Operation Dani: Lydda and Ramle Remembered in light of recent atrocities in Gaza

The massacres of Lydda and Ramle must be remembered not as remnants of the past, but as an act of aggression that has continued with varying regularity throughout the life of the Israeli state.

Jews stole Palestine Lydda Airport

Some of the soldiers threw hand grenades into Arab houses. One fired an anti-tank shell into the small mosque. In thirty minutes, two hundred and fifty Palestinians were killed. Zionism had carried out a massacre in the city of Lydda.

The occupation

“israel” was founded on the ruins of Palestinian society.  Along the way in that Zionist quest, many massacres occurred, many lives were lost, dispossessed, and many villages were destroyed. 

Some 90 percent of the Palestinians living in historic Palestine were driven out, many by psychological warfare and/or military pressure. 

Well-known and widely documented examples of outright expulsion include the Palestinian towns of Lydda and Ramle, located roughly halfway between Jaffa and Jerusalem.

Operation “Dani” was the codename given for Zionist aggression against Lydda and Ramle from July 11-14. 

The massacres of Lydda and Ramle account for approximately 10 percent of the entire Palestinian exodus from 1947-1949, the period commencing from the incompetent, naïve, and non-consensual UN partition of historic Palestine on November 29 1947 and ended more or less after the Armistice agreements between Israel and the neighboring Arab states in 1949. 

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine has continued every since.  It is significant to note that Lydda and Ramle were clearly within the designated Arab State per the UN Partition plan of 1947.

Ben-Gurion and three senior army officers, Yigal Allon, Moshe Dayan, and Lieutenant-Colonel Yitzhak Rabin were directly involved in the massacres. 

Yitzhak Rabin, Operation Dani head of Operations and the face of the so-called Israel-Palestine “peace process” nearly 50 years later, issued the following order: “The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age.”

(Palestinian Refugees: The Right of Return, Edited by Naseer Aruri). A similar order was issues at the same time to the Kiryati Brigade concerning the Palestinian inhabitants of the neighboring town of Ramle.

According to Israeli historian Yoav Gelber,

“Deir Yassin (another massacre) was not the worst of the war’s atrocities . . . the massacre of approximately 250 Arabs in Lydda … took place following capitulation and not in the midst of combat”

Palestinians being expelled from Lydda in 1948 during Operation Dani. (Palmach archive).
Palestinians being expelled from Lydda in 1948 during Operation Dani. (Palmach archive).

(Nur Masalha, The Palestine Nakba: Decolonising History, Narrating the Subaltern, Reclaiming memory). 

One official Israeli source put the casualty figures at 250 dead, with an estimated 350 more in the subsequent expulsion and forced march of the townspeople.  On May 6 1992, new revelations were published concerning the terrorist atrocities committed by the Palmah forces at Lydda. 

After Lydda gave up the fight, a group of stubborn Arab fighters barricaded themselves in the Dahmash Mosque; the Israeli army gave an order to fire a number of shells at the mosque. 

The soldiers who forced their way into the mosque were surprised to find no resistance.  Under the destroyed walls of the mosque they found the remains of the Arab fighters. 

A group of between twenty and fifty Arab civilians was brought to clean up the mosque and bury the remains.  After they had finished their work, they were shot in the graves they had dug.

Just like their Nazi brethren

Make no mistake about it, the innocent sounding Operation Dani was nothing short of a brutal terrorist attack on a defenseless civilian population, reminiscent of the most recent Zionist aggression against the defenseless civilian population of the besieged Gaza, otherwise known as the most densely populated ghetto in the world per square mile, or the world’s “open air prison.” 

Initiated under the guise of Operation Protective Edge, this is merely another attempt at humiliating and dehumanizing the Palestinian residents of Gaza, most of whom are refugees of 1948.  The major distinction being that today Israel is a much stronger military power backed by the one and only superpower (i.e. The United States of America). 

Israel’s weaponry is much more sophisticated and destructive than in the past, whereas Palestinians have only grown weaker as the power disparity continues to widen in Israel’s favor, but yet Israel is the victim.  What is most shocking is that Israel’s claim of self-defense is presented in US mainstream media as logical and warranted.

