Palestinians: Right to Exist

I’m sure that at the end of this article I will be labeled an anti-Semite. It’s okay because as an African American I know about racism. But as I morally objected to apartheid in South Africa, oppression in the “land of the free”, and the genocide of America’s indigenous population, I must speak out against apartheid in Palestine.

Jews and African Americans know about racism. We have each experienced our own holocausts. The Jews in Nazi Germany during World War II and American blacks in the Middle Passage coming to America on slave ships. Jews in Nazi Germany and blacks in America were also both exploited for free labor. Although relationships between blacks and Jews have been tenuous over the years, I acknowledge the fact that the Jewish people have been consistent allies in the fight for racial justice. Julius Rosenwald, Lillian Wald, Rabbi Emil Hirsch, and Rabbi Steven Wise were original founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Anti-Semitism is real. In the United States there were 625 incidents of hate crimes against Jews with 737 victims as reported by the FBI in 2013. Would that it were different. I support the right for Jewish people to exist. Yes. But not at the expense of people who happen to be dark like me. No.

Jews have enjoyed unparalleled success in America since they arrived at Ellis Island. In 2012 it was estimated that Jews were 34% of the Forbes 400 list although they are only 1.8% of the adult population. It is calculated that they are 100 times more likely to become billionaires than the rest of the world. According to Wikipedia, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most powerful lobbying force in Washington. They dominate ownership of world media and shape public opinion.

Jews wield enormous power in America and in the world. They have a lot to celebrate. But although I applaud the rich culture of this ethnic group, I am not writing to praise the state of Israel. Although I find a culture of hate toward Jews repugnant, I do not support Zionism.

With an economy in recession, ballooning deficits, and cuts in social programs, scarce American tax dollars go to fund the state of Israel. I have a problem with that and I am not alone. Miko Peled, a Jewish anti-Zionist made these remarks in a 2012 presentation. He said that he is often labeled a “self-hating Jew” and responds:  “Fine but can you explain to me why Palestinian children get no water; can you explain to me how you justify dropping 100 tons of bombs on children; can you explain to me throwing people out of their homes and making them homeless; can you explain to me yanking kids out of their beds at two in the morning throwing them into prison and torturing them; can you explain all this to me? Perhaps I am anti-Semitic, now you explain all this to me. What does that make you?”

Peled wrote the book, The General’s Son. He came from a prominent military Zionist family, son of a general in the Israeli army. However, after the atrocities of the 1967 war, Peled’s father became a pro-Palestinian peacemaker advocating Palestinian’s right to their own land.

As unusual as that is, it is merely a footnote to the whole incredible story.  Peled became an activist like his father, but in 1997 suicide bombers killed his niece, Smadar. This was a great propaganda opportunity for the Zionists, but Peled and his family stood firm. When people expected Smadar’s mother to call for vengeance for this horrific tragedy, the mourners were met with these words, “No real mother would want such a terrible thing to happen to another mother.”

Peled is no racist and neither am I. Although Jews play the race card regarding their “right to exist”, all their economic power and military might not only allow them to exist, but to dominate. The United States threatens Iran with war for even thinking about nuclear armament but Israel’s nuclear arsenal goes unchecked. Mohammed Elbaradel, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general stated, “This is not really sustainable that you have Israel sitting with nuclear weapons capability there while everyone else is part of the non-proliferation regime.”

In 2014 the IAEA once again rejected a resolution to inspect Israel’s nuclear facility. Although 26 nations abstained to vote, the U.S., Britain, France and Germany voted against inspections. When Sadaam Hussein supposedly rejected inspections, the U.S. invaded. America funds Israel’s unchecked nuclear stockpile and is the largest supplier of their weapons. We sanction and invade Iraq; Israel we send money.

Of course Israel has a right to defend herself, but she has the greatest military arsenal in the Middle East. The question is, do the Palestinians have that same right? The Palestinians claim 1300 years of history in their land, interrupted only by the Christian Crusades (1099-1187).

According to “Albalagh”:

The conquest of Palestine by the Muslims put an end to centuries of instability, religious persecution, and colonial rule…Finally, in 1187 CE, Palestine was liberated by the Muslims … Peace and justice once again ruled Palestine, and everyone, regardless of their religion, was allowed to live there peacefully.”

