FAR RIGHT, historical revisionist Ilan Pappe pronounced on his version of reality from the Gatesville Mosque in Cape Town on SABC television yesterday. While we both agree that a binational state with a common constitution is possibly the best solution to the Middle East problem, we certainly do not agree on the need to lie about history in order to satisfy the narrative of 1,6 billion Muslims.
According to Pappe and the Muslim Brotherhood, Arabs are superior in every way including their suffering, which took on a perverse new form this week as the disproportionate response to Hamas rocket attacks by Israel left thousands dead and wounded in Gaza. The infanticide and needless slaughter received international condemnation, in particular from UN secretary-general Ban ki Moon.
Pappe is at best considered a sloppy historian, his views are no doubt controversial.
The root of the problem here is a pathetic blood libel and religious vendetta that seeks the imposition of a theocracy and the creation of an Islamic State under the Caliphate. Instead of a Freedom Charter guaranteeing human rights for everyone in the region, a secular democratic state for all. Hamas have an infamous Death Charter calling for the destruction of Jews in a final battle.
Whatever ones position on Secularism and the nation-state, (surely all nation-states are defunct in an interconnected, post-modern world?) the question remains on how to avoid further bloodshed in a region characterised by strange beliefs, conservative ideas, tribalism and blood ties.
Inventing propagandist lies and feeding the Zionist state’s paranoid reason d’etre for further collective punishment of Gazans by producing more Nazis, the permissible genocide of theocrats, does not assist us in the broader struggle for civil rights and Secularism. Anti-Semitic attacks have simply increased because of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the situation is lose-lose according to Amos Oz, and Israel’s response to rocket attacks is excessive.
It is thus important to examine the latest round of mendacity posing as a new mythology or catechism — articles of faith that are being recited by theologians, theists and the faithful.
Myth One: Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany are merely settlers on holiday in a land bereft of Jews. This ahistorical and revisionist approach to the predicament in which the events of the Holocaust are first delinked from the events surrounding the founding of Israel and then quietly forgotten is morally reprehensible.*
The problem of Jewish refugees following WW2 is not one that is easily dismissed, even by non-Zionists. So too the problem of Ethiopian and Arab Jewish refugees — Jewish refugees black and white — who in the minds of Arab Islamic supremacists simply disappear from the narrow debate in which all Jews are absurdly considered to be of European origin, even if we were never accepted as white by the Aryan master-race promoted by Adolf Hitler. Black Jews from Yemen and Eritrea who would have been subjected to apartheid legislation if they had migrated to South Africa, must be accorded status as persons, in any new dispensation, a legal requirement for which neo-fascists like Pappe fail miserably to consider.
Myth Two: The displacement of peoples, whether Jewish Palestinian or Muslim Palestinian, was not the tragic result of the failed 1947 UN Partition Plan and the 1948 War of Independence which followed but is rather a diabolical plot formulated by David ben Gurion and consistent with ethnic cleansing. Hence there was no Holocaust per se, nor even a UN Partition Plan.
This focus on a singular Zionist struggle which ‘occurred in a vacuum’ fails to explain prior agreements such as the 1919 pact between Chaim Weizmann and King Faisal to create a Palestinian and an Arab State. Jewish Palestine thus became independent in 1948. It ignores earlier precedents such as the founding of modern Greece in which population swaps occurred between Greece and Turkey.
The Nakba is the tragic result of the failure to accommodate all Palestinians following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire due to its support of Kaiser Wilhelm in World War One and Hitler in World War Two (Turkey it must be noted, then a newly created nation-state, is the result of a nationalistic and armed uprising under Kemal Ataturk, it signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler, while the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el Husseini supported the Final Solution)
Myth Three: The disputed territories, including the rest of Israel, are occupied illegally in defiance of UN resolution 181 and 242**. Both resolutions recognise the right of Israel to exist within defensible borders. Rights which are not recognised by any of the Arab States controlling 600x more territory than Israel. Even Nelson Mandela recognised this right, but since he was a bipartisan he sided with the PLO on its interpretation of what Israel’s borders are. (I tend to agree with him, but at what cost do we pursue the dispute?) It should be noted here that none of the Arab States support Hamas’ grand scheme in terms of its Death Charter and have tended to side with Israel in this regard, “The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu.” The Saudi King has criticised Hamas’ willingness to sacrifice its civilian population. The general cost in terms of human life is staggering and needs to be seen in the context of the ongoing war in neighbouring Syria where 150 000 plus persons have lost their lives including women and children. Both parties thus appear ready to engage in wholesale slaughter and cannot be trusted to have the best interests of the rest of the world at heart.
Myth Four: Israel has not given back any land for peace, since Jews never owned this land to begin with. Such statements fail to take into account deeded property owned by Jews, in particular land owned by Arab Jews which was confiscated by Arab States in 1948, some 100 000 square km of deeded property. Arabs occupy 600x more land than do Jews, and yet refuse to share this land with Jews as well as Africans, Asians and Europeans. The entire Sinai Peninsula was given back to Egypt in 1979. Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip from 1948-1967.
