Israel’s False ‘War of Independence’

By Jeremy Salt

Nakba History 7f65c

May 14 is coming up, ‘independence day’ for Zionists and the Nakba for the Palestinians.  This was indeed a catastrophe for them, no ‘war of independence’ but a war of colonial conquest, as it was the only way the bulk of Palestine’s indigenous population could be ethnically cleansed.

‘Israel’ remains what it was in 1948, a state built on stolen land. It was never founded with the intention of living alongside the native people of Palestine but living instead of them.  This was clear in Theodor Herzl’s diaries, where he refers to the ‘penniless population’ somehow being spirited out of the country. Getting rid of the Palestinians was always the conundrum that had to be solved.

The British used the Zionist movement because it was useful to them, a colony that could be planted in the heart of the Middle East. The mandate for Palestine was based on the denial of the right of the Palestinians to choose their own future.  This right was eventually granted to the Iraqis and the Syrians but Palestine – southern Syria but severed from it by agreement between Britain and France – was to be held in limbo until European settlers could constitute the majority.

This was never to happen but with British support Zionist colonization had by the 1940s reduced the Palestinian majority from 90 percent of the population to 70 percent. Bear in mind that even the 10 percent Jewish population in 1918 was the result of intensive Zionist settlement since the 1880s.  At that time the Jewish population of Palestine, pious and largely anti-Zionist, and living peaceably alongside Muslims and Christians, was no more than a few thousand.

Support for Zionism settlement violated inherent Palestinian rights as well as Woodrow Wilson’s 14-point declaration in 1918 aimed at ensuring world peace through the acknowledgment of the right of national self-determination.  We have seen where the denial of this right has led in the case of Palestine, endless wars and a standing threat to world peace.

In 1947 the UN General Assembly recommended partition.  That is all it was, a recommendation which would never have passed but for the intimidation of vulnerable delegations by the White House.  The recommendation violated article 1 of the UN Charter, passed in 1945, which states that ‘all peoples have the right to self-determination.’ Such a right clearly applies only to people living on their own land.  There can be no such ‘right’ for colonists to retain stolen land any more than there can be a ‘right’ to possess any other kind of stolen property.

On December 10, 1948, at a time Palestine was still being ethnically cleansed, the UN General Assembly passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  There is practically no one of its 30 articles that the Zionist colonists and their regime did not break then or have not broken since.

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s ‘independence.’ The later historical parallel would be the ‘unilateral declaration of independence’ by the colonial white settler minority government in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)in 1965.   Both declarations violated the inherent rights of the indigenous people to choose their own future other but whereas European settler ‘independence’ in Rhodesia was rejected by the UN Security Council, colonial settler ‘independence’ in Palestine was accepted.

The other paradox in the case of Israel was that its colonial-settler declaration was made as colonized people in Africa and Asia were moving towards self-determination, with the support of the UN.  As was the case in the 1920s, only Palestine was to be deprived of this right.

Within minutes of Ben-Gurion’s declaration, the US recognized Israel.  This was not a decision taken by the Congress in conformity with the wishes of the American people.  It was not a decision taken on the advice of diplomats and senior State Department advisers, many of whom, in fact, were strongly against it.

It was a decision taken by President Truman, in violation of his administration’s official policy, which was to seek a UN trusteeship over Palestine, as it clearly could not be partitioned without extreme violence.  This was an enormous danger which the Zionists strove strenuously to head off.

Members of the US delegation at the UN General Assembly had no idea Truman’s recognition of Israel was coming.  He ambushed them and the head of the delegation, Warren Austin, walked out of the chamber in disgust.

Truman was not guided by high principles but the need to secure the Jewish vote in the 1948 presidential elections. Other issues were involved besides Truman’s support for Israel but the tactic worked.  In his November triumph over the Republican candidate, Thomas Dewey, Truman won 75 percent of the Jewish vote.

The attempt by the UN to hold Israel to its principles was rejected from the start.  The Palestinians were not the accidental victims of war.  The Zionists had taken 24 percent more of Palestine than they were allocated in the partition plan.  They had no intention of handing any of it back or allowing the Palestinians to return.  Ethnic cleansing was the key to the success of their project.

Had Palestine been placed under UN trusteeship there could have been no democratic Jewish state, as even in the area set aside for one, native Palestinians were as numerous as Jewish colonists.  The ‘independence’ war was a war of necessity as it was the only way Palestine could be cleared of its population.

The UN General Assembly made a lame attempt to hold the Zionists to account by passing resolution 194 on December 11, 1948, the day after the passage of the universal declaration of human rights.

Resolution 194 calls for the return of the Palestinians to their homes.  As their expulsion was fundamental to the establishment of a colonial settler Jewish state on their land there was, of course, no way any Zionist government would comply with it.

Such is the state of Israel’s ‘democracy.’  Get rid of the people you don’t want first – in this case, the overwhelming majority – and then declare not just your democracy but ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’ Not even the apartheid regime of South Africa sought to expel the African majority.

The passage of time does not change the nature of theft whatever the stolen article. Palestine was stolen from its owners in 1948.  The Palestinians lived on the land, worked the land, owned the land in every sense of the word, legal, historical and cultural.  The Zionists were interlopers who took it from them using the most savage methods.  Having stolen most of the land in 1948 they stole the rest in 1967 and have since then continued their quest to wipe out the Palestinian presence in history.

Now, against international law, Donald Trump has ‘recognized’ the Zionist occupation of Jerusalem and its occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights.   Flushed with success, Benjamin Netanyahu is going to name a Golan colony after Trump. This only adds insult to injury and in no way will change the course of history.

Israel thinks it can remake the Middle East. It has either gone to war or persuaded its American benefactor to go to war against all the central lands of the Middle East, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Its pressure is undoubtedly a key reason the US is maintaining a presence in Syria, where Israel has supported takfiri fanatics with arms, money and the treatment of their wounded. It wants the US to go to war against Iran.

Iran presents no danger to the US. On the contrary, ever since the presidency of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997), it has made many attempts to establish better relations with the US. All have been rebuffed, not because of US interests but because of Israel’s as Iran has never budged from its principled support of the Palestinians.

Short of the outright military attack it wants, but so far has been unable to get, Israel has been killing Iranian revolutionary guards in Syria – there with the permission of the Syrian government to help defend Syria against one of the most pernicious attempts ever made to destroy an Arab state –  and assassinating Iranian scientists in Iran as well as sabotaging Iran’s computer infrastructure.

Israel Independence day 4aa30 *(U.S. 242nd Independence day 2018. Credit: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/ flickr)

As long as the world’s policeman protects the criminal, Israel sees no reason to stop what it is doing.  Two rogue states are working together to create mayhem in the Middle East and much further afield but this is not the 1890s and ‘the Arabs’ as described contemptuously by Netanyahu and the racist politicians, settlers and rabbis around him are not Kipling’s ‘lesser breeds without the law.’

Neither are the Iranians or anyone else against whom Israel has directed its sociopathic fury.  They have the same mixture of strengths and weaknesses as anyone else on this planet.  More importantly, they have law and morality on their side. This is the backbone of their resistance.

The US and Israel seem to think that they can kick people of the Middle East around endlessly but history sends out a different message.  As the Egyptians demonstrated in 1973, as Hezbollah showed in 2006 and Syrians have shown since 2011, ‘the Arabs’ are perfectly capable of working out ways of striking back at their enemies.

Now Jared Kushner is going to come up with the ‘deal of the century.’  Peace in the Middle East has been reduced to real estate haggling in which the mentality of money is expected to prevail. Deals and money are all Trump understands but having resisted Zionism for more than seven decades, it is not likely that the Palestinians are going to sell their rights now for Kushner’s 30 pieces of silver.

Israel is sitting on the lip of a volcano in the Middle East.  It is indeed having a party there, too drunk with success to see the fire burning below.  These are years that are going to be stamped on Jewish history forever.

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