The Genesis of Armageddon

Originally published as "The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict"
by Jews for Justice in the Middle East

The original document has been extended and annotated by Michael R. Burch, editor of The HyperTexts. All such modifications appear in square bracketed italicized text, like this: [text], except for the corrections of a few typos in the original text, and normalization of capitalization and punctuation.Michael R. Burch

As the periodic bloodshed continues in the Middle East, the search for an equitable solution must come to grips with the root cause of the conflict. The conventional wisdom is that, even if both sides are at fault, the Palestinians are irrational “terrorists” who have no point of view worth listening to. Our position, however, is that the Palestinians have a real grievance: their homeland for over a thousand years was taken, without their consent and mostly by force, during the creation of the state of Israel. And all subsequent crimes — on both sides — inevitably follow from this original injustice.

[There is only one nonviolent cure for the disease of injustice, and that is to establish justice through fair laws and fair courts. The group that compiled this document originally calls itself Jews for Justice. History clearly teaches that injustice always leads to violence, with the victims invariably being blamed by their conquerors.MRB]

This paper outlines the history of Palestine to show how this process [of injustice leading to violence] occurred and what a moral solution to the region’s problems should consist of. If you care about the people of the Middle East, Jewish and Arab, you owe it to yourself to read this account of the other side of the historical record.


The standard Zionist position is that [the Jews] showed up in Palestine in the late 19th century to reclaim their ancestral homeland. Jews bought land and started building up the Jewish community there. They were met with increasingly violent opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, presumably stemming from the Arabs’ inherent anti-Semitism. The Zionists were then forced to defend themselves and, in one form or another, this same situation continues up to today.

The problem with this explanation is that it is simply not true, as the documentary evidence in this booklet will show. What really happened was that the Zionist movement, from the beginning, looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population so that Israel could be a wholly Jewish state, or as much as was possible. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never be sold or even leased back to Arabs (a situation which continues to the present).

[One problem Americans may face as we proceed is the desire not to be racist, which of course means not favoring one race over another, while also wanting to support the Jewish state of Israel. But this is simply not possible because the two desires are inherently contradictory. An analogy would be wanting fair elections while also wanting to rig votes. We cannot support a Jewish state called Israel without advocating racism because a Jewish state is, by definition, racist. Would it be fair to ask black Americans to submit to the idea of a "white United States"? No, of course not. What sort of nation would the United States be, if black Americans could only own a tiny percentage of the land? It would clearly be a racist state. And yet in Israel, which claims to be "democratic," most of the land cannot be purchased by non-Jews. The land, citizenship and marriage laws of Israel are matters of public record, and are clearly racist. Anyone can read and study them online, using Google and other search tools. Americans are constantly urged to "support" Israel and to believe that not to support Israel is "anti-Semitic. This is, quite frankly, racist bullshit. If I say American minorities must have equal rights, I am not "anti-American" but opposing governmental and societal racism. If I say minorities in Israel must have equal rights, I am not "anti-Semitic" for exactly the same reason.—MRB]

The Arab community, as it became increasingly aware of the Zionists’ intentions, strenuously opposed further Jewish immigration and land buying because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Arab society in Palestine. Because of this opposition, the entire Zionist project never could have been realized without the military backing of the British. The vast majority of the population of Palestine, by the way, had been Arabic since the seventh century A.D. (over 1200 years).

In short, Zionism was based on a faulty, colonialist world view that the rights of the indigenous inhabitants didn’t matter. The Arabs’ opposition to Zionism wasn’t based on anti-Semitism but rather on a totally reasonable fear of the dispossession of their people.

[Churchill's words and actions during the brief time he oversaw (or, more accurately, ruled) the Middle East clearly reveal the colonial attitude of Britain at the time. Understanding the colonial attitudes of the Zionists and the powerful men like Churchill who supported them, and how such attitudes led to the disenfranchisement and dispossession of the Palestinians, is critical to a proper understanding of the current conflict and why events like 9-11 have threatened the stability and security of the world. So let's take a look at what happened when Churchill was appointed Secretary of State for the British Colonies in early 1921.

Just four years earlier British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour had issued the Balfour Declaration of 1917, a formal statement of British government policy which read: "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object,
it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." Unfortunately the establishment of a Jewish state "out of thin air" proved incompatible with the words I bolded.

According to
Churchill and Palestine by David Lyon Hurwitz, even before officially taking over as Secretary of State for the Colonies (notice the word "Colonies" in his title) Churchill "annexed the Middle East to his bailiwick, so that Lord Curzon, foreign secretary, complained in a letter, 'He wants to grab everything in his new Department & be a sort of Asiatic Foreign Secretary.'" Churchill also quickly brought in Thomas E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") as his adviser.

At the time Sir Herbert Samuel, a dedicated Zionist, served as the first high commissioner of the Palestine Mandate. Samuel was the "first professing Jew in the [British] cabinet" and in 1914 had written an influential memorandum to the cabinet entitled "The Future of Palestine," impressing acting Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith, David Lloyd George (who became prime minister in 1916), Lord Milner (who had preceded Churchill as Colonial Secretary), and Sir Mark Sykes (Middle East adviser). Samuel's 1914 paper influenced the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The Balfour Declaration would have devastating consequences for the Palestinians, the region, and the world.

Churchill was highly sympathetic to the Zionist cause. Even before he left for Cairo to assume his new office and partake in a hasty summit with far-reaching consequences for the region, Churchill was already discussing just how much of the Middle East would be allotted to the Jews with Chaim Weizmann, who was elected the first president of Israel in 1949. But there was a problem: the Jews constituted only a small percentage of the population of Palestine at the time. So in order for Churchill to keep his promises to his Jewish friends, he would have to stymie democracy. As we shall see, Churchill regularly trumpeted the glories of democracy to the rest of the world, but constantly denied the rights of Palestinians to self-determination. Please keep this strange double standard in mind as we continue, because it persists to this day in the halls of power.

Churchill set out to find a less expensive system of governing the Middle East. He wanted to cut a budget of 37 million pounds in half. In transferring power (and costs) to local officials, he showed little or no interest in democratic elections, saying in the case of Emir Feisal, his choice to rule Iraq that Western political methods "are not necessarily applicable to the East and basis of election should be framed." Despite planning to slash an insufficient budget in half, Churchill believed he could somehow still arrange for 500,000 Arabs not to be dominated by 80,000 Jews, while allowing more Jews to settle in Palestine. One can feel the palpable hubris in the comment of Lawrence to Churchill that British arrangements with Feisal and his brother Abdullah "tend toward cheapness & speed of settlement." Churchill was all for cheapness, speed and expediency. He cared little or nothing about the wishes of the people.

Once in Cairo, Churchill pretty much got what he wanted, and what he wanted was clear. On March 13, 1921 he drafted a telegram to Prime Minister Lloyd George which read, "I think we shall reach unanimous conclusion ... that Feisal offers hope of best and cheapest solution." According to Gilbert, "The Cairo Conference discussions on Palestine and Transjordan were at an end. In three days two new Arab States had been created and their sovereigns chosen, non-democratically. On March 20 the Conference adjourned and Churchill and his wife sped off to see the Pyramids, which Churchill painted (perhaps more carefully and thoughtfully than he had legislated.) It had taken Churchill a mere three days to slice an insufficient budget in half and decide the fates of hundreds of thousands of Arabs, many of them doomed to become homeless and destitute.

On March 27, 1921 Churchill reached Jerusalem to meet with Abdullah. When an Arab delegation protested the creation of a Jewish state at their expense, he preached them a pretty sermon, saying a Jewish National Home would create "increasing benefits and prosperity and happiness to the people of the country as a whole." But the Arabs knew Churchill's dream was a pipe dream.

On March 29, 1921 Churchill planted a tree on Mount Scopus, telling onlooking Jews that if they behaved, "Palestine will be happy and prosperous and concord will always reign; it will turn into a paradise" in which "sufferers of all races and religions will find a rest from their sufferings." Churchill believed in the dream of Zionism, but he didn't have the money or the time or the resources to make sure his promises to the Arabs were honored. When Arabs rioted in opposition to British expediency, Churchill opposed forgiving the fines Herbert Samuel preferred not to collect, saying, "We cannot allow expediency to govern the administration of justice." But he had no concept of justice.

On March 30, 1921 at their final meeting Churchill informed Abdullah that he would be given money and troops in return for his guarantee "that there should be no anti-French or anti-Zionist agitation in the country." Abdullah accepted, and "it was done." According to Norman Bentwich, "It was an improvised and almost careless creation of a State without any economic basis." In a matter of days Churchill had managed to set an avalanche in motion that threatens the world to this day.

Lord Milner warned Samuel in a letter that Churchill was "too apt to make up his mind without sufficient knowledge." Unfortunately, Milner was right. Churchill had promised Abdullah that the "rights of the existing non-Jewish population would be strictly preserved." When Churchill was asked by the Arabs for a national government elected by the Palestinian people, he had demurred but confidently promised that "no Arabs would be dispossessed." Of course it was a promise he would be unable to keep; today millions of Palestinians are homeless, stateless and dispossessed; therefore many Arabs feel betrayed by Britain and the West. And they have every reason to feel that way.

On May 31, 2001 at a cabinet meeting in England, Churchill said that he had decided to "suspend the development of representative institutions in Palestine (i.e., democracy) because "any elected body" would "undoubtedly" disagree with his edicts.

In a June 14, 2001 speech before the cabinet, Churchill called Arab fears of being pushed off the land "illusory." Of course their fears were not "illusory" because what they feared most happened just as they feared.

In November 1921 there was a riot in Jerusalem that left five people dead, after which Churchill told his advisers, "Do please remember that everything else that happens in the Middle East is secondary to reduction in expense."  Years later he would damn his own policies in the Middle East when he told the English people, "The foundation of all democracy is that the people have the right to vote. To deprive them of that right is to make a mockery of all the high-sounding phrases which are so often used. At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper. No amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly palliate the overwhelming importance of that point. The people have the right to choose representatives in accordance with their wishes and feelings."

But Churchill did accomplish his prime objective: slashing the cost of Palestine to the British taxpayer from 8 million pounds in 1920, to 4 million pounds in 1921, to 2 million pounds in 1922.

Not all Englishmen were in favor of Zionism. In a July 1922 debate before the House of Lords, Lord Islington called the Palestine Mandate "unacceptable to this House ... opposed [by] the ... great majority of the people" and added that "Zionism runs counter to the whole human psychology of the age."

Balfour's rejoinder remains profoundly perplexing: "I do not deny that this is an adventure. Are we never to have adventures? Are we never to have experiments?" I wonder what millions of homeless, dispossessed Palestinians think of his "adventurous experiments" today.

Lord Sydenham then spoke against the Jewish Home in Palestine, complaining, "we have dumped 25,000 promiscuous people on the shores of Palestine, many of them quite unsuited for colonizing purposes, and some of them Bolsheviks, who have already shown the most sinister activity ... The Mandate will undoubtedly transfer control of the Holy Land to New York, Berlin, London, Frankfurt and other places" and for this "we shall be responsible." When the votes were counted, he and his allies had prevailed, 60 to 29. The date was interesting: July the 4th.]

Early History of the Region

Before the Hebrews first migrated there around 1800 B.C., the land of Canaan was occupied by Canaanites.

“Between 3000 and 1100 B.C., Canaanite civilization covered what is today Israel, the West Bank, Lebanon and much of Syria and Jordan ... Those who remained in the Jerusalem hills after the Romans expelled the Jews [in the second century A.D.] were a potpourri: farmers and vineyard growers, pagans and converts to Christianity, descendants of the Arabs, Persians, Samaritans, Greeks and old Canaanite tribes.” Marcia Kunstel and Joseph Albright, “Their Promised Land.”

