Israel’s 60th Birthday

Israel deliberately forgets its history by Dave
September 3, 2008, 12:03 pm
Filed under: History, Israel, Zionism | Tags: , , , ,

Schlomo Sand in Le Monde Diplomatique:

An Israeli historian suggests the diaspora was the consequence, not of the expulsion of the Hebrews from Palestine, but of proselytising across north Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East

Every Israeli knows that he or she is the direct and exclusive descendant of a Jewish people which has existed since it received the Torah (1) in Sinai. According to this myth, the Jews escaped from Egypt and settled in the Promised Land, where they built the glorious kingdom of David and Solomon, which subsequently split into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. They experienced two exiles: after the destruction of the first temple, in the 6th century BC, and of the second temple, in 70 AD.

Two thousand years of wandering brought the Jews to Yemen, Morocco, Spain, Germany, Poland and deep into Russia. But, the story goes, they always managed to preserve blood links between their scattered communities. Their uniqueness was never compromised.

At the end of the 19th century conditions began to favour their return to their ancient homeland. If it had not been for the Nazi genocide, millions of Jews would have fulfilled the dream of 20 centuries and repopulated Eretz Israel, the biblical land of Israel. Palestine, a virgin land, had been waiting for its original inhabitants to return and awaken it. It belonged to the Jews, rather than to an Arab minority that had no history and had arrived there by chance. The wars in which the wandering people reconquered their land were just; the violent opposition of the local population was criminal.

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Israel ‘committing memorycide’ by Dave
June 2, 2008, 11:44 am
Filed under: 1948, Ethnic Cleansing, History, Ilan Pappe, Israel, Israel's 60th Anniversary

Ilan Pappe on Al Jazeera.

As part of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the anniversary of the creation of Israel and the Palestinian ‘Nakba’, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe reflects upon the events of 1948 and how they led to 60 years of division between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Between February, 1948 and December,1948 the Israeli army systematically occupied the Palestinian villages and towns, expelled by force the population and in most cases also destroyed the houses, looted their belongings and took over their material and cultural possessions. This was the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

During the ethnic cleansing, wherever there was resistance by the population the result was a massacre. We have more than 30 cases of such massacres where a few thousand Palestinians were massacred by the Israeli forces throughout the operation of the ethnic cleansing.

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State of Denial: Israel, 1948-2008 by Dave
May 30, 2008, 9:45 am
Filed under: Ethnic Cleansing, History, Ilan Pappe, Israel, Israel's 60th Anniversary, Nakba

The excellent Israeli historian Ilan Pappe writing on the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and why Israel cannot face up to her crimes.  Worryingly Pappe states that ‘The moral implication [of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine] is that the Jewish State was born out of sin—like many other states, of course—but the sin, or the crime, was never admitted. Worse, among certain circles in Israel, it is acknowledged and, in the same breath, advanced as a future policy against Palestinians wherever they are.’

For Israelis, 1948 is the year in which two things happened, one of which contradicts the other.

On the one hand, in that year the Jewish national movement, Zionism, claimed it fulfilled an ancient dream of returning to a homeland after 2,000 years of exile. From this perspective, 1948 is a miraculous event, the realization of a dream that carries with it associations of moral purity and absolute justice. Hence the military conduct of Jewish soldiers on the battlefield in 1948 became the model for generations to come. And subsequent Israeli leaders were lionized as men and women devoted to the Zionist ideals of sacrifice for the common cause. It is a sacred year, 1948, the formative source of all that is good in the Jewish society of Israel.

On the other hand, 1948 was the worst chapter in Jewish history. In that year, Jews did in Palestine what Jews had not done anywhere else in their previous 2,000 years. Even if one puts aside the historical debate about why what happened in 1948 happened, no one seems to question the enormity of the tragedy that befell the indigenous population of Palestine as a result of the success of the Zionist movement.

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Birth of the Nakba by Dave

What’s the BBC’s ‘Birthday’ present to Israel? A stream of propaganda following a story thats Israeli driven. Not content with 3 other, Israeli directed, Storyville documentaries (watch here), a birthday radio show (featuring 4 Israelis with one token Israeli Arab and zero Palestinians) and birthday articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc) the BBC has gone a step further and commissioned this 60 minute film. By Jeremy Bowan, it details the founding of the State of Israel. To be fair to the BBC, the events surrounding the founding of the State of Israel are immensely interesting and have had important repercussions in the world at large. However it’s instructive that this documentary is called ‘The Birth of Israel’ and not for example ‘The Nakba’ – we get an idea of the focus from the start. In fact we might ask where all the Nakba articles (1?), audio and films are? Is it sufficient that it just happens to get a small mention in amongst all this ‘birthday’ nonsense?

Although this film is good in many places, covering the massacre of Deir Yassin for example, overall it fails to place the responsibility of the conflict firmly in the hands of the Israelis and Europeans. It fails to present the Palestinians as the victims of Zionist colonialism which was approved of by the Europeans because of guilt from the Holocaust and because 60 years ago the idea of colonialism, ‘civilised’ Europeans settling land that native ‘barbarians’ are wasting, was still acceptable. Time and again Israelis under interview blame the conflict on the Palestinians for not accepting the 1947 UN partition plan, where the UN carved up the land of Palestine and gave much of it to the colonialists. In the 21st century we should by now understand that the UN had no right to give away another mans home, the Zionists were incorrect in thinking they could colonise another peoples country and that resistance to this dispossession was legitimate. What nation would accept its land being given away to immigrants by the UN? Especially with such a bad deal: Israelis owning 10% of the land but getting 50% while only accounting for only 33% of the total population.

Counting the number of Israelis interviewed we find there were 11 with 10 Palestinians representatives. The number of times they appeared differs more: Israelis appearing 30 times and Palestinians 22. In a 60 minute film this approximately translates to about 8 minutes (15%) more air time. Personally I don’t believe balance is about giving both sides equal time – I follow Robert Fisks example of giving more time to the victims no matter who they are. In the ‘birth’ of Israel the victims were the Palestinian natives: 700,000 of whom were ethnically cleansed and many men, women and children were brutally massacred. This crime has continued as although under international law refugees have a Right of Return this has been denied. And Palestinians that remain in Israel and the Occupied Territories live in Apartheid conditions. Therefore its significant that they are not given priority.

The other big issue I have with the film is its failure to convey the true nature of a Two State solution. Israeli colonialism has continued with the illegal gaining of territory through military force in 1967. It is by now clear the continued Israeli rejection of peace for expansion and settlement of the Occupied Territories has led to a situation where a Two State solution is now unworkable. Only a One State solution where Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights and share the land will provide any meaningful resolution to the regions problems. The idea of a predominatly Jewish State is non-inclusive and racist, it can only be maintained through further ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

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The Promised Land? by Dave
May 13, 2008, 1:03 pm
Filed under: 1948, Documentary, History, Israel, Israel's 60th Birthday, Nakba, Palestine, Video | Tags:

The following is an excellent find by Idrees of The Fanonite.

A decent documentary from the best television news channel out there — Al Jazeera International. However, it is mostly an Israeli perspective featuring Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Uri Avnery, Shulamit Aloni et al.

(thanks Shahbaz)

A special series examining the origins, violent creation, and modern-day reality of the state of Israel through the stories of individual Israelis.

Episode two, Conflict, looks at how the still small Jewish population succeeded in defeating a far larger Palestinian population and asks if a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing was employed.

Sixty years after Deir Yassin by Dave
April 9, 2008, 11:28 am
Filed under: Ethnic Cleansing, History, Israel, Israel's 60th Birthday, Nakba, Palestine | Tags:

From the Electronic Intifada (thanks Mary!)

The 12 March cartoon by South African cartoonist Zaprio that was later attacked by David Saks of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and which sparked debate in the country.

As a 10-year-old growing up in Johannesburg, I celebrated Israel’s birth, 60 years ago. I unquestionably accepted the dramatic accounts of so-called self-defensive actions against Arab violence, to secure the Jewish state. The type of indoctrination South African cartoonist Zapiro so bitingly exposes in his work, raising the hackles of scribes such as David Saks of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. When I became involved in our liberation struggle, I became aware of the similarities with the Palestinian cause in the dispossession of land and birthright by expansionist settler occupation. I came to see that the racial and colonial character of the two conflicts provided greater comparisons than with any other struggle. When Nelson Mandela stated that we know as South Africans “that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” [1] he was not simply talking to our Muslim community, who can be expected to directly empathize, but to all South Africans precisely because of our experience of racial and colonial subjugation, and because we well understand the value of international solidarity.

When I came to learn of the fate that befell the Palestinians, I was shaken to the core and most particularly when I read eye-witness accounts of a massacre of Palestinian villagers that occurred a month before Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence. This was at Deir Yassin, a quiet village just outside Jerusalem, which had the misfortune to lie by the road from Tel Aviv. On 9 April 1948, 254 men, women and children were butchered there by Zionist forces to secure the road. Because this was one of the few such episodes that received media attention in the West, the Zionist leadership did not deny it, but sought to label it an aberration by extremists. In fact, however, the atrocity was part of a broader plan designed by the Zionist High Command, led by Ben Gurion himself, which was aimed at the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the British mandate territory and the seizure of as much land as possible for the intended Jewish state.
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Palestine is Still the Issue by Dave

In 1974, John Pilger made the film ‘Palestine Is Still The Issue’. It was about a nation of people – the Palestinians – forced off their land and later subjected to a military occupation by Israel. An occupation condemned by the United Nations and almost every country in the world, including Britain.

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