Author – Ilan Pappe
Genre – NonFiction / History
About the Author
Ilan Pappe, an expatriate Israeli historian and socialist activist, is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, director of the university’s European Centre for Palestine Studies, co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, and political activist. He was formerly a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa (1984–2007) and chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies in Haifa (2000–2008).
Pappe, born in Haifa, Israel, is one of Israel’s “New Historians” who, since the release of pertinent British and Israeli government documents in the early 1980s, have been rewriting the history of Israel’s creation in 1948, and the corresponding expulsion or flight of 700,000 Palestinians in the same year. He has written that the expulsions were not decided on an ad hoc basis, as other historians have argued, but constituted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in accordance with Plan Dalet, drawn up in 1947 by Israel’s future leaders. He blames the creation of Israel for the lack of peace in the Middle East, arguing that Zionism is more dangerous than Islamic militancy, and has called for an international boycott of Israeli academics.
His work has been both supported and criticized by other historians. Before he left Israel in 2008, he had been condemned in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament; a minister of education had called for him to be sacked; his photograph had appeared in a newspaper at the centre of a target; and he had received several death threats. Pappe supports the one-state solution, which envisages a binational state for Palestinians and Israelis.
Synopsis worded exactly as in the book
‘I am for the compulsory transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it“ David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, first PM to the Jewish Agency Executive, 1938.
In the Red House, an early Tel Aviv building, on 10 March 1948, a group of eleven men, veteran Zionist leaders together with young military Jewish officers put the final touches for the plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
The military orders dispatched that evening described the methods to be employed for the eviction as large scale intimidation, laying siege to and bombarding population centers, setting fire to homes, properties and goods, expulsions, demolition and planting mines among the rubble to prevent the expelled inhabitants from returning. The plan was codenamed Plan D or Plan Dalet. This was the fourth and final blue print. Simcha Flapan, one of the first historians to note the significance of this plan wrote in the book ‘ The Birth of Israel:Myths and Realities ‘, ‘ The military campaign against Arabs, including the conquest and destruction of rural areas was set forth in Hagana’s Plan Dalet ‘. (Hagana was the main underground Zionist militia). David Ben Gurion in his book Rebirth and Destiny of Israel ,, notes that until 1948, no Jewish settlements were seized by Arabs whereas the Hagana captured many Arab villages. The plan was a Zionist ideological impulse to have an exclusively Jewish presence in Palestine. The Palestinian attacks in 1947 served as the pretext for ethnic cleansing by Zionists. When it was over, in 6 months, more than half of Palestine native population, close to 800000 people had been uprooted, 531 villages destroyed and 11 urban neighborhoods emptied of their inhabitants. A clear cut case of ethnic cleansing regarded under international law as crime against humanity.
Sadly this crime has been erased almost totally from the public memory, still today not recognized as a historical fact let alone acknowledged as a crime. And Palestinian suffering has been thoroughly ignored. The tale that Israeli historiographers had concocted was that of a massive voluntary transfer of Palestinians who had temporarily decided to leave their homes and villages to make way for the Arab armies invading the Jewish state. The Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi in the 1970 s through his book Palestine Reborn has tried to explain the true history which Israel has tried to erase. But it was overshadowed by Dan Kurtzman s book Genesis 1948 which appeared in 1970 and again in 1992 with an introduction by one of the executors of ethnic cleansing, Yitzhak Rabin. Yet, books like The Palestinian Catastrophe published in 1987 by Michael Palumbo came out in support of the Palestinian endeavor. The revisionist Israeli historians from 1980 s using Israeli military archives debated and debunked the voluntary transfer narrative and they were able confirm many cases of massive expulsions and atrocities by Jewish forces including massacres.
One of the best known historians was Benny Morris. His book The Birth of Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-49 was enough for the Israeli readers to understand the truth of the flawed and bankrupt ‘moral ‘ war of Israel. Even, his account was partial as he took the military records at face value and ignored the Acre poisoning of water supplies with typhoid, rapes massacres. He also kept insisting wrongly that before 15 May 1948, there were no forced evictions. Palestinian sources clearly show that months before entry of Arab forces into Palestine while the British was still responsible for law and order in the country the Jewish forces forcibly expelled a quarter of a million Palestinians. This is the fundamental root of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. From these Israeli and Palestinian historians, there has been a moral, historical and political effort to continue struggle against denial of a crime. A significant contribution to struggle against denial is Walid Khalidi s book All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948.
Through this book Ilan Pappe explores the mechanism of the 1948 ethnic cleansing and the cognitive system that allowed the world to forget and enabled the perpetrators to deny the crime the Zionist movement committed against the Palestinians in 1948. He replaces the paradigm of war with the paradigm of ethnic cleansing. The Catastrophe has been long denied due to this absence of the paradigm of ethnic cleansing. The expulsions of the indigenous population was not an accidental, tragic inevitability, but the main goal of the Zionists was ethnic cleansing. The term Nakba or Catastrophe was adopted to counter the moral weight of Jewish Holocaust or Shoa. The author says, in doing so, by leaving out the actor, it may have contributed to the denial by the world of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. He adds that adopting the prism of ethnic cleansing easily enables one to penetrate the cloak of complexity that Israeli diplomats trot out instinctively and Israeli academics routinely hide behind when fending off outside attempts to criticize Zionism or the Jewish state for its policies and behavior
Most ethnic cleansing methods are grave breaches of 1949 Geneva Conventions. It is a crime against humanity punishable under international law. The Hutchinson encyclopedia defines ethnic cleansing as expulsions by force in order to homogenize an ethnically mixed population of region or territory. The essence of ethnic cleansing is the eradication of a region’s history by depopulating. The town of Peck in western Kosovo was depopulated within 24 hours with sporadic massacres in May 1999, which was an end result of meticulous planning. The making of greater Serbia is an example. Drazen Petrovic, of International Labor Organization in European Journal of International Law in a comprehensive study of ethnic cleansing associates it with nationalism, making of new nation states and national struggle. He exposes the connection of politicians and army in this and also the role of massacres. At at one point the political leadership ceases to take an active part but machine of ethnic cleansing rolls on. The expelled are then erased from country’s official and popular history and excised from collective memory. This is what happened Palestine in 1948.
The word ‘ alleged ‘ that appears before the Palestinian ethnic cleansing should be definitely removed since records suggest a planned execution of the act. The perpetrators are not obscure. The leader is the Zionist strongman David Ben Gurion and 11 members constituted the cabal which the author calls Consultancy. The archival documents also show a list of 40 Palestinian leaders targeted for assassination. The military strongmen in the cabal were Moshe Dayan, Yigael Yadin, Yigal Allon, and Yitzhak Sadeh. Moshe Kalman cleansed the Safad area, Moshe Carmel uprooted Galilee, Yitzhak Rabin cleansed Lydd , greater Jerusalem and Ramla. They were war heroes for the Israeli people, the crimes they committed against the indigenous Palestinians weigh more. The intelligence officers on the ground whose function was not just collection of data, but they committed the worst atrocities in dispossession and massacres. They decided whom to imprison, whom to kill and which villages to evacuate. This was supervised by Issar Harel, later the first person to head Mossad and Shabak, Israel’s secret services.
For peace to have a chance in Palestine, the refugees should be allowed to return to their homes. UN resolution 194, during December 1948 decided on an unconditional return, which the US supported for a very short while before reorienting to a pro Israeli stance disregarding the Palestinian point of view.
Reconstructing the ethnic cleansing
The background of the ethnic cleansing by Zionists is explained in many scholarly works. In Nur Masalha’s ‘ Expulsion of Palestinians ‘, he explains that the concept of transfer was deeply rooted in Zionist political thought. Cleansing the land was the valid option from the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodore Herzl to the main leaders. The movement ‘s liberal thinker, Leo Motzkin in 1917 rooted for a two step process of colonization and resettlement of Palestinians on another land. Authors Gershon Shafer and Baruch Kimmerling explores the connection between Zionism and Colonialism, a nexus that brings forth exploitation of Palestinian labour, land and then expulsions at the close of the British mandate. Authors Walid Khalidi and Samih Farsoun asks why the UN entrusted the fate of so many Palestinians to a Zionist movement that had clearly included transfer as its aim. It’s indeed hard to understand why a crime that had been committed in the modern times at the juncture in history has been eradicated totally from the collective global memory and erased from the world’s conscience. It is sad that the diplomatic effort to solve conflict has sidelined, if not ignored this catastrophic event. Half the indigenous population living in Palestine were driven out, half the villages and towns were destroyed and only a few among them managed to return. Such a sidelining is observed other ethnic cleansing like that of non Hungarians at the end of 19 th century, Armenian genocide, Nazi holocaust against Roma and Sinti.
Drive for an Exclusive Jewish State .
Zionism’s Ideological Motivations .
Zionism emerged in late 1880 a in central and eastern Europe as a national revival movement against the persecution of Jews. The colonialisation of Palestine was associated to in the early 20 th century. Eretz Israel as Palestine was known in Jewish religion was a destination of holy pilgrimage, not a future secular state. Many Ultra Orthodox Jews are either non or anti Zionist since Jewish tradition instruct Jews to wait for Messiah’s coming before they can return to Eretz Israel. Zionism secularized and nationalized Judaism. As the Zionists saw it, Palestine was occupied by strangers, meaning anyone non Jewish. For many it was empty land, when they first arrived there in 1882.. Until occupation of Palestine by Britain in 1918, Zionism was a nationalist ideology and a colonialist enterprise. Only 5% of the total population constituted the Zionists. They were vague with their plans, because of the threat of being thrown out by Ottomans. Until 1910,the Palestinian leaders considered Zionists as a part of European missionary, purchasing land and assets. They, sensing the danger, convinced the Ottomans who controlled Palestine until 1918 , to limit Jewish immigration.
A warning about the intention of Zionists came in a story published by Ishaq Musa al Husayn, in Jerusalem, The Memories of a Hen. But the Palestinians didn’t recognize the existential danger The Egyptian literati considered it as an attempt by Europe to transfer its stateless and poor into Palestine. They were more concerned about the efforts by European missionaries and church to take over Holy Land. But the Zionists were very clear with the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine in order to escape the persecutions and pogroms in the West, invoking the religious redemption of an ancient homeland as their means. This was the official narrative. But the reason Palestine was selected from among other possible places was interwoven with Christian Millenarianism and European colonization. Protestant missionary societies wished to see a Christian Palestine and return of Jews was linked to second coming of Christ. This made pious politicians like the British PM during first WW, Lloyd George to act in cahoots with the commitment of the Zionist project. He distrusted and disdained the Palestinian Arabs.
Israeli historiography claims the colonization as a positive endeavor to carry out socialism and Marxist revolution. But this is doubtful since the socialist Zionists substituted nationalism for universalism, their aim was a Jewish rather than a socialist state and it was the Labour Movement with in Zionism that instituted and implemented the ethnic cleansing. The moment British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour gave the Zionists his promise in 1917 to establish a national home for Jews in Palestine, he opened the door to endless conflicts. The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. By 1920 the violent core of the proposal started emerging. Until 1928, the British treated Palestine as a state with in its sphere of influence, not as a colony. They tried to put in place a political structure to represent both communities equally in the state parliament, but when the offer was made, it advantaged the Zionist colonies and discriminated against the Palestinians who were clearly the majority.
Palestinians made 80 to 90% of the total population in 1920 s. So they understandably refused the deal. In 1928, the Palestinian leadership, apprehensive of the increasing immigration and settlements, agreed to accept the formula. But the Zionist leadership now rejected it. The 1929 uprising was the result of Britain’s refusal to implement at least their promise of parity after Palestinians had been willing to set aside the democratic principle of majoritarian politics.
After 1929, the Zionist lobby considerably influenced the British government. This led to 1936 uprising. The British stationed more troops in Palestine and subdued the revolt with ruthless forces, Palestinian leadership was exiled, the paramilitary guerrillas were disbanded, villagers were arrested, killed or wounded and this gave the Jewish forces an opportunity in 1947 to ride into the Palestinian country side. Between the 1929 and 1936 uprisings, the Zionist movement hatc6a grand plan. In 1937, they accepted a modest portion of land from partition of Palestine recommended by British. In 1942, they demanded the whole Palestine for a Jewish state, pure socio culturally and ethnically.
From the outset the British Mandatory officials had allowed the Zionist movement to carve an independent enclave for itself in Palestine. Zionists built an efficient military organization from the start, in the eventuality of taking the land by force. One particular British officer, Orde Charles Wingate, made the Zionist leadership realize the association of Jewish statehood with army and armed aggression as a deterrent against possible Palestinian resistance. He transformed the Jewish paramilitary organization Hagana, meaning defense in Hebrew. He taught the Jewish military forces retaliatory and punitive missions against Arab revolts. In June 1938, Hagana along with the British troops occupied a Palestinian village on the border between Israel and Lebanon. Some Hagana members learned techniques by participating in the Second WW with the British, while those that remained in Palestine continued to monitor and infiltrate the 1200 or so villages that had dotted the country side for hundreds of years.
The Village Files
The Jewish National Fund (JNF), founded in 1901 served as an agency that the Zionist movement used to buy Palestinian land, keep registry of Arab villages. Its head Youssef Weitz, head of settler department, a quintessential Zionist evicted Palestinian tenants from the land bought from absentee landlords, the Mandate system creating new borders where there were none. The impact of eviction remained limited due to scarce Zionist resources, Palestinian resistance and restrictive British policies until the mandate ended in 1948. At that time Jewish community owned 5.8% of the Palestinian land. Weitz turned Village Files to a national project . Yitzhak ben Zvi, later to become the second president of Israel wrote to Moshe Shertock to record the layout of the villages along with exposing their Hebraic origins.
The aerial photos of villages taken by professional photographers and developed in secret facilities hidden from the British and later to the Red House in 1947. By 1930 s the Jews had all the details of the villages, inhabitants, religious affiliations in Village Files. They also had information on who participated in 1936 revolt, who hated Zionists and who killed Jews during the revolt and these fuelled atrocities, execution and torture in these villages. There were Arab informants within the villages and the Arabists or Orientalists were trained to operate them. The position of the villages on hills and the way the locals were considered primitive and barbaric made the task difficult. The work of one man, Ezra Danin made the files a systematic one. He helped include meticulous details of the villages down to the cultivated land, number of trees, names of village heads, imams, their house hold members, to even the number of rooms in their homes. Post 1945, the details became military oriented like number of guards (most had none) and weapons (mostly antiquated or nonexistent ones).
All the people who later joined Danin helped orchestrate eviction and ethnic cleansing of tenants from the land they had been cultivating for years and now bought by JNF. The reconnaissance was carried out from a youth village called Shefeya where people were trained for this. The infiltrators made use of the hospitality of the Arabs for the mission. In 1948, impressed with the fertility of the land of Umm Al Zinat village, it was invaded and inhabitants expelled without provocation. The final update of the village files was done in 1947 to include wanted person list that consisted of national movement members, those known to have travelled to Lebanon or those arrested by the British for being a member of the national committee of any villages. The informants who were Palestinians identified them, and Jews shot them on the spot. Those involved in national movement included whole villages sometimes. Those affiliated with the mufti or his political party were also persecuted. Forming a party or being its member was a crime for the Zionists . The details provided the Zionists with data that Palestinians had nobody to organize themselves.
Facing the British
The British by suppressing the 1936 revolt had already destroyed the Palestinian leadership and its capabilities. This formed a crucial factor in allowing the Zionists to plan their next move. After a danger of Nazi invasion of Palestine was removed in 1942, the Zionists recognized the main obstacle that stood in their way of seizing Palestinian land was the British presence and not Palestine resistance . As the second WW drew to a close, the Zionists tried to push the British out of the country. They planned to evict the Palestinians who formed 75 percent of the country’s population. The plans were secretive. As David Ben Gurion wrote to his son in 1937, “The Arabs should go. But one needs an opportune moment to make this happen like a war “. That opportune moment came in 1948. Thus Ben Gurion is in many ways the founder of the state of Israel and was its first PM. He also masterminded the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
David Ben Gurion, the architect
He led the Zionist movement from 1920 to 1960. His fundamental notion was that future statehood meant absolute Jewish domination. When the British offered a Jewish state in Palestine in 1937, he accepted it even if it was a small portion. To achieve this he used two magic words, force and opportunity. Wait for the opportune moment to deal militarily with the demographic problem of non Jewish majority. He was singular in his view of militarily acquiring land at the time, others believed they could possess the land by buying it. But Gurion was right in that since the amount of land they were able to purchase at the end of the mandate was just 6 %. Gurion was a pragmatic colonialist and a state builder. He knew that the Biltmore Program that clamored for the whole of Mandatory Palestine was not realistic The post war British Labour government under Clement Atlee wanted a democratic solution based on the wishes and interests of people living in Palestine.
Following this the Jewish underground militia organized terrorist attacks by bombing bridges, British military bases, and the British headquarters in Jerusalem, The King David Hotel. Retaliation from the British was mild compared to how they retaliated against the Palestinians during 1937 revolt. The British made the paramilitary to disarm, whom they themselves had armed . The large number of British troops served as a deterrent. It was due to these reasons that Gurion agreed for a reduced Jewish state over 80%of Palestine. He assured the Zionist leaders whom he assembled in a Paris hotel that 80 to 90 %of Palestine was enough for a Jewish state provided they were able to ensure Jewish predominance. This 1947 map that Gurion proposed anticipated almost to the last drop pre 1967 Israel, excluding West Bank and Gaza strip.
The Palestinian leadership was under total collapse after Second WW and the Arab states were hesitant on Palestinian question. The British mandate who crushed the Palestinian liberation movement was now the only one remaining between the Zionists and Jewish state. Even though there was a power vacuum in Palestine, Gurion was clearly concerned about their demographic majority and the military help from Arab states in the event of an armed conflict. So security remained his priority right from the beginning. This remains until today the meta term used by Zionists and Israelis to justify their policies. The policy towards Palestinians is one of retaliation and provocation. Gurion had played a crucial role in shaping this security outlook of Israel. When he was entrusted with the defense portfolio in th22 and Zionist Congress in 1946, he held total control of the security issue of Jewish community. He became the top most leader in the Zionist movement. While he used democratic means to discuss the issues of Jewish community, taking the opinion of other political groups too, when it came to Palestinians, he ignored official structure and relied on clandestine formations.
The major topic on the Zionist agenda, the British mandate, solved itself when they decided to quit Palestine in Feb 1947 and transfer the Palestinian question to the UN. By the end of 1946 Gurion got wind of the British withdrawal and he prepared Plan C or Gimel to be implemented against the Palestinians the moment British were gone. Plan A or Elimelech Plan was made in 1937 at Gurion’s request for takeover of Palestine, Plan B was made in 1946. Both were fused into Plan C. This was an offensive military campaign against Palestine population killing, damaging infrastructure, sources of livelihoods, villages, entertainment sources and so forth. The details are available in the Village Files and Hagana archives. Within a few months, Plan D or Dalet Plan was drafted that sealed the fate of the Palestinians, a systematic and total expulsion of all Palestinians from their homeland irrespective of whether they collaborated with or opposed the Jewish state.
