israel and palestine religious conflict

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This is an important essay. Philip Weiss’ aim is not only to debate the merits of Zionism but moreso to raise the question of why the merits of Zionism are never publicly debated!

Weiss believes that the lack of discourse if a vital part of the strategy for keeping Zionist policies in place. These policies need to be challenged, but they can’t be properly challenged if their belief-framework is beyond the bounds of acceptable discussion.

Father Dave

source: mondoweiss.net…

It’s time for the media to talk about Zionism

by Philip Weiss on December 4, 2012

Last week, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan characterized me as “the anti-Zionist Jewish-American journalist who writes about the Middle East.” That’s my reputation; I can’t take exception to her words. But when Sullivan quoted Jeffrey Goldberg, she did not say he was Jewish or a Zionist–or that he had once emigrated to Israel because he believed that America was unsafe for Jews, and served as an officer in Israel’s army before coming back here and recommending Israel’s militant policy toward Arabs to America.

Sullivan’s double standard is indefensible, but it is typical of a standard of censorship in our journalism. American media are not talking to their readers about Zionism. They are not even attempting to describe the ideology that is at the heart of the problem in Israel and Palestine. The media are honest with their audiences about other movements of a religious character, from evangelism to opposition to stem-cell research to radical Islam. So they should be honest with them about Zionism.

Zionism is a 115-year-old movement inside Jewish life that says there is a need for a Jewish state in Palestine because Jews are unsafe in the west and Jews have a biblical connection to Palestine. Some people say that this is too complicated a concept to explain to Americans. (Norman Finkelstein joked that Zionism might as well be a hairspray and it’s irrelevant to the discussion at the New School in October). I don’t think so. Beliefs are very important; and Americans have a right to know why so many American Jews believe in the need for Israel at a time when this concept is warping our foreign policy.

It’s not enough for a reporter to say that someone is pro-Israel. Zionism draws on a person’s worldview and has a religious character, it supplies meaning to his or her life. It is often a core understanding that drives that person’s positions in other areas (see Neoconservatism). And it is deeply enmeshed in the official Jewish community.

I believe the media have refused to explore the Zionist issue because it would involve a lot of squeamish self-interrogation on the part of Jews. Imagine Ted Koppel having a panel where Wolf Blitzer, Robert Siegel, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Richard Engel and Ed Rendell would have to explain what Zionism means to them. The acknowledgment of Jewish prominence in the Establishment, and of the power of Zionism, would make a lot of Jews uncomfortable, so the conversation is verboten.

But so long as these beliefs are not examined, and Israel and its supporters continue to play such a large role in our policymaking, the silence is bad for Jews. It allows people who are justifiably angry over our foreign policy to believe that all Jews support Israel, or suspect that we disguise our dual loyalty with misleading prescriptions about American security. It allows Zionists to seek cover for our country’s blind support for Israel by stating that there is no difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism– when there is absolutely a difference. See Jewish Voice for Peace. See Hannah Arendt. See Judith Butler.

And it allows Jews to avoid very important historical/existential questions that we really ought to be asking publicly, and urgently answering: Do I feel unsafe in America or Europe? If I feel unsafe in America what am I doing here? (A theme of Shlomo Sand’s new book.) If I feel safe do I need Israel? Do I believe in the need for a Jewish state? At what price? Who is Israel making unsafe in my name?

I think all Jews should be openly debating these matters; but they won’t till the belief question is raised by the mainstream media. There are signs that the ice is melting. Last week Andrew Sullivan, an influence leader if anyone is, published a mini-essay (attacking the liberal Zionist Spencer Ackerman’s dream of a laser war) in which he stated that Zionism is another hurtful 20th century “ism” that has run its course, and modern political reality is inconsistent with the goal of a Jewish-majority state. Ethan Bronner (a reputed liberal Zionist who seems to understand that Zionism has lost its way) boldly gave Rami Khouri space on the front page of the New York Times during the Gaza assault to attack Zionism. On NPR Jim Fallows said bravely that there has always been a tension between Israel’s creation as a Jewish state and a democracy; you really can’t be both, he was suggesting.

As Fallows and Sullivan seem to know (and Matt Yglesias and David Remnick will surely come to profess some day, and Jonathan Cook knew years ago, and the late Ibrahim Abu-Lughod knew when he was a teenager in Jaffa) the contradiction between democracy and Jewish nationalism has been inherent in the Zionist project from the start, but has always been described as a tension rather than a contradiction so as to make Zionists and their friends feel better about their undertaking. The Nakba of 1948 continues today with the ethnic cleansing of Area C on the West Bank and the pulverizing of Gaza. But liberal Zionists have given themselves permission to dither about the destruction of Palestinian rights by calling this longstanding contradiction a tension that will be resolved when there is a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish-majority state. As if tomorrow Palestinians will gain their rights in the context of an expansionist Jewish state. As if Oslo is a more meaningful political paradigm than the Likud Party, which draws deeply on Zionist ideology and grows more rightwing by the minute.

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.

But I was born in America, in the 20th century. In my lifetime Zionism has been a dangerous ideology for Palestinians and for the wider Middle East. Zionism has endorsed the Iron Wall strategy of militancy on Israel’s ever-moving borders. Zionism has created a Sparta, just as Hannah Arendt predicted that it would in 1948 when she saw that Israel was born in war, and saw the purging of Palestinian refugees from the Jewish state to be.

I consider myself a liberal anti-Zionist, or a non-Zionist (because the label is less confrontational to the Zionists I am trying to wean from their mistaken belief). I like liberal traditions of personal freedom in the United States, including the tradition of tolerance of religious and ideological claims I find preposterous. These liberal principles have guaranteed my freedom as a minority in the U.S. and granted me a darn good life, including jobs in the First Amendment business and marriage to someone who is not Jewish-a marriage that could not take place in Israel where there is no civil marriage.

I am an anti-Zionist because I reject the entire religious nationalist program: I don’t see a need for a Jewish state, I don’t see Jerusalem as my home any more than Kenya, where my people came from before the temple period. I don’t subscribe to the racial theory of the Jewish people. I take America at its word. I don’t like political separation of people on an ethnic basis and first class citizenship granted to one over the other; and I see the current militant and totalitarian aspects of Israeli society as flowing from a belief system, Zionism, the way that Soviet oppressions grew out of the Politburo’s interpretation of Communism.

I oppose Zionism, too, because the Israel lobby plays such a hurtful role in our foreign policy, and the Israel lobby is inherent in Zionism as it has evolved. From the beginning Zionism depended on the support of imperial powers. Herzl turned to the Kaiser and the Sultan, Weizmann turned to the British Prime Minister, Ben Gurion turned to the American president. “We became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fund-raising effort in the history of democracy,” Alan Dershowitz said. Yes, and that lobby helped generate the conditions of 9/11, the Iraq War, the murders of Robert Kennedy and Rachel Corrie and Furkan Dogan, and the hysteria about Iran.

The sooner we have this conversation, the greater diversity we will see in the Jewish community and American foreign policy. We can transform the special relationship and isolate Israel for human rights violations and pressure it to transform itself.

When we have this conversation, liberal Zionists will be pressed to decide what they believe in more, liberalism or Zionism. Leading writers like Matthew Yglesias, Eric Alterman, Richard Wolffe, Peter Beinart and Spencer Ackerman, who have kept their liberal and Jewish nationalist dishes spinning forever in the air alongside one another without having to deal with the fait accompli of that ideology-the cruel joke that Oslo has been for the Palestinians, the prison that is Gaza– will have to come down on the democracy side or the Jewish state side. And I am sure many will come down on the democracy side. I am sure that many will answer as I have, and say that they prefer a society where minorities have equal rights to one in which one group is privileged over another.

But we should not give them cover. We must have a real and open conversation in the American Jewish community for all to see. Are you a Zionist, and why? Do you feel unsafe in America? And what sort of unsafety have your beliefs created in a foreign land?

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The UN seems to be on a roll – first voting for Palestinian statehood and now pushing for Israel to come clean about its nuclear weapons program.

The fact that the US can oppose this motion speaks volumes! What possible justification can there be for voting for Israel’s right to keep her weapons of mass destruction a secret?

Even more exasperating in this scenario is Canada! Why is Canada so keen to keep Israel’s nukes a secret? What is her end-game? There has to be more to that than meets the eye!

Even so, this latest UN development will warm the heart of my dear friend, Mordechai Vanunu. It seems that his efforts to alert the world to the Israeli nuclear threat are finally generating some international action!

Father Dave

Morde Vanunu and me after his 'release' in 2004

Morde Vanunu and me after his ‘release’ in 2004

source: www.com…

UN Resolution Calls for Israel to Disclose Nuclear Arsenal

Regional outlier asked to join NPT and back vision of a ‘Nuclear-Free Middle East’

– Common Dreams staff

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Monday to approve a resolution calling on Israel to open up its nuclear weapons program to international inspectors and to end its refusal to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treary, or NPT.

A vote by the United Nations general assembly has called on Israel to open its nuclear programme to weapons inspectors. (Photograph: Chip East/Reuters)

The resolution passed with a 174-6 vote, and included 6 abstentions.  Israel, the U.S., Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau were the “no” votes.  Also included in the UN measure was a call to reschedule a recently cancelled conference that would push for a ‘nuclear-free Middle East,’ something that all countries across the region, including Iran, have supported. A meeting on the issue was planned for this month in Helsinki, FInland, but was  cancelled, or at least postponed, by the U.S. at the end of November.

Though the Israeli nuclear weapons arsenal is widely known to exist, neither the nation’s government or its key ally, the U.S., will publicly acknowledge the program.

This refusal has long helped Israel avoid acknowledging the hypocrisy of its repeated threats against Iran for its nascent nuclear technology program.

As the Associated Press reports:

Resolutions adopted by the 193-member General Assembly are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry moral and political weight.

Israel refuses to confirm or deny it has nuclear bombs though it is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal. It has refused to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, along with three nuclear weapon states — India, Pakistan and North Korea.

And John Glaser, writing at Antiwar.com…, adds:

If Israel agreed to dismantling its vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and to a deal enforcing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East – a deal Iran and Israel’s Arab neighbors have repeatedly proposed – the supposed threats Israel faces in the region would virtually disappear.

But Israel refuses to give up its nuclear monopoly, insistent on maintaining its excuse to build up its military and distract from the Palestinian issue.

As former CIA Middle East analyst Paul Pillar has written, “the Iran issue” provides a “distraction” from international “attention to the Palestinians’ lack of popular sovereignty.”

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Archbishop Fouad Twal

Archbishop Fouad Twal

source: al-bushra-updates.blogspot.com……

Patriarch Twal: United Nations Decision Will Restore Credibility to Palestinian Government

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Expresses Joy Regarding Vote in UN

JERUSALEM, NOV. 30, 2012 (Zenit.org…).- His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem expressed his joy upon hearing the news of the United Nations General Assembly approving the recognition of Palestine as a non-member State observer.

“For once the international community and the leaders of the nations had the courage not to be influenced by the pressures and to decide in conscience, without calculation. I am grateful and happy for this freedom,” Patriarch Twal said in an interview with Fides Agency.

“It is a joy that I share with all Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, and that soon I will express on behalf of our Christian communities to President [Mahmoud Abbas], as soon as he gets back.”

Patriarch Twal emphasized the overwhelming support of nations who voted in favor of the Palestinian request (138 Countries in favor, 9 against, 41 abstentions), while positively evaluating the abstention of the German government. “The fact that Germany did not say no means a lot,” observed the Patriarch.

