USA, August 19, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)-The pugnacious political columnist, Robert D. Novak, nicknamed "the prince of darkness," who died at 78 on August 18, 2009, was the first mainstream media reporter to shine a light on the “Michshol Hafrada” which is Hebrew for the "Separation Wall" which translates to "Apartheid Wall" in Afrikaan.
In May of 2005, just prior to my first journey to Israel Palestine I phoned Mother Agapia Stephanopolous, a Russian Orthodox nun and the administrator of the Orthodox School of Bethany in Jerusalem, to schedule an appointment for spiritual direction and to discuss our mutual feelings about The Wall. Mother Agapia is the sister of ABC News commentator, George Stephanopolous, and she had recently and passionately informed Congress and Robert Novak regarding how “Israel is destroying the local Christian community.”
On April 18, 2005, Robert Novak’s article “Walling off Christianity” reported on the nun’s letter to Congress and how East Jerusalem had been cut off from the rest of the West Bank. Mother Agapia predicted, “It is only a matter of time before Christians and Muslims will be unable to survive culturally and economically.”
Mother Agapia spoke bluntly about the nine yards high wall of Israeli concrete that have “shattered” the Christian communities. She told Novak, “I witness the strangulation of East Jerusalem, and the deprivation of her non-Jewish residents’ religious rights every day. Even the United States seems to have been taken in by Israeli spin.”
Since 1947, the Christian Exodus from the Holy Land has reduced their numbers from 20% of the total population to less than 1.3%. On my very first afternoon in Jerusalem, on June 12, 2006, the nun met me at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem and I told her that I hadn’t been taken in by the spin, but what could I possibly do?
One of over 22,000 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem destroyed by Israel since 1967.
Mother Agapia had no answer for me, but informed me of the June 26, 2006, Jerusalem Interfaith Peace Conference with satellite link to the world happening at Notre Dame Cathedral. Dan Rather moderated from Washington DC and the Holy Land interfaith panel were all moderates attempting to reclaim the battlefield of ideas from extremists on both sides.
“The Peace of the world begins in Jerusalem.” -Reverend Theodore Hessburgh, President Emeritus University of Notre Dame
Dr. Tsvia Walden, a director of the Peres Center and the Geneva Initiative stated, “There is a need for a third party in the negotiations that could enable both sides to trust each other. There are more people in this region interested in making concessions, they all want peace so desperately.”
Rania Kharma, coordinator of World Bank emergency services to the PA, encouraged the world, “We all need to be the bridges to our leaders that justice, equality, and human rights will bring peace. Give people justice and they will reward you with peace.”
Sheik Imad Falouiji warned, “Religions must go back to their origins. God commands us to love each other and live together. This Holy Land was given to all people. This land is on fire. There is an occupation that must be removed. The language of peace cannot succeed without justice for all.”
The Rt. Rev. Bishop Riah Abu Assal affirmed, “Peace is an act. Blessed are the peacemakers not the peace talkers. Peace is possible in the Holy Land. The root cause for the lack of peace since 1967 is the occupation. For peace to make progress in the Middle East we need to deal with the root cause...Religion was not meant to bring death. All those involved in searching for peace should commit themselves to work for justice and truth.”
Throughout the entire evening, I kept remembering what President Bush promised in his Second Inaugural Address: “In the long run, there is no justice without FREEDOM. There can be no human rights without LIBERTY. All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for liberty, we stand with you.”
Aida Camp Key
A little history:
“On March 10, 1948, in Tel Aviv, eleven men had a meeting in the Red House headed by Ben Gurion. The eleven decided to expel one million Palestinians from historical Palestine. No minutes were taken, but many memoirs were written about that fateful meeting. A systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestine began and within seven months the Zionists managed to expel one half of all the Palestinian people from their villages and towns.”-Dr. Ilan Pappe.
Dr. Ilan Pappe, Israeli born and graduate of Hebrew University and Oxford, a well known revisionist or “post-Zionist” Israeli historian who has been both acclaimed and demonized, spoke about the roots of the orchestrated crime of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland.
On Nov. 8, 2006, during Sabeel’s 6th International Conference; The Forgotten Faithful, Dr. Pappe informed over 330 international ecumenical Christians regarding the “Dynamics of Forgetting.”
Dr. Pappe said, “The Red House in Tel Aviv is gone now. It was a typical building in Tel Aviv that had all the characteristics of Mediterranean homes but with the local Palestinian architecture of the ‘20’s. Today a USA Sheraton Hotel stands in its place. The Red House was the home of the Hagganah; a Jewish underground organization but before 1948 it was the home of a socialist movement, from which it received its name.”
Haganah is Hebrew for “The Defense” and was a Jewish paramilitary organization formed in what was then the British Mandate for Palestine from 1920 to 1948. It began as a small group of “Jewish immigrants who guarded settlements for an annual fee. At no time did the group have more than 100 members until after the Arab riots of 1920 and 1921. The Jewish leadership in Palestine believed that the British, whom the League of Nations had given the Mandate of Palestine in 1920, had no desire to confront the Arabs about attacks on the Palestinian Jews, and thus created the Haganah to protect their farmers and settlements. The initial role of the Haganah was to guard the Jewish Kibbutzim and farms, and to warn the residents of and repel attacks by Palestinian Arabs.
In the period between 1920 and 1929, the Haganah lacked a strong central authority or coordination. Haganah “units” were very localized and poorly armed: they consisted mainly of Jewish farmers who took turns guarding their farms or their kibbutzim. Following the Arab 1929 Hebron massacre that led to the ethnic cleansing by the British authorities of all Jews from the city of Hebron, the Haganah’s role changed dramatically. It became a much larger organization encompassing nearly all the youth and adults in the Jewish settlements, as well as thousands of members from the cities. It also acquired foreign arms and began to develop workshops to create hand grenades and simple military equipment. It went from being an untrained militia to a capable army.”
The British did not officially recognize the Haganah,but the British security forces cooperated with it by forming the Jewish Settlement Police, Jewish Auxiliary Forces and Special Night Squads. By 1931, the most right-wing elements of Haganah branched off and formed Irgun Tsva’i-Leumi (the National Military Organization), better known as “Irgun” (or by its Hebrew acronym, pronounced “HaEtsel”). The members were discontented with the policy of restraint when faced with British and Arab pressure and “terrorists” in their own right. Irgun later split in 1940, and their off-shoot became known as the “Lehi” (Hebrew acronym of Lochamei Herut Israel, standing for Freedom Fighters of Israel, and also known by the British as the “Stern Gang” after its leader, Abraham Stern. Because the British severely restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine, in 1939 the Haganah created the Palmach - the Haganah’s strike force, which also organized illegal Jewish immigration of over 100,000 Jews to Palestine.
In 1944, in response to the assassination of Lord Moyne, the British Minister of State for the Middle East, by members of the Jewish Lehi underground, the Haganah worked with the British to round up, interrogate, and, in some cases, deport Irgun members. This action was called the Saison (or hunting season), and seriously demoralized the Irgun and reduced its activities.
But, the Saison could not stop the Irgun, Haganah and the Stern Group from working together. The three groups had different functions, which served to move the British out of Palestine and to make Palestine a Jewish state rather than create a Jewish home in Palestine.
Menachem Begin, an Irgun commander, stated in a 1944 meeting: “In fact, there is a division of roles; one organization advocates individual terrorism (the Lehi), the other conducts sporadic military operations (the Irgun) and there is a third organization which prepares itself to throw its final weight in the decisive war.”
Dr. Pappe stated, “On March 10, 1948, eleven men had a fateful meeting in the Red House headed by Ben Gurion. The eleven decided to expel one million Palestinians from historical Palestine. No minutes were taken, but many memoirs were written about that fateful meeting. A systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestine began and within seven months the Zionists managed to expel one half of all the Palestinian people from their villages and towns.
“The New York Times followed Israeli troops and reported the truth of the expulsion and separation of men and women, and of the many massacres. The world was well informed in 1948, but a year later not a trace was reported in the USA press or books. It was as if nothing ever happened.
“From March to October 1948 the USA State Department stated what was happening was a crime against humanity and ethnic cleansing. When ever one ethnic group expels another group they should be treated as War Criminals and the victims should be allowed to return. This is never mentioned in the USA about Palestine.
