Global Activism n’ Action
More often than not, we highlight the amazing efforts of non-profits and the people that work hard behind the scenes. This week, however, we change things up. We want to show you that an individual – just one person – with passion, enthusiasm, dedication and knowledge can make a difference. Meet Rose Mishaan, 25, a Student and Activist behind the International Jewish Solidarity Network. When she’s not in class, she’s partnering up with several organizations, educating others, rallying and brainstorming. She’s helping to organize a growing community of young individuals towards the Palestine Solidarity Movement and is working around the clock to squeeze every ounce of energy she has towards the betterment of the Palestinian people. Learn more about Rose, how she got started, where she’s headed and what motivates her as we feature her in this week’s Non-Profit Spotlight .
International Jewish Solidarity Network
Break the Siege Coalition in San Francisco
Brooklyn, New York
San Francisco, California
I’m currently a first year law student.
BA in Political Science
Worked as a dog walker and dog handler for two years
Community organizer for ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)
Southern Center for Human Rights, Atlanta
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, New York
About the movement
I am an active participant in the Palestine Solidarity Movement, particularly the Jewish Anti-Zionist community within it. I’m involved and have been involved with many organizations that focus on the liberation of Palestine. Mostly they are grassroots groups that bring people together based on their commitment to Palestinian liberation and work through a framework of solidarity.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Aside from being a student, I spend a lot of my time attending meetings and conference calls as well as identifying and connecting with other anti-zionist Jews in an effort to increase our numbers and visibility.
Most notable milestones
Success comes with every person we get involved with who had previously not known that there was an outlet for their politics and who felt isolated from their community and family. The movement has been growing significantly since I got involved with it about five years ago, and I consider this to be a great success.
What’s the niche?
We are in a special position in this struggle. The issue of Palestine is often framed in the media as a religious or ethnic struggle between Jews and Muslims or Arabs. We represent the fact that this is a false dichotomy. It is a power struggle and a conflict over land and resources. Anti-Zionist Jews are in a unique position to break down the stereotypes and false divisions created, to question our communities’ commitment to a Zionist state, which inherently creates a system of racism and apartheid.
What’s the biggest challenge?
There are many. The main challenge is breaking the commitment to Zionism that we find in many mainstream Jewish communities, both in the United States and internationally. Over the last several decades there has been an increased attachment to Zionism and an attempt to inextricably tie Jewish identity to the political Zionist project, embodied in the state of Israel. Openly criticizing this is difficult, especially when many of us come from upbringings, families, and religious communities that are staunchly against the politics that we present.
Aside from this particular struggle, the challenges facing the Palestine solidarity movement are many, including biased media, widespread stereotypes and misrepresentations of Palestinians, and American policy that unequivocally supports Israel’s racist and destructive practices.
What’s in store for the future?
As Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians continues to become more horrific and intense, hopefully the movement and the resistance to the oppression will grow, not just on the ground in Palestine and in Palestinian communities in the diaspora, but among activists of all kinds and people who care about justice and human rights.
We, as anti-Zionist Jews, hope to make ourselves more visible in the media and society in general, to offer other Jews who question the racism and oppression that is perpetuated in their name a space to openly question and oppose Zionism and also be part of a supportive, Jewish community. But most importantly, we will continue to support the Palestinian liberation struggle and work in solidarity with it.
What organizations do/have you worked with?
- Jews Against the Occupation, New York
- Palestine Action Forum of New York
- Atlanta Palestine Solidarity, Atlanta
- Break the Siege, San Francisco
- International Solidarity Movement, Palestine
Best way to keep a competitive edge
It is important to continually reevaluate our politics, process, and actions to make sure that we are remaining true to our principles and that we are being as effective as possible.
Guiding principle in life
Personally, I am guided by a commitment to fostering peace through justice. I support the self-determination of all peoples and stand against imperialism, racism, and oppression wherever I find it. I believe in a framework of solidarity for my activism in order to support rather than co-opt liberation struggles.
Yardstick of success
When working in a movement such as this, successes are often hard to see and measure. One way, is through the level of participation of people and bringing new people into the movement. This is a clear indication that the message is getting out and that people are excited about getting involved.
Goal yet to be achieved
A free Palestine.
Best practical advice
Don’t get demoralized. This is a long and complicated struggle, but the best thing we can do is stay involved, connect with each other and make change where we can.
Supportive words from a family member or friend
I went to Palestine this past winter, and spent part of the time traveling with a Zionist Jewish group. I used the trip as a vehicle to speak out against Israel and its practices, which was not easy. When I got back, a friend of mine made this comment that meant a lot to me: “I love you Rose – for your courage, openness, insight, and again, your courage. I applaud you for being yourself on this trip… and for sharing that with the others. You gave them a gift – by showing them that you can love your Judaism and at the same time by critical of the decisions being made in its name.”
I get inspired by the other activists that I work with and those that have worked for justice in the past. The thing that continually inspires and motivates me is the thought of the people living under occupation who find ways to resist everyday – through non-violent direct action, organizing their communities, and even just in continuing to live and have hope for the future. When I think about this, I realize that as long as they don’t have the option of giving up the fight, I shouldn’t either.
What motivated you to get started?
I’ve always been involved in social justice movements for as long as I can remember. I got involved with Palestine specifically for a couple of reasons. First of all, it was a natural extension of my commitment to and activism around indigenous rights in the US and Latin America. But on a more personal level, I had always been raised to support Israel.
When I was younger, I pretty much ignored the issue. But as I become more involved in global justice movements, I was just unable to reconcile my commitment to justice and human rights with supporting Israel. After the beginning of the second intifada, I realized that I had to publicly and unconditionally support the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and freedom from oppression. So I did.
Like best about what you do?
I love the people that I meet. The activists I have met are amazing people. Being Jewish and working as a Palestine solidarity activist is not always easy. I, as well as many others, have had to deal with being alienated from family, friends, and communities. I have had to deal with redefining my Jewish identity and rebuilding my Jewish community. The activists that I’ve met have helped me do this in profound ways. Finding radical Jewish and non-Jewish activists has been a life-saver for me and something that I hold very dear.
Like least about what you do?
The hardest part of this work is not being able to be as effective as you would like. Success in this field takes time and I know that. But it is hard to watch the news and see people suffering and not be able to immediately help them.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A pop singer.
What was your first job?
Biggest pastimes outside of work
Going to the gym, reading, and going out with friends.
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I love Star Trek
- I’ve been to 27 Indigo Girls concerts
- My Brooklyn accent comes out when I’m angry
Three characteristics that describe you
Three greatest passions
“In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez
Global Justice, with of course, a special place in my heart for Palestine.
Who would you like to be contacted by?
Anyone who is working for a free Palestine and wants to network with other activists, particularly other anti-Zionist Jews.
Interview by Nadia Abou-Karr
Edited by Valerie Enriquez
|June 4th, 2007, 05:55:22||permalink|
It is wonderful to see that truth and justice still mean something to the next generation of us whom inherit the Palestinian-Israeli issue.
|June 5th, 2007, 14:37:19||permalink|
|Israelis have rights too||
Anti-Zionism is Racism
In the past three months, I have visited four “troubled” campuses — Duke, York (Canada), Columbia and UC Irvine — where tensions between Jewish and anti-Zionist students and professors have attracted national attention. In these visits, I have spoken to students, faculty and administrators, and I have obtained a fairly gloomy picture of the situation on those and other campuses.
Jewish students are currently subjected to an unprecedented assault on their identity as Jews. And we, the Jewish faculty on campus, have let those students down. We have failed to equip them with effective tools to fight back this assault.
We can reverse this trend.
Many condemn anti-Zionism for being a flimsy cover for anti-Semitism. I disagree. The order is wrong. I condemn anti-Semitism for being an instrument for a worse form of racism: anti-Zionism.
In other words, I submit that anti-Zionism is a form of racism more dangerous than classical anti-Semitism. Framing anti-Zionism as racism is precisely the weapon that our students need for survival on campus.
Anti-Zionism earns its racist character from denying the Jewish people what it grants to other collectives (e.g. Spanish, Palestinians), namely, the right to nationhood and self-determination.
Are Jews a nation? A collective is entitled to nationhood when its members identify with a common history and wish to share a common destiny. Palestinians have earned nationhood status by virtue of thinking like a nation, not by residing where their ancestors did (many of them are only three or four generations in Palestine). Jews, likewise, are bonded by nationhood (i.e., common history and destiny) more than they are bonded by religion.
The appeal to Jewish nationhood is necessary when we consider Israel’s insistence on remaining a “Jewish state.” By “Jewish state” Israelis mean, of course, “national Jewish state,” not “religious Jewish state” — theocratic states (like Pakistan and Iran) are incompatible with modern standards of democracy and pluralism. Anti-Zionist racists use this anti-theocracy argument repeatedly to delegitimize Israel, and I have found our students unable to defend their position with conventional ideology that views Jewishness as a religion.
Jewishness is more than just a religion. It is an intricate and intertwined mixture of ancestry, religion, history, country, culture, tradition, attitude, nationhood and ethnicity, and we need not apologize for not fitting neatly into the standard molds of textbook taxonomies — we did not choose our turbulent history.
As a form of racism, anti-Zionism is worse than anti-Semitism. It targets the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the people of Israel, who rely on the sovereignty of their state for physical safety, national identity and personal dignity. To put it more bluntly, anti-Zionism condemns 5 million human beings, mostly refugees or children of refugees, to eternal statelessness, traumatized by historical images of persecution and genocide.
Anti-Zionism also attacks the pivotal component of our identity, the glue that bonds us together — our nationhood, our history. And while people of conscience reject anti-Semitism, anti-Zionist rhetoric has become a mark of academic sophistication and social acceptance in Europe and in some U.S. campuses.
Moreover, anti-Zionism disguises itself in the cloak of political debate, exempt from sensitivities and rules of civility that govern interreligious discourse. Religion is ferociously protected in our society — political views are not.
Just last month, a student organization on a UC campus hosted a meeting on “A World Without Israel.” Imagine the international furor that a meeting called, “A World Without Mecca,” would provoke.
So, in the name of “open political debate,” administrators would not think twice about inviting MIT linguist Noam Chomsky to speak on campus, though his anti-Zionist utterances offend the fabric of my Jewish identity deeper than any of the ugly religious insults currently shocking the media. He should be labeled for what he is: a racist.
Strategically, while accusations of anti-Semitism are worn out and have lost their punch, charging someone with racism makes people ask why anyone would deny people the right of self-determination in a sliver of land in the birthplace of their history. It shifts the frame of discourse from debating Israel’s policies to the root cause of the conflict — denying Israelis their basic rights as a nation.
Charges of “racism” highlight the inherent asymmetry between the Zionist and anti-Zionist positions. The former grants both Israelis and Palestinians the right for statehood, the latter denies that right to one, and only one side. This asymmetry is the most effective weapon our students should use in campus debates, for it puts them back on the high moral grounds of “fair and balanced” and forces their opponents to defend an ideology of one-sidedness.
For example, I have found it effective, when confronting an anti-Zionist speaker, to ask: “Are you willing to go on record and state that the Israel-Palestine conflict is a conflict between two legitimate national movements?” Western audiences adore even-handedness and abhor bias. The question above forces the racist to unveil and defend his uneven treatment of the two sides.
America prides itself on academic freedom, and academic freedom entails freedom to teach hatred and racism — we graciously accept this fact of life. However, academic freedom also entails the freedom of students to expose racism, be it white-supremacy, women-inferiority, Islamophobia or Zionophobia wherever it is spotted. Not to censor, but to expose — racists stew in their own words.
In summary, I believe the formula “Anti-Zionism = Racism” should give Jewish students the courage to both defend their identity and expose those who abuse it.
About the Author: Judea Pearl
Daniel Pearl was a journalist who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan while investigating the case of a convicted shoe bomber. The Foundation seeks continue Daniel Pearl’s mission and uphold his principles which included: uncompromised objectivity and integrity; insightful and unconventional perspective; tolerance and respect for people of all cultures; unshaken belief in the effectiveness of education and communication; and the love of music, humor, and friendship.
Judea Pearl is co-editor of “I am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl” (Jewish Lights, 2004), winner of the National Jewish Book Award.
|June 5th, 2007, 15:35:59||permalink|
|anti-zionism is not racism.||
Zionism was/is a call to form a jewish state. and while that in itself is not a bad thing, its execution it not fair by any account.
When you say anti-zionism is racist, what then is Israel’s support of apartheid? What is the forceful expulsion of non-Jewish Arabs? Why are converts from South America and other parts of the world being given a right to settle in Palestinian territory?
And what of the Jewish settlers who antagonize and terrorize Palestinian villages through poisoning livestock and soil and other tactics so that these Palestinians leave their home, opening the way for new settlements? Where does the Israeli government step in and stop this?
You do not present a fair view of the situation. Don’t use propaganda to further your cause.
Zionism is a political movement. This is a political issue. It has nothing to do with Judaeism and Islam, and anyone who calls this a deeply religious issue is misguided, on both sides.
I know Jews who don’t support Israel as it is. Don’t speak for the entirety of Jews.
|June 5th, 2007, 18:58:55||permalink|
Stop lying about Israel. Too bad you have to ignore facts, and make up stories. If you were honest, maybe an intelligent discussion could take place.
“Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to the treatment of blacks in apartheid South Africa.”
Even before the State of Israel was established, Jewish leaders consciously sought to avoid the situation that prevailed in South Africa. As David Ben-Gurion told Palestinian nationalist Musa Alami in 1934:
We do not want to create a situation like that which exists in South Africa, where the whites are the owners and rulers, and the blacks are the workers. If we do not do all kinds of work, easy and hard, skilled and unskilled, if we become merely landlords, then this will not be our homeland.6
Today, within Israel, Jews are a majority, but the Arab minority are full citizens who enjoy equal rights. Arabs are represented in the Knesset, and have served in the Cabinet, high-level foreign ministry posts (e.g., Ambassador to Finland) and on the Supreme Court. Under apartheid, black South Africans could not vote and were not citizens of the country in which they formed the overwhelming majority of the population. Laws dictated where they could live, work and travel. And, in South Africa, the government killed blacks who protested against its policies. By contrast, Israel allows freedom of movement, assembly and speech. Some of the government’s harshest critics are Israeli Arabs who are members of the Knesset.
The situation of Palestinians in the territories is different. The security requirements of the nation, and a violent insurrection in the territories, forced Israel to impose restrictions on Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that are not necessary inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The Palestinians in the territories, typically, dispute Israel’s right to exist whereas blacks did not seek the destruction of South Africa, only the apartheid regime.
If Israel were to give Palestinians full citizenship, it would mean the territories had been annexed. No Israeli government has been prepared to take that step. Instead, through negotiations, Israel agreed to give the Palestinians increasing authority over their own affairs. It is likely that a final settlement will allow most Palestinians to become citizens of their own state. The principal impediment to Palestinian independence is not Israeli policy, it is the unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to give up terrorism and agree to live in peace beside the State of Israel.
Despite all their criticism, when asked what governments they admire most, more than 80 percent of Palestinians consistently choose Israel because they can see up close the thriving democracy in Israel, and the rights the Arab citizens enjoy there. By contrast, Palstinians place Arab regimes far down the list, and their own Palestinian Authority at the bottom with only 20 percent saying they admire the corrupt Arafat regime in 2003.6a
“There is still one other question arising out of the disaster of nations which remains unsolved to this day, and whose profound tragedy, only a Jew can comprehend. This is the African question. Just call to mind all those terrible episodes of the slave trade, of human beings who, merely because they were black, were stolen like cattle, taken prisoner, captured and sold. Their children grew up in strange lands, the objects of contempt and hostility because their complexions were different. I am not ashamed to say, though I may expose myself to ridicule for saying so, that once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.”
— Theodor Herzl7
“Black African nations cut relations with Israel because of its racist policies toward Palestinians.”
Black African nations did not break relations with Israel because of any concerns about racism; most severed ties with the Jewish State in 1973 because of pressure from the Arab oil-producing nations. Full diplomatic ties were continued only by Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland, while a few other countries maintained their links through Israeli interest offices at foreign embassies. Commercial ties were also not entirely disrupted, many black African students continued to train in Israel and Israeli experts remained active in Africa.
Israel has had a long history of friendly relations with black African countries. From 1957 to 1973, Israel trained thousands of Africans in all aspects of life including agriculture, health care and economics. Thousands of Africans went to Israel for training, while similar numbers of Israelis were sent to Africa to teach.8
Golda Meir, the architect of Israel’s Africa policy, believed the lessons learned by Israelis could be passed on to Africans who, particularly during the 1950s, were engaged in the same process of nation building. “Like them,” she said, “we had shaken off foreign rule; like them, we had to learn for ourselves how to reclaim the land, how to increase the yields of our crops, how to irrigate, how to raise poultry, how to live together, and how to defend ourselves.” Israel could provide a better model for the newly independent African states, Meir believed, because Israelis “had been forced to find solutions to the kinds of problems that large, wealthy, powerful states had never encountered.”9
Once the coercive power of the Arab oil-producers eroded, African countries began to reestablish relations with Israel and to seek new cooperative projects. This trend gained momentum with the ongoing peace negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Today, 40 African countries maintain diplomatic ties with Israel, and reciprocal visits by heads of state and government ministers take place frequently. In May 1994, Israel’s President Ezer Weizman attended the historic inauguration of Nelson Mandela as the first black African president of South Africa.
