After reading Howard Kaplan’s article titled “Is goodwill enough?” published on Ars Notoria on the 18th of July 2021, the conclusion I arrived at is that the pro-Israeli propaganda machine is still continuing with its strategies with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The main points of the article are based on oversimplification and falsification.
The military occupation of Palestine dates back to 1948, a period that has witnessed four wars and several Intifadas. Those wars ended in increasing the numbers of Palestinian refugees in camps in historical Palestine and in the neighbouring countries. In addition, United Nations resolutions were issued and peace accords were signed but never implemented by Israel. On the contrary, more land was confiscated, more houses were demolished, more people were killed, more water resources were stolen and more colonies were built – just to fulfill the Zionist dream.
They mean to give the international community the impression that the peace process is still going on and they are still interested in peace so the process of the dispossession and displacement of Palestinians can continue unnoticed and uninterrupted.
The idea of having people of goodwill on both sides communicating virtually or in person to influence the peace related decisions of their own political leaders is not new. It started after signing the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993. The Israelis have never taken these meetings and conferences seriously. They mean to give the international community the impression that the peace process is still going on and they are still interested in peace, so that the process of the dispossession and displacement of Palestinians can continue unnoticed and uninterrupted.
The suggestion that Black Lives Matter (BLM) can be used as a template for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be taken seriously simply because it gives the readers the notion that Israel is a legitimate government and is not a military occupation force. George Floyd was an American citizen who enjoyed all the civil rights granted to him by law and the case of his tragic demise was resolved in a proper court away from apartheid policies.
The suggestion that Black Lives Matter (BLM) can be used as a template for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be taken seriously simply because it gives the readers the notion that Israel is a legitimate government and is not a military occupation force. George Floyd was an American citizen who enjoyed all the civil rights granted to him by law
The sea of positive change in how Palestinians are viewed globally is related to different factors, the most important of which is the proper utilization of social media to showcase the atrocities done by the Israelis against the Palestinian civilians, starting from cutting trees down to demolishing houses over the heads of their inhabitants, let alone the fourteen years’ siege of Gaza.
While Palestinians do get solidarity from many Jewish people in the west, Israel has strong allies in western governments and in the western media, and it has support from its fellow travellers like Howard Kaplan.
However The grip of the pro-Israelis over the propaganda machine that turns black into white and vice versa has started to loosen and now people around the world have live unfiltered access to the news where it happens.
This new situation has not only enabled ordinary Palestinian and freedom lovers around the globe to expose the brutality and the arrogance of the Israeli army but also made Israel a source of embarrassment to its western allies. The below poetry lines written by the late Palestinian poet Tawiq Zayyad may be a good conclusion for this article;
It is better for the oppressor to review his account
Before the turn of the wheel
For every action
Read what’s written in the book.
Last verse of the poem Like Twenty Impossibles, translated by Nidal Saeed. Tawiq Zayyad was A member of the Israeli Communist Party He was also the mayor of the city of Haifa.
Nidal Saeed is an ordinary Arab mortal, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin who thinks that there is enough space and wealth in this world for all creatures and that the need for wars is almost nonexistent. He has worked in education and education management for 32 years and he is now happily retired.
In Israel-Palestine people are ignoring government and reaching out to each other.
By Howard Kaplan
In the desert of hope where Palestinians continue to be brutally oppressed by the Israeli government and have their land and property taken away from them, in the spirit of rapprochement, the well know writer and progressive Zionist Howard Kaplan looks for signs of mutual tolerance and acceptance in Israel-Palestine – and he sees hope. Many people of good will, on both sides, are reaching out to each other in a spirit of common humanity, sometimes with regret for past actions and emotions. As Howard Kaplan suggests, ‘Black Lives Matter may be a template for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ordinary people wrested the political conflict from the politicians and pushed and pulled it into a mass movement.’
Since the last Gaza War of May 2021, I see a sea change in how Palestinians are viewed, if not yet by politicians or Israel’s staunchest defenders, clearly by people at large, Jews and non-Jews alike. They are suddenly being viewed as people not pawns who have agency in the conflict. With great hope, this is particularly true of Jewish Israelis. This morning as I sat at the computer, I saw a Facebook post by an Israeli woman living in Amsterdam. Seven years ago she met a Palestinian Israeli in England. She wrote in this post that previously she had felt these “other” Israelis should feel grateful for living in such a progressive country. These two women have become fast friends and the Jewish one described her evolution in understanding that grew from their talk. She now feels how this woman’s family was displaced from Jerusalem in 1948 and landed in a refugee camp in Lebanon.
Social media is filled with invitations for Zoom and physical meetings between Israelis and Palestinians for peace.
Social media is filled with invitations for Zoom and physical meetings between Israelis and Palestinians for peace. One meeting on July 15, was hosted by Gen. Mohammad Shmaisani of Jordan and Abraham Shai of Israel. Another, The Parents’ Family Forum, brings together families of bereaved on both sides. Every summer 40 Israeli and Palestinian teens, ages 14-18, join in Israel for five days of trips and workshops of cultural growth and mutual understanding.
The Jerusalem Post, recently published a piece about Shrinking the Conflict, an Israeli NGO that aims to break the large conflict into smaller pieces that are more easily solvable one at a time. STC has recently held over 100 parlor meetings between both sides across the length of Israel. Problems tackled include congestion at the Allenby Bridge Crossing and the broken Palestinian workers permit system. Women often are at the forefront of conflict resolution and zoom groups of Palestinian women and Israeli women finally talking have mushroomed since this last conflict which seemed more than others to finally have truly frightened both sides about the future. It may be a beginning of what the murder of George Floyd sparked.
Black Lives Matter may be a template for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ordinary people wrested the political conflict from the politicans and pushed and pulled it into a mass movement. As an example of the lasting change, a friend of mine is an urban planner. His company just got a contract for a small city of 25,000 people adjacent to a metropolis. One of the issues in planning the new downtown and city overall is a new relationship between policing and the African American minority in this upscale city. Change can happen and like in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the most hopeful and likely course is a ground swell from ordinary people.
Black Lives Matter may be a template for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
For over forty years until his death, I was very close with Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg. Arthur was the author of The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader. Penned in 1959, it remains the central text on understanding Zionism. He was also one of the founders of Peace Now, the longtime peace and reconciliation organization. Arthur told me that in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War (known among the Palestinians as the June War and as Jews we should understand the other side’s terminology and lack of desire to celebrate a loss managed in six days), he was taken to the Golan Heights to survey the conquest. In his euphoria, he took some battlefield souveniers left by the retreating Syrian Army. He told me he later regretted it, that he had been caught up in the moment and was celebrating conquest and not looking towards peace.
Maybe a lot of Jews and Israelis have been caught up in a long now more than 50-year moment. Arthur Hertzberg was able to examine himself. It is something a lot of us might do. I’ve always felt the ability to change is a sign of greatness.
HOWARD KAPLAN, a native of Los Angeles, has lived in Israel and traveled extensively through Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. He the author of three novels of Israel-Palestinian reconciliation: Bullets of Palestine, To Destroy Jerusalem and The Spy’s Gamble.
At the age of 21, Howard was sent on a mission into the Soviet Union to smuggle a dissident’s manuscript on microfilm to London. His first trip was a success. On his second trip, he transferred a manuscript to the Dutch Ambassador inside his Moscow embassy. A week later, he was arrested in Khartiv in the Ukraine and interrogated for two days there and then two days in Moscow, before being expelled from the USSR. The KGB had picked him up for meeting dissidents and did not know about the manuscript transfers. He holds a BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley and an MA in Philosophy of Education from UCLA. He is the author of five novels.
The longing for a homeland is legitimate and the result of two millennia of European persecution
By Phil Hall
When my mother was four, it was 1940. She was in Paris with her own mother, a German. Before my grandfather, an Austrian Jew, swept her off her feet, Granny Lisa lived in Frankfurt and she was thinking of going into acting. She was the twin of a well-known German character actor, Heini Gobel, my great uncle.
