What are we learning from the events in Israel / Palestine?
The terrible events that have unfolded in Israel / Palestine since the 7th October 2023 have exposed a number of myths and misconceptions about the State of Israel, Zionism and Judaism.
Immediately apparent is the widespread tendency to conflate Judaism with Zionism as an entirely political act. What has become clear from social media, is the refusal of Torah Jews around the world to recognise the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Among the most vociferous opponents of Zionism, it turns out, are the Jews from a sect that claims to be among the most religious Jews. As this recent protest in Mea Shearim in Jerusalem (pictured below) tells us, the Torah itself, precludes the existence of a Jewish State. As Rabbi Feldman told protesters in New York this week, Judaism is a religion, it is not a State.
Photograph courtesy of @NeitureiKarta
Mea Shearim, a 19th Century Jewish community in Jerusalem, has been at the heart of internal Jewish resistance to the Israeli state since its inception. The police violence inflicted on unarmed Jews in Mea Shearim, has shown the lengths the Israeli state will go to in its brutal suppression of dissenting voices and in defending its Zionist project.
The video clip below shows the Israeli police entering Mea Shearim, the oldest Jewish community in Jerusalem, to remove their Palestinian flags. WARNING – this video clip shows police violence that some may find disturbing.
This photograph (below), taken from a recent protest in Albany New York on the 17th of October, reminds us that, before the state of Israel was created on Palestinian land in 1948, Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in relative peace, all over the world. Indeed, there are around 180,000 Christian Arabs currently living in the occupied West Bank with many located in the Biblical sites of Bethlehem and Nazareth.
Photograph courtesy of @NeitureiKarta
Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss (clip below) reasserts what he believes is the fundamental fact that Zionism is not Judaism, and moreover, Jews can never be Zionists. It is important to note that this address was made on International Quds Day April 14, 2023, six months before the Hamas attack and Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Zionism and Judaism, Rabbi Weiss asserts, are antithetical. Acknowledging the fact that the Jews, for whom Judaism is a religion and not merely an identity, are anti-Zionist, destroys the politically motivated lie that criticism of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinian people arises from antisemitism.
That the label of antisemitism was so skillfully weaponised against Jeremy Corbyn and a whole raft of left-wing Jewish activists who were critical of Zionism, is testimony to the global hegemony that the state of Israel has worked so hard to secure. The almost universal move by allied states in Europe as well as the US and indeed Pakistan, to criminalise support for Palestine, outlawing demonstrations and banning Palestinian flags, shows just how successful the Zionist regime has been at conflating their political project with the notion of being Jewish.
The emergence, thanks to social media, of the dissenting Jewish voices around the world, exposes the lie that justifies the illegal settler state of Israel as the Jewish ‘Homeland’. As Noam Chomsky points out, Christian Zionism has a much longer history than Jewish Zionism, since Christian elites in both Britain and the US, pre 1947, believed that the Jews returning to ‘Israel’ would see the fulfillment of one of the greatest Biblical truths. He goes on to point out that the formation of the State of Israel and the displacement of the Palestinian people is the last phase of European colonisation. This is why the strongest support for Israel has been in countries in the so-called Anglo-sphere, including the US, Canada and Australia, themselves settler colonial societies built upon the almost total eradication of the indigenous population.
When it comes to political, economic and cultural factors, it is not difficult to see why the elites of the global north support Israel. What is also certain, is that this support is not shared by a great many citizens living in these countries. This strong public opposition is already causing many of these global leaders to row back on their unconditional support for the illegal collective punishment of the 2.2 million Palestinians living in Gaza. As the numbers of dead children augment daily, the resolve of western leaders to remain as resolute in their unwavering support for the right of Israel to ‘defend’ itself will diminish exponentially.
As Caitlin Johnston has written, the most extreme right wing Israeli government in the state’s history may be using the Hamas attacks of 7th October to ‘impose permanent change in clearing the area of Gaza, allowing it to further expand its territories as it has done in the West Bank for decades. The downside for Netanyahu’s Likud Party however is that these ongoing atrocities that were rarely spoken about in the western media, are now becoming all too apparent. Global populations now know what the western media have been ignoring for decades. We now know that the state of Israel routinely bombs hospitals, mosques, and schools. We now know that the global reputation’ of the State of Israel relies on the circulation of disinformation and lies. We now know that the State of Israel routinely and indiscriminately kills Palestinian children. But most importantly, we now know that Judaism and Zionism are not the same thing, and that criticising Israeli Zionism does not make you antisemitic. Some would argue, as a number of the ultra orthodox Rabbis do, that Zionism is itself, antisemitic.
That Britain’s political class, working in concert with the media, was able to discredit Jeremy Corbyn so easily by simply repeating the politically motivated trope that because he supported the Palestinian cause, he was antisemitic, is a source of great shame for the British public. That a man who had spent his entire life fighting against all forms of oppression, racism and bigotry could so readily be labelled an antisemite because he opposed the mass murder of Palestinians is testimony to the political power of the UK’s elites, including the billionaires who own the British press. It is also an embarrassing indication of just how gullible sections of British society have become.
Ironically, much of this violence and suffering is blamed on ‘religion’. Yet it is not religion at all that is at fault. It is Geo-politics being steered by colonial capitalism and, to a large extent, white (or at least European) supremacy. Religion takes the rap, yet when we look closely, the most religious people on each side, are the most compassionate and the most eager for peace. In all of this madness, the most religious ones appear to be the most sane.