How a Map of Palestine Drove the American Neo-colonial Elite Mad

By Juan Cole

I mirrored a map of modern Palestinian history that has the virtue of showing graphically what has happened to the Palestinians politically and territorially in the past century.


Andrew Sullivan then mirrored the map from my site, which set off a lot of thunder and noise among anti-Palestinian writers like Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, but shed very little light. (PS, the map as a hard copy mapcard is available from Sabeel.)

The map is useful and accurate. It begins by showing the British Mandate of Palestine as of the mid-1920s. The British conquered the Ottoman districts that came to be the Mandate during World War I (the Ottoman sultan threw in with Austria and Germany against Britain, France and Russia, mainly out of fear of Russia).

But because of the rise of the League of Nations and the influence of President Woodrow Wilson’s ideas about self-determination, Britain and France could not decently simply make their new, previously Ottoman territories into mere colonies. The League of Nations awarded them “Mandates.” Britain got Palestine, France got Syria (which it made into Syria and Lebanon), Britain got Iraq.

The League of Nations Covenant spelled out what a Class A Mandate (i.e. territory that had been Ottoman) was:

“Article 22. Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory [i.e., a Western power] until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.”

That is, the purpose of the later British Mandate of Palestine, of the French Mandate of Syria, of the British Mandate of Iraq, was to ‘render administrative advice and assistance” to these peoples in preparation for their becoming independent states, an achievement that they were recognized as not far from attaining. The Covenant was written before the actual Mandates were established, but Palestine was a Class A Mandate and so the language of the Covenant was applicable to it. The territory that formed the British Mandate of Iraq was the same territory that became independent Iraq, and the same could have been expected of the British Mandate of Palestine. (Even class B Mandates like Togo have become nation-states, but the poor Palestinians are just stateless prisoners in colonial cantons).

The first map thus shows what the League of Nations imagined would become the state of Palestine. The economist published an odd assertion that the Negev Desert was ’empty’ and should not have been shown in the first map. But it wasn’t and isn’t empty; Palestinian Bedouin live there, and they and the desert were recognized by the League of Nations as belonging to the Mandate of Palestine, a state-in-training. The Mandate of Palestine also had a charge to allow for the establishment of a ‘homeland’ in Palestine for Jews (because of the 1917 Balfour Declaration), but nobody among League of Nations officialdom at that time imagined it would be a whole and competing territorial state. There was no prospect of more than a few tens of thousands of Jews settling in Palestine, as of the mid-1920s. (They are shown in white on the first map, refuting those who mysteriously complained that the maps alternated between showing sovereignty and showing population). As late as the 1939 British White Paper, British officials imagined that the Mandate would emerge as an independent Palestinian state within 10 years.

In 1851, there had been 327,000 Palestinians (yes, the word ‘Filistin’ was current then) and other non-Jews, and only 13,000 Jews. In 1925, after decades of determined Jewish immigration, there were a little over 100,000 Jews, and there were 765,000 mostly Palestinian non-Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine. For historical demography of this area, see Justin McCarthy’s painstaking calculations; it is not true, as sometimes is claimed, that we cannot know anything about population figures in this region. See also his journal article, reprinted at this site. The Palestinian population grew because of rapid population growth, not in-migration, which was minor. The common allegation that Jerusalem had a Jewish majority at some point in the 19th century is meaningless. Jerusalem was a small town in 1851, and many pious or indigent elderly Jews from Eastern Europe and elsewhere retired there because of charities that would support them. In 1851, Jews were only about 4% of the population of the territory that became the British Mandate of Palestine some 70 years later. And, there had been few adherents of Judaism, just a few thousand, from the time most Jews in Palestine adopted Christianity and Islam in the first millennium CE all the way until the 20th century. In the British Mandate of Palestine, the district of Jerusalem was largely Palestinian.

The rise of the Nazis in the 1930s impelled massive Jewish emigration to Palestine, so by 1940 there were over 400,000 Jews there amid over a million Palestinians.

The second map shows the United Nations partition plan of 1947, which awarded Jews (who only then owned about 6% of Palestinian land) a substantial state alongside a much reduced Palestine. Although apologists for the Zionist movement say that the Zionists accepted this partition plan and the Arabs rejected it, that is not entirely true. Zionist leader David Ben Gurion noted in his diary when Israel was established that when the US had been formed, no document set out its territorial extent, implying that the same was true of Israel. We know that Ben Gurion was an Israeli expansionist who fully intended to annex more land to Israel, and by 1956 he attempted to add the Sinai and would have liked southern Lebanon. So the Zionist “acceptance” of the UN partition plan did not mean very much beyond a happiness that their initial starting point was much better than their actual land ownership had given them any right to expect.

The third map shows the status quo after the Israeli-Palestinian civil war of 1947-1948. It is not true that the entire Arab League attacked the Jewish community in Palestine or later Israel on behalf of the Palestinians. As Avi Shlaim has shown, Jordan had made an understanding with the Zionist leadership that it would grab the West Bank, and its troops did not mount a campaign in the territory awarded to Israel by the UN. Egypt grabbed Gaza and then tried to grab the Negev Desert, with a few thousand badly trained and equipped troops, but was defeated by the nascent Israeli army. Few other Arab states sent any significant number of troops. The total number of troops on the Arab side actually on the ground was about equal to those of the Zionist forces, and the Zionists had more esprit de corps and better weaponry.

[The nascent Israeli military deliberately pursued a policy of ethnically cleansing non-combatant Palestinians from Israeli-held territory, expelling about 720,000 of them in 1947-48, then locking them outside, bereft of their homes and farms and penniless.


The final map shows the situation today, which springs from the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank in 1967 and then the decision of the Israelis to colonize the West Bank intensively (a process that is illegal in the law of war concerning occupied populations).

There is nothing inaccurate about the maps at all, historically. Goldberg maintained that the Palestinians’ ‘original sin’ was rejecting the 1947 UN partition plan. But since Ben Gurion and other expansionists went on to grab more territory later in history, it is not clear that the Palestinians could have avoided being occupied even if they had given away willingly so much of their country in 1947. The first original sin was the contradictory and feckless pledge by the British to sponsor Jewish immigration into their Mandate in Palestine, which they wickedly and fantastically promised would never inconvenience the Palestinians in any way. It was the same kind of original sin as the French policy of sponsoring a million colons in French Algeria, or the French attempt to create a Christian-dominated Lebanon where the Christians would be privileged by French policy. The second original sin was the refusal of the United States to allow Jews to immigrate in the 1930s and early 1940s, which forced them to go to Palestine to escape the monstrous, mass-murdering Nazis.

The map attracted so much ire and controversy not because it is inaccurate but because it clearly shows what has been done to the Palestinians, which the League of Nations had recognized as not far from achieving statehood in its Covenant. Their statehood and their territory has been taken from them, and they have been left stateless, without citizenship and therefore without basic civil and human rights. The map makes it easy to see this process. The map had to be stigmatized and made taboo. But even if that marginalization of an image could be accomplished, the squalid reality of Palestinian statelessness would remain, and the children of Gaza would still be being malnourished by the deliberate Israeli policy of blockading civilians. The map just points to a powerful reality; banishing the map does not change that reality.

Goldberg, according to Spencer Ackerman, says that he will stop replying to Andrew Sullivan, for which Ackerman is grateful, since, he implies, Goldberg is a propagandistic hack who loves to promote wars on flimsy pretenses. Matthew Yglesias also has some fun at Goldberg’s expense. [Otherwise, like most other major US institutions, our press is corrupt on this issue.]

People like Goldberg never tell us what they expect to happen to the Palestinians in the near and medium future. They don’t seem to understand that the status quo is untenable. They are like militant ostriches, hiding their heads in the sand while lashing out with their hind talons at anyone who stares clear-eyed at the problem, characterizing us as bigots. As if that old calumny has any purchase for anyone who knows something serious about the actual views of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or . . . Avigdor Lieberman, more bigoted persons than whom would be difficult to find…


How Shimon Peres Stole the Nuclear Bomb with a Bluff, and Why Military Censor Doesn’t Want Israelis to Know about It

Global Research, September 23, 2016
Richard Silverstein 16 September 2016

Shimon Peres had a severe stroke two days ago and while his health has improved since he entered the hospital, at age 93, he is in the twilight of his years.  It’s appropriate to take stock of his legacy as an epochal figure who spans the founding of the State to the present day.  I can’t think of another active Israeli politician with that length of service or span of history.

When Peres dies, an entire nation will mourn him as a founding father of the state.  Someone who served it faithfully and diligently for nearly seven decades.  The accolades will pour forth.  Newscasters will show historic footage of him with his political mentor, David Ben Gurion, and intone solemnly about the deeds of the Great Man.

But, as is often the case in these matters, the truth lies elsewhere.  Peres began his career as Ben Gurion’s errand boy.  He was diligent and inventive.  What the boss needed done, he always figured out a way to accomplish.  Eventually became his chief fixer.  That’s how he was assigned the monumental task of getting Israel the Bomb.  Such a task is no small feat and it required immense amounts of grit, determination, invention, and even outright thievery.  Peres was more than up to the task.

israeli censorship nuclear bomb

Uncensored version of Wall story which describes Peres’ bluff which enabled French to circumvent international nuclear prohibition against selling uranium to Israel

From almost the first moment after the State was founded Ben Gurion aspired to create a nuclear weapon.  He saw it as his Doomsday device.  The ace he could draw from the deck if all the cards were stacked against him.  Though Israel’s actual strategic strength was quite robust, Ben Gurion suggested otherwise.  In a famous episode of that era, he’s reputed to have looked at a map of the Middle East spread upon the wall of his study and exclaimed to those around him:

“I didn’t sleep a wink last night because of this map.  What is Israel?  A single tiny speck.  How can it survive amidst this Arab world?!”

This was part and parcel of the Israeli strategy of portraying itself as the eternal victim, the weaker party to every conflict, who required moral and military support to prevent its destruction.  None of it was true.  But in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the world felt it couldn’t to take a chance that it might happen again.  That’s how Israel became little David to the Arab Goliath in the eyes of much of the world after 1948.

Though the conventional Israeli belief is that Israel’s  WMD was meant to protect Israel from imminent destruction should  it suffer a catastrophic defeat, that theory is wrong either in whole or in part.  In actuality, Israel never faced such a threat.  It always maintained military superiority over its enemies in every war from 1948 through 1967 (and after).

Ben  Gurion’s real goal in obtaining nukes was political.

He wanted to ensure Israel would never have to negotiate away the gains it made on the battlefield.  He wanted a weapon he could hold over the heads of any enemy, that would ensure he never had to renounce anything that was rightfully Israel’s (in his mind at least).  So Israel’s Bomb has enabled it to reject virtually every peace initiative offered going all the way back to 1967.  Israel’s leaders knew that the U.S. would never gamble that it wouldn’t use WMD if it had to.  So American presidents already had one hand tied behind their backs in such negotiations.  In a card game, when one party holds the ace of spades in his pocket and everyone else playing knows this, it’s not much of a game, is  it?

Israeli Opponents of the Bomb

It would be a misnomer to believe that Ben Gurion and Peres were lionized by their peers for their visionary project.  Opposition to an Israeli Bomb was strong and crossed party lines.   Among those who were against were future prime minister Levi Eshkol, Pinchas Sapir, Yigal Alon, Golda Meir, and Israel’s leading weapons developer, Yisrael Galili.  Even then IDF chief of staff Chaim Leskov opposed the Bomb.  Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, in his typically prophetic fashion created an NGO that called for making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone (it was called in Hebrew “the Public Committee to Demilitarize the Middle East of Nuclear Weapons”).  It was probably the first such call anywhere in the world.  In one matter, he turned out to be wrong.  He predicted that by building the nuclear reactor Israel would tempt its enemies to bomb and destroy it.  Afterward, Lebowitz predicted, they would call Dimona: “Shimon’s Folly.”

The sheer chutzpah that Peres employed to get what he wanted was astonishing.  He played on the heartstrings of German guilt to obtain funding for the  nuclear arms project.  He recruited Arnon Milchan as a covert operative to organize a conspiracy to steal highly enriched uranium from the U.S. depository where it was stored.  Peres negotiated with the French a complex deal to build the Dimona plant, which to this day produces the plutonium for Israel’s WMD arsenal.

The defense ministry director general traveled extensively to France in those days and cultivated the entire political leadership in pursuit of the necessary agreements to build the Dimona plant.  On the very day he flew to France to sign the final deal, the government in Paris fell.  Though Ben Gurion saw Peres’ trip as wasted, the latter refused to give up.  He went to the resigning prime minister and suggested that they back-date the agreement to make it appear as if it had been signed before the resignation.  The French leader agreed.  And so, Israel’s Bomb was saved by an audacious bluff.  When someone asked Peres afterward how he thought he could get away with such a stratagem, he joked: “What’s 24 hours among friends?”

Peres facilitated outright theft as well.  If Israel waited to produce the highly enriched uranium it would need to create a Bomb on its own, it would’ve taken years longer than it did.  If it could procure the uranium by other means it would immensely speed the process.

That’s how the father of the Israeli Bomb recruited future Hollywood film producer Milchan to steal hundreds of kilos of nuclear materials from a warehouse in Pennsylvania with the connivance of American officials who were pro-Israel Jews recruited to the task.

Roger Mattson recently published a book on the subject, Stealing the Atom Bomb: How Denial and Deception Armed Israel.

This article summarizes his findings. Among them, are that a group of American Jewish scientists and engineers founded the company which likely embezzled and transferred to Israel enough material to make six nuclear bombs. Several officers of this company later became national officers in the Zionist Organization of America. A founder of the company fought in the Haganah during the 1948 War and was a protege of future Israeli intelligence chief, Meir Amit. Key figures in U.S. intelligence even suggested that the company itself was established by Israeli intelligence in order to steal U.S. materials and technological expertise in the service of Israel’s nuclear weapons project. All of this means that leaders of one of the key organizations in the Israel Lobby aided and abetted a huge national security breach which gave Israel the bomb.

If you’re a pro-Israel advocate you likely see such figures as heroes. If so, consider this: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in 1956 for doing far less harm to America’s nuclear program than these individuals did.

