Since the Biblical Diaspora some twenty centuries ago, Jews have survived as a small minority repeatedly driven from one host community to the next, isolated from each because of endogenous marriage customs as well as perceived differences in dress, culture, and religious belief. By both choice and necessity, Jews have inhabited urban ghettos, interacting with others in such useful roles as doctors, merchants, jewelers, and moneylenders. Some have attained remarkable wealth and status for their services, most notably such powerful bankers as the Rothschilds since the beginning of the nineteenth century. Most others have endured far more modest circumstances as peddlers and small shopkeepers.
For much of its history, the Jewish community has depended on the gratitude of kings and autocratic governments that were subsidized by Jewish bankers, but now and again this unique reciprocity has aggravated relations with the rest of society, especially during periods of war and extreme poverty. The resulting persecution of Jews has sometimes led to severe repression, even massacres, for example during the 15th century in Spain, during the 17th century in Poland, and during the pogroms preceding World War I. The Holocaust imposed by Hitler during World War II involved the systematic extermination of six million Jews justified by the contradictory arguments that Jews were an inferior race and, on the other hand, that they were greedy and manipulative, having somehow profited from World War I as well as the inflation and two depressions that followed.
Since the turn of the twentieth century, assimilation between Jews and the non-Jewish European population seems to have both aggravated and mitigated the prejudice against Jews. Many gentiles have been grateful for the plenitude of Jewish contributions to modern civilization, but others have felt threatened and were therefore more hostile. There has also been a substantial trend toward secularization among the Jewish population, with Jews excelling in virtually every calling they entered–journalism, education, medicine, law, art, fiction, music, entertainment, etc. Most Jews have accepted modern science and the materialist perspective without abandoning Judaism, but others have taken the hitherto unthinkable step of emancipating themselves from all orthodox belief. In various fields of inquiry such figures as Freud, Einstein, Bohr, Durkheim, Mannheim, Boas, and Popper have made significant theoretical contributions unencumbered by religious conviction.
Still other Jews have focused themselves on politics with enormous success, usually (but not always) supportive of a progressive agenda. Disraeli and much later Kissinger were conservative, but such figures as Marx, Trotsky, and Rosa Luxemburg played leadership roles in the pursuit of radical change, presumably toward the creation of societies free of racial and cultural prejudice. On the other hand, Jews who continued to retain their full adherence to Hebraic custom were more likely to join in with the Zionist cause inspired by such figures as Herzl and Weizmann. They preferred the creation of a truly Jewish state instead of trying to integrate themselves into more populous societies that have in the past been capable of extraordinary violence at their expense.
With the establishment of the state of Israel in 1947-48, Jews identified as Zionists sought to liberate themselves from anti-Semitism once and for all without compromising their Jewish identity. This was attainable, they felt, only by building their own nation, and what better site could be found for doing this than Israel, where they had been expelled nineteen hundred years earlier. Once again they could enjoy all the benefits of a landed society entirely their own and without fear of hostile persecution by others. However, it soon became evident that this was only possible if they could somehow neutralize, if not eliminate, the presence of Palestinians, whose remote ancestors, like ancient Jews themselves, had arrived in the Levant during the second millennium preceding Christ. Unlike the Jews, however, Palestinians had continued to populate this region without anybody having challenged their right to do so. Their number was small in 1947 — in the range of 1,300,000, but it was roughly twice the size of the Jewish community at the time, and just as deserving of a national identity as Jordan, Syria, and the other Near Eastern states that had been created from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire.
As David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, repeatedly insisted, Zionists who sought a genuine independent state were thus confronted with the unpleasant necessity to eliminate Palestinians as much as possible from the territory they themselves wanted to occupy. Brutality was not the primary issue. The singular concern was the establishment of a permanent Jewish state, whatever it took.
Unfortunately this task has been pursued with scant concession to the need for genuine accommodation. Palestinians who escaped for their lives in 1948 automatically forfeited their property and citizenship rights, and those able to remain in their homes were limited to second-class status with the threat of confiscation at a later time. Palestinians who lived outside Israel in Gaza and the West Bank were confronted with the same choice after the 1967 war, when Israel began to expand the construction of new Jewish settlements throughout the region. For the problem was simple enough. Unlike the U.S. and all other post-industrial states in the world today, Israel needed more territory, but with full citizenship limited to Jews alone. To challenge this unique aspiration has often treated as a violation of Jewish rights tantamount to the Holocaust.
Crucial to this effort has been the suppression of Palestinian demands at one time or another for (1) the restoration of Palestinian society preceding the two World Wars in an Arab state tolerant of its minorities, or (2) full citizenship for Palestinians in Israel, or, as a last resort, (3) full sovereignty for Palestinians in their own nation adjacent to Israel. The first choice has been the least realistic, but the second could also be rejected as a plan for the destruction of Israel, since the full citizenship of Palestinians would terminate the privileged status of Jews in a nation of their own. Moreover, the return of Palestinian refugees with the guarantee of full political rights would reduce the Jewish population of Israel to a minority. As for the third choice, it prevents the further expansion of Israel into the West Bank in order to provide the eventual settlement of Jews from elsewhere in the world. It would also establish a potentially hostile state at the edge of Israel, preventing full control of the border region for the better protection of Israel. All of these choices have therefore been unacceptable to Israeli leaders since the beginning.
To forestall, if not avoid, all these options, Israel has perpetuated conflict with Palestinians to such an extent that useful negotiations have been virtually impossible. In what seems an endless cycle of retribution, Palestinians have been provoked into mounting guerrilla operations that could be publicized to justify devastating retaliatory strikes, often with kill ratios highly favorable to Israel. Palestinian attacks could be featured in the media to justify counterattacks that led to further attacks and counterattacks. And when Palestinians have tried to withdraw from this cycle of violence, unprovoked attacks by the Israeli have bought new counterattacks quickly enough to renew the tradeoff in hostilities once again. As a useful byproduct of this strategy, reinforced by a steady use of political assassinations, a hostile, battle-weary Palestinian leadership has been kept in power, as best illustrated by Arafat, leader of the PLO, who presumably could not be trusted in negotiations.
The best and most obvious precedent for this strategy occurred in the United States during the nineteenth century, when Native Americans were driven from their lands supposedly because they did not possess the soil they occupied and could therefore be driven into barren reservations useless to American settlers. When Indians attacked to assert their rights, they could be described as savages; and when they themselves were attacked the effort was justified because, after all, they were nothing better than savages. The tautological justification for this asymmetrical strategy was specious at the time, and it is even less valid today relevant to the situation of Palestinians.
Because of a sustained pro-Israeli bias by the U.S. media, our government has been able to support Israel’s campaign against Palestinians over the past sixty years, most obviously by providing generous financial backing to Israel’s government, especially during periods of conflict with Palestinians and adjacent nations. For the most part our aid has seemed justified by the Arab threat to Israel’s continuing existence, though this perceived threat has now and again seemed no less useful in justifying our financial assistance, which has supported what has become a permanent wartime economy. Muslim societies in the Near East have been hostile against Israel since the beginning, and opposition has spread elsewhere in the world as indicated by the repeated use of the veto by U.S. delegates in the UN Security Council (at least 42 times since 1970) in order to thwart overwhelming votes of condemnation. None of the nearby states, including Greece and Turkey, has been openly friendly with Israel, and to offset its diplomatic isolation Israel has developed world-class military capabilities that dwarf those of everybody else in the region. However, the sacrifice incurred by doing this seems hardly justified by the acquisition of limited desert acreage unworthy of subsidization by U.S. taxpayers.
Here, then, is a brief chronology of what has happened to date in this extraordinary history of the Jewish people.
Israel’s area: 8,019 sq. mi. (slightly larger than New Jersey).
Population: 6,352,117 (roughly three-fourths that of New York City).
Ethnic groups: 80% Jewish; 20% Arab and others.
Religions: 77% Jewish; 15% Sunni; 2% Christian.
