The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Anglais) Broché – 1 septembre 2007
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Biographie de l'auteur
University. He is Academic Director for the Research Insitute for Peace at
Givat Haviva and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies,
is also author of the bestselling "A History of Modern Palestine"
(Cambridge), "The Modern Middle East" (Routledge), and "The
Israel/Palestine Question" (Routledge).
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This book reminds us of the Villages, cemetaries, mosques, and more importantly the people who owned and lived on this land.
It's everything we never learned in my Jewish, Zionist family. This is history. If you think you know something about 1947-48, the partition plan, the Hagana, Israel military heroes, zionism, and more importantly the Nakbah, READ this book!
The fact that it didn't happen in Israel is shown by that there are now around a million citizens of Israel. If 'plan daled' was really implemented, rather than being a junior planner's idea that never saw the light of day, then why did Israel let so many arabs stay after 1948? Indeed, why did the very well documented case of Haifa's jews and the IDF representative happen whereby they implored the arabs of the city to stay?
The fact is that arabs who left were either afraid of the war, left because all their leaders had left early to sit out the war, or because they listened to arab broadcasts that told them to leave and only to return once the jews had been 'driven into the sea' (Azzam Pasha head of the Arab League). Very few arabs were expelled although that must also have happened.
Pappe who used to belong to the Israeli communist party writes this book because he wishes to advance his cause, that of the destruction of the state of Israel.
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This book documents, using historical sources, the wrongdoings that were done to the Palestinians during the 1948 war (the Israeli war of independence and the war the Palestinians call the catastrophe). This book analyses historical evidence from Israeli sources, indepdently proving true the 1948 experiences the Palestinian refugees, men and women, rich and poor, muslim and christian recount about their cleansing from their land and property.
These events of 1948 accounted here were censored by the perpetrators from even the Israeli population. These events were never added to school books and intentionally pushed out of the Israeli society's consciousness.
However, these events and experiences are vivid in the Palestinian consciousness. Palestinians continue to live the consequences of their diaspora and forced migration in 1948 today.
In order to achieve peace, it is crucial to understand the Palestinian experience and acknowledge it. These experiences are just as true and unquestionable to Palestinians as true and unquestionable the holocaust is to the Israelis.
Now it is totally expected that the book would face resistence and bad reviews here by some Israelis who have never heard these stories and are unwanting to hear them (thanks to censorship). Similarly, zionist enthusiasts are likely to resist this book as they've always resisted any effort that would make heard the Palestinian history.
But a mutual aknowledgement of history in its good and bad, accepting responsibility for crimes and correcting any wrongdoings are a must for both sides to achieve true peace with the other.
This book is a must read for anyone (Israeli, Palestinian, Western or Eastern) that is truely interested in peace in the middle east and in a well-founded and well-informed understanding of the Palestinian situation.
Pappe writes of the Israelis' March 1948 plan for evicting the Palestinians, "The orders came with a detailed description of the methods to be employed to forcibly evict the people: large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding villages and population centres; setting fire to homes, properties and goods; expulsion; demolition; and, finally, planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning."
Between 30 March and 15 May 1948, i.e. before any Arab government intervened, Israeli forces seized 200 villages and expelled 250,000 Palestinians. The Israeli leadership stated, "The principal objective of the operation is the destruction of Arab villages ... the eviction of the villagers." On 9 April, Israeli forces massacred 93 people, including 30 babies, at Deir Yassin. In Haifa, the Israeli commander ordered, "Kill any Arab you encounter."
This all happened under British rule in Palestine, where Britain had 75,000 troops: Britain's Mandate did not end until 14 May. The Labour government connived at the Israeli onslaught, although the British state was legally obliged as the occupier (and also by UN resolution 181) to uphold law and order. Yet the Labour government announced that it would no longer be responsible for law and order and it withdrew all the British policemen. It also forbade the presence of any UN bodies, again breaching the terms of the UN resolution. The government ordered British forces to disarm the few Palestinians who had weapons, promising to protect them from Israeli attacks, then immediately reneged on this promise.
On 24 May 1948, Ben Gurion wrote, "We will establish a Christian state in Lebanon, the southern border of which will be the Litani River. We will break Transjordan, bomb Amman and destroy its army, and then Syria falls, and if Egypt will still continue to fight - we will bombard Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. This will be in revenge for what they (the Egyptians, the Aramis and Assyrians) did to our forefathers during Biblical times." These ravings of an insane warmonger hardly betrayed any genuine fear of a `second holocaust'. The Palestinians were suffering massive expulsion, not trying to destroy the Jewish community.
Pappe summarises, "When it created its nation-state, the Zionist movement did not wage a war that `tragically but inevitably' led to the expulsion of `parts of' the indigenous population, but the other way round: the main goal was the ethnic cleansing of all of Palestine, which the movement coveted for its new state. A few weeks after the ethnic cleansing operations began, the neighbouring Arab states sent a small army - small in comparison to their overall military might - to try, in vain, to prevent the ethnic cleansing. The war with the regular Arab armies did not bring the ethnic cleansing operations to a halt until their successful completion in the autumn of 1948."
Overall, the Zionist forces uprooted more than half Palestine's population, 800,000 people, destroyed 531 villages and emptied eleven urban neighbourhoods of their inhabitants. Pappe concludes that this was "a clear-cut case of an ethnic cleansing operation, regarded under international law today as a crime against humanity."
I'm a former teacher, and consider myself fairly well-informed on many issues. Jimmy Carter's recent book was the first I'd read on this subject and shocked me into a reality about myself. I had lived my entire life never even considering the possibility that there was a dark side to the state of Israel. The Israelis were intrinsically always good and right, and it was our duty as Americans to defend them from the evil Palestinians. It was pretty much that simple--unquestioning loyalty. Because it was so conveniently packaged and ingrained, I was not even sparked to curiosity. I'm now into my 3rd book, and I've ordered a 4th on the subject. I've got a lot of catching up to do if I'm to get a balanced understanding both sides of this issue.
