It seems that the international meetings I am participating in for the 30th time and the ninth series of lectures in Britain specifically are taking up the lion’s share of my visits. This is due to the fact that solidarity campaigns with the Palestinian people in Britain are considered to be the strongest and most active in the world. Time after time, we try to expand the discourse related to solidarity with the Palestinians in order for it to go beyond confronting the occupation and blockade, i.e. “bad Israel” and to including the concept of “good Israel” that Israel is trying to convince the world exists. Does “good Israel” really exist? Could the “Zionist dream” with its ideal conditions and without being subject to resistance from the victim or any international opposition, constitute a normal human life?
The answer to this question is not derived from the reality of the conflict, but the reality of the state, i.e. the routine practices of the Zionist project, not only from its bloody crimes. The basic routine produced by this project is the Jewish State itself, as well as its institutions, its legal system, and the values it produces and raises its generations with on a daily basis. This is the routine that embodies the “Zionist dream”, and this routine is what produces one violation after another and one crime after another.
This is the main claim we can present to the international solidarity movements, and by doing so we can confirm that the problem is with the dream (the Jewish state) and that the crimes committed by this state are the same tools it uses to define itself as a Jewish state. This also confirms that the state cannot exist, even within its basic daily routine, without committing ethnic cleansing, uprooting and the physical and symbolic liquidation of the Palestinian presence, i.e. the crimes are not outside of the Israeli routine, but rather are what form the routing within the system itself. It translates the plans for uprooting, liquidation and ethnic cleansing into legal tools and local administration systems.
We cannot continue to talk about a solution that is merely a “Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel”, a motto even some of our own central political forces still promote. Those who want to combat Israel’s crimes cannot be satisfied with removing Israel from the West Bank and Gaza Strip alone. They must remove Zionism from the legal and political system of the state, because the plans for uprooting, displacement and liquidation are plans that govern Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian presence in all its forms. Citizenship was never protection for the Palestinians from Zionism and its plans, but it has always been a tool of control and a means to implement its plans against us.
As for the “diplomatic” significance of this claim, along with its political significance, it refutes Israel’s defence discourse to the Europeans, which is based on Israel’s spilt personality. There is good/real Israel, which, if left alone by the world, would prove its moral superiority, and there is Israel that is dragged into war, which if forced, possibly, may commit some unintentional or forced violations but only in self-defence.
The importance of stating that liquidations, displacement and cleansing are crimes established in Israel’s routine and are at the core of the Zionist project, is that it refutes Israel’s claims of moral superiority and legitimacy which it is trying to rely on.
If Israel can silence the world with claims of “Islamic terrorism” in Gaza or “defence of its democracy” in the West Bank, then what will its answer be if asked about the reason for prohibiting Arabs from living in over 500 towns, the law of Jewish neighbourhoods receiving larger budgets, the Prawer Plan, the citizenship law, the law to withdraw parliamentary representation, the law prohibiting the commemoration of the Nakba, the law to reduce the sound of the call to prayer, or the law restricting participation in political parties? What will Israel say about physical, political and symbolic liquidation laws? Especially since its typical answer of “self-defence” won’t hold up here. What will it say if the claims of “some violations it was forced to commit” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were legitimate in order to protect Israel, the democratic state that promotes the West’s democratic values are not accepted?
What would happen if we reveal that the “good” that Israel willingly chooses is no less evil than the evil that it is forced to commit in the West Bank and Gaza?
Such exposure is exactly what Israel fears. It is afraid that the world will discover that the “perfect” Jewish state has committed crimes that are no less of a crime than the war crimes it “forcibly” committed because people have not yet understood the pureness and morality of what Israel wants. They fear that the world will realise the problem isn’t only the brutal crimes but also lies in the daily routine. They are afraid the world will realise that the main problem is not in the missiles and siege that will end if the Palestinians surrender, nor is it in the confiscation of the land, which will stop if the Palestinians voluntarily surrender their land, but the problem is what Israel wants, even if we do not resist. The problem is the laws, culture and intellect that considers your existence terrorism.
Perhaps it is because of Israel’s fear of this that the Zionist lobby is forced to tighten its control in order keep up with the growing solidarity with the Palestinians that not only stems from the ugliness of Israel’s crimes but from a deeper understanding of the concept of the Jewish state itself.
Confronting the nature of the Jewish state requires the Europeans to first liberate themselves from the continuous oppression and extortion that they are constantly subjected to, that undeniably succeeds in controlling the political scene they are living in. It isn’t only the Palestinians who have lost control of their reality, but the Brits as well, or more accurately, those who want to express their views on the Palestinian cause freely. Although they are in remission, their inability to express their opinions freely enough regarding the Palestinian cause indicates their sense of losing control or helplessness. If an embassy and lobby are controlling the freedom of thousands in a certain country, it is not a typical scene and cause for surprise, followed by resentment and anger.
Perhaps the anger felt by dozens of these activists at the fact that a foreign lobby is controlling them is greater than the anger provoked by the violation of Palestinians’ freedom and dignity by the Zionist project, not because the latter’s suffering is less, as the suffering of Palestinians is too deep to compare, but because of Zionism’s success in oppressing British citizens. This gives it more confidence and reassurance in oppressing the Palestinians; is it possible for Israel to succeed in Britain but fail with the Palestinians?
The answer is yes, it is possible for Israel to succeed in suppressing the freedom of expression of activists in solidarity with Palestine who are from strong and sovereign nations and fail with the victim. This is because it has already taken over all means of its victims’ material and symbolic life, leaving them with very little to lose. Sometimes, strength is one’s weakness, while confinement within narrow limits means you will only lose narrowness.
