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Mazin B. Qumsiyeh | Yale Herald | January 24, 2003
In Israel, the coalition government of Labor and Likud fell temporarily. While the upcoming Israeli elections promise a split between doves and hawks, the reality is that the partnership of Labor and Likud goes back 55 years and neither party can help extricate Israel from the mess it created. The forerunners of these two political groups competed with one another as early as the 1930s but also collaborated and covered for one another.
This was most noticeable in massacres beginning in October 1947, before Israel was established in May 1948 and the Arab armies were engaged in the War of 1948. Future Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s group, for example, perpetuated the massacre at Deir Yassin while Palmach units of the Labor Zionist movement provided cover.
In today’s twilight zone, Labor Zionists bemoan “the occupation” while Likud Zionists correctly point out that ending the occupation on Israel’s terms will not bring peace. Palestinian peace advocates get bogged down explaining that even the 80 percent of the West Bank and Gaza land included in the Clinton/Barak “generous offer” is merely 17 percent of Palestine. Amid this confusion, the occupation and oppression remain empowered while the apartheid laws of Israel are swept under the carpet.
Violence is described not as the symptom of the disease of colonization but as a reason to strengthen the ongoing colonization activities—activities that long ago lost all other support mechanisms.
The reality needs to be faced head on. The Jewish philosopher and leader of cultural Zionism, Martin Buber, wrote to Prime Minister Ben Gurion in March of 1949, “We will have to face the reality that Israel is neither innocent, nor redemptive. And that in its creation and expansion, we as Jews have caused what we historically have suffered; a refugee population in Diaspora.” David Ben Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister, knew this and wrote: “If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been anti-semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?”
Clearly, Zionists already knew and acknowledged that absent basic justice and Israeli compliance with international law, there would never be peace. The Zionist movement instead chose a strategy based on power couching their actions of ethnic cleansing as “combatting violence.” Rudyard Kipling stated that the “first casualty of war is truth,” and in this case the victims not only included the native Palestinians, but Jews throughout the world. War, instability, and fear are needed to perpetuate injustice. No wonder Hitler thought highly of Zionists and Zionists regularly collaborated with the Nazis, as Edwin Black explicates in the Transfer Agreement, Noam Giladi notes in The Ben-Gurions Scandals and Lenni Brenner describes in his book, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators.
All of this came not for the benefit of “the Jews” but in order to keep an elitist Zionism at the expense of Judaism, Jews, and the natives. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President Nelson Mandela likened Israel to apartheid South Africa. The difference is that there was no organized Boer movement in the United States spending millions of dollars to ensure billion-dollar aid packages to white South Africa and a steady stream of misinformation called Hasbara by the Israeli lexicon.
It is time for all humans to stop dancing around the issues and to stop playing into the hands of racism and apartheid. Like the apartheid government in South Africa, Israel must be pressured, through boycotts and divestment, to abolish its racist laws and to not simply create bantustans to solve its “black” problem. How can peace be compatible with laws that give any Jew automatic citizenship and lands while deliberately denying these privileges to the native non-Jews? That these laws are not a solution is obvious. Trends in the world make it clear that trying to maintain separation is against the trend of dissolving borders, intermarriage, and the communication revolution. No amount of obfuscation can change that.
Jews in the thousands are now mobilizing and speaking out against Israeli apartheid policies. More than 100 primarily Jewish and Israeli organizations have voiced their opposition to the bankrupt policies of Israeli government officials, Likud and Labor alike. Hundreds are refusing to serve in the Israeli army of occupation. Tens of thousands are demonstrating. And across college campuses in the United States, a growing divestment movement supported by people of all religions is spreading.
It is time for refugees to return; it is time to bring democracy to all of the countries in the Arab world, including Israel. It is time to cure not only the symptoms but also the disease; it is time to restore a Holy Land based on justice rather than 50-foot walls guarding Palestinian ghettos. From the ashes of war and destruction will come a new Land of Canaan populated by people who will look back at the Zionist history of apartheid and separation with the same incredulity with which we now look at the 50-year “success” of apartheid South Africa.
Mazin B. Qumsiyeh is an associate professor in the School of Medicine.