An Antizionist in Zion – An interview with Steve Amsel of Desert Peace
by Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, Sicht vom Hochblauen, 16 February 2017. I am very content that my friend Steve Amsel is willing to give me an interview describing not only his political but also his private life in the „Jewish State“.
Steve Amsel is a believing US Jewish Canadian who today lives in East Jerusalem, so to say in the eye of the typhoon. He was born in 1944 in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were East European immigrants and belonged to the working class. He went to public schools and got involved in the Civil Rights Movement while still in highschool. Steve married and moved to Canada, and continued in the struggle where he still is involved in, now living in Jerusalem.
Desert Peace is his blog which for years impressed me immensely so that I tried everything to get in contact with him which resulted in the meantime in a strong link and fruitful exchange. As Steve Amsel is such an interesting and diverse personality I thought it important to ask him for an interview which he kindly agreed upon.
Steve, I was quite surprised that you live in East Jerusalem, i.e. the part of Jerusalem occupied by Israel. As anti zionist and peace activist how is it to live in the illegally occupied part of Jerusalem?
Steve Amsel: I live in a wonderful mixed community known as French Hill in Northern Jerusalem. It can truly serve as an example for all of Israel. Living here are both religious and secular Jews and hundreds of Palestinian families. In the 30 years that I have lived here there have been no serious problems. I have in more than one instance assisted Palestinians to rent or buy apartments here. If a problem arised, I would sign the renta agreement and take full responsibility from the owner. Here too, a problem never lasted for long. So, I feel my living in this area is justified as long as I serve as the ‚buffer‘ whenever racism shows its ugly head.
Being Canadian how did you at all come to Israel and stay there?
Steve Amsel: I came here to visit some close cousins that were living here. My trip was intended to be a short visit, but after a few days it became apparent that if I lived here I could be more effective in the fight for Palestinian Justice and Peace in general. Much more so than demonstrating at an Israeli Embassy abroad …. so I stayed. Thirty three years later I feel that my decision was perfectly justified.
Do you mind telling me something of your biography, of your every days‘ life? I know already that your natural son lives in Canada, that you adopted a Palestinian family, and that a very freedom-loving cat reigns your household. I am sure that my readersare very interested not only in the political but also in the private Steve Amsel.
Steve Amsel: Over twenty years ago I met a young Palestinian Law Student. He was studying at the University close to my home. He expressed interest in moving into my apartment as it was close to his school and also close to where he wanted to set up his Law practice. He stayed with me for over ten years and a beautiful family relationship was formed. He got married and is the father of three children. They live just a few steps away from my home. The children know me as ‚Sido‘ , Arabic for Grandpa. In his home village in Northern Palestine I am known as Abu Azmi (father of Azmi). Of this I am truly proud. Both of our family’s literally enjoy the best of two worlds through our relationship.
What do you think about the US and EU until now standing unconditionally behind the „Jewish State“ , regardless of its violation of human rights and barbaric crimes against the Palestinian people?
Steve Amsel: All I can say to this is that „birds of a feather flock together“.
Do you know of any reason why Europe’s far-right parties like Le Pen, AfD (Petry), FPÖ, Vlaamse Block support Israel and harmonize so well with the Jewish fascists?
Steve Amsel: Again, the same answer as above. Fascists stick together like sh-t!
What is your opinion regarding the Iraeli human rights organizations from BeT’selem to „Breaking the Silence“which are under massive pressure of the Netanjahu regime, and are persecuted even abroad?
Steve Amsel: Both organisations that you name are doing a fantastic job of exposing the evils of the zionist regeme. They are persecuted because they both tell the truth, and as we all know, truth is the biggest enemy that zionism has to face today.
Can you guess how many Jewish people in Israel in fact still believe in peace and democratic life in the „Jewish State“?
Steve Amsel: I do not have numbers, but there are many Jews of conscience living here today. Unfortunately there is not an umbrella organisation that unites the various groups involved in the struggle for Justice and Peace. Hopefully soon this will change and the voices of the Left will be heard loud and clear.
It seems to me that there is no real opposition any more in Israel – or how do you feel about this?
Steve Amsel: There IS opposition, but unfortunately it is silent at the present time. My previous answer will tell why this is.
What do you think of the future – will the „Endloesung“, the „final solution“ of the Judaization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine lead to a transfer to Jordan or to asylum in Germany?
Steve Amsel: I see the future as a bright one. The Western world will eventually wake up to the horrors of the occupation and Israel will lose much of the support that it enjoys today.
In Germany there is always a difference between „illegal outposts“ and „Jewish settlements“, despite the fact that all Jewish settlements on stolen Palestinian land are illegal. What is your opinion about this?
Steve Amsel: Illegal Outposts and Jewish Settlements are both the same. Both result in the theft of palestinian land and both are illegal according to numerous resolutions from the United Nations.
What do you think about the chuzpe demand of gaining recognition as „Jewish State“ – an unacceptable demand, unparalleled in the whole world. Let alone that this is also demanded from the depriveded and occupied.
Steve Amsel: Again, when the West realises what the truth is, the occupation will be forcibly ended, just as Apartheid was ended in South Africa.
Especially in Germany where a „Christian-Zionistic“ chancellor leads a Große Koalition, will the recognition of a „Jewish State“ be part of a compulsary programme for refugees, a state without firm borders that daily expands on Palestinian territory. How will you comment on this absurdity?
Steve Amsel: Again, same answer as the previous question.
At present the Israel lobby and Jewish organizations are trying – quite successfully – to cut back on the freedom of speech as well as on the freedom of lecture at universities and public events. Again it happens that banks cancel Jewish and BDS activists‘ accounts, and again it is distinguished between „good“ and „bad“ Jews. In today’s Germany one observes the phenomenon that Jews are made antisemits by Jews. Did you think that this could ever happen?
Steve Amsel: Zionism is responsible for most of the anti Semitism in the world today. Many people cannot distinguish between Judaism and zionism …. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!
What do you think will change in the „Jewish State“ by the „Trumpism“? Right now the euphoria and the construction boom seem to be immense. How will that develop?
Steve Amsel: So far, Trump is Israel’s major ally. This hopefully will change after Netanyah’s visit to Washington later this week. The arrogance of power vs the arrogance of stupidity might just create a change in relationships.
What do you think about BDS and are you a great supporter, as I am?
Steve Amsel:Of course I support the BDS Movement. The same type of Movement was instrumental in helping to rid South Africa of the Apartheid system. Same was true of Chile in helping to rid their country of fascism in the 70’s. In Israel we have a Boycott From Within Movement of which I am an ardent supporter. It is the only and best solution to end the horrors of the occupation.
As a former US and Canadian citizen do you observe any changes in the present support or rejection of Jewish or Israeli citizens in the US?
Steve Amsel: A growing number of Jewish citizens abroad are embarrased by the present day policies of Israel. There is a growing awareness as well that most of the anti Semitic incidents taking place are a result of Israels atrocious politics.
As a person who believes very little in the fata morgana of a „Two states solution“ – how should a free Palestine look like?
Steve Amsel: There is too much hatred in Israel today for us to realise a One State Solution. It could never work. The only option as I see it is a Two state Solution, with both nations living side by side in Peace and both recognised by the world community as truly independent States.
Both of us being Anti-Zionists I would very much like to remind you our mutual aim to meet in a free Palestine, as you once promised me. What do you propose for our mutual fight?
Steve Amsel: We both must continue with all of our strength to present the truth. Only then will opinions change and Palestine will finally be free and independent. And YES …. we WILL meet in a Free Palestine! This I promise!!
Dear Steve, I thank you most heartily for this interview.