The Latin Patriarch also expressed his hope that with time, the international community will see that the step taken at the UN has advantages for Israel. “It opens the possibility of returning to deal with a moderate and legitimized government. I know these people: there is no person more reasonable than [Mahmoud Abbas] to return to the path of a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he said.

In recent years, he continued, “with a reckless choice, a lot was done to undermine his authority. Now he will come back from New York with the moral relieved: can talk like a real President, the President of a State.”

Highlighting the Holy See’s position on the matter, Patriarch Twal recalled Pope Benedict’s support for a two-state solution. “I remember the many speeches of the Pope that repeated the formula of the two peoples and two States. The Church desires peace for all, justice for all, a quiet and peaceable life for everyone,” he said.

“This is why one must also have the courage to say things when they are not right. Now I am thinking of the tragic situation in Syria, that the international community seems to want to remove.”

Patriarch Twal told Fides that while the path to peace is still long, it is necessary to deal with problems with a certain detachment without getting involved with animosity and vindictiveness. The decision of the UN Assembly could also encourage reconciliation within the Palestinian government, “since even Hamas in the end supported President Abbas’ request.”

With regard to the negative vote of the United States, Patriarch Twal recalled President Obama’s speech delivered in Cairo, which touched upon the relations with the Islamic world. “I hope that President Barack Obama has a good memory to remember his first speech in Cairo. That speech gave us a lot of hope,” Patriarch Twal said.

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Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa has been living in Israel for 22 years and is the head of the Franciscan order in the Middle East.

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa

source: al-bushra-updates.blogspot.com……

We have received various requests to express our views on what is happening in Gaza. Honestly, we have not said anything until now, because one does not know what to state any more.

The ecclesiastical Institutions already update and express their views regarding the matter and therefore it does not seem necessary to repeat what others have already published, in the context of the usual rite of balanced and correct declarations.

In certain occasions, then, the usual exhortations inviting to the cessation of hostilities and calling for dialogue, even though they are very true and necessary, seem so cut off from reality as to seem hypocritical messages.

On this useless bloodbath that is taking place for the umpteenth time, we must however make some considerations.

1. Once again, violence, death and destruction are the common language in which we are finding ourselves. There is no sense in beginning to discuss on who has initiated the conflict, or to count the dead or to attribute the responsibility. We only know that no solution has been found and that it will only be a matter of time until everything will start all over again, in a kind of useless and vicious circle. Unfortunately a comprehensive solution seems still to be very far away.

2. We hope that such violence will not degenerate in new attacks and other forms of retaliation, which will take us back in time. It is necessary that all those who are responsible will work hard to return to moderation and to control every form of dangerous deterioration of the situation.

3. In front of so much violence and of the helplessness of all, for us believers, prayer remains the only resource. Prayer is as necessary as the air we breathe, because it permits us to look at what is happening around us with the eyes of faith. The believer should look at the world with the eyes of God who is a just and merciful Father. It is the only way not to fall into the logic of violence and refusal of the other, of which this umpteenth conflict is witness. In spite of all that which is occurring, we need to believe once again in the Other. Without God, everything becomes impossible.

4. Our religious Communities should strive, once more, to play their part in the many small initiatives of dialogue and peace. They will not change the world in the Holy Land, but they will provide the oxygen which will make people realise that, in spite of everything, there are still many persons who refuse this logic and are ready to play their part in a serious and concrete way. It is, above all, the duty of the Institutions that work with young people, to whom our future is entrusted, to take initiatives in favour of dialogue.

5. While in the Middle East historic transformations are taking place, it seems that, in the Holy Land, everything has remained unchanged. In the Holy Land, as well as in the rest of the Middle East, however, the Christian Communities are called to give witness, to transmit trust, and not to give space to helplessness.

Jews, Muslims and Christians have been called, here, in this Land, by Providence, to live together. We want to show, with our life, that this vocation is possible and can be realised. And we are ready to start all over again with this certainty.

