Young Israeli socialist speaks out for a free Palestine

January 7, 2009 -- Isaac Shuisha, an Israeli citizen and student involved in the Palestine solidarity movement in Sydney, spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler about the reasons behind Israel’s assault on Gaza and the campaign for a free Palestine. Shuisha is a member of the socialist youth organisation, Resistance. [See also ``Jewish and Israeli opposition to Israel's slaughter in Gaza''.]

What has motivated you to be a part of the campaign against Israel’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people? 

Growing up in Israel, you are exposed to a very specific narrative about the history of Israel/Palestine. In this story, all that “we Israelis” ever wanted is to live in peace, but alas, all the Arab people surrounding us want nothing less than to drive us all into the sea.

In Israel, this is considered to be the indisputable truth, which you hear every time you read the paper, every time you go to school, every time you talk to your parents.

This is why most Israelis support the current attacks on Gaza: after being exposed to this overwhelming brainwashing, people really believe that this attack on Gaza is the only way to defend ourselves.

But as I grew up, I started to be exposed to the way Palestinians are oppressed.

The reality in front of my eyes stood in strong contrast to the “truth” I had always been told. I started to learn about the real history of Palestine and the formation of Israel.

I realised that I have an obligation to speak out. One of Zionism’s strongest ideological tools is trying to make Zionism synonymous with Judaism. So as a person from a Jewish family, especially an Israeli Jewish family, I am expected to have a certain view of this conflict.

But unlike what Zionism claims, not all Jews are, “by default”, members of this sectarian, racist political sect called Zionism. This is why it is crucial for me to take a stand against Zionism and the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.

How would you describe the mainstream media’s coverage of the assault on Gaza?

Ever since the first, shocking reports of the carnage, the Australian mainstream media have been doing everything to appear “neutral”. At best they’ve reported as if this is a war between two armies.

The reality is that there are not two equal sides facing off here. You have one of the strongest military powerhouses in the world, armed to the teeth with tanks, fighter jets, battleships, and advanced technology, against an oppressed, besieged population, living in the most densely populated area on Earth, using old guns and home-made primitive rockets.

The corporate media uncritically treats Israel as a victim who is “retaliating”, rather than as the aggressor who is bombing refugee camps.

The United States is fully backing Israel’s massacre in Gaza while other Western nations, including Australia, refuse to condemn Israel’s brutality. Why do the Western powers support Israel?

Israel is a colonial-settler state, and its existence is dependent on oppressing the indigenous people of Palestine – the Palestinians. The United States and Australia are no different in that respect, as both nations were created on the blood of their indigenous peoples.

So the United States, Australia and Israel all share a history of colonialism in common.

Furthermore, the United States gives Israel about US$4 billion a year in military aid. It also has various other economic assistance agreements in place that artificially subsidise the Israeli economy. Without this money, the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza would be completely unsustainable.

But what is their interest in supporting Israel? The Middle East is one of the most important regions in a world still dominated by an oil economy. There are very clear interests for the Western powers to have an “island” of a loyal capitalist, imperialist state in a region whose people are strongly anti-imperialist.

The Israeli government’s agenda with this latest assault appears to be to destroy Hamas and cripple further resistance to the occupation of Palestinian land. Will they succeed?

Since its inception, Israel has tried to split the Palestinian resistance movement. Hamas itself was created in the 1970s with the help of Israel, as it was seen to be in Israel’s best interest to have an opposition to Yassir Arafat’s Fatah organisation.

After many years the tables were turned, with Hamas winning the Palestinian elections in 2006 in light of Fatah’s increasing collaboration with Israel.

The fact that Israel currently targets Hamas only strengthens the reputation of Hamas among Palestinians as the strongest resistance force at the moment.

But Israel is mistaken if they believe that crippling Hamas will end Palestinian resistance. As long as there is oppression there will be resistance.

Can protests around the world in support of Palestine make a difference?

Many of us have a fresh memory of a similar struggle, the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Despite the clear differences, many of the features of South African apartheid are very similar to the Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

We have seen how a global campaign helped bring apartheid in South Africa down. The global campaign in solidarity with Palestine is increasing steadily and must continue.

These voices of protest, from around the world, do reach Palestine.

Having a mass of people raising their voices in solidarity and pressuring their own governments to assist the Palestinian struggle is a key condition for the movement, especially in these dark times. 

[This article first appeared in Green Left Weekly issue #777, January 7, 2009.]