08 June 2018


Sacrificing Gaza: The Great March of Zionist Hypocrisy

Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC BY 2.0

The Great March of Return is a startling, powerful expression of Palestinian identity and resistance. Thousands of Palestinians have come out, bravely and unapologetically, to say: “We refuse to remain invisible. We reject any attempt to assign us to the discard pile of history. We will exercise our fundamental right to go home.” They have done this unarmed, in the face of Israel’s use of deadly armed force against targets (children, press, medics) deliberately chosen to demonstrate the Jewish state’s unapologetic determination to force them back into submissive exile by any means necessary.

 By doing this repeatedly over the last few weeks, these incredibly brave men, women, and children have done more than decades of essays and books to strip the aura of virtue from Zionism that’s befogged Western liberals’ eyes for 70 years.

What the Israelis have done over the past few weeks—killing at least 112and wounding over 13,000people (332 with life-threatening injuries and 27 requiring amputation)—is a historical crime that stands alongside the Sharpeville Massacre (69 killed), Bloody Sunday (14 killed), and the Birmingham Fire Hoses and Police Dog Repression as a defining moment in an ongoing struggle for justice and freedom. Like those events, this month’s slaughter may become a turning point for what John Pilger correctly calls “the longest occupation and resistance in modern times”—the continuing, unfinished subjugation of the Palestinian people, which, like apartheid and Jim Crow, requires constant armed repression and at least occasional episodes of extermination.

The American government, political parties, and media, which support and make possible this crime are disgraceful, criminal accomplices. American politicians, media, and people, who feel all aglow about professing their back-in-the-day support (actual, for some; retrospectively-imagined, for most) of the Civil-Rights movement in the American South and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa but continue to ignore the Palestinian struggle for justice against Zionism, because saying peep one about it might cost them some discomfort, are disgraceful, cowardly hypocrites.

You know, the millions of ant-racist #Resistors who are waiting for a quorum of Natalie Portmans and cool elite, preferably Jewish, personalities to make criticism of Israel acceptable before finding the courage to express the solidarity with the Palestinian people they’ve always had in their hearts. Back in the day, they’d be waiting for Elvis to denounce Jim Crow before deciding that it’s the right time to side with MLK, Malcolm, and Fred Hampton against Bull Connor, George Wallace, and William F. Buckley.


The bankruptcy of purportedly anti-racist and humanitarian liberal-Zionist ideology and ideological institutions reached an apogee with the eruption of various apologia for Israel in the wake of this crime, not-so-subtly embedded in mealy-mouthed “regret the tragic loss of life” bleats across the mediascape. All the usual rhetorical subjects were rounded up and thrown into ideological battle: “Israel has every right to defend its borders” (NYT Editorial Board);  the “misogynists and homophobes of Hamas” orchestrated the whole thing (Bret Stephens); the protestors are either Hamas “terrorists” or Hamas-manipulated robots, to be considered “nominal civilians” (WaPo). And, of course, the recurring pièce de résistance: Human Shields!

Somewhere in his or her discourse, virtually every American pundit is dutifully echoing the Israeli talking point laid down by Benjamin Netanyahu during the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2014: that Hamas uses the “telegenically dead” to further “their cause.” The whole March of Return action is “reckless endangerment, bottomlessly cynical” (Stephens). Women and children were “dispatched” to “lead the charges” although they had been “amply forewarned…of the mortal risk.” It’s a “politics of human sacrifice” (Jonathan S. Tobin and Tom Friedman), staged by Hamas, “the terrorist group that controls [Gazans’] lives,” to “get people killed on camera.” (Matt Friedman, NYT Op-Ed). The White House, via spokesman, Raj Shah, adopts this line as its official response “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” which “intentionally and cynically provoke[ed] this response” in “a gruesome… propaganda attempt.”

Shmuel Rosner takes this “human shields” trope to its ultimate “no apologies” conclusion in his notorious op-ed in the NYT, “Israel Needs to Protect Its Borders. By Whatever Means Necessary.” Feeling “no need to engage in ingénue mourning,” Rosner forthrightly asserts that “Guarding the border [or whatever it is] was more important than avoiding killing.” They want human sacrifice, we’ll give ‘em human sacrifice!

He acknowledges that Gazans “marched because they are desperate and frustrated. Because living in Gaza is not much better than living in hell,” and that “the people of Gaza … deserve sympathy and pity.” But the Palestinians were seeking“to violate [Israel’s] territorial integrity,”so “Israel had no choice” but to “draw a line that cannot be crossed,” and kill people trying to leave that hell. It was “the only way to ultimately persuade the Palestinians to abandon the futile battle for things they cannot get (“return,” control of Jerusalem, the elimination of Israel).”The alternative ismore demonstrations — and therefore more bloodshed, mostly Palestinian.”

Though he acknowledges that “the interests of Palestinians are [not] at the top of the list of my priorities,” Shmuel nonetheless feels comfortable speaking on their behalf. He sincerely “believe[s] Israel’s current policy toward Gaza ultimately benefits not only Israel but also the Palestinians.”Following the wisdom of “the Jewish sages” (featuring Nick Lowe?) he opines: “Those who are kind to the cruel end up being cruel to the kind.”

Fear not, Shmuel, for the pitiable people of Gaza: Knesset member Avi Dichter reassures us that the Israeli army has enough bullets for everyone. If every man, woman and child in Gaza gathers at the gate, in other words, there is a bullet for every one of them. They can all be killed, no problem.”For their ultimate benefit. Zionist tough love.

There is nothing new here. Israel has always understood the ghetto it created in Gaza. In 2004, Arnon Soffer, a Haifa University demographer and advisor to Ariel Sharon, said: “when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. … The pressure at the border will be awful. … So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day….If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist.” And when challenged again in 2007 about “Israel’s willingness to do what he prescribes… – i.e., put a bullet in the head of anyone who tries to climb over the security fence,” Soffer replied with a shrug:. “If we don’t, we’ll cease to exist.”

Soffer’s only plaint: “The only thing that concerns me is how to ensure that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.” A reprise of Golda Meir’s “shooting and crying” lament; “We can never forgive [the Arabs] for forcing us to kill their children.” Ingénue mourning, anyone?

We can point out the factual errors and concrete cruelties that all these apologias rely on.
We can point out that Hamas did not “orchestrate” these demonstrations, and that the thousands of Gazans who are risking their lives are not instruments. “You people always looked down at us,” one Gazan told Amira Hass, “so it’s hard for you to understand that no one demonstrates in anyone else’s name.”

We can point out that the fence the Israelis are defending is not a “border” (What country are the Gazans in?), but the boundary of a ghetto, what Conservative British PM David Cameron called a giant “prison camp” and Israeli scholar Baruch Kimmerling called “the largest concentration camp ever to exist.” It’s a camp that tens of thousands of Palestinians were forced into by the Zionist army.

 The right of those families (80% of Gaza’s population) to leave that confinement and go home is a basic human right and black-letter international law.