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Sonja Karkar, editor of Australians for Palestine, writes:

Although Israel for the moment has stopped dropping bombs on Gaza, this article remains pertinent.  As Lynda Brayer says below “the Zionist war, both cold and hot, against the Palestinians has not stopped for even one day since 1948, and that it went into relentless high gear since 1967 and continues unabated.”  The current ceasefire could collapse at any time.  Israel has already violated it twice most recently killing one Palestinian and wounding 19 others near the border fence of Khan Younis in Gaza.  They are farmers who had come to inspect their lands after Israel’s bombing spree only days earlier.

source: www.counterpunch.org……

The absolute right of Palestinian resistance

by Lynda Brayer

Once again the bombs are falling on the Gaza Strip, a stretch of territory excised from Palestine proper as a result of continuing illegal and illegitimate actions by Israel. In fact, Gaza has become a closed ghetto, first cut off from Palestine in violation of the partition plans and political programs and then turned into a sealed ghetto, following the democratic elections which brought the Islamic Resistance Party – Hamas – into power.  Categorized as a terrorist organization in the United States, with some of its leading supporters there imprisoned for over twenty years for sending humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, it can come as no surprise that the Israeli and Western media accuse Hamas for attacking Israel with rockets, rather than reporting that Hamas sent off the rockets

as a response to an Israeli attack! This method of reporting is part of continued efforts of de-legitimization of the Palestinian struggle for freedom from the yoke of Zionist genocidal oppression and violence.  Furthermore, the condemnations have not been accompanied by reference to the historical record: that the Zionist war, both cold and hot, against the Palestinians has not stopped for even one day since 1948, and that it went into relentless high gear since 1967 and continues unabated.  This continuous aggression – administrative and military – is never brought into

the Western vision or understanding, although a quick perusal of the websites of the Palestine Center for Human Rights located in Gaza City, Machsom Watch and Btselem  provide chilling and detailed information of this continuing quotidian warfare.

For anyone who has not succumbed to Zionist propaganda, it is a known fact that when rockets are fired from Gaza it is always in response to an Israeli attack, especially when this attack is a blatant and pointed act of violence given high visibility by the Israelis.  Although Israel had begun pounding Gaza on the 13th November, 2012 which apparently led to a truce agreement being formulated, the assassination of Ahmed Jabari on November 14th, 2012, the head of the Palestinian resistance forces, was executed in order to justify full-scale Israeli warfare. High visibility in this case was the creation of a video of the event uploaded on the websites of the Israeli news outlets so that the viewers could enjoy a repeat performance!  The reason for this latest attack is given on the Israel Defense Forces [sic] web blog: “On November 14, the IDF embarked on Operation Pillar of Defense[sic], meant to defend Israel’s civilians from the incessant rocket fire they’ve suffered during the past 12 years, and cripple the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.”

Their English translation of the name of the military operation is inaccurate, and I suspect that this is deliberate.  The name in Hebrew is ‘Amud Ashan –  “Pillar of Smoke” a metaphor created to elicit deliberate comparison in the Israeli mind with the pillar of fire and the pillar of clouds from the biblical story of the Exodus according to which God led the Children of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt on their journey to freedom in the Promised Land!  Of necessity, this name and this image brings about an inversion of the rôles of the Israelis and the Palestinians: the Israeli aggressor once again becomes the persecuted victim, as per the Exodus story, while the Palestinians, immobilized and strangled in the ghetto-prison of Gaza, enclosed within electrified walls and fences, are transmogrified into the pharaonic terrorists relentlessly and heartlessly persecuting the innocent Israeli victims.  This inversion involves more than labels:  besides inverting the moral order and the facts of reality, it serves, once again, to reinforce the image of the Palestinian as enemy, as demon, as sub-human, an entity not entitled to any respect or consideration! It is a tried and tested formula for distracting attention and blame from the real perpetrators of death and destruction on to the victims of those acts of aggressions.