Partition, UN Resolution 181 and its impact .
Palestine’s Population .
At Dec 1947, when Zionists started the ethnic cleansing, there were 70%Arabs and 30%Jews, from 90%and 10% at the start of the mandate. Indigenous Palestinians were seeking right to self determination from long back, but the British mandate Plan for Palestine had the 1917 Balfour declaration along with it that promised to secure a homeland for Jews to the Zionist movement. In 1947, Palestinian was still a majority Arab nation, with 95% of the land cultivated by Arabs. The Jewish immigrants were interested in cities and towns and very few settled in the country side thus making the separation between settlements very large and with the Palestinian villages in between and surrounding them.
Two thirds of Palestine that formed the country sides were inhabited mostly by indigenous people and sparsely by Jews. Where as towns and cities were inhabited almost equally by both. This was an obstacle in creating two different homogeneous states. Logic tells that the three fourths that form the country side should remain Palestinian. The binational one state proposition by the British mandate was rejected by the Zionists. And the matter was transferred to the UN, but by then the interests of Palestinians were totally excised from the process.
UN partition Plan
UN was just 2 years old in 1947, inexperienced. The fate of Palestine partition was entrusted with the committee, UNSCOP, that had no prior experience or knowledge of Palestine’s history. The UN came up with a two state solution with the city of Jerusalem under an international regime administered by UN . This is UN Resolution 181. Demographically a two state solution should have provided the Jews with only 10% of the land. But the UN accepted the nationalist claims of the Zionists and sought to compensate for the Nazi holocaust. Thus the Zionist movement was given a state that stretched for more than half of Palestine. Palestinian leadership was opposed to partition since 1918.
The Arab League, the regional inter Arab Organization and The Arab Higher Committee (embryonic Palestinian government) did not take part in the UNSCOP meeting prior to the resolution and this vaccum was effectively used by Zionists for bilateral dialogue with UN. This pattern will be repeated in almost all future deliberations on Palestinian conflict especially after the Americans became involved after 1967. Upto the present day, bringing peace to Palestine is a concept worked out between US and Israel with out any serious consultation with Palestine.
The UNSCOP rejected the Zionist claim for 80%of the land and convinced them to be satisfied with 56%. Also the Catholic countries persuaded the UN to make Jerusalem an international city and so the Zionist claim for the city was also rejected. Partitioning into two equal halves was carried out against the will of indigenous population. Thus UN violated the basic rights of the Palestinians. The heightened tensions that the partition caused, turned the country into one of the most violent phase in history, followed by the first Arab Israeli war and beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The partition Plan was a pro Zionist one that they devised by influencing the UN when both knew that Palestinians were not willing. The UN ignored the rules of international mediation by proclaiming and forcing resolution 181. They deemed it illegal and immoral, clearly an injustice by forcing a solution on a country to which majority of the population were vehemently opposed. Western news media did not care to report that. Based on the assumption of peaceful coexistence, UN did not pay much attention to the balance of geography and demographics, when the intention of the Zionists was clearly to de Arabize Palestine. Thus UN did not preclude the ensuing ethnic cleansing.
UN map of partition had Palestine divided into 3 parts. 42% of land for the state of Palestine where there were 818000 Palestinians and 10000 Jews. 56% of land for Jewish state where there were 499000 Jews and 438000 Palestinians. The small enclave around the city of Jerusalem to be governed internationally, where both the population were equal in number. The demographic imbalance in the proposed Jewish state must have been a political nightmare for Zionists. There was only one solution, ethnic cleansing. Thus UN by voting in favor of the resolution, contributed to the crime.
David Ben Gurion single handedly led the other leaders simultaneously to accept and ignore the resolution. He had planned and conveyed to others beforehand that they were not obliged to accept the Plan that was unsatisfactory. So irrespective of whether Palestinians accepted or rejected the plan, Gurion had made up his mind early on. What he had in his mind was 80 to 90 % of land for a Jewish state with very few Palestinians if any and with Jerusalem as capital, which he had conveyed in his speech in Mapai centre on 3 Dec 1947. He accepted the recognition for a Jewish state by the UN, while determining its borders by force and not by partition resolution giving Arab rejection of the plan as a reason. His decision to disregard the plan and execute Jewish exclusivity was aired to only a coterie of his confidants in the Consultancy. Gurion’s diary is a source of details of their meetings, in Gurion’s house and the Red House where the master plan was drafted.
Finalizing the Master Plan
The ethnic cleansing of Palestine began in Dec 1947, when Palestinians protested against the UN resolution. Though Palestinians didn’t use much force apart from vandalism Jews retaliated by attacking villages severe enough to cause an exodus of 75000 people. The British High commissioner in Palestine Allan Cunningham reported about the Palestinian protests as unorganized demonstrations of displeasure using stones and sticks to which the Zionists responded with disproportionate force using firearms. On Jan 1948, the all Arab volunteer army entered Palestine villages and fought with the Jewish forces. From Feb 1948, expulsions began. On March 1948, according to plan Dalet urban centers were occupied and evacuated, 250000 evacuated, along with perpetration of massacres, notable being the Deir Yassin massacre. The Arab League decided to intervene militarily after the British left in May1948. Prior to Mar 1948, the Jews were just acting in retaliation to Palestinians. After that, two months before the end of the mandate, the Zionists openly declared that it would take over the land by force and expel the indigenous population. That was Plan Dalet.
Gurion met with a war cabinet and planned to take over the whole country in October 1948. The Zionist leadership was committed in their collusion with King Abdullah of Jordan. As per the 1942 Biltmore plan, the Zionists anticipated the future state to stretch over 80% of Palestine, the additional 24 percentage over and above the 56 percentage offered by the UN,and the remaining 20 percent will be picked up by the Jordanian. This tacit agreement with the Jordanians helped the ethnic cleansing operation to go ahead unhindered. This kept away the Jordanian army, the strongest in the Arab world, except in skirmishes with Jewish forces in the very small part of Palestine.
Zionist military capability was adequate. On the eve of the 1948 war, they had 50000 troops with a small airforce, navy, tanks, armoured cars and heavy artillery. The Palestinian paramilitary outfits were only 7000 in number with some 3000 Arab volunteer forces. The Jewish Communist party made and purchased weapons from Czechoslovakia and Soviet republic. The Arab regular forces stopped receiving arms from British, which was its main source before. Apart from the main Jewish military power two more extreme paramilitary groups helped the attacks, the Irgun(Etzel) that had split from Hagana and headed by Menachem Begin and Stern Gang, an offshoot of Irgun. The special commando unit called the Palmach ,trained to prevent Nazi invasion of Palestine were highly active in the cleansing operations and building new Jewish settlements. It was dismantled in 1948. The Hagana, Irgun and Palmach forces occupied the villages and later transferred them to logistics arm called Field Guards who committed some worst atrocities and cleansing.
The expulsionist dreams and the idea of de Arabizing Palestine were part of the ideologies of Zionists starting from Theodore Herzl. To promote the demographic balance and Jewish exclusivity, Gurion offered two options. One, to the public in local People’s Assembly, to increase Jewish immigration from Europe. But he was sure that this would never make up a majority. So, another covert plan was devised among the limited corps to use force to expel Palestinians. In the territory of their planned Jewish state, there were one million Palestinians vis a vis 600000 Jews.
A 3 day public strike was organized by the Arab Higher Committee to protest the UN resolution of partition. Some of the protests got out of hand like the ambush of a Jewish bus that all Israeli books identify as the start of war. The people wanted to get back to normalcy. Gradually the Arab League Council dispatched arms to Palestinians and formed an Arab volunteer force called Arab Liberation Army. These fuelled a welcome pretext for Zionists to escalate the Hagana operation already under way. The intelligence briefings to Ben Gurion relayed that Palestinians were eager to continue a normal life despite the Arab army trickling. This craving for normality remained typical of Palestinians inside Palestine in the years to come, even in the worst crisis and nadir of their struggle and normalcy is what they have been denied ever since 1948. The wish of Palestinians to live a life of normalcy and not to become embroiled in a civil war posed a problem to ZIONISTS determined to reduce their number. They needed a pretext and fortunately that came when the Arab volunteer forces expanded their acts of hostility against Jewish convoys and settlements.
Two men, Ezra Danin and Yehoshua Palmon who gathered intelligence from Arab collaborators acted behind the scenes in expelling hundreds of villagers , imprisoning them and executing people. The Hagana used threat and intimidation. Villages were attacked at night and villagers expelled .The NYT correspondent reports a brutal attack on the village of Khisas on the bank of Lake Hula in Dec 1947 where 15 villagers including 5 children were killed. He demanded an explanation from Hagana and Gurion issued a dramatic public apology. Haifa,the urban center was chosen then. The Jewish settlers used many methods of intimidation and killed the people there with machine gun fire. Irgun and Stern Gang executed many terrorist attacks while the British turned its face the other way. They bombed a local national committee in Jaffa, Samiramis hotel in western Jerusalem killing many people. These acts became a daily occurrence in Haifa. Hagana’s policy changed from retaliation to offensive strikes. The last British High Commissioner Cunningham in a meeting with Gurion told that while the Palestinians were trying to keep calm, Hagana did all it could to escalate the situation. His protestations were ignored. Gurion took the lack of resistance from Palestinians as their acceptance of fait accompli . The national committee of Palestinians in Haifa appealed again and again to British assuming, wrongly, that since it was the last station of British evacuation, they would be able to rely on British protection at least until then.
When this failed to materialize, they desperately sought the help of Arab Higher Committee who sent a small group of volunteers. But by then the notables and leaders had realized that the moment UN decided on partition resolution, they were doomed to be dispossessed by their Jewish neighbors, the same people whom they themselves had first invited to come and stay with them back in the late Ottoman period, who had arrived wretched and penniless from Europe and with whom they had shared a cosmopolitan city.
