Posts Tagged ‘Apartheid’

The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict

PUBLISHED BY JEWS FOR JUSTICE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
DISTRIBUTED BY IF AMERICANS KNEW

As the periodic bloodshed continues in the Middle East, the search for an equitable solution must come to grips with the root cause of the conflict. The conventional wisdom is that, even if both sides are at fault, the Palestinians are irrational “terrorists” who have no point of view worth listening to. Our position, however, is that the Palestinians have a real grievance: their homeland for over a thousand years was taken, without their consent and mostly by force, during the creation of the state of Israel. And all subsequent crimes–on both sides–inevitably follow from this original injustice. This paper outlines the history of Palestine to show how this process occured and what a moral solution to the region’s problems should consist of. If you care about the people of the Middle East, Jewish and Arab, you owe it to yourself to read this account of the other side of the historical record.

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INTRODUCTION

The standard Zionist position is that they showed up in Palestine in the late 19th century to reclaim their ancestral homeland. Jews bought land and started building up the Jewish community there. They were met with increasingly violent opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, presumably stemming from the Arabs’ inherent anti-Semitism. The Zionists were then forced to defend themselves and, in one form or another, this same situation continues up to today.

The problem with this explanation is that it is simply not true, as the documentary evidence in this booklet shall show.

What really happened was that the Zionist movement, from the beginning, looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population so that Israel could be a wholly Jewish state, or as much as was possible. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never be sold or even leased back to Arabs (a situation which continues to the present). The Arab community, as it became increasingly aware of the Zionists’ intentions, strenuously opposed further Jewish immigration and land buying because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Arab society in Palestine. Because of this opposition, the entire Zionist project never could have been realized without the military backing of the British. The vast majority of the population of Palestine, by the way, had been Arabic since the seventh century A.D. (over 1200 years). In short, Zionism was based on a faulty, colonialist world-view that the rights of the indigenous inhabitants didn’t matter. The Arabs’ opposition to Zionism wasn’t based on anti-Semitism but rather on a totally reasonable fear of the dispossession of their people. One further point: being Jewish ourselves, the position we present here is critical of Zionism but is in no way anti-Semitic. We do not believe that the Jews acted worse than any other group might have have acted in their situation. The Zionists (who were a distinct minority of the Jewish people until after WWII) had an understandable desire to establish a place where Jews could be masters of their fate, given the bleak history of Jewish oppression. Especially as the danger to European Jewry crystalized in the late 1930s and after, the actions of the Zionists were propelled by real desperation. But so were the actions of the Arabs. The mythic “land without people for a people without land” was already home to 700,000 Palestinians in 1919. This is the root of the problem, as we shall see.

EARLY HISTORY OF THE REGION

Before the Hebrews first migrated there around 1800 B.C., the land of Canaan was occupied by Canaanites.

“Between 3000 and 1100 B.C., Canaanite civilization covered what is today Israel, the West Bank, Lebanon and much of Syria and Jordan. . . Those who remained in the Jerusalem hills after the Romans expelled the Jews [in the second century A.D.] were a potpourri: farmers and vineyard growers, pagans and converts to Christianity, descendants of the Arabs, Persians, Samaritans, Greeks and old Canaanite tribes.” Marcia Kunstel and Joseph Albright, “Their Promised Land.” The present-day Palestinians’ ancestral heritage “But all these [different peoples who had come into Canaan] were additions,sprigs grafted onto the parent tree…And that parent tree was Canaanite… [The Arab invaders of the 7th century A.D.] made Moslem converts of the natives, settled down as residents, and intermarried with them, with the result that all are now so completely Arabized that we can’t tell where the Canaanites leave off and the Arabs begin.” Ilene Beatty, “Arab and Jew in the Land of Canaan.”

The Jewish kingdoms were only one of many periods in ancient Palestine

“The extended kingdoms of David and Solomon, on which the Zionists base their territorial demands, endured for only about 73 years…Then it fell apart…[Even] if we allow independence to the entire life of the ancient Jewish kingdoms, from David’s conquest of Canaan in 1000 B.C. to the wiping out of Judah in 586 B.C., we arrive at [only] a 414-year Jewish rule.” Ilene Beatty, “Arab and Jew in the Land of Canaan.” More on Canaanite civilization “Recent archeological digs have provided evidence that Jerusalem was a big and fortified city already in 1800 BCE…Findings show that the sophisticated water system hereto for attributed to the conquering Israelites pre-dated them by eight centuries and was even more sophisticated than imagined…Dr. Ronny Reich, who directed the excavation along with Eli Shuikrun, said the entire system was built as a single complex by Canaanites in the Middle Bronze Period, around 1800 BCE.” The Jewish Bulletin, July 31, 1998.

How long has Palestine been a specifically Arab country? “Palestine became a predominantly Arab and Islamic country by the end of the seventh century. Almost immediately thereafter its boundaries and its characteristics—including its name in Arabic, Filastin—became known to the entire Islamic world, as much for its fertility and beauty as for its religious significance… In 1516, Palestine became a province of the Ottoman Empire, but this made it no less fertile, no less Arab or Islamic… Sixty percent of the population was in agriculture; the balance was divided between townspeople and a relatively small nomadic group. All these people believed themselves to belong in a land called Palestine, despite their feelings that they were also members of a large Arab nation…Despite the steady arrival in Palestine of Jewish colonists after 1882, it is important to realize that not until the few weeks immediately preceding the establishment of Israel in the spring of 1948 was there ever anything other than a huge Arab majority. For example, the Jewish population in 1931 was 174,606 against a total of 1,033,314.” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

Jewish attitude towards Arabs upon reaching Palestine

“Serfs they (the Jews) were in the lands of the Diaspora, and suddenly they find themselves in freedom [in Palestine]; and this change has awakened in them an inclination to despotism. They treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, deprive them of their rights, offend them without cause, and even boast of these deeds; and nobody among us opposes this despicable and dangerous inclination.”

Zionist writer Ahad Ha’am, quoted in Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.” Proposals for Arab-Jewish Cooperation “An article by Yitzhak Epstein, published in Hashiloah in 1907… called for a new Zionist policy towards the Arabs after 30 years of settlement activity… Like Ahad-Ha’am in 1891, Epstein claims that no good land is vacant, so Jewish settlement meant Arab dispossession… Epstein’s solution to the problem, so that a new ‘Jewish question’ may be avoided, is the creation of a bi-national, non-exclusivist program ofsettlement and development. Purchasing land should not involve the dispossession of poor sharecroppers. It should mean creating a joint farming community, where the Arabs will enjoy modern technology. Schools, hospitals and libraries should be non-exclusivist and education bilingual…

The vision of non-exclusivist, peaceful cooperation to replace the practice of dispossession found few takers. Epstein was maligned and scorned for his faintheartedness.” Israeli author, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, “Original Sins.”

Was Palestine the only, or even preferred, destination of Jews facing persecution when the Zionist movement started?

“The pogroms forced many Jews to leave Russia. Societies known as ‘Lovers of Zion,’ which were forerunners of the Zionist organization, convinced some of the frightened emigrants to go to Palestine. There, they argued, Jews would rebuild the ancient Jewish ‘Kingdom of David and Solomon.’ Most Russian Jews ignored their appeal and fled to Europe and the United States. By 1900, almost a million Jews had settled in the United States alone.” “Our Roots Are Still Alive” by The Peoples Press Palestine Book Project.

THE BRITISH MANDATE PERIOD, 1920-1948

The Balfour Declaration promises a Jewish Homeland in Palestine

“The Balfour Declaration, made in November 1917 by the British Government… was made

  • a) by a European power,
  • b) about a non-European territory,
  • c) in a flat disregard of both the presence and the wishes of the native majority resident in that territory… [As Balfour himself wrote in 1919],

‘The contradiction between the letter of the Covenant (the Anglo-French Declaration of 1918 promising the Arabs of former Ottoman colonies that as a reward for supporting the Allies they could have their independence) is even more flagrant in the case of the independent nation of Palestine than in that of the independent nation of Syria. For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country…The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.’ ” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

Wasn’t Palestine a wasteland before the Jews started immigrating there?

“Britain’s high commissioner for Palestine, John Chancellor, recommended total suspension of Jewish immigration and land purchase to protect Arab agriculture. He said, ‘all cultivable land was occupied; that no cultivable land now in possession of the indigenous population could be sold to Jews without creating a class of landless Arab cultivators.’…The Colonial Office rejected the recommendation.” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”

Were the early Zionists planning on living side by side with the Arabs?

In 1919, the American King-Crane Commission spent six weeks in Syria and Palestine, interviewing delegations and reading petitions. Their report stated, “The commissioners began their study of Zionism with minds predisposed in its favor…The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission’s conferences with Jewish representatives that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, by various forms of purchase… “If [the] principle [of self-determination] is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population are to be decisive as to what is to be done with Palestine, then it is to be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine—nearly nine-tenths of the whole—are emphatically against the entire Zionist program…To subject a people so minded to unlimited Jewish immigration, and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land, would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted…No British officers, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms. The officers generally thought that a force of not less than fifty thousand soldiers would be required even to initiate the program. That of itself is evidence of a strong sense of the injustice of the Zionist program… The initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they have a ‘right’ to Palestine based on occupation of two thousand years ago, can barely be seriously considered.” Quoted in “The Israel-Arab Reader,” ed. Laqueur and Rubin.

“Zionist land policy was incorporated in the Constitution of the Jewish Agency for Palestine…‘land is to be acquired as Jewish property and… the title to the lands acquired is to be taken in the name of the Jewish National Fund, to the end that the same shall be held as the inalienable property of the Jewish people.’ The provision goes on to stipulate that ‘the Agency shall promote agricultural colonization based on Jewish labor’… The effect of this Zionist colonization policy on the Arabs was that land acquired by Jews became extra-territorialized. It ceased to be land from which the Arabs could ever hope to gain any advantage… “The Zionists made no secret of their intentions, for as early as 1921, Dr. Eder, a member of the Zionist Commission, boldly told the Court of Inquiry, ‘there can be only one National Home in Palestine, and that a Jewish one, and no equality in the partnership between Jews and Arabs, but a Jewish preponderance as soon as the numbers of the race are sufficiently increased.’ He then asked that only Jews should be allowed to bear arms.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

Denial of the Arabs’ right to self-determination

“Even if nobody lost their land, the [Zionist] program was unjust in principle because it denied majority political rights… Zionism, in principle, could not allow the natives to exercise their political rights because it would mean the end of the Zionist enterprise.” Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, “Original Sins.”

Arab resistance to Pre-Israeli Zionism

“In 1936-9, the Palestinian Arabs attempted a nationalist revolt… David Ben-Gurion, eminently a realist, recognized its nature. In internal discussion, he noted that ‘in our political argument abroad, we minimize Arab opposition to us,’ but he urged, ‘let us not ignore the truth among ourselves.’ The truth was that ‘politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside’… The revolt was crushed by the British, with considerable brutality.” Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

Gandhi on the Palestine conflict – 1938

“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French…What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct…If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs… As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.” Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in “A Land of Two Peoples” ed. Mendes-Flohr

gas the arabs - Copy

Didn’t the Zionists legally buy much of the land of Palestine before Israel was established?

“In 1948, at the moment that Israel declared itself a state, it legally owned a little more than 6 percent of the land of Palestine… After 1940, when the mandatory authority restricted Jewish land ownership to specific zones inside Palestine, there continued to be illegal buying (and selling) within the 65 percent of the total area restricted to Arabs. Thus when the partition plan was announced in 1947 it included land held illegally by Jews, which was incorporated as a fait accompli inside the borders of the Jewish state. And after Israel announced its statehood, an impressive series of laws legally assimilated huge tracts of Arab land (whose proprietors had become refugees, and were pronounced ‘absentee landlords’ in order to expropriate their lands and prevent their return under any circumstances.)” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

The Stealing of Palestine

THE UN PARTITION OF PALESTINE
Why did the UN recommend the plan partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state?

“By this time [November 1947] the United States had emerged as the most aggressive proponent of partition. . .The United States got the General Assembly to delay a vote ‘to gain time to bring certain Latin American republics into line with its own views.’…Some delegates charged U.S. officials with ‘diplomatic intimidation.’ Without ‘terrific pressure’ from the United States on ‘governments which cannot afford to risk American reprisals,’ said an anonymous editorial writer, the resolution ‘would never have passed.’ ” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.” Why was this Truman’s position? “I am sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.” President Harry Truman, quoted in “Anti-Zionism”, ed. by Tekiner, Abed-Rabbo & Mezvinsky.

Was the partition plan fair to both Arabs and Jews?

“Arab rejection was… based on the fact that, while the population of the Jewish state was to be [only half Jewish] with the Jews owning less than 10% of the Jewish state land area, the Jews were to be established as the ruling body— a settlement which no self-respecting people would accept without protest, to say the least…The action of the United Nations conflicted with the basic principles for which the world organization was established, namely, to uphold the right of all peoples to self-determination. By denying the Palestine Arabs, who formed the two-thirds majority of the country, the right to decide for themselves, the United Nations had violated its own Charter.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

Were the Zionists prepared to settle for the territory granted in the 1947 Partition?

“While the Yishuv’s leadership formally accepted the 1947 Partition Resolution, large sections of Israeli society—including…Ben-Gurion—were opposed to or extremely unhappy with partition and from early on viewed the war as an ideal opportunity to expand the new state’s borders beyond the UN-earmarked partition boundaries and at the expense of the Palestinians.” Israeli historian, Benny Morris, in “Tikkun”, March/April 1998.

Public vs. private pronouncements on this question

“In internal discussion in 1938, [David Ben-Gurion] stated that ‘after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine… The state will only be a stage in the realization of Zionism and its task is to prepare the ground for our expansion into the whole of Palestine.’…In 1948, Menahem Begin declared that: ‘The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.’ ” Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

Zionists’ disrespect of partition boundaries

“Before the end of the mandate and, therefore before any possible intervention by the Arab states, the Jews, taking advantage of their superior military preparation and organization, had occupied. . . most of the Arab cities in Palestine before May 15, 1948. Tiberius was occupied on April 19 1948, Haifa on April 22, Jaffa on April 28, the Arab quarters in the New City of Jerusalem on April 30, Beisan on May 8, Safad on May 10 and Acre on May 14, 1948. . . In contrast, the Palestine Arabs did not seize any of the territories reserved for the Jewish state under the partition resolution.” British author, Henry Cattan, “Palestine, The Arabs and Israel.”

