by William A. Cook
The California Assembly’s resolution passed on August 23, 2012, HR 35, purports to condemn “anti-Semitism” in public post-secondary institutions of higher learning by denying expression of opinions or statements that might be construed as expressing hatred of the Jewish people or critical of the state of Israel. Pamela Geller’s ad campaign quoted above, and placed in public vehicles in the city of San Francisco, expresses an opinion that demeans a group of people who are unquestionably Semitic by blood and language, yet would not be protected by the Assembly resolution since the term as defined is based upon the European Union’s definition that is exclusive, protecting Jews only.
The ad has created considerable reaction; a parallel poster expresses the same statement with a change of wording: “in any war between the colonizer and the colonized, support the oppressed, support the Palestinian right of return.” In short, Geller’s ad campaign began a dialogue that has illumined quite opposing perspectives: what is the meaning of civilized man on the one hand and what is the meaning of colonized on the other. Perhaps out of this dialogue understanding will arise. Freedom of expression triumphs.
Unfortunately, the Assembly sought a different end, an end that would stifle discussion and oppose open expression that allowed for understanding and research that would be critical of one side. Two actions were sought by the passage: the Assembly “unequivocally condemns all forms of intolerance, including anti-Semitism, on public postsecondary educational institution campuses in California, and, “calls upon …(officials) of those institutions to increase their efforts to swiftly and unequivocally condemn acts of anti-Semitism on their campuses and to utilize existing resources, such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ working definition of anti-Semitism, to help guide program discussion about, and promote, as appropriate, educational programs for combating anti-Semitism on their campuses.”
Condemning all forms of intolerance on the campuses of public postsecondary educational institutions in California would appear to be a desirable goal, and with the additional reference—“including anti-Semitism”—a furtherance of explicitness to guide deliberations, but only helpful if that term can be defined specifically and concretely to achieve meaningful discussion.
However, the context for this “working definition” comes from the EU where freedom of speech is not free if it can be alleged to be “hate speech.” This is the working definition:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or nonJewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
(Summary overview of Antisemitism in the European Union (Dec 2006), Anti-Semitism Reference Center, Zionism on the Web).
Geller’s ad could not be considered “hatred toward Jews” and hence safe from condemnation by the EU definition the university officials would use to “guide program discussion…”; however, it certainly could be considered “hatred of Palestinians” expressed through her use of “savage” people. The irony here of course is obvious since it is the Palestinian people who are Semites and who suffer the consequences of occupation. The victim becomes the offender.
I bring attention to this control of thought not because I condemn Geller’s uncivilized advertisement; on the contrary, I support her right to express her views. By openly advertising her hatred of the Palestinians, Geller reveals for all how civilized she is, supporting as she does the actions of a state that has been condemned year upon year for 63 years by the overwhelming majority of nation states in the community of nations, the United Nations, as denying the rights of the true owners of the land of Palestine as proposed in UNGA Resolution 181. In short she supports, and wants the people of San Francisco to support, a state that defies international opinion and International Law. Impunity for crimes comes with control of minds, and hence control of the U.S. Congress, of communications and of rights of freedom of speech by voting denial of the very free expression she so brazenly demands. But that in her mind is civilized behavior.
The action by the Assembly is of interest to me because I have edited a volume, The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction, published by Palgrave Macmillan world-wide publishers of academic texts; the volume carried the title when first presented to Macmillan, As the World Watches: Genocide in Palestine. Macmillan did not favor that direct statement.
On the other hand, the promotional blurb on the back of the book states: The Plight of the Palestinians: A Long History of Destruction is a collection of voices from around the world that establishes in both theoretical and graphic terms the slow, methodical genocide taking place in Palestine beginning in the 1940s, as revealed in the Introduction. From Dr. Francis A. Boyle’s detailed legal case against the state of Israel to Uri Avnery’s “Slow Motion Ethnic Cleansing,” Richard Falk’s “Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust,” and Ilan Pappe’s “Genocide in Gaza,” these voices decry in startling, vivid and forceful language the calculated atrocities taking place, the inhumane conditions inflicted on the people, and the silence that exists despite the crimes—nothing short of state sponsored genocide against the Palestinians.”
