|"The great masses of people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one. Especially if it is repeated over and over."|
|-- Adolf Hitler|
IntroductionThere has been much written about the conflict in the Middle East. Whole forests have been felled to make the paper for the books on this subject. Early on, it became a case of battling propaganda machines. Both sides became skilled at creating propaganda, but in the United States, a powerful lobby and ownership or influence of many important media outlets by wealthy members of one side has historically dominated the debate. One side, the side of Israel, has been well-heard in the U.S., but few have heard many of the well-established facts that the Israel propaganda machine has historically - and deliberately - left out.
To help tip the balance back towards the reality in the middle, and so that the facts from both sides are heard, this essay will seek to present the information that is not often heard in America regarding the origins of the conflict.
Is this a "balanced" essay? No. That is not its purpose. Rather, it seeks to correct errors of omission that have historically been made in the United States media, and in particular, and to set straight some of the purposeful misinformation that has come to be widely accepted as fact as a result of endless repetition. I intend, as much as possible, to present a coherent story, but tell the story so that those who are familiar with it as told by the Israelis, can also gain the Palestinian perspective as well, and thereby be in a position to make a balanced judgment, and come to understand just why the Palestinians feel as they do and behave as they have.
"Everyone talks like it's complex and difficult to understand. That's a cop-out for not wanting to accept reality. It's just a classic ethnic conflict about who owns this piece of land. It's as simple as that."
-- Niel McDonald, News Middle East Bureau Chief, Canadian Broadcasting Company
A brief word about my methods; I have looked at Palestinian sources only as a guide to their point of view, but I have not accepted what they have told me without checking sources. The facts and ideas that contradict generally accepted viewpoints, I have verified from at least one Israeli source; Palestinian sources are relied upon solely for policy statements made by their leadership, and even there I have verified the sources as well. If this essay makes any contentions that can be disproven, I would be delighted to examine the documentation of the source or sources disproving what this essay has to say and modify it accordingly (and have done so on a couple of occasions). Research for this essay was extensive and time consuming The Arizona director of the Anti-Defamation League, in a personal discussion with me, claimed this essay was defamatory and contained false information, and offered to vet the accuracy, but years later and after quite a few reminders, I am still waiting. I can only assume that his refusal to do so is an admission that what I present here is factual.
In addition, it will be noted that there is much in this essay that is deeply sensitive to members of the Jewish community who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust or of life in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. I do not deny that those portions of this essay that deal with the deliberate Zionist collaboration with the Nazis in the Holocaust and the events surrounding it may be particularly painful reading for such people; I have tried to be as sensitive as possible, and have by no means included all the detail at my disposal. Rather, in treating this issue, I have presented only that material that explains the behavior of the Zionists in Palestine and the Jewish Agency in particular, in explaining why they behaved as they did. I have included that material solely to underscore some points that demand to be stated. Those wishing more detail than what I have written here are invited to write to me. I will be happy to steer them in the direction of more specific and detailed information that is now a part of the readily available historical record.
It is my hope, then, that the reader will come to a complete and balanced understanding, based on all the facts, not just the facts that one side or the other would have us believe.
At the end of this essay, I will present what I consider to be the only possible solution that is ethical for all involved as well as workable at the same time. There are aspects to it that neither side will like, but it is the only solution I think is possible as well as fair and equitable. There will doubtless be those that disagree, and they're entitled to their opinions. I'm presenting only what I think is realistic and possible - and recognizes and accepts the moral obligations incurred by all sides in the conflict.
A Place That Is Not What It SeemsIn May of 1979, I traveled to Israel and the West Bank for the first time. I was traveling as part of a tour group, and our travels took us on the highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Along that route, I recall noticing a forest of young pine trees on our right, as we climbed up from the coastal plain through the hills approaching Jerusalem. One member of our group asked the Israeli tour guide about the forest."We've planted the forest," he explained, "to help rehabilitate the soils from centuries of soil degradation caused by Arab overgrazing of the land." He went on to explain that Israel has a forestry project intended to help rehabilitate the land and help moderate the climate. It wasn't until many years later that I was to uncover the truth, a much uglier truth, as to why the trees were planted on that hillside.
What I learned was that the trees are hiding from travelers the foundation stones of some of hundreds of Arab villages, hastily abandoned, when, thirty years earlier, the inhabitants fled in terror, fearing for their lives. Those villages were later wantonly destroyed by Israeli bulldozers to ensure that the owners of the land would never return. The beautiful young pine trees I so admired that day are hiding the hedgerow cactus fences that the inhabitants of those villages had once planted to fence their fields, farms and pastures from each other. Cactus of this type, when killed off above ground, will persistently re-grow. And it is re-growing, in scattered places, among the pine trees of Israel's new forests - silent testimony to the desolated homes and the shattered lives of the very real inhabitants of the supposed "land without a people for a people without a land."
When the tour guide took up a collection among the bus passengers, ostensibly to help fund this reforestation, like many other passengers, I threw a couple of dollars into the hat. Little did I know that I was shamelessly being used to deceive myself, and how angry I grew, years later, when I learned the ugly truth and the full extent of that cynical deceit...
The destruction represented far more than just the temple and the city that surrounded it; it represented the destruction of the Jewish national identity and the sense of security of living in their homeland. Emperor Titus, wishing to ensure that such a rebellion would never again disturb the peace of the eastern empire, did what conquering rulers often did in those days; he forced a number of the locals into exile, and bitterly repressed the majority who remained. So began the Diaspora - the Jewish galut. They became scattered throughout the Roman world, especially in Iberia, now Spain and Portugal. But longing for their homeland never ended - reinforced as it came to be by the ritual refrain, "Next year in Jerusalem!"
Or so the myth would have it.
In recent years, archaeological and genetic evidence seems to be increasingly showing that mass expulsions of the Jewish population of Palestine by the Romans never actually occurred, at least not in anything like the numbers that the Zionists would have us believe. Historians and anthropologists now accept that, at most, the Romans displaced no more than about ten percent of the Hebrew population of the Jewish Kingdom. Doubtless, some were forced out, and others fled, but the vast bulk of the Jewish population never left - it is now known that they became the ancestors of most of the 700,000 Palestinians that already inhabited Palestine at the beginning of the Zionist exodus at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Modern genetic evidence now seems to indicate that the overwhelming majority (approximately 95 percent) of the Jews of the Diaspora are, in fact, primarily decendants of native converts of a proselytizing Judaism. Their ancestry is not of Palestine, but rather primarily of the lands of Europe and North Africa. Judaism in the early years of the Diaspora was a proselytizing religion, and also logistically it would have been impossible for the Romans to expel most, or even very much, of the large population of Judea. Most of the Sephardic Jews are decendants of Berbers from what is now Morocco, and other indigenous tribes of North Africa, and most of the Ashkenazi are now known to be primarily the descendants of Slavic tribes of Eastern Europe, mostly the Khazars, whose origins are in southern Eastern Europe, and who fled to what is now Poland after Ghengis Kahn brought about an end to Khazaria and enslaved many of its inhabitants. Historians have long understood this, so this news is hardly a surprise to gentile historians of those regions and the secular historians of Israel.Koestler But it certainly must come as a shock to those who have listened to generations of Zionist propaganda.
And ironically, the Palestinians, who are so persecuted by Israel, are, in fact, primarily the descendants of the vast majority of Jews who were left behind in Palestine, most of whom converted to Islam in the seventh and eighth centuries - and are therefore more closely related to (and far more frequently descendants of) the original Jewish inhabitants of Palestine than are the recent Zionist arrivals who so bitterly persecute them as "squatters." So, ironically, most Jews are not actually Semites, and most Palestinians are - raising the very real and ironic question of just who are the real antisemites, and just what is real antisemitism?Ilani, Sand
Seeds of Zionism - The Diaspora And Dreams Of An Israeli StateThe rise of Islam in the seventh century C.E., and the establishment of the Moorish empire in Iberia, which was called Andalusia by the Muslims and Sefarad by the Jews who lived under it, saw an accommodation of the Jewish religion and protection of the Jews from the Christian antipathies within Iberia and the Caliphate. The Jews living in Sefarad grew accustomed to Islamic culture and rule.The shelter from Christian anti-Jewish sentiment in the rest of Europe afforded Jewish culture what it needed to flourish. Under the Moors, Jewish culture reached new philosophical heights, in such luminaries as Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), who created some of the original arguments for logic and reason, elements of philosophy that would, in many ways, set the stage for the Enlightenment, and with it, modern Zionism. Even though his logic may seem simple, prejudicial and quaint to us today ("It is hard for a woman with whom an uncircumcised man has had sexual intercourse to separate from him. In my opinion this is the strongest of the reasons for circumcision..."), his logic was, in its day, revolutionary, because it was based on reason, not on tradition, religious ideology and myth.
In 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella succeeded in finally suppressing the Islamic rule in the Iberian peninsula, and with it, Islamic influence and culture from Europe. With that suppression, the protection of the Jews afforded by the Moors ended as well. In a matter of months, Ferdinand and Isabella issued an expulsion order, demanding that the Jews either convert to Christianity or, within a year, had to leave Spain or face the Inquisition. The loss of Sefarad came as a deep psychic wound, made more deeply severe by the expulsion order. Being accustomed to Islamic rule, most who chose to leave, and chose North Africa or the Balkan provinces of the Ottoman Empire as their new home. In so doing, they became known as the Sephardic Jews, after Sefarad, their lost homeland. Those who had lived in Europe outside of Spain, mostly in Eastern Europe and mostly distant descendants of Khazar converts, came to be known as the Ashkenazi Jews.
A handful of Sephardic Jews, expelled from Spain, made their way to Palestine and established themselves in a community they called Safed in Galilee. They had a tradition that when the Messiah came, he would reveal himself in Galilee. Some came to believe that they had found him in a sickly but saintly Ashkenazic Jew who had joined them there, a man by the name of Isaac Luria (1534-1572). Luria founded a Kabbalahic tradition that still bears his name. The Luria school's messianic ideas, along with its deep conservatism, would have a profound impact on the Zionist movement as it became established in Palestine, and the political structure of the state of Israel to come three centuries later.
To culturally survive, the Jewish communities of the Diaspora were forced by persecution to turn inward. They came to essentially reject the values of their goyim (corrupt) gentile neighbors, and in so doing, came to be regarded with suspicion. Added to this, that the Jews were held to be collectively responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus, it is not surprising that antipathy developed between the Christians of Europe and the Jews living in their midst. This antipathy grew deeper and more culturally ingrained with the passing centuries, leading to repressive laws requiring Jews to live in certain defined areas within cities (ghettos) and within certain regions (the pale). Additionally, they were restricted to certain occupations, among them money lending, petty tinkering and gem cutting, among other professions, leading to the stereotypes of Jews as moneylenders (of a not-often generous nature) and jewelers (who bargained excessively or who cheated with fakes).
The Enlightenment had a profound effect on Jewish-gentile relations. By the 17th century C.E., as the Enlightenment values based on reason and judgment, rather than respect for myth, mysticism and tradition, became established within the goyim society, the hostilities only deepened, because the conservative elements in Judaism began to feel threatened. They resisted the Enlightenment, and hence it was slow to take root, seeing the first successful advocate of a Jewish Enlightenment in Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). As Enlightenment values slowly began to take root within the Jewish community, disputations began to arise as to how to respond to this new modernism, and it soon became evident that a split was inevitable. This was exacerbated by the fact that many of the new Jewish Enlightenment intellectuals themselves were hostile to certain Jewish religious values as the result of its traditionally conservative, inward orientation. This internal friction only increased the longing of the more conservative Jews for their lost homeland, and the notion began to take root that perhaps they should simply return to Palestine, where they could practice their religion isolated from goyim values. This was in spite of the fact that Palestine had by now been long since occupied by Arabs from surrounding regions. They knew those Arabs would not be sympathetic to the return of large numbers of Jews, even though the Arabs living there had no quarrel with the Jews already living within their midst - tolerance of them was mandated by the Koran.
It was the violent rejection of conservatism in the French Revolution that germinated the seeds of the split. The split sprouted and grew during the Napoleonic era, during which Napoleon offered "emancipation" of the Jews, though not always on favorable terms. The result of Enlightenment values, that French pattern of "emancipation" became standard throughout Europe, but the old cultural prejudices remained - and sensing that they didn't belong, but were merely being tolerated, the Jews that had begun to embrace modernity and the values of the Enlightenment began to feel that their only hope for long-lasting security and peace was a return to Palestine. The advocates of Enlightenment values found a leader in Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900), who founded what has become known as the Reform movement, or Reform Judaism (1850). Many Reform Jews themselves longed for their homeland, but advocated a secular state, open to the followers of all religions, though stressing Jewish culture and values, while the conservative, or Orthodox Jews felt it should be a homeland for the Jews, a theocratic state excluding the goyim, governed on Judaic principles, and a home for the Jews to practice their religion in peace and isolation.
Alongside the increasingly isolated, inwardly oriented Orthodox community, a modernized, essentially secular, Enlightenment-oriented faction of secularized Jews began to grow and flourish. The secularized Jews, centering on the Reform movement, successfully transplanted the values of scholastic skepticism that had been a part of Jewish tradition since the beginnings of the Diaspora, into their secular world-view. The result was a flowering of scientific inquiry, into which those values were especially well suited, and liberal Judaism, became known the world over for the rigor of its scientific enterprise. It reached its highest expression in the greatest mind the 20th century would produce, Albert Einstein. As the longings for a national home among Judaism began to take root, these secularized Jews would split into two camps reflecting the politics of the time, the political right, emphasizing property rights and nationalism, and the political left, emphasizing egalitarianism and human rights. This split was to have profound consequences for world history.
The Appearance Of Zionism And A First Offer RefusedBy the end of the 19th century C.E., the stirrings of a Jewish longing for their homeland, inspired mostly by a newly virulent German nationalism, which itself was an element of a uniquely 19th-century white-supremist pan-European imperialism, had flowered in the form of a new movement at the coaching of Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), a young Viennese journalist of Austro-Hungarian origins. He essentially proposed that the Jews take up the scepter of the White Man's Burden in the form of a Judaic beach-head of European civilization in the Middle East, holding off for Europe the barbarous hordes of Asia. He wrote: "For Europe we shall constitute there [in Palestine] a sector of the wall against Asia, we shall serve as the vanguard of culture against barbarism." Herzl's typically 19th-century xenophobic vision would become a carved-in-granite foundation of right-wing 20th-century Zionism, which, far from leaving such xenophobia behind as did Europe, it would ideologize it into a whole family of propaganda myths (such as "a land without a people, for a people without a land"). The denial those myths represented would eventually and tragically result in Herzl's metaphorical wall becoming a very real one, a concrete behemoth hundreds of miles long, visible from many miles away, that eventually would become symbolic of the Zionist state itself and the xenophobic vision of Herzl that inspired it. Herzl himself could hardly have imagined the scale of that reality.The seeds of right-wing Zionism planted by Herzl in the fertile but arrogant soil of 19th-century European chavinistic nationalism, colonialism and imperialism sprouted and grew into a pan-Judaic nationalist movement that, encompassing very different and often conflicting values, became rooted in three genuinely conflicting goals: a desire among the Orthodox to be free to practice their religion and live according to their ancient and trusted values, with a stern and even violent rejection of the unclean goyim; among the Reform Jews of the political right, the sanctuary of a Jewish homeland, free of the restraint imposed by the presence of gentiles; and among the Reform Jews of the political left, to live in a land in which the highest principles of Judaism would produce an egalitarian, material paradise for all who lived there, Jew and gentile alike. The confluence of the three ideals, politely sweeping the conflicts they posed under the rug of a common goal, came together in the expression of a new movement. Zionism was what this movement came to call itself - a return to Mount Zion, where the building of the Third Temple would commence (never mind the presence there of two of the holiest sites in all of Islam - being symbolic of that pesky Asian barbarism, they were hardly deemed worthy of preservation), and a renaissance of Hebraic culture and religion, safe from the pogroms of the anti-Semites, was envisioned.
In 1896, Herzl founded the World Zionist Organization, which would later become the Jewish Authority in Palestine, which itself eventually would go on to establish the government of Israel. It raised funds by selling stock, much like a corporation, as well as accepting donations. A year later, Herzl convened the First Zionist Conference in Bazel, Switzerland. The conference commissioned a group of rabbis to travel to Palestine and determine its suitability for the return of the Jews. The rabbis sent a cable back to Herzl, which famously read: "The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man." The other man, was, of course, the Palestinian Arabs. They occupied virtually all arable land, some of it with farms, orchards and olive groves that were a thousand years old or more. Jerusalem was occupied primarily by Arabs, roughly split between a Muslim majority and a major Christian minority, though there were small communities of others there, including Druze Christians, Orthodox Christians, Catholics, an Orthodox Jewish community and others. The Temple Mount was occupied by two of the holiest sites in all of Islam. The arid land of Palestine was one of the most densely populated places in all the Middle East, and, short of food and water, was not exactly looking for more people. It was apparent from the start that a flood of Jewish immigrants into Arab Palestine would set the stage for conflict. Seeking support for his Palestine project, Herzl approached Joseph Chamberlain, the British Colonial Secretary, who could clearly see what could happen in Palestine if large numbers of Jews were to immigrate there, and instead offered him Uganda, then a British colony. But Herzl and the other Zionists of the convention would have none of it, and were undeterred by the inconvenient realities on the ground in Palestine.(Shlaim)
By the last decade of the 19th century C.E., a trickle of Zionists began to move to Palestine. Zionism had, by now, grown to become an aspiration among a significant percentage of Jews, many of whom were wholly secular, even though mainstream Judaism, especially outside of Europe, still considered it a fringe movement. It had become a secular ethnic movement as much as a religious one. Some, including delegates to the Second Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in 1898 had even gone so far as to say that "Zionism has nothing to do with religion." This purely nationalistic view of Zionism horrified Rabbi Abraham Yitzchak Kook (1865-1935), who condemned the secularization of Zionism in the strongest possible terms. Kook foresaw the rise of right-wing nationalism in the 20th century and the destructive influence it would have, and was determined to keep the Zionist movement a religious one. Yet he could not fence it off from the values of the Enlightenment, which gave rise to the secular, socialist ideals that were becoming popular. And so as a result of Kook's influence, the Zionist movement itself began to split into three camps - the modernist, secular nationalist Zionists of the right led primarily by Zev Jabotinsky (1880-1940) and the left, led Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), and the conservative religious Zionists led by Kook. The split would have profound effects a half-century later on the structure that the government of Israel would take, and the problems that structure would create.
Kook's view was that Zionism was supported by God, who he felt had ordained the Jewish people as His chosen and to whom the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael) was given, and that God would nourish and protect the nascent movement for reasons clearly spelled out in prophesy. He died in 1935, thirteen years before the birth of Israel as a nation and so did not live to see the horrible expedients that the birth of Israel would require of the Zionist movement.
The secular nationalist Zionists of the left and the right were differentiated primarily by their ethics and principles. Those on the left, for example, were nothing if not principled, and were mindful of the rights of the Palestinian Arabs, and were responsible for the change in wording of the Balfour Declaration, that demanded that those rights be respected (see below). They believed that the economic model that should be pursued in Eretz Israel should be a socialist model, based on collectives (kibbutzim), run along egalitarian principles. Along with their religious colleagues, led by Kook, they fought hard to maintain the ethical and moral basis of Zionism.
The right, on the other hand, were wholly and entirely pragmatic and nationalistic, largely eschewing any ethical considerations based on Jewish religious values. Led by their firebrand leader, Jabotinsky, they pursued a radical property-oriented nationalistic agenda, based on ruthless, even violent defense of what they regarded as their inalienable property rights to Palestine as Jews, dismissing the Arabs as being simply irrelevant squatters. Jabotinsky's youth movement was named "Betar," an acronym relating to an incident in the Galilee which reflected its fascistic tendencies. Jabotinsky, who had demonstrated military talents, was tapped by the British to help organize Zionists in Palestine to fight on the side of the British during World War I, and the organization he formed would later become the Haganah, the forerunner of the Zionist terror organizations that would plague the region through independence, and which would later be reorganized into the Israeli Defense Forces. The support of the British in World War I greatly strengthened Jabotinsky's hand against his left-wing and religionist rivals. The fascist pragmatism of Jabotinsky and his followers were to lead to some strange-bedfellow alliances in the decades to come - Jabotinsky, according to the Israeli historian Simha Flapan, frequently described Hitler "as the savior of Germany, Mussolini as the political genius of the century," and often acted accordingly. (Flapan, p. 104)
Jabotinsky was willing to say quite openly what many more moderate Zionists were secretly thinking in their heart-of-hearts, but didn't dare express quite so freely. His 1923 essay, "The Iron Wall," created a bit of a sensation when it appeared. It contained this frank admission:
"Thus we conclude that we cannot promise anything to the Arabs of the Land of Israel or the Arab countries. Their voluntary agreement is out of the question. Hence those who hold that an agreement with the natives is an essential condition for Zionism can now say “no” and depart from Zionism. Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs. To formulate it any other way would only be hypocrisy.
"Not only must this be so, it is so whether we admit it or not. What does the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate mean for us? It is the fact that a disinterested power committed itself to create such security conditions that the local population would be deterred from interfering with our efforts."(Jabotinsky)
This frank admission of the intent to ethnically cleanse the region of any Arabs that got in the way of the Zionist cause has been the long-term goal and intent of Zionist leadership ever since.
The Double Betrayal Of The Balfour DeclarationThe growing Zionist movement had by now come to the attention of the nations of the world, particularly those who harbored large Jewish populations, and particularly to the United States, with its large Jewish population, and to Britain, to whom the task of the governance of Palestine had fallen, once the Ottoman Empire had collapsed following its defeat in World War I.In America, the Zionist undertaking was viewed with suspicion. It was seen as undermining the efforts at establishing a lasting system of peaceful and effective governance in the region in the wake of the political vacuum left by the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The government of the United States, itself somewhat anti-Semitic at the time, and wishing to rid itself of its own "Jewish problem" was not unhappy to see the Jews leave for Palestine, but it recognized that there was a conflict - Palestine was already someone else's home. In fact, in spite of the Zionist propaganda that Palestine was largely unsettled, and was "a land without a people for a people without a land," Palestine was, in fact, already home to 780,000 people, about 90% of whom were Palestinian Arabs, who had nationalist yearnings of their own. Worse, they owned about 96% of the real estate in the region, and they weren't keen about this new Zionist movement, though they were willing to tolerate it. President Wilson established the King-Crane commission to study the problem and formulate an American response to it.
At the outset of the Great War, the imperial nations of Europe, particularly Britain and France, cut a deal with the Arabs - if the Arabs would side with Britain and France in the war against Germany and the Ottoman Empire, the Europeans would grant them their independence at the conclusion of hostilities. Of course, the Europeans had no such intent. The Arabs discovered too late that Britain and France had agreed between themselves not to give the Arabs independence, but to divide the Middle East between themselves: Syria going to France; Jordan, Iraq and Palestine going to Britain. Not only were they to discover that they had been betrayed by France and Britian in that regard, but they had been doubly betrayed by Britain when the British, under an evangelical Christian prime minister, announced that they would look "with favor" on the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The British, foremost among the imperial nations of the day, were busy doing what imperial nations often do, and that is making all kinds of mutually exclusive, often disingenouous promises to everybody. That included the Zionists as well as the Arabs. During the Great War (World War I), Britain had concluded a secret treaty, known as the Sykes-Picot Treaty (after its author, Mark Sykes) with France that divided up the lands to be wrested from the Ottomans, and it didn't include a homeland for the Jews. Another British official, Henry McMahon, exchanged a series of letters with Hussein Ibn Ali, the Sheriff of Mecca, in which he promised all the Arab lands to the Arabs, with the exception of the Mediterranean coast, in which the extent of the coastal exclusion is not really clear, but the autobiography of one of the leading Zionists of the day, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, suggests (along with other evidence) that Palestine was not part of the exclusion zone (Weizmann).
"If all nations would suddenly claim territory in which their forefathers had lived 2000 years ago, this world would be a madhouse."
-- Erich Fromm
But generous and enticing as the offer was, Weizmann would have none of it. He insisted that the Jewish homeland was not in Africa but it had to be Palestine, and by 1917, he had managed to convince Balfour of his views, mostly through the help of an evangelical minister, John Darby, who had converted Balfour to an apocalyptic vision of Christianity. Balfour could see his part in the destiny that this apocalyptic interpretation of prophecy created in his mind and so he took up the Zionist cause with the Cabinet, and by the end of that year, had managed to convince it to issue the famous Balfour Declaration. The forthcoming declaration was not without controversy among the Zionists themselves. Many of them realized that Palestine already belonged to someone else, and the leftist Zionists insisted that the Declaration include wording safeguarding the rights of the non-Jewish majority in Palestine. At their insistence, Lord Balfour changed the final wording of the document. The British Foreign Office issued it on November 2, 1917.
In keeping with the imperial arrogance and Victorian racism of the day, not to mention the influence of his Christian apocalypticism, Lord Balfour had been very disingenuous in his considerations of the aspirations of the people who were already living in Palestine and owned property there. Two years later, he sent a memorandum to Lord Curzon, his successor at the Foreign Office, on August 11, 1919 in which he wrote: "In Palestine we do not propose to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants... 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 desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land." In the memo, he noted the findings of the King-Crane Commission, but felt they were unimportant, since America was not to have a role in the post-war administration of Palestine. (Schlock)
The King-Crane Commission, The San Remo Conference And The League Of NationsThe Americans, as Lord Balfour privately acknowledged, had reached a quite different conclusion in view of the fact that Palestine was not only already occupied, but was actually one of the most densely populated places in the Middle East, and therefore was not well-suited to the Zionist project. In 1919, the King-Crane Commission, which had spent years studying the problem, reported to the U.S. government, "In view of all these considerations, and with a deep sense of sympathy for the Jewish cause, the Commissioners feel bound to recommend that only a greatly reduced Zionist program be attempted by the Peace Conference [the San Remo Conference, convened by the League of Nations], and even that, only very gradually initiated. This would have to mean that Jewish immigration should be definitely limited, and that the project for making Palestine distinctly a Jewish commonwealth should be given up."There would then be no reason why Palestine could not be included in a united Syrian State, just as other portions of the country, the holy places being cared for by an International and Inter-religious Commission, somewhat as at present under the oversight and approval of the Mandatory and of the League of Nations. The Jews, of course, would have representation upon this Commission."(King-Crane)
Until the matter of who should govern in Palestine was to be settled once and for all, the League Of Nations set up the British Mandatory, which was established by the San Remo Conference. British authority over Palestine was authorized by the Conference to begin on April 24, 1920.
The terms of the Mandatory were written by the San Remo Conference, and were adopted by the council of the League Of Nations on July 24, 1922. Article six read, "The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish Agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes." (League of Nations) The Zionists, particularly the right-wing nationalists, viewed this language as an endorsement of their agenda, and began to actively encourage their fellow Jews to immigrate, regardless of the careful wording intended to protect Arab rights. Even though Article Six recognized the rights of the Arabs, there was no mechanism provided to ensure that those rights were protected.
Immigration To Palestine And The Birth of Zionist TerrorismThe issuance of the Balfour Declaration, as flawed and disingenuous as it was, and the equally flawed League of Nations mandate, was viewed by Zionists as a green light to move to Palestine. And they began to move there - in large numbers. The percentage of the population that was Jewish at the onset of the British Mandate is not known for certainty, but the Mandatory conducted two censuses of its own (both flawed by widespread avoidance for tax reasons), one in 1922 and one in 1931. The 1922 census listed 758,000 people, of whom 11.1% were Jewish. By 1931, the population had grown to 1,033,000, of which 16.9% were Jewish. (Census of the British Mandatory)The Jews already living in Palestine did not exactly embrace this Zionist invasion with open arms. The Orthodox, led by the Lurians of the Sephardic settlements in Galilee, and the charismatic Orthodox rejectionist, Rabbi Yeshayahu Margolis, established the Edah Haredis, an organization of Hassidic Jews specifically to oppose Zionism and practice a devout, introspective form of Judaism, cut off from the secular profanities of the Zionist movement. They argued that Israel was far too sacred a place to be profaned by secular Jews, and that it was a place reserved by God only for those who came there to live lives of prayer and study. Coming to Palestine for any other reason, the Haredim claimed, would only invoke God's wrath, and would lead to suffering and death. With his Hungarian allies, Rabbis Eleazer Shapira and Joel Moshe Teitelbaum, they went so far as to write that the Enlightenment in general and Zionism in particular had "lured the majority of the Jewish people into awful heresy, the likes of which has not been seen since the world was created..." The political achievements of the Zionist leadership, and the economic accomplishments of the kibbutzim were denounced as an "outrage" and a "defilement" upon Eretz Israel.(Armstrong)
By 1933, Jewish immigration to Palestine was exceeding thirty thousand per year. This rapid population growth in the Jewish community in Palestine came at a great moral cost, much as the Haredim had predicted. It was difficult for the new settlers to purchase enough land, and when they did manage to purchase it, the Jewish Agency, whose work it was to settle the new immigrants, deliberately and carefully excluded the previous occupants, usually Arab Muslim or Arab Christian tenants. This in spite of the fact that the Arabs had often had legal, deed-covenanted, hereditary tenancy rights to occupy it from the original owners. It was a deliberate policy of the Zionists that any land that came under Zionist control was reserved for the exclusive use of Jews. It was this policy which caused the most serious friction between the Arab tenants and the new Jewish owners, and in many ways sowed the seeds of bitterness that were to flower later in violence. The Arabs felt, with justification, that the British had been disingenous in issuing the Balfour Declaration in the first place, and in assisting the Jews in displacing them in the second place, and now were not adequately enforcing their tenancy rights.
The Mandatory, though it was openly pro-Zionist, still had a responsibility to defend the basic rights of the native Arabs. It responded with a pair of "Land Transfer Acts," in the first of which, new owners were specifically legally required to respect the traditional heritable land tenancy rights that had existed before the transfer of ownership. This antagonized the Zionists, who felt that the British were depriving them of their land rights. The second Act, issued in 1940, essentially made transfer of ownership from Arabs to the Zionists outright illegal in certain areas without the express permission of the Mandatory, which was hard to get. In addition, the Mandatory instituted tight immigration controls in a futile attempt to deal with the swelling Jewish population and the displacement of Arabs that it was creating due to the exclusionary land policies of the Zionists.
This conflict, along with British collaboration with Jabotinsky during the Great War, meant that the pragmatic right-wing nationalist Zionists had an edge over their rivals, the leftist nationalists and the religionists. As the practical realities began to take hold of building a state in a land already occupied by someone else, the ruthless behavior of the right-wingers began to simply push aside the moral and ethical restraints of the leftists and the religionists, not to mention the rule of the British. The good intentions of the religionists and the leftist-socialists, and the usually (though not always) sincere efforts of the British at enforcing property rights, were trampled, ignored and even sneered upon by the right-wing Zionists.
They accused the British of becoming anti-Semitic, and took up a propaganda campaign, in which they accused the Mandatory of all manner of crimes of repression. As in all propaganda campaigns, there was a small germ of truth in the propaganda, but that germ of truth lay in the fact that the British had a legitimate interest in trying to quell the growing unhappiness and resentment of the Arab populations whose legal tenancy rights the Zionists were ignoring. Many Arabs found themselves becoming refugees in their own homeland because of Zionist exclusionary policies that restricted use of the Zionist-owned lands for the exclusive use of the Zionist Jews (these policies remain in place today, nearly a century later, under the laws of the government of Israel).
In addition, to make matters far worse, the British attempted to govern through a spectacularly ill-advised strategy. It could best be summed up as a "divide and conquer" strategy, in which they believed that if they pitted the extremists on each side against the other, they would weaken both and be able to govern more effectively. Of course, the strategy had the opposite effect, only discrediting those in the middle who were trying hard to get each side to live in peace with the other, and strengthening the hands of extremists on both sides. The result was a predictable hardening of attitudes on both sides of the conflict.
As the decades passed, the religious Zionists and the leftist nationalists saw their numbers overwhelmed and their influence decline, by virtue of the simple, practical need to cope with the Arab anger and resentment. Both factions, as they lost influence over the Zionist movement, began to hunker down, the religionists in their schools and closed communities, and the leftist nationalists in their kibbutzim. The agenda slowly came to be abandoned to the rightists, who simply did what they saw fit for the success of Zionism.
The rightists were not blind to the problems they were causing with their exclusionary policy. The problems they were creating for the Arabs were actually part of a deliberate, pre-calculated strategy, designed to push the Arabs out of "their" (the Zionists') homeland. Theodore Herzl (1860-1904), convener of the first two Zionist conferences in Basil, wrote, "We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country... expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly." (Patai) The expediency of the day meant that this policy, as executed by the rightists, was simply carried out neither discreetly nor circumspectly, and only very rarely with the procurement of employment for the victims. But even worse, the Arabs weren't "spirited" anywhere, but were simply abandoned right where they found themselves standing - to fend for themselves as best they could.
The rightist Zionists under Jabotinsky, resenting the Land Transfer Acts and the Arab assertion of their legal tenancy rights, took law enforcement into their own hands. Refusing to recognize the moral authority of the British, in 1920, they organized their own "self defense" force in the form of the Haganah out of what remained of Jabotinsky's Zionist forces allied with the British in the Great War. It exercised little principle in enforcing what the Zionists regarded as their property rights against the Palestinians. Yet even that small restraint was more than the more radical Zionists could take. Differences within the leadership of the Haganah eventually led to split, with the new branch calling itself the Irgun (1931), established by Avraham Tehomi, and led by a succession of leaders including Menachim Begin, beginning in 1943. And later differences within the Irgun spawned a third covert organization when Avraham Stern departed the organization to form the Stern Gang (1940), eventually led by Yitzhak Shamir. Stern was ideological, and sought a Greater Israel as defined in Genesis 15:18, "from the brook of Egypt to the great river Euphrates" as well as a building of the Third Temple in Jerusalem. All three operated with little restraint, targeting Arab civilians which they considered to be scum and filth, often setting up snipers to shoot at innocent Arab civilians waiting at bus stops, shopping in the markets and in doing business in other public places. The deaths of innocent Palestinian Arabs began to mount.
The British responded by simply deporting those it caught that it believed to be participating in terrorism. They deported 439 suspected Jewish terrorists, mostly to modern-day Eritrea, through the period of the Mandate. The British attempted as best they could to control Jewish immigration, but Zionist terror often directed towards thwarting their efforts. An example of the extremes to which the Zionists went was the Patria affair. In November, 1940, two immigrant ships arrived in Haifa harbor and landed, with the intent of discharging 1800 Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. The British refused to allow them to disembark, but transferred them to the Patria, a 12,000 ton freighter. The intent was to send the refugees to Mauritius, rather than allowing them to become an addition to a growing problem. The Irgun decided not to allow the Patria to sail. Instead, it hatched a plan - blow a hole in the hull, causing the ship to sink, but slowly enough that those on board could disembark before the ship sank. The British would be forced to allow them to remain in Palestine because there was no way to move them anywhere else. The plan was executed, but with a fatal flaw - the hole blown in the hull was sufficiently large that the ship sank within 15 minutes, and could not be fully evacuated in time - 250 (including 200 Jews, the remainder crew and British soldiers) went down with the ship.
Throughout the 1920's and 1930's, Arab resentment simmered, with occasional reprisal raids and riots. For centuries, a community of about 800 Sephardic Jews had lived in Hebron amidst tens of thousands of Arab neighbors. The two communities lived side by side, generally at peace. But that peace was shattered on August 23, 1929, when a group of Jerusalem Arabs, incited by the radical Mufti of Jerusalem, traveled to Hebron, entered the Jewish Quarter, and began to ransack and kill, without effective opposition from the one policeman stationed there. Seeing what was going on, the Jews fled their homes, and were taken in and hidden or helped to safety by dozens of their Arab neighbors, who saved close to 400, nearly half the community, from almost certain death. When it was all over, 67 Jews lay dead. The fact that so many Jews owed their lives to the kindness and bravery of their Arab neighbors is still a point of pride today among many of the Arabs living in Hebron.
By 1936, the problem of Arab displacement had become so severe, and organized Jewish terrorism so intolerable that the Arabs rose in an abortive revolt that went on, intermittently, for three years. Considerable blood was shed in the revolt, on both sides. It became known as The Great Uprising. It was during this period that Jewish terrorism became well established and tacitly accepted by the broader Jewish community. Here is a list of the terrorist acts committed against the Palestinians by the Irgun, just one of three such Jewish terrorist groups during this time:
- April 20, 1936 - 2 Arab workers in a banana plantation killed
- March, 1937 - 2 Arabs killed on Bat-Yam beach
- November 14, 1937 - 6 Arabs were killed in several shooting attacks in Jerusalem.
- April 12, 1938 - 2 Arabs and 2 British policemen were killed by a bomb in a train in Haifa.
- April 17, 1938 - An Arab was killed by a bomb detonated in a cafe in Haifa
- May 17, 1938 - An Arab policeman was killed in an attack on a bus in the Jerusalem-Hebron road.
- May 24, 1938 - 3 Arabs were shot and killed in Haifa.
- June 23, 1938 - 2 Arabs were killed near Tel-Aviv.
- June 26, 1938 - 7 Arabs were killed by a bomb in Jaffa.
- June 27, 1938 - An Arab was killed in the yard of a hospital in Haifa.
- July 5, 1938 - 7 Arabs were killed in several shooting attacks in Tel-Aviv.
- On the same day, 3 Arabs were killed by a bomb detonated in a bus in Jerusalem.
- On the same day, an Arab was killed in another attack in Jerusalem.
- July 6 1938 - 18 Arabs and 5 Jews were killed by two simultaneous bombs in the Arab Melon market in Haifa.
- July 8, 1938 - 4 Arabs were killed by a bomb in Jerusalem.
- July 16, 1938 - 10 Arabs were killed by a bomb at a marketplace in Jerusalem.
- July 25, 1938 - 39 Arabs were killed by a bomb at a marketplace in Haifa.
- August 26, 1938 - 24 Arabs were killed by a bomb at a marketplace in Jaffa.
- February 27, 1939 - 33 Arabs were killed in multiple attacks, incl. 24 by bomb in Arab market in Suk Quarter of Haifa and 4 by bomb in Arab vegetable market in Jerusalem.
- May 29, 1939 - 5 Arabs were killed by a mine detonated at the Rex cinema in Jerusalem.
- On the same day, 5 Arabs were shot and killed during a raid on the village of Biyar 'Adas.
- June 2, 1939 - 5 Arabs were killed by a bomb at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem.
- June 12, 1939 - A post office in Jerusalem was bombed, killing a British bomb expert trying to defuse the bombs.
- June 16, 1939 - 6 Arabs were killed in several attacks in Jerusalem.
- June 19, 1939 - 20 Arabs were killed by explosives mounted on a donkey at a marketplace in Haifa.
- June 29, 1939 - 13 Arabs were killed in multiple shootings during one-hour period.
- June 30, 1939 - An Arab was killed at a marketplace in Jerusalem.
- On the same day, 2 Arabs were shot and killed in Lifta.
- July 3, 1939 - An Arab was killed by a bomb at a marketplace in Haifa.
- July 4, 1939 - 2 Arabs were killed in two attacks in Jerusalem.
- July 20, 1939 - An Arab was killed at a train station in Jaffa.
- On the same day, 6 Arabs were killed in several attacks in Tel-Aviv.
- On the same day, 3 Arabs were killed in Rehovot.
- August 27, 1939 - 2 British officers were killed by a mine in Jerusalem.(Neoboho)
The world was shocked again, when, on July 22, 1946, acting on orders of Moshe Sneh of the Haganah, members of the Irgun, which had dressed as Arab workers, planted 350 pounds of explosives in the basement of the west wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The resulting blast, intended for British military officers billeted there, leveled the west wing, and injuring 91 and killing 35 people, including 17 Jews. The Jewish Agency initially denied responsibility, but within a year, Haganah had admitted it had planned and carried out the attack. This event singularly focused the mind of the world on brewing problems in Palestine.
Ben-Gurion's warning and Gandhi’s urgings, as well as the outrage of the international community was not heeded. The expulsions continued. The rightist Zionists, unconcerned by the problems they were creating for the future of Israel, continued their campaign of terror in an attempt to frighten and intimidate their Arab opponents.
The reason that Ben-Gurion's warnings were ignored was that he talked about a vision of an Israel based on "righteousness" and what he perceived as the justice of the liberal Zionist cause - but this was far too liberal for Jabotinsky and his faction. The vicious ruthlessness of Jabotinsky and those who took up Jabotinsky's ultra-nationalist cause on his death in 1940, Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, had succeeded in driving the moderates and liberals out of the leadership of the movement. Chaim Weizmann's vision of a liberal Zionism (as he construed it) died at the Twenty Second Congress of the World Zionist Movement held in London in 1946. For a decade, there had been a bitter struggle for control of the movement behind the scenes, and the ultra-nationalist, ultra-right wing faction led by Begin had won. Weizmann returned home a broken man, beaten and embittered, yet he lived to see at least some of the fruition of the evils he had long warned about. Yet the death of the liberal and moderate left in the movement did not prevent the ultra-right from hypocritically using Weizmann's image of a tolerant, moderate, egalitarian, compassionate Israel in their propaganda campaign in the United States and the rest of the world, while being ruthless in their intolerant dispossession and expulsion of the Palestinians.
A Second Attempt At A Non-Palestinian HomelandIt should be noted that during this period, Joseph Stalin attempted to resettle European Russia's Jews into the Crimea at first, and then the Ukraine. Neither attempt succeeded, due mostly to intense local opposition, leading to a series of pogroms. In the end, he picked a place where there was no opposition because there was only a small population of about 27,000, and only one town; a little known region of the Russian Far East, from the border of Outer Mongolia and along the Chinese border to the city of Khabarovsk. It was a region of about 14,000 square miles, about twice the size of New Jersey. In 1928, he began a campaign to resettle Russia's Jews there.In 1934, Stalin renamed the region from Tikhonka to Birobidzhan, and gave it the official status as a "Jewish Autonomous Region," hoping to score some propaganda points in the West by establishing the first modern Jewish state. Since few lived there and infrastructure was sparse to nonexistent (mostly due to the swampy land, harsh winters and the lack of roads), the Soviet Jews began to settle there in only a slow trickle, mostly fleeing starvation elsewhere in the Soviet Union, and attracted by an effective propaganda campaign. Yiddish was established as the local language, with a decree that all official documents and street signs had to be printed in both Yiddish (using the Hebrew alphabet) and Russian. Non-soviet Jews were welcomed on payment of about $200 to cover their moving expenses in getting to the region; more than a thousand took up the offer, moving there from as far away as Argentina. Jews from around the world, including several organizations in the United States, took up the cause and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help build the Jewish Autonomous Region. It was widely known and supported among world Jewry at the time.
At its peak, the Jewish population of the region was 41,000, but it declined during the early 1940's due to the harshness of the living conditions, the Stalinist purges, which included the region, and the opportunity to emigrate to Palestine. At the end of the war, a resurgence of interest in Birobidzhan led to a new surge of Jewish immigration to the region from the rest of the Soviet Union, bringing with it as many as 10,000 new immigrants, with a peak population of 38,000 in 1948. On Israel's independence, however, Stalin's paranoia caused him to launch a pogrom against Soviet Jewry, including the Jews of Birobidzhan, so Soviet Jews sought, and often received, permission to immigrate to Israel.
The official autonomous status of Birobidzhan remains, however, even today, and there is little indication that the Russian government is interested in revoking that status. Its population of Jews is only 13,000 (about 5.4% of the current population). Yet a significant number of Russian Jews are actually moving from Israel to Birobidzhan, finding that they are not as well accepted in Israel as they are in Birobidzhan, attracted as well by modern technology that makes living there much less difficult and unpleasant than it was during the Stalin era. Yiddish is once again an official language and is taught in the schools, and synagogues are once again open. The region is once again available to Jews from anywhere in the world who wish to settle there. It is conceivable that someday there could actually be two official Jewish states.
The Holocaust And A Third Homeland Offer RefusedThe rise of National Socialism in Germany in the 1930's, along with it's charismatic leader, Adolf Hitler, served to create sympathy for the Jews among the secular political left of most of the industrialized world. The glaring exception was the United States, which had always had a strong right-wing, and many leading intellectuals of the right were secretly sympathetic to the Nazis, with some being less secret than others. Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator, was openly sympathetic as were many members of Congress.That all changed, of course, on December 7, 1941, when Germany's close ally, Japan, bombed Pearl Harbor and brought America into World War II, ending the isolationism and pro-Nazi sympathies of the many Americans who had supported National Socialism. Yet this did not end the anti-Semitism that had underlain those pro-Nazi sympathies.
Some of the right-wing Zionists in Palestine were also sympathetic for their own coldly, inhumanely pragmatic reasons. The extreme moral bankruptcy of the rightist Zionists is demonstrated by the fact that many collaborated openly with the Nazis, convinced that the Nazis would be useful in helping the Zionists rid themselves of the British Mandate, and that a flood of Jewish refugees created by Nazi persecutions would help displace the Arabs. The Nazis appreciated the collaboration and more than one high-ranking Nazi felt that these right-wing Zionists were Jews with which they could do business. In 1937, Jabotinsky's Haganah organization invited Adolf Eichmann to Palestine. Feivel Polkes, a Haganah intelligence officer, told him, "Jewish nationalist circles were very pleased with the radical German policy, since the strength of the Jewish population in Palestine would be so far increased thereby that in the foreseeable future the Jews could reckon upon numerical superiority over the Arabs." Eichmann responded by saying "Our good wishes together with our good will go with them."(Brenner, p. 99) This attitude, and cooperation, continued throughout the war, in spite of the fact that the leadership of the Jewish communities behind Axis lines repeatedly warned the Jewish Agency of what was happening in the camps, particulary at Auschwitz. The reality is that leadership of the Jewish Agency knew what was happening, but quietly cooperated with the Nazis for their own cynical reasons.(Yahya, p. 59-60)
Throughout the war, as word of Nazi atrocities against the Jewish populations of both Germany and the territories it was occupying began to leak out, still there was sufficient anti-Jewish sentiment to block efforts to allow the Jews safety in America. In two particularly horrible incidents, a Russian refugee ship which was not seaworthy, the Struma, chartered by Romanian Zionist groups and loaded with 769 Jewish refugees was sufficiently unseaworthy that it was unable to sail to Palestine from the Black Sea. Eventually, it was cast adrift into the Black Sea, and was sunk, apparently by a German submarine, with the loss of all but one passenger. In the second case, the S.S. St. Louis, a refugee ship which had set sail from Hamburg, Germany, with numerous Jewish refugees aboard, was refused entry into the U.S., at which point it began a long and fruitless search for a country that would allow it a landing. Nation after nation turned it down, getting only so far as Havana, where it lay at anchor for weeks, guarded night and day, while the Cuban authorities haggled over the entry tax to be paid by the refugees languishing on board. Eventually, the ship was forced to return to Hamburg, where several European nations admitted a small number of the refugees on board, but most of which eventually were rounded up by the German occupation and died in the Holocaust. Still, in spite of these tragedies, American sympathy for the European Jews remained unmoved, in no small part because of anti-Semitism inspired by stories in the press about the Jewish terrorism occurring in Palestine.
That all changed, however, when the Allied liberation of Germany began. As troops moved forward across France, and finally Germany, they encountered the long-rumored, but long-denied death camps filled with Jews, Roma ("Gypsies") and homosexuals. American and foreign newsreels showed thousands of victims, literally nothing more than skin and bones, who were the liberated survivors who were too weak to even smile at their liberation. Finally, the warnings of the American Left from a decade before had credibility with the public, as the enormity of the tragedy began to sink in and denial was no longer possible.
Not widely known is the fact that President Truman entertained the possibility of a Bavarian homeland for the Jewish people, an offer extended in secret by the German authorities, under occupation at the end of the war, in reparations for the Holocaust. The offer would have the German government resettling the Bavarian gentiles at Germany's expense, and the security of the new state would be guaranteed by the American occupation of Germany. Bavaria was chosen because prior to the Nazi persecutions, it had been the home to the largest portion of Germany's Jewish population. When the offer was communicated to the Zionists, they turned it down flat, saying their homeland was in Palestine, and it was the only homeland they would accept.
The impact of the constant post-war newsreel footage in America was that the conscience of America was pricked. A wave of sympathy for the Jewish plight swept the land, and soon there was more sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust than there was revulsion at Zionist terrorism in Palestine. A Jewish homeland in Palestine began to feel like the right thing to do. Of course, no one was considering the Arabs whose land it really was, particularly in view of the false Zionist propaganda that Palestine was a "land without a people for a people without a land" - in spite of the fact that it was already the most densely-populated region in the Middle East. Once again, the needs and rights of the Arab owners of the land were simply ignored.
The Zionists, and their allies among the influential and well-connected American Jewish community were quick to pick up on this golden opportunity. They quickly seized the initiative and got organized to take advantage of this new-found sympathy. Many influential and wealthy supporters of Zionism came together and formed a variety of lobbying organizations, which quickly became the most powerful lobby groups in Washington.
The world had grown tired of war, the second overwhelmingly devastating war in a generation, and the horrors it caused, and had set up the United Nations in an effort to forestall more war. If the United States was to be a part of it, however, the U.S. was determined to ensure that it could at least veto the actions of the member states, and hence the "Security Council" was set up, in which the U.S. has a veto, which it has used liberally. In addition, the U.S. was the sole source of significant amounts of foreign aid during this period, and U.N. member nations that wanted U.S. aid had to go along with what the U.S. wanted.
What the U.S. wanted, as the result of pressure from the newly organized Zionist lobby in Congress, was an independent Israel.
The Birth of Israel - By Caesarian SectionBy 1947, U.S. lobbying at the United Nations had led to a partition plan. As the historian John Quigley noted, "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.'" (Quigley)President Truman was openly cynical about his lack of concern for the rights of the Arab majority in Palestine. When asked why he was an advocate of the partition of Palestine, he said, "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." (Quigley)
So the partition plan was forced through the United Nations, and on November 29, 1947, it was adopted. The plan, as announced, was immediately rejected by both sides.
The Zionists were nothing if not crafty, however, and had realized for a long time that any partition of Palestine, no matter how unfavorable in their eyes, was an opportunity to take a big step towards what they really wanted, and that was a homeland of their own, free of Arabs. Noam Chomsky quotes David Ben Gurion in 1938 as saying: "after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine" He quotes Menachem Begin declaring in 1948 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."(Chomsky)
So the Zionists had a plan. They would "reluctantly" accept partition, but they would privately consider it only a step towards a Greater Israel, free of the Palestinians.
The Palestinians were more forthright - their private and public positions were one and the same, and that was that U.N. partition plan was the illegal partition of something that the U.N. had no right to partition. They noted that the Jews were a population minority, and still held legal title to only 6% of the land, and had no moral right whatever to assert sovereignty over the majority Arabs among whom they lived, even though they were actually occupying 65% of the area legally set aside by the Mandatory for the exclusive occupation of the Arabs - Arab land being the largest portion of the land in the Partition Plan. (Said)
Meanwhile, the British, who had grown tired of U.N. indecisiveness and of dealing with the Zionist terrorism by the Haganah, the Irgun and the Stern Gang, and the reprisals from the Arabs, had announced that they were going to wash their hands of the whole affair, and on May 15, 1948, would pull out. The Zionists couldn't have been happier, and the Jewish Authority announced that it would declare a state when that happened.
To prepare for what would certainly be a war of expulsion, the Palestinian Arabs appealed to the Arab League to defend them. The Arab League hastily convened a conference in which the Arab armies "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." (People's Press)
The Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestine, Including The Palestinian PartitionOn May 14, 1948, Israel was declared a state by the Jewish Authority led by David Ben-Gurion, and supported by Golda Meir and the Jewish Agency, and several others, mostly the leaders of the Zionist terrorist groups, the Irgun, Haganah and Stern Gang. Within hours, it was recognized by the United States, at least informally until elections were held, but other nations were not so sure. The Soviet Union granted 'de jeur' recognition immediately, and within a few days, five more nations followed suit (Guatemala, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia), but the rest of the United Nations member states withheld relations for months, many for years, in recognition of the injustice being done to the Palestinians. Israel immediately applied for membership in the United Nations, but it took nearly a year to muster enough support to get the resolution passed by the U.N. General Assembly, in spite of intense lobbying by the United States.David Ben-Gurion, the new Prime Minister, knew exactly what he wanted for the new state. Benny Morris, an Israeli historian, wrote: "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 . 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  offensives were characterized by far more expulsions and, indeed, brutality towards Arab civilians than the first half of the war." (Morris) So much for Ben-Gurion's insistence on "righteous" policies.
On independence day, May 14, open fighting broke out. It was not unexpected, and both sides had been preparing for it. Both sides actively participated in offensive actions against the other, and both sides committed atrocities. It went on for months, dying down and flaring up again, and eventually leading to a stalemate.
But to the Zionists, this was far more than just a war of independence. It was a means and a pretext for "ethnic cleansing," a term first used by the Haganah to describe in their official reports just what they were doing. And once Arab military resistance was largely broken, the Haganah began a serious campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Typical of the tenacity of the Zionists in hanging on to their settlements in the Arab portion of the Partition, and their disingenuousness of their public commitment to the Partition Plan, was the siege at Gush Etzion. When the announcement was made of the United Nations Partition Plan in late November of 1947, the settlers in the Gush Etzion kibbutz and a neighboring settlement began a celebration. But the celebration was to be short-lived. The land they occupied was scheduled to be part of the Palestinian state under the Partition Plan, but the Jewish Agency under Ben Gurion had already decided that under their secret policy of non-acceptance of partition, they would defend Zionist settlements in the Palestinian lands rather than retreat to the lands allocated them under the Partition. On December 3, 1947, investigation into an Arab terrorist incident in the commercial center of Jerusalem led to a warning to the settlers at Gush Etzion that they might find themselves under attack. Three weeks later, a British military convoy transferred the women and children out of the kibbutz and the neighboring village, as the British themselves recognized that an attack was imminent. On January 14, Syrian troops operating under the command of the Arab Legion attacked the settlement, but the progress of the attack was halted by stiff resistance. A siege ensued which went on for months, during which the settlement was kept supplied by a Berlin-style airlift. The settlers stubbornly refused to retreat to their Partition lands as the Jewish Agency had publicly agreed to. This caused the British to finally join the Legion in the siege, ending it on Israeli independence day, May 14, 1948 When it was over, all but four defenders had been killed.
One historian noted "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 his 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." (Flapan) The plan was pre-calculated, carefully organized and was known among the Zionists as "Plan Dalet."
According to Morris, "During May  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 leveled 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." (Morris)By the time the United States had extended formal recognition of Israel on January 30, 1949, only 97 Palestinian villages remained. It wasn't long before much of the land reserved to the Palestinians under the Partition Plan was seized and occupied by the nascent nation of Israel.
Why, then, did the Palestinians flee? The Haganah, Irgun and the Stern Gang had all embarked on a coordinated terror campaign, the likes of which had not been seen since World War II. In village after village, massacre after massacre took place, leading up to and following the British withdrawal. Most were calculated to frighten and intimidate, but the populations remained unmoved, until Menachim Begin and his Haganah troops executed a particularly bloody massacre during two days, April 9 and 10, 1948.
The massacre was singularly illustrative of right-wing Zionist brutality, treachery and ruthless determination. It occurred in the village of Deir Yassin, near Jerusalem, a village of about 750 residents, which was overlooked by two Jewish settlements, Givat Shaul and Montefiore. The village was in the portion of the Partition plan assigned to the Palestinians, and had always had a peaceful reputation, but it had been targeted for occupation by Zionist settlers under Plan Dalet. The village mukhtar had agreed to cooperate with the Zionists, and provide information on the movement of Arab resistance fighters if the Zionists would spare the village, which they agreed to do. But the mukhtar was viciously betrayed when they failed to keep their promise.
"...We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves"
-- Isaiah 28:15 (NIV)
Reports by some of the survivors:
Mr. Fahimi Zeidan, 12: "The Jews ordered all our family to line up against the wall and they started shooting us. I was hit in the side, but most of us children were saved because we hid behind our parents. The bullets hit my sister Kadri [age four] in the head, my sister Sameh [age eight] in the cheek, my brother Mohammed [age seven] in the chest. But all the others with us against the wall were killed: my father, my mother, my grandfather and grandmother, my uncles and aunts and some of their children."
Ms. Haleem Eid, 30: "A man [shot] a bullet into the neck of my sister Salhiyeh who was nine months pregnant. Then he cut her stomach open with a butcher's knife."
Ms. Naaneh Khalil, 16, saw a man: "take a kind of sword and slash my neighbor Jamil Hish from head to toe then do the same thing on the steps to my house to my cousin Fathi."
Ms. Safiyeh Attiyah, 41: "I screamed but around me other women were being raped too. Some of the men were so anxious to get our earrings they ripped our ears to pull them off faster."
Mr. Mohamed Jaber, student, "The Jews [broke] in, [drove] everybody outside, put them against the wall and shot them. One of the women was carrying a three month old baby."
Mr. Abu Mahmud 70: "They took about 40 prisoners from the village. But after the battle was over, they took them to the quarry where they shot them dead and threw their bodies in the quarry. After they [the terrorists] removed their [the terrorists'] dead and wounded [from the village], they took the prisoners and killed them. They took the elderly prisoners, women and men and took them out of the village, yet they killed the youths."(DYR)
There are reports that both the British commander in the area and the Jewish Agency both knew what was happening, but no one intervened to stop it.
