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     Jewish opposition to occupation




The excesses of Sharon's government have been such that even erstwhile ardent Zionists have started speaking out against them. We give room to Jewish voices here, which either do not agree with Zionism at all, or do not agree with the means by which the idea of Zionism has been furthered in Israel, turning the country into an apartheid state. 

I. Heichler, retired senior diplomat, born in Austria in 1925 where he lived under German rule from 1938 to 1940. He then managed to escape with his immediate family to the United States. Mr. Heichler served in the US Army during World War II, becoming a US citizen in 1944. He entered the  Foreign Service in 1954 and retired as a minister- counselor in the American Foreign Service in 1986 after serving at seven posts abroad, in addition to Washington DC. 

“As a Jewish refugee from the Nazis who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, I feel free to express negative views of the Zionist experiment, Israel's policies, and one-sided US support of Israel without fear of being instantly branded a Jew-hater. Jewishness, I insist, does not require I may belong to a minority, but I count myself among the Jews who oppose the Zionist movement. Perhaps it was in part because of Nazi insistence on defining me as a member of a different, "non-Aryan" race that already as a boy I came to regard Judaism as first and foremost a religious faith and community. As a young teenager in Nazi-occupied Austria, I was offended by what struck me as parallels between Nazi and Zionist definitions of the Jews as an ethnic group.

When I first read The Jewish State, the "bible" of the Zionist movement written by founder Theodor Herzl (comparable in its political influence to Uncle Tom's Cabin), I came across the naive, romantic slogan coined by this Austrian Jewish journalist, "People without land, come to the land without people!" That sen­tence alone persuaded me to re­gard the Zionist experiment in Palestine as based on a hopelessly unrealistic premise, doomed to create the tragic, insoluble prob­lem which now confronts us daily in news, in order to keep the issue alive as a weapon to use against Israel. Today the population of the territories occupied since 1967 is growing much faster than that of Israel, and there is no obvious solution to that equation.

If I could envisage a reasonably quick and comprehensive solution to the crisis in Israel/Palestine, I would not have entitled this US piece "The Insoluble Problem." I do believe that certain steps are possible to mitigate the crisis, but here, too, I am pessimistic that moderate or even drastic changes in American policy will improve our relations with the region, at least over the short term.

I advocate that we adopt a much tougher stance, using our massive assistance program much more effectively as leverage to insist on Israeli compliance with UN resolutions and our longstanding demands that settlement construction cease. Already existing settlements in the occupied territories should be dismantled. As for our dealings with the Palestinian side, there is a steady deterioration of Jewish-Palestinian relations and to a dead end. One could ask whether: Israel might have done better to face the wrath of the world and openly annex the conquered lands back in 1967 rather than render their occupation irreversible through the back-door method of building all these settlements.

Instead, Israel has succeeded only in creating three classes or, better yet, "castes" of people: Jewish citizens of Israel; Palestinians with citizenship rights in Israel proper; Palestinians living in the occupied territories without any apparent rights or protection against arbitrary measures taken against them by the Israeli authorities. Is it possible to imagine a surer recipe for anger, hatred and violence?

In the event of withdrawal, Israel must repatriate the settlers, daunting though the size of the problem (200,000 people) makes this task. But they cannot be left behind without facing almost certain slaughter.

I am deeply skeptical that the "Palestinians will find not only the PLO, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, El Sendero Luminoso and so on and so forth, ad infinitum, guilty of terrorism, but equally so the government of Ariel Sharon with his brutal and futile efforts to impose "peace" on the Occupied Territories, equally guilty the increasingly brutal Israeli military which is harassing, maiming and killing innocent people, including women and children, wantonly razing civilian homes, tearing up their streets and roads, keeping people pent up and prevented from going where they need to go in order to earn a livelihood. Can there be a more cruel historical irony than Jews inflicting on Palestine's native population forms of harassment, suffering and horrors reminiscent of what their forefathers were condemned to experience at the hands of the Nazis half a century ago? A plague on both their houses, I say‑Arab and Israeli terrorists both in their pursuit of policies and actions which create no solutions but only more rage, more violence, m must be automatic, even at the expense of American interests in the Middle East and around the world. I fear that the consistent US "tilt" toward Israel, our unwavering support of Israeli policy, stems from fear by our elected officials of a specter called "the Jewish vote." I fervently hope that this "Jewish vote" is a political myth, that in reality there is no such bloc vote. Having suffered Nazi hatred and persecution at first hand, I am like the child "once burned, twice careful," and I worry that, fed by blind support of Israeli policies and actions by many American Jews, and by powerful lobbies like AIPAC (the America‑Israel Public Affairs Committee) and even the terrorist gang known as the Jewish Defense League, Anti‑Semitism may increase rapidly in America.

I fear that blind Jewish support of Israel will sooner or later give rise to suspicions of divided loyalty. It may seem absurd (for now), but as a retired US Foreign Service officer, I have nightmarish visions of the Jewish state."

Rabbi Michael Lerner

"Many rabbis and professionals have told me recently that they fear for their jobs should they even begin to articulate their doubts about Israeli policy‑much less give explicit support to calls for an end to the occupation."

Rivka Mitchell, Israeli actress "It is no longer my country"

"For me, this business called the state of Israel is finished... I can't bear to see it anymore, the injustice that is done to the Arabs, to the Beduins. All kinds of scum coming from America and as soon as they get off the plane taking over lands in the territories and claiming it for their own ...I can't do anything to change it. I can only go away and let the whole lot go to hell without me."

Geraldo Rivera, American talk show host

Israel is "inflicting, not fighting, terrorism"

"I have been a Zionist my entire life. I would die for Israel. But watching the suffering of the Palestinian people, I'm also becoming a Palestinian-ist."

"You can't round up Palestinian young men and put numbers on their arms to make it easier to identify them." "That reminds the world, that reminds Jews, of what Hitler and the Nazi pigs inflicted on the Jewish race during the Second World War."

Liz Spikol (Reporter, Philadelphia Weekly)

"In my experience as a Jewish reporter, I've heard a great deal about "not airing our dirty laundry." I have often been told - verbally, in Jewish publications and in synagogues- that even if I have doubts about the Israeli government and its treatment of Palestinians, I should keep quiet about it and be steadfast in my support of a nation that needs to exist. And I was happy to oblige, because wasn't it important, above all, that Israel endure - this vulnerable and a relatively new country penned in by nations that would like to make it disappear?

But now Israel has crossed a line, and I and many, many American Jews like me will not be able to cross it with them.

I have always loved Israel as much as my own country, and I always believed I would move there one day, even if it was two days before I died. The desire to "return" to Israel is a current of longing that runs, I think, through the blood of many American Jews. And I am no exception.

Yet these days it strikes me as ridiculous that while the "law of return" allows me to go to Israel and live there as a Jewish citizen, no questions asked, people who are born there- Palestinians - don't have the rights I would enjoy if I moved there. What's wrong with that picture?

Israel's defensive politics reminds me of basketball, of all things. Some players are defensive players - that's what they do and that's what they're good at. But when called upon to play offense, they go too far because they're afraid of not doing enough. Those players are the dangerous ones, because you never know when they'll elbow you in the ribs to make a play.

Israel has been on the defensive since 1948, and there's no question that for the most part, that was the only way to play the game. But over the years, that defense has looked more and more like a hostile and brutal offense. How many lives need to be destroyed before Israel's immunization from harm is ensured?

I'm frankly embarrassed that Israel, in the name of preventing further oppression of the Jews, has now become the oppressor. The hypocrisy is enraging. And as an American Jew, I'm ashamed of my own government's lack of action.

Are Palestinians less deserving of freedom and independence than, say, Bosnians or South Africans? Why was it a terrible thing to intern Japanese during World War II but acceptable to intern generations of Palestinians in the same kinds of camps? I can't take the double standard anymore.

And though people don't want to talk about it, this is also about race. Here in the U.S., the rhetoric of racism was fashioned by slavery, by World War II, by Ezra Pound-the list goes on. That's why it's shocking to hear Jews talk about Arabs using similar terminology, including lampooning physical characteristics and religious beliefs.

