Posts Tagged ‘Fatah’

Ilan Pappe’s Demolition of the Myths of Modern Israel and Its Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinians

March 28, 2019

 

Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths About Israel (London: Verso 2017)

Ilan Pappe is an Israeli historian and activist, who has extensively researched and documented Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from its foundation in 1948 till today. Because of this, he was subjected to abuse and academic censure by the authorities and his university. He now teaches, I believe, at Exeter University. He has been a signatory of several of the letters from academics and leading members of the Jewish community defending Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters from the charges of anti-Semitism.

This book tackles the ten myths Pappe identifies as central to the history of modern Israel and its continuing dispossession of its indigenous people. The blurb for the book states

In this groundbreaking book, published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Occupation, the outspoken and radical Israeli historian Ilan Pappe examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel.

The “ten myths” that Pappe explores – repeated endlessly in the media, enforced by the military, accepted without question by the world’s governments – reinforce the region status quo. He explores the claims that Palestine was an empty land at the time of the Balfour Declaration, as well as the formation of Zionism and its role in the early decades of nation building. He asks whether the Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948, and whether June 1967 was a war of “no choice”. Turning to the myths surrounding the failure of the Camp David Accords and the official reasons for the attacks on Gaza, Pappe explains why the two-state solution is no longer viable. 

The book is divided into three parts. Part 11, ‘Fallacies of the Past’, contains the following chapters attacking these particular myths.

  1. Palestine was an empty land.
  2. The Jews were a people without a land.
  3. Zionism is Judaism.
  4. Zionism is not colonialism.
  5. The Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948.
  6. The June 1967 War was a war of no choice.

Part II, ‘Fallacies of the Present’, has the following

7. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.

8. The Oslo mythologies.

9. The Gaza mythologies.

Part III ‘Looking Ahead’

10. The two-states solution is the only way forward.

Conclusion: The Settler Colonial state of Israel in the 21st First century.

There’s also a timeline of Israeli/Zionist history from the 1881 pogroms in the Russian Empire to 2015 and the fourth Netanyahu government.

This is a short book, the actual text taking up 153 pages. Although it is properly documented with notes and index, it’s clearly written and seems to be aimed the general reader, rather than an exclusively academic audience. Much of it will be familiar to readers of the blogs of the great Jewish critics and activists against Zionist racism, like Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and David Rosenberg. He points out, for example, that Zionism was a minority movement amongst Jews before 1948, and that it was preceded by Christian Zionism, which wished to see the Jews return to Israel in order to hasten Christ’s return to Earth and the End Times, as well as more immediate religious and geopolitical goals. Some hoped that the Jews would convert to Christianity, while others, like Palmerston, believed that a western Jewish presence in the Holy Land would help shore up the decaying Ottoman Empire. Others associated it with restoring the glory of the Crusades. Most Jews at the time, however, were much more eager to remain in the countries of their birth. For Reform Jews and the Socialists of the Bund, this meant fighting for equality as fellow citizens and adopting wider European secular culture to a greater or lesser extent so that they could fully participate in the new societies from the Enlightenment onwards. So determined were they to do so, that Reform Judaism removed altogether references from their services to the return to Israel. They also rejected the idea of a Jewish state because they felt its establishment would cast doubt on their loyalties to their mother countries as proper English or Germans. Orthodox Judaism remained far more conservative, rejecting the Enlightenment, but still determined to remain in their traditional homelands because Israel could only be restored through divine will by the Messiah. Until he came, it was their religious duty to wait out their exile.

Nor was Palestine remotely empty, despite the Zionists maintaining that it was – ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’, as the Zionist maxim ran. 18th and 19th century European travelers noted that Palestine was very definitely occupied, and that ten per cent of its population was Jewish. Zionist settlers there found to their shock and discomfort that there were Arabs there, with whom they were going to have to live. And that these Arabs weren’t like them. Which shouldn’t really be surprising. However marginalised eastern European Jews were, they were still part of European society and so were bound to have certain aspects of their culture in common with other Europeans. As for the Palestinians themselves, they were perfectly willing to provide shelter and help to the early Jewish settlers when it seemed that they were simply migrants, who were not intending to colonise and displace them. They only became hostile, ultimately turning to violence, when it became clear just what the Zionists’ intentions towards them were. Pappe also points out that at the time the first Zionist communities were being founded, Palestinian society was undergoing its second wave of nationalism. The first was the general wave of Arab nationalism from the 19th century onwards, as the Arabs became conscious of themselves as a distinct people with the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire. The second was when the individual Arab nations, such as Syria and Egypt, became conscious of themselves and began demanding their separate independence. And these new, emerging Arab nations included Palestine.

