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The Wolf Who Cried Wolf: Charging Anti-Semitism and Extending the Iron Wall
The Wolf Who Cried Wolf
by M. Junaid Alam

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“All colonization must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall through which the local population can never break through..To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer, ‘absolutely untrue.’ This is our ethic. There is no other ethic.” — Ze’ev Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall, 1923

A shadow follows the Palestinian at all times. Its shape reflects the contours of the bombs, missiles and slabs of concrete dropped, deployed, and delivered at the settler’s whim. Instead of slipping away into the night or vanishing with the passing of life, this shadow looms long after having gunned down, crushed, devastated, and disinherited its target with deadly precision. Its dark shade is imparted by gun-toting soldiers manning checkpoints, tanks saluting children with raised turrets, helicopters hovering above homes, and bulldozers raising their arms to embrace another set of buildings.

For this is the shadow cast by the Iron Wall, Zionism’s long-standing policy towards the Palestinians, which has led to a half-century of systematic expropriation, ethnic cleansing, massacre, torture, incarceration, and occupation of the native. When Zionist theoretician Ze’ev Jabotinsky first formulated the doctrine of Iron Wall in 1923, he laid the question of colonialism bare. He understood that “The natives will always struggle obstinately against the colonists,” as they are bound up with their land with the “true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux upon his prairie.” Given that the Palestinians “will struggle against colonizers until the last spark of hopeis extinguished,” Zionism must ensure “there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall.” Force was to be not only a pre-condition but the condition for Zionist success, via the Iron Wall. [1]

And so, ever since the West has shone its light of warm sympathy upon the Zionist project-partly out of guilt for brutally murdering several million Jews, and partly out of the need to brutally suppress several million savages-it became necessary to build an Iron Wall, to contain and crush the yearnings of the looted and disinherited within the confines of squalid camps and ghettoes, to surround and divide them with settlers and soldiers. The Palestinian native has now labored under military occupation for 36 years, and thus finds himself encircled, anguished, paralyzed, and in poverty. He lives in the shadow of the Iron Wall, a shadow of shackles and chains.

But the native never lost his “last spark of hope”. The spark was not extinguished in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were terrorized, uprooted and expelled, several decades after Moshe Sharret announced, “”We have not come to an empty landbut we have come to conquer a country from people inhabiting it”; several years after David Ben-Gurion declared, “”I support compulsory transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it”; and several months after Menachem Begin gloated over “a splendid act of conquest”-the rape and massacre of 254 Palestinians at Deir Yassin. The spark was not extinguished in 1967, when Israel grabbed the remaining 22% of Palestine and began its military occupation as its war hero Moshe Dayan kindly informed the natives, “You shall continue to live like dogs.” The spark was not extinguished in 1987, when the Palestinians mounted a civil disobedience campaign, facing down tanks with rocks woven into slings, suffering a 25:1 death ratio inflicted by an army with orders to “break their bones.” And the spark is still not extinguished today, even as the farce of Oslo has come and gone while Jewish settlements have consumed half the Occupied Territories. [2]

Unable to transform their spark into a flame, but too courageous to let it be extinguished, the Palestinians have been smashing their chains against the silence of world conscience for decades. Their loud protestations have now leaped over the Iron Wall, echoing across the Atlantic and reaching the receptive ears of American activists fighting for social justice. Seeking new ways to disrupt the brutal logic of the Israeli war machine, a group of college students and professors at the University of California Berkley began a campaign to pressure universities to divest from Israel two years ago, basing themselves on the anti-apartheid movement aimed at South Africa in the 1980’s. Today, at least 40 campuses across America have initiated efforts to force American universities to disassociate itself from companies conducting business with Israel. The initiative brings attention to Israel’s brutal policies against the natives, and could force strong economic pressure upon a nation which subsidizes settlements inhabited by religious fanatics and thugs at the expense of the Palestinian people. [3]

But the settler has his champions, too. Among them stands the head of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman. Decked out in the impenetrable armor of moral purity, he recently intoned, “There is a greater tolerance on the college campus than elsewhere for expressions of anti-Semitism,” referring to the divestment campaign. Raising his sword of self-certainty high into the air, he then denounced the association of Israel with apartheid as “odious” and “hideous”. These comments came after Harvard President Lawrence Summers proclaimed that ‘anti-Israeli’ attitudes are “in effect, if not intent” anti-Semitic. This prompted the esteemed law professor of that university, Alan Dershowitz, a self-proclaimed “advocate and practitioner of human rights around the world,” to comment-no, “confidently assert”-that “Israel’s record on human rights is among the best,” adding that he, too, considered divestment anti-Semitic. [4]

According to these authorities, then, the divestment movement and/or criticism of Israel represent thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. This assertion meets a slight bump in the road when it is discovered that some of Israel’s leading critics are Jewish. Noam Chomsky, a leading Jewish intellectual of the Left, has said, “The Palestinians have long suffered torture, terror, destruction of property, displacement and settlement, and takeover of basic resources,” resulting from Israel’s policy of “incessant humiliation.” Norman Finkelstein, a political science professor at DePaul University and the son of holocaust survivors, has written bluntly, “if Israelis don’t want to stand accused of being Nazis they should simply stop acting like Nazis.” Tim Wise, a Jewish anti-racist activist, has described Zionism as “a form of white supremacy”. Jennifer Lowenstein, who has visited the Territories, says Israel’s policies are responsible for “the dehumanization and destruction of an entire people.” [5]

Such characterizations of Israel have not been made lightly. They are based on the concrete historical evidence unearthed by Israel’s own recent historians. Israeli historian Benny Morris admits that Israel could only have been established by either apartheid, “with a settler minority lording it over a large, exploited native majority”, or by transfer, “”you could create a homogenous Jewish state or at least a state with an overwhelming Jewish majority by moving or transferring all or most of the Arabs out.” He further notes that Arab opposition to Zionism stemmed from “fear of territorial displacement and dispossession.” Dispossession was, after all, the supreme goal of the Zionists. Israeli historian Tom Segev has written, “‘Disappearing’ the Arabs lay at the heart of the Zionist dream, and was also a necessary condition of its existence.” [6]

This dream was brought about, of course, by imposing a nightmare on the natives. Israeli military historian Aryeh Yitzakhi notes that Zionism’s modus operandi throughout 1948 was “indiscriminate killings, massacres and rapes.” Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian who advocates divestment, has unearthed evidence of more and more Israeli massacres committed in 1948. Facing expulsion from Haifa University, he remains determined to “break the mirror that shows [Israelis] a superior moral body. They must replace it with one that exposes the crimes that theyare committing against humanity and the Palestinian people.” [7]

We can also cite the testimony of several hundred Israeli soldiers who have witnessed Israel’s Iron Wall firsthand. 494 Israeli army reservists now refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories, unwilling to take part in “the missions of occupation and oppression” or to “dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.” Some of these men have described the actions which convinced them to refuse, such as dragging crying children out of their beds before destroying their home because of an ‘illegal’ balcony. Other soldiers have described the occupation in terms of ‘A Nation of Slaves’ controlled by ‘A Nation of Masters’, as “a colonial war,” consisting of “rape” and “the theft of Palestinian land.” [8]

According to a significant section of Jewish and Israeli intellectuals, scholars, and soldiers, then, the Palestinian people have been brutalized for over fifty years by Zionist expulsion and occupation. Naturally, this fails to impress our esteemed pro-Israeli colleagues, who insist on invoking the specter of anti-Semitism in order to cover up Israeli crimes with what we can now clearly identify as a case of extreme denial.

Let us take, for instance, Foxman’s assertion that comparison between Israel and South Africa is “odious” and “hideous”. In fact, let us give him a head start and declare that such a comparison is also “moronic”, “stupid”, “dumb”, and “idiotic”. We have now undoubtedly swayed the minds and hearts of a significant section of preschoolers and toddlers. However, the black South African leadership which fought against white supremacy remains unconvinced. Nelson Mandela has recently identified the “power structure of the Israeli apartheid system” which imposes “bantustans” and “a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality” upon Palestinians, who “are struggling for “freedom, liberation and equality, just like we werein South Africa.” Mandela has also agreed to observe the trial of Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader who, in a most absurd spectacle, is being tried in the courts of a nation which has detained and tortured thousands of his countrymen without any formalities. He was quoted as saying, “What is happening to Barghouti is exactly the same as what happened to me.” [9]

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, awarded a Nobel Prize in 1984 for struggling against apartheid, openly supports the divestment movement. Several months ago after visiting Israel, he wrote, “I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.” More recently Tutu has also cited “two Jewish heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle,” who have initiated a letter now signed by “several hundred other prominent Jewish South Africans” condemning Israeli actions and drawing “an explicit analogy” between occupation and apartheid. [10]

The link between Israel and South African apartheid can in fact be traced back to the historical bond formed between early white settlers and Zionists. Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, gushed with praise for Cecil Rhodes, a fervent advocate of South African colonialism: “Naturally, there are big differences between Cecil Rhodes and my humble self, the personal ones very much in my disfavor; the objective ones are greatly in favor of the Zionist movement.” After 1914, the Zionist leadership increased ties with the white settlers, traveling back and forth from Palestine to South Africa, creating a Zionist federation in the latter area, and sharing ideas, methods, and finances for colonization. [11]

Foxman’s fulminations against the divestment movement, now exposed to the glare of concrete reality, have melted into a puddle of nonsense. While tens of thousands of Palestinian homes have been crushed by the heel of Zionism to pave the way for Jewish-only settlements, while millions of natives are incarcerated and paralyzed by military checkpoints and watchtowers, while children are suffering en masse from economic strangulation for committing the crime of existence, the head of the ADL is in denial. The great irony is that, in 1992, the ADL itself was exposed for running a spy operation on anti-apartheid activists and critics of Israel. Hypocrisy has seen few greater champions than Mr. Foxman. [12]

Let us now turn to Mr. Dershowitz, our “advocate of human rights” from Harvard. Taking only the past two weeks as a sample, we can quickly locate signs of Iron Wall’s grave concern for human rights. On October 7th, 40 Israeli tanks, backed up by troops, and helicopters started “shelling houses on the main street” in Khan Younis, killing 17 Palestinians. Soon afterwards, the IDF shot up the hospital where the wounded had been taken, injuring “a 14 year-old boy in the neck and a paramedic struck in the chest.” On October 13th, the IDF gunned down a 60 year-old Palestinian woman in front of her house in Nablus. On October 17th, 8 Palestinians died as Israeli tanks fired into the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. At the same camp on the same day, the IDF demolished several houses in order to eliminate a weapons tunnel, killing a 3 year-old who was crushed in the debris. On October 6th, Israeli courts upheld an army order to demolish 120 newly-built Palestinian homes near Bethlehem; the low-income families from the Greek Orthodox Church, who had spent years saving up for the construction costs, pointed out nearby settlements as the culprit. [13]

These are merely some of the most recent actions of Israel, whose human rights record Dershowitz claimed is “among the best.” His opinion is most understandable, given that our Harvard lawyer, in addition to championing the idea of instituting torture in the US (no doubt an Israeli inspiration), is also a leading advocate of “leveling the buildings in entire villages” as collective punishment, and considers Sharon too soft. The most absurd aspect of Dershowitz is not that he masquerades as a hero for human rights, or even that he hides his white bedsheet in his bulging pockets. What stands out most is his total blindness to the fact that Israel’s all-sided campaign of destruction has been far worse in scope, scale, and length than any Palestinian violence. His mentality of denial can only flow from the demented moral rubric constructed in the mind of the colonizer, whose basic humanity crumbles under the untenable weight of the crimes he commits against the native on a daily basis. [14]

