Settlers and former military officers offer plan for expulsion of Paletinians

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Sep 3 02:43:44 MDT 2002


Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002


> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Eric Laursen
http://electronicintifada.net/features/articles/020828ali.shtml

> The growing clamor for ethnic cleansing
> by Ali Abunimah
>
> Vice-president of the Arab-American Action Network and a well-known
> media
> analyst, Abunimah regularly writes public letters to the media,
> coordinates
> campaigns, and appears on a variety of national and international news
> programs as a commentator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is
> one of
> the founders of The Electronic Intifada. Ali Abunimah contributed
> to "The
> New Intifada: Resisting Israel's Apartheid" (Verso Books, 2001).
>
> (AMMAN -- August 27, 2002) -- An Israeli organization has published
> detailed
> plans for the "complete elimination of the Arab demographic threat to
> Israel" by forcibly expelling all Palestinians, including
> Palestinians in
> the occupied territories and Palestinian citizens of Israel from the
> area
> between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea within a 3-5 year
> period.
>
> Gamla, a group founded by former Israeli military officers and
> settlers,
> published these recommendations on its website in a nine thousand word
> manifesto titled "The logistics of transfer," penned by Boris
> Shusteff last
> July 3. The mass ethnic cleansing of every Palestinian, the author
> argues,
> is "the only possible solution" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
> and is
> "substantiated by the Torah." (www.gamla.org.il/english) Gamla
> receives tax
> deductible contributions from a New York-based charity that claims
> that its
> goal is greater Arab-Jewish tolerance.
>
> The manifesto recognizes that Israel will never win widespread
> support for
> expulsion, but argues that it needs "only a modicum of support from
> its
> closest ally -- the United States," in order to carry out the plan.
>
> Under the plan, Israel would launch an information campaign and
> increase
> economic strangulation of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and
> Gaza
> Strip to force them to leave "voluntarily." One measure would be to
> deprive
> Palestinians of employment, literally starving them out (one could
> say that
> this policy is already being implemented). Palestinian citizens of
> Israel
> would face complete apartheid and religious coercion as Israel
> would "pass a
> law that will stipulate in some form that non-Jewish citizens of the
> state,
> while retaining full and irrevocable civil rights, will have no
> ability to
> participate in Israeli political life." Failing that, the paper
> continues,
> "Israeli Arabs can be given one more option - to convert to Judaism
> if they
> prefer to stay put."
>
> At the same time, Israel will try to convince the international
> community to
> establish a Palestinian state far away from Israel and the occupied
> territories (in Iraq or Saudi Arabia). The author writes that:
>
> "Israel must make clear to the world community that, if a decision
> cannot be
> made within 3 to 5 years to establish a state for the Palestinian
> Arabs in
> some viable location, she will be forced to start the forced
> expulsion of
> Arabs into Jordan and the Sinai."
>
> The expulsion plan provides details about how this will be done, in
> lightning military strikes:
>
> "As an example, the relocation of a small settlement (1,000 people)
> can be
> completed within a 48-hour period, similarly to a military border-
> crossing
> operation. Israel will supply the relocated community with temporary
> housing, water and electricity (providing tents, a generator, water
> cisterns, etc.). The abandoned settlement must be completely
> demolished
> level with the ground."
>
> While Israel moves to implement the complete annexation of all the
> occupied
> territories, it would, according to the plan, have to subdue the
> population
> by carrying out war crimes and crimes against humanity if any
> Palestinians
> try to resist:
>
> "Any attempts on the part of the Arabs [Palestinians] to carry out
> sabotage
> or terrorist activity must be immediately suppressed in the most
> brutal way.