Political assassination is the specialty du jour of Israel, a praxis adopted wholeheartedly by President Obama and his own personal drone “kill list”.  Using murder to deliberately undermine the political echelon in the hope of weakening it with respect to the possibility of political recuperation after a war, is an act which violates the third principle of legitimacy of the laws of war – the principle of chivalry, a principle recognizing the humanity of the enemy.  The enemy must be treated with respect in order for normal social life to be commenced, or resumed at the end of hostilities. 

Clausewitz’ aphorism that war is a continuation of politics is not descriptive but prescriptive. Negotiations leading to peace must be the purpose of a legitimate war of defense. It is in this light that one should understand the information released by Gershon Baskin, an Israeli political activist, that the Palestinian leadership in Gaza, including Ahmed Jabari, had received a draft for a truce agreement just hours before his assassination. It is therefore obvious that the assassination was executed for the specific purpose of preventing such a truce.  What this indicates, at the very least, is flagrant bad faith on the part of the Israelis, but more importantly, it is another instance of provocative treachery[1] , a subject which deserves a separate analysis.

The right to protect human life is absolute, even if the means used are conditioned. Therefore, according to all human norms, natural law, legal norms and international law and jurisprudence, the Palestinians have a legitimate right of response.  It must be remembered however, that the Palestinians have been denied a state and an accompanying army by Israel and the United States. Therefore the response available to the Palestinians in Gaza is extremely limited and is confined to rockets fired into Israel.  These rockets are primitive weapons and not extremely accurate which is why they have been defined as fireworks.  But that is all that the Palestinians have for their defense. This response is the only avenue open for a society under military attack to try and force the cessation of such an attack when he will not negotiate with you in good faith.  The Israelis are proud of the fact that their army is the fourth largest in the world, and as far as they are concerned, also the best, the most effective and the most moral!  Because of the exponentially huge disproportion in power between Israel and the Palestinians, the Palestinians simply cannot afford to react to each and every attack against them.  They have to carefully and prudentially weigh their possibilities of response which is the reason why the Israelis never have to cease their relentless attacks of varying intensity.  But it is also the disproportionate attacks by the Israeli army that violate the principle of proportionality underlying legitimate warfare.

The Right of Resistance is the Right of Self-Defense

It can be argued cogently that since the right to self-determination was deliberately and explicitly denied the Palestinian people following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, with no right or justification whatsoever in the circumstances, the Palestinians are still entitled to demand and fight for such rights. (see endnote). Instead of freedom, they were faced with a reality of the colonization of Palestine by foreigners against the wishes of the local population, a colonization which ultimately led to an expulsion of nearly 90% of the indigenous Palestinian population creating a long-festering and long-suffering Palestinian refugee problem.  A struggle for self-determination is legitimate in international law, as it expresses a struggle for freedom, the basic quality of life necessary in order for human beings to be able to fulfill their potential as individual persons and as social beings. Those who deny such self-determination are guilty of violating that same international law.  That this denial of such right is the case with respect to Palestinians can be found in several letters of correspondence of British ministers. In a letter to the Prime Minister by Lord Arthur Balfour dated 19th February [1919 LB] he states:

… The weak point of our position of course is that in the case of Palestine we deliberately and rightly [sic LB] decline to accept the principle of self-determination.  If the present inhabitants were consulted they would unquestionably give an anti-Jewish verdict. Our justification for our policy is that we regard Palestine as being absolutely exceptional; that we consider the question of the Jews outside Palestine as one of world importance and that we conceive the Jews to have an historic claim to a home in their ancient land; provided that home can be given them without either dispossessing or oppressing the present inhabitants…

In a later memorandum addressed to Lord Curzon by Lord Balfour on 11 August 1919 a similar notion is repeated:

… The contradiction between the letters of the Covenant [League of Nations Covenant LB] and the Policy of the Allies is even more flagrant in the case of the ‘independent nation’ of Palestine than in that of the ‘independent nation’ of Syria.  For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country, though the American Commission has been going through the form of asking what they are.

The Four Great Powers are committed to Zionism.  And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.

