Hated Victims, Hidden Racism:
Palestinians and the Zionist Enterprise
(Part Three of Four)
- by M. Junaid Alam
Go to: | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four
Destroying the Palestinians
Much is made of the fact that the Arabs rejected the UN Partition plan, as if rejecting a plan drawn up by the imperial powers to carve up Palestine for a hostile, racist colonial population bent on ethnic cleansing were a crime. More to the point, however, is the fact that Israeli leaders, in full accordance with their colonial ambitions, also rejected the plan as final boundaries for the Jewish state, as we will see.
Zionist mythology posits that a simple button was pushed and vast Arab hordes came pouring into Israel with weapons blazing. Somewhere outside this fantasy world lies reality: the partition plan of Nov. 29, 1947 was not implemented-and Israel did not become a state-until May 15, 1948. And until this date, precisely none of the outside Arab armies were allowed to intervene. Thus, there was not one, but two wars, the first one conducted directly between Palestinians and Zionists in between the partition plan's announcement and the declaration of Israel. This simple fact is absolutely decisive: Jewish militia seized the Arab side of the partition, and started expelling the Palestinians both in this area and within the borders of future Israel itself during this period.
Israeli historian Benny Morris writes in the Jewish bimonthly, Tikkun (March/April 1998):
"While the Yishuv's leadership formally accepted the 1947 Partition Resolution, large sections of Israel's society - including...Ben-Gurion - were opposed to or extremely unhappy with partition and from early on viewed the war as an ideal opportunity to expand the new state's borders beyond the UN earmarked partition boundaries and at the expense of the Palestinians."
And British historian Henry Cattan notes that, "…before any possible intervention by Arab states, the Jews, taking advantage of their superior military preparation and organization, had occupied...most of the Arab cities in Palestine before May 15, 1948."  Thus, "from April on, Palestinian Arabs were the target of a series of concrete expulsions," writes Morris.  Another historian notes that perhaps half the eventual total of 750,000 or so Palestinians who became refugees was expelled in this civil war period 
The ease of Zionist conquest in the first war is not at all surprising, for not only did the outside Arabs not enter this first war, the Palestinians were in no position to effectively resist. The Palestinians had waged a determined anti-colonial campaign against the British in 1938, but were ultimately brutally crushed, and more than 10% of the adult male population was immobilized. For this and other reasons, the Palestinians "entered the fighting…with a deeply divided leadership, exceedingly limited finances, no centrally organized military forces…and no reliable allies."  Jewish militia, on the other hand, was powerful, organized, and prepared. In 1943 British commander Harold Alexander remarked, "[The] Jews mean business and are armed and trained".  These revelations alone completely undermine the Zionist narrative.
Even the entry of the surrounding Arab states by May 15, 1948, which occurred as the Zionists were expanding far beyond the partition lines, did not change the basic military equation. Prominent Israeli 'new historian' Avi Shlaim writes, "…at each stage of the war, the IDF outnumbered all the Arab forces arrayed against it, and, after the first round of fighting it outgunned them too." (emphasis added) Thus the character of the 'monolithic Arab hordes', as concocted in Zionist propaganda, was reduced only to this on the eve of their entry: "All these states…sent only an expeditionary force to Palestine, keeping the bulk of their army at home" and were "hampered by…poor leadership, poor coordination, and very poor planning…". To top it all off, the best-trained of Arab forces, the Jordanians, were quietly cementing deals with Ben-Gurion's forces even before the war, and each Arab 'leader' ultimately endeavored to see one another's military defeat to enhance his own status.  By the end of the war, 78% of Palestine was swallowed up by Jewish militia.
However, our purpose is not simply to expose the true balance of forces in the war, but to discover its main tragedy: the mass looting, rape, murder, and expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians as a direct result of brutal Zionist terror. One of the earliest and most chilling crimes occurred on April 9, 1948, when 254 Palestinian civilians were murdered "in cold blood" at Deir Yassin, as the presiding Red Cross official, Jacques de Reynier, explained. The British Inspector General, Richard Catling, confirmed this: "Many young school girls were raped and later slaughtered. Many infants were also butchered and killed." The leader of Jewish militia, Menachem Begin praised his troops for this act: "Accept [my] congratulations for this splendid act of conquest. Tell your soldiers that they have made history for Israel." (emphasis added)
This was only the beginning. Further massacres occurred in dozens more villages; 250 civilians were murdered in Lydda and Ramle, 70,000 of their inhabitants were forced to flee while leaving their belongings behind, hundreds more were killed in a vulnerable village near Hebron, and so on.  Morris himself recently noted that, after reviewing more declassified archives, he was forced to revise his earlier estimates from several years ago: "The departure of Arab communities from some sites…described in The Birth as due to fear or IDF military attack or simply unexplained, now appear to have been tinged, if not characterized by [militia] or IDF expulsion orders and actions." He also noted that the new documentation "has revealed new atrocities that I had not been aware of." 
Morris has also discovered that "there was a central directive by Northern Front to clear the conquered pocket of its Arab inhabitants". This included massacres, which, "followed a similar course: a unit entered a village, rounded up the menfolk…lined them up against a wall, and shot them."  Many of these atrocities actually occurred well after the fighting had ended, obviously intended as a terror tactic to continue ethnic cleansing. More massacres from this period are being unearthed even now. John Pilger in June 19th edition of The New Statesman reported that top Israeli student Teddy Katz from Haifa University has shed light on a May 1948 massacre in Tantura: "According to the recorded testimony of 40 witnesses, both Arab and Jewish, half the civilians were shot in a 'rampage'." In a most democratic manner, he had his degree annulled. Another "new historian", Ilan Pappe, who came to Katz's defense and explained that his taping of eyewitness evidence included accounts of "the killing of fathers in front of children, of rape and torture", is also under administrative threat at Haifa. One can at least congratulate the Israelis for their consistency; today, almost half its citizens support the idea of "transfer".
