Friday, October 27, 2006

A Palestinian Writer's Perspective

Published in the Spanish newspaper Diagonal


Zionism must be Dissolved for Peace

By Khalid Amayreh

(Al-Khalil, occupied Palestine)

As a Palestinian who has been living under the yoke of Israeli military occupation
for over 39 years and who lost three innocent uncles to the occupation’s
bullets, I should have no problems comparing Israel with Nazi Germany.

It is true that Israel has not introduced gas chambers into Palestinian towns
and villages. However, Israel has been killing and tormenting Palestinians non-stop
in a variety of ways which, in their brutality and sheer evil, don’t really
differ in substance from Nazi behaviour.

Moreover, it is paramount to remember that the German holocaust didn’t
start with Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen, but rather with an idea, with a book
and with a Kristalnacht, the sort of things that are so rampant in Israel’s
collective thinking these days as the Israeli Jewish society continues to drift
toward religious and jingoistic fascism.

This is not liberal Zionism giving way to religious Zionism as some pro-Israeli
apologists would argue. There is no such a thing as liberal Zionism or democratic
Zionism. These are contradictions in terms.

Zionism, we are told, is about “building a national homeland for the Jews.”
However, for millions of its victims, Zionism is about the extirpation, expulsion
and dispersion of the bulk of the Palestinian people from their ancestral homeland
to the four corners of the world by way of organised terror and violence. This
is the ugly side of Zionism that much of the West doesn’t want to see.

Indeed, from the very inception, Zionism viewed Palestine as a land without
a people for a people without a land. This arrogant denial of my people’s
very existence didn’t originate in ignorance of reality. It was rather
an expression of virulent and violent racism, very much like those white European
barbarians who exterminated six million native American Indians and called the
genocide “Manifest Destiny.”

The Zionists did know that Palestine was populated by hundreds of thousands
of Christians and Muslims. In 1898, a Zionist delegation visiting Palestine
to assess the feasibility of making it a Jewish State, sent a pithy telegram
summing up the situation. “The bride is beautiful but she is married to
another man.” Yet, the Zionist movement insisted with unflinching determination
on wresting the bride from her lawful husband.

That was a sheer act of rape, it still is an act of rape and will always be
an act of rape, no matter how much the mythmakers are celebrated and their myths
are glorified.

In fact, despite the passage of fifty years of “Jewish Statehood,”
Israel’s undeclared but ultimate goal remains the expulsion of most or
all of Palestinians from the area extending from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean

Indeed, any casual observer of the Israeli media these days will be affronted,
nearly on a daily basis, by remarks and statements by Israeli officials, including
Knesset members and cabinet ministers, calling for “transferring”
the Palestinians, not only from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, but
also from Israel proper.

“Transfer” is not an innocent term. It is no less than a euphemism
for genocide, at least a partial genocide, since it is almost impossible to
effect the wholesale removal and ethnic cleansing of millions of people from
their motherland without resorting to mass murder and mass terror.

Well, was not this the method used quite liberally by the legions of Zionism
to force the bulk of the Palestinian people to flee their hometowns and villages
in 1948? Didn’t Menachem Begin, in his book The Revolt refer to the Deir
Yassin Massacre as a miracle because it made hundreds of thousands of terror-stricken
Palestinians flee in fear.

It is imperative that we call the spade a spade, especially when in the hands
of our gravediggers. The Zionists are comparable to Nazis because their actions
and behaviour are comparable and similar to Nazi actions and behaviour.

For as the Nazis sought to obliterate Jews as a people, the Zionists have been
seeking to obliterate the Palestinians as a people. This is more than Golda
Meir saying dismissively “what Palestinians?” or some Israeli officials
referring to us contemptuously as “Never-landers.” The systematic
destruction of some 460 Palestinian towns and villages by Israel (1948-52) was
a Nazi act of the highest order. It embodied total disregard and total denial
of “the other” on no ground other than the victims being non-Jewish.
(The relics of some of these towns can still be seen even today and are meticulously
documented in Walid Khalidi’s monumental work All That Remains).

Unfortunately, this modus operandi of hateful racism and terror remains Israel’s
central policy toward the Palestinian people. There is no clearer proof of Israel’s
malicious intent than the intensive building of hundreds of Jewish-only settlements
on occupied land. Yes, everything here is “Jewish-only.” Jewish-only
settlements, Jewish-only roads, Jewish-only pools, even Jewish-only rights,
since non-Jews are viewed by a growing segment of Israeli Jews as children of
a lesser God or even outright animals.

And now we have this evil gigantic wall whose stated goal is to prevent Palestinian
guerrillas from infiltrating into Israel whereas its real purpose is to carve
and steal as much Palestinian land as possible.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice in Hague ruled that the Wall was
illegal and ought to be dismantled. However, Israel, backed by its guardian-ally,
the United States, arrogantly defied the ruling and implicitly accused the court
and its judges of anti-Semitism.

In addition to the settlements, inhabited by the most violent and racist-minded
Jews anywhere in the world, Israel has always sought to make Palestinian lives
so unbearable in order to coerce them to emigrate.

To effect this evil goal, successive Israeli governments (Labor and Likud alike)
employed every conceivable legal trick, including the introduction of dual justice
systems, a liberal one for Jews and a harsh one for non-Jews.

One expression of this judicial apartheid is the open-ended incarceration of
thousands of Palestinian activists, students, professionals and college professors
as well as politicians, including lawmakers and cabinet ministers, without charge
or trial. (Since 1967, Israel has arrested over 800,000 Palestinians).

When the notoriously insidious system of institutionalised repression failed
to make significant numbers of Palestinians emigrate, Israel resorted to brazen
physical harm in the form of terrorising and killing the Palestinians at the
slightest “provocation”, very much like Hitler’s forces did throughout
Nazi-occupied Europe more than sixty years ago.

Needless to say, Israeli “pacification” raids and incursions would
leave many children and women killed, homes destroyed, farms pulverized, furniture
vandalized and roads and infrastructures thoroughly bulldozed. In short, everything,
every conceivable crime is committed by this Nazi-like entity, all under the
rubric of fighting terror. And then much of the Western media would just parrot
the Israeli narrative as if the Israeli army spokesmen were the paragons of
veracity and honesty.

In the final analysis, when Jews (or anybody else) behave like Nazis, they
should be compared to Nazis. Indeed, a country that sends its F-16 fighter-bombers
to drop one-tonne bombs on apartment buildings in the middle of the night, where
children and women are asleep, is not morally that far from the Gestapo mentality.

Moreover, an army whose soldiers blithely and gleefully murder children on
their way to school and then verify the killing by emptying twenty more bullets
into the child’s head, as happened with Iman al Hamas in Rafah nearly three
years ago, and then the soldier is exonerated and given financial compensation,
is not really an army of professional soldiers, but an army of thugs, gangsters
and common criminals. It is an army that differs very little from the Wehrmacht.

Yes, Palestinian suicide bombers carried out attacks against Israeli civilians
and killed scores of innocent Israelis, often in retaliation for the killing
of Palestinian children by the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish settlers.
I totally and unhesitatingly condemn these suicidal crimes against innocent

Nonetheless, Israel can’t push the Palestinians to the edge of physical
extermination and national demise and at the same time shout “Hamas, terror,
suicide bombings.”

The American poet Auden wrote:

I and the public know,

What all school children learn,

Those to whom evil is done,

Do evil in return.

Indeed, what would any people do after 59 years of Nazi-like oppression that
transcends reality? What would any people do when forced to choose between death
at the Jewish slaughterhouse and death as suicide bombers?

Israel claims it doesn’t kill Palestinian children and civilian deliberately.
This is a cardinal lie. Mistakes happen once, twice, ten times. But when the
killing of civilians happens nearly on a daily basis, it means it is policy.
In the final analysis, killing knowingly is killing deliberately.

Today, Israel, like the Gestapo did to the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto,
is barring millions of Palestinians from accessing food and work. In Gaza, Israel,
under the pretext of freeing a captured Israeli soldier, has bombed or destroyed
the bulk of civilian infrastructure there, including schools, colleges, streets,
bridges, charities as well as thousands of homes. Israel has also destroyed
the only power station in Gaza, forcing 1.4 million Gazans to live in total
or partial darkness.

This is the same Israel whose army has just destroyed much of Lebanon and dropped
1.5 million cluster bombs throughout southern Lebanon.Well, 1.5 million bombs
can kill at least 1.5 million children.

I know that pro-Israeli apologists, including some who claim to be followers
of the lofty leftist traditions of standing up against oppression, are tempted
to create a certain moral symmetry between Israel and the Palestinians.

But, in all honesty, one might ask what symmetry is there between the rapist
and his victim, between the occupier and the occupied, between the armed fanatical
settler and the terrified Palestinian peasant who has to rely on Western peace
volunteers for protection from settler vandalism and savagery?

Is there hope for a peaceful solution to this enduring bitter conflict? Certainly
there is, and it lies in dismantling Zionism and the creation of a unitary,
civic and democratic State in Palestine-Israel whereby Jews and Arabs live equally
as citizens as many Jews and Arabs are living in Europe today.

I say Zionism ought to be dissolved because the concept of “Jewish State”
necessarily implies intrinsic racism against non-Jews.

Fortunately, there are Jews of conscience and good will who would agree with
this solution. These are our natural partners for peace.