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Balfour Declaration: Christian Zionism of 19th Century

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November this year marks the completion of 100 years of the most audacious act of British Imperialism in flagrant violation of international norms and devoid of any human decency. It is the anniversary of the letter dated 2nd November 1917 written by the then British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild delivered by hand to his London home at 148 Piccadilly later came to be known as the Balfour Declaration.

This 67-word document bears not only the stamp of Machiavellian British cunning “robbing Peter to pay Paul” but also their nineteen-century hubristic mindset of being in control of the destiny of entire humankind. Most bizarre fact surrounding this declaration is; at the time of writing this letter Palestine was part of Ottoman empire Britain had no legal authority to make this promise, and Walter Rothschild was just a wealthy Jewish British citizen who had no formal locus standi in the matters of state and international relations. Besides the concept of a “national home” does not exist in the annals of international law. The only common bond and crucial one was that both Balfour & Rothschild presented two faces of Zionism; Christian and Jewish Zionism.

This becomes abundantly clear if we read the following extract of the Balfour’s 1919 letter to his successor George Nathaniel Curzon (by then Britain had mandate over Palestine)

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“In Palestine, we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country……… The great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs in future hopes of profounder import than the desire and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who inhabit that ancient land.”

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The Christian Zionism dates back to Luther’s reformation that the second advent of Messiah depended on the conversion of all Jews to Christianity which meant the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in accordance with Biblical prophecy. Thus, restoring Jews to the Holy Land acquired tacit acceptance as a tenet of Protestant evangelism in early nineteenth century Britain where the Bible was the most extensively read book of the time. Thus appropriation of biblical past became the joint strategy of both Zionist camps Christian and Jews.

Dr Lorenzo Kamel Research fellow from History Department of Bologna University and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies calls this phenomenon as Biblical Orientalism.
In his book “Imperial Perceptions of Palestine”, he writes,

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“nearly 1000 books have been written on the subject of Holy Land between the period of 1830 and beginning of 20th Century. But in most cases, the local Arab and non-Arab population has been mentioned in passing as a mere appendix. Through these kinds of attitudes, the idea of a ‘meta-Palestine’, an imaginary place devoid of any history except that of Biblical magnificence, was introduced”

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Dr Lorenzo Kamel further notices in his book that institution that played an essential role in planting and propagating ideas of Christian Zionism was “Palestine Exploration Fund” (PEF). It was established in London in 1865 following a visit to Palestine by the Prince of Wales.

The major purpose as laid out in the statute was not to pursue theology but to conduct inductive enquiry applying rules of science. Despite what was in the statute, the during the opening of PEF by the Archbishop of York, he  boldly announced;

 “This country of Palestine belongs to you and me. It is essentially ours. It was given to the Father of Israel……………. It is a land to which we may look with a true Patriotism as we do to this dear old England.”

What PEF set into motion was a research-based heady mixture of Imperialism and evangelical Christian fundamentalism. Their archaeological missions were the early precursor of the 20th century Biblical Archeology which in the United States, got generous funding to conduct archaeological excavations in Palestine to historicize biblical myths.

In a book of one of the PEF funded archaeological expeditions “Surveys of West Palestine” the author Charles Tyrwhitt-Drake has made utterly despicable comments on the local inhabitants the fellahin (farmers) he saw; “the fellahin are all in all the worst type of humanity that I have come across in East. Fellah is totally destitute of all moral sense”. Such abhorrent comments only show the depth to which the nineteen-century tone deaf imperial mind can sink while thinking of those beyond white world!

Through their consistent groundwork, the PEF and their Zionist cohorts could build imaginary Palestine based on the Bible. These efforts paid rich dividends by way of mind shaping of average British protestant. An entrepreneur was not far off to see profiteering opportunity. Thomas Cook, the inventor of modern travel agencies, inaugurated religious tourism with the first batch of just 50 passengers to the Jerusalem, the number which later jumped to 20,000 in three decades. This first-hand contact with holy land went a long way in making popular perception better disposed to Zionism. In Cook’s own words; the educational and social results of these eastern travel have been most encouraging. A new incentive to scriptural investigation has been created and fostered…..(due to the) general influence of sacred scenes and repeated visits to sites of biblical events, the inquiring and believing spirits have held sweet counsel with each other”

The Zionist project for the creation of the state of Israel is a multinational project of colossal magnitude, enormous complexity, unimaginable deceit, inhuman cruelty at the same time it is a masterpiece of international non-state diplomacy and well-coordinated lobbying venture.

The only way to understand at least partly the truth is to follow Mark Twain and what he said regarding his stay in the Holy Land in his book “The Innocents Abroad”,

If I wish to profit by this tour (to Palestine), and come to a correct understanding of the matters of interest connected to it, I must studiously and faithfully unlearn a great many things I have somehow absorbed concerning Palestine.”

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Middle East

Justice delayed is justice denied. I lost my family to Iran Regime’s barbarity

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Mohammad Shafaei’s family- The toddler in his mother’s arm is Mohammad Shafaei

On May 4, over 1,100 families of the victims of the 1988 massacre in Iran wrote a letter to the international community. We called on the United Nations and European and American governments to take immediate action in preventing the regime from further destruction of their loved ones’ graves.

I was one of the signatories. I have lost six of my relatives to the regime’s cruelty. I was seven years old when my parents were arrested for their democratic ideals and activism.

My father, Dr. Morteza Shafaei, was a well-respected and popular physician in Isfahan. He was admired by people because he was extremely compassionate and giving to others. He was brutally executed by the regime in 1981 simply because he sought a democratic future for his family and his compatriots. The mullahs also killed my mother, two brothers, Majid (only 16) and Javad, and one of my sisters, Maryam, along with her husband.

By the age of 8, I had lost my entire family, save for one sister, as a result of the regime’s executions and crimes against humanity.

Mohammad Shafaei

The 1988 massacre stands as one of the most horrendous crimes against humanity after World War II. In the summer of that year, based on a religious decree issued by Khomeini, then-Supreme Leader of the theocratic regime in Iran, tens of thousands of political prisoners were liquidated. Most of the victims belonged to the principal democratic opposition movement Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

It is believed that the regime massacred at least 30,000 political dissidents that year in the span of a few months. This much was confirmed by the designated heir to the regime’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri both in his published memoires and leaked audiotape in 2016, in which he condemned the ongoing crime against humanity in August 1988 during a meeting with high-ranking regime officials.

Those officials continue to serve the regime today in high-ranking positions. Ebrahim Raisi, for example, who was a member of the “death committees” in charge of rounding up and killing the political prisoners, is currently occupying the highly sensitive post of the Judiciary Chief. He is expected to announce his candidacy to run for President during the June election. After the June 2009 uprising, he said, “Moharebeh (waging war on God) is sometimes an organization, like the hypocrites (MEK). Anyone who helps the MEK in any way and under any circumstances, because it is an organized movement, the title of Moharebeh applies.” According the Islamic Punishment Act, the punishment for Moharebeh is death.

For years, the clerical regime has been systematically and gradually destroying the graves of the victims of the 1988 massacre in Tehran and other cities. As the world learns more about the killings and the international outrage grows, Tehran’s mullahs are scrambling to clear all traces of their crimes against humanity.

Most of us have forgotten where exactly our loved ones are buried, many of them in mass graves. The campaign for justice for victims of 1988 has gained greater prominence and broader scope. International human rights organizations and experts have described the massacre as a crime against humanity and called for holding the perpetrators of this heinous crime to account.

Paranoid of the repercussions of international scrutiny into this horrific atrocity, the Iranian regime has embarked on erasing the traces of the evidence on the massacre by destroying the mass graves where they are buried. The regime has tried to destroy the mass graves of massacred political prisoners in Tehran’s Khavaran Cemetery in the latest attempt. Previously, it destroyed or damaged the mass graves of the 1988 victims in Ahvaz, Tabriz, Mashhad, and elsewhere.

These actions constitute the collective torture of thousands of survivors and families of martyrs. It is another manifest case of crime against humanity.  

The UN and international human rights organizations must prevent the regime from destroying the mass graves, eliminating the evidence of their crime, and inflicting psychological torture upon thousands of families of the victims throughout Iran. 

Moreover, the Iranian public and all human rights defenders expect the United Nations, particularly the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet, to launch an international commission of inquiry to investigate the massacre of political prisoners and summon the perpetrators of this heinous crime before the International Court of Justice.

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Can Biden Bring Peace to the Middle East?

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Joe Biden
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

As the fierce fighting between Israel and the Palestinians rages on, the Biden administration’s Middle East policy has been criticized for its relatively aloof, “stand back” approach that has resulted in the absence of any pressure on Israel to re-think its harsh mistreatment of the Palestinians, vividly demonstrated in the recent police attack at al-Aqsa mosque and the attempted eviction of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, viewed by the Palestinians as part of Israel’s “ethnic cleansing.”

Consequently, a UN Security Council draft resolution on the crisis has been reportedly held up by US, which has prioritized the familiar narrative of “Israel’s right to self-defense” ad nauseam, without the benefit any nuances that would reveal any fresh thinking on the problem on the part of the Biden administration.  As in the past, the new crisis in Israel-Palestinian relations has sharpened the loyalties and alliances, in effect binding the US government closer to its Middle East ally under the rainstorm of Palestinian rocket attacks, highlighting Israel’s security vulnerabilities in today’s missile age.  Determined to crush the Palestinian resistance, the mighty Israeli army has been pulverizing Gaza while, simultaneously, declaring state of emergency in the Arab sections of Israel, as if there is a military solution to an inherently political problem.  What Israel may gain from its current military campaign is, by all indications, bound to be elusive of a perpetual peace and will likely sow the seed of the next chapter in the ‘intractable’ conflict in the future.  

Both sides are in violation of the international humanitarian laws that forbid the indiscriminate targeting of civilian population and, no matter how justified the Palestinian grievances, they too need to abide by international law and consider the alternative Gandhian path of non-violent resistance, notwithstanding the colossal power of Israeli army.

As the editors of Israel’s liberal paper, Haaretz, have rightly pointed out, the problem is the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is highly unpopular, unable to form a government, afflicted with a corruption case, and who has been appeasing the extremist elements in Israeli politics who have no qualm about the illegal expropriation of Palestinian lands.  Israeli politics for its own sake needs to move to the center, otherwise the Israeli society as a whole will suffer, as more and more educated Israelis will leave the country, Israel’s recent gains through the Abrahams accord with the conservative Arab states will be essentially wiped out, as these states will need to cater to the rising tide of anti-Israel sentiments at home or face serious legitimation problems, and Israel’s regional rivals led by Iran will continue to harvest from the present crisis.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any political will in Washington to spur a political shift in Israel that would secure better results in terms of the elusive Middle East peace and both President Biden and the Democratic Party establishment are concerned that their Republican opponents will seize on any tangible US pressure applied on Israel.  In other words, domestic US priorities will continue for the foreseeable future to hamper a much-needed corrective Washington influence on an ally that receives 4 billion dollar military aid annually and, yet, is unwilling to allow the White House to have any input on its handling of the Palestinians at home and the West Bank and Gaza.  

But, assuming for a moment that the Biden administration would somehow muster the will to stand up to Netanyahu and pressure him to cease its massive attacks on Gaza, then such a bold move would need to be coordinated with a deep Arab outreach that would, simultaneously, persuade the Palestinian groups led by Hamas and Islamic Jihad to go along with a US-initiated cease-fire, followed by related efforts at UN and regional level to bring about the groundwork for a more enduring peace, such as by holding a new international peace conference, similar to the Oslo process.  

At the moment, of course, this is wishful thinking and the protagonists of both sides in this terrible conflict are more focused on scoring against each other than to partake in a meaningful peace process.  In other words, an important prerequisite for peace, that is the inclination for peaceful resolution of the conflict instead of resorting to arms, is clearly missing and can and should be brought about by, first and foremost, a capable US leadership, sadly hitherto missing.

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Middle East

Israel-Palestine Conflict Enters into Dangerous Zone

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Palestinians react as Israeli police fire a stun grenade during clashes at Damascus Gate on Laylat al-Qadr during the holy month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem's Old City, May 9, 2021. /Reuters

Since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in mid-April 2021, tension has escalated, with frequent clashes between police and Palestinians. The threatened eviction of some Palestinian families in East Jerusalem has also caused rising anger. But when Israeli security forces entered and attacked the unarmed Muslim worshipers, damaged the property, and humiliated the families, the situation turned into conflict.

Since the irrational and illogical creation of the Jewish State in the middle of the Muslim World, the tension started and emerged into few full-fledged armed conflicts and wars like; 1948–49, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, and 2006 wars/ conflicts. Tensions are often high between Israel and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank. Gaza is ruled by a Palestinian group called Hamas, which has fought Israel many times. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank complain that they’re suffering because of Zionists’ expansionist actions. Israel’s severe violations of human rights and extreme atrocities against Palestinians left Palestinians with no option other than protest and agitate. But Israel suppresses them and uses all dirty tricks to keep them silent.

It is worth mentioning that the United Nations Security Council has passed several resolutions to settle the Israel-Palestine issue peacefully. But Israel has not implemented either of them and kept using force to push them out and settle Jews in their land.

The State of Israel has been enjoying undue supported by the US, irrespective of who is president, but all of them support Israel unconditionally. Israel is the most favored nation of the US and the largest beneficiary of American aid, assistance, and support.

Ex-President Donald Trump helped Israel establish diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. Donald Trump favored Netanyahu, dramatically moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His daughter and son-in-law were the facilitators for his support to Israel.

Till last news, at least 56 Palestinians have died under an array of aerial bombardments of the Gaza Strip. Five Israelis were killed too. Rockets, bullets, and rocks are flying around Israel and the Palestinian territories with catastrophic intensity in the latest wave of violence that periodically marks the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli security forces amid clashes at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound on May 10, 2021, ahead of a planned march to commemorate Israel’s takeover of Jerusalem in 1967 Six-Day War.  Security forces have set on fire the centuries-old holy Mosque. Serious communal violence has broken out within Israel between Arab citizens and Jews. Fires were lit, a synagogue burned, a Muslim cemetery trashed, police cars set aflame, and an Arab-Israeli man killed. The mayor of Lod termed it a “civil war.”

The ferocity of the fast-escalating conflict might be extremely dangerous as Israel uses hi-tech, advanced, lethal weapons. A week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed close to losing power after the climax of four inconclusive elections. The outbreak of hostilities has allowed him the opportunity to make his latest appearance as a tough guy and ended coalition talks by rival politicians. He might politicize the conflict in his favor.

There is a severe danger of spreading this conflict to a large-scale war, which might engulf the regional countries. There already exists tension among Israel and few regional powers. The recent Israeli attacks on Russian bases in Syrian may also widen the conflict.

Any war in the middle-East will have dire consequences globally. It is appealed to the UN and all peace-loving nations and individuals to speed up all-out efforts to stop the conflict at this initial stage and avert further bloodshed. It is demanded that the Israel-Palestine issue must be settled according to the resolutions passed by UNSC. Wish immediate peace, sustainable peace, and permanent peace in the Middle East and globally.

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