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Pretending away the Nakba only perpetuates the conflict

When the Czechs prefer to keep silent and repress their history, it’s a problem, but it is not an imminent danger to the country. When Israelis prefer to pretend there was no ethnic cleaning here, it’s a wholly different question: the conflict won’t end unless Israel admits to the injustice it caused.

Palestinian refugees ‘making their way from Galilee in October-November 1948’ (Fred Csasznik, copyright expired)

A few weeks back I watched The Gatekeepers, a movie which interviews six of the chiefs of Shin Bet, from Avraham Shalom to Yuval Diskin. The movie is shocking and well worth your time. The most surprising character was Diskin, who obviously underwent a great change upon leaving the service: at the end of the movie he adamantly agrees with Yishayahu Leibowitch’s famous dictum that the occupation will turn Israel into a ”Shin Bet state.” And over the weekend we learned Diskin went through another metamorphosis: he recommended to the Turkel Committee that the Shin Bet start video-taping its interrogations, which the service has long resisted.

Diskin is merely the latest in a series of senior security officials who, as soon as they leave office, see the light and understand just how ruinous the office they headed was, and how they represented positions that were damaging to the country. The last great show in this genre was the bunch of senior commanders of the IDF’s Northern Command, who upon retirement were astonished to find out that the Security Zone in Lebanon was a huge mistake – often, after defending it in uniform as vital to security just a few weeks prior.

In that regard, the most interesting speaker is certainly Avraham Shalom, the oldest interviewee. Shalom thinks strategic errors were made, particularly by the politicians, but he himself regrets nothing. When asked about moral problems, he laughs. “Morality?” He asks, “Morality? Look for it first among the terrorists.” One assumes former chiefs, assuming they would even bother to be interviewed, would supply similar remarks. It’s very hard to see Issar Har’el, for instance, the closest thing we’ve got to J. Edgar Hoover, providing the camera with anything aside from a mocking, world-weary grin, saying in effect “you’ll never understand, so don’t even try.”

Superficially, Shalom, born in 1928, and Diskin, born in 1956, are separated by just one generation. Actually, they come from different worlds. Diskin grew up in Givatayim, possibly Tel Aviv’s most secure suburb. Shalom was born in Vienna. It was not a safe place for Jews even then, and in 1938 came the Anschluss, the annexation by Nazi Germany, which the Viennese used as an excuse for an orgy of violence against resident Jews. Shalom was lucky: his family understood early on where things were going, and fled to Palestine in 1939. They arrived penniless – this was Adolf Eichmann’s specialty, how he made his name – but they survived.

Not everyone was that lucky. Uri Ben-Ari, who would one day create the IDF’s doctrines of tank warfare, saw as an eight-year-old child in Berlin (he was still called Heinz Benner) how a gang of SA gunmen severely beat his father, after which they urinated on him. On Kristallnacht, the father and son saw the synagogue where he had recently celebrated his bar mizvah being set on fire. Several days later, Benner was kicked out of his school in a humiliating public spectacle: “Heinz Benner! You are a member of the Jewish race which committed heinous crimes against mankind and against the German people! The school vomits you from its ranks and you are hereby expelled! Go through our gate and be gone from our sight forever. Forward march! Heil Hitler!” Ben-Ari emigrated to Palestine, alone, in March 1939. His father was left behind.

In that regard, Ben-Ari was more typical than Shalom. The Palmach generation is often described as composed of native-born, but a significant number of them were European refugees, not natives. For a generation, the symbol of the Palmach sabra was Dan Ben-Amotz. He was actually born in the Ukraine under the name Moise Tehilimzuger. Like Ben-Ari, he too came to Palestine alone; his family, too, was murdered. The number of Jews then residing in Palestine who lost their family in Europe was staggering. To the rest of their trouble – the relative poverty and primitiveness of Palestine, at least when compared to central Europe; the conflict with the Arabs; the significant suffering inflicted on teenaged refugees by teenage sabras and often even by the grown-ups, who couldn’t comprehend what was happening “over there” – must be added survivor’s guilt. The refugees who made it to Palestine prior to 1941 believed they were pioneers, and that their family and friends would join them after a while; many of them saved money diligently to aid in this immigration. At the end of 1945, most of them would realize they were either the last survivors of their family or very nearly so. The fact that they not merely survived, but lived in relative comfort, must also have been a burden.

Ben-Ari and Shalom joined the Palmach in 1946, the year the organization began preparing itself for the coming independence war, which would come within 18 months. This was the same period in which Eastern Europe convulsed in a series of terrifying national struggles which followed the border changes the Soviet Union forced on the region following its victory over Nazi Germany. These struggles – a more apt title would be “ethnic cleansing” – were bloody, and included the murder of possibly millions of people: Ukrainians, Poles, and many Germans. The Czechs murdered, in a savage outburst of hatred only occupied people who felt their chains slip away can understand, some 20,000 Germans in the days immediately following liberation. Most of the victims were women, children and the elderly. The Czech don’t talk much about it nowadays, nor are they fond of speaking of the expulsion of some 1.5 million Germans, or the pillaging of their property. During a tour in Prague two months ago, the tour guide described what happened there as ‘genocide.’ Most of his people prefer to look the other way. The Poles made it clear to Jews who thought they could return home, with the pogrom in Kielce and by hundreds and thousands of terror killings on the roads and on trains, that they, too, are an ethnic minority whose historical role is over. Without understanding these events, it’s impossible to understand some of Alterman’s most haunting, poisoned lines in “The Child Avram”:

Before him stand, then, the Seventy Nations,
And say: We are upon you!
With seventy acts of laws and seventy axes,
We shall return you to this house!
We shall make you lie down in the ready bed,

And you slept in it as still as your father!

Orwell understood what was going on in 1946, in his Politics and the English Language, so reminiscent of Tacitus about the ways the Roman used language: “Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers.” Orwell was speaking of the need of newspapers written in English to speak about what their governments agreed to, without making the readers understand what is it that they mean. In Eastern Europe, it was well understood. There, a “mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details” would simply not be enough; hence they spoke of the events as little as possible.

As far as its Jewish population is concerned, Palestine in 1947 was a branch of Eastern Europe, and it can be argued that its history in 1947-1948 simply cannot be understood without knowing what happened, two years earlier, in Europe. What took place there, echoed here, and when “normal” acts of hostility exploded, in November 1947, into war, tens of thousands of people who could not bring their families back, and who could not avenge themselves on the Germans – for other people already did that, yet another so-called proof of Jewish powerlessness – did on their new land what Eastern Europeans carried out on their side: they acted out an ethnic cleansing and looted the property of the other people. Afterwards they removed everything which might remind them of the people who lived here before them. And when the refugees tried to return, they shot at them. And that, not the expulsion during wartime but the refusal to let them back at peacetime, was the true birth of the refugee problem.

And then came the great silence. There are things of which you cannot speak, because you cannot live with the words. The generation of Ben-Ari and Shalom was famous for its silence. Even the well-known expulsion order, Ben-Gurion’s famous hand gesture when he was asked what to do with the captured population, was a wordless order.

“Hold on to that,” sang the Biluiym (for full English lyrics, click here),

“We tried very hard,
We covered all the ruins,
Changed the names of the streets,
We tried very hard,
We silenced the rumors…”

We silenced the rumors. Anyone who wanted to know, could. The ethnic cleansing of 1947-1948 was an ill-kept secret. But most of that generation did not want to know. And several years later massive waves of immigration changed the country irrecoverably. Many of those immigrants came from Eastern Europe, where people were experienced in entering a house whose occupants abandoned it in a hurry, leaving most of their property behind. A decade after 1948, and Ben-Ari and Shalom’s generation was already a minority. Most of the people did not know on whose lands they were sitting and liked it that way. A common legend arose, which said that the Palestinians left of their own will. A Czech history textbook, published recently, sums up the events of 1945-1946 with the words “and then the Sudeten Germans returned to their homeland.”

Shalom, as a representative of his generation, knew full well why he must not enter a debate about morality. It would open the gaping bottom under Israel’s feet, expose it as a country whose very existence relied on ethnic cleansing. It would open the question whether, given for instance Israel’s way of treating the Negev Bedouin – it now wants to expel thousands of them from the places to which it expelled them in 1948 – can we speak of the Nakba as a finite, finished event, or is it an ongoing process.

The East European ethnic cleansing had a certain advantage over the one carried out by Shalom and his generation: they were final. The German groups in Eastern Europe, which caused much of the instability following the First World War, ceased to exist. Eastern Europe, which until Stalin’s victory was a bubbling cauldron of minorities, some of them with delusions of grandeur, became homogenized. The process was murderous and agonized, caused the death of millions and brought untold suffering to many millions – only the war itself caused more suffering – but it is over. There are no active nationalist conflicts in Eastern Europe today.

The conflict in what used to be Mandatory Palestine never ended. To a certain extent, this was for two reasons: Israel was too weak to conquer the West Bank in 1948, and 1967 was not 1948. While a minor ethnic cleansing took place in 1967, Moshe Dayan knew it was too late to do in the West Bank what the IDF did in would-be-Israel in 1947.

When the Czechs prefer to keep silent and repress their history, it’s a problem, but it is not an imminent danger to the country, just to its national character; and a young and aware generation is trying to raise the issue. When Israelis prefer to pretend there was no ethnic cleaning here, it’s a wholly different question: the conflict won’t end unless Israel admits to the injustice it caused.

But it is so deep, so basic, that many Israelis would prefer to give up a solution so long as they don’t have to face the injustice and admit to it. We would be better off were Shalom’s generation to open its mouth at last; they would be believed. But he who grew accustomed to silence for so long, will not break it easily. Perhaps he is afraid of what he might say.

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    1. aristeides

      Hey, it’s good to see you posting again!

      I’d argue that there is a difference between the European cases and the Palestinian case. The Czechs at least had the excuse of being invaded and occupied by the Germans, who can be considered collectively guilty.

