15th May – Nabka Day – a day of shame for the world

Deir Yassin 1948

Deir Yassin 1948

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15th May – Nabka Day – a day of shame for the world

The 15th May in Palestine, and for Palestinians in the diaspora, is Nabka Day, the day following the unilateral declaration of independence by the State of Israel (on 14th May 1948) and the start of, now, 72 years of; persecution; murder; imprisonment; repression; theft of their land; denigration of their dignity; subjection to racist laws; ethnic cleansing; military occupation; and now, especially in Gaza, starvation.

The word ‘nabka’ can be translated as ‘disaster’, ‘catastrophe’ or ‘cataclysm’ – in the sense of 15 May all of them.

In fact, if you take all the sufferings of various peoples throughout the world, all the assaults that have been condemned by international bodies – principally the United Nations Organisation (UNO) – in those 72 years the cause of which, in the main, has been the attempts of the various imperialist powers to maintain or regain control in various parts of the world, and dump them on one nation, one group of people, then those people are the Palestinians.

This struggle between the imperialist powers didn’t start in 1948. In the modern era this issue was being played out before the fighting in the First World War was over and the guns on the Western Front went quiet. To keep the various Arab tribes on side in the war against the Ottoman Empire (an ally of Germany in the war and on the periphery initially but an important aspect of the main war nonetheless) promises were made but never kept.

Whilst to their faces the Arab forces were being told one thing behind their backs the British were making the promise of a Jewish State, with undefined borders, in the area which was known as Palestine and where the vast majority of the population were Arabs (90%). Although the British Government had been talking to Zionist representatives during much of the course of the war there was no consultation whatsoever with the Arab people’s who already lived in a thriving community on the land being given away.

In the same way the land that later became known as the United States of America wasn’t empty of people before the arrival of the European immigrants neither was the land of Palestine.

The Balfour Declaration

It might be worthwhile to briefly have a look at the wording of this short document, a mere 67 words but which has caused so much suffering and injustice to so many people for so many years.

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

The main question to ask is; what right did the British have to assign someone’s land to another group of people – even if it was for the short term interests of the imperialist power – that is, Zionist/Jewish support and encouragement for United States involvement on the Western Front. Obviously the question is rhetorical – the British did because they could and as was their wont, the consequences of their decision on the local populace were not even considered.

For the Zionists then, and the State of Israel now, there’s nothing in the Declaration of any import after the second comma. They had achieved what they were after, the capitulation of a major imperialist power which various Zionist groups and organisations were able to play with in the years between 1917 and 1948.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s (and into the 1940s) there were constant conflicts between the Jewish ‘settlers’ and the indigenous population – from the very beginning the settlers assuming they had all the rights. At times the morally weak British forces were in the middle but after 1945 they also became the target of Zionist terrorist attacks, especially those organised by the Irgun and the Stern Gang – both organisations providing future Prime Ministers to the State of Israel.

On 29th November 1947 the plan for the partition of Palestine was taken to a vote in the General Assembly of the United Nations (which had been formed two and a half years earlier with the UN Charter, which includes fine words such as peace, security and human rights) and passed by 33 votes to 13 (with 10 abstentions and one member absent). To give a flavour of the ‘new world order’ after the defeat of Fascism the people most effected by this partition, the Palestinians, weren’t even consulted – let alone invited to argue their case.

For reasons I have been unable to discover the Soviet Union both voted for the partition and two days after Israel declared independence recognised the new ‘state’.

Immediately following the vote in favour of the State of Israel the armed Zionist gangs began to make sure circumstances were the most favourable for themselves in the event of an uprising of the Palestinians that would certainly follow the proposed declaration on 14th May – this included a systematic recording of any military material the British would leave behind and identifying those points of conflict which would be most crucial in the coming battle.

This included the process of ‘ethnic cleansing’ even before the term was even coined. One notorious example was the expulsion and massacre of the inhabitants of the village of Deir Yassin, a small Palestinian village a few kilometres to the west of Jerusalem, on 9th April 1948. The Zionist terrorist organisation, Irgun, boasted they had killed, in cold blood, 256 villagers, and far from being ashamed of this broadcast the fact far and wide and in so doing helped create the climate of fear that resulted in a mass exodus of Palestinians from their homes and land.

By March 1949 more than 750,000 Palestinians, who had once had reasonably secure livelihoods were made refugees by the Jewish settlers and invaders. Most of those who were forced to leave never returned home as has been the fate of the 3 generations (to date) of their descendants.

Deir Yassin wasn’t the only village to suffer massacre and destruction in 1948-49 or later, as at the time of the so-called ‘Six Day War’, of 1967, the villages of Zeita, Beit Nuba and Yalu suffered a similar fate.

This activity of the Jewish terrorist groups is reminiscent of the activities of the Nazis during the Second World War. There are examples where activities of Partisan groups fighting the fascist invaders led to retaliations, massacres and the razing of villages such as Lidice, in Czechoslovakia; Oradour-sur-Glane in France; Borovë in Albania and the hundreds of villages the SS wiped out in the eastern Soviet Union when they invaded in 1942.

