Only liars and manipulators try to re-frame criticisms of Israel as criticism of Jews instead of criticisms of the specific actions of a specific state power… Zionists do this constantly.– Caitlyn Johnstone
To understand the quote above requires knowing the difference between Israel, Judaism and Zionism. The differences are extremely clear and distinct. (See below.) Promoting confusion of these terms serves the interests of those who wish to maintain power by controlling perception.
- ETHNIC GROUP / ETHNICITY — An ethnic group is a group of people “who identify with each other on the basis of perceived shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can include a common nation of origin, or common sets of ancestry, traditions, language, history, society, religion, or social treatment… Individuals or groups may over time shift from one ethnic group to another. Ethnic groups may be divided into subgroups, which over time may become separate ethnic groups themselves.” (source)
- PALESTINIANS — Historically, Palestinian was the name for people who live in Palestine “regardless of their ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious affiliation.” Thus, Palestinian may refer to people indigenous to the area. However, since the war in 1948, Palestinian typically refers to direct descendants of the area’s Arab populace. (source) and (source)
- ARABS — Arabs are an ethnic group said to originate in Western Asia and Northern Africa. (source) The ESCWA (under the jurisdiction of the UN) states here that it comprises the following “21 Arab States.” Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
- ISRAELIES — Israelies are people who live in the State of Israel.
- HEBREWS / ISRAELITES — Hebrews (also known as Israelites) are an ethnic group defined as descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (source) and (source)
- JEWS / JEWISH — The terms Jew and Jewish may be used to denote religion or ethnicity, making it necessary to clarify how it’s being used. Jew and Jewish is the name for a follower of Judaism (a religion), including people who have converted to Judaism. (source) The terms are also used as synonyms for Hebrews (an ethnic group).
- ISLAM — Islam is a religion based on the Quran, teachings revealed to Muhammad. (source)
- MUSLIMS — Muslim is the name for a follower of Islam.
- JUDAISM — Judaism is a religion based on the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) with sub-groups including Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. (source)
- JEWS / JEWISH — The terms Jew and Jewish may be used to denote religion or ethnicity, making it necessary to clarify how it’s being used. Jew and Jewish is the name for a follower of Judaism (a religion), including people who have “converted to Judaism.” (source) The terms are also used as synonyms for Hebrews (an ethnic group).
- ISRAEL / LAND OF ISRAEL — Within the religion of Judaism, the phrases, “Israel,” “the Land of Israel” and “The Holy Land” are used synonymously to refer to “a body for the soul of a people… a place where you belong.” (source)
Geography & Countries
- MIDDLE EAST — “Middle East” is a term stemming from colonialism that “ignores broad geographic distinctions and nuances and is increasingly misleading.” (source) It typically refers to some portion of West Asia.
- WEST ASIA / SOUTHWEST ASIA — West Asia refers to the countries shown in a map here and listed as Anatolia, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Mesopotamia, the Armenian highlands, The Levant (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine), the Sinai Peninsula (at northeastern end of Egypt) and Transcaucasia / South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan)
- PALESTINE / STATE OF PALESTINE — A people and geography in West Asia that are occupied by the State of Israel. (source)
- STATE OF ISRAEL — In 1948, Great Britain, France and Russia declared that land in Palestine was to be established as the State of Israel. (source) and (source) “During World War I, the great powers made a number of decisions concerning the future of Palestine without much regard to the wishes of the indigenous inhabitants.” (Britannica)
- WEST BANK AND THE GAZA STRIP — Two regions of Palestine occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967. (source)
At its most obtuse, Middle East connotes everything from Morocco to Afghanistan, spanning a melange of sub-regions stretching from North Africa to Central Asia… It makes far more sense to refer to West Asia and Southwest Asia to capture Turkey, Iran, the Gulf states, and the nations lying between them. Neutral geographic labels are ultimately much more revealing than colonial artefacts. Of course we can blame colonialism and the Cold War for fragmenting what was once a far more fluid and integrated picture of relations across Asia’s Silk Roads.– Why Do We Still Use the Term Middle East?
Governments & Political Groups
5 min — Dr. Gabor Mate’ eloquently and clearly explains that after (barely) surviving the holocaust (as an infant), he became a Zionist. But then he learned what that meant in reality and visited Palestine to see with his own eyes Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine and the horrors they inflict on the Palestinian people.
