BOOK REVIEW:  The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe

BOOK REVIEW:  The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe

by Stephen Lendman

Ilan Pappe is an Israeli historian and senior lecturer
at Haifa University.  He’s also Academic Director of
the Research Institute for Peace at Givat Haviva and
Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian
Studies.  Pappe is an expert on Israel and Zionism and
the Palestinians’ Right of Return to their homeland,
is considered “an honourable academic with integrity
and conscience,” and is a member of the Advisory Board
of the Council for Palestinian Restitution and
Repatriation (CPRR), an organization declaring that
“every Palestinian has a legitimate, individual right
to return to his or her original home and to absolute
restitution of his or her property.” 

Pappe is also one of Israel’s “new historians” whose
scholarship and writings are based on access to
material now available from British Mandate period and
Israeli archives that provide the most accurate and
authentic documented history of Israel before and
after it became a state and which now serve to debunk
the myths about the years leading up to the Jewish
State’s founding and those following it to this day.

Pappe has also authored, contributed to or edited nine
books.  His latest is the one this review covers in
detail so readers will know about its powerful and
shocking content, unknown to most in the West and in
Israel, that hopefully will arouse them enough to get
the book and learn in full detail what Pappe
documented.  He proves from official records how the
Israeli state came into being with blood on its hands
from lands forcibly seized from its Palestinian
inhabitants who’d lived on it for hundreds of years
previously.  Since the 1940s, they were ethnically
cleansed and slaughtered without mercy so their
homeland would become one for Jews alone.

The shameful result is that Palestinians then and
today have almost no rights including being able to
live in peace and security on their own land in their
own state that no longer exists.  Survivors then and
their offspring either live in Israel as unwanted Arab
citizens with few rights or in the Occupied
Palestinians Territories (OPT) where their lives are
suspended in limbo in an occupied country in which
they’re subjected to daily institutionalized and
codified racism and persecution.  They have no power
over their daily lives and live in a constant state of
fear with good reason.  They face economic
strangulation; collective punishment for any reason;
loss of free movement; enclosures by separation walls,
electric fences and border closings; regular curfews,
roadblocks, checkpoints, loss of their homes by
bulldozings and crops and orchards by wanton
destruction and seizure; arrest without cause, and
routine subjection to torture while in custody. 

They’re targeted for extra-judicial assassination and
indiscriminate killing; taxed punitively and denied
basic services essential to life and well-being
including health care, education, employment and even
enough food and water at the whim of Israeli
authorities in a deliberate effort to destroy their
will to resist and eliminate those who won’t by
expulsion or extermination.  Palestinians have no
power to end these appalling abuses and crimes
against humanity or receive any redress for them in
Israeli, the West or through the International
Criminal Court Israel ignores when it rules against
its interests.

How can they as Muslims in a racist Jewish state where
Israelis oppressive them with impunity, the US goes
along with huge financing and supplying of the most
modern and destructive weapons of war, and the West
and most Arab states are indifferent preferring to
ally with Israel and the US for benefits received
while writing off Palestinians as a small price worth
paying.  It created state of appalling human misery
and desperation severely aggravated by crushing
economic sanctions for the past year imposed for the
first time ever on an occupied people.  They’re
responsible for poverty and unemployment levels of 80%
or more and increasing instances of starvation and
unreported deaths from all causes because Israel
controls everything and everyone allowed in and out of
the territories.  Those inside them suffer painfully
as a result.  Others with power to help, don’t care
and do nothing.

Pappe documents how it all began in 12 chapters with a
short epilogue plus 18 graphic pictures needing no
explanation.  He calls the book his “J’Accuse against
the politicians who devised the plan and the generals
who carried out the ethnic cleansing” naming the
guilty, the villages and urban areas destroyed, and
the cruelest crimes committed against defenseless
people only wanting to live in peace on their own land
and were willing to do it with Jews as neighbors but
not as overlords or oppressors.

This review is lengthy so readers will know in detail
what Israeli authorities successfully suppressed for
decades. Pappe courageously revealed it in a book
begging to be read and discussed by all people of
conscience and good faith.  They need to take the lead
building a groundswell consensus to stand up to this
long-festering injustice against defenseless people
fighting for their rights and existence against
overwhelming odds.

Pappe provides them help with his extensive
documentation and other suggested reading on the
origins of Zionist ideology leading to the ethnic
cleansing in the 1940s and thereafter.  He
particularly mentions two of Nur Masalha’s important
books - Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of
Transfer in Zionist Political Thought, 1882 - 1948 and
The Politics of Denial: Israel and the Palestinian
Refugee Problem.  Readers are encouraged to explore
this issue further with these and other books exposing
ugly truths long suppressed in the West and needing to
be freely aired.

The Beginning - Initial Planning for Ethnic Cleansing

In his preface, Pappe writes about the “Red House” in
Tel-Aviv that became headquarters for the Hagana, the
dominant Zionist underground paramilitary militia
during the British Mandate period in Palestine between
1920 and 1948 when the Jewish state came into being.
He details how David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime
minister, met with leading Zionists and young Jewish
military officers on March 10, 1948 to finalize plans
to ethnically cleanse Palestine that unfolded in the
months that followed including “large-scale (deadly
serious)intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding
villages and population centres; setting fire to
homes, properties and goods; expulsion; demolition;
and finally, planting mines among the rubble to
prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from
returning.”

The final master plan was called Plan D (Dalet in
Hebrew) following plans A, B, and C preceding it.  It
was to be a war without mercy complying with what
Ben-Gurion said in June, 1938 to the Jewish Agency
Executive and never wavering from later: “I am for
compulsory transfer; I do not see anything immoral in
it.”  Plan D became the way to do it.  It included
forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of
unwanted Palestinian Arabs in urban and rural areas
accompanied by an unknown number of others mass
slaughtered to get it done.  The goal was simple and
straightforward - to create an exclusive Jewish state
without an Arab presence by any means including
mass-murder.

Once begun, the whole ugly business took six months to
complete.  It expelled about 800,000 people, killed
many others, and destroyed 531 villages and 11 urban
neighborhoods in cities like Tel-Aviv, Haifa and
Jerusalem.  The action was a clear case of ethnic
cleansing that international law today calls a crime
against humanity for which convicted Nazis at
Nuremberg were hanged.  So far Israelis have always
remained immune from international law even though
names of guilty leaders and those charged with
implementing their orders are known as well as the
crimes they committed. 

They included cold-blooded mass-murder; destruction of
homes, villages and crops; rapes; other atrocities;
and massacres of defenseless people given no quarter
including women and children.  The crimes were
suppressed and expunged from official accounts as
Israeli historiography cooked up the myth that
Palestinians left voluntarily fearing harm from
invading Arab armies.  It was a lie covering up
Israeli crimes Palestinians call the Nakba - the
catastrophe or disaster that’s still a cold, harsh
festering unresolved injustice.

Even with British armed presence still in charge of
law and order before its Mandate ended, Jewish forces
completed the expulsion of about 250,000 Palestinians
the Brits did nothing to stop.  It continued unabated
because when neighboring Arab states finally
intervened, they did so without conviction.  They came
belatedly and with only small, ill-equipped forces, no
match for a superior, well-armed Israeli military
easily able to prevail as discussed below.

Ethnic Cleansing Defined

Pappe notes that ethnic cleansing is well-defined in
international law that calls it a crime against
humanity.  He cites several definitions including from
the Hutchinson encyclopedia saying it’s expulsion by
force to homogenize the population.  The US State
Department concurs adding its essence is to eradicate
a region’s history.  The United Nations used a similar
definition in 1993 when the UN Commission on Human
Rights (UNCHR) characterized it as the desire of a
state or regime to impose ethnic rule on a mixed area
using expulsion and other violence including
separating men and women, detentions, murder of males
of all ages who might become combatants, destruction
of houses, and repopulating areas with another ethnic
group. 

In 1948, Zionists waged their “War of Independence”
using Plan D to “cleanse” Palestine according to the
UN definition.  It involved cold-blooded massacres and
indiscriminate killing, targeted assassinations and
widespread destruction as clear instances of crimes of
war and against humanity, later expunged from the
country’s official history and erased from its
collective memory.  It was left it to a few courageous
historians like Ilan Pappe to resurrect events to
preserve the truth too important to let die.  His
invaluable book provides an historic account of what,
in fact, happened.  It needs broad exposure but won’t
get it in the corporate-controlled Israeli, US or
Western media overall.  It will on this important web
site with the courage to publish it.

Zionism’s Ideological Roots

Pappe traces the roots of Zionism to the late 1880s in
Central and Eastern Europe “as a national revival
movement, prompted by the growing pressure on Jews in
those regions to assimilate totally or risk continuing
persecution.”  Founded by Theodor Herzl, the movement
became international in scope supporting a Jewish
homeland in the Land of Israel, or Eretz Israel, even
though early on many in the movement were ambivalent
about its location.  That changed following Herzl’s
death in 1904 when it was decided the goal was to
colonize Palestine because of its biblical connection
that happened to be land occupied inappropriately by
“strangers” meaning anyone not Jewish having “no
right” to be there. 

So as justification, the myth was created of “a land
without people for a people without a land” even
though this “empty land” had a flourishing Palestinian
Arab population including a small number of Jews.
Zionist leaders wanted a complete dispossession of
indigenous Arabs to reestablish the ancient land of
Eretz Israel as a Jewish state for Jews alone and got
help doing it from the British after Palestine became
part of its empire post-WW I.  With duplicity, the
Brits crafted the 1917 Balfour Declaration supporting
the notion of a Jewish homeland in Palestine while
simultaneously promising indigenous Arabs their rights
would be protected and land would be freed from
foreign rule.

Palestinian Arabs saw through the scheme wanting no
part of it.  It was their land, and they weren’t about
to give it up without a struggle.  They strongly
opposed further Jewish immigration but to no avail, as
their wishes conflicted with British plans for the
territory. It set off decades of conflict leading to
the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 with
British help under their Mandate and neighboring Arab
state indifference doing little to prevent it.
Palestinians lost their homeland, their struggle for
justice goes on unresolved, and these beleaguered
people are virtually isolated from the West and their
Arab neighbors preferring alliance with Israel for
their own interests that exclude helping Palestinian
people get theirs served including a viable
independent state free from Israeli occupation.

Pappe traces the early post-Balfour history when
Palestinians comprised 80 - 90% of the population.
Even then they fared poorly under British Mandate rule
giving Zionist settlers preferential treatment.  It
led to uprisings in 1929 and 1936, the later one
lasting three years before being brutally suppressed.
In its wake, Britain expelled Palestinian leaders
making their people vulnerable to Jewish forces
post-WW II that led to their defeat and subjugation.
The sympathetic British Mandate made it possible by
helping Jewish settlers transform their 1920
paramilitary organization into the Hagana, a name
meaning defense.  It then became the military arm of
the Jewish Agency or Zionist governing body now called
the Israel Defense Forces or IDF.

Planning the Expulsion of the Palestinians

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, led
the Zionist movement from the mid-1920s until well
into the 1960s.  He played a central role and had
supreme authority planning the establishment of a
Jewish state serving as its “architect” with full
control over all security and defense issues in the
Jewish community.  His goal was Jewish sovereignty
over as much of ancient Palestine as possible achieved
the only way he thought possible - by forceable
removable of Palestinians from their land so Jews
could be resettled in it.

To do it, he and other Zionist leaders needed a
systematic plan to “cleanse” the land for Jewish
habitation only.  It began with a detailed registry or
inventory of Arab villages the Jewish National Fund
(JNF) was assigned to compile.  The JNF was founded in
1901 as the main Zionist tool for the colonization of
Palestine.  Its purpose was to buy land used to settle
Jewish immigrants that by the end of the British
Mandate in 1948 amounted to 5.8% of Palestine or a
small fraction of what Zionists wanted for a Jewish
state.  Early on, Ben-Gurion and others knew a more
aggressive approach was needed for their colonization
plan to succeed.

It began with the JNF Arab village inventory that was
a blueprint completed by the late 1930s that included
the topographic location of each village with detailed
information including husbandry, cultivated land,
number of trees, quality of fruit, average amount of
land per family, number of cars, shop owners,
Palestinian clans and their political affiliation,
descriptions of village mosques and names of their
imams, civil servants and more.  The final inventory
update was finished in 1947 with lists of “wanted”
persons in each village targeted in 1948 for
search-and-arrest operations with those seized
summarily shot on the spot in cold blood. 

The idea was simple - kill the leaders and anyone
thought to be a threat the British hadn’t already
eliminated quelling the 1936-39 uprising.  It created
a power vacuum neutralizing any effective opposition
to Zionists’ plans. The only remaining obstacle
thereafter was the British presence Ben-Gurion knew
was on the way out by 1946 before it finally ended in
May, 1948.

Partition, Ethnic Cleansing, War, and Establishment of
the State of Israel

Ethnic cleansing began in early December, 1947 when
Palestinians comprised two-thirds of the population
and Jews, mostly from war-torn Europe, the other
third.  The British tried dealing with two distinct
ethnic entities choosing partition as the way to do
it.  By 1937, this solution became the centerpiece of
Zionist policy, but it proved too hard for the Brits
to resolve and be able to satisfy both sides.  It
instead handed the problem to the newly formed UN to
deal with before their Mandate ended.

