Howard Zinn on Israeli-Palestinian reality
by MainStreet, Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:16:46 PM EST
Howard Zinn, who just died, was known as a people's historian who was capable of bringing a full view of the realities into history, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not ignored.
This message from the Campaign to End the Occupation (of Palestine) volume 8, no. 2, January 29, 2010, provided another look at this American Jewish leftist who, like Noam Chomsky, was addicted to telling the truth. He will be missed.
"We were all saddened to hear of the death of writer, historian, and activist Howard Zinn, whose determined opposition to militarism and his focus on the history of popular struggles served as an inspiration to so many. Writing about the development of his awareness of the violation of Palestinian human rights at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli expansionism, Zinn--who served on the advisory board of US Campaign member group Jewish Voice for Peace-recalls his dawning realization that "the advance of "civilization" involved what we would today call "ethnic cleansing."
"It did not occur to me--so little did I know about the Middle East--that the establishment of a Jewish state meant the dispossession of the Arab majority that lived on that land. I was as ignorant of that as, when in school, I was shown a classroom map of American "Western Expansion" and assumed the white settlers were moving into empty territory. In neither case did I grasp that the advance of "civilization" involved what we would today call "ethnic cleansing."....It was only after the "Six-Day War" of 1967 and Israel's occupation of territories seized in that war (the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, the Sinai peninsula) that I began to see Israel not simply as a beleaguered little nation surrounded by hostile Arab states, but as an expansionist power....I had long since understood that the phrases "national security" and "national defense" were used by the United States government to justify aggressive violence against other countries. Indeed, there was a clear bond between Israel and the United States in their respective foreign polices, illustrated by the military and economic support the United States was giving to Israel...
Zinn will be missed, but we are inspired to see that the spirit he embodied so powerfully, of the power of people and workers and students to resist the hypocrisy of militarism and corporate abuse, lives on in the growing movement to end U.S. and corporate support for the Israeli occupation.
We saw that spirit yesterday, when University of South Florida student Laila Abdelaziz challenged President Barack Obama on U.S. aid to Israel and violations of Palestinian human rights. We see it in the across North American campuses to highlight the role that university investments play in supporting the Israeli occupation. We see it in a video from Carleton University's Students Against Israeli Apartheid and in the work of the University of Arizona Community for Human Rights, among many other student groups.
We see that spirit in the growing list of victories for the international movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) directed against Israeli apartheid. Most recently, the largest Danish bank and the largest Danish pension fund divested from Africa Israel, a long-time target of US Campaign member group Adalah-NY, and from Elbit Systems, the notorious Apartheid Wall and U.S./Mexico border fence contractor that Palestinian activist Mohammad Othman was jailed for targeting."
So if anyone ever entertained doubts about just what Howard Zinn stood for during his life, it was about historical reality, which apply today to the injustices dealt the Palestinians by Israeli occupation and colonialism, and the siege of Gaza.
(Links also in the original.)
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