“Justice and security are two sides of the same coin. Israel’s security can never be an excuse for denying justice to the Palestinian people”. BDS MOVEMENT
Author’s note: Two years after my once-in-a-life time and a verboten Journey to the North Korea, I again embarked on the NGO tour to the world’s most contentious and quarrelsome region, the Palestinian Land, a.k.a. the State of Israel.
Since my involuntary departure from South Korea in the 70s, I traveled dozens of countries where most of people would not choose to go…solicited by my hero, Professor Noam Chomsky, whom I was tutored at the Z Media Institute in Cape Cod Mass. in the summer of 1996.
Through my travels, I have reported the real façade of how people live, argue, fight, and die in real terms that the establishment media and elite literati refuse to convey the real stories to the world.
Generally speaking, people around the world believe that the peace process in the Middle East between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been successfully ‘processing’ and would eventually bring peace to fruition in the form of either one-state or two-states for both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.
I was a “two-stater” before my trip and now I became neither a “one-stater” nor a “two-stater”, but a “no-stater”…that is, two-decades of “peace process” was never to attain a lasting peace in the region, but a spin to guarantee the Israeli military control of Arab population and Jewish settlement expansion.
In other words, there has been a successful “peace process industry” in the US, Israel, and Palestinian Authority that are eager to maintain the “peace process charade” during which US runs the process as a diplomatic staple, Israel expands the Jewish settlements and engages the policies of continued demolition of Arab properties and expulsion of indigenous Palestinians from their land, and the PA play a role of the puppet agent richly paid by both US and Israel based on their collaboration and collusion against its own people…that is, “peace process” has been all process but no peace for over two decades.
You may argue that I, as a “no-stater”, fell into a hopeless defeatism…but for me this is a story that doesn’t need to be argued when you just need to see the situation over there and it speaks for itself.
Only we’ve been hoodwinked by the mainstream media, a.k.a. “presstitute” so that we were unable to see the charade unless you go looking for it. So I went looking for it and I found the “peace process” has been a splendid charade…among Uncle Sam as an Israeli lawyer, Jews as the colonial occupier, and PA, an Israeli subcontractor.
With varying degrees of cynicism and self-deception, the United States back all the way, in totality, and only Israeli side to the hilt for over half a century in this peace process.
In fact, there has been only progress in “peace process” toward one state where Jews expand their settlements and expel aboriginal Arabs from their homeland inevitably to one state acknowledged as Israel where state-less and colonized Palestinian Arabs residing in it…that is, progress toward one state is simply a formula for maintaining the status quo that promises no peace at all.
Our NGO team consists originally of 25 men and women (two of them were denied of entry immediately after the landing and deported by the Israeli authority to the US with no specific explanation), all of them carrying the US passport except two Canadian citizens, all whites except one oriental male sticking out like a sore thumb (the author), and the inter-faith group that almost half of them claimed as Jews and rest of them as Christians except one atheist (the author).
Contrary to other Tour participants, I joined the group as an independent/non-religious observer and a messenger to tell the stories as I observe in real time frame to the people back home.
In order to understand my messages, a reader should be prepared to break out from a cocoon of the conventional wisdom and knowledge that the Western corporate media bombard people day and night, making them ostriches sticking their heads in the sand…that is, you are given a chance not to remain as a ‘Sheeple’ but a contrarian in your life by reading my diary.
Don’t shoot the messenger!
“The Nazis made me afraid to be a Jew and the Israelis make me ashamed to be a Jew” Israel Shahak
Before you start to read my two-week diary, you have to enrich your knowledge about Jews…what constitutes Jewishness? Who are the Jews? Or what do people mean when they call themselves Jews?
Schlomo Sand, Tel Aviv University Professor, a Jew himself, said Jewishness is an ethnocentric ideology driven by exclusiveness, exceptionalism, racial supremacy and a deep inherent inclination toward segregation.
Other scholar goes into details dividing into three categories: 1. those who follow Judaism; Judaism was the symbolic identifier of the Jews for at least two millennia. 2. those who regard themselves as human beings that happen to be of Jewish origin. 3. those who put their Jewishness over and above all of their other traits.
Chaim Weizmann, the first Israeli President categorically defines the essence of Jewishness: you may be a Jew who dwells in England, a Jew who plays the violin or even a Jew against Zionism, but above all else you are a Jew. It’s about viewing Jewishness as the key element and the fundamental characteristic of one’s being. And other quality is secondary…there are no English, French, German, or American Jews but only Jews living in England, France, Germany or America.
For Weizmann, Jewishness was a unique quality that stopped the Jew from assimilating, or disappearing into the crowd. The Jew would always remain an alien, ultimate other.
Ze’ev Jabontinsky took it further by saying that assimilation was impossible due to biological conditioning: a Jew brought up among Germans may assume German customs, German words. He may be wholly imbued with that German fluid but nucleus of his spiritual structure will always remain Jewish, because his blood, his body, his physical type are Jewish. He is German by birth he is also the ‘ultimate other’ by choice.
However, Jewishness is a rather broad term…it refers to a culture with many faces, various distinctive groups, different beliefs, opposing political camps, different classes and diversified ethnicity.
Most of people around the world possess an ‘encyclopedic ignorance’ about Jewishness, Judaism, Zionism, citizenship of the State of Israel, etc.
1. Jewishness is neither a racial nor an ethnic category. Nor do Jewish people form a homogenous people.
In the State of Israel, there are a hodge-podge of people from all over the globe making ‘aliyah’ to the Holy Land claiming as a Jew…from Russia/England/America as a Ashkenazi Jew, from Spain/Portugal/Netherlands/France/African Continent as a Sephardic (Marrano, meaning ‘pig’) Jews, from Ethiopia, Yemen, and other Arab countries as a Mizrahi Jew (Negro Jew), from the Eastern Europe as a Hasidic or Chabad Lubavitch Jew, et al. All do not share the same ethnicity, genealogy, physiognomy, ethics or culture. As in the United State, the Israel society has been divided in ethnically-stratified one where the Mizrahim Jews, the lowest social strata, do most three-D jobs or show more vicious attack against the Palestinian Arabs in order to demonstrate their Israeliness for the wealthy and dominant Ashkenazi Jews. Therefore, Jews do not share the same history among themselves as other nation-states value most.
2. Jewishness, being an ideological precept, is not Judaism. (Many of those who proudly define themselves as Jews have very little knowledge of Judaism.)
Nearly a third of Jews born in America after 1980 claim no religious affiliation to Judaism, and the rate of marrying outside of Jewish faith has been on the uptick, reaching to 60 percent in 2000 according to the Pew Center Survey. And two-thirds of this group was not raising their kids as either religiously or culturally Jewish, while they still believe that they are proud of being Jewish and participate Passover ritual and fast during Yom Kipper.
3. Holocaust has become a new Jewish religion.
Holocaust for the Jews is sacred and untouchable like the divine entity and its rituals have made Jews themselves an untouchable God that no one challenges the Jewish raison detre…Holocaust has many religious elements…it has temple (Yad Vashem in Tel Aviv), a dogma (Never Forget, Never Forgive), many symbolic facilities (death chambers, chimneys, shoes), and rituals (Memorial Days, pilgrim to Auschwitz).
However, Holocaust has its peculiarity in their epiphany…it did not manifest its presence until 1960s…until Jews built up a national confidence to prop up their newly found religion of revenge when they pummeled Arabs in 1967 War. Like the “Comfort Women” issues against Japan in the South Korea where no comfort women appeared to plea their predicaments until the military dictatorships in the South Korea segued into the civilian government in late 1990s, Jews never gaga-ed over the Holocaust until after 1967 War. (The infamous and pro-Japanese Military Dictator General Park pocketed the entire compensation fund for the comfort women/forced laborers from Japanese Government and did not pay a penny for those old prostitutes/repatriated workers.)
4. A divine entitlement on the Palestinian Land.
An Israeli truism of ‘A People without a Land for A Land without A People’ has been a Zionist slogan for enticing the European Jews to the Holy Land…that is, the Palestinian Land was almost vacant and deserted place destined for the ‘Chosen people’ by the Great Realtor, Yahweh, in the sky.
We were told repeatedly by the Christian fundamentalists that Jews had made a massive exodus from their homeland, Judea and Samaria after the Romans destroyed their Second Temple in 70s AD (there is no mention of Jewish exodus in the Bible)…they portrayed the Jewish Diaspora as a punishment for betraying Jesus Christ. However, modern research shows that most farmers, craftsmen, and traders stayed/lived their lives as before except some high priests (Cohens and Levys) or Sanhedrins had left when Romans pull out, and later these ordinary people converted to Islam when their Promised Land became Islamic Caliphate.
In other words, there were no hundreds, thousands of massive exodus by the Jewish people, as we generally imagine in modern world, occurred when Romans made an exit from the Palestinian Land. (In the first place, there were no such transportation facilities or tools like trucks, trains, large ships etc.)
The myth of Diaspora collapses miserably when we realize that Judaism was originally a proselytizing religion contrary to our understanding…most of Ashkenazi Jews, as Sephardic Jews are from Berber tribe in Africa, are the descendants of Khazars in Caucasus region who converted to Judaism in 8th Century.
In other words, modern-day Jews have no more historical, ethnic, cultural connection with the ancient Israelites than Arab Palestinians in 21st Century whose ancestors were Jewish converters to Islamic religion.
5. A Jewish and Democratic State of Israel (?)
“A Jewish and Democratic State” is the Israeli legal definition of the nature and character of the State of Israel…Jews were and are a people bound by a common history, traced back three thousand years with a common culture and sense of destiny, a common land in Israle, and an overall sense of interconnectedness. And Jewish Israelis boast that the State of Israel is ‘One and Only Democracy in the Middle East Region.
On the other hands, many detractors claimed that Jews have neither common history nor culture and Zionists concocted a Jewish history in 19 Century…and name the State of Israel as a Theocratic State, an Ethnocratic State, an Orweillian State, a Fascist State, a Totalitarian State, an Apartheid State (the Herrenvolk State), the most Racist State in the 21th Century.
You, the reader of my diary, decide which description the State of Israel deserve to be named after…even the word, “Democratic” still remains in a category of “wishlist” among many nation states (including United States of America) in the world.
Day One: a bizarre entry rehearsal at the orientation meeting
We, the tour participants, were instructed by our Interfaith Group to gather at the orientation meeting in Washington DC office one day before our departure to Tel Aviv…I assumed that the meeting would be a get-together soiree to high-five each other before our journey. But it was more than just a hail-fellow-well-met-slap-on-the-back gathering.
Our host, the Inter-Faith Peace Builders (IFPB) would like to call us as ‘Delegates’ whose on-the-ground experience will enrich our understanding of the conflict, as we meet both Jewish and Palestinians, eye-witness the current realities of life in Israel and occupied Palestinian territories. And we’d be energized, transformed, and engaged in working for peace in our home community when we return home from the trip.
Our goal is specified as below:
*Travel in the West Bank and Israel with experienced delegation leaders and professional tour local guides.
*Learn from Palestinians about their nonviolent resistance.
*Meet Israeli peace activists workig for an end to the occupation.
*Examine the US role in the conflict.
*Stay in Palestinian and/orIsraeli homes for 1 – 3 nights.
*Visit selected relligious and cultural sites.
*Receive expert support for your workin your local community.
In fact, we were not a benign, amorphous group of sight-seeing-oriented group of people, but the purpose-driven activist team that is eager to find the truth and realities in the Palestinian land and to bring our experiences to our home community for the sake of peace and justice in the region.
For instance, the IFPB specifically endorse and encourage to support the BDS movement (Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions) against Israel until it complies with international laws and BDS campaign is critical to the pursuit of peace and justice work for Israel/Palestine.
And we, the participants (I rather would like to being called instead of delegates), were intensively briefed on the details of the BDS movement that lasted more than two hours. The movement calls for a global citizen’s response until Israel meets its obligations under the international law: 1.Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied since 1967 war and dismantle the Separation Wall. 2.Reconizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Israeli citizens to full equality with Jewish Israeli citizens. 3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to homeland/properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. (ironically, the BDS campaign was not endorsed by Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, a.k.a. the Governor of West Bank.)
*Major industries targeted on the BDS movements are: Catepillar (Bulldozer to demolish Arab homes), Motorola and HP (providing wide range of communication devices and surveillance technology to the Israeli Military), Veolia and Alstom of French multinational corporation (building/operating the Jerusalem Light Rail which links between Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory with Israel, and running bus services for Israeli settlers exclusively on settler-only roads.)
I have witnessed in few occasions during our bus tour through the settler-only highway that a few bulldozers and earth-diggers with ‘Hyundai’ and ‘Doosan’ logo operated on the military bases and the Jewish settlement compounds in new construction project (I did not hear the Hyundai was a targeted industry for the movement…and there were many dealership stores for Hyundai and Kia cars everywhere in the Occupied West Bank towns.)
After an uneventful overnight quartered at the quiet townhouse in an exclusive ‘WASP’ district, I joined the second orientation session that began just after 8:30 AM next day…and I was somewhat nauseated with uneasiness when we were assigned to split in two groups, acting one as a passenger and the other as an Israeli immigration officer in a dry run that would lead us to ‘outfox’ the rigorous entry examination process at the Ben-Gurion Internatinal Airport in Tel Aviv.
In the first place, I have not thought for a minute that we, as a group of the US/Canadian passport holders, would have been targeted as an ethnically-profiled or security-risk group that might be harmful to the Israeli security concerns (except one of our members was a light-skinned mulato girl who was eventually barred from the entry, all were White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestants, Jews and an Oriental.)
We have spent an entire morning session before lunch hour for a series of intensive rehearsal…to play dumb or not to ring a bell in order to avoid an unnecessary suspicion of being a ‘persona-non-grata’ tourist, by destroying or erasing all suspicious documents, books, email letters from your laptops, notebooks, memories…the instructor specifically asked us not to carry our tour schedule that shows we would travel all over the Occupied West Bank while staying at the Palestinian-run Hotel in East Jerusalem.
Frankly speaking, I, as a globe-trotter, travelled many countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, philippines, China, Egypt, and North Korea…and never encountered with such an in-depth/simulated/rigorous training before entering so-called undemocratic, totalitalian, and human-rights abusing nations, as the Western media routinely condemn but not a single word mentioned about the abusive interrogation at the entry gate in the State of Israel, even though their reporters and editors would be subjected to the same interrogation by the Israeli officers unless they hold Jewish names of Cohen, Levy, Man, Berg, et al.
During my similar group tour to the evil state, North Korea, the immigration/custom agent at the Sunan Airport in Pyongyang greeted me with a big hearty smile and welcomed me to their UN-sanctioned dictatorial/totalitalian country without even opening my baggage.
And I felt absolutely at home during an entire tour of eight days/nights and none whatsoever demanded our IDs or bothered to obstruct our tour or threatened with deportation.
It’s extremely bizarre and mind-boggling to face, in an ‘One and Only Democratic Country’ in the region, such an abusive interrogation and subsequent deportation without an adeqate explanation or by an arbitrary whim of an officer who happens to have a severe headache in the morning after a late-night binge, when the US citizens whose tax-payers money of $3 billion provide annually for the comforts/security of those officers and their families. (among the deportees, Prof. Noam Chomsky was one of them in the past, and Prof. Norman Finkelstein was denied of entry for 10-year period.)
However, I felt an ease that I would have no problem entering the Jewish State…as my Canadian passport specifically describes I am a product of South Korean origin whose identity has been disparagingly nicknamed as ‘A Little Jew’ or ‘Jew Jr.’ in North American Continent…the S. Korean immigrants are notoriously similar to the old Jewish immigrants in Bronx or Blooklyn New York who run the business/make money from Negro districts and spend/live their life in the suburban towns or gated community.
And world know well that S. Koreans are crazy in fundamentalistic Christianity eagerly attemping to proselytise Muslims into the arms of Jesus Christ so that Jews welcome S. Korean pilgrim to the Holy Sepulchre.
Therefore, I was entrusted with a confidence that I would breeze through the entry inquiry without any hitch, because I am a lucky Chink no harm to a Jew but a fellow traveller to suck tonnes of blood from the poor/unprivileged/weak/oppressed. For them, what is worthwhile is to have more…always more…even at the cost of the oppresssed having less and having nothing. For them, to be is to have more and to be the class of ‘the have’.
Day Two: You have no rights in Ben-Gurion International Airport
After almost 15-hour flight from the J.F. Dulles Airport in Washington DC to the Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv via Vienna Austria, we landed at the airport that symbolizes a microcosm of modern day Jewish State…security-obsessed/crazy coupled with racial profiling/psycho-analytic vetting system that no entry-points in the world greet the travelers in such a discriminatory manner (the US customs/immigration has the second/almost similarly prejudiced entry point where agents carry side-arms and bark at you like a Doberman-pinscher attack dog)…as a non-Jew, you’d want to cancel the trip and go back home right away if you happen to be a Negro/mulatto/African/Arab traveler. Imagine if you are a Palestinian Arab residing in the West Bank or an Israeli-Arab citizen returning home from abroad…you’d automatically pull into the ‘Arab room’ for extra interrogation that takes hours to clear the entry procedure.
It’s well known that in Israel, there are three systems of Laws…one is democracy (ethnocracy) for 80 percent of Jews , the second is racial discrimination against 20 percent of Palestinian Israeli citizens, and the third is the Apartheid for the Arab population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
We approached toward a row of kiosks that houses the passport control officers where mostly young/female agents face us through thick glass window, examine the travel documents, and throw a terse/blunt query while inputting data in their computer…when you belong to a category of Arab or colored, you are immediately escorted to the secondary examination that takes forever until you satisfy their egotistic/ethnic prejudice…you see a big smile if you happen to carry passport with a Jewish name and a physiognomy of Ashkenazi Jew and inquiry only last a few minutes that welcome you in a Jewish State of Israel.
Obviously I, as an Oriental-faced/innocuous (read as stupid, ignorant, or indifferent) /petit-bourgeois senior, had not triggered any warning bell but a cursory check of whether I belong to the IFPB tour group and returned my passport with a stand-alone visa (they do not stamp the visa on the passport as in North Korea and Cuba)…I am cocksure that I’d be denied an entry to Israel if they ever knew that I would write this diary when I return home or I would be placed on the Shin Bet Black List if they have ever read my articles about the Palestinian Issues in the web. (I did not carry any electronic equipments/books/documents/files and erased all culpable email messages that might be construed as anti-Jewish/pro-Palestine materials.)
It took nearly an hour to clear the entire tour group through the passport control kiosk that two of our members (a white/young/articulate female tour leader and a mulatto girl with Afro-hairs who are US passport holders) were taken into the secondary inspection procedure…and eventually were deported with no clear explanation why and forced to get back on a US-bound flight next morning.
I used to term the Jew-revered/honored IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) as the gendarmes in the Middle East for the US Empire…and I now realized at the Israeli Airport why Jews used to disparage Barak Hussein Obama as an Israeli Governor of the USA…we were informed by our other tour leader that no US consular intervention was effective in helping two girls entry to Israel…even the former cabinet member of Clinton Administration got caught at the same airport years ago and harassed for hours-long investigation because she had an Arab-sounding surname.
It’s well known fact that the El Al Airline, the national flagship Airline of Israel, cooperates closely with the country’s security services, Shin Bet/Mossad, placing their agents as staffers to collect information on non-Jewish passengers in foreign countries or to watch/interrogate them on the planes.
As we were gathering/picking our luggage from the carousel, I felt a palpable sense that we were being watched/observed/scrutinized by a pair of plain clothed guy/gal in the hall…there were dozens of them loaming aimlessly around between passengers and airport workers…we were told at the orientation meeting back home that we might be approached by these folks randomly and casually and we would be interrogated/scrutinized whether we are up to no good when we enter the country.
Welcom to the One and Only Democratic State of Israel
Mr. Dale Han who’s one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media is a free-lance journalist living in Canada for four decades since he was exiled from the Military regime of Dictator, Park CH in South Korea in the 70s. He was born, raised, and educated in South Korea and worked as a journalist for the mainstream media in the midst of the turbulent era of 4.19/5.16 revolutionary events. The turning point in his life has arrived at the Z Media Institute workshop in Mass. USA in the 90s when he was tutored by Emeritus Professor Avram Noam Chomsky. Since then, he became a lifetime contrarian, who travels around the world and reports back the real stories that the mainstream media rarely pay any attention about. He has written many articles on the unification issues in the Korean peninsula after his visit to the North Korea in 2012, and the Middle East conflicts have been his focal point in writing the real stories that the establishment media ignores.
A Dispatch from the Palestinian Land Will Soon Continue in Part II & III.