Youssef Weitz was the real architect of transfer of Arabs, ethnic cleansing and the occupation of their land by Jewish settlers. His ideas were relayed in a most crucial meeting called Long Seminar. Retaliation was supplanted with offensive tactics. All concurred. One of those present there, Gad Machnes, later to become the director general of Israeli ministry of minorities in 1949 ironically, appeared to show remorse on his conduct in the 1960 a admitting candidly that “if it had not been for the open Zionist military preparation which had a provocative nature the drift into 1948 war could have been averted “. By the end of the meeting Gurion gave the green light to the lethal attacks to cause optimal damage and kill as many villagers as possible. He proposed attacks on south in addition to north, but in the south as a vindictive action in the village of Beershaba where the village mayor had previously refused to collaborate with Zionist settlement. Yigal Allon proposed offensive strikes , and pre emptive strikes as collective punishment and not to spare even children.
The Arab League Army failed to cooperate with the paramilitary groups led by Abd Al Qadr al Huseyni in Jerusalem and Hassan Salameh in Jaffa. The ALA commander Fawzi AL Qawji gave his loyalty to the government of Syria and Iraq who had sent the army to Palestine. The Iraqi government saw Al Huseyni as a rival to Jordan. While the Syrian government was apprehensive of its pan Arab ambitions.
In public speeches, Gurion was melodramatic and full of pathos. He told the audience that the war was aimed at destroying and eliminating the Jewish community never referring to the passivity of Palestinians or provocative nature of Zionist actions. Gurion even went so far as to describe the war effort as an attempt to protect the honor of UN and its charter. This discrepancy between a destructive and violent Zionist policy on one hand and an overt discourse of peace on other hand will recur at various junctures in the history of the conflict but the deceit of 1948 is particularly startling. The decision to make arms purchases, aircrafts, resulted in heavy bombardment of villages. Flame throwers were used to set fire to fields and homes. The oral history of Nakba is full of evidence of terrible effects this weapon had on people and properties. Ephraim Katzir, later president of Israel directed the biological warfare techniques. In the 1980 s by a slip of the tongue, he revealed to the world that Israel possessed nuclear weapons.
The Palestinians remained unaware of the deliberations behind closed doors in Red House. ALA began reaching the villages late and had no time to train the villagers or equipment to defend them. Starting from Feb 1948, villages where defense was nil were chosen, attacked, murdered and occupied. These occured under the British forces still stationed in nearby police stations who turned their faces away. The troops entered the villages at midnight ad planted TNT outside the huts killing the sleeping people including children. The 16 Apr 1948 NYTIMES reported this offensive. The offensive was codenamed Lamed Heh operations. Rural Palestine was defenseless and did not fight back. The Israeli documents released from the IDF archives in the late 1990 s show that contrary to claims of historians like Benny Morris, plan Dalet was handed down to brigade commanders of Hagana not vague guidelines, but as clear cut operational orders for action. The draft given to politicians and army were different. The methods, conditions of surrender of villagers,timing of attacks were different in both. The official draft stated that the plan would be activated at the end of the mandate, but the officers on the ground were instructed to start executing it immediately. This dichotomy is typical of the relationship that exists between army and the politicians upto the present day. The army mis informs the politicians as to its real intent. Moshe Dayan did so in 1956, Ariel Sharon in 1982 and Shaul Mofaz in 2000. Official Israeli historiography describes a threatened Jewish Population in the settlements which moved from defense to offence after its near defeat. But the author, with the help of documents, proves this wrong. Not only were the Jews in no danger but by the end of March 1948, the sporadic attacks and counterattacks on Palestinians now moved toward the systematic mega operation of ethnic cleansing.
Blueprint for Ethnic Cleansing:Plan Dalet
Ben Gurion’s diary offers a stark contrast to the fear he planted in the audiences during public gatherings and consequently the Israeli collective memory. The Zionist strategy of building isolated settlements in the midst of densely populated Arab areas, approved retroactively by the British mandate, was riddled with tension. The first operation under plan Dalet was Operation Nachshon , a forced evacuation of the villages on the western slopes of Jerusalem. While the official plan gave the villages the option to surrender, the operational orders did not exempt any villages. All the paramilitary brigades fought together in this operation, thus paving the way for future IDF. Many villages taken by the Zionists has monuments to the Hagana fighters. The plan D as well as the plaques commemorating the Hagana fighters, tend to dehumanize the Palestinians in Israeli historiography as well as the collective memory, by completely obscuring the fact that there stood a village there and planting the lie that they were enemy bastions and so legitimate targets of destruction and expulsion. With al Huseyni killed by the Jewish troops, his forces and the other Palestinian villages were demoralized and easily fell victim to the Jewish forces. Many massacres were committed, notorious one being the Deir Yassin massacre.
The village Deir Yassin had a non agression pact with Hagana. But it was doomed to be wiped out since it was within the area designated in Plan Dalet to be cleansed. So,instead Hagana sent Irgun and Stern Gang to do that job. The village on the west hill of Jerusalem was occupied on 9 Apr 1948,the inhabitants sprayed with machine gun fire their bodies abused, women were raped and killed. Children and babies were killed too. A total of 254 were killed. This massacre was used to sow the seeds of fear in the mind by announcing through loud speakers to flee or else get killed. Menachem Begin,the Irgun leader at the time described the effect of Irgun butchery on the mind of the people which forced them to flee, in his book The Revolt: Story of Irgun. In a letter published 4 Dec 1948 in NYT, Albert Einstein and 27 prominent Jews in New York condemned the act noting that terrorist bands attacked a peaceful village that was not a military objective and killed the people. Though the Jewish agency later apologized to King Abdullah of Jordan, Begin and his group was proud of their achievements and invited the foreign correspondents to view the heap of corpses and the general havoc in Deir Yassin.
All the adjacent villages were blown up and people expelled, their belongings plundered. Two villages were spared, Abu Ghawsh and Nabi Samuil, because their mukhtars had developed a cordial relationship with the local commanders of the more extreme Stern Gang, even though Hagana wanted to demolish them. After Apr 1948, urban areas were systematically attacked and wiped out while the British and UN stood by and watched indifferently. News about Deir Yassin and massacre in Khirbat Nasr villages reached the urban neighborhoods and they started to flee. This started with the city of Tiberias where 6000 Jews and 5000 Arabs and their forebears had coexisted peacefully . Due to British obstruction, ALA could supply the city with only 30 volunteers. The Jewish forces bombarded the area, rolled down explosive barrels from the surrounding hills, produced frightening sounds through loudspeakers to scare away people. The British after offering to help the people, urged them to evacuate the town thus collaborating with the Zionists. King Abdullah of Jordan was a co collaborator in the sense that , instead of sending troops he sent 30 trucks to help move women and children. The British collaboration will be much more obvious in urbicide of Haifa and Jaffa.
In Haifa, the urban elite fled their homes to Lebanon and Egypt, hoping to return when the situation calmed down. About 15000 to 20000 fled like this. The urban elite had collapsed and the Arab League was unwilling to intervene on behalf of the Palestinians.. The British forces were still stationed there, since Haifa was Palestine’s main port and the last station of British pullout,they were responsible for the safety of the locals. Haifa was included in the proposed Jewish state by the UN, another unfair deal to Palestinians since it was the only port city. Zionists wanted it all to Jews by expelling the 75000 Palestinians. The British troops who were supposed to be present there until Aug 1948, brought the date of departure 6May. At the time of the attack, the British troops were present in greater number and they had the legal and moral authority to impose law and order and protect the Palestinian people. In Feb 1950, Reese Williams, the British Under Secretary of State’s in the House of commons debate stated the British conduct as one of the most shameful chapters of British Empire in the Middle east. Major General Hugh Stockwell, the British commander in Haifa informed the Jews that the British troops would be removed from the buffer zones. The operation was termed Operation Scissors ,done on the eve of the Pass Over. The Palestinian men who trusted the British were told to evacuate, by the British officer. Loudspeakers announced for the people to gather at the famous Ottoman period market place and the people obeyed. They were then unexpectedly shelled from the nearby hill when the panic struck people ran to the gate of the port, a stampede ensued that killed many. Those who reached the boats crowded in them and many died from overturning of the boats. The British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin was furious at Stockwells behavior when he realized the enormity of disaster their inaction was creating in Palestine. The British did not even render aid to the wounded Palestinians.
In the city of Jerusalem too the Jewish offensive took place. The British did not intervene except m the city of Sheikh Jarrah, where the Jewish assault was halted before it was implemented. In the western Jerusalem however the British disarmed the Palestinians promising help but instantly reneged on that promise. Northern and Western Jerusalem were hammered by endless shelling. The Jordanian Arab Legion’s entry slowed the Jewish takeover though finally they did evict the people. The city of Acra ,that even Napoleon found hard to defeat , withstood the offensive despite overcrowding from refugees from Haifa, only to suffer a typhoid epidemic that was ostensibly caused by Hagana poisoning the Kabri spring. The people working on biological weaponry warfare set up by Gurion was called HEMED.