Then in 1917 the Balfour Declaration, (a letter) stated that Britain supported the Zionist occupation of Palestine.  One blog on the subject has a very astute comment that reflects my own common sense thinking:

Looking through the pages of history, it becomes clear that the war over the possession of Palestine and Jerusalem has been going on between Muslims, Christians and Jews since Biblical times without reaching any settlement ever. Archaeological findings and statements in Bible clearly show that Palestine was inhabited by non-Jewish Semites a long time before Jews even claimed that it is their “promised land” and long after that. The justification of Jews, that they claim the land because it belonged to them 3,300 years ago and was lost in the war, is absurd because if that logic is true; America should give the southwestern territory back to Mexicans and the rest of the land to Indians.

What disturbs me is that many black Christian churches support Zionism as God’s commandment. They cheerfully argue that God will bless whosoever blesses Israel. And yet the Ethiopian (black) Israelites face discrimination that would make Jewish civil rights workers blush and black people march.

In an article entitled “Tribulation of Being an Ethiopian Jew”, one woman says that she is routinely called the “n-word.” Black Israelis are an educated population of 125,000 according to a Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute report.  Ethiopian-Israeli scores were 80 to 90 percent of the Jewish population results on the 2009-10 National Achievement Exams. The report goes on to list glaring economic disparities including the fact that Ethiopian-Israeli women’s average monthly income is $3,900 compared to $6,400 for their white peers.

The Ethiopian-Israeli dilemma is a case of job discrimination, housing discrimination, and separate but not equal accommodations.  Just after the Baltimore Freddie Gray riots in April, thousands of black Israelis took to the streets protesting police brutality of a black Israeli soldier.  Protestors met riot police with bottles and stones. Al Jazeera reports that “central Tel Aviv looked like a battlefield” with injuries on both sides of the melee.

As for Palestinians, an article entitled “Jim Crow in Palestine: parallels between US and Israeli racism” states that although Birmingham, Alabama was physically very different from Gaza, lack of basic municipal services such as garbage collection, sewers, paved streets, and sidewalks are similar.  In America’s Jim Crow South, black people would have to yield to white people on the street, moving aside if they approached. In Israel Palestinians are restricted as to what streets they can walk on.

Israeli war crimes abound. Linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky told Press TV that even South African apartheid was not as brutal as Palestinian occupation. “Hospitals have been attacked repeatedly. Each one is a war crime. In fact, for Israel to fire one bullet across the border is also a crime. Trials for war crimes only apply to the defeated.”

The 49 years of Palestinian occupation is the longest military occupation in the world.  Gaza Palestinians describe their fenced in colonization as “the world’s largest prison.”

But Israel’s human rights violations do not go unnoticed.  Fifteen religious leaders sent a letter to Congress asking them to make the three billion dollars in aid to Israel contingent on human rights compliance.  They cited the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act that says that countries in violation of basic human rights cannot benefit from American largesse.  In other words, the U.S. is in violation of its own laws.

Amnesty International weighed in on the issue:

In this regard, on 21 July, (2014) Amnesty International USA issued a statement entitled “Attacks on Medical Facilities and Civilians Add to War Crime Allegations”, stating, among other things, that “the continuing bombardment of civilian homes in several areas in the Gaza Strip, as well as the Israeli shelling of a hospital, add to the list of possible war crimes that demand an urgent independent international investigation.”

Although there is resistance to the media fairytale of Israel’s “right to exist” on someone else’s land, most people are content to drink the Kool-Aid.  A Gallup World Affairs survey reports that 7 out of 10 Americans support Israel.  Only 17% sympathize with Palestinians.  However, since truth is the first casualty of war, I would submit that most people don’t know the whole truth.

An example of the media distortion of facts was in 2002 when President Obama offered Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) a peace deal that the American press lauded as “generous” and “unprecedented”.  Arafat was excoriated for not accepting it.  Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder and editor, Tikkun magazine, USA said that it was an “impossible deal.”  Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy was more descriptive:

It’s as if the Palestinians had been put in the basement of their house and they might be allowed most of the rooms, but Israel gets to control all of the hallways and some of the rooms, so if you want to go from your living room to your bedroom you got to go though an Israeli checkpoint. If you want to go from your kitchen to your bathroom you got to go through an Israeli checkpoint.  Do you really control your house under that set of circumstances?

“Unprecedented” might have been in the ballpark of truth, but generosity was nowhere in the neighborhood.

With this kind of media propaganda it is no wonder that anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic are joined at the hip. So I may be called an anti-Semite. Although I have quoted many pro-Palestinian Jews in this article, a Pew Research study revealed that they are “a minority…so small that it is statistically insignificant.” Nonetheless, I stand in good company even though I advocate a very unpopular position.

The noted Protestant pastor, Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) spoke out against Adolph Hitler. He is known for these compelling words, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Well, they have come for the Palestinians and I am a black American wondering — who is next?

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