Israel turns 70 as Palestine bleeds and grieves

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(Cartoon by Latuff via mintpressnews.com)

While Palestinians were being slaughtered, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was declaring this a most glorious day. 

Ivanka Trump smiled and Jared Kushner nervously gave hollow speeches befitting a thirteen year old boy at his bar mitzvah. President Trump game show host, appeared triumphant on screen.

As the child of Jewish parents, I could claim the right of return to Israel; but I feel disgust and despair at the current celebrations. I have no desire to claim citizenship or the right of return. What about the Palestinians right of return? I am the child of victims of the Holocaust and I grieve the losses of my family.

But  the Palestinians who have been – and continue to be – displaced, murdered and contained in an open air prison continue to grieve.

There is a phenomenon in psychology, identified by analyst Bruno Bettelheim – himself a victim of Nazism – termed "identification with the aggressor". This is a mild term for what the state of Israel now represents. The victims have become the perpetrators. The Israeli state is doing unto others what has been done unto them. This mechanism allows them to feel powerful rather than powerless. It is similar to the mechanism of an abuse.

I deliberately use the term victim, rather than the commonly preferred term of survivor. I cannot invoke the current idea of survival and healing, while the wounding continues. Another defence mechanism is to blame the victim. But people are not to blame for their own murder and suffering. If we do nothing, we share complicity. If we blame the victim we are the abuser.

There was wrong on both sides, declared Trump, after a peaceful protestor was killed by a white supremacist. Criticism of Israeli aggression against Palestinians is often met with the riposte that Israel is acting in self-defence. That Israel has a sovereign right to exist and can do no wrong and, finally, that the one who criticises is anti-Semitic. The overarching excuse is to point the finger of blame at the Islamist Hamas, the elected authority of Gaza. 

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., claimed, regarding the deaths and injuries of non-violent demonstrating Gazans, “Hamas is pleased.” Was she pleased? No thoughts and prayers were offered to the Palestinians. Haley walked out of the chamber shortly before the Palestinian envoy began to speak.

The gathering at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem coincided with what is called in Arabic as Nakba (The Catastrophe). In 1948, at least 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland. Israel declared its statehood and deprived the Palestinians of theirs.

Describing the Israeli and U.S. attitude to the Palestinians, Palestinian scholar and activist Dr Hanan Ashrawi cuts to the chase of its ludicrousness.

“We just happened to be there when Israel was created on our land. Our mere existence is seen as anti Israel. The entire Trump administration is complicit in the occupation of my [Dr Ashawari’s] people."

The geopolitical history behind Israeli Zionism is a complex confluence, from the fall of the Ottoman Empire to British occupation and through two world wars.

The Christian Zionists, who support Trump and hope for Armageddon in Zion, are another thing altogether. Paster Robert Jeffress. who believes Jews are going to hell and Muslims are evil, was chosen by Trump to pray at the opening of the New Embassy. Jewish Zionism was a movement that can be traced to the late 19th Century, with European Jews' well-justified fear of persecution. A safe homeland in Palestine was seen as the solution.

From the 1930’s, those identified as Jewish by the Nazis in Germany and Austria were being expelled or trying to leave. Violence and arrests of Jews intensified in 1938 with the Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass).

Evian Conference 1938

In 1938, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened around 33 nations in Evian France to seek a resolution to the Jewish refugee crisis. Horribly reminiscent of how refugees are treated today, hardly any nation wanted the Jews. Most especially, as Hitler had seized what he termed the Jewish "criminals'" assets. The British slammed the door to Palestine on Jews. 

Australian Minister for Trade and Customs announced at the time:

“As we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.”

Only a handful of nations agreed to accept a few of Germany’s cast off Jews.

After the Evian Conference, the then future first President of Israel Chaim Weizmann said:

“The world seemed to be divided into two parts — those places where the Jews could not live and those where they could not enter.”

This worldwide indifference to what was being visited upon those called Jewish by the Nazi regime, paved the way for Hitler’s Final Solution.

The world was going to stand by and do nothing. The parallels in world indifference in the current age are stunning. Who really cares about the Palestinians today?

Meanwhile, Haaretz reported:

'While Trump's praises were sung and scripture was quoted in Jerusalem, a bloodbath raged in Gaza.'

People were being killed and injured 40 kilometres away, as a jubilant Netanyahu proclaimed the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem, as a “great day for peace”.

Evocative of the cold war space race to the moon, an American flag was planted in Jerusalem. The message? Now the Palestinians can suck it up. Jerusalem will not be shared with the Palestinians. After all, it has belonged to the Jews from 3,000 years ago, since the time of King David. This cannot of course be verified in modern times as a justification for a land grab. But it suits Trump and Netanyahu to invoke the supposed word of a god on this “historic” occasion.

The myth of Israel

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe postulates that the Israeli narrative is a "colonial settler myth". Colonising settlers claim that they are the indigenous inhabitants and the true indigenous inhabitants don't really belong. For example, that the blacks in South Africa,the Indian peoples in the USA and the Indigenous people of Australia are not the real inhabitants. In the case of Australia, the settler myth claimed the Indigenous people were not doing anything much in Terra Nullius and that the white invaders brought civilisation.

The myth that is being promoted in Israel is that the Jews are the true indigenous people of Israel who have returned to the promised land after an absence of 3,000 years. 

The Palestinians are an untidy presence in this Zionist dream of an exclusively Jewish sovereign state. Israel sees itself as "justified" in denying the Palestinians equal rights and any rights to land from which they have been expelled. The ends of settler myths are genocide, ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

There are  protests around the world and, in Israel.

'Stop the bloodbath!', screams Haaretz.

Stop the blockade!, I scream. aza’s water is controlled by Israel and 97 per cent is contaminated by salt and sewage. Gazans live in a restricted insanitary  poisoned environment, eerily reminiscent of the ghettos created under Hitler.

Australia and the US were the only nations to vote against a U.N. resolution to independently investigate the recent carnage in Gaza.

Our nation has form, too, in turning a blind eye to human rights.

So many wrongs.

The Palestinian are suffering ethnic cleansing. Jews suffered the Holocaust.

But projecting the pain of the Holocaust and creating a Palestinian catastrophe is an iniquity that helps no one. Israel and its enablers must face their crimes and seek to make reparation. The occupation and siege must end.

Israel is a super military power backed by U.S. might. This is an old story.

It has to end before more damage is done.

Lyn Bender is a professional psychologist. You can follow Lyn on Twitter @Lynestel.

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