By Leslie Bravery, The Daily Blog, 19 July 2015
It is one year now since Israel’s brutal Operation Protective Edge blitz all but obliterated much of the defenceless Gaza Strip. The 50-day assault was yet another tragic human rights outrage among countless other violations of international law perpetrated by Israel in the process of advancing the Zionist project. Lasting for more than three generations, the international community has stood by and allowed this process of discrimination and ethnic cleansing to continue. This year also marks the tenth anniversary of the start of the international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. BDS is the world majority’s response to the Israeli state’s as yet unaccounted-for violations of Palestinian human rights. The campaign is a reminder to world leaders of the international community’s responsibility for the plight of the Palestinian people; a people who were so contemptuously turned into refugees through foreign interference.
Many world leaders remain committed to Zionism but there are those who do recognise the injustice and irrationality of the ideology, yet remain afraid to speak out on behalf of Israel’s victims because of the fear of being accused of ‘anti-Semitism’. The term Semitic includes any of the various Semitic-speaking peoples and Arabic is, of course, one of the Semitic languages. European Zionism, a movement created in the late nineteenth century, embodies the ingrained colonialism of the time. These anti-Arab, colonialist sentiments can be found in letters and statements surrounding the British Balfour Declaration, which gave the Zionist movement the great-power boost it required to become established and unassailable. In a letter to David Lloyd George in February 1919, Balfour wrote: “The weak point of our position is of course that in the case of Palestine we deliberately and rightly decline to accept the principle of self-determination”. (See online note ). In a reply to Lord Curzon, Balfour stated flatly that “in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country.” Today, the state of Israel denies the United Nations-recognised right of return to their homes of ethnically-cleansed and dispossessed Palestinians on the grounds that they are not Jewish. This glaring injustice makes nonsense of the overworked and illogical slur of anti-semitism levelled at Israel’s critics.
On 15 June 1969 Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir was quoted in the Sunday Times, denying the very existence of Palestinians as a people: “It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist”, she claimed. Unable to justify Israel’s behaviour with reasoned argument, Golda Meir informed the French newspaper Le Monde on 15 October 1971 that, “This country exists as the fulfilment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.”
Singling out Israel
A Jerusalem Post article tells us that the nation state of the Jewish people is being unfairly “singled out” for boycotts, divestment and sanctions” but as the “nation state” to which the refers excludes the 20% of Israelis who are not Jewish, Israel is, by its own definition, inherently discriminatory. When it comes to being singled out, many non-Jewish families in Jerusalem can attest to exactly how that feels as the Israeli state goes about demolishing their homes. It should also be noted that Israel does not object to being “singled out” by the US for enormous taxpayer-funded aid that is far greater than that received by the rest of the world put together.
Holocaust survivors call for justice
In calling itself ‘the Jewish State’, Israel purports to act in the name of all Jews, while the mainstream news media, for the most part, suppress by omission the voices of the Jewish majority who do not subscribe to Zionist ideology. On 23 August 2014, forty Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and 287 descendants of survivors and victims signed a letter, published on page A13 of the New York Times, condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza: “As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonisation of historic Palestine.” The letter, with signatories from 26 countries represented four generations of survivors and their descendants.
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
In a statement last year the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) denounced claims by Western states and news media that the Gaza assault:
“. . . is somehow justified retribution for the deaths of three Jewish settlers from the racist, Jewish-only colony of Gush Etzion in the West Bank of Palestine.”
IJAN described Israel’s behaviour as “. . . the terrorism of a racist settler-colonial state” and declared, “We reject the suggestion that this is in the name of ‘the Jewish people’.” Mourning the loss of all human life, the IJAN statement continued:
“We also recognise that the deaths of these three Jewish settlers are being exploited to justify Israel’s ongoing colonisation of Palestinian lands and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Israel and its supporters, including Western media and politicians, have portrayed these Jewish settlers as innocent casualties — either of alleged Palestinian barbarism or of an intractably and inexplicably tragic conflict. In either case, Jewish Israeli lives are recognised and valued, while Palestinian lives are invisible and meaningless. Also erased is these settlers’ presence on the front lines of the Zionist terrorising and dispossession of Palestine’s indigenous population. Further blotted out is the constant terrorism of the Zionist project and its irreducible responsibility for all deaths which occur in the course of its brutal expansion, be they Israeli or Palestinian.”
IJAN insists that any people whose land, livelihood and dignity are being taken from them by colonisers have a right to resist such violence. Zionist thinkers certainly recognised that persecuted people will try to defend themselves. The founder of the Zionist youth movement Betar, Vladimir Jabotinsky, wrote: “Every people will struggle against colonisers as long as there is a spark of hope of ridding itself of the danger of colonisation.” According to the Virtual Jewish Library Betar inculcated the ideals of aliyah to Ereẓ Israel by any means, as well as the creation of a Jewish state “on both sides of the Jordan”.
Righteous Jews established itself in 2003 as a way for its members “to commemorate the memory of those Palestinians who have been, and continue to be, depopulated, dispossessed, humiliated, tortured and murdered in the name of political Zionism and its quest to create a Jewish state in the lands between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.” The group tells us that it was inspired by the website of the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem, located on Mount Herzl on the land of the Palestinian village of Ein Karem, 1400 metres south of the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. The museum lists the names of non-Jews who risked their lives, freedom and safety in order to rescue Jews from the threat of death or deportation to death camps. According to Righteous Jews,
“Deir Yassin is as important a part of Jewish, as it is of Palestinian, history. Deir Yassin, coming in April 1948, just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz in January 1945, marks a Jewish transition from enslavement to empowerment and from abused to abuser. Can there ever have been such a remarkable shift, over such a short period, in the history of a people?”
Silence is complicity
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) notes that, quite apart from Israel’s repeated blitzes on Palestine, the day-to-day persecution and violence against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem “. . . don’t reach our headlines because they are so habitual, so we learn not to see them.” The Palestinian population has to endure the frequent invasions and even occupations of their homes, the bulldozing of crops, uprooting of olive trees and numerous hours lost, waiting at checkpoints. Many Palestinians must leave home during the small hours in order to allow enough time for a journey to work that, without the checkpoints, would take little time. The people of Gaza have to live with the daily nightmare of insufficient food, the ever-present threat of Israeli incursions and bombardment, their fishing boats under attack and a severe lack of both electricity and water. In addition, most of the water supply is polluted with sewage, due to the bombing of treatment plants.
Of the three elements that make up the BDS campaign, it is the third, Sanctions, for which world leaders should appropriately be shouldering responsibility. The acceptance of the Zionist myth that Israel’s demands must take moral precedence over all other considerations has ensured impunity for Israel. So long as recognition of the “nation state of the Jewish people” is demanded as a prerequisite to so-called peace talks, the Zionist state will feel encouraged to continue taking more Palestinian land. Rewarding Israel, both economically and diplomatically, has brought nothing but ever more grievous suffering upon the Palestinian people and contributed in serious measure to growing instability in the region.
New Zealand’s options
In a New Zealand Government press release on Wednesday, 15 July 2015, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully welcomed news of the agreement reached on a nuclear deal with Iran. McCully commented, “This agreement is a positive development for regional stability in the Middle East”, saying also that “as the current President of the United Nations Security Council, New Zealand will do what it can to expedite any necessary Security Council action.” It would appear that, as far as New Zealand is concerned, the accusations levelled against a country suggesting that it intends to develop nuclear weapons, arouses greater concern for “regional stability in the Middle East” than the fact that another country actually has introduced weapons of nuclear mass destruction to the region. When will New Zealand, as the current President of the United Nations Security Council, break its silence and “do what it can to expedite any necessary Security Council action” regarding Israel’s blunt refusal both to co-operate with the IAEA and to sign the
Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty?
For our Government to continue supporting the failed so-called ‘peace process’ it will have to explain to the world how free and fair negotiations can possibly take place while one of the parties remains under the complete military domination of the other. If our leaders cannot do that, then to quote once more our Foreign Affairs Minister, we should expect “as the current President of the United Nations Security Council, New Zealand will do what it can to expedite any necessary Security Council action.” New Zealand willingly approved sanctions imposed upon Iran, why then should we not call for the imposition of sanctions to persuade Israel to abide by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and end the Occupation?
Leslie Bravery is a Palestinian Rights activist and Human Rights campaigner who is The Daily Blog’s columnist on Israel’s occupation of Palestine [See also: http://www.palestine.org.nz]