Gilad Atzmon

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The Palestine Liberation Movement is not about Anti-Semitism

I don’t disagree that the cowardly removal by Aljazeera of everything written by Joseph Massad is a travesty of justice and journalism and that their reinstatement is justified.  But why was Massad trying to defend Palestinian rights based upon them being “the last of the Semites?”

The term “Semite” was born of the assumption that all the languages of the world are the result of the sons of Noah – Shem, Ham and Japheth – going to different parts of the globe after the flood and creating different language groups: Semitic, Hamitic and Japhetic.  The sons of Noah?  Are we seriously entertaining such nonsense?

To make matters worse, this absurdity was extended to fictitious “races,” not just languages.  “Anti-Semitic” therefore is descriptive of the Hamitic and Japhetic races turning on the descendents of Shem, the third brother.  No one seriously speaks of Hamitic and Japhetic races.  Is it not time to recognize the absurdity of the Semitic “race” as well?

Even more absurd is the attempt to use such mythological concepts to measure the virtue of the Palestinian cause.  The Palestinian cause has nothing to do with Jews, Semites, anti-Semitism, God, Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Noah, Jacob, Ishmael, Shem, Ham and Japheth, whether you believe in them or not.  It has nothing to do with the Holocaust, colonialism, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Turks or the British.

It has everything to do with the expulsion of Palestinians from their land and with denial of their right to sovereignty, to self-determination and above all their Right to Return.  It does not matter who expelled them.  It is their land and they have the right to return.  It does not matter who denies their existence.  They have a right to return.

It does not even matter if they are nice people or despicable, whether they are racists or humanists, whether they are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhist or Shinto, whether they are clean or dirty, educated or ignorant, rich or poor, democrats or monarchists.  They have the right to return to their homes and to reclaim their country.

Their rights cannot be held hostage to the rights of others.  If justice for Palestinians cannot be bought at the price of injustice for others, neither can justice for others be bought at the price of injustice to Palestinians.  Justice may be indivisible, but we need not wait for justice to happen everywhere in order for it to happen in Palestine.

Palestinians cannot wait for CO2 levels to drop below 350 parts per million, nor for the population of blue whales to rise, nor for the persecution of Rohingyas to end in Myanmar, nor even for ethnic cleansing to end in Congo, nor for the European victims of World War II and their descendants to be made whole, nor for indigenous peoples everywhere to regain their rights and heritage.

Justice may be indivisible, but the restoration of justice anywhere raises the level of justice everywhere.  The restoration of justice in Palestine benefits the entire world and gives hope to justice that is still struggling to restore itself in other places and to other peoples.

Anti-Semitism is no more relevant to Palestinian liberation than anti-Hamitism or Anti-Japhetism or any other attempt to gauge the worthiness of the Palestinian cause by its endorsement or rejection of someone else’s values.  Please remove such irrelevance from the discussion of Palestinian rights.

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement. Read other articles by Paul.

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