Thursday, March 29, 2007

Academic slams Israel for land grab

Web posted at: 3/29/2007 8:20:5
Source ::: The Peninsula

by Mohammed Iqbal

Doha • Dr Ilan Pappe is the only Jewish academic in Israel who is vehemently critical of Zionism and the formation of the Israeli state in the land of Palestine.

A senior lecturer of political science at Haifa University, Pappe says that he is now planning to migrate to the UK with his family, as he has found it increasingly difficult to live in Israel with his “unwelcome” views and convictions.

“I was boycotted in my university and there had been attempts to expel me from my job. I am getting threatening calls from people every day. I am not being viewed as a threat to the Israeli society but my people think that I am either insane or my views are irrelevant. Many Israelis also believe that I am working as a mercenary for the Arabs,” said Pappe in an interview with The Peninsula yesterday.

On his first-ever visit to a Gulf state, Pappe was in Doha yesterday at the invitation of the Qatar Foundation to speak at the Doha Debates. He believes that two independent states cannot co-exist in the land of Palestine and the only lasting solution to the issue is formation of one state, shared by Jews, Arabs and other communities living there. He also feels that there is no immediate solution to the crisis and only international pressure can force Israel to end the occupation and the continuing atrocities against the Palestinians.

"Over the past six years, the Israeli government has become more oppressive, thanks to the strong support from the Bush administration. They now feel that they can do anything they want," said Pappe.

He was born in Israel in 1954 of German parents who fled Nazi oppression during the1930s. They migrated to Palestine directly from Germany, years before the formation of the Israeli state in 1948.

Pappe's transformation from a "typical" Jew to a strong critic of Zionism started in the Eighties while he was studying history in England. "I re-examined the events of 1948, which changed my perceptions and I realised how the Israeli state was formed at the expense of the Palestinians. I don't subscribe to the view that a community which has a claim to a land that goes back thousands of years had the right to occupy it by dispossessing indigenous communities," Pappe said.

He noted that the Jews constituted a mere one per cent of the Palestinian population before the Israeli state was formed. The West, he felt, was supportive of Israel because of its "guilt complex" about the Holocaust and the oppression of the Jews.

"The Nazi movement and the Holocaust were not just German phenomena but a part of European history. The Western countries thought they can bury this chapter forever by creating a Jewish state in Palestine. But later they realised that the Palestinian issue is much more complex that what they had calculated," said Pappe.

There is a glimmer of hope with international public opinion growing against Israel, even among the powerful Jewish community in the West. There is a movement formed by a group of Jews in the US which called `Not in My Name'" As the name itself implies, members of this group do not want atrocities being committed by Israel to be attributed to Jews across the world. They are clearly trying to distance themselves from crimes being committed by Israel in the occupied territories.

The historian felt the George W Bush administration is mainly responsible for the current situation and the US policy towards Israel would change with a change in the government. "The policy of supporting Israel and seeking friendship with the Arabs cannot go hand-in-hand," said Pappe.

A bit surprisingly, he said: "I support Hamas in its resistance against the Israeli occupation though I disagree with their political ideology. I am for separating state from religion," said Pappe.

He feels that Israeli democracy is meant only for Jews and there is no space for other communities. "Any state that perpetrates occupation cannot be called a democratic state," he commented.

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