The Zionists, armed with their superior European sophistication, also invented new means of spreading terror-radio psychological warfare. "[Militia] was using not only its radio station but also loudspeaker vans which blared their sinister news…They warned the Arab population…and hinted at terrible consequences if their warnings were disregarded", explained a British eye-witness. 
And what of the famed radio order from Arab leaders apparently exhorting the Palestinians to voluntarily leave? This canard has been exposed by Erskine Childers, a British expert familiar with British radio intercepts acquired during the war. The Zionist 'explanation' was not only a lie-it was the precise opposite of the truth. Childers explains: "There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine, from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in 1948."-on the contrary-"There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put." (emphasis added) 
So far, the pro-Israeli narrative has been stumbling; the Zionist voiceover script does not lip-sync well with genuine historical events. Where there should be bellowing Arab war chants we hear only the screams and wails of raped Palestinian women and slaughtered Palestinian men; where there should be Jewish gasps of fear because of 'Arab terror', we hear only the settler's burst of crackling gunfire, with bullets entering heads and penetrating adjacent walls. Yet more was still to come.
For it turns out that those Palestinians who were forced to flee possessed infrastructure, resources, and a respectable amount of private property-all of which they were forced to leave behind. This was cause for much joy among (now officially) Israeli forces. Tom Segev, another Israeli 'new historian' who researches declassified archives, remarked that "During the war and afterwards, plundering and looting were very common." He cites Knesset Member Amin Jarjouria, who reported that Israeli soldiers in his district "robbed several of the houses and stole 605 British pounds, jewelry, and other valuables." And what of became of those who resisted? "They were taken to a remote place and shot dead." There is no shortage of other examples of theft in his examination: 1.5 million British pounds in Palestinian bank deposits in Haifa looted by the army and government; 600 Palestinian shops 'donated' to immigrating settlers in Ramallah; monasteries looted in Jerusalem, and so on.
Thus the amount of looting and theft, not to speak of land confiscation, of almost one million Palestinians across perhaps a half-thousand residencies can only expose, once again and once and for all, the utter barbarity and savagery not of the natives, not of the victims-but of the rapacious colonizers. Of course, not all the colonizers were heartless: we can take comfort in the touching words of one Israeli Minister Cizling, cited by Segev, speaking when asked about a convoy of spoils:
"It's been said that there were cases of rape in Ramallah. I can forgive rape, but I will not forgive other acts which seem to me much worse. When they enter a town and forcibly remove rings from the fingers and jewelry from someone's neck, that's a very grave matter."
Has humanity ever before witnessed so brave a defender of 'civilization'? 
Even those Palestinians who simply fled to a nearby village within Israel to avoid fighting returned only to find that they had been declared "present absentees", with no rights to their own property. Ultimately, the Israelis seized at least 300,000 dunams of land from those Palestinians who remained inside Israel's borders, an additional 4,000,000 from refugees, plus 10,000 shops and 400 village communities, with a quarter of all Israeli-used buildings being formerly Palestinian by 1954.  The 750,000 expelled Palestinians were denied the right to return to their homes, a decision formalized by the Israeli legislature in 1948.  The new masters had completed their conquest, and the new slaves could only look on in despondence and despair.
Let us pause here briefly, and allow our eyes to adjust to the sharp, blinding contrast between the concrete historical facts and Zionist mythology. The 'Jewish homeland' was in fact the Palestinian homeland whose native inhabitants were expelled and decimated to make way for a colonial European population; Herzl's "outpost of civilization" went about looting and murdering while the principal victims of this thievery were branded the "barbarians"; and those settlers who had been victims of European-Christian bigotry did not flinch in imposing their own European-Zionist hatred on another people.
The time for half-apologies, timidity, and a thousand caveats on question of Israel's creation must come to an end. The historical record, unearthed by Jewish Israeli historians using declassified archives is decisive and damning. Let us sum up the result: the State of Israel was established through ethnic cleansing, rape, robbery, and massacre-without these atrocities, present-day Israel would not exist. The mass expulsions, mass murders, and mass looting form the foundation upon which the Israeli state rests. The importance of recognizing this historical record cannot be over-emphasized, for it is from this record that we learn the true origins and validity of the Palestinian cause for self-determination.
This is part three of a four-part, wide-ranging essay on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. M. Junaid Alam is co-editor and webmaster of Left Hook; he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
17. Henry Cattan, Palestine, The Arabs and Israel.
18. see note 8, p.49
19. see note 18, p.12. Israel's own 'new historians' put the expulsion figure around 700,000, which is lower than UN estimates.
20. see note 18, p.23,27.
21. see note 9, p.147.
22. Avi Shlaim, "Israel and the Arab Coalition in 1948", contained in The War for Palestine, ed. Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. p.81, 89, 99.
23. Naom Chomsky, Blaming the Victims, ed. Said and Hitchens; see The Economist, August 21st, 1948, for account of expulsion.
24. see note 8, p.49.
25. Ibid, p.55.
26. Arthur Koestler, Promise and Fulfillment: Palestine 1917-1949 New York: MacMillan 1949.
27. See London Spectator, May 12, 1961; Childer's actual quote is cited in Sami Hadawi, Bitter Harvest, Interlink Publishing Group, 1991.
28. Tom Segev, 1949: The First Israelis, Free Press, 1986.
29. Don Peretz, Israel and the Palestine Arabs, Washington: The Middle East Institute, 1958; "The Arab Refugee Dilemma", Foreign Affairs, October 1954, p.137-138.
30. see note 8, p.49.