This article was written by a concerned Jeremy Corbyn supporter, worried like I am, that the scaremongering surrounding Jeremy Corbyn’s supposed anti-semitic ‘friends’ will force unsure Labour members/supporters to vote for one of the other candidates. Jeremy Corbyn wishes to bring peace, hopefully this will go some way in giving a little background on this issue and show that the attacks and accusations against Jeremy Corbyn are nothing more than viscous, vitriolic slander from people intent on using any avenue available to keep the status quo and stop society from having a genuine leader of a major party to represent working people and provide society with a genuine alternative. –
As I begin, I would like you to abandon any idea that Israel represents world Jewry. Israel, as a state, may only represent Israel, in the same way that your opinion is yours, or my opinion is mine, and does not represent all those born under Leo, or all those with a ‘P’ in their name.
That established, it’s necessary to look at history for just a little bit.
Historically, Palestine before the creation of the state of Israel had been populated by the ancient Greeks, invaded by the Romans, repopulated by the Arabs. This meant that for a great many years, the people of Palestine were a mixture of different creeds, all living peacefully together: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Arabs and others.
Then, in 1917, the British government did something which would change it all. The Balfour Declaration:
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 effect of this was to drive a wedge between people who had been happily living together as neighbours for centuries. Tensions rose year upon year until the UN stepped in in 1947. But we’ve missed out the Second World War, and that’s very important. So let’s look at that.
Imagine for a moment, being Jewish in the 1930’s. Anti-semitism was rife all over the world. For this unique and “wandering” people, who identified themselves and their faith as inseparable, how frightening it must have been. There were a massive amount of Jewish refugees as Hitler came to power, fleeing Germany and nearby countries as the march of the fascists continued, seemingly unstoppable. And who was prepared to step forward and take them in, against the rising tide of ugly anti-semitism? No one. Not America, and certainly not Britain. Jews, it seemed, were no longer welcome anywhere, not even in the countries where their families had lived for numerous generations, among their friends and neighbours. Is it surprising that many fled to a place they could consider an ancient homeland? That just fifteen years earlier the British government had declared to be so?
The increasing tensions in historical Palestine had defined themselves into two separate sides, and it was a place where Jews were not only welcomed, but wanted. Numbers mattered in the context of what was rapidly descending into near civil war. Indeed, there were even overtures made to the German government that Jews were welcome in Palestine.
Then at the end of the war, the horrific truth about what had happened to Germany’s Jews. Numbers matter. Thirteen million lives. Men, women, children. The most inhuman, despicable and degrading period in the history of mankind, perpetrated on those who defined themselves by their statelessness, who only served to contribute to their communities. Where was safe then? Numbers matter again, for there is safety in them, and a persecuted and maligned people came together in Palestine hoping to heal and prosper in a place where they could never be refused refuge. But Palestine was not and had never been an empty space, waiting for a long gone people to return.
By 1947, tensions had increased to the point where the newly-formed UN got together and stepped in, suggesting a plan of partition in order to separate the two sides into two neighbouring states. This had the effect of escalating the situation to full on civil war.
In 1948, the state of Israel declared itself. I asked you earlier to imagine yourself as Jewish in 1930’s Europe. Now I ask you to imagine yourself as Palestinian at the time of the Nabka.
Seven hundred thousand Palestinians were made into refugees during this period. Villages were burned to the ground, there were massacres. Deir Yassin (which Jeremy Corbyn mentioned) was one of these, 107 people out of a village with a population of 600 were slaughtered there. Now Palestinians commemorate that event as a way of honouring all of the dead. It was a time of terror designed for one purpose: to create the ’empty space’ needed for the Jewish refugees arriving all the time from Europe who sought safety in the new Israel.
The new Israel, boosted by numbers, had militias who considered this their purpose and themselves unaccountable, even to Israel itself. It was a rout of an entire people. And it was based on the incredible notion of right to the land of Palestine that continues to this day. As incredible as if a group of militias formed in England to reclaim the land of the Anglo-Saxons from the Normans.
The right of return has a much more valid claim. The right to return for the Palestinians forced out, whose ancestral homes are now the property of Israel’s settlers. More and more of them over the years right up to the present day.
The Nabka was a breathtaking injustice that has never been addressed, and which must be. As the years went on, casualties mounted on both sides, the terrors faced by the Palestinians who cling onto the parts of Palestine known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continued, and still continue. Who hasn’t seen the plight of a people facing the full might of a US financed Israeli Army, bent on destruction? Over and over again. For those in the Gaza Strip, every day, even now while you’re reading, means living on rationed food and water, trying to run hospitals when electricity is only on for certain hours, their buildings bombed, their infrastructure destroyed, and the means to rebuild those things, denied.
And of course, there are the casualties. An endless procession of children gunned down by soldiers, of innocent civilians bombed. All in a place that is impossible to escape. Under siege by land and sea. Israeli permission is required to leave, and required to enter. It is a concentration camp, the Gaza Strip is the most densely populated place in the world. Little wonder that when elections were held, the people of Palestine (in the Gaza Strip) voted for Hamas who offered armed resistance (and therefore, perceived protection). The world denounced those elections, cutting off aid and leaving the Palestinian people isolated, desperately afraid, damaged and collectively punished in an ongoing assault that has now lasted for nearly seventy years. A full human lifetime.
So, where does this leave everyone? Where does this end? Two neighbouring peoples desperately afraid and hurting, both longing for security and peace, but seemingly unable to talk to each other and discover what they have in common, angry over very real injustices. And yet, there are those on both sides who collaborate in the interest of lasting peace. The Israeli peace bloc Gush Shalom, with the voice of Uri Avnery. The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, whose aim is for peace between Israel and Palestine. There are marches against the wall, attended by Palestinians and Israelis alike.
Whether the eventual answer is a two-state solution, or one, at some point, those voices will become the loudest. If we, as a worldwide community, want to increase their volume more quickly, then we must be good intermediaries and good diplomats. We must enable each side to express themselves by meeting with them, and not allow cynical political games or opportunistic land-grabbing which can only harm and prolong the process. In my opinion, a program of ‘truth and reconciliation’ will need to take place to address injustice, as in South Africa. But, in the end, the people of Israel and Palestine will need to live side-by-side, as neighbours, as the people of historical Palestine once did, with equality under the law regardless of ethnicity or faith.
Clearly, I can’t declare that this is Jeremy Corbyn’s standpoint on the Israel/Palestine issue, but he has said again and again that we must speak to those we don’t necessarily agree with to bring about peace.
I’d like to thank the individual that wrote this, we both agree that this is a delicate issue and have no intention to stoke any conflict, we felt that we needed to put something out there to try and ease any concerns that Labour members/supporters may have due to the relentless anti-Corbyn scaremongers that have no shame in doing anything and everything they can to try and stop Jeremy Corbyn and all that he and his supporters represent.
Jeremy Corbyn brings hope to us all, he seeks to open dialogue in the hope of peace.
Thanks for reading!