As a Native person of this country, I’ve come to the conclusion that I must support the Palestinian people and the pursuit of an autonomous Palestinian state.Although many view both Native Americans and Palestinians as “indigenous and displaced people,” this is not the reason that I feel a sense of kinship with Palestinians.Instead, this fraternal feeling for my brothers and sisters in Gaza and on the West Bank is due to a much more basic and primal feeling of fear: the realization that what befalls one oppressed group inevitably befalls others.Indigenous people, as well as other oppressed groups worldwide, regardless of race or religion, have a vested interest in learning from the genocidal atrocities that the U.S. government initiated on Native Americans. Every person who strives for humanity also has a strong interest in preventing those same atrocities from occurring in another place at another time to another group of people — in this particular situation, to the Palestinians.Palestinians, like Natives, are captives in their own lands. They, too, have no place to go, no geographical recourse. Lebanon, Syria and Egypt have all shown their callousness to Palestinian people and have used them like human chess pieces against Israel.Short on options, Palestinians, like Natives, have no choice but to continue to be a thorn in the side of the oftentimes apathetic and oppressive governments that have come to power by whatever means available.
The Language Of Death
The lesson of the Holocaust is not that Jews are special. It is not that Jews are unique. It is not that Jews are eternal victims. The lesson of the Holocaust is that when you have the capacity to halt genocide, and you do not — no matter who carries out that genocide or who it is directed against — you are culpable. And we are very culpable.
The F-16 jet fighters, the Apache attack helicopters, the 250-pound “smart” GBU-39 bombs are all part of the annual $2.4 billion in military aid we give to Israel. Palestinians are being slaughtered with American-made weapons. They are being slaughtered by an Israeli military we lavishly bankroll. But perhaps our callousness indifference to human suffering is to be expected. We, after all, kill women and children on an even vaster scale in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.
Spokesman for Fatah, Dr Husam Zomlot tells the BBC News that Israeli PM Netanyahu is Guilty Of ‘ Liquidation Of An Entire Nation’.
They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists. They are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists. … [The terrorists] are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.
A terrorist, like those who kidnapped the boys [in the West Bank on June 12] and killed them, the only thing that will deter them, is if they know that either their sister or mother will be raped if they are caught. What can we do? This is the culture that we live in.
The purpose was to define the culture of death of the terrorist organizations. Dr Kedar illustrated in his words the bitter reality of the Middle East and the inability of a modern and law-abiding country to fight the terror of suicide bombers.
[Netanyahu] announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts. … All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. …
The IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations. … The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave. Israel will generously aid those who wish to leave.
With English Subtitles:
With Arabic Subtitles:
In her latest post, my colleague Rania Khalek makes reference to “a new racist chant mocking the more than two hundred children slaughtered by Israel’s merciless bombing campaign in Gaza: ‘Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left.’”
This video shows an Israeli mob actually singing in celebration of children’s deaths in the style of a soccer fans’ song: “In Gaza there’s no studying, No children are left there, Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé.”
The mob also incites directly against Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi, two prominent Palestinian citizens of Israel who are members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
The video of the 26 July event in Tel Aviv was published by Israeli journalist Haim Har-Zahav.
The words of the repulsive song have been translated for The Electronic Intifada by Dena Shunra:
Tibi – Ahmed Tibi
I wanted you to know
The next kid to be hurt will be your kid
I hate Tibi
I hate Tibi the terrorist.
Tibi – is dead!
Tibi – is dead!
Tibi – is dead!
Tibi is a terrorist.
Tibi is a terrorist.
Tibi is a terrorist.
They’ll take their papers away.
They’ll take their papers away.
They’ll take their papers away.
Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé
In Gaza there’s no studying
No children are left there,
Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé,
[Three lines, not entirely clear]
Who is getting nervous, I hear?
Zoabi, this here is the Land of Israel
This here is the Land of Israel, Zoabi
This here is the Land of the Jews
I hate you, I do, Zoabi
I hate all the Arabs.
