11.7.06

The Case Against Israel

The Case Against Israel
If you ever had the chance to get in an argument with a Zionist enthusiast, and if the argument takes an intellectual level, and if you both come to the importance of the most essential human values: freedom and justice, and if that Zionist is someone who reads, he is most likely going to suggest one book for you to read: The Case for Israel. To me, the book’s title sounds as if it was cut off one of the cheap tabloids you see at the newsagents’ but never get to know their name. Anyway, since I used four, next to impossible ifs (for, as a Palestinian you are very unlikely to be in the same street as an Israeli Zionist- that’s illegal, it is very likely for any potential argument to take an intellectual turn, for the slurs and “terrorist”, “Al-qaida”, “Suicide bombings” and all this flow of useless labelling and attaching of the Palestinian struggle to international terrorism would make you want to end right there and then, It is highly unlikely that a Zionist enthusiast would have a clear understanding of what justice and freedom are so long as they don’t relate to Jews. I would not like to make the fourth generalisation, for I am sure Zionists read, it is just that so many of them are so indulged in that utter nonsense propaganda, which makes it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.) I want to move on to my main concern, the Case Against Israel.
You see, nations exist by virtue of their belief of themselves as a nation. To me, there is no other determinant so long as a group of people decide to call themselves so. However, the right to a state of their own is different. Personally, I believe nation states were the worst development in Europe since the middle ages. The post-Westphalian political system, allowed for the establishment of such states that were totally unfamiliar to us in the East, it reinstated the concept of Cuius regio, eius religio a concept totally familiar to us in the East. However, that system considered the whole world to be centred in Europe, “Cuius regio, eius religio” only gave two choices: Catholicism and Lutheranism, the nation state sovereignty was only a European matter- from then on, colonialism fever swept across Europe like a plague of an unforgotten time.
So Zionists took up the idea, as it suited them. The elites of the Jewish people in Europe found that their interests are best protected by a nation state of their own. So they embarked on creating a nation for their envisioned state. This quest, of course, found fertile ground in anti-Semitic Europe of the time.
When they came to Palestine, there was no Palestinian state, that is true. It is also true that to a large extent Palestinian nationalism was only in its infancy. However, the people who nowadays consider themselves Palestinians were living on that land. They owned it, and lived of it, regardless of their way of life. Regardless if, in Europe, it was consider uncivilised to live as nomads, or to make a living almost absolutely of agriculture. Regardless, also, if these people have not got their way around colonising enough countries to steal enough cotton to create enough mills to constitute an industrial revolution. Regardless of everything, a group of people lived in Palestine.
Of course, they were not satisfied with the Ottomans. They were not satisfied with the tax laws. The low educational attainment was not satisfactory. They were not satisfied with the almost feudal power of a handful of elite families. But they continued to live there.
When the Zionists made their first arrivals in the late 19th century, these people lived and owned most of the land. The Zionists, who wanted a national homeland were oblivious to the existence of another people in the land. They established their yeshuv, literally, the settlement, a totally Jewish society that ran parallel to the existing Palestinian one.
When the presence of so many Zionists with a plan to create a “Jewish Homeland” in Palestine became a visible reality to Palestinians (who by then considered themselves so), they had to demand assurances from the British that such a plan would not be implemented. Such demands took various forms, some were violent, others were not. However, there is no reason to assume that such protest is not apt. For in no custom, except in that of colonialism, did the ownership of less than 7% of the total land area entitle a people for national sovereignty over the whole land.
The British were more Catholic than the Pope on this one. It was them who had earlier given the Balfour declaration, a promise to the Jews of Europe to National Homeland, in an area neither of them has control over or owns.
So contrary to all customs and traditions in international relations, the Zionists established a state of their own, having constituted less than a third of the total population, they occupied more than three quarters of the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. To top it, they forced the displacement of over half the population of Palestine, and dispossessed them of their property. Not only that, but they gave this property a Jew-Only tag when it was hastily transferred to Keren Kiyemet LiYesrael- The Israel arm of the Jewish National Fund.
Once Israel was established, and although it committed itself to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”, it continued to oppress its remaining non-Jewish citizens (Arabs) by enforcing Pass Laws, and stripping them of civil liberties and political rights.
Israel has thus been established based on a colonialist supremacist ideology that viewed its main beneficiaries to hold a higher status than others. It was a primarily elitist idea created in 19th century Europe thousands of miles away from the place it sought to establish its state in. It was primarily established on the ruins of another society, and its current inhabitants, while might not be directly guilty of the massacres committed on their behalf, and while they might not support the current and ongoing crimes committed by their state, they continue to benefit of the plight of others. Israel continues to oppress a whole nation, on the assumption that Jewish need for a safe haven is far more important than that of the Palestinians.
The nature of Israel, as a Jewish state, does not enable it to be even remotely responsive to the needs of non-Jews in its society. That’s why, when I cry out loud that I don’t support Israel’s right to exist, I am not anti-Semitic. I am not a criminal or a terrorist. I am not calling to drive the Jews into the sea. I am only seeing what others refuse to see, what everyone else is turning a blind eye to. That is: Israel’s right to exist is primarily, and most importantly, its right to dispossess and oppress another people. And if you are really supportive of justice and freedom, then you also will renounce this right- it is not a crime to renounce what is rotten at its roots. That, simply, is my case against Israel.

10 comments:

Natan said...

hi Ned

What do you think a real solution of the conflict supposed to be? Not from a Jewish or Palestinian perspective but from both. If it's possible to do some convergence and avoid more violence commited for the sake of only Jewish or pure Palestinian society

Ned said...