It put the Palestinians’ fate in the hands of a
Special Committee for Palestine (UNSCOP) whose members
had no prior experience solving conflicts and knew
little Palestinian history.  It was a recipe for
disaster as events unfolded.  UNSCOP opted for
partition favoring the Jews as compensation for the
Nazi holocaust that became General Assembly Resolution
181 on November 29, 1947 giving them a state
encompassing 56% the country with one-third of the
population while making Jerusalem an international
city.  Palestinians were justifiably outraged.  They
were excluded from the decision-making process
concluded against their will and at their expense. 

From that moment on, the die was cast leading to
partition, ethnic cleansing, the first Arab-Israeli
war, the others to follow, and decades of disregard
for their rights to this day creating their desperate
state with no resolution in prospect.  Resolution 181
was even worse than an unfair 56 - 44% division of
territory as it allotted the most fertile land and
almost all urban and rural territory in Palestine to
the new Jewish state plus 400 of the over 1000
Palestinian villages their residents lost with no
right of appeal. 

Pappe explains Ben-Gurion simultaneously accepted and
rejected the resolution.  He and other Zionist leaders
wanted official international recognition of the right
of Jews to have their own state in Palestine.  He was
also determined to make Jerusalem the Jewish capital,
intended final borders to remain flexible wanting to
include within them as much future territory as
possible, and today Israel is the only country in the
world without established borders.  Ben-Gurion decided
borders would “be determined by force and not by
partition resolution.”  He headed the Consultancy or
Consultant Committee, an ad-hoc cabal of Zionist
leaders created solely to plan the expulsion of
Palestinians to cleanse the land for Jewish habitation
only.

The process began in early December, 1947 with a
series of attacks against Palestinian villages and
neighborhoods.  They were engaged ineffectively from
the start on January 9 by units of the first all-Arab
volunteer army.  It resulted in forced expulsions
beginning in mid-February, 1948.  On March 10, final
Plan Dalet was adopted with its first targets being
Palestinian urban centers that were all occupied by
end of April with about 250,000 Palestinians uprooted,
displaced or killed including by massacres, the most
notorious and remembered being at Deir Yassin even
though Tantura may have been the largest.

Deir Yassin was Palestinian land on April 9 when
Jewish soldiers burst into the village, machine-gunned
houses randomly killing many in them.  The remaining
villagers were then assembled in one place and
murdered in cold blood including children and women
first raped and then killed.  Recent research puts the
number massacred at 93 (including 30 babies), but
dozens more were killed in the fighting that ensued
making the total number of deaths much higher.

The Arab League finally decided on April 30 to
intervene militarily but only after the British
Mandate ended on May 15, 1948, the day the Jewish
Agency declared the establishment of the state of
Israel in Palestine.  The US and Soviet Union
officially recognized the new state legitimizing it,
and on the same day Arab forces entered the territory.

Pappe details the Zionist leadership’s plan and steps
it followed to gain as much of Palestine as possible
with the fewest number of Palestinians remaining in
it, irrespective of Resolution 181 it ignored.  They
wanted over 80% of Mandatory Palestine or over 40%
more land than the UN allotted them taken forcibly
from the Palestinians.  To get it, they colluded
tacitly with the Jordanians, effectively neutralizing
the strongest Arab army, buying them off with the
remaining 20% of the territory.

On the eve of battle in 1948, Jewish fighting forces
were around 50,000 (increasing by summer to 80,000).
They included a small air force, navy and units of
tanks, armored cars and heavy artillery.  The army was
comprised of the main Hagana force plus elements of
the two extremist terrorist groups - the Irgun led by
future prime minister and fanatical Arab-hater
Menachem Begin and the Stern Gang whose most notorious
member was also a future prime minister, Yitzhak
Shamir, another extreme racist.  It also included
special commando Palmach units, founded in 1941 and
whose leaders included future Israeli prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin and noted general and war hero Moshe
Dayan. They faced a hopelessly outmanned and outgunned
Palestinian irregular force of about 7000.

Outside Arab intervention only began on May 15, 1948,
five and a half months after UN Resolution 181 was
adopted and during which time the Palestinians were
defenseless against the Zionist ethnic cleansing
onslaught against them.  Arab states waited because
they were indifferent, and when they finally acted
they sent an inferior force proving no match for the
superior Jewish one it faced to be discussed further
below.

Finalizing Plans to De-Arabize Palestine

In December, 1947, the Palestinian population numbered
1.3 million of which one million lived in the
territory of the future Jewish state.  The Jewish
minority stood at 600,000.  Zionist leaders needed a
way to dispose of this large number of people
“cleansing” the land for Jewish habitation only.  They
weren’t planning to do it gently.  Instead it became a
systematic campaign of state-sponsored terror against
a near-defenseless population unable to withstand the
horrific onslaught unleashed against it step by step.
It included threats and intimidation, villages
attacked including while its inhabitants slept,
shooting anything that moved, and blowing up homes
with their residents inside plus other violent acts
sparing no one, especially fighting-age men and boys
who might pose a combat or determined resistance
threat.

Ben-Gurion exulted in the progress as events unfolded
with comments like: “We are told the army had the
ability of destroying a whole village and taking out
all its inhabitants, let’s do it.”  Another time he
explained: “Every attack has to end with occupation,
destruction and expulsion.”  He meant the entire
population of a village had to be removed, everything
in it leveled to the ground and its history destroyed.
In its place, a new Jewish community would be
established as part of the new Jewish state he and
others in the Consultancy believed wasn’t possible
without a mass ethnic cleansing transfer and/or
extermination of Palestinians living there. 

Their plan also included cleansing urban neighborhoods
that were attacked beginning with Haifa picked as the
first target.  It was where 75,000 Palestinians lived
in peace and solidarity with their Jewish neighbors
until it ended with the outbreak of violence.  It
moved on to other cities including Jerusalem where
initial sporadic attacks later became intense.  It was
part of an overall initiative of occupation,
expulsion and slaughter of anyone resisting or just
having the misfortune to live on land Zionists wanted
for themselves and intended taking by force.

As ethnic cleansing progressed, it got more vicious as
the Consultancy decided to ransack whole villages and
massacre large numbers in them including women,
children and babies.  Shamefully, it began and
intensified under Mandate authority with a large
British military presence on the ground to maintain
order that never did.  It chose instead to look the
other way and let all horrific events on the ground go
on unimpeded.  By March, 1948, Plan Dalet became
operational as the battle plan to remove the entire
Palestinian population from the 78% of the country
Zionists established as the state of Israel on May 15
when the Mandate ended.

The campaign included disingenuous rhetoric and
propaganda about Jews in Palestine being under threat
from a hostile population having to go on the
offensive in self-defense.  The truth turned that
notion on its head because of the military, political
and economic imbalance between the two communities.
It was so lopsided, the outcome was never in doubt as
long as the British stayed out of it.  They did, and
after the Mandate ended in mid-May it was the UN’s
problem to deal with.  It also failed the test as
discussed below.

Plan Dalet began in the rural hills on the western
slopes of the Jerusalem mountains half way on the road
to Tel-Aviv.  It was called Operation Nachshon, and it
served as a model for future campaigns.  It employed
sudden massive expulsions using terror tactics that
proved the most effective way to clear an area
preparing it for Jewish resettlement to follow.  Early
on, the plan wasn’t to spare a single village, and
orders given to carry it out were clear: “the
principle objective of the operation is the
destruction of Arab villages (and) the eviction of the
villagers so that they would become an economic
liability for the general Arab forces.” 

To motivate attacking Israeli forces, Palestinians
were dehumanized as sub-humans worthy of no respect or
consideration making them legitimate targets for
destruction.  It’s the same tactic US forces used
against the Japanese in WW II, in Vietnam and today in
Iraq and Afghanistan.  In each instance, targets were
people of color or others not white enough like Arabs.

Pappe details what he calls the “urbicide of
Palestine” that included attacking and cleansing the
major urban centers in the country.  They included
Tiberias, Haifa, Tel-Aviv, Safad and what Pappe calls
the “Phantom City of Jerusalem” changed from the
“Eternal City” once Jewish troops shelled, attacked
and occupied its western Arab neighborhoods in April,
1948.  The Brits stood aside shamelessly doing nothing
to stop it except in one area, Ahaykh Jarrah, where a
local British commander intervened.

It was a rare exception proving how much better
Palestinians would have fared if their British
“protectors” had actually done their job.  They
didn’t, and the result was anarchy and a state of
panic with Israelis having free reign to ravage
Northern and Western Jerusalem with heavy shelling,
pillaging and destruction while ethnically cleansing
the population in eight Palestinian neighborhoods and
39 villages in the greater Jerusalem area transferring
them to the Eastern part of the city.

The urbicide continued into May with the occupation of
Acre on the coast and Baysan in the East on May 6.  On
May 13, Jaffa was the last city taken two days before
the Mandate ended.  The city had 1500 volunteers
against 5000 Jewish troops.  It survived a three week
siege and attack through mid-May, but when it fell its
entire population of 50,000 was expelled.  With its
fall, Jewish occupying forces had emptied and
depopulated all the major cities and towns of
Palestine, and most of their inhabitants never again
got to see their former homes.

Pappe explains this all happened between March 30 and
May 15, 1948 “before a single regular Arab soldier had
entered Palestine (to help Palestinians which they did
ineffectively when they finally came).”  His account
also undermines the Israeli-concocted myth that
Palestinians left voluntarily before or after Arab
forces intervened.  Nearly half their villages were
attacked and destroyed before Arab countries sent in
any forces, and another 90 villages were wiped out
from May 15 (when the Mandate ended) till June 11 when
the first of two short-lived truces took effect.

The UN’s partition plan caused the problem, and yet
the world body did nothing to remediate a situation
that was out of control.  Early on it was clear a
potential disaster loomed that, in fact, ended up
worse than first imagined.  Still, the British through
May 15, the UN, and neighboring Arab states of Egypt,
Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq procrastinated as long
as possible before reluctantly stepping in, and when
they did it was too little, too late.  Pappe calls
Jordan’s (Transjordan then) King Abdullah “the odd man
out.”  He had army units inside Palestine, some were
willing to protect villagers’ homes and lands, but
they were restrained by their commanders.

It was because earlier the King and Zionists cut a
deal allowing Jordan to annex most of the land the
partition allocated to the Palestinians that became
the West Bank.  In return, Jordanian forces agreed not
to engage Jewish troops militarily.  To their shame
and discredit, the Brits agreed to this scheme
effectively sealing the Palestinians’ fate.  Still,
once the British Mandate ended, Jordan had to fight
Jewish forces for what it got because Ben-Gurion
reneged on his deal.  All along, he wanted as much
territory as possible for a new Jewish state on more
land than the 78% he ended up with.  The Jordanian
military prevailed, spoiling his plans.  It saved
250,000 Palestinians in the West Bank from being
ethnically cleansed the way other Palestinians were
who weren’t as fortunate.

As already explained, after waffling during March and
April, the Arab League finally sent regular armies to
intervene in Palestine.  Ironically at this time, it
was learned the US State Department on March 12, 1948
drafted a new proposal to the UN suggesting the
partition plan failed and an alternate approach was
needed.  The proposal was for an international
trusteeship over Palestine to last five years during
which time the two sides would work out a mutually
agreed solution.  It concluded partitioning failed and
was causing violence and bloodshed.  Pappe notes in
the long history of Palestine and its relationship to
the West, this was the most sensible proposal ever
made.

Shamefully it was stillborn because even then a
Zionist lobby was influential in Washington, it dealt
with Harry Truman in the White House, and it succeeded
in derailing the State Department’s efforts even
though Department Arabists convinced Truman to
rethink the partition plan and proposed a three month
armistice to both sides to consider it.  That also
failed as a new Jewish People’s Board was created and
met on May 12. Ben-Gurion and almost all others
present rejected Truman’s offer.  Three days later
they established the state of Israel which the White
House recognized almost immediately.

The Phony and Real Wars Over Palestine

As explained above, Jordan’s King Abdullah cut a deal
with Zionists to get what turned out to be the West
Bank in return for not committing troops to the
short-lived conflict beginning in May although
Abdullah, if fact, had to fight for what he got
because of Jewish duplicity.  Zionists needed to
neutralize Jordan because it had the strongest army in
the Arab world and would have been a formidable threat
had it become part of the overall Arab force that went
to war with the new Jewish state.  Their staying out
of it was the reason the Arab League’s English
Commander-in-Chief, Glubb Pasha, called the 1948 war
in Palestine the “Phony War.”  Pasha knew Abdullah cut
a deal for his own territorial gain and other Arab
armies entering the war planned to do it
“pathetically” as some on the Arab interventionist
side called their campaign.

Cairo only committed forces the last minute on May 12.
It set aside 10,000 troops for the engagement, but
half of them were Muslim Brotherhood volunteers
opposed to Egyptian collaboration with imperialism,
and they’d just been released from prison because of
their opposition.  They had no training, were likely
picked as convenient cannon fodder, and despite their
fervor were no match for the Jewish military.

Syrian forces were better trained, their political
leaders more committed, but only a small contingent
was sent, and they performed so ineffectively the
Consultancy considered seizing the Golan Heights later
gotten in the 1967 war.  Even smaller and less
committed were Lebanese units most of which stayed on
their side of the border defending adjacent villages.
Iraqi troops were also involved but only numbered a
few thousand.  Their government ordered them not to
attack Israel but only to defend the West Bank land
allocated to Jordan.  Still, they defied orders,
became more broadly engaged, and temporarily saved 15
Palestinian villages in Wadi Ara until 1949 when the
Jordanian government ceded the area to Israel as part
of a bilateral armistice agreement.

