The history of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict
has its roots in the events that began during World War 1. At the turn
of the twentieth century, Palestine was a province of the disintegrating
Ottoman Empire. During the course of World War 1, the British promised
to support Arab independence in exchange for Arab assistance against the
Turkish Army. These British promises are clearly documented in the Hussein-McMahon
Correspondence (1915-1916) which largely focused on the borders of a post-war
independent Arab State that included Palestine
Although the Arabs rallied behind the infamous
Lawrence of Arabia, fulfilling their part of the bargain, the British and
the French repaid them with imperial plots that ran contrary to the letter
and spirit of the promises made to the leaders of what came to be known
as the 'Arab Revolt'. In the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916), the British
and French secretly agreed to colonize the Eastern Arab world after the
war. Almost on a whim, the British also issued the Balfour Decleration
The Balfour Declaration was an agreement between
European and American Zionists and the British Government to create a 'Jewish'
national home in Palestine. The text read:
"His Majesty's Government views with favor
the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people
and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this
object: It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which
may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish
communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed
by Jews in any other country."
The 'existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine'
were the Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians, who comprised over 90%
of the population. Both the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot Agreement
were secret agreements between England, France and the Zionist interest
groups. In drafting both agreements, no attempts were made to consult the
Arab inhabitants of these lands. In fact, the existence of the two agreements
were successfully kept under wraps until they were disclosed by the Bolsheviks
in Moscow after the Russian Revolution. They were then widely publicized
by the Turkish Government as a way of demonstrating British betrayal of
assurances given to the leaders of the 'Arab Revolt'.
In response to the revelation of these secret
agreements, The Anglo-French allies gave the Sherif of Mecca more assurances
in the form of the Anglo-French Declaration of November 9, 1918. This promise
was that "France and Great Britain agree to further and assist in setting
up indigenous governments and administrations in Syria (which included
Palestine) and Mesopotamia."
The end result of British promises and counter-promises
was the implementation of the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the division of
the Eastern Arab World into British and French Mandates. These mandates
were given international sanction by the League of Nations. Legally, a
mandate was a 'pet colony' where the colonizing power's sole mission was
to prepare the natives population for eventual self-governance.
Once the Sykes-Picot double cross was completed,
the British moved on to another, more sinister, act of duplicity. Instead
of preparing the natives of Palestine for self-rule, they prepared them
for eventual exile.
To get an idea of the magnitude of this most
heinous of British Colonial crimes, one only has to take a look at the
demographics of the Palestine mandate in 1922. The area was inhabited by
a population of 650,000 Palestinians and a little over 50,000 Jews. By
the end of the Mandate in 1948, the population had increased to 1,380,000
Arabs and 650,000 Jews. The unnatural growth of the Jewish population was
facilitated by a heavy influx of European Zionist immigrants who came with
the explicit ideological intent of displacing the native Palestinian Arabs.
During the period the Palestine
Mandate, the British conducted themselves in a manner that amounted to
sanctioning the creation of a Jewish 'government' for the Zionist immigrants.
In 1936, the Palestinians revolted against the British. Their major demand
was that Jewish immigration be curtailed. By then, the Palestinians, at
all social and political levels, were acutely aware of the Zionist program
and its ultimate goals of dispossessing the Palestinians. It took three
years for Great Britain to put down the revolt. It was a revolt that decimated
the leadership of the Palestinians and further paved the road to the political
and military domination of Palestine by the Zionists.
In November 1947, the United Nations General
Assembly, made up mostly of European and Latin American countries, approved
the partition of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The partition
plan provided for the establishment of a Jewish State on 56% of the total
area of Palestine, This 'Jewish State' had an Arab population of almost
50%. It took blatant gerrymandering to carve out the borders of the 'Jewish'
state in a manner that would give the minority Jewish population over half
of the land.
The Partition Plan, although grossly unfair to
the native Palestinian majority, contained many provisions to safeguard
their rights. The text of the Partition Plan had provisions "Guaranteeing
to all persons equal and non-discriminatory rights in civil, political,
economic and religious matters and the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental
freedoms, including freedom of religion, language, speech, publication,
education, assembly and association". These were lofty words that the architects
of the plan knew would not be honored by a Zionist movement determined
to create a state as "Jewish as England is English".
The Partition Plan resolution had a whole chapter
on religious and minority rights. The provisions of the plan included the
following choice legalisms:
1. No discrimination of any kind shall be made
between the inhabitants on the ground of race, religion, language or
2. All persons within the jurisdiction of the State shall be intitled
to equal protection of the laws
3. No expropriation of land owned by an Arab in the Jewish State (by
a Jew in the Arab State) shall be allowed except for public purposes.
In all cases of expropriation full compensation as fixed by the Supreme
Court shall be paid previous to dispossession.
The provisions were principally directed at the
government of the proposed Jewish State. Which was accorded 56% of the
land area of Palestine. This area contained a population of 498,000 Jews
and 497,000 Arabs. The remaining 44% of the land had a population that
consisted of 10,000 Jews and 725,000 Arabs. These figures can be confirmed
by referring to the original Resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly
and the Security Council of the United Nations on the Palestine Question.
While the Partition Plan provided for all kind
of legal protection for the native Palestinians, it did not provide any
mechanism for enforcing these rights. Instead, it relied on the unlikely
good will of the British and the Zionists. Not long after the Partition
plan was adopted in 1947, the Zionists initiated a campaign of terror aimed
at expelling the Arab inhabitants, confiscating their property and occupying
as much of Palestine as they could before the British left.
The massacre of 250 men, women and children in
the village of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948 was one of many methods the
Zionist forces resorted to in their efforts to induce the Arabs to flee.
