Zionism and the Birth of Israel

In pondering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in discussions I have had, I have found that very few people actually have a basic understanding of the conflict nor could they provide a definitions of the conflict even in rough approximating terms.

Thus one sometimes hears that it is all about Arab/Palestinian ‘terrorism’ and suicide bombings and the ultimate goal of the terrorists-Palestinians is to ‘push all the Jews into the sea, dead or alive” and that their motives are those of anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews. Those who hold this view see the conflict as one of the survival of the Jewish state amid a sea of irrational hatred.

That is the view of the Zionists, and the view propagated by Israel, and the one they would like for the world to accept.

One also hears that the conflict is a religious one between Jews and Arabs and that it has been continuous for ‘thousands of years’.

Neither is correct.

The first Palestinian suicide bombing occurred in 1994, 40 days after the massacre by the Brooklyn native Baruch Goldstein of 29 praying Muslims at the Al Ibrahim Mosque in Hebron. The ’67 War and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights was 25 years old at that time. Thus an entire generation of Palestinians had grown to maturity having experienced nothing but military occupation before the first suicide bomber struck.

The phrase, “push all the Jews into the sea, dead or alive”, can be traced to a 1961 speech to the Knesset delivered by Prime Minister David Ben Gurion. This apparently was the first use of this phrase by a significant political personality, and thus, for all intents and purposes, the phrase has a Jewish and not an Arab origin. The propagation of this emotional phrase throughout the Israeli-Palestinian debate has its source the Israeli Prime Minister himself. ((See “Who is Pushing Whom into the Sea?” ))

The view that the conflict is religious and that it has been ongoing for thousands of years is inaccurate. For approximately 2000 years Jews and Arabs enjoyed a harmonious relation, and for four hundred years up until World War I, as citizens of the Ottoman empire with equal rights. Indeed, Jews enjoyed high government position within the Ottoman Empire.

Change occurred in 1896 with the publication of Theodore Herzl’s book Der Judenstaat (The Jews’ State), in which Herzl propounded the idea of inevitability, immutability, permanence, and omnipresence of anti-Semitism and argued that the only solution was a separate state for Jews.

Herzl stated, in this book:

The Jewish question exists wherever Jews live in perceptible numbers. Where it does not exist, it is carried by Jews in the course of their migrations. We naturally move to those places where we are not persecuted, and there our presence produces persecution. … ((Herzl, Theodore, The Jewish State,  p 9, 2007, BN Publishing.))

In 1912, Chaim Weizman, Israel’s first president, and the Zionist advocate who had the most to do with lobbying the British for the Balfour Declaration of 1917, echoed this view, speaking to a Berlin audience: “… each country can absorb only a limited number of Jews, if she doesn’t want disorder in her stomach. Germany already has too many Jews.” ((Edward Mortimer quotes Chaim Wizmann in Brenner, Lenni, “Zionism in the Age of Dictators,” Counterpunch.))

Reflecting in 1949 in his autobiography, Trial and Error, Weizmann wrote: “Whenever the quantity of Jews in any country reaches the saturation point, that country reacts against them …”

Weizmann, the chemist, invoking a metaphor from the sciences, added:

… the determining factor in this matter is not the is solubility of Jews, but the solvent power of the country. … This cannot be looked upon as anti-Semitism in the ordinary or vulger sense of that word; it is a universal social and economic concomitant of Jewish immigration, and we cannot shake it off … ((Weizmann, Chaim, Trial and Error, p 90-91.))

Herzl’s, as well as the Zionists’, understanding of the inevitability of anti-Semitism was possibly self fulfilling, for rather that opposing anti-Semitism in the first half of the 20th century, the Zionists found common cause with Hitler, Eichmann and the Nazis and used anti-Semitism and Nazism as a means of achieving their end which was the establishment of a Jewish state. The two reactionary movements shared the view that German Jews were living in that country as a ‘foreign race’ and that the racial divide was essential to maintain. (Historian Lenny Brenner has written three excellent books on the Zionists-Nazi collaboration.) The Zionist’s use of Nazism involved, among other things, the blocking of avenues of escape to other countries of Europe’s Jews and diverting them to Palestine, even as the death trains began to roll in Europe. The rise of Nazism and Hitler to power was never, or almost never, opposed by the Zionist prior to the establishment of Israel.

