It was understandable why, on 29 November, 1947, the United Nations (UN) passed Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine and creating a Jewish state. In the wake of the Holocaust, there was a widespread sentiment that there should be some form of recompense to the Jews, even if it came at the expense of those who had nothing to do with the Holocaust.
Nearly three-quarters of a century later, it is clear that this was a ghastly mistake. Even before the establishment of the Israeli state, some 300,000 Palestinians had been expelled. Since then, Israel has launched pre-emptive wars against all of its neighbours, but, above all, it has waged war on the Palestinians who remained in Israel and those who came under its rule when it occupied the portion of Palestine that it failed to capture in 1948, namely the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The time has come for the UN to recognise that Resolution 181 was a terrible mistake and to now revoke it and, with it, Israel’s legitimacy.
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Israel’s targeted assassination of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the subsequent police attack on her funeral and its brazen refusal to even open a criminal investigation, should be the last straw.
When we couple this with Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the latest being Masafer Yatta, this confronts us with a simple question: can Israel, as long as it is a Jewish state, ever live in peace with the Palestinians? Or are its only friends in the Middle East destined to be Arab despots?
For over 50 years, from The Roger’s Plan of 1969 via the Oslo Accords to John Kerry’s Peace Plan, Israel has made it clear that it prefers a Greater Israel to a peaceful settlement.
Even within the 1948 borders, Israel has been incapable of granting meaningful equality to its own Palestinian citizens. Even today, it continues to steal their land and pursues a policy of internal colonisation, which it calls “Judaisation”. How is Judaisation different to the policy of Aryanisation in Nazi Germany?
The 2018 Jewish Nation-State Law simply codified existing practices, making explicit what had always been implicit. Under this law, “Jewish settlement”, the colonisation of further Arab land, is a “national value”. This same law made it clear that only Jews were nationals of the Israeli state. Palestinians, including Arab citizens, were guests to be tolerated at best.
Israel is officially an apartheid state, and according to international law, apartheid is a crime. The UN has no alternative but to rescind Resolution 181. It is also evident that a Jewish state and a democratic state are mutually exclusive.
Just imagine that the British government had a policy of thinning out the black population of London with white Britons. This would be dismissed out of hand as racist, yet in Israel, this is the norm.
How can we account for the fact that half the Bedouin villages in the Negev are “unrecognised”, meaning they have none of the basic facilities that Jewish settlements have, such as government schools, running water or electricity? No polling booth is established in these villages. No matter how long residents have lived there, they are treated as squatters.
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Al-Arakhib has been demolished over 200 times. Umm Al-Hiran was demolished in 2018 to make way for the wholly Jewish town of Hiran in its place. The Israeli state refused to contemplate a Jewish town co-existing side by side with an Arab village. As Adalah said: “Israel’s demolition of Umm Al-Hiran Bedouin village & forced eviction of residents is act of extreme racism embodying colonialist land policies, backed by entire Israeli court system [sic].”
Israel, from its birth, has been an abnormal, settler colonial state where racism is the norm. Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed: “Israel is not a state of all its citizens… Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people – and only it.” When MK Bezalel Smotrich addressed Arab members of the Knesset, telling them, “you are here by mistake – because Ben-Gurion didn’t finish the job and throw you out in 1948,” he said out loud what the Zionist “left” says quietly.
The question of whether, in a Jewish ethno-nationalist state, Palestinians can ever live as equals is a question that Western politicians prefer to avoid. The most basic and simplest of questions, when it comes to Israel, are too difficult for them. Instead, they retort with cries of “anti-Semitism”.
Zionist colonisation of Palestine began in 1882, nearly 60 years before the Holocaust. Today the Zionist movement weaponises the Holocaust against its critics. At the time, though, the Zionist movement saw the Holocaust as a distraction from its main goal – building a Jewish state.
The Palestine Jewish press even doubted the existence of the Holocaust, citing reports in the Nazi press to refute claims that the Jews were being exterminated: “Probably not even Goebbels in his wildest plans could have elicited the kind of treatment the Hebrew press accorded to information about the Holocaust.”
In a letter to President Roosevelt, the leader of American Zionism, Stephen Wise, admitted: “It is indisputable that as many as two million civilian Jews have been slain. I have had cables and underground advices for some months, telling of these things. I succeeded, together with the heads of other Jewish organisations, in keeping them [the cables about the systematic mass murder] out of the press.”
Yoav Gelber, a history professor at Haifa University, observed: “The fight on the Jewish front for the Zionist solution removed the Zionists and the Yishuv, even before the war, from rescue attempts and strategies not connected to Eretz Yisrael. This is shown by Weizmann’s refusal to attend the Evian Conference of 1938.”
Noah Lucas described: “As the European holocaust erupted, Ben-Gurion saw it as a decisive opportunity for Zionism… In conditions of peace… Zionism could not move the masses of world Jewry. The forces unleashed by Hitler in all their horror must be harnessed to the advantage of Zionism… By the end of 1942… the struggle for a Jewish state became the primary concern of the movement.”
Albert Einstein gave a clear warning as to what would happen if a Jewish state were established. In a letter of 21 January, 1946, he warned: “I am in favour of Palestine being developed as a Jewish Homeland but not as a separate state. It seems to me a matter of simple common sense that we cannot ask to be given political rule over Palestine where two-thirds of the population are not Jewish.”
In his testimony on 11 October, 1946, before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, Einstein confirmed: “I was never in favour of a state… I cannot understand why it is needed. It is connected with many difficulties and a narrow-mindedness. I believe it is bad.” Also in 1946, in a speech to the National Labor Committee for Palestine, Einstein expressed his fear about the damage that a Zionist state would do to Judaism: “I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain, especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks… A return to a nation in the political sense of the word would be equivalent to turning away from the spiritualisation of our community which we owe to the genius of our prophets.”
It was not difficult to predict the path that Israel would take. The idea of “transfer” had been around as long as Zionism itself. Palestine was a land without a people for a people without a land. The Nakba was inevitable.
Any student of European history should know that a Jewish state is a throwback to the Europe of the Middle Ages. The French Revolution of 1789 ushered in Jewish Emancipation and the separation of state and religion. Clermont Tonnerre declared in the Constituent Assembly: “We must refuse everything to the Jews as a nation and accord everything to Jews as individuals.” Zionism hated Jewish Emancipation because it would lead to assimilation. That was why the Zionists welcomed the 1935 Nuremberg Laws.
In the Europe of the 1940s, the Christian ethno-nationalist states – Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia – became the slaughterhouse of the Jews. Croatia was the only state under Nazi occupation that set up its own extermination camp, Jasenovac, for Serbs, Jews and Muslims. Slovakia was the first state to deport its Jews to Auschwitz. In a state where one’s civil and political rights depend on adherence to a particular religion, those not of that religion are bound to suffer.
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Israel was born in violence and terror. The UN Partition Plan envisaged that Jerusalem would be subject to an international regime. This was unacceptable to the Zionists. When UN mediator Count Folk Bernadotte, who had rescued more Jews from the Nazis than the entire Zionist movement, visited Jerusalem in September 1948, he was assassinated.
MK Geulah Cohen of Lehi, the group that carried out the assassination, explained when asked if she still supported Bernadotte’s assassination: “There is no question about it. We would not have Jerusalem anymore.”
What is happening today in Israel is a product of a Jewish state. Sectarian violence and the continuing Nakba are integral to the state itself. Israel is a failed state whose only values are the worship of Jewish militarism. It is time it went.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.