Many villages and towns were entirely obliterated and national parks and buildings like the Tel Aviv University were built later over the remains. Today one searches in vain for any Palestinian life that existed in the villages. There was a section process after conquering a village where by young men between 10 and 30 were separated and sent to prison camps. Some of the villages were visited by UN observers checking out on how the partition was implemented. They closed their eyes to the truth on the ground. Representatives of the western media including NYT were still filling stories about individual villages, but did not dare criticize the Jewish nation just 3 years after the holocaust. Thus the western readers were never given a full picture of the events. Whole villages were wiped off Palestinian maps under the watch of UN observers, British soldiers and foreign correspondents. Sources of the new Israeli historians like Benny Morris reveal condemnation of the atrocities by conscientious politicians and soldiers. They form part of Israeli ethos of shoot and cry, the collective expression of moral remorse by Israeli soldiers. Before the Red House was demolished, the Israeli writer Amoz Oz and his friends invited these concerned soldiers to perform a rite of exoneration. Crying aloud while shooting and killing innocent people was one tactic for dealing with the moral implications of plan Dalet. Villagers were massacred to terrorize the urban people to flee. Two such massacres are Nasr al din and Ayn al Zaytun massacres.
Ayn al Zaytun massacres is best known because it formed the basis of the only epic novel on Palestinian Catastrophe, Baby al Shams by Elias Khoury. The events were also chronicled in an Israeli semi fictional novel Between The Knots by Netiva Ben Yehuda. She was present at the village during the execution and tells the story in a fictionalized way. In some villages there were huge clans like the Zubis that had collaborated with the Jews before So intelligence officers were doubtful whether to evacuate them or keep them. It was decided to leave the villages with large number of Zubbiya clan intact. But years later they reinforced their Palestinian identity by opposing the Zionists. Certain minority groups like the Druze ,a religious sect which is a splinter group of Shia Islam, deserted ALA and the Palestinians to join the Jewish forces. The Jewish forces attacked and occupied the villages that the UN had proposed for the Palestinian state. The Druze forces became the main vehicle for Jews to carry out the ethnic cleansing of Galilee. The Circassians who had several villages in the north of the country also deserted Palestinians to join the Jewish forces. This mixture of Druze and Circassians would form the nucleus of the future Border Police of Israel, the main military unit policing first the Arab areas of pre 1967 Israel and then enforcing Israel’s occupation of West Bank and Gaza strip after 1967.
Galilee had a chance of stopping the attacks because of the presence of a 2000 men strong ALA force there under the command of Fawzi al Qawji. His strategy of dividing the force into small groups to be sent to different parts proved wrong in the presence of a stronger Jewish force with superior military capabilities. He sought a truce later with the Jews and with the blessing of King Abdullah. He could not offer a proper resistance or save the villages. Later Muslim Brotherhood volunteers entered from Egypt, but they were also defeated. The carnage was being reported by local dailies like Filastin and foreign ones like the NYT, even though the news reached the Arab governments, they never moved beyond talking about the need to salvage Palestinians. The Arab League’s General Secretary Azzam Pasha ,an Egyptian politician, at one point hoped the UN to intervene and absolve the Arab states from direct confrontation in Palestine. Jordan was negotiating with the Jews for possible takeover of Arab Palestine. They did gain control over the West bank. The other Arab leaders just kept up the rhetoric of salvaging what was left of Palestine. The Arab League leaders were aware of potential disaster awaiting the Palestinian people but procrastinated and postponed the inevitable military intervention and only were too happy to terminate sooner than later. They knew full well that their army stood no chance against the superior Jewish forces. Egypt and Iraq were embroiled in the war of liberation. Syria and Lebanon were young countries that had just won independence. Not to be sucked into a whirlwind of public opinion of their already shaky standing in their societies the Arab League Council made up of Arab states foreign ministers. The body was ineffective and it dragged out its discussion until the reality became too painful to be ignored and by the end of April when they decided to send troops, quarter of a million Palestinians were displaced, 200 villages destroyed, and scores of towns emptied. When the final decision to send their regular troops was made, all were asked by the council to send arms and volunteers, but not all complied. Only Syria was willing to engage in proper military Preparations also persuading its Iraqi neighbors to send volunteers and to train the Palestinians. The others like Saudis, Lebanon and Egypt promised arms and financial help only.
There were no lack of volunteers. Thousands of young men were willing to sacrifice their lives for Palestinians. The author tends to see this more as an national fervor of young Arabs for a fierce and bold anti colonialist struggle of Palestine like that in Algeria and less as panArabism. Jordan’s King Abdullah stood out in that he intensified his negotiations with the Jewish agency over a joint agreement in post mandatory Palestine. In effect while the 250000 Palestinians were driven out the Arab Legion stood idly by. Jordanians cemented an unwritten agreement with Jewish leaders to partition Palestine between both. Jordanians were to annex the UN designated parts of Palestine and in return promised not to join the Arab military operation. The British gave their blessing to the agreement. The Jordanian army was the best trained in whole Arab world and even superior to Jewish troops but it was confined by the King and the British to act only in those areas the Jordanians deemed theirs, East Jerusalem and West Bank. King Abdullah recognized the Jewish state but worried about them occupying the UN designated Palestinian land that Jordanians had in mind for annexation. The Jewish officer made it clear that as far as Zionists were concerned UN designated Arab state had shrunk to include only West Bank which the Israelis were willing to leave for the Jordanians. The ownership of Jerusalem was contested by both. Gurion was aware that Jordanians would fight fiercely for Jerusalem. When Golda Meir met King Abdullah in Amman he was tensed over the double game he was playing, promising member states of the league to head the military efforts of Arab countries on one hand and striving to reach an agreement with the Jewish state on other. King Abdullah was seen to do everything to take a serious part in Arab efforts against a Jewish state but in practice his main objective was to secure Israeli consent for Jordanian annexation of West Bank. The Jordanians occupied West Bank though Jews tried to wrest it back and Israel occupied WB in 1967. Palestinian leadership had fragmented, most of the leaders fled, and those who did stay were supposed to be coordinated by the Arab Higher committee, the unofficial Palestinian government since 1930 . But half of the committee’s members had now left. Those who remained stood along side the communities to the bitter end.
Israeli and in particular American public opinion succeeded in perpetuating the myth of potential destruction or a second holocaust awaiting the future Jewish state. By this myth and demonizing Arabs especially Palestinians in the eyes of general public in the US and Jewish communities around the world Israel was able to secure massive support for an Israeli state. The reality on the ground was completely opposite. Palestinians were facing massive expulsions. Rather than being preoccupied with the destruction of Jewish community, the Palestinians were simply attempting to be saved from fate .Washington, aware of the expulsions was trying to put forward a novel approach. It suggested to UN an international trusteeship over Palestine for 5 years instead of partition, while a solution could be negotiated between the two sides. This was the most sensible proposal ever made by the US, in Palestinian issue, the like of which has never been repeated. This would have changed the course of the Palestine conflict, had it not been for the highly effective pressure by the Zionist lobby on president Harry Truman. He never wished to antagonize a powerful and superior domestic lobby. Thus Zionists in US learned an important lesson of their power to influence American policy in Palestine and in Middle east. The Zionist lobby succeeded in sidelining State Departments experts on the Arab world and left American middle eastern policy in hand of Capitol Hill and White House., where the Zionists wielded considerable influence. The Arabists of the State Department who were upto date with the NYT news tried to convince Truman. Ben Gurion rejected the US offer. Three days after rejecting the US plan, the state of Israel was officially formed. White House went on to recognize the state and the State department was pushed again to back bench on US policy on Palestine.
British and UN roles in the Palestinian fiasco
Egypt sent its army after the failure of American initiative. The army had only 3 days to prepare and ended in fiasco. Britain remained the last hope for Palestinians but nowhere in the empire did the Albion demonstrate such perfidious behavior. The British knowledge about Plan Dalet is clear cut . After the plan was adopted the British forfeited their responsibility for law and order and withdrew from country sides and towns. The Palestinian people still put the blame on the British complicity despite 75000 troops that were stationed in Palestine. Infact the British helped the Zionists access the ownership deeds and other vital data which they had photocopied before the decolonization process. These were crucial details that Zionists needed for depopulation.
According to the Partition resolution, UN should have been present on the ground to supervise the implementation of its peace plan. UN had pledged to prevent attempts by either side to confiscate the land that belonged to other side. They took no action beyond watching and reporting when the ethnic cleansing started. The British forbade an organized UN outfit to be present on the ground thus ignoring that part of partition resolution. Thus Britain allowed the cleansing to take place in front of the eyes of its soldiers and officials during the mandate period which came to an end on 14 May 1948 .Britain hampered UN intervention that might have saved the lives of many Palestinians. But after 15 May, there was no excuse for the way UN abandoned the people whose land they had divided and whose welfare and life they had surrendered to Jews who since the late 19 th century wished to uproot them and take their place in the country they deemed as theirs.
May 1948 war
Prior to 1948, Jordanians made an agreement to annex West Bank. After the British withdrawal, they insisted that they should have at least half of Jerusalem including the Old City and Jewish quarter for which a fierce battle was fought in contrast to the complete inaction the Arab Legion displayed when they were stationed near Palestinian villages and towns that the Israeli army had begun occupying cleansing and destroying. Though the Jordanian army was the strongest and formidable of Arab forces, it was neutralized from the very first day of the Palestinian war by the tacit agreement that King Abdullah had made with the Zionists. The Arab Legion’s English Commander in Chief Glubb Pasha called the 1948 war a phony one due to this. There was only rhetoric and no action from the Arab League. Egypt sent 10000 Muslim Brotherhood volunteers just 2 days before the mandate ended.This group had vowed to restore Egypt and Arab world to Orthodox ways of Islam, regarded Palestine as a crucial battle field of struggle against imperialism but in the 1940 s they also regarded Egyptian government as a collaborator of imperialism. They were mostly imprisoned and without any proper military training. The Syrian and Lebanese villagers though better trained were less committed. The Iraqi troops were given orders to follow Jordanians and to help them defend West Bank. Some of these troops, were provoked into action due to their politician’s hypocrisy. Britain and France had declared arms embargo on Palestine, the Arab troops found the ammunition from their home countries drying out, there was no coordination between the national armies while the Jews got an unending supply from the Soviet union and Eastern bloc. As for the lack of coordination, that was due to the decision by the Arab league to appoint King Abdullah as the supreme commander of all Arab army with an Iraqi general as the acting commander.