Pappe's book provides a rather detailed account (drawn from archival Israeli records and mainly oral accounts of displaced Palestinians) describing the plans set in motion by a radical group of Zionists to make Israel a nation for Jews and rid it, entirely if possible, of its Palestinian population. Pappe catalogs the Palestinian villages (providing dates and details of the incidents) targeted by the special Israeli military units. The details of the Plan were developed by a hard core group, and was thinly veiled from general public knowledge. Most of the villages were very small, apolitical, and offered no means of defense. Hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes and villages with only what they could carry. Most villages were totally destroyed burned, dynamited, bulldozed), leaving the inhabitants nothing to come back to. Intimidation, terror, rapes, massacres were all part of the Plan.
While providing details of these military sweeps through cities and countryside, Pappe also covers the larger context. The UN, the press, and the world in general turned its back on the plight of the Palestinian people. Coming on the heels of the atrocities of the Holocaust, there was no stomach for countries or individuals to point an accusing finger at those who had suffered so horribly at the hands of so many. The heavy burden of guilt of much of the world provided a virtual free pass for the leaders of the Plan to advance their intensive cleansing activities. UN agreements included strict prohibitions against displacement of the existing population. As the Palestinians were driven en masse across the borders to become refugees in neighboring countries, thousands of Jews poured in to inhabit their lands. Though the UN agreement defined strict boundaries for the newly established Israeli state, those boundaries were blatantly ignored by the Plan. Though the UN has verbally opposed this occupation effort, no action has been taken to correct it. Though the UN agreement prohibits discrimination pertaining to rights of citizens within its boundaries, Palestinians have been in fact plagued with countless restrictions limiting their actions and rights which affect almost all aspects of their lives. It is Apartheid.
Pappe covers many of the elements that have worked toward perpetuating this untenable situation. If a long term solution is to be found, one thing is clear. We must give up our knee-jerk conditioning to embrace and defend any action by the Israelis as inherently defensible. They are not saints. Their tactics and actions are not above scrutiny. Allegations of ethnic cleansing and apartheid warrant examination. These methods and tactics are just as reprehensible in Israel/Palestine as in Africa, Germany, or anywhere else. Despite the objections to an open debate, there must be one. The first step is to recognize that the rights of both sides must be given fair consideration. (At this point in time, any criticism of Israel is summarily labeled anti-Sematism. We really must get past this!)
While atrocities were committed by both sides one can't but help feel sympathy and sadness for the Palestinians. Not only were they the majority in Palestine but the world's memory of 1948 is that the land was empty and those few Arabs living there left voluntarily. They were up against a determined, highly organized and motivated Zionist movement that saw Palestine as their future homeland that necessitated a majority Jewish population. The Arabs were to pay for the blood on the hands of Europeans with their own blood and the land they lived on for centuries.
Well before 1947 there were extremely extensive surveys started of every Arab village down even into the minutest detail. These surveys were they used by the Nagana and the Stern gangs terrorize those villages to "motivate" the Arabs to leave. Dynamiting houses with the occupants inside was quite effective as was shooting through windows.
There are those who think that any ad motion of guilt will lead to the destruction of Israel miss the point. The Truth and Reconciliation committee in SA has led to peace. Could not the Israelis admit some guilt and start on the road to peace? Admitting guilt will take away some of the fire that the Jihadist's use to fan the flames of their hatred.
Honest dialogue by both sides is what is sorely needed if we are to see peace in our lifetimes.
It is hard to think of a book that is more opposite of a commonly accepted history than this one. According to Pappe, 1948 was not a desperate fight for survival by a surrounded Jewish enclave, it was a Zionist attack on the countryside. Most of the fighting stemmed from the Hagana's systematic destruction of 400 Palestinian villages. Most refugees were driven out BEFORE the main war started on May 15, 1948. Arab armies did intervene in a haphazard attempt to defend Palestinian sections (as set by the UN partition plan), but they were always out gunned, out numbered and out coordinated by the Hagana. Jordan, in particular, had a secret agreement with the Zionists to annex the West Bank in return for not joining an invasion of Israel. So the most effective Arab army, (and a Jordanian also commanded the pan-Arab "Arab Liberation Army") was not trying to destroy Israel, only protect its own designs on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Among many pieces of evidence, Pappe argues that the Arab attack on Israel was so weak (despite public pronouncements of impending doom from Ben-Gurion) that the Hagana never had to be diverted from its main task of ethnic cleansing. It was able to hold off the sporadic pan-Arab attacks, and depopulate the countryside at the same time. It was assisted in this by large shipments of arms from Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, while Britain and France embargoed arms to the Arabs. The private conversations of Ben-Gurion and his associates show great confidence they could defeat the Arab attacks, which amounted to little more than face-saving gestures by Arab governments who were only recently independent themselves.
There is also a very interesting chapter on the literal erasure of the existence of Palestine. Parks and newly planted forests in Israel now cover the foundations of numerous Palestinian villages. An Israeli "Naming Committee" was formed to give Hebrew names to the features of the countryside that were once Arab, with special attention to creating links to the Israel of 2,000 years ago, while ignoring last week's residents. The Byra forest tourist destination, for example, contains no reference to the six villages that were wiped from the map there.
For decades, kids in Hebrew schools in the US collected coins to plant trees in Israel. Those same trees now hide stone foundations of nameless villages. Trees in Israeli forests are only 11% indigenous, the rest were planted in recent decades. So not just the people were cleansed, the memory too.
This book deserves to be the center of an international discussion about Palestine, but a crushing silence is the more likely result.