A couple days ago, I was surfing MSNBC.com and found a photo that represents the physical and racial divide between Israelis and Palestinians. Two Israeli soldiers stand above a bloody dead body as another Israeli soldier takes their picture. One soldier stands proudly, hand on gun. The other is looking down at the body and smiling.

It's the most disturbing photo. It reminds you of those corny snapshots of a guy holding a big fish aloft, proud of his catch. Only this time it's a Palestinian, not a fish.

At this point, neither side can see the other as human beings. Suicide bombers and their terrorist brethren don't think about the lives of the individuals they kill. They think of them only in terms of death: How many did we get this time?

Now I'm worried about what we won't see on TV. In online reports from international observers, I read about two ambulances stopped by Israeli forces in Ramallah. One belonged to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the other to the Ministry of Health. In both cases the crew, including paramedics, were arrested. Later on, even the injured were arrested. Denying medical aid is something U.N. peacekeeping forces would never allow‑nor is it something the U. S. would condone in any context but this one.

For those of us who have been too afraid to question events - not wanting to be disloyal and ever afraid that such doubts would consign Israel to a bleak fate - we must ask ourselves now what purpose our silence has served. Has our passivity played a role in securing a place for Ariel Sharon, who every day gets closer to the kind of military despotism Jews have feared for years? On the other hand, if we are willing to speak, what can we say about a man, a government, that is utterly without humanity?

Don't get me wrong: I am equally and to be honest, sometimes more devastated by the injuries on the Israeli side. I have cousins and friends living in Israel and I fear for their safety. I also fear for Israel itself. More than anything, I want it to prosper. But for now and for a change I'm going to concern myself with justice, not sentimentality. I may be called a traitor, but I won't be silent anymore."

Assaf Oron, An Open Letter to American Jews, Passover Eve, 2002

"Dear People, Yesterday I was informed of an interesting phenomenon: a peace - supporting Jewish organization called Tikkun published an ad in favor of us, the Israeli reservist refuseniks, and was immediately bombarded with hate mails and phones from other American Jews. What is more interesting is that even other Jews considering themselves supporters of peace have denounced the Tikkun ad, to the extent that some of the Tikkun Advisory Board members are resigning in order to minimize the personal damage to themselves. This has so saddened, alarmed and angered me, that I find myself setting aside a half-day at the eve of Passover, and writing this open letter to you all. As is my habit, it is quite long, so please bear with me.

Most of the `civilized' attacks, so I understand, were seemingly aimed at this or that detail of the Tikkun ad. This is nothing new to me... They range from petty nit-picking to plain ludicrous, and each and every one of them can be refuted to dust in a matter of minutes. But the moment you refute them, new specific arguments sprout up like mushrooms. It is clear that there is something very general and non-specific behind all this criticism.

Therefore, if you allow me, I will start from the general and only later turn to a couple of these specific issues.

The general theme is the tribal theme. A very very loud voice (and in Israel nowadays, it is the only voice that is allowed to be fully heard) keeps shouting that we are in the midst of a war between two tribes: a tribe of human beings, of pure good - the Israelis and a tribe of sub-human beings, of pure evil - the Palestinians. This voice is so loud, that it has found its way even to the op-ed pages of the New York Times (William Safire, March 24 or 25). To those who find this black-and-white picture a bit hard to believe, the same voice shouts that this is a war of life and death. Only one tribe will survive, and so even if we are not purely good, we must lay morality and conscience to sleep, shut up and fight to kill or else, the Palestinians will throw us into the sea.

Does this ring a bell to you? It does to me. As a little child growing up in Israel under Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan, all I heard was that the Arabs are inhuman monsters who want to throw us into the sea, they understand only force, and since our wonderful IDF has won the Six Day War they know not to mess with us anymore or else. And of course, we must keep the Liberated Territories to ourselves, because there's no one to talk with. Then came the Yom Kippur war, and for a child of 7 it was the perfect proof that indeed the Arabs want to throw us into the sea, and what a great opportunity it was for our glorious IDF to teach them a lesson.

I prayed for the war to continue to its natural and final end the complete surrender of all Arab armies. I was too small to evaluate, then, how the war really ended; all these cease-fires and talks were too complicated and boring, much more boring than a war. And it seemed humiliating that WE should withdraw in these cease-fires; I remember that the re-opening of the Suez Canal was portrayed in our mass media as a kind of defeat.