Israel Lobby’s Covert Fundraising Program

The WMD project was extraordinarily expensive.  The new State, saddled with huge expenses to feed and house millions of  new immigrants, had no budget to fund it.  That’s where Peres turned to wealthy Diaspora Jews like Abe Feinberg to covertly raise funds for the Israeli bomb.  Feinberg spearheaded a fundraising campaign which raised $40-million, equivalent to $260-million in today’s dollars.  Feinberg also conspired through his Democratic Party connections to secure from Pres. Johnson Israel’s right to refuse to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation pact.

Nasser announces the nationalisation of the Suez Canal

The Israeli news portal Walla describes the brilliant stratagem Ben Gurion and Peres concocted that drew France to Israel’s side in the effort to make a Bomb.  It began in 1956 with a secret meeting at a French villa outside Paris with a high-level British and French contingent.  The goals of the French and British were aligned with those of Israel, but not completely so.  The British and French wanted to give Egypt’s new firebrand leader, Gamal Nasser a black eye for nationalizing the Suez Canal and offering aid to the Algerian resistance.  They hatched a plan to attack Nasser and carve up Egypt’s strategic assets for themselves.  Israel was happy to go along for the ride.  But it had a separate goal–to garner European support for its nuclear effort.

After getting the go-ahead sign from Ben Gurion, Peres approached his French counterparts and announced Israeli agreement to join in the attack which later came to be known as Operation Kadesh.  But Israel, he told them, faced far more danger in the venture than either the British or French.  If Israel lost, its very existence could be threatened.  That’s why it needed a strategic weapon that could prevent its annihilation in the event of a disastrous defeat.

As negotiations proceeded with the French, they warned the Israelis that there were prohibited from selling them uranium under international agreements.  Peres came up with a typically brilliant and devious solution:

“Don’t sell it to us, lend it to us,” he said.  “We will return it to you after our mission is completed.”

So began the real effort to build an Israeli Bomb.  The reactor was completed in 1960 and by 1967 Israel had its first primitive nuclear weapon to use in case it lost the 1967 War.

For some strange reason, the Israeli military censor disapproved of Walla talking about Peres’ “bluff” regarding back-dating the French-Israeli nuclear agreement. In the censored version, you won’t find any reference to it. Nor will you find the story about Peres’ suggestion that the French “lend” the uranium to Israel, since it was illegal to sell it.  My guess is that with Peres’ demise likely, they preferred not to tarnish the Old Man’s reputation any more than necessary. Which raises the question: why is a censor stooping to protect Israeli politicians’ reputations rather than protecting the security of the state, which is its putative mission?”

Israeli News Program Pulls Back The Curtain On Beloved General’s Sordid Past

[ Ed. note – Rehavam Ze’evi was an Israeli general who supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and was assassinated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 2001. ]

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Israel, a country founded on violence, mass expulsion and racism, has elevated a violent sexual predator and mafia associate to its national pantheon…

By Richard Silverstein

SEATTLE — Adored by multitudes of Israelis for his battlefield heroism and love of the land of Israel, Rehavam Zeevi is now being portrayed as a hero with feet of clay, if not baser material.

Israel’s leading news magazine, “Uvdah,” recently aired a segment (Hebrew) that explores the darker side of the legacy of the Israeli general and cabinet minister who was assassinated by Palestinian gunmen in 2001. The program identified five women who served under his command in the 1970s, who accuse him of rape and attempted rape.

One of Zeevi’s friends recounted to “Uvdah” a conversation in which the general said:

“There are three things I was made to do in life: fighting, fucking and eating.”

The news comes as a shock to the average Israeli, for whom Zeevi’s name conjures notions of courage and selflessness, not sexual predation.

As those who follow Israeli sexual politics know, women have only recently started to come forward in substantial numbers to report sexual harassment, abuse or rape. With the imprisonment of former President Moshe Katzav in 2011 on rape charges, the tide has begun to turn. And though a decade ago it would have been almost unheard of for a woman to file a complaint against a member of the elite, including members of the military and intelligence agencies, that is no longer the case.

In the 1970s many women may have been flattered by the attention offered to them by as colorful and legendary a figure as Zeevi. Songs were written boasting of his prowess. He dined with celebrities. He was the height of Israeli glamour and manliness. Victims of his apparently violent nature toward women would’ve had virtually no recourse to military authorities.

Born in Jerusalem in 1926 and raised on a collective farm, Zeevi began his military career in 1942, serving in the elite Palmach force. He participated in the infamous Operation Dani, which led to the expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinian residents of central Israel, primarily around Lod. After the war, he continued with his military service and became a commander.

He led a 1951 operation, Tel Motila, against Syrian commandos who had penetrated into northern Israel. Over 40 Israelis were killed over the course of the four-day battle. Though Zeevi was awarded a citation for his command of the battle, he and virtually all the officers in his unit actually sat in a secure spot (Hebrew) far from the bloodbath their own troops endured. There wasn’t even a medic or doctor assigned to the unit to tend the wounded. His soldiers were largely green recruits, new immigrants who’d been drafted into the army only four months earlier. He was only a 30-minute drive from his troops, but he never showed his face during the entire battle. All he did was offer encouragement and promise reinforcements who never actually arrived. One could argue Zeevi essentially abandoned his command.


‘Gandhi’: A devout Kahanist

Gandhi shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who himself orchestrated the assassination of UN mediator Count Folke von Bernadotte.

Gandhi shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who himself orchestrated the assassination of UN mediator Count Folke von Bernadotte.

Zeevi, whose unlikely nickname was “Gandhi,” espoused Kahanist views, including ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population. It is commonly and more euphemistically called “transfer” (as in “population transfer”) in Israel. Here, translated from Hebrew, is one of his classic formulations of the idea:

“Voluntary transfer — we can bring it about and encourage it without any Arab government having to agree to it. If King Hussein was smart enough to evict 60,000 Arabs each year from Judea and Samaria [sic] when it was under his rule, why shouldn’t we be able to double or triple this number? If we close the Intifada ‘universities’ in Judea and Samaria, if we end the jobs of Arab laborers from Judea and Samaria within Israel, if we stop encouraging the development of their commercial businesses, they will [voluntarily] move to other countries and remain there. That’s voluntary transfer!”

After he was named head of Central Command in 1968, Zeevi made a name for himself by hunting down commandos and armed infiltrators who crossed the Jordanian border into Israel. Though he was the senior officer and not expected to participate in raids, he would join in operations to liquidate the terror cells. He even invited his friends — actors, journalists, politicians — to join.

Zeevi’s personal military pilot recounted a story about the aftermath of one such raid during that period. Usually, he told “Uvdah,” they would take the bodies of dead terrorists and fly them by helicopter to the nearest road, where they would be picked up and transported to a morgue. But after a particularly difficult cell was eliminated in the Jordan Valley, the pilot says that Zeevi instructed him to attach the corpses of the attackers by rope to the helicopter skids and fly low over neighboring Arab villages. He apparently did this as a warning: This is what happens to Arabs who attack me.

