Public Comment

If Americans Knew

By Bing Aradanas
Wednesday February 25, 2009 - 08:00:00 PM

Bravo to the Daily Planet for printing Annette Herskovits’ Feb. 12 commentary, “Who Remembers the Holocaust.” It’s ironic that in Israel there is robust and open debate about Israel’s violations of international laws—the 42-year-old illegal occupation, the 42-year-old illegal settlements, the 42-year-old illegal denial of Palestinians’ legal right of return—but in the United States, the national discourse ignores the 42-year criminality and illegality of these actions by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.  

Instead our major feature movies, major news outlets, and the vast majority of our elected national representatives, through their actions, spread the unspoken myths that Israel is above the law due to the Holocaust, that Jews = Zionists = Jews, that anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism, and that Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims are born with anti-Semitism in their DNA. In response I offer the following quotations—prominent Jews, in their own words: 


At the end of the day, everyone knows what will be the bottom line: the bottom line will be ’67 lines…[Israel should pull all settlements from the West Bank] tomorrow morning—no, actually yesterday evening, no doubt about it. [The occupation] pollutes our morality and it contaminates our policy. And we became hostages of the messianic eschatological policy of the [Israeli] settlers which actually leads Israel into a de facto one-state solution which discriminates one people over the other people. 

—Avraham Burg, former Knesset speaker, former head of the World Zionist Organization, Feb. 12, 2009 


[Israel] can't work anymore… [Its] law of return [which allows any Jew anywhere in the world to come to live in the Occupied Territories, yet simultaneously refuses Palestinian refugees’ internationally recognized legal right of return] is the mirror image of Hitler. I don't want Hitler to define my identity….There is something so xenophobic about (the West Bank separation fence). So insane.  

—Avraham Burg, June 8, 2007 


We should withdraw from almost all of the territories, including in East Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights…. In exchange for the same territories left in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of territories within the state of Israel. 

—Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, Sept. 29, 2008 


[T]he best [thing] for the Jews in Israel is that we abandon the territories and we dismantle settlements.  

—Shlomo Ben Ami, former Israeli foreign minister , Feb. 14, 2006 


We must be very careful to separate questions of anti-Semitism from critique of Israel. I’m critical of Israel as a scholar, and anti-Semitism just doesn’t come into it. And my view is that the blind supporters of Israel—and there are many of them in America in particular—use the charge of “anti-Semitism” to try and silence legitimate criticism of Israeli practices. I regard this as moral blackmail. Israel has no moral immunity to criticism because of the Holocaust. Israel is a sovereign nation-state, and it should be judged by the same standards as any other state. 

—Oxford professor Avi Shlaim, former member of Israeli Defense Forces, May 9, 2007 


I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish State.  

—Albert Einstein, 1948 (the year he was approached to be Israel’s first head of state, but declined it) 


I support compulsory transfer (of Palestinian Arabs). I do not see in it anything immoral. 

—David Ben-Gurion, future first Israeli head of state, 1938 (10 years before the creation of the state of Israel) 


We shall try to spirit the penniless (Palestinian) population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in Palestine.... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly. 

—Theodor Herzl, founder of the first Zionist Council and the World Zionist Organization, spiritual father of modern Israel, 1895 (at a time when Jews and Arabs lived in peace in what is now Israel, 38 years before Nazi oppression of Jews began in Germany in 1933, and 53 years before the invention of the state of Israel in 1948) 


If I had three wishes, they would be the following: 

1. For senior White House correspondent Helen Thomas to ask President Obama at a high-profile news conference, “Israel’s occupation, settlements, and denial of Palestinian refugees’ right of return are all illegal by international law and have been consistently condemned by the overwhelming majority of United Nations members. True or false?”  

2. For Hollywood to produce at least one feature movie dealing with the Nakba (Palestinian Holocaust) for every ten feature movies that deal with the Jewish Holocaust;  

3. That all our elected lawmakers be required to visit Gaza and the West Bank—hosted by locals—before voting on U.S. policy regarding Israel. 

Of course none of these will ever happen. I therefore urge all tax-paying Americans who don’t believe that Palestinians are born with anti-Semitic DNA to visit It will change your life. 


Bing Aradanas is a Berkeley resident.