Thursday, March 22, 2007

Who is responsible – the Jews or the Zionists?

The Middle East's Leading English Language Daily
Wednesday, 28, July, 2004 (10, Jumada al-Thani, 1425)
Who Is Responsible — the Jews or the Zionists? Ali Kazak —

An opinion survey conducted recently in 15 European Union countries by the European Commission showed nearly 60 percent of the questioners believed that Israel represented the greatest threat to world peace. This corresponds with the rising percentage of people around the world who reject and condemn Israel's occupation, discrimination and gross violations of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

The justification Israel and its lobby give for the occupation and oppression is not convincing anyone. But instead of Israel reviewing its policies and practices, it is accusing its opponents of being anti-Semitic.

This accusation presents a great danger to all Jews and their interests and requires answers to the questions: Who is responsible for Israel's racism and crimes against the Palestinian people, clearly defined by international law as war crimes and crimes against humanity? Is it the Jews or the Zionists? Is there a difference between the two? And is opposing Israel's occupation, war crimes and discrimination a form of anti-Semitism? I would like to answer these questions from the victim's point-of-view.

I was a few months old when I was dispossessed with my mother in 1948 and denied my right to return to my homeland and rejoin my father in Haifa, the city of my birth. I did not see my father and he did not see me for 48 years. The first Jew I ever met was in my class at high school in Damascus. I was the only Palestinian refugee in the class and he was the only Syrian Jew. We were both Arabs and Semites. Despite my own personal tragedy and the Naqba, the tragedy of the Palestinian people, I have never felt for one moment that either he or the Jews were responsible for the crimes committed against me and my people.

Neither my Arab culture nor religion allow me to be anti-Semite or anti-Jewish. This
is because Islam, Christianity and Judaism are part of Arab culture. The three monotheistic religions and their prophets came from our region and are part of us. Islam is the continuation of Judaism and Christianity and is not against Christians or Jews whom it regards as `People of the Book'. Muslims believe God is One and is the One who sent all the prophets from Adam to Ibrahim, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed (peace be upon them).

In fact, it is because of the openness of the Arab culture and the moderation of Islam that throughout history many oppressed minorities from Europe sought and found refuge in the Arab countries e.g. Jews, Armenians, Caucasians and others, and the Golden Age of the Jews was achieved within the Golden Age of Islam.

Palestine, the Holy Land, is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. But this does not give the right to foreign Jews, Christians and Muslims to occupy and control it. Similarly, neither do Roman Catholics from the United States, for example, have the right to occupy and control the Vatican because it is holy to them, nor do Indonesian or Iranian Muslims have the right to occupy places holy to them.

Throughout the centuries, Jews, Christians and Muslims made pilgrimages to Palestine and returned back home, and so did Arab Jews. They never felt the need to settle in Palestine at a time when they were able to as until World War I, there were no borders between Arab states, there was freedom of movement and residency.

When the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims fought against the Crusaders they did not fight against them because they were Christians but because they were invaders, oppressors and occupiers. And when the Arabs fought against the Ottoman occupation they were not against the Turks, Muslims or Islam. Similarly, the current struggle against Israel and Zionism does not mean they are against Jews.

Anti-Semitism, similar to Nazism, Fascism and Zionism, are all products of Europe and not the Orient. Not many people know that the Nazis who were able to establish branches in all West European countries, the United States, Canada and Australia were unable to do so in any Arab or Muslim country.

Zionism is a political ideology developed in 1896 by an Austrian Jew, Theodore Herzl. In his book "The Jewish State" he suggested Palestine or Argentina be given to the Jews to establish a colony of their own. One year later, the First Zionist Congress was held in Basle, Switzerland. In 1907, the 8th World Zionist Congress chose Palestine as the sight of the Jewish colony.
In 1917 Britain promised Palestine to the Zionists. In a letter to Lord Rothschild, a British banker and Zionist, Britain's Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote that the government would facilitate "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." This letter became known as the Balfour Declaration. According to the 1918 Official Statistical Data of the British Mandate, contained in a Survey of Palestine, the population ratio was 92% Arabs; and 8% Jews; land ownership was 97.5% Arab and 2.5% Jewish.

By 33 votes to 13 with 10 abstentions, the UN General Assembly partitioned Palestine in 1947. The resolution gave the newly arrived Jewish European settlers, who now constituted one-third of the population and owned 5.6% of the land, 56.47% of the best parts of Palestine and the two-third Palestinian population, who owned 94.4% of the land, 42.88% of their country.