The book also shows how Zionism is colonialism through comparing Israel with other White nations, like those of  North and South America, New Zealand and so on, where the indigenous people were massacred and their land seized for White colonisation. He  then shows how Zionist leaders such as David Ben-Gurion had planned in 1948 to cleanse what they could of the Israel state they were creating of its Arab population in order to ensure that Jews were in the majority. Thus Palestinian towns and villages were razed and their people massacred. At the same time, the Israelis spread propaganda that the Palestinians had somehow voluntarily left their homes, rather than fled. He also argues that the Israeli government was determined to exploit diplomatic and military tensions with Nasser’s Egypt and Syria in 1967 in order to manufacture a war that would allow them to seize the West Bank and the holy places of west Jerusalem, with their rich archaeological sites. Pappe shows that, whatever their composion, whether Labour, Likud, or, as in 1967, a coalition of parties across the Israeli political spectrum, successive Israeli government have pursued a policy of securing the greatest amount of land for Israel with the least amount of Palestinians. This has meant redrawing and redefining the boundaries of what is Jewish territory, with the intention of forcing the Palestinians into minuscule cantons or bantustans, to use the word applied to similar settlements in apartheid South Africa. The Palestinians were to have some autonomy within them, but only if the acted as Israel’s peacekeeper within those territories. This was the real intention of the Oslo Peace Process, which was unacceptable to Yasser Arafat and the Arab leadership because far from improving conditions for the Palestinians, it actually made them much worse. It was a deal that the Palestinians could not accept, hence the breakdown of the talks and the eruption of the Second Intifada.

Pappe describes the Israeli attacks on Gaza as an ‘incremental genocide’. He states that he has been reluctant to call it thus, because it’s a very loaded term, but can find no other way to reasonably describe it. Each stage begins with a Palestinian rocket attack, which kills very few Israelis, if any. The Israelis then launch massive counterattacks, killing hundreds, with names like ‘Summer Rains’, ‘Autumn Rains’, and then ‘Operation Cast lead’, which the Israelis claim are just reprisals against Palestinian terrorism. The goal is supposed to be the removal of the Hamas government in Gaza. While Hamas are an Islamic organisation, they were democratically elected and their rise was initially aided by Israel, who believed that the real threat to their security was the secular, nationalist Fatah.

The chapter arguing against Israel as a democracy shows that it cannot justly be considered such given the apartheid system that dispossesses and marginalises the Palestinians. Part of this apartheid is based on willingness or suitability for military service. Rather like the future Earth of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, civil rights are connected with national service. The Israelis disbar the Palestinians from serving in the armed forces on the grounds that the Palestinians would be unwilling to join them. But even here the Palestinians do the unexpected: a majority of them have shown themselves willing in a poll to join the Israeli army.

Pappe considers that the two-state solution, as a realistic solution to the Palestinian crisis, is near its end. Its only real purpose was to give the Israelis a justification for seizing the most land while dispossessing the indigenous people, who lived there. It will eventually fall, one way or another, because the Israelis are determined to colonise the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. He also makes the point that no discussion of the issue of human rights in the Middle East, in nations like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, for example, can be complete without including the 100 year long persecution of the Palestinians. At the same time, the West allowed Israel to emerge as a settler colonial state, at a time when settler-colonialism was being abandoned, partly out of guilt over the Holocaust. Germany in particular contributed a large amount of funding to the new state. But the foundation of Israel hasn’t solved the problem of anti-Semitism, only increased it. The discrediting of the ten major myths about Israel should ensure better justice for the Palestinians, and a fitting, proper end to the legacy of the Holocaust.