There was also a singularly interesting press conference: "That evening the Irgunists and the Sternists escorted a party of foreign correspondents to a house at Givat Shaul... Over tea and cookies, they amplified the details of the operation and justified it, saying Deir Yassin had become a concentration point for Arabs, including Syrians and Iraqis, planning to attack the western suburbs of Jerusalem. They said that 25 members of the Haganah militia had reinforced the attack and claimed that an Arabic-speaking Jew had warned the villagers over a loudspeaker from an armored car. This was duly reported in The New York Times on April 10." Only the report of the loudspeaker truck was ever substantiated; it turns out it had gotten stuck in a roadside trench and had never been able to approach the village close enough to warn the residents of what was coming.(DYR)
Fifty three maimed and orphaned children were quite literally dumped by the terrorists at the wall of the Old City, where they were found by Mrs. Hind Huseinni. She took them to her home behind the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. They became her permanent charges; her home became the Dar El-Tifl El-Arabi Orphanage.
On April 13, the New York Times reported a final body count of 213, though the actual number remains in dispute. At minimum, 120 died. (Berzeit University)
The Zionists were not unmindful of the propaganda problem that such ethnic cleansing could create. They therefore began a concerted disinformation campaign to convince the world that the Arabs had left their villages voluntarily, on the orders of the Arab leadership so that the Arab armies could sweep in and push the "Jews into the sea." There was, in fact, no basis to the charge. The reality is that the Arab leadership urged the Arabs to stay put, and not leave, and told them that if they did so, they were likely to never see their homes and villages again. It was prophetic advice.
"The BBC [the Monitoring Service at Caversham, England] 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." (Hadawi)
"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 refused to accept moral or political responsibility for the refugee problem it - or its predecessors - actively created." (Said and Hitchens)
That it was fabricated propaganda that was meant to hide Zionist atrocities and convince the world that the Arabs left at the request of their leaders is now very clear. Consider this quote from Aryeh Yitzakhi, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Eretz Yisrael Studies at Bar Ilan University (Tel Aviv) and Senior Lecturer in Military History in Israeli Defense Force courses for army officers. After studying the combat reports filed by the Haganah members and participants, he wrote: “The time has come to face the ocean of lies in which we were brought up. In almost every conquered village in the War of Independence, acts were comitted [sic], which are defined as war crimes, such as indiscriminate killings, massacres and rapes… For many Israelis it was easier to find consolation in the lie, that the Arabs left the country under orders from their leaders. This is an absolute fabrication. The fundamental cause of their flight was their fear from Israeli retribution and this fear was not at all imaginary. From almost each report in the IDF archives concerning the conquest of Arab villages between May and July 1948 - when clashes with Arab villagers were the fiercest - a smell of massacre emanates. Sometimes the report tells about blatant massacres which were committed after the battle, sometimes the massacres are committed in the heat of battle and while the villages are ‘cleansed’. Some of my colleagues, such as Me’ir Pa’il, don’t consider such acts as massacres. In my opinion there is no other term for such acts than massacres. This was at the time the rule of the game… In the first phase a village was usually subjected to heavy artillery from distance. Then soldiers would assault the village. After giving up resistance, the Arab fighters would withdraw while attempting to snipe at the advancing forces. Some would not flee and would remain in the village, mainly women and old people. In the course of cleansing we used to hit them. One was ‘tailing the fugitives’, as it used to be called (‘mezanvim baborchim’)… In a typical battle report about the conquest of a village we find: ‘We cleansed a village, shot in any direction where resistance was noticed. After the resistance ended, we also had to shoot people so that they would leave or who looked dangerous’.” (Yitzakhi)
The terror campaign, especially the Deir Yassin massacre, had the effect its perpetrators wanted. Soon much of the Arab population of the nascent state of Israel was on the move, seeking safety in what was to become permanent refugee camps. Estimates vary, but most figures place the numbers between 460,000 and 750,000 refugees - at minimum, two thirds of the Arab population of the region.
Later on in the war, another outrage occurred that shocked the world. On July 13, 1948, Jewish terrorist gangs, backed up by Israeli troops, entered the all-Palestinian towns of Lydda and Ramleh, in the Palestinian Partition, just east of Jaffa. The Israeli troops forcibly evicted approximately 70,000 Palestinians from their homes, allowing them no time at all for preparation, and simply drove them out into the hot July sun, most fleeing across open fields in the 100-degree temperatures. Hundreds died of thirst and exposure.
Two news correspondents from American newspapers witnessed the events: Keith Wheeler of the Chicago Sun Times wrote in an article titled "Blitz Tactics Won Lydda" that "practically everything in their way died. Riddled corpses lay by the roadside." Kenneth Bilby of the New York Herald Tribune wrote that he saw "the corpses of Arab men, women and even children strewn about in the wake of the ruthlessly brilliant charge."Simpson, p.220
Israeli troops, led by Moshe Dayan, drove into the towns "at full speed, shooting up the place," comandeering all motor vehicles they encountered in the towns. All men of military age were rounded up and put in camps. The remaining civilian population was sequestered in local mosques and churches, until their expulsion could be organized. The night before the attack had begun, two Israelis had been shot by Jordanian surveillance teams, and in retaliation, the Israelis turned their attention to the sequestered, cowering civilians. Scores died in the Dahmash mosque alone. The final death toll is not known for certain, but it is known that at least 250 in Lydda alone were killed.U.S.U.N. Mission
On the same day that the massacres in the mosques were occurring, the prime minister of the new nation, David Ben Gurion, issued a pair of expulsion orders, ordering that the residents of Lydda and Ramleh be expelled. The Lydda order stated bluntly, "The residents of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age." The orders were countersigned by Lieutenant Colonel Yitzhak Rabin, the operations chief in charge of the attack.
The next day, the forced expulsion of the Palestinians commenced. The residents of Ramleh were lucky - they were taken to their exile in trucks and buses. The Lyddans walked - enduring incredible suffering in the hot July sun. The London Economist reported: "The Arab refugees were systematically stripped of all their belongings before they were sent on their trek to the frontier. Household belongings, stores, clothing, all had to be left behind." One Palestinian, a young man at the time, later recalled: "Two of my friends were killed in cold blood. One was carrying a box presumed to have money and the other a pillow which was believed to contain valuables. A friend of mine resisted and was killed in front of me. He had 400 Palestinian pounds in his pocket." "Quite a few refugees died - from exhaustion, dehydration and disease - along the roads eastwards, from Lydda and Ramleh, before reaching temporary rest near and in Ramallah. Nimr Khatib put the death toll among the Lydda refugees during the trek eastward at 335; Arab Legion commander John Glubb Pasha more tactfully wrote that 'nobody will ever know how many children died.'"Schiff, p.215
Israeli historian Benny Morris reported: "All the Israelis who witnessed the events agreed that the exodus, under a hot July sun, was an extended episode of suffering for the refugees, especially from Lydda. Some were stripped by soldiers of their valuables as they left town or at checkpoints enroute. One Israeli soldier recorded vivid impressions of the thirst and hunger of the refugees on the roads, and of how 'children got lost' and of how a child fell into a well and drowned, ignored, as his fellow refugees fought each other to draw water to relieve their excruciating thirst. Another soldier described the spoor left by the slow-shuffling columns, 'to begin with [jettisoning] utensils and furniture and in the end, bodies of men, women and children, scattered along the way!' The forced march continued until the refugees reached the borders of what had been the Palestinian Mandatory.
With the expulsion underway, an orgy of looting and re-occupation by the Israelis began. Israeli historian Simha Flapan wrote: "With the population gone, the Israeli soldiers proceeded to loot the two towns in an outbreak of mass pillaging that the officers could neither prevent nor control... Even the soldiers from the Palmach — most of whom came from or were preparing to join kibbutzim — took part, stealing mechanical and agricultural equipment."Fisk, pp 391-393 Israeli, troops carted away 1,800 truck loads of Palestinian property, including a button factory, a sausage factory, a soft drinks plant, a macaroni factory, a textile mill, 7,000 retail shops, 1,000 warehouses and 500 workshops." Norton The properties left behind were quickly occupied by Israelis, the towns immediately became overwhelmingly Jewish, and Lydda is today called Lod.
The brutality of the Lydda and Ramleh massacres and expulsions reverberates to this day. One of the families expelled was that of George Habash, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - one of the most angrily militant rejectionist groups that Israel faces today. So much for the myth that the Palestinians left of their own accord.
State Terror within IsraelAfter the War of Independence, the terror did not end. It had only begun, and it went on for years. Besides forced expropriation of property, bulldozing of houses that were in the way of Israeli settlements, the jailing of innocent Palestinians, often for years without trials, there were still a string of massacres. A list of only the more significant the massacres include:Dawayma, October 29, 1948. Between 80 and 100 men, women and children were killed. The children were killed by simply clubbing them to death with heavy sticks.
Sharafat, February 7, 1951. 10 killed, eight wounded, including two elderly men and five children.
Kibya, October 14, 1953. 75 killed, no wounded were spared. Every man, woman and child in the village died, without exception.
Kafr Qasem, October 29, 1956. At least 48 were known killed; the Israeli Defense Forces didn't stop to do a complete body count.
Al Sammou', November 13, 1966. 18 people killed, 54 wounded, 125 houses and the village clinic destroyed, along with 15 houses in a neighboring village.
Oyon Qara, May 20, 1990. An IDF soldier lined up and machine-gunned to death seven Palestinian men who were waiting to cross into Israel to go to their jobs. At the demonstrations that followed, IDF troops opened with live fire and killed 13.
Al Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, October 8, 1990. IDF soldiers opened with live fire on worshipers in this third-holiest of all Moslem shrines, killing 22.
Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron, February 25, 1994. Three settlers from the nearby Kyrat Arba' settlement invaded this mosque, a place sacred to Muslims and Jews alike, during Friday prayers. Using machine guns, they killed 50, wounding 200. During the demonstrations that followed, IDF forces opened with live fire on the demonstrators, killing 23 and wounding hundreds (the exact casualty figures were never tabulated).
Jabalia, March 28, 1994. Israeli secret police opened fire on suspected Palestinian activists, killing 6 and injuring 49. Those injured in their cars were removed from their cars and shot in the head to finish them off.
Eretz Checkpoint, July 17, 1994. Israeli settlers opened fire on Palestinians waiting to cross into Israel to go to work. Nearby Palestinians saw what was happening and responded with gunfire; a gun-battle ensued that lasted for six hours. 11 Palestinians were killed, 200 injured, one Israeli soldier was killed and 21 injured, along with one Israeli settler.
The Rogue State of Israel And The Wars With Its Neighbors.For six years, from the cessation of hostilities in 1949 until 1955, an uneasy truce reigned in the region. Gamel Abdul Nasser, the dictator of Egypt who was determined to modernize his nation, realized that eventually he'd have to make peace with Israel, whether he liked it or not, and remained determined to do so. Even the Zionists themselves recognized that Nasser was good for Israel. A British Zionist, Richard Grossman, wrote: "not only Egypt, but the whole Middle East must pray that Nasser survives the assassin's bullet. I am certain that he is a man who means what he says, and that so long as he is in power directing his middle-class revolution, Egypt will remain a factor for peace and social development" (Grossman)
The Sinai War of 1956The truce lines following the War of Independence for years were tense, but quiet. But they were not to remain so. David Ben-Gurion, the Israeli Prime Minister had secretly ordered his defense minister, Moshe Dayan, to draw up plans for the invasion of Egypt, as the Ben-Gurion's cabinet felt that they could and ought to occupy the Sinai (it had small oil reserves, which Israel coveted, and was key to control of the Suez Canal), and if possible, seize the Suez Canal. This was because their intelligence told them that the Egyptian government intended to seize the Suez Canal from the British, and this was a situation that Israel was not willing to tolerate, since Egypt would not allow Israeli ships to pass through it. Egypt had no intention of invading Israel. It was badly outgunned and simply couldn't sustain an invasion of Israel and knew it. All it wanted was its canal back from the foreigners who occupied it, the British, who maintained their ownership of it as part of their own imperial fantasy.Knowing that Egypt would not invade without a provocation, Israel launched a raid on Egyptian territory. On February 28, 1955, Israel raided the Gaza Strip, killing 37 Egyptians and wounding 31. The raid was totally unprovoked; Nasser said it "was revenge for nothing. Everything was quiet there" (Love)
The raid had the predicted effect of inflaming passions throughout the region. The Arab world was properly outraged. Yet it did not provoke the invasion and war that Ben-Gurion had hoped. Rather, it was a wake-up call to the Arabs that served notice that their defenses were hopelessly inadequate, and that the new Jewish state had imperial ambitions. Egypt in particular realized it badly needed to arm itself. Refused by the U.S., they turned to the Soviet Union for help, and they were obliged through an arms deal arranged through the Czechs (an alliance that blossomed in subsquent years, leading eventually to the construction of the Aswan High Dam). Israel saw this arms deal as a provocation, but did not move. Finally, it was the seizure of the Suez Canal by Egypt, in July of 1956, that caused Israel to act.
Since the seizure of the Suez Canal by the Egyptians from the British was in direct defiance of Ben-Gurion's warnings, the Israelis viewed it as a legitimate pretext to invade Egypt, and on the 29th of October, 1956, they crossed the border, swept through the Gaza strip and within days, occupied the entire Sinai. Seeing the Israeli invasion as a possible opportunity to regain control of the Canal, the British, along with France, poured arms into Israel to aid the Israelis in the war. The British-French collusion with Israel caught U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower completely by surprise. He was angry primarily at Israel, however, and said, in an address to the American people, "Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of U.N. disapproval be allowed to impose conditions on its own withdrawal? If we agree that armed attack can properly achieve the purpose of the assailant, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order..." (Eisenhower)
The United Nations, acting at the behest of an outraged Eisenhower eventually forced Israel to withdraw. The Israelis reestablished most of the same boundaries they already had with Egypt, with the exception of some areas within the Gaza Strip. But while the Israelis were forced to abandon the Sinai for now, they didn't abandon their designs on it. Far from it.
The Six Day War of 1967Israel learned from its mistakes in 1956. The leadership of Israel realized that it could not hope to occupy the Sinai as well as the Jordanian-controlled West Bank, which they also deeply coveted, without international support, and so it drew up a plan to create the support it needed to justify its occupation. They concluded that the way to do this was to convince the world that 1)Israel was under attack by the Arabs, and 2)Israel was in danger of annihilation. For eleven years, Israel was to bide its time until the circumstances were just right, polishing its plan and carefully cultivating geopolitical influence until it felt it could sway international public opinion to its side.By the summer of 1967, Israel decided that the time was ripe to act. In a surprise raid in the early hours of June 5, 1967, Israeli fighter jets struck the Egyptian air force, wiping out the entire Egyptian air force on the ground before the Egyptians had time to react, and simultaneously invaded the Sinai. In the carefully calculated plan, the Israeli government simultaneously announced that they had been attacked by the Egyptians (a charge that was totally baseless), and that Israel considered itself in mortal danger of extermination. The credulous international press accepted the announcement and passed it on uncritically, and it became the drumbeat of Israel's propaganda campaign. It was not true, as Ezer Weizmann, the Israeli Air Force general later admitted: "there was never any danger of extermination" (Weizmann, Ezer) Some years later, one of the architects of the plan for the war and the accompanying propaganda campaign, General Matityahu Peled, confessed in an interview with El Ha'aretz, an Israeli daily, "The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff" (Peled)
The propaganda campaign succeeded beyond its creators' wildest dreams. It immediately brought a gullible, unquestioning America to Israel's side, with lots of military help quickly flown in from the United States to bolster rapidly diminishing munitions inventories.
To counter the inevitable truth-telling after the war, the Israelis claimed that, well, even if the Egyptians hadn't struck first, at least they'd been threatening an invasion, and so Israel had to act pre-emptively. But the reality was that a third of Egypt's woefully outgunned army was in Yemen at the time, and it was hardly in a position to even prepare for an invasion of Israel, much less carry it off. Additionally, Israel claimed that they had to attack Syria because the Syrians had been bombarding Israeli settlements in the Galilee from the Golan Heights. But this was hardly anything new - the bombardments from the Golan were real enough, but had been going on at roughly the same level of intensity for many years.
The outcome of Israel's carefully planned blitzkrieg into Sinai and the West Bank, and propaganda campaign was that Israel occupied the Sinai, its major goal, as well as the West Bank of the Jordan river. But it included another prize long sought by the Israelis: Jerusalem. Israel wasted no time in formally annexing the whole of Jerusalem and proclaiming it as its "eternal capital" as well as a corridor approaching it from the west.
The fact that the United Nations, and even the United States warned them not to do so, did not slow them down. The Americans announced that they neither recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (and as of this writing, still don't), nor did they accept the legitimacy of the military occupation of lands seized in the 1967 war. The General Assembly of the United Nations responded with Resolution 242, which demanded the return of the seized lands and forbade any occupation, settlement or annexation of them. The resolution also demanded either a return of all Arab property seized in 1948, or full compensation of its owners. The United States voted in favor of the resolution, and affirmation of it remains official U.S. foreign policy to this day. (Carter)
The Yom Kippur War of 1973Upon becoming the president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat sought to regain through diplomacy, the territories lost to Israel in the 1967 war. He launched a charm offensive in which he indicated that he was willing to come to terms with Israel. In February of 1971, he offered a formal peace treaty, on the terms suggested by the United States, but Israel turned it down, in spite of both U.S. support and a general international consensus that it was fair. Plea after plea, offer after offer were turned down, until finally the Egyptians had had enough. The rapidly proliferating Israeli settlements throughout the occupied territories, including Egyptian land in the Sinai were creating facts on the ground that required action.(Kimche)On the 6th of October, 1973, the Egyptians, with the Syrians, launched a coordinated attack on Israel. It caught the Israelis completely by surprise, and almost succeeded. But in the end, superior firepower, greater determination and prompt and massive materiel aid airlifted from the United States won the day - one general commented that bullets being shot by Israel on Wednesday had been sitting in American warehouses the previous Sunday. The Yom Kippur war ended in a few days, and the stalemate resumed, almost unchanged.
The Yom Kippur War did have one salutary effect, however. It convinced both sides that the absence of peace is war, and it convinced Sadat that the only way to peace was through diplomacy, no matter how difficult, because the United States would simply not tolerate the conquest of Israel. Israel began to realize that failure to make peace with its neighbors was costly to its security, and it could never live in peace until it made peace. But the hard-core far-right parties in Israel would not allow their governments to conclude peace treaties that didn't include everything the Zionists wanted. Menachem Begin met with Yasser Arafat at the request of U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who managed to get the two rivals to talk peace. Finally a peace treaty was concluded with Egypt (though Syria did not participate), and a peace treaty was finally concluded in 1979. It called for surrender of 91% of the Sinai territories to Egypt, which Israel was not very pleased about doing, but finally, by 1988 and after several international court trials, the last of the treaty obligations were complied with, and Egypt resumed sovereignty over all the land surrendered by Israel in the treaty. The Gaza Strip would be formally ceded to a Palestinian state when that state came into being; until then, it was technically Egyptian territory, though remained under Israeli occupation.
The Invasion of Lebanon, 1982On the sixth of June, 1982, the Israeli Defense Forces moved into Lebanon, on Israel's northern border, under the pretext that Lebanon was a source of Palestinian terrorism as a result of the enormous Palestinian refugee population harbored by that country. Ariel Sharon, the defense minister at the time, said "The bigger the blow and the more we damage the PLO infrastructure, the more the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, [the term used by Israelis to describe the occupied territories of the West Bank] and Gaza will be ready to negotiate with us" (Sharon, Times)Israel stated publicly that it intended not to move beyond a "buffer zone" that extended 25 miles beyond its border. The stated goal of the invasion was to push Arab guns far enough back to eliminate the shelling of Israeli towns and villages in the Galilee, and prevent infiltration of terrorists into Israel from Lebanon. Ariel Sharon, the Minister of Defense in charge of the invasion, was publicly warned by his prime minister not to beyond that 25-mile zone, but he "defied" that request, knowing that the plan all along had been to take the invasion to Beirut. In a surprising admission, Aharon Yariv, the chief of military intelligence for Israel stated in an interview for the Jerusalem Post, "I know in fact that going to Beirut was included in the original military plan." (Yariv)
The invasion was astonishingly brutal and merciless. Sharon was quite carefree in his bombing of not just military targets, but quite literally any structure that he felt may at some point harbor resistance. This included refugee camps, schools, hospitals, churches, religious and charitable institutions and the facilities of the government of Lebanon. It was the invasion of Lebanon that earned him his nickname, "The Bulldozer."
On the 8th of August, Sharon began a massive bombing of Beirut, which some foreign correspondents in the city compared to the massive Allied bombing of Dresden in World War II. Nothing was sacred and no effort whatever was made to spare civilians.(Giannou) Much of the infrastructure of the city was damaged or destroyed and the bombing stirred up ethnic passions and hatred in Beirut, which sparked a communal war that went on for a decade and left the city, once called "The Paris of the Middle East," in ruins. More than two hundred American nationals and about 20,000 Lebanese, nearly all innocent civilians, died in the bombing.
In September an event occurred that has to stand as one of the moral low points in Israeli history. Ariel Sharon and his fascist Phalange allies decided that the only way to force the Palestinians out of Lebanon was to do what had worked so well decades before in the Israeli War of Independence - namely causing them to flee out of sheer terror. By mid September, a cease-fire had been agreed to and implemented, and a withdrawal agreement was in negotiation under U.N. auspices. Yet on the night of September 16, units of the Israeli Defense Forces quickly broke through the cease-fire line, and with units of the South Lebanon Army, a Phalangist proxy army operating under the command of the Israelis, surrounded the refugee camps in Sabra and Shatila, on the outskirts of Beirut. Occupied mostly by refugees of the 1948 expulsions and their families, the camps had been under the control of the United Nations Works Relief Agency. Few militants lived there because the UNWRA did not tolerate their presence. But that didn't stop the IDF and the SLA, and a particularly bloody and vicious massacre of largely unarmed civilians began. It went on for two days.
According to General Amir Drori, an Israeli general, the head of the Phalangist forces on Friday afternoon, asked Commander of the Israeli Defense Forces in Lebanon, Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan for a bulldozer to bury the dead. The request was granted and at least one, possibly more, were supplied. Hurried attempts were made to bulldoze the accumulation of dead bodies in the alleys into mass graves. In some cases, homes were simply bulldozed to bury the dead in rubble. By the time it was over, at least 2,750 were dead, but this total does not include those that were known to have been removed from the camps alive and shipped to the Israeli-controlled south, but were never seen again or accounted for. If those are included, the death toll came to about 3,500.
When the foreign press arrived, the scene horrified even the most hardened war correspondents. Loren Jenkins of the Washington Post, filed this on September 23: "The scene at the Shatila camp when foreign observers entered Saturday morning was like a nightmare. Women wailed over the deaths of loved ones, bodies began to swell under the hot sun, and the streets were littered with thousands of spent cartridges. Houses had been dynamited and bulldozed into rubble, many with the inhabitants still inside. Groups of bodies lay before bullet-pocked walls where they appeared to have been executed. Others were strewn in alleys and streets, apparently shot as they tried to escape. Each little dirt alley through the deserted buildings, where Palestinians have lived since fleeing Palestine when Israel was created in 1948, told its own horror story."(Jenkins) Women and children, fleeing the massacre, were turned back by IDF soldiers, who had a clear, unobstructed view of what was happening in many parts of the camp. (Chomsky) Other eye witnesses have offered corroborating testimony.
An international commission of inquiry was convened to investigate the incident. Two American journalists, Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone, witness to the events of the 18th, were called to testify. In their sworn deposition, they stated "When we entered Sabra and Shatila on Saturday, September 18, 1982, the final day of the killing, we saw bodies everywhere. We photographed victims that had been mutilated with axes and knives. Only a few of the people we photographed had been machine-gunned. Others had their heads smashed, their eyes removed, their throats cut, skin was stripped from their bodies, limbs were severed, some people were eviscerated. The terrorists also found time to plunder Palestinian property as well as books, manuscripts and other cultural material from the Palestinian Research Center in Beirut."
On December 16th, the United Nations General Assembly condemned the massacre and declared it an act of genocide and called for the prosecution of those responsible. But there has never been a prosecution of even a single individual. In June, 2001, Human Rights Watch issued a report calling for Ariel Sharon's prosecution for this crime, and a Belgian court has announced it will consider whether to prosecute Ariel Sharon for his complicity of this massacre, but eventually the court dropped the case, claiming a lack of jurisdiction. The criticism of Israel was so severe that the Kenesett was forced by the outrage, both outside and inside Israel, to convene an inquiry. It held Sharon to be responsible, and he was "punished" by losing his portfolio as Defense Minister. He went on to become the Prime Minister of Israel.
Even long after Yasser Arafat, the PLO and most of the Palestinians left Beirut, the Israelis stayed on in South Lebanon. The ultimate purpose of Israel staying in Lebanon, according to the Israeli right, was to occupy it and make it the "North Bank." (Chomsky) But that policy was not successful. While Sharon succeeded in pushing the PLO out of Beirut and the rest of Lebanon, the same could not be said for the more militant factions; Iranian support for the Hezbollah sparked rear-guard fighting behind the Israeli lines. Israel found itself fighting three main Palestinian terrorist groups, the Palestine Liberation Organization, headed by Arafat, and Hezbollah, supported by the Iranians, and Islamic Jihad, supported by the Saudis and various pan-Arabic terrorist groups.
When the Israelis couldn't break the support of the Palestinians for Yasser Arafat, the Mossad, working with the CIA, hatched a plan. They created a radical Palestinian organization intended, in a "divide and conquer" strategy, to split off the support of moderate Palestinians from Yasser Arafat. Yet the Israeli activities in Lebanon backfired by succeeding only in radicalizing Hamas and creating a new, fourth enemy. Hamas would go on to become one of Israel's thorniest terrorist problems.
The occupation went on for years, but simply did not succeed. The rear-guard actions of the terrorist groups took its toll. Eventually, when reservists began to refuse to serve in Lebanon, seeing no useful point to be served by placing themselves in harm's way in Lebanon in securing territory well beyond what Israel needed for its security, Israel was finally forced to withdraw from its self-declared "security zone." It learned the lessons of occupation anywhere: when you occupy land that does not belong to you against the will of the inhabitants, you'd better be well and truly prepared for a long, low-level guerilla war. It was a hard lesson and a humiliating defeat.
Attempting To Force A Palestinian Surrender by Creating "Facts On The Ground"The most consequential of this series of wars was the 1967 war. It was more significant than the rest, because it changed the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty, legal or otherwise, significantly. Israel had more than tripled the population of Palestinian Arabs under its control, including a significant number of the refugees of 1948. Moreover, it had overrun the truce lines of 1948 and 1956, and had established an occupation of Arab lands that were, by international law and recognition, the territory of every one of its neighbors. It had never (and still has not as of this writing) declared any official boundaries, other than most of its border with Lebanon, which is now quiet because everyone involved recognizes it as a legitimate border.The number of Arabs under Israeli sovereignty was a serious problem. If Israel annexed the occupied territories, these Arabs would, under the Israeli constitution, become citizens with voting rights. Since they outnumbered the Jews at the time, the hard-line Zionists in Israel would not even consider official annexation, even though they felt that the territories they were occupying were part of Israel proper.
What to do? There was not an obvious solution that the international community would accept, but the hard-line, right-wing Zionists, led by a group of Orthodox Jews decided to simply break the stalemate by creating facts on the ground that couldn't be ignored. Under the leadership of their charismatic leader, Moshe Levinger, a band of Kookists decided to celebrate passover in Hebron, the "City of the Patriarchs" where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were thought to be buried. The only problem was that the patriarchs are also holy to Muslims as well, and this set the stage for a conflict. Levinger and his group checked into the Park Hotel, pretending to be Swiss tourists. But when Passover was over, they refused to leave and stayed on as squatters.
This represented an embarrassment to the Israeli government, because the Fourth Geneva Convention (article 49) specifically forbade settlement in any territories under military occupation, and the United Nations, with American assent, quickly demanded that the Israeli military remove the squatters, and do so by force if necessary. It immediately became, and remains, the official foreign policy of the United States government that the settlements were illegal and intolerable.(Carter)
The government was faced with a problem. The Israeli constitution gave representation in the Knesset to any party, no matter how small, with enough votes to pass a threshold, and many tiny, extreme right-wing parties had qualified, making the Knesset far more right-wing than the Israeli population as a whole. These hard right-wingers were fiercely opposed to a forced eviction of the Park Hotel squatters, and so the stalemate within the government of the day, represented an opportunity for the hard right.
The hard right saw this opportunity and seized it, quickly creating additional settlements throughout the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the Sinai, all of which were occupied illegally under international law. But the government of Israel was powerless to stop them.
The shock of the Yom Kippur war in 1973 convinced the right wing that if they were to seize control of the West Bank, they'd best get on with the program. And they did so with abandon. Within twenty years, hundreds of Jewish colonies were established throughout the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The method used was brazen. Palestinians, whose land this was, were simply pushed off. Israeli troops would show up, knock on the door of the Palestinian owner, inform the occupants that he had a half hour to be out, and then the house would be bulldozed and the rubble, including the possessions of the owners, simply hauled off to a rubbish dump. Besides homes, many orchards, farms and olive groves, some more than a thousand years old, were callously destroyed in this manner. The Palestinians were left to stand by helplessly watching the destruction, and were simply abandoned, homeless and utterly without the support or aid of those occupying their land. No compensation, no relief.
By creating large numbers of these settlements, Israel had hoped to ensure that it could gain international approval of its occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The policy paid dividends, in that eventually the international community came to realize that there were now so many Israelis living in the Occupied Territories that they couldn't be easily displaced.
To cover this brazen theft of land, the Israeli propaganda machine concocted the fantastic notion that the settlements were somehow required for the security of Israel. But the statements of the Israeli leadership itself, told a very different story:
"In strategic terms, the settlements in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza are of no importance." -Binyamin Begin (son of the late Menahem Begin and a prominent voice in the Likud party writing in 1991. quoted in Findley, Deliberate Deceptions; p 159)
"When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle." -Raphael Eitan (Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, quoted in the New York Times, 14 April 1983)
"Take the American declaration of Independence. It contains no mention of territorial limits. We are not obliged to fix the limits of the State." -Moshe Dayan (quoted in the Jerusalem Post, 08/10/1967)
A One-Sided Peace ProcessAfter the 1956 Sinai War, Israel had been forced to surrender nearly all of what it had gained by force of arms. It had clearly occupied territory that didn't belong to it, and the world recognized that, and forced a capitulation. It would be the last time that Israel would allow itself to be forced to honor the rights of its neighbors.At the conclusion of the 1967 war, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 242, in which Israeli sovereignty over the territories occupied in that war was specifically denied, and Israel was ordered to "withdraw from territories conquered." The rights of refugees to return to their homes, or be compensated in a just manner, were reaffirmed. After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 338, reminding Israel that it had not complied with resolution 242, and that it was legally obligated to do so. To date, Israel has continued to ignore those resolutions, in spite of their agreement, by their U.N. membership, that they must do so. Since the United Nations, even with the approval of the United States had approved both resolutions, the Palestinians have pointed to those two resolutions, time and time again, as an example of Israeli duplicity and disregard of international law.
The problems created by non-compliance with Resolution 242 continued to fester. Finally, President Jimmy Carter called both Menachem Begin, the Prime Minister of Israel, and Anwar Al Sadat, the President of Egypt, to Camp David, the presidential retreat near Washington, D.C. After prolonged negotiations, an agreement was hammered out. It was a long way from a settlement. In it, Israel agreed to comply with Resolution 242, as well as to continue to negotiate in good faith for a permanent solution. The conclusion of the Camp David accords was a peace treaty signed by Israel and Egypt.
Camp DavidOne of the fatal defects of Camp David was that the Palestinians were not included. Even under the framework of negotiations for which a final peace was to be concluded. the Palestinians were not to be included directly, but were to be "represented" by the delegations of Egypt and Jordan (though either or both could include Palestinians on their negotiating teams). Of course, the Palestinians, whose interests had not been directly represented in decisions affecting them since as far back as the Balfour Declaration, were outraged. They wanted no part of it, and one can hardly blame them.A decade after Camp David, by which a Palestinian state had already been due for five years, the Palestinians had had enough. By 1986, the Palestinian people had reached the end of their patience. Since no useful progress had occurred since the Camp David accords, and given the rising frustration of the Palestinian population, a popular uprising, intifada broke out. Within two years, tired of waiting and seeing no progress being made, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, headed by Yasser Arafat declared a "government in exile" on November 15, 1988. Israelis where horrified - they'd never seen such anger and resentment among the Palestinian population. It served to concentrate their minds on the task of solving the problem permanently.
To defuse the growing discontent, Israel proposed a one-sided peace proposal on May 14, 1989. It basically proposed to "strengthen" the peace agreement with Egypt, and called for peaceful relations with the Arab states, improvement of conditions in the refugee camps (but no settlement of the refugee's claims), and interim self-rule. Its other major concession was a formal recognition by Israel that it had obligations under Resolutions 242 and 338, but it still offered no plan for implementing them. The proposals, in the absence of a plan for implementation, went nowhere.
The Oslo AccordsAfter the election of Izaak Rabin as the Prime Minister of Israel in 1992, secret negotiations began in Oslo, Norway under the auspices of the Norweigan government. By the middle of September, the following year, the negotiations had progressed to the point that they were made public, and they were announced on September 13.They made a significant concession on Israel's part, in that Israel recognized the right of the Palestinians to a state within the borders of the Occupied Territories, and each recognized the right of the other to exist and remain within their existing boundaries.
The problem with the Oslo Accords was that they created, in effect, a "Bantustan"-like boundary structure that was clearly unworkable. The PLO was more or less forced to accept the terms on offer, because it had been left destitute after the Gulf War, and negotiators simply had little choice. The problem was that neither Arafat nor any other leader could possibly accept such a plan and expect it to be accepted by the Palestinian people. Yasser Arafat rejected it.
Back to the drawing boards. More negotiations. This time it was with public scrutiny, which resulted in yet another Bantustan-style solution that was, again, totally unacceptable to the Palestinian people. It left them without control of water, utilities and transportation infrastructure. It made no commitment to a final solution or a fully independent, viable Palestinian state. With justification, it was viewed as even worse than Oslo I. Again, it was rejected.
Wye RiverWith Oslo going backwards, and the frustration level in the Occupied Territories only increasing, President Bill Clinton brought the parties together again at Wye River, a resort in the Maryland hills outside of Washington, D.C. Under great pressure from Clinton, Israel agreed to withdraw from a paltry 13% of the territories it was occupying, and the Palestinians agreed to reign in, as best they could, the terror campaigns being perpetrated by their militants, and negotiate in good faith for a permanent solution, as well as eliminate private militias and weapons stockpiles, both prohibited by the Oslo Accords.The big problem with Wye River was that it represented an even worse Bantustan solution, Palestinian areas were reduced even more than they had been under Oslo. Again, this was not only unacceptable, it was even revolting to the Palestinian people, and Arafat was not allowed to consider it, though he could clearly see that time was running out for a solution. A close look revealed why - Israeli settlements and military installations would have been allowed to remain throughout the West Bank and anything resembling Palestinian security and control over its own affairs would have been all but impossible.
Camp David IIIn a last-ditch effort to bring about a settlement before he left office, President Clinton brought chairman Yasser Arafat, Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, and Hosne Mubarak, president of Egypt, to Camp David in July of 2000. The talks went nowhere. A tepid memorandum was issued reaffirming that Resolutions 242 and 338 were the only paths to peace, and another Bantustan was proposed, even further reducing Palestinian sovereignty. Mubarak, Barak and Arafat returned to the Middle East, convinced, correctly, that nothing would change. It didn't, until March of 2002.
The Jenin Massacre and The Israeli Propaganda MachinePalestinian terror against Israeli civilians didn't help dissuade international opinion. In fact, it gave the Israelis the propaganda advantage that they could have only hoped for. International opinion predictably began to grow increasingly impatient with Palestinian terrorism throughout the 1990's and through two intifadas. American efforts at stymieing United Nations efforts to solve the problem, and the influence over major media outlets in the U.S. all led to the impatience of the American people. And the Israelis grew increasingly skilled at manipulating international opinion. Taking a cue from the U.S. military in the Gulf War, the Israeli Defense Force discovered that it could exclude journalists and relief charities from their areas of activity, and having learned from the public relations disaster of Sabra and Shatila, it realized that to conduct its dirty work, it needed to do so. Usually the excuse was that it was too dangerous to allow journalists in, which to a war correspondent is a patently transparent excuse. At times, the IDF simply didn't bother to offer an excuse.Ariel Sharon had been elected Prime Minister of Israel in February, 2001. His election was a bad omen to the peace movement in Israel. The "Bulldozer" as he was known, was widely considered to be the hardest of the hardliners that could ever conceivably become the Prime Minister. And it wasn't long before he began to live up to his reputation. George Bush had been installed as the President of the U.S., in a hotly contested election, and knew that he owed his presidency in no small part to the American Israel Political Affairs Committee, widely regarded as the most powerful lobby in Congress. He could ill-afford to alienate his Zionist constituency, and Sharon knew it.
Sharon soon dispensed with the legal niceties of arrest and trial of Palestinians the Israelis suspected of terrorism, and soon began to simply send in hit squads and kill them outright. "Targeted killings," was how the Israeli propaganda machine described them, but they were really simply assassinations, and inevitably innocent civilians got in the way.
The Palestinians did the only thing they could do under the circumstances, and that was to step up the suicide bombings of Israeli targets. As the Palestinians grew more skilled at infiltrating Israel with increasingly deadly bombs, and the death toll began to mount, the voices demanding a cease-fire on both sides grew louder. Finally, in January, 2002, a cease-fire was arranged.
It held for six days. Acting in what it said was retaliation for the discovery of a boat laden with arms headed for Palestine, the cease-fire was broken in the early morning hours of January 10, when Israeli troops, carefully cordoning off the scene from the scrutiny of the both the Israeli and international press, went into Rafah, a small town at the southern end of the Gaza Strip along the Egyptian border, and began to bulldoze occupied homes. When it was over, the United Nations Relief Works Agency reported that they had destroyed 54 houses, leaving 510 people destitute. The Palestine Relief Agency claimed 700 displaced, but either account stands in stark contrast to the reports that appeared in the American press, claiming that there were only half a dozen houses involved, and the houses were unoccupied, and had been used as the terminus of trans-border tunnels used for smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip. This was later disproved - when challenged to produce evidence of even a single tunnel, the IDF was unable to do so.
