Thursday 27 August 2009

Beware of Israelis talking peace

The Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu was in London recently to meet with our Prime Minister and try and win support for his zionist project. Lots of interviews and newspaper reports with Israeli government officials outlining how earnestly they want peace and a final settlement with the Palestinians. And there is no doubt about their sincerity – they do earnestly want a settlement – provided it is on their terms. During the visit Netanyahu made it clear time and time again that peace is available when and only when the Palestinians accept that:

East Jerusalem remains part of Israel and will never be returned to Palestine.
The existing settlements in the West Bank will continue to expand and become part of Israel.
Palestinians must agree to recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state.

Now of course Netanyahu knows that no Palestinian leader could agree to these terms and yet he continues to get away with his claim that he is serious about wanting a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians. He gets away with these outrageous demands with little or no challenge from the UK media, or one suspects from the UK government.

All the demands are inherently unjust and completely against international law and UN resolutions. In East Jerusalem for example the ethnic cleansing that is and always has been an essential part of the zionist project for Israel as a “Jewish” state continues unabated. For an example of the thinking of Israelis towards their Palestinian fellow citizens please read this short piece from Max Blumenthal about a day out and about in Silwan, East Jerusalem.

Colonial style settlements are another essential feature of the zionist project and they are not confined to the West Bank. What is now regarded as Israel proper is founded on the destruction of Palestinian villages and the building of new settlements for Jews. The great Israeli organization Zochrot is a group of Israeli citizens working to raise awareness of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948. Zochrot means Remembering, and they seek to encourage Israeli Jews to acknowledge the past as a first step in taking responsibility for its consequences. This must include equal rights for all the peoples of the land, including the right of Palestinians to return to their homes. Here you can read about a tour they organized recently to the ruins of the Palestinian village of al-Damun. In 1948 more than 1500 Palestinians lived in the village. About half of them remained in Israel, but they're forbidden to return and are unable to reclaim their property. Another example of the fruits of the zionist project.

The final demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state is the most audacious and demeaning demand. One can see why chutzpah is a Jewish word. The apparently innocent request in fact goes to the heart of the zionist project and in effect demands that the Palestinians recognize the irreversibility and legitimacy of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and creation on their land of a racist regime. It is no wonder that no Palestinian could or can accept this. Even Salaam Fayad, the mild mannered and pro-western Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority has made it clear that, “No Palestinian leader can ever accept this demand even if the whole world recognizes Israel as Jewish state. The state of Israel belongs to all its citizens, the Palestinian owners of the land and the Jews living there.”

This demand is a monumental affront to the Palestinians and says everything about the racist and expansionist nature of Israel. It is not just Palestinians who oppose this preposterous demand. Anti-Zionist Jews oppose it too. As Henry Lowi, an IDF veteran and a veteran of the peace movement and of Palestine solidarity puts it:

Just as Zionism is predicated on taking Jewish people from our countries of origin, in which our families have lived for generations, and ingathering us to the Promised Land -- the State of Israel is predicated on keeping Palestinians out of their country of origin, in which their families have lived for generations. The essence of a “Jewish state” in Palestine has always been: Jews in; Palestinians out. This is a central, permanent feature of the “Jewish State”, one that links Herzl's theories with Israeli practice, and one that cannot be changed by adding the adjective “democratic” to “Jewish State”.

This extract is from an article entitled - Why Israeli Anti-Zionists do NOT “recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.” It is well worth reading the whole piece and it can be found here.

Another excellent article on the pernicious thinking behind the zionist demand for Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state can be found here. This one is by Michael Neumann, a professor of philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, and is entitled, The Core of Zionism.

It is depressing to see our UK government meekly accept Israeli pronouncements on reaching a peace deal. As they used to say in another context, Israelis speak with forked tongues. Along with the USA we seem to be prepared to impose severe sanctions against Iran for something it has not done and may never do – develop nuclear weapons. Yet in the face of a murderous, expansionist and racist state we do and say nothing. Sad. Not all is lost though. The image of Israel has been seriously damaged in the world, at least at the popular level, if not at governmental level as yet. The demands for a boycott of Israel continue to grow and we are encouraged that even from within Israel there are voices prepared to speak out in favour of the boycott movement. Here is a thoughtful article in the Los Angeles Times by Neve Gordon, who is the author of "Israel's Occupation" and teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel. For more information about the call to the world to impose Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on Israel until it complies with international law, you can access their site here.

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