|By Sydney White|
In Iraq, suicide bombings occur regularly. Those who are looked on as collaborators by the Iraqi resistance die along with Americans.
Unlike the Palestinians, the Iraqis obviously have no intention of letting an occupation go on for 28 years before performing kamikaze acts. Apparently they are not convinced by the old argument that "since rape is inevitable, you may as well lie down and enjoy it". Further, the methods by which they are occupied are identical to those inflicted on the Palestinians. American soldiers invade private homes, demolishing what little the Iraqis have left; families flee to whatever makeshift shelters they can find.
Even under Saddam's dictatorship, Iraqis claim that they have not suffered as they do now. Indeed, tuning in late to the media sound bites is sometimes confusing. Are the fleeing and wounded Iraqis, or have the tanks returned to Jenin?
The jargon justifying the state terrorism is the same in both places. The indigenous people are all "suspected", "alleged" and "believed" to be terrorists. In Iraq, it is the oil that is being liberated; in Palestine it is the water under the West Bank.
Will Iraq's history be revised to suit legalized robbery, as it has been in Palestine? Since most of Iraq's antiquities were sacked by the invaders and their friends, it is highly likely that in future, the Cradle of Civilization will be moved, along with its artifacts, to some more popular locale.
The depleted uranium has inflicted leukemia and gross deformities on Iraq's children, while bombs have dismantled their national healthcare and education, readying them for privatization.
But the Iraqis, along with the Palestinians, remain steadfastly belligerent. Like the newborn chicks who run from the shadow of the hawk even as they come out of the shell, so have the Arabs had many generations to internalize the treatment they have received in the last two centuries. The Palestinians, suffering what has been described by historians as the longest and most brutal occupation in modern history, are a constant warning to the indigenous peoples of the Middle East not to let down their guard. Just as the survivors of the Holocaust have museums worldwide as reminders of their suffering, so the Arabs, without museums, have a living reminder in Palestine.
A strange attitude, however, colours the media when the history of the Palestinian "Catastrophe" is approached. Self-proclaimed "impartial" moderators such as Michael Coren, declare: "But Israel's here now. Forget the past. We have to go on from there."
By discounting this relevant history, Coren and other journalists dismiss the root cause of a Middle East situation that could easily become the Armageddon that fundamentalists embrace. The ongoing apartheid, land robbery and ethnic cleansing by Israel is now presented merely as "two peoples who just can't get along".
Acknowledging the history and dispensing with the Old Testament as a real estate brochure would aid in defusing the situation. But that logical and life-saving step is not to be. Even now, Bush league neo-cons like our own David Frum and the Black Prince of Washington, Richard Perle, are stoking the fires with their latest collaboration. Frum has gone from "the axis of evil" which got him fired as Bush's speechwriter, to An End to Evil which reads like a medieval witch-burning tract. Michael Ladine has come out with a handbook called Creative Destruction; Elliot Cohen has published Tactical Nuclear War. Daniel Pipes, who surveils all North American University students on his web site "Campus Watch", is advertising that Islam is a Religion of Hate.
For the sake of future sane debate, here is a brief history of the Israeli-Palestinian "conflict". Though it is treated as irrelevant by the bought media and its owners, the long history of injustice to Palestine is still the issue and the core of resentment that drives the growing animosity in the Middle East towards America, Britain and Israel.
Contrary to the myth of "A land without People", in the early 1800s, Palestine was a thriving society with a developed agricultural base, using terraced hills and a widespread irrigation system. There were a thousand Palestinian villages, well known for their crafts, textiles and diverse trade. Jewish immigrants were welcomed -- as were the Armenians when they fled the genocide in Turkey in 1915. However, Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky supported Turkey and used its methods against the Palestinians. In contrast to Russia, Poland and other east European nations, where their leaders were courted by the Zionist movement, there was no organized Jew-hatred in Palestine in those years.
Then, in 1896, Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, proposed to the Ottoman Empire, that it grant Palestine directly to the Zionist movement. He promised in 1897 at the First World Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, "to create a Jewish state in Palestine" and directed "that the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly." As in the trumped- up invasion of Iraq, the partition of Palestine had nothing to do with any noble cause. The Holocaust, which occurred over 40 years after Herzl's promise to his fellow Zionists, was merely used as the final leverage for a land grab by Israel, and more oil concessions for Britain and the United States.
In 1905, the 7th World Zionist Congress, realized that emerging Palestinian nationalism, would close off their opportunity to take it over, so they offered to defend the Sultan's rule against it. Later, when Germany made an alliance with Turkey, the Zionists appealed to Germany for support. By 1914, the World Zionist Organization moved to enlist the British Empire, which was planning to break up the Ottoman Empire and seize control of Middle East oil. Chaim Weizman told the British that Jewish settlement would "civilize" Palestine and guard the Suez Canal for Britain. General Jan Smuts of South Africa, the architect of Apartheid, allied himself with Weizman and pushed for the Balfour Declaration.
At last, after nine years of failure to get investors, the Zionist trade-off was accepted. Britain had recognized the value of having permanent enforcers in the Middle East. South African capitalists immediately established "Africa-Israel Investments" to buy land in Palestine -- today its assets are held by Israel's Bank Leumi.
According to noted historian Carrol Quigley, Britain led both the Jews and the Arabs to believe that it would promote each one's political ambitions in the area.
Balfour's promise to Lord Rothschild was considered a betrayal by the Arabs, after they fought with Britain in 1918 against the Turks. In fact, British archeologist Thomas Edward Lawrence (of Arabia), who was so respected by the Arab forces, found Balfour's Declaration so distasteful that he changed his name to "Shaw" for anonymity. Dr. Arnold Toynbee said, "We were taking it upon ourselves to give away something that was not ours to give." Well-known Jewish writer Arthur Koestler described the betrayal aptly when he wrote, "One nation promised a second, the country of a third."
By 1931, 20,000 Palestinian families had been evicted by Zionist agents. The British Mandate awarded 90 per cent of all state concessions in Palestine to Jewish capitalists. This included roads, Dead Sea minerals, electricity, ports and other public sector projects.
By 1935, Zionists controlled 872 of the 1,212 industrial firms. Palestinians reacted with uprisings from 1936 through 1939. The British imposed martial law, which still forms the basis of Israeli law. Britain then instituted the "Colony Police" a quasi-police force composed of 14,000 Zionists.
Thousands of Palestinian homes were destroyed and 6,000 were left homeless in Jaffa alone.
In June 1933, The Zionist Federation of Germany sent a message of support to the Nazi Party. That same year, The World Zionist Organization defeated a resolution calling for action against Hitler. The vote was 240 to 43. Its Anglo-Palestine Bank also broke an international boycott of the Nazi regime, easing the import of German goods into Palestine. Joseph Goebbels praised Zionism in a major report he issued in 1934 and Adolph Eichmann was invited to Palestine as a guest of the Haganah, the Zionist armed forces.
On August 7, 1937, Ben Gurion, said to the 20th Zionist Congress in Zurich: "Jewish settlement in many parts of the country will not be possible until there is a transfer of the Arab peasantry. . . Thankfully the Arab people have large empty areas [outside Palestine]. Jewish power in the country will also increase our possiblities to carry out the transfer on a large scale. This method contains an important humane and Zionist idea, [emphasis added] to shift parts of a people to their own country and to settle empty lands."
Apparently, for Ben Gurion, expelling people from their homeland was "humane".
On 11 Jan. 41, Yitzhak Shamir, who was Israel's prime minister in the 1980s, proposed a formal military pact between the Irgun and the Nazi Third Reich. As Professor Israel Shahak stated: "You cannot have humane Zionism; it is a contradiciton in terms." In fact, while the Jews of Europe were being exterminated, Rabbi Stephen Wise, head of the American Jewish Congress, opposed any change in United States immigration policy which would enable Jews to take refuge in America.
On 29 Nov. 47, the United Nations General Assembly passed its resolution No. 181. It recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state on 56 per cent of the land, an Arab state on 42 per cent of the land, and an International Zone in Jerusalem. The United States got the General Assembly to delay a vote "to gain time to bring, by coercion, certain Latin American, Asian and African countries into line with its own views."
As Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles stated at that time, "By direct order of the White House, every form of pressure, direct and indirect, was used to make sure that the necessary majority would be gained," a strategy that continues to this day.
But before the Israeli state was established, the Irgun and the Haganah seized three-quarters of the land. By 1948, 385 Palestinian towns were leveled to the ground. In early 1949, Israel , with the financial and technological support of the United States, occupied 78 per cent of Palestine. Ethnic cleansing had driven 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, sometimes from the dinner table, leaving all their belongings behind them.
This destruction was accompanied by massacres such as Deir Yassin on 9 April 48 where 250 men, women and children were butchered by the Irgun. Just before the massacre, the people of Deir Yassin had made a peace agreement with their Jewish neighbours of Givat Shaul. Massacres at Dueima, Gaza, Kibya and Kafr Qasim followed in the ensuing ten years.
American journalist Dan Kortzman, author of Genesis 1948, and history researcher Ariyeh Yitzhaki, documented at least 20 large massacres and 100 more which were committed by Israeli forces at that time.
"Every event of fighting ended in the massacre of Arabs," Yitzhaki says. "Many Israelis claim falsely that Arab leaders told their people to leave. That is a lie."
Leo Heiman, an Israeli officer in 1948, confirms that "Uncontrolled panic spread through all Arab quarters when our jeeps with loudspeakers broadcast horror sounds of shrieks, wails and anguished moans of Arab women, interrupted by a sepulchral voice calling out in Arabic, 'Save your souls. The Jews are using poison gas and atomic weapons. Run for your lives in the name of Allah.'"
These facts were confirmed by Guy Erlich in the Tel Aviv newspaper, Hair, as recently as 6 May 92.
Uri Milstein, a popular Israeli dispeller of myths, says, "There were massacres of Arabs in all of Israel's wars, but the War of Independence was the dirtiest."
In 1953, the United States installed the Shah of Iran after Mossadegh nationalized the oil. Brezinski arranged with Saddam to attack Iran so oil production would stop, but the oil workers in Iran wouldn't let it happen. Saddam was the CIA's man in Baghdad for 27 years. Recently, the Israeli press has discussed the mass expulsion of Palestinians into western Iraq.
When the 1982 massacres at Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, are brought up, Zionists will ask: Why don't you discuss what went on in Rwanda? Much worse things are happening in other countries. To that complaint, it should be noted that those committing massacres in Rwanda and elsewhere make no pretense of a moral highground and are not in for the long haul of 35 years or more -- excepting possibly the Bush regime. More importantly, a hundred other wrongs in another hundred countries, do not right the wrongs in Palestine.
On 2 Aug. 02, the U.N.'s report on Jenin was denounced as seriously flawed because U.N. inspections have always been denied by Israel. However, Human Rights Watch spent three weeks on the ground and confirmed that 7,000 Palestinian males between 15 and 45 were arrested, 300 of which were marched to the Ketziot desert detention camp, notorious for its inhumane conditions. Four hundred and ninety-seven Palestinians were killed and 1,447 wounded. Using human shields, the Israelis lost 30 soldiers and 100 civilians.
The U.N. did try to observe on the ground in Iraq, but were bombed immediately, discouraging them from any inspection efforts. The Iraqis, who were waiting for the U.N.'s help, denied having anything to do with the bombing.
Though Israel denies accusations of apartheid from such authorities as Bishop Desmond Tutu, the "principles" of the Jewish state speak for themselves: the use of only Jewish labour; no leasing of land to non-Jews and the right of return for Jews only. According to Arthur Koestler in his book, The Thirteenth Tribe, except for the Sephardic Jews, Palestine is not the Jewish homeland, but the Caucasus Mountains in eastern Europe, where the Khazar Kingdom converted to Judaism en masse around 700 AD for political purposes, is. Highways are for Jews only, restricted to those with special licence plates not issued to Palestinians.
There is ongoing cantonization with restrictions on Palestinians who will need permits issued by Israel's military government for travel between cities within the West Bank and Gaza. These permits are valid for specified hours only and will have to be renewed each month, like the previous South African passbooks.
Today, illegal Israeli settlements are ongoing while refugee camps are invaded daily by missiles and tanks. Last January 21, the IDF bulldozed 20 houses and a mosque in a Palestinian refugee camp, leaving 400 people homeless. These military incursions into the refugee camps are blamed on their "suspected harbouring of terrorists".
This is everyday life for the Palestinians, whose struggle and resistance has been almost continuous since 1918.
The Israeli "security fence" is a 370-mile barrier of trenches, razor wire and a concrete wall three storeys high. As Bush worried on September 17, the wall and its conning towers confiscates Palestinian land and divides Palestinians from each other and from the small plots that remain to them.
But this is not new; Israel's borders have been extended by force in 1956, 1967 and 1974. The cost to Americans (most of them unwitting) for supporting the "defence" of Israel since 1973 is $1.7 trillion; the cost to the U.S. of preferential trade contracts is $1.8 trillion. The oil supply crisis from the Arab-Israeli conflict has cost $1.5 trillion, excluding additional costs since 2001. U.S. aid to Israel costs the U.S. 275,000 jobs every year. The trade imbalance alone of between 6 and 10 billion dollars costs 125,000 American jobs each year. All the U.S. loans to Israel are gifts as all payment is waived. This has so far cost each American $10,000. Support for Israel and its policies has cost the global community between six and twelve trillion dollars.1
The psychological cost to the world at large is the rampant charge of "New Anti-Semitism" which overshadows the press, the politicians and any person or organization be they Jewish or not, that criticizes Israel's policies.
At the same time, Michael Collins Piper discloses that in the Israeli parliament last year, a bill was passed that stated: "Any Christian found guilty of teaching Christianity shall go to prison for one year." Fifty Christian Fundamentalist groups have agreed to this hypocrisy.
David Aaronavitch of the International Herald Tribune, wrote last September 17 that "Critics of Israel are not all bigots or foes."
Peter Beaumont, the Observer's diplomatic editor, writes that "charges of the New Anti-Semitism should be rejected for what they are: an attempt to deflect criticism from the actions of an Israeli government by declaring criticism out of bounds."
I and my extended family of Christians and Jews, agree that there must be acknowledgment of the longest occupation in modern history and some fair compensation made to the victims. If we are to stop the Armageddon that the neo-cons and their puppet regimes are so avidly planning,, there must be a moment of sanity when the Palestinian case is honestly and competently reviewed. The long history of betrayal and abuse, which continues to compel our attention through suicide and bloodshed, can only be understood and possibly ended by the admission of its relevance to the fearful present.
|Sydney White is a member of the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform in Toronto, Ontario|