What used to be an idea expressed by only the most extreme right-wing Zionists, namely ridding Israel of its Palestinian citizens, is now part of a “peace” plan and has been given the rubber stamp of the United States government, writes Miko Peled.
Now that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has revealed the details of the so-called Deal of the Century, the only appropriate response is a bold, well-defined plan which offers a real solution to the ongoing colonization of Palestine. To be viable, the alternative plan will need to include at least three vital elements: A total and unequivocal rejection of Zionism and the State of Israel, a plan by which Palestine will transition from an apartheid state to a democratic country and immediate implementation of the Palestinian right of return.
Zionism, fascism and apartheid
Zionism is a racist ideology that produced a dangerous, violent and racist regime. Like fascism and apartheid before it, Zionism must be denounced clearly and unequivocally. In an interview from 1984 with Palestinian leader the late Dr. George Habash, Habash explains why peace cannot coexist with Zionism, he says, among other things, that “Israel is the embodiment of Zionism” and “Zionism is fascism.”
In a piece published in Hebrew in the online publication, Mekomit, writer and activist Orly Noy writes that demographic engineering has been a foundation of Zionism since Israel was first established. Noy says that the BALAD party, an Israeli political party with a platform that calls for democracy and equality for all in the most unambiguous terms, is portrayed in Israel as extremist and even as “supporting terrorism.” This, Noy says, is because Zionism is inherently incapable of accepting the basic idea of granting citizenship to Palestinians.
Well-funded public relations campaigns have succeeded in painting what is inherently a racist ideology as heroic and even romantic. This campaign has gained Zionism a great deal of support and respect in the United States. At the same time, Palestinians and their leaders are labeled as terrorists unless they agree to stop fighting for their rights and capitulate to their colonizers.
A Spectacle at the White House
The spectacle that took place at the White House on January 28 ought to have been titled, “The Impeached and The Indicted,” or “How to Save Your Hide.” It was a crowning moment for all who believe that racism, money and violence should come before justice, freedom and equality.
Trying to address the content of this plan, which by the way is titled, “Peace to Prosperity,” would be a waste of time. It would be much wiser to spend time and energy on implementing a real solution to the question of Palestine. It is, however, important to read because it does offer a view into the broader aims of the State of Israel.
Zionists, both Jewish and Christian, are obsessed with biblical narratives because they are, for all intents and purposes, one of the only tools they can use to legitimize their abuse of Palestinian human rights. Historically speaking, Jews did not control Jerusalem for any significant amount of time, and others made most of the contributions to the city. In its section on Jerusalem, Trump’s plan states:
The State of Israel has been a good custodian of Jerusalem. During Israel’s stewardship, it has kept Jerusalem open and secure.
One has to wonder by what standard this custodianship was measured. How has Israel been a good custodian of Jerusalem? The city is segregated, and various communities, even Jewish ones, are hostile to each other. You will not find an Israeli Jew living in the Shuafat refugee camp, for example, or Isawiya or any other Palestinian neighborhoods for that matter. With very few exceptions, one will never find a Palestinian living in an Israeli-Jewish area of the city.
For many decades now, Jerusalem has subjected to a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing. Entire Palestinian neighborhoods have been emptied of their residents and subsequently leveled to the ground. The city’s indigenous populations, including the majority of non-Jewish Palestinians and a minority of Ultra-Orthodox religious Jews, are disenfranchised, impoverished and the discrimination against them is striking. Millions of Palestinians wishing to pray in Jerusalem are prohibited from entering the city at all, and those who do come are subjected to humiliating measures under the guise of security.
Gaza has tremendous potential but is currently held hostage by Hamas… Significant improvements for the people in Gaza will not occur until there is a ceasefire with Israel, the full demilitarization of Gaza and a governance structure that allows the international community to safely and comfortably put new money into investments that will not be destroyed by predictable future conflicts.
Historically, Gaza has been a prosperous city, known as a center for commerce and learning. In the time since, Israel has turned it into little more than an open-air prison and the conditions of that prison are getting worse by the day.
The claim that Hamas is holding Gaza hostage is interesting but not authentic. The navy ships, the air force bombers, artillery batteries and infantry battalions that bomb Gaza regularly and force Palestinians to remain in the Gaza strip do not belong to Hamas; they are all Israeli.
