Thursday, April 14, 2011

the "right to defend itself"

Recently, there was an uproar due to the publication of an opinion piece by Judge Goldstone in the Washington Post. Goldstone was the head of the UN commission that looked at Israel's assault on Gaza in 2009, Operation Cast Lead.

Israel jumped to the conclusion that the article was a complete vindication of its behavior during Operation Cast Lead.

I've read the article and it's no such thing, but merely an acknowledgment that Israel has at least done something to investigate what happened while HAMAS has done nothing. It also clears Israel, in Goldstone's view, of the charge of deliberately targeting civilians as a military policy.

But what I want to look at is contained in this paragraph from Goldstone's opinion piece (boldface mine)
The purpose of the Goldstone Report was never to prove a foregone conclusion against Israel. I insisted on changing the original mandate adopted by the Human Rights Council, which was skewed against Israel. I have always been clear that Israel, like any other sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within. Something that has not been recognized often enough is the fact that our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations. I had hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the U.N. Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.

I'm not about to discuss the history of the UN Human Rights Council, because I'm not familiar with it. Rather I want to speak of how one sided is the phrase "Israel's right to defend itself". I've heard this innumerable times but not once have I heard it said that the Palestinians, whose homeland has been systematically taken from them and is still being taken today, have a right to self-defense.

To hear the talk in the US, there is only one moral party, Israel, and the other side is a collection of hate-filled terrorists with nothing but the blood of Jews on their minds.

Those who founded Israel moved in with the expectation of moving out the natives, the Palestinian Arabs, who inconveniently stood in the way of a mythic vision of a homeland for Jews that would be for them alone. For most Zionist leaders, the resident Arabs were no more than bothersome flies that needed to be swept from an otherwise appealing piece of fruit.

Just as Native-Americans had every right to resist the European/American taking of the New World, so also did/do the Palestinians have the right to resist Israel. The fact that the Palestinians have been denied an official state in no way gives Israel the moral high ground because it is a recognized state. Goldstone's words about the recognized right of states to self-defense is a red herring, attempting to give weight to a technicality while the decades-long ethnic cleansing project that is the absolute bedrock of the problem is put aside.

So also, the indignant demand of Israel that the Palestinians declare Israel's "right to exist" is outrageous. Who would ever willingly respect the right of a party to come from outside and take one's homeland, not just take it but erase it as far as possible?

In fact, Israel's "right to defend itself" has covered for a tremendous arms build-up and continual taking of Palestinian lands that not only allows no effective means of military resistance to takeover but expedites the ethic cleansing by making the Palestinians helpless. The rockets of HAMAS are not a sign of awful power as Israel would like us to believe, but of pathetic helplessness against the awesome killing machine called the IDF.

Zionism was never a legitimate project because it assumed/assumes injustice and tries to make invisible the people who had to be wronged for it to be created. This is never more clear than in the lopsided use of "the right to defend itself".

The one and only way for Israel to be a legitimate state, morally, is with the one-state solution, where Palestinians are allowed to have the citizenship they have been denied and the state for Jews only is voluntarily dissolved. Until this happens, Israel will writhe on a bed of nails - the immorality of its foundation.

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