Featured in Salaam Magazine
Changes in Israel’s Unjust Policies are a New Hope For
Jewish singer and writer Gilad Atzmon, in a recent article wrote, "one may sit in front of the TV watching Beirut burning and say "if this is what these barbarians are doing to their neighbors, no wonder why no one wants them as a neighbor." Gilad goes on to say further, “Israel is fuelled by others' pain and has become the absolute embodiment of modern evil.”
Many Jewish people are condemning the immorality of Israeli violence in the Middle East, and not all of this criticism is coming from modern Jewish reformists. David Ben-Gurion himself, who is heralded as one of the founders of Israel, along with Theodore Hertzl, ironically was one such critic. Ben-Gurion said, "If I were an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel.” Even former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said, "Had I been born a Palestinian, I would have joined a terrorist organization.”
One can only wonder what Ehud Olmert, Israel’s current Prime Minister will have to say in response to Israel’s most recent outbursts of deadly violence in Palestine and Lebanon. Uri Avery, a former Israeli military leader, now writer and peace activist wrote in one of his recent articles, “If one wants to become prime minister of Israel, one has to walk over dead bodies."
No human being with a conscience can bear to see the images of young children, women, and infants burning in Qana, Gaza and Jenin, nor will we ever forget these horrible atrocities. My purpose in quoting these Jewish voices is to make the point that critics of Israel’s persistent violence, and destabilization of the Muslim and Arab world is not anti-Semitic, an accusation that is routinely lodged against anyone who may criticize Israel, or challenge its legitimacy as a Jewish only, and Zionist nation/state.
After six decades of fighting and failing to live in peace with its neighbors, people of various religious and worldviews have began to speak with one voice against the racism and violence that has come to characterize Israel’s actions and policies. Whereas these new and some not so new voices are not calling for the elimination of Israel, they are calling for reforms and a change of Israeli strategy and policies towards its Muslim and Arab neighbors.
These new voices of pragmatic morality understand that Palestinians can't live in refugee camps forever. They realize that the residents of Gaza can't be silenced by violence and harsh oppression forever. They know that the Lebanese can't tolerate occupation of the south and destruction of their homes and the deaths of innocents forever.
Israel’s public relations machine has been very successful in disseminating Zionist propaganda designed to make Israelis hate Arabs and Muslims. They have been so successful that it's hard now for any Israeli leader to go to the people with new ideas about peaceful co-existence and mutual cooperation with a way of life that is premised upon logic, reason, and justice. unwarranted and illegal violence against Palestine and Israel, 33 days of non-stop Israeli, bombing and killing that has caused South Lebanon to look like Hiroshima, the people of Israel are calling for their Prime Minister’s resignation because they said that he didn’t go far enough. They don’t believe that enough war crimes against humanity have been committed, and they say that Olmert should have been more brutal, more violent, and more successful in wiping out the Arabs, Christians and Muslims of Palestine and Lebanon.
Israeli Prime Minister Olmert provided some important insight as to the depths to which Israel has fallen morally when he said that Israel would send Lebanon back 20 years. While Israel has always insisted that its violence is only in response to acts of terrorism, and for the sake of Israeli security, Olmert has made us understand that Israel’s real objective is and perhaps has always been to merely prevent the Muslim and Arab world from enjoying the economic, political and social development to which they aspire. In other words, envy and hatred have been Israel’s primary motivators, and not its security, as it has pretended for so many years.
The list of lies about this, and other Israeli wars is very long, and growing. Israel lied to the world when it said Israel went to war against Lebanon over two Israeli soldiers. It was a lie that this war was against Hezbollah only, while the airport and hundreds of bridges and roads were destroyed in Lebanon that didn't belong to Hezbollah! Israel also lied to us when they called the war against Lebanon an act of self-defense. Lebanon never invaded Israel, so where was the threat from Lebanon? The Israeli soldiers that were captured were captured on Lebanese soil. Israel called this a war against terrorism, which should cause us to ask who are the real terrorists? Who has the right to determine who is a terrorist? If what Israel did in Lebanon, and what it keeps doing in Palestine is not terrorism, then what is terrorism? Israel also lied about Qana in an attempt to justify the massacre of more than 50 women and children. Israel claimed that there was a Katusha rocket launcher belonging to Hizbollah that they were targeting. When it was revealed that they were lying, Israel issued an apology saying they were saddened and sorry for the terrible loss of life, yet they continue their daily slaughtering, even today.
US President Bush, and the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice have both said that the crimes committed by Israel, and also the suffering of the Muslim and Christian Arabs of Palestine and Gaza as a result of Israeli violence, are the birth pains of a new Middle East. They may be right. Listening to the voices of the Jewish reformists, and the international condemnation that has been heaped upon Israel for its continued violations of international law, and its disproportionate violence against innocents in Gaza and Lebanon, the new Middle East might be new only because of the world’s new attitude towards Israel, which is one of intolerance for its racist policies, and its promotion of hatred and envy between the Israeli and Arab peoples, and also its violence and oppression. Changes in Israel’s policy towards its neighbors are long overdue.