The entire content of this book, the very concept imbedded in it, that genocide is taking place in Palestine in the first decade of this new century, is condemnable under the Assembly resolution. Over twenty writers from Israel, Palestine, Australia, the Netherlands, London, Canada, America, and the UN would be condemned for contributing to such a text. The Resolution in effect denies freedom of expression to those who critique the state of Israel for actions that defy International Law. The only law that pertains to Israel is Israeli Law and control of International Law by U.S. veto power of UN resolutions that would bring Israel before the UNCHR and/or the International court of Justice.
Years ago, I prepared a paper for an international conference held at Oxford University titled “Blinded by Belief,” the application and abuse of religious and political mythologies in current political policy in the West, most damningly in Britain, Canada, Israel and the United States. The paper forced me as a researcher to search out conditions that prevailed in Mandate Palestine when Britain had international authority to govern the strip of land we call Palestine. That authority was relinquished on May 15th, 1948. Of particular interest was the period from November 1947 when the UNGA proposed the partition of Palestine to May 15 when Britain left Palestine. During that period, the terrorism undertaken by the Zionists against the British authorities from 1939 to November became even more brutal than it had before, since the Jewish Agency and its affiliate organizations, the Irgun, Stern and Hagana armed groups (armies) saw the mandate Police and Soldiers as lame ducks incapable of stopping the Zionists from aggressively taking by force the whole of Palestine regardless of the UNGA Partition Plan. The details and evidence to establish these points is presented in the Introduction to The Plight of the Palestinians.
A review of this period, the silence about the British Mandate Period even in Britain, and almost until this day, has been deafening. Why? No reasoned individual who knows the extent of the savagery committed by the Zionists against the Brits and the Arabs in Palestine could call their behavior “civilized” and seek support from the American people for their civilized behavior. What civilized people could secretly break a peace agreement with the people of Deir Yassin, a small village between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, surround the village, attack them in their homes, rape the women and massacre virtually the whole population with the exception of about a 100, shackle them in trucks and parade them through Jerusalem to demonstrate how fierce the Jewish fighters could be to put fear in the hearts of the Palestinians, and then drive them back and kill them. Is civilized behavior the determination to plan the destruction and theft of the towns and villages of the Palestinians, that had been portioned for them by the UN, before the stated date for that partition plan would take effect? Does civilized behavior include the many massacres committed by these Zionist armies, including torture and rape, as reported by the Israeli historian Benny Morris? Does kidnapping British soldiers, hanging their bodies from trees and booby trapping those bodies to mock their comrades who came to rescue them for burial while they laughed to see even more Mandate soldiers assassinated. Is civilized behavior the deception of false flag operations like that which blew apart the King David Hotel as Zionists dressed as Arabs entered the basement with milk containers filled with explosives? Richard C. Catling dove beneath the admission’s desk when the bombs went off and lived to testify about the rapes that took place in Deir Yassin.
Richard C. Catling, Deputy Head of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Jerusalem Mandate Police, kept a “Top Secret” file in the archives of the Oxford Rhodes House Library, filled with close to 500 pages of evidence that conclusively demonstrated the savagery of the Zionist powers that clandestinely controlled the Israeli immigrants entering Palestine. Two reports illustrate the terrorism inflicted by these people against their hosts, the British government that made possible the eventual “home” of the Jewish people. I have presented that evidence in numerous articles and the Introduction to The Plight of the Palestinians. Is it important that the truth hidden away these many years be brought into the discussions that should and must be presented before the students of California’s public institutions if they and the politicians that govern this state and this nation are to govern with justice for all?
There is something sacred about freedom of speech; it is the secular equivalent of “Let there be Light.” Chris Hedges opened a book review years ago, a review of two books about the Vietnam War, with the words “The vanquished know war. They see through the empty jingoism of those senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief. They know the lies the victors often do not acknowledge, the lies covered up in stately war memorials and mythic war narratives, filled with stories of courage and comradeship. They know the lies that permeate the thick, self-important memoirs by amoral statesmen who make wars but do not know war. The vanquished know the essence of war—death. They grasp that war is necrophilia. They see that war is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction.”
The Zionists knew during the Mandate Period how to abuse the glory of words: to make massacres actions of their enemy, to hide every atrocity they committed under the rubric of self-defense, to turn patriotism into a word responsive only to their cause, to hide the deafening cries of women and children in utter silence, to erase memories from the living by burying towns and villages beneath mounds of earth, to confiscate deeds and birth certificates, to bulldoze mosques and schools, to literally wipe people from existence even as they walked the earth. They wrote the history; they controlled, yea they created, the mythologies of Exodus that have become the truth of Palestine, and they became the victims surrounded by millions who wanted to destroy them to steal the land they were given by their G-d regardless of the passage of centuries and millennia and the existence now of International Law governed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Conventions that determine Justice and War.
In time a researcher realizes that the subject of his quest contains a narrative of its own. In my years studying Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work, Hawthorne himself emerges as the narrator, a mind seeking understanding of his time and place even when he writes of Padua or Rome. As an American, he lives in constant sensitivity that the equality so eloquently expressed in the nation’s Declaration of Independence and its Bill of Rights is a fantasy since one fifth of its people are enslaved, women have virtually no rights despite their nature that demands expression as Hester conveys in The Scarlet Letter, and another people who wander the American landscape, an incalculable number, ethnically isolated on reservations that shrink as more land theft is confiscated by his government, a government that he has served as Custom House Officer and Consul. Always in quest, he seeks more and more the substance of this existence.
In March of 1862, Hawthorne, along with the Atlantic Monthly publisher, William Ticknor, headed to Washington to see the nation at war firsthand. Perhaps it was this last attempt to comprehend the contradictions present in this new nation that brought him to express through the voice of old Doctor Grim, a man roughly the age of Hawthorne as he penned Doctor Grimshawe’s Secret, these caustic and cynical words that capture the essence of human darkness, aloneness and ultimate meaninglessness:
“Whence did you come?” the good doctor says to his young ward, Ned,
“Whence did any of us come? Out of the darkness and mystery; out of
nothingness; out of a kingdom of shadows; out of dust, clay, mud, I
think, and to return to it again. Out of a former state of being,
whence we have brought a good many shadowy revelations, purporting that
it was no very pleasant one. Out of a former life, of which the present
one is the hell!–And why are you come? Faith, Ned, he must be a wiser
man than Doctor Grim who can tell why you or any other mortal came
hither; only one thing I am well aware of,–it was not to be happy. To
toil and moil and hope and fear; and to love in a shadowy, doubtful
sort of way, and to hate in bitter earnest,–that is what you came
I think of this perspective when I search through the “Top Secret” files of Sir Richard C. Catling, a man of simple background, son of a small town butcher in England, who became Deputy Head of the CID for Britain as the Zionists went to war, their words, against the British Government that had promised them a home within the limitations of their authority to both the natives of Palestine and the immigrants arriving at its shores. He lived to witness the Zionists become terrorists as early as 1941 when, as Harold MacMichael, High Commissioner in Mandate Palestine, wrote “A second matter which deeply impressed me is the almost Nazi control exercised by the official Jewish organization over the Jewish community…” The evidence in Catling’s file attests to the reality of that observation.
These men and their soldiers and police were forced to survive as the Zionist controlled armies destroyed eventually 418 towns and villages belonging to the indigenous people, killed thousands and drove out of their land close to 800,000, the sons and daughters of whom live in refugee camps in sundry mid-east countries. These were the soldiers who became the lost soldiers of Britain, forgotten men whose diligence and endurance and patriotism have yet to be recognized by the British government. Why should research of this nature, which tells a different story than our controlled media has presented, not receive the exposure it should so the citizens of the United States and the students at California’s public institutions can determine for themselves what is true and what is not.
Without freedom of speech, truth will never be told. Let people open their minds and their souls to the light of human judgment, and as Jesus noted, few will step forward to throw the first stone because they are pure in spirit. The Gellers of this world will step forward to expose themselves as vulgar, as barbaric, as heedless of their fellows because they care for none but themselves– heartless, soulless, lacking “human sympathy” which alone can bring peace into this world.
William A. Cook is a Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His most recent book is Decade of Deceit, 2002-2012: Reflections on Palestine, published in June by Lambert Academic Publishing of Germany. His other works include Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy, The Rape of Palestine, and The Plight of the Palestinians all dealing with the crisis in Israel/Palestine. His fiction works include The Chronicles of Nefaria, a morality tale, The Agony of Colin Powell, a one act play, and a co-authored tragedy written with his wife Darcy, The Unreasoning Mask. He also has a Book of Psalms published by Mellon Poetry Press, Psalms for the 21st Century. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.