Sunday, January 6, 2008

Zionism And The Birth Of Middle East Terrorism

Zionism And The Birth Of Middle East Terrorism

Ilan Pappe's book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, is the most important work on the history of Palestine that has appeared in decades. Its central focus is the manner in which the Zionists designed and executed a plan to expel the Palestinian people from their homeland, to erase the history of those people from the landscape of the new state of Israel, and to create an ersatz history of the region to tell a false Israeli story. Pappe's history, told with integrity and clarity, provides an essential framework for understanding the birth and development of Middle East terrorism and insurgency. That may not have been Pappe's goal, but the inevitability of Palestinian insurgency emerges clearly from his account.

The first myth to die under Pappe's pen is Israeli innocence.

The Israeli version of Middle East turmoil has it that the entire fault lies with the Palestinians. While Lord Balfour's declaration may have been written with the good Lord's fingers crossed behind his back, the declaration actually specified that nothing was to be done to disturb the rights of the people already in Palestine. The declaration, realistic or not, expected that Jews who migrated to the region would somehow fit in the spaces between Palestinians.

However, there was no unoccupied space worth occupying. Rather, the Palestinians-close to a million of them-lived in more than a dozen towns and a thousand villages. Since the economy was traditional agriculture, each Palestinian village was the home and gathering place for villagers who farmed the surrounding near countryside. Since most human movements were on foot, the reality of community design was that the peasant farmers as well as their landlords created a new village cluster when distances exceeded the practical norms for daily foot travel between village and farmlands. Many of the villagers did not own the land they farmed; Palestinian landed gentry often owned it, but the villagers were wedded to the land as their principal if not sole livelihood.

Over centuries the size and shape of these communities had been well defined by the realities of traditional agriculture, that combination of land, water, climate, and lifestyle needed to sustain a given population. For centuries that combination was productive, but as the population slowly expanded there simply were no empty spaces. Here the Zionist design hit an insuperable barrier: There actually was no place for a Jewish national home in Palestine.

Initially the Zionist response to the space problem was to buy land from landowners who were often absentees. In traditional practice, the villagers working the land went with it when the land was sold, but that practice did not serve the purposes of the Zionists. Palestinians were pushed off the land the Zionists bought and Jewish immigrants replaced the Palestinians. Resistance to this intrusive pattern of displacement caused two Palestinian uprisings before World War II. The British suppressed both rebellions rather harshly and dispersed much of Palestinian leadership. However, perhaps surprisingly, no Palestinian insurgent group emerged from that experience.

The second myth the Zionists invented was that the Palestinians left voluntarily.

The problem, as Pappe defines it for the Zionists, was that leaving the Palestinians on the land did not allow creation of the Jewish national home either rapidly or expansively enough to meet their scheme. The newborn United Nations organization notionally set out to solve this problem right after World War II by partitioningPalestine. The UN neither consulted the Palestinians nor considered their interests. Rather its solution gave more that half of Palestine-in fact most of the best lands-to the new Jewish national home. However, the Palestinians still occupied all of it; Pappe estimates the Zionists had acquired less than 6% of the land at that stage. TheUN scheme, innocently it seems, but certainly ill thought out, was that the Palestinians and the new Jewish settlers would live together.

That scheme simply did not fit Zionist plans. To reject it David Ben Gurion-eventual first Prime Minister, then de-facto leader-conceived stage one of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Pappe says the operation was called plan D. The ensuing process is what the Palestinian people call the Nakba or catastrophe of 1948. Ben Gurion and his core group took two Israeli terrorist groups, Stern and Irgun, as well as the young security force called Haganah and began to clear the land of Palestinians. During 1947 and 1948 these forces systematically murdered many Palestinian males and expelled thePalestinians from more than 500 villages and many from the traditional towns of Palestine except Jerusalem. They pushed more than 800,000 Palestinians into exile to Jordan-then including the West Bank-and surrounding countries.

Several massacres by Zionist terrorists, such as the killing of the people of the village of Deir Yassen near Jerusalem, received little to no international attention at the time (Albert Einstein and a small group of American Jewish notables wrote a letter about it to the New York Times, while Alfred Lilienthal's early 1950s book, What Price Israel, called sharp attention to it), but the great bulk of this Zionist war crime went virtually unnoticed in the United States and elsewhere in the west. Despite objections from knowledgeable officials in the State Department, the Truman administration, in power throughout the process, took no note of the crimes. Rather, in 1948 the United States was the first country to "recognize" the new state of Israel. That recognition essentially blessed the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Zionist myth number three says that Israel was founded in a barren wilderness that the Israelis made flower.

The Zionist PR scheme was to pretend they were putting deserving Jews into empty Palestinian lands. Pappe puts this myth to rest very persuasively. In a most literal sense, the Zionists buried the evidence. Systematically, as the Palestinian people were expelled their villages were destroyed. Buildings were pulled down and plowed under. In many cases fruit and olive trees, many centuries old, were kept but they were surrounded by new plantings including evergreens and other trees. Landmarks that were distinctively Palestinian were destroyed. The result was an "Israelized" landscape that, visitors were told, was the greening of the barren land that had existedbefore Jewish settlers transformed it. For people who knew little to nothing about the region or its history, meaning most Americans, the myth was persuasive at the time, and it pretty much remains so. But the myth can persist only if people ignore the fact that more than four million Palestinians-the Nakba refugees, their children andgrandchildren-today are crammed into the confining space of about 10% of their historic homeland, imprisoned by walls, razor wire and Israeli checkpoints in the least desirable parts of Palestine.

Myth number four is that the Israelis are the innocent victims of Palestinian terrorism.

This has to be the most carefully contrived and media protected fiction in history. For example, back last July the Israel Defense Force invaded Lebanon. While the IDF was unable to find and decimate Hezbollah-the Shi'a insurgent group in southern Lebanon-as planned, Israeli aircraft conducted a virtual carpet bombing of the coastalregions of Lebanon, largely destroying the country's economic infrastructure. However, while the Lebanon campaign had the world's attention, the IDF undertook a similar attack on the Gaza Strip and West Bank open-air prisons of the Palestinians. That campaign of bombing, strafing, assassination and harassment of the Palestinianpeople has continued to the present. The Palestinians sporadically have fought back with rocket fire and suicide bombings, but the casualty count is brutally lopsided. Hundreds of Palestinians are killed or injured for every Israeli. The Israelis now have in prison more than 11,000 Palestinians, while the alleged cause celebre of the recent attacks is Palestinian confinement of one IDF soldier.

Palestinian insurgency and terrorism are children of the Israeli pattern of repression.
The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the areas where 90% of Palestinians are presently confined, have been under Israeli military occupation since 1967. The link between that condition and the evolution of Palestinian insurgent/terrorist groups is absolutely clear.

Zionism And The Birth Of Middle East Terrorism

No comments: