Palestine Update 141
Israel’s crimes parallel worst in history
Dr. Firoz Osman, a medical doctor by profession and a respected South African commentator on the Zionist occupation of Palestine writing in the Middle East Monitor in March this year had these powerful words to say: “Zionist fulminations against the evocative A-word will now have to contend with the ignoble G-word. That Israel is an Apartheid entity is now indisputable, with international institutions and academics declaring it to be a crime against humanity. To this must now be added the increasingly obvious fact that the Palestinians are facing Genocide at the hands of the Israeli colonists. The creation of the state of Israel in May 1948 was a settler-colonial enterprise in which Palestinians were displaced through a deliberate policy of terror and ethnic cleansing that made room for alien colonists, drawn largely from Europe and North America. Colonial Zionism differed from other European colonial enterprises in its much more ambitious intentions; it set out not only to exploit the indigenous people and steal their resources, but also to expel them and move Jews onto the stolen land…From the outset, Zionism — the ideology underpinning Israel — held terrorism to be one of its indispensable weapons for the achievement of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Innocent Palestinian civilians were massacred by the score, and British Mandate officials were also targeted”.
It is possible, although unpopular, to compare proponents of Zionist apartheid with other of the world’s most cruel war criminals and to equate the Israeli army and those who command it as brutes who are out to exterminate anything that comes between them and their intent to kill, abuse, maim, imprison, torture, accumulate weapons of mass destruction, to steal land, and destabilize the Palestinians with its genocidal ways. Israel is complex and thrives in self-deceit. It hoodwinks itself to believing that its neighbours are primitive, and uncivilized. It deems that it has the most moral army in the world. It befools itself that it practices methods of democracy that make it different from the dictatorships that manage the affairs of many of its Arab neighbours. It likes to fantasize that it is developed and technologically advanced. Israel is wrong on all counts.
Zionists whose ignorance of history is obvious do not realize that Muslim believers rapidly founded a new and dynamic civilization that for centuries was the only bright light in an otherwise culturally and intellectually stagnant world. Indeed, while Europe was experiencing its “Dark Ages,” the Arab/Islamic civilization was at its apogee. The Arab world of the seventh to the thirteenth centuries was a great cosmopolitan civilization. It was an enormous unifying enterprise, one which joined the peoples of Spain and North Africa in the west with the peoples of the ancient lands of Egypt.
The Jews of Israel are desperately stressed to construct an authentic identity from thin air, in many ways. Eminent historian, Shlomo Sand, shuns his own identity as a Jew: “I am aware of living in one of the most racist societies in the western world. Racism is present to some degree everywhere, but in Israel it exists deep within the spirit of the laws. It is taught in schools and colleges, spread in the media, and above all and most dreadful, in Israel the racists do not know what they are doing and, because of this, feel in no way obliged to apologize. This absence of a need for self-justification has made Israel a particularly prized reference point for many movements of the far right throughout the world, movements whose past history of anti-Semitism is only too well known. Sand argues that it is likely that the ancestry of most contemporary Jews stems mainly from outside the Land of Israel and that a “nation-race” of Jews with a common origin never existed, and that just as most Christians and Muslims are the progeny of converted people, not of the first Christians and Muslims, Jews are also descended from converts.
According to Sand, the story of the exile was a myth promoted by early Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith. They portrayed that event as a divine punishment imposed on the Jews for having rejected the Christian gospel. Following the Arab conquest of Palestine in the 7th century, many local Jews converted to Islam and were assimilated among the Arab conquerors. Sand concludes that these converts are the ancestors of the contemporary Palestinians.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Invention_of_the_Jewish_People. Sand believes that the idea of Jews being obliged to return from exile to the Promised Land was alien to Judaism before the birth of Zionism, and that the holy places were seen as places to long for, not to be lived in. On the contrary, for 2,000 years Jews stayed away from Jerusalem because their religion forbade them from returning until the Messiah came.
