- Israel is gearing up to celebrate the 60th anniversary
of its birth; six decades of destruction for the Palestinians
- With spectacular fanfare and a plethora of highlighted
events, Israel is planning to celebrate its 60th birthday on 18 May 2008.
- According to an Israeli government website called Israelfestival.com,
the festival will include "non-stop entertainment, [a] fashion show,
a variety of ethnic food for sale, Israeli folk dancing, arts and crafts,
Israeli and Jewish cultural and heritage pavilions and art exhibits".
- The centrepiece ceremony is expected to take place in
West Jerusalem and be attended by Israel's political and military leaders
as well as foreign dignitaries. Among those expected are US President George
W Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
- Israeli media and non-governmental organisations have
already begun celebrations in earnest. For example, Israeli television
has begun airing a new series called Shishim (meaning "60"),
which looks back at the six decades since Israel was created in May 1948.
The series, which began 31 March, is divided into six episodes, each devoted
to one of the decades following the founding of the state.
- Israel hopes that the high-pitched celebrations will
serve as an opportunity to promote Israel and enhance its questionable
standing abroad. "It is an opportunity to celebrate our achievements,
our successes, our national being," boasted Israeli Foreign Minister
Tzipi Livni, who was not yet born in 1948.
- From the Zionist viewpoint, Israel is a story of success.
Today, Israel is a political and military force to be reckoned with, even
if its power is based on the patronage of foreign entities. A country of
no more than seven million people, including nearly 1.5 million non-Jews
(mainly Palestinians), Israel more or less directs the politics and policies
of world's only superpower, the United States, thanks mainly to powerful
Jewish lobbies in Washington.
- The power of the Jewish lobby largely explains how massive
American financial and military support is to Israel, which is measured
in hundreds of billions of dollars. Were it not for this nearly unlimited
financial, economic, technological, political and military backing, Israel
would never have been able to survive, especially given its predator tactics.
- Israel, which has been mounting a vitriolic incitement
campaign against Iran for its acquisition of nuclear technology, is a nuclear
power on par with other established nuclear powers, and its military supremacy
-- at least until summer of 2006 -- has covered the vast bulk of the Middle
East from Turkey to Iran and from North Africa to east and central Africa.
- Economically, Israel is also a regional economic superpower,
with a GNP bordering on $0.5 trillion. In fact, Israel is among a few pioneering
states in the field of electronics and the development of new generations
of medicine, with Israeli pharmaceutical firms' share of the world market
reaching billions of dollars.
- Notwithstanding all its success and achievements, Israel
remains a state based on racism, apartheid and criminality against the
Palestinian people whose homeland it seized and whom it is trying to obliterate
to this day. To be sure, Israel has failed. Palestinians remain, both as
a human entity and as a national entity.
- Israel, in order to achieve its goals, always sought
to acquire, by hook or by crook, as much Palestinian land as possible while
taking in as few Palestinian people as possible. The policies and tactics
employed by Israel to achieve this goal are both blunt and insidious and
amount to ethnic cleansing and the international crime of genocide. Israel
has institutionalised racism, bulldozed hundreds of Palestinian towns and
villages, shamelessly confiscated Palestinian land and property, including
private homes, and recently built the so-called "Separation Wall"
in the West Bank, aimed first and foremost at annexing to Israel as much
Palestinian land as possible.
- On top of all of this, Israel has perfected the practice
of state-sponsored mass terror; a deliberate policy aimed at making Palestinian
life as unbearable as possible with the ultimate goal of forcing Palestinians
to leave their homes and land altogether. This is done in broad daylight;
in full view of key world powers, such as the US, EU, Russia and China,
which either keep silent or issue a few terse and innocuous words about
the need to stick to a peace process that has form but very little substance.
- Today, as Israel is getting ready to celebrate its 60th
birthday, the massive theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank, especially
in East Jerusalem and its surroundings, continues unabated. Against all
odds, the Palestinian people have survived. Indeed, Palestinian resilience
to Israeli oppression is legendary -- a trait that continues to baffle
and frustrate Israeli strategists. Perhaps it is this resilience that is
encouraging influential Israeli political, military and religious leaders
to openly call for genocide of the Palestinians.