Let us now examine the political relationships of our staunch American Zionists, who pose as victims of a supposedly racist pro-Palestinian movement. It turns out that these fine gentlemen have allied themselves with a similar group of ‘victims’ of ‘racism’-the white, ultra-religious right-wing Anglo-Saxon power base. The Zionist Organization of America, for instance, has recently bestowed the high honor of “the State of Israel Friendship Award” to televangelist Pat Robertson. Robertson’s past anti-Semitic remarks or the “sinister caricatures of Jews” presented on his network cartoons, (as the ADL itself termed it) have been swept aside. After all, gushed ZOA leader A. Isaacs, Robertson is to be commended for his “benevolent work” in praising the glory of Israel. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, another hard-line Zionist, added that he has “an obligation” to defend esteemed folk like Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who are simply “stating their religious beliefs, which some of us as Jews do not hold.” Lapin neglects to mention that one such “belief” of the Christian Right is the mass destruction or conversion of Jews on doomsday-an undoubtedly tiny detail for gentlemen so ‘concerned’ about anti-Semitism. [15]

On the surface, such an alliance appears contradictory. But there is no contradiction, only consistency. The Zionist movement, unable to justify its brutality in any logical framework, has clung on to the insane religious rationalizations and racism propounded by the Christian Right. The most backward and reactionary elements of American society and serious Zionists both share the sacred values of racial supremacy in one form or the other. Zionism, after all, is a colonialist and apartheid movement in a neo-colonialist and ex-apartheid world, a movement enveloped in anachronisms which finds comfort in the embracing arms of Reaction.

The political implications of this trend stretch to the highest echelons of power. Kathleen Christison, a former CIA analyst, notes, “it’s safe to say Christian fundamentalism has an influence on the administration and specifically with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” and cites the rabidly pro-Israeli Defense Department heads as evidence. The links between our ‘victimized’ Zionists and the world’s greatest purveyors of violence (exposed by Jason Vest of The Nation) prove most intriguing. A hard-line Zionist military think tank, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, wields enormous power among the neoconservative heads of American war planning. JINSA’s board of advisors once included current Vice President Dick Cheney and still has former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey at its side; it grooms similar American military leaders by sponsoring trips to meet Israel’s own army heads. JINSA’s grand vision of destroying the governments of the entire Middle East and occupying the whole region is prevalent among the war-mongers, and the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board is headed by a JINSA member, Richard Perle. JINSA also has crucial ties to the military industry, counting among its distinguished members former advisors and executives for Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Israeli Aircraft Industries. [16]

These are the leading advocates of Zionism in America; our ‘victims’ of ‘racism’, protected against the ‘anti-Semitic’ hordes of pro-Palestinian activists by the traditional allies of the oppressed-F-16s, 15,000 lb. bombs, and the far-right of American elite. This is not surprising: it was Herzl, the father of Zionism, who announced in 1896 that his movement would need an imperial Western sponsor, and would create “an outpost of civilization against barbarism”-Western “barbarism” against Jews and non-whites to be forgotten in the name of attaining power. Our first advocate of Iron Wall, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, also understood that “external force is a necessity” so that “the local population will be deprived of the possibility of impeding our colonization.” And so, with even greater fervor than it expended in destroying, dehumanizing, and demonizing the colonized natives, Zionism has ingratiated itself with the masters of the world, proudly taking its place on the mantle of the landlord, slave-owner, and settler. [17]

