Recognizing Israel's Past Record and Current Policy
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By Michael Jansen,

Source: The Jordan Times, 12 July. 2007

Theodor Herzl, the founding father of the Jewish state, was not deceived by the Zionist slogan which held that Palestine was a land without people for a people without a land. He was well aware that the land the Zionists coveted had a population of native Palestinians and, in 1895, recommended that they be expelled to the border of the Jewish state "surreptitiously".

This is precisely the policy Israel adopted towards the Palestinians once it became clear that it could not carry out the sort of overt ethnic cleansing widely practiced by Israeli armed forces after the passage of the UN partition plan in November 1947 and in the aftermath of the June 1967 war.

Present covert cleansing means include Israel's strategic settlements, military bases, walls, roads and green zones established in the West Bank. These provide for creeping Israeli annexation of the land Palestinians demand for their state.

Last week, Peace Now's settlement watch group revealed how annexation is accomplished. The state has expropriated large tracts of land for the 164 settlements, outposts and industrial zones planted in the West Bank. But since the state refused to reveal the boundaries of the seized areas until last year, the extent of Israel's colonization was unknown. Settlers in 92 per cent of the colonies, who have built only on 9 per cent of the land under their jurisdiction and make use of only 12 per cent, have, with state approval, expanded onto land which either belongs to Palestinians or is public land which should not, under the 1993 Oslo accord, be taken by Israel.

Once the settlers' extended claims are recognized by the so-called Israeli Civil Administration, the area is closed to Palestinians who are either forced to relocate or are barred from living or building in or even transiting the area. Palestinians are pushed out gradually while Israelis expand their holdings. Ultimately, the Palestinians will have to leave the West Bank when they no longer have enough land to sustain their communities.

Colonization of the land is not the sole means employed by Israel to cleanse Palestinians. Peace Now also reported that Israel's 547 roadblocks, checkpoints and barriers are being used to make it so difficult for Palestinians to function that they will be forced to depart. They are cut off from farmland, employment, markets for produce and products, schools, hospitals and the administrative centre in Ramallah.

While Peace Now says that Israel could do without many of its obstructions in the West Bank, the military argues that removing them would harm Israeli security, the argument Israel commonly relies on to deny Palestinian — and international — demands.

Israel is also decimating the leadership of the community by arresting or killing key figures and using administrative measures to deport Jerusalemites to the West Bank and Palestinians with foreign passports to the countries that issued these documents.

Since the Zionists adopted Herzl's recommendation generations ago, Israel is in no hurry to accomplish the total cleansing of geographical Palestine. But no one should have any illusions about its intention to create an entirely Jewish state in virtually the whole of Palestine. Means to achieve this were spelled out in 1919 and the 1930s, well before the UN mandated the partition of Palestine and Israel launched its war of establishment.

Cleansing did not begin when Israel was proclaimed, on May 15, 1948, but in early December 1947, when the Haganah and the Irgun and Stern gangs began their over campaign to cleanse Palestinians from the areas allocated to the Jewish state by the UN. While this process has been described by Israeli scholars Simha Flappan and Benny Morris, they have been surpassed by Ilan Pappe in his book "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine", published by One world this year.

Pappe, who had access to documents, letters and official files of the perpetrators led by David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, exposes the detailed planning that went into the wholesale ethnic cleansing of Palestinian urbanites and villagers.

Cleansing was essential for the Zionists because in 1947 only 5.7 per cent of the land of Palestine was owned by Jews, who constituted only one-third of the total population of the country. Furthermore, Jews preferred to dwell in cities rather than the countryside where Palestinians predominated on the land.

In spite of their sparse demographic spread, the Zionists, who were highly influential then as now, demanded 80 per cent of the country. But they received only 56 per cent and their claim to all of Jerusalem was rejected. Furthermore, in the Jewish state there were to be 499,000 Jews and 438,000 Palestinians, while in the 42 per cent Arab state there were to be 818,000 Palestinians and 10,000 Jews. Jerusalem was to be an enclave under international jurisdiction with a population of 200,000, equally divided between Jews and Palestinians.

Pappe summed up the situation once the partition resolution was passed: "As theoreticians of ethnic cleansing acknowledged later, where an ideology of exclusivity is adopted in a highly charged ethnic reality, there can be only one result: ethnic cleansing."

Pappe said Ben Gurion both accepted the UN plan and worked to overcome its limitations on the Jewish state by expelling Palestinians who were in the way of his vision for a state in at least 78 per cent of Palestine. He and his colleagues in the secret controlling body called "the Consultancy" also had territorial ambitions in the Syrian Golan and southern Lebanon.

While attacks on Palestinian towns, villages and urban neighborhoods began in December 1947, it was not until March 10, 1947, that the Consultancy adopted the master plan, code named Dalet, for the cleansing of Palestine. By the end of April, 250,000 Palestinians had been uprooted in the first phase of the operation, subsequent phases proceeded according to schedule until in the 78 per cent state Ben Gurion achieved during the 1947-49 war, there were only 140,000 Palestinians remaining.

Thousands were killed and a total of 750,000 were driven from their homes by the Haganah and paramilitaries. They murdered hostile Palestinians, staged numerous massacres and blew up or bulldozed Palestinian cities, towns and villages as soon as they were cleared, eliminating more than 500. The expellees flooded into the West Bank, Gaza and neighboring states, negating the belated efforts of the armies of Egypt, Iraq and Jordan to reverse the cleansing process. Only Jordan's Arab Legion was partially successful when it hung onto East Jerusalem and the West Bank. But when Israel conquered these areas and Gaza in 1967, more cleansing took place and another 250,000 were expelled, most into Jordan.

Adding insult to grave injury, Israel has successfully denied responsibility for the expulsions, claiming falsely that the Arab governments had ordered the Palestinians to leave so that they would clear the battlefield for military action. This was a lie waiting to be exposed. But Pappe, like his truth-telling predecessors, has no illusions about the impact of his book on those determined to deny Israel's policy of ethnic cleansing and those who know the truth but do not intend to act on it.

Unless world public opinion recognizes Israel's past record and current policy of surreptitious cleansing, this will also contribute to the achievement of the Zionist goal of a wholly Jewish state in the whole of Palestine, and perhaps beyond.

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