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
In 2005, Palestinian human rights groups and civil rights organisations launched a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel. This campaign has multiple aims, one of them being to pressure the Israeli government to comply with United Nations resolutions and ensure that its policies conform with international law and the Universal principles of human rights.
Specifically, the BDS campaign intends to achieve the full recognition of Palestinians as equal citizens within the state of Israel, to achieve the right of return of Palestinian refugees displaced by Israel since 1948, as demanded by Article 11 of the United Nations general assembly resolution 194, to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab land, cease the building of settlements and dismantle the ongoing Israeli West Bank barrier (also known as the Apartheid Wall).
This campaign has attracted its supporters around the world, including Palestine solidarity activists in Australia. Various socialist and left groups have strongly supported the BDS campaign. But the campaign has received strident criticism from Zionist organisations, political parties supportive of Israel and the ever-hostile Murdoch media establishment. Professor Irwin Cotler, former justice minister in the Canadian government, warned of what he called the “de-legitimisation” of Israel, being promoted by campaigns like BDS. This de-legitimisation is nothing new, he argued, being based in anti-Semitism. Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, long known for his support of Israel, went further and attacked the BDS campaign for “abetting terrorism” and for being an obstacle to peace. The BDS campaign has faced charges of anti-Semitism by Australian politicians and trade union leaders as well. Indeed, criticism of the state of Israel, its policies and founding ideology of Zionism is routinely met with the charge of anti-Semitism.
This charge usually serves to silence any debate about Israel’s policies, slander the critic with a tag that is dripping with historic vitriol and delegitimise any measures by Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activists to achieve full human rights for the Palestinians and the associated Palestinian refugees. If a critic of Israel is motivated by good old ethnic-racial hatred, then their claims for equal rights and statehood recognition are discredited. The supporters of the Palestinian cause can then be ignored and their claims of Palestinian statehood rejected as the outpourings of the irrationally obsessed, mindlessly hateful partisans of anti-Semitism, motivated by revulsion of the Jewish people and their culture.
Let us examine more closely the issue of anti-Semitism, the claims of Zionism and its realisation in the state of Israel and the tactic of boycott, divestment and sanctions. Anti-Semitism is an irrational, xenophobic hatred of Jews as a people; regarding the Jewish people around the world as constituting one indivisible, biologically unchanging entity that comprise one nation.
Anti-Semitism is nothing new, being based in the traditional religious, namely Christian hostility to the Jewish culture and people. After the lifetime of Jesus, early Christian attitudes towards the Jews began to harden. Anti-Jewish attitudes and doctrines were part of Christian teaching and popular art from the earliest times of the established Christian church.
The gospel of John, written much later than the three other gospel books, contains the most decisive comments indicating a break with Judaism, though this book is less historical than the others. This kind of religious anti-Semitism was partly based on theological differences, competition for followers and misapprehension of Talmudic beliefs and practices.
The religious-based anti-Semitism of centuries past has been largely superseded by the more modern-sounding, pseudo-scientific anti-Jewish prejudice, which singles out Jews as incapable of assimilating into their host nation and motivated by a tribalist-racial hostility to non-Jews and unwilling to adapt to the secular, “modern” values of the West. Modern day, nationalistic anti-Semitism adopted a particular political dimension – to exclude the Jews as a people from the political and economic life of their resident countries. Forcing Jews out of employment, business, suppressing their language and schools; these became part of the political program of anti-Semitic parties across Europe.
In the 19th century, with the rise of secularism and nationalism, the religious ideologies were pushed aside and the traditional prejudice of anti-Semitism was adapted to the changing political and economic conditions of capitalism. Oppressed nations, particularly those in the Ottoman Turkish, Austro-Hungarian and tsarist Russian empires, were demanding their independence and fighting for it. The Jewish populations of Europe, hitherto assimilated into their respective nations, were now articulating their religiously based teachings of a return to Zion in a more nationalistic form. The Jewish people had been taught that a divinely inspired Messiah would restore them to the allegedly historical homeland of the Jews in Palestine. Never matter that Palestine was home to Arab Muslims and Christians. This yearning was always a vague aspiration; in the context of 19th century nationalism and secularisation, aspirations for a homeland were to take a different turn.
Throughout Europe, nationalist groups were agitating for independence; the Greeks, Serbs, Poles, Ukrainians and other nationalities long suppressed were rising. The authorities in tsarist Russia, Ottoman Turkey and other European states needed a convenient scapegoat to blame the rising nationalistic tensions. The growth of industrial capitalism broke the bonds of feudalism and undermined the position that many Jewish communities held in the feudal order. The capitalist system created its own inequalities and imposed suffering on the working class. Workers in various countries, among them the Jewish workers, made common cause to fight against the social and economic oppression of capitalism.
Anti-semitism was the usual outlet to divert growing anger at the economic and political injustices of the time. Immiseration could be blamed on the “Jewish usurer”, the stereotype of the shifty, scheming Shylock, extorting the “average” (meaning non-Jewish) worker, gained traction in times of economic distress. Pogroms against Jewish communities were a frequent occurrence in Europe, particularly in imperial Russia under the tsar. In this charged context, the Jewish people of Europe began to join revolutionary, nationalist and socialist groups, joining the fight for social and economic justice.
But a new response began to be articulated by a number of Jewish commentators and intellectuals in Europe. They regarded anti-Semitism as the inevitable and immutable consequences of living among non-Jewish nations and that assimilation was impossible. They began to elaborate a new nationalistically motivated yearning for a homeland – Zionism. Lance Selfa, in the International Socialist Review article “Zionism: False Messiah”, explains that political Zionism defined itself the project of establishing an exclusively Jewish state, as a nationalist, colonialist project. Zionism maintains that Jews around the world are a single nation and thus need to establish a separate homeland. Zionism holds that anti-Semitism is an inevitable consequence of the Jewish presence in their host societies.
Moses Hess, a German Jewish contemporary of Karl Marx, was the earliest exponent of this abnormal nationalism. He wrote a book, Rome and Jerusalem: The last national question (1862), in which he expounded that German anti-Semitism was a fact of life and could not be changed. The Jews of Europe would always be regarded as the outsiders and that assimilation had failed. He argued that Jewish emancipation by joining the revolutionary struggles of the time was impossible and that there was only one solution – a separate homeland for the Jewish people.
However, it is with Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jewish journalist and author of the book The Jewish State (1896) and modern that political Zionism finds its most articulate exponent. Herzl argued that anti-Semitism was not only an inevitable product of Jews living as minorities amid a non-Jewish population, but was also a necessary political ally, compelling Jewish communities in Europe and elsewhere to be driven out and thus further the goal of building a separatist homeland. Zionism is a particular form of Jewish communalism, very similar in goals to the Hindu supremacist and communst party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that seeks to establish a Hindu-exclusive state in India by expelling Muslims and other minority communities.
Zionism shares with anti-Semitism the basic foundational premise that Jews around the world are a fixed entity and must be separated from non-Jewish populations in order to be emancipated. This kind of abnormal nationalism not only required that Jews dissociate themselves from the struggle for equality and economic justice in their home countries, but also find a place to call their homeland. Palestine was not the first destination chosen by the nascent Zionist movement; Herzl and the leaders of the World Zionist Organisation (WZO) appealed to the major imperial states of the day for a territory to call their own. At various stages, Uganda, Argentina, Madagascar were all seriously considered as possible homelands for a new Jewish state.
They approached the Ottoman Turkish sultan, the German kaiser and the Russian tsar, whose regime was responsible for anti-Jewish pogroms, in the vain hope of acquiring recognition for their cause, helping to divert Jewish workers from the revolutionary struggle and demobilise Jews in the fight against the poison of anti-Semitism. Herzl even shook hands with the Russian minister von Plehve, in 1903. Plehve was the minister of interior and director of the police who oversaw the massive pogroms against the Jews of Kiev and other cities in the early 1900s. The Zionist leaders approached all the imperial powers for favours, no matter how criminal and murderous they were in relation to the Jewish populations in Europe.
Zionism, from its very inception, was always an ally of imperialism.
It is interesting to note that Herzl, Nordau, Weizmann and other Zionist politicians wrote about the Jews of Europe in the most disparaging, obscene terms, reflecting their acceptance of the basic ideas of anti-Semitism. Anne Zirin, in her article documenting the “Hidden history of Zionism”, notes that the writings of Herzl, Nordau, Weizmann and other leading Zionists are replete with descriptions of Jews as aliens, parasites, bacteria, poisonous elements that cause harm to their hosts.
These views stem from the basic premise of Zionism – and anti-Semitism – that humans can be most logically and fundamentally divided into races and it is useless to struggle against such genetically based racial differences. Herzl himself regarded the anti-Semite as a necessary and dependable ally; he wrote in his diaries that the anti-Semitic countries would be the most interested in expelling the Jews from Europe and assisting their emigration to a Jewish homeland. Herzl surmised:
the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.
Not only were Jews considered a separate race, but also had to be defined as one of the “superior” races, able to build their own state.
With the end of World War I, the imperial patrons that Herzl approached had all been defeated – Ottoman Turkey collapsed and its territories divided among Britain and France; the Austro-Hungarian and tsarist Russian regimes had been toppled and newly independent states had taken their place. The one empire that Zionist leaders had approached during the war and that had committed to building a Jewish national home was Britain. The 1917 Balfour Declaration committed the British government to the Zionist project of building the Jewish population in Palestine. The British ruling class and Balfour, the then foreign secretary, were anti-Semitic; they had their own reasons for encouraging Jewish emigration to Palestine. The British military governor of Jerusalem, Sir Ronald Storrs, bluntly declared that the Zionist movement was a useful ally of Britain, dedicated to building a “little loyal Jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism”.
Balfour’s anti-Semitism was not out of place in the English aristocracy and ruling class. Winston Churchill, a rising star of British politics and the secretary of state for air and war, wrote an article for the Illustrated Sunday Herald in 1920 entitled “Zionism versus Bolshevism”. Churchill argued that Bolshevism was a devious product of the Jewish mentality, a perverted aspiration for equality that can never be fulfilled. Jewish people in Europe were gravitating towards this subversive philosophy. After all, were not leading Bolshevik figures in the Russian revolution of Jewish origin? So that is conclusive evidence; the Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy is afoot to overturn the existing social order. But there is a solution; winning Jews over to Zionism. The best antidote to the virus of Bolshevism and its misguided ideas of racial and economic equality is the doctrine of Zionism; the British government has the responsibility to build a Zionist home for the Jews in Palestine.
The goal of the Zionist project was spelled out quite clearly by its leaders – Palestine must be colonised. The migration of Jewish settlers into Palestine was conducted from the turn of the 19th-20th centuries not just for creating a new market and acquiring natural resources, important as those goals were. The Zionist movement wanted to create a new type of society, one that demolished the indigenous people – namely the Palestinians – and created a settler-colonial society that was exclusively Jewish. The Palestinian economy had to be undermined and replaced by a new, settler project. This effort undermines the myth, peddled by Zionist groups, that Palestine was a “land without a people” and the Jews being “a people without a land”.
Vladimir Jabotinsky, a leading figure of early Zionism and the political father of the hardline right-wing ideological tradition within the Jewish state, explained quite clearly that the Zionist movement had come to Palestine to colonise it and defeat the local population. In a 1923 article entitled “We and the Arabs”, Jabotinsky elaborated exactly what the Zionist movement intended to achieve in Palestine: colonisation. He explained that the indigenous population would fiercely resist any attempts at colonisation and so it was necessary to construct an “iron wall” of separation, until the Palestinians submitted, were expelled or were simply liquidated. Jabotinsky expressed the racially biased colonial view of the Palestinians that settler advocates have had of indigenous populations.
Any native people – it’s all the same whether they are civilized or savage – views their country as their national home, of which they will always be the complete masters. They will not voluntarily allow, not only a new master, but even a new partner. And so it is for the Arabs. Compromisers in our midst attempt to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked by a softened formulation of our goals, or a tribe of money grubbers who will abandon their birth right to Palestine for cultural and economic gains.