The present-day Palestinians’ ancestral heritage

“But all these [different peoples who had come to Canaan] were additions, sprigs grafted onto the parent tree ... And that parent tree was Canaanite ... [The Arab invaders of the 7th century A.D.] made Moslem converts of the natives, settled down as residents, and intermarried with them, with the result that all are now so completely Arabized that we cannot tell where the Canaanites leave off and the Arabs begin.” Illene Beatty, “Arab and Jew in the Land of Canaan.”

The Jewish kingdoms were only one of many periods in ancient Palestine

“The extended kingdoms of David and Solomon, on which the Zionists base their territorial demands, endured for only about 73 years ... Then it fell apart ... [Even] if we allow independence to the entire life of the ancient Jewish kingdoms, from David’s conquest of Canaan in 1000 B.C. to the wiping out of Judah in 586 B.C., we arrive at [only] a 414 year Jewish rule.” Illene Beatty, “Arab and Jew in the Land of Canaan.”

More on Canaanite civilization

“Recent archeological digs have provided evidence that Jerusalem was a big and fortified city already in 1800 BCE ... Findings show that the sophisticated water system heretofore attributed to the conquering Israelites pre-dated them by eight centuries and was even more sophisticated than imagined ... Dr. Ronny Reich, who directed the excavation along with Eli Shuikrun, said the entire system was built as a single complex by Canaanites in the Middle Bronze Period, around 1800 BCE.” The Jewish Bulletin, July 31st, 1998.

How long has Palestine been a specifically Arab country?

“Palestine became a predominately Arab and Islamic country by the end of the seventh century. Almost immediately thereafter its boundaries and its characteristics — including its name in Arabic, Filastin — became known to the entire Islamic world, as much for its fertility and beauty as for its religious significance ... In 1516, Palestine became a province of the Ottoman Empire, but this made it no less fertile, no less Arab or Islamic ... Sixty percent of the population was in agriculture; the balance was divided between townspeople and a relatively small nomadic group. All these people believed themselves to belong in a land called Palestine, despite their feelings that they were also members of a large Arab nation ... Despite the steady arrival in Palestine of Jewish colonists after 1882, it is important to realize that not until the few weeks immediately preceding the establishment of Israel in the spring of 1948 was there ever anything other than a huge Arab majority. For example, the Jewish population in 1931 was 174,606 against a total of 1,033,314.” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

How did land ownership traditionally work in Palestine and when did it change?

“[The Ottoman Land Code of 1858] required the registration in the name of individual owners of agricultural land, most of which had never previously been registered and which had formerly been treated according to traditional forms of land tenure, in the hill areas of Palestine generally masha’a, or communal usufruct. The new law meant that for the first time a peasant could be deprived not of title to his land, which he had rarely held before, but rather of the right to live on it, cultivate it and pass it on to his heirs, which had formerly been inalienable ... Under the provisions of the 1858 law, communal rights of tenure were often ignored ... Instead, members of the upper classes, adept at manipulating or circumventing the legal process, registered large areas of land as theirs ... The fellahin [peasants] naturally considered the land to be theirs, and often discovered that they had ceased to be the legal owners only when the land was sold to Jewish settlers by an absentee landlord ... Not only was the land being purchased; its Arab cultivators were being dispossessed and replaced by foreigners who had overt political objectives in Palestine.” Rashid Khalidi, “Blaming The Victims,” ed. Said and Hitchens

[This is an important point: the Palestinians were being unfairly "pushed off" the land their families had farmed. The Jews were taking advantage of the system. If a Palestinian farmer lost his farm, how could he feed his own family? If such things happened to our families, we would want justice. As we will see, the many injustices Palestinians have suffered have led to violence. But any other people would have acted the same way, because injustice invariably leads to violence. The only way to have peace is to establish fair laws and fair courts for everyone, equally.]

Was Arab opposition to the arrival of Zionists based on inherent anti-Semitism or a real sense of danger to their community?

“The aim of the [Jewish National] Fund was ‘to redeem the land of Palestine as the inalienable possession of the Jewish people.’... As early as 1891, Zionist leader Ahad Ha’am wrote that the Arabs “understood very well what we were doing and what we were aiming at’...[Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, stated] ‘We shall try to spirit the penniless [Arab] population across the border by procuring employment for it in transit countries, while denying it employment in our own country ... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly’... At various locations in northern Palestine Arab farmers refused to move from land the Fund purchased from absentee owners, and the Turkish authorities, at the Fund’s request, evicted them ...The indigenous Jews of Palestine also reacted negatively to Zionism. They did not see the need for a Jewish state in Palestine and did not want to exacerbate relations with the Arabs.” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”

“Before the 20th century, most Jews in Palestine belonged to old Yishuv, or community, that had settled more for religious than for political reasons. There was little if any conflict between them and the Arab population. Tensions began after the first Zionist settlers arrived in the 1880’s ... when [they] purchased land from absentee Arab owners, leading to dispossession of the peasants who had cultivated it.” Don Peretz, “The Arab-Israeli Dispute.”

“[During the Middle Ages,] North Africa and the Arab Middle East became places of refuge and a haven for the persecuted Jews of Spain and elsewhere ... In the Holy Land ... they lived together in [relative] harmony, a harmony only disrupted when the Zionists began to claim that Palestine was the ‘rightful’ possession of the ‘Jewish people’ to the exclusion of its Moslem and Christian inhabitants.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

Jews attitude towards Arabs when reaching Palestine.

“Serfs they (the Jews) were in the lands of the Diaspora, and suddenly they find themselves in freedom [in Palestine]; and this change has awakened in them an inclination to despotism. They treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, deprive them of their rights, offend them without cause, and even boast of these deeds; and nobody among us opposes this despicable and dangerous inclination.” Zionist writer Ahad Ha’am, quoted in Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

Proposals for Arab-Jewish Cooperation

“An article by Yitzhak Epstein, published in Hashiloah in 1907... called for a new Zionist policy towards the Arabs after 30 years of settlement activity ... Like Ahad-Ha’am in 1891, Epstein claims that no good land is vacant, so Jewish settlement meant Arab dispossession ... Epstein’s solution to the problem, so that a new “Jewish question” may be avoided, is the creation of a bi-national, non-exclusive program of settlement and development. Purchasing land should not involve the dispossession of poor sharecroppers. It should mean creating a joint farming community, where the Arabs will enjoy modern technology. Schools, hospitals and libraries should be non-exclusivist and education bilingual ... The vision of non-exclusivist, peaceful cooperation to replace the practice of dispossession found few takers. Epstein was maligned and scorned for his faintheartedness.” Israeli author, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, “Original Sins.”

[Many Jews of good conscience have spoken for better treatment of Palestinians, but frankly sometimes even the "good guys" seem to have an attitude of condescension. This too is symptomatic of racism. The question is not how nicely Jews may or may not treat Palestinians. The question is when Palestinians will be treated as equals. Peaceful cooperation under Jewish auspices is not nearly enough. Human beings are equals and must be treated equally.]

Was Palestine the only, or even preferred, destination of Jews facing persecution when the Zionist movement started?

“The pogroms forced many Jews to leave Russia. Societies known as ‘Lovers of Zion,’ which were forerunners of the Zionist organization, convinced some of the frightened emigrants to go to Palestine. There, they argued, Jews would rebuild the ancient Jewish ‘Kingdom of David and Solomon,’ Most Russian Jews ignored their appeal and fled to Europe and the United States. By 1900, almost a million Jews had settled in the United States alone.” “Our Roots Are Still Alive” by The People Press Palestine Book Project.

The British Mandate Period 1920-1948

The Balfour Declaration promises a Jewish Homeland in Palestine.

“The Balfour Declaration, made in November 1917 by the British Government ... was made (a) by a European power, (b) about a non-European territory, (c) in flat disregard of both the presence and wishes of the native majority resident in that territory ... [As Balfour himself wrote in 1919], ‘The contradiction between the letter of the Covenant (the Anglo French Declaration of 1918 promising the Arabs of the former Ottoman colonies that as a reward for supporting the Allies they could have their independence) is even more flagrant in the case of the independent nation of Palestine than in that of the independent nation of Syria. For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country ... The four powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land,’” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

[The arrogance, the hubris, of the sentence I bolded above is mind boggling. Previously, I pointed out the hypocrisy of Winston Churchill, who had the same attitude.]

Wasn’t Palestine a wasteland before the Jews started immigrating there?

“Britain’s high commissioner for Palestine, John Chancellor, recommended total suspension of Jewish immigration and land purchase to protect Arab agriculture. He said ‘all cultivable land was occupied; that no cultivable land now in possession of the indigenous population could be sold to Jews without creating a class of landless Arab cultivators’ ... The Colonial Office rejected the recommendation.” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”

[The idea that Palestine was a "desert" which Israeli Jews caused to "bloom" is hyperbolic bullshit. As we will see, starting in 1948 hundreds of Palestinian villages were bulldozed, and in some places Jewish communities did spring up, but hardly from a "desert."]

Were the early Zionists planning on living side by side with Arabs?

In 1919, the American King-Crane Commission spent six weeks in Syria and Palestine, interviewing delegations and reading petitions. Their report stated, “The commissioners began their study of Zionism with minds predisposed in its favor ... The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission’s conferences with Jewish representatives that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, by various forms of purchase ...

“If [the] principle [of self-determination] is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population are to be decisive as to what is to be done with Palestine, then it is to be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine — nearly nine-tenths of the whole — are emphatically against the entire Zionist program. To subject a people so minded to unlimited Jewish immigration, and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land, would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted ... No British officers, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms. The officers generally thought that a force of not less than fifty thousand soldiers would be required even to initiate the program. That of itself is evidence of a strong sense of the injustice of the Zionist program ... The initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they have a ‘right’ to Palestine based on occupation of two thousand years ago, can barely be seriously considered.” Quoted in “The Israel-Arab Reader” ed. Laquer and Rubin.

“Zionist land policy was incorporated in the Constitution of the Jewish Agency for Palestine ... ’land is to be acquired as Jewish property and ... the title to the lands acquired is to be taken in the name of the Jewish National Fund, to the end that the same shall be held as the inalienable property of the Jewish people.’ The provision goes to stipulate that ‘the Agency shall promote agricultural colonization based on Jewish labor’... The effect of this Zionist colonization policy on the Arabs was that land acquired by Jews became extra-territorialized. It ceased to be land from which the Arabs could ever hope to gain any advantage ...

[The idea that the land is the "inalienable property" of the Jews and that Jewish labor will somehow "redeem" it continues to this day. When Palestinian land is stolen by Israeli Jews, bulldozers plow under existing buildings and even valuable, productive olive trees. Why? It seems the land must be "purified" and a "new start" must be made, from scratch. This idea is racist, and an abomination.]

“The Zionists made no secret of their intentions, for as early as 1921, Dr. Eder, a member of the Zionist Commission, boldly told the Court of Inquiry, ‘there can be only one National Home in Palestine, and that a Jewish one, and no equality in the partnership between Jews and Arabs, but a Jewish preponderance as soon as the numbers of the race are sufficiently increased.’ He then asked that only Jews should be allowed to bear arms.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

[When we compare the words of the early Zionists to the actions we see today: home demolitions, valuable olive trees being plowed under for no good reason, etc., things begin to make sense. What we are seeing is a virulent, determined, focused racism in action. The goal was set long ago, the plan was put in motion, and now it will continue unabated unless we, the people of the world, act to stop it.]

Given Arab opposition to them, did the Zionists support steps towards majority rule in Palestine?

“Clearly, the last thing the Zionists really wanted was that all the inhabitants of Palestine should have an equal say in running the country ... [Chaim] Weizmann had impressed on Churchill that representative government would have spelled the end of the [Jewish] National Home in Palestine ... [Churchill declared,] ‘The present form of government will continue for many years. Step by step we shall develop representative institutions leading to full self-government, but our children’s children will have passed away before that is accomplished.’” David Hirst, “The Gun and the Olive Branch.”

Denial of the Arabs’ right to self-determination

“Even if nobody lost their land, the [Zionist] program was unjust in principle because it denied majority political rights ... Zionism, in principle, could not allow the natives to exercise their political rights because it would mean the end of the Zionist enterprise.” Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, “Original Sins.”

[Exactly. A democratic state cannot be a "Jewish state" in a land where the vast majority of the population is non-Jewish. To establish an artificial Jewish majority, the least democratic of all methods had to be employed: denying multitudes of people of the right to step on their native soil, much less vote.]

Arab resistance to Pre-Israeli Zionism

“In 1936-9, the Palestinian Arabs attempted a nationalist revolt ... David Ben-Gurion, eminently a realist, recognized its nature. In internal discussion, he noted that ‘in our political argument abroad, we minimize Arab opposition to us,’ but he urged, ‘let us not ignore the truth among ourselves.’ The truth was that ‘politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves ... The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside’... The revolt was crushed by the British, with considerable brutality.” Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

[Please note the text I bolded above. It is very important for Americans to understand that Israeli leaders say one thing for the benefit of Americans who long to believe Israel is our friend, ally and partner for peace, while single-mindedly pursuing the real goal: to take any land remaining to the Palestinians, destroy any evidence that they ever existed, and drive them away. Even Israelis on the street understand this. Just today I read an
email by a young Australian peace activist whose group tries to stop the demolitions of Palestinian houses. Her group's tour guide told them: “We politely make it impossible for them to live here.” But of course there's nothing "polite" about demolishing homes. This too is racism and an abomination: to think anything short of killing someone is acceptable, if they are "undesirable." The "nicer" people in the KKK didn't kill anyone; they just burned crosses in the yards of people they despised, or put up "white only" signs on water fountains they didn't want less-than-lilly-white lips to sully. In their minds, they are reasonable, perhaps even benevolent. But there is no "polite" way to tell someone, "You are not good enough to live next door to me, or in the same country, so please leave my country even though you were here first."]

Gandhi on the Palestine conflict — 1938

“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French ... What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct ... If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs ... As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.” Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in “A Land of Two Peoples” ed. Mendes-Flohr.

[It's easy to moralize, especially after the success of the American Civil Rights Movement, and say that the only moral method of resistance is non-violent resistance. But Gandhi himself recognized that the Arabs faced overwhelming odds and took this into account. If a neighborhood child runs into my house without knocking, there is no need for me to "defend" my rights over-sternly. I can afford to be kind and understanding. But if I look outside and see a gang of men armed with knives and guns about to break into my house, and I have a weapon, I may consider it my duty to protect my family by using it. By Gandhi's "accepted canons of right and wrong," I am within my rights to use force, even deadly force, to protect my family if we are threatened with violence. And is it not a deadly form of violence to take farmland from a farmer, so that he can no longer feed and provide for his family? Is it not a deadly form of violence to destroy a family's house? The Jewish tour guide who claims to be politely making it impossible for undesirable people to live in their own homes is, in my opinion, admitting to ethnic cleansing and murder. Homeless, destitute people often die of exposure and malnutrition. If you make my son homeless and he dies of exposure, didn't you kill him? So I agree with Gandhi: when one group of people elects to use overwhelming force against a far weaker group of people, we cannot blame the victims for resisting violently. Any animal will fight when its back is to the wall. Man is no exception.]

Didn’t the Zionists legally buy much of the land before Israel was established?

“In 1948, at the moment that Israel declared itself a state, it legally owned a little more than 6 percent of the land of Palestine...After 1940, when the mandatory authority restricted Jewish land ownership to specific zones inside Palestine, there continued to be illegal buying (and selling) within the 65 percent of the total area restricted to Arabs.

Thus when the partition plan was announced in 1947 it included land held illegally by Jews, which was incorporated as a fait accompli inside the borders of the Jewish state. And after Israel announced its statehood, an impressive series of laws legally assimilated huge tracts of Arab land (whose proprietors had become refugees, and were pronounced ‘absentee landlords’ in order to expropriate their lands and prevent their return under any circumstances).” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

[Perhaps the most relevant statistic is this: before 1948 Israeli Jews legally owned around six percent of the land. Suddenly, after 1948, Israel owned nearly all the land inside the borders of Israel, and now for over 60 years has been acquiring more and more "free" land inside occupied Palestine. In the United States what do we call it when one person takes the property of another person without paying for it? We call it robbery, theft, fraud, embezzlement.]

The UN Partition of Palestine

Why did the UN recommend the plan partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state?

“By this time [November 1947] the United States had emerged as the most aggressive proponent of partition ... The United States got the General Assembly to delay a vote ‘to gain time to bring certain Latin American republics into line with its own views.’ ... Some delegates charged U.S. officials with ‘diplomatic intimidation.’ Without ‘terrific pressure’ from the United States on ‘governments which cannot afford to risk American reprisals,’ said an anonymous editorial writer, the resolution ‘would never have passed.’” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”

[Most Americans are not aware of how much the United States vacillated on the subject of a Jewish state. But once the United States made its decision, it seems the Truman administration exerted tremendous pressure on certain nations, to make sure the UN partition plan went through.]

Why was this Truman’s position?

“I am sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.” President Harry Truman, quoted in “Anti Zionism”, ed. by Teikener, Abed-Rabbo & Mezvinsky.

[Like Churchill, Truman seems to have surrendered to hubris. Rather than allowing the people of the region to determine their own fates, democratically, Truman decided to "do what was best" in his own hubris-engorged mind. At nearly the last minute advisors of his like Loy Henderson, Dean Rusk and James Forrestal had persuaded him that force would be need to make the UN partition plan work, and that the US should oppose the partition plan on this ground. But Zionists became aware that "something was up" and decided to make a last ditch attempt to change his mind, by smuggling a charismatic Jew, Chaim Weizmann, into his office. This was done through Truman's former business partner, an American Jew named Eddie Jacobson. Truman met Weizmann, a current of sympathy and understanding was exchanged, and viola!, the destinies of millions of Palestinians were forever changed, on the basis of a sudden friendship and a handshake. Forget democracy. Toss justice out the window. Harry S. Truman found a Jew he liked and that was all it took: Hubris with a capital H. Can Americans blame Palestinians for shaking their heads and wondering what we mean when we carol the words "democracy" and "human rights" to the high heavens?]

Was the partition plan fair to both Arabs and Jews?

“Arab rejection was ... based on the fact that, while the population of the Jewish state was to be [only half] Jewish with the Jews owning less than 10% of the Jewish state land area, the Jews were to be established as the ruling body — a settlement which no self-respecting people would accept without protest, to say the least ... The action of the United Nations conflicted with the basic principles for which the world organization was established, namely, to uphold the right of all peoples to self-determination. By denying the Palestine Arabs, who formed the two-thirds majority of the country, the right to decide for themselves, the United Nations had violated its own charter.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

[Exactly. Who needs democracy, really, when hubristic American Presidents can use their godlike powers to determine the fates of nations via their infallible intuitions?]

Were the Zionists prepared to settle for the territory granted in the 1947 partition?

“While the Yishuv’s leadership formally accepted the 1947 Partition Resolution, large sections of Israel’s society — including ... Ben-Gurion — were opposed to or extremely unhappy with partition and from early on viewed the war as an ideal opportunity to expand the new state’s borders beyond the UN earmarked partition boundaries and at the expense of the Palestinians.” Israeli historian, Benny Morris, in “Tikkun”, March/April 1998.

Public vs. private pronouncements on this question.

“In internal discussion in 1938 [David Ben-Gurion] stated that ‘after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine’ ... In 1948, Menachem Begin declared that: ‘The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel, All of it. And forever.” Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

[Here, in a nutshell, is the problem. Jews like David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin arbitrarily decided that all Palestine belonged to them, even though Ben-Gurion and Begin were both born in Poland. I was born in Orlando Florida. If I suddenly declared that Scotland belonged to me because my last name is "Burch" and "Burch" is a Scottish name, would anyone take me seriously? Yes, I have Scottish blood. No, I do not "own" Scotland because some of my ancestors were Scottish. Who owns the land of Scotland? The people who live there. Duh. Isn't it obvious that having an ancestor who once lived in Scotland does not give me some all-overriding claim to the land of Scotland? If I tried to take the homes of Scottish people, would they welcome me as a long-lost relative, or tell me to get lost?]

The war begins

“In December 1947, the British announced that they would withdraw from Palestine by May 15, 1948. Palestinians in Jerusalem and Jaffa called a general strike against the partition. Fighting broke out in Jerusalem’s streets almost immediately ...Violent incidents mushroomed into all-out war ... During that fateful April of 1948, eight out of thirteen major Zionist military attacks on Palestinians occurred in the territory granted to the Arab state.” “Our Roots Are Still Alive” by the People Press Palestine Book Project.

Zionists’ disrespect of partition boundaries

“Before the end of the mandate and, therefore before any possible intervention by Arab states, the Jews, taking advantage of their superior military preparation and organization, had occupied ... most of the Arab cities in Palestine before May 15, 1948. Tiberias was occupied on April 19, 1948, Haifa on April 22, Jaffa on April 28, the Arab quarters in the New City of Jerusalem on April 30, Beisan on May 8, Safad on May 10 and Acre on May 14, 1948 ... In contrast, the Palestine Arabs did not seize any of the territories reserved for the Jewish state under the partition resolution.” British author, Henry Cattan, “Palestine, The Arabs and Israel.”

Culpability for escalation of the fighting

“Menahem Begin, the Leader of the Irgun, tells how ‘in Jerusalem, as elsewhere, we were the first to pass from the defensive to the offensive ... Arabs began to flee in terror ... Hagana was carrying out successful attacks on other fronts, while all the Jewish forces proceeded to advance through Haifa like a knife through butter’... The Israelis now allege that the Palestine war began with the entry of the Arab armies into Palestine after 15 May 1948. But that was the second phase of the war; they overlook the massacres, expulsions and dispossessions which took place prior to that date and which necessitated Arab states’ intervention.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

The Deir Yassin Massacre of Palestinians by Jewish soldiers

“For the entire day of April 9, 1948, Irgun and LEHI soldiers carried out the slaughter in a cold and premeditated fashion ... The attackers ‘lined men, women and children up against the walls and shot them,’... The ruthlessness of the attack on Deir Yassin shocked Jewish and world opinion alike, drove fear and panic into the Arab population, and led to the flight of unarmed civilians from their homes all over the country.” Israeli author, Simha Flapan, “The Birth of Israel.”

Was Deir Yassin the only act of its kind?

“By 1948, the Jew was not only able to ‘defend himself’ but to commit massive atrocities as well. Indeed, according to the former director of the Israeli army archives, ‘in almost every village occupied by us during the War of Independence, acts were committed which are defined as war crimes, such as murders, massacres, and rapes’... Uri Milstein, the authoritative Israeli military historian of the 1948 war, goes one step further, maintaining that ‘every skirmish ended in a massacre of Arabs.’” Norman Finkelstein, “Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.”

What was the Arab reaction to the announcement of the creation of the state of Israel?

“The armies of the Arab states entered the war immediately after the State of Israel was founded in May. Fighting continued, almost all of it within the territory assigned to the Palestinian state ... About 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled in the 1948 conflict.” Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

Was the part of Palestine assigned to a Jewish state in mortal danger from the Arab armies?

“The Arab League hastily called for its member countries to send regular army troops into Palestine. They were ordered to secure only the sections of Palestine given to the Arabs under the partition plan. But these regular armies were ill equipped and lacked any central command to coordinate their efforts ... [Jordan’s King Abdullah] promised [the Israelis and the British] that his troops, the Arab Legion, the only real fighting force among the Arab armies, would avoid fighting with Jewish settlements ... Yet Western historians record this as the moment when the young state of Israel fought off “the overwhelming hordes’ of five Arab countries. In reality, the Israeli offensive against the Palestinians intensified.” “Our Roots Are Still Alive,” by the Peoples Press Palestine Book Project.

Ethnic cleansing of the Arab population of Palestine

“Joseph Weitz was the director of the Jewish National Land Fund ... On December 19, 1940, he wrote: ‘It must be clear that there is no room for both peoples in this country ... The Zionist enterprise so far ... has been fine and good in its own time, and could do with ‘land buying’ — but this will not bring about the State of Israel; that must come all at once, in the manner of a Salvation (this is the secret of the Messianic idea); and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer them all; except maybe for Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem, we must not leave a single village, not a single tribe’... There were literally hundreds of such statements made by Zionists.” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

“Following the outbreak of 1936, no mainstream (Zionist) leader was able to conceive of future coexistence without a clear physical separation between the two peoples — achievable only by transfer and expulsion. Publicly they all continued to speak of coexistence and to attribute the violence to a small minority of zealots and agitators. But this was merely a public pose ... Ben-Gurion summed up: ‘With compulsory transfer we (would) have a vast area (for settlement) ... I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see anything immoral in it,’” Israel historian, Benny Morris, “Righteous Victims.”

[Compulsory transfer of women, children and the elderly? Innocents dying of malnutrition, exposure and despair ... for what? Washington and Jefferson living in mansions staffed by slaves ... for what? Sitting Bull watching his tribe's women and children perishing ... for what? Hitler killing Jews ... Ben-Gurion killing Palestinians ... for what? To me it seems like the "alpha male syndrome" male lions suffer from, which causes them to kill the cubs of other male lions. Nothing but brute stupidity, and the longing of one male organism to dominate another male organism. Lunacy. Racism. An abomination.]

“Ben-Gurion clearly wanted as few Arabs as possible to remain in the Jewish state. He hoped to see them flee. He said as much to his colleagues and aides in meetings in August, September and October [1948]. But no [general] expulsion policy was ever enunciated and Ben-Gurion always refrained from issuing clear or written expulsion orders; he preferred that his generals ‘understand’ what he wanted done. He wished to avoid going down in history as the ‘great expeller’ and he did not want the Israeli government to be implicated in a morally questionable policy ... But while there was no ‘expulsion policy’, the July and October [1948] offensives were characterized by far more expulsions and, indeed, brutality towards Arab civilians than the first half of the war.” Benny Morris, “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949”

Didn’t the Palestinians leave their homes voluntarily during the 1948 war?

“Israeli propaganda has largely relinquished the claim that the Palestinian exodus of 1948 was ‘self-inspired’. Official circles implicitly concede that the Arab population fled as a result of Israeli action — whether directly, as in the case of Lydda and Ramleh, or indirectly, due to the panic that and similar actions (the Deir Yassin massacre) inspired in Arab population centers throughout Palestine. However, even though the historical record has been grudgingly set straight, the Israeli establishment still refused to accept moral or political responsibility for the refugee problem it — or its predecessors — actively created.” Peretz Kidron, quoted in “Blaming the Victims,” ed. Said and Hitchens.

[It makes no difference, really, whether the Palestinians left voluntarily, or were  forced to leave. The question is why they were not allowed to return. This is a terrible black mark on the reputation of every Israeli leader since 1948. Why were innocent farmers and their wives and children not allowed to return to their homes?]

“The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) monitored all Middle Eastern broadcasts throughout 1948. The records, and companion ones by a United States monitoring unit, can be seen at the British Museum. There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine, from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in 1948. There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put.” Erskine Childers, British researcher, quoted in Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

“That Ben-Gurion’s ultimate aim was to evacuate as much of the Arab population as possible from the Jewish state can hardly be doubted, if only from the variety of means he employed to achieve his purpose ... most decisively, the destruction of whole villages and the eviction of their inhabitants ... even [if] they had not participated in the war and had stayed in Israel hoping to live in peace and equality, as promised in the Declaration of Independence.” Israeli author, Simha Flapan, “The Birth of Israel.”

The deliberate destruction of Arab villages to prevent return of Palestinians

“During May [1948] ideas about how to consolidate and give permanence to the Palestinian exile began to crystallize, and the destruction of villages was immediately perceived as a primary means of achieving this aim ... [Even earlier,] On 10 April, Haganah units took Abu Shusha ... The village was destroyed that night ... Khulda was leveled by Jewish bulldozers on 20 April ... Abu Zureiq was completely demolished ... Al Mansi and An Naghnaghiya, to the southeast, were also leveled ... By mid-1949, the majority of [the 350 depopulated Arab villages] were either completely or partly in ruins and uninhabitable.” Benny Morris, “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949.

[This mindless destruction of Palestinian homes, which continues to this day, is symptomatic of the underlying disease: virulent racism. Why do Jews destroy homes and trees, over and over again, except that in their minds "Jewish" is good and "Palestinian" is bad? Why does a white racist despise a black baby, except that in his mind somehow "white" is good and "black" is bad? Here again is the illuminating email of the  young Australian peace activist who tried to prevent a home demolition triggered by a Palestinian woman dying and Jewish settlers showing up to demolish it, then claim it for themselves (presumably as "unoccupied"). How can this contribute to the "security" of Israel?]

After the fighting was over, why didn’t the Palestinians return to their homes?

“The first UN General Assembly resolution—Number 194— affirming the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property, was passed on December 11, 1948. It has been repassed no less than twenty-eight times since that first date. Whereas the moral and political right of a person to return to his place of uninterrupted residence is acknowledged everywhere, Israel has negated the possibility of return ... [and] systematically and juridically made it impossible, on any grounds whatever, for the Arab Palestinian to return, be compensated for his property, or live in Israel as a citizen equal before the law with a Jewish Israeli.” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

[What sort of nation would the United States be, if after thousands of black homeowners had fled Hurricane Katrina, our government allowed white "settlers" to claim "squatter's rights" to their land? In effect, this is what Israel did when it allowed Jews to claim Palestinian land was "free" for the taking because the rightful homeowners had fled temporarily to avoid a disaster.]

Is there any justification for this expropriation of land?

“The fact that the Arabs fled in terror, because of real fear of a repetition of the 1948 Zionist massacres, is no reason for denying them their homes, fields and livelihoods. Civilians caught in an area of military activity generally panic. But they have always been able to return to their homes when the danger subsides. Military conquest does not abolish private rights to property; nor does it entitle the victor to confiscate the homes, property and personal belongings of the noncombatant civilian population. The seizure of Arab property by the Israelis was an outrage.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

How about the negotiations after the 1948-1949 wars?

“[At Lausanne,] Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinians were trying to save by negotiations what they had lost in the war—a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Israel, however ... [preferred] tenuous armistice agreements to a definite peace that would involve territorial concessions and the repatriation of even a token number of refugees. The refusal to recognize the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and statehood proved over the years to be the main source of the turbulence, violence, and bloodshed that came to pass.” Israeli author, Simha Flapan, “The Birth Of Israel.”

Israel admitted to UN but then reneged on the conditions under which it was admitted

“The [Lausanne] conference officially opened on 27 April 1949. On 12 May the [UN’s] Palestine Conciliation ,Committee reaped its only success when it induced the parties to sign a joint protocol on the framework for a comprehensive peace. Israel for the first time accepted the principle of repatriation [of the Arab refugees] and the internationalization of Jerusalem ... [but] they did so as a mere exercise in public relations aimed at strengthening Israel’s international image ... Walter Eytan, the head of the Israeli delegation, [stated] ... ’My main purpose was to begin to undermine the protocol of 12 May, which we had signed only under duress of our struggle for admission to the U.N. Refusal to sign would ... have immediately been reported to the Secretary-General and the various governments.’” Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, “The Making of the Arab-Israel Conflict, 1947-1951.”

[Please note the words I bolded above. The pattern is clear: the leaders of Israel chose to speak publically as if they wanted peace, but the goal remained working to take all the land of Israel/Palestine by any means necessary.

“The Preamble of this resolution of admission included a safeguarding clause as follows: ‘Recalling its resolution of 29 November 1947 (on partition) and 11 December 1948 (on reparation and compensation), and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representative of the Government of Israel before the ad hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions, the General Assembly ... decides to admit Israel into membership in the United Nations.’“

“Here, it must be observed, is a condition and an undertaking to implement the resolutions mentioned. There was no question of such implementation being conditioned on the conclusion of peace on Israeli terms as the Israelis later claimed to justify their non-compliance.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

What was the fate of the Palestinians who had now become refugees?

“The winter of 1949, the first winter of exile for more than seven hundred fifty thousand Palestinians, was cold and hard ... Families huddled in caves, abandoned huts, or makeshift tents ... Many of the starving were only miles away from their own vegetable gardens and orchards in occupied Palestine — the new state of Israel ... At the end of 1949 the United Nations finally acted. It set up the United Nations Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA) to take over sixty refugee camps from voluntary agencies. It managed to keep people alive, but only barely.” “Our Roots Are Still Alive” by The Peoples Press Palestine Book Project.

The 1967 War and the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza

Did the Egyptians actually start the 1967 war, as Israel originally claimed?

“The former Commander of the Air Force, General Ezer Weitzman, regarded as a hawk, stated that there was ‘no threat of destruction’ but that the attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria was nevertheless justified so that Israel could ‘exist according the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.’... Menahem Begin had the following remarks to make: ‘In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.’“ Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

[The pattern remains the same: Israel refused to be bounded by the borders established by the UN, or by human decency. Israel will continue to assert its superiority and dominance, until the world checks its relentless advance at the expense of its neighbors. Egypt would later sue for peace, and in return Israel would focus its main designs for growth on the West Bank.

“I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to The Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it.” Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s Chief of Staff in 1967, in Le Monde, 2/28/68

Moshe Dayan posthumously speaks out on the Golan Heights

“Moshe Dayan, the celebrated commander who, as Defense Minister in 1967, gave the order to conquer the Golan ... [said] many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel, and the kibbutz residents who pressed the Government to take the Golan Heights did so less for security than for the farmland ... [Dayan stated] ‘They [Jewish settlers] didn’t even try to hide their greed for the land ... We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot.

And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was ... The Syrians, on the fourth day of the war, were not a threat to us.’” The New York Times, May 11, 1997

[The main goal of Israel is not "security" but acquiring land and water.]

The history of Israeli expansionism

“The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce Transjordan; one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today. But the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.” David Ben-Gurion, in 1936, quoted in Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

“The main danger which Israel, as a ‘Jewish state’, poses to its own people, to other Jews and to its neighbors, is its ideologically motivated pursuit of territorial expansion and the inevitable series of wars resulting from this aim ... No zionist politician has ever repudiated Ben-Gurion’s idea that Israeli policies must be based (within the limits of practical considerations) on the restoration of Biblical borders as the borders of the Jewish state.Israeli professor, Israel Shahak, “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of 3000 Years.”

[Bibi Netanyahu grew up in a family that believes Jordan "belongs" to Israel. Bill Clinton, as reported by Robert Fisk, said that Netanyahu fails to recognize the humanity of the Palestinians. Clinton also said that Netanyahu is "impossible" to work with. So not much has changed since 1948, although of course not all Jews share this racist dream of Israel "owning" its neighbor's land by Divine Fiat.]

In Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharatt’s personal diaries, there is an excerpt from May of 1955 in which he quotes Moshe Dayan as follows: “[Israel] must see the sword as the main, if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Toward this end it may, no — it must — invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation-and-revenge ... And above all — let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.Quoted in Livia Rokach, “Israel’s Sacred Terrorism.”

[By "get rid of our troubles" Dayan obviously meant Palestinian babies, toddlers and children who had the temerity to be born on the land Dayan lusted after, like a lion eying a lamb.]

But wasn’t the occupation of Arab lands necessary to protect Israel’s security?

“Senator [J. William Fulbright] proposed in 1970 that America should guarantee Israel’s security in a formal treaty, protecting her with armed forces if necessary. In return, Israel would retire to the borders of 1967. The UN Security Council would guarantee this arrangement, and thereby bring the Soviet Union — then a supplier of arms and political aid to the Arabs — into compliance. As Israeli troops were withdrawn from the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank they would be replaced by a UN peacekeeping force. Israel would agree to accept a certain number of Palestinians and the rest would be settled in a Palestinian state outside Israel.

“The plan drew favorable editorial support in the United States. The proposal, however, was flatly rejected by Israel. ‘The whole affair disgusted Fulbright,’ writes [his biographer Randall] Woods. ‘The Israelis were not even willing to act in their own self-interest.’” Allan Brownfield in “Issues of the American Council for Judaism.” Fall 1997.[Ed.—This was one of many such proposals]

What happened after the 1967 war ended?

“In violation of international law, Israel has confiscated over 52 percent of the land in the West Bank and 30 percent of the Gaza Strip for military use or for settlement by Jewish civilians ... From 1967 to 1982, Israel’s military government demolished 1,338 Palestinian homes on the West Bank. Over this period, more than 300,000 Palestinians were detained without trial for various periods by Israeli security forces. “Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising Against Israeli Occupation,” ed. Lockman and Beinin.

World opinion on the legality of Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza.

“Under the UN Charter there can lawfully be no territorial gains from war, even by a state acting in self-defense. The response of other states to Israel’s occupation shows a virtually unanimous opinion that even if Israel’s action was defensive, its retention of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was not ... The [UN] General Assembly characterized Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as a denial of self determination and hence a ‘serious and increasing threat to international peace and security.’ “ John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”

Examples of the effects of Israeli occupation

“A study of students at Bethlehem University reported by the Coordinating Committee of International NGOs in Jerusalem showed that many families frequently go five days a week without running water ... The study goes further to report that, ‘water quotas restrict usage by Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, while Israeli settlers have almost unlimited amounts.’

“A summer trip to a Jewish settlement on the edge of the Judean desert less than five miles from Bethlehem confirmed this water inequity for us. While Bethlehemites were buying water from tank trucks at highly inflated rates, the lawns were green in the settlement. Sprinklers were going at mid day in the hot August sunshine. Sounds of children swimming in the outdoor pool added to the unreality.” Betty Jane Bailey, in “The Link”, December 1996.

[I have read various accounts of Jewish settlers having water for swimming pools while nearby Palestinians were not allowed to dig new wells or deepen existing ones. The injustice is palpable. Again I reminded of the Jewish tour guide who told young Australian peace activist that the goal was to "politely" make it impossible for Palestinians to live on their own native soil. But there is nothing "polite" about acts of overt cruelty and barbarism.]

“You have to remember that 90 percent of children two years old or more have experienced — some many, many times — the [Israeli] army breaking into the home, beating relatives, destroying things. Many were beaten themselves, had bones broken, were shot, tear gassed, or had these things happen to siblings and neighbors ... The emotional aspect of the child is affected by the [lack of] security. He needs to feel safe. We see the consequences later if he does not. In our research, we have found that children who are exposed to trauma tend to be more extreme in their behaviors and, later, in their political beliefs.” Dr Samir Quota, director of research for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, quoted in “The Journal of Palestine Studies,” Summer 1996, p.84

“There is nothing quite like the misery one feels listening to a 35-year-old [Palestinian] man who worked fifteen years as an illegal day laborer in Israel in order to save up money to build a house for his family only to be shocked one day upon returning from work to find that the house and all that was in it had been flattened by an Israeli bulldozer. When I asked why this was done — the land, after all, was his — I was told that a paper given to him the next day by an Israeli soldier stated that he had built the structure without a license. Where else in the world are people required to have a license (always denied them) to build on their own property? Jews can build, but never Palestinians. This is apartheid.” Edward Said, in “The Nation”, May 4, 1998.

All Jewish settlements in territories occupied in the 1967 war are a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions, which Israel has signed.

“The Geneva Convention requires an occupying power to change the existing order as little as possible during its tenure. One aspect of this obligation is that it must leave the territory to the people it finds there. It may not bring its own people to populate the territory. This prohibition is found in the convention’s Article 49, which states, ‘The occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”

Excerpts from the U.S. State Department’s reports during the Intifada

Following are some excerpts from the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices from 1988 to 1991:

1988: ‘Many avoidable deaths and injuries’ were caused because Israeli soldiers frequently used gunfire in situations that did not present mortal danger to troops ... IDF troops used clubs to break limbs and beat Palestinians who were not directly involved in disturbances or resisting arrest ... At least thirteen Palestinians have been reported to have died from beatings ...’

1989: Human rights groups charged that the plainclothes security personnel acted as death squads who killed Palestinian activists without warning, after they had surrendered, or after they had been subdued ...

1991: [The report] added that the human rights groups had published ‘detailed credible reports of torture, abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian detainees in prisons and detention centers.” Former Congressman Paul Findley, “Deliberate Deceptions.”

[I have read literally hundreds of accounts of atrocities against Palestinians, many against children. Yes, Palestinians have also resorted to violence, but until Israel establishes equal rights, fair laws and fair courts, they must be considered freedom fighters, like the American Founding Fathers.

Jerusalem — Eternal, Indivisible Capital of Israel?

“Writing in The Jerusalem Report (Feb. 28, 2000), Leslie Susser points out that the current boundaries were drawn after the Six-Day War. Responsibility for drawing those lines fell to Central Command Chief Rehavan Ze’evi. The line he drew ‘took in not only the five square kilometers of Arab East Jerusalem — but also 65 square kilometers of surrounding open country and villages, most of which never had any municipal link to Jerusalem. Overnight they became part of Israel’s eternal and indivisible capital.’” Allan Brownfield in The Washington Report On Middle East Affairs, May 2000.

The History of Terrorism in the Region

Editor’s Note: We believe that the killing of innocent people is wrong, in all cases. Thus, we cannot condone the use of terrorism by some extreme Palestinian groups, especially prevalent during the 1970s. That being said, however, it is necessary to examine the context in which such incidents occurred.

We hear lots about Palestinian terrorism. How about the Israeli record?

“The record of Israeli terrorism goes back to the origins of the state — indeed, long before — including the massacre of 250 civilians and brutal expulsion of seventy thousand others from Lydda and Ramle in July 1948; the massacre of hundreds of others at the undefended village of Doueimah near Hebron in October 1948; ... the slaughters in Quibya, Kafr Kassem, and a string of other assassinated villages; the expulsion of thousands of Bedouins from the demilitarized zones shortly after the 1948 war and thousands more from northeastern Sinai in the early 1970’s, their villages destroyed, to open the region for Jewish settlement; and on, and on.” Noam Chomsky, “Blaming The Victims,” ed. Said and Hitchens.

[The title of Chomsky's book,
Blaming The Victims, is important. Throughout history, conquerors have always blamed their victims. White American slaveowners blamed their black slaves for being "inferior." White American settlers accused Native Americans of being "savages." White American politicians with forked tongues who broke treaty after treaty called Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse "insurrectionists." Nazis called Jews "terrorists" and every vile name under the sun. We can never believe what conquerors say about their victims.]

“However much one laments and even wishes somehow to atone for the loss of life and suffering visited upon innocents because of Palestinian violence, there is still the need, I think, also to say that no national movement has been so unfairly penalized, defamed, and subjected to disproportionate retaliation for its sins as has the Palestinian.“

[Here, I disagree. It is not a "crime" to break an illegal law: this is the basis of the American Declaration of Independence. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson lived in mansions and had plenty of food to eat and complete freedom of movement. If they had the right to kill Englishmen, what can we say about Palestinians who have none of their advantages? Of course I abhor violence, but I have to confront a simple fact: the British Monarchy could have avoided the American Revolutionary War by doing one of two things. It could have made the American colonists full, equal citizens of Britain, or it could have granted them their independence. When it refused, violence became inevitable. Now Israel is in exactly the same position. Israel must either make the Palestinians full, equal citizens of Israel, or it must grant the Palestinians independence so that they can be full, equal citizens of Palestinian state. For sixty years Israel has refused to do what must be done, and therefore Israel is responsible for all the violence on both sides. Americans cannot be hypocrites and call the American Founding Fathers "heroes" and the Palestinian resistance "terrorists."]

“The Israeli policy of punitive counterattacks (or state terrorism) seems to be to try to kill anywhere from 50 to 100 Arabs for every Jewish fatality. The devastation of Lebanese refugee camps, hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, and orphanages; the summary arrests, deportations, house destructions, maimings, and torture of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza ... these, and the number of Palestinian fatalities, the scale of material loss, the physical, political and psychological deprivations, have tremendously exceeded the damage done by Palestinians to Israelis.” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

The U.S. Government and media bias on terrorism in the Middle East

“It is simply extraordinary and without precedent that Israel’s history, its record — from the fact that it ... is a state built on conquest, that it has invaded surrounding countries, bombed and destroyed at will, to the fact that it currently occupies Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian territory against international law — is simply never cited, never subjected to scrutiny in the U.S. media or in official discourse ... never addressed as playing any role at all in provoking ‘Islamic terror.’” Edward Said in “The Progressive.” May 30, 1996.

Jewish Criticism of Zionism

Albert Einstein — “I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish State. Apart from practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish State, with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain ... “

Professor Erich Fromm, a noted Jewish writer and thinker, [stated] ... “In general international law, the principle holds true that no citizen loses his property or his rights of citizenship; and the citizenship right is de facto a right to which the Arabs in Israel have much more legitimacy than the Jews. Just because the Arabs fled? Since when is that punishable by confiscation of property, and by being barred from returning to the land on which a people’s forefathers have lived for generations? Thus, the claim of the Jews to the land of Israel cannot be a realistic claim. If all nations would suddenly claim territory in which their forefathers had lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse ... I believe that, politically speaking, there is only one solution for Israel, namely, the unilateral acknowledgement of the obligation of the State towards the Arabs — not to use it as a bargaining point, but to acknowledge the complete moral obligation of the Israeli State to its former inhabitants of Palestine ... “

“Nathan Chofshi — “Only an internal revolution can have the power to heal our people of their murderous sickness of causeless hatred ... It is bound to bring complete ruin upon us. Only then will the old and young in our land realize how great was our responsibility to those miserable Arab refugees in whose towns we have settled Jews who were brought here from afar; whose homes we have inherited, whose fields we now sow and harvest; the fruits of whose gardens, orchards and vineyards we gather; and in whose cities that we robbed we put up houses of education, charity, and prayer, while we babble and rave about being the ’People of the Book’ and the ’light of the nations’ ... “

“In an article published in the Washington Post of 3 October 1978, Rabbi Hirsch (of Jerusalem) is reported to have declared: ‘The 12th principle of our faith, I believe, is that the Messiah will gather the Jewish exiled who are dispersed throughout the nations of the world. Zionism is diametrically opposed to Judaism. Zionism wishes to define the Jewish people as a nationalistic entity. The Zionists say, in effect, ‘Look here, God. We do not like exile. Take us back, and if you don’t, we’ll just roll up our sleeves and take ourselves back.’ ‘The Rabbi continues: ‘This, of course, is heresy. The Jewish people are charged by Divine oath not to force themselves back to the Holy Land against the wishes of those residing there.’” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

“A Jewish Home in Palestine built up on bayonets and oppression [is] not worth having, even though it [should] succeed, whereas the very attempt to build it up peacefully, cooperatively, with understanding, education, and good will, [is] worth a great deal even though the attempt should fail.” Rabbi Judah L. Magnes, first president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, quoted in “Like All The Nations?”, ed. Brinner & Rischin.

