There’s a reason that pictures are cropping up with Israelis holding signs in support of Palestinian rights. There’s a reason that Jewish organizations such as Jewish Voice For Peace and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions are fighting for the rights of Palestinians. The reason is that the truth about the official Israeli narrative is coming out–too slowly, to be sure, but inevitably, given technological advances in communication.
What gets reported in the mainstream media are the “terrorist” activities and rocket attacks by the Palestinians on Israel. What usually doesn’t get reported is the Palestinian reality, which includes daily rocket attacks from Israel into Palestinian neighborhoods on their border, the regular incursion of Israeli tanks into Palestinian territory, the absolute control of life in Gaza, characterized as a total vertical occupation–absolute control of movement on the land, under the land, in the air, and by sea.
The daily restrictions and oppression of the Palestinians are now well-documented by people like Jimmy Carter (Peace Not Apartheid), Jewish political analyst, Phyllis Bennis (Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict), and a group of Israelis called the New Historians, like Ilan Pappe. Pappe and other historians were given complete access to the archives of the government and the Israeli Defense Force. The resulting picture of a distorted history resulted in Pappe writing a book called The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Since it’s publication in 2006, he has been forced to leave Israel because of death threats.
The latest assault on Gaza is being depicted as a defensive move made necessary by the firing of a Palestinian rocket into Israel on November 10th. In fact, as reported in the Guardian, a four-month-long ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, was broken by an Israeli raid days before, on November 5th. In addition, on November 4th, the Israelis shot and killed a mentally-ill Palestinian man and, on November 8th, they killed a 13-year-old boy playing soccer. These are not isolated or uncommon events, but they are what preceded the rockets being fired from Gaza.
This patently unfair and unequal situation was set up many years ago, with a collusion between the British, the colonial power once in charge of the region, and Zionists, the people who wanted to establish a Jewish homeland. In 1917, Zionist Leo Motzkin wrote,
“Our thought is that the colonization of Palestine has to go in two directions: Jewish settlement…and the resettlement of the Arabs…in areas outside the country. The transfer of so many Arabs may seem at first unacceptable economically, but is nonetheless practical. It does not require too much money to resettle a Palestinian village on another land.” [Pappe, pg. 7]
In 1919, Winston Churchill wrote,
“There are Jews, whom we are pledged to introduce into Palestine, and who take it for granted that the local population will be cleared out to suit their convenience.” [Pappe, pg. 283]
What followed, especially beginning in 1947, was a systematic clearing of Palestinians from the land. Zionists called the area “a land without people for a people without a land,” totally ignoring the hundreds of thousands who were already there. By the end of 1948, as the British stood by and let it happen, 750,000 Palestinians had been forced to flee or had been massacred, with their villages burned, looted, and razed. The complete history can be found in Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (or a summary of events can be found in some of my previous blogs, with citations.)
This set in place a history of violence between the two peoples, but the imbalance of power in Israel’s favor was, and is, extreme. Fortunately, Judaism and Zionism aren’t the same thing. The former is a religion, the latter is a political movement. There are many Jews both inside Israel and out, who are outraged by what is happening to the Palestinian people. Rabbi Alissa Wise of the Jewish Voice for Peace sent an email to supporters on Friday, calling for action to implore President Obama to stop allowing military aid to Israel to be used against the Palestinians. In it, she wrote:
“The news coming out of Gaza and Israel these past few days has been truly horrifying. Drones and F-16s are dropping bombs over densely populated Gaza, which continues to be under Israel’s control from infrastructure to border. Twenty Palestinians have been killed. Rockets being launched out of Gaza have killed three Israeli civilians.
“This Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ is being paid for thanks to the blank check the Israeli military receives from the US government… Even before Israel’s escalation of violence, we were calling for an end to the Israeli military’s blank check along with a growing coalition of Jews, Christians, Muslims and human rights and solidarity activists. Together we are asking President Obama to make sure aid to Israel doesn’t continue to violate US laws which specifically prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations.”
Jewish scholar Noam Chomsky, often characterized by Zionists as a “self-hating Jew” for his objections to Israeli policies, visited Gaza in October, after which he wrote:
“It hardly takes more than a day in Gaza to begin to appreciate what it must be like to try to survive in the world’s largest open-air prison, where a million and a half people, in the most densely populated area of the world, are constantly subject to random and often savage terror and arbitrary punishment, with no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade.”
“The intensity of this commitment on the part of the Israeli political leadership has been dramatically illustrated just in the past few days, as they warn that they will ‘go crazy’ if Palestinian rights are given limited recognition at the UN. That is not a new departure. The threat to ‘go crazy’ (‘nishtagea’) is deeply rooted, back to the Labor governments of the 1950s, along with the related ‘Samson Complex': we will bring down the Temple walls if crossed. It was an idle threat then; not today.”
It’s imperative that the world respond to the threat.