Gaza like many other Arab States, lacks the diversity of multi-cultural expression associated with Secular societies around the world. Its quest for an ethnically pure Islamic State to be built “on the rubble of Israel’ has had quite the opposite effect.
Gaza is roughly the same 360 km2 area of land marked out for Jews under the Caliphate — the maps that people like Pappe bandy about are not only deceptive — failing to show the partition of British Mandate Palestine into Hashemite Palestine and Jewish Palestine, but gloss over the failed UN Partition Plans in which the Levant was once again carved up between Jews and Arabs.
Can we continue to operate on the assumption that this 360 km2 is the true extent of all the property owned by Jews in the Middle East while bearing witness to the tit-for tat destruction of Gaza as its borders are pushed towards the sea?
Myth Five: Zionism is always to blame since Judaism is merely a cult started by Napolean Bonaparte***. Arab Supremacists, just like in Apartheid South Africa, promote a particularly vicious rival ideology based upon religion. The war being waged between North and South Sudan is indicative of this Arab and Islamist extremism. 140 people were killed in fresh rounds of fighting that broke out in Jonglei and Upper Nile states less than a week ago while similar problems continue to plague both the Central African Republic and Nigeria.
Thus the same people who decry Israel’s supposed maltreatment of its Ethiopian and Bedouin population are nowhere to be found when these folk are killed by Hamas rockets and look the other way when Africans are slaughtered by Boko Harem and M25.
Myth Six: What is happening in Israel is race apartheid not religious apartheid. South Africa saw race segregation, i.e segregation according to the pseudo-scientific notion of race and ethnicity. In order to believe any of the claims made by Pappe, we have to accept that all Jews are white, which clearly they are not. There is nothing linking Russian and Chinese Jews and Kazarite and Ethiopian Jews, save their religion. The problematic status of black Jews in Israel continues to be a consistent point that is not subject to scrutiny or debate. As is my own case in South Africa regarding Secular Humanistic Judaism which accepts in broad terms that “Judaism is the historic culture of the Jewish people” and “A Jew is a person who identifies with the history, culture, and future of the Jewish people”.
Please see my posting here with regard to allegations made by the SACP in this regard.
We are all held hostage
We are all hostages of the resulting problems of theology and religion.
The South African struggle was a civil rights struggle against theocracy in particular the right-wing agenda promoted by the Nederduitse Gereeformede Kerk which sought to deprive non-Whites of land ownership and the vote. The Freedom Charter thus asserted the need to accommodate everyone, all the peoples of South Africa. It resulted in a Secular constitution and Bill of Rights enshrining a universal franchise and religious freedom (as well as the right to dissent from religion).
Like Jared Sacks, whose irritatingly familiar piece on Zionist talking points published by the Mail and Guardian, which could also be entitled, “Please don’t shoot me, I’m not a Zionist” and which merely precis the work of revisionists such as Pappe, I too have a story to tell.
It is about my disenchantment with Zionism, Statism and the Hamasist Palestinian Struggle.
* A post-Zionist response would accept that Zionism was the best solution to the Holocaust but that such an ideology is no longer needed in an interconnected world in which there is no security behind borders.
** A binationalist or inclusivist sees the problem quite differently from a rejectionist or two-statist. In any event we have already had a two state solution which failed.
***This claim is best expressed by a recent Al Jazeera documentry on the Nakba, hence the need to destroy the tombs and images of the Patriarchs, in order to have a single religion without any rival. It is similar to other populist claims that Judaism for instance plagiarized the Talmud from Islam and hence stole the land in the Levant and so on. Judaism predates Islam by three thousand years, expecting Jews to conform to an Islamic version of Judaism, in which Jews are merely Dhimmi, or People of the Book, is absurd.
[Yet another unpublished letter to the Cape Times. DRL]
Cape Times Wednesday, January 9, 2013, Letter to the Editor refers.
Terry Crawford-Brown’s latest apoplexy regarding Arab Jews living in Israel is insightful. The least of which is the lengths to which Anti-Semitic bigots will go in their attempt to explain away the problem of Jewish refugees. Accusing Jews of being responsible for their own persecution in Arab countries after 1945 is really the work of a troubled mind, one which undoubtedly conjures up the dystopian absurdity of a global conspiracy in which Jewish support of Hitler, resulted in World War II and where the creation of the state of Israel is really a massive plot to escape guilt for the murder of 6 million Jews at the hands of International Zionism.
Brown’s half-truths mixed with fable need serious scrutiny since the facts speak for themselves. While he is probably right to suggest that in 1945, roughly 1 million Jews lived in relative peace in the various Arab states of the Middle East, many of them in communities that had existed for thousands of years, he is blatantly wrong in asserting that these refugees were complicit in the confiscation of their own property, some 100,000 square kilometres of deeded property, by Arab governments. It was the Arabs who rejected the United Nations decision to partition Palestine and to create a Jewish state and it was because of the ensuing discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism in Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. that the Jews of Arab lands became targets of anti-Zionist fervor.