We have now discovered Zionism in its most illuminating context, a context much emphasized by a certain Mr. Marx, who never ceased to forge weapons out of ideas: the context of class. For in what quarters are the accusations of racism (anti-Semitism) being made against our movement? From the restrictive Indian reservations rendered radioactive by dumping of nuclear waste; from the impoverished black ghettoes overrun by police brutality; from the endless line of graves filled with the children of Iraq; from the African orphans abandoned and condemned by AIDS; from the refugee camps of the Occupied Territories teeming with despair? No. These accusations are not produced in the anguished wails and cries of the downtrodden, but are calmly and neatly set forth from plush editorial offices of the mainstream press, from luxurious presidential offices of major universities, from the meeting rooms of military boards, echoed by the most powerful, dangerous men in America and rendered more terrifying by the torrent of the bombs and bullets they unleash upon the rest of the world.

Now the meaning of Iron Wall has also become clear. For while Jabotinsky knew that “external force” must be used to aid Zionism, he did not at all predict that concerned citizens of this “external” country-America-would have their own set of objections to Zionist colonialism. And because of our opposition, the Iron Wall has been extended to our shores; the Iron Wall of intimidation, slander, and harassment has been erected to discredit and demoralize our movement for justice and in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Thus when we hear the common mantra, most recently regurgitated when the divestment conference took place in Michigan, that “anti-Zionism is really nothing more than anti-Semitism,” we need not bow down to such Orwellian absurdity. For Zionism is “really nothing more” than the latest incarnation of racism and apartheid, and the charge of anti-Semitism is “really nothing more” than an attempt to conceal this incontrovertible fact with self-contradictory and cowardly accusations.

Despite Jabotinsky’s best wishes, the native’s “last spark of hope” has not been “extinguished”. This spark will not only be maintained, but intensified-partly because of a growing divestment movement across America, but more importantly, from the huge surge of anti-war sentiment emerging on campuses. Those opposed to war in Iraq are opposed to the same kind of callousness and brutality that also marks Israel’s actions and Zionist philosophy-which is inextricably bound up with pax-Americana. Therefore, we discover there is not one, or even two, Iron Walls; instead we learn that the entire outlook of this administration is based on the production of one Iron Wall after another, be it in Iraq, Palestine, or America; be it sanctions, occupation, or the shredding of constitutional and workers’ rights.

This objective condition means that we, the majority of ordinary people on this earth, are all living in the shadow of the Iron Wall, ‘a shadow of shackles and chains’. We can combat the brutality of Iron Wall through collective iron will; recognizing our common interests, we can form a mass movement of resistance, and transform the “last spark” into an intensified flame which will allow us to burn and break through the chains of racism, inequality, and war. Only then can the task of forging a new and altogether different link among ourselves, that of compassion and brotherhood, begin in earnest.

To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is idealistic, I answer, ‘absolutely untrue.’ For the Left, this is our ideal. There is no other ideal.

M. Junaid Alam is a student at Northeastern University. He can be reached at: alam.m@neu.edu

Endnotes

1. The Iron Wall ? “O Zheleznoi Stene” ? Rassvet, November 4, 1923.

2. a. For expulsion of Palestinians, see: “Revisiting the Palestinian Exodus”, by Benny Morris, contained in The War for Palestine, ed. Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. b. Moshe Sharret quote: Benny Morris, Righteous Victims, New York: Random House, Inc., 2001. p.91. c. Ben-Gurion quote: see note 2a, p. 40. d. Dayan quote: “Constructive Action?,” Noam Chomsky, May 11, 2002, Z Magazine. e. For death ratios, see Israeli human rights group B’T Selem, www.btselem.org. f. “Break their bones”: said by Yitzak Shamir, then PM of Israel, according to: Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. p. 453. g. For settlers’ aggrandizing of land, see: May 31, 2002. Washington Post. “Settlements Expand Under Sharon” and see Haaretz, May 13, 2002, “B’Tselem report: settlers control 41.9% of West Bank.”