We can point out that Gazans aren’t just trying to cross a line in the sand, they are trying to break a siege,and that: “The blockade is by definition an act of war, imposed and enforced through armed violence. Never in history have blockade and peace existed side by side. …There is no difference in civil law between murdering a man by slow strangulation or killing him by a shot in the head.” Those were, after all, the words of Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, when he was justifying Israel’s attack on Egypt in 1967. And they are confirmed today by New York judge Mary McGowan Davis, who says: “The blockade of Gaza has to be lifted immediately and unconditionally.”

We can point out that there can be no excuse in terms of modern international law or human rights principles for Israel’s weeks-long “calculated, unlawful” (HRW) mass killing and crippling or unarmed protestors who were standing quietly, kneeling and praying, walking away, and tending to the wounded hundreds of meters from any “fence”—shootings carried out not in any “fog of war” confusion, but with precise, targeted sniper fire (which, per standard military practice, would be from two-manteams).

As the IDF bragged, in a quickly deleted tweet:  “Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.” Indeed, as Human Rights Watch reports, senior Israeli officialsorderedsnipers to shoot demonstrators who posed no imminent threat to life, and many demonstrators were shot hundreds of meters, and walking away, from the fence.

We can point out that the IDF’s quick deletion of that tweet indicates its consciousness of guilt awareness, in the face of proliferating images of gruesome, unsupportable casualties, of how bad a Rosner-like “no apology, no regrets” discourse sounds. After all, it’s hard, since they “know where every bullet landed,” not to conclude the Israelis deliberately targeted journalists and medical personnel, who were never threatening to “violate [Israel’s] territorial integrity.” There have been at least 66 journalists wounded and 2 killed wearing clearly marked blue “PRESS” flak jackets. And everyone should see the powerful interview with Canadian doctor, Tarek Loubani, who was shot in the leg, describing how, after six weeks with no paramedic casualties, suddenly:
“in one day, 19 paramedics—18 wounded plus one killed—and myself were all injured, so—or were all shot with live ammunition. We were all… away during a lull, without smoke, without any chaos at all, and we were targeted…So, it’s very, very hard to believe that the Israelis who shot me and the Israelis who shot my other colleagues… It’s very hard to believe that they didn’t know who we were, they didn’t know what we were doing, and that they were aiming at anything else.”
It was on another day that this 21-year-old “nominal civilian” nurse, Razan al-Najjar, was killed by an Israeli sniper while tending to the wounded.

Of course, pointing all this out won’t mean anything to these apologists or to those who give them a platform. Everybody knows the ethico-political double standard at work here. No other country in the world would get away with such blatant crimes against humanity without suffering a torrent of criticism from Western politicians and media pundits, including every liberal and conservative Zionist apologist cited above. Razan’s face would be shining from every page and screen of every Western media outlet, day after day, for weeks. Even an “allied” nation would get at least a public statement or diplomatic protest; any disfavored countries would face calls for punishment ranging from economic sanctions to “humanitarian intervention.” Israel gets unconditional praise from America’s UN Ambassador.

Indeed, if the American government “defended” its own actual international border in this way, liberal Zionists would be on the highest of moral saddles excoriating the Trump administration for its crime against humanity. And—forgetting, as is obligatory, the thousands of heavily-armed Jewish Zionists who regularly force their way across actual international borders with impunity—if  some Arab country’s snipers killed hundreds and wounded tens of thousands of similarly unarmed Jewish Zionist men, women, children, and paraplegics who were demonstrating at an actual international border for the right to return to their biblical homeland, we all know the howling and gnashing of morally outraged teeth that would ensue from every corner of the Western political and media universe. No “Guarding the border was more important than avoiding killing” would be published in the NYT,or tolerated in polite company, for that scenario.

Nathan J. Robinson got to the bottom line in his wonderful shredding of Rosner’s argument, it comes down to: “Any amount of Palestinian death, however large, was justified to prevent any amount of risk to Israelis, however small.” Western governments and media have fashioned, and are doing their utmost to sustain, an ethico-political universe where Israel canlay siege to a million people, ‘bomb them occasionally,’ and then kill them when they show up at the wall to throw rocks.”

Is there a way anymore of not seeing the racism of Zionism? Can we just say, once and for all, that the interests of Palestinians—not as pitiable creatures but as active, fully, enfranchised human beings—are not anywhere on the list of Soffer’s or Dichter’s or Rosner’s (or the Western media’s or governments’) priorities, and refuse any of their pitifully disingenuous expressions of concern for the Palestinians’ benefit? Nobody gets to put “For your own benefit,” in front of “Surrender or I’ll put a bullet in your head.” The onlyconcern any of these commentators have for the people of Gaza is that they submissively accept their forced displacement and imprisonment in “the largest concentration camp ever to exist.”

Does the vulgarity of it shock you?

The “human shields, human sacrifice” trope, which all these apologias hang on, is particularly mendacious and hypocritical as used by Zionists. It’s also a classic example of projection.
This is a “human shield”:

It is Israel which has repeatedly used the specific, prohibited tactic of using children as “human shields” to protect its military forces. According to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Israel is guilty of the “continuous use of Palestinian children as human shields and informants.” Besides this namby-pamby UN Committee that no red-blooded American/Zionist would pay any attention to, the High Court of Justice in Israel identified and denounced the “human shield” procedures the IDF acknowledged and defended using 1,200 times. These include “the ‘neighbor procedure,’ whereby neighbors of wanted Palestinians are forced to go into the wanted man’s house ahead of troops, in case it is booby-trapped,” and Israeli “soldiers forcibly position[ing] members of [a] family, including the children, at the windows of [a] home and proceed[ing] to fire from behind them.”

So, when Zionists use a “human shields” argument as a moral cudgel against unarmed civilian protestors, and a moral justification for a powerful army, which brazenly uses children to shield its own soldiers, killing scores of those protestors by the day—well, it’s not a stretch to see this charge is a projection of Zionists’ own pattern of thought and behavior.

Besides being an ongoing tactic of today’s Israeli army, “human shields” and the “human sacrifice” they imply were an integral element of the Zionist narrative—expressly articulated and embraced, with no apology, as a necessity for the establishment of a Jewish State.

Take a look at what Edward Said in 2001 called: “the main narrative model that [still] dominates American thinking” about Israel, and David Ben-Gurion called “as a piece of propaganda, the best thing ever written about Israel.” It’s the “’Zionist epic’…identified by many commentators as having been enormously influential in stimulating Zionism and support for Israel in the United States.” In this piece of iconic American culture, an American cultural icon—more sympathetically liberal than whom there is not—explains why he, as a Zionist, is not bluffing in his threat to blow up his ship and its 600 Jewish refugees if they are not allowed to enter the territory they want:
–You mean you’d still set it [200 lbs. of dynamite] off, knowing you’ve lost?…Without any regard for the lives you’d be destroying?…
Every person on this ship is a soldier. The only weapon we have to fight with is our willingness to die.
–But for what purpose?”
Call it publicity.
Yes, publicity. A stunt to attract attention….Does the vulgarity of it shock you?
More Zionist tough love.

