By Norm Tederous

Red herrings are all over the place as supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argue that it’s anti-Semitism that prompts critics to speak out against the November attacks on Gaza, not documented facts regarding Israel’s long and vicious occupation of Palestine.

It should not be surprising to note that the most prominent voices in defense of Palestinians come from honorable Jewish researchers and intellectuals, both in the United States and Israel.

Since the partition of Palestine in 1948, many Jewish scholars have been quick to condemn what Ilan Pappe, Israeli “new historian,” calls ethnic cleansing in the area. Jewish-American scholar Noam Chomsky agrees with Pappe’s assessment, arguing against the claim that Israel, once again, is simply defending itself against “terrorists.”

Says Chomsky, “… they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing.”

Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist writing for Haaretz, a major Israeli newspaper, candidly blames the right-wing Israeli government for the most recent upheaval, reminding the world that, as he puts it, “the one who is bleeding most, is Gaza; Israel is in second place.”

This indictment against the Israeli government was written by Israeli sociologist Tanya Reinhart, late wife of one of Israel’s most celebrated poets and defenders of Palestinian rights, Aharon Shabtai. In her controversial book, “The Roadmap to Nowhere,” she describes Palestinian resistance to the Israelis’ annexation of Arab land during the construction of their gigantic, penal wall: “Armed only with the extraordinary spirit of people who have clung on to their land for generation after generation, they stand in the path of one of the most brutal military machines in the world.”

Looking back at her remarkable life as wife of Moshe Dayan, one of Israel’s most important founding fathers, and decrying, as she does, the fate of Palestinians living in Israel, 95-year-old peace advocate Ruth Dayan spoke with a Newsweek journalist on the subject of the Gaza/Israeli predicament: “Today we use foreign labor … because Palestinians are not allowed. And this continuous expansion of the settlements … I cannot accept it. I cannot tolerate this deterioration in the territories and the roadblocks everywhere. And that horrible wall! It’s not right.”

Those who challenge Israel’s iron policy understand that it isn’t Hamas’ rockets alone that are responsible for the brutal Israeli assaults in Gaza, but Israel’s 1948 dispossession of Palestinians, together with a growing and even more lethal occupation. Only those who view all Israelis – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – as equals understand why Palestinians are the hapless victims here.

Norm Tederous is a member of the Western New York Peace Group and the Palestinian-Israeli Task Force.