A few years passed and a funny thing happened: those throw-us-into-the-sea Arabs came to talk with us, and in exchange for all of Sinai they wouldsign a full peace. The IDF chief of staff (the late Motte Gur, later a Labor Party minister) shouted that it is a hoax, that we should not believe Saadat, but the politicians had to sign. Already a teenager, I went and protested against the withdrawal from Sinai. It seemed strange to me that most of the demonstrators were orthodox Jews.

After all, it was a purely logical issue: the Arabs are not to be trusted, that's what we've learned from day one. Well, lucky for the country, the government and the majority ofthe people employed a different logic, and the peace with Egypt was not missed.

But the throw-us-into-the-sea paradigm immediately found new fields for play. There was an inconvenient reality on the Northern border, and even though the forces on the other side (Palestinians! Phew!) had strictly adhered to a secret cease-fire for about a year, they were Arabs and therefore could not be trusted. So we talked ourselves into invading Lebanon and setting up a friendlier regime there. The mastermind of the invasion was defense minister Ariel Sharon, and Shimon Peres, then head of opposition, voted together with his party in favor of the invasion. Only later, when it turned sour, and after many refuseniks already sat in jail, would the main opposition turn against the whole affair. For me at 16 it was also a turning point. When I understood that the government had lied to me in order to sell me this war, I turned from `center-rightist' to `leftist'. Sadly enough, it has taken me almost 20 more years, in a slow and painful process, to understand how deeply the lies and self-delusion are rooted in our collective perception of reality.

Anyway, when Peres withdrew most of our forces from Lebanon in 1985, the Arabs could still not be trusted. And so, to soothe our endless paranoia and suspicion, we created that perpetual source of death and crime ironically known as "the Security Zone." It took many years, a lot of blood and Four Mothers against almost all politicians, generals, and columnists to finally pull us out of Lebanon. In the long and hard way, we learned that even the Lebanese are human beings whose rights must be respected.

But not the Palestinians. Because the Palestinians are too painfully close, like a rival sibling (and may I add because they have always been so weak), we have singled them out for a special treatment. Having them under our rule, we've allowed ourselves to trample them like dirt, like dogs. We've been doing it even to our own Palestinian citizens (especially before 1966), but we have perfected our treatment in this strange no man's land created in 1967, and known as the Occupied Territories. There we have created an entirely hallucinatory reality, in which the true humans, members of the Nation of Masters, could move and settle freely and safely, while the sub-humans, the Nation of Slaves, were shoved into the corners, and kept invisible and controlled under our IDF boots.

I know. I've been there. I was taught how to do this, back in the mid-1980's. I did and witnessed as a matter of fact, deeds that I'm ashamed to remember to this day. And fortunately for me, I did not have to witness or do anything truly "pornographic", as some friends of mine experienced.

Since 1987, this cruel, impossible, unnatural, insulting reality in the Territories has been exploding in our face. But because of our unshakable belief that the Palestinians are monsters who want to throw us into the sea, we reacted by trying to maintain what we've created at all costs. This meant of course employing more and more and more force, with the natural result of receiving more and more and more force in return. When a fledgling and hesitating peace process tried to work its way through this mess, one major factor (perhaps THE factor) that undermined it and voided its meaning was our establishment's endless fear and suspicion of The Other. To resolve this fear and suspicion, we chose the insane route of demanding full control of The Other throughout the process. When this Other finally decided that we're cheating him out of his freedom (and having too many mental disorders of his own to accommodate ours as well), violence erupted, and all our ancient instincts woke up. There they are, we said in relief, now we see their true face again. The Arabs want to throw us into the sea.

There's no one to talk with (no partner, in our beloved ex-PM's words), and they understand only force. And so we responded as we know and love, with more and more and more force. This time, the effect was that of putting out a fire with a barrel of gasoline. And that's the moment when I said to myself, NO, I'm not playing this game anymore.

But what about the existential threat, you may ask? Well I ask you, have you not eyes? Don't you see our tanks strolling in Palestinian streets every other day? Don't you see our helicopters hovering over their neighborhoods choosing which window to shoot a missile into?

What type of existential need are we answering in trampling the Palestinians?

Prevention of terror, I hear you say. Let me use the wonderful words of my friend Ishay Rosen-Zvi: `You are fighting against terror'? What a joke. The Israeli government, in its policies of Occupation, has turned the Territories into a greenhouse for growing terror!!!

We have sown the seeds, grown them, nurtured them and then our blood is spilled, and the centrist-right-wing politicians reap the benefits. Indeed, terror is the right-wing politician's best friend. You know what? When you treat millions of people like sub-humans for so long, some of them will find inhuman strategies to fight back.

Isn't that what the Zionists, and other Jewish revolutionaries, argued about a hundred years ago in order to explain the questionable strategies of survival that Jews used in Europe? Didn't our forefathers say, Let us live like human beings, and see how we'll act just like other human beings?

So here's the deal. I hope that the first part of this letter made it clear that I don't buy the they want to throw us into the sea crap. It's just a collective self-delusion of ours. But more importantly, I don't see tribes. I see people, human beings. I believe that the Palestinians are human beings like us. What a concept, eh? And before everything else, before EVERYTHING else, we must treat them like human beings without demanding anything in return. And no (to all die-hard Barak fans), throwing them a couple of crumbs in which they can set up pitiful, completely controlled Bantustans in between our settlements and bypass roads, and believing it to be a great act of generosity, does NOT come close to answering this basic requirement. This requirement is NOT negotiable; moreover, in a perfect demonstration of historical justice, it is a vital requirement for the survival of our own State.

After that, and based on the lessons of modern history, especially that ofthe Arab-Israeli conflict (as was briefly described above), I do believe that the Palestinians will cahn down, and that the elusive Security and peace will finally come upon us (as it did, incidentally, for almost two whole years between Wye 1998 and Camp David 2000). I don't have any insurance policy for that (well - almost none, except the solemn promise ofthe entire Arab world), but remember - I have this funny notion that they are human beings.

In any case, we are seeing now all too well what type of insurance policy the opposite paradigm is providing us.

In the meanwhile, I refuse to be a terrorist in my tribe's name. Because that's what it is: not a `war against terror', as our propaganda machine tries to sell. This is a war OF terror, a war in which, in return for Palestinian guerrilla and terror, we employ the IDF in two types of terror. The more visible one are the violent acts of killing and destruction, those which some people still try to explain away as surgical acts of defense. The worse type of terror is the silent one, which has continued unabated since 1967 and through the entire Oslo process. It is the terror of Occupation, of humiliation on a personal and collective basis, of deprivation and legalized robbery, of alternating exploitation and starvation.

This is the mass of the iceberg, the terror that is itself along-term greenhouse for counter-terror. And I simply refuse to be a terrorist and criminal, even if the entire tribe denounces me.

That leads me to the first specific subject: are we, the refuseniks, being persecuted and denounced, or are we enjoying the wonderful Israeli tolerance and democracy and exploiting it to make trouble?

Well, I must admit that this is not yet the USSR or Pinochetis Chile, and at least the Jews here enjoy a relative democracy... I first must point out that the government and IDF also enjoy the image of `letting us speak', and it serves them well. Secondly, in a rather sophisticated manner the establishment (with the generous and voluntary help of the mass media) is effectively shutting us up.

The media has decided for us that there is no opposition. Thus, a demonstration of 20,000 is reported in 5 seconds at the late-night edition, and a demonstration of 500 outside a military prison is completely ignored. The fact that right now there are over a dozen refuseniks in jail - the largest number in twenty years - is hidden from the Israeli public. The story of Captain (res.) Itai Haviv and Sergeant (res.) Yair Yeffeth, who demanded a full military trial in which they could prove that refusal is innocence and that the order to serve in the Territories is illegal, was not told anywhere except for a brief mention in the back pages of Haaretz.

So the public, of course, didn't learn that the IDF evaded answering these demands, and that Itai Haviv will spend the Seder night in prison following a disciplinary hearing. I hope the readers are intelligent enough to know that if the media wanted, these stories would make the headlines.