3. For the gangster-thug nature of ideologically-motivated settlers, see: New York Times, Oct. 21, 2002, “Jewish Settlers’ Zeal Forces Palestinians to Flee Their Town” and see also “see USA Today. “Israeli extremists take revenge on Palestinians”, September 4, 2001.

4. Foxman quote: Washington Post, “Campus Collision on Israel.” October 12, 2002. Dershowitz quote: Harvard Crimson, A Challenge to House Master Hanson” Sept. 23, 2002. Summers quote: see Harvard President website for full speech: http://www.president.harvard.edu/

5. Chomsky: “Constructive Action?”, Noam Chomsky, May 11, 2002, Z Magazine. Finkelstein quote: “First the Carrot, Then the Stick: Behind the Carnage,” Norman Finkelstein, April 14, 2002, available at his website: http://normanfinkelstein.com/id122.htm. Wise quote: “Anti-Semitism, Real and Imagined,” Tim Wise, Z Magazine, April 29, 2002. Lowenstein quote: “Oracle at Jenin,” Jennifer Lowenstein, April 21, 2002. www.antiwar.com.

6. Morris quote: see note 1a., p. 39-40. Segev quote: Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete (New York: 2001), pp.404-5

7. Yitzakhi quote: Erlich, Guy, ‘Not Only Deir Yassin’, Ha’ir, 6 May 1992. Pappe quote: “To Break the Mirror,” Ilan Pappe, Al-Ahram Weekly, May 16-22, 2002.

8. See signed petition: http://www.seruv.org.il/defaulteng.asp, for individual quotes, see my article, “A Process of Dehumanization: Raping the Palestinians,” CounterPunch, July 13, 2002. alam0713.html

9. Mandela memo to Thomas Friedman of New York Times, sent March 28, 2001. http://www.bintjbeil.com/E/occupation/mandella.html, and “Mandela to Observe Fatah Leader’s Trial,” The Guardian, August 15, 2002.

10. “Apartheid in the Holy Land,” by Desmond Tutu, The Guardian, April 29, 2002, and “Of Occupation and Apartheid: Do I Divest?,” by Desmond Tutu, CounterPunch, October 17, 2002. (on website)

11. Herzl quote: Uri Davis, Israel: An Apartheid State (London: Zed Books, 1987, p. 3-4.) For rest, see: Ralph Schoemman, The Hidden History of Zionism, Veritas Press, Santa Barbara (Calif.) 1988. Available online: http://www.marxists.de/middleast/schoenman/ch02.htm

12. For stinted growth and malnutrition of Palestinian children due to Israel’s death grip, see US Agency for Aid and Development Report on Palestine. For ADL spying, see CounterPunch article on ADL, here: http://www.webshells.com/adlwatch/news8.htm

13. For Khan Younis attack, see USAToday, “13 Killed in Israeli Incursion, “Oct. 7, 2002 (media later reported death toll of 16). For Oct. 17 killings, see BBC, “Palestinians killed by Israeli tank fire” Oct. 17, 2002. For 3 year-old child death, see New York Times, “In Letter to Sharon, U.S. Criticizes Killing of Civilians,” Oct. 13, 2002. For house demolition order, see Haaretz, “Palestinian Christians protest plan to demolish homes,” October 14, 2002, and see War Times?(www.war-times.org), “Housing Demolitions” by Bob Wing, Oct. 6, 2002.

14. For an assessment of Dershowitz’s insanity, see Washington Post, “Strategic Thinking,” September 8, 2002, by James Bamford.

15. Bill Berkowitz’s “Jewish Conservatives Join Forces With Christian Evangelicals”, www.tompaine.com, August 1, 2002.

16. Christison quoted in National Catholic Reporter, “Will fundamentalist Jews and Christians Ignite Apocalypse?” October 11, 2002. For JINSA, see The Nation, “The Men from JINSA”, August 15, 2002, by Jason A. Vest.

17. Herzl quote: Maxime Rodinson, Israel and the Arabs, Hardmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1937, p.14.

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