Monday, 9 March 2009

Zionism and Hamas: the real facts on the ground

It's all too typical for those proclaiming Palestinian human rights to be castigated as anti-Semitic or even "racist". But it often helps expose both the poverty of Zionist argument and the extent to which sympathetic authorities are willing to use such spurious claims.

In that vein, Joanna Blythman has written an excellent Sunday Herald piece in defence of four Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign members charged with "racially motivated conduct". The protesters had peacefully disrupted a performance of the Jerusalem Quartet, an avowedly Zionist ensemble funded by the Israeli government and closely linked to the Israeli military.

It's a little difficult to understand the rationale behind the Crown's decision to drop the original breach of the peace charges in pursuit of this latest indictment. As Blythman and others ask, in what way does criticising the actions of Israel constitute racist aggravation? As should be obvious even to nominal observers, it's the protesters who are challenging the racist attacks by Israel on the Palestinian people.

Members of the SPSC have welcomed the Crown's decision, noting that it provides a useful opportunity to highlight Israel's war crimes and racist apartheid system.

The Crown's choice of action is part of a wider attempt by state and media to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. The BBC's refusal to show the
Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal for Gaza was a precise illustration of this false and politically-motivated equation.

Last night I attended a fund-raising event for the DEC Appeal, organised by Glasgow Stop the War and various pro-Palestine groups. As Peter Murray, (National Union of Journalists, BBC Scotland) chairing the speakers, remarked, you "can't be impartial" when it comes to the open violation of human rights. Which, even for the BBC, should prompt core examination of why such suffering prevails in Palestine.

In this vein, keynote speaker Azzam Tamimi reminded us that, beyond all the discussions of one or two state solutions, it's finding a solution to the racist ideology of Zionism that remains the principal challenge. Part of his talk charted how the evils of the Nazi Holocaust had led Jews to flee what they believed to be their true homelands in Europe for a place they never really wanted to inhabit. Alas, it was the Palestinians who came to pay the price for those mass Nazi crimes.

Tamimi insists that he doesn't really care that much about one or two state 'options' - seeing this as a divisive diversion benefiting Israel. What he wants, primarily, like most other Palestinians across the diaspora and in the refugee camps, is the right to return to his family's home. At the very least, he wants acknowledgement of this basic issue of Palestinian suffering.

Indeed, he believes that much of the Palestine-backing left have failed to recognise and support this most basic principle of humanitarian justice, endorsing, even in good faith, the terms of debate around the Zionist-led two state narrative. Most urgently, he believes there has to be constructive dialogue between Arabs and Jews on this very problem of mutually-destructive Zionism.

In similar mode, Tamimi noted that while the 'international community' deliberated at Sharm el-Sheik on the 'emergency aid' package for Palestine - most of it earmarked for Fatah-funded projects rather than Gaza - Hamas and the actual people of Gaza were excluded from discussing their own situation.
Thus, Tamimi echoed the growing campaign to end the exclusion of Hamas from the political process - one is tempted to use the term "from the peace process", but, as with Tamimi's alertness to Zionist-filtered language, let's avoid another Israeli/Western fiction.

Speaking on behalf of Jews for a Just Peace for Palestine,
Barrie Levine also dismissed the cosy conceit that 'Hamas are the problem'. If Hamas disappeared tomorrow, he insists, Israel would still find the necessary pretext to expand the settlements and intensify their "ethnic cleansing".

Glasgow human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar amplified this by insisting that Hamas are merely resisting the illegal occupation of their land, just as the French resistance did during World War 2.

And, expecting all the standard condemnations, Scottish National Party MSP Sandra White announced that she plans to meet with Hamas officials during her visit to Syria this week.

Facts on the ground

Israel talk consistently about dealing in 'realities, about "facts on the ground". Here are the real facts on the ground.

Fact 1: Hamas are the legitimate political representatives of the Palestinian people and no peace is possible until their status is fully recognised and they are properly constituted in full peace talks.
The ongoing efforts to portray Hamas as anti-Jewish rather than anti-Zionist is an all-too-obvious mask for Israel's own crimes. As Tamimi and other observers rightly insist, it's time for Hamas to be taken off Washington's 'terrorist' list.

Fact 2: It's Zionism that lies at the heart of the problem, not Hamas. And there can never be any long-term peace for Palestinians or Israelis until this racist ideology is faced.
Israel is the real terrorist entity engaged in a systematic apartheid project of killing, containment and expansion.

The West know very well about Zionist facts on the ground. For example, a confidential EU report, recently acquired by the Guardian, expresses grave concern over Israel's illegal annexation of key areas of East Jerusalem, including Arab house demolitions, extended settlements and the proposed building of police stations and other strategic infrastructure in the E1 district. This construction near the main Israeli settlement town of Ma'ale Adumim is intended to break any continuity between Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In effect, more Zionist 'facts' in the event of any proto-settlement.

Contrary to their demonisation agenda, the EU, US and the other Western powers also know that the Hamas project is built not on anti-Semitic motives or crude Holocaust denials, but on a focused resistance to Zionist aggression.

As Hamas spokesperson
Khalid Mish'al wrote days after Hamas were fairly elected:
"We are being punished simply for resisting oppression and striving for justice. Those who threaten to impose sanctions on our people are the same powers that initiated our suffering and continue to support our oppressors almost unconditionally. We, the victims, are being penalised while our oppressors are pampered. The US and EU could have used the success of Hamas to open a new chapter in their relations with the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Muslims and to understand better a movement that has so far been seen largely through the eyes of the Zionist occupiers of our land."
Beyond the official castigations, Israel and the West further know that Hamas would be amenable to a serious border settlement. Indeed, Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, has consistently stated that his government will accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

Again, the complexity of Hamas's political thoughts and its role as a resistance movement runs contrary to the convenient picture of Hamas as craven Jew haters. As
Haniyeh repeats: "Our conflict is not with the Jews, our problem is with the occupation."

Again, as Jonathan Cook concludes in Two-state Dreamers, the fine afterword to his latest book Disappearing Palestine, the issue is not how we secure a two state settlement, or how we imagine the possibility of a one state scenario. The real task is to maintain a critical focus on Zionism:
"The obstacle to a solution, then, is not the division of the land but Zionism itself, the ideology of ethnic supremacism that is the current orthodoxy in Israel. As long as Israel is a Zionist state, its leaders will allow neither one state nor two real states. There can be no hope of a solution until the question of how to defeat Zionism is addressed." (p 251)

No comments: