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As much as the Dutch government’s decision to stop funding the “Union of Agricultural Work Committees” in Palestine raises confusion, it raises, once again, many questions about the continuing injustice befalling the Palestinians, and the low international awareness of this cause, in its historical and current circumstances. Add to all of that the confusion between the oppressor and the oppressed, or the victim and the executioner, or even the unjust equalisation between them.
On this basis, it is worth noting the following reasons: First, the decision-makers and the people who control public opinion deliberately forget or cover up the truth about the question of Palestine. The truth here is that Israel, in the native Palestinians’ view, is an occupying, colonial and settler state, meaning that it works to uproot the native inhabitants of the land, while Jewish immigrants from Europe, Russia, the United States, and various countries took their place.
For Israel, those are returning to their homeland, given that Israel considers itself a homeland for all the Jews of the world! On the other hand, it denies the right of return for the Palestinian refugees displaced from their land in 1948, which led to the refugee crisis. Instead, Israel is practising settlement policies in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, occupied in 1967.
Meanwhile, the Israeli settlers are assaulting the Palestinians under the protection of the Israeli security forces, burning olive trees and destroying crops. Moreover, Israel demolishes homes in areas assumed to be affiliated with the Palestinian Authority that emerged after the Oslo Accords (1993), which Israel has begun to deny. It also arrests Palestinian opponents of its policies for long periods without trials in “administrative detention”.
Much more information can be added, but it is preferable for those who want the truth to see documents issued by international and even Israeli organisations, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli organisation B’Tselem.
Second, even concerning the settlement process, the Palestinian leadership made significant concessions in Israel’s favour by agreeing to the Oslo Accords three decades ago, as a solution in which the Palestinian people would be able to determine their destiny in a state to be established in the territories occupied by Israel forcibly in 1967, 55 years ago. However, Israel undermined that process due to its denial of the Palestinians’ right to any part of their lands, its insistence on establishing settlements in the occupied lands, and continuing to control the Palestinians in those lands by all military, administrative and economic means available.
In fact, the Palestinians reject and resist this occupation in all forms and by all means, especially through political, peaceful and diplomatic struggle, and their leadership strives to prove its ability to control. However, despite all of the above, Israel refuses to comply with the decisions approved by the international community because the national and religious right controls its government and its choices. That is the source of turmoil and violence in the relations between Israel and the Palestinian people. Still, the main reason for this is Israel and its policies, and ceasing them would change this situation.
Third, Israel has been trying to influence public opinion favouring its narrative of the conflict with the Palestinians for a long time. It has financial means and control over the influential media in the world. It also has distinguished relations with the most powerful countries globally, from the United States to Europe to Russia, China, and India.
All these factors are working on decorating Israel’s image. In this context, it is possible to discuss two issues in which Israel deceives public opinion. The first is to present itself as the victim of Palestinians, as if the Palestinians are occupying its lands, or they have the weapons it has to assail it. The second is the deliberate confusion between hostility towards Israel and Judaism.
It is evident that the Palestinians, as the decisions of the Liberation Organisation and all the decisions of the Palestinian factions confirm, are not hostile towards Judaism for a simple reason: they consider it one of the three monotheistic religions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism). It also deliberately confuses anti-Semitism and anti-Israel, ignoring the fact that the Palestinians are Semites, too.
Israel is one thing, and Judaism or Semitism is another in both cases. The Palestinians are hostile towards Israel’s colonial, settlement and racist policies, confirmed by international reports on Israel’s policies in the occupied territories (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem) and the United Nations.
That places the Dutch decision in the balance of justice, as it indicates that this decision favours the position of the Israeli government, whose Defence Minister Benny Gantz, has classified six Palestinian civil institutions as terrorist organisations last October and deemed unlawful. That list included the Addameer Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association, Defence for Children International – Palestine, Al-Haq Foundation, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, and Bisan Center for Research and Development, knowing that they are all civil society organisations. They conduct their activities following international standards in all their work affairs and pursue peaceful work in their fight for the rights of their people.
As a reminder, that Israeli decision was not welcomed in Israel itself, nor by the Washington administration, as US State Department spokesman Ned Price announced, at the time, that the United States would request clarifications regarding the Israeli decision, stressing the importance of respecting human rights, basic freedoms, and strong civilian society.
He also expressed the concern of the United States about the intention to expand construction in the settlements. Also, US Congressmen Betty McCollum and Mark Pocan condemned the Israeli decision. “I condemn this action to shut down legitimate civil society organisations advocating for Palestinian human rights”, McCollum said in a statement. “This is nothing more than an attempt to silence supporters of Palestinian rights. It is anti-democratic and contrary to the values expected of a US ally”, she added.
In short, the Netherlands should be concerned with revising its decision, at least as per United Nations resolutions, in a manner that does justice to the victim and strengthens the path supporting the just and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, as this benefits the Netherlands, peace and justice in the world.
I conclude here with an Israeli view on this issue, published in Haaretz, in which Tom Mehager, an Israeli analyst, says: “If Meretz and the Labour parties adhere to the values of the left, it is time to bring that into the government. On the political level, they must be determined to cancel Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s declaration of six Palestinian human rights organisations as ‘terrorists’. Israel has not presented any evidence to justify this poor decision”.
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