quo” of violence, land theft and dispossession. I struggle to give them an answer that makes any sense.

CRAIG NIELSEN

DISCLAIMER

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 (eappi.communications@gmail.com) for permission. Thank you.

“Let me tell you something my friend…”, said Abhul Kareem, a longtime field worker with B’Tselem, “ …if you resist the occupation, you will get arrested!”.

Abdul Kareem’s response was prompted by my question relating to the reason for the arrest of a particular person that he had just been talking about. Abdul’s facial expression was strained, but trying to hide his frustration with a question that he had obviously been asked many times before by foreigners who don’t understand what life in the occupation is really like.

In my country, Australia, if someone has been arrested, then they have likely committed some type of criminal offense, be it minor or serious. The experience of being arrested or confined in prison is a relatively rare event (in terms of population) and not something people are usually very proud of and hence it is a fact not greatly advertised.

Over here in Palestine, things are different. As I have been travelling up and down the West Bank, I have found it difficult to find many males above about 20 years of age who have not been arrested or imprisoned. Never, in any case of meeting such person’s here, would I have guessed that any of them had experienced such things. At home, things are different. Having had more experience with the prison system back in Australia than I would have liked, I think I can generally guess (but of course not always) when someone has had a prison experience/background without asking them the details.

So I took this comment from Abdul Kareem on board when I visited a “Prisoners Sit In” that is held in front of the offices of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) in the village of Tulkarm on the north western side of the occupied West Bank. This small protest is attended by family members of Palestinians who have been arrested and are currently serving prison sentences of up to 20 years.

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A long wait for justice.

On arriving at the protest, I casually walked up to the people sitting there, holding up photos of their loved ones, and asked if anyone spoke English. Upon finding an interpreter, I knelt down and started trying to get details of the people’s family members who were in prison. One of my team mates was trying to take a picture of the people at the protest and without thinking he called out, “Smile!” Immediately one of the parents at the sit in called back, “Why should we smile?”, “What for?”. It was a heart breaking moment.

The first person I interviewed had a son, Mohamed Khateeb, who had been in prison for 12 years. He is now 31years old. He was sentenced to 21 years prison and was initially arrested in the middle of the night. According to his father, the trial was a joke, the lawyer did nothing to defend Mohamed. The family believes that the court’s decision was made before the trial even started. Mohamed is being held in a prison inside Israel (contravening International Law which states that a person cannot be sent to a prison outside his/her country for an offense committed in their own country). Being in Israel means that his family cannot visit Mohamed or even write to him. Some of Mohamed’s other relatives have managed to visit him but only once a year. The family mostly gets news about Mohamed when other prisoners are released who have been inside with him. As I went down the line of family members I started to realize that the same picture was being painted each time. Their sons had been arrested in the night, had been given long prison sentences by courts that were a joke in so far as justice was concerned and were all sent to prison inside Israel, preventing any type of regular contact with family members. All of the parents and family members believed that the harshness of sentencing depends very much on the political situation at the time. When Palestine tried to petition for member status in the UN, for example, the sentences handed out to people like Mohamed, were longer than normal. The courts that they attend are all military courts regardless of the offense committed. Israelis in the West Bank do not come under the jurisdiction of such courts. As Israelis they come under Israeli Civil Law. Civil Law has much higher levels of evidence needed to obtain a guilty verdict than Military Law.

The interviews became a bit too much for me to bare after a while and I had to stop. None of these families deserved the agony they were going through. The relatives of bank robbers and murders get better treatment in my country and none of these young men had committed crimes like that. Believe me, if they had done so, they would have gotten life imprisonment or be dead and their parents would have had the dignity to admit as much and accept the consequences. The truth is that these young men had all been active in demonstrations and other non-violent forms of resistance. The more effective or more articulate you are in your resistance activism, the more likely you are to be arrested and given a prison sentence.

The parents and family members of these men are not fools. They know how their sons and daughters are portrayed in the Western Media. They know that they will be judged as terrorists, especially by people in countries like Australia, that support the Israeli Government so strongly. Their lonely vigil and cry for justice will fall on many deaf ears in the Western World.

In the end, all I could do was to ask the interpreter to tell the people that I was sorry for the injustice that is tearing their families apart and that I promised to tell their stories and advocate for them when I get back to Australia. Upon hearing this their faces light up with smiles of gratitude. They know that I can do nothing to get their loved ones out of prison, but I guess that when other people acknowledge their pain and sense of injustice and believe in their goodness and decency, it gives a reason for these people to smile, even when otherwise they can find no reason to be happy on such an occasion.

CRAIG NIELSEN

DISCLAIMER

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 (eappi.communications@gmail.com) for permission. Thank you.

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.

Unstoppable Justice.

Quick note to viewers of this blog: Please checkout Yakov Rabkin’s YouTube video link on the left hand side of the home page of this blog entitled “Yakov Rabkin on the root cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

I well remember the response of  the South African government, and that of many western governments and conservative politicians, to the BDS campaign that was launched against it in order to end the racist Apartheid regime. The advocates of the BDS movement were described as long haired hippie communists or terrorists. Any one who did not fit that description, but insisted on supporting the BDS movement, were considered to be naive dupes who would soon find themselves taking their orders from Moscow when the end product of their campaign was realized.

The anti-Apartheid BDS movement was going to destroy South Africa and lead to a blood bath as vengeful South African blacks proceed to “push the whites into the sea”. Supporters of the Apartheid regime pointed to the fact that surrounding African nations were all brutal undemocratic regimes where freedoms experienced by South Africans were unknown. South Africa stood amongst the barbaric nations like a shining light of civilization in an otherwise dark and despairing part of the world.  South Africa was an example of civilized Europeans holding the fort against the native African hordes. Sound familiar?

But the BDS campaign never planned to  destroy South Africa or dispossess white Afrikaans just as the BDS campaign against Israel neither seeks to end the State of Israel or dispossess Jews from the Holy Land. Fear mongering could not save the Apartheid regime in South Africa from meeting its just fate and it will not save the Zionist state of Israel from the demand to bring full equality to all the inhabitants of Israel-Palestine.

The BDS movement has recently had some major successes around the world and it continues to slowly and steadily move towards its goals. The Zionist state of Israel could take a lesson from the regime that was in South Africa and bring an end to the occupation of the West Bank and allow full equality for all in Israel before the BDS campaign forces it to do so. Israel could come to its senses and realize that in the end the world will not allow the continuation of its colonization project in the West Bank.

The BDS campaign will continue regardless of the disapproval of the likes of Greg Sheridan, Andrew Bolt and a host of nervous politicians and their respective parties. The BDS campaign against South Africa moved ahead without them and it will do so again. Justice will come, its just a matter of the juggernaut, that is the BDS movement, continuing on its inevitable path that I believe God has set it on.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE.


The Lord hears the cry of the Palestinian people.

As a Bible believing Christian I find the anti-BDS sentiment of so called journalists like Greg Sheridan and Andrew Bolt to be based in nothing but European supremacist, pro-colonialist bigotry. The media representation of what the BDS campaign is all about is reprehensible to anyone who knows anything at all about the movement.

The BDS program against the Zionist state was called for by 170 civil Palestinian organisations in 2005 as a non-violent means to pursue the cause for self determination and justice for the Palestinian people by putting economic pressure on the state of Israel to align itself with international law regarding its behaviour and policies towards the Palestinian people. The goal of the BDS movement is not necessarily aligned with either a one or two state solution. At all levels, the BDS movement recognises the right of the state of Israel to exist with secure and safe borders. A right acknowledged by Yasser Arafat in 1993 but never reciprocated by the Israeli government to this day.

The western media has no complaint with sanctions against those nations that don’t “play ball” with us, regardless of the fact that, in Iraq for example, thousands of children suffer and die as a result. But when it comes to countries that are aligned with us, even the slightest hint of sanctions against them is met with almost hysterical cries of racist and terrorist motivations, regardless of the fact that, as in the case of Israel, the nation is guilty of more violations of International law than all the Arab/Muslim nations put together. We can bomb Iraq to the ground (killing hundreds of thousands) on the faulty premise that it had weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda when in fact it did not and our leaders had access to (or could have easily gained access to) information to the contrary. We can do these things without the slightest pang of conscience or pain of remembrance because our media and our leaders do not allow them to be part of our remembrance. They are not worthy victims; they are not worthy of our grief or sorrow let alone remorse. they are not us, they are them.

