Growing Up With Zionist Propaganda

If you are an anti-Zionist Jew, there’s no reason to feel alone.

It is somewhat understandable to grow into adulthood and find the history you were taught as a child was incomplete. We teach our children whitewashed history that celebrates Christopher Columbus, for instance, even though he led a genocide of the Arawaks and allowed his men to take sex slaves as young as 9 years old. He even offered a reward to the first of his men to spot land, and then stole the reward. American history gives this man credit for discovering the Americas, even though we fully acknowledge that Leif Erikson discovered it first.

But growing into adulthood as a Jew, I was never taught that I had learned a whitewashed version of Jewish history. Even Yitzak Rabin, who was assassinated when I was 25 years old, was not the person I was told he was in the 1990s. It wasn’t until Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had the courage to withdraw from an event honoring him that I realized there was more to his story than simply being closer to a peace agreement with Palestinians than any other Israeli Prime Minister I can remember.

He led the Lydda Death March, in 1948, expelling (ethnically cleaning) tens of thousands of Palestinians. In Lydda (now known as Lod), specifically, the Palestinians that lived there had hidden the Jewish paramilitary from the imperial British soldiers, whom they had been attacking. Those same paramilitary turned on their Arab protectors less than a year later and murdered them. He was also the Minister of Defense when the First Intifada, which was characterized by peaceful protests and strikes, was violently crushed. “Within the first two years of the Intifada, almost 30,000 children required medical treatment for injuries caused by beatings from Israeli soldiers. At the same time”, as Al Jazeera noted, “a policy of collective punishment was put in place, in which more than 175,000 Palestinians were arrested and 2,000 homes were demolished.” Collective punishment being a war crime in and of itself.

It can be very hard to reconcile these two distinct versions of history, especially when those around you have internalized this version of history that omits so much. We are taught, as Jews, to identify with Israel and this dream of a Jewish homeland. The flip side of this message is that criticism of Israel is a negation of our identity.

I won’t try to speak for other Jews, but I always had this impression, as a child, of an isolated oasis of civilization out in the desert that was built by Jews, and had basically been abandoned, but for a few Arabs in the area, and that Jews had reclaimed it in 1948, sort of blew the dust off, and began planting trees to retain water and help the soil from being eroded. All the good-hearted Jews around me wanted was a Jewish homeland (and Jews ARE good-hearted). Who knew that Palestinians were part of the story?

I have observed that those of you who are not Jewish have an extraordinarily hard time arguing the points that follow with Zionists. People who have not yet learned that their version of history is incomplete can seem like they are lying or gaslighting (creating a false version of reality and making you feel crazy for not believing it). They probably call you anti-Semitic. I have included a section at the end of this blog that focuses on common arguments that I hear Zionists making and logic-based responses to those arguments. Now take heart, Zionists even call anti-Zionist Jews “anti-Semitic Jews” or “self-loathing Jews”. I find those terms to be FAR more anti-Semitic than questioning historical points, because they are essentially telling me that I couldn’t possibly have any other reason for not believing what they believe, other than hating who I am, and so my views just don’t count.

But I do NOT hate who I am. And I do not hate other Jews. On the contrary, when I see Jewish Voice For Peace at a protest or an interview with Norman Finkelstein or other anti-Zionist Jews, I feel proud of the very long Jewish tradition of standing against oppression. It is not easy to stand against oppression, especially when your people are the oppressors. Finkelstein, for example, was denied tenure at DePaul University, because of his political views, despite being one of the most brilliant scholars out there.

Norman Finkelstein

In the words of Finkelstein, paraphrased from an interview I recently watched, “the younger generations tend to see Israel for what it is, see the oppression and brutality that it metes out to Palestinians who get in its way, but the older generations tend to see Israel as what Jews are”. Especially coming from the generation that witnessed the Holocaust and that generation’s children, it seemed inconceivable that a Jew could order other Jews to line up snipers to shoot peaceful protesters, but that is precisely what happened during the 2018 March of Return.

It seems as though Zionists are okay with a person arguing specific points. Did it happen this way or that? Was this first or did something happen first that caused that? Those kind of questions are okay, but as soon as you posit that the brutal creation of Israel maybe wasn’t the most moral thing in the world, you get labeled antisemitic. And once that label is applied to someone, as it has been to the brilliant journalist Abby Martin of the Empire Files (whose only crime that I can see is boldly standing with Palestinians) that gives Zionists an excuse not to listen to a word from that source. They are disqualified in that person’s mind, who will only listen to sources from inside the echo chamber of who agrees with Zionism. It’s a self-defense mechanism for a people who are clinging to a belief system that is deeply internalized, and it’s very hard to get through it.

This is why anti-Zionist Jewish voices, such as Norm Finkelstein or Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, are so important, because these voices are able to break through the stereotyping as “antisemitic”. Some say the term itself has become weaponized, and I think there is some truth to that, but I also think that many Zionist Jews throw this out because they just cannot come up with any other conceivable explanation for why someone would challenge what they believe as proven fact.

So this begs the question: what IS the real history? Well, how far back do you want to go? I won’t debate the authenticity of the Torah (The first five books of the Old Testament to many of you) or the rest of the Bible as historical documents, but if Jewish history is to be believed, many Jews were expelled with the second destruction of the temple, around 70 AD. Many historians also posit that at that time, most Jews were already living outside of Judea. Suffice it to say that for nearly 2000 years, Jews have been a minority in the land that today we call Israel.

British Mandate Palestine

It is important to mention the Sykes-Pikot Agreement of 1916, in which the British and the French divided up the area, even while the Ottomans maintained control of the area, along lines that had no basis of meaning to the people on the ground- something which colonial empires have done throughout Africa and central Asia, which causes strife between India and Pakistan to this day. Up until 1916, the British had been promising the Arabs independence. The Ottomans were not Arabs, and after 400 years of Ottoman rule, the Arabs were looking forward to finally getting their independence. So when British Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration, promising to establish a “Jewish national home” in Palestine, it marked a great betrayal of trust to Palestinians. Many Zionists recognize now, the problems with the British and French borders, but don’t really mention how the Arabs had been seeking independence and how they were betrayed.

Allied forces pushed out the Ottomans in 1918, and the British Mandate was approved by the League of Nations in 1922. Many Arabs (and Christians) were already unhappy about the arrangement and formed groups to try to arrange unification with Syria (under French mandate), and even sent a delegation from Palestine to the Syrian National Congress in 1919. The British facilitated mass immigration policies, which were causing a major shift in demographics, alarming the Arab population. The Jewish minority of around 5% quickly grew to 10% by the time of the 1922 census.

There were protests and a couple of riots (in 1920 and 1929), and building resentment toward the British, which were not consulting the Palestinians about their immigration policy, leading up to the general strike in 1936, which was a powerful show of Palestinian unity. The general strike lasted several months, and ended around the same time that some volunteer guerilla soldiers began revolting against the British. As many as 10,000 Palestinians are said to have participated, but the British response was harsh and Palestinian resistance was crushed, leading to the Peel Commission, which planned to divide the land, with the British retaining Jerusalem, and the issuance of the White Paper, calling for a Jewish national home in Palestine but also restricting immigration. But it also called for an independent Palestinian state within 10 years.

Following World War II, illegal immigration became the main form of entry into what was still British Mandate Palestine. Jewish militias and paramilitary forces, which were attacking the British forces even during the war, focused all of their attention on the British, which were severely weakened by the war. The United Nations were created in 1945, and The League of Nations plans and British Mandate were accepted by the newly formed UN, but the UN did not create the state of Israel. The UN passed a partition plan. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, declared Israel’s independence.

The Zionist version of this part of history is that the Arabs attacked the Jews and lost, without giving any of the context of the last several paragraphs that you have just read. But historians show that Zionists, led by David Ben Gurion, had been planning the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in “the Red House” in Tel Aviv for over a decade, had even done a survey of all the town and leaders, planning to eliminate the leaders to create a power vacuum, to make it easier to conquer the Palestinian forces, and had already been attacking and killing Palestinians at least as early as 1947.

According to historian Benny Morris Ben Gurion himself wrote “We must expel Arabs and take their places…”. Rabbi Chaim Simons sides with Morris’ view who he writes “gives a number of examples of how Ben-Gurion supported the transfer of Arabs from Palestine, and he wrote: ‘But at no point during the 1930s and 1940s did Ben-Gurion ever go on record against the idea or policy of transfer. On the contrary, Ben-Gurion left a paper trail a mile long as to his actual thinking, and no amount of ignoring, twisting and turning, manipulation, contortion, and distortion can blow it away.”When Israel declared its independence and Arab countries attacked, it was in defense of the Palestinian people who had already been under attack for months.

From Stephen Lendman of the Palestine Chronicle: “In November, 1947, when the Special Committee for Palestine (UNSCOP) whose members had no prior experience solving conflicts and knew little Palestinian history, gave 56% of the land to Israel, even though Jews made up only a third of the population, Palestinians were justifiably outraged, yet continued to be excluded from the process. Resolution 181 was even worse than an unfair 56–44% division of territory as it allotted the most fertile land and almost all urban and rural territory in Palestine to the new Jewish state, plus 400 of the over 1000 Palestinian villages their residents lost, with no right of appeal.”

“The process began in early December, 1947 with a series of attacks against Palestinian villages and neighborhoods. They were engaged ineffectively from the start on January 9 by units of the first all-Arab volunteer army. It resulted in forced expulsions beginning in mid-February, 1948.”

Lifta

Lifta was harassed by Stern Gang and Irgun militants through December 1947 and January 1948. As told by a refugee from Lifta: “In late January or early February, the Stern Gang and Irgun attacked and seized the neighboring village of Qaluba and then invaded Lifta from the West. They occupied Lifta’s new town and the remaining residents took refuge in the old town in the valley. The village was cut-off from the west and anyone trying to leave was killed. The villagers resisted but were defeated after 9 or 10 hours of fighting.

By the time the entire village was occupied, most of the people had already left Lifta and fled into the West Bank, the rest were taken by truck and dumped in East Jerusalem. By February 1948, Lifta had been completely depopulated. The Stern Gang and Irgun occupied the houses and broke holes in the roofs to ensure that they would be uninhabitable if the residents attempted to return.”

Haifa

The 1947 UN partition plan designated Haifa as part of the new Jewish state. In December, members of the Irgun, a Jewish militia, threw bombs into a crowd of Arabs outside the refinery gates. Arabs retaliated by killing 39 Jewish refinery employees. The Jewish Haganah militia retaliated with a raid on an Arab village where many of the Arab refinery workers lived.

British forces in Haifa redeployed on April 21, 1948, leaving the city, but retaining control of the port. Two days later, the downtown, controlled by Arabs, was assaulted by Jewish Haganah forces in Operation Bi’ur Hametz. The operation led to a massive displacement of Haifa’s Arab population. Only 5,000–6,000 of the cities 62,000 Arabs remained. Some sources say that, at this point, Jewish leaders tried to get the remaining Arabs to stay and to open up their shops. Other sources say that Jewish loudspeakers could be heard in the city ordering Arab residents to leave “before it’s too late.”

Jaffa

On 25 April 1948, the Irgun launched an offensive on Jaffa. This began with a mortar bombardment which went on for three days during which twenty tons of high explosive were fired into the town. On 27 April the British Government, fearing a repetition of the mass exodus from Haifa the week before, ordered the British Army to confront the Irgun and their offensive ended. Simultaneously the Haganah had launched Operation Hametz, which overran the villages east of Jaffa and cut the town off from the interior.

The population of Jaffa on the eve of the attack was between 50,000 and 60,000, with some 20,000 people having already left the town. By April 30, there were 15,000–25,000 remaining. In the following days a further 10,000–20,000 people chased out by sea at gunpoint. When the Haganah took control of the town on 14 May 3,800 people were left. The town and the harbor’s warehouses were extensively looted.

People of Jaffa being run out to sea.

Deir Yassin

In 1948, Deir Yassin was a prosperous, expanding Arab village near Jerusalem, at relative peace with its Jewish neighbors with whom much business was done. When hostilities erupted in 1948, the villagers of Deir Yassin and those of the nearby Jewish village of Giv’at Shaul signed a pact, later approved at Haganah headquarters, to maintain their good relations, exchange information on movement of outsiders through village territory, and ensure the safety of vehicles from the village. The inhabitants of Deir Yassin upheld the agreement scrupulously, resisting infiltration by Arab irregulars.

Irgun and Lehi militias knew of this pact, but they attacked the village on April 9, 1948. Meeting more resistance than expected, houses were blown up with people inside and people shot: 107 villagers, including women and children, were killed. Frustration over the lack of progress and Arab resistance was taken out on the prisoners, which they began executing. Ben-Zion Cohen reported that that “we eliminated every Arab we came across up to that point.”

Aref Samir in 1981 stated: “From 5:00 A.M. until about 11:00 A.M. there was a systematic slaughter, with them going from house to house. From the eastern edge of the village nobody came out unhurt. Whole families were slaughtered. At 6:00 in the morning they caught 21 young people from the village, about 25 years old, they stood them in a row, near where the post-office is today, and executed them. Many women who watched this horrifying spectacle went crazy, and some are in institutions to this day. A pregnant woman, who was coming back with her son from the bakery, was murdered and her belly was smashed, after her son was killed before her eyes. In one of the conquered village houses a Bren machine gun was set up, which shot everyone who got in its line of fire. My cousin went out to see what happened to his uncle, who was shot a few minutes before, and he was killed too. His father, who went out after him, was murdered by the same Bren, and the mother, who came to find out what happened to her loved ones, died beside them. Aish Eydan, who was a guard in Givat Shaul, came to see what was happening, and he was killed.”

The survivors were loaded on trucks that were driven through Jerusalem in a victory parade. The incident became known as the Deir Yassin Massacre. One day later, Albert Einstein wrote a critical letter to the American Friends of Fighters for the Freedom of Israel refusing to assist them with aid or support to raise money for their cause in Palestine. Einstein also criticized the Likud Party as fascists. On December 2, 1948, many prominent American Jews signed and published an op-ed article in the New York Times criticizing Menachim Begin and the Deir Yassin Massacre.

The Jewish neighborhood of Givat Shaul Bet was built on top of Deir Yassin, despite the protests of scholars to Ben Gurion. In 1980, the remaining ruins of the village were bulldozed to clear the ground for new Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods. In the early 1980s, most of the Deir Yassin cemetery was bulldozed and a new highway to Givat Shaul Bet was paved in its place.

Givat Shaul

After Israeli Statehood

And those are just a few of the over 500 villages and towns ethnically cleansed by the new Israelis. “Even at war’s end and Israel’s ethnic cleansing completed, Palestinians’ agony and hardships were only beginning. Throughout 1949, and beginning a precedent continuing to this day, about 8,000 refugees were put in prison camps while many others escaping cleansing were physically abused and harassed under Israeli military rule. The Palestinians lost everything including their homes, fields, places of worship and other holy places, freedom of movement and expression and any hope for just treatment and redress according to the rule of law not applied to them. They were afflicted with such indignities as needing newly-issued identity cards. Not having them on their person at all times meant imprisonment up to 1.5 years and immediate transfer to a pen for “unauthorized” and “suspicious” Arabs”, writes historian Ilan Pappé.

“Life outside prison and labor camps wasn’t much better. Red Cross representatives sent their Geneva headquarters reports of collective human rights abuses including finding piles of dead bodies. Overall, Palestinians surviving expulsion and now Israeli citizens gained nothing. They had no rights and were subjected to constant random violence and abuse with no protection from the law applying only to Jews. Their places of worship were profaned and schools vandalized. Those still with homes were robbed with impunity by looters in broad daylight. They took everything they wanted — furniture, clothing, anything useful for Jewish immigrants entering the new Jewish state. Palestinians reported that there wasn’t a single home or shop not broken into and ransacked. The authorities did nothing to stop it or prosecute offenders. It was like living under a perpetual “Kristallnacht.”

“Further, Palestinian areas were “ghettoised” as a way to imprison people other than by putting them behind bars or in camps. In Haifa, for example, they were ordered from their homes and transferred to designated parts of the city, then crammed into confined quarters the way it was done in Wadi Nisnas, one of the city’s poorest areas. The UN and Red Cross also reported many cases of rape, confirmed by uncovered Israeli archives and from the oral history of victims and their boasting victimizers.”

The Six Day War

The Zionist version of this war is that, again, Israel was attacked by its neighbors and that Israel begged Jordan not to get involved. This is just so incorrect, it’s unfathomable that this version remains unchallenged in the minds of so many people.

Tensions between Israel and Egypt were rising, due to sabre rattling from Egyptian nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser. From History.com (or the History Channel): “On June 5, 1967, the Israel Defense Forces initiated Operation Focus, a coordinated aerial attack on Egypt. That morning, some 200 aircraft took off from Israel and swooped west over the Mediterranean before converging on Egypt from the north.

After catching the Egyptians by surprise, they assaulted 18 different airfields and eliminated roughly 90 percent of the Egyptian air force as it sat on the ground. Israel then expanded the range of its attack and decimated the air forces of Jordan, Syria and Iraq.

By the end of the day on June 5, Israeli pilots had won full control of the skies over the Middle East.”

Moshe Dayan (left) with Mattityahu Peled (right)

The Israeli government had told it’s people that Israel had been attacked, but quickly changed its story to Israel was attacking preemptively. Israelis had been told that they were on the brink of annihilation at the hands of their Arab neighbors. But it wasn’t true. Even Major General Mattityahu Peled, one of the top IDF commanders in the war, admitted to Ha’aretz that “The thesis of the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967, and that Israel is fighting for it’s physical existence, is only a bluff.”

As a result of what was really a war of conquest, Israel seized Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula and all of Jerusalem, which again, was supposed to have been an international city. For 54 years Israel has controlled these areas, claiming the authority to forcibly evict families from homes when it is convenient, yet refusing to vaccinate Palestinians from Covid-19, because it is not considered part of Israel, when it is not convenient to do so.

The Yom Kippur War/The 1973 Arab-Israeli War/The Ramadan War

This war had little to do with Palestinians, but it bears mentioning because 1) the Sinai Peninsula was captured by Israel in 1967, and I don’t want to leave the reader with the impression that it was never recaptured and 2) I don’t want to leave the reader with the view that Israel was always the attacker. In this case, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. The US and Russia did not want Middle East tensions to stop detente, or the easing of tensions between those two countries, and so every effort was made to get the two sides to sit down. Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin met with President Jimmy Carter at Camp David and signed the 1978 Camp David Accords.

The resulting Camp David Accords, besides peace between the Egypt and Israel, military withdrawal and Israeli use of the Suez Canal, called for (from History.com or the History Channel):

  • The establishment of a self-governing authority in the Israeli “Occupied Territories” of Gaza and the West Bank, effectively as a step toward Palestinian statehood.
  • Full implementation of provisions of U.N. Resolution 242, including, notably, the withdrawal of Israeli forces and civilians from West Bank lands acquired during the Six-Day War.
  • Recognition of the “legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” and the beginning of processes to grant them full autonomy within the West Bank and Gaza within five years.

Zionists will say that Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, but Gaza is the largest open air prison in the world. That’s not my opinion, it’s the opinion of respected human rights groups. Some Israeli intellectuals refer to it as the largest concentration camp in the world, and that opinion was expressed back in 2003 before the Israeli blockade. Israel may have no forces inside Gaza, but it controls everything that goes in or out. 70% of Gaza, incidentally, are people who have already been ethnically cleansed, or descendants of those who were ethnically cleansed.

Israel allows Gazans electricity only 4 hours per day and water only half the week. Many Gazans rely on water pumps that require electricity to work, further complicating matters. Much of Gaza has been bombed and lays in rubble, because no reconstruction equipment is allowed inside. Unemployment inside Gaza is astronomical. Gazans are kept dirt poor by Israeli policies, and by Palestinian Authority officials that enrich themselves and their cronies with aid money.

We’re just coming off an 11 day massacre of Gazans by Israeli forces. That was the impetus to this blog-that and the misunderstanding and ignorance about these conditions that Palestinians are forced to live with. The Israeli version is that Hamas started the violence by firing rickets. The truth is that Hamas fired rockets in response to the Israeli Defense Force violently storming the al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan prayers, and that was following the announcement of ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem, sanctioned Kahanist marches chanting “Death to Arabs” and the closing of the main gate to the mosque, and the steps, at the start of Ramadan. The fact is that UN law gives occupied peoples the right to armed resistance. Just as many groups resisted the Germans during WWII. But the two sides aren’t equal, although Zionists tend to frame it like they are.

But I mention this because I want to address the question of non-violent protest. The Great March of Return was a non-violent protest, as was the First Intifada. In the Great March of Return (2018) by 9AM Israeli snipers were firing at peaceful protesters. Much of the time firing rubber bullets (which are far from painless and can cause serious injury) but also using live rounds much of the time. In all 234 Palestinians were killed and 33,000 wounded. The UN report showed that Israeli snipers, who are under orders to kill anyone that comes within 300 yards of the fence, targeted people much farther away than 300 yards, even people leaning against a tree, resting. Snipers targeted children, journalists, medics and even disabled people. These weren’t done in the fog of war, but from a distance, calculated targeting. The UN report also showed that IDF had used internationally banned exploding rounds. Witnessing people around them getting shot, Palestinians began throwing rocks, and those are the images the Israeli government chose to show the world, saying “Are these peaceful protesters?”

In the West Bank, the Golan Heights (which is actually Syrian) and East Jerusalem, conditions are somewhat better than Gaza. There is not a fence, for instance, that prevents movement outside the area. But there are checkpoints, and the guards are known for humiliating Arabs at the checkpoints (and at the airport). Inside these territories, Arabs have no rights, compared to Israeli settlers, who are only there as part of the ethnic cleansing of these areas.

Eran Efrati tells Abby Martin about the inequality of the Israeli system.

Former Israeli soldier Eran Efrati, in an interview with Abby Martin, detailed some of the unequal treatment. He said that Israeli soldiers are not allowed to touch settlers under any condition, even if they are beating a Palestinian. But they can arrest a Palestinian for the slightest reason. They can go inside his house and rest, and treat his possessions as their own. The Zionist argument that Israel is not an apartheid state rests on the idea that these occupied territories, which Israel has controlled for 54 years and claims jurisdiction over when it sees fit, are not part of Israel.

These settlements are kept separate from each other, with illegal Jewish settlements that were built to intentionally divide the Palestinians up, in much the same way we saw in South African apartheid. That way there is no organizing a movement, no collectivism, when there is ethnic cleansing in the West Bank, because the other Palestinians just don’t see it, or about the living conditions in Gaza. And that includes Arab Israeli citizens, who are a separate group that really doesn’t see any of it, unless someone goes to the West Bank to visit a relative, but even then it’s hard to discern ethnic cleansing from looking at a construction site.

Inside Israel, Zionists say, Arab citizens enjoy equal rights. But that’s not true either. East Jerusalem is inside of Israel proper, and as we have seen, Israel will allow settlers to just steal Palestinian homes, because they want a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, and in Israel as a whole. In a now famous video, an American named Jacob has simply taken a Palestinian woman’s home. “Jacob, you know that this is not your house,” al-Kurd tells the man in her backyard, who replies: “What’s the problem? Why are you yelling at me?”

“I didn’t do this,” the man insists. “It’s easy to yell at me, but I didn’t do this.”

Al-Kurd then pleads, “You are stealing my house!”

Jacob replies: “And if I don’t steal it, someone else is going to steal it.”

And that’s the truth. I, as an American Jew, can simply go to Israel, become a citizen in a few hours, and move into the home of someone whose family has owned it for generations, simply because they are Palestinian. Equal rights? I don’t think so. But there are all kinds of double standards. There are streets that only Jews are allowed on, that are barricaded off and have armed soldiers who will prevent any Arab from walking past it. Arabs cannot get building permits. Not in decades. Why? Because the Israeli government ONLY wants Jews to build. Is that equal rights? Of course not.

Another measure of inequality is the right to protest. Arabs have some right to protest, although I have to say, the only Arab protests I know of were broken up by police or by police sanctioned Jewish supremacist violence. But this most recent violence just ended, or at least the firing missiles did. Palestinians celebrated the end to the missiles with a one day strike/protest. Within 12 hours of the ceasefire, IDF was attacking and arresting Palestinians at the al Aqsa Mosque, and just yesterday I heard from a Palestinian academic and author that Israel is planning more than 500 arrests of Palestinians who participated in the general strike the day after the ceasefire was announced. These Israeli citizens are not allowed to protest violence against other Palestinians. That’s not equal rights.

As I mentioned earlier, Kahanists, the closest comparison in the US is to the KKK, are allowed to march through the streets chanting “Death to Arabs” and are usually not stopped by police when they attack Arab protesters. Palestinians would never get away with that kind of behavior. Extremist groups might chant “Death to Israel” in an area where they’re safe, but they couldn’t march through the streets of Jerusalem, like Kahanists can.

