Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It's Zionists, not Jews

Rude words do not hurt the rulers of Israel, Tariq Ali, one of Britain’s foremost thinkers and public intellectuals, famously remarked many years back. Nothing much has changed in the summer of 2014. No matter how sharp the amount of critique and damnation, the Zionist gangsters would still go about doing what they are best at: Propaganda, provocation and the slaughter of innocent Palestinians. Only the other day Israel’s PM was quoted by the press as saying that full Palestinian sovereignty was impossible, meaning Israel intends to continue its grotesque occupation. Yes they will quickly accept an Egypt-brokered ceasefire (and use it as a PR exercise against Hamas), but they will retain the right to go deranged again.

The magnitude of shock at what Israel is doing to the Palestinians is huge. People are outraged at what is going on in Gaza in broad day light with the indirect – and some would say direct – complicity of the US, bastion of the free world. Many are aghast at the quiescence of the Muslim world, perhaps expecting dramatic statements from Islamic countries. There is anger and disgust. Admittedly it looks bleak. Like a monster out there, Israel is trampling lives, caring nothing about ethics and international conventions. And no one seems to be in a position to help. Even as an occupying power, Israel, by global statutes and law, is supposed to protect the life and property of the areas it occupies. Instead it has put on display brute force to pummel Gaza, a 360 sq km area, surrounded from all sides by the occupation. Whatever Israel is aiming to achieve in the open-prison is truly abominable.

It is therefore natural for people with conscience to feel flustered at what’s going on. Not surprisingly a beautiful sense of solidarity has developed -- from Paris to Perth -- where random people are stepping out to express support for Gaza. Peaceful vigils are being held across world capitals. Angry poetry has appeared and impassioned songs are being sung. Social media – the powerful aphrodisiac of our times – is ablaze. There are heated agreements and disagreements and brilliant commentary taking place. Efforts at raising the awareness about Palestine is peaking. But in this spirited atmosphere there is also indiscretion. And it is sad.

Many aberrations have come on the scene. Because social media has the power to amplify things in real quick time, a lot of folk have come up with messages glorifying neo-Nazi themes and Adolf Hitler-style nutty stuff. This, many in the puerile crowds feel, is justified. But that is a problem area. Lionizing anti-Semitic figures and imagery is both stupid and insensitive. Hitler, history would inform you, was the culmination of a thought so virulent and horrible that millions of innocents had to pay for their lives for just being themselves. Likewise Holocaust was an ugly blot on mankind, the accounts of which should be a lesson for everyone.

Please resist linking Zionism (the terrible ideology practiced by the state of Israel) with Judaism. What Israel is doing in Palestine is a direct outcome of its occupational policies because of Zionism, a despicable colonialist and racist idea that denies rights to Palestinians and advocates their dispossession and expulsion. It is from the pot of Zionist hubble-bubble, filled with the blood of innocents, that Israel draws its strength from. We must criticise and denounce this fascist thought. And yes, anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.

There would be Jews (as there are people of other faiths and people with no faith) who support Israel’s Zionist policies but to generalize it and make this an Islam versus Judaism conflagration is both incorrect and irrational. It speaks a lot about our lack of knowledge and understanding of issues. How rational do you think it is to link all Muslims with terrorism, even if a fraction may support extreme rightwing baloney? Those who blame the entire Jewry for the crimes committed by the state of Israel are falling into the same trap.

Let’s not forget that some of the biggest proponents of Palestinian rights in the whole wide world are people of Jewish origin. The likes of Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Amira Hass, Ilan Pappé, Uri Avnery, Howard Zinn, Albert Einstein and a whole host of intellectuals and opinion makers have denounced Zionism for what it is: A violent, racist, rabid and discriminatory dogma.

A world of people – Jews and gentiles alike – decries this dangerous phenomenon. Let’s not provide ammunition to the Zionist state of Israel by likening it to Judaism. By eulogizing Nazism (an agenda not too dissimilar to Zionism) you are doing a huge disservice to the memory of millions who perished due to this ideology. You are doing disservice to the gallant people of Palestine at the same time.

The quest for justice is never expressed in the language of hate. Else it ceases to be legitimate. There must be a difference in the way our solidarity -- that incredible attitude of resistance -- is framed and the way Israel conducts itself.

The arc of the moral universe is long, Martin Luther King Jr once said. But it bends towards justice.

Sameer