Sem 2 Wk 12
These are the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in front of a nuclear weapons factory.
Netanyahu has been a tireless invoker of the European Holocaust as a political weapon against those who oppose the illegal acts of Israel for his decade-long tenure. Meanwhile, he has embraced openly anti-Semitic governments as long as they accept Israel’s war crimes. Calling Israel racist is apparently anti-Semitic, yet he will happily absolve Poland of its Nazi crimes.
Perhaps for the “only Middle Eastern democracy”, genocide is both an excuse for its policies and an economic opportunity. Israel knowingly supplied weapons to Myanmar during the Rohingya genocide, while helpfully ensuring that Burmese children will be learn about the Holocaust. It also profiteered from the Bosnian genocide during which 250,000 were murdered, and 60,000 women were raped.
After the European Holocaust, large-scale Jewish migration to Palestine, overwhelmingly from Europe, led to the proclamation of the State of Israel in 1948. Subsequent ethnic cleansing, rape, massacre, and mass-mutilation resulted in the flight of 750,000 Palestinians. The first Israeli government then barred their return by appropriating their land for newly-arrived Jews. 500 villages were destroyed and 84% of Palestinians became refugees. Today, they and their descendants number around 5 million.
Australians should be well-positioned to understand this conflict. The use of legal manoeuvres to cover-up atrocities and declare the land terra nullius, or in Zionist phrasing “a land without a people for a people without a land” is well-documented. Cities like Tel Aviv did not rise from wastelands – they were built on destroyed Palestinian villages.
Importantly, nothing in Zionism or Jewish Orthodoxy necessitates a right to remove Palestinians. The Holocaust, among the most vile events in history, also does not give rise to any such right. No crime against humanity justifies other crimes against humanity.
Instead of reckoning with its history, Israel has constitutionalised a ‘nation-state law’, expressly providing that “the right to exercise national self-determination is unique to the Jewish people” and “Jewish settlement [is] a national value… [and that the state] will labour to encourage and promote its establishment and development”.
In September, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal to halt the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar, a village in the occupied West Bank, despite the UN saying it would constitute a war crime. The village is one of 18 at risk of demolition because they are on land designated for Israeli settlements. The settlements, the physical manifestation of Israel’s continuing colonisation, are illegal at international law.
Further, despite apartheid being a recognised crime against humanity, this law merely formalises the de facto apartheid of Palestinians within Israel. The situation is worse in the Occupied Territories. Palestinians in Jerusalem experience ethnic discrimination in accessing basic services like healthcare, employment, and residency and building rights.
The West Bank and Gaza, occupied for 50 years, are under martial law while Jewish settlements nearby enjoy civil law protections. Palestinians in these areas experience arbitrary detention (including of children), torture, collective punishment, and even murder by the Israeli Defence Force and Jewish settlers without accountability.
Israel enforces abhorrent living conditions in these territories. Civilians entering the “no-go” zone and fishermen going beyond six nautical miles are shot. They have limited access to water, electricity and schools while next-door, these services are readily available to Jewish settlers. The destruction of thousands of homes has displaced Palestinians to make way for settlements.
But never fear, Trump has a peace plan! This has included relocating the American embassy to Jerusalem to support Israel’s de facto annexation of the city, slashing the entire American budget of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency, which educates 500,000 children and gives healthcare to 9 million Palestinians. He also wants to “de-register” 90% of Palestinian refugees, thereby destroying their right to return.
On the 70th anniversary of their ethnic cleansing, Palestinians held the Great March of Return. Israel responded by unlawfully massacring 204 protestors. and injuring 17,259 – including by exploding bullets which are banned under the 1899 Hague Convention. Children protesting for their most basic human rights have been killed lost limbs.
Thanks to the efforts of First Nations Peoples, small parts of Australia have begun to grapple, albeit torpidly, with the genocidal horror of our history. Of course, this only being countenanced after Indigenous Australians were exterminated by Europeans and left as a tiny minority in their own lands. Perhaps it’s easy to recognise history when you think all you will have to do is say sorry.
Australian racism has changed. While Australian policies lead to mass-incarceration, and state-sanctioned murder, no major party or politician openly calls for Indigenous Australians to be removed, killed, or rejects their indigneity. The Israeli government does. Israel and its supporters must recognise the full scale of its atrocities and reject ethno-nationalism. Food for thought while enjoying your Very Good Falafel.