UK Letter divides anti-Zionist Jews

London anti-Zionists won't sign letter pledging not to celebrate Israel's 60th as wording "too strong."

boycott Israel 88 (photo credit: )
boycott Israel 88
(photo credit: )
A member of the anti-Zionist Jewish community in London has revealed that a number of its members chose not to add their signatures to a letter pledging to not celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary because the wording was "too strong" and it supported a one-state solution. Wednesday's issue of the Guardian carried a letter signed by some 100 Jewish anti-Zionists decrying the celebration of a state "founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land," adding that now was the time to "acknowledge the narrative of the price paid by another people for European anti-Semitism and Hitler's genocidal policies." "We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations," the letter said. A source within the anti-Zionist Jewish community told The Jerusalem Post that prominent members, such as the leadership of the fringe group Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), and Prof. Jacqueline Rose, who is vocal in the academic boycott movement and who proofread the letter, did not sign the letter because they thought its text was "too strong" and supported a one-state solution. JfJfP chair Dan Judelson said: "With Israel extending the occupation it's not surprising that people should express frustration with celebrations that pretend all is well. Israel's future and security are not and will never be guaranteed by burying our heads in the sand. JfJfP is united in deploring celebrations of the 60th anniversary that do not acknowledge the pain that was caused, and continues to be caused, to the Palestinians." Asked why he did not sign the letter, Judelson pointed to its support of a one-state solution. "I think that Israel's future and security will only be achieved by accepting a Palestinian state beyond the Green Line. The best support Diaspora Jews can give is to say this very loudly and very clearly. The letter didn't include that." One of the signatories, Daniel Machover, an Israeli-born lawyer who brings war crimes charges against former IDF officers who enter the UK, defended the letter, saying: "I can't see how I can celebrate dispossession and human rights abuses on a massive scale, even when borne out of the experiences of victims of oppression and racism. As the letter says, equal rights of Arab and Jewish people sharing the same land would be something to celebrate. "The way forward is therefore for Israelis to come to terms with their past and make a decisive break from it by deciding that Israel will be a state for all its citizens equally, repeal the Law of Return and comply with UN resolutions, becoming a true democracy and the progressive multi-cultural country that it still has the potential to become. These are things that do not depend on others and there is nothing to wait for. When Israel makes these unilateral steps, that will be a cause for celebration." The letter mentioned "the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin" and Plan Dalet as authorizing "the destruction of Palestinian villages and expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state." It also cited a number of examples of "ethnic cleansing" perpetrated by Israel. "In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramle in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the 'Death March,'" the letter said. "Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN Resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right." Dr. Colin Shindler, a lecturer at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies, questioned the letter's version of history. "It contradicts not only the official Israeli government version of 1948 but also that of the well-known historian Benny Morris, who has spent decades investigating this subject," he said. "Apart from being selective in their outrage, they are also economical with the facts... Even Palestinian and pro-Palestinian writers and academics would have balked at such a reductionist version of history. I defend the right of the signatories to publicly propagate their views but I deplore their abysmal ignorance of recent history."