Politics Writer Anisa Khan reports on a talk by John Rose, a Jewish academic who argues in favour of a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.
John Rose, a Jewish academic, socialist and author of the The Myths of Zionism, recently came to Cardiff University to give a talk entitled ‘Israel/Palestine- How can there be peace?’
The aim of the talk was to promote solidarity, spread awareness and highlight just solutions that can bring about an end to the persecution of Palestinians.
Rose explained that he has been an active supporter of Palestinian rights for over forty years but this was not always the case. He grew up blindly accepting Zionist propaganda like many fellow Jewish students.
Palestine was “rarely mentioned” and there was an emphasis on the Jews who were fleeing persecution. He did not question what was happening in Palestine as the Zionist narrative “seemed plausible”.
The six day war was the wake up call. He said the truth was that many Jews were victims of anti-Jewish hatred. One option was for them to go and live in Palestine. Another was for them to stay and fight in Europe (some did). The Zionists would have everyone believe that the fleeing Jews were given an empty land to migrate to. They do not say that they in fact became colonialists, displacing the indigenous population.
He stressed that the process of migration could not have happened alone, without an outside sponsor. The Zionist leaders looked for all kinds of sponsors but “good old Britain” stepped up to the plate. He suggested that Britain’s responsibility cannot be overlooked “if you are serious about fighting for Palestine”.
Palestinians do not just face Jewish settlers, but the USA and UK sponsors. The USA had began funding Israel like “never before” and Israel’s weapons quadrupled.
Rose argued that no other state in the world gets anything near to the amount of financial support Israel gets from the USA. America may publicly insist that that they support both sides but this is not the reality.
He said it is a “tragedy” that we all thought that Obama was the one person who would be different, a “breath of fresh air”. Obama might have “made the right noises” but he could not even freeze the settlements.
In discussing solutions to end the Israeli occupation, Rose explained three key demands of Palestinians. The first obvious one is ending the occupation.
Secondly, Jerusalem must be shared by all. As it is plays an important role in the three main religions, Rose argued that this should be indisputable but “Israel won’t even discuss this question of sharing”.
Lastly, the displaced Palestinian refugees must be allowed to return to their homes.
According to Rose, there are lots of diplomatic ways of achieving such progress and excuses need to stop because it can be done. Ireland and South Africa have demonstrated that it is possible to shift colonialism, if the will and pressure is there.
Palestine needs allies. Rose said that Palestine is on the minds of most Arabs. The Arab Spring was a big step forward. Egypt’s revolution was assistance to Palestine’s liberation.
When Israel entered Gaza in 2008, Egyptians also poured in to show their intense support for Palestine. Thus Rose argued that the Palestinians require Arab help to obtain emancipation.
Rose advocates BDS, a campaign which encourages Boycotting, Divesting and Sanctioning Israel until it stops breaching international law and starts respecting Palestinian rights.
Although BDS has become a global movement, Rose did say that the economic effect should not be exaggerated as it is minimal. However, he asserted it is important for swaying public opinion and showing solidarity.
Americans wanted a “nice Israel, dream Israel but got nightmare Israel instead”, Rose suggested. He pointed out that even mainstream religious Jews, who support BSD, stress this (Jews for Justice).
When Rose was younger, Israel had “unconditional support”. Now everyone is becoming aware of the unfair situation and diabolical treatment of Palestinians. He proposed that this shows the power of pressure movements like BDS, as the support of Israel is fragmenting.
So what can we students at Cardiff University do? Rose said we need to raise the case of BDS, increase awareness and find out if our university is buying Israeli products.
He believes a tougher goal to tackle is to find out if any of our research professors are engaged in research with Israeli professors. He predicts that they will attest that their research is not political. He counters that it is, as Israeli universities are embedded with the military.
Adam Johannes, from Cardiff Stop The War Coalition, said “this conflict is not rooted in religion, but politics. It’s not true that Jews and Arabs cannot live in peace because of some innate religious conflict. For centuries, Jewish culture flourished in the Arab world while Jews were persecuted in Christian Europe”.
“The core problem is that Israel was set up on a land already occupied by another society, founded on that society’s destruction, and the expulsion of its indigenous Palestinian people, who today live under military occupation, or as third-class citizens within Israel, or as refugees still denied their right to return home. The solution now is ending racism and giving Palestinians equal rights to Israeli Jews”.
He further elaborated “at the recent Student Union AGM it was argued that the union maintain neutrality, but what can neutrality mean when a university invests companies profiting from the military occupation of Palestine?”
Adam revealed that on March 11th, “Cardiff University will see its first Palestinian Freedom Week, supported by five student societies standing up for equality, peace and justice”.