CAIRtv | April 3, 2013
In an October 21, 2001, speech before the convention of the American Jewish Congress, Daniel Pipes stated: “I worry very much from the Jewish point of view that the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims…will present true dangers to American Jews.”
Daniel Pipes Supports Internment of Japanese-Americans:
“Yes, I do support the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II.” From Daniel Pipes’ website, 12/28/04
God bless Philip Weiss, the progressive Jewish blogger brave enough to admit in public those things other Jewish ethnic activists prefer to shove under the carpet. A year ago, Weiss was brave enough to confess to me that it is ‘Jewish self interests’ that stands at the core of his pro Palestinian activism. Also, a few weeks ago, the same Weiss was honest enough to announce that his Jewish ‘progressive’ internet journal, Mondowiess, changed its comment policy and “will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy.”
But this week, the very same Weiss published a new polemic on his website. He now thinks that “it’s time for the media to talk about Zionism.” So, now Weiss is happy to join with the rest of us in talking about Zionism – so long as we avoid discussing ‘Jewishness’. Well, I’m afraid that Philip Weiss may have missed the train since, by now, many of us have already grasped that the time is ripe to talk about Jewishness and the role of ‘Jewish culture as the driving factor in Israeli and US policy.’
Weiss’ logic is no doubt fascinating. This Jewish ethnic activist does provide us with an insight into the level of deceit that is, unfortunately, inherent to Jewish left politics.
Weiss thinks Jews should ask themselves whether they really are ‘unsafe’ in America. Well, Weiss must know plenty about ‘safety’ since it was he himself who felt that it may be ‘risky’ to discuss Jewish culture and religion on his own Mondoweiss.
“Zionism,” he continues, “draws on a person’s worldview and has a religious character, it supplies meaning to his or her life.” Well again, Weiss should know because, like all Zionists, both overt and covert, he operates within a Jews-only political cell namely “Jews Voice for Peace’ (JVP). For some reason, just like his less enlightened brethren, this very ‘progressive’ activist prefers to surround himself with members of his own tribe.
Weiss well knows why the media avoids discussing Zionism, “it would involve a lot of squeamish self-interrogation on the part of Jews,” and Weiss knows what this means. That’s why he, and his Jewish partner Adam Horowitz, banned Jeff Blankfort from commenting on their site – Blankfort was critically discussing Jewish related topics. Weiss couldn’t allow it.
Weiss is brave enough to admit that “the acknowledgment of Jewish prominence in the Establishment, and of the power of Zionism, would make a lot of Jews uncomfortable”, but he isn’t bold enough to admit that the problem is far worse, since Jewish anti-Zionists like himself and JVP are relentlessly seeking a similar hegemony within the Palestinian solidarity discourse and openly campaign against prominent activists who challenge Jewish power. Is it possible that what we are dealing with here is a tribally-driven, power seeking tendency that is inherent to Jewish politics? The answer is a categorical yes, and I provide all the relevant information on this in my latest book The Wandering Who.
Weiss regards himself as an anti-Zionist while, as far as his language is concerned, he actually manifests every possible Zionist symptom. “Silence” on issues to do with Zionist power is “bad for Jews,” says Weiss. Like any Hasbara parrot he repeats the old mantra of ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ for the Jews. But then isn’t this just what you would expect from a Zionist?
It doesn’t take Weiss too long to drop his political bomb: the silence over Zionist power “allows people who are justifiably angry over our foreign policy to believe that all Jews support Israel.” Here, Weiss is absolutely correct. It is about time to deliver the message to the American people and the entire world – Not all Jews support Israel! In fact, at least two dozen American Jews including Weiss oppose Zionism because, as Weiss confesses, because “it is really bad for the Jews.”
If you think you’ve had enough of Weiss’ Judeo-centrism read this: “Zionism came out of the real condition of Jews in Europe in the late 19th and 20th centuries. I can well imagine being a Zionist at other periods of Jewish history. I would have been a Zionist if I had been in Kafka’s circle in Prague in the 19-teens with the rise of anti-Semitism. I would have been a Zionist if I had been born into the family of my mother’s best friend in Berlin in the 1930s.”
In this embarrassing passage, Weiss, the so-called ‘anti’ Zionist, actually admits that considerations of Jewish safety would justify the colonization of Palestine. This non-ethical vision is also apparent in JVP’s latest ‘educational’ video. It is clearly consistent with the Zionist take on the primacy of Jewish suffering. Which is exactly what you would expect from a Jew who operates politically within Jewish racially-segregated cells. There is only one possible conclusion – Jewish anti Zionism is a myth. Jewish opposition to Zionism is just another form of Zionism-lite that, just like it’s right-wing counterpart, locates Jewish self-interest firmly at its core.
Weiss is a pretty clumsy spin-doctor. He argues that the current militant and totalitarian aspects of Israeli society flow from a ‘Zionist belief system’. Here, Weiss misleads his readers and I think he does this consciously. Israel defines itself as the Jewish State and as the true embodiment of Jewish culture. Its barbarism is the direct outcome of its interpretation of Jewish texts and spirit. If anything, Zionism was born to ‘civilize’ the Diaspora Jew who, certain 19th century emancipated secular Jews found so repellent. So it is not Zionism that makes Israel barbarous, it is the way Israelis interpret their cultural, spiritual and textual heritage. Of course, Weiss is welcome to suggest that there is another possible interpretation to Jewish heritage, but he should be precise and point to those Jewish texts that preach universal ethics and world peace.
Weiss reckons that once we should be brave enough to deal with Zionism, “liberal Zionists will be pressed to decide what they believe in more, liberalism or Zionism.” But still I’m puzzled. If Weiss is so open and tolerant, surely he would allow discussion on his own website concerning the Jewish character of the Jewish State. He would invite a discussion concerning the Jewishness of the Jewish Lobby. I believe that Philip Weiss is operating unwillingly and unwittingly as a Zionist fig leaf. He invests all his intellectual energy diverting attention from the root cause of the problem – namely Jewish culture and Jewish identity politics. And why? Probably because of his own unease with is own Anti Zionist Zionist behaviour.
- Concerning Mondoweiss, Racism and Freedom of Speech (Uprooted Palestinians)
A letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron, following his speech at the Annual dinner of United Jewish Israel Appeal
Dear Mr Cameron, How self-interested and partisan was your speech last week to the Jewish Israel Appeal. Carefully pre-scripted, it said everything the Jewish Zionists in your audience wished to hear. Your final quips about settlement- building and house- demolitions were moral soundbites for the Media, to give the appearance of being fair minded and caring about the Law. Your audience knew full well, as indeed you do, that the government has not the slightest intention of lifting a finger to help the displaced victims of settlement-building and house demolitions. I happened to be in E.Jerusalem when the Al Khurd family were dragged out of their home by Jewish settlers and thrown, with all their belongings and children, onto the streets. The father of the family, who was disabled and in a wheelchair, died soon after this event. The family were left to live in a tent on a patch of land in front of their former home, able to see the comings and goings of the two young Jewish families who now inhabited their home. I’m puzzled by your allusion to a Jewish philanthropic spirit when I see such things. I was shocked to see the Israeli soldiers, “the most moral army in the world,” beating up a young Palestinian Christian farmer in Al Khadre near Bethlehem, whose land had been illegally annexed for the building of a military terminal. Shocked to see them breaking his arm by stamping on it and then trying to prevent the ambulance from taking him to hospital. Shocked to see them beating up courageous Israeli Jewish activists who had come to support the farmer. Shocked to learn that Palestinian women gave birth at checkpoints and sometimes lost their babies because the Jewish soldiers would not let them go through to reach the Maternity Hospital. Your audience must be flattered and bemused by the rosy view you have of such people. We, each of us, must individually choose to embrace a humane way of living and stand or fall by our own actions. It is not enough to lazily shelter under the supposed morality of any given inherited tradition.
May I remind you that you have Muslim and Christian citizens in this country. There are Moslems, Christians, Jews and Secular people both here and in Palestine who do not necessarily share your rosy view of Israel or of it’s Jewish or non-Jewish supporters. Many of us remember that when the UK helped bring Iraq to it’s knees through sanctions, a million innocent little children died as a result. Was the celebrated Jewish sense of justice offended by that? clearly your own conscience was not moved. Sanctions produced nothing good for the Iraqi people and did not prevent war. Quite the contrary: sanctions were, and continue to be, a hypocritical and cruel devise used by western powers to conceal their already well-laid plans for the invasion, destruction and de-development of Muslim, oil-rich countries.
Not satisfied with so many deaths in Iraq, Israel and it’s economic cohorts eagerly await the death of thousands more innocent people in Iran, another oil-rich Muslim country. Sanctions first to soften the people through impoverishment and death, to alienate their leaders, then, on the eve of invasion you will wring your hands in front of the world’s media and say “look, we tried peaceful measures first, didn’t we…” But starving a population, reducing them to poverty, is as violent and genocidal as other acts of war. It is particularly deplorable that you reveled in the implementation of plans to starve thousands of others while you were feasting and dining to your heart’s content in London. One is reminded of the rich man who, while feasting at his own table, refused Lazarus a crumb of bread.
Who has been the prime aggressor in the Middle East, invading Lebanon, Syria, Sinai, Gaza? Who has defied more UN Resolutions than any other country in the world? Who threatens daily the existence of Palestinians? who assassinates Palestine’s spiritual and political leaders? Who has imprisoned the Palestinian population behind walls? Who illegally imprisons and frequently tortures 7,000 Palestinian children annually? Who has made a Palestinian state impossible through it’s theft of land and refusal to acknowledge the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their legal lands? Who has dozens of discriminatory laws against it’s minority Arab population? You know the answer yet you are proud to have such friends.
