Review Of The Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestine By Ilan Pappe
By Stephen Lendman
09 February, 2007
Pappe is an Israeli historian and senior lecturer at Haifa University.
He's also Academic Director of the Research Institute for Peace at Givat
Haviva and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies.
Pappe is an expert on Israel and Zionism and the Palestinians' Right
of Return to their homeland, is considered "an honourable academic
with integrity and conscience," and is a member of the Advisory
Board of the Council for Palestinian Restitution and Repatriation (CPRR),
an organization declaring that "every Palestinian has a legitimate,
individual right to return to his or her original home and to absolute
restitution of his or her property."
Pappe is also one of Israel's
"new historians" whose scholarship and writings are based
on access to material now available from British Mandate period and
Israeli archives that provide the most accurate and authentic documented
history of Israel before and after it became a state and which now serve
to debunk the myths about the years leading up to the Jewish State's
founding and those following it to this day.
Pappe has also authored,
contributed to or edited nine books. His latest is the one this review
covers in detail so readers will know about its powerful and shocking
content, unknown to most in the West and in Israel, that hopefully will
arouse them enough to get the book and learn in full detail what Pappe
documented. He proves from official records how the Israeli state came
into being with blood on its hands from lands forcibly seized from its
Palestinian inhabitants who'd lived on it for hundreds of years previously.
Since the 1940s, they were ethnically cleansed and slaughtered without
mercy so their homeland would become one for Jews alone.
The shameful result is that
Palestinians then and today have almost no rights including being able
to live in peace and security on their own land in their own state that
no longer exists. Survivors then and their offspring either live in
Israel as unwanted Arab citizens with few rights or in the Occupied
Palestinians Territories (OPT) where their lives are suspended in limbo
in an occupied country in which they're subjected to daily institutionalized
and codified racism and persecution. They have no power over their daily
lives and live in a constant state of fear with good reason. They face
economic strangulation; collective punishment for any reason; loss of
free movement; enclosures by separation walls, electric fences and border
closings; regular curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints, loss of their homes
by bulldozings and crops and orchards by wanton destruction and seizure;
arrest without cause, and routine subjection to torture while in custody.
They're targeted for extra-judicial
assassination and indiscriminate killing; taxed punitively and denied
basic services essential to life and well-being including health care,
education, employment and even enough food and water at the whim of
Israeli authorities in a deliberate effort to destroy their will to
resist and eliminate those who won't by expulsion or extermination.
Palestinians have no power to end these appalling abuses and crimes
against humanity or receive any redress for them in Israeli, the West
or through the International Criminal Court Israel ignores when it rules
against its interests.
How can they as Muslims in
a racist Jewish state where Israelis oppressive them with impunity,
the US goes along with huge financing and supplying of the most modern
and destructive weapons of war, and the West and most Arab states are
indifferent preferring to ally with Israel and the US for benefits received
while writing off Palestinians as a small price worth paying. It created
state of appalling human misery and desperation severely aggravated
by crushing economic sanctions for the past year imposed for the first
time ever on an occupied people. They're responsible for poverty and
unemployment levels of 80% or more and increasing instances of starvation
and unreported deaths from all causes because Israel controls everything
and everyone allowed in and out of the territories. Those inside them
suffer painfully as a result. Others with power to help, don't care
and do nothing.
Pappe documents how it all
began in 12 chapters with a short epilogue plus 18 graphic pictures
needing no explanation. He calls the book his "J'Accuse against
the politicians who devised the plan and the generals who carried out
the ethnic cleansing" naming the guilty, the villages and urban
areas destroyed, and the cruelest crimes committed against defenseless
people only wanting to live in peace on their own land and were willing
to do it with Jews as neighbors but not as overlords or oppressors.
This review is lengthy so
readers will know in detail what Israeli authorities successfully suppressed
for decades. Pappe courageously revealed it in a book begging to be
read and discussed by all people of conscience and good faith. They
need to take the lead building a groundswell consensus to stand up to
this long-festering injustice against defenseless people fighting for
their rights and existence against overwhelming odds.
Pappe provides them help
with his extensive documentation and other suggested reading on the
origins of Zionist ideology leading to the ethnic cleansing in the 1940s
and thereafter. He particularly mentions two of Nur Masalha's important
books - Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of Transfer in Zionist
Political Thought, 1882 - 1948 and The Politics of Denial: Israel and
the Palestinian Refugee Problem. Readers are encouraged to explore this
issue further with these and other books exposing ugly truths long suppressed
in the West and needing to be freely aired.
The Beginning - Initial
Planning for Ethnic Cleansing
In his preface, Pappe writes
about the "Red House" in Tel-Aviv that became headquarters
for the Hagana, the dominant Zionist underground paramilitary militia
during the British Mandate period in Palestine between 1920 and 1948
when the Jewish state came into being. He details how David Ben-Gurion,
Israel's first prime minister, met with leading Zionists and young Jewish
military officers on March 10, 1948 to finalize plans to ethnically
cleanse Palestine that unfolded in the months that followed including
"large-scale (deadly serious)intimidation; laying siege to and
bombarding villages and population centres; setting fire to homes, properties
and goods; expulsion; demolition; and finally, planting mines among
the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning."
The final master plan was
called Plan D (Dalet in Hebrew) following plans A, B, and C preceding
it. It was to be a war without mercy complying with what Ben-Gurion
said in June, 1938 to the Jewish Agency Executive and never wavering
from later: "I am for compulsory transfer; I do not see anything
immoral in it." Plan D became the way to do it. It included forcible
expulsion of hundreds of thousands of unwanted Palestinian Arabs in
urban and rural areas accompanied by an unknown number of others mass
slaughtered to get it done. The goal was simple and straightforward
- to create an exclusive Jewish state without an Arab presence by any
means including mass-murder.
Once begun, the whole ugly
business took six months to complete. It expelled about 800,000 people,
killed many others, and destroyed 531 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods
in cities like Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. The action was a clear
case of ethnic cleansing that international law today calls a crime
against humanity for which convicted Nazis at Nuremberg were hanged.
So far Israelis have always remained immune from international law even
though names of guilty leaders and those charged with implementing their
orders are known as well as the crimes they committed.
They included cold-blooded
mass-murder; destruction of homes, villages and crops; rapes; other
atrocities; and massacres of defenseless people given no quarter including
women and children. The crimes were suppressed and expunged from official
accounts as Israeli historiography cooked up the myth that Palestinians
left voluntarily fearing harm from invading Arab armies. It was a lie
covering up Israeli crimes Palestinians call the Nakba - the catastrophe
or disaster that's still a cold, harsh festering unresolved injustice.
Even with British armed presence
still in charge of law and order before its Mandate ended, Jewish forces
completed the expulsion of about 250,000 Palestinians the Brits did
nothing to stop. It continued unabated because when neighboring Arab
states finally intervened, they did so without conviction. They came
belatedly and with only small, ill-equipped forces, no match for a superior,
well-armed Israeli military easily able to prevail as discussed below.
Pappe notes that ethnic cleansing
is well-defined in international law that calls it a crime against humanity.
He cites several definitions including from the Hutchinson encyclopedia
saying it's expulsion by force to homogenize the population. The US
State Department concurs adding its essence is to eradicate a region's
history. The United Nations used a similar definition in 1993 when the
UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) characterized it as the desire
of a state or regime to impose ethnic rule on a mixed area using expulsion
and other violence including separating men and women, detentions, murder
of males of all ages who might become combatants, destruction of houses,
and repopulating areas with another ethnic group.
In 1948, Zionists waged their
"War of Independence" using Plan D to "cleanse"
Palestine according to the UN definition. It involved cold-blooded massacres
and indiscriminate killing, targeted assassinations and widespread destruction
as clear instances of crimes of war and against humanity, later expunged
from the country's official history and erased from its collective memory.
It was left it to a few courageous historians like Ilan Pappe to resurrect
events to preserve the truth too important to let die. His invaluable
book provides an historic account of what, in fact, happened. It needs
broad exposure but won't get it in the corporate-controlled Israeli,
US or Western media overall. It will on this important web site with
the courage to publish it.
Pappe traces the roots of
Zionism to the late 1880s in Central and Eastern Europe "as a national
revival movement, prompted by the growing pressure on Jews in those
regions to assimilate totally or risk continuing persecution."
Founded by Theodor Herzl, the movement became international in scope
supporting a Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel, or Eretz Israel,
even though early on many in the movement were ambivalent about its
location. That changed following Herzl's death in 1904 when it was decided
the goal was to colonize Palestine because of its biblical connection
that happened to be land occupied inappropriately by "strangers"
meaning anyone not Jewish having "no right" to be there.
So as justification, the
myth was created of "a land without people for a people without
a land" even though this "empty land" had a flourishing
Palestinian Arab population including a small number of Jews. Zionist
leaders wanted a complete dispossession of indigenous Arabs to reestablish
the ancient land of Eretz Israel as a Jewish state for Jews alone and
got help doing it from the British after Palestine became part of its
empire post-WW I. With duplicity, the Brits crafted the 1917 Balfour
Declaration supporting the notion of a Jewish homeland in Palestine
while simultaneously promising indigenous Arabs their rights would be
protected and land would be freed from foreign rule.
Palestinian Arabs saw through
the scheme wanting no part of it. It was their land, and they weren't
about to give it up without a struggle. They strongly opposed further
Jewish immigration but to no avail, as their wishes conflicted with
British plans for the territory. It set off decades of conflict leading
to the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 with British help under
their Mandate and neighboring Arab state indifference doing little to
prevent it. Palestinians lost their homeland, their struggle for justice
goes on unresolved, and these beleaguered people are virtually isolated
from the West and their Arab neighbors preferring alliance with Israel
for their own interests that exclude helping Palestinian people get
theirs served including a viable independent state free from Israeli
Pappe traces the early post-Balfour
history when Palestinians comprised 80 - 90% of the population. Even
then they fared poorly under British Mandate rule giving Zionist settlers
preferential treatment. It led to uprisings in 1929 and 1936, the later
one lasting three years before being brutally suppressed. In its wake,
Britain expelled Palestinian leaders making their people vulnerable
to Jewish forces post-WW II that led to their defeat and subjugation.
The sympathetic British Mandate made it possible by helping Jewish settlers
transform their 1920 paramilitary organization into the Hagana, a name
meaning defense. It then became the military arm of the Jewish Agency
or Zionist governing body now called the Israel Defense Forces or IDF.
Planning the Expulsion
of the Palestinians
David Ben-Gurion, Israel's
first prime minister, led the Zionist movement from the mid-1920s until
well into the 1960s. He played a central role and had supreme authority
planning the establishment of a Jewish state serving as its "architect"
with full control over all security and defense issues in the Jewish
community. His goal was Jewish sovereignty over as much of ancient Palestine
as possible achieved the only way he thought possible - by forceable
removable of Palestinians from their land so Jews could be resettled
To do it, he and other Zionist
leaders needed a systematic plan to "cleanse" the land for
Jewish habitation only. It began with a detailed registry or inventory
of Arab villages the Jewish National Fund (JNF) was assigned to compile.
The JNF was founded in 1901 as the main Zionist tool for the colonization
of Palestine. Its purpose was to buy land used to settle Jewish immigrants
that by the end of the British Mandate in 1948 amounted to 5.8% of Palestine
or a small fraction of what Zionists wanted for a Jewish state. Early
on, Ben-Gurion and others knew a more aggressive approach was needed
for their colonization plan to succeed.
It began with the JNF Arab
village inventory that was a blueprint completed by the late 1930s that
included the topographic location of each village with detailed information
including husbandry, cultivated land, number of trees, quality of fruit,
average amount of land per family, number of cars, shop owners, Palestinian
clans and their political affiliation, descriptions of village mosques
and names of their imams, civil servants and more. The final inventory
update was finished in 1947 with lists of "wanted" persons
in each village targeted in 1948 for search-and-arrest operations with
those seized summarily shot on the spot in cold blood.
The idea was simple - kill
the leaders and anyone thought to be a threat the British hadn't already
eliminated quelling the 1936-39 uprising. It created a power vacuum
neutralizing any effective opposition to Zionists' plans. The only remaining
obstacle thereafter was the British presence Ben-Gurion knew was on
the way out by 1946 before it finally ended in May, 1948.
Cleansing, War, and Establishment of the State of Israel
Ethnic cleansing began in
early December, 1947 when Palestinians comprised two-thirds of the population
and Jews, mostly from war-torn Europe, the other third. The British
tried dealing with two distinct ethnic entities choosing partition as
the way to do it. By 1937, this solution became the centerpiece of Zionist
policy, but it proved too hard for the Brits to resolve and be able
to satisfy both sides. It instead handed the problem to the newly formed
UN to deal with before their Mandate ended.
It put the Palestinians'
fate in the hands of a Special Committee for Palestine (UNSCOP) whose
members had no prior experience solving conflicts and knew little Palestinian
history. It was a recipe for disaster as events unfolded. UNSCOP opted
for partition favoring the Jews as compensation for the Nazi holocaust
that became General Assembly Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947 giving
them a state encompassing 56% the country with one-third of the population
while making Jerusalem an international city. Palestinians were justifiably
outraged. They were excluded from the decision-making process concluded
against their will and at their expense.
From that moment on, the
die was cast leading to partition, ethnic cleansing, the first Arab-Israeli
war, the others to follow, and decades of disregard for their rights
to this day creating their desperate state with no resolution in prospect.
Resolution 181 was even worse than an unfair 56 - 44% division of territory
as it allotted the most fertile land and almost all urban and rural
territory in Palestine to the new Jewish state plus 400 of the over
1000 Palestinian villages their residents lost with no right of appeal.
Pappe explains Ben-Gurion
simultaneously accepted and rejected the resolution. He and other Zionist
leaders wanted official international recognition of the right of Jews
to have their own state in Palestine. He was also determined to make
Jerusalem the Jewish capital, intended final borders to remain flexible
wanting to include within them as much future territory as possible,
and today Israel is the only country in the world without established
borders. Ben-Gurion decided borders would "be determined by force
and not by partition resolution." He headed the Consultancy or
Consultant Committee, an ad-hoc cabal of Zionist leaders created solely
to plan the expulsion of Palestinians to cleanse the land for Jewish
The process began in early
December, 1947 with a series of attacks against Palestinian villages
and neighborhoods. They were engaged ineffectively from the start on
January 9 by units of the first all-Arab volunteer army. It resulted
in forced expulsions beginning in mid-February, 1948. On March 10, final
Plan Dalet was adopted with its first targets being Palestinian urban
centers that were all occupied by end of April with about 250,000 Palestinians
uprooted, displaced or killed including by massacres, the most notorious
and remembered being at Deir Yassin even though Tantura may have been
Deir Yassin was Palestinian
land on April 9 when Jewish soldiers burst into the village, machine-gunned
houses randomly killing many in them. The remaining villagers were then
assembled in one place and murdered in cold blood including children
and women first raped and then killed. Recent research puts the number
massacred at 93 (including 30 babies), but dozens more were killed in
the fighting that ensued making the total number of deaths much higher.
The Arab League finally decided
on April 30 to intervene militarily but only after the British Mandate
ended on May 15, 1948, the day the Jewish Agency declared the establishment
of the state of Israel in Palestine. The US and Soviet Union officially
recognized the new state legitimizing it, and on the same day Arab forces
entered the territory.
Pappe details the Zionist
leadership's plan and steps it followed to gain as much of Palestine
as possible with the fewest number of Palestinians remaining in it,
irrespective of Resolution 181 it ignored. They wanted over 80% of Mandatory
Palestine or over 40% more land than the UN allotted them taken forcibly
from the Palestinians. To get it, they colluded tacitly with the Jordanians,
effectively neutralizing the strongest Arab army, buying them off with
the remaining 20% of the territory.
On the eve of battle in 1948,
Jewish fighting forces were around 50,000 (increasing by summer to 80,000).
They included a small air force, navy and units of tanks, armored cars
and heavy artillery. The army was comprised of the main Hagana force
plus elements of the two extremist terrorist groups - the Irgun led
by future prime minister and fanatical Arab-hater Menachem Begin and
the Stern Gang whose most notorious member was also a future prime minister,
Yitzhak Shamir, another extreme racist. It also included special commando
Palmach units, founded in 1941 and whose leaders included future Israeli
prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and noted general and war hero Moshe Dayan.
They faced a hopelessly outmanned and outgunned Palestinian irregular
force of about 7000.
Outside Arab intervention
only began on May 15, 1948, five and a half months after UN Resolution
181 was adopted and during which time the Palestinians were defenseless
against the Zionist ethnic cleansing onslaught against them. Arab states
waited because they were indifferent, and when they finally acted they
sent an inferior force proving no match for the superior Jewish one
it faced to be discussed further below.
to De-Arabize Palestine
In December, 1947, the Palestinian
population numbered 1.3 million of which one million lived in the territory
of the future Jewish state. The Jewish minority stood at 600,000. Zionist
leaders needed a way to dispose of this large number of people "cleansing"
the land for Jewish habitation only. They weren't planning to do it
gently. Instead it became a systematic campaign of state-sponsored terror
against a near-defenseless population unable to withstand the horrific
onslaught unleashed against it step by step. It included threats and
intimidation, villages attacked including while its inhabitants slept,
shooting anything that moved, and blowing up homes with their residents
inside plus other violent acts sparing no one, especially fighting-age
men and boys who might pose a combat or determined resistance threat.
Ben-Gurion exulted in the
progress as events unfolded with comments like: "We are told the
army had the ability of destroying a whole village and taking out all
its inhabitants, let's do it." Another time he explained: "Every
attack has to end with occupation, destruction and expulsion."
He meant the entire population of a village had to be removed, everything
in it leveled to the ground and its history destroyed. In its place,
a new Jewish community would be established as part of the new Jewish
state he and others in the Consultancy believed wasn't possible without
a mass ethnic cleansing transfer and/or extermination of Palestinians
Their plan also included
cleansing urban neighborhoods that were attacked beginning with Haifa
picked as the first target. It was where 75,000 Palestinians lived in
peace and solidarity with their Jewish neighbors until it ended with
the outbreak of violence. It moved on to other cities including Jerusalem
where initial sporadic attacks later became intense. It was part of
an overall initiative of occupation, expulsion and slaughter of anyone
resisting or just having the misfortune to live on land Zionists wanted
for themselves and intended taking by force.
As ethnic cleansing progressed,
it got more vicious as the Consultancy decided to ransack whole villages
and massacre large numbers in them including women, children and babies.
Shamefully, it began and intensified under Mandate authority with a
large British military presence on the ground to maintain order that
never did. It chose instead to look the other way and let all horrific
events on the ground go on unimpeded. By March, 1948, Plan Dalet became
operational as the battle plan to remove the entire Palestinian population
from the 78% of the country Zionists established as the state of Israel
on May 15 when the Mandate ended.
The campaign included disingenuous
rhetoric and propaganda about Jews in Palestine being under threat from
a hostile population having to go on the offensive in self-defense.
The truth turned that notion on its head because of the military, political
and economic imbalance between the two communities. It was so lopsided,
the outcome was never in doubt as long as the British stayed out of
it. They did, and after the Mandate ended in mid-May it was the UN's
problem to deal with. It also failed the test as discussed below.
Plan Dalet began in the rural
hills on the western slopes of the Jerusalem mountains half way on the
road to Tel-Aviv. It was called Operation Nachshon, and it served as
a model for future campaigns. It employed sudden massive expulsions
using terror tactics that proved the most effective way to clear an
area preparing it for Jewish resettlement to follow. Early on, the plan
wasn't to spare a single village, and orders given to carry it out were
clear: "the principle objective of the operation is the destruction
of Arab villages (and) the eviction of the villagers so that they would
become an economic liability for the general Arab forces."
To motivate attacking Israeli
forces, Palestinians were dehumanized as sub-humans worthy of no respect
or consideration making them legitimate targets for destruction. It's
the same tactic US forces used against the Japanese in WW II, in Vietnam
and today in Iraq and Afghanistan. In each instance, targets were people
of color or others not white enough like Arabs.
Pappe details what he calls
the "urbicide of Palestine" that included attacking and cleansing
the major urban centers in the country. They included Tiberias, Haifa,
Tel-Aviv, Safad and what Pappe calls the "Phantom City of Jerusalem"
changed from the "Eternal City" once Jewish troops shelled,
attacked and occupied its western Arab neighborhoods in April, 1948.
The Brits stood aside shamelessly doing nothing to stop it except in
one area, Ahaykh Jarrah, where a local British commander intervened.
It was a rare exception proving
how much better Palestinians would have fared if their British "protectors"
had actually done their job. They didn't, and the result was anarchy
and a state of panic with Israelis having free reign to ravage Northern
and Western Jerusalem with heavy shelling, pillaging and destruction
while ethnically cleansing the population in eight Palestinian neighborhoods
and 39 villages in the greater Jerusalem area transferring them to the
Eastern part of the city.
The urbicide continued into
May with the occupation of Acre on the coast and Baysan in the East
on May 6. On May 13, Jaffa was the last city taken two days before the
Mandate ended. The city had 1500 volunteers against 5000 Jewish troops.
It survived a three week siege and attack through mid-May, but when
it fell its entire population of 50,000 was expelled. With its fall,
Jewish occupying forces had emptied and depopulated all the major cities
and towns of Palestine, and most of their inhabitants never again got
to see their former homes.
Pappe explains this all happened
between March 30 and May 15, 1948 "before a single regular Arab
soldier had entered Palestine (to help Palestinians which they did ineffectively
when they finally came)." His account also undermines the Israeli-concocted
myth that Palestinians left voluntarily before or after Arab forces
intervened. Nearly half their villages were attacked and destroyed before
Arab countries sent in any forces, and another 90 villages were wiped
out from May 15 (when the Mandate ended) till June 11 when the first
of two short-lived truces took effect.
The UN's partition plan caused
the problem, and yet the world body did nothing to remediate a situation
that was out of control. Early on it was clear a potential disaster
loomed that, in fact, ended up worse than first imagined. Still, the
British through May 15, the UN, and neighboring Arab states of Egypt,
Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq procrastinated as long as possible before
reluctantly stepping in, and when they did it was too little, too late.
Pappe calls Jordan's (Transjordan then) King Abdullah "the odd
man out." He had army units inside Palestine, some were willing
to protect villagers' homes and lands, but they were restrained by their
It was because earlier the
King and Zionists cut a deal allowing Jordan to annex most of the land
the partition allocated to the Palestinians that became the West Bank.
In return, Jordanian forces agreed not to engage Jewish troops militarily.
To their shame and discredit, the Brits agreed to this scheme effectively
sealing the Palestinians' fate. Still, once the British Mandate ended,
Jordan had to fight Jewish forces for what it got because Ben-Gurion
reneged on his deal. All along, he wanted as much territory as possible
for a new Jewish state on more land than the 78% he ended up with. The
Jordanian military prevailed, spoiling his plans. It saved 250,000 Palestinians
in the West Bank from being ethnically cleansed the way other Palestinians
were who weren't as fortunate.
As already explained, after
waffling during March and April, the Arab League finally sent regular
armies to intervene in Palestine. Ironically at this time, it was learned
the US State Department on March 12, 1948 drafted a new proposal to
the UN suggesting the partition plan failed and an alternate approach
was needed. The proposal was for an international trusteeship over Palestine
to last five years during which time the two sides would work out a
mutually agreed solution. It concluded partitioning failed and was causing
violence and bloodshed. Pappe notes in the long history of Palestine
and its relationship to the West, this was the most sensible proposal
Shamefully it was stillborn
because even then a Zionist lobby was influential in Washington, it
dealt with Harry Truman in the White House, and it succeeded in derailing
the State Department's efforts even though Department Arabists convinced
Truman to rethink the partition plan and proposed a three month armistice
to both sides to consider it. That also failed as a new Jewish People's
Board was created and met on May 12. Ben-Gurion and almost all others
present rejected Truman's offer. Three days later they established the
state of Israel which the White House recognized almost immediately.
The Phony and Real
Wars Over Palestine
As explained above, Jordan's
King Abdullah cut a deal with Zionists to get what turned out to be
the West Bank in return for not committing troops to the short-lived
conflict beginning in May although Abdullah, if fact, had to fight for
what he got because of Jewish duplicity. Zionists needed to neutralize
Jordan because it had the strongest army in the Arab world and would
have been a formidable threat had it become part of the overall Arab
force that went to war with the new Jewish state. Their staying out
of it was the reason the Arab League's English Commander-in-Chief, Glubb
Pasha, called the 1948 war in Palestine the "Phony War." Pasha
knew Abdullah cut a deal for his own territorial gain and other Arab
armies entering the war planned to do it "pathetically" as
some on the Arab interventionist side called their campaign.
Cairo only committed forces
the last minute on May 12. It set aside 10,000 troops for the engagement,
but half of them were Muslim Brotherhood volunteers opposed to Egyptian
collaboration with imperialism, and they'd just been released from prison
because of their opposition. They had no training, were likely picked
as convenient cannon fodder, and despite their fervor were no match
for the Jewish military.
Syrian forces were better
trained, their political leaders more committed, but only a small contingent
was sent, and they performed so ineffectively the Consultancy considered
seizing the Golan Heights later gotten in the 1967 war. Even smaller
and less committed were Lebanese units most of which stayed on their
side of the border defending adjacent villages. Iraqi troops were also
involved but only numbered a few thousand. Their government ordered
them not to attack Israel but only to defend the West Bank land allocated
to Jordan. Still, they defied orders, became more broadly engaged, and
temporarily saved 15 Palestinian villages in Wadi Ara until 1949 when
the Jordanian government ceded the area to Israel as part of a bilateral
Overall, invading Arab forces
performed "pathetically." They overstretched their supply
lines, ran out of ammunition, used mostly antiquated and malfunctioning
arms, and there was no command and control coordination vital for a
successful campaign. It showed their lack of commitment to the final
outcome although in fairness to them their main British and French suppliers
declared an arms embargo on Palestine hamstringing their effort.
