Banner: The 1947 meeting at the General Assembly, New York. Wikipedia Commons
Over the last 100 days, the unfolding catastrophe in Gaza has reignited the raging debate around Palestinian statehood for the multi-faith people of Palestine. Outside Netanyahu’s coalition “war cabinet”, the two-state vision has re-emerged as an international consensus around the world. Even the veto-wielding states at the UN Security Council that rarely see eye to eye on virtually every major issue of global significance are evidently on the same page.
However, the international community is skirting around the equally pressing question, “Should this Israel exist?” For Israel today is “the most vicious settler colonial state in Israel’s history,” with its Jewish supremacist Basic Laws, similar to the Nazi’s Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935. It is plausibly guilty of genocide, according to the International Court of Justice’s interim order of January 2024.
Without truthfully confronting this elephant in the room, that is, the genocidal nature of the state in Israel, with its apartheid Basic Laws of the State, reminiscent of Nazis’ Nuremberg Race Laws, a genuinely sovereign Palestinian state cannot conceivably be established.
Here a crucial distinction between the State of Israel and Israeli people must be made. There is absolutely no question about the people of Israel and their right to exist as a sovereign people, in peace and security. But Israel’s existence must not continue to be at the tremendous expense of the Palestinian people, who are “a nation in occupation”, as Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish father of the legal crime, ‘genocide’, would have put it.
That said, however, as long as the state or the political organization of Israel remains “Fascist” in its ideological outlook, ruthlessly settler colonial expansionist in its mode of operations, neither Israeli people’s peaceful existence nor the long overdue need for a Palestinian people to have their own sovereign state, with the internal right of self-determination – e.g., a representative government elected by the Palestinians themselves – and, equally important, the adequate land or living space, remains – and will remain – un-achievable.
Founding a new settler colonial state
“The Freedom Fighters for Israel”, as they were then referred to among the Zionist American Jewish support circles, had violently cleansed Palestine of 750,000 residents of the land while having destroyed nearly 500 communities (villages) as the main technique of founding a new settler colonial state envisaged almost exclusively for the Jews.
In their letter to the New York Times (signed on 2 December and published on 4 December 1948), a group of leading Jewish intellectuals in the United States, no less than the likes of Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Sydney Hook and so on publicly pointed out the extremist elements and their new Freedom Party. Specifically, the signatories of the Times letter found it morally and empirically justified to label extremist elements amongst its founders, “Nazis”. Remarkably, they drew this Nazi parallel in reference to the settler colonizers from “our own ranks,” in less than 3 years after the closure of Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army on 27 January 1945.
In their NYTimes published words: “(a)mong the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.
… Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.”
Fast-forward to 27 January 2024, on the 79th anniversary of this dark iconic site of institutionalized inhumanity of the Nazi state.
On this day former Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu and Emeritus Professor of International Law at Princeton University Richard Falk (who served as a UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Palestine, brought together signatories of the Declaration of Conscience (on Gaza) by Global Intellectuals and co-convened the London Emergency Meeting of Global Intellectuals.
In the live-streamed opening session, Avi Shlaim, a noted Israeli British scholar and Emeritus Professor of International Relations at St Antony’s College, Oxford, said “the Netanyahu government is the antithesis of Jewish core values – truth, justice and non-violence. It is the most aggressive, expansionist, overtly racist, Jewish supremacist government in Israel’s history”. A Baghdad-born Arab Jew, who grew up in Israel, Schlaim proceeded to say pointedly, “As a Jew and an Israel, I therefore feel I have a moral duty to denounce the Zionist settler colonialism and American imperialism and to stand by the Palestinians in their anti-colonial struggle, their just struggle to live in peace and dignity.”
Settlers conference & demands to depopulate Gaza
While the concerned citizens in the world of academia and civil society gathered to discuss what to do to help end Israel’s genocide in Gaza the most extreme members of Netanyahu’s cabinet – 12 ministers from his Likud party in total – were attending the settlers’ conference sinisterly titled “Return to Gaza”, in Jerusalem on the evening of 28 January this year. Netanyahu’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich were among those who called for “voluntary migration” of Palestinians from Gaza and expanding Israeli settlements on the latter’s land.
Speaking to the Middle East Eye news outlet present at the settlers’ conference Daniella Weiss, the former mayor of the settlement “Kedumim” in the West Bank, summed up the popular sentiment of the Israeli street thus: “We want our (100) hostages back, right. So, we don’t give Arabs (2.3 million Palestinians) food. We don’t give them anything. The Arabs will have to leave (Gaza). They will move. The world will have to accept them.”
As if in coordination, in the suites of state power, Israel’s western imperialist backers including USA, UK, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Finland, Italy and Japan announced their bloc decision to defund the 75-years-old United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
This radical move was made on the specious ground of the allegations that 12 (out of the agency’s 30,000 employees in total) were involved in the October 7 attacks or preparations by Hamas. You guessed it right. Israel made the allegations and provided the names and the evidence.
UNRWA was originally established in 1949 to aid the 700,000 Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed in the process of founding a new state of Israel 1948. Today, the UN agency is a crucial lifeline for 6-million Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, providing education, health care and welfare.
These two ominous developments – the settlers conference’s open demand to depopulate Gaza and subsequently build Israeli settlements in one of the Occupied Territories (Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem) and Western democratic governments’ coordinated financial assault on the most important humanitarian aid lifeline – came within 24-hours after the UN’s highest court order that Israel allow humanitarian aid, unhindered, to the besieged population of Gaza – 2.3 million Palestinians half of whom are children.
In the face of the Court’s order, the Western states have stepped in and spared Israel from getting involved in choking off Gaza’s occupied population – or “a nation under occupation”, to borrow Raphael Lemkin’s words in reference to national populations in the Nazi-occupied Europe of 1930’s and 1940’s, in his seminal essay “Genocide” (1944).
Through the historical lens, the strategy of depopulating the land with Palestinians on it, the expansion of the territories of the settler colonial state of Israel, and all the recurring scenes of the physical destruction under recognizably genocidal banners such as “mowing the lawn” are not organic or accidental or even opportunistic. They are well within the original ideological, strategic and tactical frameworks envisaged by the theoretical and empirical founders of Israel, as the settler colonial apartheid state, with an overwhelming Jewish majority.
Some relevant and crucial historical facts will help explain the anguish, pain and foresight that propelled the afore-mentioned leading intellectual Jews – Einstein, Arendt et al. – to warn the world, particularly the United States which had replaced all other pre-World War II European colonial powers, particularly UK.
While the leading American Jewish thinkers and scholars of 1940’s may have been concerned about the more openly terroristic organizations and their leaders including the Irgum Zvai Le’ umi (IZL) and its leader Menachem Begim who went on to found the right-wing Likud party of Netanyahu, the mainstream guerilla organization of the Zionists – socialist and labourite – known as the Haganah led by David Ben-Gurion, the 1st prime minister and “father” of Israel, were no less terroristic or more “self-restrained” in their conquest of Palestinian land.
Ben-Gurion was known to have ordered his gangs of armed Jewish settlers to line up Arab villagers and other residents of Palestine for execution-style slaughter in various places, with the sole purpose of spreading the message of terror among the natives of Palestinians.
In her 475-page biography “My Life: Golda Meir, Israel’s only female Prime Minister”(London, 1975, reprinted in 2023), Meir, the Ukrainian-born American Socialist Zionist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, had detailed the efforts of this settler colonialist European project, her own personal involvement in the struggle to establish Israel in 1948, the attempts to defend and expand its territories, via arms, funds and external political patronage, spanning the period between1921 when she and her husband arrived in Palestine as settlers, till her resignation from the highest office after the 1973 Yum Kipper war.
According to Golda Meir, firstly, the early Zionist settler colonialists, from Theodor Herzl to Ben-Gurion, there was a common strategic view that their settler colonial project could only succeed under the patronage of a “mother colony” among the imperial powers that controlled Palestine, the real land with real residents on it. Pre-World War I Britain initially played that role – and got a specific mention in Einstein’s 10 April 1948 letter.
Post-WWII, Golda Meir, herself an American settler from USA, played a pivotal role in building the financial and political support base among the American Jewry in a country that showed no sympathy or offer no real help to the millions of Jews, attempting to flee the Nazi-occupied Europe. (Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé offered a rich and factual discussion on, among other topics, the issue of Jewish refugees from Europe in their classic “On Palestine”, Penguins, 2015).
Meir’s biography discussed in detail her official mission of funding raising for arms, travelling from coast to coast. On her first trip to USA, Meir initially raised over $50 million for the purchase of arms from Czechoslovakia on the eve of Israel’s founding in the late 1940’s and subsequently an upward of $130 millions when the newly established Israel came under attack from the Arab neighbours again in 1956.
