Palestine Update 162
Hopefully we are not so naïve to think that resistance to injustice is the simple definition of terrorism, because a failure to differentiate will destroy all future hope of a peaceful resolution.
(Jason Hurtley, a cultural diversity consultant)
The West, under the influence of a largely racially and communally biased media smears Muslims as the reason for the deplorable plight of Palestinian Christians. This is a convenient exaggeration of the truth. It is part and parcel of the Islamaphobia wrap up for many Jews and Christians in the West. By demonizing Muslims in Palestine as well as from neighbouring Arab nations, they obfuscate facts and falsify the Israeli-Palestine conflict and make out like it is exclusively religious in roots. The Question of Palestine is essentially one over secular issues of land and nationhood. Zionism treated Jews primarily as a nationality – like the French or Chinese – in addition to a religious group. While a number of Israelis are religiously vigilant, especially on the political right, the larger movement that created Israel was, and remains, primarily secular. Initially, even Palestinian armed movements were also largely secular, in the main. Despite misconceptions, they were not Islamic extremists; they were Palestinian nationalists. Several of them even had communist affiliations. Hamas, for example, which formed in 1987, champions Islamism. But beneath their language of jihad is a retractable nationalist drive.
There is one aspect of the conflict with a more overt religious dimension: Jerusalem. The separated city has, in its ancient center, Islam’s third holiest site (the al-Aqsa mosque compound) located physically on top of the much older Temple Mount, the Western Wall of which is Judaism’s holiest site. And there are significant events in the life of Christ that belong in Jerusalem and make it a place of pilgrimage for Christians. That means both Israelis and Palestinians claim access to the same area for religious reasons. The dispute over Jerusalem is, in reality, a political rather than a religious issue.
The Israel-Palestine conflict didn’t really formally begin until 1948, or the early 1900s. The conflict began when thousands of Jews left Europe to escape persecution and establish a homeland in what is today Israel-Palestine. With this mass flight of Jews into Palestine, communal violence between Jews and Arabs escalated into a crisis. That prompted the UN in 1947 to unjustly divide the land into a state for Jews (Israel) and a state for Arabs (Palestine). Arab leaders saw this as blatant European colonial theft and fought back. The Israeli forces won that war and then went further. They pushed into areas far beyond the UN agreement. Ethnic cleansing followed and since then the conflict remains predominantly about national self-determination.
As a microscopic minority, Palestinian Christians are being used as pawns in Israel’s game to achieve complete control by invoking a Muslim-Jewish conflict context. Israelis and other Zionists often call for a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, namely, their “transfer” to Jordan or even Saudi Arabia. The counter question can easily be asked: Why can’t Israel move to a more acceptable political environment protected by the very people who once persecuted them and have now turned friends out of sheer guilt? Either that, or, Israel must arrive at a just settlement. That will imply Arabs and Jews must live in peace and harmony based on justice. Israel must shun its European antecedents and identify with the region and its cultures.
This seems a farfetched possibility, given, especially, the plethora of laws that the Knesset has passed in the last few months in direct infringement of international law. Israel is rapidly transferring the Palestinians into the category of second-class citizens. Palestinian people are obstructed from claiming self-determination on their own land. Israel asserts that it falls within its own right to determine what Jewish domain is. It affirms the notion that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people and this is where the Jews will achieve their natural, cultural, religious and historical rights.By contrast, Arabic, the essence of the Arab identity, has been downgraded into a mere “special status” language. It does not just end there. The law violates a cardinal principle in the UN partition plan by unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel. Worse, it legitimizes land theft by deeming the promotion of settlements as a national value to be nurtured. Israel lives in a state of egotistical defiance. It says to the world: “I am an Apartheid state, what are you going to do about it”? The world has shown impotence thus far when thus challenged. The law has been labeled “controversial”, as though Israel did not know this when it conceived the law). Through silence, the world endorses the incongruous claim that the indigenous Palestinians have no rights, except those that the Jewish state hands out as charity or favour.
So, in addition to possessing a militarized regime with colonialist instincts, Israel exists in permanent punitive mode against the Palestinians, Israel has now de-peopled an entire population. But how sustainable are Israeli ambitions? In the event that an acceptable two-state solution does not take root on an urgent basis, Israel may have to live with Arabs under a one-state formula. Late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s once boasted that Israel will extend from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the River Jordan in the east, as a purely Jewish State. This claim ignored one fact. Under current birth rate trends, the Palestinians will make up the majority of the population in their historic homeland by 2030. With a failing two-state formula, the Jews may be forced into a one-state solution where no matter the political system Israel enforces, the Palestinians will locate a democratic space in which they will have the numbers to rule. What then?