You threaten invasion against a country for even thinking about developing a nuclear weapon, but befriend Israel which has more nuclear weapons than France and the UK together. What possible rationale can you have for such uneven-handedness apart from self-interested economic and financial advantage? Will you ever publicly or privately ask the Jewish community to face Israel’s iniquities? So you believe that the interests of thieves, child-abductors, torturers, criminals, racists and warmongers are written into the DNA of the Conservative Party. What a disquieting boast. But please do not presume to confer on all the British people such a questionable genetic makeup. I am British, Caucasian, educated, middle class, a pensioner. Boringly, boringly mainstream. Hardly a candidate for Muslim extremist. I neither share Israel’s “cultural DNA” nor embrace such an unscientific and foolish notion.
- Cameron warns UK students against boycotting Israel (foa.org.uk)
A majority of the Zionist entity’s Jews admitted they are living in an apartheid state, a recent survey posted by Haaretz said. Many also believed that Palestinians should be denied the right to vote, and suggested that Jewish settlers should be given preferential treatment.
Some 500 Jewish adults took part in the survey, answering questions put together by a group of civil rights activists and academics, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday. The survey’s findings revealed that 39 percent of respondents believe there is a ‘slight’ form of apartheid in the Occupied Territories, while 19 percent admit that there is ‘heavy’ apartheid.
A different question suggested that the number of those in favor of ethnic segregation is higher, with 74 percent of those surveyed in favor of separate roads for Zionist Jews and Arabs in the West Bank.
On the contentious issue of the West Bank, 38 percent of respondents wanted to annex the territories with the illegal settlements, and 48 percent opposed that policy. A follow-up question on voting rights for Palestinians saw 69 percent of respondents in favor of denying 2.5 million of Palestinians the vote if West Bank territories were annexed.
More than a half of those questioned said Zionists should be given preference over Arabs when applying for jobs in the government sector. And slightly under half favored legalized discrimination of Arabs, saying that the entity should “treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones.”
The survey also revealed that people of ultra-religious views demonstrated more discriminatory attitudes, with 82 percent saying Jews should be given preferential treatment over Arabs. Secular responders generally expressed more pluralistic views.
In its report, Haaretz claimed that the survey was initiated by the so-called ‘New Israeli Fund’, a US-based NGO. But the NIF denied any involvement, saying the poll “was not commissioned or sponsored or in any way related to the New Israel Fund,” but set up by Goldblum Fund, an organization with which it had only indirect links.
A lucky few had front row seats at Great Berlin’s Oyer and Terminer cybertrial.
The hall was packed and it was standing room only for most attendees.
Hushed whispers, excited twitters, and face-to-face exchanges in the back seats created an ominous droning sound.
“What did she do exactly?”
“You don’t know?! She posted a video.”
“No, I mean one of those.”
“No friggingfreespeech way! She didn’t clear it with anyone?”
“No, she claimed it was not supposed to be widely disseminated; she probably knew it might create a furore, but it somehow got sent out of the Freegaza account.”
“But someone said it was just one of those stupid videos that bark up the wrong tree, chewing the old cud about the Jews’ role in the holocaust.”
“No, it is a lot worse. It is one of those provocative videos, like David Duke’s. You know the BDS saying: “You post, you’re toast.”
“That’s an incredibly dumb video though. Like there isn’t enough current stuff to talk about regarding the role of the Jews in the banking collapse, for one thing.”
“That would not be an approved video either. One of these days I swear I’ll see you up there in Greta’s box. Don’t you get it? It can’t be about the Jews, it is only about Israelis, and not all of them, only the bad ones, like Netanyahu.”
“Did she say that she liked the video and approved of its content?”
“That’s another silly question. What’s wrong with you today? It does not matter that she did not say that. It is bad enough that she watched it and/or sent it on. If we all did stupid things like that where would we be? We’d all be watching and reading anything and discussing it!”
We cannot afford to… wait, how did he put it?
“Can’t remember his name exactly Steve Damsel or Hamsel from Jerusalem, formerly from the US. In his blog called Desert Peace he called her “a witch” and said “we can’t afford to alienate anybody.”
“Smart guy. He is right: what kind of protest movement would we be if we upset people?”
“I read Emily Hauser in the Daily Beast. She explained that Greta harms the Palestinian cause and Emily knows her onions. Her Palestinian onions, as it were, because she said she was talking “as a Jew, a Zionist, and an Israeli.” She even added “as a pro-Palestinians activist I’m pretty pissed off.”
“Shhhhhh@! He is coming!”
“Ali Abounimah. Don’t you recognize him by his limp?”
“What happened to him?”
“Atzmon caught his you know what in a revolving door.”
“What ‘you know what’?”
“I don’t know if the word is on the approved list. In Yiddish it’s beitsam. I guess I can say it in Spanish: cojones.
And since you still look clueless I’ll tell you the revolving door was the business with Ali saying culture does not matter.
Well, Atzmon turned the revolving door back on him with Goldhagen or something and Ali has been limping ever since.”
“Oh, no, he’s coming closer to Greta and sniffing her. He can sniff Atzmon on anybody from a mile away. He looks ready to pounce on her.”
“How can he pounce while limping and wrapped in that djellaba?”
“It’s a judge’s robe but he had it cut like a djellaba: makes him look more Palestinian.
“I hear Naomi Klein resigned from the FG advisory board. A way of saying she can’t be associated with an organization that watches videos. Those videos.“
“Who will speak for the accused? Will someone say anything about her contribution, or that doesn’t count? She founded FG, didn’t she?”
“Maybe, but only in the introduction prior to reading her charges. Makes them, you know, balanced.”
“But the Palestinians? I mean the Palestinians in Palestine, especially Gaza?”
“What about them? What do they have to do with this? Leave them out of this discussion. This is far more important. It’s all about racism, that is, its worst form ever, anti-Semitism.
Which is why Ali monitors discussions of a group of 1,000 members or more. You can’t have people flapping their jaws on their own.”
“You’re right. Greta was on probation anyhow. She went off the reservation by saying Atzmon had been ‘demonized.’ I swear that’s the word she used. I think Ali will tear her flesh off the bone, just watch.”
“How do you know?”
“Haven’t you read Harry’s Place? They’re challenging Ali to prove he is not an anti-Semite, and giving him a list of the next candidates for Oyer and Terminer.
Here, read this copy:
“I’m not sure he really believes what he’s saying.
The thing is, Ali Abunimah’s website isn’t much better at all. Abunimah encourages antisemites of similar stock to Greta Berlin, to write for the Electronic Intifada.
Electronic Intifada still lists Sonja Karkar as an author.
Electronic Intifada recently published Stephen Salaita.
Stephen Salaita is a fan of the antisemite Gilad Atzmon.
Ali Abunimah himself has condemned Atzmon for years for antisemitism. Whilst dismissing Atzmon, Abunimah claimed “We must protect the integrity of our movement”. But he still lets one of Atzmon’s admirers write on his blog.
Abunimah also publishes the antisemite Ben White.”
“Some say this is guilt by association and they say it like there’s anything wrong with it as an accusation. Harry’s Place called Ali a “weird and creepy guy.” Next stop: anti-semitesville. So Ali has to, you know, put out.”
“But why isn’t it starting?”
“They’re waiting for Avi Mayer, you know who he is, the head honcho of the Jewish Agency for Israel.”
“But what is he doing here? He is not FG. In fact he says the Free Gaza Movement endorses violence against Israel.”
“No, in this he is with us. In a manner of speaking. It’s complicated.
At any rate, this is the kind of video that should not be circulated at all, so when the FG deleted it from their tweet account, Avi Mayer used a screenshot he had taken of it and posted it.”
“Obvious: so everyone can see what they better not watch and pass around.“
“I am beginning to pity her, if he cross examines her.”
“I know, he is merciless.”
“No, worse: I am told he has a killer halitosis.”
“Quiet now, they’re ready to begin.”
Last week, an interesting article by Daniel Gordis appeared on Tablemag.com. Gordis, a committed Zionist intellectual, is concerned about the inevitable collapse of the Jewish state and its impact on world Jewry in general and American Jews in particular.
Although it’s reassuring that Zionist scholars are now realising that that the Jewish State is on its way out, even more importantly, Gordis’ article gives us a glimpse into contemporary Jewish identity politics, Jewish culture and Zionist collective psychosis. And interestingly, Gordis reaffirms each and every critical argument I myself raise in my latest book The Wandering Who.
Gordis is tormented by polls that suggest that the centrality of Israel within Jewish American life is declining. Apparently, a recent survey suggests that 50 percent of young Jewish Americans (35 years old and younger) would not see the destruction of Israel as a ‘personal tragedy’.
In his attempt to explain such a dramatic change in Jewish Diaspora Jewish attitude, Gordis refers to Peter Beinart’s take on the subject: that young American Jews feel safe, and unlike their parents, do not fear anti-Semitism. Beinart is correct. Western Jews are no longer anxious. On the contrary, contemporary Jewish political arrogance knows no limits. AIPAC and similar Western Jewish lobbies have been openly pushing for interventionist wars for more than a decade and some influential Jews have been open in exploring different forms and aspects of Judeocentric domination of the media, banking, culture and politics. In fact it seems that many Jews are not troubled at all by a possible rise of anti Semitism and are unconcerned with any possible consequences of their own actions.
To a certain extent this sense of Jewish omnipotence may be seen as a direct continuum of Israeli strength; when young American Jews witness their American elected politicians dancing shamelessly to AIPAC’s Klezmatic noise, naturally they are filled with a sense of invincible might and it is this that is the essence of contemporary Jewish collective power – a power that can only be realised in connection with Israeli strength.
Pre Traumatic Stress Again
Gordis is there to shake Jewish Diaspora confidence by reintroducing the old tribal collective fear. He writes: “Theodor Herzl did what he did and wrote what he wrote because Jewish life in the Diaspora had become, to use Hobbes’ phrase, ‘poor, nasty, brutish, and short.’” According to Gordis, contemporary Jews are too self-possessed and feel far too safe. “What happened back then, they assert, could not happen today.” But Gordis believes they are deluded. “American Jews’ confidence resembles that of the Jews of Cordoba—who were forcibly converted, burned alive at the stake, and summarily expelled in the Spanish Inquisition.” Similarly, he asserts that, “the Jews of Berlin in 1930 also believed they had found the ultimate enlightened home, that the dark days of Europe would never return. And in the space of but a few years, German Jewry was erased.” Here, Gordis conveys a clear message – in the light of a new potential Shoa “American Jewish life as it now exists would not survive the loss of Israel.”
In The Wandering Who I explore the impact of Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Pre-TSD) and I refer in particular to that uniquely Jewish collective tendency to be culturally, spiritually and politically shaped by some phantasmic, imaginary, future, disastrous event. Jewish politics is always formed by future trauma. Accordingly, Gordis message to his fellow Jews is clear. It isn’t the Shoa of the past that should unite us, it is actually, the Shoa ahead that should reawaken our Zionist bond.
Gordis message to American Jews is clear. A strong Israel together with AIPAC’s control of American foreign policy is good for the Jews and any alternative is a recipe for disaster. “When some 400 mostly Orthodox rabbis marched on Washington in the October 1943, President Roosevelt simply refused to meet them and departed the White House via a rear door. There were no mass protests, no caravans of buses to Washington to demand help for their European kin.” Nowadays, the situation has changed dramatically. The presidency of the USA is a democratically elected position reserved for that candidate who has bought the trust of the Jewish Lobby.
“Jews today no longer think of themselves as a tiptoeing people,” says Gordis. And why should they? Thanks to Israel and its powerful lobby, they regard themselves as the most influential and powerful ethnic group on the planet. In America, AIPAC dominates foreign policy, in Britain 80% of leading party MPs are members of the powerful CFI (Conservative Friends of Israel) and in France CRIF runs the show. Take it from Gordis a Zionist official mouthpiece; “Israel has changed the existential condition of Jews everywhere, even in America. Without the State of Israel, the self-confidence and sense of belonging that American Jews now take for granted would quickly disappear.” In short, Jews can run the show – but only as long as Israel is unbeatable.
And he’s not wrong. Like so many Zionists, Gordis is both honest and consistent – a quality I rarely find within the Jewish anti-Zionist discourse. Gordis openly admits that we are dealing here with a clear paradox. The sense of belonging and security that leads many American Jews to believe that they do not need the state of Israel is itself a product of that very same state of Israel. That lethal arrogance that led Zionists such as Bernard Henri Levi, or Jewish Chronicle writer David Aaronovitch to advocate interventionist global wars should be seen as the outcome of a strong Jewish State – a state that quite literally gets away with murder.
In The Wandering Who I suggest that Israel operates as a key Jewish symbolic identifier so that Jews construct their identity in reference to their Jewish state. This is not only true for Zionist Jews but is also the case for those so-called ‘anti Zionist Jews’ whose identity is inherently tied to their opposition to Zionism and Israel. The disappearance of Israel would leave their political identity stark naked.
Gordis detects a similar pattern amongst American liberal Jews. “Though many American Jews, especially the younger among them, now believe the loss of Israel would not be tragic, Israel continues to energize them in ways that no other issue does.” Gordis continues “Israel is not just a homeland to Israelis. It is also a ‘state unto the Diaspora’; the state that, even from afar, secures the life and instils the passions of Jews all over the world.” This is true not only for Zionists, but also to those very few Jewish anti-Zionists who, by means of negation, ‘passionately’ cling to Israel.
Gordis seems to realise that, for Israel, the game is over, but he realises that this may also entail a collapse of Jewish power. “The loss of Israel would fundamentally alter American Jewry. It would arrest the revival of Jewish life now unfolding in parts of Europe. And Israeli Jewry would be no more. The end of Israel would, in short, end the Jewish people as we know it.”
The current ‘Jewish golden epoch’ is coming to its inevitable end. Yet, the question that remains is whether our Zionist and Israeli leaders would let our planet survive the collapse of their latest Jewish empire? Following Netanyahu, Barak and AIPAC’s relentless push for Armageddon, and bearing in mind that collective suicidal narratives such as Samson and Masada are so precious within the Zionist and Israeli discourses, we should stay on high alert. Sadly, turning our planet into dust is fully consistent with the Israeli and Zionist mission.
It is down to world leaders to dismantle Israel and its powerful Jewish lobbies wisely and carefully, accepting all the time that we are dealing with a very lethal entity. But it’s also down to each one of us to be fully attentive to Gordis’s exchange with his fellow Diaspora Jews. It’s down to us to oppose any form or symptom of Jewish power: Zionist, ‘anti’ Zionist and Sabbath Goyim alike. It is down to us to save ourselves and our universe, but also to save the Jews who are, unfortunately, once again, about to bring yet another disaster on themselves and on us all.
- Chomsky: ‘I support Israel, but…’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
‘In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel Defeat Jihad.’ — (Pamela Geller, San Francisco ad campaign)
The California Assembly’s resolution passed on August 23, 2012, HR 35, purports to condemn “anti-Semitism” in public post-secondary institutions of higher learning by denying expression of opinions or statements that might be construed as expressing hatred of the Jewish people or critical of the state of Israel. Pamela Geller’s ad campaign quoted above, and placed in public vehicles in the city of San Francisco, expresses an opinion that demeans a group of people who are unquestionably Semitic by blood and language, yet would not be protected by the Assembly resolution since the term as defined is based upon the European Union’s definition that is exclusive, protecting Jews only.
The ad has created considerable reaction; a parallel poster expresses the same statement with a change of wording: “in any war between the colonizer and the colonized, support the oppressed, support the Palestinian right of return.” In short, Geller’s ad campaign began a dialogue that has illumined quite opposing perspectives: what is the meaning of civilized man on the one hand and what is the meaning of colonized on the other. Perhaps out of this dialogue understanding will arise. Freedom of expression triumphs.
Unfortunately, the Assembly sought a different end, an end that would stifle discussion and oppose open expression that allowed for understanding and research that would be critical of one side. Two actions were sought by the passage: the Assembly “unequivocally condemns all forms of intolerance, including anti-Semitism, on public postsecondary educational institution campuses in California, and, “calls upon …(officials) of those institutions to increase their efforts to swiftly and unequivocally condemn acts of anti-Semitism on their campuses and to utilize existing resources, such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ working definition of anti-Semitism, to help guide program discussion about, and promote, as appropriate, educational programs for combating anti-Semitism on their campuses.”
Condemning all forms of intolerance on the campuses of public postsecondary educational institutions in California would appear to be a desirable goal, and with the additional reference—“including anti-Semitism”—a furtherance of explicitness to guide deliberations, but only helpful if that term can be defined specifically and concretely to achieve meaningful discussion.
However, the context for this “working definition” comes from the EU where freedom of speech is not free if it can be alleged to be “hate speech.” This is the working definition:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” (Summary overview of Antisemitism in the European Union (Dec 2006), Anti-Semitism Reference Center, Zionism on the Web).
Geller’s ad could not be considered “hatred toward Jews” and hence safe from condemnation by the EU definition the university officials would use to “guide program discussion…”; however, it certainly could be considered “hatred of Palestinians” expressed through her use of “savage” people. The irony here of course is obvious since it is the Palestinian people who are Semites and who suffer the consequences of occupation. The victim becomes the offender.
I bring attention to this control of thought not because I condemn Geller’s uncivilized advertisement; on the contrary, I support her right to express her views. By openly advertising her hatred of the Palestinians, Geller reveals for all how civilized she is, supporting as she does the actions of a state that has been condemned year upon year for 63 years by the overwhelming majority of nation states in the community of nations, the United Nations, as denying the rights of the true owners of the land of Palestine as proposed in UNGA Resolution 181. In short she supports, and wants the people of San Francisco to support, a state that defies international opinion and International Law. Impunity for crimes comes with control of minds, and hence control of the U.S. Congress, of communications and of rights of freedom of speech by voting denial of the very free expression she so brazenly demands. But that in her mind is civilized behavior.
The action by the Assembly is of interest to me because I have edited a volume, The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction, published by Palgrave Macmillan world-wide publishers of academic texts; the volume carried the title when first presented to Macmillan, As the World Watches: Genocide in Palestine. Macmillan did not favor that direct statement.
On the other hand, the promotional blurb on the back of the book states: The Plight of the Palestinians: A Long History of Destruction is a collection of voices from around the world that establishes in both theoretical and graphic terms the slow, methodical genocide taking place in Palestine beginning in the 1940s, as revealed in the Introduction. From Dr. Francis A. Boyle’s detailed legal case against the state of Israel to Uri Avnery’s “Slow Motion Ethnic Cleansing,” Richard Falk’s “Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust,” and Ilan Pappe’s “Genocide in Gaza,” these voices decry in startling, vivid and forceful language the calculated atrocities taking place, the inhumane conditions inflicted on the people, and the silence that exists despite the crimes—nothing short of state sponsored genocide against the Palestinians.”
The entire content of this book, the very concept imbedded in it, that genocide is taking place in Palestine in the first decade of this new century, is condemnable under the Assembly resolution. Over twenty writers from Israel, Palestine, Australia, the Netherlands, London, Canada, America, and the UN would be condemned for contributing to such a text. The Resolution in effect denies freedom of expression to those who critique the state of Israel for actions that defy International Law. The only law that pertains to Israel is Israeli Law and control of International Law by U.S. veto power of UN resolutions that would bring Israel before the UNCHR and/or the International court of Justice.
