ZIONISM AND PALESTINE
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND : The first people to settle in Palestine were the Cana’anites. After the Cana’anites, outsiders almost continuously occupied Palestine. As a result, Palestine, received an admixture of blood from each of the invaders : Egyptians, Hyksos, Israelites, Persians, Philistines, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks, Crusaders and others.
There is no doubt that the Israelites had a historical relationship with Palestine. Palestine, however, was not their birth land. They ca me to Palestine as invaders, like the many other invaders before and after them.
However, following the Medes and the Persians conquest of the Babylonians, Cyrus, the King of Persia, gave the Jews permission to return to Palestine and rebuild the Temple. Accordingly, some Jews left Babylon and began the long journey to Palestine. Yet, most of the Jews did not want to return. They no longer saw physical possession of the ‘Holy Land’ as essential to the Jewish identity. (Karen Armstrong, Holy War : The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World. Macmillan, London, 1988, pp. 12-14)
Moreover, when Moslem Arabs conquered Palestine, Caliph Umar took possession of the holy city of Jerusalem and invited the Jews to return to the holy city. Seventy families from Tiberias ca me to settle in Jerusalem, establishing a quarter for themselves beside the Muslim community at the foot of their old Temple Mount. Umar also purified the site of the ancient Jewish Temple, which had remained in ruins for nearly six centuries. Umar built a simple wooden mosque at the southern end of the cleared platform, where al-Aqsa Mosque now stands. For this piety, some Jews hailed the Muslims during the seventh century as the precursors of the Messiah. (Karen Armstrong, Journal of Palestine Studies, The Holiness of Jerusalem, Volume XXVII, Number 3, Spring 1998, p. 15)
When the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in the year 1099 some 30,000 Jews and Muslims were killed in two days. The Crusaders founded several states on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean including the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Crusades ended in 1291 and Islamic rule was re-established in the area. (Karen Armstrong, Holy War : The Crusades and their impact on Today’s World. See also Journal of Palestine Studies, The Holiness of Jerusalem, Volume XXVII, Number 3, spring 1998, p.5)
Judaism is a religion. It is not a nationality. The Jews of today are in no way the descendents of the old Israelites or Hebronites who were driven out of Palestine by the Romans two thousand years ago. Most of today’s Jews were a result of conversions to Judaism from different ethnic and religious groups that were not related to the original Israelites. The Ashkenazim, for example, carry a large proportion of Khazar ancestry in them. The Khazar converted to Judaism in the 7th century and, when they were driven out of their empire in Khazaria by the end of the 10th century, emigrated to Russia and Poland.
THE ZIONIST PROJECT : The call for the creation of a ‘Jewish State’ was made during the second half of the eighteenth century.
In 1862, Moses Hess argued that Anti-Semitism would prevent the Jews from assimilating in Christian society and, consequently, they needed to establish their own national state in Palestine. He pointed out that, “The state the Jews would establish in the heart of the Middle East would serve Western imperial interests and at the same time help bring Western civilization to the backward East”. (Benny Morris, Righteous Victims : A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1999, p. 15)
In 1882, Leo Pinsker called upon his people to go and settle in Palestine and founded the society of Hovevi Zion, which sponsored emigration of Jews to Palestine. (Hans Kohn, Zion and the Jewish National Idea, from The Menorah Journal, XLVI, Nos. 1 & 2, 1958, reproduced in Walid Khalidi, ed., From Haven to Conquest : Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem until 1948. Beirut : Institute for Palestine Studies, 1971. Second Printing, Washington, 1987, pp. 813)
In 1896, Theodor Herzl published his Der Judenstaat. In 1897, Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress (ZC) in Basle, Switzerland. The delegates in the ZC adopted the Basle Program, created the Zionist Organization (ZO) and elected Herzl as its president.
