Aug 14, 2011

Israel in a global community

Having the cake and eating it, too: Israel in a global community
By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, Professor at Bethlehem University

During a recent visit to Al-Walaja to stand in solidarity with farmers whose trees were being bulldozed, I asked an Israeli officer what he was doing there, and he stated that he was defending Israel. I asked him how uprooting 400 year old olive trees in front of Ata's house makes Israel safer, and he changed the subject to say that he was obeying orders. This got me thinking about a whole range of issues that Israeli authorities, and, by extension, the Zionist project, try to keep muddy. When we engage in dialogue or debate with Zionists, their arguments are frequently contradictory and do not follow any patterns of logic that humans came to see as necessary for winning arguments. 

No other political movement in history has been able to make claims that are accepted without question yet make no sense at all when analyzed.  Some of this has to do with the belief that certain things must apply "differently to us than to them".  In Mishnah Baba Qamma 4:3 we find: “If an ox of an Israelite gored an ox of a gentile, the owner is not culpable.  But if an ox of a gentile gored an ox of an Israelite, regardless of whether it is harmless (tam) or an attested danger (mu’ad), the owner pays full damages.” This archaic system is contradicted by other aspects of the Torah (the Golden rule etc) but it seems to be alive and well when we deal with the double standards and propaganda in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.Let us just cite a few examples of  the inconsistency of the "Zionist mind":

-Judaism is both a religion and a culture/ethnicity: This can allow for the strange notion that you can be an atheist and a Jew but not a Christian and a Jew at the same time. If you convert from Christianity to Judaism, you become a Jew, and if you leave Judaism to become a Christian, you are no longer a Jew! Any Jew including a convert from anywhere in the world can settle in Palestine, take over Palestinian land, and become an automatic citizen of the state of Israel, whereas a Palestinian Christian or Muslim cannot return to his/her land because he/she is not Jewish. This is justified by the notion of Jews as ethnicity with a cohesion of a national group "returning" to "their" land. Yet, genetic, archeologic, and historic data show most Jews from Europe are indeed European. Evidence reveals large scale conversions to the Rabbinical Judaism long after it started in eth 3rd century AD and long after the supposed "exile" by the Romans (I say spposed because many people did remain in Palestine who believed in the religion of Abraham though not calling themselves Jews, some becoming Christians and later Muslims).  This ability to put Judaism as somehwat different from other religions in terms of its followers, while not logically justifiable, is used to bolster the notion of "the Jewish people".  For a discussion of this mistaken concept, see Shlomo Sand's bestselling book "The Invention of the Jewish People".

-The supposed right to the land: On some occasions, the "right" to take over Palestine from its native people and change it to a Jewish state is supposed to come from religious doctrine (God as a real-estae agent who allocated that land to certain people). However, theologians argue that this promise was made to all the children of Abraham and was conditional on following his commands.  Other times the conquest is justified by claims of direct descent from people who lived here 2000 years ago. But there are no justification for this for the vast majority of Jews around the world (who clearly converted to Judaism long after the supposed daispora).  But even if one could prove that his family heritage goes back to Palestine 2000 years ago (a very rare and very tiny minority), how does that justify taking over someone else's land?  When all such arguments fail the test of logic, it is argued that this "right" to have a Jewish state and expel the native Palestinians is a sort of affirmative action program to compensate for European anti-Semitism. Yet, bigotry and prejudice cannot be answered by segregation as we found in the struggles for equality in the US. Some African Americans did claim and did go to Africa to create a state (Liberia) but that created its own injustices and was obviosuly the wrong answer.   

-Israel is both Jewish and democratic; it is in fact the "only democracy in the Middle East”: Being Jewish entails having sets of laws that are completely identifiable as apartheid under the International Convention Against the Crime of Apartheid and Racial Discrimination. But it is claimed by its supporters that it is not an apartheid state because it is also "democratic" with even Arab members of the Knesset (Israel's Parliament"). Yet,  there are at least 20 laws that give preferential treatment to Jewish citizens over non-Jewish citizens in Israel.

Israel does not wish to govern millions of Palestinians: Zionists argue that for Israel to remain Jewish, it must relinquish control over the remaining Palestinians. Yet the “state” that they are willing to consider for us is on parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (together <22% of historic Palestine) and that excludes East Jerusalem and denies the right of Palestinian refugees, clearly articulated in international law,  to return to Mandate Palestine. Israel feels justified in denying the Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right of return by putting forth racist notions of :maintaining the Jewish character of the state".  By contrast, Israel is not questioned about its Law of Return, which privileges world Jewry above Muslim and Christian citizens of the state.  Further, Palestine as designed by Israel would have no control over most of its natural resources (including water), borders, or airspace.  In short, we may have the option of Palestinain cantons in parts of the West Bank and Gaza but with conditions that Palestinians must accept: 1)  no Jerusalem, 2) no right of refugees to return, 3) Israel to keep 500,000  colonial settlers in the West Bank (which includes occupied East Jerusalem), 4) Israel to control most Palestinian natural resources, 5) the Palestinian state to be “demilitarized”, 6) Israel to control airspace and electromagnetic spectrum, 7) Palestinians must recognize not only Israel (which most did) but Israel as a "Jewish" state (meaning sanctifying racism), and 8) Palestinians cannot control their own borders. Israel indeed may not wish to control the remaining Palestinian population but Israel does wish to continue to control and take all the remaining Palestinian lands and put the remaining Palestinians in "human warehouses" which indeed Israel would be willing allow others (Palestinains or the EU) take  responsibilityfor.  Having large prisons with others providing eth food for these prisoners is not compatible with freedom/ending the occupation as demanded by international law.

-Hatred of Jews by gentiles is self-evident, unique, endemic, and deeply rooted but cannot be examined or studied objectively and certainly cannot be compared to other forms of xenophobia. Many Zionists and their supporters want to justify hatred of Muslims by actions of some Muslims but would scream “anti-Semitism!” or "Jewish self-hatred!" at anyone who tries to point out Israeli massacres and crimes against humanity carried out under the banners of Judaism (Israel uses the Star of David and the Menorah in its state and army insignia). Exceptionalism is claimed on many fronts here. For example, Israel dfemands Palestinians and others not teach the real history of the ethnic cleansing of 1948 (including dozens of massacres committed).  They claim that such education is incitement to hate and anti-semitism. By contrast, Israeli Education system provides plently of indoctrination top hatred and dehumanizing of Arabs and Muslims (see the most recent book by Nurit Peled-Elhanan).

-Israel is important as a safe-haven for Jews.  That this is a contradiction was pointed out by an Israeli academic at the United Nations when he stated that today a Jew in Berlin is safer than a Jew in Israel. Oppression of others is never a way to create a "safe-haven" for anyone since logic dictates that oppression leads to resistance. Thousands of Jews were killed after WWII in Palestine and tens of thousands of native Palestinians by numerous wars here, all but one of them (1973) started by Zionists. How many Jews (if any) were killed in Europe or North America since WWII? Some Zionists claim Israel is an insurance policy to be used in case things change for Jews in the US, Canada, or Europe as things changed for Jews in Germany in the 1930s. But this conveniently ignores the fact that Zionists actually collaborated with the Nazis because they also believed Jews have no place in Europe (see Edwin Black, "The Transfer Agreement", and Lenni Brenner "51 documents: History of the Nazi-Zionist collaboration"). Although Jews suffered disproportionally in Nazi  Germany, this does not negate the logic of mutual security granted by a civil rights regime which was seen to develop in many countries (including the US where most Jews lived immediately after WWII).  Unfortunately, the Zionist movement lobbied hard to close the doors on migration to the US and other countries so as to leave only one door open for Jews of Europe post WWII: that is to Palestine. When all else failed to move them, the Mossad was more than willing to do false flag operations to scare Jews into migrating to Palestine (as they did in the 1950s in Iraq where they even planted bombs in front of synagogues and Jewish community centers (see Naeim Giladi's book "Ben Gurion's Scandals")

- The wall was (is being) built to protects Israelis from suicide bombings: The reality is that 1)  the wall around Gaza was built before suicide operations started in 1994 (and such operations continued from Gaza after it was completed),.2) the wall in the West Bank was started in 2002 and was not even 50% complete in 2006 when Hamas was convinced to enter the political process and stop such operations, 3) the wall is not 70% complete even now and people can cross it (thousands do daily without Israeli permission), 4) there are Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the wall, so a suicide operation can still be carried on settlements on the so-called "Palestinian side" of the wall, 5) there are Palestinians on both sides of the wall so an operation can be carried out by Palestinians on the "Israeli side" of the wall, 6) anyone looking at maps or coming to see the wall on the ground can show that it is to facilitate the theft of agricultural land and water resources (Had that not been the intention all along, one would expect that the wall would have been built along the green line), 7) theThe International Court of Justice ruled in July 2004 that the wall and colonial settlements are not justified by claims of need for securty and that they both violate international law and should be dismantled and affected Palestinains  compensated for damages inflicted.

-Israel is a country of laws and its actions are taken in self-defense. The numbers tell a different story, however. Data from independent human rights groups shows that for every Israeli civilian killed in this conflict, 10 Palestinian civilians are killed. In certain periods, the ratio is 100 to 1 (e.g., during the attack on Gaza Dec 2008-Jan 2009 when more than 1400 Palestinians were massacred including nearly 400 children, but 13 Israelis were killed most of tehm soldiers and some were killed by friendly fire). 530 Palestinian villages and towns were completely ethnically cleansed in 1948-1950. Over 30,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed in the past 10 years alone. One Israeli soldier is held by Palestinians while 8000 Palestinian political prisoners are held by Israel. Tens of thousands of Palestinians had their residency rights in Jerusalem removed while not one Jewish Israeli had his residency right in Jerusalem removed (and instead 60,000 homes were built for colonial settlers in occupied Jerusalem. The remaining 5.5 million Palestinians in historic Palestine are now allowed to live on 8.3% of the land while 5.5 million Jews (half of them immigrants) control and develop 91.7% of the land of historic Palestine. Even the few remaining Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship get on average 1/8th of the government services given to Israeli Jews (based on Israeli human rights and civil rights groups). These facts and figures are dismissed by rebuttals that boil down to the “need” of "security" for a "Jewish state" without elaboration. But the numbers and pattern tell a different story.  Demolishing 530 villages and towns and thousands of homes since then (nearly 10,000 in the last 10 years) is clearly intended to drive Palestinians out.  Killing so many natives is clearly intended to get submission and to force many to leave permanantly.  

You can see many other myths here:  The examples above of false and many times self-contradictory Zionist claims stem from the belief that Jews are exceptional or chosen. Zionists do not regard Jews to be regular human beings who are subjects and architects of regular historical events or to simple logic; instead, they see them as "chosen" and with a "unique" history which gives them certain privileges and rights not accorded to other people. Thus, arguments that challenge Zionist privilage are considered not subject to simple rules of deductive reasoning.  Jewish history is even looked at occasionally as separate from other human history. If you accept exclusivity and tribalism, then you can escape the confines of normal logic. 1+1=2 becomes “Well !, 1+1=3 or more when it is beneficial to my self-defined tribe and 0 when it is beneficial to others.” The message sent to friends and foes is that it is not logic that drives our world but power and privilage. 

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