“Israel is so successful in their ethnic cleansing because the world doesn’t care! The ethnic cleansing continues via the apartheid policies of the Israeli government and because of the denial of the truth by the USA media.
“To claim Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East is bullshit! The Six Day War of 1967 escalated the ethnic cleansing and today in Jerusalem every Palestinian who fails to pay taxes, or has a minor infraction will loose their citizenship.
“In 1948 the mechanism of denial and ethnic cleansing as an IDEOLOGY, not a policy but a formula began. When Zionism began in the 19th century it was meant to be a safe haven for Jews and to help redefine Judaism as a national movement, not just a religion. Nothing wrong with either of those goals! But by the late 19th Century it was decided the only way these goals could be achieved was by ridding the indigenous population and it became an evil ideology.
“Israeli Jewish life will never be simple, good, or worth living while this ideology of domination, exclusiveness and superiority is allowed to continue. The mind set today is that unless Israel is an exclusive Jewish State, Palestinians will continue to be obstacles. However, there has always been a small vocal minority challenging this.
“The only thing that can save Palestinians is for the world to say “ENOUGH is ENOUGH!” The way to challenge and change the ethnic cleansing is to pursue true democracy and the use of sanctions and divestment, for money talks.”
“We have seen the enemy and he is US.” -Pogo
The original hope of Zionism was that the Jewish people would have a safe and peaceful dwelling place. Jews remain a traumatized people and their Holocaust hangover affects all of us. For millennia the Jewish people have been threatened and oppressed, but in the 21st century, they have become the oppressors.
Imagine if America had held Israel accountable to International Law and the Charter of the United Nations and not billions of USA tax dollars and weapons of destruction at bargain basement prices that have resulted in an ongoing 42 year military occupation of the indigenous people of the Holy Land, Israel would have made peace with her neighbors long ago.
Neither democracy nor security can be had through the barrel of a gun.
During World War II the Nazis cold bloodedly murdered six million innocent Jews and millions of others deemed outcasts by the Third Reich, because good people did nothing for far too long.
In 1947, with the termination of the British Mandate, the UN called for a Jewish-Arab partition of Palestine. Secular Zionists jumped at the chance to grab more than their allotted share while the Palestinians and Arabs opposed them citing the injustice of demanding the Palestinians pay for Hitler’s atrocities.
Israel proclaimed it’s independence in May 1948 by affirming: “One the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations.”
Britain withdrew from the land and war erupted. The well equipped Israeli forces created a triumph for the Jews and birthed the ongoing disaster [Nakba] for Palestinians and also the world. Over 750,000 Palestinians became refugees and their numbers have swelled to six million.
Nonviolent Palestinians must be supported and encouraged, and all violence must be unequivocally renounced, and the small piece of Middle East real estate continues to be fought over by people who have been victimized, terrorized, oppressed and neither side will ever give up.
There can be no remedy, no winning any war on "terrorism" without going to the root cause: the history and suffering of both people must be addressed and only through an honest third party seeking justice can there ever be any security and peace in the Holy Land.
World leaders have failed at this task, but repeated polls in Israel and Palestine show that the people are way ahead of their leaders. Majorities on both sides want a negotiated peace and only compromise by both sides can birth it.
The bad news is that many Israelis and Palestinians lack HOPE that true peace is possible. "Peace and quiet" is not the peace of justice, which requires open dialogue and not unilateral actions.
While still Prime Minister, Tony Blair admitted that 70% of the world's problems with terrorism can be traced to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Everything is connected and the law of karma is that what ever we send out will return to us. USA and Israel are touted as best friends and the rise of fundamentalism within all faiths, the increasing spread of anti-Semitism and the fear of Islam in America are all wake up calls to people of conscience to do something. A change in course must happen, or another generation of innocent children will continue to be terrorized.
Get up, stand up
Stand up for your rights
Get up, stand up
Stand up for your rights
Get up, stand up
Stand up for your rights
Get up, stand up
Don’t give up the fight. - Bob Marley and the Wailers
Eileen Fleming, A Feature Correspondent for The Palestine Telegraph and Arabisto.com
Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org
Author of "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"
Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"
All photos by eileen fleming