Still, you keep hearing about us. That's the key word, ABOUT us. But you don't hear us. You just hear people explaining, analyzing, mostly (in a ratio of 99 to 1) attacking us. We have become the perfect `hate hour' figures, to reunite the tribe against (have you read 1984?) Petty volunteer groups who organized against us, a mayor who called upon local governments not to hire us, and a group of industrialists who called employers to fire us, have all won their moment in the spotlight. No one cared to mention that these are blatantly illegal calls (no, the law is remembered only when we `break' it). No one has tried to set limits to this discussion.

Moreover, the prime minister in one of his rare public addresses blamed us for the wave of terror (us, not his catastrophic policies). The IDF chief of staff can't stop talking about us; he sees us as a bunch of inciters with a hidden agenda. So, ironically, the only thing protecting us from long-term gulag imprisonment and from losing our jobs is public opinion, the rather large pockets of support and sympathy among key sectors in the Israeli public, and yes, support ads such as the one published by Tikkun. The moment the government or IDF will think the lights are out, and no one sees or cares they will find or invent the `legal' clause (Israeli politicians are experts in this) and throw those they believe to be our leaders to jail for long terms. Remember, even poor Abie Nathan was thrown in for two years, just because he dared speak with PLO personnel about peace.

But that's nothing, because the moment our government will sense a "lights out" situation - a huge terror attack, an American attack on Iraq - there will be a horrible bloodbath in the Territories, compared to which the last year and a half will be remembered as a happy picnic. And that brings me to the second specific issue, that of the Nazi allusion.

Some readers thought that the way the Tikkun ad said "obeying orders" was an allusion to Nazi murderers' claim that they were "just obeying orders." Rabbi Lerner has rightly pointed out to these readers, that automatic execution of orders is a characteristic of all dictatorship, not just the Nazi one, while refusal on moral grounds is a sign of democracy. I agree, but let me be less polite and politically correct. After all, it's just my country that's going up in smoke as I write. What is this? Does Israel have the exclusive monopoly of labeling all its rivals as Nazis, and everyone else has to shut up, even when reality starts speaking for itself?

Parties that support the essentially Nazi idea of deporting all Palestinians from the country, have been part of our Knesset and our "legitimate" political map since 1984. Recent opinion polls show that 35% of the Jewish public now supports this solution, as it is sometimes called. Leaders, Rabbis, and just plain folk feel free to call openly in the mass media to eradicate Palestinian cities with or without their tenants. Last weekend, Gen. (res.) Effi Eitam, fresh out of the military and all ready to take the leadership of the religious public and become a deputy or alternative to Netanyahu, received a flattering cover story on Haaretz supplement. He unfolded his chilling ideology, calling to expel those Palestinians who don't want to remain in the Galilee and West Bank as serfs, to Jordan, and from Gaza to Sinai. And he said this: why should us, the country poorest in land resources, bear the burden of solving the Palestinian problem? Well I don't know about you, but I remember some of the Nazi rhetoric in that dark period between the Kristallnacht of 1938 and the beginning of the war, when Jews were expelled from Germany but could find no safe haven anywhere else. When I see a retired IDF general and rising political star use the exact same Nazi rhetoric on Israelis most liberal newspaper, without any criticism by his interviewer or the editors my hair just stands on my head in horror.

Let's move from the political scene back to the ground. My friend, Captain (Res.) Dan Tamir, decided to refuse to serve in the Territories about a year ago, after he realized what he'd done as a reserve regiment's intelligence officer a few weeks before that. He realized he had laid out the plans to convert a large Palestinian town into a closed ghetto. You can find his full statement on our website, www.seruv.org.il. The vast majority of Palestinians in the Territories now starve in such ghettos; in those days of mercy when they are allowed to leave them by foot and perhaps catch a taxi, these taxis are forbidden from using most of the paved roads in the region.