My mother, Eve Steinhardt, became alert to danger and aware of her surroundings in Paris at age four after the war started. She was told to pretend that her Jewish father was a French philanderer who had cruelly left them. Once, she turned around to her mother, who spoke French with a thick German accent and said:
‘Mutti, from now on, let me do the talking in shops.’
65 years later my mother sat by the fire in the Lowveld in Mpumalanga and she turned to me and said: ‘Sometimes it is healthy to hate.’ My mother lost her aunt, who was living with her in Paris to Auschwitz, via Drancy. She lost her grandparents in the Prague Ghetto, Theresienstadt and Treblinka.
understand why Jews might want a homeland. It was because Europeans like you persecuted them.
‘I hate the people who killed my grandmother. I hate the people who jailed me in Apartheid South Africa. It is healthy to hate.’
My father spent many years as the editor of Middle East magazines. He was a progressive par excellence. Dad, Tony Hall, had a soft spot for Palestine. He was at the Camp David talks with Menachem Begin – whom he reviled – and Anwar Sadat.
But the longing for homeland was a response to European antisemitism.
But my Mom thought about the death of her family and she understood the dream of a homeland, though it was so distorted later on by the Zionists. We were sitting around the fire and my father said.
‘You have a good voice. Sing us something.‘ I thought. Then I started to sing the famous song. My mother joined in.
‘Far and wide as the eye can wander Heath and bog are everywhere Not a bird sings out to cheer us Oaks are standing gaunt and bare
We are the Peat Bog Soldiers Marching with our spades To the moor
Up and down the guards are pacing No one, no one can get through Flight would mean a sure death facing Guns and barbed wire greet our view
We are the Peat Bog Soldiers Marching with our spades To the moor
But for us there is no complaining Winter will in time be past. One day we will cry rejoicing “Homeland dear, you’re mine at last’
Then will the peatbog soldiers March no more with their spades To the moor.’
My mother, who, on the whole agreed with my father, laughed with bitterness. ‘A good choice.’ She said. But my father was upset.
‘You will make me cry.’
He meant to say that my priorities were wrong and that it was the Palestinians we should be empathising with these days and feeling great solidarity for, and not the Jews, at least, not the Zionists.
And so, in this way we come to the point. The terrible persecution of the Jews in Europe, one of whom was my own mother as a child, lead to an unquenchable and understandable desire for ‘heimat‘, for home; a place where no oppression would exist.
This oppression is not lost in history. It is as close to me as my own mother. It is hanging right above the head of all Europeans like a giant super-moon. Impossible to ignore.
Ironically, perhaps the oppressed Palestinians in exile and the oppressed people of Palestine are in the best position now to understand this longing.
The terrible persecution of the Jews in Europe led to the unquenchable and understandable desire for ‘heimat‘, for home.
But the longing for homeland was a response to European antisemitism. To an antisemitism so fierce – and so widespread – that it led to the death camps. The death camps are something Palestinians have not experienced, for all the awful persecution they have suffered.
Let me express my disdain for anyone who thinks that the persecution of the Palestinians is in any way equivalent to the persecution of Jews during WW2. It is not. The Palestinians are terribly oppressed, but Israel is not systematically exterminating them. The comparison, however, is rightly made and the sickening irony of a former oppressed people who become the oppressor is always there.
understand why Jews might want a homeland. It was because Europeans like you persecuted them
It is true that Israel is an Apartheid colonial state, but it is also true that in Christian Europe the Jews underwent suffering almost beyond all comprehension and that their fate, like the fate of the enslaved Africans of 100 years before, is the measure of the evil that humans can inflict on other humans.
Europeans are hardly in a position to attack Jews again for who they are. And those British people who talk about the Rothschilds and global Jewish conspiracies are doing what their notorious fascist forebears did before and during WW2. In doing so they bracket themselves in with the Nazis. They may call themselves socialists, but they are not. They are National Socialists, scape-goaters.
We can support the Palestinian cause, we can be against the Apartheid, right-wing elements of Zionism, we can support Palestinian rights with all our hearts, but, at the same time, for God’s sake, understand why Jews might want a homeland. It was because Europeans like you persecuted them.