It also reminds us of the destruction of the villages of My Lai, in Vietnam, on 16th March 1968, by the Americans. Coincidentally the numbers massacred in Deir Yassin and My Lai are very similar, 250 dead, including 30-50 babies.

It could be said the Zionists were even worse than the Nazis (and the American imperialists in Vietnam) as the Germans and the Americans carried out their slaughter as retaliation and revenge, the Zionists did it because they could and enjoyed it.

If it talks like a Fascist, if it acts like a Fascist, if it kills like a Fascist – then it’s a Fascist.

But it has to be said the Zionists have played it well in the intervening years since the establishment of their illegal state. In 1967 they were able to convince many they were the victim in the war against the neighbouring Arab countries. By being a willing tool of American imperialism they have proven their worth by destabilising the region and being a force which benefits the major oil companies and their various state sponsors. Whereas the Apartheid state of South Africa (with which Israel was on friendly military and trading terms prior to 1992) became an international pariah Israel gets away with following exactly the same policies. They’ve also been able to use the rantings of Holocaust deniers to use anti-Semitism to their own advantage and now criticism of the State of Israel has been classified as an act of anti-Semitism – the only state in the world which has been able to equate race to statehood.

Events subsequent to the Nabka of 1948-49, have only gone to prove that what the Zionist State of Israel learnt from the Hitlerite Nazis is to kill and oppress anyone you see as an enemy, that racism is the way forward, that ethnic cleansing is progress, that war is peace.

It is a stain upon the reputation of the world’s working class, and especially the International Communist Movement, the situation the Palestinians live under was allowed to last 72 days let alone 72 years.

Marx once said the British working class would never achieve freedom if the Irish remained enslaved. The same can be said about the Palestinians.

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Zionism, anti-Semitism and Ken Livingstone

Flag of Palestine

Flag of Palestine

Below is the content of a leaflet distributed by the Liverpool Friends of Palestine at the May Day march and rally in Liverpool on May 1st, 2017.

Although in no way a supporter of the British Labour Party some of their membership might, at times, make declarations which should be supported. Although not very well expressed and defended even less well his attack on the crimes of Zionism should be supported.

Increasingly Zionism is attempting to conflate attacks on the Settler State of Israel as an attack upon all Jewish people. Unfortunately the spreading climate of racism increases peoples’ fears and decreases their ability to see things for what they are.  

When it comes to Zionism and Israel it is the people of Palestine who suffer yet again. The ‘acceptance’ of the situation of the Palestinian people; the way they have been treated like pawns in an international game of power politics; the constant harassment, murderous military attacks and the imprisonment of its population by soldiers of the Israeli Settler State; the betrayals they have had to endure; and the endless empty promises to resolve the theft of their land is a crime for which those in the so-called ‘developed’ countries should hang their heads in shame for allowing to exist for almost a century.  

Without the freedom of the Palestinian people there will be no true freedom for the oppressed and exploited of the world.     

Zionism, anti-Semitism and Ken Livingstone

Liverpool Friends of Palestine

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone

Early in April Ken Livingstone was suspended for a further 12 months by the Labour Party National Compliance Committee. He was originally charged with anti-Semitism and ‘holocaust revision’, either of which would have been reason to expel him if true. Neither accusation would stand up in a court of law, so it was no surprise when the Compliance Committee settled on “conduct prejudicial and/or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party”, citing “deeply offensive” statements on Nazi Germany.

Zionist organisations keen to conceal the actual history of Nazi-Zionist collaboration, and anti-Corbyn Labour MPs, predictably condemned the decision not to expel Livingstone. Unfortunately, to their shame, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell also attacked him, and with Len McCluskey’s support the case was referred back to Labour’s National Executive Committee. But upholding freedom of expression, and solidarity with Palestine, means defending the right to speak truthfully about history, even if it hurts.

Why all this uproar about one man, whose strong record of fighting racism for decades is unquestionable?

Historical accuracy

It is clear what Ken Livingstone did not say. He did not say that Hitler was a Zionist, nor that Zionism is equivalent to Nazism nor that the German Zionists, a small minority of German Jews in 1933 when Hitler took power, were complicit in the Holocaust.

He did say that Zionist organisations collaborated with the Nazi regime which promoted them in opposition to the vast majority of German Jews who regarded themselves first and foremost as German citizens, not Jews. They wished to integrate into German society. The aim of Zionist Jewish organisations, on the other hand, was to persuade Jews to emigrate to Palestine.

Collaboration

The Nazi regime aimed to make Germany a Jew-free country. New laws gradually excluded German Jews from cultural, social, political and economic life. Some were supported by the Zionist organisations, as contributing to their aim.