In my opinion that is right. What I have never been able to understand is how it can be harmonized with the declaration [Anglo-French of November 1918], the Covenant or the instructions to the Commission of Enquiry.

I do not think that Zionism will hurt the Arabs, but they will never say they want it.  Whatever be the future of Palestine it is not now an ‘independent nation,’ nor is it yet on the way to become one.  Whatever deference should be paid to the views of those living there, the Powers in their selection of a mandatory do not propose, as I understand the matter, to consult them.  In short, so far as Palestine is concerned, the Powers have made no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter, they have not always intended to violate…

(Doreen Ingrams. Palestine Papers 1917-1922 Seeds of Conflict. London1972. pp. 61 and 73).

Despite the Great Powers flagrant denial of Palestinian rights at the time, such denial did not and does not give rise to either their loss or their falling into desuetude. As long as a people wish to realize such rights, they have the right to demand their realization. The Palestinians never relinquished these rights, although they have made innumerable attempts to reach a modus vivendi with the Zionist state.  Their accommodation has been rejected for the very reason that a compromise and shared condominium in Palestine is not part of the Zionist program and never was.

We could therefore come to the following conclusion at this point.  The Palestinians have the right to resist Israeli attacks on several grounds. 

Firstly in response to the Israeli provocation in the form of the assassination of Ahmed Jabari . (We can imagine an Israeli response to an assassination of Ehud Barak or any other minister). Secondly they have the right of resistance to the actual decades long Israeli genocidal control over Gaza which is bringing about the actual physical demise of the population which exhibits a general level of ill-health attributable directly to the Israeli stranglehold over the territory. Thirdly, they have the right of resistance against the continuing incursions, raids, arrests, imprisonments, and suppression of economic activity in the West Bank/East Jerusalem.  And fourthly, the actual fact of their being forcibly denied their political rights justifies resistance.

So why are the Palestinians in general, and Hamas in particular, depicted as “terrorists?”

The term ‘terrorist’ is not a legal term and has no legal reference.  It has been manufactured in order to bypass the limitations that international law imposes with respect to the manner of dealing with an adversary.  It is used to demonize those people who do not agree with the US/Israel/European hegemonic demand and rule of the world and it is especially used in order to deny such people the right of resistance, the right to struggle as freedom fighters.  It is this terminology which has created such confusion and discrepancy in the general public’s understanding with respect to the reality in Palestine and the actual state of affairs that prevails there.

But we may ask the further question as to why are Palestinians are seen in the West as “terrorists” and intransigent murderers, a people who understand only violence and not peace?   In order to understand this conundrum, it is necessary to understand the nature of American society in particular, and its mechanisms of control. The United States is a capitalist society in which power is exercised by the financial-media-military-industrial complex.  A main source of capitalist exploitation is the oil deposits in the Middle East, its refinement and distribution to the rest of the world.

It is a sine qua non for the controlling capitalist elite that it controls these resources and their disposition. Such control is not in the interests of the local populations of the territories in which the oil is deposited, who are nearly all Muslims.  In order to minimize, if not eliminate, the critics and critiques of capitalist exploitation, the United States uses the media to manipulate the minds of its population, as Professors Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman explained in their book Manufacturing Consent.  However, since the second Bush administration, the Department of Homeland Security –

a title straight out of George Orwell’s 1984 – was formed to exercise further control over the population through the use of policing power.  The events of 9/11 have been exploited exponentially by both the media and the DHS towards the demonization of Islam and Muslims, and Palestinians automatically fall into this category. All are deemed to be terrorists or potential terrorists, and therefore they are, by definition, the enemy.  The level of propaganda generated by the media branch of this complex, to which the populations in the West are subject, in particular in the United States and Israel, has brainwashed the population into an automatic negative response to all Muslims, Palestinians included.

