It is nearly 30 years since Jimmy Carter made his great contribution to the cause of peace in the Middle East: shepherding, cajoling and bribing Israel and Egypt into a treaty that has endured many crises, even though it failed to tackle the Palestinian core of the world's most intractable conflict. Carter is older and perhaps wiser than the president who doggedly brought Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin together at Camp David in , though the "autonomy" tacked on to the "separate peace" excoriated by most other Arabs never went anywhere. Still, power to collect garbage and exterminate mosquitoes under Israeli occupation was never going to be enough for the Palestinians. The intifadas of and were terrible reminders of the price of stagnation: things have got much, much worse, since he was in the White House. But Carter challenges decades of mainstream American thinking to argue forcefully that Israel is an ally that has been far too closely protected by US power as it has continued occupying Arab territory, notwithstanding its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in
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Published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Occupation, the radical Israeli historian examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel, including the myth that the Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in In the days after the Partition Resolution was adopted, Ben-Gurion told his colleagues in the leadership that a Jewish state in which Jews made up only 60 percent was not viable.
However, he did not reveal what percentage of Palestinians would make the future state unviable. The message he conveyed to his generals, and through them to the troops on the ground, was nonetheless clear: the fewer Palestinians in a Jewish state the better.
Something else happened in the period between November 29, when the UN Resolution was adopted and May 15, when the British Mandate ended that helped the Zionist movement to better prepare for the days ahead. As the end of the Mandate approached, the British forces withdrew into the port of Haifa.
Any territory they left, the military forces of the Jewish community took over, clearing out the local population even before the end of the Mandate. These last stages had already been systematically planned under the master plan, Plan D, prepared alongside the high command of the Haganah, the main military wing of the Jewish community. The plan included the following clear reference to the methods to be employed in the process of cleansing the population:.
Destruction of villages setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris , especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously. Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it.
In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state. How could the small Israeli army engage in large-scale ethnic cleansing operations while, from May 15, also being confronted with regular forces from the Arab world?
First of all, it is noteworthy that the urban population apart from three towns: Lydd, Ramleh, and Bir Saba had already been cleansed before the Arab armies arrived. Second, the rural Palestinian area was already under Israeli control, and the confrontations with the Arab armies occurred on borders of these rural areas not inside them. In one case where the Jordanians could have helped the Palestinians, in Lydd and Ramleh, the British commander of the Jordanian army, Sir John Glubb, decided to withdraw his forces and avoided confrontation with the Israeli army.
Finally, the Arab military effort was woefully ineffective and short lived. After some success in the first three weeks, its presence in Palestine was a shambolic story of defeat and hasty withdrawal. After a short lull towards the end of , the Israeli ethnic cleansing thus continued unabated.
From our present vantage point, there is no escape from defining the Israeli actions in the Palestinian countryside as a war crime. Indeed, as a crime against humanity. The crime committed by the leadership of the Zionist movement, which became the government of Israel, was that of ethnic cleansing. This is not mere rhetoric but an indictment with far-reaching political, legal, and moral implications. The definition of the crime was clarified in the aftermath of the s civil war in the Balkans: ethnic cleansing is any action by one ethnic group meant to drive out another ethnic group with the purpose of transforming a mixed ethnic region into a pure one.
Such an action amounts to ethnic cleansing regardless of the means employed to obtain it—from persuasion and threats to expulsions and mass killings. Moreover, the act itself determines the definition; as such, certain policies have been regarded as ethnic cleansing by the international community, even when a master plan for their execution was not discovered or exposed.
Consequently, the victims of ethnic cleansing include both people who have left their homes out of fear and those expelled forcefully as part on an ongoing operation. The relevant definitions and references can be found on the websites of the US State Department and the United Nations.
These are the principal definitions that guide the international court in The Hague when it is tasked with judging those responsible for planning and executing such operations. A study of the writings and thoughts of the early Zionist leaders shows that by this crime was inevitable. The goal of Zionism had not changed: it was dedicated to taking over as much of Mandatory Palestine as possible and removing most of the Palestinian villages and urban neighborhoods from the space carved out for the future Jewish state.
The execution was even more systematic and comprehensive than anticipated in the plan. In a matter of seven months, villages were destroyed and eleven urban neighborhoods emptied. The mass expulsion was accompanied by massacres, rape, and the imprisonment of males over the age of ten in labor camps for periods of over a year. The political implication is that Israel is exclusively culpable for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, for which it bears the legal as well as moral responsibility.
The legal implication is that even if there is a statute of limitations, after such a long period, for those who committed a deed understood as a crime against humanity, the deed itself is still a crime for which nobody was ever brought to justice.
The moral implication is that the Jewish state was born out of sin—like many other states, of course—but the sin, or the crime, has never been admitted. Worse, among certain circles in Israel it is acknowledged, but in the same breath fully justified both in hindsight and as a future policy against the Palestinians, wherever they are. The crime is still committed today. All these implications were totally ignored by the Israeli political elite.
The consequences of such a lesson, immediately after and beyond, were inevitable—the continuation of the ethnic cleansing policy by other means. There have been well-known landmarks in this process: the expulsion of more villagers between and from Israel proper; the forced transfer of , Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the war; and a very measured, but constant, cleansing of Palestinians from the Greater Jerusalem area, calculated as more than , by the year After , the policy of ethnic cleansing took many forms.
In various parts of the occupied territories and inside Israel, the policy of expulsion was replaced by a prohibition on people leaving their villages or neighbor- hoods. Restricting Palestinians to where they lived served the same purpose as expelling them. When they are besieged in enclaves—such as areas A, B and C under the Oslo Accord in the West Bank, or in villages and neighborhoods in Jerusalem that are declared part of the West Bank, or in the Gaza Ghetto—they are not counted demographically in either official or informal censuses, which is what matters to the Israeli policy makers more than anything else.
Ignoring the issue of the Palestinian refugees will repeatedly undermine any attempt to reconcile the two conflicting parties. This is why it is so important to recognize the events as an ethnic cleansing operation, so as to ensure that a political solution will not evade the root of the conflict; namely, the expulsion of the Palestinians.
Such evasions in the past are the main reason for the collapse of all previous peace accords. If the legal lessons are not learned, there will always remain retributive impulses and revengeful emotions on the Palestinian side.
The legal recognition of the Nakbah as an act of ethnic cleansing would pave the way for some form of restitutive justice. This would be the same as the process that has taken place recently in South Africa.
The acknowledgement of past evils is not done in order to bring criminals to justice, but rather to bring the crime itself to public attention and trial. The final ruling there will not be retributive—there will be no punishment—but rather restitutive: the victims will be compensated.
The most reasonable compensation for the particular case of the Palestinian refugees was stated clearly already in December by the UN General Assembly in its Resolution the unconditional return of the refugees and their families to their homeland and homes where possible. It is important to note, however, that there are Jews in Israel who have absorbed all these lessons. Not all Jews are indifferent to or ignorant about the Nakbah. Those who are not are currently a small minority, but one which makes its presence felt, demonstrating that at least some Jewish citizens are not deaf to the cries, pain, and devastation of those killed, raped, or wounded throughout They have heard of the thousands of Palestinian citizens arrested and imprisoned in the s, and they acknowledge the Kafr Qasim massacre in , when citizens of the state were murdered by the army just because they were Palestinians.
They know about the war crimes committed throughout the war and the callous bombing of the refugee camps in They have not forgotten the physical abuse meted out to Palestinian youth in the occupied territories in the s and after- wards. These Israeli Jews are not deaf and can still today hear the voices of the military officers ordering the execution of innocent people and the laughter of the soldiers standing by and watching.
They are also not blind. They have seen the remains of the destroyed villages and the ruined neighborhoods. They see what every Israeli can see, but for the most part chooses not to: the remnants of villages under the houses of the Kibbutzim and beneath the pine trees of the JNF Jewish National Fund forests.
They have not forgotten what happened even when the rest of their society has. Perhaps because of that they understand fully the connection between the ethnic cleansing and the events that followed up to the present. They never mistook Yitzhak Rabin or Ariel Sharon for peace heroes.
They also refuse to ignore the obvious connection between the building of the wall and the wider policy of ethnic cleansing. The expulsions of and the imprisonment of people within walls today are the inevitable consequences of the same racist ethnic ideology. Nor can they fail to recognize the link between the inhumanity inflicted on Gaza since and these past policies and practices.
Ilan Pappe 15 May The plan included the following clear reference to the methods to be employed in the process of cleansing the population: Destruction of villages setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris , especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously. Tagged Israel-Palestine.
Published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Occupation, the radical Israeli historian examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel, including the myth that the Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in In the days after the Partition Resolution was adopted, Ben-Gurion told his colleagues in the leadership that a Jewish state in which Jews made up only 60 percent was not viable. However, he did not reveal what percentage of Palestinians would make the future state unviable. The message he conveyed to his generals, and through them to the troops on the ground, was nonetheless clear: the fewer Palestinians in a Jewish state the better.
The Nakba and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine
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The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
This book doesn't need a review. It's a piece of living history, it should be school material instead of the lies and rubbish TV churns out on a daily basis. So well documented, so much empathy. So much respect for this man having the courage to write the truth. There is a bloc of humanity that will never read this book based on the title alone, and there is another bloc, that if they did read it, would immediately find great fault with it, assuming they didn The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Alongside the creation of the State of Israel, the end of the war led to one of the largest forced migrations in modern history.
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