In response to my criticism of Israel’s war crimes and violations of international law, and thanks to my consequent support of the BDS campaign against Israel, I have received messages from a number of supposed Israeli ‘citizens’.
As explained in my essay, there are genuine reasons for Israeli fears, but there is little justification for Israel’s violent, inhumane actions. A schizophrenic, “catastrophalist” mentality has developed in Israel, and many citizens feel that the whole world is against them. Any criticism of Israel’s massacre of Gazan civilians, continued settlement in the West Bank, or daily humiliation and mistreatment of Palestinians, therefore, is considered to be an attack on Judaism (which it is not, and should not be).
We need to emphasise that Judaism is not the same as Zionism. Many prominent Jews have been highly critical of the creation of the Israeli State in 1948, and of the subsequent crimes committed by that state. The Haredi Jewish community is also strongly opposed to Zionism and its crimes. We need to make it clear that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about religion, but about politics. The fact is that a foreign population exploited colonial rule in Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century to buy up land from landowners and gradually push indigenous people out of the territory. This population sought to control the land just as other colonial powers had before, and its mistreatment of the local population was just as bad. Anger and conflict were bound to arise, and they did.
For criticising Israel’s crimes, so-called Israeli ‘citizens’ have said I am “supporting anti-Semitism, homophobia, and the oppression of women”, “glorifying terrorism”, “licking the feet of those murdered by Assad” in Syria, and supporting a “typical colonialist line”. If the extremism of these comments is not yet evident, I must take this opportunity to say that I obviously am not doing any of these things when I criticise Israel. Those who have made these comments to me may well just be Israelis who have been indoctrinated by state propaganda, but they may also be part of the Israeli propaganda system. Either way, they have refused to accept respectful, educated debate with me, and have instead insulted me and sought to attack my character. I have rarely encountered such a violent approach, and I must say it has shocked me to a certain extent.
I am heavily critical of any form of colonialism or imperialism, whether it comes from Europe, the USA, Israel, or elsewhere. I glorify no religion or ethnicity, and I condemn all forms of discrimination. Although I believe it is important to make a distinction between the violence of the oppressed and the violence of the oppressors, I do not approve of any violence. I believe that education, along with respectful and peaceful dialogue, is the ideal way to truly resolve human conflict.
Without the will to enter into such dialogue, however, violence is inevitable. That is not a preference, but a logical deduction based on historical analysis. And unfortunately, if the comments I have received from Israelis do indeed represent the thoughts of a significant proportion of people within Israeli society (which, from my research, I believe to be true), there is no hope for peaceful dialogue under the current circumstances. That is why I repeat the need for the international community to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and Israeli dissenters, who have called for a campaign of boycotts, sanctions, and divestment from Israel. That is why we need to force our governments to stop supporting Israel. Their continued silence should be seen as complicity in Israel’s crimes – as pointed out in my essay.
Zionism is just one aspect of the destruction caused by capitalism. Nationalism and ethnocentric politics cannot truly end violence, injustice, or oppression. The only chance for peaceful co-existence between people from different religious and ethnic groups is the creation of a political system build on respect, justice, equality, and co-operation. Those values cannot truly exist within a society in which one socio-economic group exploits and exercises domination over another – they cannot exist within a capitalist system! Those values can only exist within a system controlled by the workers – a system of freedom and of socialism.
For more on my stance, see the following posts: