In a few weeks, on June 5, 2007, Israel will have occupied native Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Gaza for a full 40 years. That marks some three generations during which an entire indigenous people have been subjected, on their own soil, to a racist and brutal occupation which has brought them continual death, destruction and misery.
In the meantime, Zionism, as a political ideology, has succeeded only in building an apartheid state for Jews; an elaborate ghetto kept separate from its Palestinian neighbors by concentrated military power, an aesthetically monstrous "security wall," economic dependency on Western support, compulsory military conscription and training (including how to kill with weapons), and a hate-based education system for Jewish children that teaches them to despise anyone and anything Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim, in that order.
Using U.S.-made weaponry, Israel has consistently acted with no regard for the lives of civilian residents, not only those of Palestine but now also those of Lebanon, resulting in high numbers of civilian casualties, or "collateral damage" as authorities prefer to call it.
Palestinian children, who have never known the freedoms of normal society, are subjected to daily terror by Israeli forces as well as the continual deprivation of vital services and opportunities by the Israeli government. Their right to adequate nourishment and medical care, for example, has been compromised in recent years because Israel has been withholding millions of dollars in transfer taxes from the Palestinian government — taxes that were collected from their immediate and extended families throughout the Occupied Territories.
At Israeli checkpoints, Palestinian school children spend hours every day, searched, humiliated and mistreated as they attempt to attend school and return home again. And while waiting for their ever-diminishing time in class, they are able to watch from afar as the children of Jewish settlers enjoy their well-equipped playgrounds, swimming pools, and up-to-date schools boasting every modern convenience.
What kind of a life is this? It gives those privileged to be Jewish the right to live by choice in an artificially luxurious military ghetto, while their near neighbors are deprived of security, freedom, the basics of life, dignity, and hope.
Palestinian children do not need to be taught how to fear and hate the Israeli Jews; the reasons for doing so surround them every day of their uncertain lives.
Is Israel still a dream-come-true for Jews?
Perhaps it is for those who choose not to think about where they are, and who choose not to "see" the struggling Palestinians in their midst.
But I wonder how.
While doing compulsory military service, every Israeli Jew is indoctrinated to hate "the enemy" – the enemy being native Palestinians whose lands were stolen, whose fields were rendered useless by the "security wall," whose homes were bulldozed, and whose hopes and dignity have been callously destroyed.
For four decades, Israeli treatment of native Palestinians as sub-humans has been at the core of ongoing conflict. The continual expansion of Jewish settlements into Palestinian West Bank lands is both illegal and immoral, to say nothing of being devastating to the area’s fragile ecology. But Israel and its powerful international Zionist supporters obviously do not care. They are focused solely on ensuring that any Jew, anywhere in the world, has the right to settle in Palestine; and they are more than willing to use violence to that end, creating in the process the only military Jewish ghetto in history.
As we approach the sombre anniversary of Israel’s 40-year occupation of Palestinian native lands, this is too urgent a time to feel hopeless and helpless. The brutality of the Israeli occupation must be further exposed; the inhumane treatment of Palestinians must be internationally and categorically rejected. Peace-loving peoples of the world must step forward and build bridges of understanding and solidarity with moderate Jews everywhere against the vicious and genocidal agenda of Zionist extremism. Politicians, the general public, and children (our future leaders!) everywhere in the world must be educated that it is evil to treat your neighbor unjustly.
The struggle for peace through justice is long and hard, but it begins with the will to be informed. To this end, I am listing some useful links. As you explore them, bear in mind the words of the ancient psalmist who taught, "Never yield to evil, but do good. Seek peace and pursue it." (Psalm 34)
(If any of the following links do not appear "live" on screen, simply copy
and paste the applicable URL into your browser’s address field.)
Jews Against Zionism:
Jews Not Zionists:
Not In My Name:
Rabbis for Human Rights:
Jews for Justice for Palestinians:
Jews for Global Justice: