Now that all the accusations and insults about the Gaza Flotilla and Helen Thomas incidents have been hurled from both sides, it is time to look at the often-ignored facts underlying the Israel-Palestine conflict. Because while it is very hard to believe in the present atmosphere, peace and justice for both Palestinians and Jews is possible – extremely difficult to achieve to be sure, but possible nevertheless.
1. After the horrors of Hitler’s Germany it was natural for those Jews to want a country of their own where they would be forever free from persecution. But that “homeland” should have been carved out of the land of the country that massacred them – give them a piece of Germany, and probably Poland. Instead, the big powers helped the Zionists invade Palestine and brutalize a people who had not done the Jews any harm.
2. The Jews and Muslims are not natural enemies. Until 1895 they had lived together in peace in Palestine for more than1200 years. After being expelled from Jerusalem in 70 A.D., Jews were not allowed to live there for over 500 years, but when the Muslim army took that city in 637 A.D. they invited the Jews to return. And Jews and Muslims lived there in peace until that way of life was destroyed by Europeans.
3. “The Invention of the Jewish People” by Israeli historian Shlomo Sand (which was a best seller in Israel for months) is the latest in a series of books by Israeli historians that prove that the overwhelming majority of people who practice the Jewish religion are not descendants of the biblical Hebrews but descendants of converts (Ashkenazi) and mostly of European origin. There is no such thing as an ethnic Jewish identity.
4. Professor Sand writes that even the mass dispersion of the Jews by the Romans (the basis for the claim of centuries of persecution and the “right of return”) is merely a survival myth that has no basis in fact. The Romans never showed any inclination to do that to any other rebellious people and the Roman legions did not have the logistical ability to move tens of thousands of people to the far corners of the empire.
5. None of those Israeli historians, other Jewish writers, and Jews who protest the inhuman treatment of the Palestinians, can be called “self-hating Jews” since not one of them has ever called for the Zionists to give up the land they took illegally and go back to Europe as Helen Thomas said they should. All those writers support either the “two-state” or the “one-state” solution; none of them disputes the Jews’ right to be there.
6. Even if the Jews had a valid biblical heritage, that would not give them any legal claim to Palestinian land in the 20th century. Israel was created by the 1946-48 Zionist invasion, clear violation of international law, the U. N.’s own charter, and any concept of morality and decency. But the Palestinian people have been abandoned by the entire world, so they feel they have the right to fight back by any means possible.
7. Just because terrorism is always wrong does not mean we are always right. The U. S. has supported both the 1946-48 invasion and the 60 years of brutal ethnic cleansing since then in violation of international law and our own Constitution. In 1946, the U. S. did not have one Arab enemy in the entire world, and not one Muslim cleric was calling us “The Great Satan”. But today, because of our actions, thousands are willing to die just to kill a few of us. We have created anti-American extremism in countries that never had it before.
8. Even David Ben Gurion, one of the founders of Israel, recognized that Zionism makes peace in Palestine clearly impossible. In 1956 he said, “If I were an Arab leader, I would never make peace with Israel. That is natural: we have come here and stolen their country. Why would they accept that?” But he still believed that Zionists had the right to displace the Palestinians, which they have been relentlessly doing ever since.
So despite her hasty choice of words, Helen Thomas is right: to end the conflict, the Zionists will have to leave. And the claim that it is too late for this because the Zionists have lived there too long is not supported by history: the French, British, Spanish, Dutch, and Turks all eventually had to give up the countries they had colonized because they never had any right to that land, and they were there far longer than the Zionists have been in Palestine. To establish a Jewish homeland in Europe instead would take diplomatic pressure, heavy economic pressure, and possibly even the use of force, but it would bring peace and justice for both sides.
Author’s note — The statement that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East” is not true. Many Jewish and other writers have pointed out that any nation based on ethnicity or religion is by definition not a democracy. So Israel, a Jewish state, cannot be any more democratic than Iran, an Islamic state. And the claim that Israel is a U.S. ally is also false. They have stolen U.S. nuclear materials, planted spies in our defense department, sold military equipment to apartheid South Africa and communist China (and even offered South Africa nuclear weapons technology), and deliberately attacked the USS Liberty, killing 34 of our sailors and wounding 171 others. The U.S. has no plausible reason to support the Jews in Palestine.
JEFFERSON CHASE lives in Connecticut.