Herzl made it clear that the ‘Jewish State’ would form a colonial outpost in Palestine if the Great powers granted it to them and guaranteed their existence. “We would there form a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism. We should, as a neutral State, remain in contact with all Europe, which would have to guarantee our existence”. (Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State : An Attempt at a Modern Solution to the Jewish Question. London : H. Pordes, Translated by Sylvie D’avigdor - 6th Edition, p. 30)
BORDERS OF THE ‘JEWISH STATE’ : During the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the Zionists asked for the territory outlined within a line running east from Sidon in Lebanon to a point South-East of Damascus. The line then goes south along a line parallel to the Hijaz railway and ends in Aqaba in Jordan. >From there, the line goes northwest to Al Arish in Egypt. (David McDowall, Palestine and Israel : The uprising and Beyond, Berkeley, Los Angeles : University of California Press, 1989, p. 20, gives a map outlining this area. See also : Simha Flappan, The Birth of Israel : Myths and Realities, New York : 1987, p. 17). This area includes all of Mandate Palestine, the Golan Heights, the Jordan River, and the southern of Lebanon up to and including the Litani River.
IMPERIALIST DESIGNS : The Middle East, in general, and Palestine, in particular, were at the crossroads of the ancient world and still are at the crossroads of the modern world. This strategic geographic feature exposed Palestine and the surrounding areas to invasion by powers aspirant for hegemony and control and empire building. (For more details, see : Ilene Beaty, Arab and Jew in the Land of Cana’an – Political Rights, Chicago : Henry Regnery Co., 1957. Reproduced in Walid Khalidi, Ed, From Haven to Conquest : Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem until 1948, Beirut : Institute for Palestine Studies, 1971, pp. 3-23)
The strategic geographical significance of the area was enhanced with the discovery of huge oil reserves towards the end of the nineteenth century. In 1871 a mission of German experts visited Mesopotamia and reported the availability of plentiful supplies. In 1907 a German technical mission reported that Mesopotamia was a veritable “lake of petroleum”. In March 1914 the Turkish Petroleum Company was incorporated in Britain to acquire and exploit the oil resources of northern Mesopotamia. As a result of the breakout of WWI, this agreement was never ratified. According to the San Remo Oil Agreement of 24 April 1920, the French replaced the Germans and acquired 25% share of the company. (The Royal Institute of International Affairs, The Middle East : A Political and Economic Survey, London & New York. Second Edition, 1954, p. 15)
Accordingly, imperialist designs to invade and grab the area were prepared and put into action during WWI and were reflected in the Sykes-Picot agreement of 16 May 1916 and the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917.
The U.S.A. blessed and endorsed the Balfour declaration by a Joint Resolution of the Congress in 1922.
The Balfour Declaration launched a state of cooperation between the Zionists and the Imperialist powers. This relationship provided the Zionists with the power to occupy and create a state in Palestine.
PARTITION : In August 1946, the Zionist executive meeting in Paris approved a plan for partition of Palestine. The U.S. accepted the plan and “transmitted an appropriate message to the British government.” At the 22nd ZC in Basle, in December 1946, Ben-Gurion emerged as the unchallenged leader of the Zionist movement and started immediate action in putting his thoughts and ideas into action. From the establishment of the Sonnenborn Institute in New York, to his request for the defense portfolio of the Jewish Agency Executive, Ben-Gurion had long been fore ca sting and planning for the war. (Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben-Gurion : A Biography. New York : Delacorte Press, 1977, pp. 135 and 141)
On 29 November 1947, UN General Assembly Resolution # 181 (II), outlining a partition plan for Palestine, was adopted.
The Arabs rejected the resolution partitioning their country and giving a large part of it to strangers. In protest, the Arab Higher Committee proclaimed a three-day strike. Incidents grew progressively graver, sudden clashes erupted between Jews and Arabs, and small battles were fought using antiquated light arms.
Tensions went high and violent clashes began between the Palestinians and the Jewish community in Palestine. These clashes were of a limited nature, using antiquated light arms.
The Irgun used the Arab rioting in early December in protest of the partition resolution as a pretext to launch a murderous terrorist campaign that claimed the lives of many Arab civilians in numerous towns and villages. The Irgun leader Menachem Begin later explained his attitude during this period : “My greatest worry in those months was that the Arabs might accept the UN plan. Then we would have had the ultimate tragedy, a Jewish State so small that it could not absorb all the Jews of the world.” Irgun terrorism, however, would make sure that no agreement would be possible. (Michael Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe : The 1948 Expulsion of a People from their Homeland. London/Boston : 1987, pp. 34-35, citing Nicholas Bethell, The Palestine Triangle, p. 354)
1947 : THE STARTING POINT FOR ETHNIC CLEANSING AND LAND THEFT : In a speech at the Mapai center on 3 December 1947 following the UN Partition resolution # 181 of 29 November 1947, Ben-Gurion outlined that the emergent Jewish State’s main problem is its prospective population of about one million, 40% of which would be non-Jews. According to Ben-Gurion, with such a population composition, “there cannot even be complete certainty that the government will be held by a Jewish majority…there ca n be no stable and strong Jewish State so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60%.” The Yishuv’s situation and fate, he went on, compelled the adoption of ‘a new approach…new habits of mind’ to ‘suit our new future…” (Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, Cambridge, 1987, p. 28, citing David Ben-Gurion’s War Diary, pp. 22-3)
On 5 December 1947, Ben-Gurion ordered “immediate action to expand Jewish settlement in three areas assigned to the Arab state : the southwest (Negev), the southeast (Etzion bloc) and Western Galilee”. If Ben-Gurion had any intention of respecting the boundaries created by the partition resolution, he would never have sent Jewish settlers to live permanently under Arab rule. His action in ordering the expansion of Jewish settlement in the area proposed for the Palestinian State must be seen within the context of Plan Dalet. It proves that the Zionist leader wished to strengthen Jewish ‘forward bases’ in anticipation of conquering Arab territories. (Michael Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe : The 1948 Expulsion of a People from their Homeland. London/Boston : 1987, pp. 40 - 41, citing Political and Diplomatic Documents of the Jewish Agency, 1947 - 1948, No. 12)
On 19 March 1948, Warren Austen, the American Ambassador to the UN, unaware of his President’s acceptance of partition, requested a special session of the General Assembly to work out a plan for trusteeship to replace partition temporarily in Palestine. Austin sought recognition in the Security Council to declare that so far as the U.S. was concerned, partition was no longer a viable option, and therefore his government favored international trusteeship over Palestine.
From Tel Aviv ca me the angry response of Ben-Gurion : “It is we who will decide the fate of Palestine. We cannot agree to any sort of trusteeship, permanent or temporary – the Jewish State exists be ca use we defend it.” Four days later, the Jewish Agency formally announced that it would establish a provisional Jewish government by May 16, 1948. (Peter Grose, Israel in the Mind of America, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1983, pp. 274-275. See also UN Doc. S/PV 271 dated 19 March 1948)
To avoid trusteeship and to enhance the chances of creating their ‘Jewish State’, the Zionist leadership launched Plan Dalet in early April 1948. Arab cities and villages were attacked pushing Palestinian Arabs into flight. The British were still responsible to keep law and order in Palestine. Yet they did nothing to stop Zionist atrocities against the Palestinians. All that the British did was to offer trucks and boats to carry the Palestinians fleeing in panic especially in Tiberias, Haifa and Jaffa during April and May.
On 16 November 1948, the Security Council decided that “in order to eliminate the threat to the peace in Palestine and to facilitate the transition from the present truce to permanent peace in Palestine, an armistice shall be established in all sectors of Palestine”.
Armistice agreements were accordingly concluded between Israel and Egypt on Feb. 24 ; Israel and Lebanon on March 25 ; Israel and Jordan on April 3 ; and Israel and Syria on July 20, 1949.
Over 750,000 Palestinian Arabs ended up as refugees in neighbouring Arab countries and were not allowed to return to their homes and lands, which were stolen and used to accommodate Jewish immigrants coming from all corners of the globe.
EXPANSION : In a round table meeting with the French at the Sévres Conference in preparation for the Suez Canal War, Ben-Gurion proposed eliminating Nasser in Egypt and partition of Jordan, with the West Bank going to Israel and the East Bank to Iraq. In exchange, Iraq would sign a peace treaty with Israel and undertake to absorb the Palestinian refugees. Moreover, Israel would annex southern Lebanon up to the Litani River, with a Christian state established in the rest of the country.
On 29 October 1956, Israeli forces over-ran Gaza on their way to the Suez Canal. On 8 November, Ben-Gurion, under pressure from the U.S., announced that the army was going to withdraw from all territories occupied during the war and Israeli plans for expansion and rearrangement of the Middle East had to wait for a more convenient time and a more acquiescent President in the U.S.A. (Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben-Gurion : A Biography. New York : Delacorte Press, 1977, pp. 236-253)
The opportunity came in 1967 with President Lyndon B. Johnson.
On 1 June 1967, General Moshe Dayan was invited by Levi Eshkol to join an Israeli government of national unity as defence minister. On 5 June Israel attacked and destroyed Egyptian air force bases and advance positions in Sinai, occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, all of Sinai and the Golan Heights, as well as the Eastern parts of Jerusalem. Another 250,000 Palestinian Arabs be ca me refugees.
WAR OF ATTRITION : Egyptian President Gamal Abd-Al-Nasser began a war of attrition in March 1969 tin order to force Israel to withdraw from the areas occupied in 1967. The sporadic military actions by Egypt escalated into full-scale fighting.
On 9 December 1969, U.S. Secretary of State, William Rogers, announced a peace plan based on the exchange of land for peace. Rogers’ efforts, however, failed as a result of Israeli rejection of the plan. (Norman G. Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, London/New York : Verso, 1995, pp. 153 - 154)
On 19 June 1970, Rogers made new proposals calling for a cease-fire in the war of attrition in the Suez Canal for 90 days and for a UN effort to initiate negotiations between Israel and the Arabs for a solution based on Security Council resolution # 242. The proposals ca me to be known as the Rogers Initiative. The Egyptian-Israeli cease-fire based on Rogers’ initiative was accepted and ca me into force in August 1970.
On 29 September1970, Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat.
A CONCOCTED WAR : The 1973 war was concocted between Sadat and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in order to form a prelude for a Negotiated Peace. (For details see : Sadat’s secret pipeline to Kissinger, by Ze’ev Schiff, Ha’aretz, 3 November 2004)
In July, 1972, Sadat issued orders for all Soviet advisers in the Egyptian armed forces to leave within ten days, starting on 17 July ; all Soviet military installations were to be placed under Egyptian control ; and all Soviet military equipment was to be sold to Egypt or taken out of the country. (Jon Kimche, Palestine or Israel : The Untold Story of Why we Failed. 1917 - 1923, 1967 – 1973, London : Secker & Warburg, 1973, pp. 330 - 331) If Sadat was really serious about going to war, he would not have made such orders, which gives credibility to Ze’ev Schiff’s story.
As a result of Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy, Israel and Egypt formally signed a truce on 11 November ending the hostilities. The truce was signed in a tent at Kilometer 101 on the Cairo-Suez Road. On 17 January 1974, Egypt and Israel agreed to a disengagement accord mediated by Henry Kissinger. This agreement be ca me to be known as Sinai I according to which Israel agreed to withdraw 9 – 12 miles (15 – 20 kilometers) to allow for a UN buffer zone with Egypt. The 2nd agreement was signed in November, according to which Israel withdrew its forces completely from the west bank of the Suez Canal.
Syria and Israel agreed on 29 May 1974 to the disengagement mediated by Henry Kissinger. The agreement was signed in 1975.
On 19 November 1977, Sadat, made a surprise visit to Jerusalem marking the beginning of a new era with respect to the Zionist-Arab conflict.
A Camp David summit between Carter, Sadat, and Begin was held during the period 5-17 September 1978 and produced the ‘Camp David Accords’. That led to a Peace Treaty, which was signed between Egypt and Israel at the White House on 26 March 1979.
A STRATEGY FOR ISRAEL IN THE 1980’s : Oded Yinon, a journalist and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs and former senior Foreign Ministry official wrote an article, which appeared in the World Zionist Organization’s periodical Kivunim in February 1982. In his article, Yinon outlined ‘A Strategy for Israel in the 1980’s’, which called for the dissolution and fragmentation of the Arab states. (Nur Masalha, A Land Without a People : Israel, Transfer and the Palestinians 1949 - 96. London : Faber and Faber ltd., 1997, pp. 196 - 198, citing Oded Yinon, A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s, [Hebrew], Kivunim, Jerusalem, No. 14, February 1982, pp. 53 - 58)
PNAC : On July 8, 1996, Richard Perle, a former head of the Defense Policy Board in the Pentagon, delivered a document to the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Perle, and a team of American neo-cons, had been tasked by Netanyahu to draft a new Israeli strategy that would abrogate the Oslo Accords and overturn the entire concept of ‘comprehensive land for peace’ in favor of a policy of military conquest and occupation.
A Washington-based neo-conservative think-tank, The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), was founded in 1997 to ‘rally support for American global leadership’. The events of September 11, 2001 provided a window of opportunity for furthering PNAC’s agenda. The ‘Cold War’ was replaced with a new war against ‘Islamic Terror’, which is used as a pretext to justify Imperialist and Zionist wars.
THE DEMOGRAPHIC THREAT HAUNTS THE ZIONISTS : Figures published by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics on 22 April 2007 indicate that the population of Israel number 7,150,000 of whom 5,725,000 (80%) are Jewish. Arabs living within the borders of Mandate Palestine are approximately 4.5 million. Within ten to fifteen years, Arabs living within the borders of Mandate Palestine would become the majority even if the Palestinian Refugees living outside Palestine were not allowed to return to the homes and lands that were usurped from them.
Accordingly, a systemic effort to confront the ‘demographic threat’ was introduced by the Zionists according to which annual conferences were held in the Institute of Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center – Herzliya. In these conferences, the Zionists discuss and confront this basic and ‘strategic threat’ to the Zionist entity. The first conference was held in December 2001.
ILLUSIONS OF PEACE : Peace with the Zionists is a mere illusion. ‘Peace Talks’ are used as a cover for continued Ethnic Cleansing and Land Theft.
Following the ‘Middle East Peace Conference’ that was convened in Madrid on 30 October 1991, Israeli PM Shamir declared that he wanted the negotiations in Washington (following the Madrid conference) to continue for 10 years, if need be, so that he had enough time to keep on going with planned Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and leave nothing for the negotiations to talk about. (Mohammad Hassanine Haikal, Secret Negotiations between the Arabs and Israel, in Arabic, Cairo, 1996, Volume III, p. 254)
On 17 June 1996 Israel’s PM Netanyahu’s office released a statement outlining his government’s guidelines with regard to the ‘peace processes’. It said no to withdrawal from the OPT, no to a Palestinian State, no to an official Palestinian presence in Jerusalem, and no to the refugees’ right of return “to any part of the Land of Israel west of the Jordan River”. (Elia Zureik, The Palestinian Refugees : Background. Institute for Palestine Studies, Washington, 1996. p. 127)
EPILOGUE : The Zionists’ latest hysterical, wicked, criminal and genocidal war in the Gaza Strip reflects their realization of the reality in Palestine. In spite of all their efforts and in spite of all the support they get from the American and European Imperialist powers, Palestinian Arabs did not vanish into thin air.
The ‘Zionist State’ in Palestine is a mere illusion whose fate would not be better than that of the Crusaders. The Crusaders ruled for about 200 years in Palestine. The Zionist entity would not last that long.