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Tuesday, July 18, 2006


"Friend" Lerner Advocates End to Suffering Via Ethnic Cleansing

I felt it my duty as a patriotic Palestinian-American to counter Rabbi Michael Lerner's latest ode to Zion in guise of concerned "friend" to the Palestinians and guru to all, "End the Suffering in the Middle East," so I spent the better part of a hot evening writing and researching for this rebuttal. It doesn't address the entire, long, and exhausting story...anyone else want to join me in this monumental task?

Response to End the Sufferin in the Middle East

Like many in the Zionist peace movement, Michael Lerner comandeers discourse, explains the Palestinian story, and dispenses advice which no self-respecting Palestinian would take.

Lerner errs when he says in "End the Suffering in the Middle East" that Palestinian history with Zionists starts with the expulsion in 1948 and he is most unfair when he claims that Palestinans were reluctant to offer haven for Jews wishing to escape the Nazi horrors. Palestine's encounters with Zionism go back to Basle in 1897, where the plans were first laid to establish a Jewish state in a land in which the Arab population was ninety-five percent and Arab land ownership was ninety-nine percent.

Regarding Jewish immigration, keep in mind that in 1922, Winston Churchill, prescribed as the sole criterion for Jewish immigration to Palestine "its economic absorptic capacity," (Khalidi xxxvi) while factors such as political, social, and psychological, which entered into US and British quotas for immigration did not apply to Palestine. Keep in mind also that the Zionists express pupose was to establish a political entity in a land that was already cultivated and occupied. According to Ahad Haim, an early Zionist who visited Palestine for three months in 1891:

"We abroad are used to believe the Eretz Yisrael is now almost totally desolate, a desert that is not sowed ..... But in truth that is not the case. Throughout the country it is difficult to find fields that are not sowed. Only sand dunes and stony mountains .... are not cultivated."

Lerner attempts to portray two equally aggrieved parties, totally ignoring what's obvious for one who studies the history of political Zionism. According to Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi what is the crux of the "semmingly labyrinthine complexities of the so-called Arab-Israeli conflict and the baffling maze of claims and counter-claims" is the following:

"On the one hand, Zionist determination to implement, consolidate and expand the Basle 'vision,' irrespective of the Arab character and patrimony in Palestine and its hinterland; on the other, a corresponding development of Arab resistance to Zionist encroachment and self-fulfilment at Arab expense"(Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest xxii).

Lerner asks: "Who are Palestine's friends? Those who encourage a path of non-violence and abandoning the fantasy that armed struggle combined with political isolation of Israel will lead to a good outcome for Palestinians. Who are its enemies? Those who preach ideas like "one state solution" or global economic boycott without offering the Jewish people a secure state in Palestine-paths that will never produce anything positive but continued resistance by Israel and world Jewry."

With this advice, Lerner is reminiscent of those Jewish muktars (tribal leaders) who Yigal Allon enlisted in a "whispering campaign" to aid him in Operation Yiftach, a plan enacted in 1948 by Zionists to cleanse the eastern Galilee of its Palestinian inhabitants.

In Allon's own words: "I gathered the Jewish mukhtars, who had ties with different[local]Arab villages, and I asked them to whisper in the ears of several Arabs that giant Jewish reinforcements had reached the Galilee and were about to clean out the villlages of the Hula [and] to advise them, as friends, to flee while they could"(Khalidi, All That Remains 429).

According to Khalidi, the whispering campaign alone "precipitated the flight of eighteen percent of the population of the Galilee panhandle" (429).

Lerner, as a friend, is advising Palestinians to forget about their "right of return." In doing so, he is in contravention of international law as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13, Section 2: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." While Israel now clamors for implementation of UN Resolution 1559, let us not forget UN Declaration 194, Section 11, which passed in December, 1948 and has been reaffirmed in the UN almost every year since: Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

So, we have Lerner, in the guise of an advocate of peace, assenting to ethnic cleansing, Israel's institutionalized bigotry, Israel's obsession with maintaining a Jewish demographic majority, which absurdly led its Supreme Court, to reaffirm that Palestinians within Israel proper may not live together in Israel with their Palestinian spouses who come from Gaza or the West Bank. Palestinian-Americans, many of whose spouses and families live in the West Bank and Gaza, are now being denied entry to the occupied territories.

As Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, Palestinian refugee expert, said to another Zionist "friend," who also absurdly advises Palestinians to relinquish that which can not be relinquished because it is inalienable, I repeat for Rabbi Lerner:

"True “friendship” should go to the Israelis to help shake them off their collective amnesia about what they have done and are doing to the Palestinians and to advise them that their salvation lies in shedding racism fully and forever. They have to amend their ways, reverse ethnic cleansing and make reparations.

"For it is clear that the history of Jews will ultimately be marked indelibly, and above all other historical events, by what they have done in Palestine."

References: Khalidi, Walid. All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992.

Khalidi, Walid. From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem Until 1948. Washington: The Institute for Palestine Studies, 1987.

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