The IDF didn't stop there. They then went on to destroy the runway at the Gaza International Airport, the hanger housing Yasser Arafat's aircraft, his offices in Gaza, and then proceeded to the Gaza harbor, where they impounded all the fishing boats they found there - destroying one of the rare sources of livelihood in the Strip.
This could not go unchallenged, and so the Palestinians called off their observance of the ceasefire. The suicide bombings resumed, growing more frequent and bloodier.
Finally, by March, Ariel Sharon had had enough. He had been formulating a plan to re-occupy the West Bank, but his plan was much more than to simply engage in the "defensive" operation that his propaganda machine had been talking about. When it began on March 29, he announced that his intent was to search it for militants and bomb factories, but this was belied by the fact that the re-occupation was singularly brutal and unnecessarily harsh.
Sharon had learned well from his mistakes in Sabra and Shatila, and was determined not to repeat them. He knew from experience that the image of dead bodies would not go down well in the court of international public opinion, so he issued strict orders for the IDF to shoot at and if necessary, even kill any journalists, charity workers or emergency medical personnel who entered the combat area before he authorized their presence. The rule was strictly enforced - at least one paramedic lost his life attempting to rescue the wounded, and numerous reporters and charity workers reported being shot at.
The occupation of the West Bank went on for weeks. No one knew what was going on in towns under siege except what they could see from a distance or what the Palestinians reported by telephone, or what the IDF was reporting in its press briefings. The few reports that filtered out of the camps were shocking - homes being bulldozed with the occupants still inside, helicopter gun-ships fired rockets into the homes of civilians indiscriminately, the use of civilians, including old women and children as human shields, and civilians were forced to enter buildings ahead of troops and forced to check for booby traps. The troops routinely prevented ambulances from attending the wounded, and civilians were confined to their homes for weeks, with only two hours for re-supply every few days. Helicopter gun-ships and snipers enforced the curfew. During this affair, pictures of the death and destruction began to appear in the Palestinian press, spirited out by means of cell phone Internet connections. The fighting was particularly pronounced and intense around the refugee camp of Jenin.
A successful propagandist knows well it is not necessary to be right, but only to create a consensus. He relies on the fact that the vast majority never analyze a consensus for moral consistency or a sound basis; it will simply assume that the analysis has been done.
"Many people where inside houses we stto[sic] demolish. They would come out of the houses we where working on. I didn't see, with my own eyes, people dying under the blade of the D-9. and I didn't see house falling down on live people. But if there were any, I wouldn't care at all. I am sure people died inside these houses, but it was difficult to see, there was lots of dust everywhere, and we worked a lot at night. I found joy with every house that came down, because I knew they didn't mind dying, but they cared for their homes. If you knocked down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people for generations. If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down." (Nissim) After the campaign ended, Nissim's unit received a commendation for the havoc and destruction he had wreaked.
When the destruction and death ended, the press fully expected to be allowed in. After all, they had been told for weeks that they weren't allowed in during the fighting because it was simply too dangerous. The reality is that the IDF didn't want them to see and film the dead bodies littering the streets, and the wanton and careless destruction of civilian private property. They needed time to clean up the evidence of war crimes. So the IDF didn't allow them in and didn't offer any explanations, either.
For five days, in flagrant violation of international law, the press, the charities and the paramedics were kept waiting. Finally, when they were allowed in, the results were interesting if not horrifying - in spite of an Israeli Supreme Court directive requiring them not to remove the bodies, there were no bodies to be found. Indeed, bodies that had been photographed by the Palestinians days before were not there when the journalists went looking for them. Palestinians reported at least two semi-truck loads of bodies had been hauled out of the wreckage of the Jenin Refugee Camp. The Palestinian Red Crescent estimated at least two hundred bodies were spirited out of the camp in this manner. Even the IDF had trouble getting their story straight - at first, they reported a hundred dead, then two hundred, then no more than twenty. As of this writing, no explanation has been offered by the Israeli defense forces for the five day delay, nor has an explanation been offered for the disappearance of the bodies that had been photographed littering the streets during the destruction, which have been shown in the foreign press, but were somehow gone when the press was finally allowed in. Nor has the IDF offered an explanation for their defiance of the Israeli Supreme Court's decision forbidding the removal and burial of the bodies by the IDF.
And Human Rights Watch, one of the first NGO's allowed in, had clearly been blackmailed. They declared there was "no evidence of a massacre" even though in the next breath, they admitted there were at least 52 dead including at least 21 civilians - easily meeting their own definition of a massacre, which is "the planned death of four or more individuals." The U.S. press, always intensely sympathetic to the Zionist cause, trumpeted the pronouncement - but failed to give the details. When HRW issued its final report, it called the events in Jenin "war crimes" and called for an international investigation and prosecution. The final report went totally unreported in the mainstream American press.
The Promotion Of TerrorOther nations that face a terrorism problem seem to know something that Israel knows, but is unwilling to accept. What they know is what Mohandas Gandhi said most of a century ago and which remains is very true even today: "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Imagine, for example Britain, when it suffers a bombing from the Irish Republican Army, in, say, a London train station - does Britain commit "targeted killings" in Belfast? Of course not! Or Spain, when Basque separatists explode a fatal car bomb in Madrid - does Spain send in armored bulldozers to bulldoze Basque houses in Vittoria or Bilbao? Hardly!The difference is that these other nations are clearly committed to a peace process, civil government and the rule of law. They understand that it is not possible to commit acts of reprisal without alienating and radicalizing the civilian populations of the regions they are administering.
But the Israeli behavior is different, because the Zionist agenda is different. In their more candid moments, some of the Zionist leadership in Israel betray that their agenda is really one of nothing less than ethnic cleansing. At least one has even gone so far as to refuse any moral responsibility whatever to the people whose property the Zionists covet.
Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel as this is being written, said this in a newspaper interview in December, 1982, just a few months after he had directed the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon: "Even if you prove to me that the present war in Lebanon is a dirty immoral war, I don't care. Even if Galilee is shelled again by Katyushas in a year's time, I don't really care. We shall start another war, kill and destroy more and more, until they will have had enough. "Let them tremble, let them call us a mad state. Let them understand that we are a wild country, dangerous to our surroundings, not normal, that we might go crazy if one of our children is murdered, just one! If anyone even raises his hand against us we'll take away half his land and burn the other half, including the oil. We might use nuclear arms. "Even today I am willing to volunteer to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them, to have everyone hate us... And I don't mind if after the job is done you put me in front of a Nuremberg Trial and then jail me for life. Hang me if you want, as a war criminal... What you don't understand is that the dirty work of Zionism is not finished yet, far from it" And consider what he says of himself: "You can call me anything you like. Call me a monster or a murderer. . Better a live Judeo-Nazi than a dead saint."(Sharon, Davar) [Note: The provenance of the above quotes are hotly disputed on many Zionist apologist web sites. It is not possible to prove, one way or the other, whether the quotes are accurate, as the Davar newspaper is defunct and most of its morgue is lost. It is presented here, however, due to the fact that it has been quoted by several separate Israeli sources, not just the one that is often "debunked." Sharon was asked about it publicly on at least five occasions, and whenever the question was raised, he simply dodged the question and never answered it definitively one way or the other. His evasiveness by itself speaks volumes. -SB]
Assaults on Innocent Civilians As State PolicyThe last week in July of 2002 was a period of relative calm. Secret negotiations had been taking place between Yasser Arafat and the leaders of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terrorist groups, in an attempt to bring a halt to the spate of suicide bombings which had caused many casualties among the Israeli population, Jews and Arabs alike. Israel had been notified through its foreign minister that these negotiations were taking place, and the Palestinian Authority had asked for Israel's cooperation in furthering these talks by refraining from any provocative acts.Yet in spite of the delicacy of the negotiations, and the fact that a tentative cease fire had been agreed to (of which Israel was aware), Israel struck, shattering the calm in an act of barbarity that brought worldwide condemnation. On July 23, an American-supplied F16 jet dropped a 1,000 lb. laser-guided bomb on an occupied Gaza City apartment block, intending, they said, to kill the military leader of Hamas, Sheikh Salah Shahada. The attack succeeded in its stated objective; Shahada was killed with two other members of his family.
But along with Shahada, 14 others were killed, including 9 children and over 150 were wounded, mostly old men and women. The world was horrified when Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, in an act of singular indifference to the suffering he'd caused, pronounced the attack "a great success."
Sharon's reaction was predictable. He had no immediate reason to call it anything else. Only when faced with a worldwide reaction of horror and condemnation, including a threat of an American congressional investigation about the use of the American-supplied F16 in an obvious war crime, did any of the rhetoric change.
Indeed, Sharon's reaction was predictable because it conformed to an old Israeli military doctrine, one that was originally enunciated by Israel's founding Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, before Israel was even a state. In his Independence War Diary, under the entry for January 1, 1948, Ben-Gurion wrote: "...Blowing up a house is not enough. What is necessary is cruel and strong reactions. We need precision in time, place and casualties. ...[we must] strike mercilessly, women and children included. Otherwise, the reaction is inefficient. At the place of action there is no need to distinguish between guilty and innocent."
Why this ruthlessly inhumane doctrine? What was the "reaction" that Ben-Gurion was seeking? The principle is simple: make the property owned by the Palestinians uninhabitable, and make their lives so miserable, and instill in them such fear that the inhabitants will leave, so Israel can eventually appropriate the property for itself. As we have seen above, Israel employed the venerable tactic to great effect throughout much of the War of Independence.
The timing of the attack was also significant. The timing itself did not escape the notice of the pundits on the Lehrer News Hour, interviewed the following night on American public television. With the sole exception of Israel's advocate, the others noted to a man that this was proving to be a pattern - periods of calm, especially when negotiations are progressing, tend to be shattered by Israeli attacks in which significant numbers of innocent Palestinian civilians are killed, injured or rendered homeless.
Why? It is because deep within the minds of the policy makers in the Israeli government, there is opposition to peace. Peace would mean Israel would have to give up its territorial ambitions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and as noted above, this has been the furthest thing from the mind of the Likud. Morally, of course, this means that the Likud and its allies on the Israeli far-right care more about the acquisition of Palestinian property than they care about the lives of innocent Israeli civilians caught up in the bombings that are provoked by their greed and cynicism. The Israeli peace movement is well aware of this, but it seems to escape the notice of American policy makers.
The Gaza Massacre - Terror As An Official PolicyIn late 2008, just before the presidential elections in the United States, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip in an operation it called "Operation Cast Lead." The 22-day massacre, more than two years in the planning, led to the death of more than 1300 Palestinian civilians, the destruction of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property, most of which had no discernible military significance, and led to widespread suffering on a scale not seen in Palestine since the 1967 war. Israel justified its actions, claiming it went in to stop rocket attacks on the nearby settlement of Sderot, but of course, that was the pretext, not the real cause. The real reason was political - to boulster the prospects of the far right Zionists in the Israeli elections that were just a few weeks away. The political leadership of the ruling Kadima party stated right up front, without apology, that the operation would be "disproportionate," in spite of the fact that such a statement is a clear admission of the commission of a war crime under the Geneva Conventions On The Protection Of Civilians In War, to which Israel is signatory.The catastrophic effects on the lives of Gazan civilians of Operation Cast Lead would be hard to overstate. That, of course, was bad enough, but the fact that soldiers were given free rein, even encouraged, to give in to their basest instincts for hatred and revenge has become a scandal that the Israeli government couldn't cover up by simply blurring the faces of IDF leadership on television, in their silly attempt to prevent their prosecution for war crimes. What has become hard for even Israel's staunchest supporters to ignore or justify is some of the testimony from the troops themselves, in describing what was done in Gaza. According to Ha'aretz, quoted in Alternet:
"'A squad leader said: "At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and – I call it murder – to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away.' [As has been noted elsewhere, just where were they supposed to run away to? Gaza is locked up tight as a prison, and there was nowhere to go to escape. The IDF was "shooting fish in a barrel," to quote one human rights campaigner -SB] "The accounts, which also describe apparently indiscriminate destruction of property, were given at a post-operation discussion by graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military course at the Oranim Academic College in northern Israel. The transcript of the session in front of the head of the course – details from which were published by the newspaper Haaretz – prompted the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) military advocate general Avichai Mendelblit yesterday to announce a military police investigation into the claims. Haaretz said the airing of the "dirty secrets" would make it more difficult for Israelis to dismiss the claims as Palestinian propaganda. The course principal, Danny Zamir, told the newspaper that after being "shocked" by the testimonies on 13 February he told the IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi he "feared a serious moral failure" in the IDF...
"Israeli human rights organisations, including B'Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, called for an independent investigation and complained that the military police inquiry had only been announced after Haaretz published the story, "three weeks after the relevant materials reached the Chief of the General Staff. This tardiness follows a pattern of failures to investigate suspicions of serious crimes".
"Amos Harel, the paper's respected military correspondent who broke the story, wrote that Mr Zamir was sentenced in 1990 for refusing to guard a settlers' ceremony at Joseph's tomb in the West Bank. But he added that a reading of the transcript shows that Mr Zamir 'acts out of a deep concern for the spirit of the IDF'.
"In their own words: Soldiers' stories
"Squad leader Aviv
" 'At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and to ascend floor by floor and – I call it murder – to go from floor to floor and to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away. This frightened me a bit. I tried to influence it as much as possible, despite my low rank, to change it. In the end the directive was to go into a house, switch on loudspeakers and tell them 'you have five minutes to run away and whoever doesn't will be killed.'"
" 'There was an order to free the [confined] families. The platoon commander set free the family and told them to turn right. A mother and two children didn't understand and turned left. [Officers] had forgotten to tell the sniper on the roof that they were being set free and that everything was okay and he should hold fire. You can say that he acted as he was supposed to, in accordance with the orders. The sniper saw a woman and children approaching him, past lines that no one was to be allowed to cross. He fired directly at them. I don't know if he fired at their legs but in the end he killed them.'"Alternet
The Freedom Flotilla Massacre - Becoming 'People Of The Lie'In 2005, Israel withdrew its colonies and military installations from the Gaza Strip, and pronounced Gaza free to hold its own elections. Gazans, mostly refugees and their descendants of the 1948 expulsion, proceeded to do just that, and on January 25, 2006, voted in elections to select representatives to the Palestinian Legislative Council, the legislature of the Palestinian Authority, the legally constituted government of Palestine, as well as local government leadership in the Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, the Palestinians voted the wrong way.They elected members of Hamas, a group that had been set up years earlier by Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic intelligence service, in a move to siphon off support from Yassir Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization. Over the years, however, Hamas had slipped from Shin Bet's grasp and had become increasingly militant and even radical, occasionally sponsoring terror attacks within Israel by means of suicide bombers. It had begun to fire small homemade rockets from the Gaza Strip into the neighboring Israeli community of Sderot. This had earned the anger of Israel and Hamas was quickly denounced as a terrorist organization and put on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations. But the fact that it had been elected to government in the Gaza Strip presented Israel with a huge dilemma - Israel could denounce the very elections that it had claimed to support, and try to overturn the Hamas government, or it could accept that Palestinians had the right to vote into government whoever they wished and be true to their assertions of a desire for Palestinian democracy. Of course, it was a foregone conclusion that Israel would pick the former.
So Israel's response was first to try to overturn the election, by encouraging the Fatah government to not turn over power to Hamas. That didn't work - Hamas quickly rebelled, and a short but intense civil war brought Hamas to unquestioned power in the Gaza strip. So Israel's next response was to impose a seige of the Gaza Strip - to "put the Palestinians on a diet," as the prime minister of Israel famously put it. The blockade quickly took on aspects eerily reminiscent of the Nazi seige of the Warsaw Ghetto in World War II. Only "humanitarian" goods were allowed in, and no exports at all were allowed out. This was an attempt to literally starve the Palestinians into submission - a tactic that is specifically outlawed by several articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention On The Protection Of Civilians In Time Of War, a treaty to which Israel is signatory and has ratified.
Only sufficient food was allowed in to prevent scenes of skin-and-bone prisonsers from appearing in the international press, but no more. No construction materials, no repair parts or materials for infrastructure repair, nothing but the bare minimum of food. Sewage was dumped unprocessed into the sea, and water, what little that wasn't being siphoned off by Israel, was hopelessly contaminated and was seriously inadequate for even the basic hygiene needs of Gazans. It wasn't long before the United Nations Works Relief Agency was reporting that two thirds of infants under the age of one were showing signs of anemia caused by malnutrition, and communicable disease became rampant, because even basic public health and hospital supplies were not being allowed in. Only large scale smuggling through tunnels dug deep under the border with Egypt prevented wholesale catastrophe.
By 2010 the humanitarian situation had become so grave that the international humanitarian community could no longer ignore the it. Several attempts at caravans, some through Egypt and some through Israel had gotten small amounts of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip after negative publicity made it difficult for Israel to prevent it. But it was far too little to make a real difference.
So on May 30, 2010 a flotilla of unarmed, primarily Turkish-flagged cargo ships, calling itself the Freedom Flotilla, sailing lawfully and peacefully from Turkey to the port of Gaza City and carrying 10,000 tons of relief supplies, came under attack in international waters by the Israeli Defense Forces. On the largest vessel, the T.S.S. Mavi Marmara, the commandos storming the ship put it under live fire as they boarded it, rounded up 15 passengers on a pre-prepared list, and shot them in cold blood. Six of the bodies were dumped overboard, and the remaining nine were taken with the ships to the Israeli port of Ashdod, where the remaining passengers were relieved of their personal possessions (including credit cards, which were later used by the Israelis in fraudulent transactions). After intense diplomatic pressure, the remaining passengers, held in Israeli custody for a day, were eventually freed. Some of the cargo was allowed into Gaza as had been promised by the Israelis, but the majority of it was simply looted by the Israelis and used for their own purposes. Passengers never got any of their personal property back.
But Israel was caught red-handed, several times, in outright lies and fabrication of evidence during the incident and its aftermath. Israel released a video in which an IDF navy captain was claimed to be talking to the skipper of the Mavi Marmara, in which the skipper was allegedly saying such things as "go back to Auschwitz!", but as it turns out, the skipper of the Mavi Marmara had never said that - as was proven when an unedited version of the video surfaced on YouTube. The video was an outright fabrication, to which Israel later confessed.
And that wasn't the only one. Israel had stubbornly insisted that the passengers of the Mavi Marmara were killed only when they resisted arrest by the Israeli commandos. But then a video surfaced, in which one passenger was seen being beaten to a pulp by a ski-masked Israeli commando, and then, as he lay helpless on the deck, four bullets were immediately pumped into his head. That passenger, as it turned out, was a 19-year old Turkish-American dual national, for whose death Israel never offered an explanation or even an apology. The video of the murder was seen hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube.
When the autopsy reports on the eight bodies of Turkish civilians were released, it was clear that five of the eight had died of at least two bullets to the back of the head or in the back. One had been shot five times. Another had died of a bullet through the top of his head - consistent with passenger accounts that the Israeli commandos were firing live ammunition onto the deck of the Mavi Marmara from helicopters above, before the commandos had even boarded the ship. In other words, the nine had been murdered. The Israelis claimed that live fire commenced only when the passengers had resisted being taken into custody, but passengers said that the commandos fired live rounds from the helicopters before boarding, and during their search for the passengers on their hit list. Israel had denied it had a hit list, denouncing the claim as "scurrilous," but then a video surfaced on YouTube, showing a copy of the hit list being taken from a wounded Israeli commando. It was held up to the camera - color photos and descriptions of the target, in Hebrew and English were clearly evident. Once again, Israel had been caught, red handed, in a bald-faced lie.
Even some of their factual "evidence" that was real was so ludicrous that it disproved Israeli assertions - the only "weapon" that was actually produced were some small pieces of iron deck rail, a plastic stacking chair, several pieces of body armor and a very rusty box cutter some commando had found. The Israelis never even attempted to explain why the presence of body armor justified live fire.
The ludicrousness of Israel's claims only served to underscore the unnecessary viciousness of the cold-blooded attack. International condemnation was swift, loud and long. And it prompted a lot of soul-searching in Israel - but only as to why and how the commandos had so badly bungled the public relations. Eventually, the United Nations demanded an independent inquiry - after noting that Israel's own inquiries in the past in such cases had totally lacked credibility. When the call came up for a vote in the Security Council to condemn the raid and demand an inquiry, the U.S. was forced by the universal condemnation to simply abstain.
Targeted AssassinationsAriel Sharon, on becoming Prime Minister, quickly realized that he had a friend in George W. Bush, and so he abandoned the niceties of show trials for Palestinians picked up by the IDF. He simply started assassinating them extra-judicially, none of that messy legal stuff needed anymore.Of course, extrajudicial killings in private had been going on for years. It's just that news of them had been carefully suppressed.
The "targeted assassinations" in which many innocent bystanders have been killed, haven't been limited to the Occupied Territories, either. Israel has committed acts of assassination all over the world, including inside the United States. Here is a list of assassinations committed by the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency outside of Israel and Palestine. It is old and by no means complete; the last date is 1996:
Ghassan Kanafani, 1972, Beirut
Wail Zuaiter, 1972, Rome
Mahmoud Al Hamshari, 1972, Paris
Hussein AbulKhair, 1973, Nicosia
Basel Kubaissy, 1973, Paris
Mohammad Yousef AlNajjar, 1973, Beirut
Kamal Adwan, 1973, Beirut
Kamal Naser, 1973, Beirut
Nada Yashruti, 1973, Beirut
Mohammad BouDaiah, 1973, Paris
Ahmed BouChiki, 1973, Oslo
Abdel Rahman Saleh, 1973, Copenhagen
Hamdi Rahmeh, 1975, Beirut
Mahmoud Saleh, 1977, Paris
Ali Naser Yassin, 1978, Kuwait
Ali Salameh, 1979, Beirut
Zuhair Muhsen, 1979, Cannes
Samir Touqan, 1979, Paris
Yousef Mubarak, 1980, Nicosia
Naim Khader, 1980, Brussels
Majed Abu Sharar, 1981, Rome
Abdul Wahab AlKayyli 1981 Beirut
Hussein Kamal, 1982, Rome
Mohammad Qadoumi, 1982, Paris
Sa'ad Sayel, 1982, Beirut
Suhail Abul Kul 1982 Nicosia
Tawfik AlSafadi, 1983, Nicosia
Mamoun Mreish, 1983, Amman
Ismail Darwish, 1984, Paris
Hanna Muqbil, 1984, Nicosia
Fahed AlQuasmeh, 1984, Amman
Alex Odeh, 1985, California
Khaled Nazzal, 1986, Athens
Munther Abu Ghazaleh, 1986, Athens
Naji Al Ali, 1987, London
Marwan Kayyali, 1988, Nicosia
Mohammad Hassan Al Buhaisy, 1988, Nicosia
Mohammed Basem Sultan, 1988, Nicosia
Khalil AlWazir, 1988, Tunis
Atef Bseisso, 1989, Paris
Abbas Musawi, 1992, S. Lebanon
AbdulMuniem Abu Hamid, 1994, Al Ram
Fathi AlShiqaqi, 1996, Malta(Melman)
It's tempting to say, well, this is all fine and good, but it's Israel protecting itself from radical Islamic terrorists. One would be justified in saying that, if Israeli terrorism were limited to radical Muslims. But it is not. It began before Israel became a state, but it wasn't - and isn't - limited to Israel's early history, either, nor to its Muslim enemies.
For example, it is known that as early as 1948, before Israel was even a state, the Haganah was working with General Anastosio Somoza, the brutal and bloody dictator of Nicaragua, who issued Nicaraguan passports to Haganah members to facilitate their international travels. One can only imagine what the quid pro quo with such a brutal dictator was. During the Carter administration, when President Carter could no longer stomach supplying arms to the Somoza dictatorship, Somoza simply switched to Israel, which was quite happy to supply them. (Cockburn)
Many of Israel's terrorists, including those who commit acts of terror abroad, find themselves honored as heroes in Israel. Besides the obvious, there was a singularly curious series of postage stamps authorized by the Israeli Cabinet. Included on the list was Schlomo Ben-Yosef, hung by the British for shooting at a bus full of Arabs; the murderers of Lord Moyne in 1944, and the two men tried and convicted by the Egyptian government for a series of bombings in Cairo in 1954.Chomsky, p. 166 Israeli links with El Salvadorian repression began at least as early as 1972. Alongside arms sales, they also sent military advisors to El Salvador, training some of the individuals later implicated in horrific massacres in that tiny Central American country. Former Salvadoran Army Col. and Undersecretary of the Interior Rene Francisco Guerra y Guerra indicated that during the 1970's, the Salvadorian secret police, ANSESAL, which really functioned more like a death squad, had Israeli advisors. Col. Sigifredo Ochoa, a man implicated in a major massacre in El Salvador in 1981, openly preferred Israeli mentors to his American ones. "They lost the war in Viet Nam," he said of the gringos. And during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon by Israel, he crowed about his Israeli mentors: he said he preferred an "Israeli solution" for Central America. (Hunter)
In 1991, General Peled, at the time a member of the Israeli Knesset, made an astonishing admission. He was quoted as saying that Israel was the "'dirty work' contractor" for the Central Intelligence Agency in its covert operations in Central and South America. The Israeli defense contractor Tadiran, partially owned by the Israeli government, was operating a computerized database which kept track of dissidents, students, intellectuals and leftists in Guatemala. Anyone whose name appeared in that database stood a very good chance of disappearing, and many did.
Peled also indicated that the Israeli Defense Forces trained death squads in Honduras, operated an airstrip there (that was shown from other sources to have been used by the CIA for its guns-for-drugs operations), and supplied weapons to death squads in Argentina and Chile. The Israelis were freely willing to admit to exploiting the success of their international public relations propaganda campaign for naked commercial benefit, with complete disregard of the effects it was having on the real lives of innocent people around the world - feeding, of course, into that ancient stereotype of the Jew as a grasping, greedy, mercenary merchant untroubled by anything remotely resembling a conscience or a set of moral obligations to non-Jews. Indeed, Dror Eyal, a spokesperson for Spearhead Ltd., one of the Israeli contractors working in Central America, said, "The Americans have the problem of international public opinion, international image... we don't have this problem." One Israeli trainer of the Nicaraguan contras, Amatzia Shuali, said, "I don't care what the gentiles do with the arms. The main thing is that the Jews profit." (Cockburn), (Marshall)
On October 12, 2001, two Mossad agents, Colonel Salvador Guersson Smecke and Saur Ben Zvi, were arrested while attempting to bomb the deliberation chamber of the Mexican National Congress in Mexico City. They were carrying 9mm automatic Glock handguns, specially modified to pass through metal detectors, and military grenades and dynamite along with significant amounts of other bomb-related materials, such as dynamite wire, detonators, etc. They were caught and arrested by security officials, and placed in jail. (PGR)
When Israel found out they had been arrested, a great deal of pressure was immediately put on the Mexican government to release them. After several days of intense pressure, including a personal envoy sent by the Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, they were released. Smecke was released without bond on the dubious legal theory that he had a permit to carry a gun and was therefore entitled to carry a lethal bomb into the Mexican Congress, and Zvi, who was in the country illegally, was released on a $4,000 bond. Mind you, carrying weapons is a very serious offense in Mexico, and usually draws a multi-year sentence. Carrying them into the Mexican Congress building without a incurring a long prison term is almost inconceivable. The fact that they were let off so easily and quickly indicates how intensely Israel had fought for their release.
One must ask why Israel would want to bomb the Mexican Congress in the first place. Well, it is really quite simple. When U.S. President George W. Bush announced his war on other countries' (mostly Islamic) terrorism, Vincente Fox, the Mexican president, said he was reluctant to go along with what amounted to a war on Muslims. So the Mossad hatched a plot to bomb the Mexican congress and fix the blame on Palestinians, in the hopes of alienating the Mexican people against the Palestinians and their cause. If that was the plan, it backfired - big time. The plot was widely exposed in the Mexican press, and anti-Israeli (and anti-Semitic) attitudes there became even more hardened. Anti-Jewish sentiment in Mexico has only increased - to the extent that some of the indigenous peoples in Chiapas in Mexico's far south, looking for non-Christian religions to which to convert, are turning to Islam, rather than Judaism. Minarets are becoming a common sight in Chiapas - but synagogues are rare as ever.
During the week of July 15, 2006, Israel, in an official response to the kidnapping of one of its soldiers by Hamas militants near the Gaza Strip, undertook a severe reprisal raid, in which at least 60 civilians were killed and hundreds injured. Israeli planes bombed an electrical power distribution facility, knocking out power to half of the Gaza Strip, and knocking out water pumping stations, leaving much of the Strip without potable water. Bridges linking the northern and southern halves of the Gaza strip were bombed, and border crossings were closed, putting at risk the civilian population of the Strip, which is totally dependent on supplies of food and fuel brought in through the border crossings with Israel. In response, Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon crossed into Israel and ambushed an Israeli military patrol, destroying an armored personnel carrier, killing several soldiers and capturing two, which they brought back to Lebanon. In response, Israel launched a series of air strikes on Southern Lebanon, taking out all three runways of the Beruit International Airport and a nearby fuel depot, bombing hundreds of street intersections, making Beruit streets all but impassable, and destroying dozens of freeway overpasses. Port facilities were bombed cutting off transport by sea to Lebanon, and international highways were bombed, cutting off transport into Lebanon by land. Israel bombed and destroyed hundreds of homes of uninvolved civilians who happened to have the misfortune of living in southern Beruit and southern Lebanon. Hundreds were killed and thousands left homeless, and Lebanon's effort at reconstruction from the devastation wrought by the last Israeli invasion in 1982, were set back by decades.
Israel admitted that most of the damage wrought by the raids were not aimed at militants, but at Lebanon, whose weak government was simply unable to root out the Hezbollah presence in the southern half of the country. And they freely admitted that they were punishing the Gaza Strip collectively, overwhelmingly, for the kidnapping of a single soldier. Nevertheless, not a single Israeli government official has ever commented on Israel's Fourth Geneva Convention obligations, which specifically outlaw the targeting of civilians and the engaging in "collective punishment": "Article 33. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited."
Given the statements, quoted above made by Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, and Israel's record of invasion of its neighbors and its record of involvement in international terror and assassination, it is clear that it meets the American State Department's definitions both as a "rogue state" and even the most conservative definition of a "state sponsor of terrorism." It is a very embarrassing fact that most liberal Jews would prefer to ignore, but nevertheless, the fact remains that Israel is sullying the good name of Jews everywhere and is encouraging the resurgence of anti-Semitism, both in the Islamic world and the west. More than one historian has noted that the behavior of Israel is making a second Jewish Holocaust not only possible, but even inevitable, as the increasingly alienated Arabs outnumber the Jewish Israelis by seven to one (and that ratio is growing rapidly) while Islamic militancy is only increasing. A recently leaked CIA National Intelligence Estimate has predicted that Israel, as a Jewish state, will not exist in a hundred-year's time.
Israel's Sophisticated Disinformation CampaignIsrael has become exceedingly successful at leading American public opinion because it has learned well all the lessons of public relations and opinion management. From before its founding in 1948, it has been very careful about its public image and what it tells the world about itself, its activities and its policies.Nowhere has this been more true than in its public relations effort in the United States. A recently leaked document shows just how carefully this disinformation campaign is designed - right down to the specific words that should and should not be used by Israel's advocates.
What Israel Has BecomeMost American Jews, if they knew the reality of daily life for the hundreds of thousands of Arab citizens of Israel, would be shocked at what few rights they actually have. Israel has always bragged to the world that it is a "democracy surrounded by dictatorships" and that it offers full citizenship rights for the Arabs who are living among the Jews of Israel.But the reality on the ground is starkly different from the propaganda. Israeli identity cards clearly state what your ethnicity is, just like the identity cards in South Africa once did. The reason why is exactly the same - it is to facilitate discrimination, a fact not lost on former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, in which he accused Israel quite openly of being an apartheid-state.
For starters, the same principle of exclusion that was the very first bone of contention between Arabs and Jews at the start of the Zionist immigration more than a century ago, has not only not been abolished, but has actually been encoded into Israeli law. Public property in Israel, amounting to 93% of the land area under Israeli control, is reserved for the exclusive use of Jews - Arab Israelis not welcome. That means visits to national parks, nature reserves, public lands, etc. - more than nine-tenths of the national territory - which any Jew may visit freely are not freely accessible to the Arab community if Israel chooses to deny access. And the State of Israel is precluded, by its own laws, from leasing public land to the Arab citizens of Israel. This form of blatant discrimination would be not only illegal in the United States, but would be reprehensible to most Americans. Yet in Israel, it is the law of the land.
Property rights are also treated differentially in Israel, depending on who you are. If you are Jewish and own property in Israel, your land cannot be confiscated by the state without due process. If you happen to be Arab, however, your land can not only be confiscated without notice, but it can (and often is) confiscated not only without notice, but without any compensation whatsoever.
The Bedouin tribesmen of the Negev desert, consisting of 12% of the Arab population of Israel, once occupied 12 million dunams of land, and are now restricted to a "reservation" of 240,000 dunams. Because they are unable to get building permits, they are forced to build homes illegally, and that illegality is used as an excuse for further confiscations and legal persecution. The forced sedentarization of them has cost them their livelihoods and has forced them to live in conditions that would be intolerable in nearly any other nation in the world. Yet Israel refuses them even the most basic services, such as water, sewer, health, and trash collection. But these are supposedly citizens of "democratic" Israel, with supposedly the same rights to which any Arab Israeli should be entitled.
Unofficial bigotry and discrimination is also a fact of life for many Arabs living in Israel. An Israeli journalist, years ago, who happened to be dark-skinned and spoke sufficiently fluent Arabic as to pass for an Arab, decided to pose as an Arab Israeli for the purpose of determining just how serious the problem of discrimination really is. His ground-breaking study, published thirty years ago as a book entitled "My Enemy, Myself" (regrettably long since out of print), was shocking to the Jewish Israeli community for the egregious abuses it uncovered: virtual slave-like conditions routinely engaged in by Jewish employers of Arabs; the difficulty, almost impossibility of renting apartments or houses; routine assaults by Jewish Israeli youths; frequent and often violent police harassment; violent assaults by Jewish families and acquaintances when dating Jewish women; the almost impossible restrictions imposed on travel, both domestically and internationally. Remember this was thirty years ago - I'm told that the problem is actually much worse today.
Police brutality against Arab Israelis is common and well documented; illegal detention, beatings, personal property confiscations and torture of Arab citizens of Israel are a fact of life that every Arab Israeli has to live with. It has become so common and so pervasive that Amnesty International has frequently criticized Israel for its treatment of Arab Israelis. It is also a fact of life that even when zoning ordinances and laws are fully complied with, it takes years for an Arab to get a building permit to build on his own land. And when he does finally succeed, he can arrive at the job site to find the construction bulldozed completely for the most minor of infractions. This kind of treatment by American authorities of an unpopular minority would cause nationwide outrage in the United States, but in Israel it is a daily occurrence that is so common it goes almost entirely unnoticed.
In theory, Arab Israelis are entitled to redress of grievances through the courts. Yet the reality is starkly different - few lawyers will accept their cases, and when they do, they face discrimination by judges who are often the appointees of hard-core right-wing Zionists. Seldom do Arab Israelis receive justice in the Israeli court system. Israel holds more than ten thousand Palestinians as prisoners, totally without access to or communication with families or lawyers, but thousands have never been tried for a crime. It is claimed by Palestinian sources that at least three thousand have never even been charged. A few hundred have been held for more than thirty years in this situation. Israel frequently uses those it holds as bargaining chips in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
The disregard of human and property rights of the Arab Israeli community has become so common that a sizeable organization has grown up around the need to document and fight just the most egregious of the abuses. The rest, too numerous to fight, are just meekly accepted by their Arab Israeli victims.
The moral squalor behind these kinds of abuses has led Israel to become the most publicly and privately corrupt nation in the developed world, with the sole exception of mafia-ridden Italy, according to a recent study by Transparency International. And the corruption of the rule of law is becoming increasingly rampant, even among Jewish Israelis - the world was shocked in June of 2007 when the sitting President of Israel, who for months had been fighting charges of rape, was let off the hook on a cheap plea bargain. Feminist and anti-rape campaigners in Israel and around the world immediately expressed their outrage. Impunity, allowed originally only for persecuters of Palestinians, has begun to spread through the ranks of Jewish Israeli society. As a result of this kind of moral degeneracy, the quality of life for Jews in Israel is declining, and Israel is beginning to face a problem with out-migration of people seeking a better life elsewhere. In fact, for several years now, more Jews have been moving out of Israel than are moving in - leaving the Zionist movement in desperation.
For evidence of the Zionists' desperation to stem the outflow and resume its policy of out-populating the Palestinians, one need only look so far as the case of the Peruvian Incan converts. For some time, the Israeli government has had a policy to attempt to out-populate the Arabs in the occupied territories, and has sought to encourage immigration from the rest of the world to bring Jews to settle in the Occupied Territories. The Jewish Agency (which still controls immigration) recently sent a group of rabbis to Lima, Peru to "convert" some Peruvian Incas to Judaism, so they could be resettled in the West Bank. This was done - upon "conversion," the Incans were flown to Israel - and taken from the airport directly to their new homes in the West Bank. The reason given for why the Incas were sent to the West Bank was that this was "the cheapest housing available" - the result of the fact that the beautiful new settler homes there (many equipped with playgrounds and swimming pools) are the targets of heavy subsidies. This incident was not reported anywhere in the mainstream press.(Pacifica) A fact not mentioned in the Pacifica report is that only about half of those interviewed were approved for conversion - they were the ones that were willing to move to Israel.
But by far the worst aspect of Israeli moral and cultural degeneracy is the fact that most Israelis have known and accepted for a generation, that the terrorism Israel faces could be stopped, and stopped tomorrow if it were really committed to peace and genuine democracy as a higher priority than the continued theft and occupation of property that belongs to the Palestinians. This has been an unofficial policy since at least 1982, when Yehoshua Porath, an imminent Israeli historian, writing in Israel's largest daily newspaper at the end of the destruction of Beirut: "The government's hope is that the stricken PLO, lacking a logistic and territorial base, will return to its earlier terrorism; it will carry out bombings throughout the world, hijack airplanes and murder many Israelis. In this way, the PLO will lose part of the political legitimacy that it has gained and will mobilize the large majority of the Israeli nation in hatred and disgust against it, undercutting the danger that elements will develop among the Palestinians that might become a legitimate negotiating partner for future political accomodations."[sic] (Porath) His words were prophetic; within five years, the first intifada erupted in the Occupied Territories, along with a terror campaign in Israel itself. The Israeli politicians know that the most egregious single grievance held by the Palestinians is the continued uncompensated confiscation of property and the occupation of the Palestinians' land, and that is why it continues in spite of all the conciliatory gestures offered from time to time by the Palestinians - and this is the method used to inflame Palestinian passions to further Zionist ambitions.
If one is tempted to suggest that this policy is the imagination of Porath, or was temporary, or historical, one need look no further than the structure of the current Israeli government budget for proof that it is real. Since the second intifada began with its terror campaign, the Israeli economy has gone into a slow-motion collapse, in spite of its multi-billion dollar subsidies from the United States. By the summer of 2002, government revenues had declined to the point that Ariel Sharon was forced to submit a budget to the Knesset that was extremely austere. There were many deep, deep cuts in areas that have historically been very sacred to world Jewry in general and to Jewish Israelis in particular - health, social services, education, subsidies for the Orthodox yeshivas, and even defense were cut so deep that there were questions as to whether most of these functions would continue to viable. But there was one item that was not cut - the subsidies for the building of settlements on stolen land in the West Bank. The fact that this item was not cut, in spite of the dire fiscal situation faced by the Israeli government, sent a very powerful message the Palestinians - that they are still scheduled for dispossession, and Israel will carry on this programmed dispossession no matter what the cost or the desperation of circumstance.
If one looks at the cynical morality of such policies, it becomes clear from the actions that the Israeli government actually prefers terrorism over peace, the deaths of innocent Israeli civilians over justice for Palestinian Arabs, and war rather than living side by side with Palestinians living on their own land. Because it is actually using the death of innocent Israeli civilians as an instrument of state policy - to inflame hatred and anger within the Israeli civilian population itself to undercut efforts at peacemaking - it bears the moral responsibility for that terror itself. How does the Israeli government justify such a policy? It can't. It is done with the complete acknowledgement by Ariel Sharon of its moral and ethical bankruptcy, when he admitted that "the dirty work of Zionism isn't done yet. Far from it."
This begs the question of how long the Israeli public (and the American taxpayers subsidizing Israel) would support their government if they knew that they were being used and deliberately put in harm's way in so cynical a fashion as this. Perhaps it is time for the Israeli peace movement to start getting the word out as to the true nature of the government that governs Israel. Perhaps that question was answered by foreign-born Jews, mostly British Jews, who recently wrote a letter to The Guardian, one of Britain's most influential papers. In it, a group of 45 prominent British Jews formally renounced their "right of return" to Israel. Here's what they wrote: "We are Jews, born and raised outside Israel, who, under Israel's "law of return", have a legal right to Israeli residence and citizenship. We wish to renounce this unsought "right" because: 1) We regard it as morally wrong that this legal entitlement should be bestowed on us while the very people who should have most right to a genuine "return", having been forced or terrorized into fleeing, are excluded. 2) Israel's policies towards the Palestinians are barbaric - we do not wish to identify ourselves in any way with what Israel is doing. 3) We disagree with the notion that Zionist emigration to Israel is any kind of "solution" for diaspora [sic] Jews, anti-Semitism or racism - no matter to what extent Jews have been or are victims of racism, they have no right to make anyone else victims. 4) We wish to express our solidarity with all those who are working for a time when Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip can be lived in by people without any restrictions based on so-called racial, cultural, or ethnic origins. We look forward to the day when all the peoples of the area are enabled to live in peace with each other on this basis of non-discrimination and mutual respect. Perhaps some of us would even wish to live there, but only if the rights of the Palestinians are respected. To those who consider Israel a "safe haven" for Jews in the face of anti-Semitism, we say that there can be no safety in taking on the role of occupier and oppressor. We hope that the people of Israel and their leaders will come to realise [sic] this soon. [signed] Michael Rosen, Ian Saville, Prof Irene Bruegel, Michael Kustow, Mike Marqusee, Prof Steven Rose, Leon Rosselson (and 38 others)." (Guardian)
The U.S. - A Negative Influence On the SituationI have, for a long time, been concerned that the very tight relationship between Israel and the government of the United States has been very counterproductive to an end to this travesty of justice and the violence it has generated. In frustration, I sent an email to Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican senator who sits on the Armed Services Committee, in whose district I happen to reside. Here is what I wrote, copied and pasted directly from that email:
Dear Senator McCain, It has come to my attention that the Human Rights Watch has recently released a report documenting the use of military equipment, supplied by the United States at U.S. taxpayer expense, in the commission of war crimes. The report can be read at the Human Rights Watch web site: http://www.hrw.org/press/2002/05/jenin0503.htm It is my understanding that one of the conditions of the supply of this equipment is that it cannot be used in such a manner, and may be used for defensive purposes only. As you are a full member of the Senate Armed Services committee, I am respectfully requesting that you publicly call for a committee-level investigation into this use of equipment in contravention of the terms under which it was supplied, as documented in the HRW report. I would like to point out to you that as a signatory to the the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Conduct of War, to which both the United States and the recipient is signatory, the United States has a legal obligation to conduct such an investigation. Senator McCain, I have had considerable respect for your integrity and ethical standards over the years, and fully expect that you will do what is both morally and legally required, and publicly call for this investigation, in disregard of the embarrassment that it may cause to the parties concerned. Respectfully, Scott Bidstrup Phoenix, ArizonaHis four-page reply was very interesting for what it didn't say. It is reproduced here in full (page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4). You will note that nowhere in the four pages of the reply did he address the issue raised in my email.Even worse, he is simply parroting the same tired propaganda we have heard for years, much of which is disproved in this essay.
"Every time we do something you [Shimon Peres] tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it."
-- Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, speaking in the Knesset, Oct. 3, 2001
America has become concerned about terrorism, but as we have seen, the incitement of Palestinian terrorism is actually a covert Israeli state policy. The fact that the terrorism that is incited is often directed at its strongest ally and most determined supporter anywhere in the world is a fact that is of no concern whatever to the cynical Zionists within the Israeli government. As we have seen, they have but one thing on their mind - the continued dispossession of the Arabs and the theft of their remaining land. The fact that the goyim Christians in America have to suffer for Zionists' sins is of no concern to them. America, in its knee-jerk support for Israel, has blinded itself to the absolutely cynical manner it which it is being used in this way. By accepting without question, the artificially created consensus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we have allowed America and Americans, both at home and abroad, not only to be exploited freely and cynically, but we have made ourselves a target for Arab and Islamic hatred and extremism, to the point of becoming a physical target for terrorism - according to Osama bin Laden's own words, it was one of the major reasons for the attacks of September 11, 2001. The cure, of course, is to question what we are being told, and look at both sides of the conflict, and formulate and execute a foreign policy based on reason and balance. I'm confident that if America were to do that, it would become quickly apparent how we are being so cynically used and manipulated by those with very dark motives and very few scruples.
A Permanent SolutionWhat, then is to be done? How are we to solve this seemingly intractable problem?The Palestinians themselves have repeatedly pleaded for genuine peace negotiations. They have repeated constantly that they would accept a plan based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338. This is a matter of public record, as is Israel's acceptance of its legal obligations under 242 and 338. There is no doubt whatever that a serious peace proposal, based on those resolutions, would be instantly accepted by the Palestinians, and would bring about an end to the terror faced every day by the Israelis.
But a peace settlement must be based on justice, not the slow-motion ethnic cleansing that has been practiced by Israeli Zionists, and the Bantustan-style proposals in the peace offers made until now.
In writing to their fellow Jews, a group calling itself Jews For Justice writes on its web site: "We know it is hard to accept emotionally, but in this case the Jewish people are in the wrong. We took most of Palestine by force from the Arabs and blamed the victims for resisting their dispossession. If you run into someone's car, for whatever reason, simple justice demands that you repair it. Our moral obligation to the Palestinian people is no less clear. It is time for all Jewish people of good conscience to make whatever amends are possible to the Palestinians in order to live up to the best part of the Jewish tradition - its ethical and moral basis...
"The Israeli government could solve the Palestine/Israel crisis tomorrow. It actually would be in the best interests of its citizens to do so because random acts of terrorism against Israelis would cease if Palestinian demands for a viable, independent state were accepted and compensation for Arab losses made." (Jews for Justice)
What form, then, should that settlement and the circumstances surrounding it, take?
First, America must take its sovereignty back. The fact is that the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee is easily the most powerful political action committee in Congress, and little comes out of Congress that is not acceptable to it. This is not in small part the result of the vast amount of money that the pro-Israel community contributes to Congressional campaigns through AIPAC, but also the carefully cultivated confluence of the fantasies of Christian apocalypticism with the influence of many wealthy and influential Zionists in positions of influence throughout America. This is why Israel has, for many years, been the recipient of more foreign aid than all the other nations of the world put together; $89 billion to date by the U.S. government's own accounting, and American handouts amount to an almost constant 10% of the Israeli Gross National Product.
Second, we need to impress upon our media organizations that the pro-Israel bias in the media is not only no longer acceptable, but will no longer be tolerated. The fact that you've read this document this far, means that you probably understand by now that the Zionist propaganda machine has misled you for years. We need to make sure that the domestic American media is no longer a part of that propaganda machine.
Third, as Americans, we need to recognize that until there is justice, there will be no peace in the Middle East. Therefore, I propose the following settlement:
"Let the Jews, who claim to be the chosen race, prove their title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth." --Mohandas Gandhi, Nov. 26, 1938
Terms of a Reasonable SettlementAt minimum, the Palestinians are entitled to full sovereignty on all the land they own and occupied within the 1967 cease fire lines, and have the right to full sovereignty over that land in accordance with Resolution 242 as Israel itself has recognized (three times, in fact, in the Egyptian peace treaty and at Camp David I and II). The Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories should therefore be given the option to purchase their property from its rightful owners at full market value in an exchange that is fully voluntary on both sides, meaning only if the Palestinian owners voluntarily choose to sell it. The settlers who are unwilling or unable to obtain clear title in this way will be required to leave, again, by force if necessary. Any compensation of displaced settlers will be the responsibility of the Israeli government solely. All Israeli military installations within the Occupied Territories must be dismantled or abandoned, and control over water, utilities, communications and transportation infrastructure surrendered to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Territories must truly become Palestinian in fact as well as name. If any Israelis choose to remain, and are successful in securing title to their property from its current rightful owners, they must be willing to fully accept Palestinian sovereignty and protection, without right of interference from Israel. If Israel desires to do so, it may, at its own expense, erect a wall around the Palestinian Territories to provide itself with security, much as it has already done around the Gaza Strip, except that this time, it must be on its own land.A four-lane divided highway must be constructed, at Israel's expense, connecting the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and Israel will not have the right to patrol it, block access to it or impede traffic on it. The right-of-way will be considered the sovereign territory of Palestine, and will be subject to Palestinian control and security. If Israel is concerned about the security that roadway would entail, it will be their right to construct a security wall along each side of it, again, at their own expense and outside the road right-of-way. If Israel chooses to install transportation links of its own between the lands bisected by this highway, it must do so by tunneling underneath the entire width of the highway right of way. Overhead crossovers are not to be allowed.
There must be a settlement for the Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 and subsequently, and whose property claims remain unsettled. I propose that a tariff be imposed by the United Nations on all goods and services moving into and out of Israel of 5% of the value of those goods and services, and the proceeds collected be used to gradually pay down these claims, until they are fully settled, with interest, to the claimants and/or their heirs.
Finally, both sides will recognize that the other has a right to secure existence within the borders defined by the 1967 Cease Fire Line. As the Palestinians have already offered this concession, and Israel has legally accepted this as its obligations under Resolution 242, there is no outstanding legal issue here, only a matter of compliance with that resolution, which both sides have already been agreed to in one fashion or another. Israel would be required to officially declare its boundaries for the first time in its history as the 1967 Cease Fire Line boundaries, with any minor adjustments mutually agreed to, excluding the Access Highway right-of-way, which will be the de-facto boundaries of this solution, and it must formally renounce any claims or ambitions on the territories or resources of the Palestinians or its neighbors, and formally declare and accept its responsibility to forcibly restrain any settlement activity attempts by its citizens or allies on the territory of Palestine or Israel's other neighbors, or any acts of terror committed by its citizens or military.
Some Predictions For The Outcome Of This ConflictSince the solution I've described, and variants of it are not likely in the current climate, it is reasonable to ask what the outcome of this stalemate is likely to be.First, it must be said that the Israeli population is becoming increasingly swayed by the cynical use of Palestinian terrorism by the Israeli far-right to compel a rightward drift in Israeli politics. As I write this, it is increasingly apparent that the Israeli far-right is controlling and will continue to control the agenda of Palestinian dispossession by the Israeli government, and this is unlikely to change until the Israeli people come to understand that the terrorism to which they're being subjected is a direct and calculated result of the policies of those who wield the real power within the Israeli government itself. If the Israeli public came to understand how cynically they have been used, it is unlikely that the Israeli people would stand for allowing any ultra-right wing influence in their government any longer. Is this understanding likely to happen? Not until the peace groups are able to build an absolutely air-tight case to prove this policy and present it to the Israeli public in a compelling fashion it cannot ignore. I do not, however, expect that to happen anytime soon.
Second, it is important to understand that the extremists of the Palestinian terror organizations don't seem to understand (or care, if they do understand), that the terrorism they are committing is being tolerated and actually covertly encouraged by the ultra-right in Israel, because it ultimately serves the interests of the ultra-right Zionists. They do not seem to understand that they are actually being used as the instruments of Israeli policy. If they did, I'm sure that they would begin a search for alternatives. The alternative, as I see it, is to use the Gandhian Satyagraha method of non-violent resistance and non-cooperation, making sure that the world is there to witness their suffering. If they were to do this, Israel itself would find it difficult to find recruits in the IDF to enforce its repression. By using Satyagraha, and working hand in hand with the peace movement in Israel itself, I believe that the Palestinians could turn public opinion in Israel around. The only acts of force which are permissible are the direct defense of life and property. Do I believe that the Palestinians will ever come to understand this? Not given the lack of vision within the current leadership.
There is a third factor, entirely outside the confines of the conflict itself, which must be considered here. That is the demographics of the Middle East. Sixty percent of the population of Saudi Arabia is under the age of 18. In Egypt, the figure is nearly half. The youthfulness of the Arab population in those countries is a trend that exists throughout the Arab world, from Morocco to Iran. This demographic means that there are literally millions and millions of young Arabs becoming militant Islamicists. Many of them attend Koranic schools known as madrasahs, in which they are fed a steady diet of hatred towards the West - for insults going as far back as the Crusades. Islamicists never forget - they can describe atrocities that actually occurred during the Crusades eight centuries ago as if they happened last year. Yet what happened to Islam in the crusades pales in comparison to what is happening to the Palestinian people today. So this insult will not soon be forgotten. Since Islam compels its followers to come to the aid of fellow Muslims in distress, these young people are learning that they have an obligation.
When these millions of young Arabs come home from the madrasah, they sit down in front of the television. And what do they watch? They watch scenes of Palestinian women and children being shot in the streets, Palestinian ambulances being held arbitrarily at checkpoints for hours, even days at a time for no real reason, their passengers dying; they see Palestinian homes bulldozed for the crime of being related to somebody. They watch these scenes over and over and over again, growing angrier and angrier at the Jews of Israel and the American Christians who support them. By the time they're in their early twenties, these young men are angry enough to join any terrorist organization and commit quite literally any act to express their anger and their desire for revenge.
If Israel ever wants to live in peace, or the United States wants to end its vulnerability to terror, now or ever in the future, for centuries to come, Israel must get that show off the air. I can't emphasize this strongly enough - if Israel fails to do this, they will make Israel - and all Jews - the target of Arab vengeance and anti-Semitism permanently. This is a fact that the Israeli Zionist far-right, in its single-minded hubris, has utterly failed to enter into its calculations. Does it want its grandchildren and their grandchildren to live in fear and terror, long after the memory of Palestinians in living in Israel is forgotten by the Israelis, even if it is in a greater Israel free of Arabs? That's what they face unless they change their ways.
Yet I am not sanguine that either Israel will change its ways or the United States will anytime soon cease to be Israel's superpower lapdog anytime soon enough to prevent this.
So here is the ultimate result as I see it: Terrorism in Israel will continue, varying up and down, but never ceasing. Israel will continue its unofficial policy of expulsion of the Palestinians, until finally their presence in Israel is but a memory. Yet the Israelis will discover to their horror that the terrorism problem won't end with the end of a Palestinian presence in Israel. Arabs will find ways to infiltrate into Israel, and so the terror will go on, and on and on, and nothing they do will stop it. It will sap Israel's economic power and will continue to make it a fearful, terrorized place to live.
Over the very long term, liberal Jewish and American support for Israel will cease as the moral bankruptcy of Israeli policy becomes impossible to conceal any longer. Support, and with it, the American subsidies that sustain it, will wane, and when it does, Israel will collapse economically. As it does so, it will become unable to defend itself, and Arab nations will eventually invade. Having grown tired of Israeli fascism and paying the cost of supporting it, the rest of the world won't come to Israel's aid, with the sole exception of a handful of fundamentalist Christians working privately. They'll lose. And once again, Judaism will be swept into galut, finally fulfilling the prophesy of David Ben-Gurion, who said it would happen if Israel did not base its policies and behavior in "righteousness."
In the United States, terror will soon become an increasingly common occurrence. America will be seen as the root of the problem, due to its unconditional support of Israel, until eventually the support for Israel in America wanes as the fascist basis of Israeli policy becomes evident. Yet that drop in support won't make Americans any less a target for terrorism, as America will be seen as having been a root cause of the problem in the first place. Americans will be increasingly targeted overseas, and travel as an American will become dangerous almost everywhere. Americans will be seen as even more provincial and ignorant than they already are, and will become even more hated around the world until there is a general worldwide recognition that Americans have rejected support for Israel. The conservative right, seeking cover for the utter failure of a century-old policy will find it in a pan-Islamic xenophobia, and Arabs and Muslims will become the latest in a long series of conservative scapegoats. As American hegemony continues to erode and America continues to decline, America will finally have to face up to the long-term consequences of its right-wing policies.
ConclusionI fully recognize that the solution I proposed above is not possible in the current political climate. I recognize that it would require the imposition by force, as decades of fascist influence and propaganda in Israel have hardened attitudes to the point that it is no longer willing to accept a just solution. I do not believe that the Palestinians would turn it down - it is a more fair and just offer than others they have already agreed to.Who, then, is to impose the solution I propose? I think that the United Nations peacekeeping forces, with the United States fully backing them up, could do so. The key is having the United States on board - Israel knows that it would not last long without the full support of the U.S., and if we were to impose these conditions, they would have little choice but to accept the peacekeeping forces they have rejected to date.
I believe that as bitter as this pill would be for Israel to swallow, it is nevertheless a morally generous offer. At Israeli independence in 1948, the Zionists had legal, proper title to only 6% of what is today Israel. Morally, the rest of that land still belongs to the miserable refugees huddled in the dozens of refugee camps scattered throughout the Eastern Mediterranean region. This is really their land and their property. The settlement I propose offers far more to the Zionists than that to which they are genuinely morally entitled. It is reasonable, and, from a moral perspective, I believe a generous offer. I would hope that they would accept it.
Only then will the original Zionist dream become a reality - a homeland for the Jews, owned by them morally as well as by their presence, safe and secure within boundaries to which they and their neighbors mutually agree.
Am I sanguine about the prospects? No, I am not. But we can only try.
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