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Friday, January 9, 2009

Palestine - A Very Short Story.

A Jewish State

“WE, the members of the National Council, representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the Zionist movement of the world...
“HEREBY PROCLAIM the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called ISRAEL.”
– Declaration of the State of Israel, May 14 1948

“Despite the steady arrival in Palestine of Jewish colonists after 1882, it is important to realize that not until the few weeks immediately preceding the establishment of Israel in the spring of 1948 was there ever anything other than a huge Arab majority.”
– Edward Said, The Question of Palestine.


A very short synopsis of the history of this conflict.

1) Palestine – the 19th century – inhabited by approximately 86% Muslims, 10% Christians – 4% Jewish – no conflict.

2) Late 1800s - the Zionist Jew – an extremist minority decided to create a Jewish homeland on this land.

3) More and more Zionists immigrated to Palestine – many with the express wish of taking over the land for a Jewish state – alarming the indigenous population - fighting broke out, with escalating waves of violence.

4) 1947 - the UN decided not to adhere to the democratic principle but to revert to the medieval strategy whereby an outside power divides up other people’s land.

5) Under strong Zionist pressure, the UN gave 55% of Palestine to a Jewish state – despite the fact that the Jews make up about 30% of the total population, and owned under 7% of the land.

6) 1947-1949 War - “While it is widely and correctly reported that the resulting war eventually included five Arab armies, less well known is the fact that throughout this war Zionist forces outnumbered all Arab and Palestinian combatants combined – often by a factor of two to three. Also contrary to popular belief, Arab armies did not invade Israel – virtually all battles were fought on land that was to have been the Palestinian state.“
( A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict.

7) “Finally, it is significant to note that Arab armies entered the conflict only after Zionist forces had committed 16 massacres, including the grisly massacre of over 100 men, women, and children at Deir Yassin. Future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, head of one of the Jewish terrorist groups, called this a “splendid act of conquest,” and stated: “As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God, Thou has chosen us for conquest.” Zionist/Israeli forces committed 33 massacres altogether.”
( A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict.

8) By 1949 - end of the war - Israel conquered 78% of Palestine - 0.75 million Palestinians made refugees - over 500 towns and villages destroyed - a new map drawn up - every city, river and hillock received Hebrew name - all vestiges of Palestinian culture erased. For decades Israel denied the existence of this population - former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once said - “There is no such thing as a Palestinian.”

9) Today 100% of Palestine is virtually a conquered territory, (even the US Congress is a conquered territory) with puppet Abbas 'representing' the West Bank - and through the 'Jewish legal' process of ethnic cleansing - apparently the word 'Palestine' is to disappear from the world map in the not too distant future.


Pemuda IKS said...

Salam perjuangan,

1. Palestinians would be like the Spartans, extinct.

2. This is the day to look back at what the Nazis had done before, kill Jews!

3. After the war, no Arabs seems dare enough to "fight again".

4. Pemuda IKS worries for Malays in Malaysia since more and more aliens have become more and more demanding. This could make Malaysia just like Palestine, take it piece by piece.

"Memperkasa Generasi Baru"

Pergerakan Pemuda
UMNO Cawangan Taman IKS
Bahagian Batu WP

Naqs said...

It is hard to believe that one is just a disinterested observer (so said some

blogger of note) to scenes of genocide and wanton destruction unfolding live on our

planet as if the victims' lives do not come from the same source as his. We thought this happens only among antlopes and gnus of the African plains who just lift their heads, then back to garzing oblivious to the fact that a group of lions are tearing at the flesh of one of its kind.

We see man spends millions to save a species of whale from extinction. Strangely we also see men spending billions to terminate to extinction other men.

Perhaps this is why the atheists say there is no god? Or perhaps the evolutionists explain this just as the natural order of things and that god works in mysterious ways?

Maybe the this helps to alter a bit of the chemicals in our heart -- to feel for ourselves perhaps the feelings in others, just like those who try to save the whale?


How Israel is Multiplying Hamas by a Thousand

Molten Lead in Gaza


JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT, Aljazeera’s Arabic channel was reporting on events in Gaza. Suddenly the camera was pointing upwards towards the dark sky. The screen was pitch black. Nothing could be seen, but there was a sound to be heard: the noise of airplanes, a frightening, a terrifying droning.

It was impossible not to think about the tens of thousands of Gazan children who were hearing that sound at that moment, cringing with fright, paralyzed by fear, waiting for the bombs to fall.

* * *

“ISRAEL MUST defend itself against the rockets that are terrorizing our Southern towns,” the Israeli spokesmen explained. “Palestinians must respond to the killing of their fighters inside the Gaza Strip,” the Hamas spokesmen declared.

As a matter of fact, the cease-fire did not collapse, because there was no real cease-fire to start with. The main requirement for any cease-fire in the Gaza Strip must be the opening of the border crossings. There can be no life in Gaza without a steady flow of supplies. But the crossings were not opened, except for a few hours now and again. The blockade on land, on sea and in the air against a million and a half human beings is an act of war, as much as any dropping of bombs or launching of rockets. It paralyzes life in the Gaza Strip: eliminating most sources of employment, pushing hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation, stopping most hospitals from functioning, disrupting the supply of electricity and water.

Those who decided to close the crossings – under whatever pretext – knew that there is no real cease-fire under these conditions.

That is the main thing. Then there came the small provocations which were designed to get Hamas to react. After several months, in which hardly any Qassam rockets were launched, an army unit was sent into the Strip “in order to destroy a tunnel that came close to the border fence”. From a purely military point of view, it would have made more sense to lay an ambush on our side of the fence. But the aim was to find a pretext for the termination of the cease-fire, in a way that made it plausible to put the blame on the Palestinians. And indeed, after several such small actions, in which Hamas fighters were killed, Hamas retaliated with a massive launch of rockets, and – lo and behold – the cease-fire was at an end. Everybody blamed Hamas.

* * *

WHAT WAS THE AIM? Tzipi Livni announced it openly: to liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza.

The Qassams served only as a pretext.

Liquidate Hamas rule? That sounds like a chapter out of “The March of Folly”. After all, it is no secret that it was the Israeli government which set up Hamas to start with. When I once asked a former Shin-Bet chief, Yaakov Peri, about it, he answered enigmatically: “We did not create it, but we did not hinder its creation.”

For years, the occupation authorities favored the Islamic movement in the occupied territories. All other political activities were rigorously suppressed, but their activities in the mosques were permitted. The calculation was simple and naive: at the time, the PLO was considered the main enemy, Yasser Arafat was the current Satan. The Islamic movement was preaching against the PLO and Arafat, and was therefore viewed as an ally.

With the outbreak of the first intifada in 1987, the Islamic movement officially renamed itself Hamas (Arabic initials of “Islamic Resistance Movement”) and joined the fight. Even then, the Shin-Bet took no action against them for almost a year, while Fatah members were executed or imprisoned in large numbers. Only after a year, were Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his colleagues also arrested.

Since then the wheel has turned. Hamas has now become the current Satan, and the PLO is considered by many in Israel almost as a branch of the Zionist organization. The logical conclusion for an Israeli government seeking peace would have been to make wide-ranging concessions to the Fatah leadership: ending of the occupation, signing of a peace treaty, foundation of the State of Palestine, withdrawal to the 1967 borders, a reasonable solution of the refugee problem, release of all Palestinian prisoners. That would have arrested the rise of Hamas for sure.

But logic has little influence on politics. Nothing of this sort happened. On the contrary, after the murder of Arafat, Ariel Sharon declared that Mahmoud Abbas, who took his place, was a “plucked chicken”. Abbas was not allowed the slightest political achievement. The negotiations, under American auspices, became a joke. The most authentic Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, was sent to prison for life. Instead of a massive prisoner release, there were petty and insulting “gestures”.

Abbas was systematically humiliated, Fatah looked like an empty shell and Hamas won a resounding victory in the Palestinian election – the most democratic election ever held in the Arab world. Israel boycotted the elected government. In the ensuing internal struggle, Hamas assumed direct control over the Gaza Strip.

And now, after all this, the government of Israel decided to “liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza” – with blood, fire and columns of smoke.

* * *

THE OFFICIAL NAME of the war is “Cast Lead”, two words from a children’s song about a Hanukkah toy. It would be more accurate to call it “the the Election War”. In the past, too, military action has been taken during election campaigns. Menachem Begin bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor during the 1981 campaign. When Shimon Peres claimed that this was an election gimmick, Begin cried out at his next rally: “Jews, do you believe that I would send our brave boys to their death or, worse, to be taken prisoner by human animals, in order to win an election?” Begin won.

Peres is no Begin. When, during the 1996 election campaign, he ordered the invasion of Lebanon (operation “Grapes of Wrath”), everybody was convinced that he had done it for electoral gain. The war was a failure and Peres lost the elections and Binyamin Netanyahu came to power.

