Celebrating Palestinian Resistance and Resilience
By Eva Bartlett & Ali Mallah
You may rob me of the last span of my land
You may ditch my youth in prison holes
Steel what my grandfather left me behind:
Some furniture or clothes and jars,
You may burn my poems and books
You may feed your dog on my flesh
You may impose a nightmare of your terror
On my village
Enemy of light
I shall not compromise
And to the end
I shall fight....
With the passing of the 64th anniversary of the Nakba, (the establishment of the illegal Zionist state on the land and homes of Palestinians), should
we mourn or celebrate? Professor Nurit Peled–Elhanan wrote of her mourning:
“I will mourn on Nakba Day. I will mourn for vanished Palestine most of which I never knew. I will mourn for the holy land that is losing its humanity, its landscape, its beauty and its children on the altar of racism and evil. I will mourn for the Jewish youngsters who invade and desecrate the homes of families in Sheikh Jarrah, throw the inhabitants into the street, and then sing and dance in memory of Baruch Goldstein, the infamous murderer of Palestinian children, while the owners of the desecrated houses with their children and old people are sleeping in the rain, on the street, opposite their own homes. …All these things I will mourn on Nakba Day. I will join the millions of dispossessed, downtrodden and humiliated who have not given up on the future and who still believe there is a chance, who stand as witnesses and as firebrands of the true human spirit.…”
For the last 64 years, Palestinian women, men, elderly, and youth have steadfastly and spiritedly resisted the occupation and the Zionist state. It is a resistance that continues flourishing among Palestinians from all walks of life both inside and outside Palestine, be they farmers, workers, students, poets, or intellectuals.
The criminal Zionist campaign to erase Palestinian history and to whitewash Zionist massacres and the expulsion, imprisonment, and abuse of Palestinians continues 64 years after the Zionist state was founded on the ethnically-cleansed land of Palestine. In spite of the decades that have passed since May 15, 1948, Palestinians have not forgotten the Nakba, nor the 531 Palestinian villages razed and destroyed by Zionists before and after 1948, nor the over 750,000 Palestinians violently expelled from their homes in Palestine. The refugees are future returnees, and as they await justice—the right to return to the homes and land from which they were forcibly expelled—they don’t do so complaisantly.
The shelves of the United Nations Security Council and UN General Assembly are full of resolutions affirming the illegality of the Zionist state’s actions and colonies. Among these resolutions, the right to return is spelled out clearly in the first resolution listed below, along with other integral resolutions:
Palestinian Refugees have the right to return to their homes
(General Assembly Resolution 194, Dec. 11, 1948 ):
“Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return…”
Palestinians have the right to Self-Determination
(General Assembly Resolution 3236, November 22, 1974 ):
“Reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine…to self-determination without external interference” and “to national independence and sovereignty.”
Israel’s occupation of Palestine is Illegal
(Security Council Resolution 242, Nov. 22, 1967):
Calls for the “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”and “acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”
Israel’s settlements in Palestine are Illegal
(Security Council Resolution 446, March 22, 1979):
“Determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
Palestinians have a long, rich history of struggling for their fundamental and inalienable rights—those rights affirmed by numerous more UN resolutions and human rights enshrined in international law and enjoyed by people around the world. It is a struggle which goes back to the early days of Zionist colonization of Palestine and which thrives in various forms today throughout occupied Palestine and in exile. Palestinian scholar and rights activist Mazin Qumsiyeh recently wrote: “We have an amazing history of 130 years of struggle against the most well-financed, most-organized, most-supported colonial project in human history.” As Qumsiyeh alludes, Zionist terrorism extends back decades before the Jewish state was formed on the ruins of Palestinian towns. Palestinian popular resistance against the racist and destructive Zionist project, extends back to the late 1800s when the first Zionist colonists began arriving in Palestine.
The Nakba is imprinted in the minds of 11 million Palestinian women, men and children, passed on from generation to generation along with the keys to their homes in occupied Palestine. Every day in occupied Palestine there are new Nakbas as still more Palestinians are violently displaced from their homes, land, and families or are murdered at the hands of the IOF and Jewish colonists. Badil reports that:
“Internal displacement continues unabated in the OPT today. Thousands have been forcibly displaced in the Jordan Valley as a result of closure, home demolition and eviction orders, and the threat of displacement hangs over those who remain. Similar patterns of forced displacement are found in Israel, where urban development plans for the exclusive beneﬁt of Jewish communities are displacing indigenous Palestinian communities in the Naqab (Negev) and Galilee.”
The ethnic cleansing of Palestine at the hands of Zionist terrorists organizations like the Irgun, the Stern Gang, and the Hagana, began years before 1948 and continues until this day, under the more palatable (to unethical politicians and apologists around the world) pretext of a state “defending” itself.
According to Al Awda (the Return) website:
“Jewish terrorist groups such as Haganah, Irgun and Stern terrorized the Palestinian street, destroyed villages and slaughtered entire Palestinian families. Approximately 50% of all Palestinian villages were destroyed in 1948 and many cities were cleared from their Palestinian population… Israeli forces killed an estimated 13,000 Palestinians and forcibly evicted 737,166 Palestinians from their homes and land.”
Throughout occupied Palestine, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) “defend” the Zionist state by demolishing Palestinian homes, expelling Palestinian residents from homes their families have lived in for generations, escorting armed Jewish colonists as they attack and shoot Palestinians, imposing lock-downs on Palestinian towns, arresting Palestinian men, women, teens and children under false pretexts of “security threats”, violently quelling non-violent demonstrations, firing on Palestinian farmers and fishers in the Gaza Strip, and abusing and torturing Palestinian political prisoners—including hunger-strikers demanding their most basic rights.
The Zionist state “defends” itself by annexing more Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem with its Separation Wall, expanding already-massive illegal Jewish colonies in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, periodically waging brutal and criminal bombing campaigns on the imprisoned population of the Gaza Strip, enforcing 35 discriminatory laws against Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship (non-Jews), and refusing to enact UN Resolution 194 which has been reiterated over 130 times.
In one of its more recent criminal acts, the Zionist state “defended” itself when slaughtering over 1450 Palestinians in the 2008-2009 Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, as it “defended” itself when perpetrating similar massacres in Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and later. It “defended” itself on May 15, 2011 by opening live fire on crowds of Palestinian women, men and youths commemorating Nakba Day, killing 14 civilians and injuring hundreds more.
It again “defended” itself in March 2012 when violently quelling Palestinians’ popular demonstrations on Land Day—killing a youth from Gaza and injuring over 300 throughout occupied Palestine—and two months later in Nakba commemorations. The United Nations reports that “at least 370 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in demonstrations” on Nakba Day 2012. In weekly non-violent demonstrations throughout the occupied West Bank against the Zionist Separation Wall, the IOF have killed at least 21 Palestinians (10 of them minors) and have injured hundreds more.
Right of Return:
My homeland is not a suitcase, and I am no traveller” – Mahmoud Darwish
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, among other things, that “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” Yet the Zionist regime does not allow Palestinians violently expelled from their homes and land to return, although this was conditional for Israel’s entry into the United Nations. An inalienable and non-negotiable right, the right for Palestinian refugees to return cannot be sold by anyone, be they Zionist or compromised Palestinian representatives.
The Zionist state passed a Jewish-specific law on coming to occupied Palestine. Badil notes: “In 1950, Israel enacted the Law of Return, granting any Jew anywhere the right to citizenship as a Jewish national in Israel and (since 1967) also in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) while the 1952 Citizenship Law denationalised the Palestinian refugees.”
Al Awda, the Return:
Little known nowadays, Palestinians in the 1980s attempted to use creative non-violent resistance against the Zionists’ banning of Palestinians’ right to return. And while Cyprus and freedom boats would come into the spotlight in 2008 and later years, the initial concept of sailing from Cyprus dates back to early 1988. PLO officials and activists Marwan Kayyali, Mohammed Tamimi, and Mohammed Buheis organized the first of what would two decades later be a stream of boats sailing to Palestine. Purchasing a Greek ferry, the Sol Phryne, the team re-named it al-Awda and readied it to carry over 130 Palestinians, along with an anticipated several hundred journalists and observers, to Haifa port.
The boat never left Cyprus. In February, 1988 a bomb was planted on the boat, and shortly afterwards, on February 15, Kayyali, Tamimi and Buheis were assassinated when a remote-controlled bomb was detonated in their car. All fingers pointed to “Israel”—which had publicly stated that the boat would never be allowed near Haifa—and its Mossad (Secret Services). Yet, as with uncountable assassinations by “Israeli” agents, “Israel” got away with murder.
In 1976, the Zionist state announced plans to expropriate still more Palestinian land—thousands of acres—for “security and settlement purposes.” On March 30, Palestinian citizens of 1948 Palestine (pre-”Israel”) responded by holding a general strike, and organized marches throughout occupied Palestine. Not surprisingly, the IOF was heavy-handed in their quashing of the demonstrations and killed six Palestinians in the process, injuring hundreds more. Land Day, as it came to be known, is commemorated yearly, with ever more reasons annually to protest continuing Zionist land-grabs.
The First Intifada (uprising) broke out throughout occupied Palestine in December 1987, lasting until 1993, with popular demonstrations, strikes, civil disobedience and other manifestations of unified non-violent resistance to the Zionist occupation. The IOF killed over 1,000 Palestinians during the years of the Intifada and employed a criminal bone-breaking campaign on Palestinian protesters and other civilians.
On September 28, 2000, when war criminal Ariel Sharon—accompanied by 1,000 troops and paramilitary police, and scores of Jewish colonists—entered the al-Haram al-Sharif complex, one of Islam’s holiest sites and in which Al Aqsa Mosque is housed, hundreds of Palestinians revolted, starting off the Second Intifada. Like the First Intifada, the collective uprising against the Zionist occupation spread throughout occupied Palestine. It lasted until 2005, with Palestinians subjected to more Zionist crimes and brutality, including massive IOF invasions into Palestinian towns and cities and the bulldozing of thousands of homes throughout occupied Palestine. Well over 5,500 Palestinians were killed in the Second Intifada. Yet, Palestinians’ uprising has not stopped as the Zionist occupation continues.
In August 2008, after planning and mobilizing for two years, the Free Gaza movement completed what Marwan Kayyali and others had been trying to do before they were assassinated: Free Gaza sailed two rickety fishing boats filled with international solidarity activists, journalists, and Palestinians from Cyprus to Gaza, Palestine. Four more successful missions carried Free Gaza activists, including Palestinians, to and from the Gaza Strip. On the next three attempts, Israeli gunboats rammed a Free Gaza boat three times, nearly sinking it, and forcibly boarded the other two Free Gaza boats, abducting and deporting all on board.
New initiatives sprang forth from Free Gaza’s example, including boats from Malaysia, Libya, Canada, Ireland, Turkey, and a boat of Jewish activists. All of these were prevented by the IOF from reaching Gaza, Palestine. In another brazen display of ruthlessness, Israeli commandos assassinated nine Turkish civilians participating in the Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. Air-dropped onto the Turkish Mavi Marmara, the Israeli commandos descended firing machine guns and proceeded to hunt down passengers, shooting many “point-blank assassination style,” as Kevin Neish, a Canadian participant, described.
The return movement inspired by Kayyali has not been limited to sea travel. Since early 2009, land convoys from Africa, Europe, and around the world have proceeded to Gaza via the Egyptian Rafah crossing, bringing supplies of humanitarian aid vitally needed in Gaza, but more importantly challenging the illegal Israeli-enforced complete closure of Gaza’s borders to people, goods and exports.
Palestinians, later supported by international activists, expanded the growing BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign of 2005, the Gaza Freedom March, the Global March to Jerusalem, and organized the Welcome to Palestine campaign which saw people from around the world fly to Tel Aviv with the intent of visiting Palestine. Zionist security prevented the vast majority from entering Palestine, going as far as to send “no-fly” lists to airports around the world.
For the last 64 years, Zionists in Palestine have been killing Palestinians, destroying homes, uprooting ancient olive trees, burning, poisoning, and destroying farm land, stealing water, imprisoning Palestinian men and women, girls and boys, and breaking their bones. They have been strangling the 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza, denying them rights to employment, agriculture, fishing, clean water, electricity, travel, education, and adequate medical care.
The massacres, from Deir Yassin to Gaza, are permanent witness to the Zionists’ crimes. However, the Palestinian spirits will never be broken and, with every new Palestinian infant born inside occupied Palestine or in the diaspora, the spirit of resistance is passed along to each new generation. Palestinian youths memorize the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, Samih Al Qassem and many others as they memorize the names of every Palestinian town, hill and valley. They will return.