      The Arabs had never invaded and occupied the territory of the Yishuv. The proto-Israelis didn’t have that excuse.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Wait, if collective guilt is just fine with you then the local Arabs fought a civil war against the Jews and then the other Arabs invaded. If the Sudetenlend Germans were fair game in retaliation for the invasion by Germany then so were the Palestinian Arabs for the invasion by the Arab states and their own local war against the Jews. Proto-Israelis is an interesting term. Would you care to provide a name that might have made more sense before Israel was chosen as the name of the new state?

        Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        Aristeides, I hope you don’t really believe that. If you truly regard human rights as universal then one wrong does not cancel out another. Britain firebombing Dresden and killing tens of thousands of civilians in a deliberate campaign of massacre from the air cannot be excused on the premise that the German’s launched the Blitz. Sure, we can appreciate the anger but distance from the event ought to give us the capability to develop maturely and say killing German civilians was as bad as killing any civilian in spite of what their government did. That is the essence of universal human rights. No innocent individual should suffer bodily harm for the actions of another individual.

        Reply to Comment
        • aristeides

          Philos – you’re right, collective guilt is just what I said, an excuse, not a valid reason for persecuting innocent individuals. Nonetheless, there is a difference between the two cases, in that the Israelis (proto and post) didn’t even have that excuse. Just as the Poles, also mentioned in the article, didn’t have the excuse to attack the Jews in the postwar period, despite their having been invaded and conquered by both Germans and Soviets. Just as the Jews, despite the German atrocities, didn’t have the excuse to expel the Palestinian Arabs.*

          Retribution and collective guilt are evils. But retribution committed against a party that doesn’t share in the collective guilt is doubly an evil.

          *K9, as usual, has it wrong. The Palestinian Arabs in 1947 were fighting in self-defense against a foreign population attempting to seize their territory. There is no guilt in this, nor in the allies who came to their aid.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            The Palestinian Arabs and their allies were explicitly and openly fighting a war of extermination against the Palestinian Jews. What is a proto-Israeli again?

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Bull, K9.

            The Palestinians were fighting a defensive war to prevent a foreign state from being established on more than half of their land.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            @Aristeides, I think it’s worth mentioning that the collective guilt was carried by the Germans themselves also, which is why they did not necessarily make a big deal out of the ethnic cleansing, until much later.

            My great-grandfather was one of the Germans who lived in Poland, and the reason why there was no talk about the expulsion of the Germans of Poland from the German side was because there was something much more horrifying to deal with in the aftermath of WW2. Which is why you see public discourse, especially German discourse, bringing up the ethnic cleansing of Germans in other parts of Europe much, much later.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Plus in the subsequent years, Eastern Europe fell under the Iron Curtain, and many Germans were sort of glad they were not under another a catastrophic regime.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Aaron Gross

      Well, tl;dr. But I did read the first part. First, to correct a glaring factual error by Gurvitz: Diskin did not “adamantly [agree] with Yishayahu Leibowitch’s famous dictum that the occupation will turn Israel into a `Shin Bet state.’ In fact, Diskin first said he agreed with every word of Leibovitz’s, but right after that Diskin said that Leibovitz was wrong about that part, that Israel had not become a Shabak state.

      That said, a couple brief comments. I agree, Diskin was fascinating. The only one of them that I liked, and I think the only that was truly thoughtful.

      Disagree about the movie as a whole. Noam Sheizaf was right: mostly just repeating the old platitudes of the Zionist left. The movie was aimed at foreign audiences who don’t know much about what’s been going on in Israel. Israelis will remember practically all of it from news stories.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Kolumn9

      Good, well-written article. Thank you. Obviously I disagree with the policy prescription since I don’t believe there is a solution to be found there but overall an excellent piece of writing.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Kolumn9

      The Czech example is actually very interesting. The conflict between Bohemian Germans who largely wanted the territory included in a pan-Germanic state and the Czechs who wanted no part of it is a very interesting read. Also interesting was the cultural war waged in the Czech lands between the Germans and the Czechs where the Czechs only gained local dominance in the late 19th century.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Frank

      Until the Arab states and Palestinian leadership face up to the fact that they were wrong to attack Israel in 1948 there can be no peace. Everybody knows that if Israel had been defeated in 1948 most if not all Israeli Jews would have been maasacred. Nothing to feel guilty about the Jews winning in 48.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        How very convenient for your conscience.

        Too bad that, like most of what “everybody knows,” it’s without merit.

        Reply to Comment
    6. sh

      “…the conflict won’t end unless Israel admits to the injustice it caused.
      But it is so deep, so basic, that many Israelis would prefer to give up a solution so long as they don’t have to face the injustice and admit to it.”

      Yes, that’s the way I’ve come to see it. The right of return discussion would have to take place, would be pivotal.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Tom P,

      while most of this made a lot of sense, I think this part is misleading:

      “As far as its Jewish population is concerned, Palestine in 1947 was a branch of Eastern Europe, and it can be argued that its history in 1947-1948 simply cannot be understood without knowing what happened, two years earlier, in Europe.”

