Inter Press Network

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Lies of the Israeli Peace Movement

By Richard Hugus
August 8, 2004

How clever the oppressor is, learning the language and ways of the oppressed and insinuating himself among them. "Yes, yes" he
says, "I too am oppressed - can we sit side by side and declare our common cause?" The US "peace and justice" group, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, recently sent an announcement to a listing of peace events in Massachusetts for a meeting to do just this. In the announcement, the public is invited to hear from "bereaved Israeli and
Palestinian families supporting peace,reconciliation and tolerance."

By this means an 'equals' sign is put between Zionists and the people of the land they occupy, in the country which is the sole
source of support for that occupation. This is propaganda of the most
insidious kind. Now the Zionist must show "tolerance" for the Palestinian
whose land he stole, whose
homes he moved into, whose people he began
attacking 56 years ago, and
continues to attack. Now the Palestinian must
accept, must renounce his
right to resist this attack, his fight against
occupation, his right to
return, his rights as a human being - all because
"both sides" have engaged
in violence.

Imagine those who rule the US holding sessions
with the Vietnamese on the
harm the Vietnamese did to them in the Vietnam
War. Imagine the white
plantation owner having public meetings in which
injustices done to him by
his slaves could be fully and sensitively aired.
Imagine the US majority -
the colonial settlers of what the natives once
called Turtle Island --
sitting down with the Sioux or Apache or Ojibwa,
saying it was time "both
sides" admitted to wrongdoing.

Betrayals of history such as this are only
organized by the victor when some
members of its polity have a pang of conscience,
or as a way to further the
ongoing project of colonization. The "peace"
being sought here is just
another kind of war. On its web site, Brit Tzedek
says unabashedly that it
is "deeply committed to Israel's well-being."
Thus, it wants an end to
violence in Palestine, but it supports the source
of that violence - namely,
the state of Israel. It claims to be for justice,
but in fact it isn't.
Justice would mean the right of Palestinians to
return to the land stolen
from them. It would mean restitution for past
crimes. It would mean an end
to the idea of a state for Jewish people only.
Such things are not on Brit
Tzedek's agenda. The idea that "Israel" is an
illegitimate state to be done
away with, just as Apartheid South Africa was, is
not on the agenda of the
Israeli peace movement. In all cases the
legitimacy of the current state is
assumed, and its preservation sought.

Last November, Brit Tzedek held a conference at
the Park Plaza Hotel in
Boston to which it invited Knesset Minister Avram
Mitzna. As commander of
the West Bank Israeli occupation forces in the
late 80's, this star of the
so-called "Israeli peace camp" was directly
responsible for implementing
Yitzhak Rabin's "breaking bones" policy during
the first Intifada. He did
so with his own "iron fist" policy. Breaking bones
meant Israeli soldiers
taking large rocks and butts of guns and
shattering the hands and arms and
legs of any Palestinian thought to be resisting.
Mitzna was a featured
speaker at the Brit Tzedek conference.

At this conference, one Brit Tzedek activist came
out to speak to supporters
of Palestine protesting outside. She broke into
tears and asked for the
sympathy of one protestor because, as she
admitted, she had just come to the
conclusion, after wrestling with the question for
many years, that the
Palestinian right of return was just not going to
be possible. Other
progressives, like Noam Chomsky, have said the
same. They speak of what is
"realistic, " as if it's "realistic" to by remove
an entire people from
their country by massacre and attrition, to jail
inside 24 foot high walls
any who remain, to shoot children in the street,
to destroy farm land and
water supplies, to drive people to starvation, to
wage war on rock-throwers
with F-16's, tanks, and attack helicopters, and to
never acknowledge that
"facts created" and gains made by Ariel Sharon and
all his predecessors were
atrocious crimes. To the double-talking liberal,
it is not "realistic" to
stop any of this, and give Palestinians back what
was stolen. Genocide is
realistic; justice is not. The progressive
"realist" is finally no different
than the right wing Zionist. Like the Democrats
and Republicans in the US
who both support the basic goals of US empire,
both sides are the same.

Not surprisingly, Brit Tzedek is also for a
"two-state solution"-a position
no one can take seriously anymore, as the Wall
guarantees that any "state"
Palestinians might have at this point would
actually be a collection of
separate prisons.

It is necessary for people who actually are
progressives today to beware the
corruption of language and values which the
oppressor spews out on a daily
basis. He has air-conditioned offices with
well-paid staff to do this work.
He has well-meaning NGO workers fulfilling grants.
He has intellectuals in
the academy, the media, and government to do this

It is time to respond to the pacifist progressive
in particular who
collaborates with the oppressor by equating and
condemning all violence. The
language of resistance must be clearly spoken: It
is right for Palestinians
to resist the occupation, not just the occupation
of the West Bank and Gaza,
but of all of Palestine, by whatever means
possible. It is right for the
Iraqi resistance to resist the similar vicious US
occupation of Iraq. It was
right for the Sioux to resist, it was right for
the African slave to resist,
it was right for the Vietnamese to resist. In no
way can the minor losses of
the oppressor be equated with or compensate for
the original crime of his
aggression. It is time for progressives in the US
to openly and clearly
support resistance to the monster that the US has
become, and the proxies it
supports, like Israel, and increasingly this means
rejecting the false
language of the pacifist. The conflict in
Palestine is not morally
ambiguous. It is not a battle between two sides
who are equally guilty.
Zionists attacked, Palestinians defended. There is
a right and a wrong.