Update Appears at End of Alert
In its extensive coverage of Israel’s targeted killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder and supreme leader of Hamas, the San Francisco Chronicle included only one op-ed, “Assassination is incompatible with peace” (March 23), by Arab propagandist Mazin Qumsiyeh. The same day, the paper ran its own similarly themed editorial entitled “Killing in name of peace,” yet no opinion piece appeared carrying exclusively Israeli views of the incident.
Mazin Qumsiyeh is co-founder and national treasurer of the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition or Al-Awda, a group whose founding document speaks of “Zionist apartheid, racism, and settler-colonialism in Palestine” as well as “the US-Zionist war machine.” The group’s factsheet states: “The Zionist program … continues to involve ethnically cleansing native Palestinians.” Qumsiyeh regularly airs such egregious views in his own columns.
“Assassination is incompatible with peace,” the op-ed’s headline declares.
According to Qumsiyeh, those who kill terrorists are “incompatible with peace.” On the other hand, he is silent regarding the effect on peace of the terrorists who kill innocents. (For more talking points on the media’s coverage of the Yassin killing and the terrorist’s own background, see CAMERA’s recent alert, “Coverage of Yassin Killing Often Skewed.”
Revising the Historical Record:
Jews are violent “colonizers,” not an indigenous people.
One of Qumsiyeh’s most prominent themes, parroted on the Al-Awda Web site, is that Palestinian Arabs constitute the only indigenous people of what is now called Israel, and that Jews have no real claims to the land. According to Qumsiyeh:
Political Zionism started in 1845 with a British feasibility study for Jewish colonization in the Mideast … Early advocates of Zionism didnot shy away from using the term colonization to describe their activities or to describe the use of violence to achieve their goals.
Qumsiyeh implies that Zionism involves an alien Jewish “colonization” movement. While the term “colonization” was indeed used during this time period, its meaning was one of restoration, redemption, and reclamation, terms connoting a return, not a conquest. For example, the aim of the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA, est. 1891) was one of Jewish agricultural resettlement and land-redemption.
In fact, as early as the 1600’s, the idea of “Jewish restoration,” and not “colonization,” had a foothold in British culture. In 1621, British MP Sir Henry Finch wrote “The World’s Great Restoration,” a book in which he encouraged Jews to once again stake their claim in their ancestral homeland. In 1799, Napoleon wrote his own endorsement of Jewish restoration, as he encamped near Acre. In 1839, the Church of Scotland issued a follow-up report on the subject entitled “Memorandum to Protestant Monarchs of Europe for the restoration of the Jews to Palestine.”
The bulk of historical data for this time period indicates that a Jewish return to Palestine was conceived as a rightful and peaceful “restoration,” and not a violent “colonization.”
Myth of Arab-Jewish Harmony; Whitewashing Arab Riots of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s
“Before 1917, Palestinian Christians, Muslims and Jews coexisted in relative harmony. Violence between 1917 and 1949 resulted in the establishment of a Jewish state. Israel rejected international law by adopting exclusionary laws that prevent refugees from returning,” the op-ed states.
First, the idea that Arabs and Jews had co-existed peacefully for millennia is a clear misrepresentation. While it is true that Jews were not routinely slaughtered by Muslims, they endured daily humiliations and oppression as part of their inferior “dhimmi” status. Diarists such as Mrs. Goodrich-Freer — writing in 1904 before the advent of the British or any great power adopting “Zionism” — refers to the singular “humiliations” inflicted on the Jews by the Arabs. Though Jews were a large majority in Jerusalem, for example, Jewish children could not walk unprotected to school, Jews were assailed with insults on the streets, and Jews were compelled to pay large sums of money both to pray safely at the Western Wall and to fend off the plundering of their cemeteries and holy sites by Arabs.
Second, Qumsiyeh’s vague reference to “violence between 1917 and 1949” is a whitewash. The violence was almost entirely Arab against Jew. Arab violence began in 1921 and spiked during the widespread Arab attacks against Jews in August 23-26, 1929, when Jewish settlements were looted and destroyed (Be’er-Toviya, Ekron), and in Hebron, 59 Jewish men, women and children were killed, many dismembered, tortured or maimed. Arab terror against Jews became an onslaught in 1936 and continued throughout the late Mandate period.
Third, Qumsiyeh’s claim that “Israel rejected international law by adopting exclusionary laws that prevent refugees from returning [in 1948],” turns history on its head. As early as the Lausanne negotiations of 1949, Israel showed a willingness to absorb and resettle Arab refugees. Author Nadav Safran writes in his book, Israel The Embattled Ally:
Israel, for its part [at the 1949 negotiations], announced its willingness to take back 100,000 refugees as a goodwill gesture prior to any negotiation of the whole refugee question.
The Arab states, however, rejected Israel’s offer as they rejected any face-to-face negotiations with the Jewish state at that time. And as recently as the 2000 Camp David negotiations, Israel offered to resettle a limited number of refugees and to financially compensate the rest, in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
Qumsiyeh’s Conclusion: Israel is a Racist State and Should Cease to Exist
“Just as South Africa shed apartheid, Israel must shed Zionism and become a country for people of all religions rather than a country for and by Jews. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (including the right of refugees to return) provides the most logical road map to peace,” concludes Qumsiyeh.
Qumsiyeh wrongly equates democratic Israel with Apartheid South Africa, and misleads readers to believe Israel does not allow other races and religions within its borders. More than a million Arabs live as full citizens within Israel. They vote and serve in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament). In contrast, Jews are typically forbidden to set foot in much of the Muslim and Arab world, let alone own land or participate in the government. The Palestinians have already said that they do not want any Jews in their future country and that selling land to Jews is punishable by death.
The full implementation of the “right of refugees to return,” as the writer demands, is nothing more than a thinly veiled call for the dissolution of Israel. In other articles by Qumsiyeh (see “News Media Ignore Israeli Terrorism,” Hartford Courant, Feb. 2), he numbers Palestinian refugees at 5 million — a figure which includes the refugees’ 4.3 million descendants who never even lived in Mandate Palestine, and according to a U.N. report, includes nearly a million and a half Jordanian citizens as well. Obviously, an influx of 5 million hostile Arabs into Israel would effectively dissolve the Jewish state, which has only 5 million Jews (who have a lower birthrate than Arabs).
Misrepresenting the Security Fence, Misrepresenting the Conflict
“The wall being built in the occupied territories with the explanation that it keeps Palestinian suicide bombers from attacking Israelis is not separating Israel from the occupied areas but is surrounding Palestinians in small cantons to force them to leave,” we read.
But the security barrier is being built to thwart the suicide bombers, and it is working.
Mazin Qumsiyeh is a Palestinian rejectionist who has ignored Israel’s repeated and sincere efforts to come to a negotiated and fair resolution of the conflict. He fails to hold the Palestinians accountable for their unacceptable terrorism, their rejection of peaceful solutions and their inability to moderate maximalist demands. One would think that Qumsiyeh’s vitriol and irrational insistence on flooding Israel with 5 million hostile Arabs would alert editors to Qumsiyeh’s extremist agenda. Publishing opinion pieces full of historical inaccuracies, inflammatory rhetoric and extremist demands does nothing to inform the public and serves to hinder sincere efforts toward peace.
Assassination is incompatible with peace
by Mazin Qumsiyeh
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
©2004 San Francisco Chronicle
As the 14th best-funded army in the world, Israel could have arrested the quadriplegic and partially blind spiritual elder of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). But history shows that such extrajudicial executions (200 so far) create instability and a cycle of revenge that serves Israel’s colonization efforts.
Israel’s assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin removes any doubt that political Zionism is incompatible with peace.
Political Zionism started in 1845 with a British feasibility study for Jewish colonization in the Mideast to further British interests in weakening the Ottoman Empire and to establish connections to colonial holdings in India. The adoption of this political (as opposed to religious or cultural) Zionism by a small but very influential segment of Ashkenazi Jews in Europe was deemed crucial for success. Zionism remained marginal among Jews until it capitalized on the atrocities of World War II.
Early advocates of Zionism did not shy away from using the term colonization to describe their activities or to describe the use of violence to achieve their goals.
Before 1917, Palestinian Christians, Muslims and Jews coexisted in relative harmony. Violence between 1917 and 1949 resulted in the establishment of a Jewish state. Israel rejected international law by adopting exclusionary laws that prevent refugees from returning.
The wall being built in the occupied territories with the explanation that it keeps Palestinian suicide bombers from attacking Israelis is not separating Israel from the occupied areas but is surrounding Palestinians in small cantons to force them to leave.
Just as South Africa shed apartheid, Israel must shed Zionism and become a country for people of all religions rather than a country for and by Jews. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (including the right of refugees to return) provides the most logical road map to peace. The American public can no longer afford to allow our government to keep supporting violence and war against the will of the international community. Only then will we begin to rectify injustices and bring peace at home and abroad.
Mazin Qumsiyeh is co-founder of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (al-awda.org).
©2004 San Francisco Chronicle
Update: Chronicle Provides Balance
On March 26, 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle published two op-eds generally supportive of Israel’s targeted killing of Hamas leader Sheik Yassin. We commend the Chronicle for finally providing balance to their March 23rd op-ed and editorial which both opposed Israel’s actions.
Targeted killing is a necessary option
by Abraham D. Sofaer
Ending Hamas’ campaign of terror
by Natalie Berg