- SYKES-PICOT AGREEMENT OF 1916 — The “secret Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916” between the United Kingdom and France divided a large geographical area (of West Asia) into “mutually agreed spheres of influence and control… The agreement allocated to the UK control of what is today southern Israel and Palestine, Jordan and southern Iraq, and an additional small area that included the ports of Haifa and Acre to allow access to the Mediterranean. France was to control southeastern Turkey, the Kurdistan Region, Syria and Lebanon.” (source) and (source) and (source)
- ZIONISM — “The movement for the self-determination and statehood for the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland, the land of Israel.” (source) Zionism is a movement to secure physical land for Jewish people. A response to the Holocaust, in practice, it was a violent displacement of the people of Palestine, resulting in the indigenous people being forced into an “open air prison.” Expert Dr. Norm Finkelstein compares Israel’s occupation of Palestine to the displacement and decimation of the American Indians, as demonstrated by the Trail of Tears. (source) “Amnesty International said that Israel has maintained ‘a system of oppression and domination’ over the Palestinians going all the way back to its establishment in 1948, one that meets the international definition of apartheid.” (AP, Feb 1, 2022)
- THE STATE OF ISRAEL GOVERNMENT — The State of Israel is governed by a 32-member cabinet. (source) The government has been led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since 1996. (source) and (source)
- IDF (ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES) — The IDF is the military force of the government of the State of Israel. (source)
- PALESTINIAN NATIONAL AUTHORITY (PA) — “The Palestinian Authority (PA) is a governing body that has overseen parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank since the mid-’90s. Its creation was supposed to pave the way to an independent Palestinian state, but today it is considered to have little real power and is operating under the control of the Israeli military.” (source)
- THE STATE OF PALESTINE GOVERNMENT — The government of the State of Palestine may be called the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) or the PLO EC (Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization). (source) The government has been lead by President Mahmoud Abbas since 2005. (source) and (source)
- HAMAS — A Palestinian political group founded in the 1980s after the first Palestinian uprising against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It seeks to create a Palestinian state. It does not recognize the statehood of Israel. It has had armed forces in the Gaza Strip since 2006. (source)
- ANSARALLAH / HOUTHIS — Ansarallah is a political group in Yemen. After Israel began attacking the Gaza Strip in October 2023, the Houthis (another name for Ansarallah) enacted a naval blockade “to put pressure on Israel to end its attack on Gaza.” (source)
- HEZBOLLAH — Hezbollah is both a democratically elected political party and military in Lebanon. “Hezbollah grew out of Israel’s occupation in Lebanon, and managed to liberate the south from Israeli occupation in 2000 and again when the Israelis invaded in 2006. Hezbollah was also crucial to the defeat of ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the collection of US-backed extremist groups in both Syria and Lebanon in the proxy war that began in 2011.” (source) “Hezbollah, one of the most powerful and popular resistance forces in the region, which has successfully resisted US and Israeli interventionist designs, helped defeat ISIS and al-Qaeda, and even expelled the Israeli military after two decades of brutal military occupation of south Lebanon. Hezbollah has a political arm that is democratically elected, holding 12 seats in Lebanon’s parliament, and which has been a member of the country’s governing coalition for a decade. Because of the resistance movement’s presence in government, Washington and Tel Aviv have refused to recognize the legitimacy of Lebanese democracy, and have desperately pursued regime change.” (source)
The region’s current borders emerged from a long and complex process of treaties, conferences, deals and conflicts that followed the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the end of World War One. But the spirit of Sykes-Picot, dominated by the interests and ruthless ambitions of the two main competing colonial powers, prevailed during that process and through the coming decades, to the Suez crisis of 1956 and even beyond… The resulting order inherited by the Middle East of the day sees a variety of states whose borders were generally drawn with little regard for ethnic, tribal, religious or linguistic considerations… There is a natural tendency for such countries to fall apart unless held together by the iron grip of a strongman or a powerful central government.– BBC, May 2016
It’s important to understand how completely un-monolithic Jews are on the issue of Israel and Zionism. The fiercest and most incisive critics of Israel I follow are all Jewish. Don’t let propagandists frame this as “Jew haters vs Jews” when it’s really justice vs injustice.– Caitlin Johstone
8 min — Noam Chomsky explains that Zionism is “the last phase of European colonization.”
34 min — In May 2019, Dr. Gabor Mate’ gave his personal experience as a Jew, Holocaust survivor (as an infant), and his experience and evolution in learning that Zionism is, in practice, a brutal assault on Palestinian peoples. (This video includes what he explained in the 5-min clip above, and provides additional historical context.).
13 min — Dr. Norman Finkelstein received his PhD from Princeton University. A Jew, Finkelstein is known for his diligent research on Israel and Palestine. Here, he explains why ‘I Totally Support The Houthis, As A Jew’
24 min — In only 20 minutes, we learn more clear information about the perspectives of people who have suffered from American governments than from decades of Western corporate media propaganda. Max Blumenthal asks precise, hard-hitting questions of Houthi spokesman Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, who is given adequate time to answer fully, providing a vital perspective on historical context and current events.
2 hrs — Within 40 minutes, there is an extensive amount of clear information, beginning with the Jan 26, 2024 ruling by the ICJ (International Court of Justice located in The Hague, Netherlands). The ruling states that Israel must improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza and prevent acts of genocide. This video features the perspective of ex-UN Office of Human Rights Commissioner Lawyer and Whistleblower, Craig Mokhiber, including the history of Gaza, the past actions of the UN and Israel, the significance of this ruling and how it can empower people throughout the world.
Making a Difference
We Each Can Make a Difference by Seeking Understanding & Being Precise when Communicating
Any subject that creates widespread tension, division or violence will naturally be a difficult one to describe and discuss in a way that can promote peace, acceptance, resolution, or justice. But there are a few simple things that every person can do to create more productive, peaceful interactions.
To make real progress on anything requires that we know, in reality, who and what we’re talking about. In other words, the first step is always to seek understanding. We do not add value, and are likely to cause harm, when we form and express opinions without a reasonable level of understanding and experience, including an understanding of opposing perspectives.
Direct experience is the most vital, fundamental source of knowledge. To understand something, we need to consider our own direct experience, and seek out others with direct experience. Knowledgeable sources will either have direct experience or a skill in empowering others with context and support in connecting dots.
When seeking understanding, we need definitions and context.
Once we have a clear understanding that we wish to convey or a hypothesis we wish to test, using neutral language and speaking with clarity and precision (and demanding clarity and precision from those we engage with) is something all can do to contribute to peace and justice. It’s possible to lessen needless tension and lay the groundwork for solutions by simply adopting neutral communication strategies such as these, for example:
- Define terminology simply, using clear language. Use neutral and accepted meanings, referencing verifiable sources. Even if nothing else is done but this one thing (simply and clearly defining terms used in media and other communications), much will be gained by countering the distracting, confusing mess that has been dumped on humanity by powerful interests who maintain control by having a confused and overwhelmed populace.
- Explain and provide information using neutral, factual descriptors. Avoid referring to political movements, politicians, cultural factions and other divisive terminology except when directly relevant for describing the subject.
- Be precise. Point to verifiable sources. Facts may be about things that make you sad or angry, but there is also an inherent neutrality to verifiable truth, a platform from which reasoned action may be taken.
- Be clear when verifiable facts end and an opinion begins.
- Differentiate between people vs. governments and between ethnic groups vs. political and military groups.
An important, fundamental step we can make is to help each other avoid the mistake of equating people with the (corrupted) political and military leadership of their country. For example, to use a word such as Israel, Palestine, U.S., or China, we must know whether we are discussing the geography, the decision-makers in government and the military, or to the historical and cultural roots of these countries. Within countries, people are not homogeneous groups; they are different from each other. Thus, to speak meaningfully about people’s perspectives requires getting more specific. But even more important, people are different from the governments who currently “represent” them. For example, to speak of “Israelis” or “Americans” based on the actions of political and military leaders is to completely obfuscate the truth that the people who live in those countries have no role in those actions (other than tacit acceptance, which won’t change from blame, but from truthful exchanges that lead sleeping masses into making new decisions and taking new actions).
This is true for virtually every country. The vast majority of people across the planet have inaccurate knowledge of what leaders do in their name, and have no control over the decision-makers of “their” governments and militaries. In other words, when we lump people in with “their” governments and leaders, we ignore the reality that most governments are defying the will of their people in unending ways, not the least of which is engaging in corrupt and violent practices at home and across the globe.
To condemn a government or military action need not mean condemnation of its people. This is important, because solutions become more clear when we see that the most significant problems are not actually being created at the level of people, but at the level of the ruling class / the oligarchy / the military-industrial-technocratic complex.
By making such distinctions, we can get better and better at identifying the actual problems and real solutions.
More Independent Reports
Independent Sources that Counter the Establishment Narrative
To Those Who Don’t Listen to the Mainstream News, It’s Not a Complicated Issue
The Israel-Palestine issue is not complicated; an apartheid regime abuses and oppresses an indigenous ethnic group who don’t have the same rights as others. The only reason anyone thinks it’s complicated is because they assume if it were simple, the news would’ve told them so. Really Israel-Palestine is one of the easier conflicts to understand on the world stage; conflicts like Ukraine or Syria are much more complicated. It’s obvious at a glance that there’s one group in power and another group being treated very badly by that group, but because the press frames it as a complicated issue with its sympathies wildly slanted toward the apartheid regime, people assume it can’t be as simple as what it looks like at first glance. It is, though. Israel is exactly the abusive apartheid regime it looks like on the surface. Remember this as the bodies pile up and Gaza is turned into a smoldering crater.– Caitlin Johnstone, Oct 10, 2023
The Media is Wrong to Portray Israel’s Assault on Gaza as an “Israel/Hamas War”
When the media cover what’s happening as being an “Israel/Hamas war,” it really does Israel a favor by presenting its campaign as being much more narrowly targeted than it is in practice… [making it] sound more legitimate than the much more accurate ways that one might describe what’s happening, such as “Israel’s war on Gaza,” for example. I don’t think that it’s at all reasonable to describe what’s happening as an “Israel/Hamas war” when journalists based in Gaza, Palestinian journalists, schools in Gaza, hospitals, UN refugee centers, all of these places, not to mention residential homes, power generators, water sanitation systems, etc., etc.,… are destroyed… That’s not a war against a guerilla army.– Greg Shupak, author of The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel and the Media
[From description of 14-min video above:] In response to this past weekend’s deadly attacks on Israel by militants from Gaza, Russia has released a statement calling for an end to violence and for the conflict to be resolved on the basis of international law. The proposed resolution would entail a return to the 1967 borders and a two-state solution.– Oct 11, 2023