It’s a very effective demolition of the myths Israel uses and exploits to support its own existence and its policies towards the Palestinians. For example, Israel claims that its occupation of the West Bank is only temporary, while the facts on the ground amply demonstrate that it intends to be there permanently. Pappe is also extremely critical about the use of the Bible and archaeology to justify Israel’s occupation of Palestine. He seems to support the Biblical minimalists assessment that the Bible isn’t a reliable source of historical information. I don’t think this can be reasonably maintained, as while archaeology can’t be used to establish whether some episodes in the Bible are historically true, it does seem clear that ancient Israel undoubtedly existed, at least after the Exile and probably before then. But he certainly raises proper moral questions about the use of archaeology to justify the removal of Palestinian communities and their transformation into Israeli settlements on the grounds that they are really ancient Israelite towns and villages.

Pappe has always maintained that his countrymen are decent people, who just need the situation properly explained to them. He attempted to do this himself by holding open evenings at his home every Thursday night, in the Israeli village in which he lived. During these evenings anyone could come to his home and ask him what was really going on. These evenings eventually grew to such an extent that, despite the real anger and hostility against him by the academic and political establishment, he had 30-40 people in his front room. In the book he also properly pays tribute to the courage and determination of those Israelis, who are determined to challenge their country’s attacks on the Palestinians. If there is to be hope for the Palestinians, then they should surely play a part on the Israeli side.

I don’t know if there will ever be proper justice for the Palestinians. The Israel lobby has shown itself to be determined and expert at the demonisation of its opponents here in the West. That’s been shown in the recent expulsions of prinicipled anti-Zionists and anti-racists like Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Mike and now Jackie Walker on trumped up charges of ‘anti-Semitism’ from the Labour Party. But there are signs that the Israel lobby is losing its grip. They’re turning from Jews to Christian Evangelicals in America for support, while Ireland has recently passed legislation supporting the BDS movement. These are signs for hope. But the process will be long and difficult. This book, however, helps provide the means by which more people can fight back against Israeli and establishment propaganda to support a proper peace with justice, dignity and proper autonomy for Jews and Palestinians in a single state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Labour MP Gerald Kaufman Attacks Israel for Its Nazi Crimes in Gaza

March 23, 2019

It wasn’t just the Irish challenging their governments over support for Israel during the bombardment of Gaza. In the video below from 2009, posted on YouTube by setfree68, the veteran Labour MP Gerald Kaufman also bitterly criticises Israel for its attacks on civilians. Kaufman himself, as his speech makes very clear, was Jewish and his family also suffered under Nazi persecution, with many of relatives being murdered. He makes an explicit parallel between the way the Nazis treated them and the other Jews, and how the Israelis were then treating the Palestinians. Kaufman was one of the MPs, who lost his seat and was convicted of fiddling his expenses during that scandal a few years ago. Nevertheless in many ways he was a fine politician, and certainly spoke the truth here with real moral courage that certainly was not shared by the former Labour leader, Tony Blair.

He begins by addressing the deputy speaker, and describes how he was brought up as an Orthodox Jew and a Zionist. On a shelf on his family’s kitchen was a tin box for the Jewish National Fund into which they put coins to help the pioneers building a Jewish presence in Palestine. He first when to Israel in 1961 and states that he has since been there more times than he could count. He has family and friends in Israel, one of whom fought in the wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973, and was wounded in two of them. He states that he is wearing a tie-clip made from a campaign decoration awarded to one of his friends, which he presented to Kaufman. He states that he knew most of the prime ministers of Israel, starting with the founding PM, David Ben-Gurion and describes Golda Meir as his friend, along with deputy prime minister Yigal Alon, who was the general, who won the Negeb for Israel in the 1948 War of Independence.

He states that his parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland, and that most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. His grandmother was ill in her bed when the Nazis came to her hometown of Stashev, and she was shot dead in her bed by a German soldier. He then goes to state that his grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploits the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count. He mentions that on Sky News a few days previously an Israeli arm spokeswoman Major Liebovich was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians. The total, he says, is now a thousand. Leibovich replied that five hundred of them were militants. That, he states unhesitatingly, is the reply of a Nazi. He says that he supposes that the Jews fighting unhesitatingly for their lives in the ghetto could have been dismissed as militants.