The Palestinians rejected the UN's unjust partition and called for the withdrawal of Britain and the establishment of a democratic independent state for all its Muslims, Christians and Jews. On the other hand, the Zionists accepted the partition because it gave them, for the first time, the legitimacy they were looking for, but they had no intention of complying with the UN resolution.
In 1948 Plan Dalet was put into force by the well-armed and trained Zionist terrorist groups -- the Irgun, the Hagannah and the Stern Gang. The plan had two objectives: To establish a Jewish state beyond the boundaries defined by the UN and to establish a state free of the Palestinian Arab population by deporting them. Under the watchful eyes of the British, they seized several hundred villages and most of the Palestinian cities before the termination of the British mandate on May 15, 1948, even though most of the towns and villages were outside the area of the Jewish state as defined by the UN.

On May 14, 1948, through massacres and terror, the Zionists were able to declare the establishment of the state of Israel on 78 percent of Palestine and ethnically-cleanse over 70 percent of the Palestinian people in order to turn the Muslim and Christian majority into a minority and the Jewish minority into a majority to facilitate the establishment of an artificial Jewish state. The Jewish state could only be realized by deliberate ethnic-cleansing. Thus they destroyed Palestine and renamed it Israel.

Despite the United Nations' repeated calls on Israel to let the Palestinian refugees return to their homeland and pay them compensation (UNGA 194), Israel denied them their right to return because they were not Jews, at a time when any Jew can immigrate to Israel from anywhere and claim citizenship on arrival. All countries belong to their citizens, but this is not so in Israel. The Israel they established does not belong to its citizens, it is a trust for the Jews alone around the world. The Palestinian minority which remained are discriminated against and treated as second class citizens.

Israeli leaders and historians now admit to the ethnic-cleansing and war crimes committed. Moshe Dayan, the late Israeli defense minister, stated in a famous speech to students at the Israeli Institute of Technology in Haifa in 1969: "Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages and I do not blame you because geography book no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahial arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Hunefis; and Kefar Yeshushua in the place of Tal Al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population."
Indeed, the Palestinian academic Dr. Walid Khalidi documented 418 depopulated and destroyed Palestinian villages in his book "All That Remains."

Also the Israeli historian Benny Morris admitted in a recent interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz newspaper: "Without the uprooting of the Palestinians [in 1948], a Jewish state would not have arisen here… The term "to cleanse" is terrible. I know it doesn't sound nice but that's the term they used at the time."

In 1967 Israel occupied what remained of Palestine and some other Arab territories, and 37 years later still maintains its bloody occupation, oppression, killings, assassinations, destruction of homes, factories and farms, collective punishments, military and economic siege, the building of settlements and its latest invention the 8-meter high and 788 kilometers long Apartheid Wall, which is more than twice as high and 19 times as long as the Berlin Wall. What Zionism and Israel means to me is my dispossession from my homeland and denial of my and my people's right to return to it on racial and religious grounds. It means occupation, oppression and racial and religious discrimination.

We believe Judaism and Zionism are different and unparallel. The literature of the Palestine revolution and the PLO has also consolidated our vision and our belief in the difference between Judaism as a religion and Zionism as a political ideology. In order to make this crucial point clear, the Palestinian national liberation movement (Fatah) raised the slogan "Not every Jew is a Zionist and not every Zionist is a Jew", and that the one who is fully responsible for the crimes committed against the Palestinian and Arab people are the Zionists. The extremist Christian Zionist groups, George Bush and Tony Blair are examples of non-Jewish Zionists. And in fact the first people to reject Zionism and fight against it were not Palestinians, but Jews, including the first Australian-born governor-general of Australia, Sir Isaac Isaacs.

The international community also found it crucial to emphasize the difference between the two with its adoption in 1975 of the UN resolution 3379 condemning "Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination" and holding it responsible for its crimes against the Palestinian people.
Israel and the Zionist organizations launched an anti-UN campaign and with the support of the US, Australian and British governments, were able, 16 years later, through bullying other countries, pressure and bribes to repeal that resolution in December 1991 thus putting an end to the international community's attempts to differentiate between Judaism and Zionism.
Israeli and Zionist objectives behind this were to silence critics and voices opposed to Israel's policies and to blackmail anyone who does that by insinuating that behind their criticism lies a hidden agenda of anti-Semitism.

Needless to say incalculable damage was inflicted on Jews and Jewish interests around the world by repealing this UN resolution because it blurred and confused the picture in the eyes of the public who will now see Israel and Zionist crimes as Jewish crimes, and cannot be blamed for doing so, especially when Israel calls itself "the Jewish state" and the mainstream Jewish organizations zealously lobby and defend Israel's violations, occupation, war crimes and racism, and campaign against the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Indeed, the Zionists have shown once again that they do not care about the damage inflicted by this deliberate mix-up against the Jews. As always they commit their crimes and hide behind the Jewish people.
The fathers of the Zionist movement have acknowledged the benefits gained by the rise of anti-Semitism. Herzl himself wrote in his Diary "anti-Semitism has grown and continues to grow, and so do I…The anti-Semites will become our most loyal friends, the anti-Semite nations will become our allies." Without anti-Semitism, Jews would not necessarily see the need to immigrate to Israel or to pay fat donations and defend it, right or wrong.

Israel tries to shirk its responsibility and blame its victims for the crimes and violations it is committing against them. The accusation of anti-Semitism is counterproductive and a bankrupt policy which did succeed for some time but is no longer intimidating anyone. People no longer care much about such accusations. On the contrary, people feel bitter about such slander and insult and are more determined as they know they are not anti-Semitic and the objective is to bully and silence them through this blackmail while Israel continues its daily crimes.

This is best expressed by the renowned Australian author, speechwriter and film director Bob Ellis in his letter printed in The Australian newspaper on Oct. 29, 2003: "Is it anti-Semitic to say it is wrong to bulldoze apartment blocks and leave the tenants with nowhere to live? Then I swear on the head of my grandmother Rachel Larkman that I am anti-Semitic too. Is it anti-Semitic to say that killing 3,000 unarmed Palestinians in three years is wrong and a crime against humanity? Then I swear by the blood of my ancestors all the way back to Abraham that I am anti-Semitic too. Is it anti-Semitic to say that threatening to "remove" a democratically-elected head of state is wrong and a breach of international law? Then I too am anti-Semitic and I await my punishment. By helicopter gunship perhaps."

Anti-Semites, no doubt, attempt to exploit Israel's racism and aggression to attack Jews, exactly as anti-Muslims attempt to exploit Bin Laden and 9/11 to attack Muslims.
Anti-Semitism is racism, illegitimate and must be fought against, side by side, with all forms of racism against Aborigines, Muslims, Arabs, blacks, Asians … etc. But for that to be effective and real there has to be a clear definition of anti-Semitism which does not confuse it with anti-Zionism, which is legitimate.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remark in his recent speech to the UN-organized seminar dedicated to anti-Semitism that "When we seek justice for the Palestinians, as we must -- let us firmly disavow anyone who tries to use that cause to incite hatred against Jews -- in Israel or elsewhere" is incomplete. He should have continued to say that we should equally disavow anyone who incites hatred against Palestinians and accuses those who support the legitimate rights of Palestinians and opposes Israel's crimes as anti-Semites.

The international community must put an end to the extremely dangerous Zionist game of playing with words, challenging international law and norms and turning facts upside down because the damage this causes goes far beyond the Palestinian people and affects Jews themselves and the world at large. Opposing Israel and Zionism is not anti-Semitism and fighting occupation, oppression and racism is not terrorism, and must not be confused with terrorism. Only when this is clearly defined can anti-Semitism and terrorism be defined and fought collectively in the same way fighting against all bigots and racists around the world. Jews should be the first to be extremely concerned with this confusion and mix-up and what Israel is doing "in their name." It is foremost in their interest to face this challenge and not bury their heads in the sand, because they will be the first ones to pay the price dearly.

A recent editorial in the London-based Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi pointed out that "Israel has become the most hated country in the world and every day it adds a new cause for this hatred." When 60 percent of Europeans regard Israel as the greatest threat to world peace, Jewish people around the world must get the message and not allow Israel and its lobby to shoot the messenger. They must force Israel to recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and end its occupation before it is too late.

(Ali Kazak is the head of the General Palestinian Delegation to Australia and New Zealand. He is the ambassador of Palestine to Vanuatu and East Timor.)

Who is responsible – the Jews or the Zionists?

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