16 January, 2009
What is happening in Gaza today is the tip of an iceberg. That iceberg is the genocide of the Palestinian people. It is a slow genocide, just slow enough for the world to look the other way most of the time. Occasionally, as at present, it speeds up and we see its tip.
Such genocides are a common accompaniment of exclusive colonial projects. The Spanish committed genocide against the Incas, the British committed genocide against the Aboriginal and Maori people, the Americans committed genocide against the Native Americans, the Belgians killed 10 million Congolese. Now the Jews are trying to wipe out the Palestinians.
You may say that I should moderate my language and say only that we are witness to an unfortunate war in which people are getting killed. But this is part of an intentional war on the part of Israel, and, moreover, it clearly coincides with the international legal definition of genocide. Let us not, therefore mince our words.
Perhaps you will also say that only some Jews are involved in this crime, that I should hold ‘Israel’ or ‘the Zionists’ responsible. But do you ask me to say that only some Spanish, or some British, or some Americans, or some Belgians committed genocides?
Perhaps you will now ask me to do this, but if I hadn’t said that ‘the Jews’ were trying to wipe out the Palestinians you would probably have been quite happy with my generalisations.
For we recognise that although not even a fraction of British people, for instance, were directly involved in the genocides of the nineteenth century, and clearly those who were born after those atrocities could not have been directly involved, yet we admit that this is a stain on our national consciousness which affects all of us, in so far as we identify as being British.
Do we not say that all Germans must accept responsibility for what was done by the Nazis? If not, then why does the international community continue to insist that Germany pay reparations to Jews – with German taxpayers’ money – for what happened in the time of their parents and grandparents.
You may protest that Jews are not a nation or state like the Spanish, or the British, or the Americans or the Belgians. But who says that we cannot hold a group, however it may have constituted itself, responsible for crimes? Marxists, for example, hold ‘the capitalist class’ responsible for crimes against the working class, yet ‘the capitalist class’ is not incorporated.
And of course people have no difficulty in holding Muslims responsible for ‘extremism’ although since the abolition of the caliphate there has been no world-wide Muslim organisation. I don’t agree with this particular representation, by the way, but I mention it to show how inconsistent our thinking is.
There is little evidence that Al-Qaeda really exists in a corporate sense. It is probably more the notion of resistance to Western imperialism in the Muslim world than an identifiable organisation. And yet it is constantly held responsible for ‘terrorist’ actions.
I am well aware that to say anything against Jews, as a group, is to cross a red line. I am doing so deliberately. The present conflict in Israel-Palestine may well lead us to Armageddon. I believe plain speaking could save us and our children, not the mention the Palestinians and the Jews.
If I thought it could be done otherwise, as many of my colleagues in the solidarity movement believe, then I would not take this course. There are, however, a number or actions by Jews which, if they were to take place on a sufficient scale, could make me change my mind:
- A recognition that Jewish identity has become inextricably linked with Zionism.
- An acceptance that Jews are collectively responsible for what is happening in Israel/Palestine, just as we, as a nation, accept our responsibility for the empire and slavery.
- A renunciation of the right of return and the right to Israeli nationality.
- An acceptance that ‘the Holocaust’ (in inverted commas and with a capital H) has become a kind of religion, an instrument of propaganda, an abusive mythology.
- A recognition that accusing people of hating Jews is usually a way of stopping them speaking.
- A recognition that the Zionist project is incompatible with respect for the human rights of Palestinians. Israel has got to go.
- A recognition that Jews, as a collective, exercise immense, and quite disproportionate, power in the world, and that this power is being abused.
I acknowledge that a small number of Jews have done some or all of the above. For example, Gerald Kaufman, MP, said in Parliament on 12th January 2009: “Olmert, Livni and Barak are mass murderers, war criminals and bring shame on the Jewish people whose Star of David they use as a badge in Gaza.” In doing so, however much he might disagree with other points above, he clearly acknowledged that this is a Jewish, not just an Israeli responsibility.
But until a majority turn against the supremacist culture which supports Israel’s actions I will continue to hold Jews collectively responsible for what is happening in the Middle East. This is a very uncomfortable position. I really do have many Jewish friends, and I know that what I have said today will shock some of them. I hope that our friendship is strong enough to withstand it. But I believe Jews, above all, need to be shocked into a recognition of their own complicity in this crime against humanity.
All of which is not to forget our own (British) national complicity, starting with the Balfour Declaration. In so far as we (Westerners) have been persuaded to accept the dangerous current mainstream Jewish view of the world, we also are responsible for what is happening in Gaza. And this makes us ‘the enemy’ in terms of those who identify with the Muslim victims of Jewish power.