Enemy of light
The signs of joy and the tidings
Shouts of happiness and anthems
Are there at the port
And at the horizon
A sail is defying the wind and the deep seas
Overcoming all the challenges
It is the return of Ulysses
From the lost sees
It is the return of the sun
And the return of the ousted
And for their sake
I shall not compromise
And to the end
I shall fight!
*Ali Mallah is a member of the National Steering Committee of Canadian Peace Alliance, is on the coordinating committee of the Toronto Coalition Against the War and the Board of Directors of Alternatives Canada and the Centre for Social Justice. Ali serves on the International Central Committee of Global March to Jerusalem, and was deeply involved in the previous Gaza Freedom March Initiative, was a founding member of Canadian Boat to Gaza, the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, and the Muslim Unity Group. He is a former Vice-President of the Canadian Arab Federation and is a CUPE activist.
**Eva Bartlett is a Canadian activist and freelance journalist who has spent collectively three years in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). In November 2008, Eva sailed with Free Gaza the Gaza Strip where until June 2010 she joined the ISM in accompanying fishermen on the sea and farmers in the border regions. During the 2008-2009 Israeli massacre of Gaza, Eva and other ISM members accompanied Palestinian medics in their ambulances, documenting the victims of Israel’s massacre, including Palestinian medics and rescuers. She writes for the Electronic Intifada, IPS news, the Dominion, and various independent media, as well as maintaining her blog, In Gaza.
A strategy of liberation requires emancipation
The Right to Return, a Basic Right Still Denied
A Review of the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe
More UN Resolutions on Israel, 195-1992:
Res 106: condemns Israel for Gaza raid
Res 111: condemns Israel for raid on Syria that killed fifty-six people.
Res 127: recommends Israel suspend its no-man’s zone’ in Jerusalem.
Res 162: urges Israel to comply with UN decisions.
Res 171: determines flagrant violations by Israel in its attack on Syria.
Res 228: censures Israel for its attack on Samu in the West Bank, then under Jordanian control.
Res 237: urges Israel to allow return of new 1967 Palestinian refugees.
Res 248: condemns Israel for its massive attack on Karameh in Jordan.
Res 250: calls on Israel to refrain from holding military parade in Jerusalem.
Res 251: deeply deplores Israeli military parade in Jerusalem in defiance of Resolution 250.
Res 252: declares invalid Israel’s acts to unify Jerusalem as Jewish capital.
Res 256: condemns Israeli raids on Jordan as flagrant violation.
Res 259: deplores Israel’s refusal to accept UN mission to probe occupation.
Res 262: condemns Israel for attack on Beirut airport.
Res 265: condemns Israel for air attacks for Salt in Jordan.
Res 267: censures Israel for administrative acts to change the status of Jerusalem.
Res 270: condemns Israel for air attacks on villages in southern Lebanon.
Res 271: condemns Israel’s failure to obey UN resolutions on Jerusalem.
Res 279: demands withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon.
Res 280: condemns Israeli’s attacks against Lebanon.
Res 285: demands immediate Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.
Res 298: deplores Israel’s changing of the status of Jerusalem.
Res 313: demands that Israel stop attacks against Lebanon.
Res 316: condemns Israel for repeated attacks on Lebanon.
Res 317: deplores Israel’s refusal to release.
Res 332: condemns Israel’s repeated attacks against Lebanon.
Res 337: condemns Israel for violating Lebanon’s sovereignty.
Res 347: condemns Israeli attacks on Lebanon.
Res 425: calls on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.
Res 427: calls on Israel to complete its withdrawal from Lebanon.
Res 444: deplores Israel’s lack of cooperation with UN peacekeeping forces.
Res 446: determines that Israeli settlements are a serious obstruction to peace and calls on Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention
Res 450: calls on Israel to stop attacking Lebanon.
Res 452: calls on Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territories.
Res 465: deplores Israel’s settlements and asks all member states not to assist its settlements program.
Res 467: strongly deplores Israel’s military intervention in Lebanon.
Res 468: calls on Israel to rescind illegal expulsions of two Palestinian mayors and a judge and to facilitate their return.
Res 469: strongly deplores Israel’s failure to observe the council’s order not to deport Palestinians.
Res 471: expresses deep concern at Israel’s failure to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Res 476: reiterates that Israel’s claim to Jerusalem are null and void.
Res 478: censures (Israel) in the strongest terms for its claim to Jerusalem in its Basic Law.
Res 484: declares it imperative that Israel re-admit two deported Palestinian mayors.