“Israel is pursuing a policy of genocide toward the Palestinians that is comparable to the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews.”
This is perhaps the most odious claim made by Israel’s detractors. The Nazis’ objective was the systematic extermination of every Jew in Europe. Israel is seeking peace with its Palestinian neighbors. More than one million Arabs live as free and equal citizens in Israel. Of the Palestinians in the territories, 98 percent live under the civil administration of the Palestinian Authority. While Israel sometimes employs harsh measures against Palestinians in the territories to protect Israeli citizens – Jews and non-Jews – from the incessant campaign of terror waged by the PA and Islamic radicals, there is no plan to persecute, exterminate, or expel the Palestinian people.
In response to one such comparison, by a poet who referred to the “Zionist SS,” The New Republic’s literary editor Leon Wieseltier observed:
The view that Zionism is Nazism — there is no other way to understand the phrase “Zionist SS” — is not different in kind from the view that the moon is cheese. It is not only spectacularly wrong, it is also spectacularly unintelligent. I will not offend myself (that would be self-hate speech!) by patiently explaining why the State of Israel is unlike the Third Reich, except to say that nothing that has befallen the Palestinians under Israel’s control may responsibly be compared to what befell the Jews under Germany’s control, and that a considerable number of the people who have toiled diligently to find peace and justice for the Palestinians, and a solution to this savage conflict, have been Israeli, some of them even Israeli prime ministers. There is no support for the Palestinian cause this side of decency that can justify the locution “Zionist SS.”10
The absurdity of the charge is also clear from the demography of the disputed territories. While detractors make outrageous claims about Israel committing genocide or ethnic cleansing, the Palestinian population has continued to explode. In Gaza, for example, the population increased from 731,000 in July 1994 to 1,324,991 in 2004, an increase of 81 percent. The growth rate was 3.8 percent, one of the highest in the world. According to the UN, the total Palestinian population in all the disputed territories (they include Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem) was 1,006,000 in 1950, and rose to 1,094,000 in 1970, and exploded to 2,152,000 in 1990. Anthony Cordesman notes the increase “was the result of improvements in income and health services” made by Israel. The Palestinian population has continued to grow exponentially and was estimated in 2004 at more than 3.6 million.11
“Israel’s policies in the territories have caused a humanitarian crisis for the Palestinians.”
It is important to remember that Israel offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of Gaza, and it is the rejection of that proposal, coupled with incessant Palestinian terrorism, that has forced Israeli troops to carry out operations in the territories. Though these actions have caused hardship for the Palestinian population, the IDF has continued to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided to Palestinians in need. For example, during just one 48-hour period (January 5-6, 2003), the IDF:
Coordinated the movement of Palestinians seeking medical care, assisting 40 to go to hospitals, including four patients from Gaza who were transferred to Israel for medical treatment.
The best way to improve the situation for the Palestinians in the territories is for the Palestinian Authority to take the steps laid out by the Bush Administration — end the violence, reform its institutions, and elect new leaders — so that peace talks may resume and a settlement can be negotiated.
|June 5th, 2007, 19:00:16||permalink|
“The Jews have no claim to the land they call Israel.”
A common misperception is that all the Jews were forced into the Diaspora by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. and then, 1,800 years later, suddenly returned to Palestine demanding their country back. In reality, the Jewish people have maintained ties to their historic homeland for more than 3,700 years.
The Jewish people base their claim to the Land of Israel on at least four premises: 1) the Jewish people settled and developed the land; 2) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people; 3) the territory was captured in defensive wars and 4) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.
Even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in the Land of Israel continued and often flourished. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the ninth century. In the 11th century, Jewish communities grew in Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa and Caesarea.
The Crusaders massacred many Jews during the 12th century, but the community rebounded in the next two centuries as large numbers of rabbis and Jewish pilgrims immigrated to Jerusalem and the Galilee. Prominent rabbis established communities in Safed, Jerusalem and elsewhere during the next 300 years. By the early 19th century — years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement — more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel.1 The 78 years of nation-building, beginning in 1870, culminated in the reestablishment of the Jewish State.
Israel’s international “birth certificate” was validated by the promise of the Bible; uninterrupted Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, most of all, the society created by Israel’s people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.
“Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its ‘right to exist.’
Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement….
There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession.”
— Abba Eban2
|June 5th, 2007, 19:01:03||permalink|
“The Zionists could have chosen another country besides Palestine.”
