Jews for Justice for Palestianians, May 2nd, 2016
Impossible life in Gaza: Nader Obu Odeh, age 6, gathers wood from destroyed houses to make a fire, Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip. The Abu Odeh family, 33 people including 21 children, fled but returned to live in the remains of their damaged house without electricity and gas. Photo by Activestills.org
By Jamie Stern-Weiner, blog
April 30, 2016
Let’s imagine for just a moment that a people was forcibly dispossessed of its homeland.
Let’s imagine that a portion of this people had rotted in refugee camps for some seven decades while others had lived under a brutal military occupation for almost five decades.
Let’s imagine that the people living under this military occupation were systematically tortured, abused, stolen from, and prevented from exercising their most basic and universally ratified human and political rights.
Let’s imagine that for nearly a decade, a part of this people was placed under an inhuman and illegal siege that brought about the complete collapse of their already desperate economy, and rendered their environment borderline unfit for human inhabitation.
Let’s imagine that, on top of the expulsion, military occupation, and inhuman and illegal siege, these people suffered periodic massacres, the most recent of which killed more than 2,200 people, including 550 children, and destroyed or rendered uninhabitable fully 18,000 homes.
Let’s imagine that their hospitals, schools and houses were repeatedly and deliberately shelled with white phosphorus, a substance that reaches 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and, upon contact with human flesh, can burn through to the bone.
Let’s imagine that within this battered and besieged ‘prison camp‘, poverty had climbed to 40%; that 80% of the population was reduced to dependence upon humanitarian aid; and that unemployment hit 43%—probably the highest in the world.
Let’s imagine that most of these people were children under the age of 18.
Let’s imagine that more than 70% of these people were refugees.
IDF soldiers at one the many checkpoints near the West Bank city of Jenin. Photo by Reuters
Let’s imagine that, for decades, as these horrors were inflicted upon a stateless and dispossessed civilian population, the international community looked on and did nothing.
Let’s imagine that the entire world agreed on how to bring this brutal military occupation to a peaceful close, but that, in defiance of this overwhelming international consensus, the occupying power brazenly refused to withdraw to its legal borders.
Let’s imagine that, when a number of individuals finally got together and tried to do something to bring the nightmare to an end, Jonathan Freedland came along and issued to them a heartfelt ‘plea’:guys, take it down a notch.
The upshot of Freedland’s wretched article is this: for half a century nothing has been done to put a stop to the brutal, immoral and illegal persecution of the Palestinians, and it’s time to do less.
Below: An open pool of sewage is seen in the garbage-filled Wadi Gaza area of the central Gaza Strip on Nov. 27, 2013. The situation got much worse the following year when Gaza’s sewage treatment plant and the power station driving water and sewage treatment was destroyed by the IDF. Photo by Marco Longari / AFP / Getty Images
P.S. Naz Shah MP was vilified for posting an image suggesting, tongue-in-cheek, that Israel be relocated to the United States. Here is what Jonathan Freedland had to say about an ethnic cleansing that actually happened, and whose surviving victims are still struggling for a mite of justice: ‘I have long believed that Israel should be strong enough to admit the reality of 1948 [i.e. the mass expulsion of Palestinian civilians]—and to defend it all the same’. The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians was ‘a horribly high moral price’ to pay for the establishment of a Jewish state—but it was also ‘a moral necessity’.
Letter to the Guardian
By Professor Kamel Hawwash, Birmingham
May 02, 2016
Jonathan Freedland (My plea to the left, 30 April) asks us to imagine if a country far away was created for black people and asks if the left would treat it as it does Israel. As a Palestinian I want to tell him that if, instead of a country for Jews, a country for black people or any other group had been created in our homeland without our consent, we would have objected and resisted as Palestinians with the same vigour.
If it continued to defy international law and occupy, colonise and murder and make our lives so miserable that we would leave, we would call for its boycott as we do in the case of the real occupier, Israel. And if that occupation had continued for as long as Israel’s has, we would have called supporters of human rights to help us end this occupation, treat Palestinian citizens of that state equally and allow Palestinian refugees to return. As it happens, those are the legitimate demands of the BDS movement called by Palestinian civil society organisations in 2005.
Further, had Israel been created in, say, Uganda* and not in Palestine, does Freedland or any other supporter of Israel think that Palestinians would have created Fatah or Hamas and sent them to Uganda to attack the Jewish citizens of this entity in Uganda?
Even closer to home, Balfour had more right to promise Wales to the Zionists than Palestine – with my apologies to the Welsh people. Had he done so and had Israel been created in Wales, had Cardiff been occupied and declared the united capital of Israel, and had Swansea been under siege for 10 years because it reacted to Israel’s illegal occupation, would the Welsh have simply accepted this and behaved as a model occupied people?
I remind all who are interested in peace in historic Palestine that we Palestinians did not choose our occupiers. They chose Palestine knowing it was not an empty land but one that had a people, my people, the Palestinians that have paid with their land, lives and rights.
As we approach the 68th anniversary of our catastrophe or Nakba, our occupiers need to acknowledge the wrong they did to us, apologise and pursue a genuine reconciliation, which may necessitate a very different political arrangement in historic Palestine. Instead they are busy conflating antisemitism with anti-Zionism, thinking this will end the call for Israel to come to its senses. Supporters of Israel who do this are really working to protect its illegal policies and to delay the day when it finally operates within rather than above the law.
Jewish Virtual Library
At the Sixth Zionist Congress at Basel on August 26, 1903, Theodor Herzl proposed the British Uganda Programme as a temporary emergency refuge for Jews in Russia in immediate danger. While Herzl made it clear that this programme would not affect the ultimate aim of Zionism, a Jewish entity in the Land of Israel, the proposal aroused a storm of protest at the Congress and nearly led to a split in the Zionist movement. The Uganda Programme, which never had much support, was formally rejected by the Zionist movement at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905.