Just when B’Tselem declares Israel to be an Apartheid State up springs another liberal Zionist group
Na’amod decides that anti-Zionism, i.e. challenging Jewish supremacy is a step too far
Last Sunday I attended a webinar held by the latest kid on the block Na’amod, which styles itself as ‘British Jews against occupation’. Na’amod is not the first such group to confine itself to Israel’s ‘occupation’ i.e. Israel’s rule over the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
What declaring oneself against ‘the occupation’ means is making a distinction between the West Bank/ East Jerusalem and the rest of Israel. As B’Tselem’s statement made clear there is but one regime over the whole territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.
There are different rules and systems of administration for Palestinians, depending on where they live, but everywhere Jews have superior rights. Palestinians in pre-1967 Israel have an inferior version of Israeli citizenship but it is superior to the military regime governing Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. That is why Israel has repeatedly tried to transfer Israeli Palestinians into the West Bank something that they fear is part of the Trump Plan.
Every part of Greater Israel is under one regime whose guiding principle is Jewish supremacy. Another word for Jewish supremacy is Zionism.
I say this because there were some in the audience last Sunday who were clearly Zionists. One of them proclaimed in the chat that ‘this is biased’ to which I took objection. I explained the workings of the West Bank Mediterranean to the Jordan River Gaza Trump Plan Greater Israel 1950 Absentee Property Law, introduced by the Israeli Labor Party government, which enabled Palestinians to be dispossessed by treating them as the Orwellian ‘Present Absentees’. In other words even if they were present in the Israeli state and had not been expelled they were to be treated as absent even if they had only fled a mile or so from their village because of the fighting.
I explained that this law, which is being used to dispossess Palestinians in East Jerusalem has never been used against Jews. In other words it is a nakedly racist law. It would appear that this was too much for Naomi and her well meaning liberal Zionist friends.
Although no Zionist was removed after a short time. I found myself ‘bumped’. Thinking that maybe it was my computer I rejoined only to be thrown out again. The third time there was a notice that ‘the host has removed you’. Although Zionists of any stripe were welcome at the meeting, anti-Zionists who made their views known were not welcome.
To add insult to injury, ‘Naomi’ then wrote me a letter thanking me for my attendance at the webinar! It is clear from the letter, which mentions Yachad and Peace Now by name that Na’mod represents an affirmation of Zionism, not a break with this Jewish supremacy, by seeking to put create an artificial distinction between Israel pre-1967 and Israel post-1967.
As B’Tselem makes clear, there is no Green Line between Israel and the West Bank, neither physically nor on Israeli maps. It only exists in the minds of Zionists in the West who use the fiction of ‘two states’ in order to justify the present Occupation. If Na’amod are genuinely sincere about opposing the Occupation then they also need to abandon support for 2 states and Zionism.
2 states is supported by groups such as the Israeli Embassy front Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement, both of which refuse to condemn any aspect of military rule in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 2 states exists solely in the minds of those who wish to perpetuate military rule over 5 million Palestinians.
As Palestinians reject the 2 states paradigm liberal Zionists cling to it ever more firmly. 2 States provides a smokescreen for continued military rule over the West Bank and the expansion of settlements.
It is of course welcome that a new group has sprung up amongst British Jews but it is not unique. Jews for Justice for Palestinians are the original 2 state group and they have made little impression as their politics have become rapidly outdated and irrelevant. JfJP have long sought, for reasons I’ve never understood, affiliation to the Board of Deputies.
Yachad actually did manage to achieve affiliation to the Board as it is an explicitly Zionist group unlike JfJP. Na’mod will have to decide where it stands on the Jewish supremacist nature of Israel, i.e. its Zionist nature. The omens don’t seem good.
Letter to Na’omod
You don’t need to thank me for joining you at Sunday’s webinar on Settlement Activity and Dispossession in East Jerusalem, just as I don’t need to thank you for the fact that I was ‘bumped’ from the webinar for asking difficult questions and making certain observations about the causes of the repression that your speakers were explaining to us.
What the two speakers, Mohammed El-Kurd and Sami Ershied, were saying was very moving as was their description of their experiences which is why it is a pity that you moved to prevent any discussion of the causes of the demolitions, evictions and settler terrorism that they spoke about.
However without seeking to tackle the causes of their plight you will certainly not remedy the effects. I realise that you are too young to remember Apartheid in South Africa but it is as if you were to have condemned the brutal policies of the South Africa government in Soweto without calling into question Apartheid itself.
I should add that nothing in the history of South Africa Apartheid compares to the use by Israel of planes and missiles in bombing refugee camps and ordinary peoples’ housing in Gaza, Jenin and elsewhere. Nor is there any counterpart to the thousands of Palestinian homes which have been demolished.
However horrific South Africa Apartheid was it does not compare to the bloodshed and brutality of Zionism in Israel.
The dispossession and terror that the speakers experienced at the hands of the settlers and the Israeli state did not come out of nowhere. They are not an accident of god. They are the result of the Zionist Project which, from its very inception, sought to remove the Palestinians from first the land and then the country.
Zionism, unlike settler colonial movements in Southern Africa, dressed this up in the language of ‘mutual recognition’, ‘self determination’ and other euphemisms. Zionism was a Janus faced movement which spoke with two tongues. Out of one face it preached mutual respect, brotherhood of man and tolerance. Out of the other face it breathed transfer, expulsion, massacre and dispossession.
This tactic of Zionism, which deliberately said one thing and did another, was best summed up in the 1930 Hope-Simpson Report which the British Government commissioned as a result of the 1929 riots in Palestine.
The effect of the Zionist colonisation policy on the Arab.— Actually the result of the purchase of land in Palestine by the Jewish National Fund has been that land has been extraterritorialised. It ceases to be land from which the Arab can gain any advantage either now or at any time in the future. Not only can he never hope to lease or to cultivate it, but, by the stringent provisions of the lease of the Jewish National Fund, he is deprived for ever from employment on that land. Nor can anyone help him by purchasing the land and restoring it to common use. The land is in mortmain and inalienable. It is for this reason that Arabs discount the professions of friendship and good will on the part of the Zionists in view of the policy which the Zionist Organisation deliberately adopted.
I understand that Na’amod is connected to If Not Now as opposed to Jewish Voice for Peace which is an explicitly anti-Zionist group. From what I understand Na’amod harbours illusions that it can persuade synagogues to break away from the Board of Deputies.
The Board represents the most reactionary section of British Jewry. British Jews themselves have moved significantly to the right from the days, 80 years ago, when Jews formed the backbone of the left. Ever since the 1960’s, with the temporary exception of the Blair years, British Jewry has voted overwhelmingly for the Conservatives in the past half a century.
We saw the results of this with the fake anti-Semitism attacks on Labour’s most left-wing leader ever, Jeremy Corbyn.
The question is whether you are going to following the path of Yachad and try to reconcile Zionism with Justice and Peace or whether you are going to follow B’Tselem which has concluded that the Israeli state is an Apartheid State.
It is a stark and binary choice but any other decision and you will be fooling yourself and others. Zionism has always been a Jewish Supremacist movement and Labour Zionism, its ‘left-wing’ has been the most racist of all.
The choice is yours.
Letter from Na’mod
Thank you for joining us at Sunday’s webinar on Settlement Activity and Dispossession in East Jerusalem, co-hosted with Free Jerusalem.
Free Jerusalem have contributed to this document, which provides more detailed information about the dispossession of Palestinians and settlement activity ongoing in East Jerusalem.
If you were unable to attend the event live, would like to watch it back or wish to send it on, you can find the recording here.
We were extremely grateful for the chance to hear from Mohammed El-Kurd and Sami Ershied, J.D, and for the excellent questions asked by many of the attendees. One of the questions which came up several times was, ‘How can I help?’
If you are in the UK, please write to your MP and ask them to raise this issue with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and to attend the APPG Palestine parliamentary briefing on this issue. This is being held on Wednesday 3rd February 2-3pm, with Mohammed joined by Hagit Ofran from Peace Now’s Settlement Watch. Yachad have prepared a template which you can use for this.
We have seen that international pressure can and does work: in 2011, an international campaign forced the Jewish National Fund (KKL) to delay the eviction of the Sumarin family from their home in Silwan. Under the latest evictions orders, the family are once again facing displacement from their own home and their community at the hands of the JNF.
If you are Jewish, please consider joining our movement. We are British Jews making our voices heard: the occupation must be opposed by our community with Actions not Words.
We are a grassroots movement and depend on donations from our supporters to cover our costs and continue our work. If you can support us with a donation we would be incredibly grateful.
Please look out for our next webinar, which will be held next month!