To the opponents of the BDS movement, the only true course for the Palestinian people is to either self dispossess from their homeland or be complicit with the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. The refugees that live outside of Israel-Palestine should just “get over it”. Those who oppose the BDS movement deny the Palestinian people any means to fight for their rights to self determination at all. They must in effect become Zionists or suffer the consequences. The anti-BDS proponents demonise all Palestinian resistance. They condemn Palestinians as terrorists if they resist with violence or condemn them as anti-Semites if they resist non violently as is the case with the BDS campaign. They demand that the game be played in such a way that “heads Israel wins, tails the Palestinians lose”.

John Pilger puts a far more correct spin on the BDS campaign when he says in support of the BDS movement:

“Sometimes, looked at from the outside, Australia is a strange place. In other ‘western democracies’ the ‘debate’ about the enduring injustice dealt the Palestinians and Israel’s lawlessness has moved forward to the point where the cynical campaign of anti-Semitism smears is no longer effective — in the UK, much of Europe and even the United States.
If Israel’s bloody assault on Lebanon was not the turning point, the criminal attack on the imprisoned population of Gaza certainly was. The same is true of the BDS movement. This eminently reasonable, decent and necessary campaign enjoys a respectability across the world, not least in South Africa, where it’s backed by the likes of Desmond Tutu and especially those Jews who fought the apartheid regime. The University of Johannesburg, the country’s biggest, has just broken all ties with Israel. Justice for Palestine, said, Mandela, is ‘the greatest moral issue of our time’. That’s the company those Marrickville councillors who have stood up for this ‘greatest moral issue’, keep. And those who have wavered and walked away should think again – remembering other waverers who, long ago, walked away from speaking out against what was being done to Jews. The scale is very different; the principle is the same. Do not be intimidated by Murdoch vendettas or by anyone else. All power to you.”

John Pilger

The words of the Torah cry out to all Christians, Muslims and Jews.

“Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”( Exodus 22:21-24)

The God of the Old Testament cries out in dozens of verses in the Torah for Jews to reach out beyond the bounds of hatred, racism and bigotry; to take hold of the hands of the oppressed and the alien just as God reached out to them when they were helpless in Egypt, suffering under the oppression of Pharaoh.

The BDS movement will be heard in heaven, of that we can be assured. God’s promise to hear the cry of the oppressed in Israel should send shudders up the spine of those who arrogantly deny the right of the Palestinian people to be heard. The words of Jesus ring in our ears as well:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Jesus care and concern for the marginalised and demonized in His time reflect the love of God for all humanity. His special concern for those at the “bottom” is a perfect reflection of God the Father’s heart towards Jew and non-Jew.

The gospel of Christian Zionism is not a gospel of Good News to Palestinians be they Christian, Muslim or secular. It is not really a gospel of Good News to anyone whose heart rejoices at the news of God’s reconciliation of all humanity to Himself.

The BDS movement affirms the right of Jewish people to live anywhere in the world (not just in Israel) in peace and equality with all peoples, free from racial and religious bigotry. The BDS movement wishes for exactly the same right for Palestinians. As such, the morality of the movement matches the morality of the God of both Testaments of the Bible. Anti-BDS supporters reject the concept of equality for Jew and non-Jew in Israel and the occupied territories. As such, they align themselves with the powers already defeated on the cross of Jesus some 2,000 years ago. Justice and equality for all in the Holy land is the ultimate goal of the Lord God and the BDS movement. That is why I endorse and am involved in it.

The New Testament affirms to Christians that both Jesus and Moses concur about justice and equality in all the world. Religious nationalism, self righteousness and hatred will be swept away, once and for all. this is the true hope that lies at the heart of all truly Biblically based doctrines of Eschatology.

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

Terrorism

Questions about terrorism inevitably occur when discussing the Israel-Palestine issue. For Christians who support the cause of the Palestinian people’s search for justice and self determination in the land of their birth, these questions are even more prevalent.

