Dear Prime Minister Blair,
“Giving the impossible a go” in Israel-Palestine
I write to you with the warning words of Yehoshafat Harkabi reverberating in my mind. (He was, before your time, Israel’s longest serving and most enlightened Director of Military Intelligence. I’ll get to his warning words in due course).
After you cease to be burdened by the constraints of high political office, you could secure for yourself a place in history as the leader above all others (in all of human history) if you could do for the Middle East what you’ve done for Northern Ireland.
You didn’t start the peace process in Northern Ireland (on the British side John Major did that after the Provisional IRA bombed London and demonstrated that it could bring UK plc’s economy to its knees); but you did push that peace process to a successful conclusion. And I think nobody else could have done it.
So yes, the Middle East needs you, but to do what, actually?
There is not a Middle East peace process to be managed to a successful conclusion. So this time you would have to starta process. And to do that I think, if I may say so, that you need to be much better informed than you are about why, really, a solution to the “Palestine problem” has remained, and seems set to remain, beyond the reach of politics and diplomacy. (I put Palestineproblem in quotes because although it’s a convenient label, the problem is really a Jewish one, not an Arab one).
In my view there are four keys to understanding.
The first is knowledge of the difference between Judaism and Zionism and why they are total opposites. Judaism is the religion of Jews and, like Christianity and Islam, it has at its core a set of ethnical principles and moral values. Zionism is not only a secular, colonialist ideology, it makes a mockery of, and has contempt for, the ethical principles and moral values of Judaism. Which is why those most often described as “ultra orthodox” religious Jews say, and I believe they are right, that Zionism is destroying Judaism. (I wonder if you know, dear TB, that the return of Jews to the land of biblical Israel by the efforts of man ? one possible but woefully inadequate definition of Zionism ? was proscribedby Judaism?)
For your education under this heading, the book I recommend is A Threat From Within, A CENTURY OF JEWISH OPPOSITION TO ZIONISM. Its author is Yakov M. Rabkin, a Jewish Canadian who is Professor of History at the Universityof Montreal. Some months ago in LondonI put an explicit question to Yakov for inclusion in a DVD. The question was: “Could it be said that the Jews of the world now have a choice to make ? either to reaffirm their commitment to Judaism and renounce Zionism, or to reaffirm, or affirm, their commitment to Zionism and renounce Judaism?” He answered with one word. “Yes!”
The second key to understanding is the fact that Israel was created, mainly, by Zionist terrorism and ethnic cleansing. For your education under this heading, the book I recommend is the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Its author is Dr. Ilan Pappe, Israel’s leading “New” or “Revisionist” historian. For new or revisionist read honest. (Various Israeli agen
cies ? you’ll know the ones I mean ? have made it impossible for Ilan to work in Israel, and he is shortly coming to take up a post at Exeter University, this despite the best efforts of the Zionised Board of Deputies of British Jews to block his appointment).
In other words, the Zionist state of Israel was founded on a massive injustice (not to mention war crime) to another people. If peace is to have a chance, a last chance, it follows that the wrong done to the Palestinians by Zionism has got to be righted on terms acceptable to the Palestinians.
Because of the pragmatic and courageous leadership of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinians (almost all of them) have long been prepared to settle for a genuine two-state solution, one that requires an end to Israel’s occupation of land grabbed in the 1967 war, with Jerusalem, preferably as an open city, the capital of two states.
In passing I’ll add that there is no mystery about Hamas’s real position. If tomorrow Israel said and meantthat it was ready to negotiate a full and final peace on the basis of a genuine two-state solution, Hamas’s leaders would say,“Let’s do the business“.And they would say that and mean it because they are not stupid. They know they would have no choicebecausea genuine two-state solutionis still what the vast majority of Palestinians are prepared to settle for. (But for how much longer is a good question).
In passing I’ll also say that the issue of the Palestinian right of return is notthe obstacle to peace Zionism asserts it to be. In good faith negotiations for a full and final peace based on a genuine two-state solution, Israel would discover that Palestinian pragmatism could and would be applied even to the right of return.As Arafat and his senior leadership colleagues told me many years ago, the right of return would have to be confined to the Palestinian mini-state; which would mean that probably not more than 100,000 Palestinians would be able to exercise their right to return. The rest would have to settle for financial compensation and a Palestinian passport.
The problem for any Palestinian leadership is that it cannot say so in public until and unless it can assure its people that in return for their unthinkable concessions to the reality of Israel’s existence, Israel’s occupation of land taken in 1967 will be ended to make the space for a viable Palestinian mini state.
In reality the Palestinian right of return would be a perfectly manageable matter if Zionism was interested ingood faithnegotiations for a genuinetwo-state solution. The truth is that it’snot.
That’s my Gentile assessment based on more than three decades of engagement with the conflict, including my time as an ITN and BBC Panorama correspondent who enjoyed, uniquely, intimate access to the two greatest opposites in all of human history – Golda Meir, Mother Israel, and Yasser Arafat, Father Palestine. But it’s also the view of, for example, Gideon Levy, the conscience of Israeli journalism. The headline over a recent article of his in Ha-aretzwasISRAEL DOESN’T WANT PEACE. And that’s because Zionism sees everything in terms of “them orus”. The Zionist mind cannot conceive a “them andus” scenario.
The third key to understanding is in this fact. Since its unilateral declaration of statehood in 1948, Israel‘s existence has never, ever, been in danger from any combination of Arab military force or, to put it another way,the prospect of Israeli Jews being”driven in the sea” was never a real one. Zionism’s assertion to the contrary ? the myth upon which the first and still existing draft of Judeo-Christian history is constructed ? was the cover which allowed Israel to get away where it mattered most, Western Europe and North America, with presenting its aggressionas self-defence; and itself as the victimwhen, actually, it was and is the oppressor.
- You might want to challenge my statement that Israel’s declaration of existence was “unilateral“. If you do, you’ll say that Israel was given its birth certificate and thus its legitimacy by a UN Partition Resolution. Leaving aside the fact that the UN had no right to give away Palestineor even a part of it, the essence of the truth is that the Partition Plan resolution of the UN General Assemblywas only a proposal. (Which, as it happened, secured the minimum necessary support only because the vote was rigged). The proposal did notgo to the Security Councilfor a policy decision because President Truman knew that, if approved, it could only be implemented by force ? because of the totality of Arab and other Muslim opposition to it; and he wasnot prepared to use force. So the Partition Plan proposal was vitiated, becameinvalid. And the question of what the hell to do about Palestinewas taken back to the General Assembly for more discussion. The option favoured and proposed by the US was temporary UN Trusteeship. It was while the General Assembly was debating what do that Israel unilaterally declared itself to be in existence ? actually in defiance of the will of the organised international community, including the Truman administration.
- The truth of the time was that the Zionist state hadno right to exist and, more to the point, could have no right to exist unless?.. Unless it was recognised and legitimizedby those who were dispossessed of their land and their rights during its creation. In international law only the Palestinians could give Israel the legitimacy it craved. And that legitimacy was the only thing the Zionists could not take from the Palestinians by force.
The fourth key to understanding is in this fact. It wasIsraelnot the Arabs which spurned opportunity after opportunity to make peace. (As researched by Professor Avi Shlaim for his truth-telling book, The Iron Wall, the record of de-classified documentation is crystal clear on the matter of who wanted an end to conflict and who didn’t).
Israel’s often repeated claim that it had“no partner for peace”, and the assertion that it has lived indanger ofannihilation, are the main planks of one of the biggest and most successful propaganda lies in all of human history. Chutzpah, one might say, at its most brilliant and terrifying best.
If you really want to “give the impossible a go” in the Middle East, what should you actually do (apart from some reading to improve your understanding of who must do what and why for peace)?
In my opinion there is a political reality to be faced. It is that no American president will even think of confronting Zionismunless he (or she) knows that he would be doing so with the understanding and support of a majority of Jewish Americans. And that’s where I believe the key to peace (or not) is ? in the hands of Jewish Americans. Only they, I believe, with the assistance of the Jews of Europe,have the influence needed to call and hold Zionism to account, in order to give politics for peace their very last chance, be it the peace of a two or one state solution. (I wonder if you know, dear TB, that prior to the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust almost all informed and thoughtful Jews everywhere were opposed to Zionism’s colonial enterprise?)
I also believe that the Jews of the world have a powerful self-interest in using their influence. And that self-interest is explained by the title of my two-volume book, Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews.
I insisted on that title because it reflects in seven words two related truths for our time. The first is that the sleeping giant of classical anti-Semitism has been re-awakenedin the mainly Gentile Judeo-Christian world.The second is that a prime cause of the re-awakening is the Zionist state’s behaviour.
To give that observation some context, I’ll now quote Harkabi’s warning words. They are taken (with my emphasis added)
from his seminal book, Israel’s Fateful Hour,published in English in 1988.
“Israel is the criterion according to which all Jews will tend to be judged. Israel as a Jewish state is an example of the Jewish character, which finds free and concentrated expression within it. Anti-Semitism has deep and historical roots. Nevertheless, any flaw in Israeli conduct, which initially is cited as anti-Israelism, is likely to be transformed into empirical proof of the validity of anti-Semitism. It would be a tragic irony if the Jewish state, which was intended to solve the problem of anti-Semitism, was to become a factor in the rise of anti-Semitism. Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is paid not only by them but also Jews throughout the world.”
