People protesting outside with sign saying Israel stop the killing, negotiate

It is said in China, that a popular curse is to tell a person “may you live in interesting times.” Given the history of the world for roughly the past few centuries, mankind appears to be, not merely cursed, but damned. And in our present, things have become even more “interesting.”

Particularly in the years since 1945, the world has been almost literally burning, even given the end of the Second World War. The Cold War and its insane nuclear arms race, the proxy wars of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s and, most especially, the quagmire that most people refer to simply as the Middle East. It is this last subject that I will address here.

As an American Jew born in the early 1950s, I have watched the progress of things Middle Eastern, with interest and, often, horror. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I really explored, considered and, finally understood, how things got to be as bad as they are.          

Sadly, as with most things human, the mess that is the Middle East is clearly the creation of only a few nations and people, and it is at their feet that the blame for the entire mess must be laid. Things have evolved to a point where time is running out for many of the area’s players, most particularly, the Palestinian people.

The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 was the work of the newly minted United Nations, the United Kingdom and a reluctant United States. I’m sure that, at the time, giving the Jewish people a homeland had the greatest urgency in light of The Holocaust, which had ended only three years earlier. It must have seemed an act of great compassion towards the Jews who had suffered so much at the hands of the Nazis.

But consider how this was done. The British, who controlled Palestine since the end of WWI, knew the conditions on the ground better than anyone, and were fully aware of the indigenous population occupying Palestine. Moreover, their reason for wanting to settle the Jews in Palestine dated back to 1917's Balfour Declaration:

“The Balfour Declaration was a single paragraph in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom's Foreign SecretaryArthur James Balfourto Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. It read:

His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”       (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration)

Given the conditions specified, one would have thought that the Jews involved in the creation of Israel knew, and agreed, to the conditions under which their homeland was granted. This was not the case in actual fact, and their failure to agree, and maintain the rights of non-Jews, in Palestine was seen immediately upon the formation of Israel.

We are told that Israel was attacked by its neighbors immediately upon its official formation, but what we were never told was of the atrocities committed by the Jews on the ground at that time. As Jews, still smarting from the loss of 6 million of our friends and relatives in The Holocaust, most of us simply accepted the narrative of events at the time, as given. What we didn’t know, and many of us have only relatively recently learned, was that in addition to the 750,000 Palestinians that were forced out of Israel, many thousands were purposefully massacred.

The Nakba, or Catastrophe, was the event of the initial displacement of the Palestinian people by Israel. This event was just the first action taken by Israel on the road to the situation as we have it today. Israel has, right from the beginning, had a policy of exclusion and degradation for the non-Jews living in Israel. It is an undeniable fact.

Then, in 1967, the Six Day War happened. History, as written by the victors, tells us that Israel was attacked, yet again, but that they were miraculously victorious. But that’s not what actually happened. Israel actually started that war in order to expand its borders, with which it was never satisfied.

Again, in 1973, the Yom Kippur War, which Israel could have lost, was a provocation by Israel itself, committed by Israel on the most holy day of the Jewish calendar. Given the “cover” of Yom Kippur, sympathy for Israel was legion around the world and especially here in the U.S., President Nixon arranged for needed arms to be airlifted to Israel to aid them in their fight, probably knowing from U.S. intelligence, that Israel had made their own bed by starting the conflict.

Down through the years, most of us (myself included), thought that Israel was the underdog in all of this. Our poor Jewish brethren, always so put upon throughout history, were in a daily fight for their very lives. How could this be tolerated?

The early fight by the Palestinian people was marked by many instances of violence. Terrorist bombings were common, and only aided Israel in maintaining the fiction of Jews as perpetual victims. Then, in the 1990s, things began to change from the Palestinian side of the equation.

Rather than continue to make war, Palestinians adopted peaceful means to solve their problems. The Oslo Accords, a process which began in 1993, sadly had proven to be yet another tactic by Israel to delay any action to benefit the Palestinian people. In the time since then, Israel has continued to build illegal settlements on occupied land in the West Bank and the entire peace process, as fostered by complicit allies like the United States, had fallen apart.

Twenty-five years have passed since Oslo and, during that time, Israel has taken every opportunity to build more illegal settlements, kill the Palestinian populace, and make any kind of peace less and less viable. It became clear to me that, regardless of what they said, Israel didn’t want peace. They want land, and they want all of the Palestinian people gone from Israel.

Things have become so bad for the Palestinians that the entire population of the besieged Gaza strip is in danger of being annihilated. Israel regularly bombs Gaza, in the name of its so-called security, even though the people have no way to defend themselves. What Israel calls “war” is actually nothing less than cold-blooded murder.

We, here in the United States, are sadly complicit in Israel’s crimes against humanity, providing $3.8 Billion annually in military aid to Israel which they use to suppress and murder Palestinian people. Further, Americans like myself, are being told that if we criticize Israel that we are “anti-semitic,” regardless of our own religious affiliation. Federal and State governments have been busy passing laws against protest and, specifically against the BDS or “Boycott, Divest and Sanction” movement that was created by the Palestinians themselves in 2005.

Our government is trying to silence all objections to the obvious genocide that Israel is committing by passing things like HB 476 and HCR 10 in Ohio and the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720), by Congress. The Congressional bill, which is prima facia unconstitutional, seeks to impose civil penalties for boycotting Israel, including up to 20 years imprisonment and/or fines of up to $1 Million.

This brings us, finally, to the recent Nation-State legislation passed by the Israeli Knesset only last month. Haaretz reported on July 19, 2018:

“Israel passed early Thursday a controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and asserts that 'the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people,' sparking outrage from Israel's Arab community and provoking concern from the international community.”

The effect of this legislation is to demote the status of the Arabic language language in Israel, regardless of how many native speakers there are and, frankly, if you are not a white Jew of Ashkenazi descent, you are automatically a second-class citizen, or worse. Where Israel was only seen as an apartheid state before the passage of the Nation-State law, Israel itself has declared itself to be apartheid, leaving no room for doubt among non-Israeli Jews around the world.

I am not going to use this platform to toss around words like “nazi” or “fascist” with regard to Israel as I believe that to be less than constructive. What I will do is suggest that those of you who are generally blaming “the Jews” for Israel’s actions, should perhaps substitute the word “Zionists,” for it is their vision and purpose that has brought us to this place. And Zionists exist in many forms. There are many more Christian Zionists in the world than there are Jews in or out of the State of Israel. One U.S. group alone, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), boasts 4.1 million members as of May 2018. The Jewish population of Israel is only 6.5 million, not all of whom are die-hard Zionists. Some Israelis are actively protesting their government’s treatment of the Palestinians, and they are often met with beatings and imprisonment for acting on their conscience.

My purpose here is to tell you that we must save everyone involved. I believe that if Israel is successful in carrying out their obvious genocide that Israel will eventually be destroyed in turn.

            We have to save both the Palestinians and the Israelis.

BDS is a peaceful way to put pressure on Israel to do the right thing by the Palestinian population. It is not anti-Semitic, nor do its participants deny Israel’s right to exist. At the Jewish Voice for Peace, which has been in this fight since 1996, we seek peace, freedom and dignity for all of the people of Israel-Palestine. That is all. If allowed to go forward, BDS can put enough pressure on Israel to change its stance. Sadly, the U.S. government is trying to criminalize Americans who seek peace through their constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech, of which boycott is only one form.

Until the U.S. stands down and ceases supporting the illegal and, frankly, criminal actions of Israel, the Israelis will consider themselves fully protected and continue to flout international law.

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