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Palestinians have a problem with occupiers not Jews

One extremely disturbing feature of the recent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis has been what seems a deliberate framing by Israel of the reasons behind the knife attacks as simply hatred of Jews because they are Jews. Reference to casualties has not been to Israelis but to Jews. The claim is that Palestinians raise their children to hate Jews and that even the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas incites against Jews. The context of the nearly 50 yearlong illegal occupation of Palestine is deliberately omitted. In fact as far as a number of senior Israeli politicians are concerned there is no occupation.

In another Israeli stunt at the United Nations, Israel’s new Ambassador Danny Danon held up a diagram of the human body entitled “How to stab a Jew”. He claimed that Palestinian children were shown these and shown “how to hate [Jews]”.

Most recently, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu even attempted to blame the worst mass murder in history – the Nazi Holocaust – on the Palestinians. He claimed that Hitler only intended to expel Jews but that in his infamous and only meeting with the grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al-Husseini the mufti suggested that he “burns the Jews” to stop them heading for Palestine upon their expulsion.

It is also noteworthy that Netanyahu has referred to what many commentators and analysists have called an intifada as a series of acts of terrorism, specifically by Palestinian “Arabs” against “Jews” rather than an “intifada” against the continuing occupation.

This is Netanyahu’s and other Israeli leaders’ way of demonising the Palestinians simply as terrorists who hate Jews. That there is no other reason for their actions than this hatred. He recently claimed that it isn’t illegal settlements or Israeli actions in Al-Aqsa Mosque that led to the recent wave of attacks, mostly on Israeli security forces but that “they’re attacking us not because they want peace or don’t want peace,” he said. “It’s because they don’t want us [Jews] here [in Israel]”.

One can therefore summarise the current Netanyahu position as: “The Palestinians hate us because we are Jews and their then leader the grand mufti convinced Hitler to exterminate the Jews rather than expel them.” It is also a dangerous attempt to turn what is a struggle between an indigenous occupied people and their colonialist occupiers into a religious confrontation between Jews and the mostly Muslim Palestinians.

The grand mufti

The claim that the grand mufti called for the extermination of Jews by Hitler during the one meeting he had with him in 1941 has been shown to be a lie by most respected historians. While the lack of condemnation of his fabricated assertion by world leaders has been worrying, only ardent Zionists and Israeli apologist give this claim any credence. But to imply that Haj Amin was such a powerful man that he was able to convince a then world leader to develop a policy to exterminate millions of people would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious issue. If he were so powerful, he could have ejected the British and declared independence for the Palestinian people before 1948.

However, it should not be surprising for the mufti to have been worried that Zionists were encouraging Jews to migrate to Palestine against the will of the indigenous Palestinians. After all, that was their plan. This was therefore a known threat to the “demography” of historic Palestine and if the Palestinians yearned for independence from the then British occupation they would object to the mass migration of hundreds of thousands of members of a particular group aliens to their homeland. You only need to look at the current fear of mass migration to Europe from the Middle East to understand that his would have been the natural reaction to a known threat. Would any people allow open migration from Syria to their homeland that could result in a Syrian majority population?

The Palestinians did not choose their occupiers, they chose Palestine

As for the claim that Palestinians hate Jews because they are Jews, well this claim can be easily debunked. The Palestinian people did not choose to be occupied either by the British or then by a newly established state, Israel. As it happens Israel was established for Jewish migrants on the land of the Palestinians. Their occupiers were therefore Jews. If it were, say the Japanese that decided to take Palestine and settle hundreds of thousands of Japanese people there, the Palestinians’ problem would have been with the Japanese. If it was the Mexicans, it would have been with Mexicans. In other words, when Palestinians resist the occupation they resist the occupiers regardless of what their religious or ethnic origin is.

The Zionist movement could have succeeded in creating Israel in a number of other locations. If Israel had been created in Uganda, the indigenous Ugandans would have been entitled to be angered by this. They may have resisted the taking of their land for another people. They may have fought the designation of Kampala as the capital of the Jewish homeland, not the African Uganda. A solidarity movement may have been created to help them end the occupation.

If Israel was created in Uganda and the Japanese had occupied Palestine, would the Palestinians have formed Fatah or later Hamas or Islamic Jihad to travel to Uganda to attack Jews or would they have resisted the Japanese?

The answer to the above question is clear and unambiguous. Palestinians would have directed their efforts against their occupier to bring about an end to the occupation and the return of the refugees. When they resist today, including through violent means, they do so against the occupier. When they attack an Israeli soldier or policeman, they do not ask him if he is Jewish, Bedouin Christian or Druze. They attack him because to them he is the frontline of the occupation.

It is of course impossible to claim that no Palestinian has racist or anti-Semitic tendencies and those that do represent themselves and not an entire people. However, it is also wrong to claim that Palestinians somehow wake up in every morning and plot how they will hurt Jews.

Palestinians are occupied by Israel which claims to be the “Jewish State”. It takes actions against the Palestinians in the name of Jews. Prime Minister Netanyahu has proclaimed himself the leader of the Jews across the world even though most of them did not elect him.

Netanyahu and those that make similar claims to the above are themselves guilty of raising hatred against Jews through their actions, including the fabrication of history, brutal occupation, racism and apartheid policies.

Peace cannot come while they continue to do this. It will come to historic Palestine when they acknowledge the Nakba, apologise and a just solution is found.

Professor Kamel Hawwash is a British Palestinian engineering academic based at the University of Birmingham. He is a commentator on Middle East Affairs and is Vice Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. He writes here in a personal capacity.

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