In the face of the scurrilous “human shield” accusation against Palestinians now being used to denigrate the killed, maimed, and still-fighting protestors in Gaza, we would do well to recall Paul Newman’s Zionist-warrior, “no apology,” argument for 600 telegenically dead Jewish men, women, and children as a publicity stunt to gain the sympathy of the world.

Lest we dismiss this as a fiction, remember that Paul Newman’s fictional boat, Exodus, is based on a real ship, the SS Patria. In 1940, the Patriawas carrying 1800 Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe whom the British authorities refused entry into Palestine. While the Patria was in the port of Haifa, it was blown up and sunk by Munya Mardor on the orders of the Haganah, which did not want Jewish refugees going anywhere but Palestine. At least 267 people were killed. The Haganah put out the story that the passengers had blown up the ship themselves – a story that lasted 17 years, nourishing the imagination of Leon Uris, author of the Exodus fiction. This wasn’t a commander or leading organization urging people to knowingly take a deadly risk in confronting a powerful enemy; it was “their” self-proclaimed army blowing its people up with no warning—and then falsely claiming they did it to themselves!Nobody who wouldn’t use “bottomlessly cynical” to denigrate the Haganah should be using it to denigrate Gazans.

At a crucial moment in history, it was Zionists who practiced a foundational “human shield” strategy, holding the victims of Nazism “hostage” to the Zionist “statehood” project – as none other than the publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, recognized and criticized:
I cannot rid myself of the feeling that the unfortunate Jews of Europe’s D. P. [Displaced Persons] camps are helpless hostages for whom statehood has been made the only ransom. …[W]hy in God’s name should the fate of all these unhappy people be subordinated to the single cry of Statehood?
The Exodus/Patria/Paul Newman/Haganah willingness to blow up hundreds of Jewish refugees in order to force their way into a desired territory was an attitude endemic to the Zionist movement, and enunciated quite clearly by its leader, David Ben-Gurion, as early as 1938: “If I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children of Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael, I would choose the latter.” You want human sacrifice?…
(Sulzberger, by the way, “opposed political Zionism not solely because of the fate of Jewish refugees because he disliked the ‘coercive methods’ of Zionists in this country who use economic means to silence those with differing views.” Yes, the NYT!  So change is possible.)

What’s Right Is Wrong

And here’s the thing: You want to call what the Gazans did—coming out unarmed by the thousands, knowing many of them would be killed by a heavily-armed adversary determined to put them down by whatever means necessary—a “politics of human sacrifice”? You are right.

Just as you’d be right to say that of the Zionist movement, when it was weak and faced with much stronger adversaries. And just as you’d be right to say it of the unarmed, non-violent Civil Rights Movement, when it faced the rageful determination of the immensely more powerful American South, to preserve the century-old Jim Crow apartheid that wasits identity, by whatever means necessary.

Princeon Professor Eddie Glaude, Jr. nailed it when, to the visible discomfort of his MSNBC co-panelists, he responded to the invocation of the White House line that it’s “all Hamas’ fault and that they’re using them as tools for propaganda,” with: “That’s like saying to the children in the Children’s March of Birmingham it was their fault that Bull Connor attacked them.”

Civil-rights activists did put children on the front lines, and put their own and those children’s lives in danger to fight and defeat Jim Crow. They knew there were a lot of people armed and willing to kill them. And children, as well as activists, were killed. And those actions weresupported (but by no means “orchestrated”) by “extremist” organizations—i.e., the Communist Party. At the time, conservatives attacked Freedom Riders with the same arguments that Zionists are now using to attack Gaza Return Marchers.

All unarmed, non-violent but disruptive, Gandhian strategies to eliminate entrenched systems of colonial-apartheid rule will knowingly sacrifice many lives to attain their victory. Call it a politics of human sacrifice if you want. I won’t make any ingénue objections. But it’s not a sign of the subjugated people’s cynicism; it’s a result of their predicament.

“Human sacrifice” defines the kind of choices a desperate and subjugated people are forced to make in the face of armed power they cannot yet overcome. A militarily-weak insurgent/liberation movement must use an effectively self-sacrificing strategy of moral suasion. That is now a standard and powerful weapon in political struggle. (Though moral suasion alone will not win their rights. Never has. Never will.)

For Gazans, it’s the choice between living in a hell of frustration, misery, insult, confinement, and slow death, or resisting and taking the high risk of instant death. It’s the choice faced by people whose “dreams are killed” by Israel’s siege and forced expulsion, and who are willing to risk their lives  “for the world’s attention.” Young men like Saber al-Gerim, for whom, “It doesn’t matter to me if they shoot me or not. Death or life — it’s the same thing.” Or the one who told Amira Hass: “We die anyway, so let it be in front of the cameras.” Or 21-year-old Fathi Harb, who burned himself to death last Sunday. Or Jihadi al-Najjar, whohad to make the choice between continuing to care for his blind father (“He was my sight. He helped me in everything, from going to the bathroom to taking a shower to providing for me…I saw life through Jihadi’s eyes.”) or being killed by an Israeli sniper while, as his mother Tahani says “defending the rights of his family and his people.”

Tough choices, to get the world’s attention. This is the kind of choice imposed on the untermenschen of colonial-apartheid regimes. The only weapon they have is their willingness to die. But Gazans won’t get the sympathetically-anguished Paul Newman treatment. Just “bottomlessly cynical.”

Paul’s choice, Sophie’s choice, is now Saber’s and Jihad’s and Fathi’s, and it’s all bad. Maybe some people—comrades and allies in their struggle—have a right to say something about how to deal with that choice. But the one who doesn’t, the one who has no place to say or judge anything about that choice, is the one who is forcing it. Those who are trying to fight their way out of a living hell are not to be lectured to by the devil and his minions.

So, yes, in a very real sense, for the Palestinians, it is a politics of human sacrifice—to American liberals, the gods who control their fate.

By choosing unarmed, death-defying resistance, Palestinians are sacrificing their lives to assuage the faux-pacifist conscience of Americans and Europeans (particularly, I think, liberals), who have decreed from their Olympian moral heights that any other kind of resistance by these people will be struck down with devastating lightning and thunder.

Funny, that these are the same gods the Zionists appealed to to seize their desired homeland, and the same gods the civil-rights activists appealed to to wrest their freedom from local demons of lesser strength. Because, in their need to feel “sympathy and pity,” the sacrifice of human lives seems the only offering to which these gods might respond.

The Nakba Is Now

The Israelis and their defenders are right about something else: They cannot allow a single Gazan to cross the boundary. They know it would be a fatal blow to their colonial-supremacist hubris, and the beginning of the end of Zionism—just as Southern segregationists knew that allowing a single black child into the school was going to be the beginning of the end of Jim Crow. Palestinians gaining their basic human rights means Israeli Jews losing their special colonial privileges.

As Ali Abunimah points out, Arnon Soffer was right, when he said: “If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist,” and Rosner, when he said the Gazans threatened the “elimination of Israel.” To continue to exist as the colonial-apartheid polity it is, Israel must maintain strict exclusionist, “noright of return,” policies. Per Abunimah: “the price of a ‘Jewish state’ is the permanent and irrevocable violation of Palestinians’ rights…If you support Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state” in a country whose indigenous Palestinian people today form half the population, then you… must come to terms with the inevitability of massacres.”