Culpability for escalation of the fighting

“Menachem Begin, the Leader of the Irgun, tells how ‘in Jerusalem, as elsewhere, we were the first to pass from the defensive to the offensive…Arabs began to flee in terror…Hagana was carrying out successful attacks on other fronts, while all the Jewish forces proceeded to advance through Haifa like a knife through butter’…The Israelis now allege that the Palestine war began with the entry of the Arab armies into Palestine after 15 May 1948. But that was the second phase of the war; they overlook the massacres, expulsions and dispossessions which took place prior to that date and which necessitated Arab states’ intervention.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

begin-wanted-poster
The Deir Yassin Massacre of Palestinians by Jewish soldiers

“For the entire day of April 9, 1948, Irgun and LEHI soldiers carried out the slaughter in a cold and premeditated fashion…The attackers ‘lined men, women and children up against the walls and shot them,’…The ruthlessness of the attack on Deir Yassin shocked Jewish and world opinion alike, drove fear and panic into the Arab population, and led to the flight of unarmed civilians from their homes all over the country.” Israeli author, Simha Flapan, “The Birth Of Israel.”

Was Deir Yassin the only act of this kind?

“By 1948, the Jew was able not only to ‘defend himself’ but to commit massive atrocities as well. Indeed, according to the former director of the Israeli army archives, ‘in almost every Arab village occupied by us during the War of Independence, acts were committed which are defined as war crimes, such as murders, massacres, and rapes’… Uri Milstein, the authoritative Israeli military historian of the 1948 war, goes one step further, maintaining that ‘every skirmish ended in a massacre of Arabs.’ ” Norman Finkelstein, “Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.”

STATEHOOD AND EXPULSION – 1948

Was the part of Palestine assigned to a Jewish state in mortal danger from the Arab armies?

“The Arab League hastily called for its member countries to send regular army troops into Palestine. They were ordered to secure only the sections of Palestine given to the Arabs under the partition plan. But these regular armies were ill-equipped and lacked any central command to coordinate their efforts… [Jordan’s King Abdullah] promised [the Israelis and the British] that his troops, the Arab Legion, the only real fighting force among the Arab armies, would avoid fighting with Jewish settlements… Yet Western historians record this as the moment when the young state of Israel fought off ‘the overwhelming hordes’ of five Arab countries. In reality, the Israeli offensive against the Palestinians intensified.” “Our Roots Are Still Alive” by the Peoples Press Palestine Book Project.

Ethnic cleansing of the Arab population of Palestine

“Joseph Weitz was the director of the Jewish National Land Fund… On December 19, 1940, he wrote: ‘It must be clear that there is no room for both peoples in this country… The Zionist enterprise so far… has been fine and good in its own time, and could do with ‘land buying’—but this will not bring about the State of Israel; that must come all at once, in the manner of Salvation (this is the secret of the Messianic idea); and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer them all; except maybe for Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem, we must not leave a single village, not a single tribe’…There were literally hundreds of such statements made by Zionists. ” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

“Following the outbreak of 1936, no mainstream [Zionist] leader was able to conceive of future coexistence and peace without a clear physical separation between the two peoples—achievable only by way of transfer and expulsion. Publicly they all continued to speak of coexistence and to attribute the violence to a small minority of zealots and agitators. But this was merely a public pose. . .Ben-Gurion summed up: ‘With compulsory transfer we (would) have a vast area (for settlement). . . I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see anything immoral in it.’ ” Israeli historian, Benny Morris, “Righteous Victims”

AshkeNazi Terrorist

AshkeNazi Terrorist

“Ben-Gurion clearly wanted as few Arabs as possible to remain in the Jewish state. He hoped to see them flee. He said as much to his colleagues and aides in meetings in August, September and October [1948]. But no [general] expulsion policy was ever enunciated and Ben-Gurion always refrained from issuing clear or written expulsion orders; he preferred that his generals ‘understand’ what he wanted done. He wished to avoid going down in history as the ‘great expeller’ and he did not want the Israeli government to be implicated in a morally questionable policy… But while there was no ‘expulsion policy’, the July and October [1948] offensives were characterized by far more expulsions and, indeed, brutality towards Arab civilians than the first half of the war.” Benny Morris, “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949.

Didn’t the Palestinians leave their homes voluntarily during the 1948 war?

“Israeli propaganda has largely relinquished the claim that the Palestinian exodus of 1948 was ‘self-inspired’. Official circles implicitly concede that the Arab population fled as a result of Israeli action—whether directly, as in the case of Lydda and Ramleh, or indirectly, due to the panic that and similar actions (the Deir Yassin massacre) inspired in Arab population centers throughout Palestine. However, even though the historical record has been grudgingly set straight, the Israeli establishment still refuses to accept moral or political responsibility for the refugee problem it—or its predecessors—actively created.” Peretz Kidron, quoted in “Blaming The Victims,” ed. Said and Hitchens.

Arab orders to evacuate nonexistent

“The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) monitored all Middle Eastern broadcasts throughout 1948. The records, and companion ones by a United States monitoring unit, can be seen at the British Museum… There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine, from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in 1948. There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put.” Erskine Childers, British researcher, quoted in Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

“That Ben-Gurion’s ultimate aim was to evacuate as much of the Arab population as possible from the Jewish state can hardly be doubted, if only from the variety of means he employed to achieve this purpose. . . most decisively, the destruction of whole villages and the eviction of their inhabitants… even [if] they had not participated in the war and had stayed in Israel hoping to live in peace and equality, as promised in the Declaration of Independence.” Israeli author, Simha Flapan, “The Birth Of Israel.”

The deliberate destruction of Arab villages to prevent return of Palestinians

“During May [1948], ideas about how to consolidate and give permanence to the Palestinian exile began to crystallize, and the destruction of villages was immediately perceived as a primary means of achieving this aim… [Even earlier,] On 10 April, Haganah units took Abu Shusha…The village was destroyed that night… Khulda was levelled by Jewish bulldozers on 20 April… Abu Zureiq was completely demolished… Al Mansi and An Naghnaghiya, to the southeast, were also leveled…By mid-1949, the majority of [the 350 depopulated Arab villages] were either completely or partly in ruins and uninhabitable.” Benny Morris, “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949”.

After the fighting was over, why didn’t the Palestinians return to their homes?

“The first UN General Assembly resolution—Number 194—affirming the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property, was passed on December 11, 1948. It has been repassed no less than twenty-eight times since that first date. Whereas the moral and political right of a person to return to his place of uninterrupted residence is acknowledged everywhere, Israel has negated the possibility of return… [and] systematically and juridically made it impossible, on any grounds whatever, for the Arab Palestinian to return, be compensated for his property, or live in Israel as a citizen equal before the law with a Jewish Israeli.” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

Is there any justification for this expropriation of land?

“ The fact that the Arabs fled in terror, because of real fear of a repetition of the 1948 Zionist massacres, is no reason for denying them their homes, fields and livelihoods. Civilians caught in an area of military activity generally panic. But they have always been able to return to their homes when the danger subsides. Military conquest does not abolish private rights to property; nor does it entitle the victor to confiscate the homes, property and personal belongings of the noncombatant civilian population. The seizure of Arab property by the Israelis was an outrage.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

How about the negotiations after the 1948-1949 war?

“[At Lausanne,] Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinians were trying to save by negotiations what they had lost in the war—a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Israel, however… [preferred] tenuous armistice agreements to a definite peace that would involve territorial concessions and the repatriation of even a token number of refugees. The refusal to recognize the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and statehood proved over the years to be the main source of the turbulence, violence, and bloodshed that came to pass.” Israeli author, Simha Flapan, “The Birth Of Israel.”

Israel admitted to UN but then reneged on the conditions under which it was admitted

“The [Lausanne] conference officially opened on 27 April 1949. On 12 May the [UN’s] Palestine Conciliation Committee reaped its only success when it induced the parties to sign a joint protocol on the framework for a comprehensive peace…Israel for the first time accepted the principle of repatriation [of the Arab refugees] and the internationalization of Jerusalem…[but] they did so as a mere exercise in public relations aimed at strengthening Israel’s international image…Walter Eytan, the head of the Israeli delegation, [stated] …‘My main purpose was to begin to undermine the protocol of 12 May, which we had signed only under duress of our struggle for admission to the UN. Refusal to sign would…have immediately been reported to the Secretary-General and the various governments.’ ” Israeli historian, Ilan Pappé, “The Making of the Arab-Israel Conflict, 1947-1951.”

“The Preamble of the resolution of admission included a safeguarding clause as follows: ‘Recalling its resolution of 29 November 1947 (on partition) and 11 December 1948 (on repatriation and compensation), and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representative of the Government of Israel before the ad hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions, the General Assembly…decides to admit Israel into membership in the United Nations.’

“Here, it must be observed, is a condition and an undertaking to implement the resolutions mentioned. There was no question of such implementation being conditional on the conclusion of peace on Israeli terms as the Israelis later claimed to justify their non-compliance.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

What was the fate of the Palestinians who had now become refugees?

“The winter of 1949, the first winter of exile for more than seven hundred fifty thousand Palestinians, was cold and hard… Families huddled in caves, abandoned huts, or makeshift tents… Many of the starving were only miles away from their own vegetable gardens and orchards in occupied Palestine— the new state of Israel… At the end of 1949 the United Nations finally acted. It set up the United Nations Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA) to take over sixty refugee camps from voluntary agencies. It managed to keep people alive, but only barely. ” “Our Roots Are Still Alive” by The Peoples Press Palestine Book Project.

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The Tel Aviv stabbings:
What the media left out

On Wednesday in Tel Aviv, a 23-year-old Palestinian man stabbed and injured as many as 12 Israelis who were riding a public bus during morning rush hour. No deaths were reported, although three people were hospitalized with serious injuries.

U.S. mainstream media coverage of this attack painted a picture of Israeli citizens living in fear of deranged Palestinian terrorists. The media rarely mentioned that Israeli forces have maintained a 48-year military occupation that profoundly impacts and virtually imprisons 4 million Palestinian men, women, and children in the West Bank and Gaza. The media also omitted significant information on Palestinians killed and injured by Israel during the period reported on.

