Global civil society ought to boycott Israel until it ends its apartheid-like treatment of Palestinians, says Mazin Qumsiyeh
Millions of activists have come to see an organic link between the occupation and colonization of Palestine and diverse and pressing global issues ranging from the war on Iraq to global poverty.Those who advocate political Zionism cannot defend it on its own merits, so they focus instead on diverting attention and distorting reality. The best example of this is ignoring the cause of the disease and focusing attention on one of its many symptoms – violence of the natives against the colonial settlers, but not the vastly more deadly violence of the colonizers on native people. The idea is that if we vilify the natives and make them look subhuman, we will not be criticized for killing them and taking their lands.
This is an old strategy to justify the pillaging. It was used by the French in Algeria, by European colonizers in the Americas, by apartheid South Africa, by the Americans in Vietnam and in hundreds of other places where western economic and colonial interests came into conflict with the rights of indigenous people.
Zionism not only supposes that Jewish people, including converts, enjoy ethnic, national or historical rights to Palestine, but also that these rights are superior to the rights of the native population. Unlike in South Africa, where black labour was needed, Zionism wanted the natives out. Simply put, the goal of Zionism was to create a state by, for and of “the Jewish people everywhere” to the exclusion of most of the native people and then to ensure that the minority that remained at all odds is not treated equally.
Zionism represented a colonial British venture later taken up as one of many possible responses to discrimination in Europe. Other responses to discrimination such as socialism and humanism were available and had at least equal strength.
Zionism can be seen as the 19th century-style chauvinistic, ethnocentric – mostly Ashkenazi (central European Jewish) – nationalistic response to prevalent European chauvinistic ethnocentric nationalisms. It is in that sense an attempt at assimilation by some Jews following a now outdated European colonial model.
It is not, therefore, surprising that the Zionist lobby has been pushing America into a neo-colonial perpetuation of these outmoded forms of human relations. In a society that values equality and separation of church and state, a concerted media campaign justifies “pre-emptive” invasion of other countries, religious apartheid, sectarianism, ethnic cleansing and putting walls around ghettoized “undesired” people. Zionist apologists support equality in America and Europe, but tolerate discrimination and exclusion of Palestinian refugees in Palestine/Israel for being not Jewish. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent by groups ranging from the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to “think-tanks” in our nation’s capital to promote such bankrupt ideas.
The relentless efforts of many to defend apartheid and separation can only be described as symptoms of cognitive dissonance at best and racism at worst. In their Orwellian world, occupation becomes “security”, a relentless war of colonization and occupation becomes “advancing democracy”, an apartheid wall becomes a “security fence”, being anti- or post-Zionist is morphed into being anti-Jewish, and “moderation” becomes a code word for shredding international law and basic human rights.
In July 2005, more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations issued a historic document. It articulated Israel’s persistent violations of international and humanitarian laws and conventions and called upon “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era”.
The call stated that “these non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194” (which the Arabs never accepted - EoZ)
We propose that global civil society take this call seriously and build a coalition open to all people for a global Movement Against Zionism or a global Movement Against Israeli Apartheid. This would bring peace with justice to all people regardless of their religion or ethnicity. It would also contribute to exposing American government-led programmes of domination and hegemony in the Middle East, most aptly revealed by its support of Zionism.
CV Mazin Qumsiyeh
Mazin Qumsiyeh has served on the faculties of Duke and Yale universities. His latest book is Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle. He is involved in many campaigns supporting Palestinian rights.
I didn't notice anything in this article about the discrimination of non-Muslims in Arab countries, about denouncing Palestinian terror, about the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, about the overwhelming desire on the part of the Arab world desire to ethnically cleanse the Middle East of Jews.
Must have been an oversight, because, after all, the writer cares so much about human rights. I'm sure he's written other articles about Saudi apartheid or how the Lebanese treat Palestinian Arabs, and calling for economic boycotts against Yemen for expelling its Jews.
UPDATE: SoccerDad found that he was indeed an instructor at Duke - of genetics.