An Appeal to the American People
If all of our children, wherever they live, are to have the prospect of a future worth having, the world needs America’s best, not what it had under the neo-conned regime of President George “Dubya” Bush—its worst.
This Englishman, who first began to ask himself why things are as they are in the world when he was covering the war in Vietnam, knows America well enough from coast to coast to have a good idea of what your best is.
Deep down, you Americans are the most idealistic people on earth. This suggests to me that if all of you were properly informed about why what is happening in the Middle East is happening, you would want to make your democracy work to cause your government to play its necessary and leading role in stopping the countdown to catastrophe for all of us. I believe, for example, that if all Americans had been properly informed long ago about the cause and effect relationship of Israeli occupation and Palestinian violence, there would have been pressure on Congress and the White House long ago for an end to Israeli occupation of Arab land grabbed in the 1967 war. In that event the conflict in and over Palestine, which I describe as the cancer at the heart of international affairs, could have been cured and would not now be threatening to consume us all.
In 1974 I spent some time alone with His Royal Highness Prince Phillip at Buckingham Palace. I was there to try to persuade him to persuade Her Majesty The Queen to consent to a royal premier for Five Minutes To Midnight, a film I had made on global poverty and its implications for all. We talked for more than two hours, mainly about the state of the world in general, and the state of Britain in particular. At a point H.R.H said: “If I was prime minister, I would hang trade union leaders from lampposts.” As soon as I got home, I typed a short note to him. I thanked him for his time and suggested that it was not a good idea to hang trade union leaders from lampposts. He replied by return. He didn’t mean what he had said to be taken literally. He was, he wrote, “exaggerating to make a point.”
Sometimes it is necessary to exaggerate to make a point, so (deep breath!) here goes.
The problem, dear Americans, is that many of you are too uninformed to make your democracy work for the purpose of giving expression and substance to your idealism. And many of you are uninformed about conflict in the Middle East not because you don’t want to know, but because you have been misinformed by the corporate-controlled mainstream media, which has been described as the “Israeli occupied” media.1 On my visits to America over the years many, many Americans said to me, “We know we’re not getting the truth from our own mainstream media.” That being so, my question is—Why then do so many of you continue to let your views be shaped by the mainstream media’s take on what is happening in the Middle East?
After 9/11 most if not all Americans asked, “Why do they hate us?” For very many Americans, “they” were more or less all Arabs and Muslims everywhere.
What would Americans have learned if, instead of rushing to declare his war on global terrorism, President Bush had caused that question to be addressed seriously?
The short answer—the long one is in this book—begins with the statement that the overwhelming majority of all Arabs and Muslims everywhere do not hate America or Americans. (A truth is that for decades very many Arabs and other Muslims would, if they could, have migrated to America to enjoy a better life there. Today, however, the number of Arabs and other Muslims who would opt for American residence and citizenship if they could is greatly reduced because of the fact, sad but true, that the monster of Islamophobia is on the prowl across the Land of the Free and licking its lips). What almost all Arabs and Muslims everywhere do hate is American foreign policy—its double standards in general and, in particular, its unconditional support for an Israel, a country which ignores UN resolutions, demonstrates its contempt for international law and human rights conventions (continued occupation, torture, targeted assassinations and collective punishment are part of this package), and resorts to state terrorism.
To put “anti-Americanism” into its true Arab perspective, I offer this thought. If it had been possible for an American President to wave a magic wand and have Israel back behind more or less its borders as they were on the eve of the 1967 war, with a Palestinian state in existence on the Arab land from which Israel had withdrawn as required by UN Security Council Resolution 242, and with Jerusalem the capital of two states, the U.S. would have had, overnight, with one wave of that magic wand, the respect, friendship and support of not less than 95 per cent of all Arabs (and very probably that of almost all Muslims everywhere). And if the President had also pressed the Arab regimes to be serious about democratizing their countries, the U.S. would have become their champion, truly admired, as it was when President Woodrow Wilson was in the White House.
As professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt argued in their groundbreaking book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, unconditional support for Israel is not in America’s own best interests. In fact it’s not in anybody’s best interests including those of the Jews of the world.
My only quarrel with the Mearsheimer and Walt book is its title. For reasons this book makes clear, the phenomenon of their title is not an Israel lobby. It’s the Zionist lobby, and I’ll get to why it should be called by its proper name in a moment.
Mearsheimer and Walt’s work improved to some extent the prospects for informed and honest debate about who must do what and why for justice and peace in the Middle East, but an actual resolution of the conflict in and over Palestine needs the citizens of America to be better informed than they are about much more than the Zionist lobby’s influence on American policy for the Middle East.
Above all Americans—American Jews especially—need to know that almost everything they’ve been conditioned to believe about the making and sustaining of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not true. They need to know, for example, that Israel and the Palestinian refugee problem were created, mainly, by Zionist terrorism and ethnic cleansing. And they need to know, again for example, that Israel’s existence has never—ever—been in danger from any combination of Arab military force. Zionism’s assertion that Israel’s Jews have lived in constant danger of being “driven into the sea” was the propaganda cover that allowed Israel (a Zionist, not a Jewish, state) to get away where it mattered most—in Europe and America—with presenting its aggression as self-defense and itself as the victim when, actually, it was and remains the oppressor.
The problem with the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of conflict in and over Palestine is that it’s pregnant with extreme danger because it could provoke anti-Semitism2 throughout the mainly Gentile nations of the Judeo-Christian or Western world, which is where most Jews live. There is, however, a way to exorcise this extreme danger. It is by giving the truth its necessary global context, not only to show that consequences have causes, but also to explain, among other things, the difference between Judaism and Zionism. Knowledge of the difference is the key to complete understanding of the conflict and who must do what and why for justice and peace.
Judaism is the religion of Jews, not “the“ Jews because not all Jews are religious. Like Christianity and Islam, Judaism has at its core a set of moral values and ethical principles. As holocaust survivor Dr. Hajo Meyer states in his book, An Ethical Tradition Betrayed: The End of Judaism,3 these values and principles put Jews “at the forefront of humanitarian and socially constructive endeavors” throughout much of history. (In his book my dear friend Hajo expresses his dismay at what he sees as the “moral collapse of contemporary Israeli society and the worldwide Jewish community as a whole.” He compares Israel’s current policies with the early stages of the Nazi persecution of Germany’s Jews. He stresses that he is not seeking to draw a parallel between Israel’s current policies and the Nazis’ “endgame”—the slaughter of six million European Jews. He is merely trying to point out, he says, “the slippery slope” that eventually led to this catastrophe, and the necessity of “foreseeing the possible consequences” of a policy that oppresses and marginalizes the Palestinians in their own homeland).
Even the shortest definition of Zionism must begin by recognizing that there is what might be called “spiritual Zionism” and “political Zionism”. In the sense that they look to Jerusalem as their spiritual capital or center, all Jews who are religious could regard themselves as spiritual Zionists. The Zionism of this book’s main title and substance is political Zionism.
It is Jewish nationalism in the form of a sectarian, colonial enterprise which, in the process of creating in the Arab heartland a state for some Jews—mainly by terrorism and ethnic cleansing as noted above—made a mockery of, and demonstrated contempt for, Judaism’s moral values and ethical principles. (Judaism insists that the return of Jews to the land of the ancient Hebrews must await the Second Coming of the Messiah. Zionism said, in effect: “We can’t wait for Him. Zionism is the Messiah.”) As this book makes clear, prior to the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust, political Zionism was of no interest to more than a minority of the Jews of the world and was opposed by many.
Supporters of Israel right or wrong conflate Judaism and Zionism because the assertion that Judaism and Zionism are one and the same enables them to claim that criticism of the Zionist state of Israel is a manifestation of anti-Semitism. Often, almost always these days, the accusation that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic is a form of blackmail intended to silence criticism of, and suppress informed and honest debate about, the Zionist state and its policies. The reality is that Judaism and political Zionism are total opposites, and knowledge of the difference is the key to understanding two things:
1. Why it is possible, with good reason on the basis of all the facts, to be passionately anti-Zionist—opposed to Zionism’s colonial enterprise—without being, in any way, shape or form anti-Semitic.
2. Why it is wrong to blame all Jews everywhere for the crimes of the hardest core Zionist few in Palestine that became little Israel, and then Greater Israel.
It’s worth noting that virtually all Arabs and other Muslims have always known the difference between Judaism and Zionism. And it can be said without fear of contradiction that throughout much of their history, Arabs and other Muslims were the best protectors of Jews in need of sanctuary. It was Zionism’s colonial enterprise that poisoned the relationship, though not-perhaps I should say not yet-to the point at which most Arabs and other Muslims blame all Jews for Zionism’s crimes.
Jews, all Jews, also need to know the difference between Judaism and Zionism. Am I suggesting that many don’t know it? Yes. A truth today, or so it seems to me from conversations with Jews, is that very many if not most of them have no idea of what Zionism actually is, both in ideological principle and practice in Palestine form the early years of the 20th century to the present. And there are two main reasons for this apparent lack of awareness.
One can be explained by the awesome success in propaganda terms of Zionism’s Nakba denial. Nakba is the Arab word for catastrophe and shorthand in Arab terminology for Zionism’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.
The other main reason is that many Jews of the world don‘t want to know the truth of history as it relates to the creation of the Zionist state of Israel and the Palestinian refugee problem (in much the same way, some might say, as Americans, some or many, don’t want to know what really happened to the native Indians of America). In the Prologue to this book, Waiting for the Apocalypse, I seek to explain, empathetically, why to date many Jews have not wanted to know the truth of history.
So why do I assert that all Jews need to know the difference between Judaism and Zionism?
The sleeping giant of classical anti-Semitism is being re-awakened in the mainly Gentile Judeo-Christian world in which most Jews live, and a prime cause of the re-awakening is the behavior of the Zionist state of Israel and its extraordinary (some would say insufferable) self-righteousness. As we shall see, prior to the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust many of the best Jewish minds of the time feared that Zionism, if it was allowed to have its way, would at some point provoke anti-Semitism. These fears were given a fresh public airing by a most remarkable Israeli, Yehoshafat Harkabi, in 1986. He was the longest serving Director of Israeli Military Intelligence and was universally respected. In the Prologue I quote from his book, Israel’s Fateful Hour. He warned of the danger of Israel becoming “a factor in the rise of anti-Semitism”.
It’s my view that after the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust, and because of it, the giant most likely would have gone back to sleep, remained asleep and, in all probability, would have died in its sleep – IF Zionism had not been allowed by the major powers, first Britain, then America, to have its way, as Balfour put it, “right or wrong”.
What, really, is the basis for believing that anti-Semitism is seriously on the rise?
The increase in the desecration of synagogues and Jewish graves (and the like), verbal abuse and assaults on Jews are indicators. But what may be far more sinister is the growing number of Europeans and North Americans who are now beginning to speak negatively about Jews at dinner parties and behind closed doors. The more it becomes apparent that Israel is the obstacle to peace on any terms most Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims can accept, the more this antipathy will grow, with the real danger that it will break out, become unsuppressed, and manifest itself as violent anti-Semitism. It’s my view, which I know is shared by some eminent Jews in Europe and America, that if the monster of anti-Semitism does go on the rampage again, it might well start its journey in America.
But what actually happens in the future will depend a great deal on whether or not the vast majority of Jews who live in the nations of the mainly Gentile Judeo-Christian world are prepared to come to grips with the fact that Zionism is, as the title of this book asserts and its substance demonstrates, their real enemy. If they can and do, and are then prepared to end their silence on the matter of Israel’s behavior, they will, by distancing themselves from Zionism, best protect themselves from a charge of complicity (if only by default) in Zionism’s crimes. Silence is not the way to refute and demolish such a charge.