Israel has some cities that are Arab or Jewish, but there are also some mixed cities- the vast majority of which were ethnically cleansed in 1948, such as the four examples of ethnic cleansing I listed earlier. The Arabs that remained in those cities were usually forced out of their own homes and concentrated into one area of townThe Israeli government moved orthodox Jews into much of those towns, even into the homes of the Arabs that remained, so that Arabs in those towns deal with racism on a daily basis.

Israel likes to call itself the only democracy in the Middle East. Sometimes it calls itself a “Jewish democracy” which is a little more truthful, but if you aren’t considering what the ramifications of a democracy being a Jewish democracy are, then you’ll miss the bigger picture. What would you think of the US calling itself a “White democracy”?

Several million Arabs in occupied Gaza, West Bank, Golan Heights and even East Jerusalem can’t vote at all, because they’re not citizens. These territories have been occupied and controlled by Israel for 54 years, but have no say in the decision making, no self-determination at all. An Arab Israeli citizen can run for the Knesset, and there are a few token Arabs in the Knesset, but Arabic Members of the Knesset have never been a part of any ruling coalition, and there will never be more than a small handful of them. Nor will there ever be an Arabic Prime Minister.

In 2018 the Knesset passed the Nation State Law. The law does three big things:

  1. It states that “the right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people.”
  2. It establishes Hebrew as Israel’s official language, and downgrades Arabic — a language widely spoken by Arab Israelis — to a “special status.”
  3. It establishes “Jewish settlement as a national value” and mandates that the state “will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”

This law completely ignored international law, which holds those settlements as illegal, disrespects the native language of the Palestinian population, and explicitly deprives the Palestinians of national self-determination. This is not equal treatment under the law. This is apartheid. And Israel has multiple racist political parties. There is the Likud Party, which is the party of Benjamin Netanyahu, which has in it’s charter that no Palestinian state shall ever be allowed to exist, even though the UN promised them a state back in 1948.

And then there is the Jewish Home Party, which is an orthodox Jewish and religious Zionist party, Jewish nationalists who see Arabs as inferior. And then there are the Kahanists, who as I said, are Israel’s equivalent of the KKK. Kahanists are so extreme they actually got banned from Israeli politics (which is pretty hard to do in a country that has multiple racist political parties) until Benjamin Netanyahu invited them into his coalition to retain his own power.

One can come to no other conclusion, looking at a country where two of the three strongest political parties are racist, and a group like Kahanists are part of a ruling coalition, but to conclude that racism is not just present, but rampant in Israel. We still have a lot of racism in the US, especially in certain pockets, but the treatment that Arabic citizens of Israel must have to deal with on a constant basis is mind boggling.

A Pew study in Israel from a couple of years ago finds that 48% of Jewish Israelis believe that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel, 79% of Israelis believe Jews should get preferential treatment over Arab citizens, 61% believe Israel was given to the Jewish people by God, and 42% of Jewish Israelis say the settlements help Israel’s security while 25% say it makes no difference.

About two weeks ago, as the most recent violence was just starting, I watched an interview of an Arab Israeli rapper, a full citizen, who lives in the city of Lod, which is one of those cities where the Arabs who remained after ethnic cleansing live surrounded by racist orthodox Jews. Pogroms were being carried out throughout Israel. For those who don’t know, a pogrom is state sanctioned mob violence. Police were participating in mob violence against Palestinians, not just beating those on the streets, but destroying and looting shops and barging into homes.

Anyway, this guy was warned by the police department that he should stay inside once it gets dark- they were probably warning everyone. He looks out his window, a couple hours after it got dark, and a mob of Jewish supremacists were marching through the streets looking for Arabs to beat. And yes, there were instances of crowds of Arabs beating Jews, too, but those were generally isolated incidents, and were actually a reaction to the state sponsored violence against Arabs. Even if you are an Israeli Jew, reading this, and think that I am understating this, you can’t take the effect and make it the cause. And in none of those cases, and I mean zero, did Israeli police take part in violence against Jews, and so that isn’t state sanctioned violence at all.

Tamer Nafar’s interview with ABC

Now I want to be clear that I condemn violence against anyone. But when one group has suffered systemic racism and oppression and violence for decades, I do think that it is at least somewhat understandable, where that anger, that outrage that can’t be contained any more, comes from. And I think that it happens on both sides, because most Israeli Jews are not going to Gaza to see the conditions there. They aren’t going to occupied Palestinian areas to witness ethnic cleansing, and if they do, as I said, it is harder to discern. They might see a house under construction. At most they might witness a forced eviction, but they’re told some nonsense about it being about rent. It’s not about rent.

All most Israelis know, like any people they are at the mercy of their government for information, is what the Israeli government tells them- and that is that (in the case of the recent violence) Hamas is shooting thousands of rockets into Israel and they’re aimed at civilians. When in fact, the truth is that 90% of their rockets were shot down by the defense system, even according to the IDF. Hamas’ rockets don’t have modern targeting systems, so it’s unlikely that they are accurately targeting anyone. And the only reason they’re firing so many is to try to get through the defense system. If you’re looking at this as an Israeli no doubt looks at it, as if it’s an even battle, you’re not looking at it correctly.