Menachem Begin, the leader of the attack, later declared that "The massacre
was not only justified, but there would not have been a state of Israel
without the 'victory' at Deir Yasin."
Before the British left, the Zionists had already
occupied territory reserved for the Arab State and International Zone in
Jerusalem. This was in addition to controlling the 56% that had been allotted
to the Jewish State in the Partition Plan.
One of the greatest canards that the Israelis
disseminate is that the Palestinians fled of their own free will to make
way for the invading Arab armies from neighboring states. By the time the
Arab armies entered the fray on May 15,1948 the Zionist forces had already
penetrated deep into the area allotted to the Palestinian 'Arab' state
and 650,000 of the natives of Palestine had become refugees.
Ben Gurion, a Polish immigrant and Israel's first
Prime Minister, said of this offensive that was initiated six weeks before
the British Mandate ended,
"As fighting spread, the Arab exodus was
joined by Bedouin and Fellahin, but not the remotest Jewish homestead
was abandoned and nothing a tottering administration (the British) could
unkindly do, stopped us from reaching our goal of May 14, 1948, in a
State made larger and more Jewish by the Haganah".
David Ben Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel
Having achieved Ben Gurion's goals, the State
of Israel was declared the very next day, May 15,1948. In June 1948, The
United Nations formally demanded a statement of policy from the new Israeli
Government regarding the Arab refugees who had fled the carefully scripted
Haganah reign of terror. Israel's Foreign Minister replied in an official
letter on August 1,1948. The letter not only denied responsibility for
the exodus, not only pleaded security, but went on to state that "On the
economic side, the reintegration of the returning Arabs into normal life,
and even their mere sustenance, would present a problem." Meaning, the
Palestinians could not return to their village and harvest their fields.
The land that had sustained them for untold generations was now incapable
of providing sustenance. This Israeli stance marked the beginning of a
policy that endures to this day, the denial of the right of return to the
The 'Shahak Report', written by Dr Israel Shahak,
who was for many years the chairman of the Israeli League for Human and
Civil Rights, details what happened to the villages that were left behind
by the exiled Palestinians. He reports that Israel destroyed 385 Palestinian
villages in order to establish a 'new' State. The purpose was to make the
Arab presence disappear. In the decimated wastes of these villages, 320
Kibbutzim were erected together with 267 moshavim.
From the birth of the state, the Israeli trademark
has been to 'make facts on the ground'. The Shahak report details this
process of manufacturing facts:
"To say that three quarters of a country
was destroyed, and only a small fraction of its land left in the hands
of its original inhabitants, is no figure of speech. For this is what
happened. A largely non-native collection of people simply effaced 385
villages in order to establish a 'new' state. This was no land without
people. Rather it was the case of a land, Palestine, with people, transformed
into a desert so that a 'new' land could blossom."
"The pattern of destruction was chillingly
radical. An Arab village would be invaded. Then every house, every garden
wall, every cemetery and its tomb stones would be razed, literally to
"The truth about Arab settlements which
used to exist in the area of the State of Israel before 1948, is one
of the most guarded secrets of Israeli life. No publication, book or
pamphlet gives either their number or their location. This, of course,
is done on purpose in order that the accepted official myth of 'an empty
country' can be taught and accepted in the Israeli schools and told to
"The significance of this increases when
it is remembered that until late 1948, Arabs owned 93% of the land of
The end result of the Partition Plan and the
horribly violent Zionist campaign that preceded the exit of the British
was the creation of a nation of refugees. Israel disclaimed any responsibility
for their flight, obstructed their right of return and passed laws to confiscate
the properties that they left behind. The official Israeli attitude was
that sooner or later the Palestinians would melt away and be absorbed into
the surrounding Arab states.
Throughout the 1950s, the Israelis retained
the hope that the Palestinians would simply vanish. But it was not just
a random mass of individuals who fled the terror of 1948. It was a whole
society. A common land and language, a common political fate and the cruelty
of exile created a distinct Palestinian national identity. Although scattered,
they survived as a nation.
Over 50 years later, many Israelis still cling
to the false history that the Palestinians just 'up and moved' as a result
of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The fringe Zionists still teach their children
that the 'there was no such a thing as a Palestinian'.
This Israeli denial of culpability infuriates
the Palestinians who have suffered the torments and turmoil of an undignified
exile. Many still live in the very refugee camps their parents fled to
in 1948. It is a rare Palestinian family that was left unmolested by the
events that led to the creation of a 'Jewish' State on real estate that
amounted to 78% of what was the British Mandate in Palestine.
Israelis must abandon the mythology of Zionist
history if they are ever to come to terms with the Palestinians. In Germany,
the denial of the Holocaust is a punishable crime. Had it not been made
a crime, who knows what German textbooks would be teaching today? The truth
has been good medicine for post-war Germany. Widespread international awareness
of the horrors of the Holocaust has also facilitated a healing process
among the Jewish survivors and given them the strength to cope with their
It is long past the hour for Israel to acknowledge
the reality of what was inflicted on the Palestinians. The continued denial
reinforces Palestinian rage. Zionist fables will no longer sell in Paris
or Peoria. As for the Palestinians, they would have to contract a bad case
of mass amnesia before succumbing to the humiliation of accepting a contrived
historic account that slanders the experience of every Palestinian family.
An essential part of making peace in the Middle
East is coming to terms with the past. Let the Israelis use their desperate
need of a safe haven from European anti-Semitism as an explanation for
their systematic crimes against the Palestinians. Let the Israelis plead
collective insanity emanating from the evil cruelty that was inflicted
upon them at Aushwitz. But let them put an end to this denial of history
that only serves to add to the deep sense of injury that is felt by almost