What’s happening in Gaza is not only, as Abunimah says, a “reminder… of the original sin of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the creation of a so-called Jewish state,” it is a continuation of that unfinished work of the devil. The Nakba is now.

I’m all for everybody on both sides of the issue to be aware of the stakes and risks in this struggle, without any disingenuous denials.

Whether you sympathize with, or denigrate, the choices of people who put their own, their comrades’, and even their children’s, lives at risk is not determined by whether some tactical choices can be characterized as “human shields, human sacrifice”; it’s determined by what they’re fighting for, and what and whom they are fighting against, and where your solidarity lies.

Stage Left

Here’s the core of the disagreement about Gaza (and Palestine in general): There are those—they call themselves Zionists—who think the Palestinians deserve to have been put in that concentration camp, and who stand in solidarity with the soldiers who, by whatever means necessary, are forcing them to stay there. And there are those—the growing numbers who reject Zionism—who stand in solidarity with every human being trying to get out of that camp by whatever means necessary.

There’s a fight—between those breaking out of the prison and those keeping them in; between those seeking equality and those enforcing ethno-religious supremacism; between the colonized and the colonizer. Pick a side. Bret Stephens, Shmuel Rosner, and Tom Friedman have. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Breitbart have. ABC, CBS, (MS)NBC, and Fox have. The Democrats and Republicans and the Congress and the White House have. And they are not shy about it.

It’s past time for American progressives to clearly and unequivocally decide and declare which side they are on. It’s time for professedly humanitarian, egalitarian, pro-human rights, anti-racist, and free-speech progressives to express their support of the Palestinian struggle—on social media, in real-life conversation, and on the street.

It’s time to firmly reject the hypocritical discourse of those who would have been belittling any expression ofsorrow and outrage over Emmet Till, Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman, and the four black schoolgirls killed in Birmingham, while “ingénue mourning” the terrible moral quandary in which those disrupters had put Bull Connor’s boys. Don’t shrink from it, talk back to it—every time.Make them ashamed to be defending colonialism and apartheid with such patently phony arguments.

Politically? At a minimum, demand of any politician who seeks your vote: End the blockade of Gaza, immediately and unconditionally. Support BDS. Refuse any attempt to criminalize BDS and anti-Zionism. Stop blocking UN and ICC actions against Israeli crimes. Restrict arms sales to Israel. Reject the hypocritical Zionist apologetics. Refuse any attempt to censor or restrict the internet. (This last is very important. Nothing has threatened Zionist impunity more than the information available on the internet, and nothing is driving the demand to censor the internet more than the Zionists’ need to shut that off.)

This is a real, concrete, important resistance. What’ll it cost? Some social discomfort? It’s not sniper fire. Not human sacrifice. Not Saber’s choice.

Are we at a turning point? Some people think this year’s massacre in Gaza will finally attract a sympathetic gaze from the gods and goddesses of the Imperial City. Deliberately and methodically killing, maiming, and wounding thousands of unarmed people over weeks—well, the cruelty, the injustice, the colonialism is just too obvious to ignore any longer. And I hope that turns out to be so. And I know, Natalie Portman and Roger Waters and Shakira, and—the most serious and hopeful—the young American Jews in groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and IfNotNow. There are harbingers of change, and we must try.

I also know there is nothing new here. Thirty years ago, a doctor in Gaza said: “We will sacrifice one or two kids to the struggle — every family. What can we do? This is a generation of struggle.” It was obvious thirty years ago, and forty years before that. TheNakbawas then. The Nakbais now. Was it ever not too obvious to ignore?

My mother was an actress on Broadway, who once came to Princeton University to share the stage, and her professional skills, with Jimmy Stewart and other amateur thespians. She played the ingénue.
 Me, I’m not so good at that.

By all means, regarding Palestine-Israel and the sacrifices and solidarity demanded: No more ingénue politics.
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Jim Kavanagh edits The Polemicist.

26 May 2018


Isolate Apartheid Israel – Cut Diplomatic Ties

By Roshan Dadoo• 24 May 2018 from the Daily Maverick
 A reply to Malcolm Ferguson’s Op-Ed in Daily Maverick, 21 May 2018.
The targeted shooting of peaceful protesters in Gaza by the Israeli Defence Force that left around 60 people dead and many hundreds wounded on 14 May 2018 has been seen by the world for what it is – a coldblooded massacre.

Malcolm Ferguson praises the South African government for taking the step of recalling our ambassador from Tel Aviv in response to this slaughter. However, the main objective of his opinion piece is to discredit ANC policy and government statements to downgrade the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv and he simply cannot contain his disdain for a foreign policy that takes action in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Ferguson addresses South African Zionists, seeking to bring them closer to government so they might strengthen their influence on government policy. He does so by arguing that it is better not to criticise, but rather to welcome the recall of our ambassador in order to constrain the South African government from taking more substantial action against Israel.

Given that the majority of South Africans support the ambassadorial recall following the Gaza massacre (80% according to a poll Ferguson refers to), he cautions that Jewish institutions and individuals might come under attack from unidentified “extremists” if the government does not take this action at the very least. Raising the spectral figure of “extremists” in South Africa is a disingenuous attempt to punt his position and play on the fears of anti-Semitism. It is tainted with racism, as the only possibility for Ferguson is that extremism comes from the Palestinian side.

He then attempts to ingratiate himself with the current South African administration, flattering Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and President Cyril Ramaphosa as so much more “reasonable” and “informed” than the Zuma-led government. He is trying to discourage them from taking any further sanction against Israel, which would make them “unreasonable” and by implication populist, like Zuma.

However, the ANC resolution, passed at the December 2017 Conference, calls for “an immediate and unconditional downgrade”. Ferguson does not consider that while this resolution was tabled during the Zuma ANC presidency it was unanimously adopted, even by Ramaphosa supporters, and is stated in the closing Conference Declaration following the election of President Ramaphosa. Indeed, Minister Naledi Pandor, in the debate following State President Ramaphosa’s SONA address in February, went further and said that South Africa will “cut diplomatic ties” with Israel. President Ramaphosa has subsequently, on more than one occasion, reminded South Africans of the downgrade resolution as a matter that government has to deal with.

Ferguson also addresses himself to ANC supporters and officials, arguing that maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel will make us a serious player in the “Palestinian-Israeli problem”.

First, the “problem” is that Israel is a colonial state that has refused to fulfil any of the UN resolutions since 1948 or its commitments under the 1993 Oslo Peace Process that was supposed to have led to a two-state solution.

Second, he argues that if we cut ties with Israel they will not allow us to operate our diplomatic mission in the West Bank, which only goes to show exactly how Israel holds total control of the Palestinian territories. It is also questionable given that both Venezuela and Bolivia cut diplomatic relations with Israel but maintain their Ramallah missions. Furthermore, it would be a signal to the international community of South Africa’s weakness if we countenanced this consideration.