Martin Buber on what Zionism should have been

“The first fact is that at the time when we entered into an alliance (an alliance, I admit, that was not well defined) with a European state and we provided that state with a claim to rule over Palestine, we made no attempt to reach an agreement with the Arabs of this land regarding the basis and conditions for the continuation of Jewish settlement.“

“This negative approach caused those Arabs who thought about and were concerned about the future of their people to see us increasingly not as a group which desired to live in cooperation with their people but as something in the nature of uninvited guests and agents of foreign interests (at the time I explicitly pointed out this fact).“

“The second fact is that we took hold of the key economic positions in the country without compensating the Arab population, that is to say without allowing their capital and their labor a share in our economic activity. Paying the large landowners for purchases made or paying compensation to tenants on the land is not the same as compensating a people. As a result, many of the more thoughtful Arabs viewed the advance of Jewish settlement as a kind of plot designed to dispossess future generations of their people of the land necessary for their existence and development. Only by means of a comprehensive and vigorous economic policy aimed at organizing and developing common interests would it have been possible to contend with this view and its inevitable consequences. This we did not do.“

“The third fact is that when a possibility arose that the Mandate would soon be terminated, not only did we not propose to the Arab population of the country that a joint Jewish Arab administration be set up in its place, we went ahead and demanded rule over the whole country (the Biltmore program) as a fitting political sequel to the gains we had already made. By this step, we with our own hands provided our enemies in the Arab camp with aid and comfort of the most valuable sort — the support of public opinion — without which the military attack launched against us would not have been possible. For it now appears to the Arab populace that in carrying on the activities we have been engaged in for years, in acquiring land and in working and developing the land, we were systematically laying the ground work for gaining control of the whole country.” Martin Buber, quoted in “A Land of Two Peoples” ed. Mendes-Flohr

Israel’s new historians now refute myths of the founding of the state

“Since the 1980’s ... Israeli scholars [have] concurred with their Palestinian counterparts that Zionism was ... carried out as a pure colonialist act against the local population: a mixture of exploitation and expropriation ... “

“They were motivated to present a revisionist point of view to a large extent by the declassification of relevant archival material in Israel, Britain and the United States. [For example,] ... “

“Challenging the Myth of Annihilation — The new historiographical picture is a fundamental challenge to the official history that says the Jewish community faced possible annihilation on the eve of the 1948 war. Archival documents expose a fragmented Arab world wrought by dismay and confusion and a Palestinian community that possessed no military ability with which to frighten the Jews ... “

“Israel’s responsibility for Refugees — The Jewish military advantage was translated into an act of mass expulsion of more than half of the Palestinian population. The Israeli forces, apart from rare exceptions, expelled the Palestinians from every village and town they occupied. In some cases, this expulsion was accompanied by massacres [of civilians] as was the case in Lydda, Ramleh, Dawimiyya, Sa’sa, Ein Zietun and other places. Expulsion also was accompanied by rape, looting and confiscation [of Palestinian land and property] ... “

“The Myth of Arab Intransigence — [The U.N.] convened a peace conference in Lausanne, Switzerland in the spring of 1949. Before the conference, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution that in effect replaced the November 1947 partition resolution. This new resolution, Resolution 194 of December 11, 1948, accepted [U.N. Mediator] Bernadotte’s triangular basis for a comprehensive peace: an unconditional return of all the refugees to their homes, the internationalization of Jerusalem, and the partitioning of Palestine into two states. This time, several Arab states and various representatives of the Palestinians accepted this as a basis for negotiations, as did the United States, which was running the show at Lausanne ... Prime Minister David Ben Gurion strongly opposed any peace negotiations along these lines ... The only reason he was willing to allow Israel to participate in the peace conference was his fear of an angry American reaction ... The road to peace was not taken due to Israeli, not Arab, intransigence.“

Conclusions — The new Israeli historians ... wish to rectify what their research reveals as past evils ... There was a high price exacted in creating a Jewish state in Palestine. And there were victims, the plight of whom still fuels the fire of conflict in Palestine.” Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe in “The Link”, January, 1998.

“It is no longer my country”

“For me, this business called the state of Israel is finished ... I can’t bear to see it anymore, the injustice that is done to the Arabs, to the Bedouins. All kinds of scum coming from America and as soon as they get off the plane taking over lands in the territories and claiming it for their own ... I can’t do anything to change it. I can only go away and let the whole lot go to hell without me.” Israeli actress (and household name) Rivka Mitchell, quoted in Israeli peace movement periodical, “The Other Israel”, August 1998.

The effect of Zionism on American Jews

“The corruption of Judaism, as a religion of universal values, through its politicization by Zionism and by the replacement of dedication to Israel for dedication to God and the moral law, is what has alienated so many young Americans who, searching for spiritual meaning in life, have found little in the organized Jewish community.” Allan Brownfield, “Issues of the American Council for Judaism”, Spring 1997.

Zionism and the Holocaust

The U.N. decisions to partition Palestine and then to grant admission to the state of Israel were made, on one level, as an emotional response to the horrors of the Holocaust, Under more normal circumstances, the compelling claims to sovereignty of the Arab majority would have prevailed. This reaction of guilt on the part of the Western allies was understandable, but that doesn’t mean the Palestinians should have to pay for crimes committed by others—a classic example of two wrongs not making a right.

[Being an editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry, I find it unfathomable that the Shoah of the Jews can be used by the Jews to excuse the Nakba of the Palestinians.]

The Holocaust is often used as the final argument in favor of Zionism, but is this connection justified? There are several aspects to consider in answering that question honestly. First, we will examine the historical record of what the Zionist movement actually did to help save European Jewry from the Nazis.

Shamir proposes an alliance with the Nazis

“As late as 1941, the Zionist group LEHI, one of whose leaders, Yitzhak Shamir, was later to become a prime minister of Israel, approached the Nazis, using the name of its parent organization, the Irgun(NMO). [The proposal stated:] ‘The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich would be in the interests of strengthening the future German nation of power in the Near East ... The NMO in Palestine offers to take an active part in the war on Germany’s side’ ... The Nazis rejected this proposal for an alliance because, it is reported, they considered LEHI’s military power ‘negligible.’ “ Allan Brownfield in “The Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs”, July/August 1998.

Wasn’t the main goal of Zionism to save Jews from the Holocaust?

“In 1938 a thirty-one nation conference was held in Evian, France, on resettlement of the victims of Nazism. The World Zionist Organization refused to participate, fearing that resettlement of Jews in other states would reduce the number available for Palestine.” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”

“It was summed up in the meeting [of the Jewish Agency’s Executive on June 26, 1938] that the Zionist thing to do ‘is belittle the [Evian] Conference as far as possible and to cause it to decide nothing ... We are particularly worried that it would move Jewish organizations to collect large sums of money for aid to Jewish refugees, and these collections could interfere with our collection efforts’ ... Ben-Gurion’s statement at the same meeting: ‘No rationalization can turn the conference from a harmful to a useful one. What can and should be done is to limit the damage as far as possible.’” Israeli author Boas Evron, “Jewish State or Israeli Nation?”

“[Ben-Gurion stated] ‘If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would choose the second — because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people.’ In the wake of the Kristallnacht pogroms, Ben-Gurion commented that ‘the human conscience’ might bring various countries to open their doors to Jewish refugees from Germany. He saw this as a threat and warned: ‘Zionism is in danger.’” Israeli historian, Tom Segev, “The Seventh Million.”

“Even David Ben-Gurion’s sympathetic biographer acknowledges that Ben-Gurion did nothing practical for rescue, devoting his energies to post-war prospects. He delegated rescue work to Yitzak Gruenbaum, who [stated] ... ’They will say that I am anti-Semitic, that I don’t want to save the Exile, that I don’t have a varm Yiddish hartz ... Let them say what they want. I will not demand that the Jewish Agency allocate a sum of 300,000 or 100,000 pounds sterling to help European Jewry. And I think that whoever demands such things is performing an anti-Zionist act.’

“Zionists in America ... took the same position. At a May 1943 meeting of the American Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs, Nahum Goldmann argued, ‘If a drive is opened against the White Paper (the British policy of restricting Jewish immigrants to Palestine) the mass meetings of protest against the murder of European Jewry will have to be dropped. We do not have sufficient manpower for both campaigns.’” Peter Novick, “The Holocaust in American Life.”

“The Zionist movement ... interfered with and hindered other organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, whenever it imagined that their activity, political or humanitarian, was at variance with Zionist aims or in competition with them, even when these might be helpful to Jews, even when it was a question of life and death ... Beit Zvi documents the Zionist leadership’s indifference to saving Jews from the Nazi menace except in cases in which the Jews could be brought to Palestine ... [e.g.] the readiness of the dictator of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, to absorb one hundred thousand refugees and the sabotaging of this idea — as well as others, like proposals to settle the Jews in Alaska and the Philippines — by the Zionist movement ...

“The obtuseness of the Zionist movement toward the fate of European Jewry did not prevent it, of course, from later hurling accusations against the whole world for its indifference toward the Jewish catastrophe or from pressing material, political, and moral demands on the world because of that indifference.” Israeli author Boas Evron, “Jewish State or Israeli Nation?”

“I have already gone exhaustively into the reason for our being here, reasons that I as a pioneer of 1906 can affirm have nothing to do with the Nazis! ... We are here because the land is ours. And we are here because we have again made it ours in this time with the work we have put into it. Nazism and our history of martyrdom abroad do not concern our presence in Israel directly.” David Ben-Gurion, “Memoirs.”

[Here again we hear the logic of house demolitions and olive trees being destroyed: only the results of Jewish labor are good. Everything Palestinian is bad. This is racism and an abomination.]

In hindsight, it is easy to say that the millions of Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust could have been saved if Palestine had been available for unlimited immigration. The history of this period is not so simple, however. First, keep in mind that other realistic resettlement plans were proposed but actively opposed by the Zionist movement. Second, the great majority of Jews in Europe were not Zionists and did not try to emigrate to Palestine before 1939. Third, after the start of the war, as the Nazis occupied various countries, they refused to let the Jews leave, making emigration virtually impossible. And Palestine, as we have shown, was already occupied; the indigenous Arabs had more valid reasons than any other country for wanting to limit Jewish immigration. Read on:

Emigration to Palestine before World War II

“In 1936, the Social Democratic Bund won a sweeping victory in Jewish kehilla elections in Poland ... Its main hallmarks included ‘an unyielding hostility to Zionism’ and to the Zionist enterprise of Jewish emigration from Poland to Palestine. The Bund wished Polish Jews to fight anti-Semitism in Poland by remaining there ... The Zionist goal was also opposed, as a matter of principle, by all the major parties and movements among pre-1939 Polish Jewry ... ”Elsewhere in eastern Europe ... Zionist strength was weaker still.” Prof. William Rubinstein, “The Myth of Rescue.”

“In fact, Zionism suffered its own defeat in the Holocaust; as a movement, it failed. It had not, after all, persuaded the majority of Jews to leave Europe for Palestine while it was still possible to do so.” Israeli historian, Tom Segev, “The Seventh Million.”

Emigration during World War II

“[With the start of the war, Nazi] edicts forbidding emigration followed in all countries under direct Nazi control: after 1940-1 it was in effect impossible for Jews legally to emigrate from Nazi-occupied Europe to places of safety ... The doors ... were firmly shut: by the Nazis, it must be emphasized.” Prof William D. Rubinstein, “The Myth of Rescue.

Palestine was not necessarily a safe haven either

“In September 1940, the Italians, at war with Britain, bombed downtown Tel Aviv, with over a hundred casualties ... As the German Army overran Europe and North Africa, it appeared possible that it would conquer Palestine as well. In the summer of 1940, in the spring of 1941, and again in the fall of 1942 the danger seemed imminent. The yishuv panicked ... Many people tried to find a way out of the country, but it was not easy ... Some ... were taking no chances; they carried cyanide capsules.” Israeli historian, Tom Segev, “The Seventh Million.”

