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When Do We Say “Enough”?

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WHEN DO WE SAY “ENOUGH”? by Sally Campbell

From the Palestinian perspective, the violence against them has never stopped, and the “Nakba”, (Catastrophe) that occurred in 1947-8, is ongoing. This harsh reality has been brought home to me recently by re-reading Thomas Suarez’ book: “State of Terror: How terrorism created modern Israel”. [1] I made notes when I first read the book a couple of years ago, skipping over parts that were simply too disturbing to read. This time I read every word.

Suarez, born in the US, is also a professional violinist, who formerly taught at the Palestinian National Conservatory of Music in Jerusalem. He’s written other books such as: Early Mapping of the Pacific and Early Mapping of Southeast Asia! Apparently, this last work is considered the standard text on the subject. Now this is the kind of person I feel I can trust to do the really hard work of uncovering the truth, one who will pay attention to detail, and also have the soul of an artist. I am glad I gave his book a second read –such serious matter deserves full immersion.

Painstakingly researched through interviews with eyewitnesses and a very deep dive into the British National Archives, Suarez relates in excruciating detail the decades long reign of terror that led to the creation of Israel. UN Partition Resolution 181 (1947) “gave” Jews a majority of what was known as Palestine, without consent or consultation with the indigenous Palestinians. Suarez shows that threats and bullying of UN members by Zionists,[2] Britain’s wish to wash their hands of the mess they helped create, and fear of even more violence led to the passage of Resolution 181. (Harry Truman and Lester Pearson were complicit). The violence from Jewish militias actually increased after passage of 181, and by the time the dust settled the new Jewish State of Israel held 82% of historic Palestine, the West Bank was occupied by Jordan, and Gaza by Egypt, both with agreement of the Zionists. The standard figure of Palestinians violently dispossessed of their homes, lands and businesses is 750,000, though President Eisenhower, General of the US Army, said the number was more like 900,000.

Fast forward to the present. Attacks against Palestinians by Israeli settlers have increased significantly in the last year. These attacks are often witnessed or ignored by the Israeli army. Perpetrators are rarely ever arrested or held accountable, unless the public outcry is so large that they can’t be swept under the rug. Israeli offenders who do get charged are often regarded as heroes by the Israeli public and even more “price tag” attacks occur in retaliation for their being held accountable.

Some have suggested that the relentless violence in the militarized culture of Israel-Palestine is a result of “current right-wing” governments. ALL Israel governments have been Zionist. Zionists knew that getting the land and removing its people would be ugly. All Israeli leaders have a record of service in the military, and the earliest leaders were members of the terrorist militias who ethnically cleansed Palestinians in the 40’s – the Jewish Agency’s Hagana, Jabotinsky’s more radical Irgun, and the most radical, Lehi (Stern Gang). The Hagana had its own assassination department, the Palmach. Brits, Palestinians, even Jews – were all fodder to the needs of the project of creating Israel.

As British Baroness Jenny Tonge says of Suarez’ book: “Everyone who has ever accepted Israel’s own account of its history should read this book and know the truth. It should change them forever.” [3] As a student of Israel-Palestine for the last 20 years, I thought I was fairly well-informed. This book further opened my eyes and did indeed change me. It strengthened my determination to develop the “sumud” – steadfastness – that Palestinians apply to their seemingly endless road to freedom, justice, and equality. Solidarity commits me to be in this with them until Israel-Palestine is one democratic country with freedom for all.

For people who are terrified that a solution in Israel-Palestine could involve massive retaliation on the part of Palestinians, this book helps allay that fear. Time and again, Suarez shows the militias attempting to provoke violence so as to justify their mission as “self-defense”. (Ongoing today.) Indigenous Palestinians did fight back during the 1936-39 Palestinian Revolt, only to be brutally suppressed by the British, and their leadership largely decimated. And now, after so many decades of occupation, Palestinians make very clear that what they want is to live in dignity with equal rights for all. They ask no more than we ourselves would ask. They are far too weary to waste time in retaliation. Palestinian director Mohammed Makri said recently that we are all human with the same stories in different landscapes. There are no different reactions in the Arab world than in other countries. He said we must “look back and reconsider everything in order to be ripe to having our dreams realized.” [4] What wisdom in there! When they say history is written by the victors, that often means the settler-colonizers, the occupiers, the oppressors. So we have to dig deep to find out what really went down, just as we here in Canada have to dig down and unearth the unmarked graves of indigenous children, to find the truth. It has always been there, hidden by the telling of history, but known by the colonized. Perhaps those of us with blinders on weren’t ripe to see it until now. Once we see and know the truth, when do we say “enough”?

 

Coming soon: Palestinian children in Israeli prisons

  1. Skyscraper Publications, UK, 2016.
  2. Zionism is a political ideology begun by Theodor Hertzl in the late 1800’s dedicated to the idea that Jewish people need a separate homeland for themselves, one that privileges Jews over others. It is not the same as Judaism, and many Jewish people are not Zionists.
  3. Cover of State of Terror.
  4. Mohammed Bakri, interview with Faisal Saleh of Palestine Museum, October 16, 2021, after screening of Bakri’s movie: 1948. Museum founder Faisal Saleh & Curator Nancy Nesvet host a Palestinian film every Saturday. (9am: coffee, biscotti & a movie. Amazing & free!) www.palestinemuseum.us.

 

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