Jalil Muntaqim: Support of Palestine is not anti-Semitic

News bulletin from the Jericho Movement, founded by Jalil Muntaqim in 1996 to support political prisoners: “Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), a 68-year-old respected elder, was granted parole on Sept. 22, 2020, after serving nearly 50 years in prison. Jalil is one of thousands of incarcerated older people in New York State who was repeatedly denied parole for over two decades after completing his minimum sentence despite his excellent record, and ‘lowest risk’ score on the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) COMPAS risk assessment instrument. Let us hope that his release brings inspiration for more change.

“Jalil is deeply humbled and grateful for the broad expressions of support he has received from his family and community throughout the years and looks forward to coming home, where he can reunite with his loved ones and continue to heal from COVID-19, which he contracted in prison in May.” He expects to be released in late October. Look for an exclusive interview with him at that time by a young man he has mentored for years, Kwame Shakur.

by Jalil A. Muntaqim

I believe it is easy to state the Israeli government of Netanyahu is as corrupt as the Trump administration and to equate the two, since both leaders are under investigation for wrongdoing, misappropriation of funds, cronyism, nepotism and, just as significant, a deep disdain if not hatred for people not of their ethnic identity.

In their critical disdain for people of color, each of their respective governments has sought to implement programs that deny basic human rights and means of survival to those they look down on. This is most conspicuous and critical in Israel where the Palestinians have been relegated to a stateless apartheid existence.

However, unfortunately, to recognize and voice dissatisfaction with the Netanyahu government’s treatment of Palestinians with the complicity of the Trump administration is to lend oneself to critical condemnation from the Zionist community of both Israel and the U.S.

This was a lesson learned in 2019 by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her comments on AIPAC, whose stated mission is “to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel” and thereby influence U.S. foreign policy on Israel. AIPAC states it has “more than 100,000 citizens from across the country work[ing] with their elected officials and AIPAC staff to strengthen the bonds between the United States and the Jewish State.” 

Congresswoman Omar was surgically skewered in the media for pointing out what she felt was an unhealthy political alliance. While she was not the least of those who were condemned for critiquing the politics of the U.S.-Israel relationship, this time it was during a period in which the Trump administration has essentially divorced the U.S. from brokering any prospects of settling the Israeli-Palestinian divide. In fact, the Trump administration has essentially sealed an Israeli Zionist determination of denying the Palestinians any foreseeable future of nationhood.

However, the point of this writing is to ask poignant questions about Zionism and how it is being manifested. For example, if one is an anti-Zionist, does that make them anti-Semitic? If one is in support of Palestinian sovereignty, does that make them anti-Jewish? When pondering these questions, it is important to consider that the Jews (Hebrews) are not the only Semitic people in the Middle East.

In fact, what is often neglected when charges of anti-Semitism are made is that the Palestinian people are a branch of the Semitic Indo-Asian family of languages, cultural ethos and historical traditions of the region. What is often not considered is that the Jewish and Arab histories evolve from the same patriarchal genesis. The Prophet Abraham’s union with Sarah gave birth to the Jewish lineage, while Prophet Abraham’s union with Hagar gave birth to the Arab lineage.

Furthermore, according to religious texts, the idea of Israel came into existence when Prophet Joseph ceded what was then Egyptian land to his father, Jacob, and his family. Jacob changed his name to Israel, the name by which the land became known, i.e., the land of Israel. It is extremely important we are reminded of this history in order to effectively understand the events leading to today’s conflicts.

in the last two years the Israeli army has shot over 6,000 unarmed Palestinians and their supporters, killing 206, including 40 children, several journalists and health workers

It must be noted that Zionism as presently being forged vehemently negates the existence of Palestine and Palestinians, despite platitudes to the contrary. Zionism evolved from a spiritual Zion, recorded in the religious texts, Bible and Talmud, into a nationalist movement of Jewish hegemony over a territory that has never been predominately or exclusively occupied by a specific ethnic or religious group.

The movement was originally founded by Theodore Herzl for the specific purpose of establishing a Jewish homeland, and the first location considered was Uganda. However, many Jewish nationalists believed Palestine to be their ancestral homeland, having been expelled by the Romans during the First Crusades in 1099[1], when both Muslims and Jews were massacred by Christian zealots.

But it was at the 1897 First Zionist Congress, held in Basel, Switzerland, that Zionism incorporated colonial settler aspirations, targeting Palestine to establish the Jewish State of Israel[2].

This land was conquered and lost many times over the ages, from the Philistines, Christians and Muslims (Ottomans) to eventual British colonization. It was ceded to the Jews in 1917, via the Balfour Declaration, in which British Secretary of State Arthur Balfour, in a letter to a highly regarded member of the British Jewish community, Lord Rothschild, promised to support a national home for the Jewish people.

After Britain secured its colonial control of the region by defeating the Ottomans, they engaged in duplicitous treachery in their governing that exacerbated conflict throughout the region. Ultimately, along with France, they divided the region between themselves, excluding the Arabs and Zionists, intentionally negating the intent of the Balfour promise as it pertained to Palestine. (See Sykes-Picot Agreement.) A prime example is the actions of British Col. T.E. Lawrence, well known for the Lawrence of Arabia affair.

In 1920 the League of Nations reported the population of Palestine was 80 percent Muslim (700,000 people) with 77,000 Christians, many of whom spoke Arabic, and 76,000 Jews – the majority of them having entered Palestine in the previous 40 years. By 1922, the League of Nations, under the auspices of the British Empire, established the British Mandate for Palestine, which mandated British rule of Palestine.

The Mandate led to the British establishing a Jewish agency in preparation for transferring governmental authority to the Zionists, in disregard of the majority Arab population. During this period, Jewish migration to Palestine increased by 30 percent as the Second World War approached and anti-Semitism in Europe increased. 

Hence, today’s manifestation of nationalist Zionism comes out of a long history of Arab Palestinian people being betrayed by those who wear an ethnocentric-narcissistic xenophobic (white supremacist) religio-idealist cloak.

On Friday, March 30, 2018, 20,000 Palestinians set up camps at the Gaza-Israeli border to begin the Great March of Return, weekly rebellions intended initially to last six weeks but they haven’t stopped in more than a year despite the loss of many lives and limbs to Israeli Defense Force gunfire. The Palestinians are demanding the right to return to their ancestral homes on land stolen by Israel. – Photo: Amir Cohen, Reuters

During the transition and violent change of power, the Jewish people engaged in what today would be considered a war of terrorism, targeting both British and Palestinian entities. With the increase of Jewish migration and the advent of such armed terrorist groups as the Irgun Zvai Leumi, the Stern Gang and Haganah, a bloody armed campaign commenced to wrestle control of the land from British colonial rule and from the then-majority residents – the Palestinians.

For example, after the 1947 U.N. partition of Palestine, the Zionists engaged in what they described as open defense of the proclaimed Jewish State. This included raids of British arms depots, assassinations and bombing campaigns. One such bombing, carried out by the Irgun on July 22, 1946, at the King David Hotel, caused 91 deaths, 13 of them British soldiers[3].

David Ben GurionGolda Meir and Moshe Dayan, all principle leaders of the underground terrorist movement, became principle leaders establishing the new Israeli government. Remember the adage: One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. It was Ben Gurion who united the various underground armed organizations into what has become today’s Israeli Defense Force.

Palestine was usurped by the primarily Ashkenazi (European) tribe of the Jewish nationality – the survivors of the Holocaust. As a result, they forged and consummated the philosophical and political posture of nationalist Zionism as the ideological determinant of a national and international reality of a Jewish identity, an identity exclusive of any and all other occupants of the land once known as Palestine.

Here it should be noted that the 1948 Arab-Israeli war caused the dispersal of 700,000 Palestinians to a number of countries, most notably Jordan and Egypt. In 1964, not unlike the Irgun and Haganah, the Palestinian people evolved in their resistance to colonization and Zionist occupation.

They formed the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Fattah and, in 1967, the Front for the Liberation of Palestine and several other underground political and armed combatants. The purpose of this renewed armed resistance was to wrest the land back, preserve Palestinian identity in connection to the land and survive the manifestation of the Zionist nationalist ideology.

The continuation of this conflict since at least 1948, now with the direct assistance and complicity of U.S. imperialist foreign policy, has permitted the Israeli government to expand Jewish settlements and occupy control of over 80 percent of Palestine. Hence, the scrapping of both the 1978 Camp David Accords and the failed 1993 Oslo Accords led to the 2000-2005 Second Intifada – the First Intifada was from 1987-1991 – and the current Gaza “Right to Return” rebellions.

