July 24, 2014
Israel lobbies the world over to accept the definition of Israel as a Jewish collectivity. They push to categorize it as anti-Semitic to suggest that Israel is anything other than that - Jewish. Many countries have stern laws punishing people for saying anything anti-Semitic, rightly so. What it means, though, is that there are those who lobby to change laws so that they can push to have people put in jail and otherwise legally harassed for suggesting that Israel has anybody else living there in significant numbers other than Jews, sometimes referred to as the 'new anti-Semitism'. The problem with this is that there a lot of people who live in Israel who are, in fact, not Jews. They are Palestinians, native to the land, while many Jews are either European immigrants, or first or second generation descendants of same.
Why would they attempt this? In part, through fear. More than once in human history, Jews have been a minority in one country or another in Europe where they suffered horrendous religious persecution, expelled from their homes; tortured; murdered. After the Nazis under Germany's Hitler massacred millions of Jews during the mid-twentieth century in Europe, the Jews of the world today are traumatized still. Many fear the only place they can be safe is in a country of their own. I don't think this is true. It's possible that at no time in Jewish history have Jews been more accepted, woven into and rendering complete the fabric of the societies in which they dwell.
The implications of this power struggle, both within Israel and without to establish as fact that Israel is Jewish, are ominous. Genocide of the Palestinian people on the one hand, and a dire new form of anti-Semitism arising in the world in aghast reaction to any such attempt to ethnically cleanse Palestine of the Palestinian people.
If we care about human rights, if we care about Jews, Palestinians, justice, civil rights and international law, then we have a moral duty to try to avert genocide of the Palestinian people while stamping out embers of anti-Semitism - at once, and at the same time.
Over twenty percent of the citizens of Israel-proper are Palestinian. That statistic does not take into account the millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, the Palestinians enduring a seven year military blockade in Gaza, or the refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and beyond.
There is a disturbing thread of racism warping the fabric of Israeli society. Evidence for this can be seen in the following article by Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset (Israel's parliament):
'My Outline for a Solution for Gaza: by Moshe Feiglin'; Manhigut Yehudit; jewishjournal.org, July 15, 2014.
MK Feiglin alarmingly chooses the term 'solution' for his proposals regarding the Palestinians in Gaza, the very term Germany's Nazis used in discussing proposals to dispose of a so-called Jewish 'problem'; sipping champagne, sampling delicacies at table, Nazi elites casually tossed around methods and means that would most efficiently exterminate the entire population of the European continent's Jews [and Roma; political opponents and critics; journalists; homosexuals; Jehovah's Witnesses; and the physically and mentally handicapped, as well.]
There are many Jews who devote themselves to making Israel (and indeed the world) a better place. Thousands protest the bombing of Gaza and the occupation of the Palestinians in the West Bank. It's a moving experience to witness Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, Christians and peace advocates at protests in support of justice and human rights for everybody. They make me happy and full of hope for the human race.
Protest against Israel's assault on Gaza
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada's capital
July 14, 2014
Photo by Emily McLoughlin-Coleman
We have to learn to accept as given at this (hopefully mid, possibly late) juncture in human history, that individuals with no natural human feeling toward their fellows rise to the top of political power structures sometimes, even though they are emphatically and confoundedly not the cream.
One element in human society that aids their rise to power is, as previously asserted, fear. Other pitfalls are religious chauvinism; convictions of superiority of one's culture or way of life; intolerance; and an unwillingness to permit others to live and believe as they wish. These risks and pitfalls are part of the human condition. These weaknesses of human nature do not discriminate with regard to which human society they may choose to befall next.
God, if he exists, did not make all flowers one color, shape, size and height. They do not flower all at once. They produce many different kinds of fruit. The evidence supports the idea that God, or creation, loves variety in a glorious profusion so much so that creation is not static, but is on the contrary ever evolving and changing. The scientific fact of the matter is that variety in life is a fundamental requirement in the survival of all that lives.
Men such as Mr. Feiglin appear to be blind to any such notions. What he writes, what he wants is clear: Gaza Palestinians - 'A' - separated from the land - 'B'. By international norms of law, his ideas meet the definition of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. [Comments in square brackets are mine.]
Below are excerpts from Moshe Feiglin's manifesto:
'1. Ultimatum – One warning from the Prime Minister of Israel to the enemy population, in which he announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai [a desert] is not far from Gaza and they can leave . This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts...;
2. Attack - [Feiglin stipulates he would provide no consideration for civilians being used as human shields, but he places the words in parentheses like so: 'human shields' - so apparently, what he really means is no effort should be expended to protect Gaza civilians trapped in the conflict. The indiscriminate bombing of civilian homes, hospitals and schools, etc., by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), would bear this out as a widely-held view];
'3. Siege - '...a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the Strip. Israel, however, will allow exit from Gaza. (Civilians may go to Sinai [again, this proposal that 1.8 million people should depart from home and be cast out into a desert], fighters may surrender to IDF forces).'
...'6. Elimination - 'thoroughly eliminate all armed enemies from Gaza. The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave. Israel will generously aid those who wish to leave.
'7. – Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever. Liberation of parts of our land forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel....[blah, blah, blah, a fig leaf is tacked on about offering the few Palestinians who are left citizenship on a case by case basis some long, distant and hazy point down the road, after the successful ethnic cleansing of the rest of them. Tokens, if you will.]
We all have moral choices to make and our choices affect our associations by either enriching or diminishing what potential for happiness we can attain. When population groups in any country garner superior government favor and exercise license to discriminate against others they diminish their own prospects for happiness.
We each have greater prospects for happiness if we all enjoy equality before the law.
The Feiglins of the world are disturbers of the peace. They diminish our prospects for happy coexistence. To propose that two million people ought to abandon their homes so other people can move in is criminal, beneath contempt, a proposal of a form of genocide which attempts to eliminate a people from a region.
Those attempting to squelch discussion regarding Israel's perilous political path with scurrilous accusations of a 'new anti-Semitism', are misguided, at best. The world is at its brightest point for putting anti-Semitism in the past and leaving it there for good. With tact and resolve we must work together to bring justice and peace for all the people of Palestine.