End of ‘error’ may be about to dawn

epa04664217 Israelis sit near electoral campaign posters during a mass rightwing rally in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, Israel, 15 March 2015. Tens of thousands of right-wing Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other hardline candidates, two days before a parliamentary election. EPA/ABIR SULTAN

epa04664217 Israelis sit near electoral campaign posters during a mass rightwing rally in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, Israel, 15 March 2015. Tens of thousands of right-wing Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other hardline candidates, two days before a parliamentary election. EPA/ABIR SULTAN

Published Mar 17, 2015


Terry Crawford-Browne

Will today’s election signal the end of the “Jewish” State of Israel?

Opinions polls indicate that the outcome is neck-and-neck. Given Israel’s fractious electoral system of proportional representation, it may be weeks before a new government coalition can be negotiated.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent address to a joint sitting of the US Congress and his challenges to President Barack Obama over Iran have patently backfired.

The vast majority of American Jews have been grievously offended, and insist that they are Americans and not Israelis. For them, Judaism is a religion not a nationality or race.

As Americans, they are also war-weary after the disastrous consequences of the entanglements in the Middle East vigorously promoted by the Israeli lobby with the lies back in 2003 of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, followed by Netanyahu’s equally discredited lies about Iranian nuclear weapons.

Almost 100 years have lapsed since the Balfour Declaration purportedly gave legitimacy to a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The declaration specifically declared: that “it be clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

A century later, one gasps in disbelief that the British government then thought that it had any right to give away Palestine to Ashkenazi (European) Jews. Myths similar to those of apartheid South Africa were promoted that “Palestine was a land without people for a people without a land.” The consequences have not yet run their course.

Perhaps it was a different era of good intentions, just as president FW de Klerk told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that apartheid in this country had been “well-intended” to overcome economic destitution amongst Afrikaners. Yet as we know, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

We also know about the barbarities of apartheid South Africa as a purportedly “Christian” state as well as the barbarities of Saudi Arabia as a purportedly “Islamic” state when politicians misuse and pervert religion and theology away from the emphasis on Peace, Shalom and Salaam to war.

As highlighted by present-day Israeli army war crimes in Gaza and continuing theft of Palestinian land and water by 700 000 illegal Israeli settlers “beyond the Green Line,” the basic condition of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 has clearly not been fulfilled. As in biblical times, the Covenant has again been broken, and in the words of an American ambassador: “Israel has become the promised land for organised crime”.

Why Netanyahu’s obsession about a “Jewish” state of Israel when the politically and economically dominant Ashkenazi community numbers only about 10 percent of the population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and about 20 percent within “Israel proper?” Here too is a parallel with the demographic obsessions of apartheid South Africa.

“Inside the Green Line,” over 50 laws discriminate against non-Jewish Israelis on the basis of citizenship, land and language. Reminiscent of the Group Areas Act, 92 percent of the land is reserved for Jewish occupation only.

Discrimination is also rife against Arab Jews (the Mizrahim) brought under false pretenses to Israel in the 1940s to 60s as cannon fodder for the Israeli army and cheap labour on farms confiscated from Palestinians. As a variance of apartheid even amongst Jewish Israelis, the Mizrahim number over 50 percent of Israel’s Jewish population but remain the economic underclass, not unlike the circumstances of Afro-Americans in the US.

The glaring tragedy is that Israelis are brainwashed from childhood to believe that they are uniquely victims, and that Israel’s extreme militarisation is their only safeguard against a second Holocaust. The next generations of victims have become the perpetrators of human rights atrocities not dissimilar to what happened in Europe 70 years ago.

My feisty 83-year-old Israeli friend Dorothy Na’or questions why her sons and grandsons must repeatedly go to war so that Jews in North America and South Africa “can feel safe”. As she points out, Israel is today the most dangerous place in the world for Jews.

The Nazi Holocaust was unquestionably the most bestial event of the 20th century, but Palestinians rightly question why they should pay the price for European racism. Again, there is a parallel with South Africa where the victims of the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War became the perpetrators of apartheid.

Illustrating the depravities now rife in Israel, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has in recent days repeated his calls for expulsion of Israel’s Palestinian citizens. He added that Palestinians who are disloyal to Israel should be beheaded.

Graffiti on the Palestinian side of the apartheid wall at the Bethlehem checkpoint declares: “Tear gas now, gas chambers next. Rise up before it is too late.” As a people under military occupation, Palestinians have a legal and internationally recognised right to resist, even including rockets from Gaza.

Like apartheid in South Africa, Zionism’s supposed “good intentions” have gone awry. Zionism is a discredited heresy because, instead of God, it makes the sovereignty of the Jewish state of Israel central to Judaism. The Holocaust tragedy has been turned into an industry. In the words of an early Zionist: “I would rather surround myself with Jews who do not believe in God than Jews who do not believe in Israel.”

More than ever, younger generations of American and other Jews (including Israelis) vigorously reject such notions. A statement placed a few days ago in the New York Times by Jews For Palestinian Right of Return and entitled “Netanyahu’s Apartheid Israel Does Not Speak For Us” reaffirmed: “our support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), which demands that Israel recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law by:

l Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

l Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens to full equality, and

l Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

To those who say these demands spell the end of the ‘‘Jewish state’’, we echo Miko Peled, Jewish anti-Zionist and son of Israel general Matti Peled: “We should demand recognition that Israel is occupied Palestine, that all Israeli towns and cities are illegal settlements, and that it is time to free Palestine and its people from the illegal colonialist regime known as Israel. Justice and lasting peace demand no less.”

That The New York Times published such a statement would have been inconceivable only weeks ago. The BDS campaign modelled after South African experiences during the 1980s is fast taking off amongst Americans.

The US dumped apartheid South Africa in the late 1980s at the end of the Cold War.

South Africa miraculously stepped back from the brink of catastrophe.

Fast-changing geopolitical realities are rapidly making Israel a liability rather than an asset to the US’s foreign policy objectives.

Because of fracking, the US is again the world’s major energy producer. Only a small proportion of American oil imports are now sourced from the Middle East, and anyway the oil price has collapsed.

So bye-bye the American proxy to destabilise the region!

There is now hope that liberated from Zionism, Muslims, Jews and Christians in a bi-national Palestine can soon jointly make a peaceful transition and contribution to the economic and political development of the Middle East.

The end of an error may be about to dawn.

l Crawford-Browne is a member of the Palestine Support Committee

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