Third, we cannot be held to ransom over a seat at the UN Security Council when other countries that do not have diplomatic relations – or do not even recognise the state of Israel – have held such seats. Currently Bolivia and Kuwait have non-permanent seats and do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Fourth, why should the fact that some of Israel’s neighbours have diplomatic relations influence our foreign policy? Our foreign policy, as Minister Sisulu has argued, should be based on our values and principles as a country – irrespective of whether “neighbouring states” have the same values or not. Indeed, “neighbours” such as Jordan and Egypt are not democratic states, and our foreign policy should not be influenced by dictatorships.

The crux of the matter is that Ferguson has always considered it “futile” for South African diplomacy to act in solidarity with the Palestinian people. I worked with him in the early 2000s when he was Chief Director: Middle East in the then Department of Foreign Affairs. At that time he was most concerned with ensuring that there was no trade or diplomatic break with Israel, in spite of acts of Israeli violence against the institutions of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank, the infrastructure in Gaza and, of course, the Palestinian people.

Although we held a number of engagements that brought together senior Palestinian and Israeli negotiators among others, such as the Spier process, it was increasingly evident that Israel had no interest in moving towards genuine negotiations on the final status issues to create two states as envisaged under the Oslo Peace Process. Israel therefore was not taking us seriously, and indeed used the fact that we were trying to play a role of “neutral” mediator to pressure the South African government into silencing criticism of Israel and to increase trade relations. More recently, Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that there will never be a Palestinian state or that such a “state” will have no control over its borders, airspace, water or gas resources and security. In short, Israel seems willing only to recognise a Bantustan that will have fewer powers than did Bophuthatswana or Transkei.

The fact is that the Oslo Peace Process has been completely torpedoed by Israel. Over the past 25 years Israel has continued to build settlements, built an illegal wall and established checkpoints around the constantly expanding settlements in the West Bank, creating Bantustans and restricting Palestinian movement within areas that were supposed to have formed part of a Palestinian State. It has laid siege to Gaza – a “toxic slum” as UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called it last week – and raised much of it to the ground in numerous bombardments, most cruelly in Operation Cast Lead (2008-9) and in 2014.
And since 30 March 2018, when Palestinian civil society in Gaza started its peaceful Great March of Return protest, Israel has killed at least 113 Palestinians and wounded more than 12,000 people – many maimed for life.

In light of Israel’s intransigence and aggression, it is little wonder that the vast majority of South Africans, including ANC members, have demanded that South Africa strengthen solidarity with the Palestinians and take actions to isolate apartheid Israel.

It was only by internationally isolating apartheid South Africa in support of popular uprisings, strikes and armed struggle that we were able to put enough pressure on the regime to come to the table and negotiate a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it.

Likewise, we need to intensify pressure on our government to immediately cut diplomatic ties with Israel, signalling to the world – and especially to the Palestinian people – that we have not forgotten their support for us during our Struggle. We must heed the call of the international BDS movement and demand complete trade sanctions: sport, cultural and academic boycotts; disinvestment and an arms embargo in support of Palestine that belongs to all who live in it.

Acting resolutely in solidarity with the Palestinian people is far from what Ferguson calls “mouthing of cheap slogans and boycotting engagement with the Israelis as an expression of outrage”. Rather, it will demonstrate confidence in our “international prestige” by standing for equal rights, justice and a sustainable peace while encouraging people in other countries and multilateral fora to do similarly.

It is these actions that will achieve exactly what Ferguson purports to support: crafting our foreign policy as an expression of our own constitutional aspirations. 


Roshan Dadoo grew up in exile and was an activist in the Anti Apartheid Movement and ANC structures. She worked for the South African High Commission in the UK from 1996-2000 when she joined the Department of Foreign Affairs (now Department of International Relations and Co-operation). She served in the Middle East section, the Deputy Ministry and as Political Counsellor in the South African Embassy in Algeria (2004-2008). From 2009 to 2015 Roshan worked for the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa and is currently studying for a Masters degree in Development Studies. She has been active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK and in South Africa.

23 May 2018


This article comes from Tony Greenstein's blog. It is one of the best analyses I have yet read, and it is all the better because it makes mincemeat of the mainstream media with their pathetic bleatings about what is going on in Palestine and the ongoing disaster for the Palestinian people in their native land and the stealing thereof of an occupying settler nation which has really got no claim to the land whatever.

When is the world going to sit up and do something about it - if ever? And at the moment the world means the US of A.

As a South African, I have seen the worst aspects of an apartheid state, but Israel has managed to amplify it a thousand times over.


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Israel/Palestine is already one state –the only people who talk of 2 States are Zionists

The Death of the 2 State Illusion

Those Who Support 2 States

Support an Apartheid Solution

Another brilliant article from Israel’s premier journalist, Gideon Levy.  It can only be a matter of time, perhaps when Netanyahu has finally silenced the few remaining NGO’s and human rights organisations that attention will be turned to Levy and Amira Hass and the other journalists who aren’t prepared to play ball with Zionism.
There are some gullible fools and political cowards unfortunately in the Palestine solidarity movement, who still call for a 2 State solution  These naive souls, amongst which one must count the Executive of the Palestine Solidarity  Campaign, who sincerely believe that the Israeli government is going to agree to a separate Palestinian state.
It is difficult to know whether these people actually believe this, because it is always hard to get inside someone’s head.  The fact that Netanyahu stated at the last election that there would be no  2 state solution, the fact that there is no member of his ruling coalition who calls for a Palestinian state is irrelevant.  When Tzipi Hotoveli, Israel’s religious nut of a Deputy Foreign Minister and a member of Likud states that “We need to return to the basic truth of our rights to this country,” she said. “This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologise for that.” what part of that I wonder do these people not understand?
The Israeli Labour Party also doesn’t believe in a 2 state solution.  Sure they pay lip service to it but the position as outlined by their leader Avi Gabbay is opposition to the dismantlement of the settlements.  The settlements have been so constructed as to prevent a 2 state solution and without their being dismantled any Palestinian state would have more holes in it than a Swiss cheese.
The Times of Israel of 2nd November 2017 summed up the situation perfectly: After pro-settlement comments, Gabbay reiterates support for two-state solution
Of course I would be less than honest if I didn’t confess to opposing 2 states on principle.  The root cause of the problem in Palestine is not two peoples fighting over one piece of land as liberal Zionists pretend but a settler colonial movement which displaced an indigenous population and erected a racial supremacists state as in South Africa.  A 2 state solution, even were it feasible, would be a monstrosity.  Israel would be even more racist and aggressive.  The Palestinian state, which would be a Bantustan in practice, would be a horrific police state whose main job was to police its own subjects in order to keep Israel satisfied, because there would be a massive power imbalance between them.  Indeed the Palestinian ‘state’ would be something like the quisling entity that the Palestinian Authority operates at the moment.
That is why I opposed, in 1993, the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO.  At the time I resigned from PSC over the issue when, at an emergency conference, two-thirds of the meeting agreed to support them. My views on them are best represented in a debate with Julia Bard of the Jewish Socialists Group in the pages of National Labour Briefing, A Mess of Potage in October 1993.
In the article I said that:
The Accord divides the Palestinian nation in two. It excludes not only _ those Palestinians living inside pre-1967 Israel, but the two million Palestinians who were exiled in 1948 and 1967. It explicitly rules out the right of return. Israel continues to control the Allenby bridge to Jordan.