Overall, invading Arab forces performed
“pathetically.” They overstretched their supply lines,
ran out of ammunition, used mostly antiquated and
malfunctioning arms, and there was no command and
control coordination vital for a successful campaign.
It showed their lack of commitment to the final
outcome although in fairness to them their main
British and French suppliers declared an arms embargo
on Palestine hamstringing their effort. 

In contrast, Jewish forces had a ready source of
armaments from the Soviet Union and its Eastern bloc
countries like Checkoslovakia.  As a result, their
weapons easily outgunned the combined Arab force, and
its force size outnumbered and outclassed them.
Jewish forces were never threatened, and Pappe exposed
the Israeli-concocted myth that the very existence of
a Jewish state was at stake.  It never was, and
Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders knew it early on.

The war’s outcome was never in doubt, and it allowed
ethnic cleansing to go on unimpeded.  It spared no one
from removal, slaughter and loss of their homes and
land.  They were dynamited, torched, and leveled to
the ground to make way for new Jewish settlements and
neighborhoods to be built on vacated land.  Still Arab
forces continued fighting getting Israelis to agree to
the first of two brief truces.  The first one was
declared on June 8 and begun on the 11th.  It lasted
until July 8, during which time the Israeli army
continued its cleansing operation that included mass
destruction of emptied villages.

A second truce began on July 18 that was violated
immediately.  The Israeli leadership was undeterred
and continued engaging in widespread ethnic cleansing
and seizure of as much land as possible.  Truce or no
truce, the campaign went on unhindered to conclusion
that was mostly completed by October and wrapped up
finally in January, 1949 except for some mopping-up
operations that continued until summer.

In September, 1948, the war, such as it was, continued
but subsided.  It finally ended in 1949 when Israel
signed separate armistice agreements with its four
major warring adversaries.  The agreements allotted
Israel 78% of British Mandatory Palestine, over 40%
more than the UN partition allowed.  The cease-fire
lines agreed to became known as the “Green Line.”
Gaza was occupied by Egypt and the West Bank by
Jordan.  For the victorious Israelis, this was their
moment of triumph in their “War of Independence”, but
for the defeated and displaced Palestinians it became
known as “al Nakba” - “The Catastrophe.”  An unknown
number of Palestinians were killed and about 800,000
became refugees.  Their lives were destroyed, and they
were left to the mercy of neighboring Arab countries
and conditions in the camps where they barely got any.

Toward the end of 1948, Israel focused on its
anti-repatriation policy pursuing it on two levels.
The first was national, introduced in August that
year, with the decision taken to destroy all cleansed
villages transforming them into new Jewish settlements
or “natural” forests.  The second level was diplomatic
to avoid international pressure to allow Palestinian
refugees to return to their homes and villages.

Nonetheless, Palestinians had an ally in the UN
Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) that
spearheaded efforts for refugees to return and called
for their unconditional right to do it.  Their
position became UN Resolution 194 giving Palestinians
the unconditional option to return to their homes or
be compensated for their losses if they chose not to.
This right was also affirmed in Article 13 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted as
General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III) on December
10, 1948, the day before it passed Resolution 194. To
this day, all Israeli governments have ignored both
resolutions and gotten away with it because of support
and complicity by the West and indifference by
Israel’s Arab neighbors preferring strategic alliances
for their own benefit and writing off the Palestinians
as a small price to pay for it to their shame and
disgrace.

The Ugly Face of Occupation

Even at war’s end and Israel’s ethnic cleansing
completed, Palestinians’ agony and hardships were only
beginning.  Throughout 1949, and beginning a precedent
continuing to this day, about 8,000 refugees were put
in prison camps while many others escaping cleansing
were physically abused and harassed under Israeli
military rule.  The Palestinians lost everything
including their homes, fields, places of worship and
other holy places, freedom of movement and expression
and any hope for just treatment and redress according
to the rule of law not applied to them.  They were
afflicted with such indignities as needing
newly-issued identity cards.  Not having them on their
person at all times meant imprisonment up to 1.5 years
and immediate transfer to a pen for “unauthorized” and
“suspicious” Arabs.  This went on in cities and rural
areas as undisguised racism and persecution.

Other kinds of Israeli harshness were also introduced
at this time that all Palestinians are still subjected
to today in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
(OPT).  There were roadblocks that now include
checkpoints and curfews with violators shot on sight.
These conditions were imposed to make life so
unbearable, those subjected to them might opt to leave
the territories for relief elsewhere.

Worse still in 1949 were labor camps where thousands
of Palestinian prisoners were held under military rule
for forced labor for all tasks that could strengthen
the economy or aid the military.  Conditions in them
were deplorable and included working in quarries
carrying heavy stones, living on one potato in the
morning and half a dried fish at noon.  Anyone
complaining was beaten severely, and others were
singled out for summary execution if they were
considered a threat.

Life outside prison and labor camps wasn’t much
better.  Red Cross representatives sent their Geneva
headquarters reports of collective human rights abuses
including finding piles of dead bodies.  Overall,
Palestinians surviving expulsion and now Israeli
citizens gained nothing.  They had no rights and were
subjected to constant random violence and abuse with
no protection from the law applying only to Jews.
Their places of worship were profaned and schools
vandalized.  Those still with homes were robbed with
impunity by looters in broad daylight.  They took
everything they wanted - furniture, clothing, anything
useful for Jewish immigrants entering the new Jewish
state.  Palestinians reported that there wasn’t a
single home or shop not broken into and ransacked.
The authorities did nothing to stop it or prosecute
offenders.  It was like living under a perpetual
“Kristallnacht.”

Further, Palestinian areas were “ghettoised” as a way
to imprison people other than by putting them behind
bars or in camps.  In Haifa, for example, they were
ordered from their homes and transferred to designated
parts of the city, then crammed into confined quarters
the way it was done in Wadi Nisnas, one of the city’s
poorest areas. The UN and Red Cross also reported many
cases of rape, confirmed by uncovered Israeli archives
and from the oral history of victims and their
boasting victimizers.

Finally, with the war over and ethnic cleansing
completed, the Israeli government relaxed its
harshness and halted the looting and ghettoisation in
cities.  A new structure was created called The
Committee for Arab Affairs that dealt with growing
international pressure on Israel to allow for
repatriation of the refugees.  Israeli officials tried
to sidestep efforts by proposing instead refugees be
settled in neighboring Arab states like Lebanon,
Jordan and Syria.  Their efforts succeeded as
discussions produced no results nor was there much
effort to enforce Resolution 194. 

Other issues also remained unresolved including money
expropriated from the former 1.3 million Palestinian
citizens of Mandatory Palestine as well as their
property now in Israeli hands.  The first governor of
the Israeli national bank estimated it was valued at
100 million British pounds.  There was also the
question of cultivated land confiscated and lost that
amounted to 3.5 million dunum or almost 22,000 square
miles.  The Israeli government forestalled
international indignation by appointing a custodian
for the newly acquired properties pending their final
disposition.  It dealt with the problem by selling
them to public and private Jewish groups which it
claimed the right to do as the moment confiscated
lands came under government custodianship they became
property of the state of Israel.  That, in turn, meant
none of it could be sold to Arabs which is still the
law in Israel today.

