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Macdonald Stainsby

Digging up a Mistake:
Israeli Archaeology Buries Zionism’s Last Stand

It’s an old expression: Digging up the dirt on someone, something, some entity. It has so many meanings, too—the literal, the metaphorical and the occupational. Wait a minute, Occupational? Yes, in fact I mean in specific the profession archaeology. Oh, don’t worry, I intend to squeeze all I can out of this allegory. There are a lot of truths about Israel that have been deliberately buried over the years. A few examples should suffice:

1) Israel has no constitution. Israel uniquely does not write up a constitution for a simple reason: If it did so, it would have to legislate itself out of existence as a Jewish state. Constitutions that are worth anything promise equality of all citizens before the law. In Israel, citizenship means nothing, but ethnicity means a lot. In other words, the concept of ‘Israeli Arabs’ (Palestinians with Israeli citizenship) makes for second class citizens, a hallmark of Apartheid regimes like the South African, or the segregation of only a few decades ago in the American South. 92% of all of the land of the UN demarcated Israel, which doesn’t include the West Bank and Gaza Strip (the UN-defined Palestine) can only be owned legally by Jewish people. People who can prove that they were born in historic Palestine are barred from returning to their homes, yet people who have never been near the Middle East in their lives are automatically granted citizenship if they can prove they have been Jewish for four generations. Only people of one religion are allowed to serve in the Israeli army. If an Israeli, even an Israeli Jew, marries a non-Israeli, the marriage will not be recognized by Israeli courts and they cannot become citizens. Only Jews, whether from New York, Russia, Brazil or even Tuktoyuktuk in the North American Arctic, are entitled to citizenship rights. Considering that the Bill of Rights in the US, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada and all the other equivalent constitutions are clear about forbidding the elevation of one religion, race or gender (and soon, sexual orientation) at the expense of another, Israel just decided to skip writing a constitution.

2) Israel has no defined borders. Even though there are many resolutions passed in the UN that limit Israel to the borders of what is called “The Green Line”, Israel will not even talk about this. Zionism recruits more and more Jews to immigrate to Israel, and to ultimately ‘recapture’ what they believe was the ancient land of the Israelites. They have done so thus far by taking land, and de facto establishing sovereignty over the Palestinian people who have not been driven out by Israeli assaults. The Zionist vision includes all of Israel, parts of Syria, all of the Lebanon, all of currently Occupied Palestine and chunks of Jordan, Egypt and possibly extending as far east as western Iraq. This is the vision of some Zionists who believe “God gave them that land”. It’s remarkable, really. South Africa under Apartheid believed in mythmaking to justify their policies as well. They also said that God had given the land to the Afrikaners (the white minority who used to rule the country). We didn’t accept such an argument then, but the stories behind Israel are really just more of the same.

If you are familiar with the Christian Bible’s Old Testament or the Jewish Torah, you know the stories. When Israel was founded and the majority of the Palestinian population expelled at the point of a gun, many archaeologists were ecstatic. Now archaeology could investigate the land of Genesis, Abraham, Joshua and the Israelites. Yet, for David and Solomon’s ‘vast empire’, very little has surfaced. And it isn’t simply that nothing was there, but rather what little there is shows how little there was. There never was a ‘vast Israelite empire’, but a small fiefdom with little clout in anything other than fables. There is no historical ‘Israel’ in the land of Israel, but instead the signs point to a mosaic of peoples sharing the land, with some Jewish Palestinians never leaving and never being in the slightest antagonistic towards their non-Jewish neighbours. This image—history—runs counter to the notions from the Old Testament of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan (Palestine). Modern Israelis have undone Zionism, as Israeli archaeologists have dug up no evidence of a previous Israeli conquest followed by an expulsion. Even Abraham, the very beginning point of all that is the Zionist story, cannot be substantiated as a real person.
So what, you ask? The reason this matters is that until the Zionist takeover of Palestine the Old Testament was taken as the literal history of the region by nearly everyone. And now? It’s one more falsehood, proven false by Israelis themselves.

The Diaspora of Judaism has lived through some of the most vicious persecution in the history of humanity. The holocaust wasn’t even close to the first organized attack on Judaism or Jewish people: There were massive pogroms set up across the Tsar’s Russia, where one of the most vicious books ever was forged: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion . The so-called ‘Dreyfus Affair’ in France at the end of the 19th Century was so murderously and hatefully anti-Jewish that it helped spurn the beginning of the Zionist movement. Several articles could be written about the persecution that Jewish people have faced historically (mostly in ‘civilized’ Europe). All the more reason for the words of Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu to be heeded:
“My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? ”

Zionist Archaeology dug up a land that was supposed to contain Jewish birthrights, but instead unearthed a land where many peoples lived side by side, sharing a land that was and is among the most holy for three major religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. There have always been ‘none of the above’ as well. Zionists invaded Palestine with the slogan “A land without a people for a people without a land”. But this notion must be buried along with the other fables. An Apartheid state—just as in South Africa, where Tutu won his Nobel Prize—must now be replaced with a state where equal rights for all peoples of any races, religions or ethnic groups can exist. The slogan in South Africa was “one person, one vote”. Nothing less will do in Palestine today, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

Macdonald Stainsby is a freelance writer and social justice activist from
Vancouver, Canada and can be reached at mstainsby@tao.ca



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