Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

The deep-lying racism fuelling the Israeli onslaught

Smoke rises after an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Smoke rises after an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Peace will come to the Middle East when the Arabs learn to love their children more than they hate us. We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children."

That was former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1996. We hear the same stuff now from apologists for the bombardment of Gaza.

If it were London rather than Tel Aviv that rockets were falling on, Israeli spokespersons regularly ask, wouldn't British people want their Government to punish and deter the perpetrators?

Blame for the deaths of children would fall squarely on the shoulders of the terrorist groups which base themselves in heavily populated civilian areas.

The Israeli advice to the British during the Provisional IRA's bombing of London would presumably have been to send bombers to blitz Ballymurphy. Any deaths of local children would be down to the Provos.

By now, almost certainly, there are bloggers, or Twitter-louts, somewhere with fingers poised at keyboards to expose me on account of the foregoing paragraphs as "a racist, anti-Semitic swine". Jonathan Kellerman took the trouble to announce just this from southern California. Kellerman is a very successful author. I am told that I ought to have heard of him.

Much mainstream coverage of the latest Gaza bloodletting accepts the Israelis' narrative of recent events – that Hamas started it by, unprovoked, sending rockets into Israel. Even in the short-term, this isn't true. In the long-term, it reflects an entirely false perspective. The business goes a lot further back.

Referring to the creation of Israel in 1948, Meir declared: "It was not as if there was a Palestinian people in Palestine and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist." Or: "How can we return the occupied territories? There's nobody to return them to."

This is the ultimate in dehumanising people whose identity you have to deny in order to justify your actions towards them. It is a modern adaptation of the doctrine of terra nullius – empty land – which English colonists invoked to rob Australia from those who had lived there for 50,000 years. Meir and Captain Cook are sister and brother under the skin.

Her views are not unrepresentative: deputy Prime Minister Yitzhak Katzir – "We will keep them on their knees. We will follow them all over the world and kill them"; defence minister and chief of staff minister Moshe Dayan – "Jackals"; Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir – "Grasshoppers"; Prime Minister Menahem Begin – "Two-legged vermin"; defence forces chief of staff Rafael Eitan – "We need to keep Palestinians like drugged roaches in a bottle."

None of these statements, or the leaders who made them, has ever been disowned by Official Israel.

Is there racist hatred among occupied Palestinians as well as among the Israeli occupiers? Of course. But the sides are not balanced militarily, or morally, or in the number of deaths they have a capacity to inflict.

Most importantly, there is only one side hailed as an ally and armed to the teeth by governments purporting to speak in our name.

Addressing the Conservative Friends of Israel in 2009, David Cameron praised Israel because it "strives to protect innocent life". He made no reference to the 1,370 Palestinians killed by Israel earlier that year.

Last month, addressing Labour Friends of Israel, Ed Miliband spoke about meeting the parents of Daniel Viflic, a 16-year-old killed in a rocket attack in 2011: "Nothing can change the grief and loss they face." But, again, no mention of the 19 Palestinian children killed in the weeks prior to the death of young Viflic, much less of the 1,300 Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces since 2000.

It was as if, to Cameron and Miliband, Palestinians didn't exist. These are the alternative leaders of the jurisdiction in which we live.

Last weekend Jewish Voice for Peace declared: "We reaffirm that all Israelis and Palestinians deserve security, justice, and equality, and we mourn all those who have died.

"Our unshakeable commitment to freedom and justice for all compels us to acknowledge that this violence has fallen overwhelmingly on Palestinians. And it compels us to affirm that this violence has a root cause: Israel's illegal occupation.

"We are united in our belief that the denial of Palestinian human rights must end, illegal settlements must end, bombing civilians must end, killing children must end, valuing Jewish lives at the expense of others must end.

"Only by embracing equality for all peoples can this terrible bloodshed end."

Jewish Voice for Peace will, of course, be rubbished by the likes of Kellerman as "self-hating Jews".

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