Jordanians never looked back on their complicit role in Palestinian Nakba while , the Iraqi revolutionary leaders who came to power in 1958, brought the Iraqi generals to trial. The outer Jewish settlements subjected to Arab attacks and takeover were left to fend for itself by Gurion. The massacre in the village of Tantura on the Mediterranean coast on 22 May was carried out by the AAlexandroni brigade. The attacks and massacres happened after the villagers surrendered by waving white flags. Most who escaped became refugees in Yarmuk refugee camp Syria. People were buried in mass graves. The story of how the massacre came out in public is noteworthy. An Israeli research student Teddy Katz stumbled upon the massacre while doing his dissertation for Haifa university. He interviewed most of the survivors in 1999, but later his thesis was retroactively disqualified by the university and the Alexandroni veterans dragged him into court for libel. The Golani Brigade also carried out many massacres. The Harel Brigade of Yitzhak Rabin occupied villages in Jerusalem and blew up the houses. The belief that the brigades could seize the northern part of West Bank despite the agreement with King Abdullah and even conduct invasions in southern Lebanon while cleansing vast areas of Palestine reveals the cynicism behind the myth that Israel was fighting a war of survival. The brigade soldiers were infused with a zealous vindictiveness to revenge for the killing of the Jewish settlers and soldiers by the Arab armies. The aircrafts sent by the Egyptian government failed in their missions apart from the few raids in Tel Aviv. The Arab armies proved ineffective like the paramilitary volunteers
Articles 9,12 and 17 from Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted as UNGA Resolution 217 A on 10 Dec 1948 stated, that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention in exile, everyone has the right to leave and return to his country on his own and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property . The same time as this, UN Resolution 194 declared unconditional right of Palestinians to return to their homes. The expulsions and destruction in the villages in Gaza shocked the nearby kibbutzim when they learned how these friendly villages have been savagely assaulted. The UN mediated truce came into force on June 11. But the Israeli forces continued to destroy the evicted villages . By June Israel received new aircrafts to supplement their primitive machine’s. By July aeroplanes were used for aerial bombings. Telegrams about the inefficiency and inadequacy of the paramilitary groups to their commanders were intercepted by the Israeli forces who were well aware of their shortcomings. UN was aware of the summary executions but did nothing. In villages where Druze, Christians and Muslims coex6,only Muslims were expelled. In 1950, after the Pope intervened the Christian families of Nazareth were allowed to move back but they refused to do so without their Muslim neighbors. Forests of pine trees were planted over the destroyed villages. The first truce had come to an end by 8 July. In 10 days, the UN mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte negotiated another one. He was different from the other UN observers in putting forward a proposal to redivide the country into half and demanding the unconditional return of all refugees. For the same reason the Jewish terrorists murdered him in September. The other UN observers just watched the barbarism and killings unwilling or unable to do anything.
Thanks to Bernadette, an UN Resolution in Dec 1948, recommended an unqualified return of refugees Israel had expelled, one of a host of Un resolutions that Israel had ignored. Israel needed a PR campaign to stymie adverse international responses and so began to involve the diplomatic officials in the Foreign Ministry to work closely with the intelligence officers. Thus the diplomatic arm, previously not privy to the details of ethnic cleansing operations, now became involved. The brigades who conducted the campaigns were nothing short of terrorists. One of the villages, Ayn Hawd, was turned into a Jewish artist colony. Marcel Janko, the Jewish artist founder who renamed the village as Ein Hod, wanted it to become the center of Dadaism. But the art form and the Jewish artist community went into decline. Jankos own work fittingly represents the racism shown by contemporary Israeli left in its approach towards Arab culture and Palestinians, a covert, at times nuanced, but nonetheless pervasive racism in their writings, artistic work and political activity . Jankos paintings incorporate Arab figures fading into the background of occupied Ayn Hawd. They are the forerunners of paintings of the Apartheid wall that Israeli artists have decorated with scenes beyond the wall, but omitting the Palestinian villages there
The second truce was broken by Israel exactly one week later. In one of the villages attacked, Ayn Gazal, the holy burial place of a holy man called Shaykh Shehadeh was declared a holy Jewish site by the Israelis in an attempt to stop the journey of memory and worship. The people of this village were rejoiced after the second truce and the day of the annual Ramadan fast, many villagers had come out in the streets to break the fast in coffee houses, when a plane dropped a bomb on the crowd and ground forces occupied the village later. As was the routine, the men were ordered to gather in one place, the hooded informer and the intelligence officer soon appeared, men were selected for having taken part in the 1936 revolt, shot at spot and the remaining villagers were expelled.
Operation Dani was the innocent sounding codename for attacks two Palestinian towns, Lydd and Ramla located halfway between Jaffa and Jerusalem. Lydd once famous for its mosques, after the Jewish occupation became town of Lod ,one of the belt towns around Tel Aviv housing poor people. Lydd was bombarded from the air followed by ground attacks. The Jordanian Legion units were instructed by the British chief Glubb Pasha to withdraw. ALA also fled without much resistance. Both Lydd and Ramla were within the designated Arab state, so the residents expected the Legion to fight the Jews as they fought for East Jerusalem. Later, for his decision to retreat, Glebb Pasha lost his position and had to return to Britain. Deserted by the volunteers and the Legionaries, the men of Lydd armed with some old rifles took shelter in Dahamish mosque in the city centre only to be massacred inside the mosque by the Israeli forces. All over the village 426 people were killed including women and children. The massacre was conducted by Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin. The remaining pe6, almost half of them refugees from nearby villages, were ordered to march to West Bank. The Israelis invited two foreign correspondents, embedded correspondents, Keith Wheeler of The Chicago Sun Times and Kenneth Bilby of The New York Herald Tribune who had written in detail on the Arab corpses shattered in the towns including those of children.
Reports from Lydd might seem strangely familiar for those who have been shocked by the callousness and inhumanity of US troops towards Arabs in operations Iraq. There was a reason why a newspaper report of a massacre of this scale did not provoke a reaction in US. The reports were one sided. Wheeler was astonished by the Israeli blitzkrieg (he ironically used this term) and the resoluteness of Jewish troops and Bilby called them ruthlessly brilliant. London Economist gave a less biased report on how the people were looted, dispossessed, expelled and murdered. Ramla was first targeted in February 1948 by the Irgun terrorist group when they planted a bomb in the market that killed many people. Again in July the town was attacked. Though the notables, after hearing about the fate of Lydd, reached an agreement with Israeli army, the people were expelled, houses looted, men sent to POW camps. The people were forced to march to West Bank with out food or water, many died from hunger and thirst. A question that immediately pops up in our minds is ,three years after the holocaust what went through the minds of these Jews who watched these wretched people pass by. The Arab Legion fought bitterly to safeguard the Latrun area and the defeat and fiasco remained in the collective memory of the Jews until they recaptured the area in June 1967 and expelled the people from their villages. The Jordanian Legion also fiercely defended East Jerusalem.
The city of Nazareth was not depopulated since its Christian population was more and Ben Gurion knew that the eyes of the Christian world was fixed on them. Thus Nazareth is the only Arab city I pre 1967 Israel. But the suspected people were expelled. Another village of Hittin, a scenic one, previously a Druze village , was captured Since the Druze had aligned with the Israelis, showing little solidarity or affinity with the fellow Palestinian Arabs and joined in the destruction of rural Palestine, the village was occupied very easily. Many villages like Hittin were occupied and people displaced when they were beginning to prosper. People were displaced many times over when the villages they had sought refuge were later attacked and occupied. By July the Israelis could make use of their embryonic air force to bomb the villages and expel the villagers before entry on the ground. The aircrafts even bombed the refugees on their way to nearby villages. The Negev Bedouin tribes were expelled and forced into reservations that Israel defined as closed military areas which meant they were allowed to leave only with a special permit. The expulsion of Negev Bedouins continued until 1959. The displaced tribes were again uprooted in 1967.
The second truce was violated the moment it came into effect. The Gaza strip was protected by the Egyptian forces and West Bank by the Jordanians. Had it not been for these two forces, the Jews would have entirely occupied Palestine. The lands they had occupied but legally with in the UN designated Arab state was referred to as by Gurion as administered areas, not part of the Jewish state but governed by a military judicial system. Though the Zionists were worried of UN reaction to their occupation of Arab designated Palestine, inexplicably this was never raised during the momentary interest that international community briefly displayed in the fate of post mandatory Palestine and its indigenous communities. When Israel was accepted as a full member of UN, the distinction of these areas as administered/occupied, dissapeared along with the villages fields and houses, dissolved into the Jewish state of Israel.
UN did succeed in averting an attack on Golan Heights, though it was later occupied in 1967. When it was returned to Syrians in 1974, it was totally destroyed into a ghost town. By September Arab armies had dwindled and Israel continued with its cleansing operations. Israel’s divide and rule policy proved effective in the case of Druze to whom they promised not only immunity but also arms as reward for their collaboration..The Christians were less cooperative. At first they were routinely deported along with the Muslims. Then they were transferred to transit camps in central coastal areas. Despite all Israeli efforts to judaize Galilee beginning from direct expulsion in 1940,military occupation in the 1960 s, massive confiscation of land in the 1970 s and a huge official Judaization settlement effort in 1980 s, it’s still the only area in Palestine that has retained its natural beauty, its Middle eastern flavor and Palestinian culture. Since half the population is Palestinians the demographic balance prevent many Jews from thinking of the region as their own even now.
Israel’s anti repatriation policy worked at two levels. The first one was national, to destroy all villages and transform them into Jewish settlements or natural forests. The second level was diplomatic to avert the growing international pressure on Israel to allow return of refugees. The major international endeavor to facilitate the return of refugees was led by the UN Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC). It was a small committee with three members one each from France, Turkey and US. The PCC called for unconditional return of refugees to their homes as proposed by the murdered UN mediator Count Folke Bernadette. They turned their position to UNGA Resolution 194 supported by most of member states and adopted on 11 Dec 1948. It gave the refugees unconditional return to their homes or accepting compensation. But those Palestinians trying to return to their homes were brutally shot .Lebanon allowed free passage of refugees to their country. The Hashemite kingdom of Jordan later turned back refugees as their number increased. The UN observers became so desensitized towards the plight of the people, refugees passing in front of them. Their silent acquiescence is shocking. They did draw some conclusions in October 1948 writing to the Secretary General that Israeli policy was that of uprooting Arabs from their native villages by force or threat, but the Secretary General did not publish the report. Arab member states tried to bring the attention of the report to the UN Secretary General, but to no avail. For almost thirty years UN uncritically adopted the rhetorical obfuscation of ABBA Eban, Israel’s ambassador to UN, who referred to the refugees as constituting a human problem for which no one could be held accountable or responsible. UN observers were shocked by the ethnic cleansing and looting too. After overwhelmingly endorsing a partition resolution almost a year earlier, UN could have passed another resolution condemning the ethnic cleansing, but it never did and worse was to come.
Gurion coveted to occupy West Bank and Southern Lebanon. Southern Lebanon was invaded by Israel many times 1949, 78 and 82. Israel built Khiyam prison there which has become a byword of cruelty. The massacre in the village of Dawahmey between Beersheba and Hebron is mentioned by the UN report of 14 June 1949. By 1949 an agreement was signed by Israelis with Jordan and Lebanon and by 1950, Palestine was divided into a state of Israel, Jordanian West Bank and Egyptian Gaza Strip
Occupation and its ugly face.
The Palestinians under the military rule of Israel were harassed, their houses continued to looted, their fields confiscated, their holy places desecrated.
Illegal imprisonment of suspicious Arabs was being carried out from the beginning itself. What constituted suspicious was as cloudy as anything. Not having the newly issued ID cards carried a prison term of 1 year. The interned Palestinians were subjected to horrific brutality. They introduced roadblocks to carry out surprise checks on those without ID, a practice continuing till today. Thus freedom of movement was limited. Most of the areas which were out of bounds needed a special permit. Summary executions took place in the POW camps. Most of the Israelis who had murdered the Palestinian citizens escaped justice and remained in their positions. Prisoners were also used for forced labor in labor camps. The Red cross team that visited the POW facilities reported how the prisoners were exploited to strengthen the Israeli economy. The report was a guarded one since the group was well aware of their failure to report on what went on in Nazi concentration camps on which it was well informed. The Israeli prisoners captured by the Arab Legion army was well treated compared to how the Palestinians were treated in POW CAMPS. Ben Gurion was angry when he learned that.
Abuses Under Occupation
The Red Cross sent back disturbing reports of collective abuses of basic rights of people. Worst cases were in Jaffa. The Red Cross official who found a pile of dead bodies after its occupation was told by the military Governor that they were shot for coming out of their homes during the curfew time. Under the cover of curfews and closures Israeli military committed many other crimes. The groceries and stationary items for the Arab people kept by the British government was looted under their watch, and as per the order of Ben Gurion and sent to Jewish settlements. Looting was done by private individuals also. The mosques and churches were profaned and their convents and schools vandalized. House robberies took place in broad daylight.
Ghettoizing the Palestinians of Haifa
After driving out 70000 of Haifa’s residents the 3000 to 5000 left behind were transferred to ghettos.
Source about the incidents of rape include the UN, Red Cross and the letters by Yitzhak Chizik. We know more about incidents of rape in places where these people were there. But that doesn’t mean rapes didn’t occur in the rest of the places. Another source is the Israeli archives that cover rapes where rapists were brought to trial. Gurion’s diary also mentions about the rapes. Jaffa was a hotbed of cruelty and war crimes for Israeli soldiers. Another source is the oral history from the victimizers and victims. In a shocking case of rape and murder of a twelve year old girl by soldiers in a military base, the trial was conducted in 2003, after the newspaper Haaretz published about the incident. The most punishment received was a 2 year jail term for the soldier who killed her.
Dividing the Spoils
The Israelis suggested that all Palestinian refugees should be resettled in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. US and Britain responded favorably to this policy and did not do anything to push forward the implementation of UN Resolution 194 which called for unconditional repatriation of Palestinian refugees. Apart from the resettlement issue, Israel had appropriated the money and property of 1.3 million Palestinians worth 100 million pounds. To avoid international investigations, they planned to sell the property to American Jews. The lands appropriated from the Palestinians were decided to be cultivated by the Jews or sold to private or public sector. Gurion decided to destroy the houses to prevent Palestinians from coming back. He intensified the settlement of Jewish immigrants on confiscated land and evicted houses. The Jewish National Fund and Custodian competed among themselves to divide the spoils. By placing the appropriated lands and houses under an Israel appointed Custodian, the Israelis could sell these properties to public and private Jewish groups and individuals later under the spurious pretext that no claimants came forward. Under government custodianship they became state lands which by law belonged to the Jewish nation, which in turn meant that none of it could be sold to Arabs. .
Land was divvied up between IDF, immigrants, Kibbutzim movements. Land and houses were bought by many of these. JNF bought large areas of land from Custodian until their finances dried up.Even the Palestinians still clinging on to their lands and houses were forcibly evicted and the property bought or sold. The ruling leftist party, Mapam, was so greedy and bought large areas. By 1950, half the dispossessed rural land was in the hands of JNF. The IDF built military bases on the lands. The Arab character of the villages and towns were effaced by construction of spacious park in Jaffa and community center in Jerusalem. Almost all the houses in Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem were demolished . Market places and mosques were destroyed.
Desecration of Holy Sites
Until 1948, all Muslim holy sites in Palestine belonged to Waqf the Islamic endowment authority recognized by Ottoman empire and the British mandate. Supreme Muslim Council supervised them. After 1948, Israel confiscated them and transferred first to Custodian, then to state and eventually sold them to Jewish public bodies and private citizens. Christian churches were also confiscated and sold. Israelis changed mosques to restaurants, bars and shops. The Palestinian people are denied entry into the remaining churches and mosques.
Entrenching the occupation
The 150000 Palestinians who remained in the newly formed Israel were put under a military regime based on British Mandatory emergency regulations, when issued in 1945, Menachem Begin compared to Germany’s 1935 Nuremberg laws.These regulations abolished people’s right of expression, movement, organization and equality. The right to vote and be elected in Israeli parliament came with severe restrictions. It lasted until 1966, though the regulations are still in place. Massive expulsions of Arabs continued until 1953. Bedouins were expelled from Negev upto 1962.
The Land Robbery, 1950 to 2000
The confiscated land was either converted to settlements or Zionist forests. For the public, creating new settlements were accompanied by slogans like “making the desert bloom”. JNF s forestation activities were marketed as an ecological mission to keep the country green. JNF became the sole proprietors of the new forests, it was responsible for safeguarding the Jewishness of even property not owned by them by prohibiting transactions with Palestinians. JNF was granted legal status of land owner on behalf of Jewish states by the JNF law passed in 1953. JNF had overall land share of 13%. But it implemented its policy of guarding the nation’s lands in areas beyond its control due to its role in directorship of Law of the Israeli Land Authority (ILA), which became the owner of 80%of state lands. The rest was owned by JNF, army and the government. Further laws by the Knesset prohibited even subletting of properties to Non Jews. 70% of Israeli land became private land. The primary objective was to prevent Palestinians from regaining ownership through purchase of their own land or of their people. This is why the Palestinian minority in Israel cannot build. The Palestinian Israelis, form 17 %of the total population after ethnic cleansing, they live in 3 percent of land. They are allowed to build on only 2%of land. Many confiscated villages were reinvented as purely Jewish or ancient Hebrew places.
The Memoricide of Nakba
The Re invention of Palestine
The confiscated land was Hebranized by re inventing Hebrew names and history by the archaeological agency and other land agencies like JNF. The naming committee was an ad hoc group in 1920s and Gurion in 1949, turned it into a sub division of JNF. Elad, the settlers NGO is devoted to Judaization of East Jerusalem. Many illegal home demolitions are occurring there. JNFs main challenge is the privatization of land by Netanyahu and Aerial Sharon, but it has a strong hold over Israel’s forests. Villages lay buried under these forests where Nakba denial is pervasive. Refugees are up against the JNF here.
Virtual Colonialism and the JNF
While creating the forests over Palestinian villages, Jews opted for pine trees and cypresses to completely efface the Palestinian flora and to make them look European. They were also meant to support the country’s aspiring wood industry. Olive trees definitely sprout in between the pines and cypresses in places where these conifers were planted to cover Palestinian olive groves. Inside and outside Israel, JNF is considered as an ecological agency whose b lies on making Israel green. It has built national parks, playgrounds, resorts etc. In many of these places clusters of olives, figs , almond and cactuses grows. Many think they’re wild ones, but they have sprouted from the orchards of Palestinians buried beneath. JNF websites guide to conceal the visible remnants of the Palestinian villages .The sites virtual and real displays the official Zionist story of Eretz Israel.
The bustans or the Palestinian fruit orchards are mentioned in JNF sites as a natures creation. The Palestinian history is transported back to a biblical and Talmudic past. The site fancifully meshes history and tourist tips totally wiping the remnants of Palestinian villages that the Jewish troops wiped out within a few hours from Israeli collective memory.
Two obstacles that perpetuate the refugee problem and stand in the way of an equitable peace process are, Israel’s denial of Nakba and a lack of international will.
Nakba Denial and the Peace Process
In a 1949 UN plan to peace, the International Refugee Organization was kept out and replaced by a special agency for Palestinian refugees. This was done by Israel and the Jewish Zionist organizations abroad. IRO helped Jews during Holocaust and Zionists did not want to compare Nakba with that And IRO always recommended repatriation as the first option.
This is how United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) came into being. It was not committed to the repatriation as stipulated by UNResolution 194. It was set up to provide employment and subsidies, building permanent camps, constructing schools and opening medical centers for one million Palestinian refugees who ended up in camps. Palestinian nationalism reemerged centered on right to return. PLO formed from refugees in 1968 was grounded in factual and moral redress of the evils inflicted by Israelis on Palestinians. The PLO faced two denials One, the sidelining of the Palestinian cause by the international community and two , the denial of Nakba and the ethnic cleansing by the Zionists. The Nakba and the refugee issues were consistently excluded from the peace agenda.
Genuine peace attempt by the UN and the international community was undertaken in 1949 in Switzerland according to Resolution 194, that is, Right of return, two state solution, and internationalization of Jerusalem. All parties accepted this, US, Europe, Arab states, Palestinians and Israeli foreign minister Moshe Sharett. This endeavor was deliberately torpedoed by Gurion and King Abdullah of Jordan who had wanted to partition whatever had left of Palestine between themselves. US was embroiled in an election and Europe in cold war, thus giving a winning chance to Gurion and King Abdullah, thereby foiling a true attempt at peace.
Only after 1967, there was another peace attempt. There was total Israeli control all over ex mandatory Palestine. By now Israel’s strength was beyond doubt So peace process gave weight to Israeli side. This completely eliminated Palestine point of view . Israel wanted to move with the year 1967 as the origin of Palestinian conflict, thus eliminating the refugee problem and right to return claims. To push out the Palestinians from the peace process and sought Jordanian Camaraderie with the help of Henry Kissinger. The letter read that Israel peace camp led by the Labour party regards Palestinians as non existent and prefer to divide the occupied 1967 territories with Jordan. Jordanians deemed the share insufficient, but the US supported this until 1987,when the First Intifada arose. The 1977 peace proposal by Anwar Sadat was also favorable for Israel in which it was allowed to keep the occupied territories. Jordanians were removed from the picture after the First Intifada. 1991 peace process in Madrid involved direct talks between Israel and Palestinian leadership of occupied territories with the mediation of US. Madrid Peace Plan was a gift from the US to Arab countries for backing Washington’s military invasion of Iraq in the First Gulf War. But Israel stalled the process.
Oslo Accords of 1993 ignored 1948 Nakba and right to return. The architects were Israeli intellectuals who belonged to Peace Now camp. Yasser Arafat fell into the trap of Oslo Accords. There was vicious cycle of violence. Desperate Palestinians reacted to Israeli oppression in the form of suicide bombings on civilians and military. The frustrated young joined guerrilla groups that promoted suicide attacks as the only means remaining for liberating occupied territories. The intimidated Israeli electorate elected the right wing Netanyahu to power in 1996. He failed miserably in all aspects of governance and Ehud Barak of Labour was in power in 1999.
The right to return
Bill Clinton invited Barak and Arafat to a summit meeting in Camp David in the summer of 2000 for what the Palestinians thought was genuine negotiations over conflicts end. The original Oslo documents of 1993 promised the Palestinian leadership that if they were willing to agree to a waiting period of 5 to 10 years, during which time Israel would partially withdraw from the occupied territories, the final phase of the new negotiations would be on the table. The Palestinian leadership thought that final phase had come to discuss the three essentials of the conflict: the right of return, Jerusalem and future of Israeli settlements.
But a fragmented PLO without the radical Islamist movements of 1980s had to come up with a counter peace plan. With the advice of Adam Smith Institute in London the naive Palestinian negotiators placed Nakba and Israeli responsibility for it as the top Palestinian agenda. The US plan was to allow only the Israelis to set the rules for the peace agenda. Israel’s only offer was to withdraw from parts of West Bank and Gaza, leaving 15% of Palestine to Palestinians in the form of cantons separated by highways, settlements, army camps and walls. Jerusalem was excluded. Refugee problem was eliminated. Arafat refused to sign. For nearly four decades Arafat’s movement had the main aim of seeking legal and moral recognition of the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Israel. UN had already accepted that demand in Resolution 194. For the refusal to sign, Arafat was depicted as a war monger by US and Israel.
This humiliation was exacerbated when Aerial Sharon provocatively visited Haram Al Sharif in September 2000. This triggered the second intifada. Like the first one, it was a nonviolent popular protest. But Israel responded with lethal violence. The world looks on as the strongest military power in the region with its Apache helicopters, tanks and bull dozers attack an unarmed defenseless population of civilians and impoverished refugees. The Jenin refugee camp massacre committed by the Israeli troops in 2002, was to be investigated by the fact finding mission of UN, but Israel refused to cooperate and UNGS Kofi Annan decided to abandon the mission. Camp David fiasco helped bring the issue of Nakba and refugee return to the forefront not just in Israel, but in the US and Europe. Nakba denial was the official policy of the Zionists since they feared the troubling questions of moral legitimacy of the Zionist project over the treatment of Palestinians. That would call into question the very foundational myths of the State of Israel that the state was founded in an empty land and made the desert bloom. And also would trigger moral and existential repercussions for the Israeli Jews who would have to recognize that they have become the mirror image of their own worst nightmare.
In 2003, the Quartet comprised of the US, UN, Britain and Russia offered a blue print for peace that happily adopted the consensual Israeli position as embodied in policies of Aerial Sharon. He succeeded in fooling the West by turning the 2005 military withdrawal from Gaza into a media bonanza. But in reality the army still controls Gaza from outside. It continues its targeted assassinations and will control most of West Bank. Refugees of 1948 are not even mentioned in Quartets peace agenda.
The Geneva Accord is the best option the Israelis proved able to come up with in the beginning of the 21st century. Its validity is doubtful since the proposal was concocted by people no longer in power. It recognizes the right of return provided their return is confined to West Bank and Gaza. It doesn’t acknowledge the ethnic cleansing but provides compensation as an option. The practicality of this option is undercut by the fact that Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth..From iits partner Palestinians Geneva secured recognition of Israel as a Jewish state thus endorsing the ethnic cleansing and Fortress Israel, the most significant obstruction in the path to peace process.
Gaza disengagement plan froze the peace process. Deportation of Palestinian women married to Palestinian citizens of Israel were forcibly undertaken backed by government, courts and media. Knesset in 2003 passed a law prohibiting Palestinians from obtaining citizenship, permanent or temporary residency status when they marry Israeli citizens. Even those who had been married for years were separated. Arab members of the Knesset opposed appealed to Israeli Supreme Court against this racist law. It was turned down.
The demographic problem of Israel were at the center of all elections. Already in the late nineteenth century Zionists had identified population problem as the major problem in fulfilling its dreams. Herzl has written in his diary in 1895 that to shift the Jewish society in Palestine to a Jewish state “we shall endeavor to expel the population across the border unnoticed, procuring employment in transit states, but denying it any employment in our own country “.
Ben Gurion ensured that the number of Palestinians were reduced to less than 20 percent of the total. Israel has boosted its population by two massive immigrations each of one million people in 1949 and 1980s. Ehud Olmert, PM, knew that if the occupied territories are annexed the Palestinian in Israel would increase their number. He planned to annex parts with less number of Palestinians leaving parts with more numbers. This was the explanation for the 670 km serpentine concrete wall, barbed wire and manned watchtowers and the reason why it runs twice the length of 315 km long Green Line, the June 1967 border.
The Zionist enclave was constructed in 1922 by the Eastern European Jews with the help of the British. The colonialists dreamed of massive Jewish immigration to strengthen their hold, but Holocaust killed the number of white European Jews and those who survived preferred to emigrate to US or remain in Europe. So the Ashkenazi Jewish leadership reluctantly prompted one million Arab Jews, Mizrahim, from ME and North Africa. Another discriminatory nature of Israel is seen here against these Jews who were put through an invidious de Arabisation process
In June 1967, Israel conquered the rest of Palestine, along with parts of Syria, Egypt and Jordan. Sinai was ceded back to Egypt in 1979 in return for peace. In 1982, Israel added southern Lebanon. It withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza strip in 2005. The influx in the 1980s of Christians from former Soviet Countries, the increasing foreign guest workers has resulted in an inability to claim an overwhelming Jewish majority They have no issues with this, as their primary goal is to keep the population white, that is non Arab. The black Jews Israel brought from Ethiopia in 1980s were relegated to the poor areas of the periphery and are almost invisible, discrimination against them is high. Though Israeli proposals after 1993 were approved by some Arab countries like Jordan and Egypt, since both are in the sphere of influence of US, they never convinced the civil societies there. Apartheid is popular among the Mizrahi Jews, who are Israel’s most vociferous supporters today. They find themselves leading comfortable lives like their fellow Ashkenazi counterparts, though betraying their Arabic heritage and culture has not brought the reward of full acceptance.
Israel is the last postcolonial European enclave in the Arab world today. The ideology that enabled the depopulation of half of Palestine’s native population in 1948 is still alive and continues to drive the inexorable, indiscernible cleansing of the Palestinians who live there today.