One side has, not only a missile defense system, but one of the most powerful militaries in the world. The other side doesn’t have an army, a navy, or an air force. They only have resistance fighters with outdated rockets. It isn’t an even battle, it’s a slaughter. It’s a weak and oppressed people trying to resist a much more powerful ruling government, which is occupying their lands.

Actual tweet from the Israeli Defense Force

IDF just killed more than 250 civilians, 63 or 64 of them children, despite having sophisticated targeting systems, and then tweeted out that it had killed more than 200 terrorists, so they’re also claiming that ANYONE they kill is Hamas. And that’s simply not true. Hamas wasn’t even the only group firing rockets, but they always blame it on Hamas, because that makes it easier to manufacture consent for killing more people. Interesting note: Palestinians have a communist party which receives about 20% of the vote, according to an East Jerusalem resident named Bakr al-Husseini.

Zionists will say “Hamas uses human shields” but there is no proof of that happening. What they really mean, and this is still propaganda, is that Hamas fights near civilians. But that language: “human shields” is chosen intentionally, to bring up images of a coward with a gun hiding behind a defenseless woman. The truth is that resistance fighters are fighting guerilla warfare in one of the most densely populated places on the planet. They have little choice, but to resist how they can. The logic behind this propaganda line is that if they are so tough, they should stand in an open field and fight. Of course that would just mean that one of the most powerful militaries on Earth would annihilate them, probably within 20 minutes. And the part they never mention is that IDF headquarters is also in a residential neighborhood.

Zionists will say “Are you defending terrorists”? But as I have already stated, the UN recognizes the right of all people to armed resistance against occupation, and Palestine has been occupied for 73 years. So they aren’t really terrorists, they’re resistance fighters, using guerilla warfare in one of the most densely populated places on the planet. And actually, guerilla soldiers are often called terrorists by the governments they’re fighting.

They’ve definitely committed some crimes, like the 3 Israeli teenagers that were kidnapped in 2014, but you can’t look at this on-going struggle by examining one moment in it, and you can’t look at Israel as a country under attack by enemies, because Israel is the occupier and the one with all the power. And any resistance, even the kidnapping of teenagers, you still have to look at through the lens of an occupied people trying to find a way to fight off a powerful occupying force, not that that makes kidnapping or hurting children right. The US military does the same thing. Our soldiers have killed countless civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other countries. And they just call whoever they hit “terrorist”, which eliminates scrutiny. And knee-jerk patriots just read or hear that a terrorist has been killed and say “Rightly so!” without questioning whether they really ARE terrorists.

Zionists will say “The US and many other countries recognize them as a terrorist organization.” But that is about who has power and who doesn’t. Under Trump, the US also recognized Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is merely a branch of the Iranian military, and Iran declared the US Army a terror organization too. This is an effort to win the battle of public opinion. A people under occupation, exercising their right to resist, CANNOT be a terror organization.

Zionists will say “But don’t you think Israel has a right to defend its borders?” But Israel is not under attack from outside of its borders. Israel seized the occupied territories in 1967. It is the Palestinians who have a right to defend themselves from Israeli aggression. When Israel retaliates against Hamas rockets, Israel is not defending itself, it is violently putting down a resistance. So yes, if Israel were attacked by another country, for example Egypt, as it was in 1973, Israel absolutely has a right to defend itself. But Israel does NOT have the right to take away Palestinians right to defend themselves by “defending Israel right back” or however you want to phrase it. This is a line that is designed to erase the right of Palestinians, as an occupied peoples, to resist, which they absolutely have.

Zionists will say “But the Palestinian leadership have turned down so many peace deals”, but the thing is that Palestinians are being asked to accept all of the things you’ve just read about- accept a Zionist state in their own land, where they will be second class citizens by law, separated from loved ones in the other land, all of the main population centers in Israel and all of the most fertile land. It is complete surrender. Not one of those peace deals have included full equality for all Palestinians. So I ask you, would YOU accept ethnic cleansing and constantly being treated as less than human?

Zionists will say “But what is Israel supposed to do about Hamas’ rockets?” The answer is that if Israel really wanted peace, they might try not committing crimes against humanity, letting people return to the homes they’ve been forcibly evicted from, and offering equality. People who are able to live comfortably are very rarely angry, violent people.

Zionists will say “Palestinians want to kill all the Jews” or “Hamas says they want to kill all the Jews”. If we’re being honest, people on both sides use language like that, usually out of pain and anger, but yes, sometimes out of racism. Perhaps we should make a point of excluding emotional statements of desperation that occur right after a relative has been hurt or killed. Any one of us could lose a loved one to some other government and then utter the phrase “I want to kill every one of them.” In fact, that has happened during every single military conflict the US has ever been involved in.

American mainstream media never shows interviews of Hamas officials, because they want us to believe that Hamas is made up of irrational, hateful people. Aaron Mate of the Grayzone interviewed an official from Hamas, who seemed quite reasonable, and appears to just want better conditions for his people.

Zionists will say “But some Palestinians are saying they want to rape Jewish women”. The same applies. Some Jews talk like that too. When Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi was arrested for slapping the soldier who was arresting her brother for throwing a rock, some extremist rabbi said she should be raped in prison. There are extremists on both sides. And it’s usually coming from pain or a lack of security. Equality would do much to make moderates of extremists. Well, okay, maybe not moderates, but less extreme extremists.