In contrast, Jewish forces
had a ready source of armaments from the Soviet Union and its Eastern
bloc countries like Checkoslovakia. As a result, their weapons easily
outgunned the combined Arab force, and its force size outnumbered and
outclassed them. Jewish forces were never threatened, and Pappe exposed
the Israeli-concocted myth that the very existence of a Jewish state
was at stake. It never was, and Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders
knew it early on.
The war's outcome was never
in doubt, and it allowed ethnic cleansing to go on unimpeded. It spared
no one from removal, slaughter and loss of their homes and land. They
were dynamited, torched, and leveled to the ground to make way for new
Jewish settlements and neighborhoods to be built on vacated land. Still
Arab forces continued fighting getting Israelis to agree to the first
of two brief truces. The first one was declared on June 8 and begun
on the 11th. It lasted until July 8, during which time the Israeli army
continued its cleansing operation that included mass destruction of
A second truce began on July
18 that was violated immediately. The Israeli leadership was undeterred
and continued engaging in widespread ethnic cleansing and seizure of
as much land as possible. Truce or no truce, the campaign went on unhindered
to conclusion that was mostly completed by October and wrapped up finally
in January, 1949 except for some mopping-up operations that continued
In September, 1948, the war,
such as it was, continued but subsided. It finally ended in 1949 when
Israel signed separate armistice agreements with its four major warring
adversaries. The agreements allotted Israel 78% of British Mandatory
Palestine, over 40% more than the UN partition allowed. The cease-fire
lines agreed to became known as the "Green Line." Gaza was
occupied by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan. For the victorious Israelis,
this was their moment of triumph in their "War of Independence",
but for the defeated and displaced Palestinians it became known as "al
Nakba" - "The Catastrophe." An unknown number of Palestinians
were killed and about 800,000 became refugees. Their lives were destroyed,
and they were left to the mercy of neighboring Arab countries and conditions
in the camps where they barely got any.
Toward the end of 1948, Israel
focused on its anti-repatriation policy pursuing it on two levels. The
first was national, introduced in August that year, with the decision
taken to destroy all cleansed villages transforming them into new Jewish
settlements or "natural" forests. The second level was diplomatic
to avoid international pressure to allow Palestinian refugees to return
to their homes and villages.
had an ally in the UN Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) that spearheaded
efforts for refugees to return and called for their unconditional right
to do it. Their position became UN Resolution 194 giving Palestinians
the unconditional option to return to their homes or be compensated
for their losses if they chose not to. This right was also affirmed
in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted as
General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III) on December 10, 1948, the day
before it passed Resolution 194. To this day, all Israeli governments
have ignored both resolutions and gotten away with it because of support
and complicity by the West and indifference by Israel's Arab neighbors
preferring strategic alliances for their own benefit and writing off
the Palestinians as a small price to pay for it to their shame and disgrace.
The Ugly Face of
Even at war's end and Israel's
ethnic cleansing completed, Palestinians' agony and hardships were only
beginning. Throughout 1949, and beginning a precedent continuing to
this day, about 8,000 refugees were put in prison camps while many others
escaping cleansing were physically abused and harassed under Israeli
military rule. The Palestinians lost everything including their homes,
fields, places of worship and other holy places, freedom of movement
and expression and any hope for just treatment and redress according
to the rule of law not applied to them. They were afflicted with such
indignities as needing newly-issued identity cards. Not having them
on their person at all times meant imprisonment up to 1.5 years and
immediate transfer to a pen for "unauthorized" and "suspicious"
Arabs. This went on in cities and rural areas as undisguised racism
Other kinds of Israeli harshness
were also introduced at this time that all Palestinians are still subjected
to today in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). There were roadblocks
that now include checkpoints and curfews with violators shot on sight.
These conditions were imposed to make life so unbearable, those subjected
to them might opt to leave the territories for relief elsewhere.
Worse still in 1949 were
labor camps where thousands of Palestinian prisoners were held under
military rule for forced labor for all tasks that could strengthen the
economy or aid the military. Conditions in them were deplorable and
included working in quarries carrying heavy stones, living on one potato
in the morning and half a dried fish at noon. Anyone complaining was
beaten severely, and others were singled out for summary execution if
they were considered a threat.
Life outside prison and labor
camps wasn't much better. Red Cross representatives sent their Geneva
headquarters reports of collective human rights abuses including finding
piles of dead bodies. Overall, Palestinians surviving expulsion and
now Israeli citizens gained nothing. They had no rights and were subjected
to constant random violence and abuse with no protection from the law
applying only to Jews. Their places of worship were profaned and schools
vandalized. Those still with homes were robbed with impunity by looters
in broad daylight. They took everything they wanted - furniture, clothing,
anything useful for Jewish immigrants entering the new Jewish state.
Palestinians reported that there wasn't a single home or shop not broken
into and ransacked. The authorities did nothing to stop it or prosecute
offenders. It was like living under a perpetual "Kristallnacht."
Further, Palestinian areas
were "ghettoised" as a way to imprison people other than by
putting them behind bars or in camps. In Haifa, for example, they were
ordered from their homes and transferred to designated parts of the
city, then crammed into confined quarters the way it was done in Wadi
Nisnas, one of the city's poorest areas. The UN and Red Cross also reported
many cases of rape, confirmed by uncovered Israeli archives and from
the oral history of victims and their boasting victimizers.
Finally, with the war over
and ethnic cleansing completed, the Israeli government relaxed its harshness
and halted the looting and ghettoisation in cities. A new structure
was created called The Committee for Arab Affairs that dealt with growing
international pressure on Israel to allow for repatriation of the refugees.
Israeli officials tried to sidestep efforts by proposing instead refugees
be settled in neighboring Arab states like Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
Their efforts succeeded as discussions produced no results nor was there
much effort to enforce Resolution 194.
Other issues also remained
unresolved including money expropriated from the former 1.3 million
Palestinian citizens of Mandatory Palestine as well as their property
now in Israeli hands. The first governor of the Israeli national bank
estimated it was valued at 100 million British pounds. There was also
the question of cultivated land confiscated and lost that amounted to
3.5 million dunum or almost 22,000 square miles. The Israeli government
forestalled international indignation by appointing a custodian for
the newly acquired properties pending their final disposition. It dealt
with the problem by selling them to public and private Jewish groups
which it claimed the right to do as the moment confiscated lands came
under government custodianship they became property of the state of
Israel. That, in turn, meant none of it could be sold to Arabs which
is still the law in Israel today.
As this took place, the human
geography of Palestine was transformed by design. Its Arab character
in cities was erased and with it the history and culture of people who
lived there for centuries before Zionists arrived to depopulate their
state making it one for Jews alone. They only succeeded partially but
managed to transform ancient Palestine into the state of Israel creating
insurmountable problems Palestinians now face in it and the OPT. In
1949, about 150,000 Palestinians survived expulsion in the territory
of Israel and were now citizens designated by the Committee of Arab
Affairs as "Arab Israelis." That designation meant they were
denied all rights given Jews.
They were put under military
rule, comparable to the Nuremberg Laws under the Nazis and no less harsh.
It denied them the basic rights of free expression, movement, organization
and equality with the "chosen Jewish people" of the new Jewish
state. They still had the right to vote and could be elected to the
Israeli Knesset, but with severe restrictions. This regime lasted officially
until 1966, but, in fact, never ended to this day and has been especially
severe since the democratic election of Hamas in January, 2006 as well
as throughout the Second Intifada that began with Ariel Sharon's provocative
visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque on September 28, 2000.
The Committee of Arab Affairs
continued meeting, and as late as 1956 considered plans for mass removal
of all remaining Arabs in Israel. Even though ethnic cleansing formerly
ended in 1949, expulsions continued throughout this period until 1953,
but never really ended to this day. Palestinians surviving it paid a
terrible price with the loss of their possessions, land, history and
future still unaddressed with justice so far denied them and ignored.
The theft of their land by
ethnic cleansing led to new Jewish settlements in their place and now
are built on occupied Palestinian land in the OPT. In 1950, disposition
of it was placed in the hands of the Settlement Department of the Jewish
National Fund (JNF). The JNF law was passed in 1953 granting the agency
independent status as landowner for the Jewish state. That law and others,
like the Law of the Land of Israel, stipulated the JNF wasn't allowed
to sell or lease land to non-Jews. The Knesset passed a final law in
1967, the Law of Agricultural Settlement, prohibiting the subletting
of Jewish-owned land to non-Jews. The law also prohibited water resources
from being transferred to non-JNF lands.
After ethnic cleansing completion,
Palestinians remaining comprised 17% of the new Israeli state but were
was allotted only 2% of the land to live and build on with another 1%
for agricultural use only. Today, 1.4 million Palestinian Arabs are
Israeli citizens or about 20% of the population. The still have the
same 3% total, an intolerable situation for a population this size.
The 1.4 million Palestinians in occupied, ghettoized and quarantined
Gaza live under even harsher conditions in what's now considered the
world's largest open air prison with a population density three times
that of Manhattan. The 2.5 million others in the West Bank aren't treated
much better living under severe repression from a foreign occupier.
of the Nakba
Palestinian lands under JNF
control also included authority to rename them to destroy centuries
of history they signified. The task went to archaeolgists and biblical
experts volunteering to serve on an official Naming Committee to "Hebraisize"
Palestine's geography. The goal was to de-Arabize the lands, erase their
history, and use it for new Jewish colonization and development as well
as create European-looking national parks with recreational facilities
including picnic sites and children's playgrounds for Jews only. Hidden
beneath them were destroyed Palestinian villages erased from the public
memory but not from that of people who once lived there who'd never
forget or allow their descendents to.
The JNF website features
four of the larger, most popular resort parks belying and defiling the
long history beneath them - the Birya Forest, Ramat Menashe Forest,
Jerusalem Forest and Sataf. They all symbolize Pappe's poignant prose
that: "better than any other space today in Israel, (these lands
represent) both the Nakba and the denial of the Nakba." Today,
descendents of families displaced six decades ago still live in refuge
camps and diasporic communities in neighboring Arab countries and elsewhere.
Their collective memories won't ever be erased nor will justice be served
until they receive redress for the crimes committed against their ancestors
and those still living.
Pappe emphasizes what other
regional experts like him believe - the key to peace in the Middle East
is a just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem
as well as equity for those living in the OPT and all Palestinian Israeli
citizens long denied any rights and forced to live in an Israeli apartheid
state under harsh conditions of severe repression.
Pappe believes two main factors
deter conflict resolution today - the Zionist ideology of ethnic supremacy
and the so-called "peace process" that's always been structured
to avoid peace at all costs. The first factor continues denying the
Nakba's legitimacy, and the second one always succeeds in foiling an
international will to bring justice to the region by maintaining a state
of conflict to justify Israel's harsh response to it pretending it's
for self-defense. It works because the US supports and funds the Jewish
state allowing it to get away with mass-murder, property destruction,
land theft and denial of everything Palestinians hold dear including
their lives and freedom. Nothing has changed since 1948 because the
West goes along as well as do most Arab states for their own political
and economic gain. Palestinians have no bargaining power and can do
nothing to alleviate their plight.
The UN world body should
have aided them but never did. It's flawed partition plan caused the
conflict to begin with. It cost Palestinians everything, and nothing
happened since to win them redress. Even after its early missteps, the
UN might have made a difference but erred again by not involving the
International Refugee Organization (IRO) that always recommends repatriation
as a refugee entitlement. Instead it backed Israel's wish to avoid IRO
involvement by creating a special agency for Palestinian refugees that
became UNRWA in 1950 or the UN Relief and Work Agency. UNRWA wasn't
committed to the Right of Return and only looked after refugees' daily
needs to provide employment and fund permanent camps to house them.
Its efforts amounted to little more than putting band-aids on gaping
wounds still raw and unaddressed.
It's typical of how the UN
still operates today under the thumb of its dominant member country
where it's headquartered. It's so-called "peacekeeping" function
is a pathetic and disgraceful example as keeping the peace is the one
thing Blue Helmets almost never do. Its first ever operation began in
1948 as the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) mandated
to supervise the armistice agreements and earlier uneasy truces between
warring Israeli and Arab forces. It's been there ever since, never prevented
wars in 1956, 1967 and 1973 nor did it ever succeed in establishing
or maintaining peace. The operation is still active, but it's little
more than a pathetic presence without purpose observing violations on
the ground and doing nothing to stop them or even report them properly
to superiors. The IDF controls everything, operates freely, and UN "peacekeepers"
keep quiet but no peace.
Out of this mess earlier,
Palestinian nationalism emerged as the Palestinian Liberation Organization
(PLO) that became the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian
people. It was founded by the Arab League in 1964 and committed to the
Right of Return. It also had to confront what Pappe calls "two
manifestations of denial" - international peace brokers' denial
of Palestinian concerns as part of a future peace arrangement and refusal
to deal with Israelis' denial of the Nakba and their unwillingness to
be held accountable for it. To this day, refugee issues and Nakba crimes
are excluded from the so-called "peace process" assuring there
never will be a one unless that changes.
At first, in the spring of
1949, the UN made some conflict resolution effort by organizing a conference
in Lausanne, Switzerland. Nothing came from it, however, because prime
minister Ben-Gurion and King Abdullah scuttled it to get on with their
partition scheme. Two more decades were then lost until after the 1967
war when the US got more involved, began colluding with the Israelis,
and couched all new peace efforts within an overall context of a Middle
East Pax Americana. It meant from that time till now, an equitable resolution
of the conflict and attention to Palestinians' needs and rights were
sidelined in favor of addressing Israeli needs and those of its US partner.
In 1967, Israel excluded
the 1948 Nakba and Right of Return from any peace discussions. Thenceforth,
it based all negotiations on the notion that the conflict began in 1967
when Israel seized and occupied the West Bank and Gaza in the June Six
Days' War that year. This was how Israel sought to legitimize its 1948
"War of Independence" and all its crimes it wanted erased
from the public memory. No longer were they on the table to be considered
in any future conflict resolution negotiation. For Palestinians, the
1948 Nakba is their core issue, and without it being settled equitably
there can never be closure or a real lasting peace in the region.
Nonetheless, by the mid-seventies,
the PLO softened its stance enough to accept a US-led international
consensus favoring a two-state solution. It led to the 1978 Camp David
Accords and peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, but it left Palestinians
out in the cold by implicitly renouncing their Right of Return and failing
to address the issue of an independent state.
The predictable result was
festering anger in the OPT that led to the first Intifada in 1987 that,
in turn, led to the Madrid peace conference following the 1991 Gulf
war. From it, the 1993 Oslo Accords and so-called Declaration of Principles
emerged that once again betrayed Palestinian hopes for redress denied
them to this day. Israel got an agreement to establish a new Palestinian
Authority (PA) to act as its comprador enforcer to control a restive
people. All the tough issues were left unaddressed meaning they never
would be - an independent Palestinian state, the Right of Return, status
of Jerusalem, settlements in the OPT and established borders.
Oslo I led to Oslo II in
1995 and further betrayal. The new agreement divided the West Bank into
three zones - Areas A, B, and C plus a fourth area of Israeli occupied
East Jerusalem. It established a complicated system of control allowing
Israel in Area C to build settlements on the most valuable land with
its water resources mostly denied the Palestinians. By 2000, 59% of
the West Bank was in Area C. Israel is slowly annexing more of the territory
by expanding settlements and building new ones. It's also getting it
by its Separation or Apartheid Wall on seized Palestinian land, building
new roads for Jews only on more of it, and defining one-third of the
West Bank as Greater Jerusalem.
status" talks began in July, 2000 at Camp David that once again
resulted in betrayal. Israelis never made a good faith offer in writing
or intended to. They provided no documentation or maps. All Palestinians
got was a plan dividing the West Bank into four isolated "Bantustan"
cantons surrounded by Israeli settlements and continued occupation with
no resolution of their fundamental long-standing problems and core issues.
Predictably it led to the
second al-Aqsa Mosque Intifada triggered by Ariel Sharon's provocative
visit to the Muslim Noble Sanctuary on September 28, 2000 as explained
above. It then spun out of control when Palestinians, fed up with Fatah
betrayal, democratically elected a Hamas government in January, 2006
foiling Israeli efforts to assure their complicit allies would again
prevail. When they didn't, Israel denounced the results, never accepted
Hamas as a peace partner, refused to negotiate with them in good faith,
and acted ever since in bad faith to destroy Hamas and punish the Palestinian
people for their "wrong" choice. That's how things always
work under rules of imperial management practiced by the US and its
Israeli partner complicit in their collective attempt to destroy a democratically
elected government misportraying them as "terrorists" to get
the West to go along and the public to believe it.
Today, Israel is slowly annexing
more of the West Bank in a relentless process wanting all useful parts
of it for exclusive Jewish habitation only. It made the job easier by
defining one-third of it as Greater Jerusalem while expropriating Palestinian
land to expand existing settlements, build new ones, add new roads for
Jews only, and erect the Separation Wall falsely claimed for security
to disguise its real land-grab purpose plus another way to cantonize
Palestinians in isolated areas cut off from all others and effectively
enclose them in large open-air prisons.
This is part of the appalling
daily oppression and persecution ongoing against Palestinians in the
OPT and also against Israeli Arab citizens living in Israel. Former
US president Jimmy Carter pierced the "last taboo" daring
to open a forbidden window on part of it in his new best-selling book
Peace Not Apartheid that got him vilified by the Israeli Lobby implying
he's anti-semitic. He courageously wrote about a rigid system of segregation
in the OPT even though he failed to acknowledge the same injustices
go on inside Israel he called a model democratic state which it is not.
Palestinian Israeli citizens
living get none of the democratic rights afforded Israeli Jews, and
Carter, of course, knows that or should know it. He distanced himself
from that consideration that might have been too much truth to reveal
at one time. Nonetheless, his bold, if partial, step represents an important
breakthrough that may encourage other high-level officials in the US
and elsewhere to add their voices to his exposing all Israeli crimes
demanding redress. They won't ever be addressed until enough prominent
figures step forward to denounce them and finally reveal their extent
to an uninformed public.
Redress one day will come
just like it did for Jews no longer persecuted as they were for centuries.
But it won't happen until the power of the Israeli Lobby is neutralized
by forces for truth and justice surpassing it in power and influence.
That day is nowhere in sight, but when it arrives, Jews and Arabs will
again live in peace the way they once did in pre-Zionist times. It's
the way Jews and Christians now easily mix in the US unlike decades
ago when anti-semitism was significant enough to deny Jews the kinds
of opportunities and rights they now take for granted including achieving
positions of high influence in government, business, academia and other
prominent public and private institutions in the country. There's no
reason Jews and Arabs can't coexist as easily provided there's a will
to do it or events intervene.
An Intractable Problem
Caused by "Fortress Israel"
Pappe's final chapter deals
with what Israel calls its "demographic problem" and need
to limit future Palestinian population growth. The problem is an old
one understood by early Zionists as the major obstacle in the way of
their dream of a homeland for Jews alone. Theodor Herzl wrote his solution
in his diary in 1895: "We shall endeavour to expel the poor population
across the border unnoticed, procuring employment for it in the transit
countries, but denying it any employment in our own country."
In 1947, Ben-Gurion adopted
his own version of Herzl's solution with his ethnic cleaning plan that's
gone on ever since in various forms under succeeding prime ministers
to this day. It's meant continual displacement of Palestinians in the
West Bank by new and expanded Israeli settlement developments and Separation
Wall land seizures. Pappe explains the "Zionist project (today
is trying) to construct and then defend a 'white' (Western) fortress
in a 'black' (Arab) world. At the heart of the refusal to allow Palestinians
the Right of Return is the fear of Jewish Israelis that they will eventually
be outnumbered by Arabs." To assure this won't happen, Israel intends
to maintain an overwhelming Jewish majority regardless of world public
opinion. There's no dissent in the West or among most Arab leaders because
US administrations won't tolerate any.
Pappe believes the consensus
in Israel today is for a state comprising 90% of Palestine "surrounded
by electric fences and visible and invisible walls" with Palestinians
given only worthless cantonized scrub lands of little or no value to
the Jewish state. In 2006, 1.4 million Palestinians live in Israel on
2% of the land allotted them plus another 1% for agricultural use with
six millions Jews on most of the rest. Another 3.9 million live concentrated
in Israel's unwanted portions of the West Bank and concentrated in Gaza
that's three times the population density of Manhattan. It's made for
intolerable conditions throughout the OPT that guarantee resistance
to them and the same harsh Israeli responses in an unending cycle of
violence, repression and unresolved and unaddressed injustices.
The growing demographic imbalance
only exacerbates things, and it's already a nightmare for Israeli leaders.
They haven't gotten enough new Jewish immigration or adequately increased
Jewish birth rates to counteract it. They also haven't been able to
reduce the number of Arabs in Israel. All solutions so far considered
only lead to an Arab population increase barring mass expulsion or worse
some extremists in Israel favor and one day may be able to make policy
unless cooler heads stop them.
For Pappe and all people
of conscience and good faith, there's only one solution - Israel's willingness
one day to transform itself into a civic and democratic state ending
the last postcolonial European enclave in the Arab world. The Palestinian
people will accept nothing less nor should they, and growing numbers
of Israelis are aware of the horror and injustice of the Nakba. So far,
they only comprise a small minority, but they may hold the key to a
future resolution if their numbers grow enough and they become vocal
as is now slowly happening.
Today, however, the situation
for Palestinians is grim with unrelenting daily Israeli assaults against
them in Gaza and the West Bank along with Jerusalem slipping away by
an ethnic cleansing process to make the city one for Jews only. At the
end of his book, Pappe explains "The problem with Israel was never
its Jewishness....it is its ethnic Zionist character." It represents
a "tempest that threatens to ruin (Jews and Palestinians alike),"
and it's now raging in the OPT as it did in Lebanon over the summer
where an uneasy peace could again erupt in conflict on any pretext.
The future of Jews and Arabs
depends on finding an equitable solution to their unresolved problems
and issues and avoiding further escalation that threatens to engulf
the whole region in raging conflict if extremists in Israel and Washington
get their way and extend the Iraq war to Iran and Syria. Kuwait-based
Arab Times Editor-in-chief Ahmed al-Jarallah cites what he calls a reliable
source saying a military strike against Iranian oil and nuclear facilities
is planned before April to be launched from warships in the Persian
Gulf that grow in number and readiness.
He may be right based on
former Russian Black Sea Fleet commander Admiral Eduard Baltin's judgment
about US activity in the Gulf. Currently, US nuclear submarines are
maintaining a vigil there and Admiral Baltin told Interfax News: "The
presence of US nuclear submarines in the Persian Gulf region means that
the Pentagon has not abandoned plans for surprise strikes against nuclear
targets in Iran. With this aim a group of multi-purpose submarines ready
to accomplish the task is located in the area." Admiral Baltin
added the presence of these submarines indicates the Pentagon wants
to control navigation in the Gulf and conduct strikes against Iranian
One other report adds still
more credibility to the current danger of a wider regional war. It comes
from former US State Department Middle East intelligence analyst Wayne
White who said: "I've seen some of the planning....You're not talking
about a surgical strike. You're talking about a war against Iran. We're
talking about clearing a path of targets" against the Iranian Air
Force, Kilo submarines, anti-ship missiles and even ballistic missile
capability that could target commerce and US warships in the Gulf as
well as the country's nuclear infrastructure.
More pressure still is coming
from Israeli officials calling Iran's nuclear program an "existential
threat" and Israeli opposition leader and former prime minister
Benjamin Netanyahu whose rhetoric makes him sound like he's criminally
insane. On January 21, he addressed a security conference in Herzliya
stoking the flames of war by calling the Iranian government a "genocidal
regime" and adding "Either it will stop the nuclear programme
without the need for a military operation, or it could prepare for it....who
will lead the charge if not us. No one will come defend the Jews if
they do not defend themselves." Also at the conference, US Under-Secretary
Nicholas Burns spoke hawkishly saying "There is no doubt Iran is
seeking nuclear military weapons (and) the policy of the United States
is that we cannot allow Iran to become a nuclear weapons state....Iran
has refused to back down in its attempt to destabilize the region....We
have an absolute right to defend our soldiers."
If the US and/or Israel attack
Iran, all bets are off, and Palestinians already under an Israeli siege
will suffer even more. It means cooler heads on both sides must denounce
this kind of talk and find a way to avoid a wider war and bring the
present conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine to an end. It won't
be easy at a perilous time looking like conflict escalation is planned,
not its resolution with the potential fallout from it too horrendous
to allow for all parties in the region, but especially for those suffering
Now there's the further threat
of one Palestinian faction facing off against the other. On one side
is the besieged Hamas-led government already in tatters from months
of harsh sanctions and daily Israeli assaults. On the other are corrupted
Fatah forces loyal to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas acting as a quisling
proxy comprador enforcer for Israeli and US imperial interests for everything
he stands to gain selling out his people for crumbs handed him and his
cronies. They're being armed to the teeth to do it, and George Bush
announced he's helping further by transferring $86 million to Abbas
while starving Hamas and most Palestinians. It's taken the lives of
dozens of Palestinians in recent days. They're in the middle having
no dog in this fight except their oppressive occupier they want expelled.
They cry out as a colonized
people struggling to be free with things at this stage looking pretty
grim. But sooner or later conflicts and repression end when bloodshed
and suffering from them no longer are tolerated and outside forces see
the injustice and futility and are willing to help. It's happening in
Iraq and will in Afghanistan, and it's coming to the OPT with force
strength too great to be restrained. When it arrives, ethnic cleansing
and injustice will end, replaced by ethnic victory for Jews and Palestinians
alike and others in the region who'll model their own struggle for justice
on the one they saw succeed in Palestine.
lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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