Large Banner Ad
Small Banner Ad

March 10, 2010

Palestinians victims of Zionist gimmickry

Reuel S. Amdur

More by this author...

"If there are any Israeli agents here to report what I say, be sure to get it right," urged Dr. Jamal Zahalka, who was speaking at Carleton University's Israeli Apartheid Week.

It seems that at another speaking engagement he had used the phrase “Hegel’s sword of reason,” and the report had him saying “Hitler’s sword of reason.”

Zahalka leads the Balad caucus of three in the Israeli Knesset. 

It is primarily an Arab party but it gets a few Jewish votes on his platform of a Israel becoming a secular and democratic state with guaranteed minority rights. 

He is a pharmacist by profession and has also worked as a community developer. 

No stranger to conflict, he was jailed for two years when he was 17.  He completed high school while in jail.  “We were accused of belonging to Fatah,” he explained.  “It wasn’t true.” 

Bringing matters up to date, other Knesset members have tried to silence him, calling him a traitor and attempting to keep him from leaving the country.

He told the audience that it is necessary to act against silence.  Silence serves the victimizer. 

The international solidarity movement was described as vital at this time, with its call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.  “Israel,” he noted, “is highly reliant on foreign investment.”  Investment dropped substantially during the intifadas because investors do not like turbulence.  So silence is the enemy of the Palestinians.

Should Palestinians become quiet?  If Israel stops humiliating Palestinians, murdering them, and committing crimes against them, “then we will be peaceful.” 

What is the situation that prevents Palestinians from being quiet?  “A million and a half are under siege in one big prison”—Gaza.  Pregnant women with complications trying to get through to a hospital die because they are not allowed out of Gaza.  If Israel wants peace, they need to stop the settlements, stop destroying houses, stop driving people out of Jerusalem. 

According to Zahalka, one cannot give equal weight to Palestinian and Israeli narratives.  He does not mean to say that Palestinians are all honest.  “They lie like anyone else.”  However, “the victim wants to tell the truth.  The criminal wants to hide it.  Palestinians are interested in the truth.  Israel needs to lie.”

Israel’s skeleton in the closet is its formation in 1948.  80% of the Palestinians were made to flee.  They were uprooted from their homes.  They did not go willingly, being a rural folk wedded to their land.  500 villages were wiped out.  The village of Sheikh Mowanis was destroyed, and now the University of Tel Aviv and an Israeli television studio sit on the site.

Treading on dangerous territory, he again called upon Hegel’s sword of reason, to cut through “the Israeli forest of myth.” 

Zionists could not establish a Jewish state in a land with a Palestinian majority.  They had either to expel Palestinians or establish an apartheid régime.  “They did both,” he said.  Thus, they achieved their Jewish and democratic state.  The current line that the Zionists use on the departure of the Palestinians is that it was due to the confusion and upset at the time, thus removing themselves of any responsibility to correct the crime. 

Palestinians became the victims of democracy.  They had 10% of the vote against 90% for the Jews.  (The Palestinians are now about 20%.)  Zionism’s dirty secret is that without the transfer of the Palestinians there could not be a Jewish and democratic state. 

The Zionist tableau is of a vital Jewish and democratic state in the midst of Arab dictatorships.  Palestinian suffering is seen as marginal to this great enterprise.  Besides, he commented sarcastically, “They don’t listen to Beethoven and don’t read Kafka.” 

In 1948, Zahalka claimed, 6 or 7% of the land was in Jewish hands. Now the figure is 93%.  Most is property from the refugees.  “Then they began to seize land that remained.”  This was done using the law, with at least 25 laws to exercise eminent domain and confiscate land.  Land can, for example, be taken for military purposes.  The language of the law is, he noted, “neutral.”  The exercise of the law is something else.  “It is only implemented on Palestinians.”  Jewish property is not touched.  Land that is seized goes to Jewish citizens, institutions, and settlements.

He cited Israel’s Law of Return, allowing Jews from all over the world to come and become instant citizens.  By contrast, he described the fate of thousands of Palestinian families.  Under a law passed by the Knesset—democratically, he quipped—no one from the Occupied Territories can get permission to stay in Israel.  The law was made retroactive, splitting thousands of families. 

This tragic situation was taken to the Supreme Court, which found the law to be defective.  It had to make provision for humanitarian exceptions.  The Knesset then dutifully passed a new law providing for a panel to rule on such exceptions.  However, the law specifically excluded family reunification as a reason for granting residency. 

Returning to the matter of eminent domain, Zahalka noted the usual practice in countries that, if the confiscated land is not used for the purpose for which it was taken, it is then returned.  He reported that the period for which the land can be held before such return is six years in France and seven in England.  Israel opted for a seven year period. 

However, the retroactivity of the law was back 25 years, while the bulk of Palestinian property was seized before that.  When Zahalka objected in the Knesset, he was told that the decision was made democratically.  “Take your democracy and give me my land,” he responded.

Zahalka charged that Israel has fragmented Palestine to maintain dominance.  There are the refugees, West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem.  While Jerusalem used to be a centre of Palestinian culture and activity, it is now walled off from the West Bank.  The 1967 borders are, he said, “imaginary.”  Hundreds of thousands of Israelis live outside the 1967 borders, in the West Bank, which is cut up like a Swiss cheese into Bantustans, with walls, road blocks, and special Jews-only roads. 

The Palestinians in the West Bank have a totally different status in terms of citizenship and passports.  Gaza is a prison with Israeli guards.  East Jerusalem is being subjected to ethnic cleansing, with houses seized or raised and with Palestinians denied building permits.  “In Jerusalem,” he charged, “the education of Palestinian children is worse than in Gaza.  50% don’t finish high school.”

How is the conflict to be resolved? 

Currently, Obama is pressing for compromise.  “Compromise can come only after the defeat of racism,” said Zahalka. 

“That’s the way it was in South Africa.”  Compromise is spoken of in terms of the situation in 1967, but if 1967 is the starting point, then the refugees are left out. 

That is why Palestinians want to have 1948 as the starting point for working out a solution.  The big obstacle?  “Zionism.”

  • Think green before you print
  • Respond to the editor
  • Email
  • Delicious
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • StumbleUpon
Subscribe to the E-bulletin

M. Elmasry

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel