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Palestine: History & Our Responsibility

Talk by Sr.Sukeina,
Innovative Minds
8 November 2003

As part of the Ramadan Boycott Israel Campaign Sr.Sukeina was invited to give a talk to Muslim sisters and brothers at a mosque in south London. The talk is in two parts, each part approximately 10 minutes long. She first briefly looks at the history of the tragedy and then in the second part addresses the question of what our responsibility, as Muslims living in the west, is towards the Palestinian struggle. Here we present her talk in full - both the words and the audio.

A moving video on the massacre of Deir Yassin was shown between the two parts of the talk. A short clip from this video is also provided.

Exhibition on Palestine accompanied the talk


Part 1: History


Brothers and sisters in Islam

Assalamu Alaikum

As you all know for the past two years we as a community have been trying to boycott the companies that support Israel - with mixed success. Today I want to briefly look at why we are boycotting - touching on the history of Palestine.

Palestine has been a Muslim country for well over a 1000 years. In that period we have seen numerous invasions from the West - to steal the land- the crusades.

Finally they took Palestine with most of the Middle-East at the end of the first world war with the defeat of the Ottoman State. The Imperialist powers - Britain and France - carved our land into small pieces to divide between them. Lebanon, Syria - The French took, Egypt and Palestine - The British took, and so on. So the British had control over Palestine at the end of the first world war.

Now, 20 years before this a political movement called Zionism had started among the Jews, basically Zionism believed that Jews cannot live with non-Jews, they demanded a land of their own. They considered many countries like Argentina, Cyprus and Uganda for their exclusive Jewish state, but they realised that in order to get support of the Jewish people it would have to be Palestine with its biblical background. But even then most of the Jews at the time rejected the idea. The religious Jews condemned Zionism as a "blasphemy against Judaism". And in fact on November 10, 1975 the world condemned Zionism at the UN General Assembly as "a form of racism and racial discrimination".

It is only with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe that Zionism gathered more support among the Jews. The Zionist realised that their plot to steal Palestine will require the support from the Imperialist powers of the day. They had predicted the British take over of Palestine before the end of the first world war. So they held secret meetings with the British government promising to be their watchdog in the Middle East, securing British interest like the Suez Canal in return for Britain's support in the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine.

A quotation from the British Prime Minister Sir Campbell Bannerman reveals why Britain found it imperative to support the creation of a Zionist state in the heartland of Islam. This is very important - in one quotation it tells us why they created Israel. This is a quotation from a British Prime Minister over 40 years before the creation of Israel - he is talking about Muslims not just Palestinians.

Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman

“There are people who control spacious territories teeming with manifest and hidden resources. They dominate the intersections of world routes. Their lands were the cradle of human civilizations and religions.

These people have one faith, one language, one history and the same aspirations.

No natural barriers can isolate these people from one another... if per chance, this nation were to be unified into one state, it would then take the fate of the world into its hands and would separate Europe from the rest of the world.

Taking these considerations seriously, a foreign body should be planted in the heart of this nation to prevent the convergence of its wings in such a way that it could exhaust its powers in never-ending wars. It could also serve as a springboard for the West to gain its coveted objects.”

This resulted in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 in which Britain promised the Zionists a national home in Palestine. We have to realize that at that time, at the end of the first world war there were very few Jews in Palestine - just 56,000 Jews compare to 1 million Palestinians, that's less than 6% of the population in Palestine.

So Lord Balfour in a confidential letter revealed the plot and I quote

Lord Balfour
"In Palestine we do not propose to even go through the formality of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants.... The four powers are committed to Zionism."

The 4 powers being America, Britain, France and Russia They all conspired to create Israel.

Now we come to the second world war. After the second world war the British Empire was coming to an end. The US, the country least exhausted by the war emerged as a new power in the world, so the Zionists turned to America for patronage, For the Americans this was an attractive proposal. President Truman new that a Zionist state, completely dependent on the US for its daily survival, would be devoted to US interests in the region.

So in 1946 after the Zionists blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem, slaughtering 91 innocent people, the Palestinian issue was hurriedly passed to the UN. The UN has no legal mandate to partition a country against the wishes of its people and yet with US domination of the UN, it proposed a partition plan for Palestine granting 55% of Palestine to the Jews who in fact owned only 6% of the land.

Even after massive US bullying, all the countries of Asia and Africa opposed the partition plan, except for three, one of which was white dominated South-Africa.

The UN ambassador of Haiti began to cry when he was forced to change his vote, similarly vulnerable Liberia threatened with a rubber embargo had to obey the US. This is the sort of shameful open bullying that went on that day to secure the votes for the partition of Palestine.

The Palestinians obviously rejected the theft of their land and a war broke out as the ruthless Zionist soldiers made a grab for the land slaughtering Palestinians wherever they found them. The Palestinians were left to fight alone; they had no army and few weapons to oppose the Zionist military who had been trained and armed by the Britain army.

On 9th April 1948 soldiers of the Irgun, a particularly fanatic Zionist terrorist group commanded by Menachem Begin who later became the Prime Minister of Israel, entered the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. And they slaughtered 250-300 men, women, and children in cold blood. Their bodies were purposely mutilated to terrorize the rest of the Palestinians into fleeing their homes from fear of similar massacres, thereby achieving the Zionist aim of ethnic cleansing.

Menachem Begin himself said:

Menachem Begin
“Deir Yassin massacre was not only necessary but without it the State of Israel would not have emerged.”

At Haifa, Jaffa and other cities the Zionists terrorized the population into fleeing by broadcasting horror recordings that filled the air with shrieks and anguish moans of Muslim women and children, interrupted by a sorrowful voice that called out in Arabic“ Flee for your lives, the Jews are using poisonous gas.” As the Palestinians fled Haifa only one phrase trembled on their lips “Deir Yassin, Deir Yassin.”

Those that didn't flee were slaughtered or forcefully removed - over 400 Palestinian cities and villages were depopulated like this. Over 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes.

This is how the "foreign body" - the cancer called Israel was "planted in the heart of our Islamic nation".


Deir Yassin Video

Brothers and sisters what we are about to see is one woman's moving eyewitness account of Deir Yassin.


Deir Yassin - The Agony (3min Video Clip)

Play video clip (real video 3:40 min 2.2Mb)
(To save: right-click mouse then select "Save Target As..")

The video clip is from the video "Deir Yassin - The Agony" produced by Press House (Khaled Al-Zighari), Al-Quds. It is available in both arabic and english, and is distributed in Europe by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC). It costs only £4 (UK) and is one of several excellent videos that they have on Palestine. Highly recommended.


Part 2: Our Responsibility


This slaughter of Muslims in Palestine - their blood shed on the holy soil of the land of our first qibla, the Masjid Al-Aqsa, that started with Deir Yassin continues to this day. We were all witnesses to the barbaric massacre at Jenin just last year.

We all read about Muntaha Seraya. How 15 Israeli soldiers beat her and her four children with their fists and guns after bursting into her home in Jenin. The youngest was just 4 years old. She herself was four months pregnant.... she suffered a miscarriage half an hour after the soldiers left.

They used her husband as a human shield, resting their M-16 rifles on his shoulder as they moved door to door firing in to the houses. When an israeli sniper shot the "human shield" by mistake he was left bleeding for five days before being taken to the hospital.

This is the reality Palestinians live with every day. We have to ask ourselves what is our responsibility - mine and yours as Muslims?

Lets see what non-Muslims are doing in the name of justice. I do not know whether you can see this photo but you probably know the story of Rachel Corrie.

Israeli army bulldozer used for murder

She wasn't a Muslim, she hadn't read the Quranic ayat that commands us to stand firmly for justice:

Holy Quran Surah Nissa (4) Ayat 135 :

"O ye who believe!
stand out firmly for justice,
as witnesses to God,
even as against yourselves,
or your parents,
or your kin,
and whether it be (against) rich or poor:
for God can best protect both.
Follow not the lusts (of your hearts),
lest ye swerve,
and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice,
verily God is well- acquainted with all that ye do."

Rachel hadn't heard those words, she wasn't a Muslim, but she felt her responsibility was to stand against injustice so she went to Palestine. She stood against this Israeli army bulldozer, defending a Palestinian home from destruction. The bulldozer drove directly over her, twice, crushing her body and she lost her life, standing for justice on the 16th of March this year.

Rachel Corrie - stood against injustice

She was only 23 years old with her whole life in front of her. She had the same aspirations that all of us have for life and yet she sacrificed her life to stand against injustice.

So I repeat again what is OUR responsibility as MUSLIMS?

It is for each of us to look into our hearts to find the answer. But one thing is clear if we can not stand for justice like we are commanded to, like Rachel Corrie did, what we mustn't do is stand on the side of injustice - we mustn't help the oppressor. For that, there is no justification.

This brings us back to the boycott. We have a list of companies here that actively support Israel - the oppressor of Muslims.

Click on the image to see the details

If you have a look at the list you will see a lot of familiar names like Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Nestle, Sara Lee, Marks & Spencer etc. Most of them have easy alternatives you can switch to. Take Coca-Cola for example, there are so many Muslim alternatives like Mecca-Cola, Qibla-Cola, Zam-Zam-Cola, Muslim-Up that it becomes difficult to choose which one to go for. And most of them even give a percentage to a Muslim or Palestinian charity, so why buy Coke?

A poster created by the youth of the Mosque showing the products to boycott
and the fatwa of their religious leader Ayatollah Seestani

Our Marja-e-Taqlid Ayatollah Seestani has given a clear fatwa in his book " A code of practice for Muslims living in the West." On page 146, fatwa no 249 he says :

"It is not permissible for a Muslim to buy products of the countries that are in a state of war with Islam and Muslims, for example Israel."

and again on page 150, fatwa no 265 he is asked a question

"Is it permissible to buy from shops that dedicate part of their profits to supporting Israel?

and his answer is clear:

"We do not allow that"

My brothers and sisters my message for today is stop buying the products of oppression and show your support for the Palestinians by attending this years Quds Day demonstration on Sunday 23rd of November - thats in two weeks time.

Remember it was Imam Khomeini (RA) who 24 years ago first inaugurated the last Friday of Ramadan as Quds Day a day of solidarity with the oppressed people of the world and in particular solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians.

Let us all on that Sunday afternoon, at least, stand together for justice.

Thank you.