Sat 22-June-2024

Israeli threats should be treated with the contempt they deserve

Saturday 25-May-2024

It was no surprise to see that Israel has reportedly threatened Ireland, Spain and Norway with “consequences” for planning to recognize the State of Palestine. Such a threat is straight from the classic Zionist playbook, as anyone who has been attacked physically or verbally for telling the truth about the colonial state’s occupation of Palestine can attest.

Indeed, you don’t even have to go that far to be the target of the pro-Israel lobby and its allies. Simply trying to provide humanitarian aid can be enough, as I can attest from personal experience. As a trustee and the chair of the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, known as Interpal, from 1996 to 2020, I faced media allegations and personal insults from Zionist groups in the UK and abroad.

The charity itself was denounced by major media outlets as a supporter of Palestinian “terrorism” within the first two years of it being set up in 1994. Funds from Interpal, it was alleged, were used to “train suicide bombers”. It was a nonsensical allegation made, as all such claims were made, to divert our time and resources away from providing much-needed humanitarian aid to Palestinians in need in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as in Jordan and Lebanon.

On one occasion, a major newspaper accused us of diverting “millions of dollars” to Hamas rather than development projects in occupied Palestine. Another newspaper alleged we had stolen $100m from Hamas. The charity’s average annual income at the time was less than £5 million. As I said, nonsensical.

Moreover, I smile inwardly when I hear allegations of anti-Semitism thrown at any and all individuals and organizations opposing Israel’s nefarious occupation. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has said that Spain’s call to recognize Palestine, and liberate the land “from the river to the sea”, is “anti-Semitic”. The term has been weaponized to try to shut down any opposition to Israeli violations of international law.

Anti-Semitism is a crime, and rightly so.

However, when I was accused of being a “homophobic, anti-Semitic, terror activist” by members of the pro-Israel lobby, the words of a senior Metropolitan Police office were reassuring: “The absence of any police involvement is hugely significant.”

He had said this about the US designation of Interpal as a “global terrorist entity” in 2003, but it was equally applicable to allegations of illegal activity against me as an individual. The designation was imposed by the US with no due process, no investigation of the charity and no interaction with the trustees and staff. Israel provided a list of individuals and organizations to be “designated” to the White House, and George W Bush signed the order. We found out about this from the BBC website. That’s how it worked, and probably still works 20+ years later.

It’s all a ruse to shut down the conversation about the pernicious role of Zionism and the Zionist state in the world today, and the brutality of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. In the words of an anonymous US Treasury Official speaking to Interpal’s New York lawyer “off the record” years later, the designation of the charity was “political”, and had nothing to do with real or imagined violations of the law.

In other words, as is becoming more obvious to us all by the day, politicians in the West will do anything, no matter what the effect on the democracy that they claim to cherish and uphold, to protect the Zionist state of Israel. Many of these politicians have had their “loyalty” to the alien state bought by massive donations to their campaign funds; their own commitment to the democratic process, therefore, must be questioned.

It will be interesting to see if the “consequences” threatened by Israel force Ireland, Spain and Norway to change their minds about recognizing the State of Palestine. I suspect not, because such a decision is generally made on genuine principles, not the power and wealth of lobby groups.

My hope is that the governments in Dublin, Madrid and Oslo will stick by their principles. This will not only encourage other states to recognize Palestine, but also give hope to the people taking to the streets in protest at Israel’s genocide that their voices are being heard as they call for a ceasefire, and that they too can treat Israeli threats with the contempt they deserve.

-Ibrahim Hewitt is MEMO’s senior editor.

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