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Do you ever sit with your thoughts and wonder what religion has done for you or to you?

As a Palestinian I often do and this is the reason that many years ago I declared myself to be agnostic. It is because of religion and unproven words in an old text called The Bible that a group of atheist Zionists from Europe declared that the land of my birth and that of my forefathers is theirs. And only theirs as ordained by their Bible.

All in the name of religion.

Seventy one years ago today those atheist Zionists, under the banner of their Jewish King David committed one of the most horrific crimes in history when they carried out a murderous assault on my country and my people. The result of which was tens of thousands of Palestinians killed, 800,000 Palestinians forcibly exiled and 78% of the historic land of Palestine stolen.

All in the name of religion.

In the process of that carnage and theft, almost 700 Palestinian towns and villages were destroyed and buried without trace. This is how the Jewish hero of the 1967 war, General Moshe Dayan described the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

“Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages…There is no one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” March 19th 1969.

All in the name of religion.

Mr David Ben Gurion, the founding father of the Zionist state had this to say:

“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”—David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff, from Ben-Gurion, a biography by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte NY. 1978.

All in the name of religion.

And as if to exonerate himself he continued to say, “… I am not religious, nor were the majority of the early builders of Israel believers. Yet their passion for this land stemmed from the Book of Books … [The Bible is] the single most important book in my life.

All in the name of religion.

When Ben-Gurion reflected on the situation he and his Zionist partners created he admitted, “If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs.”

All in the name of religion.

Our God is not theirs? Are not all the teachings in the so-called holy books about the one God and that we are all created in his image? But if the Zionists were to admit that our beliefs are on par with theirs then the creation of a state simply for Jews wouldn’t make sense. What does make sense to them is to make us look inferior, uncivilised and unruly to justify their colonisation and theft of our land. If you listen to the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer Kashtiel, head of the pre-military academy of Eli , an illegal settlement in the West Bank you can see how it works. He was speaking to school children when he said “Jews are the masters, Arabs are the slaves, this is not by chance, this is biology and genetics. They are happy to be slaves, they want to be slaves. Arabs want to live under occupation, because they can’t run a country or do anything, look at them, look what they look like”

The Knesset went one further last July when they passed the Nation State Bill, which reaffirms in no uncertain terms that self determination in the land of Israel is ‘exclusively for the Jews’ to the detriment of all other citizens or inhabitants of Israel. Which clearly explains the intentions of Mr Ben Gurion and what he had in store for us.

“We must do everything to insure they [the Palestinians] never do return….”

Successive Israeli leaders have kept to the word of their founding father. They are determined that we will never return. Not only that, they are equally determined that the entire land mass of Palestine, and I mean 100% of the land, is theirs and theirs alone. And if any of us Palestinians are left on this land our situation will be that of a slave serving his master.

All in the name of religion.

For over a year now the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, who are descendants of those expelled in 1948, have been marching to the separation fence between Gaza and Israel to demand their right of return. Only to be met with sniper fire, tear gas and missiles in full view of the international community. Were those snipers also pupils of Rabbi Eliezer Kashteil? Does this explain their callous disregard for Palestinian lives? And is this what religion is all about? Obviously it is if you are a Christian Evangelical, who will not only condone what Israel is doing to us but openly and actively encourage it. All in the hope that their Messiah will return and fulfil his promise to the faithful. This saviour or Messiah, might I add, was like me, a Palestinian. Does his hoped for return negate my return? Is this what religion is all about?

This article was inspired by a visit I made to the Matthias Church in Budapest and saw the ornate trappings of religious power beside an austere bust of the Christ with his crown of thorns.

Jafar M Ramini is a Palestinian writer and political analyst, based in London, presently in Perth, Western Australia. He was born in Jenin in 1943 and was five years old when he and his family had to flee the terror of the Urgun and Stern gangs. Justice for the people of Palestine is a life-long commitment.


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