When Israel became a nation in 1948, just a few years after the unspeakable Holocaust was finally over, it seemed to many like a great new beginning. Thousands of Jews and Christians thought it would be a blessing after everything the European Jewish survivors had experienced, though nothing could bring back the millions of dead or erase the memories of what no one should ever have had to see. Now, when religious Jews ended their traditional Passover celebrations (as they always had) with the declaration of the hope to be “next year in Jerusalem,” they knew it was finally a real possibility. At last, no fear, no persecution, no need to conceal one’s Jewish identity! And they could be celebrating Passover in Jerusalem, to them the holiest place on earth. The ancient stones on which their people had walked, worshipped and danced many centuries before were in Jerusalem.
Many people aren’t aware that Jews had been persecuted in various parts of the world for thousands of years, and it had been an issue during the life of Jesus; the Nazi Holocaust under Hitler was not the beginning. The developments leading to the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state had taken decades, beginning in the last part of the 19th century—although Jews have said that the Bible had established that part of the world as a Jewish homeland.
Jews and Arabs had lived side by side in Palestine, but now the Jews would have their own state.
One of the tragic mistakes made by the British government in its negotiations with Jewish Zionists to establish Israel as a Jewish state was not taking into account the wishes of the Arabs also living there.
Now Israel presides over a land with a steadily diminishing amount of territory allotted to the Palestinians. Thousands of Palestinians were driven out of their homes at gunpoint while the state of Israel was being established, and many Palestinian families still hold the keys to their original homes. Thousands were driven into exile, and others were confined in the Palestinian Territories. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were obliterated. Now Israel freely confiscates more and more land from the Palestinians to build settlements for Jews only that are illegal according to international law. Olive trees are uprooted and farmers are fenced out of their plots. Palestinian homes are destroyed without any compunction.
In the United States, a false picture has been created to make it appear that the Palestinians are all terrorists who threaten Israel, which must then defend herself. The fact that Israel has an army, navy and air force with nuclear warheads while the Palestinians have none of these is not known, or not acknowledged, by many Americans. Israel never ceases to commit crimes, including murder, against the Palestinians. It unjustly detains Palestinians indefinitely without charges. It maintains checkpoints that delay Palestinians from getting to hospitals, even in medical emergencies. It has a Trumpian wall to keep them out of Israel; they cannot move freely.
Gaza is in the worst situation. It has been called the largest open-air prison in the world. It occupies 140 square miles, with 2.2 million inhabitants. It is very hard to get out. There is electricity only a few hours a day. The water is contaminated. The occupants cannot get enough nourishing food. There are no jobs, no medical care. Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinians randomly, and recently snipers have killed hundreds who went, unarmed, to the fence to demand the right of return to their homes. The March of Return has gone on for the past year. Uniformed medical personnel, journalists with clear designations, and children have been specifically targeted for killing in connection with the March; the UN has confirmed this.
It appears that Israel actually hopes there will be Palestinians who will be angry and frustrated enough to stage an attack with an improvised rocket or bomb. Israel is endangering her own people to provoke the Palestinians in order to justify bombing Gaza with horrific bombs, including white phosphorus, killing thousands. Then she can accuse the Arabs of being terrorists while she is utterly silent about her own crimes. This has occurred repeatedly.
The UN many times has introduced resolutions condemning Israel’s acts, but the US always votes them down; our country provides billions in military aid to Israel, which our leaders consider an important ally.
Netanyahu, who is being charged by his own country of fraud—not mass murder or land theft—has declared Israel as a state for Jews only. That only establishes what has been true all along. Israel has more than 60 laws specifically discriminating against Arabs. This country has never been a democracy.
Bigotry is always accompanied by hypocrisy. The Nazis in Europe worshipped in churches lined with art—in stone, glass, wood and oil—portraying the Jews who founded Christianity, including Jesus himself, as they may have looked. The Last Supper was a Passover Seder transformed into exhortations by Jesus to his apostles, and this Seder continues to be commemorated in Communion. Christian clergy quote the prophets of the Old Testament as they exhorted the Hebrews to be righteous, and Christians take their words to heart as addressed to themselves. Now the appropriate regard for Judaism as a great religion, and the great regret of Christians everywhere that not more was done to stop the Holocaust sooner, have been turned into blindness and utter dishonesty about the plight of the Arabs under Israeli control.
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions—the peaceful BDS movement—has been launched in response to a call by Palestinian rights groups. It is modeled after the movement that helped bring down South African apartheid. Now it will help bring down the apartheid Israel is imposing on Palestinians.
Both Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land can only benefit when the truth is known and justice prevails.