by Mazin Qumsiyeh
As published, Teaneck Suburbanite, Northern New Jersey, May 18, 2007
Responses to: Jaime Cannici , Weekly Div Suburbanite
To the Editor
It was gratifying to see in this paper letters from a Jewish American (Rich Siegel) speaking for human rights and International law. He is not alone. The shrill reaction by other letter writers was dissappointing in its lack of substance and in advocation of we win- you lose scenario (non-existent) instead of thinking outside the box for a win-win scenario for peace (which can only be based on justice).
Israel is the only country in the world whose legitimacy does not flow from rights of self-determination of natives but Zionist claim of biblical authority. Without consulting the inhabitants (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) and contrary to the UN Charter, the UN general assembly resolution in 1947 called for partition of a native land to give 55% of the land to a colonial people who at the time represented 30% of the population (most of them at the time new immigrants - Ashkenazi Jews who are not Semitic) and owned less than 7% of the land. Yet, this same resolution, while unfair and accomplished by much arm-twisting by the US, rejected any population transfer and insisted on Internationalizing Jerusalem, on an economic union, and on free movement of people (all these provisions were and are still unacceptable to the Zionist leaders).
Armed and supported by the British Empire and then the US (today's Empire?), the Zionist movement grew to become a dominant political/military ideology with a very strong. In the process, this movement succeeded in removing over 70% of the native inhabitants of the land of Palestine and precipitate unrest and violence that is now engulfing many other areas of the world. The majority of Palestinians today are refugees or displaced persons and the remaining are losing their lands daily.
Israeli leaders wanted and got recognition and sovereignty on 78% of Palestine; land they stole from native Palestinians in the same fashion that White Europeans took over this country using the rhetoric of manifest destiny" and ordained by God (as if God was a real estate agent). But Israeli leaders want more. They want the best parts of the remaining 22% of Palestine and they want acceptance of their demand to forfeit the most elemental of human rights such as the right of refugees to return to their homes and lands (all simply because they are not Jewish). Palestinians were not the only victims. As Israeli professor Jeff Halper pointed out, Zionism had made Jews less safe everywhere especially in the new self-imposed ghetto (albeit now called a country). Instead of listening to intellectuals like Martin Buber and Albert Einstein who argued against political Zionism (and for a cultural form of Zionism and a binational state), many Jews chose to imitate European 19th century ethnocentric chauvinistic nationalism.
So far we spent over $400 billion of our US taxes to occupy Iraq for control of oil and other political Zionist plans to reshape the Middle East, and over $1 trillion to support the Israeli government (highest recipient of U.S. aid, we gave it more than we gave to Africa as a continent). Yet, one-third of Israeli children live below the poverty line, while Israel is using billions of our tax money to ethnically cleanse and oppress the native Palestinians. Love of Israel becomes meaningless if it does not mean changing life for the better for Israeli children (and millions of Palestinian children). Only a public outcry would force the U.S. government to change its policies of supporting oppression despite the special interest lobbies (whether in Washington or in Teaneck). The attacks on President Jimmy Carter for his latest book on Israeli apartheid, like the attacks on Rich Siegel are symptomatic of a 19th century ideology trying to force itself on the 21st century and hide its tracks in outmoded racist attitudes about the "others".
Israel is the only country in the world that does not define itself as a country of its citizens (Jews and non-Jewish citizens). It defines itself as a country for and by the Jewish people everywhere. Every Jew in the world is considered as a national of the state whether they want it or not (part of 'Am Yisrael). Any Jew including converts can go there, get automatic citizenship and live on Palestinian lands while Palestinian refugees are not allowed to return simply because they are Christian or Muslim. Further, no other country has supra-national entities that are more influential in shaping policies than its national institutions (e.g. ADL, Jewish National Fund, Jewish Agency and World Zionist Congress).
Israeli artists declared in 2002: "If the state of Israel aspires to perceive itself as a democracy, it should abandon once and for all, any legal and ideological foundation of religious, ethnic and demographic discrimination. The state of Israel should strive to become the state of all its citizens. We call for the annulment of all laws that make Israel an apartheid state, including the Jewish law of return in its present form." That desire to improve one's country represents the ultimate love of country/patriotism, rather than the reflexive parroting of propaganda and blaming the victims of those policies (whether in Teaneck or Palestine). The same applied to U.S. citizens who spoke for civil rights, to end the war on Vietnam, to end support for apartheid South Africa and more recently to end support for the war on Iraq and on Palestine.
If we want peace in the Holy Land that benefits everyone, all is needed is to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If this is not good enough, why not apply relevant UN resolutions on the issue (including UNGA 194 also calling for return of refugees). Israel promised to comply with relevant UN resolutions when it was admitted to the UN. If they continue to refuse, perhaps it is time to get Israel out of the community of nations. The US Congress should also then cut off the billions of our tax dollars we send to allow continued violations of human rights and International law. Unless this is done, all the maps in the world will not lead to peace.
In the denial of facts, Zionism's first victim was Judaism. As Jewish American and friend Dr. Mark Braverman stated "Only when we are able to cry, in Jeremiahís phrase, for our own brokenness, and to confront the implications of the suffering we have caused, can we be the beneficiaries of Godís bounty. In other words, we must break through the denial about what we have done. " (http://www.qumsiyeh.org/markbraverman/)
I call on those who disagree with Braverman or Siegel or me to engage us in civil dialogue not name calling (anti-Semite, Self-Hating Jews etc). I am willing to meet with any individual or groups to discuss how we might develop methods for collective success (win-win) rather than isolation. After all, if segregation was the problem in the Jim Crow South and apartheid was the problem in South Africa, why do we consider them solutions either in Israel/Palestine or for our differences in NJ.