uploaded : Wednesday 1st Nov 2006 at 08:37
by : Maurice Zamir
I attended a meeting at the Friends Meeting House on Euston Square in Central London on the 17th of October. It was to promote Prof. Ilan Pappe’s new book.
Below is a report and my own observations
The first to speak was The Rt. Rev Riah Abu El-Assal, Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem.
He started by stating that” Some people in the world cannot live without enemies” – this in relation to the Western worlds current relationship with Moslems. He then said that he was an “Arab Palestinian Christian Israeli”, engaging Biblical imagery “once peace comes to Jerusalem, peace will come to the whole world”. “Christians of Palestine were originally Jewish and lived in peace until the rise of the Zionist movement”, the historical lesson intended upon legitimising Christians as Arabs first.
“The refugees must be given the right of return.” “Israelis and Jews are blocked by their fears of the past”. The bishop spoke of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” He mooted a confederation of 2 states living side by side and bemoaned the fact that “The Elijah’s are absent”
First point – religious people of all faiths will argue that they are firstly people of faith and then, people identified by nationality. So a religious American will call himself a Christian first and then an American, without anyone questioning his loyalty to this country or another. Similarly, a religious Jew in Israel would be Jewish first and then Israeli. Accusations of Dual Loyalty are thrown at minorities, perhaps unfairly, under these circumstances, as long as identification along national lines are not dismissed or predicated upon a conditional response to external events.
It was interesting that he, a Bishop, should call himself first an Arab, second a Palestinian and only third, a Christian. To understand this it has to be remembered that Arab nationalism is primarily racist and defined by an affinity to Islam. So to be a Christian and an Arab is not possible excepting under the kind of conditional racial expedient that Nazi ideologues for instance, granted to the Japanese when they made them honorary Aryans for the duration of the war (in order to bring them onto their side). Similarly the Nazis had half bloods (Mischlings?) who were allowed to survive simply because, in the economic management of extermination, depopulation and resettlement could not be achieved without the initial collaboration of locally domiciled collaborators, who could be dealt with later (as has now happened in the Sudan). So religious bigotry explicitly expressed within Palestinian and Arab literature excludes Jews as Palestinians.
It very neatly engages the audience to say that the Christians of Palestine are (originally) Jews because what is implied is that you can be politically anti-Jewish when you support Palestinian Christians. Even better, to demonise Zionism by demonstrating allegiance to the Arab lie that Christians lived in Peace in Palestine until the advent of Zionism. We could argue that in the pecking order of Islam, Christianity and then Judaism, (omitting other groupings such as the Druze for now) Islam was top dog, Christians, as long as they persecuted Jews, were tolerated, and Jews lived in misery as tolerated inferiors, periodically persecuted but never free. So in one sense, the Bishop is correct: Christians, displaying no ethical or moral veracity lived in relative peace, something Jews did not possess. But to accept such a paradigm would be disastrous because it would then justify the Jewish imperative for self-determination. Something that would be similarly disastrous for Christianity in the Arab world unless they were able to find someone else to persecute. Now that is a conspiracy theory.
The rest is standard propaganda – right of return reinforces Christian street credibility; fears of past persecution do not relate to Islam – it is all Europe’s’ fault and the Arabs should not have to pay the price for European Crimes. An eye for an eye has been the favourite canard of Christianity to demonise Judaism – even more than crucifixion because it precedes it and is, more so, the original sin! It has become a Jewish idiosyncrasy in Christian eyes. No one mentions Numbers 35 (is it 6 cities of refuge or 48?).
And finally – it really is all the Jews fault –all those wars throughout the 20th century. After all didn’t the speaker just call on the bible to tell us all that Peace in Jerusalem will bring peace to the whole world? The logical extension of that is that whoever denies the Palestinians their pound of flesh is a war monger responsible for all the world’s extant conflicts. Gosh – that is us again – aren’t you honoured?
Finally, the Bishop quotes Desmond Tutu as saying that Israelis and Palestinians were “scrambled eggs that no one can unscramble.” True perhaps, but not relevant, unless it is mentioned as part of the odious inextricable linkage, made by Israel’s enemies connecting Israel / Palestine to South Africa.
Next came Dr Hassan (I missed the rest of his name) the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK. He belted out the occasional “fact” such as “Shalit was Captain of one of the most important Israeli weapons of war – a tank that shelled the Palestinian territories….” I am not aware of any Corporal being put in charge of a 155mm gun emplacement which I presume is what he is referring to. However I suspect that this piece of information has now gone into the literature justifying the IRC and other organisations from actively condemning the kidnapping of Israelis. The bottom line is that unless an individual is given access to the IRC then it is kidnapping – that person is not a prisoner of war but a hostage to terrorists.
The good doctor then stated that 25,000 houses had been destroyed as well as 1 million trees (perhaps a coincidence that Hezbollah’s missiles were responsible for the destruction of one million trees in Northern Israel). He then welcomed “4 of our Jewish brothers” (from Neturei Karta?) who spent the entire evening photographing the audience while seated and looking very conspicuous. They were not seated with any one else but were at the front looking into the audience rather than being seated with the audience.
Betty Hunter (General Secretary of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign) came next and also ensured that there were no inconvenient questions asked at the end of the evening by finishing off the last 5-10 minutes, providing a rousing “support the boycott” speech to the assembled masses. She quoted the Special UN Rapporteur John Duggard and spoke of the “destruction of Bethlehem and Jerusalem” – but gave no specifics. In short – a fascist propagandist, a rabble rousing political racist.
Then Dr. Ilan Pappe stepped up to the podium. He spoke for the longest period (20:35 till 21:00). He was introduced as Senior lecturer in the department of political science at Haifa University. He quoted David Ben Gurion from his 1950’s diaries as wandering aloud how could it be that there were so many Arab villages left in the Galilee? I have already stated my feelings on releasing papers that are not in the national interest. An own goal delivered, gift wrapped, to people such as Pappe is something I will never understand.
He then stated that the dispossession of the Palestinians started in 1882. If we were to think about that statement – what he is really stating is that Jews do not have equal rights to immigration that other people do. Perhaps Pappe felt that Freedom of movement for Jews was OK as long as it remained within the Pale of settlement or maybe Madagascar? Of course he did not elaborate on any of these interesting facts he presented. “There is not a single Israeli (Zionist) who does not believe in the dispossession of the Palestinians,” and, “the project of turning the state into an exclusively Jewish State is the Zionist message, ” and “the reason is that historically, the Zionist project, a very noble project, was transformed once it reached Palestine.” All these statements were of course unsubstantiated but more important than this – cannot be substantiated. If I say that this is a calumny, a lie – I am a Zionist so I would of course say that, wouldn’t I? It is the classic piece of racist propaganda – you blame the victim who, by his very existence is guilty.
“The British allowed the Zionists to turn themselves into the perpetrators of a crime against humanity with their ethnic cleansing.” Pappe stated that the US State Department defines ethnic cleansing as “any situation where a civilian population is made to feel so uncomfortable or insecure in their existence as to feel it necessary to flee.” This is not an exact quote but is the essence of the quote. One should point out that this must be applied to both peoples. That furthermore, Jews throughout the Moslem world, but most particularly, within the Arab world, were made to feel precisely this constant low level threat throughout 1,300 years of Islamic triumphalist demagogic colonialist expansionism. We could have a field day with that one.
And then the coup de grace… “February 1947 till the leaving on 15th May 1948 created the policy of dispossession”. 50% of the Arabs had been dispossessed by the Zionists before 1948 and the Red Cross did nothing. He reiterated that a policy of dispossession according tot the State Department is ethnic cleansing. You simply have to create a climate of fear. The Israeli Zionist Leadership systematically dispossessed the Arabs of Palestine before 1948. The Arabs of the countries adjacent to Israel demanded action and this was the reason for the invasion. The armies of the Arabs were reacting to ethnic cleansing.
