On the matter of Israel and Palestine – Neturei Karta

Neturei Karta

Last week, I came across a very interesting video. It was a journalist exploring the workings of Neturei Karta, a group of Orthodox Jews who oppose the state of Israel and its occupation of Palestine. The journalist explored the group’s functions in London.

So what is Neturei Karta?

Quite simply, it is a group of Orthodox Jews supporting Palestine. Sounds strange, doesn’t it. A Jew, supporting the Islamic state of Palestine in opposition to the Jewish state of Israel. Well, quite frankly, no. It is not in the least bit strange.

Why?

If you read my previous post on Palestine’s Nakba, or the exodus of the Palestinian people when the Western nations decreed a state of Israel, you will know that I do not believe that the conflict between the fake state of Israel and the rightful state of Palestine is one of religion. No. It is one of politics. Indeed, the holy land is holy for all Abrahamic religions. Why is it then that it is seen as the birthright of the Jewish people? No people should have the birthright of an entire nation based entirely on their ancestry or religion. It goes against many fundamental human rights and the right of self-determination of statehood.

So, no, it is not about religion, at least, not anymore.

So, it is no coincidence that Neturei Karta recognise the Palestinian claim to the area now occupied by apartheid Israel. Even in making the case of religion they deny that the Jewish people have right to the holy land. They posit that the Jewish people shall be delivered to the holy land, as promised, but by God, not by force and by murder of other people.

This seems so logical. That is because it is. No religion should have claim to a land based on their beliefs. In making their beliefs transcend the rights of adherents of another religion, they are asserting the supremacy of their religious beliefs over that of their victims. That is to say, it claims that their religion is the one true one. That is fine. Religious people do believe exclusively in their God. But, if this God prohibits murder in His commandments, and if He promises deliverance to the Holy Land at His hand (much like he delivered the Jewish people from Egypt), then why are the adherents of this God going against His fundamentals?

I cannot say that I know of the Jewish God. I have read the Old Testament but my knowledge is limited to that. So, I cannot claim to base the argument above on scriptural reference.

But Neturei Karta certainly knows enough about their faith. And they recognise that the promised land shall not be delivered to the Jewish people by force and murder. It shall be delivered by the Messiah.

Religion aside, the Israeli state is an apartheid state. To substantiate this, I simply need to reference the fact that South Africa is rapidly ending its relations with the state of Israel. South Africa is the birth place of apartheid. South Africa is my home. And for South Africa to recognise that Israel is an apartheid state, it means that Israel is indeed an apartheid state. And, this makes me proud to be South African. No matter our economic and social problems, at least we know when to say stop to the destroyers of the world.

Perhaps this is something King Bibi, the delightful despot of Israel, should consider before basing his election campaign on Zionism. Perhaps this even gives insight into who exactly is making this struggle a religious one. It is undoubtedly a politician. So then, is this about religion or is this about politics? I think the latter, but I shall leave you to determine that.

A Massacre in Palestine – 70 years since Nakba

Free Palestine

As usual, it has been quite some time since my last post. But, something has prompted me to write after a long time, when I had been lost for words for so long. I wish this had not been the case, for the topic today is something which I would rather ignore, but cannot.

As anyone who watches the news will know, the world was shaken on Monday by a disaster of epic proportions – the massacre of at least 60 Palestinian protesters in occupied Gaza by Israel, with over 2000 people injured. This was as a direct result of the USA’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, what Israel claims to be its capital.

Politics, the history, the facts, and the reasons aside, this was a crime against humanity. It was a departure from the elemental human characteristic of compassion – and the smugness with which Israel and the USA have handled it only exacerbates it.

So, the time for conciliatory words is over. And so, unlike my previous post, condemning terrorism, I will be direct. For, as soon as I saw the image of eight-month-old baby Laila who had been murdered by Israel, it incited an anger unparalleled! And this is my response. An attempt, possibly useless and all over the place, at processing the death of so many simply because the Trump-Netanyahu bromance was thirsting for blood once again.

Firstly, I am not opposed to Jewish people. Indeed, I used the intellect of a great Jewish personality, Lesley Hazleton, in my former plea for mercy on people of the Muslim faith. So, using her intellect, while despising her would be deeply hypocritical, something which I vehemently proclaim not to be.

Israel as a state should not exist. To me, based on fact, on history, on logic, there is no two-state solution. That is an ideal for sentimentalists, religious fanatics and people who are propagating their own agendas. For, Israel is the creation of European powers who could no longer deal with their Jewish inhabitants, casting them out, at the expense of the Palestinian people.

In strolls, the orange-faced, yellow-haired, small handed toddler. Rather, forget that (since I am writing a compassionate piece, let me not ridicule a man for his physical impairments). So, in strolls Donald Trump. In my last plea for compassion I had not explicitly taken his wretched name, but now, my anger, and no further need to visit the United States in the near future, compels me to name this man who incites images of a plague, or racism, of the KKK, of Hitler (yes I am not anti-Semitic, I wrote a biography of Hitler), the Apartheid regime, Benjamin Netanyahu, slavery, Islamophobia, and bigoted indifference coupled with white supremacist and patriarchal smugness (is that a thing?). Anyway, back to the point, in strolls, or rather stumbles, Donald Trump, or POTUS as he is so lovingly called by the many AMERICANS (not Palestinians) who voted for him. Sorry? Did I just write a whole paragraph hating on Donald Trump, abandoning the high English you have become accustomed to? Well, firstly, I could carry on, mentioning every member of his sick family, including dear, sweet, loving Ivanka Trump. Secondly, he brings out the worst in me.

Evidently, he brings out the worst in the Israelis too. Disastrous, given the USA’s ill-advised and self-proclaimed role as chief negotiator between Israel and Palestine.

Going back to Israel, in its formation, it was fundamentally the answer to the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and the pogroms which had begun to overtake Europe around the early twentieth century. Of course, that was not the sole factor, but it was one of the large determining ones. And so, it was decided by the powers that be, to repatriate the Jewish nation in accordance with the testament of a God adhered to by Jews and some Christians – not entirely fair is it?

And so began a cascade of events resulting in what is today known as Nakba (literally, disaster), the 70th year anniversary of which is this year. Strangely, imagining 70 years, one would imagine that the events of that dark 1948 were forgotten, but they were not. For just as the Indians can remember their independence in  1948 so clearly, the Palestinians can remember the loss of theirs equally.

And it brings us back to the issue of home – where do people belong? The argument for the Israeli state is that it is the home of the Jewish people. But this is fundamentally flawed, not only because it is based on the testament of a God that is not universally accepted by all concerned parties, but because the return of a people centuries after their exodus is not only unusual, it is ludicrous (literally to Biblical proportions). It is like suddenly waking up one day and saying that Anglo-Saxon descendants are no longer welcome in England, and sending them off to Germany (from where they came 1000 odd years before), displacing the present German inhabitants in the process.

Obviously, with modern sensibilities, there is no way that Israel or a two-state solution makes sense. That is not to say that all Israeli people should return to Europe, for that is equally as silly (see, the logic must be applied universally, without bias, take notes, Donald Trump).

But this dynamic instead should give us, and importantly, Israel, an insight into what the plight of the Palestinians really is. For as equally as about history and religion as this war is, it is about finding a home. And the fact is, in finding theirs, Israel has taken away Palestine’s.

I do not see an immediate resolution to the 70-year-old problem. Especially not without skilful negotiator twiddling his thumbs across the Atlantic Ocean. But my hope is, that perhaps with this understanding of that has caused the present issue, the Israeli and Palestinian factions can find common ground, not in their skilful negotiators, or lengthy talks, nor in imposed peace treaties, but by the simple understanding of the similarities between the Jewish history and the Palestinian present. And then perhaps, this mutual search for a home can see peace being restored to the Holy Land.

Can Peace Prevail?