Under the Accord Israel will retain control over land, water and resources. The Palestinians will collect their own garbage, control education and health and police themselves. In effect, the prison guards will be removed from inside to outside the prison walls.
Zionism was not founded in order to establish a state in half the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael).  It claims the whole land.  Indeed the biblical Land of Israel extends up to the Litani river in Lebanon and down to the Nile in Egypt and across to the Euphrates in Iraq, so there is quite a way to go.  The idea of stopping half way and handing over 22% of the territory of Mandate Palestine is absurd.
Of course there are some people who talk about 2 states who know full well that it will never be achieved.  Firstly Zionist organisations in this country, in particular Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement but also the Board of Deputies of British Jews support 2 states.  However these same organisations support all Israel’s repressive actions in the Territories.  They all support the Occupation wholeheartedly.  Yet unless there is sufficient opposition to the military occupation, there is no chance that Israel will unilaterally hand over part of the West Bank for a state. 
We saw that last week when the Board of Deputies and Labour Friends of Israel rushed to support the Israeli army's gunning down of 60 unarmed Palestinian demonstrators whilst blaming the violence, not on those who did the shooting but on the victims (for which Hamas is the all-purpose address).
It should therefore clear that these organisations are hypocritical liars.  They know that there will never be a 2 state solution as does the pro-Zionist Alliance for Workers Liberty, an allegedly Trotskyist organisation.  So why do they support 2 states?  Because that is the best way to undermine calls for the only possible solution to Israeli Apartheid, a democratic, secular state in the whole of Palestine.  Support for 2 States is also a way of opposing the call for equal rights for all those under Israeli rule, i.e. an end to the present Apartheid situation.
There are of course a second group, such as Jeremy Corbyn, who have no analysis worthy of the name and simply oppose Israeli repression and call for a 2 State Solution because they fondly imagine that the ‘international community’ will put pressure on Israel to conform.  However it should be obvious even to these people that the United States, which is in essence the ‘international community’ has no intention whatsoever of pressurising Israel to agree to a 2 state solution.

Emily Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary also calls for 2 States.  I have no doubt whatsoever that she does not believe it is possible.  She is an ardent Zionist and a member of Labour Friends of Israel.  As such her posturing on the issue is entirely cynical.  She is above all a supporter of the Atlantic Alliance and the special relationship with the USA.  Israel is integral to that.
The reality today is that there is already one state.  As Gideon Levy says, there is no border between pre-1967 Israel and today’s Greater Israel.  The only question therefore is whether or not all those living under Israeli rule should be granted equal rights.  Those who oppose this are supporters of the present Apartheid situation.  Of course this will mean that there will no longer be a Jewish State.   That is not such a loss.  What is a Jewish state?  Does a state pray to god or put on tefillin (phylacteries)?  A Jewish state simply means a state where Jews have more rights than non-Jews.  It is a Jewish supremacist state and no one who calls themselves a socialist should have anything to do with such a concept.
Tony Greenstein 
A debate on the Oslo Accords in Labour Briefing in October 1993 with the Jewish Socialist's Julia Bard
Calling Israel a democracy when less than half its subjects live in freedom is a propaganda trick that has worked better than one would have thought
Gideon Levy   Apr 15, 2018 
FILE PHOTO: Arrests at the Gaza border, 2007AP
With the approach this week of celebrations marking Israel’s 70th birthday, 12 million people live in the country. Some of them are citizens, some are residents, some are detainees, and all are subjects. Everyone’s fate has been determined by the country’s governing institutions.

On this Independence Day, we have to acknowledge that the country’s genuine borders are the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Jordan River to the east, including not only the West Bank but also the Gaza Strip. Israel controls all this territory and everyone who lives there through various and sundry means, even if from a legal standpoint there’s no mention of this.

Forget the law. Israel long ago abandoned it. In practice it rules Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the case of Gaza, it suffices with control from the outside, which is more convenient. On Israel’s 70th birthday, the time has come to recognize that the occupation of the territories in 1967 is not temporary. It was never meant to be and never will be. The 1967 border has been erased. The distinction between 1948 and 1967 doesn’t exist.
It was only in the state’s first 19 years, a blink of an eye from a historical perspective, that the country existed without the territories. For the balance of its history, the occupation has been an inseparable part of it, its character, its government, its essence, its DNA. What existed here for a brief time and is gone will not be coming back.

It’s critical that we rip the cover off the alleged transience of the occupation, which for some Israelis has been a sweet delusion and for others a dangerous threat. There is an abyss dividing a temporary occupation and a permanent one.

In its early years, Israel was small in area and population, but its youth, like everyone’s youth, quickly passed. For most of its existence, Israel hasn’t resembled the girl we remember. Its days as a small country with a Jewish majority have passed and the clock can’t be turned back. It’s no longer the small woman of our dreams. It’s the big woman of our nightmares.

On Israel’s 70th birthday, the time has come to recognize that Israel is a binational state under whose control two peoples live, equal in size. It maintains separate governing systems for them: a democratic one for Jews, discrimination for Israeli Arabs, and dictatorship for Palestinians. It’s not an equal democracy for all its subjects, meaning, of course, that it’s not a democracy.

There’s no such democracy where what’s allowed for one people isn’t for another. Therefore, on its 70th anniversary, Israel being called a democracy when fewer than half its subjects live in freedom is nothing but a propaganda trick that has worked to a greater extent than one would have thought.

It’s not only Israelis who deny and repress this reality. It’s more convenient for the Western world, too, to look at Israel’s more enlightened side, to ignore its dark side and continue to call it a democracy. After all, in the West, what country hasn’t also had such a colonialist back yard? And who could really confront Israel, a country that rose from the ashes?

Israel is therefore the darling of the West, despite the hollow lip service to the Palestinians, and so the West too has embraced the excuse of the occupation’s temporary nature: “Just wait, wait a little longer for the ‘peace process’ and the Israelis will be pulling out of the territories.” So it’s important that the lie of the transience of the occupation be exposed.

If the occupation isn’t temporary, it would be clear that Israel isn’t a democracy but rather an apartheid state par excellence. Two peoples and two systems of rights. That’s was apartheid looks like, even if it hides behind excuses ranging from temporariness to security grounds, from the right to the land to the concept of the chosen people, including the divine promise and messianic redemption.

These excuses don’t change the picture. In South Africa, no doubt an apartheid state, the regime invoked similar excuses to justify its existence. No one bought them. But with Israel there actually are buyers. One difference between South Africa and Israel is that Israel is stronger, more sophisticated and better connected to the world. And it has done a better job obscuring its apartheid.

