Middle East


Israel: Transferring The Truth

Palestinian workers in the Gush Katif settlement of Bedolah take down greenhouses used by Israeli settlers, in preparation for Israel's planned disengagement from the Gaza Strip. (Photo: David Furst / AFP-Getty Images)

In the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a 17-year-old student from the Gush Katif settlement spoke on the intended pullout of the Gaza Strip: “They [Israelis] don’t understand that being uprooted from your home is like a spiritual death.”

Perhaps the average Israeli cannot understand the immense pain of being evicted from a land that bears religious sanctity. The settler, however, fails to recognize the land in which he lives was cleansed by Israel so his family could stake their claim of spirituality.

The confiscation of land Zionists deemed necessary for a Jewish state to exist is a major obstacle to peace in the century-long conflict. Most Israelis dodge, deny or justify the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 indigenous Palestinians in 1948. David Ben-Gurion, then leader of the Jewish militant group Haganah, forthrightly declared, “After we become a strong force as the result of the creation of the state, we shall abolish, partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.”

Zionists contend Israel was a defenseless nation looking for peace with its Palestinian neighbors. Israeli historian, Benny Morris, proved the contrary, citing extensive examples from declassified Israeli, British and American archives. Morris concludes, “From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created.”

Recognition of Palestinian displacement continues to manifest itself in Israel today. The majority of politicians, including the “dovish” labor party, imbue the teaching that the Palestinians of 1948 left on their own behalf, rather than by forceful displacement or fleeing for safety. The denial of transfer within the Israeli leadership perpetuates the indoctrination of falsities in Israeli society.

The Haganah implemented Plan Dalet in April of 1948. The plan set in motion “the atmosphere of transfer” Morris cites. The massacre of Deir Yassin occurred on April 9, leaving 246 Palestinians dead. Within a month the extrusion of Palestinians from Jaffa, Haifa, Tiberias and Safad occurred. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe describes the directives of Plan Dalet, which consequently adds to Morris’ “consensus of transfer.” He states, “The plan was executed because the soldiers in the battlefield were oriented by a general attitude from above and motivated by remarks made by the Yishuv’s leaders on the need to ‘clean’ the country. These remarks were translated into acts of depopulation by enthusiastic commanders on the ground, who knew that their actions would be justified in retrospect by the political leadership.”

Zionists, infusing heroism into the creation of Israel, portrayed the conflict as an Israeli David versus an Arab Goliath. Pappe debunks the assertion Israeli forces were outmatched by the Arab armies. In Pappe’s book, A History of Modern Palestine he writes, “The Arab governments fielded about 25,000 troops, and as the war went on raised the number to 100,000. Similar numbers were deployed by the Jewish community, including both the Haganah and Irgun.”

The Arab troops were using older weaponry. The British did not restock the Arabs ammunitions and supplies. A United Nations decree ordered the British to comply with an arms embargo on the Arab armies. The British followed through with the order. In contrast, the Israelis illegally purchased arms from the Eastern Bloc, which gave the Jewish forces the extra strength necessary to preserve the upper hand in the war. The Jewish forces acted more productively under a central command, while the Arab states moved more independently, which led to confusion and inefficiency. The Arab governments were fighting for control of territory, rather than in conjunction of the rights of the Palestinian people. Jordan’s Arab Legion avoided clashing with the Israeli forces and focused on securing dominance of the West Bank. Excluding the fight for Jerusalem, an agreement to avoid confrontation by Jordanian King Abdullah and Jewish Agency political director Golda Meyerson (Meir) upheld throughout the war.

The implementation of Plan Dalet in April of 1948 refutes the notion that Israel stood only in defense to the “brutal” Arab armies. The first Arab/Israeli war did not start until May 15, 1948, which also counters the claim that the expulsion resulted as an effect of the Arab invasion. The Jewish forces displaced one third of the Palestinian population by May 15, 1948.

Israel regards itself as the victim, rather than the aggressor as many historical sources illustrate, and most damningly by Israel’s own archives. This mentality of victimization tries to excuse the atrocities committed against Palestinians, and overlooks the ramifications of disregarding rights to property, self-determination, and international law. Recognizing an academically denuded portion of Israeli history and transforming the Jewish collective memory is crucial to create an “atmosphere of peace.”

The Palestinians have felt the power of dispossession and understand the experience of ethnic cleansing. The 17-year-old student seems to feel that same harsh reality. If only those inside Israel would revert to the material their own people have left behind, moves to displace the “atmosphere of conflict,” could happen much quicker.

Remi Kanazi is the founder of Poetic Injustice, online at www.poeticinjustice.net.

View the Worldpress Desk’s profile for Remi Kanazi.