Rejoinder to the CLOSURE UPDATE NO. 19,
Critique of a Report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights issued on August 6, 1997
By Elias Davidsson, ICELAND
As a Palestinian – of Jewish descent – I wish to emphasize an aspect of the closures imposed by the Israeli government, which the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights did not refer to. The implications of this shortcoming are much more profound that appear at first sight. Although seldom openly stated, both Zionist Israel and many Palestinian organisations assume that Israelis are Jews and Palestinians are non-Jews (Muslims and Christians). Such assumptions are in accordance with Zionist thinking and are clearly racist. Palestinian is a person defining himself as Palestinian, period. Neither the PLO nor the World Zionist Organisation can decide for me whether I define myself as Israeli or Palestinian. This decision is mine. Palestine is the name of the land where I was born. It is not synonim of Arab nor of non-Jew.
According to Zionist/Israeli policies only non-Jewish natives are the targets of represssion in the Zionist-controlled areas. Jews – such as me – regardless whether they define themselves as Palestinians or as Americans – are treated with respect, civility and in accordance with the rule of law. Thus it is not accurate that Palestinians per se are subjected to closures: Those subjected to closures are non-Jewish natives. It might appear to some of the readers that I am overly and unnecessarily pedantic in this matter. Not so. The issue is of fundamental importance for a true understanding and solotion of the century-old conflict in my homeland. For the conflict is not between Israelis and Palestinians but between Zionism and humanism, not between national or ethnical entities but between two conceptions of human beings: One based on blood and descent and one based on inherent human rights and equality of human beings.
Thus it is not accurate to say that Israel closed the Palestinian territories. More accurate would be to say that Israel closed off the non-Jews living in the territories occupied in 1967, as the closures don’t affect Jews.
I also object to the use of the term ‘borders’ appearing in the report in the context of "The closure of Karni and Erez Border Crossings Between Gaza and Israel". The term border does not apply to ghettoes, detention camps or bantustans, such as the Gaza Strip. The term ‘borders’ implies that we are dealing with two sovereign entities and is therefore grossly misleading. A more appropriate term would be ‘fence’. Whether the Gaza strip is considered similar to a ghetto, concentration camp or Indian reservation, is secondary to this remark.
I wish to remind readers of this note that more than half of the inhabitants of the Gaza strip are either refugees from areas within Israel or their descendants. Their right of return to their former homes and localities has been affirmed yearly by the General Assembly of the United Nations and is enshrined in the Human Rights Charter and in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. Thus, when inhabitants of Gaza work in Israeli towns they are not foreigners ‘allowed’ to enter Israel, they are in fact working in their own native country. Thus, any talk of Israel ‘not allowing Palestinians to enter Israel to work’ implies that they are ‘foreigners’ to the land, which is sheer nonsense and a wilful historical falsification. The State of Israel is not in a position to ‘accord’ Palestinians what is their inalienable right, namely to work and live in their own country. Israel’s use of institutionaled violence to prevent Palestinians from enjoying these inalienable rights is a gross and racist violation of international conventions, the Human Right Charter and UN resolutions and should be exposed as such. It is to be regretted that even some Palestinians are now using Zionist-inspired terms to describe the conflict and are thus contributing unwillingly to erode their own human rights.