The pathology of Zionist rejectionism

Jews who migrated to Palestine under the banner of Zionism were, to put it simply, immigrants (foreigners).

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Published in Astro Awani & Malaysia Now, image by Astro Awani.

In a show of unity against the continuing Zionist occupation and oppression, Palestinians from all walks of life went on a general strike (dubbed Karameh, the Arabic word for “dignity”) on May 18 which has not been seen since 1936 as part of the uprising under the then-British Mandatory Palestine.

The 1936 general strike led to the establishment of the Peel Commission which laid down the first idea for a partition. Jerusalem and the “central zone” of Palestine would come under a British-led international administration (at that time, the League of Nations). The entirety of the West Bank and southern Palestine (including Gaza) would fall under Jewish territory.

Much has been said about Arab rejectionism since then. But some context would provide clarity and appreciation of the (original) position of the Palestinian Arabs.

According to Shaul Bartal in “The Peel Commission Report of 1937 and the Origins of the Partition Concept” (Jewish Political Studies Review, 2017), the Arabs in the form of the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) rejected it and instead demanded a fully fledged (as in geographically) Arab nation – separate from what’s to become the then Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan – to reflect demographic realities. The argument in favour of an independent state of Palestine and rejection of a Jewish “national homeland” (as per the Balfour Declaration) was encapsulated in the book, “The Palestine Mandate, Invalid and Impracticable: A Contribution of Arguments and Documents towards the Solution of the Palestine Problem” (1936) by WF Boustany (a member of the Third Palestine Arab Delegation to London in 1923).

While there were already Jews living in Palestine from time immemorial together with the Judaised and non-Jewish communities, the last of the Jewish rebellion against Roman imperial rule resulted in the ever-decrease of the Jewish indigenous population through expulsion and immigration. By the time of the rise of Christianity, there was already an established Jewish diaspora. This together with the migration of the Ghassanid (i.e. pre-Islamic Arabs) from the third century onwards into Palestine. With the Christianisation of Palestine under Byzantine (Roman East) rule, Christian immigration from the rest of the empire further intensified.

Therefore, Jews who migrated to Palestine under the banner of Zionism were, to put it simply, immigrants (foreigners) – unlike their minority compatriots who could trace their lineage unbroken.

Furthermore, the Jewish (as in ethnic) origins of the immigrant settlers could be questioned on genetic grounds as argued in Israeli historian Shlomo Sands’ “The Invention of the Jewish People” (2009). Sand’s other book, “The Invention of the Land of Israel” (2012) demonstrates convincingly (even as from a neutral standpoint) that the biblical land of Israel (Erezt Yisrael) is not, historically and geographically, coterminous with the state of Israel (Medinat Yisrael).
In short, not only had the demographics in Palestine start to change by the time of the Christianisation of the Roman Empire, Arabisation – Christian (see Doron Bar’s “The Christianisation of Rural Palestine during Late Antiquity”, 2003 as published in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History) and Muslim – changed the social landscape.

Of course, being at the cross-roads of many of the civilisations of antiquity and bridge between cultures and regions and continents, the land of “Palestine” has seen waves and waves of migrations from all geographical directions.

The reality is that Palestinian acceptance of the two-state solution based on the 1949 Armistice Agreement – otherwise known as the Pre-1967 War/Green Line – coupled with the settlements in the West Bank and Netanyahu’s threatened annexation can only demonstrate to the world one thing.

And that’s Zionist rejectionism.

Only recently, the Palestinian ambassador Walid Abu Ali was quoted by The Star affirming that, “[Both parties] must return to the negotiating table on a two-state settlement based on the territorial lines before the 1967 war”.

So much for so-called Arab rejectionism.

Zionist rejectionism is also expressed in successive strategic bombings of Gaza by Israel – with the aim of destroying infrastructure so as to degrade and weaken the will of the Gazans to resist (punitive action).

In the aftermath of the latest cease-fire following yet another round of war crime, it’s incumbent upon the aggressor to take steps to end the cycle of massacre and destruction once for all by seriously working towards a two-state solution.

Concomitantly, the Tel Aviv regime must unilaterally withdraw and disengage from the West Bank in whole or at least in part leaving the rest of the settlements under Palestinian administration.

In the case of the latter, the plan could include the concept that the remaining settlements (that were not dismantled), particularly the more established and sophisticated ones that have become self-contained towns or cities in their own right, would be designated as special zones. These zones would come under the jurisdiction of the state of Palestine (Dawlat Filastin). Hence, the settlers living there would be “guests” and subject to the laws of the land and a special poll tax (levied per capita or on each person), in addition to conventional taxes (property assessment, income, corporate).

