The standard Zionist position is that they showed up in Palestine to reclaim their ancestral homeland in the late 19th century. Jews bought land and started building up the Jewish community there. They were met with increasingly violent opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, presumably stemming from the Arabs' inherent anti-Semitism. The Zionists were then forced to defend themselves and, in one form or another, this same situation continues up to today.
The problem with this explanation is that it is simply not true. What really happened was that the Zionist movement, from the beginning, looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population so that Israel could be a wholly Jewish state, or as much as was possible. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never by sold or even leased back to Arabs (a situation which continues to the present).
The Arab community, as it became increasingly aware of the Zionists' intentions, strenuously opposed further Jewish immigration and land buying because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Arab society in Palestine. Because of this opposition, the entire Zionist project never could have been realized without the military backing of the British. The vast majority of the population of Palestine, by the way, had been Arabic since the seventh century A.D. (over 1200 years).
In short, Zionism was based on a faulty, colonialist world-view that the rights of the indigenous inhabitants didn't matter. The Arabs' opposition to Zionism wasn't based on anti-Semitism but rather on a totally reasonable fear of the dispossession of their people.
During the 1948 war, 750,000 Palestinians fled in terror or were actively expelled from their ancestral homeland and turned into refugees. The state of Israel then refused to allow them to return and either destroyed their villages entirely or expropriated their land, orchards, houses, businesses and personal possessions for the use of the Jewish population. This was the birth of the state of Israel.
Given the damage that has been done to the Palestinian people, Israel's moral obligation is to make whatever amends possible. Among these should be assisting the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state in the entire West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. Israel should not object to this state and, in addition, should help with its foundation via generous reparations. Besides being the right thing to do, this would stop the sporadic acts of violence against Israel, as the Palestinians' legitimate desire for their own state would be realized. Moreover, all laws that discriminate against non-Jews living in Israel should be repealed. All citizens should enjoy full and equal rights, as should any Palestinians who wish to return to their ancestral homeland. These refugees should, as a mater of principle, be compensated for their lost homes and land.
As U.S. citizens, we have a special obligation to see that justice is done in this matter. U.S. financial aid to Israel has been, and continues to be, enormous; and our diplomatic support allows Israel's continued occupation of Arab territories. We strongly recommend that you contact your elected representatives in Washington and urge them to pressure Israel to abide by the consensus of world opinion, as shown by numerous UN votes, as a precondition of continued support.
Under International Law The City Of Jerusalem Belongs Not To Israel, But To The United Nations. The Legal Title Is In The Possession Of The Security Council, Which Has Long Intended That Jerusalem Be Made An International City Under International Control. Technically, Jerusalem Was To Be A Corpus Separatum, Never Part Of Either Israel Or Any Arab State.
American Jews in particular have a special responsibility to acknowledge the Palestinian point of view in order to help move the debate forward. As Chomsky writes in his "Peace in the Middle East?", "In the American Jewish community, there is little willingness to face the fact that the Palestinian Arabs have suffered a monstrous historical injustice, whatever one may think of the competing claims. Until this is recognized, discussion of the Middle East crisis cannot even begin."
In the long run, only by admitting their culpability and making amends can Israelis live with their neighbors in peace. Only then can the centuries-old Jewish tradition of being a people of high moral character be restored. And only in this way can real security, peace and justice come to this ancient land.
JEWISH CRITICISM OF ZIONISM:
Albert Einstein - 'I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish State. Apart from practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish State, with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain'...
Martin Burber - "Only an internal revolution can have the power to heal our people of their murderous sickness of causeless hatred... It is bound to bring complete ruin upon us. Only then will the old and young in our land realize how great was our responsibility to those miserable Arab refugees in whose towns we have settled Jews who were brought from afar; whose homes we have inherited, whose fields we now sow and harvest; the fruits of whose gardens, orchards and vineyards we gather; and in whose cities that we robbed we put up houses of education, charity, and prayer, while we babble and rave about being the "People of the Book" and the "light of the nations"'...
David Ben-Gurion - "Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschweitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country. Why should they accept that?" (quoted in "The Jewish Paradox" by Nathum Goldmann, former president of the World Jewish Congress.
THE EFFECT OF ZIONISM ON AMERICAN JEWS:
"The corruption of Judaism, as a religion of universal values, through its politicization by Zionism and by the replacement of dedication to Israel for dedication to God and the moral law, is what has alienated so many young Americans who, searching for spiritual meaning in life, have found little in the organized Jewish community." - Allan Brownfield, "Issues of the American Council for Judaism", Spring 1997.
GANDHI ON THE PALESTINE CONFLICT - 1938
"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French... What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct... If they [the Jews] must look to Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs... As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds." Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in "A Land of Two Peoples" ed. Mendes-Flohr.
THE SOLUTION FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST:
There Can Be No Sustainable Peace Without Justice.
"The final destination of a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement has begun to emerge from the political haze. Such a settlement must... give the Palestinian people a sovereign, uncontested, independent state of their own. This is a matter of justice and practicality. If a truly lasting and stable peace is the goal, there is no other option... The mere trappings of statehood will not suffice. The state has to be real and workable. The following are its essential conditions:
Territorial integrity and contiguity... Any further dissection of Palestinian territory would make it politically and economically impossible to maintain a state... There can be no civilian pockets under Israeli rule on Palestinian land...
A sovereign capital in Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is Palestine's historical, spiritual and commercial heart. To exclude it from a Palestinian state is unthinkable...
Justice and fairness for refugees... As a matter of principle, the Palestinians' right to return or to be compensated for their lost homes and land is nonnegotiable... Israel must acknowledge the suffering and hardship Palestinian refugees have faced as a result of their eviction from their homeland, and must assist in their rehabilitation and reabsorption." (A.S. Khalidi, Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, February 11, 1997.
We empower the American People and the President of the United States of America to fully support the United Nation's Resolution mandating Jerusalem an international city under international control.
We encourage The Global Community of Nations to demilitarize The Middle East, and dismantle all weapons of mass destruction.
We urge The Global Community to transform our current fossil fuel/military industrial economy into a Sustainable Global Solar Hydrogen Economy.
IT IS OUR HEARTFELT PRAYER THAT PEOPLE OF GOODWILL EVERYWHERE WILL UNITE IN CONSCIOUSNESS AND PRAY FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
SOURCES FOR FURTHER RESEARCH ON PALESTINE AND ISRAEL:
In addition, the American Educational Trust, publisher of Washington Report on
Middle East Affairs, has a large selection of books available. Write for their free
catalog to AET, P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009.
Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.
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