Res 487: strongly condemns Israel for its attack on Iraq’s nuclear facility.
Res 497: decides that Israel’s annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights is null and void and demands that Israel rescinds its decision forthwith.
Res 498: calls on Israel to withdraw from Lebanon.
Res 501: calls on Israel to stop attacks against Lebanon and withdraw its troops.
Res 509: demands that Israel withdraw its forces forthwith and unconditionally from Lebanon.
Res 515: demands that Israel lift its siege of Beirut and allow food supplies to be brought in.
Res 517: censures Israel for failing to obey UN resolutions and demands that Israel withdraw its forces from Lebanon.
Res 518: demands that Israel cooperate fully with UN forces in Lebanon.
Res 520: condemns Israel’s attack into West Beirut.
Res 573: condemns Israel vigorously for bombing Tunisia in attack on PLO headquarters.
Res 587: takes note of previous calls on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon and urges all parties to withdraw.
Res 592: strongly deplores the killing of Palestinian students at Bir Zeit University by Israeli troops.
Res 605: strongly deplores Israel’s policies and practices denying the human rights of Palestinians.
Res 607: calls on Israel not to deport Palestinians and strongly requests it to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Res 608: deeply regrets that Israel has defied the United Nations and deported Palestinian civilians.
Res 636: deeply regrets Israeli deportation of Palestinian civilians.
Res 641: deplores Israel’s continuing deportation of Palestinians.
Res 672: condemns Israel for violence against Palestinians at the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount.
Res 673: deplores Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the United Nations.
Res 681: deplores Israel’s resumption of the deportation of Palestinians.
Res 694: deplores Israel’s deportation of Palestinians and calls on it to ensure their safe and immediate return.
Res 726: strongly condemns Israel’s deportation of Palestinians.
Res 799: strongly condemns Israel’s deportation of 413 Palestinians and calls for their immediate return.
ZIONISM by Agnieszka Szareska
Dr. June Terpstra
The conflict between the Israeli and Palestinian people occupying the West Bank and Gaza is not a secret to anyone who has lived in the twentieth or twenty-first centuries. This battle is one of the longest and most contentious in the world’s history. Many believe that this cruel dispute is based on the territorial rivalry over the same piece of land; to some known as Palestine and to others as Israel. However, the agonizing story of these two nations has been more than just a local territorial fight; it is a war over the Middle East (the land of oil and international seaways). The European domination and colonialism over the Arab world has been evident, especially throughout the recent years; with Palestine being the most atrociously affected. Nonetheless, the Palestinian suffering has been hidden behind anti-Semitism and extermination of Jews during World War II. Widely recognized and disapproved by everyone the Holocaust became a ‘justifying’ point of the Israeli actions against Palestinian people. Hurt and displaced Jewry formed the Zionist movement to establish a homeland for Jews, at the same time initiating the most complex conflict of our times. This state of war triggered a disagreement between the Jews themselves. Desolately, as crimes against Jews are known to the world, the crimes against Palestinians are still refused to be acknowledged by many people.
‘The Jewish State- Palestine’
Because Palestine is located at the crossroads of the Middle East and the Mediterranean Sea, it has been conquered many times by different nations, including: Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Since the Romans exiled the Jews from the land that the Jews called Judea or “Eretz Yisrael” and the Romans called Palestine, the Jews haven’t stopped dreaming about their return to their homeland. Also, from that moment they started to refer to the lands outside of Judea as “Gola” (meaning "exile") or "Diaspora”. Jewish culture, religion, and history of “Eretz Yisrael” were integrated into the Old Testament of the Jewish Bible, also known as the Torah. That way the Jewish relationship with the Palestinian land was exposed to the entire world making their further actions taken upon the creation of the modern state Israel seem justified. Jewish culture and characteristics have always been associated with Judaism, religion identified specifically with the world’s Jewry. Biblical texts were often transformed into ideological aspirations and academic pursuits for many Jews. In fact, the word Zionism has strong connotations with 'Zion', the name of the hill on which Jerusalem stands and the Biblical name for Palestine (http://pamolson.org/BriefHistory.htm ). Jewish destiny to return to “Eretz Yisrael” has also been written into the Torah and used by many national leaders to mislead Jews about the true mission of the Jewish people. It was used to claim Jewish superiority as they were “chosen by God” and their hereditary title to the “Holy Land”. The Zionists implemented names and symbols sacred in Judaism to develop their own standards of conduct and ethics that would help them establish their “Zionist State”, Israel, and create a “national Jewish identity”(http://www.nkusa.org/AboutUs/Zionism/greatgulf.cfm). It is important to note that the majority of orthodox Jews did not participate in the political movement to establish a
Jewish state, believing that Zionism violated biblical principles.
