A Review of 'The Ethnic Cleansing
of Palestine' by Ilan Pappe
by Stephen Lendman, February 2007
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
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
The Beginning - Initial Planning for Ethnic
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 their own struggle for justice on the
one they saw succeed in Palestine.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog
site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.