Voltaire Network

On Rationalizing Israel’s Dispossession of the Palestinians

In order to forfend the boycott of Israel, the Israeli colonial left denies any similarity between the South African apartheid system and the situation prevailing in Palestine, by claiming that the Jews are the majority in Israel while the whites constituted the minority in South Africa. This is a flagrantly specious argument insofar as the Israeli jews regard the Palestinian Arabs as stateless and overlook the fact that the black inhabitants of South Africa were stripped of their nationality and relegated to the bantustan. In justifying his opposition to the boycott, Uri Avnery, the emblematic figure of the Peace Bloc, employs a pacifist rhetoric which is as appealing as it is fallacious, to which Jeffrey Blankfort retorts in this piece.

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Jeffrey Blankfort

Hello Uri,

I have just read your response to critics of your opposition to boycotting Israel [1] and, having long ago realized the limits of your activism and worldview, it held no surprises. You have quite clearly invested too much time and energy over the years in rationalizing Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians from their homeland to acknowledge the injustice that was not only inherent but required for Israel’s creation. The passage of time does not erase that injustice no matter how many times you or others invoke the Nazi holocaust. The die for establishing a Jewish state displacing the Palestinians from their homes and villages was cast well before Hitler came to power so that issue should have no place in this argument.

The arguments against establishing a Jewish state in Palestine raised by anti-Zionist and non-Zionist Jews going back to the early years of the last century were well known and all have been proved correct. So it should not be a matter of surprise that Israel’s legitimacy has not been accepted by the Palestinians and the other peoples of the region. It was advertised by Zionists worldwide as a colonial settler enterprise with pride, in fact, until such terminology fell out of favor. That it was established at a time when the rest of the world was engaged in a period of decolonization was even a further guarantee of its rejection and had it not been for the influence of its supporters in the US and Europe and the arms that flowed from that support, Israel, like French Algeria, would have become another episode in history. (And it is noteworthy that it was Israel’s support for the French against the Algerian resistance that led to France being Israel’s chief supplier of weaponry until 1967).

You are also well aware that to maintain Israel as the Sparta of the Middle East, the “Pro-Israel Lobby” has long held the US Congress in thrall, strangling what little is left of American democracy. Do you not recall writing how one president after another tried to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict and how each one was forced by The Lobby to retire from the field defeated? And with each defeat, the theft of Palestinian land and the growth of the settlements continued. Who has paid the price for that?

As you have already assumed, I am against the existence of the state of Israel or a Jewish state by any other name which is based on the notion that a Jew from anywhere in the world has more of a right to live in what most of the world knew and accepted as Palestine than a Palestinian Arab who was born there or her or his family members. If that is not both immoral and racist, we need new definitions for those words. And yet you, apparently, do not find it so and reject the opinions of those who do. (The notion that Israel or any country can be a homeland for a person not born there and who cannot trace a single relative that was born there is but another example of how Zionists have twisted the language to justify the unjust.)

You desperation for an argument against the idea of a single state becomes apparent when you write that the French and the Germans did not agree to live together. Do you really believe there is any comparison to be made between the two situations. Are the French sitting on German land or vice versa?

I continue to be mystified at your continuing efforts to separate the settlers from those Jews living within the Green Line as if the majority of those in Israel proper are not as responsible for electing a series of professional killers as their prime ministers year after year, all of whom have expanded the settlements. There hasn’t been a single poll of Israeli Jews that I have seen going back to 1988, in the early days of the first intifada, where half of those polled did not call for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. How many settlers were there in 1988?

In your wonderful democracy, every able bodied Jewish man or woman, with the exception of the chassdim, has served as an occupier in the West Bank or Gaza for the past 42 years. Are they not culpable? Yesterday, I watched on Al-Jazeera as Israeli soldiers fired waves of tear gas and some smelly green liquid on non-violent Palestinians who were marching to demonstrate against the steel fence that cuts through their land at Ni’ilin and who then began targeting the Al-Jazeera reporter. Are we expected to embrace these young thugs wearing an Israeli uniform? Are those who hate them to be condemned and not the thugs and those who sent them there?

You repeatedly use the word “peace” but not once do you use the word “justice.” And that is what separates you and your fellow Zionists from the Palestinians and those who genuinely support them. The occupation bothers your conscience, your sense of identity as an Israeli, but how much does it affect your life? Ending the occupation no matter how it is arranged will bring you peace of mind and time to finish your memoirs. Now, try if you can,and imagine yourself as a Palestinian who has been under an Israeli jackboot all of his or her life. Would you be simply looking for peace, an absence of that Israeli jackboot, or would you be seeking and demanding justice?

Your conclusion expresses your confusion. You write that you want “Israel to be a state belonging to all its citizens, without distinction of ethnic origin, gender,religion or language; with completely equal rights for all,” yet you assume there will be a “Hebrew-speaking majority” that will allow its “Arab-speaking citizens… to cherish their close ties with their Palestinian brothers and sisters…” If there is no distinction between one citizen and another, Jewish or Arab, how can you assume that the majority will continue to be Hebrew-speaking (or are you allowing for the possibility that Israel’s Palestinian Arab population which already is largely bi-lingual will become the majority at which point Israel will no longer be a Jewish state?). If that is so, perhaps there is hope for you yet.

[1] « The Boycott Revisited », by Uri Avnery, Voltaire Network.

Jeffrey Blankfort

Jeffrey Blankfort A United-States Jewish journalist. He is a co-founder of Labor Committee of the Middle East, and the former director of Middle East Labor Bulletin.

 
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