Looks Like It Was a Purim Execution

 photo qasrasharif_zpsnnigi8fv.jpg

The video I posted yesterday showing an Israeli soldier shooting a Palestinian in the head has gone viral in the past 24 hours or so, and even the mainstream media, including the Washington Post and Time Magazine, have been reporting the story.

The video shows a group of soldiers and medics standing around Abdul Sharif, lying prone and incapacitated on the street, with one of the soldiers stepping up and pumping a bullet into his head.

Sharif is the young man on the right in the above picture. Both he and Ramzi Aziz Qasrawi were killed yesterday after an alleged stabbing attack on an Israeli soldier. Both were 21 years old.

Yesterday, of course, was also Purim day celebration in Israel–the annual holiday event marking the massacre of thousands of Gentiles, as told in the Old Testament book of Esther. This is one aspect of the shooting of Sharif and Qasrawi that the mainstream media don’t seem to be mentioning, probably out of a deliberate desire to play it down.

The two men died in Hebron during the morning hours. Here is a video of the Purim celebration that took places on the streets of the same city later that day:

Here is what ISM reports on the matter:

On the 24th March, Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) celebrated the holiday of ‘Purim’. The settlers marched through the Old City of al-Khalil, starting off from the spot where just a few hours before, Israeli forces gunned down two Palestinian youth and then executed one of them in cold blood.

In the morning, Israeli forces shot and severely injured two Palestinian youth in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood and then left them lying on the ground seriously injured while Israeli medics were attending to a slightly injured Israeli soldier. Palestinian ambulances, that are not allowed to drive on this road that is only for settlers use, were prevented by Israeli forces from reaching the injured Palestinian youth.  In a video published by B’Tselem, a soldier can clearly be seen shooting one of the youth in the head at point-blank range even though he is lying on the ground and is not posing a threat to anyone.

Only a few hours after this extrajudical execution, settlers started their joyous march, dressed up in costumes, with music blasting from a bus, dancing in the same spot where the two Palestinians were murdered in cold blood.

Purim customarily involves excessive consumption of alcohol, and according to areport on Mondoweiss, a large number of Israelis took over Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque at one point and began using its loudspeakers to sing racist songs calling for the expulsion of Palestinians from the city.

Children of Squatters, 1 drinking wine, 1 holstering a machine gun, 1 another aiming a pistol at onlookers
via ISM

The mainstream media are reporting that the soldier who executed Sharif has been arrested, and an Israeli general has attempted, somewhat ludicrously, to portray the whole thing as some sort of stunning aberration.

 photo almoz_zpsfovdroa7.jpg“This is not the IDF culture or the Jewish peoples’ culture,” said Brigadier Gen. Moti Almoz.

Perhaps Almoz hasn’t heard the news that Israel is a sick society, as confessed by the country’s own president.

For most of us, I guess, it would be hard to conceive of a country where people are left to bleed on the street as being anything other than a sick society, and as one writer put it, “Maybe even worse than the murder itself is the fact that no one in the vicinity seems at all moved by it.”

Ma’an News is reporting today that the Palestinian cameraman who shot the video footage of Sharif’s execution has now found himself the target of threats and harassment.

Israeli settlers on Friday gathered outside the home of a human rights worker in Hebron to hurl abuse at him, a day after he captured on camera an Israeli soldier’s killing of a wounded Palestinian that has sparked international outcry.

Imad Abu Shamsiya, a staff member with Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, told Ma’an after settlers threatened him: “I now fear for my life and the life of my family. I’m afraid they might attack my house and do me harm.”

He added that he fears the possibility of suffering the same fate as the Dawabsha family, who were killed in an arson attack committed by settlers last year in the village of Duma in the occupied West Bank.

It’s unlikely that things in Israel are going to change until some “outside force” puts a stop to it, as author E. Michael Jones put it in this interview with Press TV last December. Jones’ words are well worth reflecting upon. As he sees it, the Israelis are in a “rebellion against reason.”

Jews vs. Non Jews in Israel: The New York Times’ Whitewash of Israeli Public Opinion Poll

Global Research, March 16, 2016
Jordan Times 14 March 2016
New York Times

This past week, the Pew Research Centre released the results of a massive poll of Israeli public opinion — focusing on their attitude towards religion, identity, values and political issues facing their country.

In the days that followed the release, a number of articles appeared in Israel and the US commenting on the study’s findings.