It’s big, strong and nondemocratic. Israel oppresses the Palestinians through various means with one result: There isn’t a single free Palestinian in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Their fate is determined by the Israeli government in Jerusalem and the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, and they have no rights at either one. Is this not apartheid? Is it democracy?

And now on to the showy and proud Independence Day ceremonies planned by Culture Minister Miri Regev. Let’s not rain on her parade.                

16 May 2018


Palestine is being destroyed and the world sits around and does nothing,

How much longer is this genocide going to continue? Until every Palestinian has been destroyed and Israel takes over the whole of Palestine? They already control it and starve the Palestinians not so slowly any more.

Whether the Israelis like the comparison or not, what they are doing is what the Nazis did to Jews and other minority groups in the years between 1933 and 1945.

The breakup of Yugoslavia and the wars in the 1990s resulted in more genocides of the Nazi type and the Myanmar murder of the Rohingyas is carrying on the tradition of genocide around the world.

The genocides on the African continent have gone on for a long time and we cannot assume that they will stop any time soon.

The United States of America is helping to do the same in the middle east - in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other countries around the area and the question needs to be asked and asked and asked - why is the rest of the world sitting and watching and doing nothing.

Is it white people against the rest of the world? or is it some other strange anomaly in the human species?

What hope is there when there have been ongoing wars since the end of what was termed the second world war?

The Palestinian people have suffered intolerably and no country has lifted a finger to give them any assistance whatever. They have all just helped to make the matter worse and starve them out of existence altogether.

If people who have so many resources to help other people refuse to do so, we will all sink into the mire and maybe the human species will destroy itself altogether.

If that happened, at least there would be no people left to suffer anywhere any more.

This cartoon of Michael Leunig's appeared in The Age of 17 MAY 2018

                                              ISRAEL - GAZA 2018


The top paragraph of Leunig's cartoon read:

And Cain said to Abel his brother, "Let us go out to the field," and when they were in the field Cain rose against Abel and killed him. 

The bottom paragraph of the cartoon reads:

And the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel, your brother?" And he said "I do not know: am I my brother's keeper?" And the Lord said "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil..."


Letters from The Age 17 MAY 2018:

Gaza: Israel's security relies on fair deal for Palestinians

Instead of blaming the Palestinian leadership, Malcolm Turnbull should show some moral spine and reprimand Israel for killing unarmed protesters. The Palestinians have lost nearly everything since the acquisition of their lands by Israel in 1948 and 1967. They still have no country and are under occupation and/or siege.

In the absence of any useful diplomatic contribution from the US, it's time for other countries like Australia to step up, to pressure Israel to negotiate in good faith for a just solution to the conflict. Israel will have no security until the Palestinians get a fair deal.
Bill O'Connor, Beechworth

The 'two-state solution' must go ahead

Your editorial (16/5) makes useful points. The US and its allies, who have been staunch supporters of Israel's continued military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in the name of "Israel's right to exit", are equally guilty of shedding Palestinians' blood. Malcolm Turnbull's comment condemning Palestinians for violence should be shameful to all Australians. New Zealand's PM, Jacinda Ardern, deserves high commendation for her condemnation of Israel for the bloodshed. It is time the Western nations who are unconditional supporters of Israel put a stop to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and implement the "two-state solution" based on the 1967 borders. A peaceful means to achieve this is to declare an economic embargo against Israel until it ends its illegal occupation of the Palestinian lands.
Bill Mathew, Parkville

A piece of provocative timing

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attended the inauguration of the new US embassy (moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem) as if it was some kind of celebrity event. Further, it was carried out on the day of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba – the date that Palestinians consider themselves to have been expelled from their homes. Is the global community really expected to think that this is not a provocation, and simply the making right of an inviolable fact that Jerusalem is exclusively the capital of Israel?
And when Palestinians are gunned down in Gaza, are we supposed to think that this is OK because those Palestinians were deluded anyway in thinking that the above was not an inviolable fact?
Stephane Levinson, Carlton

US has shameful hand in region

Donald Trump's only consistent actions since becoming President have been the ongoing provocations to destabilise the world's troubled regions. The latest massacres in Gaza are shameful evidence of how far Israel's expansionist policy can go, thanks to the support from the US administration. Coupled with the irrational scrapping of the Iran deal, Trump's diplomacy-by-tweets only serves the interests of the most reactionary sections of the US establishment.
Fethon Naoum, Portland

14 May 2018


The Dark Side of Israeli Independence

Photo source gnuckx | CC BY 2.0

On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. Each May 15, Palestinians solemnly commemorate Nakba Day. Nakba means catastrophe, and that’s precisely what Israel’s independence has been for the more than 700,000 Arabs and their five million refugee descendants forced from their homes and into exile, often by horrific violence, to make way for the Jewish state.

Land Without a People? 

In the late 19th century, Zionism emerged as a movement for the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Although Jews ruled over kingdoms there more than 2,000 years ago, they never numbered more than around 10 percent of the population from antiquity through the early 1900s. A key premise of Zionism is what literary theorist Edward Said called the “excluded presence” of Palestine’s indigenous population; a central myth of early Zionists was that Palestine was a “land without a people for a people without a land.”

At its core, Zionism is a settler-colonial movement of white, European usurpers supplanting Arabs they often viewed as inferior or backwards. Theodore Herzl, father of modern political Zionism, envisioned a Jewish state in Palestine as “an outpost of civilization opposed to barbarism.” Other early Zionists warned against this sort of thinking. The great Hebrew essayist Ahad Ha’am wrote:
We… are accustomed to believing that Arabs are all wild desert people who, like donkeys, neither see nor understand what is happening around them. But this is a grave mistake. The Arabs… see and understand what we are doing and what we wish to do on the land. If the time comes that [we] develop to a point where we are taking their place… the natives are not going to just step aside so easily.
Jewish migration to Palestine increased significantly amid the pogroms and often rabid antisemitism afflicting much of Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. As control of Palestine passed from the defeated Ottoman Turks to Britain toward the end of World War I, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declared “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Israelis and their supporters often cite the Balfour Declaration when defending Israel’s legitimacy. What they never mention is that it goes on to state that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

Those “existing non-Jewish communities” still made up more than 85 percent of Palestine’s population at the time. As Zionist immigration swelled in the interwar years, conflict between the Jewish newcomers and the Arabs who had lived in Palestine for centuries was inevitable.

The Palestine Problem

Some Arabs reacted to the massive influx by rioting and attacking Jews, who responded by forming militias. Hundreds of Jews and Arabs were murdered in a series of clashes and massacres throughout the 1920s, and as yet another wave of Jewish migration surged into Palestine following the rise of Hitler, Britain formed the Peel Commissionto examine the “Palestine problem.” The commission proposed a “two-state solution” — one for Jews, another for Arabs, with Jerusalem remaining under British control to protect Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites.

As Arab attacks and Jewish retaliation escalated, an exasperated Britain issued the 1939 MacDonald White Paper, which limited Jewish immigration to Palestine. It emphatically stated that the “Balfour Declaration… could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish state against the will of the Arab population of the country.” From then on, Jewish militias, who by now had gone on the offensive and were initiating often unprovoked attacks on Arabs, targeted British occupiers as well.

