With Impunity

If the answer to Mr. Zimmo’s question is to be found in Mr. Deaton’s statement, the next question becomes why? Why does Israel seem to feel, and indeed act, as if it is above the law? I shall offer three answers: Western collective guilt over WWII atrocities; Israel’s hiding behind the name of Judaism; lack of challenge within the Jewish communities to Israel’s wrong doings.

Before going any further, I would like to quote Israel’s Minister of Justice, Yossif Lapid, in the aftermath of the Rafah massacre in which more than 40 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded last week. He said: "At the end of the day, they’ll kick us out of the United Nations, try those responsible in the international court in The Hague, and no one will want to speak with us."

Rafah is not the first of such atrocities. There was the massacre at Jenin refugee camp in 2002, the massacre of Lebanese refugees at the UN compound in Qana, Lebanon, in 1996, the massacres at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Beirut in 1982, air raids that led to massive civilian casualties in several refugee camps in Lebanon throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties. In fact, if one were to look closely at the record, one would see that Israel specialises in massacring those that it turns into refugees. Israel has never been sanctioned, really sanctioned, for any such crimes, so why not repeat them.

Back to my suggested three answers. I dare say that part of the special treatment Israel gets derives from the collective guilt that the Western world feels for abandoning Jews during WWII. While the West should feel guilty over that matter, it should feel double the amount of guilt and shame for what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, which is not much different from what the Nazis did to the Jews. Minister Lapid knows that; he told Israel’s cabinet this past Sunday that “a picture of an old Palestinian woman on the rubble of her home reminded him ‘of my grandmother in the Holocaust.’" Of course, this drew the ire of his fellow cabinet ministers. Lapid later said “he was not comparing Israel to the Nazis,” but that "there is no forgiveness for people who treat an old woman in this way." Mr. Lapid is Minister of Justice in Israel. He has the power to bring those “for whom there is no forgiveness” to justice. Let’s see him do that.

The second reason is that Israel audaciously hides behind the name of Judaism and purports to speak on behalf of world Jewry. This cunningly circumvents accountability, and illustrates the need for the separation of religion and State. In the old days, when Church was running the affairs of states, it was easy to sweep all stately wrongdoings under the garment of the priest. Criticising the head of state meant criticising the heavenly representative of God on earth. People smartened up to this ploy and separated the two. Not Israel. When Israel portrays itself as the “State of the Jews” it is trying to hide its apartheid and state terrorism under the carpet of Judaism, to the extent that it is trying to push for legislation criminalising criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.

The third answer is that although many Jews are objecting to this blatant highjack of religion for stately affairs, not enough are doing so consistently.

Religion, in my view, is an interpretation of texts considered Holy. This is why we have so many sects under the umbrella of every religion including Judaism. Israel and the Zionist movement have succeeded in pushing one interpretation among many, and have given the concept of “The Chosen People” a racist connotation; hence Israel is a state that must have a Jewish majority at all times, and deemed the concept of “The Promised Land” as a legal deed belonging to the “Chosen People” at any cost. The fact that this interpretation runs contrary to fundamental teachings of great Jewish sages like Hillel’s “Do not unto others what you do not want others to do unto you,” has been ignored.

We say not enough Jewish voices are speaking out because such voices are needed. What Israel is doing in their name is reprehensible. Israel often labels its critics as anti-Semitic. This label is often chewed by the gullible –” and sometimes not so gullible –” media to the detriment of free speech and the exchange of ideas. Given that anti-Semitism is a criminal offence, as it or any other racially motivated offence should be, the label becomes much more serious. A Jewish person criticising Israel, as with the case of minister Lapid, or Mr. Deaton quoted above, could be described by the Zionist propaganda machine as “a self hating Jew,” or a “misguided Jew,” even “a traitor to Israel,” but not anti-Semitic.

Many courageous Jews have been vilified by the Zionist movement for speaking out. I shall pay tribute to some of them: The “Neturei Karta” movement, “Not in our Name” movement, Moshe Menuhin and his book, “The Decadence of Judaism in our times”; Alfred Lillienthal and his great books “Israel’s Flag is not my Flag,” and “The Zionist Connection.” Noam Chomsky, Norman Finklestein, Israel Shahak; reporters Amira Hass, Gideon Levy and Akival Eldar; the Peace Now movement, and so many, yet not enough, courageous voices who have had the guts to expose what Israel is not – a spokesman for world Jewry – and what it is: a state engaging in terrorism.

I close with a line from “Cries of the Land,” a play written by Samah Sabawi of Ottawa. Here is a Palestinian father whose land was confiscated to build a Jewish settlement addressing an Israeli General:

“You think when I look at you I see a Jew? I see my oppressor, my tormentor, the occupier of my land. I see your guns, your tanks, I hear your bombs, I feel your clubs, your bullets, I smell your tear gas, but I hardly take note of the Star of David