It was and is the vile antisemitism of Europeans that caused many Jews to want a homeland. This desire is perfectly understandable, even if, and I must emphasise this point, in the case of Palestine, it is not justifiable.
Phil Hall is a college lecturer. He is a committed socialist and humanitarian. Phil was born in South Africa, where his parents were in the ANC. There, his mother was imprisoned and his father was the first journalist from a national paper to be banned. Phil grew up in East Africa and settled in Kingston-upon-Thames. He has also lived and worked in the Ukraine, Spain and Mexico. Phil has blogged for the Guardian, the Morning Star and several other publications and he has written stories for The London Magazine.
The moment has come for the soft left to develop a backbone and make a stand against reactionary, expansionist Zionism.
by Phil Hall and Naeem Ali Jundyeh
LET’S be clear. It was the United States and British governments who were the powerful supporters of apartheid between 1948 and 1990. Those governments and the corporations based in the US and Britain with investments in South Africa kept apartheid alive.
The US and Britain, above all, ensured, through the IMF, that when there was a change, there would no redistributive tax or programme of nationalisations, despite the Freedom Charter, and that the aspirations of South Africans for economic and social justice would not be met.
Many Jews turned against Zionism at that point and they were not “self-hating”; they were acting as human beings who had conserved their moral compass.
Apartheid’s other important ally at the time was Israel. It was through Israel that South Africa acquired nuclear weapons.This amounted to a powerful vote of confidence from the reactionary Zionist state for its sister Apartheid state.
Apartheid began in May 1948 and the state of zionist Israel was proclaimed by David Ben Gurion in the same month in 1948. Both governments were recognised immediately by the US and Britain.
Apartheid was not only a racialist philosophy, but the Dutch Reformed Church (now repentant) believed in the divine right of the colonialists (who arrived from the Netherlands in 1652) to African land.
anti-semitism has been a building block of European Christian culture from the time of the Romans
The so-called Afrikaaners believed that their right to possess the land was consecrated by God after the Battle of Blood River, which the Voortrekkers won with superior weapons even though they were outnumbered.
According to the Dutch Reformed Church, the black inhabitants of South Africa were the children of Ham, Noah’s accursed son in the Bible, and, according to that church, black South Africans were destined to be servants of the newly arrived Europeans because they were regarded as “hewers of wood and drawers of water.”
The Dutch colonial narrative of the Biblical right to colonise Africa is just one example of the use of religion to justify colonialism all over the world.
In the end the Zionist narrative — impossibly tragic and grand as it is, despite the millennial dream of heimat and the millennial nightmare of European persecution — can also be reduced to a lie; a lie used as an excuse to take the land away from an “inferior” people and colonise it.
I met a young US zionist and asked her: “How is it possible to justify the legitimacy of a country like Israel when it is created simply by taking it away from its inhabitants through force? Murder and theft is not a proper basis for the formation of a new country, is it?”
She looked at me wryly for a moment. “Isn’t it?”
And at that moment I realised she was right. Genocides and theft were the foundation stones of the USA, Canada , Australia and quite a few other countries.
In contrast, despite the immeasurable injustices perpetrated on the majority of South African people, the Apartheid government never resorted to genocide. Genocide of the Palestinians by the reactionary Zionists will never be permitted by the international community.
Fifty million people were killed in the second world war — most of them Russians, communists or socialists. But the case of the six million Jews who were killed using the industrial methods of the slaughterhouse generated deep sympathy and a sense of contrition throughout Europe.
The emperor has no clothes. Reactionary Zionism is apartheid.
There was the dawning realisation that anti-semitism had always been endemic in Europe — that anti-semitism has been a building block of European Christian culture from the time of the Romans. We all know the ridiculous story that suggests that Pontius Pilate, who sent Jesus, the rebellious Jew, to be crucified, was innocent and that the horrible death of Jesus the Jew was caused by the Jews themselves.
This European bad conscience allowed the migration of Jewish settlers to Palestine. Many of the first Jewish settlers were idealistic. Many of them came in a spirit of social optimism.
The British allowed the European Jews to arrive and settle. At that time after the war Europe was still the world colonial power. Palestine was a British protectorate. Neither the Palestinians nor any of the people of other colonised countries had any say over whether Jewish settlements in Palestine should be allowed.