I am aware that many Americans, including American Jews, might honestly believe they are serving the best interests of the Jews by refusing to address the foundational Zionist myths, but I say they are wrong, dangerously wrong. All, including the corporate-controlled mainstream media, who refuse to come to grips with the truth of history and thus why it is perfectly possible to be passionately anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic, are helping to set up all Jews to be blamed for the crimes of the relative few.
As surely as day follows night, the Zionist lobby and other supporters of Israel right or wrong will make an awesome effort to limit distribution of this book in America, and to cause the informed and honest debate it was written to promote to be suppressed. The less this attempt to suppress the truth of history is successful, the more all citizens of America will be empowered to give substance to their idealism, to make their democracy work for justice and peace in the Middle East.
***Alan would like readers of this post to know that he was moved close to tears by the words of an eminent Canadian Jewish lady who does speak out. She is Judith Weisman, a Toronto psychotherapist and a member of Independent Jewish Voices, a founding member of Not In Our Name, Jews for a Just Peace and the Jewish Women’s Committee. See her and listen to her
* Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East.
He blogs on www.alanhart.net and tweets on www.twitter.com/alanauthor
The story this book tells is constructed on the documented truth of history and insights from my own engagement with the conflict in various capacities over more than three decades. I was, for example, the first Western correspondent to the banks of the Suez Canal with the advancing Israelis in the Six Days War of June 1967. And over the years I enjoyed intimate access to, and on the human level friendship with, leaders on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. I am probably the only person on Planet Earth to have enjoyed a special relationship with the two greatest opposites in all of human history – Golda Meir, Mother Israel, and Yasser Arafat, Father Palestine. (I made a BBC Panorama profile of the former and wrote a book about the latter). In telling the whole, unexpurgated story of the creation of the Zionist state of Israel and how it became a threat not only to the peace of the region and the world but also to the best interests of Jews everywhere and the moral integrity of Judaism itself, I’ve quoted from my private conversations over the years with leaders on both sides. My aim in doing so was to provide an extra degree of real and rare insight.
Given its length, three volumes for the American edition with perhaps a fourth in due course, some might ask – “Why such a big enterprise?” And some might add, “Do you seriously believe that more than a handful of Americans will be bothered to take the time and make the effort required to read three or even four volumes?”
I am, of course, aware that because of its length this book does require a serious commitment of reading time, and therefore effort, during the 18 months or so in which all three or possibly four volumes will be published. How can I possibly justify such a call on readers’ time? My short answer is in two parts.
I believe the reward for effort will be understanding, probably for the first time ever for very many Americans, of how all the pieces of the most complex and complicated jig-saw puzzle fit together and, therefore, an understanding of why the Palestine problem is the cancer at the heart of international affairs and what must be done and by whom if it is to be cured before it consumes us all.
The length of this work is also to do with the nature of the challenge I set myself. To tell the truth needed for real understanding, I had to re-write the whole story of the making and sustaining of the Arab-Israeli conflict, replacing Zionist mythology with the documented facts of history. To make complete understanding possible, it was also necessary for me to put regional events into their global context. The latter includes, for example, what went on behind closed doors in London, Paris, Washington and Moscow. All of that was a mission impossible in a single volume.
To date in the mainly Gentile Judeo-Christian or Western world we have had only a first draft of history, one constructed on Zionist mythology. This book offers a second, one that exposes Zionist mythology for the propaganda nonsense it mainly is.
And there’s a little something I’d like to add here by way of encouragement for what is sometimes called the general reading public. This book is written in the conversational style of the television reporter and to some extent reads more like a novel than a conventional historical work. This is to make the story accessible to all – i.e. not just a relatively small number of academics and other professionally interested people. I can also report that since the publication in the UK of the first hardback edition of this work in two volumes, I’ve received a good number of messages from so-called ordinary people of all faiths and none telling me they thought the book is “an easy read” and a “page-turner”. There was even a rabbi who called me to say, with great good humour, that I was to blame for his lack of sleep. He told me he had taken my book to bed to read a little each night but that when he started he couldn’t put it down.
In the UK, I had to set up my own publishing company to get the first hardback edition of this book in two volumes to the retail market place; and this despite the fact that my literary agent had on file letters of rare praise for my work from the CEOs of some of our major publishing houses. One CEO described my manuscript as “awesome… driven by passion, commitment and profound learning.” This letter added, “There is no question it deserves to be published.” But all in the UK were too frightened to publish this book out of fear of offending Zionism too much and being falsely accused of promoting anti-Semitism and, possibly, finding themselves on the receiving end of an organized boycott of all their authors and titles. It didn’t matter that my book is actually the opposite of anti-Semitic, and contains my call, as a Gentile, for the Jews to become a light unto nations by demonstrating that right can prevail over might and there is a place for morality in politics.
My access to the documented truth of history was assisted by the named authors from whose work I have quoted. I thank them all and eight in particular for the special quality of their original research. The eight are: Lenni Brenner, Alfred M. Lilienthal, the writing duo of Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, Seymour Hersh, Stephen Green, Yehoshafat Harkabi and, most notably, Avi Shlaim.
I am also indebted to Ilan Pappe. He and Avi Shlaim are Israel’s two leading “revisionist” (which means honest) historians. Ilan’s own latest book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, a seminal work documented in chilling detail, was not available for me to draw off when I was finalizing the content of my own Volume One; but I make reference to his work in a footnote to my Chapter 10 which is titled Zionist Terrorism and Ethnic Cleansing. Ilan and I have become dear friends and allies in common cause and regard ourselves as being, with a small band of others including Avi Shlaim, on the hottest frontline in the war for the truth of history. Ilan is at the very top of Zionism’s official “S.H.I.T” list (Self-Hating Israeli Traitors), and we both think I would be up there with him, ahead of 6,999 others, if I was an Israeli. In one of our first conversations Ilan said he thought Zionists were more frightened of my book than any other because of its title. His latest book, he said, they could rubbish in their usual way. “Your book,” he added, “is a real problem for them because its main title, Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews, is the whole truth in seven words.” The many hours of his precious time Ilan gives me for analytical conversation helps greatly to keep my own thinking refreshed and finely tuned. His most generous endorsement of my work is on the back cover of this volume. (There was, however, one point on which Ilan censured me. He said that I was, and all others were, wrong to use the term “diaspora” as in Jewish diaspora. His argument, with which I fully agree and actually develop in this book, is that diaspora implies that the Jews of the world have a biological and ancestral connection to the ancient Hebrews and thus an historical claim to the land of Palestine that became Israel. In reality they-almost all if not quite all the Jews of the world-have no such connection or claim. Most believe they do, but they don’t. With good grace Ilan accepted that when I use the term Jewish diaspora it is for convenience).
I must also thank my dear wife, Nicole Marie Louise, to whom I have been married for 47 years. Only a lady as remarkable and as loving as she is would have allowed her husband to put everything on the line, including his home and perhaps even his life, in order to tell the truth of history. Whenever I am asked why I do what do, I quote my dear friend Hajo Meyer. At breakfast one morning after he had been one of my guests on a debating platform in London, I asked him why at the age of 82, and given that he is vilified by Zionism’s propaganda hit men, he continues to serve in the frontline of the war for truth and justice. He replied, “The first person I see every morning is me.”
Nicole understands that I, too, need to be able to live with myself.
That this book is now published in the United States is due entirely to the vision, courage and commitment of Diana G. Collier, the Editorial Director of Clarity Press, Inc. (www.claritypress.com/Hart-1.html) I cannot find words adequate enough to express my thanks to her and my respect for her. Courage of the kind Diana and her colleagues have demonstrated is extremely rare in the publishing as well as the mainstream media world.
The book is available from Amazon as well as bookshops not frightened of offending Zionism, and Clarity Press can provide very significant discounts for bulk purchases by advocacy groups.