In the 1950s, when he had been a young intelligence officer, IDF commander Rafi Eitan ordered the expulsion of Bedouins from villages near Gaza. Zeevi came upon two local Arab residents. Instead of arresting them, he shot one dead and wounded the other. Eitan reportedly remonstrated with him, saying, “You don’t kill any more than necessary.” But this was Zeevi’s way. Numerous sources in the “Uvdah” segment say of him that he “knew no boundaries.”

The IDF general was also a prodigious leaker. His favorite reporter, Eitan Haber, told “Uvdah” that Zeevi leaked “from morning till night.” And when a general leaks he doesn’t discriminate between what’s secret and what’s not. In fact, the material that such sources leak is often top secret, but by virtue of their position, they face no accountability for their actions in this regard.


‘Gandhi’ put a gun to favored journalist’s head

Zeevi could be fierce in his anger at a trusted friend or journalist who crossed him.

In the “Uvdah” piece, Eitan Haber describes joining Zeevi on a press outing to the border with Gaza. The general was especially angry with Haber for some reason Haber no longer remembers, but he does remember what came next: Sitting next to him as the bus rocked up and down over rutted back roads, Zeevi pulled out his pistol, pointed it at the reporter’s temple and told him he wouldn’t live to the end of the trip. Then he told Haber to stand before the assembled press corps and beg his forgiveness. Only after he apologized, did Zeevi lower his gun.

Israel’s most popular newspaper columnist, Nahum Barnea, wrote a column in the late 1960s that poked fun at Zeevi, who was immortalized in a popular song of the day. Mocking the martial heroism of the lyrics, he titled his column: ”The Bold General of Central Command.” In response, Barnea told “Uvdah,” the general and his cronies called Barnea’s home day and night, threatening him with death. The columnist had a brother who’d been severely wounded in a Fatah ambush. One caller reached Barnea’s mother and said: “Your son is dead.” She thought they were referring to her wounded son, not realizing it was a death threat against her other son. In the “Uvdah” segment, Barnea recounts the special grief this inflicted on her.

Nahum Barnea's column, "The Bold General from Central Command," which provoked Rehavam Zeevi's wrath.

Nahum Barnea’s column, “The Bold General from Central Command,” which provoked Rehavam Zeevi’s wrath.

A famous television star and singer, Rivka Michaeli, told a group of reporters with whom she was having coffee after Zeevi left the army in 1974, that the retired general had lost the opportunity to be named counter-terror advisor to the prime minister because of a scandal in which he was embroiled. One of the reporters called Zeevi to check on the story. After that call, Zeevi started making calls at all hours of the day and night, threatening to kill Michaeli and her children. She says he told her that he could find her any time while she was walking on the street and rip off her dress, and threatened to blow up her home.

She told “Uvdah” that she first met Zeevi was when she was invited to a Bar Mitzvah party for his son at the home of Moshe Dayan. She exited the party early, leaving through a side gate. There, in a dark walkway, she says Zeevi attacked her, pinning her arms to the wall and injuring them. Then, as quickly as he attacked, she says, he left without even glancing at her.

Michaeli says that whenever she passes any of the myriad monuments, bridges or streets named in his honor she spits in disgust and drives on.

In 1971, Sylvie Keshet penned a savage satirical column, “The Mexican General Castanets,” in which she likened Zeevi both to a Roman emperor and a Latin American dictator. Translated from Hebrew, it reads:

“The celebrated army of the Mexican General Castanets, the envy of all Latin America:

The Mexican General Castanets, a disciple of those revolutionaries, Villa and Zapata, continues the tradition of luxury of the heroic, democratic people’s army, by building an astounding, luxurious fortress costing more than $17 million. The Mexican General takes care that not an extra centavo is spent.  

When the Mexican General Castanets wishes to spend some time away from his military duties, he prepares a garden party at his home. He makes sure to share the pleasures of it with his soldiers, by volunteering them to serve his guests as waiters.

As the celebrated commander of this republican people’s army, he well understands the importance of literature and poetry contributing to the special experience of being in his army. When he oversaw the [terrorist] pursuits and hunted men by helicopter, he welcomed an entire fellowship of writers, and palace reporters, lovers of peace all.”

Following publication, Keshet was subjected to the same treatment as Barnea. Phone calls came in the middle of the night, even hourly. She received death threats. A few years went by and the terror seemed to have passed, but the general never forgot a slight.


‘Gandhi’ and the Israeli mafia

After retiring from the military in 1974, Zeevi served as military advisor to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and took up with Israeli mafiosi. In particular, he consorted with members of a Yemenite mafia clan. When asked why he did so, he reportedly told his interlocutor:

“Look, I love women. I love to bed women. I love to fuck. They’re [the mafia] the only ones who will find me places where I can carry on in secret. That’s why I do it.”

Israeli IDF officers (top, Zeevi in center) with their mafia enforcers, Tuvia Oshri (far left)

Israeli IDF officers (top, Zeevi in center) with their mafia enforcers, Tuvia Oshri (far left)

These mafiosi became his fixer, his procurer, his enforcer, and he treated them to the good life he enjoyed as both a military hero and high-level advisor. There were fine restaurants, trips to elegant hotels in New York, and, of course, women.

His chief enforcer, Tuvia Oshri, called in a favor. A very big favor. In 1981, in the midst of a gang turf war, he and a fellow mobster committed a double murder. They needed to get out of the country fast. They called Zeevi and asked to meet him. According to a police wiretap of the call, his immediate response was: “If you need me [I’ll be there].” They did need him, and according to the mobsters, Zeevi met them and they escaped with his help. Zeevi, however, maintained that he said he would meet them, but never did.

In this case, he opened himself to considerably legal peril. He was asked to be an accomplice to murder. Though they investigated Zeevi intensely, police never charged him with any crime. This is a testament not to his innocence, but to his position as a made man, protected by his sacrosanct status as both a military hero and friend of the mob. As such, he was virtually untouchable.


‘Gandhi’ makes death threats against a future prime minister

Before he became prime minister, Ehud Olmert was making his mark as a Likud Young Turk by tackling corruption in politics and business in the 1980s. One of his targets was Zeevi. As the “Uvdah” segment so clearly demonstrates, the former general didn’t brook enemies — he went after them tooth and nail.

 caption: Maariv news report October 31, 1974, detailing bombing of the home of Israeli columnist, Sylvie Keshet. Headline: "Bomb explodes outside home of Sylvia Keshet"

Maariv news report October 31, 1974, detailing bombing of the home of Israeli columnist, Sylvie Keshet. Headline: “Bomb explodes outside home of Sylvia Keshet”

Maariv news report October 31, 1974, detailing bombing of the home of Israeli columnist, Sylvie Keshet. Headline: “Bomb explodes outside home of Sylvia Keshet”

Olmert, who decades later would be felled by corruption charges of his own, was no shrinking violet. He recorded death threats made against him by Zeevi and played them back on network television. Meanwhile, police wiretaps picked up warnings that Zeevi was plotting to harm Olmert.

Though the Likud’s rising star was never harmed, others were. The reporter who received serial death threats, Sylvie Keshet, faced the full force of Zeevi’s wrath. When the latter commanded his capo, Tuvia Oshri, to plant a bomb at Keshet’s home, Oshri turned to one of his mob confederates to do the job.