Years ago, I prepared a paper for an international conference held at Oxford University titled “Blinded by Belief,” the application and abuse of religious and political mythologies in current political policy in the West, most damningly in Britain, Canada, Israel and the United States. The paper forced me as a researcher to search out conditions that prevailed in Mandate Palestine when Britain had international authority to govern the strip of land we call Palestine. That authority was relinquished on May 15th, 1948. Of particular interest was the period from November 1947 when the UNGA proposed the partition of Palestine to May 15 when Britain left Palestine. During that period, the terrorism undertaken by the Zionists against the British authorities from 1939 to November became even more brutal than it had before, since the Jewish Agency and its affiliate organizations, the Irgun, Stern and Hagana armed groups (armies) saw the mandate Police and Soldiers as lame ducks incapable of stopping the Zionists from aggressively taking by force the whole of Palestine regardless of the UNGA Partition Plan. The details and evidence to establish these points is presented in the Introduction to The Plight of the Palestinians.
A review of this period, the silence about the British Mandate Period even in Britain, and almost until this day, has been deafening. Why? No reasoned individual who knows the extent of the savagery committed by the Zionists against the Brits and the Arabs in Palestine could call their behavior “civilized” and seek support from the American people for their civilized behavior. What civilized people could secretly break a peace agreement with the people of Deir Yassin, a small village between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, surround the village, attack them in their homes, rape the women and massacre virtually the whole population with the exception of about a 100, shackle them in trucks and parade them through Jerusalem to demonstrate how fierce the Jewish fighters could be to put fear in the hearts of the Palestinians, and then drive them back and kill them. Is civilized behavior the determination to plan the destruction and theft of the towns and villages of the Palestinians, that had been portioned for them by the UN, before the stated date for that partition plan would take effect? Does civilized behavior include the many massacres committed by these Zionist armies, including torture and rape, as reported by the Israeli historian Benny Morris? Does kidnapping British soldiers, hanging their bodies from trees and booby trapping those bodies to mock their comrades who came to rescue them for burial while they laughed to see even more Mandate soldiers assassinated. Is civilized behavior the deception of false flag operations like that which blew apart the King David Hotel as Zionists dressed as Arabs entered the basement with milk containers filled with explosives? Richard C. Catling dove beneath the admission’s desk when the bombs went off and lived to testify about the rapes that took place in Deir Yassin.
Richard C. Catling, Deputy Head of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Jerusalem Mandate Police, kept a “Top Secret” file in the archives of the Oxford Rhodes House Library, filled with close to 500 pages of evidence that conclusively demonstrated the savagery of the Zionist powers that clandestinely controlled the Israeli immigrants entering Palestine. Two reports illustrate the terrorism inflicted by these people against their hosts, the British government that made possible the eventual “home” of the Jewish people. I have presented that evidence in numerous articles and the Introduction to The Plight of the Palestinians. Is it important that the truth hidden away these many years be brought into the discussions that should and must be presented before the students of California’s public institutions if they and the politicians that govern this state and this nation are to govern with justice for all?
There is something sacred about freedom of speech; it is the secular equivalent of “Let there be Light.” Chris Hedges opened a book review years ago, a review of two books about the Vietnam War, with the words “The vanquished know war. They see through the empty jingoism of those senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief. They know the lies the victors often do not acknowledge, the lies covered up in stately war memorials and mythic war narratives, filled with stories of courage and comradeship. They know the lies that permeate the thick, self-important memoirs by amoral statesmen who make wars but do not know war. The vanquished know the essence of war—death. They grasp that war is necrophilia. They see that war is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction.”
The Zionists knew during the Mandate Period how to abuse the glory of words: to make massacres actions of their enemy, to hide every atrocity they committed under the rubric of self-defense, to turn patriotism into a word responsive only to their cause, to hide the deafening cries of women and children in utter silence, to erase memories from the living by burying towns and villages beneath mounds of earth, to confiscate deeds and birth certificates, to bulldoze mosques and schools, to literally wipe people from existence even as they walked the earth. They wrote the history; they controlled, yea they created, the mythologies of Exodus that have become the truth of Palestine, and they became the victims surrounded by millions who wanted to destroy them to steal the land they were given by their G-d regardless of the passage of centuries and millennia and the existence now of International Law governed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Conventions that determine Justice and War.
In time a researcher realizes that the subject of his quest contains a narrative of its own. In my years studying Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work, Hawthorne himself emerges as the narrator, a mind seeking understanding of his time and place even when he writes of Padua or Rome. As an American, he lives in constant sensitivity that the equality so eloquently expressed in the nation’s Declaration of Independence and its Bill of Rights is a fantasy since one fifth of its people are enslaved, women have virtually no rights despite their nature that demands expression as Hester conveys in The Scarlet Letter, and another people who wander the American landscape, an incalculable number, ethnically isolated on reservations that shrink as more land theft is confiscated by his government, a government that he has served as Custom House Officer and Consul. Always in quest, he seeks more and more the substance of this existence.
In March of 1862, Hawthorne, along with the Atlantic Monthly publisher, William Ticknor, headed to Washington to see the nation at war firsthand. Perhaps it was this last attempt to comprehend the contradictions present in this new nation that brought him to express through the voice of old Doctor Grim, a man roughly the age of Hawthorne as he penned Doctor Grimshawe’s Secret, these caustic and cynical words that capture the essence of human darkness, aloneness and ultimate meaninglessness:
“Whence did you come?” the good doctor says to his young ward, Ned, “Whence did any of us come? Out of the darkness and mystery; out of nothingness; out of a kingdom of shadows; out of dust, clay, mud, I think, and to return to it again. Out of a former state of being, whence we have brought a good many shadowy revelations, purporting that it was no very pleasant one. Out of a former life, of which the present one is the hell!–And why are you come? Faith, Ned, he must be a wiser man than Doctor Grim who can tell why you or any other mortal came hither; only one thing I am well aware of,–it was not to be happy. To toil and moil and hope and fear; and to love in a shadowy, doubtful sort of way, and to hate in bitter earnest,–that is what you came for!”
I think of this perspective when I search through the “Top Secret” files of Sir Richard C. Catling, a man of simple background, son of a small town butcher in England, who became Deputy Head of the CID for Britain as the Zionists went to war, their words, against the British Government that had promised them a home within the limitations of their authority to both the natives of Palestine and the immigrants arriving at its shores. He lived to witness the Zionists become terrorists as early as 1941 when, as Harold MacMichael, High Commissioner in Mandate Palestine, wrote “A second matter which deeply impressed me is the almost Nazi control exercised by the official Jewish organization over the Jewish community…” The evidence in Catling’s file attests to the reality of that observation.
These men and their soldiers and police were forced to survive as the Zionist controlled armies destroyed eventually 418 towns and villages belonging to the indigenous people, killed thousands and drove out of their land close to 800,000, the sons and daughters of whom live in refugee camps in sundry mid-east countries. These were the soldiers who became the lost soldiers of Britain, forgotten men whose diligence and endurance and patriotism have yet to be recognized by the British government. Why should research of this nature, which tells a different story than our controlled media has presented, not receive the exposure it should so the citizens of the United States and the students at California’s public institutions can determine for themselves what is true and what is not.
Without freedom of speech, truth will never be told. Let people open their minds and their souls to the light of human judgment, and as Jesus noted, few will step forward to throw the first stone because they are pure in spirit. The Gellers of this world will step forward to expose themselves as vulgar, as barbaric, as heedless of their fellows because they care for none but themselves– heartless, soulless, lacking “human sympathy” which alone can bring peace into this world.
- William A. Cook is a Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His most recent book is Decade of Deceit, 2002-2012: Reflections on Palestine, published in June by Lambert Academic Publishing of Germany. Contact him at: email@example.com.
Bulldozers carry out work on a pathway next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem (MaanImages/Magnus Johansson, File)
JERUSALEM – The deputy leader of the Islamic movement in Israel, Sheikh Kamal al-Khateib, said Tuesday that the Israeli municipal council of Jerusalem planned to transform the yards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound into public parks and gardens, to make them accessible for the Jews to visit at any time.
Speaking to reporters, Al-Khateib said that the process of ‘Judaising’ Jerusalem had been accelerated since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. “The occupation is working to efface the Palestinian features in the holy city through unprecedented procedures they carried out this month,” he added.
“For the first time, the occupation has allowed settlers and extremists to access Al-Aqsa compound during Ramadan paying no attention to the feelings of the Muslim worshipers there,” he said. “Meanwhile, the municipality which represents the occupation approved a decision to consider the yards in Al-Aqsa compound public parks which anybody can access.”
In mid-July Palestinian officials denounced Yehuda Weinstein, the Israeli attorney general, after he claimed that the Al-Aqsa area was part of Israel and referred to the mosque’s courtyards as public space.
Weinstein was quoted on Israeli news sites as saying the area was under Israeli jurisdiction for matters such as planning and building, and said the courtyard was for public use.
In his remarks Tuesday, Al-Khateib said soldiers detained the imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday while he was praying. “Israeli troops stormed the mosque and prevented worshipers from completing their prayer,” he said.
On Thursday a mosque guard told Ma’an that 20 rightists entered the grounds of the holy site.
- Israel destroys Umayyad palaces next to Al-Aqsa Mosque (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Islamic official: Al Aqsa belongs to Muslims, not Israel (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Palestinian Youths detained, beaten and banned from al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli Intelligence (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Army Invades Al-Aqsa Mosque, Attack Worshipers, kidnaps two (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
I want to talk about something which is taboo yet cliche. It is widely accepted yet universally denied. Those who talk about this are ridiculed as conspiracy theorists and racists. On the other hand, many people freely admit this reality but dismiss it as inconsequential and ‘the way it is’.
Jews dominate Hollywood, the global news media, and the global financial system. By extension it is often argued that ‘Jews run the world’. Essentially, one group of people with a unifying ideology and vested interest, is controlling the institutions by which we receive news. In addition to this, the film industry and cinematic media is something which we develop a very profound emotional attachment to and identify with closely. In other words, we are talking about an instrument of brainwashing. Is this not something we should talk about? If, for example, Hollywood, the global news media, and our ‘fiat money’ financial institutions were dominated by Arab Muslims, would we perceive this as a problem?