The strangest and most troubling of them was the piece titled “Deep Rifts Among Israeli Jews Are Found in Religion Survey”, printed in the New York Times on March 8, 2016.

Written by Isabel Kershner, the article was a transparent effort to combine straight reporting with tortured apologia.

Kershner began the piece with a simple recitation of a few of the poll’s findings: “A majority of Israeli Jews marry within their own religious or secular groups” and the different sub-groups “largely separate social worlds” and have “starkly contrasting positions on many public policy issues”, like whether West Bank settlements contribute to Israel’s security.

Kershner’s straightforward reporting ended, however, when she came to one of the poll’s more disturbing findings:

“nearly half of Israeli Jews said that Arabs should be expelled of transferred from Israel”.

Unable to allow that result to stand on its own, in the same sentence, Kershner added “although Israeli pollsters found the wording of the question problematic”.

The addition of that phrase was a classic example of deflection — a device often used in New York Times’ articles to sow doubt or confusion among readers so as to soften the blow of facts that are damaging to Israel.

Here’s how it works: first the “fact” is stated; then it is quickly followed (usually in the same sentence) by an unsubstantiated remark that questions the “fact”.

The reader is then left confused.

Kershner did not get around to explaining exactly what was “problematic” about the wording of the poll question until she meandered for several paragraphs discussing other results from the poll.

Then she returned to the “transfer” issue, devoting the last full one-quarter of her piece to quotes from Israeli pollsters telling us that “the phrasing of the question is very blunt” or that it is possible that Israeli Jewish respondents may have understood the question to imply that Arabs would “voluntarily” leave or be compensated for leaving [as if that would somehow make it better!].

Kershner quoted another pollster who agonised over the transfer question, saying: “I would feel uncomfortable incriminating the Israeli public based on one question,” adding her fear that this “one question” would “be used as a weapon’ by Israel’s critics”.

Actually, the question was quite clear. And it was not the only question in the poll in which Israelis displayed troubling views.

And, while I might quibble with the term “weapon”, it would be irresponsible not to raise serious questions about what this poll reveals about racism in Israel.

First, let’s look at the “problematic” question and ask whether it was too vague, too blunt or too unclear.

Here is what Israelis were asked: do you agree or disagree with this statement

“Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel?”

In response to this direct question, 48 per cent of Israeli Jews agreed, while 46 per cent disagreed.

Among Israelis who are religious and those who received a Jewish education, two-thirds agreed with the idea that Arabs should be expelled or transferred.

This is not the only disturbing finding in this poll.

Israeli Jews were also asked if they agreed with the statement

“Jews deserve preferential treatment in Israel”;

79 per cent agreed — including well over 95 per cent of those who are religious and those who received a Jewish education.

The bottom line is that Israel’s political culture has become increasingly intolerant.

With eight in ten Israeli Jews supporting preferential treatment for themselves at the expense of the 20 per cent of the population that is Arab, and with almost one-half of Israeli Jews calling for Arab citizens to be expelled or transferred, one can only conclude that this is a society and a political culture that is in trouble.

This dangerous reality needs to be confronted honestly and directly. Whitewashing the situation only allows the danger to grow.

The Times has done Israelis, Palestinians and its readers a disservice.

Split in World Jewry: the ‘Diasporas’ vs. the Israelis

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We seem to be seeing a major split in World Jewry over the policies of the state of Israel. A couple of recently-published articles are indicative of this.

One is a July 23 article that appeared in the Times of Israel about a new study that found, among other things, that diaspora Jews don’t feel the Israeli government is sincere about seeking a peaceful resolution with the Palestinians. Here is a brief excerpt.

World Jewry is finding it increasingly difficult to support Israel due to its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, leading many communities to shun discussing the Jewish state altogether, a new major study has found.

The trend is eroding the Diaspora’s support for the Jewish state, warns the report by the Jewish People Policy Institute think tank, to be formally published next week.

Diaspora Jews, the report goes on to mention, are asking for an increased say in how Israel conducts its affairs. “Stop it! You’re making us look bad!”–that, essentially, when you boil it down, is what the diaspora Jews who responded to the survey are saying to the Israeli Jews.

The other article indicative of the split is an op-ed piece in the New York Times, published coincidentally the same day as the Times of Israel article, written by a Palestinian resident of the village of Susiya.

Susiya is a West Bank village which, as I reported in a couple of recent posts (see here andhere), is presently under an Israeli demolition order, and an international campaign has been launched to try and save it.

The op-ed piece is headlined, “Israel, Don’t Level My Village.” The author, Nasser Nawaja, discusses his family’s cyclic history of being made homeless by Israel, once in 1948 and again in 1986, going on to comment that the looming threat of a third dispossession “has now become immediate.”

Hardly any wonder, then, that diaspora Jews are starting to question whether Israel is really “sincere” about achieving peace–although one would perhaps allow that it is rather astonishing it has taken them this long to reach that conclusion.

At any rate, the decision by the New York Times to publish the piece by Nawaja would suggest that the split between diaspora and Israeli Jews is real and growing. Israel has been building illegal settlements in the West Bank for years. When did the New York Times ever voice any objection to it? I’m not aware of it if they ever did. What has changed now?

Perhaps it is that financially and politically powerful Jews, by virtue of the fact that Israel’s behavior has grown so egregious, are beginning to see the Jewish state as a threat to themselves and the empires they have constructed in their countries of residence. This is the subject of an article by Ariadna Theokopoulos and recently published at The Ugly Truth.

While being a Jew means never having to say you are sorry or engaging in delayed gratification, JP [“Jewish power”-ed.] has global agendas that do not welcome the light in which Israel defiantly basks, and, by association, draws attention to Jewish misdeeds worldwide, including the hijacking of power in the western world. It wants Israel to be mindful of PR.

Theokopoulos goes on to comment:

Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians whose land they took over has been beyond despicable from the very beginnings of the state, yet well-organized hasbara has managed to inculcate into the minds of the Western Goyim the dichotomy: Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims = terrorists vs Israeli Jews = peace-loving, long-suffering victims. Not so anymore. Israel is no longer seen as even a “legitimate” state but a rogue nuclear power, a racist, expansionist war criminal and war monger. Of more concern, in attracting scrutiny to its successful flouting of international laws, it has led to an examination of what exactly allows it to act with complete impunity. It has exposed the lines of power that move the governments of the major world powers, like puppets on a string, to act as its enablers, indeed as its agents. The lines are now seen by more people than ever before to lead to the Jewish lobbies, to the ZPC, which does not reside in Israel, but permeates the power centers of the US and the UK, and not only.

You can go here and read the full article.

Jews have accrued enormous power in the US and other Western countries. That is a statement that will get you accused of anti-Semitism, but it is also an undeniable fact. And as Theokopoulos correctly points out, Israel’s actions, and its ability to violate international law with impunity, are drawing attention to that power.

Every time Israel tears down another Palestinian village or goes on a rampage and kills another four or five hundred children in Gaza, what do you suppose diaspora Jews feel?

My guess is a rising level of nervousness and discomfort.

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IOF Razes Palestinian Homes in Jordan Valley and Abbas Says Talks with ’Israel’ Still on Table

Local Editor

The Zionist occupation forces accompanied by bulldozers stormed on Wednesday a Palestinian neighborhood in the occupied Jordan Valley region where they demolished a number of makeshift structures, which, they claimed, had been built without licenses.

“Israeli forces demolished three makeshift homes and barns in the Ein Karzyielia area of the Jordan Valley region, one home in the area was demolished for the fourth time,” eyewitnesses said.

Ein Karzyielia falls within “Area C,” which covers nearly two thirds of the West Bank and remains under full Israeli civil and security control as stipulated by the Oslo II Accord, which was signed in 1995 between the Zionist entity and the Palestinian Authority.

The occupation authorities prohibit construction of cement and/or iron structures in the strategic Jordan Valley region, an agriculturally-rich area running along the Jordanian border.

The entity sees the strategic valley as an economic and security buffer zone for occupation settlements and wants to keep the region under its control in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.

Source: Websites

04-03-2015 – 17:54 Last updated 04-03-2015 – 17:54

Abbas Says Talks with ’Israel’ Still on Table

Local Editor

AbbasPalestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday talks with ‘Israel’ are still on the table, despite moves against the Zionist entity at the UN and numerous failed rounds of negotiations.

Abbas was addressing the Palestinian leadership at the opening of a two-day conference in the West Bank to discuss the future of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

“We ask all countries of the world to recognize the state of Palestine,” he said.

“But we want to say to the Israeli side, these recognitions do not mean in any way that we do not want to negotiate, or that we’re running away from negotiations.”