Genocide of the Palestinians by the reactionary Zionists will never be permitted by the international community.
But, over the decades, the enormous goodwill towards the Jews who had been the victims of a uniquely horrifying crime of mass extermination was slowly squandered by the reactionary Zionist colonialists.
Many of those Jews who had been inspired by the example of relatively peaceful and idealistic settlements that did not steal land from Palestinians and aimed at peaceful coexistence were revolted when the ultra-right zionist Irgun blew up the King David Hotel in 1946, killing 96 people and injuring 46.
Then, in what the Palestinians call the Nakba (the great tragedy) 1.5 million Palestinians were driven out of their country. People in villages like Kafir Qasim were made to leave. Forty nine were killed when they refused. This policy of pogroms against the Palestinians continued in villages like Quibya in 1954.
Many Jews turned against reactionary Zionism at that point and they were not “self-hating”; they were acting as human beings who had conserved their moral compass.
The case against apartheid South Africa was clear cut. The government was unacceptably racist, the result of a rump European colonialism. Nevertheless, for strategic, economic and ideological reasons NATO, the US, Britain, Germany, France and Japan continued to support it to the hilt from 1948 up until the late ’80s.
Glossy brochures of the mangled corpses of the victims at Auschwitz and other camps are handed out at every peace summit to justify the persecution of Palestinians
But Israel, thanks to the guilty conscience of the anti-semitic European ruling class, and the strategic oil interests of the US — where Israel behaves as the US’s proxy in the region — continues to receive qualified support from the large Western states. Israel gets this support despite the fact that Israel has clearly created its own horrific apartheid state, with Palestinians given the choice of emigration and refugee status (4.5 million) or living in the enormous ghettos that Israel has created for them in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
If you challenge an apologist for reactionary Zionist Israel on the situation of the Palestinians they will first invoke the Holocaust. Glossy brochures of the mangled corpses of the victims at Auschwitz and other camps are handed out at every peace summit to justify the persecution of Palestinians.
Then they will say that reactionary Zionism is not racism because Jews are of many nationalities, including Arab Jews from Yemen and African Jews. And then they will claim that Israel is a democracy, unlike — and the finger points at the autocratic Arab nations that are Israel’s neighbours.
The crimes committed against the Palestinian people are much worse than those committed against South Africans.
If these arguments were ever a real defense of European colonialism of an Arab nation, who knows? But the continual shooting and bombing, the assassination of legitimate national leaders – including, in many people’s view, Yasser Arafat, the constant persecution and oppression of Palestinians — including the killing, torture and imprisonment of Palestinian children — has worn any ideological justification for a reactionary Zionist state of Israel down to nothing. The emperor has no clothes. reactionary Zionism is apartheid.
And then, just to remind us of this fact, two years ago reactionary Zionists presented the world with a new Sharpeville. We watched as a new Sharpeville unfolded; Palestinians on Return to the Land Day were shot in the back as they ran away from armed soldiers and our own historical memory suddenly resurfaced.
In South Africa on March 21 1960 the South African police killed 69 protesters and wounded 110. Most of the people at Sharpeville were shot in the back. Black South Africans were protesting at the fact that they were not allowed into their own cities without a “pass.”
In Palestine in the Return to the Land protests, according to the Guardian, 190 Palestinians were killed and 23,000 injured, many with live ammunition. Most of them were shot in the back. They were protesting at the fact that they are not allowed to go back to their own homes, taken from them.
The crimes committed against the Palestinian people are much worse than those committed against South Africans. At a time when Israel is annexing Palestinian territories and trampling into Jerusalem, the moment has come for the soft left to develop a backbone, to make a stand against reactionary expansionist Zionism. But what do we see? Everywhere they run from accusations of antisemitism as if opposing Israel and opposing Jews were the same thing.
Reprinted with minor alterations, from an article in the Morning Star
Phil Hall is a lecturer and writer, who lost members of his family in the Shoa.
Naeem Jundyeh is a teacher who lost his home, country and many friends in the Nakba.
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