Zionists will say “Palestinians teach their children to hate Jews from a very young age.” Watch the following video. This is not to say that all Jewish Israeli children are taught this way. I really have no idea. But both sides can produce propaganda videos that make it look like that is the case.

Zionists will say that if you think Israel shouldn’t exist that you are antisemitic or hate Jews. I say: I can’t tell you how you feel, but MY response is that Israel IN IT’S CURRENT FORM shouldn’t exist. All of the people deserve peace and security and self-determination. That cannot happen under Zionism. That said, ultimately I believe it should be up to the people who live there, not me. But seeing all these injustices that have been done and wanting to undo them as best we can (obviously you can’t bring back the dead or undo the scars of losing people) is walking with love of, not only Palestinians, but all humanity. We must stop seeing the world and all these conflicts as us vs. them. We really are all one people. I am not standing against YOU, I am standing FOR justice and love. There’s nothing antisemitic about that.

Zionists will say “Israel does everything it can to avoid civilian casualties”. First of all, HA! Israel has advanced targeting systems and kills civilians on purpose. And as stated earlier, during the March of Return (but not ONLY during the March of Return) we have seen Israeli soldiers targeting civilians who aren’t even doing anything, even children and medics.

Zionists will say “But Israel sends out a warning before it hits a building.” Imagine being in bed, on the 22nd floor of a high rise apartment building, your whole family asleep. Suddenly the occupying government warns you that your building will be destroyed in 15 min, and that you need to get out or you will die. You wake up your partner, you each agree to wake up a couple of the kids. You probably live with at least one of your parents. They’re going to have a harder time getting out of the building, and will be slower. You don’t have time to grab much. Does that warning make it okay to bomb residential buildings? Especially considering that the building won’t be rebuilt.

Zionists will say “Most Israeli Jews don’t support what the government is doing.” And yet they keep voting for racist leaders in racist parties. I shared this information already, but I’m sharing it again. 79% of Jewish Israelis believe that Jews should get preferential treatment. That is a really high number! 67% believe the settlements either help security or at least don’t oppose them. And 48% of Jewish Israelis believe that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel- that’s ethnic cleansing. I have made this same statement about most Israelis not supporting it, but now I’m not so sure that’s true.

Zionists will say “Don’t you believe Israel has a right to exist?” All people have a right to peace and to self-determination, but no country has a right to exist. A country exists at the whim of its people, and if it oppresses those people, they have the right to change the country- the government, the name, to divide into multiple countries or to become part of another country. I imagine British colonists in the 18th century saying “Don’t the colonies have a right to exist?” The answer is: as long as they serve the people who live there, and when they don’t, then the people will change it.

Zionists will say “There wasn’t even a country there.” As if Palestine being a region or a British mandate justifies the atrocities that have been committed by Zionists against the Palestinian people! This is one of the more ludicrous lines, in my opinion. It’s so insulting, and I find it racist as it erases the lives and experiences of the people who lived there before 1948. The truth is that Palestine had it’s own mail system with stamps that were Palestinian. If you visited the area, your passport was marked “Palestine”. Even Golda Meier said that she was a Palestinian.

Golda Meier: “I am a Palestinian”

Zionists will say “Jews were there before Palestinians”. This is somewhat hard to quantify. Historical documents, as far as I can tell (I’m no historian) show both Jews AND Arabs on the land, in various percentages. Religious Zionists will point to the Torah, but even the Torah says that Moses led the Jews into the land of Canaan, of which Philistia was a part of, and names like Walistina, Palestina, Filistina reappear constantly throughout history. Filistina is even how the region was referred to during the Ottoman Empire, pre-1918.

That said, I really don’t think one can demand that people who are not of your religious group comply with the teachings of your religion. Geologically speaking, the Earth has obviously been around for far longer than any historical artifacts of the Torah have been dated to, and many stories in the Book of Genesis bear a resemblance to the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, which COULD support the timeline of Moses bringing the Jews out of Egypt and into the land of Phillistines. I am not arguing that this is the case, but rather, that either version of whom came first could be true.

Either way, geopolitical and international laws do not really support documents this old being used as a right of return in this way, or everything between Texas and California would be part of Mexico, New Zealand would belong to Maoris, the United States would be turned over to Indigenous tribal peoples here, no descendants of European colonists would own any land at all in Africa, and the Finno-Ugric Japanese would turn their country over to the Chinese that probably inhabited it first.

Zionists will say “It’s more complicated than that. You’re leaving a lot out.” It isn’t complicated at all. Zionists were planning on taking over the country long before the creation of Israel, spent decades immigrating to Palestine, planned out ethnic cleansing and enacted it. Then manufactured a war of conquest to seize more land, in 1967, and completely subjugate Palestinians to varying degrees in different isolated pockets. And every couple of years, instead of trying to calm rising tensions, Israel carries out a blood bath.

Zionists will say “Prove to me that there was ever ethnic cleansing in Israel.”

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Jason is a leftist and an anti-imperialist.

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Jason Kishineff

Jason Kishineff

Jason is a leftist and an anti-imperialist.

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