In the past two years, the British have voiced their resentment, their fear of the Zionist lobby and, most importantly, its success in silencing them more than ever. The Zionist lobby has intensified its campaigns, relations and means of pressure, this time in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli ambassador in London. Everyone will attest to his unprecedented means of intimidation, which no other ambassador has ever used. This is despite the fact that the British, and other countries’ laws do not permit local lobbies to receive guidance, instructions or funding from any foreign embassy in the country in which it operates, as this constitutes an interference in the internal affairs of the state, which is prohibited by the norms and rules of international diplomacy.
Al Jazeera’s investigation revealed how the Zionist lobby infiltrated and penetrated not only the corridors of British politics, but also the corridors of the personal life of British officials. They even went as far as trying fabricate a scandal for one of the conservative ministers as punishment for his rejection of settlements. Despite the discovery of such actions and plots, no punishment or measure have been taken in accordance with the diplomatic standards.
The peak Zionist lobby’s success is embodied by the British government’s adoption of the new definition of anti-Semitism, which considers any unconventional criticism against Israel anti-Semitic. This new change must not be underestimated. This change occurred in late 2016 when British Prime Minister Theresa May promised to issue a government resolution to adopt a definition recently formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, known as the IHRA, which stated that “anti-Semitism could include criticism of Israel as a Jewish state”. This means anyone who dares to criticise Israel will “put themselves at risk” of being labelled as anti-Semitic.
Not only did the Zionist lobby succeed in making Theresa May adopt this definition, but the harshest blow came in the form of Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, known for his unprecedented support in the British political arena for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians and his full awareness of the essence of the Zionist project, agreeing to adopt this new definition of anti-Semitism.
Hence, it seems that the Zionist lobby in Britain pre-empted the “benefits” the Palestinians would gain from electing their “friend” Corbyn as head of the Labour party by adding new restrictions to the British political scene. They have made the Zionist definition of anti-Semitism most in control of the limits of what is permissible and prohibited in terms of supporting Palestinians and opposing colonialism, settlement, apartheid and Israeli oppression in the British political scene.
This may suggest that supporting Zionism is a condition for the freedom of expression in Britain (similar procedures and laws were approved recently in other European countries including France and Spain), in a clear example of McCarthyism that puts anyone who criticises Israel on a blacklist.
Dozens of members of the Labour party have revealed their membership has been frozen for months after the Zionist lobby filed complaints against them, accusing them of anti-Semitism. They all noted that the number of those who believe they were punished for this accusation by freezing their membership reached thousands, while others said the number is tens of thousands of people. In some cases, people’s memberships were frozen without their knowledge, and without any formal procedure or without allowing them to air their side of the story.
Some of us overlook the fact that the efforts to eliminate thousands of Labour party activists is not only a personal attack on these individuals, but also reflect attempts by the Zionist lobby to manipulate the internal influence of the Labour party, known for its member’s support for Corbyn’s left-wing pro-Palestinian positions, but not known to support the official bodies in the party and the senior officials who are known for their hostility toward Corbyn and their relentless fight against his influence. This indicates some mechanisms of the Zionist lobby in combatting Corbyn and influencing the internal elections of the British parties.
These new developments are what allow us to confirm that there are motives for the Brits’ solidarity with the Palestinian that go beyond their support for their just cause. They are also standing in solidarity against the Zionist lobby’s attempts at political intimidation and with their right to think, express and speak freely in their country. The Zionist lobby’s success in oppressing the freedom of expression of other nations would be the greatest indicator of the credibility of the Palestinians’ claims, not to mention the fact that the Zionist lobby is forced to exaggerate its means of pressure and repression in an attempt to keep up with the increased solidarity with the Palestinians.
In the past two years, Britain has been criticising the Zionist lobby, not in defence of the Palestinians’ rights but in defence of the British people’s rights. Petitions signed by 200 lawyers and academics confirmed that the restrictions imposed by British policy against the international boycott of Israel, in addition to the government’s adoption of the Zionist definition of anti-Semitism are a violation of human rights in Britain.
The suppression against British citizens by foreign parties in their own country does not stop at the suppression of freedom of expression. Just as the Palestinians experience this, the Zionist lobby in all European countries threaten those who rent out their halls for conferences and forums organised by solidarity campaigns. The surrender of many is not because they are afraid of punishment, but most of the time it is to reduce harassment and headache they are subjected to. Other fears faced by the British people causing them to surrender to the pressure of the lobby are related to their fear of losing sources of funding or defamation in the media and social networking sites under the control and influence of the Zionist lobby.
Despite all this, I must note that although the Palestinian cause has lost some of its international political presence due to the Arab revolutions and their consequences, as well as the fact that the cause has been liquidated as a liberation cause and is being dealt with as a diplomatic issue by the PA, it has not lost its moral presence globally, and is still a symbol of justice and the fight against domination.
The Palestinians still do not require much effort to convince any European of the justice of their cause, and the Zionist lobby is still forced to redouble its efforts, funds and intimidation to keep pace with the popular support given instinctively to the Palestinians without much effort. However, this requires us to focus our efforts and to emphasise that the definition, principles and laws of the Jewish state itself eliminate any possibility of the existence of an “innocent Israel” and that Israel’s daily practices represented by its legal, political and educational system should be subject to international scrutiny and accountability, and not only its crimes in the West Bank and Gaza. The former carries as much crime as the latter. The second thing we must emphasise is the extent to which Zionism has become an international movement against freedom in the world.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arab48 on 29 September 2017
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.