Ben Frommer, an American Revisionist, stated in 1935:

No matter what country he inhabits … [it] is not of the [his] tribal origins. … Consequently, the Jew’s attempt at complete identity with his country sounds spurious; his patriotism despite his vociferousness [sounds] hollow even to himself; and therefore his demand for complete equality with those who are of the essence of the nation naturally creates friction. This explains the intolerance of the Germans, Austrians, Poles and the increasing tide of antagonism in most European countries … It is presumptuous on the part of a Jew to demand that he be treated as lovingly as say a Teuton in a Teutonic country or a Pole in a Polish country. He must jealously guard his life and liberty, but he must candidly recognize that he does not ‘belong’. The liberal fiction of perfect equality is doomed because is was unnatural. ((Frommer, Ben, The Significance of the Jewish State, Jewish Call, (Shanghai, 1935), p 10-11.)) [Italics mine]

Indeed, in 1925, Jacob Klatzkin, the coeditor of the massive Encyclopedia Judaica, wrote:

… If our people is deserving and willing to live its own national life, then it is an alien body that insists on its own distinctive identity, reducing the domain of their life. It is right therefore, that they should fight against us for their national integrity … Instead of establishing societies for defense against the anti-Semites, who want to reduce our rights, we should establish societies for defense against our friends who desire to defend our rights. ((Agus, Jacob, The Meaning of Jewish History, vol II, p 435.))

And in an article by Siegfried Moses, which appeared in the Rundschau, the official newspaper of the German Zionist Federation, and later, its head, stated:

… it is true that the defense against anti-Semitism is not our main task, it does not concern us to the same extent and is not of the same importance for us as is the work for Palestine … ((Edelheim-Muehsam, Margaret, “Reactions of the Jewish Press to the Nazi Challenge,” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, vol V, (1960), p 312.))

In 1934, Stephen Wise, head of the American Jewish Congress said;

… I cannot be indifferent to the Galuth [the Jewish diaspora living outside of Palestine] … if I had to choose between Eretz Israel and its upbuilding and the defense of the Galuth, I would say that then the Galuth must perish. ((7. “Rabbi Wise’, The New Palestine (14 February 1934). p 5-7.))

Both Nazism and Zionism arose in tandem from small insignificant social movements, in the early part of the 20th century, arguing, with equal force, that Jews were an alien and indigestible mass living in the midst of an otherwise pure Aryan population. Both movements contributed to the widespread acceptance of this argument as mid-century approached, and both have to be responsible.

On October 2, 1937, two SS officers, Herbert Hagen and Adolf Eichmann disembarked in Haifa and were met by the Gestapo’s agent in Palestine, Fritz Reichert and later in the day, Fevel Polkes, a Haganah agent, who showed the Nazi officials Haifa from Mt Carmel and then paid a visit to a kibbutz. Some years later, when Eichmann was hiding in Argentina, he taped a story of excursion to Palestine, stating:

I did see enough to be very impressed with the way the Jewish colonists were building up their land. … In the years that followed I often said to Jews with whom I had dealings that had I been a Jew, I would have been a fanatical Zionist. … ((Eichmann, Adolf, ‘Eichmann Tells His Own Damning Story,’ Life (28 Nov. 1960) p 22.))

In their trip report, the two officers paraphrased Polkes’s message to them:

The Zionist state must be established by all means and as soon as possible. … When the Jewish state is established according to the current proposals laid down in the Peel paper, and in line with England’s partial promises, then the borders may be pushed further outwards according to one wished. … ((Polkehn, Klaus, ‘The Secret Contacts: Zionism and Nazi Germany 1933-41’  Journal of Palestine Studies (Spring 1976), p 337.))

… in Jewish nationalist circles people were very pleased with the radical German policy, since the strength of the Jewish population in Palestine would be so far increased thereby that in the foreseeable future the Jews could reckon upon numerical superiority over the Arabs in Palestine. ((Hohne, Heinz, The Order of the Death’s Head, p 337.))

During his February trip to Berlin, Polkes proposed that the Haganah act as spies for the Nazi government and, as a sign of good faith, passed on intelligence information which was detrimental to their mutual opponents, the Communist.

History might have been very different had the Zionists component of Jewry opposed Nazism and there might never have been a Holocaust. And there might never have been a state of Israel, as some the Zionists well understood.

Lenni Brenner puts it:

… of all of the active Jewish opponents of the boycott idea [of Nazi Germany], the most important was the world Zionists Organization (WZO). It not only bought German wares; it sold them, and even sought out new customers for Hitler and his industrialist backers.

The WZO saw Hitler’s victory in much the same way as its German affiliate, the ZVfD [the German Zionist Organization]: not primarily as a defeat for all Jewry, but as positive proof of the bankruptcy of assimilation and liberalism. ((Brenner, Zionism in the Age of Dictators, Lawrence Hill, (1983).))

Here Brenner is referring to the so-called Ha’avara agreement, or ‘transfer agreement’.

In 1933, Sam Cohen, owner of a citrus export company in Tel Aviv approached the German government with the proposal that emigrants from Germany could avoid the flight tax by instead purchasing German products, which would then be shipped to Palestine, along with their purchasers, where the new arrivals in Palestine could then redeem their investments after the sale of the products by import merchants.

Heinrich Wolff, the German Consul in Jerusalem quickly realized the utility of such an arrangement in damping the international boycott effort of German import goods. He wrote to Berlin:

Whereas in April and May the Yishuv [the European Jewish community in Palestine] was waiting boycott instructions from the United States, it now seems that the situation has been transformed. It is Palestine which now gives the instructions… It is important to break the boycott first and foremost in Palestine, and the effect will inevitably be felt on the main front, in the United States. ((Yisraeli, David, “The Third Reich and the Transfer Agreement,” Journal of Contemporary History, vol. VI (1971), P 131.))

Cohen had promised Heinrich Wolff that he would work behind the scenes at the forthcoming Jewish conference in London to weaken or defeat any boycott resolution.

Dr Fritz Reichert, the Gestapo’s agent in Palestine, later wrote to his headquarters:

The London Boycott Conference was torpedoed from Tel Aviv because the head of the Transfer in Palestine, in close contact with the consulate in Jerusalem, sent cables to London. Our main function here is to prevent, from Palestine, the unification of world Jewry on a basis hostile to Germany … It is advisable to damage the political and economic strength of Jewry by sowing dissension in its ranks. ((Yisraeli, David, “The Third Reich and the Transfer Agreement,” Journal of Contemporary History, vol. VI (1971), P 131.))

Negotiations with the Nazi government was taken over by the World Zionist Organization and Cohen was replaced by Chaim Arlosoroff, the Political Secretary of the Jewish Agency. Arlosoroff traveled to Berlin in May of 1933 he and the Nazis reached a preliminary understanding to continue Cohen’s arrangement. Arlosoroff returned to Tel Aviv where upon he was promptly assassinated, most probably by some members of the Revisionist wing of Zionism headed by Jabotinsky who opposed any accommodation with the Nazis.

Negotiations continued, however, and an agreement was signed in 1933 between the Nazis and the World Zionist Organization which persisted until 1939 and the invasion of Poland. The Ha’arava grew to become a substantial banking and trading house with 137 specialists in its Jerusalem office at the height of its activities. The sale of German products expanded to include destinations outside of Palestine, but the arrangement remained essentially the same as the one originally negotiated by Sam Cohen – that German Jews wishing to emigrate, rather giving up most or all of their wealth to the German government, could invest their money in a German bank which would be used for purchasing German export goods. The purchaser could then redeem his investment when the goods had been sold and after he had arrived in Palestine. The German government set the rules and the emigrant would lose typically in excess of 30% of his investment.