The general narrative concerning Palestinian and Arab terrorism runs along the lines that it is motivated by religious extremism and blatant anti-Semitism. The Palestinian people’s legitimate grievance against the Zionist State of Israel is completely ignored as is the circumstances that they are forced to live under because of the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza strip. The facts of history that testify to the origins of this conflict not being even remotely connected to some imaginary conflict between Islam and Judaism and that anti-Semitism never was part of elite or popular culture in the Arab world, as it was in Europe, are totally ignored. The oppressive policies of the State of Israel are given a pardon by the demand that it is actually the Palestinian leadership that is the cause of the Palestinian people’s plight.

The fact that the vast majority of Palestinians have never been involved in acts of terrorism but in fact resist their oppressors in a “Ghandi” like fashion is also overlooked.

In my opinion, the vast majority of acts of terrorism are driven by the despair, misery and sense of helplessness experienced by victims of oppression as non violent means of protest are seen to be useless as they are met with only increasing levels of oppression and violence by their oppressors. As despair deepens, the voices of extremism begin to seem like the only ones worth listening to. I believe this is the universal experience of humanity. All resistance movements act in ways that have integrity and in ways that do not. The Palestinian people are no different. While the U.N. has declared that the Palestinian people have the right to resist the illegal occupation of their homelands to the point of armed struggle, the use of terrorism has been denounced by Palestinian leaders and intellectuals as being unjust, immoral and counter productive, for many years. Palestinians have long accepted Israel’s right to exist in peace and security while the Zionist state has made no reciprocal statements about the RIGHT of a Palestinian homeland to exist.

The words of David Ben Gurion, the real founder of the Zionist State of Israel, ring true when talking about Jewish terrorism during the British Mandate period in Palestine:

“Two hundred and fifty thousand Jews of Tel Aviv and suburbs, core of country’s social and industrial life, and thirty thousands of Jews in Jerusalem, mostly working class quarters, isolated from all normal contact with outside world, facing complete breakdown of mechanism civilized life apart from food supplies and skeleton medical service. Industry crippled, trade paralysed, unemployment threatening to become catastrophic. Industrial raw materials cannot enter, goods manufactured with available stock cannot be marketed outside. Workers cut off from places of work, children from schools. These restrictions have not affected terrorists nor stopped their outrages but instead have increased resentment of hard-hit population, created fertile soil for terrorist propaganda, frustrating community’s attempt to combat terrorism by itself. Martial Law absolutely futile and senseless unless really meant to punish whole community, ruin its economy and destroy the foundations of the Jewish National Home.” (Cited in Finkelstein, 2003. p. xxxvi)

Here Ben Gurion passionately condemns the use of collective punishment (illegal under the Fourth Geneva convention of which Australia is a signatory) on the Jewish people for the acts of Zionist terrorists, and its ineffectiveness in combating further acts of terrorism in the future. An almost identical statement could be made concerning the citizens of Gaza today.

The Zionist state constantly condemns Palestinian acts of terror while only continuing to increase the measures which even David Ben Gurion clearly admits will only increase the likely hood of further terrorist attacks.

The government of Gaza was initially elected to power in elections that were declared free and fair by all the international organisations that monitored them. The ensuing blockade and demonisation of Hamas and the people of Gaza, which lead to Operation Cast Lead, has only consolidated the hold that Hamas has on Gaza and further opened the ears of young Palestinians in Gaza to the voices of those even more extreme than Hamas. The blockade of Gaza is no more about a true fight to rid the region from terrorism as the Separation Barrier in the West Bank is about security for Jews in Israel and the West Bank.

Ref
Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Norman G. Finkelstein. Verso, 2003 (second edition)

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

The Demonisation of the Palestinian People

The demonisation of the Palestinian people by the western world comes as a result of the west’s complicity in the colonialist aggression of Zionism. The basic method of this demonisation process is to portray the Palestinian people, and their Arab supporters, as a people antagonistic towards the Zionist State of Israel for no reason or if there is a reason it is simply because the Jews are the chosen people of God. Either way, the Palestinians are acting in a way that is considered to be consistent with the behaviour of the demonic.

In biblical terms, human beings are sinful by their fallen nature, but they are not demonic. They may be complicit with the demonic but they themselves are not equivalent to demons. Human beings sinful behaviour is unjustified, but that does not mean there was no particular reason for their behaviour. When we see a person committing a crime we ask what their motive was. What, in their mind, was the reason for them doing the things they did? A person who kills their spouse is said to have done something unjustified in a strict moral sense but we could all have understood the actions far better if we had known that the spouse was abusive in the extreme. We understand that sinful behaviour can be provoked while not relinquishing the concept of responsibility for one’s actions.

But in the case of the demonic, we understand the concept in the sense that demons do evil without reason, without provocation. There is no causal link between their actions and the world around them. They sin for no apparent reason. They are totally irrational and are motivated by pure hatred and evil.

The key to demonising a person is to remove any causal link or reason for their bad behaviour, focusing on and overstating it and ignoring or minimising any good or normal behaviour. In the case of the Palestinian people it is done by focusing on and overstating acts of terrorism committed by Palestinians or Arabs in general. As well as this, any narrative concerning injustices committed against Palestinians, particularly in the context of root causes of the conflict, must be completely silenced.

In particular this has been done by ignoring or minimising the following.

  1. Jews and Arabs have had far better relations in the recent past (i.e. even 100 years ago) than they do currently. There has been no eternal conflict between Arab and Jew.
  2. Islam and Judaism have co-existed in the Holy land for 13 centuries.
  3. The vast majority of Jews (particularly the very religious ones) initially rejected Zionism.
  4. Zionism is not the same as Judaism.
  5. Zionism sought to create a European colony in Palestine, taking control of it by force if necessary.
  6. Palestine was inhabited by a non-Jewish people who had lived in that region for many centuries and had a deep sense of connection to the land.
  7. The Zionist colonisation of Palestine was done without the indigenous Palestinian people’s wishes or rights to self determination being taken in to account.
  8. 800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homeland in order to create a Zionist state in Palestine that had a Jewish majority.
  9. The vast majority of Zionists, probably 98%, were not native to Palestine nor had their ancestors been for many generations, if at all in many cases.
  10. The vast majority of deaths and casualties in the Israel-Palestine struggle are Palestinian.
  11. Zionists have been guilty of acts of terrorism (as acknowledged by the International community) on many occasions in the past (i.e. 1946 bombing of King David Hotel).
  12. Pacifist resistance to Israeli oppression by the vast majority of Palestinians.
  13. Calls by Zionists for the ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians from Palestine even to the point of the extermination of men, women and children.
  14. Racist comments by Zionists against Arabs.
  15. The Arab nations all seek normalised relations with Israel and have recognised its right to exist.
  16. The Palestinians have already agreed to cede 78% of their homeland to the Zionists.
  17. All Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been deemed illegal by the overwhelming majority of the International community and the U.N.
  18. The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is illegal.
  19. The Palestinian people are under no legal or moral obligation to be complicit with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The following has been over-emphasised.

  1. Acts of terrorism committed by Muslims, Palestinians and Arabs in general.
  2. Calls by anti-Zionists for the destruction of Israel and all its Jewish population.
  3. General anti-Semitist comments and rhetoric by Arabs and or Muslims.

More could be added to the list but all of the above helps to promote a narrative that Arabs hate Jews for no reason. They have in-bred hatred of Jews which is entirely unprovoked and irrational. They have no basic grievance which would explain their conflict with the Israelis. They are uncivilised savages that do not know how to live next to people that are different from them or do not share their religious beliefs. They have no desire for peace or justice. They are not part of the modern world. We can not give them the same rights as others just as you can not let unrepentant criminals just wander the streets. All resistance to Israel is just anti-Semitism and must be labelled as terrorism.

All of these types of narratives are perpetuated by the western media and help the Zionist State in its oppression of the Palestinian people. What else can be done with demons but oppress and destroy them? Who would know more about how to demonise a people than a people who had been demonised themselves? While I believe the vast majority of Jews believe that they would never demonise a people the way they had been,  I also believe the vast majority of Jewish people have been brainwashed just as much as anybody else by Zionist propaganda.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE