EDITOR’S NOTE: In this article, the third in a series of seven articles, Stuart Littlewood reminds us not to lose sight of what the Palestinian struggle for liberation is all about. Those politicians sympathetic to Israel should know that Israel has no business being where it is. It’s built on the lands of Palestinian villages which were ethnically cleansed by Jewish terrorists in May 1948, just before Israel was declared a state.The villagers were forced to flee for their lives. It happened at the fag-end of Britain’s watch as the mandated government, when they were packing up to leave. This and many other atrocities were committed while Politicians looked the other way. Every day ignorant politicians give the nod to more lawlessness, more injustice and more misery because they are too dim to discover the truth about the Holy Land, too ready to believe Israeli propaganda, or so lacking a moral backbone that they have allowed themselves to be bought off. They are an outrage to public decency. And then there are the dunce hired pens who would toot the Israeli propagandist’s horn for money!
“In 1948 eighty-five percent of Palestinians in the part of Palestine that became Israel were displaced, 675 towns and villages were depopulated while their lands and properties were confiscated. Palestinians refer to this experience as their Nakba (Catastrophe)”. Dr Salman Abu-Sitta – The Return Journey
According to UN Resolution 194 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights they have a right to return home, the pre-1948 borders are still valid and as well-defined, even more legitimately so!. But as we have come to expect, Israel refuses to recognize the rights of others and will not allow them back. Palestinian villages and towns have been bulldozed, ethnically cleansed and erased by Zionist Jews as part of Israel’s wipe-‘em-off-the-map policy… Its inhabitants made refugees in nearby Gaza and neighboring countries and are living in the miserable camps there. The honorable John Pilger, a long time, staunch activist and advocate for the Liberation of Palestine wrote:
“The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is as much America’s crusade as Israel’s. On 16 August , the Bush administration announced an unprecedented $30bn military “aid package” for Israel, the world’s fourth biggest military power, an air power greater than Britain, a nuclear power greater than France. No other country on earth enjoys such immunity, allowing it to act without sanction, as Israel. No other country has such a record of lawlessness: not one of the world’s tyrannies comes close. International treaties, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by Iran, are ignored by Israel. There is nothing like it in UN history”.John Pilger, August 2007
A Story of Betrayal – 2
In 1937 the Peel Commission declared that British promises to Arabs and Zionists were irreconcilable and unworkable. Too late, Britain dropped its commitment to the Zionists and talked instead of a Palestinian state with a guaranteed Arab majority and protection for minorities.
The Zionists reacted furiously. Their underground military wing, the Haganah, and other armed groups, unleashed a reign of terror in the run-up to World War II. They continued their attacks on the British after the war and tried to bring in hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees.
In 1946 they blew up the 7- storey south wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which housed the British mandatory government, killing 91. This terrorist act was ordered by David Ben- Gurion in retaliation for the arrest of Haganah, Irgun and Stern Gang members suspected of attacks on the British. He then thought better of it and cancelled the operation but Menachem Begin, who led the Irgun, went ahead. Both Ben-Gurion and Begin, who had a big price on his head as a wanted terrorist, became Israeli prime ministers.Throughout this period the United States seemed reluctant to allow Jews fleeing Europe to enter the empty spaces of North America, preferring to play the Zionist game and see them funneled into Palestine. In 1945 the new US president, Harry Truman, offered Arabs this feeble excuse: “I am sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answerto hundreds of thousands of those who are anxious for the success of Zionism; I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”
However, Truman was frequently exasperated by the Zionist lobby and on one occasion had a delegation thrown out of the White House for their table-thumping antics. He wrote: “I fear very much that the Jews are like all underdogs. When they get on top they are just as intolerant and cruel as the people were to them when they were underneath.”
American author Gore Vidal provided an intriguing insight. “Sometime in the late 1950s, that world-class gossip and occasional historian, John F. Kennedy, told me how, in 1948, Harry S. Truman had been pretty much abandoned by everyone when he came to run for president. Then an American Zionist brought him two million dollars in cash, in
a suitcase, aboard his whistle-stop campaign train. ‘That’s why our recognition of Israel was rushed through so fast.’ As neither Jack nor I was an antisemite (unlike his father and my grandfather) we took this to be just another funny story about Truman and the serene corruption of American politics.”
By now this monster Britain had breathed life into, was running out of control. The Arabs, tricked and dispossessed, were outraged. The inevitable collision has been fatally damaging to the west’s relationship with Islam ever since.As the violence escalated, Gandhi was moved to comment:“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English. They (the Jews) have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism.”
With the mandate about to expire in 1948 an exhausted Britain handed over the problem to the United Nations and prepared to quit the Holy Land, leaving a powder-keg with the fuse fizzing.
The newly-formed UN thought it would save the situation by partitioning Palestine into Arab and Jewish states and making Jerusalem an international city. But this gave the Jews 55 percent of Palestine when they accounted for only 30 percent of the population. The Arab League and the Palestinians of course rejected it.
Map 1: 1947 UN Partition
Under the UN Partition Plan the Jews
received 55% of the country (including
both Tel Aviv/Jaffa and Haifa port cities,
the Sea of Galilee and the resource-rich
Negev) although they accounted for only
a third of the population (548,000 out of
1,750,000) and owned only 6% of the
land. The Jewish community accepted
the Partition Plan; the Palestinians (except
those in the Communist Party) and the
Arab countries rejected it.
The UN Partition of Palestine in 1947 does not stand close scrutiny. At that time, as some commentators have pointed out, UN members did not include African states, and most Arab and Asian states were still under colonialist regimes. It was pretty much a white colonialist club. The Palestinians themselves had no representation and they weren’t even consulted.
The first vote failed to reach the two-thirds majority required: 25 for partition, 13 against and 19 abstentions. To ensure success in the second vote a good deal of arm-twisting was applied to the smaller countries, but again it fell short. At the third attempt France was persuaded to come “on board” after the US threatened to withdraw desperately needed post-WW2 aid, and on November 29 the UN voted to partition Palestine into three parts: a Jewish state on 14,000 sq km with some 558,000 Jews and 405,000 Palestinian Arabs; and an Arab state on 11,500 sq km with about 804,000 Palestinian Arabs and 10,000 Jews. Jerusalem, including major religious sites, would be internationally administered.
Map 2: Israel and the
By the end of the 1948 war Israel
controlled 78% of the country, including
half the territory that had been allocated
by the UN to the Palestinians. Around
750,000 Palestinians living in what
became Israel were made refugees: only
100,000 remained in their homes. More
than 418 villages (two-thirds of the
villages of Palestine) were systematically
destroyed by Israel after their residents
had left or been driven out. The Arab
areas were now reduced to 22% of the
country, the West Bank was taken by
Jordan and Gaza by Egypt. The 1949
Armistice Line (the “Green Line”) remains
the de facto boundary of the State of
Israel until today. Since 1988, when the
Palestinians recognized Israel within that
boundary, it has been the basis of the
This jiggery-pokery was quickly followed by shameful incidents at Deir Yassin, Lod and Ramle, when over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were uprooted from their homes and lands and to this day to this day are denied the right to return. They received no compensation, and after their expulsion the Israeli forces obliterated hundreds of Arab villages and towns, and have occupied more and more Palestinian land by force ever since.
No sooner had Britain packed her bags than Israel declared statehood on 14 May 1948 and immediately began expanding territorial control across all of Palestine.
The following day, 15 May, is remembered by Palestinians as the Day of al-Nakba (the Catastrophe), which saw the start of a military terror campaign that forced three-quarters of a million Palestinians from their homeland to accommodate the new Jewish state. Some 34 massacres were allegedly committed in pursuit of Israel’s territorial ambitions.
An event permanently etched on the Palestinian memory is the massacre at Deir Yassin by the two Zionist terror groups, the Irgun and the Stern Gang. On an April morning in 1948 130 of their commandos carried out a dawn raid on this small Arab town with a population of 750, to the west of Jerusalem. The attack was initially beaten off, and only when a crack unit of the Haganah arrived with mortars were the Arab townsmen overwhelmed. The Irgun and the Stern Gang, smarting from the humiliation of having to summon help, embarked on a ‘clean-up’ operation in which they systematically murdered and executed at least 100 residents – mostly women, children and old people. The Irgun afterwards exaggerated the number, quoting 254, to frighten other Arab towns and villages.
The Haganah played down their part in the raid and afterwards said the massacre “disgraced the cause of Jewish fighters and dishonoured Jewish arms and the Jewish flag”.
Deir Yassin signaled the ominous beginning of a deliberate programme by Israel to depopulate Arab towns and villages – and destroy churches and mosques – to make room for incoming Holocaust survivors and other Jews. In any language it was an exercise in ethnic cleansing, the knock-on effects of which have created an estimated 4 million Palestinian refugees today.
By 1949 the Zionists had seized nearly 80 percent of Palestine, provoking the resistance backlash that still goes on. Many Jews condemn the Zionist policy and are ashamed of what has been done in their name.
UN Resolution 194 called on Israel to let the Palestinians back onto their land. It has been re-passed many times, but Israel is still in breach. The Israelis also stand accused of violating Article 42 of the Geneva Convention by moving settlers into the Palestinian territories it occupies, and of riding roughshod over international law with their occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
But expulsion and transfer were always a key part of the Zionist plan. According to historian Benny Morris no mainstream Zionist leader was able to conceive of future co-existence without a clear physical separation between the two peoples. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, is reported to have said: “With compulsory transfer we have a vast area (for settlement)…I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see anything immoral in it.”
He showed astonishing candour on another occasion when he remarked: “If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. We have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it is true, but 2,000 years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti- Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country.”
General Moshe Dayan, hero of the Six Day War (1967), made it known to Palestinians in the territories that “you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes, may leave, and we shall see where this process will lead.” That appears to have been the general attitude ever since.
In 1967 Israel perceived a number of Arab threats designed to check Zionist ambitions, including a blockade of their Red Sea port. In a series of pre-emptive strikes against Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq, Israel succeeded in doubling the area of land under its control.
Indeed, in the wake of the 1967 Six Day War Israel confiscated over 52 percent of the land in the West Bank and 30 percent of the Gaza Strip, violating both international law and the UN Charter, which says that a country cannot lawfully make territorial gains from war. It was reported that Israel demolished 1,338 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and detained some 300,000 Palestinians without trial.
The UN issued Security Council Resolution 242, stressing “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calling for “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”. It was largely ignored, thus guaranteeing further discord in the region.
Israel’s most notorious prime minister, Ariel Sharon, made a name for himself in 1953 when his secret death squad, Unit 101, dynamited homes and massacred 69 Palestinian civilians – half of them women and children – at Qibya in the West Bank. His troops later destroyed 2,000 homes in the Gaza Strip, uprooting 12,000 people and deporting hundreds of young Palestinians to Jordan and Lebanon.
Then in 1982 he masterminded Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, which resulted in a massive death toll of Palestinians and Lebanese, a large proportion being children. An Israeli tribunal found him indirectly responsible for the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps and removed him from office. But he didn’t stay in the background for long.
By the end of 1967 there were just 3 illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. By the end of 2005 the total was 177. “When we have settled the land,” the then chief of staff of the Israeli Defence Force,Rafael Eitan, remarked in 1983, “all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”
© Stuart Littlewood
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