I flatly reject this assessment of the Palestinian Arabs. Culturally they are 500 years behind us, spiritually they do not have our endurance or our strength of will, but this exhausts all of the internal differences. We can talk as much as we want about our good intentions; but they understand as well as we what is not good for them. They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux looked upon his prairie. To think that the Arabs will voluntarily consent to the realization of Zionism in return for the cultural and economic benefits we can bestow on them is infantile. This childish fantasy of our “Arabo-philes” comes from some kind of contempt for the Arab people, of some kind of unfounded view of this race as a rabble ready to be bribed in order to sell out their homeland for a railroad network.
He went on to expound on how exactly he wished the Zionist movement to treat the indigenous people of Palestine:
Thus we conclude that we cannot promise anything to the Arabs of the Land of Israel or the Arab countries. Their voluntary agreement is out of the question. Hence those who hold that an agreement with the natives is an essential condition for Zionism can now say “no” and depart from Zionism. Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs. To formulate it any other way would only be hypocrisy.
Jabotinsky founded a school of thought within Zionism that was sympathetic to the fascist powers of the time. He admired Mussolini’s Italy and his organisation had cordial relations with leading fascist political leaders in Rome. In 1935, when Mussolini authorised a division of Zionist activists to take on military training in Italy, he described Jabotinsky to the Zionist emissaries of the time as “your fascist, Jabotinsky”.
Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism and precursor of the Likud party in Israel, was not the only Zionist activist that sought the collaboration of the imperial powers. The mainstream of the Zionist movement, Labour Zionism, led by figures like David Ben Gurion and Chaim Weizmann, were also applying to the various imperialist powers for their patronage. The Zionist leaders offered to make Palestine an outpost of “civilisation” amidst the ocean of native “savages”, the Arabic-speaking peoples.
Annie Zirin, in her article about the history of Zionism for the International Socialist Review, quotes the writings of Theodor Herzl, who explained that the new Jewish state in Palestine would form an outpost of European cultivated civilisation against a tide of pan-Arab barbarism. This point is important and we will return to it later.
Britain remained the imperial patron of the Zionist project, assisting the passage of Jewish emigrants to Palestine throughout the 1920s and 1930s. With the revolt of the Palestinians in 1936, Britain changed its tactics and recommended partitioning the country along ethnic lines, allocating portions of Palestine to Arabs and Jews. What is important to note is that during all this time, the Zionist movements in Europe regarded the imperial states as allies and made decisive efforts to place themselves at their disposal.
Lenni Brenner documented the efforts of the Zionist leaders to ingratiate themselves with the fascist powers of the 1930s in his book Zionism in the Age of the Dictators. Brenner examines the attempts by the German Zionist federation to undermine the campaign against anti-Semitism in Germany, find ways to cooperate with the Nazi regime and appease anti-Semitic sentiments in Germany in order to facilitate Jewish emigration to Palestine. The visit of a top Nazi SS official to Palestine for six months, as a guest of the Zionist federation, was commemorated with the issuance of a gold medal: on one side, the Nazi swastika with the words “A Nazi travels to Palestine”; on the other, the Star of David. The Nazi official in question wrote several articles about his sojourn in Palestine and was enthusiastic about the Zionist project, describing how Jewish soil under a Jew’s feet “reformed him and his kind in a decade. This new Jew will be a new people.”
Brenner’s book is available online and makes for a fascinating expose on the willingness of the Zionist leaders to approach any imperialist regime, no matter how murderously anti-Semitic, in order to achieve their goals of colonising all of Palestine.
Israel and Apartheid
It is not the purpose of this article to go into a detailed examination of the 1947-48 ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israeli forces, establishing the Jewish state. The reader can refer to the excellent book by Israeli historian Illan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which documents the plans of the Zionist movement to attain ethnic supremacy in Palestine by expelling the indigenous population.