The Muslims as terrorist, Islam as a religion of violence and hatred, the Jew as eternal victim, the Holocaust as a unique historical event, the uniqueness of which is echoed in the political manifesto of ‘manifest destiny’ and ‘exceptionalism’ of the United States of America, the ‘good guys” of World Wars I and II, constitutes the current propaganda pastiche determining the limits of politically correct discourse.  Any criticism against Israel is automatically translated into anti-Semitism and criticism of the United States is unpatriotic or even treason.

The Palestinian political party of Hamas is on the terrorist list in the US and several Muslims have been convicted and imprisoned for extended periods, in one case for more than twenty years, for the crime of aiding and abetting terrorists by sending humanitarian aid to Palestine.  Israel has never ceased to refer to Palestinians as terrorists and treats them as such accordingly.  As mentioned earlier, it has broken and/or undermined all its agreements with the Palestinians, the most egregious violation being the continuation of the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank conquered in 1967, becoming a colonizing power, which is in direct violation of international law.  In addition, Israel has violated all United Nations Resolutions but is protected by the US veto, thus providing it with a long leash to do what it wants in Palestine.  The reality of Israeli force, the reality of its illegalities constitutes a violation of both the moral and the legal order.  It is known by both Israel and the US and therefore there is such vicious continuing propaganda against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians.

There can be little doubt that there is no easy solution for the Palestinians.  Despite their rights de iure as well as de facto and their legitimate resistance and struggle and  the use of weapons that do not come up to the minimum standards of a modern army, it is only the victimized people of the world who understand their plight together with those coming from the West who are termed radicals. At this juncture in history the people have no power, but it behooves us to continue the struggle for freedom and justice in any way we can, without destroying the planet, as our friends the capitalists are doing.  If, however, there is one iron law of life and existence, which must sustain our hope and energy, it is that all institutions, all powers, ultimately collapse because everything is changing and temporary in our contingent world.  Situations cannot help but change.  When such a change comes in the distribution of power, we should be ready to institute a reign of justice and peace for the well-being of all of mankind.

End Note

The entire enterprise of a Jewish state in Palestine is built upon an express rejection of international law.  The only legitimate grounds for political sovereignty of an indigent people are the laws of ius soli or ius sanguine as recognized in international law, which translates into a right of sovereignty based upon habitation in a particular territory or being a descendent of someone in a particular territory.  The third option granting a right to sovereignty would be the discovery of a terra nullius that is an uninhabited territory.  Palestine was never a terra nullius, and its inhabitants were entitled to a sovereign state in Palestine as part of Greater Syria, if they so chose, according to the ius soli following the demise of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I in 1917 and 1918.  If their children were out of the country at the time of its establishment at a particular time, then they would be granted citizenship on the grounds of

the ius sanguine if they had not been born in Palestine or Greater Syria.

European Jewry did not fulfill either of these qualifications in 1917, when the Balfour Declaration, a document prepared by international Jewish leadership, and addressed by Lord Arthur Balfour, the United Kingdom’s Foreign secretary at the time, to Lord Walter Rothschild, a scion of the leading Jewish banking family in the world, resident in England, was written supporting a Jewish homeland [sic] in Palestine.

The carving up of historical Palestine to excise the bulk of its territory for an imported unequivocally foreign population at the expense of the indigenous society was recognized not to be a politically legitimate action.  Its destructive consequences should have been obvious a priori, and history has proved such expectation accurate. Such an excision has harmed the indigenous population in every and all aspects of its life: political, economic, social, educational, cultural, religious, historical and geographical.  The destruction of Palestine, the expulsion of the overwhelming majority of its population and the deliberate and continuing genocidal attacks on the remaining population living under Jewish conquest, only highlights the illegitimacy of the Jewish presence and its continuing aggression against the Palestinians.

Footnote

[1] <www.huffingtonpost.com…>

Lynda Burstein Brayer, a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law, is a radical political and legal commentator who practiced human rights lawy  in Palestine/Israel representing Palestinians in their struggles against house demolitions, land theft, and family destruction and in their efforts to obtain travel permits for health, study and family reasons.  She lives in Haifa and can be reached at jamillainbari@yahoo.com…