As Egypt’s delegate to the UN in 1947 chillingly told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries will be jeopardized by partition.” The dire warning quickly became the brutal reality, ” relates Aharon Mor & Orly Rahimiyan, the authors of “The Jewish Exodus from Arab Lands”. The same political brinkmanship can be seen in the remarks of Essam el-Erian, a former adviser to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who recently called on Egyptian Jews to return home to Egypt so they can “make room for the Palestinians to return [to Palestine], and Jews return to their homeland [each group of Jews to return to its respective Diaspora “homeland”] in light of the democracy” evolving in Egypt. “I call on them now. Egypt is more deserving of you.” NOTE: Morsi is on record as referring to ALL Jews as “bloodsuckers” and the “descendants of apes and pigs”.
Like Saddam Hussein in 1974, when he called on Iraqi Jews to return, to have their citizenship reinstated, and their confiscated property returned without any guarantee of human rights, Brown wants to turn the wheel of history back 65 years, in the process also depriving 1 million Russian Jewish refugees “of dubious” origin, of their right to freedom of religion. It is the kind of racist politicking that relegated South Africa’s various ethnic groups to the independent homelands, while denying them basic human rights in the land of their birth. These Russians are no less deserving of human rights and yet Brown would rather support a political movement which has consistently failed to offer any such guarantees. To date, neither the PLO nor Hamas possess a Freedom Charter guaranteeing fundamental human rights.
Whatever ones views on the problematic states of Israel and Palestine, and whether one supports statehood or not, as South Africans it is incumbent upon us to seek out the truth, to expose the lies wherever they may be and to call for a peaceful and just settlement of the dispute, one which has been ongoing for almost three quarters of a century and which has claimed hundreds of lives on either side.
David Robert Lewis
NOTE: Jews were stripped of their citizenship in Egypt, Iraq, Algeria and Libya; detained or arrested in Algeria, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Egypt; deprived of employment by government decrees in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Algeria, and had their property confiscated in all of the Arab lands except Morocco, according to Justice for Jews from Arab Countries. Anti-Jewish riots were widespread.
IT strikes me there is something pitiful about the two-state tango in which both Palestine and Israel are caught in an existential embrace from which neither country can extricate itself.
Sure, recognition of a Jewish State contingent on there being a democratic Palestine in which human rights are preserved. But this leaves out an important third grouping. Those citizens who identify with a broader social project in which both Jews and Muslims (as well as Christians) may find a home within the context of a secular/democratic society.
Such dreams of an Israelstine refuse to die out. They abound in the cherished ideals of those who seek a unitary state or one-state solution modelled upon the South African federal experience. South Africa is a unitary state with provinces that have a remarkable semblance of autonomy despite constant attack by those who wish to centralise power.
Could a tripartite or federal solution work in Israel? Can all three of the world’s religions be accommodated? What exactly would a three-state solution entail?
First off one would want to grant the Jewish people a state in which the halakha was practised and where Judaism was the dominant religion and legal code.
Next, you would want to ensure a state for Palestinians, in which democracy and human rights was guaranteed.
Finally, and crucially, you would want to accommodate those who fit into neither camp, either because they were not Jews per se, (not observant enough), secular Israelis or Palestinians who wished to live in areas not granted to the autonomous number 2 state. This would be the state on paper which together with the two states above, created a new state of Israelstine, a state which for now only exists in the imagination.
Now all three entities (and the citizens they contain) might argue as to the exact meaning and terms of independence. Undoubtedly the Jewish State and the Palestinian State would be independent and autonomous, however they would find themselves agreeing that the neutral third state also had rights and responsibilities necessitating some form of nation-building — a national anthem, even a new flag which might be an amalgam of both the current Israeli and Palestinian flags, or as some have found, a piece of white cloth with two blue stripes and instead of a lone Star of David, the Cross and Crescent Moon on either side.
Has time run out for the lone star state? Do we need a huge rethink about Israel and Palestine? Can there ever be security behind borders?
Such an Israelistinian affair would necessitate a constitution, a federal parliament in which all three states could meet an enact laws.
Since all three states would have enormous levels of autonomy, they might evolve like the European Union, as an economic entity first and foremost, with political issues secondary.
However which way it was organised, the new state of Israelstine would allow for the full expression of Jews, Israelis and Palestinians in a co-operative and non-violent manner. It would allow all three states to coexist with the Arab scene as well as the International community and Jewish Diaspora.
NOTE: Another exercise worth doing is to remove the religious divides completely. Let us think up a state in which only linguistic groups are accommodated. Since most English speaking Jews identify with the Diaspora, and not Israel, it makes sense to talk about the Hebrew State as opposed to the Jewish State. In fact a three-state solution might accommodate the religious in one state, while those who comprise a particular linguistic group would live in another state. Both states would be part of the third larger state in which secular and profane could coexist alongside the sacred and profound.
UPDATE: Belgium is an example of a three-state solution, in which the Flemish and Walloons, two completely seperate linguistic and cultural entities are accommodated within a third state, which is a state on paper, see my DIY Middle East Peace Plan