Foreign Aid: appx. $3 billion per year from the U.S. ($500 per capita).
With an estimated $2 billion per year in private donations additional to grants, loan guarantees, and various perks, the total amount probably approaches $6 billion, approximately 3% of its 200 billion GDP. The 2007 GDP growth rate for Israel, as high as 5.2%, has been one of the highest in the industrialized world.
It is estimated that there are more than 13 million Jews throughout the world. Slightly more than 6 million live in the United States, slightly less in Israel, 1.5 million in Europe, and with the rest scattered elsewhere. On the other hand, approximately 10 million Palestinians live across the Near East: one million in Israel, 3.8 million in Gaza and the West Bank (1.4 million in Gaza alone), and approximately 3 million live as refugees in Jordan, over 400,000 in Lebanon, 1/2 million in Syria, etc.
586-538 B.C. Babylonian captivity initiates the Diaspora as a dispersion of Israel’s Jewish population throughout the Mideast and beyond. This vast exodus culminates when the Roman emperor Hadrian bars Jews from living in Palestine in 135 A.D. Sephardic Jews migrate across Africa into Spain and Portugal, and ultimately the rest of Europe. During the 9th century, A.D., Ashkenazim Jews first settle in the Rhineland, then disperse, some to the west and others eastward into Poland and Russia. Oriental Jews remain in Arab lands, migrating to Iraq, Iran and even India.
1290 A.D. Jews are expelled from England, and in 1306 from France.
1492 In 1391 enforced conversions begin in Spain, and in 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella expel all Jews from Spain.
1878 The Ottoman’s census of the Jerusalem, Nablus, and Acre districts (including area beyond the present border of Israel) shows a population of 403,795 Muslims (87.3 percent of the total), 43,659 Christians (9.4 percent) and 43,659 Jews (9.4 percent), not including 10,000 Jews with foreign citizenship. By 1922, the Muslim population slips to 78 percent of the total), whereas the Jewish population has risen to 83,790 (11 percent of the total). A decade later, in 1932, the Jewish population has risen to 192,137 (18 percent of the total), and by 1942 it has risen to 484,408 (30 percent of the total).
1881,1905 The two peak years of pogroms (organized massacres) in Russia, the first of them after a female terrorist, Gesya Gelfman, is implicated in the assassination of the Tsar Alexander II. In response to the pogroms there is heavy Russian Jewish migration into central Europe as well as the United States starting in the early 1880s.
1894 Dreyfus Affair in France. Falsely accused of being a traitor, the Jewish military officer Dreyfus is finally (and fully) exonerated in 1906. Extreme anti-Semitism mounts in France at the time, largely fueled by publicity about the Dreyfus case.
1896 Der Judenstaat, by Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), advocates the creation of a Jewish state in response to hostile public opinion in France provoked by the Dreyfus Affair.
1897 Herzl organizes the First Zionist World Congress, which in turn creates the World Zionist Organization (WZO). The primary issue under consideration is the best location for an exclusively Jewish state in which anti-Semitism would no longer play a role. Several locations are considered, including Uganda, but the decision is finally made to return to Israel.
1917 Great Britain’s Balfour Declaration promises a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This is primarily advocated by Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), a chemist who has developed a synthetic acetone used in the manufacture of explosives. He is said to have provided his invention to England during World War I in exchange for its future support of Israel. He later serves as director of the WZO from 1920 to 1946 and becomes the first president of Israel in 1948.
1918 At the end of World War I the allies carve up the remains of the Ottoman Empire, giving Palestine and Iraq to Britain.
1920 In early July Britain appoints Sir Herbert Samuel as High Commissioner of Palestine with the task of overseeing the immigration of Jews into the country.
On July 24, the Zionist Conference meets in London to create a Jewish National Fund for purchasing lands for kibbutzim and the formation of Jewish villages in Palestine. This concerted effort to bring Jews to Palestine leads to Arab riots in 1921, 1929, and 1936-39.
After the 1920 Arab riots and 1921 Jaffa riots, Hagana, a Jewish paramilitary organization, is created to defend Jews in Palestine. In response to the Arab massacres of 1929, it enlarges to include almost all the men in Jewish settlements. In 1936, the Haganah fields 10,000 combatants as well as 40,000 reservists to help British troops to defeat the 1936-39 Arab revolt.
1929 Palestinian extremists massacre 60 Jews in Hebron, driving the Jewish population from the city, Judaism’s second holiest site.
1939 Britain issues the White Paper promising the independence of Palestine as an Arab nation within ten years.
1940 Zionists sink the Patria, killing 267 passengers, 250 of whom are central European Jews deported to Palestine. They have been rerouted by the British to Mauritius and Trinidad, and Zionists want to prevent this from happening. They later claim their intention was to disable the ship, not sink it.
1941-1945 The Holocaust is undertaken by the Nazis during World War II. Estimates vary, but as later confessed by Adolph Eichmann, chief of the Jewish Office of the Gestapo, roughly six million Jews are killed, two-thirds the total number of Jews living in Europe. Inspired by Houston Chamberlain’s prediction of a “struggle for life or death” between Jews and Aryans [vol. 1, p. 578], Hitler apparently seeks to “liberate” Europe from the Jews. When deportation is no longer possible because of the war, he resorts to organized slaughter in concentration camps as a ”final solution.” Paradoxically, Hitler himself might be partly Jewish by an unidentified paternal grandfather.
1944 The Irgun (sometimes described as the Etzel), an offshoot of Hagana in 1939, initiates an anti-colonial revolt against the British. Among its earliest feats is the assassination of Lord Moyne, the British Minister of State for the Middle East, who is considered hostile to the Zionist cause.
1946 Zionist terrorists identified with the Irgun, led by Menachem Begin, destroy the King David Hotel, killing 91 people. Their attempt to pin the blame on Palestinians fails, and five members of the Irgun are executed.
1947 President Truman promotes the creation of the State of Israel with the help and encouragement of Clark Clifford, Ed Jacobson, and David Niles despite the objections of Kermit Roosevelt as well as George Marshall, Robert Lovett, and George Kennan of the State Department. Encouraged by Truman, the UN votes to partition Palestine into Jewish, Arab, and international areas. Fifty-six percent of the territory is given to the Jews to provide them with their own homeland, though 1,350,000 Palestinians inhabit the territory at the time, almost twice the Jewish population of 650,000. Truman’s choice to promote the creation of Israel seems partly the result of his upcoming campaign strategy in the 1948 election against Thomas Dewey, the governor of New York. This tactic would be suggested by Truman’s speech supportive of the Zionist plan for Israeli partition in New York City on October 28, 1958, just ten days before the election. Truman loses the state of New York, but wins 75% of the Jewish vote nationwide as well as the election itself by a narrow margin. [see Ball, p. 22]
1948 Deir Yassin Massacre. On April 1, Zionists identified as the Stern Gang, led by Yitzhak Shamir, invade the village of Deir Yassin and kill more than 250 Palestinians. Soon afterwards Jacques de Ruyner of the Swiss Red Cross counts 254 dead, including 145 women, 35 of them obviously pregnant. Later, Israeli scholars later claim that only 110 have been killed. Zionist sound trucks actually publicize this massacre to induce the flight of refugees from Palestine. At least 250 towns and villages are abandoned, and the final number of Palestinians who flee the region totals roughly 780,000, over half the original population. Through what amounts to a terrorist version of compulsory transfer, as recommended by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, Israel is thus able to gain control of 77% of the Palestine territory.
On May 14, Israel declares its independence as a sovereign state, thus preempting the UN Security council resolution requesting the General Assembly “to consider further the question of future government of Palestine.” British troops complete their withdraw from Palestine on May 15. The State of Israel is thus created as a fait accompli to avoid reconsideration by the UN Weizmann becomes President and David Ben Gurion becomes the Prime Minister. Truman immediately gives Israel diplomatic recognition, followed by the Soviet Union.
Also on May 14 the armies of five Arab states invade Palestine supposedly to protect the Palestinian population from the Zionist invaders. Later most historians and journalists claim that Israeli troops are vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the invading troops. However, reports at the time by diplomats such as Harold Beeley, Pinckney Tuck, and George Marshall, among many others, indicate exactly the opposite, that Israeli forces enjoy an overwhelming 4-to-1 military superiority from the very beginning of hostilities [Ball, pp. 23-26]. Moreover, unlike their opponents, the Israeli substantially augment their supply of military equipment during the first cease-fire imposed by the UN Security Council, between June 11 and July 9, enabling them to defeat the Arab forces without difficulty afterwards.
On September 17, the Stern Gang assassinates Count Bernadotte, the official UN mediator in Palestine, just a day after he submits a progress report on the conflict that recommends granting Palestinians the right to return to Israel.
1949-1956 Palestinian Fedayin (“redeemers,” or “freedom fighters”) organize in Arab refugee camps and mount attacks on Israeli targets across the border, causing a steady escalation of Israeli reprisals.
1953 The Qibya Massacre. Israeli troops led by Sharon attack the village of Qibya, destroying 42 houses and killing at least 66 Palestinians. Three-quarters of the victims are women and children.
1954 The Lavon Affair. In Operation Suzannah organized by Colonel Binyamin Gibli, the chief of Israel’s military intelligence, Israeli agents carry out bombings and other acts of sabotage in Egypt in order to discredit Egypt with both Britain and the U.S. On July 2, these agents bomb a post office in Alexandria, followed within two weeks by a British-owned theater and U.S. Information Agency libraries in Alexandria and Cairo. The operation is soon exposed by an Israeli double agent Avraham Seidenberg. Secretary of Defense Lavon correctly denies any knowledge of it, but is forced to resign from his position. Before the investigation is over many months later, Moshe Sharrett and David Ben-Gurion are forced to resign as prime ministers.
1956 Suez War. Israel combines forces with England and France to capture the Suez Canal in a surprise attack that is unanticipated by the U.S. government. However, President Eisenhower forces them to withdraw their armies.
The Kafr Qasim massacre. Israeli border police set a new curfew for Palestinian farm workers at the time of the Suez attack, but do not inform them of it. When these workers unwittingly break the new curfew, Israeli police kill 48 of them, including 6 women and 23 children.
1959 Yasser Arafat founds the Fatah movement in Kuwait. It begins its first armed attacks in 1965.
1964 Palestinians establish the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) both to defend themselves and restore the homeland of the Palestinian people. Arafat becomes the chairman when Fatah gains control in 1969.
1967 The Six-Day War takes place in which Israel launches supposedly pre-emptive invasions of the Golan Heights, Gaza, the Sinai, and the West Bank, including Jerusalem. This three-pronged attack substantially increases the territory under Israeli control. Israeli apologists insist the attack has been a pre-emptive strike to thwart Israel’s invasion by surrounding nations. Actually, Soviet diplomats have tried to broker a ceasefire, assuring Nasser and his allies that U.S. diplomats working in conjunction with this effort have obtained the guarantee of the Israeli government that it would not attack as long as it is not attacked. Informed that the Arab states have accepted this modus vivendi, Israel is able to launch a surprise attack against surrounding armies with devastating effectiveness.
Destruction of The Liberty. Apparently to thwart U.S. intelligence of the war in progress, Israeli air attacks kill 34 American sailors and wound 170 more aboard the Liberty, a U.S. intelligence-gathering ship. It seems the strategy of the attack is to strafe the ship’s deck, forcing the crew inside, then to sink it with all aboard. Specifically, this seems intended to prevent the disclosure of an impending Israeli attack on the West Bank, the final stage of Israel’s multiple invasion.
Six months later, UN Security Council’s Resolution 242 calls for Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories and a just solution to the refugee problem. Nevertheless, Israel begins establishing Jewish settlements in captured territory, and these become a growing problem over the years. In 1980 Israel gives them top national priority, and by 2000 there are 225,000 settlers occupying about 10 percent of the occupied West Bank.
In December, George Habash, a 1948 Palestine refugee, founds the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In June 1968, the Front hijacks an Israeli El Al airline, then undertakes a series of bombings and hijackings of civilian targets. The Front might also be responsible for helping to organize a machine-gun attack at the Tel Aviv International Airport in May 1972 by Japanese Red Army terrorists, killing 26 civilians. And the Front hijacks an Air France airliner in June 1976, flying it to Entebbe, Uganda, where it is recovered by Israeli troops in a dramatic rescue mission with the loss of lives limited to four civilians. Habash steps down as the leader of the Front in 2000 and spends the rest of his life as an invalid in Jordan.
1968 Israel begins full-scale nuclear production at Dimona, producing more than twenty-five bombs by 1973. Israeli officials have insisted earlier that they had no intention of producing the atomic bomb. However, a variety of nuclear physicists, most notably Zalman Shapiro, the president of a small U.S. Nuclear Services corporation, provide it with needed help. In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, an engineer at Dimona, reveals to the Sunday Times the existence of the secret Israeli nuclear program. He is lured to Italy by a female agent, then kidnapped, brought back to Israel, tried and convicted for disclosing the information, and imprisoned for 18 years. He is released from prison in 2004, then imprisoned once again because he breaks his agreement with Israeli authorities to avoid interviews.
1969 Israeli war planes raid an Egyptian school Bahr al Baker in southern Egypt, killing 75 children and wounding over 100.
1970 The Black September. Armed conflict between Palestinian organizations and Jordanian troops lasts from September 1970 to July 1971, resulting in the expulsion of the PLO as well as thousands of Palestinian civilians from Jordan. Starting in 1968 there are frequent clashes between Jordanian security officers and Palestinian guerrillas. In June 1970, Habash’s Popular Front captures 60 foreigners as hostages in two downtown hotels, and in September it hijacks three Western jet airliners, taking them to an airstrip outside Amman. Several hundred passengers and crew members are eventually released, but all three planes are blown up. Assassination attempts against King Hussein fail in September, and, in order to restore his sovereign authority, he declares martial law. During the ten days or so of combat starting September 16, from 3 to 5 thousand combatants are estimated to die. In the entire conflict that follows, which costs from 7 to 8 thousand lives, King Hussein drives the guerrillas as well as numerous Palestinian civilians into Lebanon and Syria.
1972 In an operation also described as Black September, Palestinian terrorists kill eleven Israeli athletes and coaches at the Munich Olympics. The next day Israel retaliates with Operation Spring of Youth whereby F-4 Phantom jets kill approximately 100 Palestinians and Lebanese. Also in retaliation, Operation Wrath of God involves an ongoing effort over a couple decades of assassinating all Palestinians involved in the Munich attack.
1973 On February 21, Israeli commandos attack two Palestinian refugee camps near the Lebanese city of Tripoli, killing 35. The same day Israeli war planes shoot down a Libyan airliner that accidentally passes over the Sinai Peninsula during a sand storm, killing 113 passengers.
On April 10, Israeli commando units invade East Beirut to kill three PLO leaders, Yusef Al Najjar, Kamal Adwan, and Kamal Nasser along with several dozen others.
The October 6 Yom Kippur War. Egypt and Syria launch surprise attacks against Israel in the Sinai and Golan Heights, but hostilities are suddenly brought to a close after a successful counterattack by Israeli troops, some of whom, under the command of Major General Sharon, penetrate Egypt within a hundred kilometers of Cairo. On October 22, UN Resolution 338 calls for an immediate cease-fire negotiated by the U.S. and U.S.S.R. However, with the excuse that Egyptians continue to attack Israeli tanks, Israeli troops finish their drive south, trapping the Egyptian Third Army east of the Suez Canal. Accused of betrayal by the U.S.S.R. and aware of possibilities for forcing peace negotiations among all parties involved, U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger insists the Israeli pull back their troops without destroying the Egyptian Third Army. On October 23, Syria also accepts the terms of the ceasefire, and Israeli troops can be withdraw.
1978 Arranged and hosted by President Carter, the Camp David Accords between Egypt’s President Sadat and Israel’s Prime Minister Begin result in Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza as well as increased U.S. financial support to both nations — more for the two combined than for all other foreign nations combined. Israel is thus compensated for the loss of Gaza and Egypt for abandoning the coalition of Arab nations opposed to Israel.
1981 Israel bombs an Iraq nuclear reactor 18 miles south of Baghdad in a surprise air attack. The reactor is near completion but has not yet been stocked with nuclear fuel.
1982 Invasion of Lebanon. On June 6, 60,000 Israeli troops led by General Sharon, Israel’s Defense Minister, mount Operation Pines (or “Peace for Galilee”), invading Lebanon supposedly in order to drive the PLO 40 kilometers from the border, thereby terminating its rocket attacks into Israel. Instead, however, Israeli troops continue their drive northward toward the city of Beirut. Apparently Sharon’s intention is to expel both Syrian and Palestinian combatants from Lebanon and install Bashir Gemayel of the Christian Phalange Party as president of Lebanon sympathetic with Israel.
From July 3 to August 21, Sharon conducts a Siege of Beirut, Beirut having become the de facto Palestinian capital in exile. Israeli troops cut off the city’s electricity and conduct seven-weeks of intensive shelling by tanks, artillery, fighter planes, and warships anchored offshore. On August 12 alone (“Black Thursday”), air attacks kill 128 inhabitants. Over 250,000 flee the city in response to this siege. After 70 days, Arafat accepts defeat, and beginning August 21, he, the PLO leadership, and 7,000 PLO fighters are shipped into exile abroad. Casualty estimates vary widely, but as many as 6,776 are killed in Beirut and as many as 18,000 altogether in Lebanon, not counting the Sabra and Shatila massacres. Israeli troops killed in action are 344, suggesting roughly a 20-1 kill ratio.
On August 23, Gemayel is elected President of Lebanon, but he is assassinated by Syrian agents on September 14. One day later, Israeli troops encircle the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps to permit a four-day massacre by 1,500 Christian militiamen identified as Falangists. All Palestinian refugees are killed, including women and children, with estimates ranging from 700 to 3,500 victims Palestinians who try to escape during this period are forced by Israeli troops to return to the camps in order to be with the rest. Sharon is later found personally responsible and forced to resign as Israel’s defense minister, but he is permitted to remain in parliament.
The militant Lebanese organization known as the Hezbollah is established by Shi’ites in response to the invasion. Its purpose is to provide self-defense against future attacks by Christian Falangists as well as Israeli troops. The Hezbollah also promotes an Islamic government of Lebanon, and it is organized to provide a variety of social services to its constituency, the Shi’ite population.
1983 President Reagan sends U.S. troops to Lebanon to help impose order on Beirut after the withdrawal of Israeli troops, but he withdraws U.S. troops after 241 American servicemen are killed by a suicide bomber on October 23. Israel mostly completes the withdrawal of its troops by mid-1985, retaining a 10 km security zone it can patrol on the Lebanese side of the border.
1985 Jonathan Pollard, a civilian naval intelligence analyst from an American Jewish family is arrested after three years of spying for Israel. He has acquired for Israel many thousands of pages of sensitive intelligence — estimated to be as much as 6 cubic feet of records. In 1986, he is sentenced to prison for life, but there is a substantial effort by the American-Zionist community since then to obtain his release and give him sanctuary in Israel.
Led by Abu Abbas, Palestinian terrorists seize the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and shoot and throw overboard a 69-year old Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, who is confined in a wheelchair. The excuse for doing this is that he has been trying to incite other passengers against the terrorists. The other 15 passengers are freed unharmed.
1987 In December, Palestine’s so-called “First Intifada” (uprising) erupts in the occupied territory and continues until March 1993, six years later. Its activities include civil disobedience, strikes, boycotts, graffiti, and, most effectively, stone throwing by teenagers. The kill ratio for this period has been estimated in the range of 7-1, with 1,162 Palestinians (including 241 children under 16 years of age) killed by the Israelis and 162 Israelis killed by Palestinians.
The militant Palestinian organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad take root and quickly gain popularity in providing leadership for the Intifada. The Palestinian Jihad has been formed in the Gaza Strip during the early 1970s as a militant branch of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Like Hezbollah, Hamas provides social services additional to military protection. Its founder, Ahmed Yassin, has had a checkered life. During the seventies and early eighties, Israel’s government tolerates him as a devout Islamic leader hostile to the secular agenda of the PLO. In 1984, he is sent to prison for a minor offense, then released in 1985, and in 1987, possibly with help and support of the Israeli government, he creates Hamas as an Islamist movement competitive with the Fatah. However, when the Hamas charter is drafted, calling for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, Israel outlaws the organization and once again imprisons Yassin in 1989, this time with a life sentence.
1990-92 Serving as Israel’s Minister of Housing, Sharon gives the highest priority to the creating of Jewish settlements in the west bank in order to enlarge Israel’s control of the territory, if not its total ownership. Sharon’s emphasis on the creation of settlements continues in 1996 when he becomes Minister of National Infrastructure, and it becomes a top priority in 1999 when he assumes leadership of the Likud Party.
1991 The three-day Madrid Peace Conference is held including Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, Russians, and representatives of the border states. This conference initiates the diplomatic effort to forge a peace treaty that might finally reconcile the differences between the Israeli and Palestinians.
1993 In April 1993, Palestinian militants begin resorting to the use of suicide bombers. By March 2004, slightly more than a decade later, 139 suicidal attacks occur against Israeli targets, accounting for 474 of 918 Israeli deaths, roughly half the total, though the suicide bombers account for only 1% of the total number of attacks. Over this decade, 46 percent of the attacks by suicide bombers are carried out by Hamas, 29 percent by the Islamic Jihad, 22 percent by Fatah.
Signed in Washington, D.C. on September 13, the Oslo Peace Agreement culminates with an agreement between Israel and the PLO for mutual recognition and a five-year plan to resolve all remaining differences according to guidelines already established. Unfortunately, the Agreement is never carried out. The expansion of Israeli settlements soon increases to five times its earlier rate and hostilities persist. 405 Palestinians are killed as opposed to 256 Israelis in the five years that follow.
1995 Israel’s Prime Minister Rabin is assassinated by an Israeli right-wing fanatic opposed to any compromise with Palestinians.
1996 Arafat wins presidential elections in January and conflict intensifies with Israel. Israel manages to assassinate Yahya Ayyash, who has perfected the use of the suicide bomb, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad retaliate with new bombings through February and March.
In April, Israeli army bombards South Lebanon in response to Katyusha rocket attacks. Its shelling of Qana on April 18 kills 106 Lebanese civilians who have taken refuge in a UN compound to escape the fighting. Israeli apologists argue that Hezbollah troops have been located as close as possible to this site, so the hits were accidental, but a later UN investigation indicates that the shelling was intentional. In 2006, ten years later, a single three-story building is destroyed in the same Lebanese town, killing 28 civilians, half of them children.
1997 In January, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu agrees to withdraw from four-fifths of Hebron, retaining a corridor of Israeli-held territory to give access to 500 settlers in the center of the city. The following month he initiates construction of a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem, provoking riots and international criticism.
Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, is released from prison and exiled to Jordan. However, he is permitted to return to Israel as one of Israel’s concessions to Jordan in a brokered deal. This becomes possible after a botched attempt by Mossad, the Israeli secret service, to assassinate Khalid Mishal, the de facto leader of Hamas, by having a Mossad agent disguised as a Canadian spray poison in his ear while standing outside his house.
