On November 27, 2015, a meeting was held in downtown Vancouver, Canada under the title “First Nations & Palestinians at the Frontline of Resistance” organized by the Seriously Free Speech Committee and supported by another 10 community groups (of which Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver was one). On the day of the meeting, the local Zionist apologist paper the Jewish Independent ran an editorial “Co-opting history”, full of the Israeli Hasbara 3 D’s – Distortions, Diversions and Defamations.
Their editorial stated: “The obvious intention is to equate the history of colonial settlement in North America, Canada in particular, with the actions of Israel toward Palestinians.”
Wrong. The editorial conveniently refuses to recognize the Zionist project as settler colonialism, and therefore will not acknowledge that the intention was to draw parallels between settler colonialism in North America and Zionist settler colonialism in Palestine, in addition to exposing “the actions of Israel toward Palestinians”.
The editorial went on to claim: “The concept is flawed at its core, of course, because, as the Palestinian narrative often does, it portrays the Jews as colonial occupiers of Arab land, while denying the legitimacy of ancient and modern claims to the Jewish homeland.”
Wrong again, and on more than one account.
First, the Palestinian narrative doesn’t “portray the Jews as colonial occupiers of Arab land”, it portrays the Zionists (not THE Jews) as settler colonial occupiers of Arab land. For a paper that claims to be opposed to anti-Semitism, conflating all Jews with Zionism and putting the ills of Zionism on the shoulders of all Jews is a dangerous slide into anti-Semitism.
Second, there is no legitimacy (not ancient nor modern) for Zionist claims to a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
• As Israeli historian Ilan Pappe simply puts it: “The secular Jews who founded the Zionist movement wanted paradoxically both to secularize Jewish life and to use the Bible as a justification for colonizing Palestine; in other words, they did not believe in God but He nonetheless promised them Palestine.”
• The first Zionist Congress held in Basle, Switzerland (in Europe) in 1897 listed as some of the aims of the movement: “Zionism strives to create for the Jewish people a homeland in Palestine secured by public law. The congress contemplates the following means to the attainment of this end – The promotion on suitable lines of the colonization (my emphasis) of Palestine by Jewish agricultural and industrial workers.”
• Theodor Hertzl and most European Zionists were willing to accept any other country for their settler colonialist project:- “Herzl turned to Great Britain and met with Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary and others high ranking officials who agreed in principle to Jewish settlement in East Africa.” The Sixth Zionist Congress then adopted the Uganda Proposal .
• Most European Jews who founded the idea of political Zionism have no relation to the original Jews (Hebrews) of the Holy Land. A recent report about a new DNA study, carried in leading newspapers like the NY Times and Haaretz, and highlighted in the prominent Jewish American journal Forward, found that “The maternal ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews comes mainly from Europe…”.
• Conversely, large numbers of Arab Muslims and Christians were originally part of the Hebrew tribe; many Palestinian Christians (the first believers) were, like Christ himself, Jewish. And, many of those first Christians, in addition to many Jews, converted to Islam. Where do these people fit in the Zionist ideology? Or are (Ashkenazi) Jews, who have no roots in Palestine, considered from the “Chosen people” simply because they are white and “CIVILISED” in colonialist terms? Theodor Herzl, considered the founder of political Zionism, wrote in his book The Jewish State in 1896: “We should there form a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.”
The Jewish Independent editorial then goes on to divert from the issue of settler colonialism to say:
“The anti-Israel movement insists on appropriating the historical experience of other people and using it in an attempt to fortify their narrative. The most obvious example is the apartheid libel, which tries to paint Israel as the ideological descendant of South African racism. This is offensive not only to Israelis. It debases the experience of black South Africans who suffered from genuine apartheid.”
Apartheid libel? Really?! Israel is the one who builds apartheid towns, roads and walls. Israel is the one who practices the brutal apartheid system against the occupied Palestinian territories and finally, Israel is the one that has enacted over 50 laws to discriminate against its Christian and Muslim Israeli citizens.
As for debasing “the experience of black South Africans”, it is the Jewish Independent who is debasing and ignoring “the experience of black South Africans” who have visited Palestine and stated unequivocally that the apartheid Palestinians are experiencing is similar or worse than what happened in South Africa. As former South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils noted, “Israel came to resemble more and more apartheid South Africa at its zenith — even surpassing its brutality…” (see “Israel and apartheid: A fair comparison?” by Edward C. Corrigan)
And the editorial is not yet finished with its outrageous claims, alleging: “Even more egregiously, the anti-Israel movement routinely uses the imagery of Nazism and the Holocaust against Israel, attempting to equate the victims of the Third Reich with its perpetrators. This deliberate rubbing of salt in Jewish historical wounds is common and…the objective is clearly to inflict pain rather than to resolve grievances.”
And again the editorial treats Israel, Zionists and the Jews as one and the same; the victims of the Third Reich were the Jews and not the Zionists, some of whom collaborated with the Nazis to fulfill the aims of Zionist immigration to Palestine. We in the support movement will never “equate the victims (the Jews) of the Third Reich with its perpetrators.”
For the record, the first one who coined the phrase Judeo-Nazis was the late Israeli philosopher professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz. And Avraham Shalom, former head of the Shin Bet has even stated in the documentary The Gatekeepers: “On the other hand, it’s a brutal occupation force, similar to the Germans in World War II. Similar, but not identical.”
Listen to what 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants stated in a letter that was published in the New York Times:
“We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. ‘Never again’ must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”
The editorial, from beginning to end, sought desperately to discredit, slander and defame the Palestinian people and the Palestinian solidarity movement (and all the groups involved in the meeting). One might be forgiven for thinking the article was a template borrowed from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
For the Zionist apologists in the Jewish Independent, genuine support and solidarity are foreign concepts. They do not and cannot understand the true meaning of support amongst the oppressed peoples of the world, because their main concern is the bottom line in pleasing their Zionist readership. Regrettably, in the process, they have become complicit in Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and war crimes against the Palestinian people.
The fact is that Israel and its apologists are only in solidarity with imperial forces and despotic regimes, forces that Israel continuously supplies with crowd control weapons and assorted military hardware. One recent example is Israel’s sale of mass surveillance technology to Colombia.
An interesting footnote is that the Zionist editorial completely (perhaps intentionally) failed to mention the main organizer of the meeting, the Seriously Free Speech Committee.
Our final question is: Exactly who is co-opting history?