      At the time, Israeli leaders didn’t justify what they were doing in relation to Eastern Europe – they denied that they were actually doing it. I haven’t seen any evidence that they saw this as a model. I also haven’t seen any evidence that regular people drew this analogy. It seems like this was simply described as “a war,” and any Arabs could pose a potential security threat – a convenient excuse to take their land and property.

      Israelis tend to naturalize what happened in 1948, as if wars usually end in massive ethnic cleansing of around 80% of a population. Making these analogies without sufficient proof just feeds into that. If there is some proof of what he’s saying, Gurvitz should present it, rather than speculate.

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        I don’t think the implication that it was a conscious plan to follow an Eastern European model. They were doing what seemed logical considering not their recent experiences but the background in which they started life.

        Reply to Comment
        • sh

          but *also* the background….

          Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Ethnica/national wars in the 1940s and earlier had large population movements as a natural part of the resolution of the conflict. Only by trying to remove this conflict form that context can one argue that something special happened here.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tom P.

          this is a perfect example of what I was referring to. You just need to make this analogy in 2013 and voila, you now have a “context” for this “natural part of the resolution of the conflict.” Nothing more “natural” than ethnic cleansing.

          Reply to Comment
        • Tom P.

          pogroms of Jewish communities also happened more than once. Would you therefore refer to them as “natural”, just like the many massacres of 1948?

          Reply to Comment
    8. Palestinian

      The Zionists had planned to take over and turn Palestine into a Jewish homeland decades before the Nazis came to power.

      As Tom.P said ,Israel (including the so-called left) try to naturalize what happened in 1948 blaming “both” sides.Some even have the audacity to blame the Aravim and victimize the Zionist immigrants.

      Reply to Comment
    9. “…the conflict won’t end unless Israel admits to the injustice it caused.” : I don’t see how we can expect Israel to wail its existence and ask for redemption from the Lord. Peace will not come through abrogating Israel, and the right of return in extended form is economically unworkable. Note what has happened in these comments: history is highlighted differently to make mutually inconsistent positions. I think Israelis must see they cannot fully win, Palestinians that they have not fully lost. One then constructs on the ground to limit continuing harm. A “solution,” better, path, will require the Israeli constitution as part of that path. African Americans have moved toward equality not because of guilt over slavery; Native Americans have not moved so far even with “white” historical guilt. Opponents must be given constitutional ground. History forced onto others for submission is one of the primary engines of present conflictual discourse.

      Reply to Comment
      • LastFromRishon

        @Greg Pollock
        Numbers matter. 5 000 000 Native Americans against 41 000 000 African Americans against 223 000 000 White Americans. In Israel it is different.

        Reply to Comment
      • directrob

        Dear Palestinians,
        Sorry we stole your land and you are heart broken and poor now but we can not return it because we use it to earn a living, and yes we need to compensate you but we need the money ourselves because we want to remain a very rich country, and yes we drink your water and use your stones but we will not share it because we need houses and are thirsty, and yes we are sorry we steal more but we need land to live.

        Your Israeli.

        Ps I hope you are understand our position and understand that we are interested in peace as soon as your accept your defeat and stop bickering about return.

        Reply to Comment
    10. LastFromRishon

      It wasn’t national problem in Eastern Europe(Poles against Jews) mostly.It was problem of Communists against anti-Communists.No reader had even mentioned it.For Poles,Ukrainians in West Ukraine Jews were first of all Communists and aliens.Therefore they were killing Communists who were on occasion Jews.Population of West Ukraine hates Poles and Russians even more then Jews until now.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Aaron Gross

      “…the conflict won’t end unless Israel admits to the injustice it caused.”

      This is one of the stupidest ever cliches about the war. Of course it can end without Israel’s admitting its injustice. Practically all wars end without either side admitting the injustices they’ve inflicted. Why should this war be unique? The war will end when both sides see it in their interest to accept a common settlement. Justice has nothing to do with it.

      Reply to Comment
      • Aaron Gross

        P.S. Sorry about the tone of that comment. No coffee yet. I should have said the statement was wrong, not stupid.

        Reply to Comment
    12. XYZ

      I have to agree that saying
      “the conflict won’t end unless Israel admits to the injustice it caused” is a recipe for endless conflict because the Arabs will never accept “the injustice”, whether or not Israel admits to it (BTW-I do not accept that there was an “Injustice” since it was the Arabs who started the war, but I will accept it here for the sake of argument”). The conflict can not end in any sort of formal agreement for this reason. What we have to do is hope for a modus vivendi to evolve if the Arabs finally realize that cooperation with Israel grants them a better future than promising their future generations endless conflict. Other injustices have happened in history but those involved simply got over it. For exmaple, what happened to the Greek Cypriots in northern Cyprus where the Turks drove them out…the Greek Cypriots decided to go on building their part of the island instead of carrying out terrorist attacks against Turkey, and they have been very successful. Maybe their is a model here for the Arabs to emulate.

      Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        One, Greeks were displaced from northern Cyprus, but not forced off the island altogether. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, Turkey doesn’t claim the whole island (Its pretext for invading was to stave off a political union with Greece). Most importantly, there have been negotiations about reunification, and freedom of movement for the Greeks through the Turkish zone is certainly one of the issues.

        Not only did the Zionist armed groups ethnically cleanse most Palestinians during 1948-50, the Israeli army later occupied the territory where half the refugees fled. And there were the attempts to take over southern Lebanon during 1978, 82 and 2006. Israel is an obstacle to these people getting on with their lives.

        Reply to Comment
    13. XYZ

      I would modify the headline of this piece to say “Israeli acknowledgement of responsibility for Nakba (as it were) would perpetuate the conflict”. If Israel were to falsely admit that what it did in 1948 was wrong, or a crime, it would only aggravate the situation, make the violence worse and strengthen the extremists who would then say “look, they themselves say they are guilty, all we have to do is keep up the pressure and they will completely fold up and even leave Tel Aviv”. (Again, I am only saying this for the same of argument…Israel has no responsibility for the Nakba…the Palestinian and other Arab leadership is responsibile).

      Reply to Comment
      • David T.

        XYZ: “If Israel were to falsely admit that what it did in 1948 was wrong, or a crime, it would only aggravate the situation, make the violence worse and strengthen the extremists who would then say “look, they themselves say they are guilty, all we have to do is keep up the pressure and they will completely fold up and even leave Tel Aviv”.”

        Please inform the Germans not to admit that what Germany did to Jews was wrong. It would only aggravate the situation make the violence worse and strenghen the extremist. And this is not by far the most stupidest argument ever.

        “(… Israel has no responsibility for the Nakba…the Palestinian and other Arab leadership is responsibile).”

        Sounds exactly like Holocaust denial and I’m not even surprised.

        Which leadership was responsible for the Haganah report which reads that 73% of Arab refugees between December 1947 and June 1948 were directly caused by “Israelis”? And which one was responsible for the destruction of more than 400 Arab villages? Which one was responsible for the denationalization of these Arabs and which one for preventing them to return? Which one was responsible for the confiscation of their property and which one for its misappropriation? Which one was responsible for emptying their bank accounts and which one for letting Jews take over their homes?

        Reply to Comment
        • Leen

          I’d like to point out that after Deir Yassin, the Arab leadership told the Palestinians to ‘stay put’ and not leave (which makes sense because no Arab country wanted to deal with an influx of refugees).

          Finally, Semites in the Fertile crescent (which by the way include Jews) were found to be closely related genetically to non-Semitic speaking Near Easterners (such as Iranians, Anatolians, and Caucasians) than to other Semitic-speakers (such as Gulf Arabs, Ethiopian Semites, and North African Arabs). Which pretty much means that Palestinian Arabs/Egyptian Arabs/Iraqi Arabs are fundementally different ethnic and genetically wise.

          Reply to Comment
    14. Richard Witty

      For years, I’ve been arguing that the prohibition from return rather than the original expulsions was the more important event in creating and firming the refugee condition of many Palestinians.

      And, that repeal of the laws prohibiting return should be the task of dissent that concerns itself with Palestinian refugees, if return to Israel is a help of any sort anyway.

      Only a radical could make that statement. When I make it, it has been condemned as hasbara, or deflection from the theme of ethnic cleansing as most important.

      Then, the next question is what is the remedy?

      BDS is floated as prospect. But, BDS fails to counter legislation. It self-talks, but changes nothing.

      For the anti-return and knesset “abandoned property” legislation to be overturned, requires a majority.

      How do YOU think that that could change? And, if it entailed abandoning BDS for the delay that BDS will inevitably invoke in the chain of change of Israeli consciousness followed by change in political composition of government, followed by change in legislation, is it relevant at all?

      I wish you would qualify the nakba. You are a student of history, so cannot be unaware of the state of the world in 1949,50,51. It was not “cessation of hostilities” but continuation of hostilities. (The wording of the relevant Geneva Convention regarding return to a prior warzone.)

      Certainly the “abandoned property law” was premature, occurring only 2 years after the war.

      These are different times than 1947,8,9. There is “enough” Israel already.

      Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        “Many of those immigrants came from Eastern Europe, where people were experienced in entering a house whose occupants abandoned it in a hurry, leaving most of their property behind.”

        There’s no doubt that the experience of WWII impacted what Jews who became Zionist soldiers were willing to commit. However, the idea that dispossessing the Palestinians was based on a post-WWI precedent is hasbara in itself.

        Ruppin submitted a memo to the WZO in Dec. 1907 proposing to create a Jewish majority in Palestine through mass immigration and purchase of most of the land. Since he opened a WZO branch in Jaffa the next year, it’s very clear his memo was adopted as official policy. And the settlers of Petach Tikvah, Degania, Merchavia, et. al already had experience in occupying land vacated by someone else.

        “‘Didn’t we transfer Arabs from D’ganya, Keneret, Merhavya, and Mishmar Haemek? I do remember the nights on which Shmuel Dayan [the father of Moshe Dayan] and I were called to Merhavya to help ‘Hashomer’… carrying out [Arab] evacuation. What was the sin in that?… Members of Hashomer Hatza’ir are saying: by the establishment of a Hebrew state [a partition proposal] we are creating a barrier between us and the Arabs. Isn’t such a barrier already existing and permanent in the country? Aren’t we building exclusive train stations, an exclusive post service, exclusive government office, an exclusive sea port, exclusive roads, and an exclusive economy as far as possible?’ [18]” (Yosef Baratz, Degania founder)


        Reply to Comment
    15. Jonathan Affleck

      It is important that we all completely revise our thinking about Yiddish and German Jews as well as about the damage that they have done to the world since the Napoleonic Wars.

      We need fully to understand both the Holocaust and the Nakba.

      First we have to talk about the history of Jewish oppression in Europe.

      It is basically non-existent. The eminent Jewish historian Albert Lindenmann refers to the theological religious version of Jewish history according to which Jews are in spiritual exile/alienation and must feel oppressed.

      In reality over the last millennium Jews generally had higher incomes, longer lifespans, and more education that the non-Jews among whom Jews live.

      Jews whine about their history of oppression because of the Jewish Leidensgeschichte (the pogrom and persecution narrative) which another eminent Jewish historian, Columbia Professor Salo Baron, demonstrated to be disconnected from reality decades ago.

      Next we have to discuss blowback, for the Holocaust is massive blowback for the actions of Jewish groups and organizations going back to the Napoleonic Wars and probably earlier.

      Let us be very clear on the definition of blowback.

      Here is what wikipedia says.

      “Blowback is unintended consequences of a covert operation that are suffered by the civil population of the aggressor government. To the civilians suffering the blowback of covert operations, the effect typically manifests itself as “random” acts of political violence without a discernible, direct cause; because the public—in whose name the intelligence agency acted—are ignorant of the effected secret attacks that provoked revenge (counter-attack) against them.[1]”

      Jewish groups and organizations were involved in all sorts of financial crimes since the Napoleonic Wars. The really big Jewish fortunes in Central and Western Europe were almost invariably founded in massive usury and profiteering. In many industries like meat wholesaling and retailing Jews engaged in middle market restraint of trade to wipe out non-Jewish competitors by unethical and often illegal means. It is not surprising at all that the gentile meat industry was the most reliable source of anti-Jewish agitation in pre-WW1 Germany. The roots of the crashes that preceded both the Long Depression and Great Depression lie in corrupt Jewish (mostly covert) social networks and their financial dealings.

      Jewish financial chicanery and malfeasance associated with the Long Depression destroyed the incomes and families of many non-Jews. The charge that some groups of Jews exploited the peasantry mercilessly was basically true. Groups of Jews messing with the livelihoods of lots of non-Jews cannot help but incite hatred.

      Was it so unreasonable for patriotic Germans to suspect that German Jews stabbed Germany in the back in return for the Balfour Declaration especially when revolutionary cabals that were almost entirely Jewish tried to bring Soviet style revolutions to Bavaria and Hungary?

      The Soviet Army that attacked Poland and that was turned back by Pilsudski in the Miracle of Warsaw was led by Jewish Bolsheviks.

      Before Hitler took power, Jewish Bolsheviks were up to their eyeballs in mass murder, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

      Up until the Wannsee Conference (Jan 20, 1942) the German Nazi policy of driving out Jews was more or less identical with the Zionist (Jewish Nazi) policy of driving out out the native Palestinian population as the Zionist leadership proposed in the 1880s.

      The German Nazis convinced themselves that they had to undertake Operation Barbarossa (June 22, 1941) because they feared that collaborating Zionists and Jewish Bolsheviks were preventing a settlement of WW2. In retrospect it seems rather silly to have believed that Zionists and Bolsheviks were collaborating and that Bolsheviks were war-mongering, but at the time the suspicion was not unreasonable at all, and Zionists were in fact war-mongering just as Jewish Zionist Neocons war-mongered under Bush and continue to war-monger under Obama.

      As the invasion of the Soviet Union bogged down the German government concluded that German survival depended on eradicating the Zionist Judeo-Bolshevik terrorist menace and that it was under a compelling necessity to destroy Jewish enemy just as Ben-Gurion and the Zionist leadership justified genocide against the native Palestinian population via the argument of compelling necessity.

      In contrast to the massive blowback that European Jews suffered, the Zionist leadership planned naked genocide against Palestinians in the 1880s and finally carried out its planned genocide in 1947-8. Before the invasion of murderous racist genocidal Eastern European Jews, that native Palestinian population had practically no interaction with ethnic Ashkenazim whatsoever. Thus the Zionist genocide against Palestinians is probably the purest and most evil example of genocide imaginable.

      It is time to stopping cutting so much slack to Jews. We must stop thinking of the Holocaust as the most heinous example of genocide, for it is really an immense form of blowback caused by the activities of Jewish groups and organizations while in contrast the Nakba should be considered the archetypal cold-blooded genocide.