He then goes on to discuss Hamas and the problems they pose for a proper peace. He states that the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, asserts that her government will have no dealing with Hamas because they’re terrorists. Livni’s father was Atan Livni, chief operations officer of the terrorist Irgun Tzvi Liun, who organised the blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which killed 91 victims, including four Jews. Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism. Jewish terrorists hanged two British sergeants and booby trapped their corpses. Irgun, together with the terrorist Stern Gang massacred 254 Palestinians in 1948 in the village of Deir Yassin. Today, the present Israeli government indicates that they would be willing in circumstances acceptable to them to negotiate with the Palestinian president, Abbas, of Fatah. He declares that it’s too late for that. They could have negotiated with Fatah’s previous leader, Yasser Arafat. who was a friend of Kaufman’s. Instead they besieged him in a bunker in Ramallah where Kaufman visited him. It’s because of the failings of Fatah since Arafat’s death that Hamas won the Palestinian election in 2006.

Hamas, he says clearly, is a deeply nasty organisation, but it was democratically elected and is the only game in town. The boycotting of Hamas, including by our own government, has been a culpable error from which dreadful consequences have followed. He says that the great Israeli foreign minister, Abba Eban, with whom Kaufman campaigned for peace on many platforms, said ‘You make peace by talking to your enemies’. However many Palestinians the Israelis murder in Gaza, they cannot solve this existential problem by military means. Whenever and however the fighting ends, there will still be 1 1/2 million Palestinians in Gaza and 2 1/2 million more Palestinians in the West Bank, who are treated like dirt by the Israelis with hundreds of roadblocks and the ghastly denizens of the Jewish settlements harassing them as well. Kaufman predicts that a time will come, not so long from now, when they will outnumber the Jewish population in Israel. It’s time for our government, he declares, to make clear to the Israeli government that its conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel. It is time for peace, he says, but real peace, not the solution by conquest which is the Israelis’ real goal, which is impossible for them to achieve. He concludes with the stinging words ‘They’re not simply war criminals, they’re fools!’

The video ends with the address of a couple of websites. I haven’t visited them, and so I can’t vouch if they are reasonable websites or not, so be careful.

Kaufman’s statesmanlike speech makes it very clear that he isn’t a knee-jerk anti-Israeli, nor is he ashamed of his Jewish background. Indeed, from this it’s clear that he’s proud of his connections to Israel. But like very many decent people of every race and creed, he was disgusted by the Fascistic violence of the Israelis against the indigenous Arabs.

He is also absolutely correct about Israel’s cynical exploitation of gentile guilt over the Holocaust. This is quite different from the proper commemoration of the Holocaust and its victims, which should serve as a reminder that terrible atrocities were committed in civilised Europe, and that such horrors could indeed occur again if it is not properly remembered. And we need that now, when real Fascists, Nazis and anti-Semitic regimes are taking power in Hungary, Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine.

But the Israelis and their supporters do exploit the Holocaust. We’ve seen it with the way the Israel lobby smears their opponents as anti-Semites, and people like Mike as Holocaust deniers. Indeed, Margaret Hodge used the Holocaust to smear Corbyn when she whined that her suspension was like that of the Jews in eastern Europe waiting for the Nazis’ knock at the door. Of course, it was nothing like that, and Jews and non-Jews, whose relatives really had suffered arrest and imprisonment by the Nazis angrily reminded her of that. Norman Finkelstein also addressed it in his book, The Holocaust Industry, in which he described how the Israeli state and greedy lawyers enrich themselves by suing governments and organisations for compensation and monies owed to Holocaust survivors and their families, but then swallow this in legal fees. Thousands of Holocaust survivors have been swindled like this, and left in poverty in Israel.

As for Hamas, they’re horrific. But they were democratically elected, something Killary lamented in a recorded phone call. The time is long past when governments around the world should be indulging Israel and its genocidal policies. But they will, because of geopolitical reasons. Israel is the West’s key ally in the Middle East, along with Saudi Arabia. And they sell guns and other weapons to eastern Europe, as well as no doubt buying all that ‘wonderful kit’ David Cameron raved about as an arms factory in Lancashire.

The Democrat politicos who aren’t going to AIPAC this weekend have made a great moral decision. It is one which I hope more of the world’s politicians follow, and that I hope it also pays off as an increasing number of people in America and Europe turn away from Israeli brutality. As for Kaufman, he may have been a crook, but he would have been a far better Foreign Minister than that clown Boris.