Barak and Tzipi Livni are now resorting to the same old trick. According to the polls, Barak’s predicted election result rose within 48 hours by five Knesset seats. About 80 dead Palestinians for each seat. But it is difficult to walk on a pile of dead bodies. The success may evaporate in a minute if the war comes to be considered by the Israeli public as a failure. For example, if the rockets continue to hit Beersheba, or if the ground attack leads to heavy Israeli casualties.

The timing was chosen meticulously from another angle too. The attack started two days after Christmas, when American and European leaders are on holiday until after New Year. The calculation: even if somebody wanted to try and stop the war, no one would give up his holiday. That ensured several days free from outside pressures.

Another reason for the timing: these are George Bush’s last days in the White House. This blood-soaked moron could be expected to support the war enthusiastically, as indeed he did. Barack Obama has not yet entered office and had a ready made pretext for keeping silent: “there is only one President”. The silence does not bode well for the term of president Obama.

* * *

THE MAIN LINE was: not to repeat the mistakes of Lebanon War II. This was endlessly repeated on all the news programs and talk shows.

This does not change the fact: the Gaza War is an almost exact replica of the second Lebanon war.

The strategic concept is the same: to terrorize the civilian population by unremitting attacks from the air, sowing death and destruction. This poses no danger to the pilots, since the Palestinians have no anti-aircraft weapons at all. The calculation: if the entire life-supporting infrastructure in the Strip is utterly destroyed and total anarchy ensues, the population will rise up and overthrow the Hamas regime. Mahmoud Abbas will then ride back into Gaza on the back of Israeli tanks.

In Lebanon, this calculation did not work out. The bombed population, including the Christians, rallied behind Hizbullah, and Hassan Nasrallah became the hero of the Arab world. Something similar will probably happen this time, too. Generals are experts on using weapons and moving troops, not on mass psychology.

Some time ago I wrote that the Gaza blockade was a scientific experiment designed to find out how much one can starve a population and turn its life into hell before they break. This experiment was conducted with the generous help of Europe and the US. Up to now, it did not succeed. Hamas became stronger and the range of the Qassams became longer. The present war is a continuation of the experiment by other means.

It may be that the army will “have no alternative” but to re-conquer the Gaza Strip because there is no other way to stop the Qassams – except coming to an agreement with Hamas, which is contrary to government policy. When the ground invasion starts, everything will depend on the motivation and capabilities of the Hamas fighters vis-à-vis the Israeli soldiers. Nobody can know what will happen.

* * *

DAY AFTER DAY, night after night, Aljazeera’s Arabic channel broadcasts the atrocious pictures: heaps of mutilated bodies, tearful relatives looking for their dear ones among the dozens of corpses spread out on the ground, a woman pulling her young daughter from under the rubble, doctors without medicines trying to save the lives of the wounded. (The English-language Aljazeera, unlike its Arab-language sister-station, has undergone an amazing about face, broadcasting only a sanitized picture and freely distributing Israeli government propaganda. It would be interesting to know what happened there.)

Millions are seeing these terrible images, picture after picture, day after day. These images are imprinted on their minds forever: horrible Israel, abominable Israel, inhuman Israel. A whole generation of haters. That is a terrible price, which we will be compelled to pay long after the other results of the war itself have been forgotten in Israel.

But there is another thing that is being imprinted on the minds of these millions: the picture of the miserable, corrupt, passive Arab regimes. As seen by Arabs, one fact stands out above all others: the wall of shame.

For the million and a half Arabs in Gaza, who are suffering so terribly, the only opening to the world that is not dominated by Israel is the border with Egypt. Only from there can food arrive to sustain life and medicaments to save the injured. This border remains closed at the height of the horror. The Egyptian army has blocked the only way for food and medicines to enter, while surgeons operate on the wounded without anesthetics.

Throughout the Arab world, from end to end, there echoed the words of Hassan Nasrallah: The leaders of Egypt are accomplices to the crime, they are collaborating with the “Zionist enemy” in trying to break the Palestinian people. It can be assumed that he did not mean only Mubarak, but also all the other leaders, from the king of Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian President. Seeing the demonstrations throughout the Arab world and listening to the slogans, one gets the impression that their leaders seem to many Arabs pathetic at best, and miserable collaborators at worst.

This will have historic consequences. A whole generation of Arab leaders, a generation imbued with the ideology of secular Arab nationalism, the successors of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, Hafez al-Assad and Yasser Arafat, may be swept from the stage.

In the Arab space, the only viable alternative is the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism.

This war is a writing on the wall: Israel is missing the historic chance of making peace with secular Arab nationalism. Tomorrow, It may be faced with a uniformly fundamentalist Arab world, Hamas multiplied by a thousand.