On September 17th 1935, the paper of the German Zionist Federation welcomed the Nuremburg Laws which removed German citizenship from Jews and effectively made them stateless. These laws were opposed by the vast majority of German Jews.

The regime promoted emigration from Germany and

I saw Zionist organisations as part of the process. This conclusion is detailed by such eminent Zionist historians as Lucy Dawidowicz (War Against the Jews), David Cesarani (Final Solution and The Fate of the Jews 1933 -1949) and Francis Nicosia.

“Throughout the 1930s … there was almost unanimous support in German government and Nazi party circles for promoting Zionism among German Jews and Jewish emigration from Germany to Palestine.”

From Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany by Francis Nicosia, Professor of History and Raul Hilberg Distinguished Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont.

The Transfer (Ha’ avara) Agreement

The most notorious collaboration was the Ha’avara Agreement, originally proposed by a Jewish businessman in Palestine, and embraced by the Nazis as a means to puncture the world-wide campaign for a boycott of Hitler’s Germany. The Agreement was signed in August 1933 by the Zionist Federation of Germany, the Anglo-Palestine Bank, and the economic authorities of Nazi Germany.

Nazi coin minted to commemorate the Ha'avara Agreement

Nazi coin minted to commemorate the Ha’avara Agreement

The owner of a Tel Aviv citrus export firm, Sam Cohen, had proposed that Zionist émigrés avoid tax on capital leaving Germany, by purchasing goods in Germany to be sold in Palestine. The German Consul in Jerusalem wrote “In this way it might be possible to wage a successful campaign against the Jewish boycott of Germany … It is important to break the boycott first and foremost in Palestine, and the effect will inevitably be felt on the main front, in the United States.”

The Nazis first agreed for lm Reichmarks to be shipped to Palestine as farm machinery. The Jewish National Fund then got Cohen to arrange for frozen JNF monies to be released for transfer. “The bait for the Nazis was that the cash was needed to buy land for the Jews whom Hitler would be pushing out. Cohen also assured that he would operate behind the scenes at a forthcoming Jewish conference in London to weaken or defeat any boycott resolution.”

In early May 1933, Chaim Arlosoroff, the Political Secretary of the Jewish Agency, came to a preliminary understanding to extend Cohen’s arrangement. He returned to Tel Aviv and was assassinated because of his dealings with the Nazis. The Agreement was then signed, and caused an uproar when it emerged.

What’s behind the attack on Livingstone?

We reject the view that Ken Livingstone is anti-Semitic. His statements on collaboration of German Zionists with the Nazi regime are broadly accurate.

He has a long history of supporting the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice, as does Jeremy Corbyn who has faced continuing opposition from Zionists within and without the Labour Party who want to silence the voices of Palestinians and their supporters. Corbyn’s victory on an anti-austerity, socialist platform also angered right-wing Labour members, MPs and the media.

Research by the Media Reform Coalition concludes that “most newspapers [had been] systematically vilifying the leader of the biggest opposition party, assassinating his character, ridiculing his personality and de-legitimising his ideas and politics.” After his election as leader this alliance of Zionists and neo-liberals intensified their opposition, but their coup attempts failed to remove Corbyn.

False accusations of anti-Semitism

False accusations of anti-Semitism were then deployed. The independent inquiry by Shami Chakrabarti, which found that “The Labour Party is not overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism”, had no effect. The false accusations by supporters of Apartheid Israel continued, with some newspapers, in particular the ‘liberal’ Guardian acting as cheerleaders. In this context we defend Ken Livingstone and condemn Zionists and their supporters for personal abuse and blatant political misrepresentations. Ken Livingstone was vilified for this statement:

“When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

This statement is not anti-Semitic. Yes, it should have said 1933 and Palestine. But the Nazis, under Hitler’s absolute authority, did support the Zionist emigration policy and did explicitly favour German Zionist organisations.

Criticism of Israel and of its founding ideology, Zionism, has been misrepresented as anti-Semitic. Antisemitism is a form of racist bigotry directed at Jews because they are Jews. By contrast, anti-Zionism opposes the political ideology which underpins the Israeli state. More than 40% of British Jews do not identify as Zionist.

These escalating allegations of antisemitism are a response to the growing success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in holding Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people. Allegations of antisemitism have been used increasingly to discredit Israel’s critics. The intention is to suppress criticism of Israel and undermine freedom of speech for Palestinians and their supporters.

Outrageous

Accusing Ken Livingstone of “deeply offensive” statements which are historically correct is outrageous. Discussing the actual history will offend some who see it as undermining the legitimacy of the Zionist project of creating a Jewish state based on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. In another era the white leaders and supporters of Apartheid South Africa were ‘offended’ by criticism of apartheid.

The answer is simple. Stop supporting Apartheid Israel and the Zionist philosophy which underpins it.

Liverpool Friends of Palestine

c/o News from Nowhere,

96 Bold St, Ll 4HY

see also freespeechonisrael.org.uk