On Oct. 31 1974, three years after she published her article poking fun at Gandhi, Keshet was at in her Tel Aviv home with her dog as her companion.  She grew alarmed as the dog began barking furiously at the front door to her apartment. She also smelled something unusual outside. The next thing she knew a bomb exploded, her door flew through the air, the windows blew out. She credits her dog for saving her life.

No one was ever charged in the bombing, though Oshri admits during his “Uvdah” interview that he organized the attack at Zeevi’s request. The IDF general had retired from active duty only four weeks before the attack. Leaving active duty apparently freed him to exact personal revenge against the journalist.

Israeli journalist, Sylvie Keshet, whose home was bombed on Gandhi's orders.

Israeli journalist, Sylvie Keshet, whose home was bombed on Gandhi’s orders.

‘Gandhi’: Serial rapist

Many of these charges are old news in Israel. But “Uvdah” dug up new ones regarding rapes, attempted rapes and brutal violence which characterized Zeevi’s relations with women from his earliest days in the military virtually up until his death.

The producers recorded multiple accounts of women who served under him in the military. They say Zeevi raped or tried to rape them. Many of the alleged attacks occurred at his office in the Kirya, Israel’s Pentagon, where he had installed a Murphy (wall) bed solely for the purpose of facilitating his sexual predation. Other attacks occurred at the homes of the victims, where he often arrived uninvited and unannounced.

One woman told “Uvdah” that she was flattered that a general had summoned her to see him when she was an 18-year-old soldier. Zeevi’s personal driver picked her up and drove her to the Kirya.  After she arrived at Zeevi’s office, he locked the door and pounced on her. After raping her, Zeevi redressed in his uniform and told her to hurry up and get dressed. She describes being too stunned to move.  His response was: “Girlie, come on, we don’t have all day.”

He was impatient because he had an important meeting at headquarters, then he summoned his driver to take her home. The contrast between the elegance with which his driver treated her and the violence of her rape added yet more unreality to the experience, she says.

When she arrived home she told her family she’d been raped. She wanted to report it to the police, but they told her she was insane and no one would believe her. She never filed a complaint. Some time later, a personal check arrived in the mail signed by Zeevi made out in a “tidy sum.” It was a pay-off to buy her silence.

A one-time subordinate recounts that there were “tens” of women who complained to their commanding officers about being attacked by Zeevi. With the women in states of great distress, the officer would give them ten-day leave and order the victim reassigned to a different unit.

The subordinate notes that these were the victims who fought off the attacks. They could complain, but those who were raped by Zeevi were too ashamed.


‘Gandhi’ beatified in death

As horrific as all these stories and allegations are, they are not the most disturbing aspect of Zeevi’s legacy. That concerns the Israeli general and tourism minister’s murder in 2001, when he was one of the most far-right, anti-Palestinian ministers in the leading coalition government.

An Israeli stamp honoring the legacy of Rehavam Zeevi.

An Israeli stamp honoring the legacy of Rehavam Zeevi.

Shortly before his death, the IDF had assassinated the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In retaliation, the new leader determined to assassinate a sitting Israeli minister. They did so in a spectacular attack outside Zeevi’s room at the Jerusalem Hyatt.

In the aftermath of his death, Zeevi was transformed into a virtual national martyr with the help of his family and Likud colleagues. Within four years, the Knesset had passed a “Gandhi Law” (Hebrew) that ratified the murdered man’s sainthood. Millions in state funding were allocated for annual commemorations of his life and legacy. Bridges, streets and highways were named for him. Schools were directed to teach lessons based on his military exploits and avowed passion for the land of Israel. A museum dedicated to him was planned. In the decade following his death the state spent $2.5 million on such activities, including a small percentage that was allocated to honor Theodor Herzl and David Ben Gurion, universally acknowledged as the founders of Zionism and the state of Israel, respectively.

Zeevi has been elevated to the Zionist pantheon, but his military legacy is entirely fraudulent. He was not an especially gifted officer. He showed no special strategic skills. He won no great battles. His military specialty was hunting down poorly armed Arab infiltrators and eliminating them.

His personal legacy was one of sexual predation and violence. Add to that his sordid history of association with the criminal underworld and you get a thoroughly disreputable, even monstrous, human being.

How is such a disconnect possible? How can an entire nation permit itself to be fooled into transforming a criminal into a saint? It would be as if the United States decided that it wasn’t George Washington, but Al Capone who was the nation’s true father. Can anyone imagine this as possible?

In Israel it is. Remember, this is a nation founded on violence, including crimes of sexual violence, as noted by Benny Morris in his historical research, founded on mass expulsion and racism. A nation conceived not in liberty, as Abraham Lincoln noted of American origins in his Gettysburg Address, but in the Original Sin of Nakba. Is it any wonder that such a nation would permit itself to be deluded into worshipping a murderer and turning him into a national idol?

Zeevi, his family and the nation made an unholy bargain. In life, he was a hooligan, but in death, the nation could project all of its patriotic ideals onto him as if he were a palimpsest. He became what the nation needed: a hero, pure and brave. Not a real person. Not an accurate portrait.

Zeevi, in fact, became a highly marketable product, which his family has turned into an industry. In much the same way that, as Norman Finkelstein noted, Jewish organizations have transformed the Holocaust into an industry that offers them a raison d’etre.

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Haaretz Report: US Officials Knew Israel Was Lying About Its Nuclear Program


[ Ed. note – John F. Kennedy as well as officials in the CIA knew or had a strong suspicion that Israel was lying about its nuclear operation at Dimona. The report below refers to documents that have come to light providing insight into the extent to which Israeli officials went to conceal their nuclear bomb program. This includes a tactic used by David Gurion of deliberately speaking in a thick accent and a barely audible tone of voice during a meeting when Kennedy confronted him on the issue.

Of all the different forces that have been implicated in the JFK assassination, which do you suppose had the greatest motive for wanting to see him dead? Looks like Michael Collins Piper may have been right. ]

Declassified: How Israel Misled the U.S. About Its Nuclear Program

Ben-Gurion’s mumbling to Kennedy helped to delay the Americans’ assessment that Israel was on the verge of building a bomb…

By Ofer Aderet

Fifty U.S. documents from the early 1960s were declassified by the U.S. National Security Archive on Thursday, ( light on Israel’s attempts to hide one of its best-kept secrets to this day: details on its nuclear program. The Americans ultimately believed the Israelis were providing “untruthful cover” about intentions to build a bomb.

The documents include papers from the White House, the State Department, the Atomic Energy Commission and U.S. intelligence agencies. The editors are Avner Cohen, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and William Burr, the head of nuclear affairs documentation at the National Security Archive, which is based at George Washington University in the capital.

One document provides the minutes of a meeting between U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on May 30,1961, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

Cohen and Burr call that meeting a “nuclear conference” – Israel’s nuclear program greatly concerned Kennedy. When he met his predecessor Dwight D. Eisenhower before the changeover of January 20, 1961, he was quick to ask which countries Ike believed were determined to obtain nuclear weapons.

Secretary of State Christian Herter replied: “India and Israel,” before recommending that Kennedy pressure Israel into agreeing to have its nuclear facilities inspected.

According to the details of that meeting, already published in the past, Ben-Gurion told Kennedy that Israel’s Dimona project was peaceful.

The American transcript says:

Our main – and for the time being only – purpose is [cheap energy]. We do not know what will happen in the future.”

The Israeli transcript says:

For the time being, the only purposes are for peace … but we will see what happens in the Middle East. It does not depend on us.

In the newly released minutes, the Americans said “Ben-Gurion spoke rapidly and in a low voice so that some words were missed.” Kennedy had a hard time asking concrete questions.

“Ben-Gurion mumbled and spoke very softly. It was hard to hear him and understand what he was saying, partly due to his accent,” Cohen, author of “Israel and the Bomb,” told Haaretz. “It seemed he was leaving in certain ambiguities, consciously or otherwise, so it couldn’t be said he totally lied to the president. As a result, the president couldn’t ask for clarifications, as noted in the minutes. We only discovered this now, with the declassification of the minutes.”

The minutes also reveal that the person taking notes, Assistant Secretary of State Phillips Talbot, thought he heard Ben-Gurion mention a “pilot plant for plutonium separation, which is needed for atomic power.”Talbot also heard Ben-Gurion say this might happen “three or four years later.”He understood the prime minister as saying Israel had no intention to develop nuclear weapons for the time being.

“Ben-Gurion, in what he said and in what he didn’t, was hinting that the nuclear reactor in Dimona could have military potential in the distant future, or at least that is what Talbot believed he heard,” write Cohen and Burr in their explanatory notes to the documents

Much more plutonium than was known

Ten days before that meeting, another key meeting took place. This was the first visit by American inspectors (as the Americans called them – Israel called them visitors) at the Dimona reactor. The Israelis considered the visit productive. The inspectors believed the facility was under construction and consistent with the Israelis’ description: a research reactor for peaceful purposes.

The complete report on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission’s visit is part of the new batch of declassified documents. According to the report, people at Dimona told the Americans that the reactor’s output would probably be doubled in the near future.

“This could have served as a warning signal and a worrying indicator that the reactor was capable of producing much more plutonium than was known at the time,” Cohen and Burr say in the explanatory notes. In fact, the visitors returned home satisfied, and their positive report paved the way for the Kennedy-Ben-Gurion meeting.

Another interesting document is the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate on Israel crafted in October 1961, a few months after the Kennedy-Ben-Gurion meeting. This is the only declassified document published without deletions. It was released a year ago but overlooked by researchers.

“There are some very interesting lines there showing what the U.S. intelligence community really thought about Dimona,” Cohen says.

The document reveals that at the end of 1961, Washington believed that the reactor’s unambiguous purpose was to create an infrastructure for nuclear weapons.

“The Israelis intend at least to put themselves in the position of being able to produce nuclear weapons fairly soon after a decision to do so,” the Americans said. They expected the Israelis to have enough nuclear material for two bombs by 1965 or 1966.

“The significance of this is that the Americans knew that Ben-Gurion was misleading them,” Cohen says. “They couldn’t or wouldn’t directly accuse him of lying. Maybe they didn’t want to disclose what they knew. It’s clear the intelligence community knew that what Ben-Gurion said and what the inspectors saw in Dimona were far from being the whole truth.

According to the explanatory notes: “The bottom line is that in 1961 the CIA already knew or understood that the way Israel referred to Dimona, whether through Ben-Gurion or through its scientists, was an untruthful cover.

Along with Ben-Gurion’s silences and fuzzy details, the documents show that theAmericans wondered whether the Israelis were deliberately trying to deceive them; for example, during a second visit to the reactor in September 1962.

One document, dated December 27, 1962, wonders about Israel’s unconventional hospitality. Inspectors arrived at the Nahal Soreq reactor for a routine visit in September. The scientific director there was Yuval Ne’eman, later president of Tel Aviv University and science minister for Menachem Begin.

The runaround, Israel-style

The Americans had pressured Israel to allow a second visit to Dimona, Cohen says.

The documents show that Ne’eman decided to take his guests to the Dead Sea. On the way back, as they were passing the Dimona facility, he suggested an unplanned visit.

According to the documents, Ne’eman said he could organize a talk with the facility’s director, and the two inspectors agreed. But it turned out the director wasn’t there, so senior engineers organized a 40-minute tour, much shorter than what was called for by protocol.

Following the tour, the Israelis suggested that the Americans return the following day, but the Americans wondered whether this was a diversion. After all, the Israelis knew the Americans were due to fly home the next day. The next available flight was four days later.

The documents show that the inspectors were puzzled, not knowing whether their visit was part of the inspection or whether they were only day trippers. Either way, the visit was incomplete and did not include visits to all buildings and inspections of all installations.

Ultimately, Israel got what it wanted. The inspectors were duly impressed and their report described Dimona as a reactor for research purposes, not for plutonium production.

Still, CIA officials who later discussed the visit cast doubt on the genuineness of the rapid-fire visit. “They were very uncomfortable with it. It seemed like a trick to them,” Cohen said.

“The documents show that a senior CIA officer said basic intelligence requirements had not been fulfilled and there were inconsistencies between the results of the first and second visits in terms of the use attributed to some of the equipment.”

The documents also show that Washington wanted to impose security surveillance on Prof. Israel Dostrovsky, a guest researcher in the United States at the time. Dostrovsky was a founder of Israel’s nuclear program and later the first head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, as well as the president of the Weizmann Institute of Science and a 1995 Israel Prize winner.

In 1961, the State Department asked the relevant agencies to keep an eye on Dostrovsky while he was working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. This was seen as a preventive measure designed to protect U.S. nuclear expertise. Dostrovsky died in 2010.

The U.S. National Security Archive’s website contains other U.S. documents on Israel’s nuclear program. One can learn there about the background for the 1969 meeting between President Richard Nixon and Prime Minister Golda Meir, where the ambiguity doctrine was born as a binational policy.

“Despite the official ambiguity policy of Israeli governments, meaning that no factual information about Dimona is ever divulged, there’s abundant historical information on Dimona and the history of Israel’s nuclear program – one of the most studied projects in academic studies on nuclear programs,” Cohen says.

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32 Years after the Sabra-Shatila Massacre


Franklin Lamb

Shatila Camp

They are beginning to arrive at Shatila Palestinian camp in Beirut this weekend.

“They” being people of good will from around the world, many of whom annually visit Martyr’s Square in Shatila as well as some of Lebanon’s 11 other Palestinian Refugee Camps. It is the 32nd anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and commemorative events are scheduled all next week.

The arrivals will find the camps overflowing even more so than usual, for this year they hold most of the approximately 90,000 Palestinian refugees who have been forced to flee the fighting in Syria. Just last month, 378 more Palestinians fled Yarmouk, Syria’s largest camp, due to clashes between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposing his rule. Reportedly, the latest exiles diverted themselves to Turkey since Lebanon; in flagrant violation of International humanitarian law now bars Palestinians escaping the violence in Syria.

Established during the Nakba 66 years ago, the Palestinian camps in Lebanon—initially intended as “temporary”—have undergone a 400% population increase over the years, and today they are literally overflowing with nearly a quarter of a million desperate Palestinians and Syrians.

Palestinians have tried to stay out of the Syrian conflict, but some young men are increasingly being heavily lobbied by various pro and antigovernment militia. One particularly aggressive recruitment program is that run by IS, or DA’ISH. Sinister forces know that in Lebanon, unlike in the other 197 UN-member states,

Palestinians are not allowed basic civil rights, including the right to work or own a home. Barred from employment in nearly 70 professions, Palestinians are denied rights that are even granted to foreign nationals arriving in Lebanon for the first time.

Be that as it may, international guests come to Lebanon at this time each year to pay tribute to the approximately 3,500 civilians who were slaughtered or ‘disappeared’ in the massacre orchestrated and overseen by Israel’s military under the command of Ariel Sharon. Though certainly an historical event that stands out in many people’s minds, the Sabra-Shatila butchery was in reality only one of more than 60 massacres carried out against Palestinian civilians by a 19th century colonial enterprise whose settlers still occupy stolen homes and lands.

A partial list of the genocidal bloodlettings of the past would include the following:

  • Qibya (1953), (where 70% of the victims were women and children, and, like Gaza this summer, schools and mosques as well as civilian homes were specifically targeted)
  • Khan Yunis (1956)
  • Rafah (1956)
  • Cave of the Patriarchs (1994)
  • Al-Khisas, Safed (1947),
  • Balad al-Shaykh, Haifa (1947)
  • Jaffa Town Hall (1948)
  • Sa’sa, Safed (1948)
  • Al-Husayniyya, Safed (1948)
  • Deir Yassin, Jerusalem, (1948)
  • Ein al Zeitun, Safed (1948)
  •  Lydda (1948)
  • Al-Kabri, Acre (1948)
  • Tantura, Haifa (1948)
  • Arab Suqrir, Gaza (1948)
  • Al-Dawayima, Hebron (1948)
  • Safsaf, Safed (1948) (70 people executed)
  • Eilabun, Tiberias (1948)
  • Hula, Lebanon,(1948)
  • Arab al-Mawasi, Tiberias, (1948)

In addition to the above, there have been more than ten massacres in Lebanon, including two in Qana (1996 & 2006), and a second one in Hula (2006). All have been documented by international scholars, including some Israelis, while some have been documented by UN agencies and NGO’s.

The international supporters of Palestine who arrive this weekend and next week will have a full schedule. They will meet with Palestinian NGO’s, listen to eyewitness accounts from Gaza, including from Al-Shifa Hospital, the medical facility that was at ground zero in the latest Zionist aggression. They will also hear a report on the US Israeli lobby, which seems  to regard the deaths of  scores of Palestinian children as mere “collateral damage.”

As for the 50-day onslaught against Gaza, a professor at the US Army War College in Washington DC, who teaches at the School of Strategic Land Power,  recently remarked to this observer,

What the Israelis did in Gaza was not collateral damage.” He went on to add:  “As members of the military we are ordered to stay out of politics but I can tell you as professionals most in the Pentagon detest what Israel does with our governments support and US arms. And this has been the case for many years.  The Pentagon regularly supplies those who teach at the War College with data on many military subjects. Recently  received analyses make plain beyond question that  every Israeli commander who ordered these operations in Gaza knew well before the first rocket or tank shell was fired that two thirds of the victims of these ‘operations’ would be women and children. That a huge crime in my book. To claim ‘collateral damage’ is frankly bullshit dished out to the public and Congress.”

The delegations will also take a tour of the Palestinian camps, including a visit to the furthest camp from Palestine—Nahr al Bared, up north near Tripoli—as well as the one closet to the occupied homeland, Al Rashidiyeh, in the south, which during the 1970s intensely resisted the Zionist occupation just a few kilometers away.

Meetings with local politicians will also be on the agenda, as well as with representatives from the resistance spectrum, and Hezbollah will actually host a dinner and facilitate a tour along the northern border of Palestine that will include a visit to the notorious Al Khiam Prison, where Zionist forces paid Lebanese collaborators to jail and torture their own countrymen as well as Palestinians. They will visit the nearby are Fatima Gate and the ‘Maroun el Ras’ garden, providing a view of some of the villages in Occupied Palestine, and where in 2010 Israeli forces killed more than two dozen people —the true owners of the land—during “land day” solidarity celebrations on the Lebanese side of the ‘blue line’.

The highlight of the week’s activities will include a meeting with families of the Sabra-Shatila survivors. Many of these survivors have, over the years, become good friends with the returning visitors, and there are often mutual hugs and tears at the large public gathering at Martyr’s Square on the edge of Shatila Camp. Below where they will gather rests the remains of hundreds of civilians—men women and children—Palestinian, Lebanese and foreigners—all butchered during the more than 43 hours of non-stop slaughter carried out during the night under Israeli fired flares.

What most will not examine, and likely will not even be aware of, is the increasing anger and frustration in the camps, particularly among the young. Palestinians are very sophisticated politically. Some say they get sound insights with their mother’s milk. Others will tell observers that it has become genetic, that they have the ability to grasp instantly the difference between those who only claim to be supporters of the resistance but do little and those who genuinely are.

The history of liberty and human rights is the history of resistance. It is resistance—in 1000 forms if necessary—and nothing else, that will achieve full return for Palestine’s legitimate inhabitants. Who in Lebanon will make a genuine effort to support that resistance and achieve elementary civil rights from Parliament for Palestinian refugees in the coming months is not clear.

 But one thing is certain: the resistance will continue. It will continue because there is something sacred about it, because for those who have experienced displacement and occupation, the land never ceases beckoning to them. Or as Franz Fanon put it, 

“For a colonized people the most essential value, because the most concrete, is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dignity.”

Compare Fanon’s words to those of David Ben Gurion, who said in 1948:

“We must do everything to insure they (the Palestinians) never do return.” 

Assuring his fellow Zionists they had nothing to worry about on that score, Ben Gurion added,

 “The old will die and the young will forget.”

Of the two, Fanon is clearly the more astute observer of human nature.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

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. 

– See more

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Peres Suffering from Portnoy’s Complaint?

Franklin Lamb
– Beirut

Zionist entity: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), head of the entity Shimon Peres (R)Being subjected to the Zionist lobby can get tedious—particularly its chronic parading of an often disoriented and fast-deteriorating fellow, who should surely be tending a vegetable or flower garden somewhere in Occupied Palestine, where he lives on stolen land. International lawyers, even some at Hebrew University, have come to recognize the half century of crimes against humanity meted out by Shimon Peres upon hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, and thus one could be forgiven for rolling eyes at the Israeli president’s concerns over demons said to be haunting his sleeping and waking moments, as he complains that perhaps, just maybe, he was wrong in his calculations 70 years ago.

Those demons are Palestinians, and it is perhaps the supreme irony of ironies that Peres now finds himself lamenting over what became of the ideals of Judaism—the very same ideals he spent half a century of his life destroying in the name of fascist Zionism. “I could not face my parents were I ever to see them again,” the Israeli president, an avowed agnostic, told a member of Congress a few months back.

‘Peres’ Complaint’ has been increasingly heard over the past couple of years, confided to some of his US and EU Zionist lobby hosts during fundraising and legacy-reinforcing appearances. It often manifests itself as a continuous monologue, much as if narrated at his psychoanalytic group therapy session, and often about the same subjects he claims have haunted him for decades. One of these reportedly is the whole concept of an eretz Israel land grab as a divinely-ordained destiny for a “chosen” Jewish people.

At a cocktail party last year, Peres was overheard telling Vice President Biden, “Who knows if there is a god or not? But if so, I doubt he deals in real estate!” Biden appeared shocked, quickly summoning a waiter for replacement glasses of scotch, hoping to cheer the president of Israel up a bit. “He needs to be more philosophical,” Biden said, reporting on his “psychoanalytic session” with Peres,  later explaining, “Sure the hand writing is on the wall regarding  a future for Israel is clear for all to see, but it could be worse!”

Peres’ Complaint, like Portnoy’s in Philip Roth’s 1969 novel, revolves around the dilemma of, as Roth penned, “his sense of himself, his past, and that his ridiculous destiny is so fixed”.

Portnoy’s Complaint is a disorder in which claimed ethical impulses are perpetually warring, almost Hamlet-like, with extreme longings, often of a perverse nature, reminding some of a sort of sexual dysfunction.

Peres’s Complaint is similar in many ways, but takes a varied form. In an interview published by the Brazilian newspaper the Folha de Sao Paulo, Peres was asked what he would say to Iran’s President Rouhani if the two were to pick up the telephone and speak directly.

“I would tell him nobody in the world is threatening Iran. So why does Iran threaten other countries? Tell me. I don’t understand why Iran threatens Israel. Why?” he replied.

Peres knows that Iran has not threatened other countries, but rather that it is Israel which has threatened the whole region, and which did so within minutes of his Zionist-Labor terrorist-backed associates declaring themselves a “country.”

Peres ended his short interview with Folha de Sao Paulo with this bit of sage erudition:
“In politics, and in life, you can only judge things based on facts. There has been no change on Iran—the facts contradict the speeches.”

The words were spoken as if the speaker were satisfactorily contemplating the last remaining 19th century European colonial enterprise…along with  his own role in setting up and governing it.
Peres’ Complaint to colleagues is that he has to say things to the public that are beginning to sound hollow after six decades of trying to parry and neutralize the Palestinian resistance to Zionist theft and colonization. Peres no longer believes what he used to “about the Zionist BS,” as one congressional source put it.

During his last visit to Washington, while rushing from a meeting at the Rayburn House Office Building with AIPAC and some Congressional staffers, Peres in his haste handed half an armload of documents and reports to an aid to carry for him. Unnoticed at the time, one of the documents slipped under the table where the meeting was held, and was found later. On it were some handwritten comments, in Hebrew, in Peres’ hand.

Common respect for individual privacy bars this observer from revealing what the handwritten notes said, but the document itself is most certainly in the public domain and includes some of the latest reports on the status of the Zionist occupation.

The first few pages are a summary of the UN Human Rights Council’s report criticizing the deep water drillings by the Israeli national water company Mekorot and the Israeli agri-industrial firm Mehadrin in the occupied Jordan Valley. These drillings have caused the drying up of Palestinian wells and springs. As Dr. Elias Akleh reminds us, nearly 80% of all drilled water from the Jordan Valley is consumed by Israeli illegal colonies in the West Bank. The Palestinians are not allowed to drill their own water wells, and the Israeli government routinely destroys Palestinian pools for collecting rain water, claiming “construction without permits”—permits which, of course, are impossible for Palestinians to obtain. Many other wells and water springs have also been destroyed, poisoned and contaminated as Israeli colonies have intentionally channeled their raw sewage into Palestinian towns and agricultural areas.

But getting back to the document, circled in pen is a statement in a 1941 speech by David Ben-Gurion: “We have to remember that for the Jewish state’s ability to survive it must have within its borders, the waters of the [rivers] Jordan and Litani.”

And there is another excerpt of note—documenting the decades-old practice of declaring a coveted piece of land a “military area” and then evicting its residents, surrounding it with barbed wire, uprooting all trees, stripping the land of vegetation, and facilitating the arrival of extremist squatters with mobile homes who later start building their colonies.

Still other findings relate to the intensification of home demolitions, citing recent figures showing that armed, religious-extremist squatters are allowed to illegally build their small colonies on top of confiscated Palestinian hills while enjoying the protection of the Israeli army. Palestinians are forbidden to build new homes or even remodel existing ones to make additional space for family expansion. The Israeli terrorist forces increasingly exercise their early hour routine of driving their bulldozers into some Palestinian suburbs to demolish a Palestinian home that was built without a permit.

“The army breaks into the Palestinian home, gives the Palestinian family ten minutes to evacuate and starts demolishing the home,” says Dr. Akleh. “Palestinians are denied building permits. Many Palestinians are given the order to demolish their own homes, otherwise the Israeli army would demolish it and the home owner will be charged exorbitant fees. In contrast, Israel continues its plans of illegal colonies (settlements) building. This Israeli systematic policy of Palestinian home demolishing and colony building on confiscated Palestinian land contravenes the 4th Geneva Convention.”

On and on the president’s document reads…

Included in bold type are excerpts from the recent Tadamun Foundation for Human Rights report documenting what Palestinian schools and students have suffered in recent weeks—a remarkable escalation in attacks by Israeli soldiers and extremist settlers. The report claims the attacks, including school raids, destruction of school property, as well as detaining and assaulting students, have become more frequent, especially by settlers. Recent examples include the Jalud School and Beit Dajan School in Nablus, and the Khader School in Bethlehem. The international community is increasingly reacting to these terrorist practices. Recently a letter by a group of British intellectuals, entitled “Action for Palestine” and calling upon Israeli authorities to end the pattern of abuse of Palestinian children, was published in the UK Guardian newspaper.

But the army has also intensified its arrests and kidnapping of Palestinian children accused of stone throwing. Many children are routinely intercepted on their way to school at Israeli military checkpoints, searched, humiliated, and at times arrested. Israeli forces conduct routine middle of the night raids of Palestinian homes, where they break into the homes, smash furniture, and terrorize the families, dragging young boys from their beds and blindfolding them before dumping them on the floor of a military jeep and driving them to a prison in Israel. In the prison, where their parents are not allowed to see them, the children are harshly interrogated, threatened, tortured; some raped and imprisoned.

The 213 page document was presumably heavy reading for the polish-born Szymon Perski, ardent protégé of Ben-Gurion and Dayan and an early supporter of the West Bank settlers during the 1970s.
Shimon Peres’ guilt-edged insecurity these days is far more important when it comes to the masking—and unmasking—of an abettor of racist Zionism. His complaint, like Portnoy’s Complaint, is also emblematic of the times during which he has lived and his uncertainty as to whether he has squandered his life in an evil cause.

“I am marked like a road map from head to toe with my repressions. You can travel the length and breadth of my body over superhighways of shame and fear.”
Portnoy’s Complaint…or Peres’?

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (SSSP) in Shatila Camp ( and is reachable c/o

Source: Al-Manar Website
21-10-2013 – 17:07 Last updated 22-10-2013 – 14:00
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