The Emerging of Zionism
For centuries before the modern state of Israel was created, Jews were spread all over the world and recognized by their unique culture and religious characteristics. During the nineteenth century, the French Revolution brought the emancipation of European Jewry giving them the opportunity to join professions that had been closed to them for generations. The vast majority of European Jews were no longer confined to ghettos and wanted to assimilate and live in their countries of birth. However, the idea of Jewish liberation quickly transformed into the fear of losing “Jewish identity”, and led to the creation of the movement, called Zionism (Atzmon, 2011). Zionist ideas evolved over time and were influenced by social and cultural movements in Europe, including socialism, nationalism and colonialism. A common definition of Zionism describes it as a liberation movement leading to the establishment (or re-establishment) of the “Jewish National State” in Palestine. However, a deeper examination of Zionism can lead to the conclusion, supported by many researchers, that “Zionism is an ideology and movement of ethnically-based Jewish nationalism that reinforces the identity and self-image of Jews as a distinct and separate community with interests different from those of non-Jews, and which strengthens the already powerful world Jewish community.” (http://www.ihr.org/zionism0409.html).
The First Zionist Congress was held in Switzerland in 1897, and established the World Zionist Organization (WZO) to create “the economic foundation for a ‘Jewish State’ in Palestine” (http://rense.com/general24/zionism.htm ). Many of the prominent members of that Jewish organization operated from different countries including the U.S.A, Turkey, Germany, and Britain. (American Zionists organized the financing of the Jewish military and political support for Israel in the United States) (http://zionism-israel.com/zionism_history.htm). Migration of Jews to Palestine had three phases, also referred to as Aliyah, and was controlled by British authorities in setting limits to “the yearly immigration quotas as well as restrictive financial requirements for immigrants.” (http://zionism-israel.com/zionism_history.htm ). In 1917, the British government gave a promissory letter known as the Balfour Declaration to Zionist leaders to create a “national Jewish home” in Palestine. It was also the first recognition of Zionist interests by a great power, the British Empire. The Balfour Declaration sanctioned the Zionist movement: 'His Majesty's government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p389_John.html ). Of course, this mandate has never been accepted by Zionists and their desire to dominate began to increase overtime.
The creation of "an autonomous Jewish State” automatically meant Jewish authority and protection of Jewish interests at the expanse of indigenous Palestinians (http://pamolson.org/BriefHistory.htm). The actual “Zionist State”, formally known as Israel, was created and authorized by the United Nations at the end of the World War II and received a strong support from the United States and the Soviet Union. Later, President Truman was criticized for his provision in establishing of the Jewish state in Palestine by the State Department and other foreign policy experts, who were concerned about U.S. relations with the Muslims. On November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states in General Assembly Resolution 181(http://zionism-israel.com/zionism_history.htm). By this resolution, the minority of Jewish people received the majority of Palestinian’s land. Nazi’s genocide and repressions against European Jews supported the idea of bringing Jews back to their ‘historically claimed homeland’, Palestine. Still, the creation of Israel did not end the mission of Zionism. It did, however, inspired Jews to use “anti-Semitism” as a foundation on which they laid extermination of the Palestinians and Jewish domination in the world. Palestinians were driven out of the new Israel into refugee camps in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and other regions while their land and property were seized by Jews (http://www.globalissues.org/article/119/the-middle-east-conflict-a-brief-background). The expansion of territorial boundaries of the Jewish state in Palestine led to the military conflict between Jews (aided by the U.S) and Palestinians in 1948. “By mid-1949, the majority of [the 350 depopulated Arab villages] were either completely or partly in ruins and uninhabitable” (http://ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.htm ).The United States has remained Israeli’s number one allay and financial supporter throughout all years of the occupation of Palestine.
