Most people have very little time to study and understand their political and religious history. This ignorance can lead to them becoming powerful tools in the hands of unscrupulous politicians who can use mythologies and half-truths to justify their policies and actions. When history is made to pander to prejudice, it makes people blind to the lessons that can be drawn from their past.

   Such is the case with Israel. Its ruthless determination to retain all that it has conquered since 1948, its desire to rid itself of the Palestinians, its undisputed arrogance in its relations with other nations, especially its neighbours, and its total disregard for the human rights of anyone not Jewish, have blinded it to its own history.

   The concept of a Jewish state is a relatively recent one; conceived by the Zionist Movement at the end of the 19th century as a home where all Jewish people could escape persecution. The Zionists, when they articulated this idea, were reacting to the persecution and discrimination against Jews in Europe. There, Jews spent most of their lives herded into walled ghettos and had their citizenship restricted, and often needed special documents just to leave the ghetto - this was particularly the case in Russia. There, as a matter of policy, the government deliberately incited hatred of the Jews as a way to deflect the anger of the Russian people against poverty and backwardness of their own lives that resulted from the feudal nature of the Czarist regime.

   Now, fast forward to today and a description by a leading Portuguese writer of what he saw when he visited the Palestinian recently.  He wrote: "The entry points to villagers have been walled over, civilian population movement is paralysed, ghettos and reservations have been created where only tanks patrol, and attack helicopters fly-over on a permanent basis." Were it not for the references to the tanks and helicopters, this description of the reality of daily life for the Palestinian could equally describe a Jewish ghetto in Europe during the Nazis occupation; and in Russia anytime over the three hundred years leading up to the World War II.

   At first, the original leaders of the Zionist movements sought any land that they could adopt as a Jewish home; Uganda and South America where among the lands first considered. But finally it was decided to try and settle in Palestine. One of the primary reasons for their decision to adopt Palestine as the country in which to set up a Jewish state was that the Zionists knew it would appeal to most Jews, especially those living in the ghettos of Eastern Europe, who could identify with such a concept religiously.

   For centuries, Jews had concluded their Passover celebration with these dramatic and emotional words. "Next Year in Jerusalem.” It was more a heartfelt prayer, although it contained their dream of one-day returning to the Land of Israel, and the rebuilding of the City of David. It was not taken seriously. This tenant of Jewish faith was, and still is, the very essence of Jewish existence; it became an essential ingredient to their survival in the hostile and violent world of Medieval Europe. Initially, the vast majority of European Jews did not support the Zionists. In fact, most orthodox Jews were anti-Zionist, as they believed that only God should reunite Jews in the Promised Land. But as anti-Semitism grew throughout Europe, culminating in the 1930's with the raise to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany, Jewish people became increasingly desperate to find a safe haven from persecution. It was only then, that the idea of a homeland for Jews began to be seriously considered by a majority of Jews. This led to increasingly numbers of them, with the aid of rich and influential American Jews and the Zionists, to try and settle in Palestine.

   In 1922 the British persuaded the League of Nations to give it a Mandate to administer Palestine. They retained control until 1948, when despairing of ever being able to govern they relinquished their Mandate to the United Nations. During the 26 years of British rule the Zionists began bringing increasing numbers of Jews to Palestine; in 1935 over 60,000 Jews came to Palestine. This led to a revolt in 1936 by the Arabs, Christian and Muslim, sparked off by fears of Jewish domination. This revolt rumbled on until 1939, when the British with the aid of the Zionist Militia and the complicity of neighbouring Arab countries, have finally crushed it. The defeat of the Arabs led to the exile of almost the entire Palestinian political leadership, leaving the Palestinians disorganised politically throughout the next decade. The cost of this uprising for the Palestinians was 5,032 dead and 14,760 wounded according to a Harvard history Professor.

   At the same time as Arabs were rising up to protect their rights, the more extreme of the Zionist organisations were turning to armed struggle to established an independent Jewish State in Palestine.

   Prior to the establishment of the British Mandate the Zionists had already established a group of mounted watchman called "Hashomar", that, when the British took over became the Haganah (defence) with a membership of over 60,000 Zionists. The Haganah had a field army of 16,000 trained men and a unit called the Palmach, which was a full time force of 6,000. The Irgun Zvai Leumi included between 3000 and 5000 armed terrorists and grew out of the Haganah and Palmach. In 1939 one of the Irgun's commanding officers, Abraham Stern, formed what became known as the 'Stern Gang', numbering 200 to 300 dangerous fanatics. Stern so hated the British that he was prepared to make a deal with the Nazis to help overthrow the British in Palestine. The Haganah, Irgun Zavai Leumi and the Stern Gang committed acts of terrorism and assassination against the British and were violently anti-Arab. Interestingly, two of the leaders of these terrorist groups went on to become the Prime Ministers of Israel. They were: Menahem Begin, leader of the Irgun from 1943 to 1948, and Yitzhak Shamir who headed the Stern Gang. These acts included the bombing of the King David hotel that killed 97 British citizens (still the largest number of deaths for a terrorist bombing in Palestine's history to date), the murder of Lord Moyne in Cairo and the murder of Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN appointed mediator to Palestine in 1948.

   In the 18 months leading up to the Untied Nations vote on the two-state solution that would give the Jews a state, these Jewish terrorists used every conceivable form of violence. They attacked airfields and radar stations, armories and military posts, wrecked railway lines and robbed banks, and murdered soldiers and civilians. In 1948, the Irgun led at the time by Mernachem Begin, raided the Arab village of Deir Yaseen and killed 254 of its inhabitants. These terrorist groups claimed that these acts of terrorism largely forced the British to end their Mandate, enabling the creation of the State of Israel.

   Of course the Israelis do not see these events in quite the same light. Israeli histories label these terrorist groups as 'freedom fighters', who are held in high esteem as 'heroes' for sacrificing themselves on the alter of Jewish Nationalism. This type of mythology is taught in Israeli schools where children learn that is noble to give up your life for your country. Often, the myth of Massada, where ancient Jews swore to die rather than surrender to the Romans and committed suicide rather than face defeat, is featured in the cirriculum.

   Again let's fast forward to the present, today it is the Palestinians who are willing to give their lives for the idea of national statehood. They too would rather die then live as a conquered people, they too are facing a well-armed and ruthless standing army and a militarised civil society, in which every citizen has a gun. The difference is that they only have stones and a few outdated weapons with which to face down the might of Israel. Because of their military weakness they are making themselves their weapon, they are wrapping home made explosive around their bodies and exploding themselves anywhere they find their enemy. Unfortunately this method is indiscriminate and kills the innocent as well.

   They are described and condemned as terrorists by nearly everyone in the West. But the suicide bomber has the international law on his side. International legislation acknowledges the right of occupied people to use force against their oppressors, both inside the occupied territories and outside of them. This principle, ironically, was reconfirmed at the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II. This was done to forestall Nazis claims that partisans, ghetto fighters and other underground resistance forces in the territories occupied by Germany have allegedly been "terrorists" These principles can be extended to the settlers in the West Bank and Gaza even though they are civilians. They become legitimate targets because it is Israel who is sending them there as colonists.

   So by the logic of Israeli history these Palestinian "terrorists” are really “freedom fighters” who like the Israeli "freedom fighters” of the past should be celebrated for resisting occupation and fighting for an independent Palestine against the people that have conquered and occupied it.

   Israel evidently has not learnt from its own history that shows when a people are pushed beyond their endurance they will raise up and fight with whatever means is available to them to try and ensure their survival. Jews have done this – remember the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Now the Palestinians are doing the same thing in Jenin and Remallah. Now instead of Nazis versus the existence of the Jews we have Israel versus the existence of the Palestinians.

   Thanks to Hitler for setting such insurmountable standards of horror, but the Israelis are truly offended when they are likened to the Nazis. It is true that they have no death camps and they have not massacred one third of the Palestinian Population. But it is no less immoral and inhuman to kill, injure, torture and maims indiscriminately based on race or religion. Dispossessing thousands and surrounding millions of people with electronic fences and tanks in tiny enclaves is to place a people under siege. To make pregnant women walk to hospitals, shoot at ambulances, kill paramedics, use civilians as human shields and extract reprisals from the innocent is exactly how the Nazis enforced their occupation of the lands they conquered.

   So, it is surprising that Israel is blind to its own past experience. They should know by now that the more you hurt a people and try and destroy their identity, the stronger they will become. Their hatred and desperation will eventually overcome their fear and perhaps by resisting even when all seems hopeless they can achieve their freedom as an independent people secure within their own boarders, or at the very least die fighting trying.

   Repression will not prevail in the long term, as all it does is instill hatred for you in the hearts of others and ensures that your violence will be returned to you someday. So, Israel, learn your history, turn away from the futility of violence and pursue a peaceful solution to today’s problems to ensure that you too have a future! It is always better to live at peace with your neighbours, for if you do not eventually your neighbours will join together and destroy you.


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