Molly Roberts, editor, writer and producer for The Post’s Opinions section says calls on Young American Jews to take a side- the side of justice and truth. She observes that many Americans were even finding it hard to condemn the cold blooded killing of Gaza residents with live ammunition, whether they were carrying rocks or tires or makeshift kite bombs or nothing at all. Israel swears that the protesters were armed militants. Gazans went forward with their ineffective tools of resistance knowing that that their only guarantee was prison time. Their question: What, would the difference be, in any case? Gaza felt like a prison in any case.
Pew has found that younger Americans feel more distance from Israel than previous generations. Some have spoken up, and even founded organizations to defy conservative forces like American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Sadly, as Roberts’s notes, “It has been easy enough to say we’re pro-Israel but not pro-occupation or to use the truth that there’s no simple solution as an excuse to avoid unpleasant complexity”. That conflation has “emboldened Israel’s leaders to act with impunity. Yet, as the U.S. government draws closer to Israel, the rising generation of Jewish Americans has already started to push further away. The recent assaults on Gaza will accentuate this.
Israel’s new ideology of genocide
The writer of this article, Amitai Ben-Abba is a native of West Jerusalem and is an Israeli writer and dissident based in the Bay Area. On May 16 he was arrested alongside seventeen other activists at the JCC of San Francisco for protesting against Israeli war crimes. Amitai Ben-Abba runs a blog and takes part in protests and direct actions with Ta’ayush, Yasamba, and Anarchists Against the Wall. As a Jewish Israeli descendant of Holocaust survivors, she believes that the comparison of the conditions in Palestine to those preceding the Shoah is not only justified, but necessary. Israel is ideologically prepared to enact genocide on Palestinians right now. If we do, not act, she argues, it will march into its new decisive stage – up to the 6th million Palestinian and over.
I study and write speculative fiction. A lot of my writing contemplates Israeli future, envisioning brutally grotesque scenarios as a kind of warning for my culture. But these days, whenever I nail another period at the end of a new chapter, my sense of accomplishment is cut short, as reality towers over my imagination. No author could foretell insanities such as the split screen on live Israeli television on May 14th: the Netanyahus and Trumps smiling whitely on one side, the Palestinian protesters carrying their dead on the other, and that night—the Gazans weeping over corpses as tens of thousands of Israelis dance in Rabin Square, singing “I’m not your toy.”
In the novel I am currently working on, I contemplate what a full-fledged Israeli genocide (and resistance to it) would look like from the eyes of a perpetrator and a victim. But while I started this project inventing the conditions in which such an event would take place, they have, to my horror, already ripened in Israeli society. I have woken up to the situation in which a dystopian future has accelerated into existence, and I can’t hit pause and write ahead of the storm. The world is stuck on play, the news feed refreshes itself, and inexorably, the blood flows. I’m experiencing a peculiar, unnamed anxiety, witnessing a future which is too much like the past, crawling on the present.
The bleeding edge among Israeli politicians—MK Smotrich, Minister of Education Bennet, Jerusalem Mayor Barkat and their ilk—are nowadays advocating the move into the so-called “decisive stage” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To transgress from the status quo into a durable peace (incidentally, the title of PM Netanyahu’s one and only book): a Final Solution for the Palestinian Question. That vision, à la Smotrich, is taken from the Book of Joshua, where the invading Israelites enact a genocide on the native Canaanites, until Not a single soul is left to breathe, to paraphrase Rabbi Maimonides. According to the Midrash, there were three stages to that operation. First, Joshua sent the Canaanites a letter advising them to run away. Then, those who stayed could accept inferior citizenship and slavery. Finally, if they resisted, they would be annihilated. Smotrich has presented this plan publicly as the shift to the decisive stage of the conflict. If the Palestinians do not run away and refuse to accept inferior citizenship, as any dignified people would, “The IDF will know what to do,” he says.
Yes, like in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Israeli politicians are now suggesting policies on the basis of “scriptural precedence.” In their reactionary theology they ignore commandments such as tikkun olam (“repairing of the world,” the instruction to struggle for justice and equality), ve’ahavta (“love your neighbor as yourself,” the idea with which Rabbi Hillel has taught the entire Torah), and Talmudic concepts such as Shiv’im panim la’tora (“seventy faces for the Torah,” meaning that dozens of stipulations can be derived of every verse).
As with Turks and Armenians, Hutu and Tutsi, Germans and Jews, genocide is justified on the grounds that there is a zero-sum game in which only one side can triumph. The Palestinians want to throw us into the sea, the Zionists claim, and haba le-horgecha, hashkem le-horgo (“he who comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first”). In his book, which, his assistants state, he sometimes uses in order to write his speeches, PM Netanyahu sees the “Palestinians” (he makes sure to mark them with quotes) as a “phantom nation,” (p. 56) and denies their existence as a people with a unique culture and history. He sees them as a tool in the zero-sum game between Islam and the West. Prominent Israeli historian Benny Morris, who has thoroughly chronicled Zionist crimes of rape, murder, and ethnic cleansing in 1948, sees the displacement of only 750,000 Palestinians in that war as the greatest mistake of Ben Gurion. In his view, Ben Gurion should have finished the job, and that’s precisely what leading Israeli statesmen are aiming for today.
There are no forces in Israeli society able or willing to stop the ascent of this tendency. Israeli soldiers, as demonstrated to the world by the cheering snipers in Gaza, are instructed to see all Palestinians as death-worthy security threats. Israeli masses celebrate the early release of convicted murderers, as long as the victims are Arabs. Israeli crowds chant “burn them, shoot them, kill them” as the US embassy opens in Jerusalem. From the foot soldiers to the big brass, from the flag-waving street folk to the height of academia, Israel is ideologically prepared to enact a Palestinian Shoah.
Some Jews will cringe while reading these words. Asur le-hashvot (“to compare is forbidden”) is now a Hebrew proverb. It is forbidden to compare Jewish suffering to that of others, and I have made several comparisons. However, as a Jewish Israeli descendant of Holocaust survivors, I think these comparisons are not only justified, but vital. Israeli society is ideologically prepared to enact a genocide on Palestinians right now, and if we do not make the comparison and act accordingly, Israel will march into the decisive stage, up to the 6th million Palestinian and over.
In his own comparison, Israeli Minister Gil’ad Erdan likened the killed Palestinians to Nazis, saying: “The number of killed (sic) doesn’t indicate anything—just as the number of Nazis who died in the world war doesn’t make Nazism something you can explain or understand.” Evidently, counting the dead will not help awaken the Israelis to the grisliness of their actions. Only after the fall of their system—like the white South Africans on their regretted Apartheid—will they recognize it in horror. To stop the pending genocide, world leaders must cease talking and start acting. Arms embargo, economic sanctions, and arrests of traveling war criminals will be a long-overdue start. Anything short of that is compliance. As an Israeli, I am aware of the consequences these measures could have on my life and on the lives of my loved ones. These are all dwarfed by the consequences of the assault on Palestinian rights. Those will be felt the world over, especially by marginalized people, as Ann Coulter threatens, when she looks at the shooting of Palestinian protesters and says, “Can we do that?” With 75% of the Israeli military industry slated for export, expect Israeli teargas drones to whir over the next Standing Rock or Parisian revolt. Expect snipers to gun down Mexican migrants. Expect the storm to arrive before you begin to pay attention.
In my fiction, the Palestinian Shoah will happen during war with a local Muslim power. Israel will justify the mass slaughter as its right to defend itself. It will not put Gazans on trains or build extermination camps for them, but bomb them to death. Ironically, settler presence will be a de facto human shield that will necessitate different methods of extermination and expulsion for West Bank Palestinians, East Jerusalemites, and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. If the world will fail to act effectively in support of the Palestinians, this will be the crest of the Nakba, the Catastrophe, the process of Palestinian disenfranchisement that has begun 140 years ago.
لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.