MY TAXI DRIVER in Tel-Aviv the other day was thinking aloud: Why not call up the sons of the ministers and members of the Knesset, form them into a combat unit and send them off to head the coming ground attack on Gaza?

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch's book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.


N. Bandy said...

Why Hamas is Not the Issue
Gaza: History Matters


Mohammed, age six, marched with determination to his bedroom, put on a record of the Fatah marching song, picked up a wooden toy rifle and marched out to the balcony. He pointed the rifle to the sky where minutes ago, Israeli planes flew over dropping bombs on Palestinian refugee sites. Mohammed told me he wanted to be a pilot so he could fight Israeli warplanes. “But Mohammed, the Palestinians do not have planes.” “I don’t care, I will fight them whatever way I can.” Was a resistance fighter born this minute or was he a “future terrorist”? (Beirut 1973)

How does one explain the horrific fate that has befallen caged Gaza – a land saturated with rubble and body parts – carpet-bombed by air, invaded by ground, attacked by sea? Put to the test of history, Israeli “explanations” fail the credibility test.

History matters. Israel conquered and occupied Gaza (along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem) in 1967. Hamas was an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers. In Gaza, it provided a network of social welfare institutions supporting the poor. During the first Palestinian Intifada (literally “shaking off” the occupation), a Hamas resistance military wing was formed. Israel and the US favored and met with Islamic Hamas leadership as a counterforce to the secular Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Fatah faction then dominant in the Intifada. As Hamas later strengthened, Israel reversed the process.

History matters. Palestinians have consistently resisted Israeli dominance over their lives. Gazan resistance has been especially problematic for Israel. In the 1970s, before Hamas, Ariel Sharon was charged with “pacifying” Gaza. Sharon imposed a brutal policy of repression, blowing up houses, bulldozing large tracts of refugee camps, imposing severe collective punishment and imprisoning hundreds of young Palestinians.

Domination and colonialism are contrary to the United Nations Charter. The legitimacy of struggle for self-determination by peoples under colonial and foreign domination was reaffirmed in U.N. General Assembly resolution 2787 (December 6, 1971). As others before them, Palestinians have and do exercise the legal and moral right to resist.

History matters. In 2005, Israel withdrew its illegal colonial settlers from Gaza. Israeli scholars Uri Davis, Ilan Pappe and Tamar Yaron noted in a Counterpunch article at the time that the primary motive of the evacuation of the settlers was to remove them from harm’s way in anticipation of an intensified future mass attack on Gaza.

History matters. After Hamas won elections in 2006, its leadership accepted a two-state solution based on the pre-war June 4, 1967 borders, but this was unacceptable to Israel. Earlier, Israel destroyed secular Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Arafat for failing at Camp David in July 2000 to comply with its demands to accept permanent Israeli control over Palestinian life and land confined in enclaves. Hamas became the new challenge to Israel’s vision.

The facts of history affirm that Israel will not accept a sovereign Palestinian state on any part of historic Palestine. Hamas is not the issue. All Palestinian leaders sooner or later, secular or Islamic, are declared unacceptable partners for peace no matter how much they concede to Israel. That Israel hides behind the “Hamas Islamic threat” today to destroy it as a potential partner is becoming transparent.

Today, Palestinian Authority President Abbas’s Fatah “security force” is used against Hamas supporters on the pretense that Abbas could be accepted by Israel as a satisfactory “partner” but for Hamas. Both before and after Hamas won the 2006 elections, Abbas fared no better than Arafat though he conceded more. In fact Jonathan Cook’s new book, Disappearing Palestine,” describes the persistent Israeli strategy to achieve the diminution of Palestine. Nonetheless Abbas continues to comply with Israeli/US demands, faulted by his people and humiliated by his keepers.

The picture changes when history matters. Treating Israeli war crimes as historically detached events, unrelated to its Zionist ideology and militaristic strategy to control all of Palestine, becomes more transparent each day.

Israel has a choice: by accepting Palestinian rights under international law now and jettisoning its exclusivist ideology and militarism, Israel secures the future of its people in a shared Israel/Palestine; or by continuing its present policy of ruthless repression of indigenous Palestinians and denying them self determination, it cultivates an intensified and unyielding native resistance. Israel has always chosen the latter. Will President-Elect Obama have the courage to help Israel embrace the first?

Elaine C. Hagopian is Professor Emerita of Sociology, Simmons College, Boston


Dal said...

N.Bandy, thanks for your effort to disseminate information concerning these 61-year-old atrocities.

Here's another by Helena Cobban as posted in


January 10, 2009
Israel's Wars of Forced Regime Change
by Helena Cobban

The war that Israel launched on Gaza Dec. 27 is the seventh war of choice Israel has launched against its neighbors since 1973, the last year in which it fought a war that was forced upon it.

Of the seven wars one – in Lebanon, 1978 – had the goal of establishing an Israeli-controlled "security zone" running inside Lebanon's border with Israel. The other six, including the present war on Gaza, all aimed at imposing a "forced regime change" on Arab communities neighboring Israel through the violent physical dismantlement of politico-military structures then present in, or on occasion dominating, those societies.

The five earlier attempts at forced regime change all had interesting – and quite unintended – consequences that might have given Israel's leaders serious pause before they launched the present war.

The first of those "forced regime change" (FRC) wars was the one Ariel Sharon, as defense minister, planned and launched against the PLO's structures in Lebanon in 1982. The PLO mounted a spirited defense. But after seven weeks of terrible destruction, pressure from their Lebanese allies forced the PLO leaders to agree to an internationally mediated cease-fire that mandated the evacuation of the entire PLO security force to distant Arab lands.

From a military viewpoint, Sharon's war had "worked." But it had two intriguing political-strategic consequences. Regarding Palestine, Palestinians in the occupied territories who previously had waited to be "saved" by PLO forces from outside realized after 1982 that they needed to work for their own liberation.

They launched their first intifada against Israel in 1987. In Lebanon, meanwhile, the IDF was left as a badly overstretched occupation force, unable to counter the emergence of a new, indigenous Islamist-nationalist organization that hadn't even existed before 1982: Hezbollah.

In 1992, Hezbollah's political wing ran in Lebanon's parliamentary election, winning four seats and considerable additional legitimacy in national politics. The next year the IDF launched another FRC war in Lebanon, this time against Hezbollah. That war, the IDF was unable to win. It ended in a fairly fragile – because unmonitored – cease-fire.

In 1996, Prime Minister Shimon Peres, worried about his chances in an impending Israeli election, ordered the IDF to try again. That FRC war was even less satisfactory for Israel. Hezbollah's resilient military and mass-organisation structures withstood the IDF's repeated attempts to bomb them into either annihilation or submission.

The IDF's violence and the mass killings it inflicted proved politically counterproductive to Israel at both the Lebanese and international levels. After some weeks Peres had to agree to a cease-fire resolution in which the subsequent actions of both sides would be subject to international monitoring. The IDF returned to the "security zone" demoralized. (And Peres lost his election.)

Regarding Palestine, the first intifada had led to the Oslo Agreement which led to the establishment of a somewhat autonomous "Palestinian Authority" (PA) in the occupied Palestinian territories. Oslo also mandated that negotiations on a final-status Israeli-Palestinian peace would be finished by 1999. As Israel stalled on those key negotiations and continued to plant settlers in the Occupied Territories, Palestinian frustration grew. In September 2000, the second intifada erupted.

That eruption was sparked when Ariel Sharon very provocatively entered Jerusalem's holiest Islamic space, the Haram al-Sharif, accompanied by more than 1,000 armed police. By then, Sharon was leader of the opposition Likud Party, despite his earlier exclusion from high office in line with the recommendation of the Kahan Commission regarding his actions in the 1982 war in Lebanon. Elections were getting ever closer in Israel. They were held in February 2001. Likud won, and Sharon became prime minister.

In 2002, he ordered Israel's fourth FRC war of the modern era. This one was against the PA's structures in the Occupied Territories – both the security forces and those delivering social and economic services.

Sharon largely succeeded in smashing the PA's infrastructure, but once again the political-strategic consequences proved counterproductive. Hamas, a militant Islamist-national group that Israel had once incubated, had always criticized the PLO for giving away too much in its never-ending peace talks with Israel. Now, with the PLO both incapacitated and humiliated, Hamas saw considerable new growth. In January 2006 it ran for the first time in PA legislative elections – and won.

Sharon had recently suffered a stroke. He was replaced by Ehud Olmert, a much younger figure who seemingly needed to prove his military toughness. In June 2006, Olmert unleashed another FRC war, this one against Lebanon's Hezbollah. Hezbollah withstood that one, too. It, and the whole of Lebanon, suffered badly in 2006. But by the middle of 2008 Hezbollah's political position in Lebanon was stronger than ever.

For his part, Olmert was badly damaged politically by the strategic ineptitude he and the IDF displayed in 2006. He clung to office, his power much diminished. At the end of 2008, as foreign minister Tzipi Livni and defense minister Ehud Barak were squaring off to fight each other and Likud's Binyamin Netanyahu in the February 2009 election, the Israeli cabinet decided on Israel's sixth FRC war: this one against Hamas in Gaza.

The history of Israel's FRC wars deserves close study. All have been "wars of choice" in that the "unbearable" situations that Israeli leaders have cited, each time, as giving them "no alternative" but to fight can all be seen as having been very amenable to negotiation – should Israel have chosen that path instead.

Also, all these wars were planned in some detail in advance, with the Israeli government just waiting for – or even, on occasion, provoking – some action from the other side that they could use as a launch pretext. All have received strong financial, re-arming, and political support from the U.S., not least because they were waged in the name of counter-terrorism.

But the outcomes are important, too. At a purely military level, the two FRC wars against the PLO were the ones that Israel was able to "win," in terms of being largely able to dismantle the structures it targeted. But the longer term, political-strategic outcomes of both those wars were distinctly counterproductive for Israel, since they paved the way for the emergence of much tougher-minded and better-organized movements.

By contrast, Israel was unable to win any of its three FRC wars against Hezbollah. In each, Hezbollah withstood Israel's assault long enough to force it into a cease-fire. All these wars ended up strengthening Hezbollah's position inside Lebanese politics.

So how will Israel's current attempt to inflict forced regime change on the Gaza Palestinians work out? If history is a guide, as it is, then this war will bring about either Hamas' dismantling or a cease-fire on terms that will lead to (or at least allow) Hamas' continued political strengthening.

A dismantling is unlikely, since Hamas' leadership is located outside Gaza and has links throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds that ensure that the annihilation of Hamas in Gaza would have serious global consequences. But if Hamas is dismantled in Gaza, it is most likely to be replaced there – faster or slower – by groups that are even more militant and more Islamist than itself.

Meanwhile, the high human costs of the war continue to mount daily.

(Inter Press Service)

Anonymous said...

Ethnic Cleansing.

Since the inception of Zionism, Zionist leaders such as Ben Gurion, concluded that, a "Jewish State" should only be through "population transfer" (meaning ethnic cleansing) and deemed as the only solution to what they referred to as the "Arab Problem."

The British Peel Commission – Ben Gurion, - in his diary - July 12, 1937 - explaining the benefits of the compulsory population transfer as ….. "The compulsory transfer of the [Palestinian] Arabs from the valleys of the proposed Jewish state could give us something which we never had, even when we stood on our own during the days of the first and second Temples. . . We are given an opportunity which we never dared to dream of in our wildest imaginings. This is MORE than a state, government and sovereignty----this is national consolidation in a free homeland." (Righteous Victims, p. 142)

On August 7, 1937 he (B.Gurion) stated ". . . In many parts of the country new settlement will not be possible without transferring the [Palestinian] Arab fellahin. . . it is important that this plan comes from the [British Peel] Commission and not from us. . . . Jewish power, which grows steadily, will also increase our possibilities to carry out the transfer on a large scale. You must remember, that this system embodies an important humane and Zionist idea, to transfer parts of a people to their country and to settle empty lands. We believe that this action will also bring us closer to an agreement with the Arabs." (Righteous Victims, p. 143)

Again he said, "With compulsory transfer we [would] have a vast area [for settlement] .... I support compulsory transfer. I don't see anything immoral in it." (Righteous Victims, p. 144)

And in 1938, he also wrote: "With compulsory transfer we [would] have vast areas .... I support compulsory [population] transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it. But compulsory transfer could only be carried out by England .... Had its implementation been dependent merely on our proposal I would have proposed; but this would be dangerous to propose when the British government has disassociated itself from compulsory transfer. .... But this question should not be removed from the agenda because it is central question. There are two issues here : 1) sovereignty and 2) the removal of a certain number of Arabs, and we must insist on both of them." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, 117)

He (Gurion) also said: "The possibility of large-scale transfer of a population by force was demonstrated, when the Greeks and the Turks were transferred [after WW I]. In the present war [referring to WW II] the idea of transferring a population is gaining more sympathy as a practical and the most secure means of solving the dangerous and painful problem of national minorities. The war has already brought the resettlement of many people eastern and southern Europe, and in the plans for the postwar settlements the idea of a large-scale population transfer in central, eastern, and southern Europe increasingly occupies a respectable place." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians. 129)

(Ben-Gurion Dec 19, 1947) advised the Haganah (Israili terrorist group) on the rules of engagement with the Palestinian population. He said: "we adopt the system of aggressive defense; with every Arab attack we must respond with a decisive blow: the destruction of the place or the expulsion of the residents along with the seizure of the place." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 176-177 and Israel: A History, p.156)

Olmert is extending Gurion’s legacy, just as Obama is preparing to shoulder Bush’s.

If one is born a Palestinian, and if one is asked what should this Palestinian do, the best answer is given by Israeli leaders and Generals – be a “terrorist” – meaning be one who fights for one’s home, and whose children are slaughtered.



fix954 said...

Israel’s Lies
Henry Siegman

Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network.

I am not aware of a single major American newspaper, radio station or TV channel whose coverage of the assault on Gaza questions this version of events. Criticism of Israel’s actions, if any (and there has been none from the Bush administration), has focused instead on whether the IDF’s carnage is proportional to the threat it sought to counter, and whether it is taking adequate measures to prevent civilian casualties.

Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. In an interview in Ha’aretz on 22 December, he accused Israel’s government of having made a ‘central error’ during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing ‘to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip . . . When you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues,’ General Zakai said, ‘it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire . . . You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.’

The truce, which began in June last year and was due for renewal in December, required both parties to refrain from violent action against the other. Hamas had to cease its rocket assaults and prevent the firing of rockets by other groups such as Islamic Jihad (even Israel’s intelligence agencies acknowledged this had been implemented with surprising effectiveness), and Israel had to put a stop to its targeted assassinations and military incursions. This understanding was seriously violated on 4 November, when the IDF entered Gaza and killed six members of Hamas. Hamas responded by launching Qassam rockets and Grad missiles. Even so, it offered to extend the truce, but only on condition that Israel ended its blockade. Israel refused. It could have met its obligation to protect its citizens by agreeing to ease the blockade, but it didn’t even try. It cannot be said that Israel launched its assault to protect its citizens from rockets. It did so to protect its right to continue the strangulation of Gaza’s population.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that Hamas declared an end to suicide bombings and rocket fire when it decided to join the Palestinian political process, and largely stuck to it for more than a year. Bush publicly welcomed that decision, citing it as an example of the success of his campaign for democracy in the Middle East. (He had no other success to point to.) When Hamas unexpectedly won the election, Israel and the US immediately sought to delegitimise the result and embraced Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah, who until then had been dismissed by Israel’s leaders as a ‘plucked chicken’. They armed and trained his security forces to overthrow Hamas; and when Hamas – brutally, to be sure – pre-empted this violent attempt to reverse the result of the first honest democratic election in the modern Middle East, Israel and the Bush administration imposed the blockade.

Israel seeks to counter these indisputable facts by maintaining that in withdrawing Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005, Ariel Sharon gave Hamas the chance to set out on the path to statehood, a chance it refused to take; instead, it transformed Gaza into a launching-pad for firing missiles at Israel’s civilian population. The charge is a lie twice over. First, for all its failings, Hamas brought to Gaza a level of law and order unknown in recent years, and did so without the large sums of money that donors showered on the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. It eliminated the violent gangs and warlords who terrorised Gaza under Fatah’s rule. Non-observant Muslims, Christians and other minorities have more religious freedom under Hamas rule than they would have in Saudi Arabia, for example, or under many other Arab regimes.

The greater lie is that Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was intended as a prelude to further withdrawals and a peace agreement. This is how Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass, who was also his chief negotiator with the Americans, described the withdrawal from Gaza, in an interview with Ha’aretz in August 2004:

What I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements [i.e. the major settlement blocks on the West Bank] would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns . . . The significance [of the agreement with the US] is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with [President Bush’s] authority and permission . . . and the ratification of both houses of Congress.

Do the Israelis and Americans think that Palestinians don’t read the Israeli papers, or that when they saw what was happening on the West Bank they couldn’t figure out for themselves what Sharon was up to?

Israel’s government would like the world to believe that Hamas launched its Qassam rockets because that is what terrorists do and Hamas is a generic terrorist group. In fact, Hamas is no more a ‘terror organisation’ (Israel’s preferred term) than the Zionist movement was during its struggle for a Jewish homeland. In the late 1930s and 1940s, parties within the Zionist movement resorted to terrorist activities for strategic reasons. According to Benny Morris, it was the Irgun that first targeted civilians. He writes in Righteous Victims that an upsurge of Arab terrorism in 1937 ‘triggered a wave of Irgun bombings against Arab crowds and buses, introducing a new dimension to the conflict’. He also documents atrocities committed during the 1948-49 war by the IDF, admitting in a 2004 interview, published in Ha’aretz, that material released by Israel’s Ministry of Defence showed that ‘there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought . . . In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them, and destroy the villages themselves.’ In a number of Palestinian villages and towns the IDF carried out organised executions of civilians. Asked by Ha’aretz whether he condemned the ethnic cleansing, Morris replied that he did not:

A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on.

In other words, when Jews target and kill innocent civilians to advance their national struggle, they are patriots. When their adversaries do so, they are terrorists.

It is too easy to describe Hamas simply as a ‘terror organisation’. It is a religious nationalist movement that resorts to terrorism, as the Zionist movement did during its struggle for statehood, in the mistaken belief that it is the only way to end an oppressive occupation and bring about a Palestinian state. While Hamas’s ideology formally calls for that state to be established on the ruins of the state of Israel, this doesn’t determine Hamas’s actual policies today any more than the same declaration in the PLO charter determined Fatah’s actions.

These are not the conclusions of an apologist for Hamas but the opinions of the former head of Mossad and Sharon’s national security adviser, Ephraim Halevy. The Hamas leadership has undergone a change ‘right under our very noses’, Halevy wrote recently in Yedioth Ahronoth, by recognising that ‘its ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future.’ It is now ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state within the temporary borders of 1967. Halevy noted that while Hamas has not said how ‘temporary’ those borders would be, ‘they know that the moment a Palestinian state is established with their co-operation, they will be obligated to change the rules of the game: they will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original ideological goals.’ In an earlier article, Halevy also pointed out the absurdity of linking Hamas to al-Qaida.

In the eyes of al-Qaida, the members of Hamas are perceived as heretics due to their stated desire to participate, even indirectly, in processes of any understandings or agreements with Israel. [The Hamas political bureau chief, Khaled] Mashal’s declaration diametrically contradicts al-Qaida’s approach, and provides Israel with an opportunity, perhaps a historic one, to leverage it for the better.

Why then are Israel’s leaders so determined to destroy Hamas? Because they believe that its leadership, unlike that of Fatah, cannot be intimidated into accepting a peace accord that establishes a Palestinian ‘state’ made up of territorially disconnected entities over which Israel would be able to retain permanent control. Control of the West Bank has been the unwavering objective of Israel’s military, intelligence and political elites since the end of the Six-Day War.[*] They believe that Hamas would not permit such a cantonisation of Palestinian territory, no matter how long the occupation continues. They may be wrong about Abbas and his superannuated cohorts, but they are entirely right about Hamas.

Middle East observers wonder whether Israel’s assault on Hamas will succeed in destroying the organisation or expelling it from Gaza. This is an irrelevant question. If Israel plans to keep control over any future Palestinian entity, it will never find a Palestinian partner, and even if it succeeds in dismantling Hamas, the movement will in time be replaced by a far more radical Palestinian opposition.

If Barack Obama picks a seasoned Middle East envoy who clings to the idea that outsiders should not present their own proposals for a just and sustainable peace agreement, much less press the parties to accept it, but instead leave them to work out their differences, he will assure a future Palestinian resistance far more extreme than Hamas – one likely to be allied with al-Qaida. For the US, Europe and most of the rest of the world, this would be the worst possible outcome. Perhaps some Israelis, including the settler leadership, believe it would serve their purposes, since it would provide the government with a compelling pretext to hold on to all of Palestine. But this is a delusion that would bring about the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Anthony Cordesman, one of the most reliable military analysts of the Middle East, and a friend of Israel, argued in a 9 January report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the tactical advantages of continuing the operation in Gaza were outweighed by the strategic cost – and were probably no greater than any gains Israel may have made early in the war in selective strikes on key Hamas facilities. ‘Has Israel somehow blundered into a steadily escalating war without a clear strategic goal, or at least one it can credibly achieve?’ he asks. ‘Will Israel end in empowering an enemy in political terms that it defeated in tactical terms? Will Israel’s actions seriously damage the US position in the region, any hope of peace, as well as moderate Arab regimes and voices in the process? To be blunt, the answer so far seems to be yes.’ Cordesman concludes that ‘any leader can take a tough stand and claim that tactical gains are a meaningful victory. If this is all that Olmert, Livni and Barak have for an answer, then they have disgraced themselves and damaged their country and their friends.’

15 January


[*] See my piece in the LRB, 16 August 2007.

Henry Siegman, director of the US Middle East Project in New York, is a visiting research professor at SOAS, University of London. He is a former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America.

Other articles by this contributor:

The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam · There Is No Peace Process
Gaza’s Future · Breaching the Barrier