For an Indivisible and Free Palestine
Elias Davidsson, Sept. 1988
Although I don’t live in Palestine since my young age, I cannot hide my passion for this tormented and bleeding country. Born in 1941 in Palestine to Jewish immigrants, who were exiled from Nazi Germany, I owe my existence to Palestine, a land which provided a refuge for my parents, a land where I, a four year old boy, was almost killed by an angry Arab crowd who attacked the bus we were travelling in, and was saved by a gentle old Arab fellah (farmer). I think of Palestine and my heart is bleeding over its wounds.
I spent my first years in Baq’a, a suburb of Jerusalem, where Jews and Arabs lived side by side in peace. My family had good relations with Arab Palestinian families in the neighborhood. My mother, I am proud to say, learned the language of the country, Arabic. As for me, I will never erase from my memory and from my flesh the images, sounds, smells and sensations which impregnated me at this tender age. I carry these so to speak in my veins and find in these a source of inspiration and of vital energy.
The destiny of my life brought me far away from Palestine. But in spite of the distance, my interest for my native country and the concerns for its well-being, have not dissipated.
Like most "Israeli" children, I was submitted in my youth to a systematic Zionist indoctrination. I spent my teens in France, where I joined a Zionist (socialist) youth movement, Hashomer Hatza’ir. I liked the activities in this movement, its dynamism, the emphasis on human socialism, on justice and on civil courage. But we also were introduced to the principles of Zionism. The tutors, special envoys from Israel whose duty was to make of us good Zionists , emphasized that we were special people, that we were Jews, and that we had no place elsewhere under the sun, except in Palestine (called Israel by these envoys). One of the main reasons advanced was that all Gentiles, from China to Peru, from Finland to the Cameroon, were Jew-haters, knowingly or unknowingly. Accordingly it was naive to wage a struggle against racism and anti-Jewish discrimination. Anti-Jewish feelings were ascribed as basic and irrational constituents of Gentile personality, transmitted quasi by inheritance from father to son. Having elevated this obscene myth to the status of a natural law, we were told that only a Jewish national state could safeguard the personal security of "Jews".
I, for my part, objected to this argumentation. I could not accept such prejudices against mankind. My personal philosophy was that every person was to be trusted unless he proved the contrary. My personal experience, especially relations with Gentiles, contradicted entirely these prejudices.
At that time I did not know yet about the practical implications of Zionism, as they were felt by the Palestinian people. I had not the slightest idea about the racial discrimination practised by so-called socialist kibbutzim, about the organic and natural collusion between Zionism and Imperialism, about the massacres perpetrated against the Palestinian population to provoke its flight in 1948, about the racialist legislation of the Zionist state.
It only at a much later date, and only very gradually, that I realised how little I knew about my country and about the fate of the people who had lived there, the Arab Palestinian people. The first publications that opened my eyes to the criminal side of Zionism were written in Hebrew by courageous Israeli citizens. At that time, I did not venture in reading publications written by Arab Palestinians, because Zionist prejudice had still an impact on me.
I needed many and long years to get rid of the poisonous prejudices that the Zionist ideology inoculated into me. After I read the writings by Dr. Uri Davis and by martyrs Said Hammami and Naim Khader, I finally decided to take a decisive step in supporting the Palestinian cause. It was because I recognized in their writings my basic philosophical attitudes as a humanist and a democrat, as a supporter of human rights and as an staunch opponent of racism and prejudice. Through their writings I began to understand the aims of the Palestinian revolution, the realism, political maturity and generosity of its leaders, which offer to the Jewish immigrants inhabiting the State of Israel reconciliation instead of revenge and propose to them a common destiny in Palestine, within a framework worked out amiably.
They are too numerous, the religious fanatics in the Middle-East, who wish to impose with violence ultra-reactionary regimes on the Middle-Eastern populations. The State of Israel, The Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia are the most prominent examples of such regimes. These states place rabbinical or Shari’a law above the law of modern civilization. Such regimes cannot be truthfully described as democracies. The inhabitants of the State of Israel had never hitherto been obliged to chose between democracy or theocracy. By their struggle for national and democratic rights, the Palestinian people under occupation are now helping the inhabitants of the State of Israel who consider themselves democrats, to face reality and recognize the anachronism of their racialist regime.
The leadership of the Palestinian Revolution is now directing its efforts to the establishment of a Palestinian State alongside Israel. This solution would imply de facto recognition of the Jewish state. But a Jewish state in the Middle-East, surrounded by Arab cultures, can only maintain its integrity as a Jewish state if it surrounds itself by high physical and psychological barriers. A Jewish state could not maintain its cultural or racial "purity" if permanent peace prevails, peace of open frontiers, cultural cross-fertilization and intermarriage. Already the majority of the Israeli public is Arabic in culture. Under conditions of democracy and secularism and with the development of a modern secular society, assimilation is very likely to occur. But exactly this perspective is considered with horror by Zionist and Jewish religious leaders, who view intermarriage as a calamity to the Jewish people, comparable only in gravity to the Holocaust. And because they view assimilation of Jews as an existential threat to the ‘Jewish people’, it is logical that they attempt to counter this ‘threat’ by all the means available, including mental and physical terrorism.
The traditional disdain of Zionist leaders towards Middle-Eastern cultures has its roots in the colonial-racist attitudes of Europeans towards ‘non-Whites’. Israel’s participation in European symposia and festivals, systematic provocation of neighboring countries, extreme repression of Palestinian nationalism and the seemingly pathological fright of the Zionist regime to engage in a dialogue with the PLO, are not signs of an irrational behaviour. They are a clear signal to neighboring countries and to the Arab nation, that Israel is not wishing to integrate as a full part member in the Middle-East. Already Vladimir Jabotinsky, the ideological mentor of Israeli terrorists Shamir and Begin, perceived in the 1920s the need for the Zionist settlers to build an "Iron Wall" between themselves and the native Palestinian population.
All those, including supporters of Palestinian rights, who insist on the need of guaranteeing the security of the State of Israel must ask themselves, in the light of the above remarks, whether the State of Israel, based on Zionist law and practice , could at all turn into a peaceful and law-abiding state, whether such a state could at all integrate into the Middle-East.
For my part, I consider the struggle for the emancipation of the Hebrew-speaking community of Palestine (Israelis) as the key to a progressive solution in the Palestine issue. And it is the Palestinian National Movement, represented by the PLO, which holds this key. The PLO has already initiated certain timid measures by including in its ranks Hebrew-speaking (Israeli) militants. Such measures are important but too isolated as to be perceived as policy. It must be borne in mind that the Palestinian National Council sees itself as representing mainly (only ?) those Palestinians who identify themselves as Arabs. The overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews, or as I prefer to call them Hebrew-speaking Palestinians, don’t see themselves as potential partners in the Palestinian national movement, partly because they have never been included in it nor invited to participate in it as equal members. Here I am speaking mainly of those progressive Israelis who might wish to join ranks, if they were offered a honorable option to do so.
The Palestinian Revolution holds today, in the face of the political erosion of Zionism, the key to a political solution of the Palestine question. It is imperative that the movement use its credibility and authority to build a future of peace and well-being for all those who love their native country, Palestine. By inviting the totality of the Palestinian population, regardless of religion, residence or ethnical affiliation, to participate in the democratic Palestinian revolution and in the formulation of its aims and its means of struggle, the Palestinian national movement would enable a common struggle for the dismantlement of the Zionist state and its replacement by a democratic and unified Palestinian state for all its inhabitants. Today this vision seems remoter than ever. But perceptions change fast and the creation of a common Israel-Palestinian framework to combat the Zionist structure might be received as a relief by many Israelis.
This article was published in Arabic by
Filastin al-Thawra, official organ of the PLO