> It is possible, for example, to implement a suggestion by Harvard
> Professor
> Alan Derschowitz, an American liberal lawyer. With slight
> modification, it
> works as follows: Israel issues a warning that, in a response to any
> terrorist attack, she will immediately completely level an Arab
> village or
> settlement, randomly chosen by a computer from a published list. The
> essence
> of the idea is to make the Arabs completely responsible for their own
> fate,
> and to make it clear that terrorism will not be merely tolerated, but
> will
> be harshly punished. Along with the world community, the Arabs will
> know
> precisely what will result if they attack Jews. The use of a computer
> to
> select the place of the Israeli response will put the Arabs and the
> Jews on
> a level footing. The Jews do not know where the terrorists will
> strike, and
> the Arabs will not know which one of their villages or settlements
> will be
> erased in retaliation. The word "erased" very precisely reflects the
> force
> of Israel's response. The Arabs residing there will be evicted without
> compensation, all houses and buildings completely demolished, and the
> settlement itself, with the help of bulldozers and any other necessary
> equipment, will be leveled into a large field. After the appearance of
> several such fields the Arabs will lose any desire to commit terrorist
> attacks and the number of Arabs wanting to leave Eretz Yisrael will
> certainly increase."
>
> The only precedent for such a chilling and methodical approach to
> ethnic
> cleansing would be the industrialized elimination of Jews planned and
> carried out by Nazi Germany.
>
> Are these words merely the ramblings of an extremist group carrying
> no wide
> influence, or do they represent another step in legitimizing
> discussion of a
> once taboo idea gaining broad-based support in Israel and amongst some
> American Jewish organizations?
>
> Gamla claims that it is "in the forefront of the battle for the land
> of
> Israel, organizes activities, participates in demonstrations, and
> publishes
> articles, posters and stickers for that cause," and that "most of its
> activities are coordinated and joined with other grassroots
> organizations of
> the national camp."
>
> One of the group's three founders is Elyakim Haetzni, one of the
> first and
> most prominent West Bank settlers who lives in Kiryat Arba settlement
> near
> Hebron. Another was the late Lt. Colonel Shlomo Baum, a founder of
> Israel's
> notorious Unit 101, which with the young Ariel Sharon as its leader
> carried
> out the brutal massacre of dozens of civilians in the Palestinian
> village of
> Qibya in 1953, among other atrocities. The third, retired Colonel
> Moshe
> Leshem, also a longtime spokesman for the settlers, has a show on
> Israel's
> settler radio network "Arutz 7" along with Haetzni.
> Gamla receives tax-deductible contributions from Americans through a
> New
> York-based charity called PEF Israel Endowment Funds
> (www.pefisrael.org)
> which states that its was established in 1922 by Justice Louis
> Brandeis and
> Rabbi Stephen Wise. Among its stated purposes is "promoting greater
> tolerance and understanding between religious and secular communities
> and
> between Arabs and Jews." Under this liberal guise, the organization
> appears
> to be channeling funds to a group advocating the total destruction of
> a
> nation -- in other words, genocide.
>
> The Gamla website also frequently publishes and promotes the writings
> of
> Daniel Pipes, a professional Arab-basher, and ubiquitous guest on
> American
> television talk shows.
>
> Within Israel, Palestinians are viewed as a "demographic threat"
> across the
> political spectrum, the only difference being on how to deal with this
> threat. For traditional leftists, "separation" is the preferred
> option,
> while among the right-wing outright expulsion is gaining support. The
> debate
> about the "demographic threat" is carried out in overtly racist
> terms. In
> summer 2001, Haifa University professor Arnon Sofer, renewed Israeli
> anxieties about the fertility of Palestinian women with a study
> predicting
> that by 2020 non-Jews will be a majority west of the Jordan
> River. "Some
> Israelis say," according to The Chicago Tribune, "that ticking below
> the
> surface of the violent confrontation between Arab and Jew is a silent
> bomb,
> a demographic bomb." Their solution is to adopt a "Chinese rule"
> limiting
> the number of children Palestinians are allowed to have. ("Birthrates
> alarm
> Israel," Chicago Tribune, April 21, 2002)
>
> While lamenting that only the Moledet party, founded by the
> assassinated
> Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi, openly advocates expulsion,
> the
> Gamla paper takes heart that recent opinion polls in Israel put
> support for
> some form of 'transfer' at 46% and in some cases 60% depending on how
> the
> question is posed.
>
> According to Professor Majid Al-Haj of Haifa University, the struggle
> of
> Palestinian citizens of Israel is no longer primarily about achieving
> equality with Jews within Israeli society, but has reverted to a more
> basic
> struggle simply to remain in their homeland against a rising tide of
> pro-transfer sentiment being freely expressed in Israeli Jewish
> society.
> Al-Haj, one of the few true Arab experts on Israeli society, speaking
> recently at the Jordan University Center for Strategic Studies, cited
> as an
> example the infamous conference in the Israeli town of Herzliya in
> November
> 2000, just months into the Intifada. At that meeting, more than three
> hundred prominent Israeli intellectuals, former and sitting generals
> and
> politicians, former prime ministers, and Israel's past and sitting
> president
> openly discussed ideas including "exchanges of population," limiting
> the
> democratic rights of Palestinian citizens, forcing Palestinian
> citizens to
> sign a document recognizing Israel as a Jewish state as a condition of
> retaining their citizenship, and the primacy of Israel's "Jewish"
> over its
> "democratic" character.
>
> The transfer idea is gaining ground because the common conception
> that Jews
> should live separately from everyone else provides room for it to
> flourish.
> Today there are almost no Jewish voices in Israel calling for
> Palestinian-Israeli coexistence on the basis of full equality
> regardless of
> religion or ethnic affiliation. One of Israel's leading lights on the
> left,
> novelist A.B. Yehoshua, while not supporting transfer, regards co-
> existence
> between Palestinians and Israelis as a thing to behold with
> horror. "Two
> people in one state," Yehoshua warned, "is a threat to our existence.
> Anyway, we did not come to Israel to live in a bi-national state, but
> in a
> Jewish state." ("Israel is losing the demographic race,"
> Israeltoday.co.il)
> This view is typical of the Israeli left, the vast majority of which
> only
> supports some form of Palestinian statehood as a mechanism to preserve
> Jewish primacy. While in most countries that practice it, democracy is
> understood as a mechanism to protect minorities from the tyranny of
> the
> majority, among Israeli liberals democracy is only valuable as a tool
> to
> maintain the tyranny of a Jewish majority over a Palestinian minority
> without the embarrassment of having to adopt formal apartheid or
> advocate
> ethnic cleansing. We must be clear that the concern for maintaining a
> Jewish
> majority is about preserving power and privilege, not about protecting
> cultural identity, heritage and religious practice. Those can be much
> better
> protected, and enhanced in a multi-ethnic society where freedom of
> religion,
> speech and association are guaranteed to all. At least that is what
> good
> Americans are brought up to believe.
>
> The "demographic threat" comes not only from Muslim Palestinians, but
> also
> from Christians. Last June Haaretz reported that Dr. Asher Cohen of
> Bar-Ilan
> University had discovered that already Israel's Jewish majority
> is "only"
> seventy two percent, far less than the eighty one percent claimed by
> official figures. This difference is accounted for by the high rate
> and
> relative ease of assimilation of Christians from the former Soviet
> Union and
> guest-workers into Israeli society, something that in most other
> countries
> claiming to be liberal democracies would be seen as a desirable
> trend. In
> response to Cohen's findings Israel's Interior Minister Eli Yishai
> declared
> that "Clearly it's impossible to bar the arrival of couples in which
> one of
> the members is Jewish, but we should see to it that families that are
> completely Christian do not come here --including people who go to
> church on
> a regular basis." ("Demographic balancing acts," Haaretz, June 13,
> 2002)
>
> This anti-Christian war cry was recently taken up by Israel's
> Sephardi Chief
> Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron and his Ashkenazi counterpart Rabbi Israel
> Meir
> Lau, who warned that "seventy percent of the new immigrants to Israel
> are
> professed non-Jews, with no connection to Judaism." In a joint
> statement,
> the two clerics concluded, "We cannot continue to bring entire
> Christian
> families to Israel." (Chief rabbis call for revision to be made in
> Law of
> Return," Haaretz, August 25, 2002)
>
> The view that non-Jews, including the indigenous Palestinians, are a
> mortal
> threat, a cancer, a bomb to be defused, echoes precisely the language
> of
> racists and ethno-nationalists everywhere. Only the claim of Israeli
> exceptionalism, and misuse of the memory of the Nazi holocaust, has
> protected Israel from the censure it deserves for allowing such views
> to
> flourish. The sheer breath-taking hypocrisy is encapsulated by the
> Israeli
> government with Moledet ethnic cleansing advocates amongst its ranks
> condemning European countries like France and Austria for allowing
> racist
> parties to grow too powerful.
>
> A few years ago it would have been easy to dismiss the Gamla document
> as the
> work of marginal extremists. But in today's Israel, where
> pro-ethnic-cleansing ministers sit in the cabinet, and even those who
> would
> not support transfer are opposed to co-existence and equality, it is a
> worrying sign. Most of the brutal measures Israel carries out today
> with
> nary a word of concern from the outside world would have been
> unthinkable
> two years ago, including the mass starvation of millions of besieged
> Palestinians. It would not be surprising to see some of the measures
> proposed in the expulsion manifesto adopted piecemeal as Israel's
> swing to
> the far right continues unchecked.
>
> The Gamla document is notable not because it raises ideas that no one
> else
> in Israel is talking about, but rather because it tries to take a
> generalized and growing clamor for transfer to the next level --
> detailed
> formulation of a specific program for the expulsion of the
> Palestinians
> around which political support and action can be organized.
> Extremists such
> as Gamla are closely tied with 'mainstream' politicians, and by
> running
> ahead of them can test the waters and introduce ideas that the
> mainstream is
> not yet ready to fully embrace.
>
> It may not even be necessary for a majority of Israelis to support
> expulsion
> for it to be carried out since the settler movement -- from which
> Gamla
> emerges -- has managed to wield disproportionate influence on all
> Israeli
> governments, especially that of Sharon. For example, while polls show
> that
> the majority of Israelis are in favor of removing settlements in the
> occupied territories, the settlements continue to grow, absorbing a
> disproportionate chunk of Israel's budget even while unemployment and
> poverty within Israel itself are spiraling. Former prime minister
> Benjamin
> Netanyahu, who is waiting in the wings for Sharon to fall, has
> mortgaged
> himself even more to these elements.
>
> The expulsion plan's author may not be entirely deluded either, when
> he
> banks on American support. Last May, Dick Armey the most senior
> Republican
> in the United States Congress openly advocated the ethnic cleansing of
> Palestinians on MSNBC's Hardball, while the usually bland USA Today
> newspaper published a February op-ed by one Emanuel Winston calling
> for the
> "resettling" of the Palestinians in Jordan. Neither of these calls
> elicited
> the slightest protest from mainstream commentators and politicians in
> the
> United States. As extreme as President Bush's support for Israel has
> become,
> it appears moderate next to that of so-called Secretary of Defense
> Donald
> Rumsfeld, who stated recently that Israel should be able to keep the
> "so-called occupied territories" because it won them fair and square
> in a
> war. When Hillary Clinton, New York's "liberal" Senator, visited
> Israel
> earlier this year, she was hosted by and warmly embraced Benny Elon,
> the
> leader of the Moledet ethnic cleansing party.
>
> The Sharon government's egging on of the United States to bring
> forward its
> attack on Iraq cannot be motivated solely by fear of Iraqi "weapons
> of mass
> destruction," since Israeli intelligence assessments downplay the
> actual
> threat from the devastated Iraqi armed forces. It may not be far-
> fetched to
> speculate that some within Israel would see a regional war as the only
> opportunity to carry out a round of expulsions, and delay the day
> when the
> "demographic bomb" explodes.
>
> Theodor Herzl, writing Zionism's founding tract, "The Jewish State"
> recognized that his dream of taking over Palestine could not be
> fulfilled
> without transfer. Herzl famously declared "We shall try to spirit the
> penniless [Arab] population across the border by procuring employment
> for it
> in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country."
> Recent scholarship by Israelis and others, and fifty four years of
> the lived
> reality of Palestinians bear uncontestable witness to the fact that
> mass
> expulsion has always been part of Israel's strategy and practice.
> Whether it
> will become so again is anybody's guess, but the warning signs are
> there to
> be heeded.
>
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