Friday, March 24, 2006

Was Israel founded on ethnic cleansing?

Geoffrey Wheatcroft:

It is really very hard to explain to anyone under the age of 50 just how popular Israel once was, notably among European social democrats and our own Labour party. In the 50s, newspapers such as the Manchester Guardian and the Observer (for all the trauma of Suez) accepted axiomatically that Zionism was a force for good, and David Ben-Gurion, Israel's founding prime minister, would be profiled in the New Statesman in what were frankly rhapsodic terms.

There were several reasons for this, from traditional liberal philosemitism to horror and shame at the fate of the European Jews. Besides that, in the nearly three decades after 1948, when Israel was run by Labour, it was widely, if myopically, seen as a model social democracy. The change began with the 1967 war, when Israel's former admirers began to condemn the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and was accelerated when Likud took over as the dominant party.

And yet those admirers missed some salient truths. That beautiful democratic Israel of 50 years ago was founded on ethnic cleansing. The later expansion of Israel was actually less brutal: after 1967 a number of Palestinians were uprooted, but there was nothing to compare with the wholesale expulsion of three-quarters of a million Palestinians in 1948 - an event to which the right-thinking liberal west closed its eyes at the time.

Even the settlements in the occupied territories, which Israel almost light-heartedly (and in the end hubristically) began in the 1970s, were often set up on empty land, a contrast indeed to the settling of Palestine in earlier generations. "Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages," Moshe Dayan briskly admitted about the creation of his country: "There is not one single place that did not have a former Arab population."

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3 Comments:

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Astral said...

The Israeli occupying army assassinated in cold blood two Palestinian guards of the Jericho prison and wounded five others, then they kidnapped several prisoners after checking American and English guards, in charge of the safety of the prisoners, left the place.
Instead of asking the international authorities to give them the prisoner Ahmad Saadat, suspected to be the instigator of the assassination of Mr. Zeevi, former Israeli minister for tourism and enthusiastic defender of the ethnic cleansing of the occupied territories, the state of israel preferred the way of the murder once again and the disproportionate use of force (tanks and bulldozers against a few light weapons!), and the way of humiliation (stripping off Palestinians in public) to a peaceful solution.
An operation especially intended for the Israeli public opinion, who is fond of this kind of images. It is a true criminal conspiracy which led to the drama. As pointed out today by the majority of the media, the departure of the American and English guards, synchronized with the Israeli attack, is an obvious violation of the agreements on which rested the confidence of Palestinians. An ageement violated by the Israelis who always showed in the past that only rough force counts in their eyes.
As usual, no diplomatic reaction in the world to denounce this blattant violation of the agreement by the Israelis and always no official indignation after the murder of the predecessor of Ahmad Saadat by the Israeli army, which is at the origin of this affair.
Under these circumstances, one can only feel solidarity for the martyr of the Palestinian people, who fought for so long against the Israeli occupation of their land, in the general indifference

 
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