Thanks Natan for the question,
I beleive that to both Palestinians and Israelis should rule out the thought of the exclusivity of this land. It is impossible to expect for someone who has known no other home but Tel-Aviv to leave, just as it is impossible for someone who owns land in Jaffa to expect to forget it.
Jews have the right to feel safe and free of oppression and so do Palestinians. The basic premise for a solution is to understand that both rights do not contradict. It is always possible to reach a situation were both groups see each other as humans and not as enemies. it only requires tolerance.
Having been to ideal to start with, I should, shortly, state that it is practical to transform this animosity into a situation where both people share the same land. The technicalities can be discussed at length and agreed so long as the basic principle of such a solution is equality.

joshua said...

Hello,

Your arguments are cogent, if I disagree with your conclusions. The immigration of European Jews to Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries was population pressure, not political - to the extent that the orthodox Jews in Israel do not recongize the state any more than does Hezbollah.

However, why are the Hashemites of Jordan not condemned in the same way? Have they not also been brutal to the Palestinian people? Are they not a tiny minority in control of a Palestinian population?

What do you say to the idea that, in Israel, Palestinian Arabs vote and participate in parliament, as they cannot do with equal freedom in any other land in the Middle East?

In describing a Case Against Israel, are you suggesting that Tel Aviv be dismantled and the Jews all be deported? Or that a more pluralistic Palestine be a replacement? If you assert the latter, can you deny that in such a case, slaughter of the Jewish Israelis would be the result?

I think that no one with a conscience can stand behind either side in this sad situation.

Abba said...

Reply to Joshua,

Joshua, I think it's disingenuous to move to shunt the argument to Jordan, leaving the original post unaddressed.
Ned isn't proposing anything that you stated, such as the dismantling of Tel Aviv or any other further hardship on either party.
I think the question that begs to be asked is what does it say about a Nation and a Society that has been built on decades of occupation and to be blunt, as a jailer of another Nation?
Don't mistake my question for anything other than what it is. I'm not Anti-Semite, and I state that because I know many tend to revert to that label as a counter-Argument. I am opposed to Zionism if it means achieving gains through pogroms and Aparthied style tactics.
It's a funny thing, this situation we have in the Levant. 60 years of propaganda have been tremendously succesful at obfuscating the truth. We can only hope that in this most wonderful era in all of humanity, with so much access to raw information, that we can uncover that truth together and truly address the grievances of BOTH parties equally.
"The day we forget that our adversary is human is the day we lose our humanity and become monsters"- Abba. Yes, I know, it's a great quote, and I assure you I just pulled it out of my ass. Feel free to use this gem anytime, but please give credit where credit's due; in this case, me:)

Anonymous said...

Ned
You are certainly a great writer, articulate, to the point, I do totally adhere to your vision.
It is far away in time, but the only envisageable solution is a united Palestine. South Africa is a good example of two communities fighting each other for ages and then reaching a settlement. It is possible!

fuzz said...

No - I don't see any reason why a two-state solution wouldn't work, if Israelis could give the Palestinians contiguous land and all..

henri said...

It is my firm belief that, as long as the Jews believe that they are the "chosen people" and that Palestine is the place where the "chosen people" must be, no peace in Palestine will ever exist.

Anonymous said...

The use of the chosen people is always amusing. Christians believe that G-d chose them after the Jews sinned at the Golden Calf, and then in turn Muslims believe their are the chosen people. The actual translation used is incredible, study biblical hebrew and the term chosen people is not direct, nor a paraphrase. Ask a religious Jew if he believes Jews are superior over other people, or if non_jews will enter heaven. Ask people who are christian if they believe that non christians who don't accept Jesus will get into Heaven and they'll give you a very different answer. My point is this alone, any religion points to the fact that being part of it is better than not; it would be flawed otherwise. Look into your understanding of the Jewish people without bias, and analyze why you have come up with the concept of Jews viewing themselves in a superior chosen fashion. My point is simple, forget israel , forget palestine, you clearly need to focus on the Jewish issue for the moment, deep rooted inside of you , you believe Jews roam the earth believing they're are chosen to be superior.That is the main stumbling block you will have to trying to analyze why the world concentrates on this issue as opposed to other tragedies in the world.

Anonymous said...

why don't you talk about the subjugation and persecution of Jews throughout Islamic history? By a system of apartheid law, Jews, and other religious minorities, were humiliated and opressed for centuries at the hands of their Muslim overlords. While Jews were treated better under Islam than under Christianity they were still not free and able to decide their fate. Palestinian Arabs are still Arab, and there are many Arab states. It is not Israel's fault that Palestinians are not granted citizenship in any other country except Jordan, that is the fault of the Arabs who are simply using the Palestinians as a weapon against Israel.

To put it simply, after being persecuted, forcibly converted, and killed for centuries under both Christians and Muslims, the Jews have a right to RETURN to their country and live freely. Don't point out the last century while ignoring the last 12. The Islamic world, just as the West, has to atone for its sins.

KDunc said...

To the last anonymous comment (I know I'm a year late, but I think it needs saying regardless...)

I hope you realize your argument is flawed; you say the Jewish people have a right to RETURN to their homeland, but you fail to recognize that the vast majority of Jews today are descendants not of the people origianlly from the Middle East who were forced out, but of converts to Judaism mainly from Europe and North Africa. The Palestinians are actually more closely related genetically to descendants of those original tribes, and so therefore have more a "right" to the land than the Jews in the state of Israel.

So before you climb up on that high horse, maybe you ought to reach out and do a little more research outside of the grossly biased mainstream media. Objective thought and research could do the whole world a lot of good...