The modern ideological expression of Zionism began to take shape in the nineteenth century. Zionism became a political movement with the first Zionist congress in 1897, organized by Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism. Even though Zionism is more than one hundred years old, it is difficult to explain its full concept because it is “a global matrix that possesses the capacity to shape and reshape”. “Zionism should be seen as an amalgam of different philosophies specializing in different forms of tribal separatism, disengagement, and separation” (Atzmon, 2011). Zionist are exclusively Jewish (meaning that they are born of a Jewish mother) and Hebrew-speaking people that are united by their loyalty and solidarity to the common cause. These people usually live outside of Israel and are politically committed to their “brotherhood”.
Zionism is based on Jewish nationalism and ‘uniqueness’ of the Jewish race. This superiority is often supported by the Biblical texts that view Jews as “chosen people” and predict their return to the “Holy Land”. They also use some aspects of Talmudic Judaism to “practice brutality on other nations”, though, many Zionist are non-religious and know little about Judaism. (http://www.palestiniantragedy.com/judaism.html. Zionists perceived Jewish emancipation and assimilation as forces destructive to Jewish identity and viewed the creation of their home in Israel as preservation of their own cultural heritage (http://www.ihr.org/zionism0409.html). In order to stop assimilation, the Zionist leaders moved toward separatism. Furthermore, Zionism incorporated “anti-Semitism” to maintain Jewish persecution by non-Jews in all nation-states in which Jews are the minority (http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2011/09/is-zionism-a-positive-expression-of-jewish-nationalism-.html). The Holocaust turned to be a ‘Zionist victory’ and “the bridge between” the Diaspora and Eretz Yisrael. Any type of critique and disapproval of the Zionist strategy can be considered as hatred or discrimination against Jewish nation, even if it comes from other Jews. Atzmon states that Zionists based their political movement on the hatred of others, to whom they refer as “Goyim” or “Gentile”, making Zionism similar in structure to Nazism.
Zionists claim their right to “self-determination” which is explained as “the right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic and cultural development” (Atzmon, 2011). On the other hand, however, this idea contradicts with obliteration of Palestinian history, land and culture by the Israeli military forces. From this perspective, one can conclude that the right to self-determination can be achieved only by those who have the capacity to organize through the military power. Thus, self-determination is a privilege available to “chosen people”. Also, the Zionist land policy since the beginning worked against Palestinian people by stating that the land “shall be held as the inalienable property of the Jewish people, prevented Palestinians from any ownership (http://ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.htm). Zionists began the process of colonialism where the big power conquers a land to create new markets for itself, acquire more resources and exploit the indigenous population as a cheap source of labor. However, the Zionists’ plan was much more destructive as it turned out to completely replace the Palestinian population. This process was further expanded into a “service economy” driven by greed and profit for one group of people and poverty and economic disaster for the majority of the world’s population.
From a Zionist perspective “Jewishness” is not an “innate national disposition but a “political commitment”. This trend was made up in the 19th century and is reflected in the “materialization of fear politics”; fear of "the other," fear of the terrorist, or fear of the Jew-hater. It is based on deception and disorientation of the masses of people. Atzmon states that “in the Jewish world, one first decides what the historic moral is, then one invents ‘a past’ to fit”. The Holocaust and Jewish discrimination were successfully used to empower Zionists and gain political support from other nations. From the very beginning, Zionism has been attempting to reshape different facts and sway national relations to create a territory-based, and politically safe Jewish community in the world.
Zionism Leaders and Theorists
The interpenetration of Jewishness and humanism became principles of classical Zionist leaders as diverse as Herzl, Nordau, and Weizmann. They all believed that Jewish emancipation can lead to the disappearance of the Jewish race. Theodor Herzl held that anti-Semitism was a “stable and immutable factor in human society” and could not be solved by assimilation. He argued that the essence of the Jewish problem was not individual but national. Herzl declared that the Jews could gain acceptance in the world only if they “ceased being a national anomaly”. He believed that Jews could preserve their identities through the establishment of a Jewish state in the biblical Zion with the support received from big powers. He envisioned Israel as secular and peace-seeking state based on the modern European enlightened society. The future Jewish state was seen as a “socialist utopia” and a “pluralist, advanced society that would bring light unto the nations’” (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Herzl.html ). Herzl was interested in saving the Jews, but not with the fate of Judaism itself.
The movement towards creation of the “Jewish identity” and “Jewish national home” was influenced by Mosses Mendelssohn, an 18th century philosopher and scholar, who coined Jewish Enlightenment, also known as Haskalah. The Haskalah resulted in the creation of secular Jewish culture, with an emphasis on Jewish history and Jewish identity. Mendelssohn advocated the study of Jewish history and ancient Hebrew as a way to “revive a national Jewish consciousness.” The Haskalah led to the restoration of the Hebrew language, particularly biblical Hebrew that inspired a new form of Hebrew literature. The Haskalah writings depicted ancient Jews as romantic lovers and brave warriors, often portrayed in Palestine. They implied that Jews could change their present situation by taking political action instead of sitting and waiting for the Messiah. Orthodox Jews opposed the Haskalah because it went against traditional Judaism and challenged both rabbinic orthodoxy and the role of Talmud (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Haskalah.html ).
Secularism and secular Zionism were important in the creation of a new Jewish society. Gershom Scholem's ideology was used in the process of reconstructing Jewish history. For Scholem Jewish messianism and Sabbateanism were inseparable from Jewish traditions as described in the Hebrew Bible. “The restorative model envisioned return to an older era (i.e., the Davidic kingdom) and the utopian-catastrophic model (Scholem also calls it apocalyptic) envisions a rupture of tradition and the inauguration of an entirely new era”. He proclaimed the mystical power of the Hebrew language in the return of Jews to Palestine. (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scholem/#Zio). Zionist consequently referred to the Bible as it was their preliminary source of Jewish history and traditions. Living in exile without sovereignty would be destructive to the Jews in the world. Judaism, as a religion of the deed, required people in its land.
Another influential thought to the Zionist movement came from Moses Hess. His “theocracy” theory is based on the connection between religious laws and Jewish desire to return to their ‘historical land’. Moses was able to use Jews spirituality and their devotion to God to make them obedient by “reminding them of benefits they had received (the liberation from Egyptian bondage), and the promise of future rewards (in the Land of Canaan)”. This created the impression that law and religion were equally important and provided protection for Jews. The Mosaic law “kindled such an ardent patriotism in the hearts of the citizens that it could never enter anyone’s mind to betray or desert his country; on the contrary, they must all have been of such a mind as to suffer death rather than a foreign yoke” (http://divinity.uchicago.edu/martycenter/publications/webforum/032008/copulsky_last_prophet.pdf ). Jews became completely isolated from the outside world to complete their biblical mission. Even though most Jews did not follow the Bible, the spirit of its scriptures is evident in their political ideology. Atzmon states that while the Judaic Biblical context is filled with references to violent deeds, committed in the name of God, “the Israeli rob and kill in the name of their self-determination and national aspirations”.
Asa Kasher is another Israeli philosopher and the creator of the ‘code of ethics’ for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The IDF served as Israel's armed forces in all the country's major military operations. The number of wars and occupations in which the IDF was involved in its history, makes it one of the most battle-trained armed forces in the world. The United States has been the biggest allay and financial supporter of Israel and the Israeli army since the creation of the Jewish state. The IDF, like other Zionists, seems to follow the Torah passages: “Do not leave alive anything that breaths. Completely destroy them … as the Lord your God has commanded you” with precision. (Atzmon, 2011). Destruction of Palestinian villages, occupation of territory, and mass murder of indigenous Palestinians are known to the world, but not completely revealed. Many of the violent acts committed by Zionists and their soldiers have been covered behind a well-organized propaganda, often supported by big powers (such as the U.S.A and Great Britain) and the mainstream media. The never-ending plunder of Palestine is rooted in a “spiritual, ideological, cultural and practical continuum between the Bible, Zionist ideology, and the State of Israel” (Atzmon, 2011)
Modern Israel is a product of two radically different political ideas. One is based on Jewish peoplehood, the Biblical homeland, and the dream of return to Zion. The other, is a reflection of a universalistic European-based component that was used to create ‘modern Jews’, Zionist Jews. Throughout Jewish history, one can see a shifting balance between these two models. There was substantial divide among Jewish thinkers as to the relationship between a potential Jewish state and the mission of Jewish people. Jewish nationalism and universalism seem to collide with each other. Freedom and equality prove to be the political symbols to expose the repressive character of different regimes. The Zionist state was created on the back of a huge historic injustice to Palestinians with the American support of Israelis. The Holocaust has become the excuse for all outrages committed on indigenous people of Palestine and a leading factor to the Zionist’s power.
1. Atzmon, Gilad,.”The Wandering Who:A Study of Jewish Identity Politics” (2011)