The demand that Palestinians in Gaza disarm before there are guarantees for their safety and liberty is unrealistic at best. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are subjected to a slow and painful death by a variety of means, including a lack of water, nutrition, and medicine. Yet, demands are being made that they cease to struggle against their oppressors.
The Palestinian Communities of 1948
In what must have come as a shock to many, if not most of those who have read the Trump plan, is that it includes a frightening section about the future of Palestinian citizens of Israel. In 1948, the Zionist leadership and militias did not intend for Palestinians to remain in what became Israel. Throughout the years, Israel has made several attempts to force them to leave through massacres like Kafr Qassem, intimidation, and blatantly discriminatory laws, yet with little success.
Here is what the Trump plan says about Palestinian citizens of Israel:
The Triangle Communities consist of Kafr Qara, Ar’ara, Baha al-Gharbiyye, Umm al Fahm, Qalansawe, Tayibe, Kafr Qasim, Tira, Kafr Bara and Jaljulia. These communities, which largely self-identify as Palestinian, were originally designated to fall under Jordanian control during the negotiations of the Armistice Line of 1949, but ultimately were retained by Israel for military reasons that have since been mitigated. The Vision contemplates the possibility, subject to agreement of the parties that the borders of Israel will be redrawn such that the Triangle Communities become part of the State of Palestine.
What used to be an idea expressed by only the most extreme right-wing Zionists, namely ridding Israel of its Palestinian citizens, is now part of a “peace” plan and has been given the rubber stamp of the United States government. The communities mentioned in this passage, and many others besides them, have been subjected to land confiscation to a point that neither agriculture nor population growth is possible. Wide roads and comfortable housing in Jewish-only colonies have been built on the lands of these communities while they are simultaneously prohibited from building and cultivating.
Refugees and the right of return
The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement shall provide for a complete end and release of any and all claims relating to refugee or immigration status. There shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel.
One of the three demands made by the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, known more commonly as BDS, is the implementation of the Palestinian refugees’ right to return. Five million Palestinians languish in inhumane conditions in and around Palestine only because Israel does not allow them to return to their homeland.
The United States has adopted the long-held Zionist narrative that places the blame for the refugee issue on other countries. What must be made absolutely and unequivocally clear is that Israel holds the responsibility for creating the refugee problem and must allow, and pay for, its remedy.
A great deal has been said and written about this issue and few expected that Trump’s plan wouldn’t absolve Israel of its responsibility. Yet an appropriate response to this plan remains a dedicated campaign demanding the implementation of the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.
A final note of humiliation
Each Palestinian city boasts its own unique trademark dishes and flavors, from Ramallah’s rukab ice cream to the famed knafeh of Nablus. Together, these attractions, among many others, endow the West Bank and Gaza with rich potential tourism opportunities.
One is encouraged to know that President Trump’s son in law has heard of Palestinian ice cream and sweets. It seems that he has even Kushner knows that “the West Bank and Gaza are endowed with the potential for tourism.” However, Palestine is a naturally beautiful and historically fascinating country and there is far more than sweets and ice cream that make it a great tourist destination.
What is holding back tourism in Palestine and the Palestinian economy, in general, isn’t the fact that people haven’t heard of knafeh. The underlying cause of poverty and unemployment is Israel and the economics of apartheid that is has put in place. Tourists are encouraged, and often given no choice, but to spend their money in Israel rather than in Palestinian shops and hotels.
From El-Jaleel in the north to the Naqab in the south, and from the Dead Sea in the East to the Mediterranean coast on the West, Palestine is a tourist haven. Palestinian hospitality is well known and appreciated by all who have experienced it and Palestinians do not need handouts and patronizing from Donald Trump.
Furthermore, Palestinians possess one of the highest literacy rates in the world. They do not need to be lectured by Israel and the United States, two governments characterized by racism and violence.
Time will tell how the election campaigns of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump will be affected by their latest stunt. What is clear is that the reality for Palestinians will not improve until Zionism is condemned, a roadmap to a democratic free Palestine is put in place, and refugees are allowed to return to their homeland.
Feature photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump announce their so-called Mideast Peace Plan in an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 28, 2020. Alex Brandon | AP
Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.