I promised myself that this website would be what I call my ‘author website’ when I created it. I dedicated myself to sharing my literary journey in its entirety. But, today, I come with a very different message. And, heck, I know it’s totally off-topic, but I simply must share it! Yesterday, the world, or the Western World, shook yet again by another act of terror in London. This follows a series of attacks which began with a man driving towards the Palace of Westminster, and with a recent bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Amidst this chaos, especially after last night’s events, I ask myself this: can peace prevail in this world of ours?

My thoughts on this are not just isolated to terrorism. I am taken back to the harsh inequality and inhumane treatment inflicted on the world by colonialism. I am taken back to the subjugation of people of colour. I am taken back to the racism of Apartheid-era South Africa. I am taken back to the murders of two Indian men in a bar in Kansas simply because of the colour of their skin. I am taken back to any of the moments in recent history where one man was thought or shown to be inferior to another because of his race, his creed, his religion, his place of origin. And, I realise through all of this, is that this world is ruled by something very close to racism – but not racism itself. It is ruled by the pride, arrogant feeling of superiority that one group of people have over others. This could be a white supremacist who disregards the rights of a black person. It could also be the cowardly terrorists who show a disregard for freedom and liberty. It could be a politician declaring or implying that all whites are racist (yes, that’s you, Jacob Zuma) or it could be another politician encouraging anti-Islamic sentiments (I won’t say any names here). On that note, I should just declare that Islam, like any other religion, is a religion of peace, and so the answer to terrorism is not an attack on Islam. For more details on the nature of Islam, I refer you to a Ted Talk by Lesley Hazleton (a Jewish personality of great intellect).

Have I (or Lesley Hazleton) convinced you to accept the beliefs of all people, including Muslims? I should hope so, but if I haven’t, here’s my message.

Let us stop blaming groups of people for acts against humanity. Instead, let us unite. Wait, I can hear people screaming ‘close the borders!’, ‘don’t let in immigrants!’, ‘cultures should not be allowed to mix!’, or something else of that sort. If I may, let me stop you there. In terms of diversity, I come from South Africa. Here, I have witnessed first-hand the brilliant capabilities that diversity has. I have witnessed the peace with which the South African melting pot of culture continues to live.

Now, this may not even be enough to convince all the naysayers to accept diversity. But if you take away one message from this blog post, let it be my final plea.

Let us be honest with ourselves, all discrimination of all forms needs to stop! We should not frown on Christians or Muslims or Jews or Hindus. We are all human, and no religion teaches terror. No race teaches terror. We must accept and forgive even those who harm us – this is humanity, and yes we can protect ourselves against terror, but we must never act like the terrorists by attacking people because of their affiliation with any group be it Islam, or the West. I believe that we have forgotten what peace means. We have forgotten what humanity means, and we must rediscover both! I just don’t see why we as humans cannot accept other people who are different from us – is that so wrong?

But I believe that we are just proud to unite, too vain to unite, feel too superior to unite. We always want to be and feel better than someone else. Why can’t we all be our best together? Now I am not a communist if it may sound like I am, but I just think that we should learn to respect difference and then many issues will dissipate, in a time of course.

And yes, vanity and pride are natural characteristics which we all bask in. But, we should not let those feeling make us think that others are wholly lesser than us. We are better in some ways, and they are better in other ways. That is what being human is – being flawed, and being talented in multiple facets. I believe that humanity is the acceptance of that, it is the peace with that. It is when terrorists will respect the sanctity of life. When they will respect the values of liberty and equality. It is when white supremacists or Islamophobes will accept people of colour, or people of different religions, and will allow them to live alongside them. This is what is needed: acceptance, and respect.

Now, I know that I am an idealist, and this will probably never be achieved. In fact, I am sure many readers of this will abandon the post if they haven’t already, but I believe that every change we make – accepting our crimes of the past, recognising how those injustices have shaped the present, and showing humanity to build a better future – will make a difference at the end of the day.

I leave you with that message, and I hope that you take it out and into your life and daily practice.