But why listen to a "leftist"? Let's hear it from senior IDF officers. One of the top commanders in the Territories was quoted in Haaretz (Jan. 25) as saying that in order to prepare for potential battles in dense urban neighborhoods, the IDF must learn, if necessary, how the German army operated in the Warsaw Ghetto. A week later, the reporter confirmed this quote and the fact that this is a widespread opinion in the IDF, and went further to morally de­fend it. A small number of people, including myself, tried to raise a scandal over this. One letter to the editor was published in Haaretz. A much tougher letter, which I wrote, was never published, nor was my plea for a phone discus­sion with an editor ever answered. The issue just died down. No one in Israel or in the Jewish public abroad was interested. Where were all these holy souls, who now scold Tikkun because they indirectly allude to the Nazi hor­ror, where were they all when a senior IDF officer proudly called, `in order to beat the Palestinians, let's be Judo-Nazis'?

In my letter to Haaretz I went further. Knowing the IDF mental­ity and adding one to one, I con­cluded that the IDF is operation­ally prepared to invade refugee camps an utter, indefensible war crime - and through this leak to the press it is starting to pressure the government and prepare the public opinion for the invasion. The letter was not published. It was sent on February 2. A few weeks later we all saw the horrors ofthe refugee camp invasions and the bloody revenge attacks that followed culminating on Pass­over eve. And you know what? Army generals and colonels mor­ally and professionally pat them­selves on the back, because these invasions "prevented terror", and killed only dozens and not thou­sands. (Note: in fact, the major reason limiting the bloodshed was the "terrorists" responsible deci­sion not to turn the camps into all-out battlegrounds. But this may change in the next round.)

In truth, I have little hope that the Israeli public will wake up. The Israeli public, in its fear and confusion, has made a decision (aided by the politicians and mass media) to go to sleep and wake up only after it is all over. But it won't be over, because while our mind sleeps our muscles tighten the death grip, instead of doing the only sensible thing (which re­quires an open mind) which is to let go. Will you guys join the hyp­ocrite mobs who sing lullabies to Israel and pounce upon the re­fuseniks, upon Tikkun, to shut us up? Or will you finally take re­sponsibility and be the true friends that Israel needs now even if it means not being "nice" to Is­rael for a while?

As you sit tonight at the Seder table, please remember the dozen or so refuseniks that spend this Seder in a military jail. More im­portantly, please remember the thousand or so people, three quar­ters Palestinians and one quarter Israelis, who were here with us a year ago and have been murdered. Most of them could have been here with us, if you and we had acted sooner. We have now acted, done what little we can do. Please think of the many thousands that may be doomed soon, if you con­tinue sitting on the fence.

May you have a happy Holiday of Freedom; Please help us strug­gle free from fear, racism, hatred and the deaths they produce.

Rabbi Beck, Neturei Karta

Zionism is heresy. If we exam­ine the deeds and the actions of the Zionists we can see that they are an irreligious group which at­tempts to enforce irreligiousity upon all those who come in con­tact with them. For example, their courts of law are based upon non-Torah sources. Practically speaking, we see that they are ir­religious and they force irreligiousity although it must be noted that in Israel one finds a Ministry of Religion and one also encounters people who refer to themselves as `religious Zion­ists'. This fact should not blind us to the central fact that the purpose of Zionism and its essential char­acter was to deny religion and to go away from religion. The fact that there are signs of religion in the Zionist government is simply a tactic which they use. It is an ap­pendage to their true self which is anti-religion.

As we see in the writings of the Zionists themselves, their pur­pose was to construct a new im­age of the Jewish people - to cre­ate a new Jewish people. Their goal was to change a people who were constituted on the basis of faith and Torah and to substitute for that a people who are free from both faith and Torah. This does not necessarily mean that they would actively try to destroy reli­gion but merely by saying that re­ligion is a matter of personal con­science - that each person can de­cide for themselves whether or not to obey the religion, that reli­gion becomes a private affair. By so saying this, they have de­stroyed the intrinsic character of the Jewish people, that character being an acceptance of Torah.

We find that they refer in their writings to `freedom' and `toler­ance' so that their State or in their conception of the Jewish people a Jew would have a right to accept or reject religion. In fact in the history of the Zionist State we sea an active attempt to destroy reli­gion.


