[Marxism] Israel's embarrassing 1948 history

Dbachmozart at aol.com Dbachmozart at aol.com
Wed Aug 8 19:35:36 MDT 2007

A powerful, positive commentary by one of Washington's veteran journalists.  
Of the  81-year old  De Borchgrave, the Editor-in-Chief of Newsweek  once said 
that "De Borchgrave has played a role in world affairs known to no  other 
journalist. He has been able to tap the thinking of numerous world  leaders... 
despite his intimacy with major policymakers, he has never aligned  himself with 
either side of a dispute." It will be interesting to see how many  US papers 
that have made a point of ignoring Pappe and the writings of other  
antti-Zionist Israelis carry this story.


Published: Aug. 6, 2007 at 11:17 AM
Commentary: Embarrassing  history
UPI Editor at Large
WASHINGTON,  Aug. 6 (UPI) -- The Palestinians call Israel’s 1948 war of  
independence their nakba, or catastrophic ethnic cleansing, or forced exile. The  
Israelis, for their part, have steadfastly rejected any suggestion of ethnic  
cleansing as calumny in all its anti-Semitic horror. 

Historic  revisionism is now under way. Without fanfare, just below the media 
radar  screen, the Israeli Education Ministry has approved a textbook for 
Arab  third-graders in Israel that concedes the war that gave birth to Israel was 
a  “nakba” for the Palestinians. The textbook refers to the “expulsion” of 
some of  the Palestinians and the “confiscation of many Arab-owned lands.”  

Textbooks for Jewish Israelis in the same grade make no such verbal  
concession. But Israel’s “new wave” historians have been combing through fresh  
material now available from the British mandate period and Israeli archives that  
document the history of Israel before and after it became a state. Long-lasting 
 myths are being debunked. 

Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian and Haifa  University lecturer, whose ninth 
book is titled “The Ethnic Cleansing of  Palestine,” documents how Israel was 
born with lands forcibly seized from its  Palestinian inhabitants who had 
lived there for hundreds of years.  

During the British mandate (1920-1948), Zionist leaders concluded  
Palestinians, who owned 90 percent of the land (with 5.8 percent owned by Jews),  would 
have to be forcibly expelled to make a Jewish state possible. Pappe quotes  
David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, addressing the Jewish Agency  
Executive in June 1938, as saying, “I am for compulsory transfer. I do not see  
anything immoral in it.” 

Pappe outlines Plan D (Dalet in Hebrew), which  followed earlier plans A, B 
and C, and included forcible expulsion of some  800,000 Palestinians from both 
urban and rural areas with the objective of  creating by any means necessary 
an exclusive Jewish state without an Arab  presence. The methods ranged from a 
campaign of disinformation -- “get out  immediately because the Jews are on 
their way to kill you” -- to Jewish militia  attacks to terrorize the 

The first Jewish militia attacks,  says Pappe, began before the May 1948 end 
of the British mandate. In December  1947 two villages in the central plain -- 
Deir Ayyub and Beit Affa -- were  raided, and their panicked Palestinian 
inhabitants fled. Jewish leaders gave the  order to drive out as many Palestinians 
as possible on March 10,  1948.  In Deir Yasin, Al Duwaima, and other  
villages, the Jews rounded up the men, women and children and slaughtered  them. The 
terror campaign ended six months later.  Pappe writes 531 Palestinian 
villages were destroyed, and 11 urban neighborhoods  in cities were emptied of their 
Palestinian inhabitants. 

There is no  doubt in Pappe’s mind that Plan D “was a clear-cut case of an 
ethnic cleansing  operation, regarded under international law today as a crime 
against humanity.”  

Plan Dalet began in the rural hills on the western slopes of the  Jerusalem 
mountains halfway on the road to Tel Aviv, according to Pappe. It was  called 
Operation Nachshon, and served as a model for massive expulsions using  terror 
tactics. Pappe also details what he calls the “urbicide of Palestine”  that 
included attacking and cleansing the major urban centers of Tiberias,  Haifa, 
Tel Aviv, Safad and what he calls the “Phantom City of Jerusalem” once  Jewish 
troops shelled, attacked and occupied its western Arab neighborhoods in  
April 1948. The British did not interfere. 

Lobbied by the World Zionist  Organization and its guiding spirit Chaim 
Weizmann, who became the first  president of Israel (1949-52), the British decided 
in favor of a Jewish state in  Palestine in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This 
was a letter from the British  Foreign Secretary to Lord Rothschild (Walter, 
2nd Baron Rothschild), the leader  of the British Jewish community, for relay 
to the Zionist Federation. The  British also pledged indigenous Arab rights 
would be protected as they divvied  up the Ottoman Empire. 

The myth was then created of “a land without  people for a people without a 
land” even though the “empty land” had a  flourishing Palestinian Arab 
population. The U.N. partition plan of Nov. 29,  1947, gave the Jews 56 percent of 
Palestine, with one-third of the population,  while making Jerusalem an 
international city. The Jewish part included the most  fertile land and almost all 
urban areas. 

When the British handed power  to the Jews on May 15, 1948, including the 
influx of survivors from Hitler’s  concentration camps, two-thirds of the 
population was still Palestinian.  

The first Arab-Israeli war quickly followed as the armies of Egypt,  
Transjordan (now Jordan), Syria, Lebanon and Iraq joined Palestinian and other  Arab 
guerrillas who had been resisting Jewish forces since November 1947.  The Arabs 
failed to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state and were  defeated. The 
war ended with four U.N.-arranged armistice agreements between  Israel and 
Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. 

Commenting on Pappe’s  historical research, Rami Khouri, director of the 
Issam Fares Institute at the  American University of Beirut and editor at large of 
the Beirut Daily Star,  writes, “Many Israelis will challenge Pappe’s 
account. Such a process should  ideally spark an honest, comprehensive analysis that 
could lead us to an  accurate narrative of what happened in 1947-48 -- 
accurate for both sides, if it  is to have meaning for either side.” 

An Israeli official textbook for  Palestinian third-graders, says Fares, “
that fleetingly acknowledges the  Palestinian trauma of exile and occupation in 
1948 is an intriguing sign of  something that remains largely unclear.” The “
something” is worth exploring and  reciprocating, “if it indicates a capacity 
to move toward the elusive shared,  accurate, truthful account of Israeli and 
Palestinian history that must anchor  any progress toward a negotiated peace.” 

The consensus in Israel today,  says Pappe, is for a state comprising 90 
percent of Palestine “surrounded by  electric fences and visible and invisible 
walls” with Palestinians given only  worthless cantonized scrub lands of little 
value to the Jewish state. In 2006,  Pappe sees that 1.4 million Palestinians 
live in Israel on 2 percent of the land  allotted to them plus another 1 
percent for agricultural use with 6 million Jews  on most of the rest. “Another 3.9 
million live concentrated in Israel’s unwanted  portions of the West Bank and 
concentrated in Gaza that has three times the  population density of Manhattan,
” notes Pappe. Back from the Middle East last  week, U.S. Secretary of State 
Condoleezza Rice said prospects are good for a  two-state solution. A “viable 
and contiguous” Palestinian state, pledged by the  Bush administration, 
remains a pipe dream. 

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