It’s my view that after the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust, and because of it, the giant most likely would have gone back to sleep, remained asleep and, in all probability, would have died in its sleep ? IF Zionism had not been allowed by the major powers, first Britain, then America, to have its way, as Balfour put it, “right or wrong“.
What, really, is the basis for believing that anti-Semitism is seriously on the rise? The increase in the desecration of synagogues and Jewish graves (and the like), verbal abuse and assaults on Jews is a pointer. But there is something far more sinister. It’s what a growing number of Gentiles, middle to upper class people in particular, are thinking and now beginning to say behind closed doors and at dinner parties. What do they say? “These fucking Jews!” And it’s grown, this antipathy, in response to Israel’s arrogance of power and the correct perception of Israel as the oppressor. And the more it becomes apparent that Israel is the obstacle to peace on any terms most Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims can accept, the more this antipathy will grow, with the real danger that it will break out, become unsuppressed, and manifest itself as violent anti-Semitism.
As things are, and look like going, Holocaust II, shorthand for another great turning against Jews, is a possibility in a foreseeable future if Zionism continues to have its way.
At this point I have to say that I empathise completely with the unspeakable but real fear of very many if not all the Jews of the world ? the fear that it, another great turning against Jews, could happen again. I am also aware that it’s because of this fear that very many Jews, if only sub-consciously, have a vision of Israel as their refuge of last resort.And that’s a main reason (not the only reason) why, to date, most of the Jews of the world have remained silent on the matter of the Zionist state’s behaviour. They are frightened of saying or doing anything that could compromise their insurance policy (or lay them open to a Zionist charge of endangering Israel’s future).
It follows, or so it seems to the Gentile me, that it’s unreasonable to expect the Jews of the world in substantial numbers to play their necessary part in calling Zionism to account unless and until they receive the maximum possible in the way of reassurance about their wellbeing and security in the many lands of the mainly Gentile world of which they are citizens.Put another way, they have to be convinced that they don’t need the Zionist state of Israel as an insurance policy.And that’s why I call in my book for a NEW COVENANT, not between the Jews and their God, but between the Jews and the Gentiles.
If it is the case that the key to peace (or not) is in the hands of the Jews of the world and Jewish Americans especially, it follows, surely, that the prerequisite for getting a real peace process going is eliminating the danger of the monster of anti-Semitism going on the rampage again. How can that be done?
My short answer is this. The Gentiles of the Western nations among whom most of the world’s Jews live must be informed and educated about the difference between Judaism and Zionism, and thus why it is wrong to blame all Jews for the crimes (yes crimes) of the hardcore Zionist few.
- It is a fact that Arabs and other Muslims have always known the difference between Judaism and Zionism. And it can be said that throughout much of their history, Arabs and other Muslims were the best protectors of Jews. It was Zionism’s colonial enterprise that poisoned the relationship, but not to the point at which most Arabs and other Muslims blame allJews for Zionism’s crimes.
In other words, what peace in the Middle East needs most of all, as a prelude to, and a pre-requisite for, political action, is open, informed and honest debate about the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of what used to be called the Arab-Israeli conflict. Put another way, the answer to the question of who has to do what and why for justice and peace must be determined by reference to the truth of history.
It was to assist the process of informed and honest debate, the first ever, that I devoted more than five years of my life to researching and writing Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews.
I think citizen Blair will have a choice to make when he is no longer burdened by the constraints of high office and can afford to offend powerful vested interests for the sake doing what is “right”.
He can either continue his subscription to Zionism’s myths of history, in which case he’ll be without the credibility needed to “give the impossible a go” in the Middle East; or he could take the lead (in association with former President Carter?) in setting a new agenda for debate about who must do what and why for peace, in which case he could play a major and perhaps decisive role in making it, peace, happen.
Terrifying though the present situation is, I agree with you that now is not the time to abandon hope. And I’ll close this letter to you with my statement that brings Volume Two (recently published) of my book to its conclusion.
If the Jews of the world can summon up the will and the courage to make common cause with the forces of reason in Israel before it is too late for us all, a very great prize awaits them. By demonstrating that right can triumph over might, and that there is a place for morality in politics, they WOULD become the light unto nations. It is a prize available to no other people on earth because of the uniqueness of the suffering of the Jewish people. Perhaps that is the real point of the idea of the Jews as Chosen People?.Chosen to endure unique suffering and, having endured it, to show the rest of us that creating a better and more just world is not a mission impossible.
Sincerely and with best wishes,
PS. I am sending you a hard copy of this letter by snail mail.