As this took place, the human geography of Palestine
was transformed by design.  Its Arab character in
cities was erased and with it the history and culture
of people who lived there for centuries before
Zionists arrived to depopulate their state making it
one for Jews alone.  They only succeeded partially but
managed to transform ancient Palestine into the state
of Israel creating insurmountable problems
Palestinians now face in it and the OPT.  In 1949,
about 150,000 Palestinians survived expulsion in the
territory of Israel and were now citizens designated
by the Committee of Arab Affairs as “Arab Israelis.”
That designation meant they were denied all rights
given Jews.

They were put under military rule, comparable to the
Nuremberg Laws under the Nazis and no less harsh.  It
denied them the basic rights of free expression,
movement, organization and equality with the “chosen
Jewish people” of the new Jewish state.  They still
had the right to vote and could be elected to the
Israeli Knesset, but with severe restrictions.  This
regime lasted officially until 1966, but, in fact,
never ended to this day and has been especially severe
since the democratic election of Hamas in January,
2006 as well as throughout the Second Intifada that
began with Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the
al-Aqsa Mosque on September 28, 2000.

The Committee of Arab Affairs continued meeting, and
as late as 1956 considered plans for mass removal of
all remaining Arabs in Israel. Even though ethnic
cleansing formerly ended in 1949, expulsions continued
throughout this period until 1953, but never really
ended to this day.  Palestinians surviving it paid a
terrible price with the loss of their possessions,
land, history and future still unaddressed with
justice so far denied them and ignored.

The theft of their land by ethnic cleansing led to new
Jewish settlements in their place and now are built on
occupied Palestinian land in the OPT.  In 1950,
disposition of it was placed in the hands of the
Settlement Department of the Jewish National Fund
(JNF).  The JNF law was passed in 1953 granting the
agency independent status as landowner for the Jewish
state.  That law and others, like the Law of the Land
of Israel, stipulated the JNF wasn’t allowed to sell
or lease land to non-Jews.  The Knesset passed a final
law in 1967, the Law of Agricultural Settlement,
prohibiting the subletting of Jewish-owned land to
non-Jews.  The law also prohibited water resources
from being transferred to non-JNF lands.

After ethnic cleansing completion, Palestinians
remaining comprised 17% of the new Israeli state but
were was allotted only 2% of the land to live and
build on with another 1% for agricultural use only.
Today, 1.4 million Palestinian Arabs are Israeli
citizens or about 20% of the population.  The still
have the same 3% total, an intolerable situation for a
population this size.  The 1.4 million Palestinians in
occupied, ghettoized and quarantined Gaza live under
even harsher conditions in what’s now considered the
world’s largest open air prison with a population
density three times that of Manhattan.  The 2.5
million others in the West Bank aren’t treated much
better living under severe repression from a foreign
occupier.

“Memoricide” of the Nakba

Palestinian lands under JNF control also included
authority to rename them to destroy centuries of
history they signified.  The task went to
archaeolgists and biblical experts volunteering to
serve on an official Naming Committee to “Hebraisize”
Palestine’s geography.  The goal was to de-Arabize the
lands, erase their history, and use it for new Jewish
colonization and development as well as create
European-looking national parks with recreational
facilities including picnic sites and children’s
playgrounds for Jews only.  Hidden beneath them were
destroyed Palestinian villages erased from the public
memory but not from that of people who once lived
there who’d never forget or allow their descendents
to. 

The JNF website features four of the larger, most
popular resort parks belying and defiling the long
history beneath them - the Birya Forest, Ramat Menashe
Forest, Jerusalem Forest and Sataf.  They all
symbolize Pappe’s poignant prose that: “better than
any other space today in Israel, (these lands
represent) both the Nakba and the denial of the
Nakba.”  Today, descendents of families displaced six
decades ago still live in refuge camps and diasporic
communities in neighboring Arab countries and
elsewhere.  Their collective memories won’t ever be
erased nor will justice be served until they receive
redress for the crimes committed against their
ancestors and those still living.

Pappe emphasizes what other regional experts like him
believe - the key to peace in the Middle East is a
just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian refugee
problem as well as equity for those living in the OPT
and all Palestinian Israeli citizens long denied any
rights and forced to live in an Israeli apartheid
state under harsh conditions of severe repression. 

Pappe believes two main factors deter conflict
resolution today - the Zionist ideology of ethnic
supremacy and the so-called “peace process” that’s
always been structured to avoid peace at all costs.
The first factor continues denying the Nakba’s
legitimacy, and the second one always succeeds in
foiling an international will to bring justice to the
region by maintaining a state of conflict to justify
Israel’s harsh response to it pretending it’s for
self-defense.  It works because the US supports and
funds the Jewish state allowing it to get away with
mass-murder, property destruction, land theft and
denial of everything Palestinians hold dear including
their lives and freedom.  Nothing has changed since
1948 because the West goes along as well as do most
Arab states for their own political and economic gain.
Palestinians have no bargaining power and can do
nothing to alleviate their plight.

The UN world body should have aided them but never
did. It’s flawed partition plan caused the conflict to
begin with.  It cost Palestinians everything, and
nothing happened since to win them redress.  Even
after its early missteps, the UN might have made a
difference but erred again by not involving the
International Refugee Organization (IRO) that always
recommends repatriation as a refugee entitlement.
Instead it backed Israel’s wish to avoid IRO
involvement by creating a special agency for
Palestinian refugees that became UNRWA in 1950 or the
UN Relief and Work Agency.  UNRWA wasn’t committed to
the Right of Return and only looked after refugees’
daily needs to provide employment and fund permanent
camps to house them.  Its efforts amounted to little
more than putting band-aids on gaping wounds still raw
and unaddressed. 

It’s typical of how the UN still operates today under
the thumb of its dominant member country where it’s
headquartered.  It’s so-called “peacekeeping” function
is a pathetic and disgraceful example as keeping the
peace is the one thing Blue Helmets almost never do.
Its first ever operation began in 1948 as the United
Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)
mandated to supervise the armistice agreements and
earlier uneasy truces between warring Israeli and Arab
forces.  It’s been there ever since, never prevented
wars in 1956, 1967 and 1973 nor did it ever succeed in
establishing or maintaining peace.  The operation is
still active, but it’s little more than a pathetic
presence without purpose observing violations on the
ground and doing nothing to stop them or even report
them properly to superiors.  The IDF controls
everything, operates freely, and UN “peacekeepers”
keep quiet but no peace. 

Out of this mess earlier, Palestinian nationalism
emerged as the Palestinian Liberation Organization
(PLO) that became the sole legitimate representative
of the Palestinian people.  It was founded by the Arab
League in 1964 and committed to the Right of Return.
It also had to confront what Pappe calls “two
manifestations of denial” - international peace
brokers’ denial of Palestinian concerns as part of a
future peace arrangement and refusal to deal with
Israelis’ denial of the Nakba and their unwillingness
to be held accountable for it.  To this day, refugee
issues and Nakba crimes are excluded from the
so-called “peace process” assuring there never will be
a one unless that changes.

At first, in the spring of 1949, the UN made some
conflict resolution effort by organizing a conference
in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Nothing came from it,
however,  because prime minister Ben-Gurion and King
Abdullah scuttled it to get on with their partition
scheme. Two more decades were then lost until after
the 1967 war when the US got more involved, began
colluding with the Israelis, and couched all new peace
efforts within an overall context of a Middle East Pax
Americana.  It meant from that time till now, an
equitable resolution of the conflict and attention to
Palestinians’ needs and rights were sidelined in favor
of addressing Israeli needs and those of its US
partner.

In 1967, Israel excluded the 1948 Nakba and Right of
Return from any peace discussions. Thenceforth, it
based all negotiations on the notion that the conflict
began in 1967 when Israel seized and occupied the West
Bank and Gaza in the June Six Days’ War that year.
This was how Israel sought to legitimize its 1948 “War
of Independence” and all its crimes it wanted erased
from the public memory.  No longer were they on the
table to be considered in any future conflict
resolution negotiation.  For Palestinians, the 1948
Nakba is their core issue, and without it being
settled equitably there can never be closure or a real
lasting peace in the region.

Nonetheless, by the mid-seventies, the PLO softened
its stance enough to accept a US-led international
consensus favoring a two-state solution.  It led to
the 1978 Camp David Accords and peace treaty between
Israel and Egypt, but it left Palestinians out in the
cold by implicitly renouncing their Right of Return
and failing to address the issue of an independent
state. 

The predictable result was festering anger in the OPT
that led to the first Intifada in 1987 that, in turn,
led to the Madrid peace conference following the 1991
Gulf war.  From it, the 1993 Oslo Accords and
so-called Declaration of Principles emerged that once
again betrayed Palestinian hopes for redress denied
them to this day.  Israel got an agreement to
establish a new Palestinian Authority (PA) to act as
its comprador enforcer to control a restive people.
All the tough issues were left unaddressed meaning
they never would be - an independent Palestinian
state, the Right of Return, status of Jerusalem,
settlements in the OPT and established borders.

Oslo I led to Oslo II in 1995 and further betrayal.
The new agreement divided the West Bank into three
zones - Areas A, B, and C plus a fourth area of
Israeli occupied East Jerusalem.  It established a
complicated system of control allowing Israel in Area
C to build settlements on the most valuable land with
its water resources mostly denied the Palestinians.
By 2000, 59% of the West Bank was in Area C.  Israel
is slowly annexing more of the territory by expanding
settlements and building new ones.  It’s also getting
it by its Separation or Apartheid Wall on seized
Palestinian land, building new roads for Jews only on
more of it, and defining one-third of the West Bank as
Greater Jerusalem.

So-called “permanent status” talks began in July, 2000
at Camp David that once again resulted in betrayal.
Israelis never made a good faith offer in writing or
intended to.  They provided no documentation or maps.
All Palestinians got was a plan dividing the West Bank
into four isolated “Bantustan” cantons surrounded by
Israeli settlements and continued occupation with no
resolution of their fundamental long-standing problems
and core issues. 

Predictably it led to the second al-Aqsa Mosque
Intifada triggered by Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit
to the Muslim Noble Sanctuary on September 28, 2000 as
explained above.  It then spun out of control when
Palestinians, fed up with Fatah betrayal,
democratically elected a Hamas government in January,
2006 foiling Israeli efforts to assure their complicit
allies would again prevail.  When they didn’t, Israel
denounced the results, never accepted Hamas as a peace
partner, refused to negotiate with them in good faith,
and acted ever since in bad faith to destroy Hamas and
punish the Palestinian people for their “wrong”
choice. That’s how things always work under rules of
imperial management practiced by the US and its
Israeli partner complicit in their collective attempt
to destroy a democratically elected government
misportraying them as “terrorists” to get the West to
go along and the public to believe it.

Today, Israel is slowly annexing more of the West Bank
in a relentless process wanting all useful parts of it
for exclusive Jewish habitation only.  It made the job
easier by defining one-third of it as Greater
Jerusalem while expropriating Palestinian land to
expand existing settlements, build new ones, add new
roads for Jews only, and erect the Separation Wall
falsely claimed for security to disguise its real
land-grab purpose plus another way to cantonize
Palestinians in isolated areas cut off from all others
and effectively enclose them in large open-air
prisons.

This is part of the appalling daily oppression and
persecution ongoing against Palestinians in the OPT
and also against Israeli Arab citizens living in
Israel.  Former US president Jimmy Carter pierced the
“last taboo” daring to open a forbidden window on part
of it in his new best-selling book Peace Not Apartheid
that got him vilified by the Israeli Lobby implying
he’s anti-semitic.  He courageously wrote about a
rigid system of segregation in the OPT even though he
failed to acknowledge the same injustices go on inside
Israel he called a model democratic state which it is
not.

Palestinian Israeli citizens living get none of the
democratic rights afforded Israeli Jews, and Carter,
of course, knows that or should know it.  He distanced
himself from that consideration that might have been
too much truth to reveal at one time.  Nonetheless,
his bold, if partial, step represents an important
breakthrough that may encourage other high-level
officials in the US and elsewhere to add their voices
to his exposing all Israeli crimes demanding redress.
They won’t ever be addressed until enough prominent
figures step forward to denounce them and finally
reveal their extent to an uninformed public.

Redress one day will come just like it did for Jews no
longer persecuted as they were for centuries.  But it
won’t happen until the power of the Israeli Lobby is
neutralized by forces for truth and justice surpassing
it in power and influence.  That day is nowhere in
sight, but when it arrives, Jews and Arabs will again
live in peace the way they once did in pre-Zionist
times.  It’s the way Jews and Christians now easily
mix in the US unlike decades ago when anti-semitism
was significant enough to deny Jews the kinds of
opportunities and rights they now take for granted
including achieving positions of high influence in
government, business, academia and other prominent
public and private institutions in the country.
There’s no reason Jews and Arabs can’t coexist as
easily provided there’s a will to do it or events
intervene.

An Intractable Problem Caused by “Fortress Israel”

Pappe’s final chapter deals with what Israel calls its
“demographic problem” and need to limit future
Palestinian population growth.  The problem is an old
one understood by early Zionists as the major obstacle
in the way of their dream of a homeland for Jews
alone.  Theodor Herzl wrote his solution in his diary
in 1895: “We shall endeavour to expel the poor
population across the border unnoticed, procuring
employment for it in the transit countries, but
denying it any employment in our own country.”

In 1947, Ben-Gurion adopted his own version of Herzl’s
solution with his ethnic cleaning plan that’s gone on
ever since in various forms under succeeding prime
ministers to this day.  It’s meant continual
displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank by new
and expanded Israeli settlement developments and
Separation Wall land seizures.  Pappe explains the
“Zionist project (today is trying) to construct and
then defend a ‘white’ (Western) fortress in a ‘black’
(Arab) world.  At the heart of the refusal to allow
Palestinians the Right of Return is the fear of Jewish
Israelis that they will eventually be outnumbered by
Arabs.”  To assure this won’t happen, Israel intends
to maintain an overwhelming Jewish majority regardless
of world public opinion.  There’s no dissent in the
West or among most Arab leaders because US
administrations won’t tolerate any.

Pappe believes the consensus in Israel today is for a
state comprising 90% of Palestine “surrounded by
electric fences and visible and invisible walls” with
Palestinians given only worthless cantonized scrub
lands of little or no value to the Jewish state.  In
2006, 1.4 million Palestinians live in Israel on 2% of
the land allotted them plus another 1% for
agricultural use with six millions Jews on most of the
rest.  Another 3.9 million live concentrated in
Israel’s unwanted portions of the West Bank and
concentrated in Gaza that’s three times the population
density of Manhattan.  It’s made for intolerable
conditions throughout the OPT that guarantee
resistance to them and the same harsh Israeli
responses in an unending cycle of violence, repression
and unresolved and unaddressed injustices.

The growing demographic imbalance only exacerbates
things, and it’s already a nightmare for Israeli
leaders.  They haven’t gotten enough new Jewish
immigration or adequately increased Jewish birth rates
to counteract it.  They also haven’t been able to
reduce the number of Arabs in Israel.  All solutions
so far considered only lead to an Arab population
increase barring mass expulsion or worse some
extremists in Israel favor and one day may be able to
make policy unless cooler heads stop them.

For Pappe and all people of conscience and good faith,
there’s only one solution - Israel’s willingness one
day to transform itself into a civic and democratic
state ending the last postcolonial European enclave in
the Arab world.  The Palestinian people will accept
nothing less nor should they, and growing numbers of
Israelis are aware of the horror and injustice of the
Nakba.  So far, they only comprise a small minority,
but they may hold the key to a future resolution if
their numbers grow enough and they become vocal as is
now slowly happening.

Today, however, the situation for Palestinians is grim
with unrelenting daily Israeli assaults against them
in Gaza and the West Bank along with Jerusalem
slipping away by an ethnic cleansing process to make
the city one for Jews only.  At the end of his book,
Pappe explains “The problem with Israel was never its
Jewishness….it is its ethnic Zionist character.”  It
represents a “tempest that threatens to ruin (Jews and
Palestinians alike),” and it’s now raging in the OPT
as it did in Lebanon over the summer where an uneasy
peace could again erupt in conflict on any pretext. 

The future of Jews and Arabs depends on finding an
equitable solution to their unresolved problems and
issues and avoiding further escalation that threatens
to engulf the whole region in raging conflict if
extremists in Israel and Washington get their way and
extend the Iraq war to Iran and Syria.  Kuwait-based
Arab Times Editor-in-chief Ahmed al-Jarallah cites
what he calls a reliable source saying a military
strike against Iranian oil and nuclear facilities is
planned before April to be launched from warships in
the Persian Gulf that grow in number and readiness.

He may be right based on former Russian Black Sea
Fleet commander Admiral Eduard Baltin’s judgment about
US activity in the Gulf.  Currently, US nuclear
submarines are maintaining a vigil there and Admiral
Baltin told Interfax News: “The presence of US nuclear
submarines in the Persian Gulf region means that the
Pentagon has not abandoned plans for surprise strikes
against nuclear targets in Iran.  With this aim a
group of multi-purpose submarines ready to accomplish
the task is located in the area.” Admiral Baltin added
the presence of these submarines indicates the
Pentagon wants to control navigation in the Gulf and
conduct strikes against Iranian targets.

One other report adds still more credibility to the
current danger of a wider regional war.  It comes from
former US State Department Middle East intelligence
analyst Wayne White who said: “I’ve seen some of the
planning….You’re not talking about a surgical
strike.  You’re talking about a war against Iran.
We’re talking about clearing a path of targets”
against the Iranian Air Force, Kilo submarines,
anti-ship missiles and even ballistic missile
capability that could target commerce and US warships
in the Gulf as well as the country’s nuclear
infrastructure.

More pressure still is coming from Israeli officials
calling Iran’s nuclear program an “existential threat”
and Israeli opposition leader and former prime
minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose rhetoric makes him
sound like he’s criminally insane.  On January 21, he
addressed a security conference in Herzliya stoking
the flames of war by calling the Iranian government a
“genocidal regime” and adding “Either it will stop the
nuclear programme without the need for a military
operation, or it could prepare for it….who will lead
the charge if not us.  No one will come defend the
Jews if they do not defend themselves.”  Also at the
conference, US Under-Secretary Nicholas Burns spoke
hawkishly saying “There is no doubt Iran is seeking
nuclear military weapons (and) the policy of the
United States is that we cannot allow Iran to become a
nuclear weapons state….Iran has refused to back down
in its attempt to destabilize the region….We have an
absolute right to defend our soldiers.”

If the US and/or Israel attack Iran, all bets are off,
and Palestinians already under an Israeli siege will
suffer even more.  It means cooler heads on both sides
must denounce this kind of talk and find a way to
avoid a wider war and bring the present conflicts in
Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine to an end.  It won’t
be easy at a perilous time looking like conflict
escalation is planned, not its resolution with the
potential fallout from it too horrendous to allow for
all parties in the region, but especially for those
suffering under occupation.

Now there’s the further threat of one Palestinian
faction facing off against the other.  On one side is
the besieged Hamas-led government already in tatters
from months of harsh sanctions and daily Israeli
assaults.  On the other are corrupted Fatah forces
loyal to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas acting as a
quisling proxy comprador enforcer for Israeli and US
imperial interests for everything he stands to gain
selling out his people for crumbs handed him and his
cronies.  They’re being armed to the teeth to do it,
and George Bush announced he’s helping further by
transferring $86 million to Abbas while starving Hamas
and most Palestinians. It’s taken the lives of dozens
of Palestinians in recent days.  They’re in the middle
having no dog in this fight except their oppressive
occupier they want expelled.

They cry out as a colonized people struggling to be
free with things at this stage looking pretty grim.
But sooner or later conflicts and repression end when
bloodshed and suffering from them no longer are
tolerated and outside forces see the injustice and
futility and are willing to help.  It’s happening in
Iraq and will in Afghanistan, and it’s coming to the
OPT with force strength too great to be restrained.
When it arrives, ethnic cleansing and injustice will
end, replaced by ethnic victory for Jews and
Palestinians alike and others in the region who’ll
model t


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