What is important to note is that after its official foundation in 1948, the Zionist state was not only dependent on imperial patronage for its survival, but also became a bulwark of reaction, establishing working alliances with other repressive regimes around the world. Zionism is an essential prop within the larger imperialist system. Nowhere is this aspect of the Zionist state more in evidence than in its extensive military, political, economic and ideological cooperation with the former apartheid state of South Africa.
In 2010, a book detailing this unspoken yet solid alliance was published, called The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s secret relationship with South Africa. The ultra-racist regime of apartheid South Africa was subject to sanctions and international condemnation throughout the 1960s and 1970s. United Nations resolutions called on states to terminate relations with the white supremacist state. But one state continued and even increased is economic and military cooperation with the white racist regime – Israel.
The Afrikaner outpost in South Africa was not just anti-black, but also had a history of anti-Semitism. The National Party, the South African party that implemented and extended apartheid, had sympathetic ties to anti-Semitic groups and even supported the fascist regimes in the 1930s. Many of its leaders were themselves members of pro-Nazi groups in South Africa. Yet this was no obstacle for ties between Pretoria and Tel Aviv to flourish.
The Israel-South Africa connection was driven by pragmatic considerations – sharing nuclear technology, military training of their respective armed forces, the development of business ties and the growth of cultural exchanges. But what is significant to note is that this axis was not just opportunistic; there was a deep ideological affinity between Zionism and white supremacist apartheid. The South African prime minister in the 1970s, John Vorster, described the common goals that both Israel and his regime had in confronting the enemies of “Western civilisation”. Just as Israel was an outpost of white European civilisation up against an ocean of Arab-Muslim barbarism, white South Africa was engaged in a struggle against the onslaught of black African communism. Tel Aviv and Pretoria were “brothers in arms”, forming a mutually beneficial and ideologically driven axis that reinforced repressive practices with regard to their respective indigenous populations.
Hendrik Verwoerd, the South African politician primarily responsible for the extension of apartheid and the creation of black African bantustans, commented in 1961 that:
The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.
John Dugard, a South African professor of law and former UN special rapporteur to the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the occupied territories, wrote an introduction to a book published in 2009 called Israeli Apartheid: A beginner’s guide, in which he examines the similarities and differences between the two societies. In 2009, Dugard wrote an article published in the Huffington Post that it is high time to treat the Israeli regime with the same exclusion as was applied to apartheid South Africa. In its treatment of the Palestinians, Israel is implementing its own version of apartheid, he noted.
Understanding the history of Zionism, its regard for anti-Semitism as a cement with which to build a new state and its role as an ally of racist and oppressive regimes, helps us to understand the importance of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, the starting point of this article.
So is boycotting Israel motivated by anti-Semitism?
Absolutely not says Sherry Wolf, an activist with the US Socialist Worker magazine and an advocate of BDS. Zionism’s supporters use the charge of anti-Semitism to deflect debate, shut down meaningful dialogue and downgrade the struggle by Palestinians for their rights. The BDS movement has condemned anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms. As Sherry Wolf explains it, the BDS movement is about achieving economic, political and social equality for the Palestinians.
Wolf herself is of Jewish background and she recognises the historic injustice perpetrated by the Zionist regime against the Palestinians. Brian Klug, senior research fellow in philosophy at Oxford University and a founder of the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights, explains that anti-Zionism has nothing in common with anti-Semitism. Do not poison the debate on Palestine with false accusations. This does not mean that charges of anti-Semitism can be dismissed lightly – far from it. As Tony Greenstein, anti-Zionist activist in Britain elaborates;
Like the boy who cried wolf, the charge of “anti-semitism” has been made so often against critics of Zionism and the Israeli state that people now have difficulty recognising the genuine article… One of the consequences of this abuse of the term “anti-semitism” is to devalue the currency. It renders it almost meaningless because people assume that allegations of anti-semitism are merely the last-ditch resort of those who are incapable of defending the Apartheid Wall that separates the people of the West Bank from their land, the bulldozing of civilian houses, the wanton destruction of olive groves and crops, to say nothing of the theft of their land.
Let us leave the last word to Omar Barghouti, one of the leaders of the BDS movement, who elaborated on why we should support the BDS movement:
A Jewish state in Palestine (“a state of the Jewish nation”), no matter what shape it takes, is by definition exclusionary; it cannot but contravene the basic rights of the land’s indigenous Palestinian population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically. Any other exclusionary regime in Palestine that denies citizens some of their rights based on their identity — ethnic, religious, gender, sexual, etc. — must be rejected just as strongly.
Accepting modern-day Jewish Israelis as equal citizens and full partners in building and developing a new shared society, free from all colonial subjugation and discrimination, as called for in the democratic state model, is the most magnanimous — rational — offer any oppressed indigenous population can present to its oppressors. Only by shedding their colonial privileges, dismantling their structures of oppression, and accepting the restoration of the rights of the indigenous people of the land, especially the right of Palestinian refugees to return and to reparations and the right of all Palestinians to unmitigated equality, can settlers be indigenized and integrated into the emerging nation and therefore become entitled to participating in determining the future of the common state.
It is time to advocate a secular, unitary and democratic state in Palestine, because this is the equitable, humane solution for all its people.
While the constitution in Angola guarantees freedom of religion to all of its citizens, this right no longer seems to apply to the followers of the now banned religion of Islam.
According to numerous newspapers in Angola, the African nation has banned the Islamic religion.
It has become the first country in the world to take such a harsh stance against Muslims.
On November 22, the Angolan Minister of Culture Rosa Cruz e Silva said that:
“[t]he process of legalization of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights [and so] their mosques would be closed until further notice.”
Why the religion needs to be legalized has not been definitively stated by Cruz e Silva.
Cruz e Silva has also said that the closing of mosques is the most recent move in Angola’s effort to put a stop to so-called illegal religious sects. Under new laws in Angola, many religious sects have suddenly become criminal.
According to the minister:
the action was necessary to fight relentlessly against the emergence of congregations whose worshipping is contradicting with the customs of the Angolan culture.
Same as Islam, other faiths which were not legalized will face closure of their houses of worship.
“All sects on the list published by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in the Angolan newspaper ‘Jornal de Angola’ are prohibited to conduct worship, so they should keep their doors closed,” she was quoted by Cameroon Voice.
On November 24, Angola President José Eduardo dos Santos said that:
the country is working toward putting an end to Islamic influence in Angola once and for all. Again, there is no word of what or who has been influenced and why it needs to stop.
President José Eduardo dos Santos was quoted by Osun Defender newspaper on Sunday, November 24:
“This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country.”
The Governor of Luanda, Bento Bento, attended the destruction of the minaret of their mosque Zengo. Bento Bento, has also said on the airwaves of a local radio that:
“radical” Muslims are not welcome in the country and that the Angolan government will not be legalizing mosques or other places of worship for Muslims.”
The African country of Angola’s citizens primarily practice indigenous religions. Recent surveys show that 47 percent adhere to traditional indigenous beliefs while another 38 percent of the population practice Roman Catholicism and 15 percent practice Protestantism.
The now banned religion of Islam is practiced by a very small percentage of the 18.5 million inhabitants of Angola. Only about 80,000-90,000 Angolans practice Islam. These Muslims are primary migrants from West Africa and Lebanon.
While the means of becoming a “legal religion” is Angola is not clear at this point, the government is very harshly cracking down on the illegal sects.
Minister of Culture Rosa Cruz e Silva has made it known that there are nearly 200 different illegal religious sects in Angola so it is not just Islam that has been banned in Angola.
Rosa Cruz e Silva has also said that there are more than 1000 applications that have been submitted by religious groups in an effort to legalize their sects. Islamic groups have made up some percentage of these many applications but it is not clear when or if they will ever be approved.
Rosa Cruz e Silva said that the legalization process of Islam has simply not been approved and, therefore, mosques must remain closed “until further notice.”
While some mosque could theoretically reopen again in the future, some are gone forever.
By _Nicci Mende_
#Islam #Angola #Islamophobia #Africa #ReligiousPersecution #Racism #Xenophobia
Today’s far-right parties in Europe, such as the National Front in France and the Party for Freedom in Holland, are surging in popularity and calling for legal bans on veils, mosques, minarets, sha’ria, and even the outright expulsion of Muslims from the continent. In short, the far-right perceives Muslims as “inassimilable” and their religion as “evil” and “backward.”
Ironically, however, Muslims have a rich history of harmony, justice, and compassion for humanity. These historical facts raise the question of whether Europe’s far-right parties should look to Muslim history for direction and guidance in their approach to handling minority communities.
Prophet Muhammad set the precedent for Muslims in regards to tolerance in the Constitution of Medina, one of history’s first legal documents to safeguard human rights. Also called the Medina Charter,
Prophet Muhammad’s Constitution provided equal rights to non-Muslims living under an Islamic government around the year 622. According to the Constitution, “Strangers” in Muhammad’s Muslim society were to be treated with special consideration and “on the same ground as [Muslims].”
Six years after creating the Medina Constitution, Muhammad sent a letter to Christian monks at St. Catherine’s in the Sinai, Egypt, to show his desire to protect vulnerable religious communities. In the letter, Muhammad offered the Christians peace and called on his fellow Muslims to “defend [Christians], because Christians are my citizens.”
Muhammad’s letter to the Christian monks also includes advice on how Christian judges are not to be removed from their offices, nor are the monks to be forced out of their monasteries. “No one is to destroy a house of their religion,” Muhammad stated, “or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.” He added: “Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.”
On Mount Arafat in 632 AD, Muhammad left another “charter” for human rights. In his “Final Sermon,” he claimed that “an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab… a white person has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” The Final Sermon shows how Muhammad had great care for all people, regardless of their ethnic composition, and that diversity should be celebrated instead of eradicated from society.
Other Muslims leaders, such as Caliph Umar, advised his predecessors “to treat ahl al-dhimmah (Jews and Christians) well, to defend them against their enemies and not burden them with more than they can bear.”
Umar also stated: “Treat all people as equal… I advise you not to let yourself or anyone else do wrong to ahl al-dhimmah.” Umar was following in Muhammad’s footsteps in treating Jews and Christians as equal to Muslims.
Abu Bakr, one of Muhammad’s trusted advisors, is also on record stating that “the most important foundation of a truly Muslim country is justice and equality for all. In fact, a country that is bereft of justice and equality, though it may be inhabited by Muslims, is not really a Muslim country at all.”
Another Muslim leader, Akbar the Great of the Mughal Empire, would echo Muhammad, Umar, and Abu Bakr’s message of tolerance and harmony centuries later. Upon assuming power, Akbar ended the jizya, or poll tax, on non-Muslims and invited people of all religious backgrounds to his court to engage in interfaith dialogue.
Moreover, Akbar had tremendous respect for Christianity, visible in the Buland Darwaze, a large gate-structure at the city of Fatehpur Sikri, on which he had transcribed the Qur’anic inscription: “Isa [Jesus], son of Mary, said: This world is a bridge. Pass over it, but build no houses on it. He who hopes for an hour may hope for eternity. The world endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer, for the rest is unseen.”
Rumi, the famous Sufi poet of the 13th century, also revered Jesus and extended his hand in friendship to non-Muslims. Rumi’s most powerful words echo love and peace to all regardless of ethnic background:
I am neither Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim I am not of the east, nor of the west… I have put duality away, I have see the two worlds as one; One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call (Divan-i Sham-i Tabriz, II)
Members of Europe’s far-right parties can look to these great Muslim leaders for guidance in how to treat Muslims in their societies.
However, Europeans today can also look to the example on their continent – Muslim Spain, between the 8th and 15th centuries – when Muslims ruled a diverse society of Jews and Christians in a relative state of harmony, which was utterly unthinkable in other Christian European cities such as London or Paris.
Muslim Spain reached a state of tolerance which has its very own name – convívencía – which can literally be translated as “living with-ness,” or “requiring tolerance.”
Perhaps its time for Europeans to adopt a 21st century style convívencía so they can come to grips with what Muslims and Islam can offer to European society.
By Craig Considine