Source: AFP

04-03-2015 – 17:21 Last updated 04-03-2015 – 17:21

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What the Palestinian Leadership ‘Need to Understand’

Bonr in Poland, Zeev Sternhell is an Israeli academic who describes himself as a ‘super Zionist’.Zeev Sternhell is an Israeli academic who describes himself as a ‘super Zionist’ but still argues strongly for a two-state settlement with the Palestinians. In a recent interview with Gidi Weitz of Ha’aretz he argued that if one state ever arose between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river, ‘there will either be a devastating civil war or an apartheid state. In both cases the Zionist state as I understand it and want it will not exist. There will be something else here. My only consolation is that I will not be around to see it.’
Born in Poland in 1935, Sternhell came to Israel in 1951 as a boy of 16. He fought in the Golani Brigade during Israel’s attack on Egypt in 1956 and served as a reserve officer in three other wars, 1967, 1973 and Israel’s onslaught on Lebanon in 2006. In 2008 he won the Israel Prize for his contributions to political science despite his strong criticism of government settlement policies. He is loathed on the right and in 2008 was targeted by Jack Teitel, a settler from Florida who had already killed two Palestinians, as it turned out. Teitel planted a bomb outside Sternhell’s home, intending not to kill but only to wound him, as he did not want to turn him into a martyr.
Sternhell made his reputation with a study of fascism in France, arguing that it was in France that it arose and not in Italy. He has applied his research to Israel, where he believes that democracy has become ‘increasingly eroded’ and that ‘we are arriving at a situation of purely formal democracy which keeps sinking to even lower levels.’
Sternhell has written contemptuously of intellectual conformism and the ‘intellectual bankruptcy of the mass media’ in its response to the latest Israeli onslaught on Gaza. All the same, as the Ha’aretz interview reveals, he has many blind spots when it comes to his understanding of why Israel has reached the present dead end in its development.
Sternhell refers to Israel as ‘an extraordinary laboratory in which one sees the gradual erosion of enlightenment values, namely the universal values I mentioned’. In fact, the state of Israel was conceived and built not on enlightenment values but on their negation.
The Enlightenment freed Jews living in western Europe from the legal and social discrimination from which they had suffered for centuries.
Zionism ‘liberates’ the Jews through the continuing oppression of the Palestinians. This process began with Herzl and has continued until the present day and the fact that Israel is NOT a state built according to enlightenment or universal values is the core of its problems. The central imperative of Zionism was to take the land of the native population, then get rid of them and hide the crime by obliterating all traces of their presence. The stolen land was subsequently parcelled out to ‘socialist’ kibbutzim where membership was only for Jews.
Similar problems arise with the notion of Israel as a democracy. When the state was founded on territory from which the indigenous population had to be purged as a precondition of statehood, when they and their descendants cannot even live on the land let alone vote, how could Israel be called a democracy in the first place?
‘Liberal’ Zionists have drawn an artificial distinction between Palestine pre and post 1967. Whether the land was taken and settled in the name of the state by the ‘first generation’ in 1948 or in the name of the Lord by settlers after 1967 makes no difference to the Palestinians because it was still taken. It was a Labor government which began settlement of the conquered territories after 1967 and Labor governments continued the process of settlement expansion and land appropriation just as enthusiastically as their Likud rivals.
Sternhell’s argument for a two-state settlement is not even based on a full withdrawal from the West Bank but only the dismantlement of ‘some’ of the settlements. Nevertheless, the failure to dismantle even ‘some’ settlements will signal that ‘the Israeli story is finished, that the story of Zionism, as we understand it, is over. ’
Perhaps his most revealing remarks were made in the context of the Palestinian right of return: ‘The editors of an Arab journal recently asked me about the right of return. I told them it’s dead, a destructive illusion. ‘Why not leave the refugees some hope?’ they asked me. I replied, ‘That hope will block any agreement.’ A few years ago in a meeting with Arab [sic.] intellectuals in Haifa we agreed on pretty well everything until we came to the right of return. One of them said ‘Are you in effect asking me to tell my relative, who once lived in this street and is now a refugee in Sidon, that he can never return here?’ That’s exactly your role, I replied, to tell them that they will never return to Haifa or Ramle or Jaffa. As long as they cling to the notion of the right of return they are presenting the Jews of Israel, who want to put an end to all this, from fighting for an agreement. That millstone, which they cannot cast off, is their tragedy and ours.’
He continues: ‘It’s true that the Palestinians don’t have the strength, the leadership, the necessary elite, the mental fortitude to recognize the fact that 1949 was the end of the process.
They don’t have to see it as fact but they need to understand that it’s the end.
They don’t have the strength to grasp that and we are rubbing salt into their wounds by making more and more demands and creating an intolerable situation in the territories. We are cultivating their hostility.’
Quite clearly 1949 was not the end, even if it was not the beginning either: that goes back to the late 19th century. ‘They need to understand’ is the voice of the colonial master speaking down to the natives. The unspoken basis for ‘they need to understand’ is not morality or justice but military power. 
The Palestinian right of return has been enshrined in the body of international law ever since 1948, and in his response Sternhell stands justice on its head. Defending the right of return is counter-productive; surrendering it would be productive; the victim has to pay for the crime and not the perpetrator; it is the perpetrator whose security has to be guaranteed and not the victim; it is the Palestinians who are blocking the road to peace by defending their right and not the perpetrator by refusing to deal with it.
Of the Nakba, Sternhell writes: ‘We arrived at a state of war, we won the war and that was the end of that chapter and the start of a new one. To go on with it decade after decade after the state’s establishment is the ruination of Zionism. What’s happening in the territories is not Zionism, it’s a nightmare of Zionism.’
Ideologically and in practice, Zionism was never about taking some of the land and leaving the rest for the natives: never about sharing the land but, rather, taking it over the heads of the natives. The twin problems all along were how to take the land and how to eject the people because without their dispossession a ‘Jewish state’ could not be established. A ‘Jewish state’ in which the majority of the population was not Jewish would have had to have been an apartheid state from the beginning. The problem was solved by getting rid of the people, a solution far more extreme than the pass laws and segregation of apartheid South Africa, but one which enabled Israel to present the face of a fictive democracy to the world.
The war of conquest of 1948 was the only way in which the central dilemmas of Zionism could be solved. If that war has continued until now it is because the Zionist leadership never regarded 1948 as the end of the process and 22 per cent of Palestine remained to be conquered. Sternhell’s ‘what’s happening in the territories’ is not a nightmare but the attempted fulfillment of Zionism’s historical mission. By settling the territories seized in 1967 without managing to get rid of the majority of the people the question of Jewish state or apartheid state has simply returned.
For Sternhell, Oslo was ‘the first time in history the Jewish national movement recognized the equal rights of the Palestinian people to independence and freedom.’
In fact, it did no such thing. In the two-line letter exchanged with Yasser Arafat in 1993, Yitzhak Rabin recognized the PLO only as the representative of the Palestinian people. In the context of Golda Meir’s remark in 1969 that the Palestinian people ‘did not exist,’
Rabin’s letter might have been an advance but by no means did Oslo represent what Sternhell says it did. No ‘partner’ genuinely committed to peace and the equal rights of another people to ‘independence and freedom’ could have done what successive Israeli governments did. There was no withdrawal of troops but only their redeployment around Palestinian towns; there was no letup in the expansion of settlements; all of the land remains under the control of the Israeli military; only a small fraction has been handed over for the purposes of Palestinian ‘autonomy.’
Even inside Israel the Palestinians suffer from structural discrimination at every level, applied in the education system, in subsidies to councils and the rights granted to Israeli Jews and indeed Jews everywhere but not to the Palestinians. Regulations and laws are streamed towards whittling down the Palestinian presence, so it is not just through its occupation of the West Bank that Israeli democracy is being ‘eroded’ or is a formality.
The most recent onslaught on Gaza is not an aberration. Israel has been killing Palestinians for nearly seventy years. Sternhell recognizes this but does not acknowledge the ideological drive behind this long-running war, which is not just about defending what was taken in 1948 but consolidating Zionism’s hold over all of Palestine.
It is said that the 19th century architects of the Zionist project did not know that Palestine was already settled. ‘A land without people for a people without land’ was a phrase used by the Zionists as well as their Christian sympathisers.

It was a fabrication because while Jews planning to go to Palestine may have had hazy ideas on this subject the founders of the Zionist enterprise were well aware that Palestine already had a people who somehow would have to be removed.
Sometimes the ‘liberal’ Zionist has no choice but to choose. In a recent article ‘Lydda 1948’ (New Yorker, October 21, 2013), Ari Shavit writes of talking to the military governor and the brigade commander chiefly responsible for carrying out Ben-Gurion’s order to expel the civilian population of Lydda and the adjoining city of Ramle. The 60,000 Palestinians in these towns constituted about 20 per cent of the urban population of Palestine. The townspeople were submitted to a reign of terror. Zionist militiamen rampaged through the town, shooting at anything that moved and massacring more than 400 people, including more than 80 in the Dahmash mosque, before going on to rape, plunder and loot. Hundreds more people died of heat and exhaustion after being driven out of the two towns.
The person installed as ‘military governor’ of Lydda, Shmarya Gutman, later to become an archaeologist ‘who forged the Masada ethos’, according to Ari Shavit, knew what had to be done even before arriving in the town. ‘War allowed one to do what one could not do in peace; it could solve problems that were unsolvable in peace.’ More or less he was reproducing what Ben-Gurion had said: war will give us what we want.
Gutman ‘knew his generation’s mission would be to rid the country of Arabs’, so as the horrific noise of the killings in the streets filled his ears he stood in his office and did nothing. Afterwards he called in the terrorized town leaders and made them an offer they could not refuse: they and their people could stay and take their chances or they could leave now. In this way he managed to persuade himself that he was not responsible for their departure because it was they who made the choice. Shavit writes sympathetically of this man who had just had to endure the worst half of his life, the noise of ‘the shooting that would not stop. The wrath of God’, descending not on the people who were doing this or allowing it to happen but on their victims.
At the end he cannot condemn. Zionism has to be rejected because of Lydda or accepted along with it. ‘I will not damn the brigade commander and the military governor and the 3rd battalion soldiers. On the contrary, if need be I’ll stand by the damned because I know that if not for them the state of Israel would not have been born.’
 Ismail Shammout 1930-2006. He was expelled from Lydda in 1948. The plight of the refugees is depicted in many of his most famous paintings.
Shavit calls Lydda the black box of Zionism. It was replicated across Palestine in 1948 and it has been replicated in Palestine and surrounding lands ever since. The Lydda of Kafr Qasim, the Lydda of Qibya, the numerous Lyddas of Gaza, the Lydda of Jenin, the Lydda of Sabra and Shatila, the Lydda of Qana, a history of Lyddas piling up into a mountain, remembered or almost forgotten except by the survivors, because if Lydda was the black box of Zionism in 1948 it remains the black box until now. The ‘process’ did not end in 1949 and if the governments of Israel are still unwilling to bring it to an end, as they have shown by rejecting, debauching or dismissing every peace offer ever made to them, even when on the most favorable terms, then there is no reason why the Palestinians should regard the process as at an end either.
– Jeremy Salt is an associate professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
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Irene Gendzier: Gaza, 1948 and US policy

25 AUGUST 2014

By Irene Gendzier, Israeli Occupation Archive – 25 Aug 2014

Irene Gendzier

William R Polk, former US diplomat and author, wrote in August 2014, “the events of today were preordained,” adding that “only if we understand the history can we hope to help solve this very complex, often shameful and sometimes dangerous problem.”1 Gaza was directly affected by that history in 1948-1949, when its population was vastly increased as a result of the influx of Palestinian refugees.2

Whether or not Gaza was ‘preordained,’ or the Israeli invasion inevitable, Polk’s pointed reminder of the connection between the present Israeli invasion and the events of 1948-9 was but one of a number of assertions about the very same connection. Suddenly, it was 1948 all over again.

The connection between Gaza and 1948 was made by others, including activists who pointed out that “the heart of the problem is not Hamas or who the Palestinian leadership is, it is the Israeli occupation, beginning with the expulsion of the Palestinians from their land in 1948 (what the Palestinians term the Nakba or ‘catastrophe’).3

Erlanger expressed the same view in The New York Times on August 16, 2014, when he reported that “Israelis can feel as stuck, in different ways , as the Palestinians themselves. Because of course this is really just another round in the unresolved Arab-Israeli war of 1948-49.”4

It is worth recalling that in June 1945, that is nearly three years before Israel declared its independence, Ben-Gurion, Chair of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem who would later become Israel’s first Prime Minister, along with several associates, met with the top US officials of the Near Eastern Affairs Division of the State Department. Their purpose: to make their demands clear. They were not interested in piecemeal solutions of the Palestine problem. ”Their position was well known and they had come to the point where they could no longer accept anything less than the granting of all their demands, including the immediate establishment of a Jewish State.”5   As far as the Arab reaction was concerned, they were not overly concerned. “Mr Ben-Gurion said that he knew the Arabs well and that they would not really put up any kind of a fight. The Bedouins of the desert were, of course, good fighters, but it was well known that they had no interest in the Palestine problem and so the leaders of the Arab states would not be successful in rallying their people to support of the Arab position on Palestine.”6

It is no surprise, then, that by 1948-9, the US felt ‘stuck,’ as it confronted its failed efforts to resolve the conflict whose origins they clearly understood. By then, moreover, they had also understood that without addressing the core issues at stake, there would be no solution to the conflict. Those core issues consisted of the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, the determination of internationally accepted boundaries, and the fate of Jerusalem.