The two most infamous Jewish terror militias were Irgun and Lehi, led respectively by Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, both future Israeli prime ministers. Irgun was by far the most prolific of the two terror groups, carrying out a string of assassinations and attacks meant to drive out the British. On July 22, 1946, Irgun fighters bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people, including 17 Jews, an attack still celebrated in Israel today. They bombed and shot up crowded markets, trains, cinemas and British police and army posts, killing hundreds of men, women and children. Meanwhile, Lehi assassinated British minister of state Lord Moyne in Cairo in 1944, while planning to kill Winston Churchill as well.

“No Room for Both”

With it soldiers, police, officials and, increasingly, its reputation constantly under attack and its resources strained to the breaking point after World War II, Britain withdrew from Palestine in frustration in 1947. The “Palestine problem” was handed off to the fledgling United Nations, which, under intense United States pressure, voted to partition the territory. The Arabs were not consulted. Jews, who comprised just over one-third of Palestine’s population, would get 55 percent of its land. Arabs were enraged.

Jews rejoiced. There was, however, a huge problem with the UN partition plan. If the state of Israel was to be both Jewish and democratic, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians would have to leave. Forever. Years earlier, Jewish National Land Fund director Joseph Weitz said:
Among ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both people in this country… and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to neighboring countries… We must not leave a single village, a single tribe.
“A Bit Like A Pogrom”

To that end, David Ben-Gurion, who would soon become Israel’s first prime minister, and his inner circle drafted Plan Dalet, the “principle objectiveof the operation [being] the destruction of Arab villages,” according to official orders. At times the mere threat of violence was enough to coerce Arabs from their homes. Sometimes appalling slaughter was required to get the job done. In the most notorious of what Israeli historian Benny Morris has identified as Nakba 24 massacres, more than 100 Arab men, women and children were killed by Jewish militias at Deir Yassinon April 9, 1948. One 11-year-old survivor later recalled:
“They blew down the door, entered and started searching the place… They shot the son-in -law and when one of his daughters screamed, they shot her too. They then called my brother and shot him in our presence and when my mother screamed and bent over my brother, carrying my little sister, who was still being breast-fed, they shot my mother too.”
“To me it looked a bit like a pogrom,” confessed Mordechai Gichon, an intelligence officer in the Haganah, which would soon become the core of the Israel Defense Forces. “When the Cossacks burst into Jewish neighborhoods, then that should have looked something like this.” Widespread looting and brutal and often deadly rapes were also reminiscent of antisemitic pogroms, with Jews now the aggressors instead of the victims
News of Deir Yassin spread like wildfire through Palestine, prompting many Arabs to flee for their lives. This is exactly what Jewish commanders — who would play self-described “horror recordings” of shrieking women and children on loudspeakers when approaching Arab villages — wanted. Attacking Jewish militias typically gave most of their victims room to escape; commanders generally preferred a fright-to-flight strategy over wanton slaughter.

“Like Nazis”

Jewish ethnic cleansing of Palestine accelerated when Arab armies from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq invaded with the intent of smothering the nascent state of Israel in its cradle. On July 11, 1948, future Israeli foreign and defense minister Moshe Dayan led a raid on Lydda in which over 250 Arab men, women, children and old people were killed with automatic weapons, grenades and cannon. What followed, on future prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s orders, was the wholesale expulsion of  Lydda and Ramle. Tens of thousands of Arabs fled in what became known as the Lydda Death March. Israeli reporter Ari Shavit wrote:
Children shouted, women screamed, men wept. There was no water. Every so often, a family… stopped by the side of the road to bury a baby who had not withstood the heat; to say farewell to a grandmother who had collapsed from fatigue. After a while, it got even worse. A mother abandoned her howling baby under a tree. [Another] abandoned her week-old boy.
The international community was horrified and outraged by the Jewish atrocities of 1948-49. In the United States, a prominent group of Jews including Albert Einstein blasted the “terrorists” who attacked Deir Yassin. Others compared the Jewish militias to their would-be German destroyers, including Aharon Cizling, Israel’s first agriculture minister, who lamented that “now Jews have behaved like Nazis and my entire being is shaken.”

Jews indeed behaved something like Nazis as they expelled or exterminated Arabs for their own lebensraumin Palestine. By the time it was all over, over 400 Arab villages were destroyed or abandoned, their residents — some of whom still hold the keys to their stolen homes — never to return. Moshe Dayan, one of Israel’s most exalted heroes, confessed in all but name to Israel’s ethnic cleansing in a 1969 speech:
“We came to this country, which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing… a Jewish state here. Jewish villages were built in place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because those geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either… There is not one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”
War on Truth & Memory

Today such honesty is sorely lacking, both among most Israeli Jews and their US coreligionists and supporters. In addition to efforts to silence and even outlaw peaceful protest movements like the growing worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) effort, Zionists and their apologist allies — some with their own competing religious agenda — have aggressively sought to erase the Nakba from memory. This is accomplished by denying Israeli crimes and by tarring critics with allegations of antisemitism.

Special vitriol is reserved for the “self-hating”Jews who dare shine light on Israeli atrocities. Teddy Katz, a graduate student at Haifa University and ardent Zionist who uncovered the mass slaughter of 230 surrendering Arabs at Tantura on May 22, 1948, was sued, publicly humiliated, forced to apologize and stripped of his degree for the “offense” of telling the ugly, uncomfortable truth. The Israeli government even went as far as banning diaspora Jews who are too critical from making the “birthright return” to Israel granted to every other Jew in the world.

No Return, No Retreat

Speaking of the right to return, as Nakba refugees fled Palestine, often to settle in squalid camps in neighboring countries, the United Nations passed Resolution 194, which guaranteed that every Palestinian refugee could return to their home and receive compensation for damages. None ever did.

 Israel ignored this and dozens of other UN resolutions over the coming decades, its impunity ensured by massive and unwavering US support.

Enabled and emboldened, Israel now marks 70 years of statehood and over half a century of illegal occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Today, Israel’s illegal Jewish settler colonies are the spear-tip of what critics call its slow-motion ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Its Jews-only settlements and roads, separation wall and ubiquitous military checkpoints are, according to Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and others, the foundation of an apartheid state. Its periodic invasions of Gaza, with their 100-1 death toll disparities, their slaughter of entire families and enduring economic privation, are globally condemned as war crimes.

Yet through it all, the Palestinian people endure, despite the overwhelming odds against them. The more honest voices among earlier generations of Zionists foresaw this. Echoing Ahad Ha’am’s 1891 warning that “the natives are not going to just step aside so easily,” Ben-Gurion later acknowledgedthat “a people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily.” Seventy years later, neither Palestinians nor Jews have tired so easily, and the world is no closer to solving the “Palestine problem.” Meanwhile, Jews, Arabs and the wider world brace for the next inevitable explosion. This is colonialism’s deadly legacy.

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Brett Wilkins is editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal. Based in San Francisco, his work covers issues of social justice, human rights and war and peace. 


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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm