HISTORY, 13 Nov 2023
10 Nov 2023 – This November 2 marked 106 years since one Englishman gave another Englishman the right to establish a “homeland” for his people. The first Englishman was Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, the second was Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community.
But the land targeted for that homeland in the Balfour Declaration wasn’t in England. It was in the Middle East. And it already was home to millions of people.
For centuries, Palestine had been under the control of the Ottoman Empire. When that entity collapsed at the end of World War I, England and France carved it up into new, separate countries, installed leaders and through them sought to control the entire Middle East. But not everyone got a country. Many were left out, including the Palestinians.
Not all Palestinians were Arab and not all were Muslim. There were also Christians and Jews, all of whom had lived together in relative harmony for centuries. That ended with the mass immigration of European Jews to Palestine and their increasing demand, not for a homeland, but for a state. That demand increased greatly after the horrific events of World War II when Germany – a European country – opened a campaign of genocide against the Jewish people, taking the lives of some 6 million, along with millions of others.
The Zionists got their country, the Palestinians resisted, and there has been conflict ever since – 75 years of repression against the Arab Palestinians.
Today, of the estimated 14.3 million Palestinians in the world, half live in historic Palestine, while the other half live in exile, forbidden by Israel to return home.
Those who live in the state of Israel are treated as second-class citizens. Those who live in what are called the Occupied Territories are subject to varying degrees of repression, including murder by fanatical “settlers” in the West Bank and a 16-year, militarily enforced blockade in the Gaza Strip.
This is the background to the events of Oct. 7, when hundreds of Hamas militants broke out of Gaza and attacked Israeli villages, many of which had been Arab villages before the original inhabitants were driven out, and an all-night dance party being held just three miles outside the fence that imprisons the 2.3 million people of Gaza.
The Defenders mourn the loss of any human life. We especially condemn the targeting of children, the ultimate innocents.
But to condemn Hamas for its Oct. 7 attacks would mean we would also have to condemn the slave rebellions, planned and actual, led by Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey and Gabriel, along with John Brown, Harriett Tubman, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and all other rebellions by oppressed peoples against their oppressors.
Now we are witnessing the most barbaric ethnic cleansing of a people since the years of Nazi Germany: the mass murder of the Palestinians trapped in the tiny Gaza Strip. As we go to press, the Gaza Health Ministry has announced that more than 10,000 people have been killed by the Israeli air strikes. Forty percent were children. Children.
And while this carnage continues, day after day, the U.S. government leaders are arguing, not about how to stop the killing, but how they can send MORE military and financial support to Israel. Washington has mobilized a massive naval force in the eastern Mediterranean to prevent any other country from coming to the aid of the Palestinians. It has repeatedly blocked resolutions in the U.N. Security Council calling for a ceasefire. And all this is on top of sending $3.8 billion every year to Israel, making it the largest recipient of U.S. foreign “aid.”
Every bomb that is dropped on Gaza, every bullet that rips open another Palestinian child, every drop of searing white phosphorus, every blast of gas forced into the tunnels of Gaza is paid for with our tax dollars. Willingly or unwillingly, WE are funding this carnage.
Here in Virginia, the country’s most militarized state, Gov. Glenn Youngkin ordered that U.S. and Virginia flags be flown at half-staff on all state and local buildings and grounds to honor the Israeli lives lost “in the horrific terror attack committed against Israel.” But there was no mention of the horrific terror attacks that Israeli settlers had been carrying out for months against Palestinians in the West Bank. And no tears for the 10,000 slaughtered in Gaza. Palestinian lives don’t matter?
And now Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has taken time out from collecting “surplus” police gear to send to Israel to open an investigation into the Virginia-based organization American Muslims for Palestine, which has been calling for protests against the Gaza massacre, including here in Richmond.
Meanwhile, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner have been promoting sending more military aid to Israel. (See our Open Letter on page 15.)
The longer this madness goes on, the less likely it will be that Muslims, Christians and Jews will once again be able to live together, in Palestine, in peace. Far from being a place of refuge, Israel has proven to be a death trap for the Jewish people. Antisemitism, always present, is on the rise, in this country and around the world, as is Islamophobia. All true progressives must condemn and act against both forms of racism.
In this context, we are greatly heartened by the militant actions of members of Jewish Voice for Peace in occupying the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., and Grand Central Station and the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Their cry is “Not in our Name!”
These truly are difficult times, and they are likely to get worse. Those of us who consider ourselves conscious – “woke” – and committed to the struggle for social justice need to redouble our vigilance, our activity and our preparations for the future.
And we all need to oppose the Israeli genocide in Gaza.
Tags: Balfour Declaration, Gaza, History, Israel, Palestine, The Rothschild family, UK, West Bank, Zionism
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