In what way have they tried ac­tively to destroy religion In Israel today the hatred towards religion and towards religious Jews ex­tends from one end of the country to the other. If we examine the history of the Israeli State we see that each group of immigrants that was brought in from coun­tries such as Morocco, Algeria, Iraq and Iran and today Russia, the government conducts an ac­tive campaign to wean them away from the practice of religion. At times it is a violent campaign. Those that tried to stop this gov­ernment attempt were at times killed. That happened in certain cases. It was not a standard pol­icy. The standard policy was to take Jews away from Judaism. As a witness to that we see the many organizations that were founded with the express purpose of pre­venting the government and the Zionists from pulling Jews away from Judaism. New immigrants have been especially susceptible to what they were trying to do.

The existence of these several organizations not necessarily Neturei Karta but several organizations that were working to prevent the Zionist attempt to destroy Judaism is proof to what the Zionists were trying to do.

What then is the Zionist opinion of what a Jew is if they have gone away from the definition of someone who accepts the Torah and practises its precepts.

The true definition of a Jew is faith and Torah. Zionism says it is nationalism...

I cannot explain the root of antisemitism because I am Jewish. Zionism itself is the greatest enemy of the Jewish people. It has caused untold suffering to the Jewish people. The extent that Zionism caused anti-Semitism is a secondary point. The major point is that Zionism has created havoc amongst the Jews themselves.

Besides the fact that Zionism is a spiritual threat to the Jewish people, the early Zionists actually wrote that it would be profitable for the Jewish people to have anti-Semitism. They wrote that we should actually try to encourage anti-Semitism to force the Jews to opt for Zionism. This is the connection. Anti-Semites in Europe actually took Zionist writings which emphasised Jewish `differentness' and used these writings as an excuse for their anti-Semitism. There was a practical connection as well as the spiritual connection.

There is no doubt that the sufferings which the Jewish people endure are spiritual sufferings that God imposes on them for various sins. One of the punishments for transgressing the Three Oaths mentioned above - that the Jews were to be sworn by God not to rebel against the nations and visit to re-establish their nationhood by military might - was that God said that he would allow the Jaws to be slaughtered. He would allow their flesh, so speak, to become open to anyone to attack them, so certainly there was a connection in that sense between anti-Semitism, Nazi persecution esc. Because Jews having transgressed these oaths thereby left themselves open to such persecution...

Since authentic Jewish people are opposed to the notion of a State altogether, there would be no problem whatsoever in Jews living in the area of Israel and Palestine. For hundreds of years there were Jewish communities of Prayer and study in the area that the State of Israel rules today. Those communities lived in complete peace with the surrounding Arabs. Not only in Israel, but also throughout the Arab world, traditionally Jews and Arabs lived together in peace. There were other lands where there was conflict. The Arab lands were completely peaceful for the Jews. That was the way it was in Palestine and that could continue in the future. There would be communities of Jews that would be interested in prayers and study and that could be under a Palestinian State in absolute peace and harmony - as it has always traditionally been in Jerusalem and other cities in Israel.

Martin Buber, Jewish philosopher 1878-1965, a key supporter of Zionism until he became disillusioned with Herzl's political programme:

"When the Jews returned to Palestine, the decisive question was, `Do we Jews want to go there as an ally, a friend, as a brother, as an integral part of the community of Near Eastern peoples or as the representatives of European colonialism and imperialism? This discrepancy between aims and means, between the goal and how to achieve it, divided the Jews in Palestine into opportunists who were determined to grab from the concessions as possible and us who simply wanted to be allowed to live in Palestine together with our Arab neighbours, on a plain of equality. The majority of Jews preferred to learn from Hitler rather than from us. Hitler showed the world that history does not go the way of the spirit but rather the way of power and if a people is powerful enough, it can kill with impunity. The question of the Palestinians is decisive for Israel, yet so far as I can see, Israel does not recognise any Arab rights at all!"

Margaret Marcus Lahore, American Jewish Writer in 1981

"Do you want to be both the agents and pawns of colonialism, racism and super-power imperialism? Do you want utter moral and spiritual desecration of the sacred Torah at the hands of atheists, materialist and opportunists? How can you ever feel secure living off the stolen property of an entire people, you have dispossessed of home and country? If not, then conclude a just peace with the Arabs without delay and grant the Palestinians their human rights in full, before it is too late and disaster confronts you! Jews! You must choose between Judaism and Zionism, you cannot have both!"   

Author: Islamic Party of  Britain
Date Published: June 2002

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