Despite its avowed support for consensus between Arab and Jew as the essential prerequisite for a resolution of the conflict in Palestine, US officials supported the policy of ‘transfer,’ which in effect meant the coercive expulsion of Palestinians from their towns and villages to assure Israel a homogeneous population. Moreover, despite Washington’s recognition of Israeli responsibility for the Palestinian refugee problem and its repeated endorsement of UNGA Res 194, whose recommendations included the repatriation of Palestinian refugees by Israel, by 1949 the US government moved to defer to Israel policies. Why?

There was no conspiracy involved. There was no wavering at the top. The US was not ambivalent about what policies to pursue. On the contrary, the decision to stop pressuring Israel to take action on the refugee question, and to lay low in opposing Israel’s territorial expansion, were unmistakable signs that there was a shift in priorities.

US officials understood the Israeli reliance on force to expand and control territory, which they criticized while recognizing Israel’s military superiority as compared to that of surrounding Arab states. It was on the basis of such force that Israel altered the balance of power in the Middle East in 1948. And it was on the basis of such developments that Washington calculated that Israel could be useful in the protection of US regional interests. The result was a corresponding lessening of pressure on the Jewish state to repatriate Palestinian refugees and to clamp down on its territorial expansion. There was no contradiction in US policy; the move corresponded to priorities in which Palestinian rights had no place. Yet successive administrations continued to recognize the importance of the core issues while not moving to implement them.

This is not to ignore the acceleration of US military and financial support for Israel that increased exponentially after the 1967 war. It is simply to draw attention to early US recognition of the role that Israel would play in US regional policies, those dedicated to the protection of its interests in oil and defense, and to the containment and repression of radical and nationalist forces across the Middle East. US support for Israel’s repeated invasions of Gaza and its continued occupation of the West Bank are part of this, as is the indispensable US role in providing military support that has allowed Israel to pursue its destruction of Gaza in 2014.

In short, it’s important to make the connection between Israel’s war on Gaza in 2014 and the events of 1948, but it is no less critical to confront the US role.
Irene Gendzier was a long time member of the Boston University faculty, having taught in the Departments of History, African Studies and Political Science. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Dying to Forget: the Foundation of United States Foreign Policy in the Middle East, 1945-1949, Oil, Palestine and Israel, Columbia University Press; and she is also a member of the IOA Advisory Board.

  1. William R Polk, “Gaza and the Struggle for Palestine: Historical Background (Pt 1,a), Juan Cole, Informed Comment, August 10, 2014. 
  2. Beryl Cheal, “Refugees in the Gaza Strip, December 1948-1950,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol.XVlll, no.1, Autumn 1988. 
  3. Donna Nevel, “The Problem in Gaza is not Hamas,” Tikkun Daily, August 14, 2014. 
  4. Steven Erlanger, “Israel is Trapped in a War That Never Ended as Instability Persists at Home,” The New York Times, August 16, 2014, A p.10. 
  5. June 27, 1945, Memorandum of Conversation by Mr. Evan M. Wilson of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, FRUS 1945, Vlll, p. 715. 
  6. Ibid. 

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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

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The Palestinian leadership won’t do it – will you?

 Help prod the ICC into action over Israel’s illegal ‘settlements’
(London) –  Unbelievably, President Mahmoud Abbas and his hapless crew in Ramallah promised the US not to file charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Meanwhile the Israeli regime is accelerating its squatter programme on Palestinian territory even in the middle of so-called peace talks, increasing its air strikes and generally upping its aggression.
 The building of illegal squatter settlements has been going on unchecked since 1967, the aim plainly being permanent occupation and eventual annexation. Yet the Palestinian leadership remains fearful of using the proper legal channels to pursue legitimate claims to freedom, self-determination and the return of their lands. Abbas prefers instead to cling to the discredited, ‘kangaroo’ peace process promoted and facilitated by crooked elements in the US administration allied to AIPAC and other pro-Israel influencers.
 It has been clear for some time that civil society and Palestinian solidarity movements around the world must come together and prod the ICC into taking action on its own initiative against Israel’s war crimes. One of the most urgent issues is the illegal transfer of portions of Israel’s population into squats or ‘settlements’ on stolen Palestinian lands. Over 600,000 Israeli squatters are now reckoned to be deliberately parked on the wrong side of the border in order to colonise choice areas of the West Bank, and they will be joined by thousands more as a result of new settlement construction tenders recently issued by the Israeli authorities in defiance of international law and the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Many of the squatters are armed thugs, hooligans and vandals, dedicated to harassing local Palestinian communities and wrecking their property. The UN says the colonisation is “creeping annexation”.
 It is imperative that these crimes and abominations are not only halted but reversed. Palestinians are entitled to rid themselves of the squatter menace. But who’s to start the legal ball rolling? Who can be trusted to resolutely press the Palestinian case?
 A further warning comes in a report https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/9071-pa-offers-to-sell-egypt-fuel-donated-to-gaza-by-qatar that tells of a confidential letter in which the Palestinian Authority offered to sell Egypt fuel donated by Qatar to operate Gaza’s power plant. As the whole world knows, the Gaza Strip has been in the grip of a power crisis for nearly 8 years as a result of Israel’s blockade. Very little of the Qatar consignment reached Gaza, says the report. And recently, when the tanks ran dry, the situation became acute, bringing Gaza’s fragile economy and public services to a standstill and causing great hardship and danger to public health.
Interestingly, the report says Qatar intervened to solve the latest electricity crisis in Gaza and paid $10 million to the Palestinian Authority to meet the value-added tax on fuel which it had increased without notice. If the story is true, it illustrates the kind of low-life Abbas has surrounded himself with. Quite obviously such people cannot be entrusted with the hopes of an oppressed nation.
So it’s up to civil society to set an example, brush aside the political posers and take direct action. As it happens a specially drafted letter to the ICC has suddenly popped into my inbox. It appears to have originated from the Sabeel International Conference in Jerusalem last autumn. Sabeel is a peace movement formed by Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land. The idea is for thousands of copies of the letter to be sent by individual activists and groups from all over the world. I hear the wording has been put through the wringer by a legal team, so activists are asked to stick to the suggested text – simply copy and paste it into your word/document program, add the date and your name and address, print, sign and post (by snail-mail).
Here it is, almost verbatim…
[Name and Address]
The Information and Evidence Unit
Office of the Prosecutor
International Criminal Court
PO Box 19519
2500  CM
The Hague,
The Netherlands
Dear ICC Prosecutor,
Transfer of Israeli civilian population into occupied Palestinian territory
 I urge that an investigation be initiated by the Office to determine whether war crimes have been committed in connection with the transfer of civilian population into territory of Palestine that is under the belligerent occupation of Israel. Power for the initiation of such an investigation would appear to exist under Article 15 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
 It is my understanding that such transfer has occurred in a manner that appears to constitute a violation of Article 8 (2) (b) (viii) of the Statute. From facts available in the public domain, such transfers have risen to the level of seriousness required for action by the Court. Transfers of thousands of civilians have occurred. Harm has been caused to thousands of victims.
 The fact of a violation of the comparable provision of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949 has been determined by United Nations organs, including the General Assembly, the Security Council and the International Court of Justice. That provision applies to actions of a state. These organs have determined a violation by Israel.
 I also understand that the Court has jurisdiction over persons potentially responsible for such transfers. The declaration lodged with the Registrar of the Court by the Government of Palestine on 21 January 2009 under Article 12 (3) of the Statute confers jurisdiction over war crimes committed in the territory of Palestine since 1 July 2002.
 Transfers are continuing at present in great numbers, consequently the crimes in question are ongoing. The matter is now pressing and I therefore feel it imperative that an investigation be initiated without delay, lest additional thousands of persons be victimised.
Yours sincerely…
I only heard about it by chance. If good ideas like this are to work they need the support of large numbers. Therefore the various proactive groups must come closer together, communicate and co-ordinate! Has the letter taken off? Have thousands been sent? I simply don’t know… But I’m posting mine today.
 Stuart Littlewood
About the author
Stuart Littlewood NewStuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. Stuart’s articles are serious and revealing; they address the pertinent issues regarding Israel and Palestine and sixty years of conflict that have devasted millions of human beings. For further information please visithttp://www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk/.
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