By William James Martin
It is impossible to understand the present Palestinian/Israeli conflict without understanding the past, in particular, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, who are not Semitic people, but indigenous to Eastern Europe.
In 1900, there were no Ashkenazi Jews living in Palestine; essentially none, that is, but a few, small mostly temporary Russian Jewish settlers, not totally unusual for various cults in the Holy Land at that time. Theodore Herzl, frequently designated ‘The Father of Modern Zionism’, because of the publication of his book, The Jewish State, in 1996, and because of this founding of the World Zionist Congress, a year later stated in 1897:
“[We shall] spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”
Thus the concept of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians was introduced.
By the 1930′ ‘transfer’ of the Arabs was the unanimous opinion of the founders of Israel. So-called transfer committees, headed by Joseph Weitz, Director of Land Management for the Jewish Agency, were set up explicitly for the purpose of studying ways of ‘transferring the Arabs out of Palestine.
At the beginning of 1948, despite 50 years of land purchases, Jews only owned 6% of the land of Palestine. By the year’s end, the Israeli army controlled 78% of Palestine in a process of ethnic cleansing that saw the destruction of 531 Arab cities or villages and 11 Arab urban areas, with massacres at almost all of those towns or villages, the almost complete looting of Palestinian property and wealth, including looting of the banks, confiscation of Palestinian homes and property, businesses, fields and orchards.
The Palestinian people lost everything. Those who survived the massacres lost their careers, their means of livelihood, only to find refuge in tent cities set up by the United Nations which were later to become squalid refugee camps of cinder block buildings dotted around the Middle East.
By just checking the time line, one quickly disposes of the 60 year old Israeli propaganda myth that the state of Israel was innocently minding its own business when it was attacked by five armies of surrounding Arab states.
The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians began on November 30, 1947 in Haifa when the Jewish army under David Ben Gurion, along with the Jewish terrorist group, the Irgun, under Manachem Begin, began shelling the Arab sections of that city. In March of 1948, David Ben Gurion finalized and distributed Plan D to his officers, which was a program for destroying and depopulating Arab villages and eliminating any resistance. The massacre at the Arab village of Deir Yassin, only one of many, but possibly the most famous, occurred on April 9, 1948. Israel declared itself a state on May 14, 1948, and it was the next day, May 15, that the first regular soldier of an Arab army set foot in Palestine. By then, about half of the 800,000 Palestinian refugees had been generated and all of Palestine’s urban centers and been depopulated of Arabs.
One cannot understand the natural anger and resentment of the Arab people, and particularly the Palestinian people, toward Israel, and also to the West, for supporting their oppressors and for being blind to their own suffering, without coming to a full understanding of the catastrophe, which they call the Nakbah, that befell the Palestinian people in 1948.
Nor can one understand the futility of the exalted ‘peace process’, ongoing now for the last 22 years, concurrent with the further erosion of Palestinian rights and freedom, and migration of new Jewish settlers into the West Bank and East Jerusalem, without understanding that Israeli acquired its present status as a state, not by negotiation with Palestinians, but by brute force and very much against the will of the indigenous people.
For the Arab people, Israel is an alien implant, imposed by western powers, in the heart of the Arab world against the will of the Arab people.
The Palestinians living under occupation have been living in that situation for 40 years, deprived of natural human rights, abused and, more often than not, humiliated, suffering degradation and humiliation on a daily basis, as their land and property and resources are daily confiscated by the state of Israel, who also winks at settler violence and looks the other way as settlers, who have built their settlement so hilltops, dump their sewage onto Palestinian farmland, as they also cut down their olive trees, burn their fields and poison or otherwise kill their livestock, in order to make way for more settlers and settlements as well as to make life as miserable as possible for the Palestinians.
Zionism is a political program of clearing Palestine of Palestinian Arabs in order to create the space for an exclusive Jewish state. As such, its goal is to destroy the Palestinians as a people with an identity as a people and with an attachment to the land of their births and the births of their ancestry. Such a project meets the definition of genocide in international law. Genocide is a crime against humanity as well as against its immediate victims. Genocide is a crime in which all of humanity is degraded.
– William James Martin taught at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: [email protected].