The idea of the lack of “strategic depth” of which Benjamin Netanyahu is perhaps the most famous proponent (see his book, “Durable Peace: Israel and its Place Among the Nations”, 2000) has been bandied around by Zionists as justification for settler expansionism into the West Bank.

Strategic depth is simply the “space” by which a country would need in order to successfully defend itself from an invasion.

But it’s a specious argument that lacks in-depth grounds.

Such is the pathology of Zionist rejectionism.

Firstly, the inclusion of the West Bank may add depth to the state of Israel but not strategically, especially in relation to air invasion. The distance from Jerusalem to Jericho near the border with Jordan is only 25.6km.

Fighter jets could easily swoop past West Bank to bomb urban centres inside Israel with no sweat. Unless, of course, Israel’s air defences and air force have the latest and most sophisticated technology to counter the threat which they do.

That’s to say, “strategic depth” is irrelevant to Israel’s defence in any aerial invasion.

Secondly, it presumes that a sovereign state of Palestine would be inherently hostile to Israel and would someday seize the moment to invade – with aim of finally realising a one-state solution, instead. Assuming that this argument is sound – which it isn’t – this would by default presuppose and imply Israeli military and intelligence failure.

Failure to detect signs of impending invasion. It would be highly unlikely given the close proximity of the two countries as well as the track record of Mossad and Shin Bet.

Failure to prepare in advance which would be highly unlikely given the track record of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), especially in terms of air superiority.

Failure to mobilise its population (both male and female) in the form of the mandatory national military service would be inconceivable.

In fact, in the event of a future Arab-Israeli conflict, the strategic depth would be immaterial because the likely route of invasion would probably come from the north.

Syria – with the backing of Iran and Russia – remains a formidable opponent, not least determined to rightfully regain the Golan Heights which it lost in the 1967-Six Day War and perhaps Turkey joining in too by air and sea in relation to Gaza (south). Iran is in the position to move armaments and troops into Syria. By extension, both are in a position to move (back) into Lebanon with the support of Hezbollah as a stabilising force in that country.

An invasion coming from southern Lebanon with the aim of encircling/enveloping the Golan Heights from the “rear” with the other pincer movement directly from Syria would shatter the IDF garrisons. At the same time, this giant double envelopment allows for a new buffer zone to be created between Lebanon and Israel – as bargaining chip for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

Another intifada (uprising) in the West Bank and Gaza would add to the pressure on the Tel Aviv regime – perhaps weakening domestic political arrangements.

Basically, whether such scenario will materialise or not, Israel by stubbornly holding onto the West Bank might only be setting itself up for another regional conflict – the dynamics of which would be different from past Arab-Israeli wars.

In short, Zionist rejectionism should not be seen as a result of Zionist triumphalism.

It could well be the beginning of the end. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

Jason Loh Seong Wei is Head of Social, Law & Human Rights at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focussed on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

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Diterbitkan di GerbangPost & Astro Awani.

Dalam satu pertunjukan berpadu terhadap penjajahan dan penindasan Zionis, warga Palestin dari semua lapisan masyarakat melakukan mogok umum (Karameh – perkataan Arab untuk “martabat”) pada 18 Mei yang belum pernah dilihat sejak 1936 semasa zaman Mandat Palestin di bawah Britain ketika itu.

Mogok umum 1936 menyebabkan penubuhan Suruhanjaya Peel yang menetapkan idea pertama untuk pembelahan wilayah (partition). Baitulmuqaddis dan “zon tengah” Palestin akan berada di bawah pemerintahan antarabangsa (pada masa itu, Liga Bangsa-Bangsa) yang dipimpin Britain. Keseluruhan Tebing Barat dan Palestin selatan (termasuk Gaza) akan tertakluk di bawah pentadbiran Yahudi.

Banyak yang telah diperkatakan mengenai penolakan Arab semenjak itu. Tetapi konteks akan memberikan kejelasan dan penghayatan mengenai pendirian (asal) Arab Palestin.

Menurut Shaul Bartal dalam “Laporan Suruhanjaya Peel tahun 1937 dan Asal-Usul Konsep Pembelahan” (Tinjauan Kajian Politik Yahudi, 2017), Jawatankuasa Tinggi Arab (AHC) menolaknya dan sebaliknya menuntut sepenuhnya sebuah negara Arab berdaulat untuk mencerminkan realiti demografi. Hujah yang memihak kepada sebuah Negara Palestin yang merdeka dan penolakan terhadap “tanahair nasional” Yahudi (sebagaimana menurut Pengisytiharan Balfour) dikemukakan dalam buku, Mandat Palestin, Tidak Sah dan Tidak Praktikal: Sumbangan Hujah dan Dokumen untuk Penyelesaian Masalah Palestin (1936) oleh WF Boustany (anggota Rombongan Arab Palestin Ketiga ke London pada tahun 1923).