Ergo, in 2019, we’ve witnessed, with U.S. blessings, the Zionist government usurping control of the Golan Heights, the annexation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the U.S. offer of $38 billion in military support, all to the ultimate existential genocidal detriment of the Palestinian people.

This continuing unholy relationship between the U.S. and Israel in 2020, with Israel expanding annexation of Palestinian land, has sealed the fate of the Palestinian people to a permanent status as a stateless people. 

Again, I raise the question: Must a critique of Israeli Zionism result in one being labeled anti-Semitic? Does the label anti-Semitism only apply to the Jewish people and not the Palestinians? How is it that only the Jewish people are permitted to appropriate the identity of being Semitic to the exclusion of all Indo-Asian peoples whose language and cultural reality is of similar historic transitions, beliefs and ethos?

Furthermore, with over 50 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinians, does this Israeli treatment mirror how apartheid white South Africans treated Black South Africans? Does it resemble in any way how the U.S. corporate*government applied the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws to Black people in America? Is the Israeli treatment similar to how the U.S. government has treated the Indigenous peoples of America?

How is it possible to differentiate the disproportionate response to a rocket flown into Israeli occupied territory to jet bombers releasing their payload in populated Palestinian communities?

“Jalil” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 264847, Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 500, Carlisle IN 47838

I further ask, is it possible to compare, contrast and condemn Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya peoples to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians? Is it possible to compare, contrast and condemn how the government of China is treating the Uyghur peoples with the way the Israelis are treating Palestinians, particularly those on the West Bank and Gaza?

In doing so, why would one be labeled, ostracized and condemned as anti-Semitic, as was Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, for questioning the Zionist agenda of AIPAC in relation to U.S. foreign policy?

I only ask these questions and leave them to the reader to answer, considering that in the last two years the Israeli army has shot over 6,000 unarmed Palestinians and their supporters, killing 206, including 40 children, several journalists and health workers, most by sniper fire on the Gaza border. In the last three years, over 23,368 Palestinians have been injured or killed by Israeli military forces and Zionist vigilantes.

Further consideration must be given to the annexing, occupying and settling of Palestinian land in direct violation of internationally declared laws, condemned by the United Nations. How can the international community of activists and progressives challenge these illegal and ultimately genocidal actions without being labeled anti-Semitic?

Michelle Alexander, in a New York Times opinion piece titled “Time to Break the Silence on Palestine” offered:

Jewish Voice of Peace, for example, aims to educate the American public about ‘the forced displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment and that continues to this day.’ Growing numbers of people of all faiths and backgrounds have spoken out with more boldness and courage. American organizations such as If Not Now support young American Jews as they struggle to break the deadly silence that still exists among too many people regarding the occupation, and hundreds of secular and faith-based groups have joined the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.”

Obviously, our common humanity is betrayed by the failure of the “left” and progressive community to aggressively confront Israel and the U.S. corporate government’s complicity in denying Palestinians’ inherent, inalienable right to nationhood. This failure is a festering open wound on the face of the American democratic left, making it appear ghastly to all those who recognize that Zionism, as it is being implemented, is indiscernible from the ideals of white supremacy and/or the inhumanity of capitalist imperialist exploitation.

Remember: We Are Our Own Liberators! Freedom is Constant Struggle!

Timeline

1897                The 1st Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland

1916-23           Sykes-Picot Agreement

1917                The Balfour Declaration

1922                British Mandate for Palestine

1929                Shaw Commission Report, Passfield White Paper, Hope Simpson Enquiry

1939                Britain Palestine Royal Commission (proposed Two State Solution); Peel Report

Additional references

www.britannica.com/topic/Palestine-Liberation-Organization

www.britannica.com/topic/Popular-Front-for-the-Liberation-of-Palestine


[1] www.welcometopalestine.com/history-of-palestine/

[2] Pappé, Illan (2016).  Zionism. In Fritsch, K., O’Connor, C.  and Thompson, A.K. (Eds.), Keywords for Radicals. Chico, CA: AK Press.

[3] Https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irgun#_1948_Palestine_war

*The United States government is in fact a corporation established by law in 28 USCA §3002(15)(a), which states: “(15) ‘United States’ means – (A) a Federal corporation.”