The Zionist-Nazi collaboration is only a subtext of this paper, and will not be pursued any further here, the main point being to find a definition of the Palestine-Israeli conflict. Rather, I refer the reader to any of several books by historian, Lenni Brenner, and, in particular, to his book, 51Documents, which is an anthology of documents relating to the Nazi-Zionist collaboration.

However, the model of Jews fleeing a burning building, i.e. the Nazi Holocaust, and thus creating a redoubt of safety in the form of the state of Israel cannot be maintained. Aside from the fact that the Zionist project was initiated at least by the time of Herzl’s Der Judenstaat of 1896, if not before, and well before the Nazi ascension to power in the 1930’s, the Zionists were little concern with the slaughter of Jews in Europe and almost exclusively focused on building a state in Palestine.

A proposal by British, in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, that Britain admit a thousand children be directly into Britain was sternly opposed by Ben Gurion who told a meeting of the Labor Zionist in December 1938:

If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz Israel, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the People of Israel. ((Gelber, Yoav, Zionism and the Fate of European Jewry (1939-42), Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XII, p 171-23, Ch 13.))

And to the Zionist Executive in December, he said:

If Jews will have to choose between the refugees, saving Jews from concentration camps, and assisting a national museum in Palestine, mercy will have the upper hand and the whole energy of the people will be channeled into saving Jews from various countries. Zionism will be struck off the agenda not only in world public opinion, in Britain and the United States, but elsewhere in Jewish public opinion. If we allow a separation between the refugee problem and the Palestine problem, we are risking the existence of Zionism. ((Brownfield, Peter Egill, The Jewish Establishment’s Focus on Palestine: Did it Distract from Holocaust Efforts? (Summer 2003).))

Indeed, there was a fundamental incompatibility with the upbuilding of a Jewish state in Palestine and opposition to the Nazi program of extermination of Europe’s Jews. The Ha’avara agreement allowed the transfer of LP 8,100,000 (Palestinian Pounds; then $40,419,000) to Palestine along with 60,000 German Jews between 1933 and 1939. But it also had the effect of undercutting the international boycott effort and providing an inflow of capital to the German government owing to the sale of German manufactured goods abroad.

This understanding is important, as the Holocaust has been central in provoking sympathy for the State of Israel and in amplifying the claims for reparations from European governments. Sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust, whether Jews or Roma, is no less justified, but the state of Israel cannot maintain an air of complete innocence nor be the justified recipient of billions of dollars or reparations, very little of which is actually dispersed to Holocaust survivors.

Returning to Herzl who wrote Der Judenstaat in 1896 and died in 1904, Herzl would have been just as happy with a Jewish state in a region of Argentina as well as Ethiopia which were considered, however Palestine was the site for which there was the greatest consensus.

Of the indigenous Palestinians, of which there were about a million at the time living in Palestine, he said: “[We shall] spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” ((Morris, Benny, Righteous Victims, p 21-22. ))

Thus the concept of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionism was introduced.

It is not rocket science. If you want to create a state exclusively of European Jews in the heart of the Middle East, you must first get rid of the Arabs.

Herzl went on the found the World Zionists Organization, whose intent was to establish a Jewish state in Palestine and to make itself into proto-government from which the actual state government would seamlessly emerge upon the establishment of the Jewish state.

Though the world seems not to understand the intent of the Zionist program, there was no misunderstanding among the Zionists themselves.

In his 1923 book The Iron Wall, Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder to the “Revisionists” wing of Zionism, wrote:

There can be no discussion of voluntary reconciliation between the Arabs, not now and not in the foreseeable future. All well-meaning people, with the exception of those blind from birth, understood long ago the complete impossibility of arriving at a voluntary agreement with the Arabs of Palestine for the transformation of Palestine from an Arab country to a country with a Jewish majority.

Any native people view their country as their national home, of which they will be the complete masters. They will never voluntarily allow a new master. So it is for the Arabs. Compromisers among us try to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked with hidden formulations of our basic goals. I flatly refuse to accept this view of the Palestinian Arabs.

The Palestinians will struggle in this way until there is hardly a spark of hope.

It matters not what kind of words we use to explain our colonization. Colonization has its own integral and inescapable meaning understood by every Jew and every Arab. Colonization has only one goal. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible. It has been necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs and the same conditions exist now.

… a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy.

Force must play its role – with strength and without indulgence. In this, there are no meaningful differences between our militarists and our vegetarians. One prefers an Iron Wall of Jewish bayonets; the other an Iron Wall of English bayonets.

If you wish to colonize a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for that land,… . Or else? Or else, give up your colonization, for without an armed force which will render physically impossible any attempt to destroy or prevent this colonization, colonization is IMPOSSIBLE! Zionism is a colonization adventure and there fore it stands or it falls by the question of armed force. It is important to speak Hebrew but, unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot – or else I am through with playing at colonization.

To the hackneyed reproach that this point is unethical, I answer – absolutely untrue. This is our ethic. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes – not for any sweet words not for any tasty morsel. Because this (the Palestinians) is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall.

The ‘Revisionists’ advocated the revision of the British Mandate for Palestine to include the east bank of the Jordan, now the state of Jordan, as well as the west bank, the Jordan River forming the eastern boundary of the mandate at that time. The ‘Revisionist’ transformed over time into the present day Lukud party, the right wing party of Menachem Begin, who regarded Jabotinsky as his model and philosophical father, of Yitzchak Shamir, who became the leader of the so-called Stern Gang, at the time of Avraham Stern’s death, and of Ariel Sharon, and of Benjamin Netanyahu. The Stern Gang was the Jewish terrorist group responsible for the assassination of the UN representative to Palestine, and the British Foreign Minister for the Middle East,

Responding to the 1937 recommendation of the Royal Peel Commission to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state confederated with Jordan, David Ben Gurion said: “… after we build up a strong force following the establishment of the state – we will abolish partition of the country and we will expand to the whole Land of Israel.” ((Masalha, Nur, Expulsion of the Palestinians, p 107.))

And again in 1937, Ben Gurion stated: “The compulsory transfer of Arabs from the valleys of the proposed Jewish state could give us something which we never had, even when we stood on our own feet during the days of the First and Second Temple.”

And in a letter to his son, also in 1937, he stated: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places and if we have to use force, to guarantee our own right to settle in those places then we have force at our disposal.”

And in 1940, Joseph Weitz, who was head of land purchasing for the World Jewish Organization, and head of one of several ‘transfer committees’ (committees to study ways of transferring the Arabs from Palestine) wrote:

Transfer does not serve only one aim – to reduce the Arab population – it also serves a second purpose by no means less important, which is: to evict land now cultivated by Arabs and to free it for Jewish settlement.

Between ourselves it must be clear that here is no room for both peoples together in this country. We shall not achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this country. There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries – all of them. Not one village, not one tribe, should be left. ((Nur, p 131.))

And in early 1948 Ben Gurion wrote in his War Diary, “During the assault we must be ready to strike the decisive blow; that is, either to destroy the towns or expel its inhabitants so our people can replace them.” ((Nur, p 180.))

And in February 1948, Ben Gurion told Yoseph Weitz: “The war will give us land. The concept of ‘ours’ and ‘not ours’ are peace concepts, only, in war they lose their whole meaning.” ((Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, 2nd ed, p 170.))

In 1978, on the occasion of President Jimmy Carter, at the invitation of Prime Minister Manachem Begin, presiding over a meeting of the Israeli cabinet, the only non-Jew to have ever done that, Carter was told to his face by then Israeli Minister of Agriculture, Ariel Sharon, that Carter could take for granted that within the next few years there would be 2 to 3 million Jews living in the occupied territories. He added further that:

“Even as we speak, Jewish families are migrating into Judea and Samaria.” ((Shiff, Haber, Year of the Dove.))

And in 1983, Raphael Eytan, then chief of staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, said,

We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel .… Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours…. When we have settled the land, all the Arab will be able to do will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle. ((Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces in David Shipler, “Most West Bank Arabs Blaming U.S for Impasse,” New York Times, 14 April 1983, A3.))

Let me interject here an important point. By January of 1948, the ethnic cleansing had been ongoing for just more than a month. In fact, the ethnic cleansing commenced the very next morning after the partition resolution of 29 November 1947 when the 75,000 Arab citizens of Haifa were subjected to a campaign of terror jointly by the terrorist group, the Irgun, under Menachem Begin, and the Haganah, the regular militia under David Ben Gurion. The Jewish settlers who had arrived during the previous decade had built their homes higher up the mountain and thus occupied a higher topographical space. From the superior height, they could snipe at the villagers at will. They began doing this while the Jewish troops rolled barrels of burning oil down their roads and then ignited them. When the terrified residents came out to try to extinguish the rivers of fire, they were sprayed with machine gun fire. Another techniques was to deliver cars filled with explosives to Arab garages to be repaired, and then to detonate the cars in the garages.

On its website, the official historian of the Palmach (a special unit of the Haganah) states, “The Palestinians [in Haifa] were from December onwards under siege and intimidation.”

This was the beginning of the ethnic cleansing and occurred six months before the first regular soldier from a surrounding Arab state entered Palestine, which was on May 15, 1948.

I remind the reader that the Deir Yassin massacre occurred on April 9, 1948, and also that by May 15, all of the major cities of Palestine had been cleansed of Arabs and about one half of the 750,000 to 800,000 Palestinian refugees has been ethnically cleansed.

This was the beginning of the expulsion of the Palestinians Arabs from Haifa and from Palestine. The ending for Haifa’s Arabs came on Passover evening of April 21, when the British commander, Stockwell, called four Arab community leaders in to this office to inform them that the British army would be evacuating the city and advised the Arabs that they could not be protected. As Ilan Pappe puts it:

Previous correspondence between them and Stockwell shows that that they trusted him as the keeper of law and order in the city. The British officer now advised them that it would be better for their people to leave the city, where they and most of their families had lived and worked ever since the mid-eighteenth century, when Haifa came to prominence as a modern town. ((Pappe, Ilan, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p 94.))

Pappe continues:

[I]t was Mordechai Maklef, the operation officer of the Carmel Brigade … who called the shots. Maklef orchestrated the cleansing campaign, and the orders he issued to his troops were plain and simple: “Kill any Arab you encounter; torch all inflammable objects and force doors open with explosives.”

When these orders were executed promptly within the 1.5 square kilometers where thousands of Haifa’s defenseless Palestinians were still residing , he shock and terror were such that, without packing any of their belongings or even knowing what they were doing, people began leaving en masse. In panic they headed towards the port where they hoped to find a ship or boat to take them away from the city. As soon as they had fled, Jewish troops broke into and looted their houses. …

In the early hours of dawn on 22 April, the people began streaming to the harbor. As the streets in that part of the city were already overcrowded with people seeking escape, the Arab community’s self-appointed leadership tried to instill some order in the chaotic scene. Loudspeakers could be heard, urging the people to gather in the old marketplace next to the port, and seek shelter there until an orderly evacuation by sea could be organized. ‘the Jews had occupied Stanton road and are on their way’, the loudspeakers blared.

The Carmeli Brigade’s war book, chronicling its action in the war, shows little compunction about what followed thereafter. The brigade’s officers, aware that people had been advised to gather near the port’s gate, ordered their men to station three-inch mortars on the mountain slopes overlooking the market and the port – where the Rothchild Hospital stands today – and to bombard the gathering crowds below. The plan was to make sure the people would have no second thoughts, and to guarantee that the flight would be in one direction only. Once the Palestinians were gathered in the marketplace – and architectural gem dating back to the Ottoman period, covered with white arched canopies, but destroyed beyond recognition after the creation of the State of Israel – they were an easy target for the Jewish marksmen.

Haifa’s market was less than one hundred yards from what was then the main gate to the port. When the shelling began, this was the natural destination for the panic-stricken Palestinians. The crowd now broke in the port, pushing aside the policemen who guarded the gate. Scores of people stormed the boats that were moored there, and began to flee the city. We can learn what happened next from the horrifying recollections of some of the survivors, published recently. Here is one of them:

Men stepped on their friends and women on their own children. The boats in the port were soon filled with living cargo. The overcrowding in them was horrible. Many turned over and sank with all their passengers. ((Pappe, p 96.))

Thus it was the Jews who pushed the Palestinians in to the sea, and not vice versa.

In March of 1948, a month earlier than the events described above, the so-called Plan D or Plan Dalet, as a further crystallization of Plans A, B and C, was finalized by David Ben Gurion, and those who were continually in consultation with him, and distributed to the Haganah commanders. This document was a blueprint for the destruction Arab villages and expulsion of its residents, within the 78% of Palestine coveted by Ben Gurion. By this time 30 Arab villages had been either destroyed or depopulated. By the year’s end, 531 Arab villages would be destroyed, and 11 Arab neighborhoods in urban areas.

One revealing paragraph of this document states:

These operations can be carried out in the following manner: either by destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up, and by planting mines in their rubble), and especially those populations centers that are difficult to control permanently; or by mounting combing and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the villages, conducting a search inside them. In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state.

Between the time that Israel declared itself a state in May of 1948 and the summer of 2005, Israel killed 50,000 Palestinians, according to Israeli Historian Ilan Pappe, writing in Foreign Policy, in the summer of 2005. And since October of 2000, Israel has killed 6430 Palestinians, according to the web site, If American Knew. The latter figure averages to about 2 Palestinians killed per day by Israel (1.932, by my calculation.)

According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition, Israel has destroyed 34,000 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem since 1967, and, in the same period, about 800,000 olive and citrus trees in the west Bank and Gaza resulting in a loss to the Palestinian economy of $55 million, according to a recent estimate by the international humanitarian relief agency Oxfam. And in Israel’s winter assault on Gaza in 2009, Israel destroyed between 4 and 5,000 homes and either damaged destroyed as many as 50,000. Many Gaza families spent the winter of 2010 living in caves dug out of the rubble of their destroyed homes because the area is under siege with building material not allow to enter.

Because of the siege of Gaza, babies are frequently born with anemia because their mothers are not getting enough nutrition and because of the lack of food allowed into Gaza and because of the destruction of agricultural areas inside Gaza. The stunting of growth because of the lack of nutrition of Gaza’s children is prevalent, and I have seen this figure put at 14%.

Israel, a state which had never clearly defined its boundaries, invites Jews from all over the world to immigrate to Israel and expand it ranks, along with its boundaries into Arab lands.

One thing is certain: Israel is not the victim, as it is constantly screaming, but the victimizer.

What then is the conflict all about? What is the theme that runs through the entire history of


It is about the ongoing program of Zionism to destroy the Palestinians as a people and to assume possession of their ancestral land.

There are Zionists who would settle for a two state solution and a withdrawal of the Israeli presence to the 1967 borders allowing a mini-Palestinian state on the remaining 22% of Palestine. But the reality on the ground is that Israel has expanded beyond the point of retreat with 600,000 settlers in the West Bank, 200,000 in East Jerusalem, as of this writing, with 200 or more settlements in the West Bank some twice the size of Manhattan containing their own, schools, universities, shopping malls and the billions of dollars of invested infrastructure, both private and public, and a segregated, for-Jews-only, highway system, 300 miles long, cutting up the West Bank with Palestinians imprisoned in disjoint islands between these concrete and asphalt barriers.

But whatever the views of these moderate Zionists, who call for contraction to the ’67 borders, the dynamics of Israel is and has always been expansion. The centrifugal forces pushing the expansion are multivaried and complicated. They are religious and motivated by mythology, they are military, they are for want of security, they are from want of power and aggrandizement for its own sake, they are for want of Lebensraum, but they are persistent and they have an entire century of momentum and a century of Zionism on the move.

What the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is all about then is the destruction of the Palestinian people and their evacuation and the complete takeover of Palestine at least to the Jordan River by the Jewish state. And what hangs in the balance is whether or not the Palestinians will be destroyed and eliminated as a people with a distinct culture and history and with an attachment to the land of their birth and their parent’s and ancestor’s births.

William James Martin writes frequently on the Middle East. He can be reached at wjm20@caa.columbia.edu. Read other articles by William.