Today Israel continues to depend on the imperialist patronage of the United States which has provided $300 billion in military and economic aid since the settler colony’s founding in 1948, according to the research essay by published by the Council on Foreign Relations on 23 January 2024. The same day, Haaretz run a podcast, on this subject of Israel’s eternal dependency on USA for its strategic and existential need. This US aid and patronage is certainly unconditional. Jonathan Masters and Will Merrow, the two co-authors of the CFR essay U.S. Aid to Israel in Four Charts, write:
The United States cannot provide security assistance to foreign governments or groups that commit gross human rights violations, a red line enshrined in the so-called Leahy Law. Moreover, the Biden administration announced in February 2023 that it would not provide arms to recipients deemed likely to commit serious human rights violations. Some legal scholars and other critics have alleged that the United States has not applied the Leahy Law with regard to Israel as it has with other Middle Eastern countries.
Instead of holding Israel to account for its numerous and well-documented violations of human rights and other inter-state treaties such as the Genocide Convention, the United States and its western allies – or lackeys – are doubling down on their “Israel, right or wrong” approach amidst worldwide outcry against Israel’s continuing mass atrocities against Palestinians, Gaza as well as in all occupied territories.
Genocide is widely considered “the crime of all crimes”. And the Polish Jewish scholar Lemkin conceptualized the crime as having twin objectives of 1) exterminating the population as substantially as possibly, and 2) impose the perpetrator’s design on the surviving population.
Strategic deliberations continue
Again, Meir’s biography is a treasure trove of internal strategic deliberations among the founders of Israel. The UN Partition of 1947 did not fully satisfy the settlerist leaders including David Ben-Gurion, according to Meir, herself an important player in the leadership – she was a signer of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. But they went along with Ben-Gurion who grudgingly accepted the partition, only as the best tactical choice. In 1956 during the Suez Crisis, Israel fought against Egypt on the side of Britain and France, and captured new territories – only to relinquish reluctantly, under pressure from the United States, then under President Eisenhower, Meir recorded.
As Norman Finkelstein noted in his most recent YouTube discussion, “Israel’s wars of choice” with Palestinian resistance organizations, have been a great strategic vehicle for Israel’s long-term vision of expanding its control of Palestinian land. The Netanyahu government’s relentless attacks in Gaza’s civilian population – and ever-expanding settlements in the other Occupied Territories – can only be understood fully through this lens of Zionist strategic expansionism.
Israeli spokespersons and Western supporters of the settler colony have never tired of touting Israel as “the only democracy” in the Middle East.
At the 27 January 2024 London Emergency Meeting, Professor Avi Shlaim was spot on when he denounced Israel under the Far-Right government of Netanyahu as “the most expansionist” in Israel’s history. But expansionism and Jewish supremacy have long been its integral components.
As a student of genocide and genocidal ideologies that justify this heinous crime against mankind, I could not help but turn to Hitler’s thoughts clearly spelled out in the publications such as Mein Kampf (1925), the most comprehensive if vile genocidal text and The Voice of Destruction (1940).
Hitler spelled out “depopulation” of the land as the crucial objective for the preservation (security) of the Aryan nation thus:
“We are obliged to depopulate,” (italics original), he went on emphatically, as part of our mission of preserving the German population. We shall have to develop a technique of depopulation. If you ask me what I mean by depopulation, I mean the removal of the entire racial units. And that is what I intend to carry out – that, roughly, is my task. Nature is cruel, therefore we, too, may be cruel. If I can send the flower of the German nation into the hell of war without the smallest pity for the spilling of precious German blood, then surely I have the right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin! By “remove”, I don’t necessarily mean destroy; I shall simply take systematic measures to dam their great natural fertility. For example, I shall keep their men and women separated for years. Do you remember the falling birthrate of the world war? Why should we not do quite consciously and through a number of years what was at the time merely the inevitable consequence of the long war? There are many ways, systematical and comparatively painless, or at any rate bloodless, of causing undesirable races to die out.”
[Hitler’s statement to Rauschning, from “The Voice of Destruction,” by Hermann Rauschning (New York, 1940, pp. 137-138), quoted by Lemkin as Footnote 29, page 86, Chapter IX: Genocide)].
In light of the settlers’ Jerusalem Conference on 28 January and Israeli’ state refusal to cease fire even after the ICJ has served the settler colonial state a notice of genocide, the only moral and legal answer to the central question – Does Israel, in its most vicious Messianic and Fascist version, have a right to continue to exist? – will have to be a resounding NO!
Emphatically, the people of Israel do have the right to exist. But, not the apartheid and genocidal Israel with its blood-based Basic Laws – we know of the Nazi’s Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935, officially named the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, and the Law of the Reich Citizen, and we know where they led to.
As my Jewish American brother Stephan Shaw of the Jewish Voice for Peace wrote, “Not this Israel.”