By Eresh Omar Jamal
May 22, 2018
When it comes to Palestine and the plight of Palestinians, everything is generally inverted. Take for example the US decision to shift its embassy in Israel, to Jerusalem on May 15, 2018, on the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring its independence, also the day when Palestinians commemorated 70 years of unending “Nakba” (Day of Catastrophe). “Catastrophe” for Palestinians, because it was 70 years ago when during the 1948 Palestinian War, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians (out of 900,000) fled or were expelled and hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages were depopulated and destroyed.
On May 15, 2018 we saw a glimpse of that inversion, as while Israel celebrated the opening of the new US embassy to Israel in East Jerusalem, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) killed about 60 Palestinians, maiming hundreds and injuring thousands more.
When asked about the violence, White House Spokesman Raj Shah accused Hamas' leaders of making a “gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt” that led to the “clashes”, adding that “the responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely on Hamas”—the same narrative doled out by Israel every time it perpetrates unwarranted violence and murder against Palestinians, who are completely defenceless against sophisticated Israeli weaponry.
But, lest we forget, it was Israel that was initially interested in enabling Hamas' activity during its early days to weaken the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and end the first Intifada (Palestinian uprising), as exposed by secret documents passed between American diplomats in the 1980s, published by WikiLeaks. One document dated September 29, 1989 reads, “Earlier in the uprising, some Israeli occupation officials indicated that Hamas served as a useful counter to the secular organisations loyal to the PLO.”
Another, dated September 23, 1988, says, “Many West Bankers believe that Israel actively supports Hamas…They point to the fact that Hamas operatives act boldly in distributing their leaflets…whereas UNLU [Unified National Leadership of the Uprising] leaflets are distributed secretly for fear of Israeli security forces, Hamas operatives walk into shops and present their leaflets directly to the owners. Mayor Freij of Bethlehem claims that members of some well-known families who collaborate with Israeli officials have been seen among Hamas street gangs in Bethlehem…despite massive arrests…relatively few Hamas leaders have been detained.”
The most incriminating of these leaks concerns a diplomatic exchange (dated June 13, 2007) between then Israeli Director of Military Intelligence Major General Amos Yadlin and US Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones, where Yadlin told the US Ambassador that he would be “very happy” if Hamas formed a government in Gaza. Adding that Israel would then work with the rival Palestinian political party, Fatah, to form a government in the West Bank and work to undermine the Hamas government—which is exactly what happened, followed by Israel launching the largest-ever assault on Gaza in December 2008.
Then, what is truly “gruesome” is how all these “facts” are completely ignored by western nations and their media and how the “massacres” of Palestinians are often called “clashes”, as pointed out by historian and former British diplomat Craig Murray, who further wrote on May 14, “If you look through the Google search of News this time for 'clashes', you discover that the western and Israeli media peculiarly have precisely the same preference for this entirely inappropriate word.”
And when it comes to downplaying the sufferings of Palestinians, even the UN is not innocent—as one document published by WikiLeaks dated May 5, 2009 showed former UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon secretly working with Israel to undermine the UN's report on war crimes perpetrated in Gaza (Titled: Ambassador Rice's May 4 Telcons With UN Secretary-General On Gaza Board Of Inquiry Report). With that in mind, can Palestinians really count on the UN to conduct a fair investigation into the recent carnage unleashed on them by the IDF, especially with powerful western nations always backing Israel no matter what? And given the UN's repeated failures to help Palestinians or to hold Israel accountable?
After all, the only major western political figure today who from time to time criticises Israel for its brutality against Palestinians is Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party in the UK. Ironically, it was in the UK that the conspiracy to carve the state of Israel out of Palestinian land was hatched in a letter dated November 2, 1917 from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, which later became known as the Balfour Declaration.
This, of course, is what the British media almost always tries to overlook when it comes to the Palestine-Israel issue. And what is worse is its tendency to call anyone that dares to criticise the crimes of Israel, including Corbyn, anti-Semitic.
And this is where the “inversion” gets most tragic—and glaringly criminal as a result. Because according to large numbers of leading Jewish scholars and others, including Israeli Emeritus Professor of History at Tel Aviv University, Shlomo Sand, most Jewish people today, including those living in Israel, have absolutely no historic or genetic connection to what is the land of Israel today.
As Arthur Koestler described in his book The Thirteenth Tribe, “their ancestors came not from the Jordan, but from the Volga. Not from the Cannan, but from the Caucuses,” which makes “the term ‘anti-Semitism’...void of any meaning based on a misapprehension shared by both the killers and their [Palestinian] victims?” In fact, because “Semitism” or “Semitic” refers not to a race but to a language group, which does not include the people of the Caucuses, but does include languages from today's Arab countries spoken by Arab people, including Palestinians, it is those who discriminate against Palestinians that should be called anti-Semitic—not the other way around. The perfect example of anti-Semitism, then, is the apartheid state of Israel that, as is well known, massively discriminates against Palestinians, forcing them to live in near concentration-camp-like conditions for decades.
And it is because of these inversions that the state of Israel has been able to keep them in such conditions for so long.
Whereas Palestinians were brutally expelled from their homes a long time ago, it is the continuing lies, deceits and ignorance that are still keeping them from returning today. Therefore, in order to right the wrong that Nelson Mandela described as the “greatest moral issue of our time,” these lies must be confronted with truth so that the inverted world created by our upside-down perception can be turned back again to its upright position.
Eresh Omar Jamal is a member of the editorial team at The Daily Star.