Ringkasnya, Yahudi yang berhijrah ke Palestin di bawah panji Zionisme adalah pendatang asing – tidak seperti Yahudi minoriti yang kekal di tanah itu yang dapat menuntut keturunan mereka tanpa putus.

Lagi pun, asal-usul Yahudi (iaitu dari segi etnik sahaja) peneroka imigran dapat dipertikaikan atas isu genetik seperti ditonjolkan dalam, Penciptaan Orang Yahudi (2009) oleh sejarawan Israel, Prof Shlomo Sands. Buku Prof Sand yang lain, Penciptaan Negara Israel (2012) menunjukkan dengan meyakinkan bahawa Tanah Israel (Eretz Yisrael) bukan, dari sudut sejarah dan geografi, sama dengan Negara Israel (Medinat Yisrael).

Pendek kata, demografi Palestin bukan sahaja mulai berubah semasa zaman Kristianisasi Empayar Rom, Arabisasi – Kristian (lihat Doron Bar “Pengkristianan Desa Palestin pada Zaman Antikuiti Akhir”, 2003 seperti diterbitkan dalam Jurnal Sejarah Kegerejaan) dan Muslim – mengubah landskap sosial.

Sudah tentu, Palestin yang berada di persimpangan jalan kebanyakkan tamadun kuno dan titian antara budaya, wilayah dan benua telah memeluk gelombang demi gelombang migrasi dari semua arah.
Hakikatnya adalah bahawa penerimaan Palestin terhadap penyelesaian dua negara berdasarkan Perjanjian Gencatan Senjata 1949 (atau juga dikenali sebagai Garis Sempadan Pra-1967/Garis Sempadan Hijau) yang dibalas dengan penempatan di Tebing Barat dan aneksasi yang diancam Netanyahu hanya menunjukkan penolakan Zionis.

Baru-baru ini sahaja, Duta Besar Palestin ke Malaysia, Walid Abu Ali, dipetik oleh The Star telah menyatakan bahawa, “[Kedua-dua pihak] harus kembali ke meja rundingan mengenai penyelesaian dua negara berdasarkan garis sempadan sebelum perang 1967”.

Kononnya pula, selama ini yang menolak penyelesaian dan kedamaian adalah dari pihak Arab.

Penolakan Zionis juga dilihat dalam pengeboman strategik dari masa ke masa ke atas Gaza – dengan tujuan menghancurkan infrastruktur sehingga dapat melemahkan niat dan iltizam rakyat Gaza untuk menentang (sebagai tindakan hukuman).

Selepas gencatan senjata terbaru berikutan satu lagi babak jenayah perang, adalah menjadi tanggungjawab penyerang mengambil langkah bagi mengakhiri kitaran pembunuhan dasyat dan kemusnahan unutk selamanya serta berusaha menuju ke arah penyelesaian dua negara.

Serentak dengan itu, rejim Tel Aviv harus menarik diri dari Tebing Barat secara keseluruhan.

Atau pun sekurang-kurangnya meninggalkan penempatan lain di bawah pentadbiran Palestin. Rancangan ini bermakna bahawa penempatan yang ketinggalan (yang tidak dimansuhkan), terutama yang lebih mapan dan canggih seperti bandar atau kota mandiri, akan ditetapkan sebagai zon khas. Kawasan-kawasan ini akan berada di bawah bidang kuasa Negara Palestin (Dawlat Filastin). Oleh itu, peneroka yang tinggal di sana akan menjadi “tetamu” dan tertakluk kepada undang-undang tanah dan cukai taksiran khas, selain cukai biasa (penilaian hartanah, pendapatan, korporat).

Jika Israel berkeras menjajah Tebing Barat, ini bermungkinan akan membawa kepada konflik wilayah baru – di mana dinamiknya berbeza dari perang Arab-Israel yang lalu.

Rumusannya, penolakan Zionis tidak boleh dilihat sebagai berpunca dari kemenangan Zionis setakat ini.

Mana tahu, permulaan bagi berakhirnya mitos kemenangan dan kekuatan Zionis mungkin sudah berlaku sekarang.

Jason Loh Seong Wei merupakan Ketua Bahagian Sosial, Perundangan dan Hak Asasi di EMIR Research, sebuah organisasi pemikir bebas berfokuskan saranan-saranan dasar strategik berdasarkan kajian yang menyeluruh.

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