The statement we reproduce below from the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace Condemns Israel’s Latest Apartheid Jewish Nation State Law shows a deepening of the resistance. In the statement, Palestinian Christians summons ‘people of conscience to condemn Israeli apartheid unapologetically and to heed the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions in solidarity with the Palestinian non-violent struggle for justice, peace, and freedom’. It also asserts that ‘to remain silent about the implications of Israel’s Jewish Nation State Law and all other Israeli human rights violations stands in contradiction to the Biblical mandate to do justice and to stand with the oppressed’.
Socialist Project (SP) joins Israeli, Palestinian, and international civil society organizations in condemning the “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People”
The Socialist Project (SP) joins Israeli, Palestinian, and international civil society organizations in condemning the “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People” which passed the Israeli Knesset on 19 July 2018. The Jewish supremacy enshrined in the law amounts to the formal incorporation of apartheid as an Israeli constitutional principle. The new law marks the formalization and entrenchment of this regime within the Israeli constitution, finally and fully eliminating any pretence of equality for Palestinian residents of Israel while further weakening already extremely limited protections for those in the OPT.
Israeli apartheid, and the systematic human rights abuses and war crimes that support it, is crucially enabled through aid from the Canadian and U.S. governments. Along with the now routine crimes of its brutal occupation, these governments have helped Israel evade accountability for massacring unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in recent months. The Socialist Project further expresses its solidarity with the statement of the Palestinian Boycott National Committee presented below. We also present another article that provides further context for the new Basic Law.
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace condemns Israel’s Latest Apartheid Jewish Nation State Law
We call on all people of conscience to condemn Israeli apartheid unapologetically and to heed the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions in solidarity with the Palestinian non-violent struggle for justice, peace, and freedom. In particular, as a faith-based group, we call on other people of faith, including our evangelical brothers and sisters, to challenge Israel’s intensifying apartheid. For Christian groups to remain silent about the implications of Israel’s Jewish Nation State Law and all other Israeli human rights violations stands in contradiction to the Biblical mandate to do justice and to stand with the oppressed. Israel has always defined itself as the State of the Jewish People, and its recent adoption of the Jewish Nation State Law is simply a declaration to the world of its historic commitment, ideologically and programmatically, to Jewish supremacy. Many critics of Israel’s 51-year-old occupation of Palestinian East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Syrian Golan Heights have referred to Israel’s occupation of these territories as a system of apartheid. However, some among these critics, such as President Jimmy Carter, rejected the use of the same term to describe Israel’s relationship to the roughly 20 percent Palestinian Arab minorities who hold Israeli citizenship within Israel’s 1948/49 border. After the passage of the new Israeli law, such critics ought to open their eyes to the historical reality of Israel since its establishment in 1948, and recognize the deep racism that underlies its state and society.
The expropriation of Palestinian land and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the early years of Israel’s existence were traumatic. Israel’s Absentees’ Property Law (1950) and Land Acquisition Law (1953), among others, resulted in the pauperization and ghettoization of Palestinian citizens of Israel. More than 60 laws directly and indirectly ensured that they remain far behind Israeli Jews in every aspect of their existence including their access to the legal system, citizenship privileges, income and employment, distribution of resources and social welfare, accessibility to land, educational resources, availability of health resources, and political participation. The Israeli occupation in 1967 of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, and the extreme form of apartheid practiced there are an extension of the settler-colonial praxis that created Israel.
What is new is that Israel now feels emboldened by the ascendancy of right-wing racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia in the United States in particular, and western societies in general. It no longer feels that it has to conceal its own racism. The recent love fest of right-wing extremists in the annual conference of Christians United for Israel in Washington, DC is emblematic of the convergence of Zionism with anti-democratic forces in the West. Thankfully, others in the West are speaking out more forcefully against racism and discrimination in all its forms. And the movement of solidarity with the Palestinians is growing worldwide, including in the United States and Europe.
We call on all people of conscience to condemn Israeli apartheid unapologetically and to heed the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions in solidarity with the Palestinian non-violent struggle for justice, peace, and freedom. In particular, as a faith-based group, we call on other people of faith, including our evangelical brothers and sisters, to challenge Israel’s intensifying apartheid. For Christian groups to remain silent about the implications of Israel’s Jewish Nation State Law and all other Israeli human rights violations stands in contradiction to the Biblical mandate to do justice and to stand with the oppressed.
Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.
لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.