      Americans and Germans need to get over the poisonous pro-Semitism that is destroying their political systems while all educated people needs to reevaluate common false beliefs about Jewish history.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jonathan Affleck

        No one should be surprised that Jews continue the sort of rapacious, unethical, or criminal business practices that were the core of Jewish economic life before the Holocaust and that have re-surged orders of magnitude worse now that Jews have supplanted WASPs as the US political economic elite.

        Historically Yiddish Jews were a stratum within the extractive and exploitative elite of historic Poland.

        When we look at the role of Yiddish Jews then and to the present day in human trafficking — especially white slaving and pimping — we should also consider ethnic Ashkenazim to be an extremely predatory ethnic group and perhaps start discussing modern Jews in terms of group psychopathology.

        Not only was and remains the internal Jewish elite predatory against gentiles and *Jews*, but the masses of Jews tolerate such crap because Jewish education convinces them to fear non-Jews so much that ordinary Jews believe that they need elite Jewish predators to intervene with gentile elites on behalf of ordinary Jews.

        In fact, during the period of European modernization, Jewish problems with non-Jews would have vanished if Jews simply abandoned Jewish (especially ethnic Ashkenazi) culture in its entirety and simply assimilated into non-Jewish culture — as the vast majority of Jewish progressives correctly argued.

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        • Joe

          Goodness, racism wherever I look. FFS.

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    16. Shmuel

      Oh Jonathan my friend. Are you quoting from Der Strummer? Or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

      Goebbels would be so proud of you.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Shmuel

      “Ruppin submitted a memo to the WZO in Dec. 1907 proposing to create a Jewish majority in Palestine through mass immigration and purchase of most of the land.”

      So purchasing Jewish ancestral homeland was a crime?

      If you think so, Andrew, then you better get out of America fast because your forefathers conquered your lands and mass murdered the natives. And if you don’t then you are just another hypocrite who wants to relieve his bad conscience by preaching to others.

      Oh and by the way, how did the Arabs appear in Palestine? They too conqured the land by the sword, murdered all who refused to shed their previous, culture, language, religion and identities. That was OK huh andrew? But purchasing land from absentee Arab land lords at exorbitant prices was a crime?

      What kind of morality do you people believe in? What kind of hypocrites are you? Have you no shame?

      Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        “So purchasing Jewish ancestral homeland was a crime?”

        If you’re going to react strongly to one sentence fragment, it might help to read the complete sentence so as to get a grasp on the point. Creating a Jewish majority was the aim behind buying the land. Buying land was not sufficient, so it escalated to crimes like expelling the Palestinians at gunpoint (or shell-point). Sorry, but when people learn the details of how Israel became a demographic state, they’re either going to scrutinize Zionism more or retreat into some “they deserved it” delirium.

        “And if you don’t then you are just another hypocrite who wants to relieve his bad conscience by preaching to others.”

        One, pointing out the facts of how settler-immigrant domination was established in America is not going to send me into a whiny, defensive rant. Two, even if I renounced my US citizenship and left the continent, my individual action would not amount to anything substantial. It’s going to take major changes in the American settler mindset to address the persecution of the Indians, and you don’t contribute anything by reducing the whole cause to a get-Zionism-out-of-scrutiny free card.

        “They too conqured the land by the sword, murdered all who refused to shed their previous, culture, language, religion and identities.”

        I’m sorry, didn’t Jews have a continual presence in the Holy Land up to the beginning of the Zionist movement? Could have sworn that was bandied about here. There were also a lot more Christians in Palestine before 1948.

        “What kind of morality do you people believe in?”

        The same could be asked of you. History is full of homicidal conquering and we want our pound of flesh, seems to be the driving logic behind your arguments.

        Reply to Comment
      • tod

        Shmuel, they purchase an insignificant part of the country (6%)

        It is widely believed that a relevant percentage of the settlements established in the West Bank have been built on “state land.” This is linked to the thesis according to which to the date of the proposed partition of Palestine (1947) — when the percentage of land acquired by different Zionist organizations and by several private Jewish owners amounted to around 6% of the total — “over 70%” of Palestine did not “legally” belong to its local Arab population but rather to the British Mandate power, “legitimate heir” of the formerly Ottoman possessions. In December 1979, by recourse to a partial interpretation of Ottoman customs, the Israeli authorities established a new legal framework, thanks to which a considerable section of the West Bank (more than 26%) was made “legally available” for colonization. The subterfuge used here consisted in “translating” a significant proportion of land which came under the category of miri land in the Ottoman era into “state land.”
        Such an interpretation — originally proposed for its own interests by the London establishment and still used in our own times by the Israeli authorities in numerous legal disputes — is problematic. It is based on the transposition of practices and customs that had very limited relevance to the specific local context. It is an approach that, on the one hand, in the words of Roger Owen [British historian] tends to translate “Arabic and Turkish terms uncritically into their supposed equivalents in a predominantly European legal vocabulary,” and, on the other, presupposes that widespread traditions in other parts of the world were applicable to late-Ottoman Palestine.
        The legal principle underlying all miri properties was based on the idea that the land was the property of the community of believers represented by their emir. “State land,” [Hebrew University Professor] Haim Gerber noted, “in the modern sense, is land that the state wishes to keep out of individual use, such as forest land. Such a legal category did not exist in the Ottoman Empire and came into being only in the new states. Miri land was not state land in this sense.”
        It is noteworthy that a similar misrepresentation in the way customs dating to the Ottoman era were “translated” was used for the other main territorial categories, too. A detailed analysis of the documentation at the Center for Heritage and Islamic Research of Abu Dis — a center almost completely ignored by researchers on the matter even though it is to all effects and purposes the most important existing Palestinian archive — confirms that the land subject to the musha was considered by the local population as an inalienable asset at the disposal of entire villages.
        “Musha,” as historian Birgit Schaebler has clarified, “is obviously not a function of economic progress, and its logic has to be sought in a realm other than economics. Land in Musha communities clearly is more than a means of production. It is rather the very expression of the community.” This does not fully explain but certainly helps to understand why, in order to preserve the collective “ownership system” (musha), evade tax liability and avoid being drafted into the Turkish army, local people did not have any real interest in registering their lands in Tabu, the Ottoman land title registration system — still referred to as such by Israeli authorities — implemented by the Porte, starting from the early1870s, in an attempt to centralize and Westernize the fragile “Ottoman machine.”
        The ideology of “private property”
        To what has been argued thus far, it is important to add that, in the entire Ottoman Empire, with the non-casual exception of Egypt and Lebanon, there was a negligible amount (perhaps 5%) of “private property” (mulk). This means that the thesis according to which the bulk of the land did not belong to the local population, if considered valid, should also be applied to the over 40 countries that today make up what used to be the Ottoman Empire, including some of those adjacent to the Holy Land.
        Following this line of reasoning, the native populations of these nations should also not have been considered “legal owners” of almost any of the lands on which they flourished. This means for example that individuals in Iraq — where still in 1951 only 0.3% of registered land (or 50% of the total amount) was categorized as “private property” — should also be identified as simple “renters” on land which is not theirs.
        “The miri land,” as Moshe Ma’oz [professor at the Hebrew University] pointed out recently, “belonged to the people who lived on it. Supporting the contrary means to interpret the past using a selective and ideological, as well as Western-centered, approach.”
        The thesis according to which the land on which a relevant percentage of the West Bank settlements have been built was/is “state land” has been advanced by many Israeli governments in order to justify the huge investments they have set aside for building new colonies. If the settlements are built on “state land,” this is the argument still used today, it means that they have not damaged the local Arab majority, nor violated any property rights. Such arguments ignore the simplistic way through which a complex local reality has been “translated,” as well as the impact that the subtraction of the 40% of the West Bank — most of which is made up of a dense network of bypass roads (roads used exclusively by settlers) and buffer zones to protect these — currently controlled by the settlers has had on the local majority’s standards of life.
        (from a recent article on al-monitor)

        Reply to Comment
      • David T.

        “Oh and by the way, how did the Arabs appear in Palestine? They too conqured the land by the sword, murdered all who refused to shed their previous, culture, language, religion and identities.”

        Not the Arabs, but the Arabians. And not the Arabian people but an Arabian army. This army conquered Palestine and as rulers the Arabians arabized the natives and made them into “Arabs”.

        “What kind of hypocrites are you? Have you no shame?”

        You mean like the hypocrites who only justify or deny the acquisition of territory through war – including massacres, expulsions, village destructions, looting and rape – in Palestine 1948?

        Reply to Comment
    18. carl

      “Oh and by the way, how did the Arabs appear in Palestine?”.
      They did not “appear”, they were from here.
      Maxime Rodinson:
      “A foreign people had come and imposed itself on a native population. The Arab population of Palestine were native in all the usual senses of that word. Ignorance, sometimes backed up by hypocritical propaganda, has spread a number of misconceptions on this subject, unfortunately very widely held. It has been said that since the Arabs took the country by military conquest in the seventh century, they are occupiers like any other, like the Romans, the Crusaders and the Turks. Why therefore should they be regarded as any more native than the others, and in particular than the Jews, who were native to that country in ancient times, or at least occupiers of longer standing? To the historian the answer is obvious. A small contingent of Arabs from Arabia did indeed conquer the country in the seventh century. But as a result of factors which were briefly outlined in the first chapter of this book, the Palestinian population soon became Arabized under Arab domination, just as earlier it had been Hebraicized, Aramaicized, to some degree even Hellenized. It became Arab in a way that it was never to become Latinized or Ottomanized. The invaded melted with the invaders. It is ridiculous to call the English of today invaders and occupiers, on the grounds that England was conquered from Celtic peoples by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the fifth and sixth centuries. The population was “Anglicized” and nobody suggests that the peoples which have more or less preserved the Celtic tongues – the Irish, the Welsh or the Bretons – should be regarded as the true natives of Kent or Suffolk, with greater titles to these territories than the English who live in those counties.”

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