Note to Haaretz: A gentler kinder Jewish state is still a Zionist state

Israel Palestine

Image: From the booklet Ansar III, published by ROOTS and Friends of Palestinian prisoners

Every now and then, Haaretz boosts the morale of liberal Zionists by exposing facts and new archived revelations about Zionism’s Nazi-like atrocities against the Palestinian people — but without mentioning the word “Zionism!”

Such pieces give the impression that Israel’s atrocities have nothing to do with Zionism but are rather missteps that the state took upon its founding (or continues to take, as the case might be), mistakes that are possible to ameliorate within the regime of the unmentionable ideology. The ultimate aim is to make Israel appear to the unwary reader as a kinder and gentler Jewish state.

Since very few mainstream newspapers in western countries (and now in the Arab world) dare publish or reference such facts for fear of being accused of antisemitism or worse, many readers are “impressed and amazed” at the seeming virtuousness and honesty of Haaretz, which nevertheless remains a liberal Zionist publication.

On my part, I am amazed how it is possible for Adam Raz, an Israeli historian, to write a long piece in Haaretz titled “Docs Reveal Massacres of Palestinians in ’48 — and What Israeli Leaders Knew” without once mentioning Zionism. Not once.

This is worse than a historian writing about the systematic war crimes of Nazi Germany without mentioning the ideology associated with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, because Israel’s criminal Zionist practices against the Palestinian people are ongoing and Israel’s oppression of Palestinians must not and cannot endure. The end of Palestinian suffering can come only with the demise of Zionism.

If and when Zionism is mentioned, it is from the point of view of “Arab rejectionism” in Palestine or referencing the Zionist “narrative” that Jewish “return” to Palestine was and continues to be justified as a necessary escape for European Jews from antisemitism, a necessity for Jews to “gain control of their destiny.”

Never mind that such a narrative has been debunked by many scholars, most notably Shlomo Sand in “The Invention of the Jewish People.” Never mind that the destiny of Palestinian Arabs is as important as the destiny of any other group of people, Jews included.

From the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, we have known and have been saying (forever it seems) that Zionists did, in fact, know what they were doing from the beginning of their movement in the early 1900’s and intended to create an exclusive state. We know that these Zionists along with much of the western world ignored our very existence as a significant factor when they weighed it against a “Jewish national liberation movement” (i.e., Zionism) that took over our homeland to escape antisemitism in Europe.

I am not impressed by what Haaretz has published, because Palestinian and other historians have long known such facts without benefit of the Israeli archives Raz was able to access and because the piece lacks the imperative denunciation of Zionism.

Consider the following:

On this day in 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the re-establishment of a regular Bible study group at his official residence in Jerusalem. He claimed the Bible “is our mandate for our country”. He was emulating Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, who also set up Bible study classes to find an ideological “justification” for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the establishment of a “Jewish State”. As non-religious Zionists quip, “There is no God but he gave us the land.”

In other words, the piece in Haaretz is not news. The news is that Haaretz published this history for its own ends, as I explain above. One reader with the handle “goy girl” makes a comment on the article that, to me, epitomizes the paper’s Zionist position, as it echoes Netanyahu’s and Ben Gurion’s actions and thoughts above but in the guise of criticism. (Italics mine).

She says, “… Having been vindicated by God, Zionists fell into this trap [of acting in humanely] and put Palestinians in ghettos, made Gaza a slave camp, and forced Muslims to dig their own graves. They proved to be just as human and fallible as the rest of us….”

Well, Palestinians, too, are just as human and fallible as the rest of humanity. It is human to resist oppression and it is human to use “violence,” aka armed struggle, to resist that oppression. The trap Palestinians fell into is the trap of Zionism.

On the 34th anniversary of the Great Palestinian Intifada that launched from Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza on 8 December 1987, Samidoun Palestinian Solidarity Network published an article titled, “The struggle continues until liberation and return.” In it, they joined with the Masar Badil (Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement) in calling for a conference of Palestinian students in 2022 and the Week of Palestinian Struggle in May:The Intifada is not only a historical moment but an ongoing liberation struggle and an example to the world of the full mobilization of the people for justice and freedom.”

Palestine 1
Image: Poster–“The revolution continues”

Haaretz, Zionist crimes are not only a moment in history; they are ongoing and embedded in a racist colonial ideology that cannot be wished away or camouflaged as “Jewish and democratic.” You must recognize the elements that have to be addressed for justice and peace to prevail. Although some Arab countries (not to mention the defunct Palestinian Authority) are normalizing their relationship with Israel, the Palestinian people themselves will never accept Zionism; it is the cause for all the bloodshed in Palestine and must come to an end.

Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.

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