Simultaneously, a wave of Jews immigrated to Palestine from Yemen, Morocco, Iraq and Turkey. These Jews were unaware of Theodor Herzl’s political Zionism or of European pogroms. They were motivated by the centuries-old dream of the “Return to Zion” and a fear of intolerance. Upon hearing that the gates of Palestine were open, they braved the hardships of travel and went to the Land of Israel.
The Zionist ideal of a return to Israel has profound religious roots. Many Jewish prayers speak of Jerusalem, Zion and the Land of Israel. The injunction not to forget Jerusalem, the site of the Temple, is a major tenet of Judaism. The Hebrew language, the Torah, laws in the Talmud, the Jewish calendar and Jewish holidays and festivals all originated in Israel and revolve around its seasons and conditions. Jews pray toward Jerusalem and recite the words “next year in Jerusalem” every Passover. Jewish religion, culture and history make clear that it is only in the land of Israel that the Jewish commonwealth can be built.
In 1897, Jewish leaders formally organized the Zionist political movement, calling for the restoration of the Jewish national home in Palestine, where Jews could find sanctuary and self-determination, and work for the renascence of their civilization and culture.
|June 5th, 2007, 19:01:40||permalink|
“Palestine was always an Arab country.”
The Hebrews entered the Land of Israel about 1300 B.C.E., living under a tribal confederation until being united under the first monarch, King Saul. The second king, David, established Jerusalem as the capital around 1000 B.C.E. David’s son, Solomon built the Temple soon thereafter and consolidated the military, administrative and religious functions of the kingdom. The nation was divided under Solomon’s son, with the northern kingdom (Israel) lasting until 722 B.C.E., when the Assyrians destroyed it, and the southern kingdom (Judah) surviving until the Babylonian conquest in 586 B.C.E. The Jewish people enjoyed brief periods of sovereignty afterward before most Jews were finally driven from their homeland in 135 C.E.
Jewish independence in the Land of Israel lasted for more than 400 years. This is much longer than Americans have enjoyed independence in what has become known as the United States.4 In fact, if not for foreign conquerors, Israel would be 3,000 years old today.
Palestine was never an exclusively Arab country, although Arabic gradually became the language of most the population after the Muslim invasions of the seventh century. No independent Arab or Palestinian state ever existed in Palestine. When the distinguished Arab-American historian, Princeton University Prof. Philip Hitti, testified against partition before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, he said: “There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not.”5
Prior to partition, Palestinian Arabs did not view themselves as having a separate identity. When the First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to choose Palestinian representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, the following resolution was adopted:
We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.6
In 1937, a local Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, told the Peel Commission, which ultimately suggested the partition of Palestine: “There is no such country [as Palestine]! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.”7
The representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the United Nations submitted a statement to the General Assembly in May 1947 that said “Palestine was part of the Province of Syria” and that, “politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political entity.” A few years later, Ahmed Shuqeiri, later the chairman of the PLO, told the Security Council: “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria.”8
Palestinian Arab nationalism is largely a post-World War I phenomenon that did not become a significant political movement until after the 1967 Six-Day War and Israel’s capture of the West Bank.
|June 5th, 2007, 19:02:55||permalink|
On May 15, 1948, the day the British Mandate over Palestine ended, the armies of five neighboring Arab states invaded the new State of Israel, which had declared its independence the previous day. The invasion, heralded by an Egyptian air attack on Tel Aviv, was vigorously resisted. From the north, east and south came the armies of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Transjordan, and Egypt.
The invading forces were fully equipped with the standard weapons of a regular army of the time – artillery, tanks, armored cars and personnel carriers, in addition to machine guns, mortars and the usual small arms in great quantities, and full supplies of ammunition, oil, and gasoline. Further, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria had air forces. As sovereign states, they had no difficulty (as had the pre-state Jewish defense force) in securing whatever armaments they needed through normal channels from Britain and other friendly powers.
In contrast, the Jews had no matching artillery, no tanks, and no warplanes in the first days of the war. Some supplies of these weapons arrived in the days that followed, however, and turned the tide. Little more than small arms – in paucity- had been available to the Haganah which on May 28, 1948, was to merge with other Jewish defense groups to form the Israel Defense Forces. Two Jewish defense forces, the Irgun Zeva’i Le’ummi and the Lohamei Herut Israel agreed to cease their independent activities, (except in Jerusalem) and to absorb their members into the newly founded IDF.