So…. First we make the IRC complicit in ethnic cleansing, thus absolving them of crimes against the Jewish people in WW2. Vicariously, we make the UN responsible for the creation of the Palestinian problem. No explanation is given for this magical 50% figure or the implied conspiracy that is always, in the background like some dark evil presence. But what a stroke of genius. The noble Arab Street, impassioned by the cry of injustice and outraged by the perfidious Jew and his assault on the simple Palestinian folk demanded action and of course, the Arab nations had no choice but to come to their brothers and sisters assistance. If I may be excused for embellishing this last point, one may well imagine that Pappe got this straight out of Tolstoy’s heroic peasant fantasy, or Fascisms idolisation of the Volk hero..
This is the classic Communist, Nazi tactic of the Big Lie. 1948 becomes Professor Ilan Pappe's raison d’etre – rewriting the history of the conflict by excluding anything that is inconvenient to his world view. He concludes by stating that “We must right the wrongs of the past not for crimes of the past but to prevent the crimes of the future!”
After him it is all a bit of a rallying of the troops.
Canon Stephen Sizer says that 98% of all pilgrims are not meeting Palestinians. He quotes one “Moshe Nissim,” awarded a citation at Jenin for “commemorable service” in destroying loads of houses and (of course) schools as saying that he never asked anyone to get out – he just went in, gung ho, and destroyed lots of Palestinian properties. The Canon describes the vehicle by which our Moshe does this, as one of these tractors provided by Caterpillar, to Israel. 53 tons in weight, tall as a double deck bus with 8 foot high scoops to flatten buildings and added machine gun turrets and grenade launchers. We can of course speculate on just how effective a piece of propaganda this really is. The 26 Israeli soldiers killed against 56 mostly Palestinian fighters are irrelevant to the nightmare vision created.
“They are the principal weapon (the bulldozers).” And “We can start a revolution.”
Finally, we come to Reverend Garth Hewitt, Canon of St Georges Cathedral Jerusalem and founder of the Amos Trust. (As Canon of St. Georges Church in Jerusalem he is also automatically? Canon of another church in Damascus unless I have that one wrong. It may be that the Bishop is the bishop of Damascus)? The reverend talks of “Truth and Honesty.” He beseeches us all to do the following:
Support the Resistance.
Solidarity with the Palestinians
Support the Genuine peace Movement in Israel (i.e. the anti-Zionist one)
Support the Boycott
Conclusion: One sided (surprise!). Flawed history. A celebration of the Arab. Appeal to the reasonable Jew to fight the unreasonable Jew. Boycott, sanction and disinvestment as a weapon of persuasion rather than a weapon of war. Appeal to Jews as a the light unto the nations (racial stereotyping); the construction of a racial identity for the Palestinians, 6 million Palestinians as opposed to 5.7million Israelis separates Israeli Arabs from the rest of Israelis (the best reason ever to have a Jewish missionary society and go after the Arabs of Israel – this would totally derail the propaganda war). A rather seductive but disingenuous theory that as only 1/3 of Jews live in Israel there is no reason to believe that all Palestinians would want to like-wise “return to Israel” so the demand for a right of Palestinian “return” to Israel does not sound at all unreasonable!
All speakers emphasise Hamas as democratically elected and therefore the Western World has no right to argue against the democratic choice of the Palestinian people. I guess that if someone were to argue that all Moslems are evil and all Moslems should be…. (I cannot even bring myself to put to paper, in imitation, the evil spoken by Islamist religious bigots of Jews and our ultimate fate), and if, in our theoretical scenario, a democratic election brought another Hitler to power, but this time, a Moslem hating one, anywhere on planet earth………… then that would be perfectly fine because that person was democratically elected. Interesting that there was not a single person who failed to endorse the democratic victory of Hamas. Intellectual failure or just one more notch for our conspiracy theory?