Of course we would, and rightly so. But this is not the case currently – we are afraid of speaking out and tackling this. Why?
What other group would be capable of attacking the world’s most powerful superpower, killing thousands in a sophisticated terror attack, and get away with it, blaming it on someone else? 9/11 is but one example, the USS Liberty is another. Most Americans have not even heard about the Liberty – a false flag attack designed to draw the USA into nuclear war with Soviet Russia.
The truth of the matter is, Jews are largely exempted from criticism in the West, and this runs much much deeper than any of us care to admit. Most people reading this are subconsciously thinking: ‘He just hates Jews because he’s Muslim’, ‘He’s a conspiracy theorist and he’s got nothing better to do’. Well, no I don’t hate Jews. No I’m not Muslim. No I’m not a ‘conspiracy theorist’ either; I am merely trying to exercise intellectual courage. We are constantly singing the praises of freedom, liberalism and democracy, but we are nothing more than a servile herd of cattle when it comes to being intellectually courageous. Our claims of love for democracy and freedom are utterly hollow without this.
Even the more ‘enlightened’ activists and bloggers (no point talking about the bought-and-paid-for mainstreamers) are more obsessed with catering to their readers’ ignorance and stroking their own ego, than performing an honest appraisal of these issues. Let’s be honest – it’s nice to get lots of ‘likes’ and to be patted on the back by your nodding, agreeing peers. To paraphrase Mark Twain, if you find yourself on the side of the majority, then it’s time to check yourself.
It is clear – talking about this issue makes one severely unpopular. This fact alone is a startling clue as to the underlying truths. Those who discuss this topic are stigmatized and ostracized, and it would be silly to think that there is no reason for this.
On a not unrelated note, I want you to help me with something. The popular reading of history portrays Jewish people as perennial victims who are persecuted anywhere they go for no reason other than that they are Jews, and irrational ‘anti-Semites’ hate them. The ‘holocaust’ is a paradigmatic example of this, and this is another issue which cannot be discussed in an open forum (so much for democracy). What I would like help with is this: history is replete with massacres, murders, torture, wars, and a myriad of different crimes that have been perpetrated by everybody from the Romans to the Americans; can you name a single historical event wherein, in the popular reading of history, Jews are portrayed as the aggressors and criminals?
Perhaps Jews really are perennial victims and have never done anything wrong. Or perhaps our reading of history is manipulated, censored, and reconstructed to convey a certain narrative? We often repeat the adage: history is written by the victor. Is there some truth in the idea that history is written by the powerful? If so, are we not being subjected to what is essentially mind control, whereby we harbor a completely incorrect interpretation of history? And is it not time that we started to put all historical events, especially those which we are told not to question, under the microscope?
- There are two kinds of people in this world (empirestrikesblack.com)
Last year, 2011, marked the twentieth anniversary of the largest mass transfer of Ethiopian Jews from Africa to Israel. In a series of covert operations in the late 1980s and early 1990s, thousands of Ethiopian Jews – also known as Beta Israel (House of Israel) or Falasha (literally ‘immigrant’ in Hebrew) – were airlifted secretly out of famine-stricken and war-torn Ethiopia and neighbouring Sudan and taken to the Holy Land. At the time, these ‘rescue’ missions were mired in controversy. Hailed by some Zionists as the inevitable homecoming of African Jews to the ‘birthplace’ of Judaism, to others it was a cynical ploy by the Israeli government to alter the demographics of Palestine. The airlifts were, literally, a means of importing Jews to the contested land en masse, no matter where they were from, in an effort to ‘improve’ the ratio of immigrant Israelis to native Palestinians. But now, twenty years on, how well have Ethiopian Jews assimilated into Israeli society? Has their communal story been one of success and full integration or have they been used primarily to boost Israel’s policy of colonising more of Palestine; to provide a ready pool of conscripts for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF); to provide a workforce for low-status manual labour; and to be treated like relative outcasts in the principally white Jewish community of Israel? The latter seems to have been the predominant outcome, with the promises of brotherhood and unity failing to materialise.
Although there are undoubtedly some individual success stories, the picture is pretty grim for many, if not most, Falasha in Israel. According to a report in Newsweek:
Poverty is three times higher among Ethiopians than among other Jewish Israelis, and unemployment is twice as high. Ethiopian youngsters are much more likely to drop out of school and are vastly under-represented at the country’s universities. One place they are over-represented is in jail: juvenile delinquency runs four times higher in the community than among Israelis overall.1
In addition, of the more than 120,000 Ethiopian Jews living in Israel today (half of whom were born in Africa and all of whom account for less than 2 per cent of its 7.7 million population), many are consigned to live either in ghettos or illegal settlements. Hundreds of complaints of racism are made by the Ethiopian community to charities and organisations like Tebeka every year and there is clearly a huge imbalance in the treatment of black Jews and non-black Jews. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by American and Israeli donors specifically to help the Falasha to ‘integrate’ into Israeli society, a black underclass has essentially been created in Israel, in which 65 per cent of Ethiopian children in Israel live below the poverty line.
Given that the largest Ethiopian diaspora community in the world is to be found in Israel, its treatment should be a matter of great concern to all Ethiopians. It should also be a matter of concern and interest to anyone trying to understand the true nature of Israeli culture and society. There is irrefutable evidence of endemic racism within Israeli society. If Israeli Jews discriminate so badly against other Jews simply because they are black, it should be no surprise that their treatment of Palestinians – whether Christian or Muslim – is many times worse.
Arrival of Ethiopian Jews in Israel
Many Ethiopian Jews consider themselves to be direct descendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and, as such, believe that they practise the purest form of Judaism. Ethiopian Jews have lived in Africa for millennia and have practised Judaism in their own language and according to their own customs for generations. However, when Israel was founded in 1948, they were prohibited from going to live there because they were not recognised as ‘true’ Jews by Israel’s rabbinical authorities. That changed in 1975, when the Israeli government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave official recognition to the Falasha as Jews. This was crucial for the community, as it finally gave its members the ‘right’ to make Aliyah (immigration) to the Holy Land with their families under the Israeli Law of Return.
This controversial rabbinical recognition led to a mass exodus of Jews from Ethiopia to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s, and their numbers have gone from just 100 Ethiopian Jews in Israel in 1977 to over 120,000 today. While some people will say that the Ethiopian impetus for this transfer was purely a religious desire to return to the ‘homeland’, in reality there are many other practical, non-religious reasons that can explain why Ethiopian Jews were so desperate to flee to Israel, such as the extreme droughts and famines that plagued Ethiopia, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Another reason to leave was the huge political turmoil in Ethiopia during this period. Emperor Haile Selassie was toppled in 1974 and Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam took his place. Backed by Cuba and the Soviet Union, communism took hold with accompanying anti-religious sentiment and anti-Semitic tendencies. Mengistu agreed to the transfer of a small number of Jews to Israel as part of an arms deal under which Israel would supply him with weapons, but, for the most part, Jews were prohibited from going to Israel. It is no wonder, therefore, that the sudden recognition of Falasha as ‘real’ Jews was seen as a golden ticket by many Ethiopians and that they put their lives on the line to get their families to Israel. A move from war-torn, famine-ravaged Ethiopia, with the promise of a warm welcome in the land of milk and honey, must have been hugely tempting.
Operations Moses (1984), Joshua (1985) and Solomon (1991)
In order to escape the political turmoil in Ethiopia in the early 1980s, thousands of people fled on foot to the relative safety of refugee camps in Sudan. The journey was perilous and approximately 4,000 people died en route. It was from here that Operation Moses really began. Over a six-week period, as part of a covert operation co-ordinated by the Israeli Army and the CIA, 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were transported from Sudan to Israel. The airlift came to a sudden halt, however, when news of the mission was made public. Many families were subsequently divided, with some family members newly arrived in Israel, some stranded in Sudan and others left behind in Ethiopia.
In a follow-up operation in 1985, around 800 Jews were flown from Sudan to Israel as part of a CIA mission (Operation Joshua, arranged by the then vice-president George Bush). The last and largest of the mass transfer missions was Operation Solomon. A series of non-stop flights took place over a thirty-six-hour period, involving thirty-four El-Al jumbo jets, with an estimated 14,324 Ethiopian Jews being transferred to Israel.
An uneasy ‘homecoming’
The whole spate of ‘rescues’ was very controversial. Questions were asked about Israel’s motives. Was this ‘rescue’ mission really inspired by a religious desire to bring Judaism’s followers to the ‘promised land’ or was it a more nefarious scheme to import Jews in order to shift the demographics of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in favour of Jewish settlers over Palestinians? Whatever the primary motive – religious, pragmatic or political – once the Ethiopians were there, after an epic struggle to get to Israel, it was clear that there would be major difficulties in integrating into Israeli society.
As soon as they arrived, all Ethiopians were sent to ‘absorption centres’. These housing/training/educational facilities were, and still are, said to be a necessary stepping stone into Israeli society. It is here that immigrants are taught Hebrew and the Israeli ‘way of life’. As many of the Ethiopians came from drought-ravaged villages, where they had no running water or electricity, it was felt, by some, that this was necessary to introduce them gradually to life in Israel. However, there have been concerns about the living conditions in the centres and some people have observed that they look more like prisons than ‘welcome’ centres. Many protests have been staged by Ethiopian residents over the years, complaining about the ‘economic distress and harsh living conditions’2 within these facilities.
Furthermore, instead of these being the temporary halfway house that many envisaged, many people have spent years living there in poor conditions. It is common to hear statements such as:
When I was in Ethiopia, I thought I would be happy in Israel … but I’ve suffered in an absorption centre for six years. I asked for a house in Tel Aviv, but there is nothing to be done. I’m not happy in Israel. I think in Ethiopia I could find good work and in the future I think I will go to Canada or Ethiopia.3
It is not uncommon to read reports in the press with headlines such as, ‘Ethiopian Jews fail to integrate into Israeli life’.4 Sadly, over the years, the situation has become so dire for some that it has led to depression and suicide.
So what is life like for Falasha in Israel? To start with, the standard of living among the Falasha community is one of the lowest in the country, apart from that of Arabs. For example, according to the most up-to-date information from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, ‘two-thirds of all Ethiopian immigrants are in need of assistance and in some towns, close to 90 per cent require such care. Research has also shown that close to 75 per cent of Ethiopian families live below the poverty line.’5 Unemployment is around 70 per cent.
According to statistics by the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews: ’65% of Ethiopian Israeli children live in poverty and a third are at risk; only 21% of Ethiopian Israelis receive high school matriculations at a university entry level; and unemployment among Ethiopian Israelis is double the rate of the general Jewish population.’ In one Al-Jazeera report, a Falasha man described the Ethiopian-only neighbourhoods in Israel as ‘ghettos’.6
Racism in Israel towards non-white Jews is not subtle. There is abundant evidence of blatant institutionalised racism in schools, hospitals, housing associations and within the workforce. This racism and open discrimination also pervade Israeli society at a grassroots level. From a bus driver in 2009 refusing to let a black woman on the bus, saying: ‘I don’t allow Kushim [derogatory term for black people] on board. Were there buses in Ethiopia? In Ethiopia you didn’t even have shoes and here you do, so why don’t you walk?’;7 to reports of settlers becoming hostile if arrested by a black IDF soldier; Israeli children throwing stones at Ethiopian soldiers; and ethnic slurs being directed at Ethiopians, including frequent reports of jeers such as, ‘You are just niggers’.8
A spokesperson for the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews (IAEJ), Avi Maspin, said that: racism is a word that I have feared using until now, because I did not believe that it could exist in Israel in 2007, but the time has come to call a spade a spade. Israeli society is profoundly infected by racism and unfortunately there is no suitable punishment for racism in Israel.9
According to a report in Ynet News, ‘The facts seem to show that these attitudes are not confined to specific areas of the country but rather represent a collective phenomenon within Israeli society.’10 The racism that has infected many in Israel can be seen in YouTube videos such as ‘South Tel Aviv Is on Fire‘.
Instead of embracing the ethnic diversity of Jews in Israel and allowing the Falasha to stay true to their African heritage, it seems that many are being forced to leave behind any traces of their Ethiopian legacy. According to one young woman, Yuvi Tashome, who came to Israel during Operation Moses in 1984:
As an Ethiopian immigrant in Israel, you have to erase everything Ethiopian in order to be Israeli. For example, when you first get here they erase your name and give you a new one. When we arrived they asked me my name and I replied ‘Yuvnot’. The girl didn’t understand what I said, so she said ‘Okay, from now on you’re going to be Rahel’. So I was Rahel until after my army service.11
But even this is not enough; try as they might to become fully-fledged Israeli citizens, the mere colour of their skin is enough to ensure that Ethiopians are always seen as outsiders and inferior to non-black Jews. According to one report, this discrimination even carries on after death; some ‘graves in a Jewish cemetery are separated according to the colour of the corpses; a fence has been built between the graves of Ethiopian Jews and the others in the graveyard’.12
The racism extends to such basic issues as where the Falasha can and cannot live. Some areas have a ‘policy’ of not selling apartments to non-white Jews. In 2009, one estate agent looking for accommodation for his newly arrived clients was shocked to be told by the owner of a building in Ashkelon:
There are no Ethiopians in this area at all, and there won’t be any. This is our policy. I have no problem with them living somewhere else … Anyone can come, but not Ethiopians. This is how it is in the entire building; at least I hope it is, in order to preserve the apartment’s value and the building’s value … We’ve kept this rule of not selling to Ethiopians for 16 years. I can’t speak for the entire house, but this is how I feel … It immediately drops the apartment’s value … their apartments drop 30% in value … I’m no expert in the details, but the price goes down if Ethiopians come. I don’t care who lives here, I’m not racist. But when I leave the building where I have lived for the past 16 years, the rest of the tenants will look at me as a traitor because I sold to Ethiopians. I don’t want to ruin my relations with my friends.’13
Health: the blood scandal and birth control
One of the most shocking scandals illustrating the treatment of Ethiopian Jews in Israel was the discovery, in 1996, that blood donated by them was being thrown out by the hospitals. When it was revealed that this had been going on secretly for years, apparently due to irrational fears that their blood would be contaminated with HIV, thousands of Ethiopian Jews demonstrated and clashed with police outside Prime Minister Shimon Peres’s office. This act of deception and racial profiling marked a new low point in the relationship between Ethiopian Jews and Israelis. As one protester said:
We fight and die in the army, go on to study, but that is not enough. It’s inconceivable that a person comes to donate blood and is tricked into thinking that he is saving another life … He sits, a needle enters his body, a considerable amount of blood is drawn from him, and yet the minute he turns his head they toss his blood in the garbage.14
What is even more surprising, however, is that, despite the outcry in the 1990s, this insult was repeated again ten years later. In November 2006, over 200 people took part in a protest outside government offices in Israel to protest against the ‘decision by the Health Ministry to discard donated Ethiopian blood. “We won’t allow our blood to be spilled like this. The Torah says that blood is the soul. How can this country treat us, fellow Jews, this way?” asked Gadi Yabarken, one of the protest’s organizers.’15
In another health-related controversy, it was reported by Jonathan Cook in 2010 that:
‘Health officials in Israel are subjecting many female Ethiopian immigrants to a controversial long-term birth control drug in what Israeli women’s groups allege is a racist policy to reduce the number of black babies.’16
Figures showed that 57 per cent of those prescribed Depo Provera in Israel were Ethiopian women, despite the fact that Falasha represent only around 2 per cent of the entire Israeli population.
‘This is about reducing the number of births in a community that is black and mostly poor,’ said Hedva Eyal, the author of the report by Woman to Woman, a feminist organization based in Haifa, in northern Israel. ‘The unspoken policy is that only children who are white and Ashkenazi are wanted in Israel,’ she said … The contraceptive’s reputation has also been tarnished by its association with South Africa, where the apartheid government had used it, often coercively, to limit the fertility of black women … ‘The answers we received from officials demonstrated overt racism’, Ms Eyal added. ‘They suggested that Ethiopian women should be treated not as individuals, but as a collective group whose reproduction needs controlling.’17
Segregation in education
Ethiopians suffer from discrimination at every stage of the education system. From nursery onwards, they are frequently faced with the blatant racism of teachers and Israeli educational institutions as a whole. Very few Ethiopian high school students go on to get places at university. For example, the parents of one supposedly disruptive student were told by his teacher that the appropriate punishment was his removal from the class, claiming that, ‘this Ethiopian boy is a nuisance not only to other Ethiopians but to the Israelis in the class as well’.18 In another case, ‘in a kindergarten in southern Israel Ethiopian children were removed from the school after other children’s parents protested that there were too many of them.’19
In an elementary school in Petah Tikva in 2007, four Ethiopian students were put in a separate classroom and kept segregated from the other students. The father of one student said, ‘We are being discriminated against for being black and powerless.’ Ynet News reported that:
Ethiopian immigrants were consequently placed in a separate classroom at the very end of the school corridor. One teacher alone was allotted for teaching them all of the various academic subjects. Moreover, the girls were assigned different recess hours to their peers, and given cab fare home so that they would not ‘overly socialize’ with the rest of the girls.20
Racial slurs are also common within the education system. One student, 18-year-old Asher Balata, was expelled just a few months shy of his high school graduation after hitting his principal ‘because he called me a nigger’.21 While many schools try to justify discrimination against Ethiopian students on the grounds that they are behind educationally, many Falasha parents feel that racism is the true basis for their children’s mistreatment. As one father put it, unsure whether or not his son would be allowed to enrol in school for the new term, if ‘they won’t accept the boy … it’s because he’s black’.22
That so many Falasha children live in poverty also has an impact on their education. For instance, most Falasha children do not register for any sort of nursery or pre-school programmes before the age of 4, primarily because their parents cannot afford the places, the fees for which can be as much as $350 per child per month. This inevitably places them at an educational disadvantage compared to their white Israeli peers who can afford to pay. A disproportionately high number of Falasha children drop out of high school before graduation in order to try to enter the workforce as early as possible, in an attempt to subsidise their families’ already paltry incomes.
Discrimination in the workforce and the army
Discrimination against Ethiopian Jews in the workforce is also rampant. According to a report in the Telegraph, a recent study revealed that ’53 percent of employers preferred not to hire Ethiopians, who nevertheless still fared better than Arabs with an 83 percent rejection rate. The study also found that 70 percent of employers tended not to promote Ethiopians.’23 According to another study, out of 4,500 Falasha who graduated with degrees, only 15 per cent managed to find work in their field, with others finding primarily temporary, unrelated work.24 ‘It boils down to racism’, said Adam Baruch, a Falasha activist. ‘I have applied for jobs and when the employer hears my voice over the phone there is no problem. But when I turn up for the interview with my black skin, suddenly the job is no longer available.’25 There is also said to be an ‘unfair testing system used by the Civil Service, with culturally biased tests automatically disqualifying Ethiopian-born candidates from qualifying for certain government positions.’26
While Palestinians are on the receiving end of the bulk of the Israeli Army’s venom and blood lust, within the ranks of the army itself, it is Ethiopian Jews who are being subjected to degrading treatment and humiliation on a regular basis. Over the years, there have been many reports of Ethiopian army personnel who have committed suicide27 as a direct result of their treatment. Examples of racist treatment include one soldier being ‘thrown out of an army clinic by a major who told subordinates to post a sign saying “No Kushis [blacks] allowed”. “I went to my room and cried for an hour and a half”‘, the humiliated soldier said.28
According to Max Blumenthal, ‘by 1997, six years after an airlift brought the second wave of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, Ethiopian soldiers accounted for 10 percent of army suicides – but comprised only four tenths of a percent of the army. Racism was a key factor in the epidemic.’29 One 22-year-old soldier killed himself after telling his niece, ‘Every morning when I get to the base, six soldiers are waiting for me who clap their hands and yell: the Kushi is here!’30
Pawns in a political game
As Ethiopian immigration continued into the 1990s, another controversy that has received relatively little attention is the way that many new immigrants have been used to flesh out the number of settlers in the West Bank. Israeli settlements are illegal. The UK’s minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, reaffirmed this on 20 May 2011, when he said of settlement activity, ‘it is illegal under international law and should stop’. Thus, the practice of sending new immigrants to live in illegal settlements clearly puts them in an invidious position. Adisu Massala, the first Ethiopian-born Knesset member, said: ‘Netanyahu is exploiting the Ethiopians. He is using them to encourage settlers, to show that he wants settlements more than peace.’31 Many do not know anything about the settlement controversy and are just happy to be in ‘Israel’ and, for others, even if they wanted to object to living in a settlement, as Adisu says, ‘They are afraid to say anything … some are afraid they’ll be sent back’. Dedi Zucker, another legislator, said that he ‘would not object if the Ethiopians chose to live in the settlements of their own accord, but they had no choice in this. They were taken to Ofra, not knowing where they were going … from their first day in Israel, they are settlers. And they don’t even know what that is.’32
Another major area of sensitivity has been the way the Falasha have been made to feel that they are in some way lesser Jews in relation to their faith and practice. Upon their arrival, Beta Israel have been forced to undergo a renewed ‘conversion’. Among other things, this consisted of symbolic circumcision (now no longer required) and a ritual bath (immersion in a Mikveh) as a symbolic renewal of their Jewish identity. This was understandably taken as a clear insult, given that many Ethiopians consider themselves to be direct descendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and, therefore, of a purer bloodline than many of the European Jews who were calling for their ‘conversion’. However, under the Law of Return, ‘the Ethiopian Jews must undergo a process of conversion to Judaism in order to receive all the financial benefits of new immigrants’33 and, thus, must concede, however degrading the process may be.
Even when the Falasha have fulfilled the initial requirements, they are still not left to practise freely in the way that they would if they were truly free and equal in Israel. In some areas, for example, there are no Ethiopian synagogues at all. In an interview, one Falasha, Kess Hadane, said:
I go to the Israeli synagogue and we pray in Hebrew, not Ge’ez. I was a respected religious leader and in charge of twenty-five synagogues in Ambover. Here I am only allowed to assist a rabbi in one synagogue. There is not even an Ethiopian synagogue in Bet Shemesh, where there are more than a hundred families.34
Even beyond that, some of Israel’s stronger orthodox groups, such as Habad, do not ‘recognize Ethiopians as Jews or allow their children into its kindergartens’.35 The Ashkenazi Jews of European descent regard themselves as being at the top, with Sephardic or Mizrahi and Ethiopian Jews being at the bottom of the scale – if they are considered as being on it at all. There has never been a Mizrahi or Sephardic prime minister, for example, and the vast majority of Knesset members are Ashkenazi.
Increasingly, Israel is being seen as a racist and exclusionist state. Its subjugation and abuse of Palestinians living within Israel (20 per cent of the population), as well as those living under the Israeli military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, are well documented and have led to it being called an apartheid state. What is less well known, however, is just how ingrained and insidious racism in Israel actually is, in that it not only extends to Palestinian Christians and Muslims, but also to Jews who come from ethnic minority backgrounds. Jews who were once supposedly welcomed into Israel as brothers and sisters in faith now find themselves relegated to the underclass in Israel. While they may be placed far above Palestinians, they are nonetheless far below non-black Jews.
In Ethiopia, it is true that the Falasha had to contend with poverty, famine and drought, but, in Israel, people who once had strong familial and societal ties are finding their community plagued with high levels of unemployment, a shift in social hierarchies, an erosion of their traditions, an increased level of criminalisation of their youth and other social ills. They are finding themselves confined to ghettos, discriminated against in the workplace, insulted by scandals such as the blood donation fiasco and subjected to interracial attacks, which appear increasingly prevalent. It appears that elements of Israeli society are crumbling from within, and endemic and institutionalised racism is certainly a contributing factor.
1 Joanna Chen, Newsweek (20 March 2011).
2 Yael Branovsky, ‘Ethiopian immigrants protest dire absorption conditions’, Ynet News
(9 November 2008).
3 Linda Gradstein, ‘Ethiopian Jews fail to integrate into Israeli life’, Sun-Sentinel (24 September 1989).
5 Ruth Eglash, ‘Two Ethiopians enter Knesset, Israel’s parliament’, Jerusalem Post (20 May 2008).
6 See: ‘Israel’s Ethiopian migrants struggle to integrate’, available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdnLCfAddiA&NR=1&feature=fvwp (visited 5 November 2009).
7 Daniel Edelson, ‘Egged bus driver to Ethiopian: no blacks allowed’, Ynet News (11 August 2009).
8 See: http://www.blackpresence.co.uk/2009/03/ethiopians-discover-what-israelis-really-think/
9 Yael Branovsky, ‘Ethiopian community hit hard by discrimination’, Ynet News (7 December 2007).
11 James Horrox, ‘Beta Israel: orphans of circumstance’, Jewcy (30 June 2008).
12 ‘Even in death, Ethiopian Jews face racism from other Jews’, Middle East Monitor (28 December 2010).
13 Shmulik Hadad, ‘Ethiopian tenants? Out of the question’, Ynet News (13 February 2009).
14 Meital Yasur-Beit Or, ‘Ethiopians outraged over blood disposal’, Ynet News (1 November 2006).
15 Sheera Claire Frenkel, ‘Israeli Black-African Jews complain against racism’, Jerusalem Post (26 November 2006).
16 Jonathan Cook, ‘Israel’s treatment of Ethiopians “racist”‘, National (6 January 2010).
18 Branovsky, ‘Ethiopian community hit hard’, op. cit.
21 Allyn Fisher-Ilan, ‘Ethiopian Jews battle poverty, prejudice in Israel’ (15 March 2005).
22 Joshua Mitnick, ‘Why Jews see racism in Israel’, Christian Science Monitor (2 September 2009).
23 Michael Blum, ‘Ethiopian Jews in Israel still await the promised land’, Telegraph
(20 November 2009).
24 Dina Kraft, ‘Despite diplomas, Ethiopian Israelis can’t find jobs’, available at: http://www.jewishjournal.com (visited 25 December 2008).
25 Tim Butcher, ‘From Israeli slum to the pages of Vogue’, Telegraph (4 November 2005).
26 Eglash, op. cit.
27 John Daniszewski, ‘Ethiopian Jews see soldiers’ suicides as symptom of racism’, Los Angeles Times (5 April 1997).
29 Max Blumenthal, ‘On Israeli Memorial Day, suicide, fratricide and accidents remain top causes of soldier deaths’, available at: http://maxblumenthal.com (visited 5 September 2011).
31 Rebecca Trounson, ‘Ethiopians in W. Bank called pawns in tussle over land’, Los Angeles Times (9 July 1998).
33 Gemeda Humnasa, ‘Anti-Israel sentiment growing in Ethiopia’, American Chronicle
(16 February 2007).
34 For interview, see Len Lyons, The Ethiopian Jews of Israel: personal stories of life in the promised land (Woodstock, VT, Jewish Lights, 2007).
35 Ben Lynfield, ‘Ethiopian Jews find Israel to be a racist state’, Christian Science Monitor (22 May 2002).
- LOL!!! Netanyahu says “there is no room for racism in Israel’ at ceremony honoring Ethiopian Jews (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
Yet again, the Annapolis meeting between Olmert and Abbas is preconditioned upon the recognition by the Palestinian side of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Indeed the “road map” should lead to, and legitimate, once and for all, the right of such a Jewish state to exist in definitive borders and in peace with its neighbours. The vision of justice, both past and future, simply has to be that of two states, one Palestinian, one Jewish, which would coexist side by side in peace and stability. Finding a formula for a reasonably just partition and separation is still the essence of what is considered to be moderate, pragmatic and fair ethos.
Thus, the really deep issues–the “core”–are conceived as the status of Jerusalem, the fate and future of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and the viability of the future Palestinian state beside the Jewish one. The fate of the descendants of those 750,000 Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 from what is now, and would continue to be under a two-state solutions, the State of Israel, constitutes a “problem” but never an “issue” because, God forbid, to make it an issue on the table would be to threaten the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. The existence of Israel as a Jewish state must never become a core issue. That premise unites political opinion in the Jewish state, left and right and also persists as a pragmatic view of many Palestinians who would prefer some improvement to no improvement at all. Only “extremists” such as Hamas, anti-Semites, and Self-Hating Jews–terribly disturbed, misguided and detached lot–can make Israel’s existence into a core problem and in turn into a necessary issue to be debated and addressed.
The Jewish state, a supposedly potential haven for all the Jews in the world in the case a second Holocaust comes about, should be recognised as a fact on the ground blackmailed into the “never again” rhetoric. All considerations of pragmatism and reasonableness in envisioning a “peace process” to settle the ‘Israeli/Palestinian’ conflict must never destabilise the sacred status of that premise that a Jewish state has a right to exist.
Notice, however, that Palestinians are not asked merely to recognise the perfectly true fact and with it, the absolutely feasible moral claim, that millions of Jewish people are now living in the State of Israel and that their physical existence, liberty and equality should be protected in any future settlement. They are not asked merely to recognise the assurance that any future arrangement would recognise historic Palestine as a home for the Jewish People. What Palestinians are asked to subscribe to is recognition of the right of an ideology that informs the make-up of a state to exist as a Jewish one. They are asked to recognise that ethno-nationalistic premise of statehood.
The fallacy is clear: the recognition of the right of Jews who are there–however unjustly many of their Parents or Grandparents came to acquire what they own–to remain there under liberty and equality in a post-colonial political settlement, is perfectly compatible with the non-recognition of the state whose constitution gives those Jews a preferential stake in the polity.
It is an abuse of the notion of pragmatism to conceive its effort as putting the very notion of Jewish state beyond the possible and desirable implementation of egalitarian moral scrutiny. To so abuse pragmatism would be to put it at the service of the continuation of colonialism. A pragmatic and reasonable solution ought to centre on the problem of how to address past, present, and future injustices to non-Jew-Arabs without thereby causing other injustices to Jews. This would be a very complex pragmatic issue which would call for much imagination and generosity. But reasonableness and pragmatism should not determine whether the cause for such injustices be included or excluded from debates or negotiations. To pragmatically exclude moral claims and to pragmatically protect immoral assertions by fiat must in fact hide some form of extremism. The causes of colonial injustice and the causes that constitutionally prevent their full articulation and address should not be excluded from the debate. Pragmatism can not become the very tool that legitimates constitutional structures that hinder de-colonisation and the establishment of an egalitarian constitution.
So let us boldly ask: What exactly is entailed by the requirement to recognise Israel as a Jewish state? What do we recognise and support when we purchase a delightful avocado or a date from Israel or when we invite Israel to take part in an international football event? What does it mean to be a friend of Israel? What precisely is that Jewish state whose status as such would be once and for all legitimised by such a two-state solution?
A Jewish state is a state which exists more for the sake of whoever is considered Jewish according to various ethnic, tribal, religious, criteria, than for the sake of those who do not pass this test. What precisely are the criteria of the test for Jewishness is not important and at any rate the feeble consensus around them is constantly reinvented in Israel. Instigating violence provides them with the impetus for doing that. What is significant, though, is that a test of Jewishness is being used in order to constitutionally protect differential stakes in, that is the differential ownership of, a polity. A recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is a recognition of the Jew’s special entitlement, as eternal victims, to have a Jewish state. Such a test of supreme stake for Jews is the supreme criterion not only for racist policy making by the legislature but also for a racist constitutional interpretation by the Supreme Court. The idea of a state that is first and foremost for the sake of Jews trumps even that basic law of Human Freedom and Dignity to which the Israeli Supreme Court pays so much lip service. Such constitutional interpretation would have to make the egalitarian principle, equality of citizenship, compatible with, and thus subservient to, the need to maintain the Jewish majority and character of the state. This of course constitutes a serious compromise of equality, translated into many individual manifestations of oppression and domination of those victims of such compromise–non-Jews-Arabs citizens of Israel.
In our world, a world that resisted Apartheid South Africa so impressively, recognition of the right of the Jewish state to exist is a litmus test for moderation and pragmatism. The demand is that Palestinians recognise Israel’s entitlement to constitutionally entrench a system of racist basic laws and policies, differential immigration criteria for Jews and non-Jews, differential ownership and settlement rights, differential capital investments, differential investment in education, formal rules and informal conventions that differentiate the potential stakes of political participation, lame-duck academic freedom and debate.
In the Jewish state of Israel non-Jews-Arabs citizens are just “bad luck” and are considered a ticking demographic bomb of “enemy within”. They can be given the right to vote–indeed one member one vote–but the potential of their political power, even their birth rate, should be kept at bay by visible and invisible, instrumental and symbolic, discrimination. But now they are asked to put up with their inferior stake and recognise the right of Israel to continue to legitimate the non-egalitarian premise of its statehood.
We must not forget that the two state “solution” would open a further possibility to non-Jew-Arabs citizens of Israel: “put up and shut up or go to a viable neighbouring Palestinian state where you can have your full equality of stake”. Such an option, we must never forget, is just a part of a pragmatic and reasonable package.
The Jewish state could only come into being in May 1948 by ethnically cleansing most of the indigenous population–750,000 of them. The judaisation of the state could only be effectively implemented by constantly internally displacing the population of many villages within the Israel state.
It would be unbearable and unreasonable to demand Jews to allow for the Right of Return of those descendants of the expelled. Presumably, those descendants too could go to a viable Palestinian state rather than, for example, rebuild their ruined village in the Galilee. On the other hand, a Jewish young couple from Toronto who never set their foot in Palestine has a right to settle in the Galilee. Jews and their descendants hold this right in perpetuity. You see, that right “liberates” them as people. Jews must never be put under the pressure to live as a substantial minority in the Holy Land under egalitarian arrangement. Their past justifies their preferential stake and the preservation of their numerical majority in Palestine.
So the non-egalitarian hits us again. It is clear that part of the realisation of that right of return would not only be just the actual return, but also the assurance of equal stake and citizenship of all, Jews and non-Jews-Arabs after the return. A return would make the egalitarian claim by those who return even more difficult to conceal than currently with regard to Israel Arab second class citizens. What unites Israelis and many world Jews behind the call for the recognition of the right of a Jewish state to exist is their aversion for the possibility of living, as a minority, under conditions of equality of stake to all. But if Jews enjoys this equality in Canada why can not they support such equality in Palestine through giving full effect to the right of Return of Palestinians?
Let us look precisely at what the pragmatic challenge consists of: not pragmatism that entrenches inequality but pragmatism that responds to the challenge of equality.
The Right of Return of Palestinians means that Israel acknowledges and apologises for what it did in 1948. It does mean that Palestinian memory of the 1948 catastrophe, the Nakbah, is publicly revived in the Geography and collective memory of the polity. It does mean that Palestinians descendants would be allowed to come back to their villages. If this is not possible because there is a Jewish settlement there, they should be given the choice to found an alternative settlement nearby. This may mean some painful compulsory state purchase of agricultural lands that should be handed back to those who return. In cases when this is impossible they ought to be allowed the choice to settle in another place in the larger area or if not possible in another area in Palestine. Compensation would be the last resort and would always be offered as a choice. This kind of moral claim of return would encompass all Palestine including Tel Aviv.
At no time, however, it would be on the cards to throw Israeli Jews from the land. An egalitarian and pragmatic realisation of the Right of Return constitutes an egalitarian legal revolution. As such it would be paramount to address Jews’ worries about security and equality in any future arrangement in which they, or any other group, may become a minority. Jewish national symbols and importance would be preserved. Equality of stake involves equality of symbolic ownership.
But it is important to emphasize that the Palestinian Right of Return would mean that what would cease to exist is the premise of a Jewish as well as indeed a Muslim state. A return without the removal of the constitutionally enshrined preferential stake is a return to serfdom.
The upshot is that only by individuating cases of injustice, by extending claims for injustice to all historic Palestine, by fair address of them without creating another injustice for Jews and finally by ensuring the elimination of all racist laws that stem from the Jewish nature of the state including that nature itself, would justice be, and with it peace, possible. What we need is a spirit of generosity that is pragmatic but also morally uncompromising in terms of geographic ambit of the moral claims for repatriation and equality. This vision would propel the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But for all this to happen we must start by ceasing to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. No spirit of generosity would be established without an egalitarian call for jettisoning the ethno-nationalistic notion upon which the Jewish state is based.
The path of two states is the path of separation. Its realisation would mean the entrenchment of exclusionary nationalism for many years. It would mean that the return of the dispossessed and the equality of those who return and those non-Jew-Arabs who are now there would have to be deferred indefinitely consigned to the dusty shelves of historical injustices. Such a scenario is sure to provoke more violence as it would establish the realisation and legitimisation of Zionist racism and imperialism.
Also, any bi-national arrangement ought to be subjected to a principle of equality of citizenship and not vice versa. The notion of separation and partition that can infect bi-nationalism, should be done away with and should not be tinkered with or rationalised in any way. Both spiritually and materially Jews and non-Jews can find national expression in a single egalitarian and non-sectarian state.
The non-recognition of the Jewish state is an egalitarian imperative that looks both at the past and to the future. It is the uncritical recognition of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state which is the core hindrance for this egalitarian premise to shape the ethical challenge that Palestine poses. A recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state means the silencing that would breed more and more violence and bloodshed.
The same moral intuition that brought so many people to condemn and sanction Apartheid South Africa ought also to prompt them to stop seeing a threat to existence of the Jewish state as the effect caused by the refugee ‘problem” or by the “demographic threat” from the non-Jew-Arabs within it. It is rather the other way round. It is the non-egalitarian premise of a Jewish state and the lack of empathy and corruption of all those who make us uncritically accept the right of such a state to exist that is both the cause of the refugee problem and cause for the inability to implement their return and treating them as equals thereafter.
We must see that the uncritically accepted recognition of Israel’s right to exist is, as Joseph Massad so well puts it in Al-Ahram, to accept Israel’s claim to have the right to be racist or, to develop Massad’s brilliant formulation, Israel’s claim to have the right to occupy to dispossess and to discriminate. What is it, I wonder, that prevents Israelis and so many of the world’s Jews from responding to the egalitarian challenge? What is it, I wonder, that oppresses the whole world to sing the song of a “peace process” that is destined to legitimise racism in Palestine?
To claim such a right to be racist must come from a being whose victim’s face must hide very dark primordial aggression and hatred of all others. How can we find a connective tissue to that mentality that claims the legitimate right to harm other human beings? How can this aggression that is embedded in victim mentality be perturbed?
The Annapolis meeting is a con. As an egalitarian argument we should say loud and clear that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state.
Only a single egalitarian and non sectrarian state over all the whole of historic Palestine will achieve justice and peace.
OREN BEN-DOR grew up in Israel. He teaches Legal and Political Philosophy at the School of Law, University of Southampton, UK. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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