- Recently, Israel's Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai
threatened to "inflict a greater holocaust" on Palestinians.
Similarly, a growing number of rabbis associated with the two largest religious
camps in Israel, the Haredi ultra-Orthodox religious sector and the national
Zionist religious sector, issuing one edict after the other, permitting
soldiers to murder at will Palestinian civilians, including children, on
the grounds that in war all among the enemy population ought to be treated
as combatants, including children.
- One might imagine that this is exaggerated, but it is
not. Recently Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Tsomet Institute, a
religious seminary attended by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, declared:
"All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and
even their beasts." And the chief rabbi of the City of Safad, Shmuel
Eliyahu, urged the state and the army recently to hang the children of
a Palestinian fighter who last month attacked the Merkaz Haarav Centre,
run for Jewish settlers in West Jerusalem, killing eight pre-military Talmudic
students in retaliation for the killing by the Israeli army of more than
130 Palestinians, most of them innocent civilians, in the Gaza Strip.
- The mushrooming of fascist impulses is not confined to
the religious sector. In March, the Israeli media quoted Knesset members
and former cabinet ministers as threatening to extend discriminatory laws
against non-Jews in ways reminiscent of Nuremberg Laws passed in Nazi Germany.
One Israeli Knesset member reportedly told his Arab colleague: "the
day will come when we will kick you out of this house."
- Such instances raise no eyebrows in a country where some
rabbis, like David Batsri, openly teach that non-Jews are animals and donkeys.
A recent opinion survey published this week showed that as many as 75 per
cent of Israeli Jews support ethnic cleansing of Arabs from mandate Palestine
-- Israel proper and the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank,
East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Understandably, the poll drew angry
reactions from the Israeli Arab community. Jamal Zahalqa, an Israeli Arab
Knesset member, suggested that Arabs are being treated in ways similar
to the way Jews were treated in the Third Reich ahead of World War II.
- "The hateful smell of racism and fascism is wafting
everywhere in this country. You must know that we didn't come to Israel
from abroad... On the contrary; it was Israel that invaded us. We are the
indigenous people of the land, and we receive our legitimacy from our belonging
to this land, not from having Israeli citizenship," he said.
- Zahalqa described the poll as "additional evidence
underscoring the growing rampancy of racism and fascism in Israel as a
result of the ongoing waves of hate against everything and anything Arab."
- The fears of Zahalqa and other Israeli Arabs are real.
Recently, hundreds of Arab residents from Jaffa, Lod and Ramleh took to
the streets to protest against the planned eviction by the state of thousands
of Arab residents from Jaffa. Authorities had issued warrants for the evacuation
and destruction of hundreds of homes, claiming infringements on building
regulations. The state also claimed that, "the families [had] lost
the right to continue living in their homes, since these homes belonged
to their parents ... "
- "We are here and we won't leave. We will either
live on this land or die on this land. We will not let you touch our lands
or our holy places," said Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Arab movement
in Israel. "All your rulings belong in the trashcan. We are not afraid
of you. We will continue to live in our homeland," he added.
- Last year, Richard Falk, a renowned American Jewish professor
of international law and practice, wrote an article entitled "Slouching
toward a Palestinian holocaust," in which he warned that Israel was
moving towards the perpetration of a holocaust against the Palestinians.
"Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of
Palestinians with this criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity?
I think not," said Falk.
- Justifying the Israel-equals-Nazi analogy, Falk argued
that developments in Gaza (the blockade against its estimated 1.5 million
inhabitants), were especially disturbing because they expressed vividly
a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its backers to subject
an entire human community to life- endangering conditions of maximal cruelty.
"The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making
represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and
to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current
genocidal tendencies from culminating into a collective tragedy,"
- In sum, from the standpoint of fascism, Israel has much
to celebrate in terms of political and military achievements. But in terms
of justice, morality and humanity, one struggles to name a country on earth
that so openly practices oppression and racism. As such Israel, on its
60th birthday, remains what it was when born six decades ago: a state built
on blood, murder, theft and lies.
- Is Israel about to change its ways? Don't hold your breath,
Israeli leaders might say. Unless, that is, you're Palestinian.
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