The heroic resistance by Palestinian youth at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is a clear affirmation of the failure of the Zionist project to colonise the land of Palestine and empty it of its indigenous people. The Polish-born first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, stated in 1948: “We must do everything to ensure that they [the Palestinians] never do return.” He actually assured his fellow Zionists that Palestinians would never return to their homes. “The old will die and the young will forget,” he insisted. He was wrong.
Protests by Palestinians against the ethnic cleansing and Judaisation of occupied Jerusalem, especially in the suburb of Sheikh Jarrah, demonstrate that not even former US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the “capital of Israel” will be accepted. Sheikh Jarrah is named after the personal physician of the iconic liberator of Jerusalem, Salahuddin Al-Ayubi (“Saladin”) in 1187 from the Crusaders. Most of its current Palestinian residents are refugees whose families were ethnically cleansed by the Zionists in 1948, and are originally from the Talbiya neighbourhood.Political Zionism is a racist colonial ideology developed in 1896 by an Austrian Jew called Theodor Herzl. Its main goal was the establishment of “Greater Israel” in the heart of the Arab and Muslim world, extending from the River Nile in Egypt to the River Euphrates in Iraq, as a Jewish-only homeland for what was termed the “Jewish People”.
By the turn of the last century, British and French colonialists were busy instigating revolts in the Middle East by buying the loyalty of Arabian tribal chiefs to use them against the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul. The toxic brew of Western colonialism, Arabian nationalism and political Zionism facilitated the imposition of the Zionist entity in Palestine through the infamous 1917 Balfour Declaration issued by the then British Foreign Secretary.
Political Zionism, despite strenuous efforts by its proponents, has little or nothing to do with Judaism, the religion of millions of Jews. In fact, leading rabbis at the Philadelphia Conference in November 1869 adopted a resolution that stressed the radical opposition between the Universalist principles of Judaism and those of Zionism.
The racism of political Zionism is a perfectly coherent system that underpins the laws and practices of Israel. It encompasses all the odious characteristics of colonialism, including ethnic cleansing, regular massacres and the bombardment of civilian populations; wars of aggression, dispossession, exile, systemic racism, apartheid and destabilisation.
With a massive infusion of financial, diplomatic and military help from the British and French colonial powers, the Zionists accomplished the project to establish the state of Israel in Palestine after 750,000 of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs were ethnically cleansed from their land.
Significantly, the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War fragmented Islam’s Arab heartland into some 40 weak and dependent territories and oil-rich protectorates. It has failed to further fracture Syria, Iraq and Lebanon into smaller ethnic enclaves of Alawites, Sunnis, Shias, Kurds and Christian fiefdoms.Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem was designated as an international body. The city houses the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa, and its special international status was granted because of its importance to the three Abrahamic religions.
Israel’s illegal annexation of Jerusalem, including the Old City which it occupied in 1967, violates several principles of international law. Significantly, in this case, an occupying power has no sovereignty over the territory it is occupying, and cannot impose it.
Despite this, Israel has proceeded to change the demography of the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, with the Judaisation of East Jerusalem and the Old City. The indigenous Palestinians only hold permanent residency status, not citizenship, in contrast with Jews who are born in the city. The explosion of anger in Sheikh Jarrah is a consequence of decades of expulsion, oppression and injustice.
This is what apartheid South Africa did, and Israel is now said by major human rights groups to have passed the threshold for designation as an apartheid state. The apartheid wall through which the Zionists have cut off Palestinians from their families, farms, public facilities and other parts of their own land has entailed Israel stealing even more Palestinian territory. In a ruling handed down in July 2004, the International Court of Justice described Israel’s apartheid wall as illegal.
Based on spurious Biblical claims that “God promised” the “land without a people to a people without a land” — the Palestinians do not exist as a people in Zionist mythology — Israel continues to uproot Palestinian families from their homes and villages, often at gunpoint. Jewish settlers are the vanguard of the Zionist colonial movement, and all carry arms.
South Africans should never forget UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 — “Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination” — which reads “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. The resolution was adopted on 10 November, 1975, backed by the majority of the international community, but shamefully rescinded later.
It is time for the South African government to stop issuing inane press statements about support for the long-dead “two-state” fraud alongside trite “condemnation” of the heinous crimes committed by Israel. There is no alternative but for South Africa to support the Palestinians to return to time-honoured and internationally sanctioned armed resistance against Israel’s “incremental genocide”, as Israeli historian Professor Ilan Pappé calls it. Until this racist ideology is uprooted and eliminated irrevocably, there will be no peace in Palestine, or anywhere else in the world.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.