Palestinian Girl

Last October, a young Palestinian girl was killed after an Israeli settler hit her with his vehicle.

 

Below are some examples:

CNN’s coverage of the incident reported details of the deaths of  10 Israelis who were killed by Palestinians last October and November. Yet CNN neglected to mention that just three days ago Israeli police  killed a 47-year-old Palestinian man when the police stormed the funeral procession of another Palestinian shot and killed by Israeli police. Since October of 2014, at least  19 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis (5 of them children). Only three of these deaths were mentioned in CNN’s article.

The New York Times said that yesterday’s stabbings “broke a period of relative calm that followed a spate of attacks against Israelis” in recent months, perpetrated by “Palestinians armed with knives, cleavers and guns.” The Times  seems to think a period is “calm” as long as no Israelis are harmed. Since October 1, 2014, at least 1,677 Palestinians(approximately 250 of them children) have been injured by Israeli forces or settlers living on confiscated Palestinian land. During this time period, 196 Israelis were injured by Palestinians.

(The Times also fails to divulge that its reporters for the story, Isabel Kershner and Irit Pazner Garshowitz, are both Israeli citizens and that Kershner’s husband is a spin doctor for the Israeli military establishment.)

The Associated Press and NPR’s coverage  similarly provided largely Israeli-centric context. The AP described yesterday’s attack in graphic detail, and both AP and NPR made sure to remind readers of last November’s attack on a Jerusalem synagogue that left 5 Israelis dead. They did not, however, mention recent Israeli attacks on Palestinians. Among the thousands of incidents since last October:

Additionally, in the last four months, at least 260 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were made homeless after Israel demolished their homes. Half of them were children. Approximately 110,000 homes in Gaza  were destroyed during Israel’s deadly assault last summer, and 14,000 Gazans are still living in UNRWA schools. Lack of adequate shelter during winter storms and flooding has caused the deaths of three Palestinian infants, one toddler, and one adult.

from If Americans Knew

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RAMALLAH, WEST BANK — Centuries of European colonialism have provided the world with certain basic lessons about subjugating colonized peoples: The longer any colonial occupation endures, the greater the settlers’ racism and extremism tends to grow. This is especially true if the occupiers encounter resistance; at that point, the occupied population becomes an obstacle that must either be forced to submit or removed through expulsion or murder.

Stolen Palestinian Lands

In the eyes of an occupying power, the humanity of those under its thumb depends on the degree of their submission to, or collaboration with, the occupation. If the occupied population chooses to stand in the way of the occupier’s goals, then they are demonized, which allows the occupier the supposed moral excuse of confronting them with all possible means, no matter how harsh.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine is one of the only remaining settler-colonial occupations in the world today.

And it is not limited to East Jerusalem and the West Bank: Although Israel withdrew its settlers and army from Gaza in 2005, it is still recognized by the United Nations as an occupying power, due to its complete control of Gaza’s airspace, sea access and of almost all of its land borders.

Over the years, Israel has used all forms of pressure to prevent the Palestinians from achieving their national rights and gaining independence. It hasn’t been enough for Israelis to believe their own claims about Palestinians; they have sought incessantly to impose this narrative on the world and to have it adopted by their Western allies.

Unsurprisingly, all of this has led to complete shamelessness in mainstream Israeli rhetoric about Palestinians. After all, if one is not held accountable, then one has the freedom to think — and do — what one wants. With no internal or external checks, one can act with impunity.

The Israeli left is a relic, all but extinct, and the extremist right is entrenched in the Israeli political establishment. Attacking the Palestinians has become officially sanctioned policy, embedded in Israeli public consciousness and politely ignored in Western political circles.

There is now an extremist, racist ideological current in Israel that not only justifies the recent onslaught on the Gaza Strip, but actually encourages the use of enormous and disproportionate violence against civilians, which has led to the extermination of entire families.

Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset, recently called on the Israeli army to attack and occupy Gaza, paying no heed to anything but the safety of Israeli soldiers. He then demanded that Gaza be annexed to Israel, and asked the army to use all means at its disposal to “conquer” Gaza, by which he meant that obedient Palestinians would be allowed to stay, while the rest — the majority — should be exiled to the Sinai Peninsula. This cannot be understood as anything less than a call for ethnic cleansing.

Ayelet Shaked, a Knesset member for the Jewish Home Party, a member of the governing coalition, called on the Israeli army to destroy the homes of terrorist “snakes,” and to murder their mothers as well, so that they would not be able to bring “little snakes” into the world.

Ayelet Shaked

And Mordechai Kedar, a professor at Bar Ilan University, publicly suggested that raping the mothers and sisters of “terrorists” might deter further terrorism. The university did not take any measures against him.

“The only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.” This assertion was made by Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University about three weeks ago on an Israel Radio program. “It sounds very bad, but that’s the Middle East,” added Kedar, of Bar-Ilan’s Department of Arabic.

Such statements are no longer isolated incidents, but reflective of the general sentiment within a country where chants of “Kill the Arabs” are increasingly common. It is no longer an aberration to hear these opinions expressed in public, or by politicians and academics. What is unexpected — and unacceptable — is that such statements are not met with any sort of condemnation in official Western circles that claim to oppose racism and extremism.

The rise in Israeli racism and extremism against Palestinians would not have happened without the unconditional support that Israel receives from its allies, most significantly the United States.

Israel cannot continue to be the exception to the rule of international law and human rights. The international community must hold it accountable for its rhetoric and its actions, and begin to treat it like all other countries. It should not be allowed to continue to enjoy its state of exceptionalism and to use this to wreak destruction on the Palestinian people.

After 47 years of occupation, two decades of stalled peace talks and almost eight years of a strangulating siege of the Gaza Strip, the international community must demand that Israel clearly state what it intends to do with its occupation of the Palestinian people. Since the Palestinians are not the occupiers, but rather those living under occupation, this question cannot be asked of them.

If Israel wants to continue its occupation and hinder Palestinians’ path to freedom and independence, then it should be aware that the Palestinian people will continue to resist with all the means at their disposal. If Israel intends to end the occupation, then it will find that the Palestinians are more than ready for an agreement.

What the Palestinians are enduring today in Gaza should be a clarion call for the entire world to end the bloodshed. But it will take more than a cease-fire. It will take peace. And peace cannot happen without an end to the occupation.

Ali Jarbawi is a political scientist at Birzeit University and a former minister of the Palestinian Authority. This article was translated by Ghenwa Hayek from the Arabic.

The Shame of Shuhada Street

In Hebron, Palestinians are subjected to daily indignities—large and small.
A Jewish settler walks past a Palestinian on Shuhada Street, in the West Bank city of Hebron. (Nayef Hashlamoun/Reuters)

HEBRON, West Bank—I first saw the boys through the rear view mirror of the car I was riding in, as they approached Shuhada Street. One of them was about the age of my daughter, who became a bat mitzvah last week. The other might have been 16 or so, like my older son. The boys hesitated at the top of the street and seemed to take a breath. Then they stepped into the void.

Shuhada Street, lined with small shops whose owners typically lived upstairs, was once among the busiest market streets in this ancient city. But in 1994, in response to a horrific massacre that left 29 people dead and 125 injured, the Israel Defense Forces began clamping down on Shuhada Street. They welded shut the street-facing doors of all the homes and shops, and by the time of the Second Intifada in 2000, had turned the bustling thoroughfare into a ghost street on which no one was permitted to set foot. No one, that is, who is Palestinian. Israeli Jews and foreign visitors are free to come and go along the road—to snap photos and make their way to Hebron’s three Jewish settler outposts, Beit Hadassah, Beit Romano, and Avraham Avinu. But there is nothing to buy, nothing to see, no reason to tarry. The stores are all closed. The few Palestinians who remain have been barred from the street where they live. If they want to enter their homes, they must do so through back doors, which in many cases involves clambering over rooftops.

One might be tempted to view Shuhada Street as just another casualty in an endless cycle of violent retribution. A Palestinian kills dozens of Hebron’s Jews, so Israel punishes the Palestinians of Hebron by closing Shuhada Street. But that is not, in fact, what happened. The victims of the massacre that impelled the Israeli government to shutter Shuhada were not Jews. They were Palestinians—unarmed Palestinians gunned down as they prayed at the nearby Cave of the Patriarchs by Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Jewish zealot with Israeli military training and a Galil assault rifle, who stopped firing only when he was overcome and killed by survivors of his attack. You can add Shuhada Street, and the vibrant urban life it once sustained and embodied, to the list of Goldstein’s victims.

My visit to Hebron had begun at Goldstein’s tomb, in a small park in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba on the city’s outskirts. The grave has become a site of pilgrimage and ecstatic veneration for some religious Israelis and sympathetic foreigners despite the Israeli government’s prohibition on monuments to terrorists. The massive slab of marble is inscribed with the words, “He gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land.” On the day I visited, the gravestone was littered with small stones, placed there in homage in accordance with Jewish tradition.

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An ultra-Orthodox Jew prays at Baruch Goldstein’s gravesite, in 1998. (Reuters)

After puzzling over the epitaph (I was born in Jerusalem but my family emigrated to Canada before I learned to read), I brushed away the commemorative stones. A mass-murderer deserves no such honor. An Israeli army jeep rumbled alongside the park and I stepped back, nervous that I would be harassed for my action. The Israeli military presence in Hebron is intense—between 600 and 650 soldiers, military police, and commanders, or at least one for every settler—and its role is very clear: The security forces are there to protect the settlers, regardless of how brutal or inflammatory the latter’s actions may be, and regardless of the fact that, as Goldstein’s homicidal cowardice makes clear, it is the Palestinians who often need protection against settlers who, sure of support from the Netanyahu government, seek to make permanent their incursion into the city.

My companions and I then made our way to Shuhada Street, where an Israeli soldier checked our passports to ensure both that we were not Palestinian and that we understood the omnipotence of Israeli military authority. We passed the new Beit Hadassah museum, an exhibit of curated propaganda dedicated to legitimizing the presence of Jewish settlers in the city. Then we came to the end of the street, and I happened to glance in the rearview mirror, where I saw the two boys. I didn’t need to be the mother of children their age to fear for their lives and safety. I only needed to have been following the news.

Less than a week before, on Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate the displacement that preceded and followed Israel’s declaration of independence, there had been a protest in front of Ofer military prison in the West Bank town of Beitunia. After the protest was dispersed, two Palestinian teenagers had been shot and killed by the Israeli army. Video of the killings had surfaced on the Internet, and in my hotel room in Jerusalem I had watched as another Arab boy my son’s age, carrying the kind of backpack my son carries, doing nothing more than crossing a street—crumpled and pitched forward, motionless.

Now, several days later, I watched these Shuhada Street boys risk death for the sake of a liberty so rudimentary and fundamental that my own children are not even aware of its existence, or its importance, or its simple human beauty: the right to walk down the street.

I should have gotten out of the car and joined them. I should have taken out my cell phone and started filming. But I just sat in the car and fretted. Thankfully, the Israeli soldiers on duty that day did nothing more than lift their weapons and motion the boys back to permitted ground, and the boys obeyed. It was one of many such interactions—petty indignities and tiny acts of courage. It was nothing as dramatic as an incident, viewable on YouTube, in which settler girls take advantage of a school holiday to lie in wait for Palestinian children on their way home from school, then curse the other children and throw rocks at them while Israeli soldiers look on, periodically urging the rock-throwers to stop but doing little to protect the victims of the violence. Nothing as dramatic as another encounter, also captured on video, in which a female settler, flanked by soldiers, lobs curses at a Palestinian woman who had the temerity to walk out the front gate of her own house. “Whore! Whore!” the settler hisses.

I ended my visit to Hebron at a small community center run by Palestinian peace activists, where we shared plates of hummus and fresh vegetables and tried to find inspiration in the tiny outpost of hope. But the bright murals painted by Palestinian activists had been disfigured by Jewish settlers with splashes of gray paint, and we ate under the stony gaze of soldiers assigned to guard settlers whose vandalism is among the least of their offenses.

The litany of Hebron’s many immiserations is long. I could write paragraphs about the racially differentiated access to water, and about how settlers sometimes spray the ground with their hoses, taunting Palestinians who have severely limited access to water for drinking or cooking or bathing. I could describe the ugly anti-Arab graffiti I saw, the bumper stickers plastered onto walls with messages like, “Arab! Don’t even dare to think about a Jewish woman!” I could describe the achingly torturous journey an elderly resident of Shuhada Street must make just to leave her house, with its front door welded shut, because one day in 1994 a hate-filled fanatic massacred her townspeople.

 

But out of respect for the people who escorted me down the tragic length of Shuhada Street, I will try to close on a note of hopefulness. My guides were a couple of Jewish Israelis, raised in religious homes, who had served as soldiers in the West Bank and who, as a result of what they saw and what they did, now devote their lives to raising awareness about the injustices of the Occupation. My guides described in painful detail the structural inequality of a land where one ethnic group lives under oppressive military rule, and another under democratic, civilian authority. They described receiving explicit instruction to make Palestinians feel as if they were constantly under surveillance, constantly pursued, constantly harassed. They said their role, as described by Moshe Ya’alon, the current defense minister and former army chief of staff, was to “sear the hearts and minds of the Palestinians.” My guides told me of instances in which they were involved in “Straw Widow” actions, where they invaded a Palestinian home, shut the family into a single room, and then made free use of the house. Ostensibly these home invasions were conducted for security reasons, but just as often they were simple training exercises. Sometimes the homes were chosen because they had a satellite dish, and an important soccer match was on TV. “What hope is there?” I asked them, in response. They replied that they named their organization Breaking the Silence because they fervently believe that once people know what is happening in Hebron and the rest of the Palestinian territories, change is inevitable.

I’m not sure that I share their faith in the power of knowledge to create justice, but I want to. And that’s why, as Bibi Netanyahu’s right-wing government broadcasts its contempt for the U.S. State Department’s commitment to working with the new Palestinian unity government, and announces the construction of 1,500 new settlement housing units in the West Bank, I, a Jewish American born in Israel, who believes in Israel’s right to exist within its own borders, am breaking my own silence.

 

The Atlantic

 

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Kalandia – A checkpoint: Just Because”

Many Israelis think this is horrible and horrific. Many think it’s OK. For those who say it’s OK, then maybe it was OK for the Nazis to do the same to Jews?

The victims of the Holocaust are now creating a Holocaust that does not seem to stop!

 

Do Israelis still think the world is stupid? Or is it their stupidity that makes them come up with equally stupid claims? The Syrians decided to send “missels” to Palestinians in Gaza… via Iran! Wow… what a route. I need not insult the reader in seeing the fallacy of such a claim. These damn juice.. will never stop with their low-budget type propaganda.

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