Invaded from all directions, Israel had to cope with the outbreak of a thousand fires, and to do so with limited means. Numerous settlement outposts in the Galilee and the Negev were isolated, open on all sides to Arab attack, and had to rely on their own perseverance and meager armories to stave off defeat. The hastily mobilized army had to engage in offensive action to remove the enemy from key positions, block the advance of their columns, and rush to seal gaps in Israel’s defenses.
|June 5th, 2007, 19:05:46||permalink|
|Remember the Jewish refugees? Or do they not matter to you? (that makes you a racist)||
“Arab leaders never encouraged the Palestinians to flee.”
A plethora of evidence exists demonstrating that Palestinians were encouraged to leave their homes to make way for the invading Arab armies.
The Economist, a frequent critic of the Zionists, reported on October 2, 1948: “Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit….It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.”
Time’s report of the battle for Haifa (May 3, 1948) was similar: “The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by orders of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city….By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa.”
Benny Morris, the historian who documented instances where Palestinians were expelled, also found that Arab leaders encouraged their brethren to leave. The Arab National Committee in Jerusalem, following the March 8, 1948, instructions of the Arab Higher Committee, ordered women, children and the elderly in various parts of Jerusalem to leave their homes: “Any opposition to this order…is an obstacle to the holy war…and will hamper the operations of the fighters in these districts” (Middle Eastern Studies, January 1986).
Morris also said that in early May units of the Arab Legion reportedly ordered the evacuation of all women and children from the town of Beisan. The Arab Liberation Army was also reported to have ordered the evacuation of another village south of Haifa. The departure of the women and children, Morris says, “tended to sap the morale of the menfolk who were left behind to guard the homes and fields, contributing ultimately to the final evacuation of villages. Such two-tier evacuation — women and children first, the men following weeks later — occurred in Qumiya in the Jezreel Valley, among the Awarna bedouin in Haifa Bay and in various other places.”
Who gave such orders? Leaders like Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said, who declared: “We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down.”24
The Secretary of the Arab League Office in London, Edward Atiyah, wrote in his book, The Arabs: “This wholesale exodus was due partly to the belief of the Arabs, encouraged by the boastings of an unrealistic Arabic press and the irresponsible utterances of some of the Arab leaders that it could be only a matter of weeks before the Jews were defeated by the armies of the Arab States and the Palestinian Arabs enabled to reenter and retake possession of their country.”25
In his memoirs, Haled al Azm, the Syrian Prime Minister in 1948-49, also admitted the Arab role in persuading the refugees to leave:
“Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave. Only a few months separated our call to them to leave and our appeal to the United Nations to resolve on their return.”26
“The refugees were confident their absence would not last long, and that they would return within a week or two,” Monsignor George Hakim, a Greek Orthodox Catholic Bishop of Galilee told the Beirut newspaper, Sada al-Janub (August 16, 1948). “Their leaders had promised them that the Arab Armies would crush the ‘Zionist gangs’ very quickly and that there was no need for panic or fear of a long exile.”
On April 3, 1949, the Near East Broadcasting Station (Cyprus) said: “It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees’ flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem.”27
“The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies,” according to the Jordanian newspaper Filastin (February 19, 1949).
One refugee quoted in the Jordan newspaper, Ad Difaa (September 6, 1954), said: “The Arab government told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in.”
“The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade,” said Habib Issa in the New York Lebanese paper, Al Hoda (June 8, 1951). “He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean….Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down.”
The Arabs’ fear was naturally exacerbated by fabricated stories of Jewish atrocities following the attack on Deir Yassin. The native population lacked leaders who could calm them; their spokesmen, such as the Arab Higher Committee, were operating from the safety of neighboring states and did more to arouse their fears than to pacify them. Local military leaders were of little or no comfort. In one instance the commander of Arab troops in Safed went to Damascus. The following day, his troops withdrew from the town. When the residents realized they were defenseless, they fled in panic.28
According to Dr. Walid al-Qamhawi, a former member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, “it was collective fear, moral disintegration and chaos in every field that exiled the Arabs of Tiberias, Haifa and dozens of towns and villages.”29
As panic spread throughout Palestine, the early trickle of refugees became a flood, numbering more than 200,000 by the time the provisional government declared the independence of the State of Israel.
Even Jordan’s King Abdullah, writing in his memoirs, blamed Palestinian leaders for the refugee problem:
The tragedy of the Palestinians was that most of their leaders had paralyzed them with false and unsubstantiated promises that they were not alone; that 80 million Arabs and 400 million Muslims would instantly and miraculously come to their rescue.30
“The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but, instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live.”
|June 5th, 2007, 19:07:09||permalink|
|Remember the Jewish refugees? Or do they not matter to you? (that makes you a racist)||
The number of Jews fleeing Arab countries for Israel in the years following Israel’s independence was nearly double the number of Arabs leaving Palestine. Many Jews were allowed to take little more than the shirts on their backs. These refugees had no desire to be repatriated. Little is heard about them because they did not remain refugees for long. Of the 820,000 Jewish refugees between 1948 and 1972, 586,000 were resettled in Israel at great expense, and without any offer of compensation from the Arab governments who confiscated their possessions.3a Israel has consequently maintained that any agreement to compensate the Palestinian refugees must also include Arab compensation for Jewish refugees. To this day, the Arab states have refused to pay any compensation to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to abandon their property before fleeing those countries. Through November 2003, 101 of the 681 UN resolutions on the Middle East conflict referred directly to Palestinian refugees. Not one mentioned the Jewish refugees from Arab countries.3b
The contrast between the reception of Jewish and Palestinian refugees is even starker when one considers the difference in cultural and geographic dislocation experienced by the two groups. Most Jewish refugees traveled hundreds — and some traveled thousands — of miles to a tiny country whose inhabitants spoke a different language. Most Arab refugees never left Palestine at all; they traveled a few miles to the other side of the truce line, remaining inside the vast Arab nation that they were part of linguistically, culturally and ethnically.
|June 8th, 2007, 10:02:48||permalink|
Leave the historical facts and arguments aside, the situation on the ground is of millions of Palestinians in the West Bank & Gaza that don’t have rights as citizens of any country. This is the issue today.
We all want Israel to stay strong and safe, but Palestinians need their human rights to achieve peace. The occupation of the West Bank must end for Israel to flourish and be safe.
|June 8th, 2007, 10:51:47||permalink|
|anti-zionism is not racism.||
I’m surprised that no staunch Israel supporters have yet to address the present: a dammed up reservoir of sewage breaks in the Gaza strip, filling the streets and homes with (and there’s no better term for it) shit. Israel blocks international aid from coming into the territories. Settlements are being illegally created and tolerated by the Israeli government.
Israel also destroyed so much of Beirut and killed so many civilians in the process, because of two kidnapped soldiers. Psychotic breakdown or fair response? Maybe a thinly veiled excuse to beat down a weaker neighbor. You choose the side and interpret the events that unfolded.
Frankly, I don’t care where the Jewish immigrants came from. The holocaust was an unspeakable atrocity, but it is by and far not the first nor the last, and Jews were not the only people slaughtered and persecuted (they happened to be the single largest group).
British imperialism has brought so many countries down (including my own) from a relatively self-sustaining culture to becoming some of the poorest, conflict-ridden nations in the world. They’ve divided their conquests into borders that caused far too many deaths and fighting (including the one which we’re arguing about). Will you also stand up for these nations, or do you not care?
Speak to me of the Israeli government and the powers that be. I know about the evils and the corruption and the screw-ups by PLO and Hamas. Israel is what? An angel? Not by a long shot.
What gives Israel the right to bear nuclear arms while railing against Iran’s nuclear ambitions? What makes any nation exempt from the rules they themselves impose on others?
And I’m really scratching my head at this great expense you speak of. Palestine and Israel are worlds apart. Palestine is third-world, Israel is rich-explain that to me. Explain to me why Palestinians can be held up at checkpoints for hours in their own neighborhoods while Israelis drive around on multi-million dollar roads and highways?
There is something clearly tilting the advantage towards Israel. Whatever advantage you say the Palestinians had are moot, unless I’m missing something obvious?
Again, let’s talk about now. The present and the future. The past is bloody, but you can’t continuously bring up the wrongs of yesterday while not addressing the reality of today. Don’t tell me Israel is innocent, because that’s bullshit, and you’d be a selfish and racist fool to parade around otherwise.
Honestly, I’m sad that I even give care about Israel and Palestine, because there are too many other places in the world that live under this stupid conflict’s shadow and don’t get the proper attention. But as long as the spotlight is shining, I want to say that Israel has a moral responsibility, otherwise those hardships endured are nothing more than an excuse for special exemptions in their legitimacy to force Palestinians out.
An Israeli life is no more precious than a Palestinian life, so let’s actually get some dialogue going.
|June 13th, 2007, 09:45:57||permalink|
Rose- so proud of you! xoxox from Atlanta!
|June 13th, 2007, 12:12:49||permalink|
Rock on Rose!
|June 13th, 2007, 15:58:35||permalink|