Welcome to San Juan County, where human rights are respected | Guest Column

By Michael Johnson

Orcas Island

I applaud our county’s recent proclamation supporting an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The recent ruling by the International Court of Justice affirming S. Africa’s charge that Israel’s conducting genocide on the Palestinian people is a milestone for human rights, as was also our council’s actions affirming SJC’s standing Resolution of Human Rights, while also honoring nearly 1,500 of their constituents who had submitted a petition, wrote letters and made phone calls.

To those conflating criticism of the long-standing discriminatory policies of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people, and accusing those who stand up on their behalf as being “antisemitic,” and “Jew-hating,” claiming further that the county owes them an apology, I say, “standing up for human rights is not antisemitic.” There is absolutely nothing antisemitic about resisting policies that are committing atrocities against civilians. Israel is guilty of the international crime of genocide. Genocide is terrorism.

There is, however, something terribly wrong with the hypocritical Islamophobic vitriol coming from a vocal minority in support of Israel’s ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people. Those who weaponize accusations of antisemitism under the guise of religion or self-defense for political ends are not only being hypocritical, but by doing so they are seriously undermining our ability to identify and deal with antisemitism that does exist, and is a real threat in society today.

“Any criticism on the policy of Israel is hampered and made impossible, by the terrible trick and crime of Israeli propaganda that any criticism on the politics of Israel comes out is induced by antisemitic feelings.” Hajo Meyer, Auschwitz survivor.

This is not a war on Hamas… it never has been. Hamas didn’t show up on the scene until 1987 in response to the failure of the Palestinian Authority to protect the people of Gaza against Israel’s long-term apartheid, land seizures, resource theft, occupation and repression. Condemning an oppressed people for resisting is the height of hypocrisy. Under international law the Palestinians have every right to self-determination, and every right to resist Israel’s illegal, brutal military occupation.

“If you will not respect existence, you can expect resistance.” Israeli historian, educator, and former sergeant in the Israeli army Eran Efrati.

Many Jewish people claim that Palestine is their rightful inheritance because, “We’re God’s chosen people and God gave us this land,” while others claim that Palestine has always been their land, forgetting that it was the British that handed a portion of the Palestinian Territories over to Israel, and that Arabs and other peoples have been part of the landscape for millennia.

Some have this romantic version of the origin of the state of Israel as being “A land without people looking for a people without land,” and one that was founded upon the principle of being a Jewish state. The reality is that the current state of Israel was born out of a violent Zionist movement in 1948, and what Israel calls their “Independence” is what Palestinians call the “Nakba” (the Disaster), honoring the thousands of Palestinian residents that were murdered and hundreds of thousands that were violently driven from their homeland by the Zionists. The Nakba, for Palestinians, is their version of the Holocaust. Nearly every city and settlement in Israel today is built on top of the ruins of a former Palestinian village.

Worth noting, is that in the U.S. statement of recognition of the State of Israel, signed by Harry Truman on May 14, 1948, he purposely changed the term “Jewish State” to “State of Israel.”