2000 President Clinton convenes the Camp David Summit to obtain a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine. This time negotiations are held between Arafat of the PLO and Israel’s Prime Minister Barak. Despite intense effort by Clinton, the summit turns out to be unsuccessful. Subsequently, scrutiny of the terms offered by Barak discloses such demands as the lack of full sovereignty in East Jerusalem for the Palestinians, the absence of control over borders, air space, and water resources, the retention of some Israeli settlements, and Israel’s continuing control over a wedge-shaped territory from Jerusalem to the Jordan River Valley, dividing Palestinian territory into two or three “cantons” isolated from each other.
Ariel Sharon visits the Palestinian zone of the Temple Mount surrounded by more than 1,000 Israeli police. This sets the stage for Sharon’s election campaign to become Israel’s next Prime Minister, but it also intensifies hostilities between Palestinians and Israelis.
The Second Intifada begins in response to Sharon’s visit to Temple Mount, and it persists through 2007. Its primary cause seems to be Arab dissatisfaction with the outcome of the 1993 Oslo Accords. Palestinians once again resort to suicide bombings, most notably of a crowded bus in Jerusalem on August 19, 2003, killing 23 Israelis, including 7 children. The overall kill ratio is nevertheless more than 4-1, with 4,300 Palestinians killed as opposed to 1,000 Israeli.
Negotiations between Israel and Palestinians shift to a new site, Taba, on the coast of Egypt, and many new compromises are forged, for the first time making an acceptable resolution seem possible. However, Barak ceases participating in the talks because they obviously stir a public reaction supportive of Sharon’s election campaign in Israel.
2001 George W. Bush becomes President of the United States, and just a couple weeks later Ariel Sharon becomes Israel’s Prime Minister after having won a 62% landslide victory as opposed to 37% support for Barak. Sharon does not bother to resume Taba peace negotiations (he actually says in a radio interview that he appreciates their accomplishment but feels more can be obtained from the situation before imposing a final settlement). His intention to resume hostilities against Palestinians is signaled by an unprovoked air strike of Israeli helicopter gunships against a vehicle containing Massoud Ayyad, a major in a Palestinian security service.
On March 16, for the second time in three months, Palestinians press the UN Security Council to send troops into the occupied territories in order to keep the peace between Israeli and Palestinian combatants. The U.S. lobbies heavily against this resolution, and the 9 votes needed for its passage by the 15 member Council cannot be mustered.
Bush makes it plain that unlike previous U.S. administrations he intends not to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict except in the expansion of foreign aid to Israel. He also brings many neoconservatives into his foreign policy establishment, including Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, Douglas Feith, Elliot Abrams, James Woolsey, John Bolton, Abram Shulsky, and David Wurmser. All of these are dedicated to close ties between Israel and the U.S. on the assumption that Israel is our nation’s closest ally in the Near East.
On September 11, al-Qaeda terrorists attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing 3,000 Americans. The FBI captures five Zionists led by Sivan Kurzberg, who have been seen doing high-fives and photographing the burning World Trade Center buildings at the edge of a New Jersey highway on the other side of the Hudson River. When accosted by police officers, Kurzberg exclaims, “We are Israelis. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are your problem.” All five are held in custody for 71 days before being returned to Israel. Each is found to have two passports, Israeli and European, and two of them can be identified as Mossad agents. Their vehicle has been obtained from a front business for Mossad in New York City, whose owner, Dominick Suter, takes flight to Israel just a day or two after 9-11, suggesting the likelihood that Israeli intelligence has been aware of the attack before it was planned, letting it happen in order to increase U.S. support for Israel.
In his October 7 public statement on TV, Osama bin Laden features Palestinians among the Arab victims of western nations he claims to have revenged by means of the 9-11 operation: “As I speak, Israeli tanks and bulldozers are going in and wreaking havoc and sin in Palestine — in Jenin, in Ramallah, in Rafah, in Beit Jala — and other parts of the domain of Islam, and we do not hear anyone protesting or even lifting a finger to stop it. But when after eighty years the sword comes down on America [the 9-11 attack], the hypocrites rise up to lament these killers who have scorned the blood, honor, and holy places of Muslims.” [Messages to the World, ed. by Bruce Lawrence, p. 104].
Hostilities mount between Palestinians and the Israeli army in the Occupied Palestinian Territory on the West Bank. Palestinian suicide bombers resume their activities, and in December Israeli troops react by besieging Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah compound with troops and tanks. Isolated in his headquarters, Arafat remains unhurt, but an Israeli sniper kills a Palestinian security officer standing in his dining room through a window. Israeli troops destroy all other buildings and offices in the compound, and Sadat remains a virtual prisoner surrounded by rubble until his death three years later.
2002 An Arab League summit meeting endorses a Saudi Peace Plan. Largely based on earlier negotiations at Madrid, Oslo, Camp David, and Taba, the Saudi plan guarantees full trade and diplomatic acceptance of all Muslim states in the region in exchange for Israel’s compliance with UN Resolution 242 toward the restoration of the pre-1967 border between Israel and adjacent territories with minor adjustments. Both Israel and the U.S. ignore the proposal.
Israel begins building a Security Fence (otherwise described as a separation barrier or wall) that separates Israel from the West Bank. As much as 8 meters high and with a 60 meter exclusion zone at its edge, it is scheduled to be completed by 2010 more or less along the 1949 “Green Line.” It turns out to reduce Palestinian attacks on Israeli citizens by from 70 to 85 percent, but its construction also enlarges Israeli territory wherever this is found convenient, often by separating Palestinian farmers from their crops and hampering Palestinians in their travel on the traditional roads.
In early April Israeli troops attack the town of Jenin for having been a hotbed of terrorism. Israeli sources claim that not more than 50 Palestinians have been killed, but according to Palestinian sources the conflict has been a massacre (described as the Massacre of Jenin), in which more than 500 Palestinians have been killed, then either buried by bulldozers or trucked away to be disposed of elsewhere.
On July 22, a missile strike by an Israeli F-16 scuttles a proposed Palestinian cease fire by killing Sheikh Salah Shehadeh as well as 20 others including 13 children. The leader of the military wing of Hamas, Shehadeh has been held responsible by Israeli authorities for hundreds of terrorist attacks within the previous two years.
2003 On March 16, the 23-year old peace activist Rachel Corrie is killed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to block it from destroying a Palestinian home on the Gaza strip. Her notebooks are later compiled to write a controversial play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, which is successful in London, New York City, and wherever else the pro-Zionist effort to suppress it can be surmounted.
On March 19, the U.S. launches its invasion of Iraq without the support of the Security Council as specified by Article 42 of the UN Charter. The Bush administration tries to justify the invasion with the argument that Iraq is trying to develop the atomic bomb and gas and chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and that Saddam Hussein has close ties with al Qaeda. The real reasons probably involve taking control of Iraq’s huge oil reserves and, perhaps most important of all, the effort to eliminate Iraq as a potential military threat to Israel. With convincing documentation, Mearsheimer and Walt emphasize the latter as having been the single most compelling reason [pp. 229-53]. Israeli public figures such as Avineri, Barak and Netanyahu actually publish editorials in the U.S. press advocating the invasion, as do American neoconservatives such as Krautheimer, Zuckerman, David Saperstein, Gary Rosenblatt, and Michelle Goldberg. Other neoconservatives such as Abram Shulsky, Michael Rubin, David Schenker, and Michael Makovsky serve on the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans (OSP) under the leadership of Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. Apparently their purpose is to help justify the invasion by processing the misinformation provided by Chalabi, others of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), and the notorious liar “Curve Ball” in order to enhance its credibility with the State Department, the White House, and various international bodies, most notably the UN.
On April 30, the U.S. State Department announces the agreement of the Quartet Group (the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia) to promote a three-stage Road Map toward a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. As emphasized by England’s Prime Minister Tony Blair, the elimination of Iraq as a military threat to Israel would finally justify the pursuit of a genuine final solution to hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians. Once again, Palestinians pledge full support, but Israel rejects key points. Sharon later undercuts the Road Map by proposing his own strategy of Unilateral Disengagement.
On May 1, one day after the Road Map has been proposed, Israeli troops surround the home of Yusef Abu Ghin, a top Hamas leader, and in an extended exchange of gunfire with air support by helicopters they kill him, his two brothers, and ten others including two children. This is supposedly done in response to earlier rocket attacks from Gaza as well as three Israeli killed the day before at a bar in Tel Aviv. However, its significance as a hostile response to the Road Map cannot be ignored. Earlier, Israeli troops ambush and kill Riyad Abu Zayd, a senior leader of Hamas, and one week later, on May 8, an Israeli attack helicopter kills another top Hamas leader, Eyad Al Beik,
On June 2, President Bush attends an Arab summit meeting in Cairo and consults with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas among others about the possibility of a peace settlement. Shortly after Bush’s return to the U.S., Israel assassinates seven Hamas leaders over a period of five days. The first of these, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, one of the founders of Hamas, fails, but the significance of the attempt relevant to Bush’s diplomatic gesture is obvious to all.
2004 On March 22, an Israeli helicopter gunship assassinates Sheikh Ahmedd Yassin, the co-founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, along with six worshipers while they leave a mosque after early morning prayer. Yassin is 68 years old, a blind paraplegic who has been confined to a wheelchair since he was 12 years old. He is replaced by his co-founder, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who is in turn assassinated by a helicopter attack on April 17.
Arafat dies on November 11.
2005 On January 9, Abbas is elected the new president of the Palestinian Authority with 62 percent of the vote. His primary agenda is to end violence and work toward a peaceful settlement. Hamas boycotts the election, and on January 12 it launches an attack killing one Israeli. On January 13, it launches a suicide attack killing another 6 Israelis. Sharon himself refuses to negotiate with Abbas, making it impossible for him to take credit for any benefits to the Palestinian people. The Bush administration pays lip service to Abbas, but without taking any steps supportive of his peace efforts.
On January 23, Abbas is able to announce that Hamas and Islamic Jihad agree upon the imposition of a 30-day ceasefire, but nothing comes of it. On April 9, he complains to Israel about the gratuitous killing of three Palestinian boys playing soccer.
During a February 8 conference with Sharon, Abbas proclaims a formal end of fighting with Israel. However, Israeli and Palestinian militants still engage in skirmishes. On June 21, Israeli forces round up dozens of suspected West Bank militants, and on July 15 Israeli helicopters attack Gaza, killing four Palestinians after a Palestinian rocket attack on Israel killing one. The Israeli counterattack provokes fighting between militants and Palestinian police about the most appropriate response to Israeli aggression.
From August 17 to 24, Israeli troops force the evacuation of Jews from Gaza as obliged by Sharon’s strategy of Unilateral Disengagement despite the desperate resistance of Jewish settlers heavily publicized by the U.S. press. Israel also withdraws its troops from Gaza and partially terminates its control except for airspace, borders and ports. However, it does nothing else in compliance with the Road Map as earlier promised beyond dismantling four of its settlements from the West Bank.
On Sept. 26, Israel resumes missile attacks on Gaza in response to rocket fire from Palestinian militants. The next day Palestinian militants announce their renewed commitment to a truce, but Israel launches several air raids that knock out electricity in Gaza City, and it initiates cross-border raids to halt rocket attacks. Hostilities resume on the same scale as before.
In summer, 2005, Larry Franklin, a top Pentagon analyst on Iran, who works in Douglas Feith’s Office of Special Plans (OSP), is arrested by the FBI in a Washington restaurant while in the act of passing classified information to two officials of AIPAC (the Israel Public Affairs Committee), Steve Rosen, its foreign policy director, and Keith Weissman, its top Iranian specialist. These prominent American Zionists apparently intend to send this sensitive intelligence about Iran to Israeli intelligence. Eighty-three other such documents have been found in Franklin’s possession, apparently for the same purpose. It seems, however, that Franklin has already been caught and is cooperating with the FBI in a sting operation at the expense of Rosen and Weissman. Many other agents and government employees also seem involved in the case, including Michael Ledeen and David Satterfield, the second ranking Middle East officer in the State Department as well as Douglas Feith and Richard Perle. Unfortunately, CBS’s public disclosure of the arrest thwarts further investigation, and the story is forgotten as soon as possible by the U.S. press.
2006 On January 5, Sharon suffers a massive stroke and remains comatose through the end of 2007. Ehud Olmert becomes acting Prime Minister, and after 100 days, on April 16, 2006, becomes Interim Prime Minister.
On January 25, Palestinians hold their first parliamentary election in a decade. Despite millions of dollars spent on the election by the U.S. government, Hamas gains a surprise victory over Fatah, taking 76 of 132 seats by campaigning on the twin issues of security and corruption. Ismail Haniya becomes the new Prime Minister.
Hamas declares a unilateral cease-fire with Israel and calls for a temporary truce. It also advocates the establishment of an independent state with its capital in Jerusalem and offers a 10-year truce in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territories. In response, however, Israel continues to denounce Hamas as a terrorist group and demands that it renounce armed resistance and recognize the full sovereignty of Israel as a Jewish state. Israel also confiscates Palestinian tax revenues and, along with the U.S. and UK, imposes an embargo on Gaza and the West Bank. Hostilities intensify and 29 Palestinians are killed in February.
Thirty-one Palestinians are killed in April, 42 are killed in May, and 34 in the first two weeks of June. On June 8, Jamal Abu Samahadana, the general director of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, is assassinated despite (or perhaps because of) his ability and willingness to serve in the negotiation of a ceasefire with Israel.
On June 9, Israeli artillery makes a direct hit on a Gaza beach party far from any significant military target, killing eight Palestinian bathers, all of them members of the Ghalia family. A day later, Hamas withdraws from its official cease fire, and initiates Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. On June 13, the Israeli air force thereupon escalates the conflict by attacking Gaza City.
On June 24, for the first time since their 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, Israeli commandos break into a house in Gaza and take into custody two brothers, Osama and Mustafa Abu Muamar, as suspected terrorists. In retaliation Palestinian militants attack an Israeli defense post the next day. Two Palestinians and two Israeli troops are killed in the gunfire, and a third Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, is captured and brought back to Gaza to be held in captivity (Hamas’s single prisoner of war, as opposed to approximately 10,000 POWs held by Israel). The western press focuses on the kidnapping of Shalit, totally ignoring the kidnapping of two Palestinian students just the day before.
On June 28, Israel launches Operation Summer Rains, an attack on Gaza to secure the release of Shalit. Israeli aircraft destroy several bridges and bomb a power station, cutting off electricity to more than half of Gaza’s 1.4 million residents. On June 29, Israeli forces arrest 64 Hamas officials, including eight Palestinian Authority cabinet ministers and up to twenty Legislative Council representatives. On June 30, the Israeli army begins to bombard Gaza more fully with missiles, air strikes, and naval gunfire. More kidnappings and killings follow on both sides. At least 50 Palestinians are killed in the operation as opposed to one Israeli soldier.
On July 12, Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon who are sympathetic with Hamas create a second front with Israel by capturing two Israeli soldiers and killing three others in an operation on the border between Israel and Lebanon. In an immediate counterattack generally recognized to have been planned beforehand on a contingency basis, Israeli planes destroy much of Lebanon’s infrastructure (roads, bridges, electric power plants, etc.). They also saturate populated areas with a variety of bombs, including cluster bombs, despite restrictions imposed by the U.S. to prevent their use in populated areas. Cluster bombs are also dropped in great numbers within seventy-two hours before the ceasefire. More than a million bomblets are dispersed, and a significant number of them remain unexploded, easily detonated by accidental contact. By the end of 2007, eighteen months after hostilities have ended, more than 30 Lebanese have been killed by them.
Over 900 Lebanese are killed during the two-war as opposed to 36 Israeli soldiers and 18 Israeli civilians, the latter by means of rocket attacks across the border. In all, the kill ratio is between 18-1 and 20-1. Despite its disproportionate losses, Hezbollah is conceded to have conducted effective tactics and is considered the victor simply by having avoided defeat at the hands of the Israeli.
In late summer, Olmert abandons unilateral disengagement, arguing that it would be more effective to pursue a two-state solution through negotiations.
On November 1, a large force of Israeli tanks and troops invade the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun in retaliation for a single Israeli woman killed by a rocket attack. Hundreds of men are rounded up and imprisoned in Israel. Israeli troops occupy the town until November 7, and their heavy shelling the following day kills 18 Palestinians. Thirteen are from the same family, 6 of them children. Altogether perhaps 350 residents of Beit Hanoun are killed, and virtually every house is destroyed.
On December 16, Abbas calls for new legislative elections to end the parliamentary stalemate between Fatah and Hamas in forming a national unity government.
2007 On February 8, Hamas and Fatah agree to end their factional warfare that has led to the deaths of nearly 200 Palestinians. They form a coalition with the expectation that this step might encourage western powers to lift sanctions imposed on the Hamas-led government.
On March 17, a Palestinian National Unity Government is created combining Hamas and Fatah under the leadership of Haniyeh as the Hamas Prime Minister additional to the authority of Abbas as the Fatah President.
On March 29, the Riyadh Summit for the Arab League reissues its 2002 peace plan that couples Israel’s withdrawal from all territory occupied in the 1967 war with open trade relations and full recognition of Israel by all 22 members of the League. A just settlement for Palestinian refugees who seek a “right to return” is also called for but without imposing any specific demands. Olmert does not take interest in the plan, and specifically rejects the right to return for 3.7 million refugees who live in surrounding Arab nations.
The Battle of Gaza. Between June 7 and June 15 fighting occurs between Hamas and Fatah that results in Hamas winning control of the Gaza Strip. At least 116 are killed. On June 14 Abbas fires Haniya as the Prime Minister and dissolves the unity government formed only three months earlier. Palestinian territory divides into two separate entities–the government of Gaza led by Hamas and the government of the West Bank led by the Palestinian National authority. Abbas remains president of the West Bank and appoints Salam Fayyad as Prime Minister.
On June 18, Israel, the U.S., and EU resume their support to the West Bank under the leadership of the Palestinian National Authority and resume direct aid. Israel announces it will release $562 in tax revenue for this purpose, and the U.S. similarly promises to release tens of billions of dollars it has withheld since the election three months earlier. On June 19, Fatah cuts off all ties with Hamas pending the return of Gaza under the authority of the Palestinian unity government.
The Siege of Gaza. Once the Fatah has fled Gaza, Israel imposes severe restrictions that amount to a siege. Once again it demands that Hamas recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish nation, thus by implication reducing Arab inhabitants to second-class citizenship. Hamas refuses, and by October only one crossing (Karem Shalom) is open. Fishermen cannot leave the harbor. The supply of diesel fuel drops by 47 percent, and the amount of goods supplied from Israel decreases by 71%, from an average of 253 truckloads per day in April to an average of 74 in October. Food is running out, and the supply of electricity has been reduced by half, preventing water and sewage from being processed at acceptable levels. Per capita income has decreased by 40 percent over the last three years, and the poverty rate has reached 70 percent. There is insufficient medicine and hospitals are overflowing, a hardship worsened by continuing casualties, mostly from Israeli air and artillery strikes. On the average eight Palestinians are now estimated to be killed daily by these attacks.
The West Bank is not much better off. There continue to be 133 Israeli settlements almost all of which are illegal according to UN Security Council Resolution 242. Meanwhile, travel among Palestinian towns is impeded by 562 military checkpoints and an additional 610 “flying checkpoints.” The Israelis destroy Palestinian orchards and substantially reduce the water supply. On average, Palestinians are allowed to use no more than 50 cubic meters of water per year, while an occupant of an illegal settlement can use up to 2,400 cubic meters, almost fifty times as much. Palestinians also pay double the price for water as well as electricity. All in all, Israel takes possession of 800 million cubic meters of water out of 936 million cubic meters available to the West Bank. Moreover, the depth of Palestinian wells is limited, permitting Israeli wells to remove water at deeper levels. As an additional aggravation, the Palestinian government must transfer its tax income to Israel for its determination as to what can be spent on such services as health and education.
On November 27, a hastily convened Annapolis Conference is held so delegates from 40 nations can listen while President Bush declares that negotiations will be conducted for up to a full year in order to settle the Israeli-Palestinian dispute once and for all under the exclusive sponsorship of the U.S. government. Abbas and Olmert are both present, but conspicuously uninvited are representatives of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the state of Iran. Conveniently, deliberations would end just after the November, 2008, election, thus neutralizing the stigma of failure for the Bush administration if nothing comes of the effort once again. Also expedient is the limitation of sponsorship to the U.S. alone, replacing the Quartet Group that also includes the U.N., E.U., and Russia.
On November 28, a day after the Annapolis Conference, Israeli troops accompanied by approximately a dozen tanks invade southern Gaza, penetrating about two miles and killing at least 6 Palestinians. The signal seems plain that Israel is only willing to negotiate with Abbas, of the Palestinian National Authority, and will continue to deal with Hamas and the Gaza population as enemies. Israel’s announcement just days after the conference that a couple hundred new homes are soon to be added to one particular west bank settlement can also be interpreted as a willful limitation of the agreement from the very beginning, in this instance relevant to the West Bank.
2008 On January 8, President Bush arrives in Israel to spend two days in separate conferences with both Abbas and Olmert in order initiate negotiations toward a diplomatic settlement, supposedly one of his top priorities in the final year of his presidency. Bush offers extravagant financial incentives to both the Israeli and the Abbas governments: a $30 billion package of military aid to Israel over the next decade plus a $400 milllion package to the Palestinians for a variety of social programs.
On January 15, negotiations begin as requested by Bush, but before dawn the very next morning the Israeli army enters the Gaza strip to launch an unprovoked “routine operation” in which at least 18 Palestinians are killed, including Hussam Zahar, son of Mahmoud Zahar, a senior leader of Hamas. Hussam is apparently killed by an air strike while driving his vehicle toward the conflict. Palestinians quickly initiate a rocket attack in response to this raid, killing a foreign laborer on an Israeli kibbutz. The entire story of the Jan. 16 attack, buried on p. 8 in the next day’s issue of The New York Times, effectively obscures the sequence of events, thus minimizing Israel’s responsibility for the attack. The article ends with an Israeli spokesperson’s suggestion that the operation has been justified as a means of preventing future such “tragedies” as the death of the foreign laborer by rocket fire. The broader relevance of the attack to the prospect of successful peace negotiations is totally ignored. The reader has no way to determine whether Bush has already given the go-ahead for the operation in confirming his peace strategy to the exclusion of Gaza or the Olmert government has launched the attack to dramatize once again its insistence on the omission of Gaza.
By January16, it is obvious that sustained rocket fire has resumed between Israel and Gaza resulting from the January 15 attack. Over the next couple of days as many as 40 Palestinians are killed by bombs and rocket fire, compared to the single farm laborer killed on January 15. In fact, as disclosed in a NYT story the next day, only 13 Israeli have been killed by Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza since 2001, seven years earlier, an insignificant number compared to the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli for this period of time.
On January 18, Israel closes all border crossings to Gaza, totally sealing its one and a half million residents from access to all necessities beyond those they themselves can provide. This radical measure is repeatedly justified in the media, even on the floor of the U.N., as a necessary step to terminate rocket fire from Gaza and force Hamas to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
On January 22, Hamas destroys the wall constructed by Israel to separate Gaza from Egypt at the Rafah crossing, and as many as 350,000 Gaza resident (a fifth of its total population) flood into Egyptian territory within the next two days, desperate for food, fuel, medical supplies, and other necessities. Both Israel and the U.S. demand that Egypt restore the border, thus sustaining the siege. As quoted by the NYT, Olmert has the audacity to declare, “As far as I’m concerned, the residents of Gaza can walk if they don’t have gasoline for their cars, because they have a murderous terrorist regime that won’t let people in the south of Israel live in safety.” But a day later Israel promises to open the border crossings. As the Zionist spokesperson Sari Bashi explains in the January 28 NYT, “This is part of a stop-start game that continually pushes Gazan residents to the brink, pushing them over, then pulling back temporarily… For the last seven months, Israel has been slowly reducing Gaza residents to desperation.”
And what do Israeli strategists now emphasize in addition to the avoidance of negotiations? As perhaps to be expected, their primary concern has shifted to the nuclear threat posed by Iran now that Iraq has been demolished as a potential enemy. Just as Israel’s insistence on a nuclear threat helped to initiate the 2003 invasion of Iraq, its similar concern about Iran focuses on the need for an air attack regardless of whether it might generate a full-scale escalation of warfare in the region. Zionists repeatedly demand such an attack despite no less repeated assurances by Mohammed ElBaradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that Iran has no active program today to develop an atomic bomb. Prime Minister Olmert himself actually warns before a joint session of U.S. Congress on May 24, 2006, of the future crisis in the region if and when Iran possesses the atomic bomb. AIPAC lobbyists continue to press this argument with members of Congress, and Israeli officials warn that they might take preemptive action themselves if the U.S. does not launch the needed attack on Iran.
On December 3, a New York Times front-page article discloses that the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a consensus of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, is in agreement that Iran very probably suspended its nuclear weapons program as early as 2003, four years ago, and that it cannot produce enough uranium for an atomic bomb until 2010 at the earliest. This conclusion is heatedly denied by Zionist intelligence experts as well as journalists friendly to Israel, for example Thomas Friedman in his December 12 New York Times column. In an apparently hasty meeting brought about in Israel on December 10, a week after the NIE disclosure, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak tells Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, that Israeli intelligence indicates Iran probably resumed its effort to produce an atom bomb in 2005 and continues to enrich uranium to such an extent that this might be possible earlier than 2010. As reported in The New York Times, Mullen expresses his sympathy with Israel’s concerns, so a military venture might still be launched against Iran in the near future. As a perhaps useful precedent, Israel’s September 6, 2007, air attack on a potential nuclear facility in Syria has provoked little outrage in the international community. So perhaps a similar strike can still be launched against Iran within the next year or so.
* * * * * * *
Over the past sixty years, Israel has played a dominant role in the Near East thanks to the collaborative support of a news media able and willing to give voice to its non-stop shibboleth of victimization. Unfortunately, the cost has been too high for everybody involved. Most obviously, Palestinians have been racked by their ordeal, perhaps never to recover their full potential as a modern self-sufficient society. Likewise, Israel’s various frontier nations have been beset with numerous problems that would undoubtedly have been easier to cope with without having been dragged into the recurring Israeli-Palestinian hostilities. And of course the United States has paid an enormous price both in subsidizing this endless battle and in having antagonized an entire Muslim population stretching from Casablanca to Bali. Some of the world’s most productive oil fields are located across this region, and many of our nation’s difficulties with its oil supply can be traced to the lack of a consistent foreign policy because of its connection with Israel. Zionist apologists repeatedly emphasize the harmony and interdependence between Israel and the United States, but the relationship has been far more lopsided, dare one suggest parasitic.
In the long run, the biggest loser is Israel itself. Granted, its population has shaken off its history of ghetto survival preceding World War II, but only to create a new and bigger version of ghetto existence as a small nation with a very uncertain future, given the mounting animosity of most other nations in the region. Moreover, having served as scapegoats for Nazis resentful of Germany’s defeat in World War I, Israeli Zionists have victimized Palestinians to redress their own history of grievances, thereby intensifying their isolation that much further among nearby countries flooded with Palestinian refugees. As already indicated, most Americans continue to support Israel’s agenda, but few others do elsewhere in the world. The Israeli government is even beginning to antagonize the most enlightened segment of its public as well as concerned Americans including a large minority of secularized Jews who keep abreast with what is going on beyond the predictable story line promoted by Zionists. So the nightmarish aspect of ghetto existence persists after decades of conflict, and as much through choice as necessity. The question is how such a gifted population can extricate itself from its present role with the least damage to everybody involved.
Mearsheimer, John, and Stephen Walt. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007). Already the standard reference upon Israel’s control of American foreign policy.
Carter, Jimmy. Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (Simon & Schuster, 2006). A lucid summary of the current situation based on personal experience.
La Guardia, Anton. War Without End: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Struggle for a Promised Land (Thomas Dunne Books, 2001). A pro-Israeli summary of events up until the book’s publication. Its 11-page bibliography includes none of the texts included in this bibliography.
Finkelstein, Norman. The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (Verso, 2000).
Ball, George, and Douglas Ball. The Passionate Attachment: America’s Involvement with Israel, 1947 to the Present (W.W. Norton, 1992). Really excellent, written by an experienced diplomat fed up by the lies and distortions.
Cockburn, Andrew and Leslie. Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the US-Israeli Covert Relationship (HarperCollins, 1991). Emphasizes the link between the CIA and Mossad (its Israeli equivalent).
Hersh, Seymour. The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy (Random House, 1991). Explores the origins of Israel’s atomic program resulting from U.S. foreign policy.
Fisk, Robert. Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon (Atheneum, 1990).
Ostrovsky, Victor, and Claire Hoy. By Way of Deception (St. Martin’s Press, 1990). Confessions of a Mosssad agent.
Neff, Donald. Warriors against Israel: How Israel Won the Battle to Become America’s Ally 1973 (Amana Books, 1988).
Geoffrey Aronson. Israel, Palestinians and the Intifada (Kegan Paul, 1987). How Harsh Israeli policies led to the Palestinian resistance.
Findley, Paul. They Dare to Speak Out (Lawrence Hill, 1985). The stories of U.S. politicians driven out of politics by Zionist pressure because of their refusal to go along with its demands.
Neff, Donald. Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days that Changed the Middle East (Linden Press, 1984). A thorough summary of the 1967 war.
Chomsky, Noam. The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (South End Press, 1983). An early but thorough assessment of the Israeli conflict.
Brenner, Lenni. Zionism in the Age of the Dictators: A Reappraisal (Lawrence Hill, 1983). A highly controversial study of the relations between Zionism and Nazi Germany during the 1930s.
Timerman, Jacobo. The Longest War: Israel in Lebanon (Knopf, 1982). An account of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon that lays most of the blame on Israel.
Neff, Donald. Warriors at Suez: Eisenhower Takes America into the Middle East (Linden Press, 1981). A full account of the 1956 Suez crisis.
The intense anti-Semitism in currency at the beginning of the twentieth century is best exemplified by J. Cameron and Henry Ford’s series of articles published between 1919 and 1927 in The Dearborn Independent and later compiled under the title, The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem. Hitler’s early hostility to Jews is plain in vol. 1, chap. 11 of Mein Kampf, and he expresses his later views in passim. in Hitler’s Table Talk, ed. by Hugh Trevor-Roper. The most interesting defense of anti-semitism on an historic basis is to be found in Houston Chamberlain’s Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1911), vol 1, Division 2, chap. 5 — one of Hitler’s favorite books.
Useful website chronologies that are critical of Israel include:
(2) “Who Invented Modern Day Terrorism”
(3) “Encyclopedia of the Palestinian Problem,” by Issla Nakhleh
Livia Rokach’s book, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism, with an introduction by Noam Chomsky (Association of Arab-American Graduates, 1980, 1982, 1986), is also available on the Internet in its entirety.
Names and dates are emphasized as much as possible to simplify the use of popular search engines such as Google, and websites such as Wikipedia to submit the data presented here to further investigation.