Stuff You Won't Find in the History Books
The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict
Published by Jews for Justice in the Middle East
Israel has sought peace with its Arab neighbor states but has steadfastly refused to negotiate with Palestinians directly, until the last few years. Why? "My friend, take care. When you recognize the concept of ‘Palestine’, you demolish your right to live in Ein Hahoresh. If this is Palestine and not the Land of Israel, then you are conquerors and not tillers of the land. You are invaders. If this is Palestine, then it belongs to a people who have lived here before you came.
Only if it is the Land of Israel do you have a right to live in Ein Hahoresh and in Deganiyah B. If it is not your country, your fatherland, the country of your ancestors and of your sons, then what are you doing here? You came to another people’s homeland, as they claim, you expelled them and you have taken their land." Menahem Begin, quoted in Noam Chomsky’s "Peace in the Middle East?"
"Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs, We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country. Why should they accept that?" David Ben-Gurion, quoted in "The Jewish Paradox" by Nathan Goldman, former president of the World Jewish Congress.
"Before [the Palestinians] very eyes we are possessing the land and the villages where they, and their ancestors, have lived...We are the generation of colonizers, and without the steel helmet and the gun barrel we cannot plant a tree and build a home." Israeli leader Moshe Dayan, quoted in Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel"
"The Arabs will be our problem for a long time," Weizmann said, "It’s not going to be simple. One day they may have to leave and let us have the country. They’re ten to one, but don’t we Jews have ten times their intelligence?" Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in 1919 at the Paris peace conference, quoted in Ella Winter, "And Not To Yield."
"[In the early 1950s] Arab states regularly complained of the reprisals to the UN Security Council, which routinely rejected Israel’s claims of self-defense...
"In June 1982 Israel again invaded Lebanon, and it used aerial bombardment to destroy entire camps of Palestinian Arab refugees, By these means Israel killed 20,000 persons, mostly civilians...Israel claimed self-defense for its invasion, but the lack of PLO attacks into Israel during the previous year made that claim dubious...The [UN] Security Council demanded ‘that Israel withdraw all its military forces forthwith and unconditionally to the internationally recognized boundaries of Lebanon’...
"The UN Human Rights Commission, using the Geneva Convention’s provision that certain violations of humanitarian law are ‘grave breaches’ meriting criminal punishment for perpetrators, found a number of Israel’s practices during the uprising [the intifada] to constitute ‘war crimes.’ It included physical and psychological torture of Palestinian detainees and their subjection to improper and inhuman treatment; the imposition of collective punishment on towns, villages and camps; the administrative detention of thousands of Palestinians; the expulsion of Palestinian citizens; the confiscation of Palestinian property; and the raiding and demolition of Palestinian houses." John Quigley, "Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice."
From the 1970s until the 1999 Israeli High Court decision forbidding torture during interrogation (theoretically), hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were subjected to inhuman treatment in Israeli prisons. "Israel’s two main interrogation agencies in the occupied territories engage in a systematic pattern of ill-treatment and torture - according to internationally recognized definitions of the terms...The methods used in nearly all interrogations are prolonged sleep deprivation; prolonged sight deprivation using blindfolds or tight-fitting hoods; forced, prolonged maintenance of body positions that grow increasingly painful; and verbal threats and insults.
"These methods are almost always combined with some of the following abuses; confinement in tiny, closet-like spaces; exposure to temperature extremes, such as deliberately overcooled rooms, prolonged toilet and hygiene deprivation; and degrading treatment...Beatings are far more routine in IDF interrogations than in GSS interrogations. Sixteen of the nineteen detainees we interviewed [detained between 1992 and 1994] reported having been assaulted in the interrogation room. Beatings and kicks were directed at the throat, testicles, and stomach. Some were repeatedly choked; some had their heads slammed against the walls...
"Israeli interrogations consistently use methods in combination with one another, over long periods of time. Thus, a detainee in the custody of the General Security Service (GSS) may spend weeks during which, except for brief respites, he shuttles from a tiny chair to which he is painfully shackled; to a stifling, tiny cubicle in which he can barely move; to questioning sessions in which he is beaten or violently manhandled; and then back to the chair.
"The intensive, sustained and combined use of these methods inflicts the severe mental or physical suffering that is central to internationally accepted definitions of torture. Israel’s political leadership cannot claim ignorance that ill-treatment is the norm in interrogation centers. The number of victims is too large, and the abuses too systematic," 1994 Human Rights Watch report, "Torture and Ill-Treatment: Israel’s Interrogation of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories."
"Amnesty International also observed that, when brought to trial, most Palestinian detainees arrested for ‘terrorist’ offenses and tortured by the Shin Bet (General Security Services) ‘have been accused of offenses such as membership in unlawful associations or throwing stones. They have also included prisoners of conscience such as people arrested solely for raising a flag.’
On a related point, Haaretz columnist B. Michael noted that there wasn’t a single recorded case in which the Shin Bet’s use of torture was prompted by a ‘ticking bomb’ scenario: ‘In every instance of a Palestinian lodging formal complaint about torture, the Shin Bet justified its use in order to extract a confession about something that had already happened, not about something that was about to happen.’" Norman Finkelstein, "The Rise and Fall of Palestine."
"B’Tselem estimates that the GSS annually interrogates between 1000-1500 Palestinians [as of 1998]. Some eighty-five percent of them - at least 850 persons a year - are tortured during interrogation...
"The U.N. Committee Against Torture,..reached an unequivocal conclusion:...’The methods of interrogation [used in Israeli prisons]...are in the Committee’s view breaches of article 16 and also constitute torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention...As a State Party to the Convention Against Torture, Israel is precluded from raising before this Committee exceptional circumstances’...The prohibition on torture is, therefore, absolute, and no ‘exceptional’ circumstances may justify derogating from it." 1998 Report from B’Teslem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, "Routine Torture: Interrogation Methods of the General Security Service."
"There is clearly no need to justify the Zionist dream, the desire for relief from Jewish suffering...The trouble with Zionism starts when it lands, so to speak, in Palestine. What has to be justified is the injustice to the Palestinians caused by Zionism, the dispossession and victimization of a whole people. There is clearly a wrong here, a wrong which creates the need for justification...
[E.g., the inheritance claim] The aim of Zionism is the restoration of a Jewish sovereignty to its status 2,000 years ago. Zionism does not advocate an overhauling of the total world situation in the same way. It does not advocate the restoration of the Roman empire...[In addition,] Palestinians have claimed descent from the ancient inhabitants of Palestine 3,000 years ago!...
[Jewish suffering as justification] It was easy to make the Palestinians pay for 2,000 years of persecution. The Palestinians, who have felt the enormous power of this vengeance, were not the historical oppressors of the Jews.
They did not put Jews into ghettos and force them to wear yellow stars. They did not plan holocausts. But they had one fault. They were weak and defenseless in the face of real military might, so they were the ideal victims for an abstract revenge....
[Anti-semitism as justification] Unlike the situation of Jews persecuted for being Jews, Israelis are at war with the Arab world because they have committed the sin of colonialism, not because of their Jewish identity...
[The law of the jungle justification.] Presenting the world as naturally unjust, and oppression as nature’s way, has always been the first refuge of those who want to preserve their privileges...The need to justify Zionism, and the lack of other defenses, has made it part of the Israeli world view...In Israel, one common outcome is cynicism, for which Israelis have become famous...
[The effect on Israelis]Israelis seem to be haunted by a curse. It is the curse of the original sin against the native Arabs. How can Israel be discussed without recalling the dispossession and exclusion of non-Jews? This is the most basic fact about Israel, and no understanding of Israeli reality is possible without it. The original sin haunts and torments Israelis; it marks everything and taints everybody. Its memory poisons the blood and marks every moment of existence." Israeli author, Benjamin Beit-Hallahami, "Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel."
"Zionism’s ‘historical right’ to Palestine was neither historical nor a right. It was not historical inasmuch as it voided the two millennia of non-Jewish settlement in Palestine and the two millennia of Jewish settlement outside it. It was not a right, except in the Romantic ‘mysticism’ of ‘blood and soil’ and the Romantic ‘cult’ of ‘death, heroes and graves’... "The claim of Jewish ‘homelessness is founded on a cluster of assumptions that both negates the liberal idea of citizenship and duplicates the anti-Semitic one that the state belongs to the majority ethnic nation. In a word, the Zionist case for a Jewish state is as valid as the anti-Semitic case for an ethnic state that marginalizes Jews." Professor Norman Finkelstein, "Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict,"
How about the Zionist argument that Jordan already is the Palestinian state?
"It is often alleged that there was, in fact, an earlier ‘territorial compromise’, namely in 1922, when Transjordan was excised from the promised ‘national home for the Jewish people,’...a decision that is difficult to criticize in light of the fact that ‘the number of Jews living there permanently in 1921 has reliably been estimated at two, or according to some authorities, three persons.’" Noam Chomsky, "The Fateful Triangle."
"The abstention from formulating a constitution was no accident. The massive expropriation of lands and other properties from those Arabs who fled the country as a result of the War of Independence and of those who remained but were declared absent, as well as the confiscation of large tracts of land from Arab villages who did not flee, and the laws passed to legalize those acts - all this would have necessarily been declared unconstitutional, null and void, by the Supreme Court, being expressly discriminatory against one part of the citizenry, whereas a democratic constitution obliges the state to treat all of its citizens equally." Israeli author, Boas Evron, "Jewish State or Israeli Nation?"
"The 1989 Israel High Court decision that any political party advocating full equality between Arab and Jew can be barred from fielding candidates in an election...[means] that the Israeli state is the state of the Jews...not their [the Arabs’] state." Professor Norman Finkelstein, "Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict."
The fundamentalist wing of the Jewish religion, while certainly not representative of Judaism as a whole, is influential in Israel, and is the ideological basis of the settler movement in the West Bank and Gaza (except for "Greater Jerusalem" where many secular Jews have moved because of cheap, subsidized housing) The following quotes show the racism inherent in this world-view and why its influence should be opposed by all rational people.
"The Talmud states that...two contrary types of souls exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from the Satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness...Rabbi Kook, the Elder, the revered father of the messianic tendency of Jewish fundamentalism said, "The difference between a Jewish soul and the souls of non-Jews...is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.’" Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky’s "Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel"
"Gush Emunim rabbis have continually reiterated that Jews who killed Arabs should not be punished, [e.g.]...Relying on the Code of Maimonides and the Halacha, Rabbi Ariel stated, ‘A Jew who killed a non-Jew is exempt from human judgement and has not violated the [religious] prohibition of murder’..The significance here is most striking when the broad support, both direct and indirect, for Gush Emunim is considered. About one-half of Israel’s Jewish population supports Gush Emunim." Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky’s "Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel"
"They argue that what appears to be confiscation of Arab owned land for subsequent settlement by Jews is in reality not an act of stealing but one of sanctification. From their perspective the land is being redeemed by being transferred from the satanic to the divine sphere...To further this process, the use of force is permitted whenever necessary...Halacha permits Jews to rob non-Jews in those locales wherein Jews are stronger than non-Jews." Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky’s "Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel"
"The United States has been a terrible ‘sponsor’ of the peace process. It has succumbed to Israeli pressure on everything, abandoning the principle of land for peace (no U.N. Resolution says anything about returning a tiny percentage, as opposed to all of the land Israel seized in 1967), pushing the lifeless Palestinian leadership into deeper and deeper holes to suit Netanyahu’s preposterous demands.
"The fact is that Palestinians are dramatically worse off than they were before the Oslo process began. Their annual income is less than half of what it was in 1992; they are unable to travel from place to place; more of their land has been taken than ever before; more settlements exist; and Jerusalem is practically lost...
"Every house demolishment, every expropriated dunum, every arrest and torture, every barricade, every closure, every gesture of arrogance and intended humiliation simply revives the past and reenacts Israel’s offenses against the Palestinian spirit, land, body politic. To speak about peace in such a context is to try to reconcile the irreconcilable." Edward Said in "The Progressive", March 1998
"The explosion of Palestinian anger last September 29 put an end to the charade begun at Oslo seven years ago and labelled the ‘peace process.’ In 1993 Palestinians, along with millions of people around the world, were led to hope that Israel would withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza within five years and that Palestinians would then be free to establish an independent state. Meanwhile both sides would work out details of Israel’s withdrawal and come to an agreement on the status of Jerusalem, the future of Israeli settlements, and the return of Palestinian refugees.
"Because of the lopsided balance of power, negotiations went nowhere and the Palestinians’ hopes were never fulfilled. The Israelis, regardless of which government was in power, quibbled over wording, demanded revisions of what had previously been agreed to, then refused to abide by the new agreements. Meanwhile successive governments were demolishing Palestinian homes, taking over Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem for Jewish housing, and seizing Palestinian land for new settlements. A massive new highway network built after 1993 on confiscated Palestinian land isolates Palestinian towns and villages from one another and from Jerusalem, forcing many Palestinians to go through Israeli checkpoints just to get to the next town...
"According to President Clinton and most of the media, Prime Minister Ehud Barak conceded at Camp David virtually everything the Palestinians wanted, and Yasser Arafat threw away the opportunity for peace by rejecting Barak’s offer. In fact Arafat could not accept it. Barak, backed by Clinton, wanted assurance of Israel’s continued strategic control over the West Bank and Gaza, including air space and borders, and insisted that Israel retain permanent sovereignty over most of East Jerusalem, including Haram Al-Sharif. This was a deal no Arab would accept.
"As the protests grew, army helicopters rocketed neighborhoods in several Palestinian cities, destroying entire city blocks and causing scores of casualties. Israeli tanks surrounded Palestinian towns with their guns turned toward the town. Armed Israeli civilians within the Green Line rampaged through Arab neighborhoods destroying Arab property and shouting "Death of Arabs’...Israeli police who were quick to use bullets against Palestinian stone throwers failed to restrain the Israelis and instead fired at Arabs trying to defend their homes. Two Arabs were killed.
"The uprising was undoubtedly fueled by the resentment caused by years of daily abuse and humiliation under Israeli occupation. On September 6, a group of Israeli border police stopped three Palestinian workers as they were returning home from Israel and, for no reason at all, subjected them to 40 minutes of torture. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on September 19 that the policemen punched the three men, slammed their heads against a stone wall, forced them to swallow their own blood, and cursed their mothers and sisters.
The incident only came to light because the policemen took photographs of themselves with their victims, holding their heads by the hair like hunting trophies. Israeli human rights workers said such beatings are a common occurance, but they are seldom reported." Rachelle Marshall, "The Peace Process Ends in Protests and Blood", Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2000.
"In the Oslo Agreements, Israel and the West put Palestinian leadership to a test: In exchange for an Israeli promise to gradually dismantle the mechanisms of the occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian leadership promised to stop every act of violence and terror immediately. For that purpose, all the apparatus for security coordination was created, more and more Palestinian jails were built, and demonstrators were barred from approaching the [Jewish] settlements.
"The two sides agreed on a period of five years for completion of the new deployment and the negotiations on a final agreement. The Palestinian leadership agreed again and again to extend its trial period...From their perspective, Israel was also put to a test: Was Israel really giving up its attitude of superiority and domination, built up in order to keep the Palestinian people under its control?
"More than seven years have gone by and Israel has security and administrative control of 61.2% of the West Bank and about 20% of the Gaza Strip and security control over another 26.8% of the West Bank. This control is what has enabled Israel to double the number of settlers in 10 years..and to seal an entire nation into restricted areas, imprisoned in a network of bypass roads meant for Jews only...
"Israel has failed the test. Palestinians control of 12% of the West Bank does not mean that Israel has given up its attitude of superiority and domination...The bloodbath that has been going on for three weeks is the natural outcome of seven years of [Israeli] lying and deception." Israeli journalist Amira Hass, "Israel Has Failed The Test," in Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, 10/18/00.
"An underlying reason that years of U.S. diplomacy have failed and violence in the Middle East persists is that some Israeli leaders continue to ‘create facts’ by building settlements in occupied territory...
"At Camp David in September 1978...the bilateral provisions led to a comprehensive and lasting treaty between Egypt and Israel, made possible at the last minute by Israel’s agreement to remove its settlers from the Sinai. But similar constraints concerning the status of the West Bank and Gaza have not been honored, and have led to continuing confrontation and violence...
"[Concerning UN Resolution 242] Our government’s legal commitment to support this well-balanced resolution has not changed...It was clear that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories were a direct violation of this agreement and were, according to the long-stated American position, both ‘illegal and an obstacle to peace.’ Accordingly, Prime Minister Begin pledged that there would be no establishment of new settlements until after the final peace negotiations were completed. But later, under Likud pressure, he declined to honor this commitment...
"It is unlikely that real progress can be made...as long as Israel insists on its settlement policy, illegal under international laws that are supported by the United States and all other nations.
"There are many questions as we contine to seek an end to violence in the Middle East, but there is no way to escape the vital one: Land or peace?" Former President Jimmy Carter in The Washington Post, November 26, 2000.
"After three weeks of virtual war in the Israeli occupied territories, Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced a new plan to determine the final status of the region. During these weeks, over 100 Palestinians were killed, including 30 children, often by ‘excessive use of lethal force in circumstances in which neither the lives of security forces nor others were in immminent danger, resulting in unlawful killings,’ Amnesty International concluded in a detailed report that was scarcely mentioned in the US.
"Barak’s plan...ensure(s) that useable land and resources (primarily water) remain largely in Israeli hands while the population is administered by a corrupt and brutal Palestinian Authority (PA), playing the role traditionally assigned to indigenous collaborators under the several varieties of imperial rule: the Black leadership of South Africa’s Bantustans, to mention only the most obvious analagoue...
"It is important to recall that the policies have not only been proposed, but implemented, with the support of the U.S. That support has been decisive since 1971, when Washington abandoned the basic diplomatic framework that it had initiated (UN Security Council Resolution 242), then pursued its unilateral rejection of Palestinian rights in the years that followed, culminating in the ‘Oslo process.’ Since all of this has been effectively vetoed from history in the US., it takles a little work to discover the essential facts. They are not controversial, only evaded," Noam Chomsky, "Al-Aqsa Intifada", October 2000, on Znet, www.lbbs.org/meastwatch.
"America’s credibility as mediator had long been questioned by Palestinians, and with reason. ‘The Palestinians always complain that we know the details of every proposal from the Americans before they do,’ one Israeli government source told The Independent recently. ‘There’s good reason for that: we write them.’" Phil Reeves in "The Independent" (U.K.), 10/9/2000
"Rarely do American journalists explore the ample reasons to believe that the United States is part of the oft-decried cycle of violence. Nor, in the first half of October, was there much media analysis of the fact that the violence overwhelmingly struck at the Palestinian people.
"Within a period of days, several dozen Palestinians were killed by heavily armed men in uniform - often described by CNN and other news outlets as ‘Israeli security forces’. Under the circumstances, it’s a notably benign-sounding term for an army that shoots down protestors.
"As for the rock-throwing Palestinians, I have never seen or heard a single American news account describing them as ‘pro democracy demonstrators.’ Yet that would be an appropriate way to refer to people who - after more than three decades of living under occupation - are in the streets to demand self determination.
"While Israeli soldiers and police, with their vastly superior firepower, do most of the killing...American news stories highlighted the specious ultimatums issued by Prime Minister Ehud Barak as he demanded that Palestinians end the violence - while uniformed Israelis under his authority continue to kill them...
"Like quite a few other Jewish Americans, I’m apalled by what Israel is doing with U.S. Tax dollars. Meanwhile, as journalists go along to get along, they diminish the humanity of us all." Norman Solomon, "Media Spin Remains In Sync With Israeli Occupation," from FAIR’s Media Beat, October 14, 2000.
"There is, in the final analysis, only one way to ‘stop the violence,’ and that is to end the occupation. The desire for liberation will, eventually, always bring an occupied people out into the streets, stones in hand, ready to face the might of powerful armies, preferring to risk death than live in bondage. This is not extreme nation.0 racism or religious fervor. It is the need to be free...
"[Occupation] means a reality of unending violence. It means being surrounded by an abusive foreign army that enforces a social system indistinguishable from apartheid; confiscations of land that is then given to hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in Jewish-only communities linked by roads that non-Jewish residents of the West Bank (whose land was confiscated for these roads) are prohibited from using; home demolitions; torture; cities cut off from each other, closed down on a regular basis. It means living in a massive prison...
"Since 1967, there has been only one workable solution to the conflict. The plan is articulated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which sets up a two-part ‘land for peace’ solution. Part one holds that Israel must withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967. Part two calls for all states in the region to live in peace and security in those borders. The Israeli obligation, withdrawal from the occupied territories, is utterly unfulfilled." Hussein Ibish, communications director of the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, in the Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2000.
"With the same deadpan, expressionless, emotionless, glazed look, Madam Albright repeated: ‘Those Palestinian rock throwers have placed Israel undeer siege,’ adding that the Israeli army is defending itself...
[But] It is Israel that is the belligerent occupant of Palestine (and not the other way around) Israeli tanks and armored vehicles are surrounding Palestinian villages, camps and cities (and not the other way around). Israeli (American-made) Apache gunships are firing Lau and other missiles at Palestinian protestors and homes (and not the other way around). It is Israel that is confiscating Palestinian land and importing Jewish settlers to set up illegal armed settlements in the heart of Palestinian territory (and not the other way around).
The settlers on the rampage in the West Bank and Israelis terrorizing Palestinians in their own homes (and not the other way around)...Israel is committing atrocities against the Palestinians with total impunity, and yet you maintain, ‘Israel is beseiged.’" Hanan Ashrawi, in "The Progressive", December 2000
"In American coverage of the recent Camp David meetings, the American press obediently followed the Israeli and US government spin that while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak made courageous concessions for peace, Palestinian unwillingness to compromise caused the meeting to fail.
"Never mind that Barak’s ‘courageous concessions’ consisted of allowing the Palestinians to have joint administrative responsibility over a couple of remote Arab neighborhoods of Arab East Jerusalem - pathetic crumbs tossed on the floor which Arafat was expected to gratefully pick up." American Jewish reporter, Eduardo Cohen, from "What Americans Need to Know - But Probably Won’t Be Told - To understand Palestinian Rage" from Palestine Media Watch, www.pmwatch.org
"Barak appears to be asking for only 10% of the occupied territories. In reality, it’s closer to 30%, taking into account the territories he wants to annex in the Jerusalem area and place under his "security control" in the Jordan Valley. But even worse, in the map submitted to the Palestinians, these percentage points cut the country up from East to West and from North to South, so that the Palestinian state will consist of groups of islands, each surrounded by Israeli settlers and soldiers.
"World opinion is always on the side of the underdog. In this fight, we are Goliath and they are David. In the eyes of the world [outside the US], the Palestinians are fighting a war of liberation against a foreign occupation. We are in their territory, not they on ours. We are the occupiers, they are the victims. This is the objective situation, and no minister of propaganda can change that." Israeli peace activist. Uri Avnery, "12 Conventional Lies About the Palestine-Israeli Conflict" from Palestine Media Watch, www.pmwatch.org.
"It has been seven years exactly since I wrote my last letter to you. It was the day after the signing of the Oslo Accords, when you invited me to dance with you in Menorah Square...Permit me to quote for you a few passages from that old letter.
"‘You danced in the square because you were happy about this peace. Not just plain peace, but a blend of peace,security, Palestinian chest-beating over sins committed (renunciation of terrorism), and far-reaching concessions by the other side. A peace that you can be proud of. A peace - so you boast - for which we are giving nothing ("Just a tiny bit," whispers the prime minister) and gaining much; recognition, greater security, a halt to the Intifada, renunciation of terrorism, being relieved of the Arabs and more. You are happy about this peace, and in its honor you invite me to dance with you. No thank you...You got rid of Gaza, you separated Israelis from Palestinians, you gave them the dirty work and you didn’t even promise withdrawal or a real state. Could peace possibly be bought more cheaply?"
"‘I, by contrast, see peace as an end and not merely as a means, and call for getting out of the Occupied Territories because we have nothing to be there for, even if the occupation did not cost us even one victim or one cent; and I am against shooting children - and adults - simply because it is forbidden to shoot children or ordionary civilians.’
"Since the writing of these lines you celebrated the peace and you became fat and prosperous. The repeated and varied violations of the agreements did not move you, not to speak of any change in our culture of war and occupation, the arrogant tone of those negotiating in our name and their attempts to demand more and more in exchange for less and less...
"What is there to be confused about? A conquering army is using tanks and helicopter gunships to disperse demonstrations. What is so hard to understand here?...There is an occupation and there is a struggle against the occupation. There are demonstrators and there is an army that has received orders to shed their blood. And don’t come to me with the story of the rifles, Your glorious war record qualifies you to understand that even CNN reporters understand, that those rifles do not endanger either Israel or the soldiers if they don’t get too close...
"[From 1993 letter]"peace is a tango that takes two equal partners dancing in unity; it is not a dance of one who drags around his partner at will...In your dance of peace you have no partners, only enemies. For your peace is his occupation, your success is his loss...Peace is still far away because peace demands honesty, because peace demands equality. You want to force them to lie, you want of them a peace of surrender, you are celebrating a peace of master and slave. Under such conditions there will perhaps be peace-and-quiet, but Peace, no. Not until you open your eyes and your heart. Not until we are ready for a peace of partnership and equality." Michael (Mikado) Warschawski, "The Party Is Over: An Open Letter to a Friend In Peace Now,", from Znet, www.lbbs.org/ZNETTOPnoanimation.html
"(Barak) promised peace and brought war, and not by accident. While speaking about peace, he enlarged the settlements. Cut the Palestinian territories into pieces by ‘by-pass’ roads. Confiscated lands. Demolished homes. Uprooted trees. Paralyzed the Palestinian economy..Conducted negotiations in which he tried to dictate to the Palestinians a peace that amounts to capitulation. Was not satisfied with the fact that by accepting the Green Line, the Palestinians had already given up 78% of their historic homeland. Demanded the annexation of ‘settlement blocs" and pretended that they amount only to 3% of the territory, while in fact he meant more than 20% would remain under Israeli control.
Wanted to coerce the Palestinians to accept a ‘state’ cut off from all its neighbors and composed of several enclaves isolated from each other, each surrounded by Israeli settlers and soldiers...Boasts publicly that he has not given back to the Palestinians one inch of territory...When the intifada broke out, sent snipers to shoot, in cold blood from a distance, hundreds of unarmed demonstrators, adults and children. Blockaded each village and town separately, bringing them to the verge of starvation, in order to get them to surrender. Bombarded neighborhoods. Started a policy of mafia-style ‘liquidations’, causing an inevitable escalation of the violence." Israeli peace activist, Uri Avnery, February 3, 2001, www.gush-shalom.org
"Israelis like to believe, and tell the world, that they are running an ‘enlightened’ or ‘benign’ occupation, qualitatively different from other military occupations the world has seen. The truth was radically different. Like all occupations, Israel’s was founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation and manipulation." Israeli historian, Benny Morris, "Righteous Victims."
"Just an hour’s drive from Jerusalem, a cruel drama has been underway for the past five months, the likes of which have not been seen since the early days of the Israeli occupation, but the majority of Israelis are taking absolutely no interest in it. The iron grip of the closure in its new format is increasingly strangling a population of 2.8 million people, yet no one is saying a word. . .
"It has to be said starkly and simply: There has never been a closure like this there, in the land of barriers and closure. In the worst of times of the previous Intifada, when the iDF was in eveÄr and curfew reigned supreme, there was not a situation in which a whole people was jailed without a trial and without the right of appeal.
"Israel has split the West Bank by means of hundreds of trenches, dirt ramparts and concrete cubes which have been placed at the entrance to most of the towns and villages. No one enters and no one leaves, not those who are pregnant and not those who are dying. There isn’t even a soldier with whom one can plead and beg. A network of bizarre Burma roads that break through the encirclement are sending an entire people along muddy, rocky routes, with the situation aggravated by a substantial risk of getting caught or getting shot by soldiers who often open fire on the desperate travelers. . .
"Never before has there been distress and suffering on this scale among the Palestinians in the territories. They will engender unprecendented despair and ultimately they will spark violence more cruel and painful than anything seen so far. . . This is the point: the horrific distress of the Palestinians because of the present closure will quickly turn into the distress of the Israelis. . . The current siege, a shamefully appalling operation, must be lifted quickly. This must not be made conditional on the cessation of the violence, because the siege itself is the most effective spur to violence." Israeli writer, Gideon Levy, in Ha aretz, March 4, 2001
"The first challenge, then, is to extract acknowledgement from Israel for what it did to us...But then, I believe, we must also hold out the possibility of some form of coexistence in which a new and better life, free of ethnocentrism and religious intolerance, could be available...If we present our claims about the past as ushering in a form of mutuality and coexistence in the future, a long-term positive echo on the Israeli and Western side will reverberate." Edward Said in "The Progressive", March 1998
"The final destination of a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement has begun to emerge from the political haze. Such a settlement must...give the Palestinian people a sovereign, uncontested, independent state of their own. This is a matter of justice and practicality. If a truly lasting and stable peace is the goal, there is no other option...The mere trappings of statehood will not suffice. The state has to be real and workable. The following are its essential conditions.
Territorial integrity and contiguity...Any further dissection of Palestinian territory would make it politically and economically impossible to maintain a state...There can be no civilian pockets under Israeli rule on Palestinian land...
A sovereign capital in Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is Palestine’s historical, spiritual and commercial heart. To exclude it from a Palestinian state is unthinkable...
"Justice and fairness for refugees...As a matter of principle, the Palestinians right to return or be compensated for their lost homes and land is nonnegotiable...Israel must acknowledge the suffering and hardship Palestinian refugees have faced as a result of their eviction from their homeland, and must assist in their rehabilitation and reabsorption." A.S. Khalidi, Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, February 11, 1997.
Palestinian engineer and parliamentarian Salman Abu Sitta...(showed) that ‘the return of the refugees is possible with no appreciable dislocation of Jewish residents.’ This is because ‘78 percent of the Jewish population of Israel lives on only 15 percent of the land’...
"Ironically, the land in the upper Galilee from which a very large percentage of the refugees were driven is so lightly populated because most of thÝ immigrants [that] settled there refused to remain so far from the centers of Israeli urban life in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem...Of those actually cultivating those former Palestinian fields, many are non-Jewish Thais, Rumanians and others slated to return to their countries at the end of their contracts." Richard Curtiss from June 2000 issue of "Washington Report On Middle East Affairs."
"It was our nationalism...which drew the country into an occupation and settlement of the West Bank...None of the leaders of the Labor movement believed that the Palestinians deserved the same right [as Jews] because none of them believed in universal rights. Pretending, like [Arthur] Hertzberg and others do, that the Occupation and the colonial situation created in the last thirty years was merely the product of the Arab refusal to recognize Israel, is no more than looking for an alibi and falsifying history...
"The time has come to say that if the settlements in Judea and Samaria or in the very heart of Hebron are the natural, logical and legitimate continuation of the original intention of Zionism, then we need another Zionism. If a ‘Jewish State’ that does not recognize the absolute equality of all human beings is considered to be closer to the spirit of the founding fathers than a new liberal Zionism, then it is time to say good-bye to the ghosts of the founders, and to start forging for ourselves an identity detached from the mystical ramifications of our religion and the irrational side of our history." Israeli professor of political science, Ze’ev Sternhell, in "Tikkun", May/June 1998.
These short quotes do not, of course, prove the assertions made here. The historical evidence, however, is overwhelming and is available in fully documented form in the books cited. Particularly useful sources are:
1.Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice by John Quigley, professor of law at Ohio State University. Duke University Press, 1990.
2.The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & The Palestinians by Noam Chomsky, professor at MIT and "arguably the most important intellectual alive" (NY Times). South End Press, 1983.
3.Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi. An honest history of Zionism by a noted Israeli scholar who teaches at Haifa University. Olive Branch Press, 1993.
4.Bitter Harvest by Sami Hadawi. A very complete look at the documentary evidence of the creation of the state of Israel, by a Palestinian Christian who lived through that period. Caravan Books 1979.
For articles from the alternative and Israeli press, please see ZNet at www.lbbs.org and www.commondreams.org/viewsarchive.htm.
A wealth of information on Palestine/Israel is to be found at www.geocities.com:0080/CapitolHill/Senate/7891.
Another very useful resource is the Jewish Voice for Peace. To join their mailing list, e-mail shlensky@socrates.Berkeley.edu.
Also, the American Educational Trust, publisher of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs(a great magazine) has a large selection of books available. Write for their free catalog to AET, PO Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009.
This booklet can also be found on the web at www.cactus48.com
As we have seen, the root cause of the Palestine-Israel conflict is clear. During the 1948 war, 750,000 Palestinians fled in terror or were actively expelled from their ancestral homeland and turned into refugees. The state of Israel then refused to allow them to return and either destroyed their villages entirely or expropriated their land, orchards, houses, businesses and personal possessions for the use of the Jewish population. This was the birth of the state of Israel.
We know it is hard to accept emotionally, but in this case the Jewish people are in the wrong.We took most of Palestine by force from the Arabs and blamed the victims for resisting their dispossession. If you run into someone’s car, for whatever reason, simple justice demands that you repair it. Our moral obligation to the Palestinian people is no less clear. It is time for all Jewish people of good conscience to make whatever amends are possible to the Palestinians in order to live up to the best part of the Jewish tradition - its ethical and moral basis.
Any criticism of Israel is traditionally seen by American Jews as harmful to the Jewish people, even if the criticism is true. But "my people, right or wrong, my people" is no different than "my country, right or wrong, my country". Once we start down the slippery slope where the ends justify the means we have left behind any claim to morality. Along with millions of other American Jews unaffiliated with the major U.S. Jewish organizations, we are outraged at the Israeli government’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinians and feel that it has been the ruination of the high moral standing of the Jewish people.
The Israeli government could solve the Palestine/Israel crisis tomorrow. It actually would be in the best interests of its citizens to do so because random acts of terrorism against Israelis would cease if Palestinian demands for a viable, independent state were accepted and compensation for Arab losses made.
Here in America, we Jews are thoroughly assimilated into the mainstream of society and hold positions of power and influence in every field of endeavor. We do not need to be in a defensive mood anymore. We can afford to change out attitude from "is it good the the Jews?" to "Is it good?" At the very least, American Jews need to categorically state that we cannot condone Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and the intentional murder and crippling of Palestinian protestors armed only with rocks, as documented in reports by the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Israeli groups like B’Tselem, etc.
According to a survey commissioned by the five largest American Jewish organizations, but suppressed by them afterwards, 20% of American Jews support Palestinian demands and 35% say that Jerusalem should be shared. This, in the face of a near-total blackout of the Palestinian position in our press, is very impressive. Join this growing segment of American Jews by contacting Not In My Name, at www.nimn.org, a group that is spearheading a coalition of Jewish groups to protest the Israeli occupation.
Israel’s long-term interests can best be served by supporting Israeli peace groups, like Gush Shalom (www.gush.shalom.org), not the Israeli government and its brutal repression, which just leads to endless violence. Israeli peace groups rightfully criticize their government and we should too, since they claim to act in our name. American groups like the Jewish Peace Lobby, Jewish Voice For Peace and the Middle East Children’s Alliance also deserve your support. Don’t compromise yout ethics in blind support of bad politics-work for a just soultion instead.
Please write for more free copies of this booklet to the address on the back page and ask your Jewish friends to consider the information presented here. For everyone’s sake. Peace.
Important Note: at the end of the next section, Conclusion II, there is a list of Jewish organizations in America and Israel, and links to their websites, which are informative and interesting. We encourage to explore them with an open mind.
We hope that this look at the historical record concerning the root cause of the Middle East conflict will give second thoughts to all who have previously supported Israel’s actions.
The persecution of the Jews for centuries in Europe was the worst of many stains on the European record, and the Zionists’ desire for a place of sanctuary is certainly understandable. Like all other colonial enterprises, however, Zionism was based on the total disregard of the rights of indigenous inhabitants. As such, it is morally indefensible. And, as previously stated, all subsequent crimes - and there have been many on both sides - inevitably follow from this original injustice to the Palestinians.
Given the damage that has been done to the Palestinian people, Israel’s obligation is to make whatever amends possible. Among these should be assisting the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state in the entire West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. Israel should not object to this state and, in addition, should help with its foundation via generous reparations. Besides being the right thing to do, this would stop the sporadic acts of violence against Israel, as the Palestinians’ legitimate desire for their own state would be realized. Moreover, all laws that discriminate against non-Jews living in Israel should be repealed.
Given the history outlined in this paper, we conclude that the Palestinians have gotten "the short end of the stick" and that justice demands that wrongs should be righted. Full and complete justice would entail allowing any Palestinian to return to Israel if they wished but, practically speaking, we understand that this is a recipe for even more bloodshed. Therefore, recognizing that reality, we join Gush Shalom and other Israeli peace groups in calling for a negotiated, modified right of return with the bulk of Palestinian refugees being settled in a Palestinian state, financed by generous reparations from both Israel and the international community.
As U.S. citizens, we have a special obligation to see that justice is done in this matter. U.S. financial aid to Israel has been, and continues to be, enormous; and our diplomatic support is the crucial factor allowing Israel’s continued occupation of Arab territories. We strongly recommend that you contact your elected representatives in Washington and urge them to insist that, as a preconditon of continued support, Israel must abide by the consensus of world opinion and withdraw to its 1967 borders, as demanded in numerous UN votes.
American Jews in particular have a special responsibility to acknowledge the Palestinian point of view in order to help move the debate forward. As Chomsky writes in his Peace in the Middle East?, "In the American Jewish community, there is little willingness to face the fact that the Palestinian Arabs have suffered a monstrous historical injustice, whatever one may think of the competing claims. Until this is recognized, discussion of the Middle East crisis cannot even begin."
In the long run, only by admitting their culpability and making amends can Israelis live with their neighbors in peace. Only then can the centuries-old Jewish tradition of being a people of high moral character be restored. And only in this way can real security, peace and justice come to this ancient land.
Thank you for taking the time to read "The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict"
Compiled, Edited, and Published by Jews for Justice in The Middle East
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