Anti-Zionism Is Not Anti-Semitism: What You Can Do About the Atrocities in Gaza
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian areas: "The Israeli air-strikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war."
There is a ceasefire in Gaza. For the moment at least Israeli shells are no longer desecrating the land nor frightening the people. Palestinian women and children are no longer being killed in their beds or shot dead in their doorways. No rockets. No sniper bullets. No white phosphorus shells. No jet planes bringing screaming death from the skies. The people of Gaza can walk the streets again free from the fear of attack.
But this is still not finished. The occupation continues. Israeli soldiers have withdrawn from the cities, but are dug in close by, watching. Israeli tanks, which a few days ago bustled back and forth over the broken landscape, firing shells into the crowded cities, now stand mute, unmoving, their very silence a form of threat.
The blockade continues. The people have no access to their borders or their coast. The wall is still there. The checkpoints are still manned. Israeli snipers still take aim from the watchtowers, like prison guards in a concentration camp. The Palestinian people have no government, no institutions, no police, no army, no voice, no protection. Hamas have been driven underground, but they have not gone away.
Both sides will no doubt proclaim victory. The Israelis will say their war aims were met. Hamas will declare that it has survived.
Meanwhile there are 1,300 dead: the majority of them civilians, including more than 400 children.
Gaza has been broken to pieces. Homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, aid agencies, UN compounds, all have been targeted and destroyed. Whole streets, whole neighbourhoods, whole villages smashed.
Huge craters pockmark the land where once stood the institutions of government, all hope of a future Palestinian state having been effectively blown to smithereens.
You wonder what all of this has been for.
The Israelis claim it was to stop rocket attacks on its Southern towns, but any close observation of the sequence of events will show that it was the Israeli Defence Force which broke the ceasefire on the 4th of November with an unprovoked attack upon a Palestinian house in which 6 Hamas operatives were killed.
Hamas say that despite the ceasefire the Israeli blockade was continuing, cutting off necessary supplies and starving the Palestinian economy.
The tunnels under Rafah brought flour, diesel and cooking oil as well as rocket parts.
Candidates in the forthcoming Israeli elections have elbowed their way to the front in the face of the TV cameras, vying with each other over who is the strongest-looking, the most virile, the most stalwart and uncompromising in the face of the terrorist enemy.
The Israeli state has taken advantage of the pause between presidents in the USA while the Israeli army has made up for its humiliation at the hands of Hezbollah a couple of years ago, demonstrating for the whole world to see the full extent of its ruthless determination to make the Palestinian people pay. No amount of condemnation has made any difference. The UN is impotent. The international community is silent. World leaders are compromised.
"Hamas knows today what Israel does when it's harmed, the world knows what it does when it's harmed and even accepts this. Therefore, I think they won't do this again soon," said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is herself running for prime minister in the February elections.
The sight of mosques with the tops of their minarets blown off, having been picked out by Israeli tank shells for target practice, is a warning to their neighbours. Nothing is sacred.
In the face of all this devastation and horror what is an ordinary person to do?
Here are some suggestions:
Find out the facts. There are large numbers of websites out there expounding a variety of views. Read them all. This is the crucial issue of our day. Until a just solution to the Palestinian question is found there will be no peace in our world. By reading up on all sides on the question, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli, you will soon get a feel for the arguments and for the origins of the dispute. Meanwhile, there is no better place to start than Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians.
Contact your local media. Write to newspapers, magazines. Enter talk show debates. Inform people. Talk. Find out as much as you can and pass it on, in whatever way you can. Don’t be silent. Don’t allow the propaganda machine to assume your complicity by remaining disengaged. This is crucial to our future. No one in this world today can afford to be misinformed or ignorant about this. I’d rather hear honest disagreement than silence on this matter. In the end the truth must be heard to be known. As the Quakers say: "Speak Truth to Power." More than this. Power already knows the truth, it is the populace who are lost in ignorance. Now let them hear.
Write to your government and your local representatives. We must demand that a proper investigation be carried out into the alleged war crimes in Gaza, and if it turns out, as the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian areas says, that the Israeli state has committed war-crimes, then people should be held to account. Politicians as well as army officers must be brought to trial. Israel must be branded as a terrorist state. Diplomatic relations have to be broken off. Ambassadors must be sent home. Israel has to be isolated and made to pay for its flagrant breach of international law and its disregard of all civilised rules of behaviour.
Boycott Israeli goods. The barcode for Israeli goods starts with the numbers 7290. All goods with those numbers are from Israel and should not be purchased. Sometimes the label will include the words, “Made in Israel” or “West Bank”. All such items should be boycotted. More: we should picket shops selling these goods. Shops which support Israel by selling their goods should be made to feel embarrassed at the sight of pickets standing outside holding placards with details of the Israeli products for sale inside. For more information, please go to: http://www.bdsmovement.net/
Join a group. Campaign groups include the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (http://www.palestinecampaign.org/) and The International Solidarity Movement (http://palsolidarity.org/). If you feel you can’t take action, or are too isolated and uncertain of your neighbours, then you can at least make a contribution. Keep up with the news on their websites. Have their newsletters sent to your inbox. You don’t have to feel alone. There are millions of us out here with the same views as you. Or, as the current slogan has it: “In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians.”
Support Israeli and Jewish peace groups in their opposition to the Zionist state. Contrary to what the spin-doctors and propagandists of Zionism pretend, anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. The opposite, in fact. Palestinians are Semites too. The attack on Gaza is an attack upon a Semitic people, and is itself an act of gross anti-Semitism.
Also, the very notion of an Israeli state is antithetical to the ideals of Judaism. As it says on the website True Torah Jews Against Zionism:
“What more proof does one need than the fact that for centuries, Jews have lived peacefully in Arabic countries, enjoying the respect and friendship of their neighbours? The tragedy of Zionism changed all of that. The painful truth is that in the eyes of the Zionist government, Jews are merely the cannon-fodder needed for the State of Israel to achieve its agenda.”
Together we can make a difference.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Boston Oct 28th: 2008
"We hope the occupation of the Palestinian territory by Israel will end.
"There is a cry of anguish from the depth of my heart, to my spiritual relatives. Please, please hear the call, the noble call of our scripture.
"Don't be found fighting against this god, your god, our god, who hears the cry of the oppressed.
"Because of what I experienced in South Africa, I harbour hope for Israel and the Palestinian territories.
"I experienced a déjà vu when I encountered a security checkpoint that Palestinians must negotiate every day and be demeaned, all their lives.
"When I hear, 'that used to be my home,' it is painfully similar to the treatment in South Africa when coloureds had no rights.
"Spiritually I am of Hebrew decent. When apartheid oppression was at its most vicious, and all but knocked the stuffing out of those of us who opposed it, we turned to the Hebrew tradition of resistance, and the belief that good will triumph over evil, and that a day of freedom from oppression will come.
"The well-to-do and powerful complain that we are mixing religion with politics. I've never heard the poor complain that ‘Tutu, you are being too political.’
"I am not playing politics when it involves children who suffer. A human rights violation is a human rights violation is a human rights violation, wherever it occurs."
- Palestine Solidarity Campaign
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign works for peace & justice for Palestinians, in support of human rights & against all racism
- I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists
Membership of this group constitutes an awareness that Israel's occupation of and actions in Palestine constitute Apartheid; It's recognition that Palestinians are subject to different laws and standards than Israelis.
© 2009 Christopher James Stone