In any case, Palestine was not Britain’s to give away; it was already occupied

“We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish, state here ... Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages ... There is not a single community in the country that did not have a former Arab population.” Israeli leader, Moshe Dayan, quoted in Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi’s “Original Sins.”

“One can imagine an argument for the right of a persecuted minority to find refuge in another country able to accommodate it; one is hard-pressed, however, to imagine an argument for the right of a peaceful minority to politically and perhaps physically displace the indigenous population of another country. Yet ... the latter was the actual intention of the Zionist movement.” Norman Finkelstein, “Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.”

The use of the Holocaust for political gain

“[In 1947] the U.N. appointed a special body, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), to make the decision over Palestine and UNSCOP members were asked to visit the camps of Holocaust survivors. Many of these survivors wanted to emigrate to the United States, a wish that undermined the Zionist claims that the fate of European Jewry was connected to that of the Jewish community in Palestine. When UNSCOP representatives arrived at the camps, they were unaware that backstage manipulations were limiting their contacts solely to survivors who wished to emigrate to Palestine.” Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe in “The Link,” January March 1998.

“Inside the DP camps, emissaries from the Yishuv organized survivor activity — crucially, the testimony the DPs gave to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry and the UN Special Committee on Palestine about where they wished to go ... The Jewish Agency envoys reported home that they had been successful in preventing the appearance of ‘undesirable’ witnesses at the hearings. One wrote his girlfriend in Palestine that ‘we have to change our style and handwriting constantly so that they will think that the questionnaires were filled in by the refugees.’” Peter Novick, “The Holocaust in American Life.”

Roosevelt’s advisor writes on why Jewish refugees were not offered sanctuary in the U.S. after WWII

“What if Canada, Australia, South America, England and the United States were all to open a door to some migration? Even today [written in 1947] it is my judgement, and I have been in Germany since the war, that only a minority of the Jewish DP’s [displaced persons] would choose Palestine ... “ [Roosevelt] proposed a world budget for the easy migration of the 500,000 beaten people of Europe. Each nation should open its doors for some thousands of refugees ... So he suggested that during my trips for him to England during the war I sound out in a general, unofficial manner the leaders of British public opinion, in and out of the government ... The simple answer: Great Britain will match the United States, man for man, in admissions from Europe ... It seemed all settled. With the rest of the world probably ready to give haven to 200,000, there was a sound reason for the President to press Congress to take in at least 150,000 immigrants after the war ... It would free us from the hypocrisy of closing our own doors while making sanctimonious demands on the Arabs ... But it did not work out ... The failure of the leading Jewish organizations to support with zeal this immigration programme may have caused the President not to push forward with it at that time ... “I talked to many people active in Jewish organizations. I suggested the plan ... I was amazed and even felt insulted when active Jewish leaders decried, sneered, and then attacked me as if I were a traitor ... I think I know the reason for much of the opposition. There is a deep, genuine, often fanatical emotional vested interest in putting over the Palestinian movement [Zionism]. Men like Ben Hecht are little concerned about human blood if it is not their own.” Jewish attorney and friend of President Roosevelt, Morris Ernst, “So Far, So Good.”


“Jewish proponents of the ‘victim’ card are aware not only of its social effectiveness but of its usefulness as a means of insuring Jewish solidarity and, hence, survival. If we were forever hated by all and are doomed to be forever hated by all, then we’d best stick together and make the best of it...Personally, I have never found this view of the eternally-hating gentile to have any resemblance with reality. It seems a myth, pure and simple, and an ugly one at that. Is it a good means of social control? Perhaps, but at what cost? It strips the faith and history of Jew and gentile alike of all but their months of antagonism. It wallows in evil imagery and postulates a forever morally superior Jew, victimized by the forever morally inferior ‘goy’... I have spent most of my adult life among Hasidic Jews, almost all of whom were Holocaust survivors, and I’ve heard almost nothing of the of the relentless harping on victimology and our need to forever memorialize it ...(Victimology) allows Jews to bypass their own faith and offers the national allegiance of Holocaust/Israel in its place.” Rabbi Mayer Schiller, quoted in “Issues of the American Council for Judaism,” Summer 1998.

General Considerations

Israel has sought peace with its Arab neighbor states but has steadfastly refused to negotiate with Palestinians directly, until the last few years. Why?

“My friend, take care. When you recognize the concept of ‘Palestine’, you demolish your right to live in Ein Hahoresh. If this is Palestine and not the Land of Israel, then you are conquerors and not tillers of the land. You are invaders. If this is Palestine, then it belongs to a people who have lived here before you came. Only if it is the Land of Israel do you have a right to live in Ein Hahoresh and in Deganiyah B. If it is not your country, your fatherland, the country of your ancestors and of your sons, then what are you doing here? You came to another people’s homeland, as they claim, you expelled them and you have taken their land.” Menahem Begin, quoted in Noam Chomsky’s “Peace in the Middle East?”

“Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs, We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country. Why should they accept that?” David Ben-Gurion, quoted in “The Jewish Paradox” by Nathan Goldman, former president of the World Jewish Congress.

“Before [the Palestinians] very eyes we are possessing the land and the villages where they, and their ancestors, have lived ... We are the generation of colonizers, and without the steel helmet and the gun barrel we cannot plant a tree and build a home.” Israeli leader Moshe Dayan, quoted in Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, “Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel”

“The Arabs will be our problem for a long time,” Weizmann said, “It’s not going to be simple. One day they may have to leave and let us have the country. They’re ten to one, but don’t we Jews have ten times their intelligence?” Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in 1919 at the Paris peace conference, quoted in Ella Winter, “And Not To Yield.”

The international consensus on Israel (a very small representative sampling)

“[In the early 1950s] Arab states regularly complained of the reprisals to the UN Security Council, which routinely rejected Israel’s claims of self-defense ... “

“In June 1982 Israel again invaded Lebanon, and it used aerial bombardment to destroy entire camps of Palestinian Arab refugees, By these means Israel killed 20,000 persons, mostly civilians...Israel claimed self-defense for its invasion, but the lack of PLO attacks into Israel during the previous year made that claim dubious...The [UN] Security Council demanded ‘that Israel withdraw all its military forces forthwith and unconditionally to the internationally recognized boundaries of Lebanon’ ... “

“The UN Human Rights Commission, using the Geneva Convention’s provision that certain violations of humanitarian law are ‘grave breaches’ meriting criminal punishment for perpetrators, found a number of Israel’s practices during the uprising [the intifada] to constitute ‘war crimes.’ It included physical and psychological torture of Palestinian detainees and their subjection to improper and inhuman treatment; the imposition of collective punishment on towns, villages and camps; the administrative detention of thousands of Palestinians; the expulsion of Palestinian citizens; the confiscation of Palestinian property; and the raiding and demolition of Palestinian houses.” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”

From the 1970s until the 1999 Israeli High Court decision forbidding torture during interrogation (theoretically), hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were subjected to inhuman treatment in Israeli prisons.

“Israel’s two main interrogation agencies in the occupied territories engage in a systematic pattern of ill-treatment and torture — according to internationally recognized definitions of the terms ... The methods used in nearly all interrogations are prolonged sleep deprivation; prolonged sight deprivation using blindfolds or tight-fitting hoods; forced, prolonged maintenance of body positions that grow increasingly painful; and verbal threats and insults.“

“These methods are almost always combined with some of the following abuses; confinement in tiny, closet-like spaces; exposure to temperature extremes, such as deliberately overcooled rooms, prolonged toilet and hygiene deprivation; and degrading treatment...Beatings are far more routine in IDF interrogations than in GSS interrogations. Sixteen of the nineteen detainees we interviewed [detained between 1992 and 1994] reported having been assaulted in the interrogation room. Beatings and kicks were directed at the throat, testicles, and stomach. Some were repeatedly choked; some had their heads slammed against the walls ... “

“Israeli interrogations consistently use methods in combination with one another, over long periods of time. Thus, a detainee in the custody of the General Security Service (GSS) may spend weeks during which, except for brief respites, he shuttles from a tiny chair to which he is painfully shackled; to a stifling, tiny cubicle in which he can barely move; to questioning sessions in which he is beaten or violently manhandled; and then back to the chair.“

“The intensive, sustained and combined use of these methods inflicts the severe mental or physical suffering that is central to internationally accepted definitions of torture. Israel’s political leadership cannot claim ignorance that ill-treatment is the norm in interrogation centers. The number of victims is too large, and the abuses too systematic,” 1994 Human Rights Watch report, “Torture and Ill-Treatment: Israel’s Interrogation of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories.”

“Amnesty International also observed that, when brought to trial, most Palestinian detainees arrested for ‘terrorist’ offenses and tortured by the Shin Bet (General Security Services) ‘have been accused of offenses such as membership in unlawful associations or throwing stones. They have also included prisoners of conscience such as people arrested solely for raising a flag.’ On a related point, Haaretz columnist B. Michael noted that there wasn’t a single recorded case in which the Shin Bet’s use of torture was prompted by a ‘ticking bomb’ scenario: ‘In every instance of a Palestinian lodging formal complaint about torture, the Shin Bet justified its use in order to extract a confession about something that had already happened, not about something that was about to happen.’” Norman Finkelstein, “The Rise and Fall of Palestine.”

The 1997 U.N. Commission Against Torture rules against Israel

“B’Tselem estimates that the GSS annually interrogates between 1000-1500 Palestinians [as of 1998]. Some eighty-five percent of them — at least 850 persons a year — are tortured during interrogation ... “

“The U.N. Committee Against Torture ... reached an unequivocal conclusion ...’The methods of interrogation [used in Israeli prisons] ... are in the Committee’s view breaches of article 16 and also constitute torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention ... As a State Party to the Convention Against Torture, Israel is precluded from raising before this Committee exceptional circumstances’ ... The prohibition on torture is, therefore, absolute, and no ‘exceptional’ circumstances may justify derogating from it.” 1998 Report from B’Teslem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, “Routine Torture: Interrogation Methods of the General Security Service.”

Some arguments used to justify Zionism

“There is clearly no need to justify the Zionist dream, the desire for relief from Jewish suffering ... The trouble with Zionism starts when it lands, so to speak, in Palestine. What has to be justified is the injustice to the Palestinians caused by Zionism, the dispossession and victimization of a whole people. There is clearly a wrong here, a wrong which creates the need for justification ... “

[E.g., the inheritance claim] The aim of Zionism is the restoration of a Jewish sovereignty to its status 2,000 years ago. Zionism does not advocate an overhauling of the total world situation in the same way. It does not advocate the restoration of the Roman empire ... [In addition,] Palestinians have claimed descent from the ancient inhabitants of Palestine 3,000 years ago! ...

[Jewish suffering as justification] It was easy to make the Palestinians pay for 2,000 years of persecution. The Palestinians, who have felt the enormous power of this vengeance, were not the historical oppressors of the Jews. They did not put Jews into ghettos and force them to wear yellow stars. They did not plan holocausts. But they had one fault. They were weak and defenseless in the face of real military might, so they were the ideal victims for an abstract revenge ...

[Anti-Semitism as justification] Unlike the situation of Jews persecuted for being Jews, Israelis are at war with the Arab world because they have committed the sin of colonialism, not because of their Jewish identity ...

[The law of the jungle justification.] Presenting the world as naturally unjust, and oppression as nature’s way, has always been the first refuge of those who want to preserve their privileges ... The need to justify Zionism, and the lack of other defenses, has made it part of the Israeli world view ... In Israel, one common outcome is cynicism, for which Israelis have become famous ...

[The effect on Israelis] Israelis seem to be haunted by a curse. It is the curse of the original sin against the native Arabs. How can Israel be discussed without recalling the dispossession and exclusion of non-Jews? This is the most basic fact about Israel, and no understanding of Israeli reality is possible without it. The original sin haunts and torments Israelis; it marks everything and taints everybody. Its memory poisons the blood and marks every moment of existence.” Israeli author, Benjamin Beit-Hallahami, “Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel.”

Zionism’s ‘historical right’ to Palestine

“Zionism’s ‘historical right’ to Palestine was neither historical nor a right. It was not historical inasmuch as it voided the two millennia of non-Jewish settlement in Palestine and the two millennia of Jewish settlement outside it. It was not a right, except in the Romantic ‘mysticism’ of ‘blood and soil’ and the Romantic ‘cult’ of ‘death, heroes and graves’... The claim of Jewish ‘homelessness is founded on a cluster of assumptions that both negates the liberal idea of citizenship and duplicates the anti-Semitic one that the state belongs to the majority ethnic nation. In a word, the Zionist case for a Jewish state is as valid as the anti-Semitic case for an ethnic state that marginalizes Jews.” Professor Norman Finkelstein, “Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict”

How about the Zionist argument that Jordan already is the Palestinian state?

“It is often alleged that there was, in fact, an earlier ‘territorial compromise’, namely in 1922, when Transjordan was excised from the promised ‘national home for the Jewish people,’...a decision that is difficult to criticize in light of the fact that ‘the number of Jews living there permanently in 1921 has reliably been estimated at two, or according to some authorities, three persons.’” Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

Why doesn’t Israel, “the only democracy in the Middle East,” have a constitution?

“The abstention from formulating a constitution was no accident. The massive expropriation of lands and other properties from those Arabs who fled the country as a result of the War of Independence and of those who remained but were declared absent, as well as the confiscation of large tracts of land from Arab villages who did not flee, and the laws passed to legalize those acts — all this would have necessarily been declared unconstitutional, null and void, by the Supreme Court, being expressly discriminatory against one part of the citizenry, whereas a democratic constitution obliges the state to treat all of its citizens equally.” Israeli author, Boas Evron, “Jewish State or Israeli Nation?”

“The 1989 Israel High Court decision that any political party advocating full equality between Arab and Jew can be barred from fielding candidates in an election ... [means] that the Israeli state is the state of the Jews ... not their [the Arabs’] state.” Professor Norman Finkelstein, “Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.”

Jewish Fundamentalism In Israel

The fundamentalist wing of the Jewish religion, while certainly not representative of Judaism as a whole, is influential in Israel, and is the ideological basis of the settler movement in the West Bank and Gaza (except for “Greater Jerusalem” where many secular Jews have moved because of cheap, subsidized housing) The following quotes show the racism inherent in this world-view and why its influence should be opposed by all rational people.

Ideological basis of racism in Israel

“The Talmud states that ... two contrary types of souls exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from the Satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness ... Rabbi Kook, the Elder, the revered father of the messianic tendency of Jewish fundamentalism said, “The difference between a Jewish soul and the souls of non-Jews ... is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.’” Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky’s “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel”

“Gush Emunim rabbis have continually reiterated that Jews who killed Arabs should not be punished, [e.g.]...Relying on the Code of Maimonides and the Halacha, Rabbi Ariel stated, ‘A Jew who killed a non-Jew is exempt from human judgement and has not violated the [religious] prohibition of murder’..The significance here is most striking when the broad support, both direct and indirect, for Gush Emunim is considered. About one-half of Israel’s Jewish population supports Gush Emunim.” Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky’s “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel”

Jewish fundamentalist rationale for seizing Arab land

“They argue that what appears to be confiscation of Arab owned land for subsequent settlement by Jews is in reality not an act of stealing but one of sanctification. From their perspective the land is being redeemed by being transferred from the satanic to the divine sphere...To further this process, the use of force is permitted whenever necessary ... Halacha permits Jews to rob non-Jews in those locales wherein Jews are stronger than non-Jews.” Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky’s “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel”

America — An impartial mediator?

“America’s credibility as mediator had long been questioned by Palestinians, and with reason. ‘The Palestinians always complain that we know the details of every proposal from the Americans before they do,’ one Israeli government source told The Independent recently. ‘There’s good reason for that: we write them.’” Phil Reeves in “The Independent” (U.K.), 10/9/2000

Lockstep U.S. Media tell (some of) the facts but not the truth

“Rarely do American journalists explore the ample reasons to believe that the United States is part of the oft-decried cycle of violence. Nor, in the first half of October, was there much media analysis of the fact that the violence overwhelmingly struck at the Palestinian people.“

“Within a period of days, several dozen Palestinians were killed by heavily armed men in uniform — often described by CNN and other news outlets as ‘Israeli security forces’. Under the circumstances, it’s a notably benign-sounding term for an army that shoots down protestors.“

“As for the rock-throwing Palestinians, I have never seen or heard a single American news account describing them as ‘pro democracy demonstrators.’ Yet that would be an appropriate way to refer to people who — after more than three decades of living under occupation — are in the streets to demand self determination.“

“While Israeli soldiers and police, with their vastly superior firepower, do most of the killing ... American news stories highlighted the specious ultimatums issued by Prime Minister Ehud Barak as he demanded that Palestinians end the violence — while uniformed Israelis under his authority continue to kill them ... “

“Like quite a few other Jewish Americans, I’m appalled by what Israel is doing with U.S. Tax dollars. Meanwhile, as journalists go along to get along, they diminish the humanity of us all.” Norman Solomon, “Media Spin Remains In Sync With Israeli Occupation,” from FAIR’s Media Beat, October 14, 2000.

Albright stands the facts on their heads

“With the same deadpan, expressionless, emotionless, glazed look, Madam Albright repeated: ‘Those Palestinian rock throwers have placed Israel under siege,’ adding that the Israeli army is defending itself ... [But] It is Israel that is the belligerent occupant of Palestine (and not the other way around) Israeli tanks and armored vehicles are surrounding Palestinian villages, camps and cities (and not the other way around). Israeli (American-made) Apache gunships are firing Lau and other missiles at Palestinian protestors and homes (and not the other way around). It is Israel that is confiscating Palestinian land and importing Jewish settlers to set up illegal armed settlements in the heart of Palestinian territory (and not the other way around). The settlers on the rampage in the West Bank and Israelis terrorizing Palestinians in their own homes (and not the other way around) ... Israel is committing atrocities against the Palestinians with total impunity, and yet you maintain, ‘Israel is beseiged.’” Hanan Ashrawi, in “The Progressive”, December 2000

A ‘benign’ occupation?

“Israelis like to believe, and tell the world, that they are running an ‘enlightened’ or ‘benign’ occupation, qualitatively different from other military occupations the world has seen. The truth was radically different. Like all occupations, Israel’s was founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation and manipulation.” Israeli historian, Benny Morris, “Righteous Victims.”

What “closure” means

“Just an hour’s drive from Jerusalem, a cruel drama has been underway for the past five months, the likes of which have not been seen since the early days of the Israeli occupation, but the majority of Israelis are taking absolutely no interest in it. The iron grip of the closure in its new format is increasingly strangling a population of 2.8 million people, yet no one is saying a word ...

“It has to be said starkly and simply: There has never been a closure like this there, in the land of barriers and closure. In the worst of times of the previous Intifada, when the IDF was in every corner and curfew reigned supreme, there was not a situation in which a whole people was jailed without a trial and without the right of appeal.

“Israel has split the West Bank by means of hundreds of trenches, dirt ramparts and concrete cubes which have been placed at the entrance to most of the towns and villages. No one enters and no one leaves, not those who are pregnant and not those who are dying. There isn’t even a soldier with whom one can plead and beg. A network of bizarre Burma roads that break through the encirclement are sending an entire people along muddy, rocky routes, with the situation aggravated by a substantial risk of getting caught or getting shot by soldiers who often open fire on the desperate travelers ...

“Never before has there been distress and suffering on this scale among the Palestinians in the territories. They will engender unprecedented despair and ultimately they will spark violence more cruel and painful than anything seen so far ... This is the point: the horrific distress of the Palestinians because of the present closure will quickly turn into the distress of the Israelis ... The current siege, a shamefully appalling operation, must be lifted quickly. This must not be made conditional on the cessation of the violence, because the siege itself is the most effective spur to violence.” Israeli writer, Gideon Levy, in Haaretz, March 4, 2001

Views Of The Future

A future free of ethnocentrism

“The first challenge, then, is to extract acknowledgement from Israel for what it did to us ... But then, I believe, we must also hold out the possibility of some form of coexistence in which a new and better life, free of ethnocentrism and religious intolerance, could be available ... If we present our claims about the past as ushering in a form of mutuality and coexistence in the future, a long-term positive echo on the Israeli and Western side will reverberate.” Edward Said in “The Progressive”, March 1998

Palestinian engineer and parliamentarian Salman Abu Sitta ... (showed) that ‘the return of the refugees is possible with no appreciable dislocation of Jewish residents.’ This is because ‘78 percent of the Jewish population of Israel lives on only 15 percent of the land’ ...

“Ironically, the land in the upper Galilee from which a very large percentage of the refugees were driven is so lightly populated because most of the immigrants [that] settled there refused to remain so far from the centers of Israeli urban life in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem ... Of those actually cultivating those former Palestinian fields, many are non-Jewish Thais, Rumanians and others slated to return to their countries at the end of their contracts.” Richard Curtiss from June 2000 issue of “Washington Report On Middle East Affairs.”


We hope that this look at the historical record concerning the root cause of the Middle East conflict will give second thoughts to all who have previously supported Israel’s actions.

The persecution of the Jews for centuries in Europe was the worst of many stains on the European record, and the Zionists’ desire for a place of sanctuary is certainly understandable. Like all other colonial enterprises, however, Zionism was based on the total disregard of the rights of indigenous inhabitants. As such, it is morally indefensible. And, as previously stated, all subsequent crimes — and there have been many on both sides — inevitably follow from this original injustice to the Palestinians.

Given the damage that has been done to the Palestinian people, Israel’s obligation is to make whatever amends possible. Among these should be assisting the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state in the entire West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. Israel should not object to this state and, in addition, should help with its foundation via generous reparations. Besides being the right thing to do, this would stop the sporadic acts of violence against Israel, as the Palestinians’ legitimate desire for their own state would be realized. Moreover, all laws that discriminate against non-Jews living in Israel should be repealed.

Given the history outlined in this paper, we conclude that the Palestinians have gotten “the short end of the stick” and that justice demands that wrongs should be righted. Full and complete justice would entail allowing any Palestinian to return to Israel if they wished but, practically speaking, we understand that this is a recipe for even more bloodshed. Therefore, recognizing that reality, we join Gush Shalom and other Israeli peace groups in calling for a negotiated, modified right of return with the bulk of Palestinian refugees being settled in a Palestinian state, financed by generous reparations from both Israel and the international community.

As U.S. citizens, we have a special obligation to see that justice is done in this matter. U.S. financial aid to Israel has been, and continues to be, enormous; and our diplomatic support is the crucial factor allowing Israel’s continued occupation of Arab territories. We strongly recommend that you contact your elected representatives in Washington and urge them to insist that, as a precondition of continued support, Israel must abide by the consensus of world opinion and withdraw to its 1967 borders, as demanded in numerous UN votes.

American Jews in particular have a special responsibility to acknowledge the Palestinian point of view in order to help move the debate forward. As Chomsky writes in his Peace in the Middle East?, “In the American Jewish community, there is little willingness to face the fact that the Palestinian Arabs have suffered a monstrous historical injustice, whatever one may think of the competing claims. Until this is recognized, discussion of the Middle East crisis cannot even begin.”

In the long run, only by admitting their culpability and making amends can Israelis live with their neighbors in peace. Only then can the centuries-old Jewish tradition of being a people of high moral character be restored. And only in this way can real security, peace and justice come to this ancient land.