Tag Archives: Zionism

Occupation or Colonisation? Ilan Pappe

Pappe talkThis talk at Queen Mary University in London interested me for two reasons.

I learned about Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians  and the history of the Nakba from this man when I read his book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” and I really wanted to see Professor Pappe speak in person.  (More about Ilan Pappe here.)

I also wanted to challenge Professor Pappe.  Last year he suggested (recommended?) that we jettison the term “occupation” in favor of “colonisation”. (Check out his comments and my response here.) Although I understood his argument, I disagreed with him but never had the opportunity to tell him directly. So I imagined I might be able to tell him in London — face-to-face — because it was the subject of his talk.

The event was clearly billed as a “students only” gathering with a warning that student ID would be checked at the door, but that didn’t deter me. I found my way to Queen Mary University on the East Side of London and the students who were gathered outside encouraged me to attend.

Thankfully, the room monitor waved me in without any questions. I was clearly several decades older than the students around me.

Pappe headshot

The evening’s talk was not what was billed in the title for the event. Professor Pappe’s presentation focused on Settler Colonisation as it challenges basic Zionist ideology.  He did not argue, as he has in the past, that the term “colonisation” should replace “occupation.”  I had no desire to challenge him on that point, especially when the students had so many good questions to ask him. It felt as though I would be usurping their time with Pappe if I had raised my hand too.

Pappe explained the difference between “classical colonisation” and “settler colonisation” where the settlers are looking for a place to redefine themselves, a national movement. The settler sees himself as indigenous, and sees the genuine indigenous people as a threat (a hurdle) to be overcome.

“The Palestinians are fighting an anti-colonialist war of liberation.”

He drew parallels to South Africa several times, and said the logic of dehumanization is firmly embedded in he Zionists’ DNA as well as Israel’s DNA.  Otherwise, they couldn’t do what they’re doing to the Palestinians and live with themselves.

“The Bible is not an action plan for colonisation.”

Sitting in a university in London, Pappe noted that the Zionists probably wouldn’t have succeeded with their settler colonisation plans without the help of the British. That acknowledgement helped me appreciate that the U.S. isn’t the only culprit in this tragedy.

Shivers went down my spine when Pappe mentioned that the Zionists’ massacres of Palestinians in 1948 was probably much, much worse than what he wrote about in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. We probably don’t know, and won’t know, the extent of the massacres until Israel opens up its archives to the public.  The documents from 1948 would have become public this year but Netanyahu approved an extension of another 20 years before they will be declassified. (What are they hiding?)

Pappe said that the settler colonialists in Israel have perfected two models — the open prison (West Bank) which was astonishingly approved in the Oslo Accords, and the maximum security prison (Gaza) where collective punishment is the norm and the Israeli military is using its might to carry out massacres.

Pappe and students

Academics around the world are collaborating on the issue of how to do decolonisation. Pappe supports the One Democratic State. He didn’t mention Jeff Halper, but I suspect Pappe must be collaborating in the same effort.

Pappe sounds optimistic for the future of Palestine, and believes the young Palestinians (both in Palestine and in the diaspora) will succeed, but it may not happen in his lifetime, he admitted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Nakba, People, Politics, Settlers, Uncategorized

Who is a Zionist?

Labels are meant to elucidate, clarify and explain but I suspect that the ‘Zionist’ label is not as helpful as I originally thought.

Merriam-Webster defines ‘Zionism’ as

an international movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine and later for the support of modern Israel.

And a ‘Zionist’ is someone who is

a supporter of Zionism; a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel.

In the context of Uri Avnery’s recent hospitalization, I expressed sadness that this Israeli peace activist may be on his death bed because I believe Israel needs more voices like his.  A friend countered that Uri Avnery is a Zionist and so everything he says is suspect.

Avnery, 94, has written opinion pieces on a regular basis for Haaretz. He is a former Knesset member and a founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement who worked as editor-in-chief of the Haolam Hazeh weekly. He has been an advocate for the past 70 years for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Uri Avnery

An activist friend of mine informs me that —

The definition of a Zionist among Palestinian solidarity activists is any person who believes that it is legitimate that there be a country for Jews in historic Palestine. Dorothy Naor, a prominent Israeli-American (native of San Francisco) Palestinian solidarity activist who has lived in Israel for more than 50 years and knows Uri Avnery personally, says that Avnery is definitely a Zionist.

I believe that definition — “any person who believes that it is legitimate that there be a country for Jews in historic Palestine” — is counter-productive and undermines the goal (as I understand it) of securing for Palestinians the human rights and the most basic right of self-determination that justice and international law demands.

Using that broad definition —

Former President Jimmy Carter, author of Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid, and We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land — A Plan That Will Work is a Zionist.

Jeff Halper, author of An Israeli in Palestine–Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel and the founder of ICAHD, is a Zionist.

This broad definition of who qualifies as a Zionist must absorb every Israeli living in the State of Israel today because their mere presence affirms the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

In fact, some Palestinians I know in Gaza would be considered Zionists by this awkward definition because, although they detest the way in which the State of Israel was founded 70 years ago and they recognize the ongoing trauma of the Nakba, they have come to terms with the legitimacy of the State of Israel and wish to work towards a One State solution where every person in the Holy Land can live in peace with equal rights for all.

For that matter, I’m a Zionist!

I believe the injustices perpretrated on the indigenous people of Palestine was a historic wrong that needs to be rectified, and justice needs to be secured for the millions of Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian Territories as well as in the diaspora.  I also believe that Americans are uniquely responsible for the ongoing Nakba because of our disgusting “special relationship” with Israel.

I’m a Zionist because I also recognize that the State of Israel exists, it will and should continue to exist, that securing justice for Palestinians in the 21st Century doesn’t require eliminating the State of Israel, and this isn’t a zero-sum game where one must suffer for the other to thrive.  Both Palestinians and Israelis deserve our empathy and love in this very difficult time.

I also fear for the future of the State of Israel, not because I think Iran or its Arab neighbors pose an existential threat to Israel’s security.  I believe the government and powers in the State of Israel are behaving in ways that cast a shadow on the country’s own viability in the future.

So when I use the term “Zionist” in social media or elsewhere, please consider that my definition is drawn more narrowly than perhaps many other Palestine solidarity activists draw it.

A “Zionist” is someone who supports the occupation, supports the Israeli apartheid regime, and someone who believes that Israel’s future requires the subjugation and humiliation of millions of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, in Jordan and elsewhere in the diaspora.

I can’t wait until the first Palestinian-American Congresswoman visits her family in the West Bank. Israel’s security establishment (COGAT) is going to be apoplectic.

 

 

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Filed under Nakba, People, Uncategorized

“Why can’t the Palestinian leaders build a state like the Zionists did after the Holocaust?”

“Why aren’t the Palestinian leaders building a country like my parents, survivors of the Holocaust and millions like them, did with Israel, instead of building tunnels, shooting missiles and subjecting their people to untold horrors?”

I gasped when I read this question sent to me by a well-educated, university professor in Israel. It was a serious question, deserving a serious response.

Where to begin?

To dissuade my friend of any notion that Palestinians might be incapable of building a country, I’ll remind him of the cities, industry, agriculture, schools and civic life that flourished in Palestine before my friend’s parents and other Zionists arrived. Please watch this 10 minute video.

When I returned from Gaza two years ago, I wrote my layman’s version of the history of Palestine here and here. Israel’s 67 years of dispossession, ethnic cleansing, and occupation of Palestine — as well as current events, including the Palestinian resistance and Israel’s successive military operations in the West Bank and Gaza — can only be understood in the context of the Nakba. I believe my Israeli friend’s question is sincere because either he doesn’t know about the Nakba (past and present) نكبة or he has decided to ignore and minimize the ongoing impacts of the Nakba.

I credit Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky for opening my eyes about the Nakba.

In the late 1980s, a group of Israeli historians, including Ilan Pappe and Benny Morris, began to challenge the commonly accepted version of Israeli history based on newly declassified Israeli government documents. Morris called them the New Historians. They went head-to-head with the traditional historians who cast Israel as the peace-seeking victim in a hostile Arab world, the David-and-Goliath narrative. The New Historians shared a more nuanced history of the exodus of the Palestinians and the reasons for the persistent political deadlock with the Arab states in the region.

Professor Ilan Pappe’s book “Ethnic Cleansing” was my education about the Nakba. I hope my friend will read it. In this video, Pappe describes in great detail about the Zionists who committed the Nakba crimes. He urges us to know the names of the perpetrators, the victims, the places and events of the Nakba. Pappe also speaks about the “conspiracy of silence” by the international community in 1948. Please watch.

So . . . . . why can’t the Palestinian leaders do what the Zionists have done (are still doing) in creating the State of Israel?

  • If my friend’s parents and other Zionists had decided to live peacefully side-by-side with the indigenous population when they arrived in Palestine, as Jews, Christians and Muslims had lived for many years, we would certainly be watching very different events unfold in the Middle East today.  The footage in this short clip shows a time when Palestinians of all faiths lived and worked side by side in harmony.
  • If the Zionists believed in a democracy that values plurality rather than an apartheid regime that values Jews over non-Jews, we would certainly be watching very different events unfold in the Middle East today. Saree Makdisi explains apartheid very well here and in his book “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.”

“Apartheid” isn’t just a term of insult; it’s a word with a very specific legal meaning, as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1973 and ratified by most United Nations member states (Israel and the United States are exceptions, to their shame).

apartheid wall

  • If Israel had not waged three military campaigns in Gaza over the past six years, Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009), Operation Pillar of Defense (2012) which I witnessed first hand from the ground in Gaza, and the most recent Operation Protective Edge (2014), and if Israel lifted the multi-year siege and blockade of Gaza, and if Israel allowed Palestinians in Gaza to travel freely to pursue educational opportunities, visit family, accept jobs, seek medical attention, etc., — if none of these inhumane actions had occurred and were still occurring — we certainly would be witnessing a vibrant economy in Gaza with the next generation of Palestinians living in hope, not despair. Instead, the U.N. is predicting that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Some of my blog posts from Operation Pillar of Defense are here, here and here.

I can hear your retort now, my friend.  It sounds something like this.  (I hope you are not offended, but I’ve heard the same words spoken seriously by many, many Jews.)

albert_einstein_quotes2

So long as the Zionists maintain the brutal occupation and dehumanization of the Palestinians, as they have for decades, resistance will continue.  Resistance in the form of political resistance at the United Nations, resistance at the International Criminal Court, cultural resistance such as teaching the next generation the Palestinian traditions, economic resistance, non-violent resistance in Budrus, resistance with the pen, and violent resistance.

I’ll conclude with Noura Erakat’s well-reasoned explanation of why Israel’s occupation is illegal. As an attorney yourself, I hope you will give Ms. Erakat the time and respect she deserves by reading her paper.

I appreciate your question which initiated this blog post, and I hope we will continue this discussion. Even more, I hope the occupation and dispossession of Palestinians from their land, which your parents and other Zionists started so many years ago, will come to an end very soon.

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, IDF, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Nakba, nonviolent resistance, Occupation, Peaceful, People, Politics, Settlers, United Nations, US Policy, Video

Things I learned about Israel recently

Recently, a friend of a friend of a friend shared an essay that someone had written about Israel.  Although the essay was factually accurate, it was a very long read and some of the language might be construed as inflammatory.  I knew it would be a difficult piece for anyone who loves Israel.  So I’ve taken the liberty to shorten the essay, “soften” the tone, but hopefully retain the facts and intent of the original author.

Only strong people who are critical thinkers and want to find justice in the Middle East should read this. I’m honestly looking for intelligent feedback to disprove any of these points.

(From Ash Madi: “Things I learned about Israel recently”)

#1     Zionism is a political ideology that has betrayed the teachings and values of Judaism to justify a colonial project based on the systematic ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Palestine.  Political Zionism is to Judaism what ISIS is to Islam: a grotesque distortion of the values and spirit of religion.

#2     Zionist nationalism is based on a form of nationalism found in Eastern European nations such as Russia and Poland, which is based on ethnic ownership of the land. Poland is for ethnic Poles and Russia is for ethnic Russians. This contrasts with Western European nationalism found in places like France and the US where the land belongs to anyone who is a citizen of the state.

Figure 1: Gaza Strip blockade. Source: UN OCHA

Figure 1: Gaza Strip blockade. Source: UN OCHA

#3     Zionism draws much of its arguments for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine from the 5 books of Moses and the book of Joshua. The latter is the story of how the ancient Israelites conquered the promised land of Canaan (present day Levant) under the leadership of Joshua and the full blessing of God by repeatedly perpetrating massacres of unfathomable barbarity against the Canaanites where no man, woman or child was left standing. The latest massacre of the people of Gaza through indiscriminate bombing of civilians, women, children, residential buildings, hospitals, schools and even shelters follows the spirit of the book of Joshua. Conversely, Jews in the West have a more universalist approach based on the tradition of the prophets.

#4     Before declaring the independence of Israel, Zionists had already committed 16 massacres against the Palestinians and ethnically cleansed 200,000 of them. All of this happened before neighboring Arab armies decided to intervene. The Zionist narrative claiming Israel was gratuitously attacked by the Arab armies is a lie.

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#5     The highest court in Israel has determined that “Israeli” is not an identity.   Jewishness is the foundation of identity in Israel, not citizenship. Palestinians in Israel are considered simply “Arabs”, since Palestinian identity is not recognized. However, this abstract pure Arab identity exists only in Israel. Everywhere else Arab people are Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Iraqi and Palestinian.

#6    Israel fully meets the internationally recognized legal criteria of apartheid as defined in the International Covenant on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid which includes the following 6 categories of crimes:
– Massive violation of human rights and civil rights
– Imposition of inhumane living conditions, such as poverty
– Society-wide legalized discrimination in areas such as finance, housing, employment, education, and access to cultural events
– Isolating the victim group geographically, such as in ghettos
– Exploitation of labor, such as slavery or forced labor or discrimination in wages
– Inhumane suppression of rebellion against apartheid

#7    Israel controls all of the land from the river to the sea. On this land Jews are a minority with all the rights and privileges while Palestinians are a majority deprived of their most basic human rights. There are 4.55 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and 1.68 million Palestinians who are “citizens” of Israel, for a total of 6.23 million Palestinians. On the other hand there are 6.12 million Jews including the 0.5 million Jewish settlers living illegally in the West Bank. In order to arrive at a fictitious Jewish majority, the state of Israel doesn’t statistically count the West Bank and Gaza as part of Israel’s territory while simultaneously counting the Jewish settlers of those territories as citizens of Israel. The effect of this gerrymandering is to make the 4.55 million Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation disappear magically.

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#8    In the West Bank, Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law, while Jewish settlers who live just next door are subject to Israeli civil law. Israeli soldiers in the West Bank can arrest, shoot and kill Palestinians, but they have no authority whatsoever over Jewish settlers. All over the West Bank there are roads and highways that are for Jews only and Palestinians are forbidden from using them.

#9  Palestinians are subject to relentless persecution to the extent that they are not just punished for resisting, but also prevented from surrendering. Surrender entails that one is left in peace after surrendering. However Palestinians are not given that choice. They are humiliated, dispossessed and killed no matter what they do.

#10   Palestinians in the West Bank are denied freedom of movement by being required to go through a multitude of Israeli checkpoints intended to humiliate and control them. Palestinians in need of medical assistance are required to have a permit to pass through checkpoints.

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#11   During WWII the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto smuggled food and weapons into the ghetto through tunnels. The Nazis called them terrorists.  Palestinians in Gaza have built tunnels for the very same purposes and Israel calls them terrorists.

#12   The letter bomb, parcel bomb, barrel bomb, market bomb, and car bomb were all introduced into the Middle East by Zionist paramilitary groups such as the Irgun, Lehi and Haganah. One of the most famous Zionist massacres in Palestine is the massacre of Deir Yassin. The village, which had declared neutrality during the 1948 hostilities, was depopulated following the massacre of over 250 villagers, half of them women and children, at the hands of Irgun and Lehi commandos. This event helped trigger the 1948 exodus of more than 700,000 Palestinians who were expelled from their homes or fled fearing other massacres. The culture of terrorism and ethnic cleansing, inaugurated and pioneered by Zionist paramilitary groups and upon which Israel was founded, continues to the present.

#13   Israel is among the top 10 exporters of weapons in the world. This is all the more remarkable considering it is a very small country that competes with much larger countries like the UK and China in terms weapons sales. One of the main selling points of Israeli weapons is that they are marketed as being “combat proven” because the weapons have been successfully tested on Palestinians. Israel is involved in the sales of weapons to 190 countries (there are only 193 countries in the world!). This means that many countries that appear to be Israel’s enemies are actually customers of its weapons industry.

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#14   Israel sold weapons to Rwanda and Serbia while these countries were in the midst of horrific genocidal campaigns.

#15   The West Bank and Gaza are laboratories for the testing of weapons and population control techniques. Palestinians are the guinea pigs. The end users are people around the world whose police forces are trained by Israel and whose prisons are supplied by Israeli technology. This includes many western countries, including Canada, by virtue of the Canada-Israel “Public Security” Agreement signed in 2008. The state of Israel is effectively becoming a template for state control and domination around the world.

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#16   Many military and police officials from various countries including the U.S. and China visit Israel to learn Israeli crowd control techniques, propaganda and warfare strategies. A Chinese general recently visited Israel to learn how the IDF framed and executed the massacre in Gaza. The Maryland police department among many others is trained by the Israeli police and military. Israel is also responsible for supplying weapons to various police departments around the world.

#17   Since Israel’s founding, Israeli military experts have provided support to the following regimes:
– Dictatorship of Manuel Noriega in Panama
– Dictatorship of Sani Abacha in Nigeria
– Dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile
– Dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania
– Dictatorship of Mengistu Mariam in Ethiopia
– Dictatorship of Jorge Videla in Argentina
– Dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire
– Dictatorship of Ne Win in Burma
– Apartheid regime in South Africa
– Paramilitary death squads in Colombia
– The current government of China

Shujaya 9

#18   Israel has nuclear and ballistic missiles capable of reaching as far as Europe in addition to German-made Dolphin-class submarines capable of delivering cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. It also has 10 satellites in orbit spying on various parts of the world and the Middle East in particular.

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#19   The “peace process” involving a “two state solution” has been a sham from the very beginning and was always intended as a decoy to buy time for Israel to steal more land, build more settlements and create more facts on the ground under the cover of a vague interminable peace process that never went anywhere.

#20   The two state solution is officially dead and buried after the failure of the Kerry initiative. Israel has fully assimilated the West Bank to the extent that trying to get it back in one piece for the establishment of a Palestinian state is the equivalent of trying to get your sandwich back after someone has swallowed it. The electricity, water and road infrastructures are unified across Israel and the occupied territories.

Gaza 2014 - credit D. Cormier

Gaza 2014 – credit D. Cormier

#21   Talk  about the “two state solution” is naive by reinforcing the erroneous idea that peace will come from further segregating the Jews and the Palestinians, when in fact segregation is the root of the problem rather than its solution. Before the arrival of the Zionists, Jews, Christians and Muslims in Palestine lived together harmoniously in a land that has always been a mixing place at the crossroads of continents and civilizations.

What It Means to be Palestinian

#22   The only viable alternative to the current Israeli regime of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing is a Bi-national democratic state similar to Switzerland and Belgium. Such a state would guarantee equality for all and the right of Palestinians to return to their rightful homes anywhere in Palestine. A two state solution would not guarantee this fundamental right. If people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds can get along in countries like Canada and the U.S. there is no reason why Jews and Palestinians can’t get along in a Bi-national democratic state in Palestine. What stands in the way of peace is not Iran, ISIS, or Islam. The real and only obstacle is Zionist Jewish supremacy. Slavery ended, segregation ended, Nazism ended, South African apartheid ended and Zionist apartheid and occupation must inevitably end too. Israel is on the wrong side of history, fighting a battle it can never win.

#23   The condition for putting hatred behind and turning a new page is the acknowledgement by Israel of the historic injustice it committed against the Palestinians and reparations for the crimes perpetrated. This will be the beginning of a healing process that will allow Palestinians and Jews to live together peacefully as equals.

Palestine Inside Out

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Occupation