The only problem with that presentation is that it is not based on reality, but Zionist fantasy, the same fantasy that claimed Palestine was “uninhabited,” “virgin,” “uncharted,” “undiscovered,” a “wasteland,” “wilderness,” “untamed,” “unoccupied,” etc… despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 

What is occurring in Gaza at this present moment is nothing short of a massacre.  But so long as the Orwellian characterization of Palestinians as “savages,” “heathens,” “barbarians,” “uncivilized,” “primitives,” or my favorite, “terrorists,” persists, the massacre will continue as a justifiable action by the “only democracy in the Middle East,” the civilized side of the conflict. 

However, the only side in this conflict that can rightly claim self-defense is the defenseless.  If you do not know which side that is, watch and read what is happening in Gaza right now.  How about a simple scoreboard:  Palestinians deaths 90+, Israeli deaths 0.

The massacres of Lydda and Ramle must be remembered not as remnants of the past, but as an act of aggression that has continued with varying regularity throughout the life of the Israeli state. 

Yitzhak Rabin has been heralded as a man of peace, the man who provided formal recognition to the Palestine Liberation Organization.  A lot of hope and inspiration was placed in Yitzhak Rabin as if he was not the same crusher of the first Intifada and dispossessor of thousands of Palestinians from Lydda and Ramle. 

Just as in Lydda and Ramle, Rabin found no resistance in formulating a “peace process” that he knew himself would not produce peace, but an extension of Israel’s occupation. 

Rabin recalled how Ben-Gurion had first called him in to his office to discuss the fate of both Lydda and Ramle: “Yigal Alon asked: what is to be done with the population? 

Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture that said: Drive them out!”  The man of peace did exactly that.

In the “Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” Israeli historian Ilan Pappe writes: “as recently as 1987, as minister of defence, he had ordered his troops to break the bones of Palestinians who confronted his tanks with stones in the first Intifada; he had deported hundreds of Palestinians as prime minister prior to the Oslo Agreement, and he had pushed for the 1994 Oslo B agreement that effectively caged the Palestinians in the West Bank into several Bantustans.”

Moreover, the illegal wall built by Israel to separate the West Bank from itself is not a post-Rabin era phenomenon. 

Rabin himself closed off the West Bank and Gaza from Israel proper in late March 1993.  His vision was effectuated less than a decade later.

Our media has reversed cause and effect, victim and perpetrator, occupier and occupied and have humanized one side while purposely dehumanizing the other. 

Such misrepresentations parallel that of the reporting on Lydda and Ramle. 

Two foreign journalists, Keith Wheeler of The Chicago Sun Times and Kenneth Bilby of The New York Herald Tribune, observed the sights of Lydda and Ramle. 

Apparently these Americans were invited by the Israeli forces to accompany them in the attack, what today we would call “embedded” correspondents.  Wheeler wrote: “practically everything in their [Israeli forces] way died. 

Riddled corpses lay by the roadside.”  Bilby reported seeing “the corpses of Arab men, women and even children strewn about in the wake of the ruthlessly brilliant charge.” 

Wheeler neglected to report the number of Palestinians killed and Bilby’s description alone evinces his view of the massacres (i.e. ruthlessly brilliant). 

The reporting was absolutely one-sided.  Sound familiar?  The reporting on the recent atrocities in Gaza is scarce to begin with, but blatant misreporting highlights the opacity with which our media operates

ABC’s Diane Sawyer illustrated the point quite emphatically by misleading the public into thinking Israeli society is on the verge of infrastructural and human collapse, when it is Palestinian society undergoing that experience.  Where is the outcry?

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

Israel has a long history of actions against its Christian minority. Israeli forces have desecrated churches, rabbis have endorsed killing non-Jewish civilians (including children), New Testaments have been burned. While there are many Israelis who have opposed these actions and respect Christians, the fact is that discrimination against Christians is endemic in the Israeli system. Like Muslims, Christians have been persecuted by Israel ever since it was established in 1948…

‘It is permitted to kill non-Jews, rape women, burn down churches’

The Holy Land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea contains some of the most sacred spaces for Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism, the home of Jewish patriarchs and prophets since the 10th century BCE.

On the same land, Muhammad both received revelation and ascended into heaven at the Dome of the Rock. For Christians, it is the birthplace of Jesus and the site of his crucifixion and ascension into heaven.

The Christian population in this area has long thrived among its Jewish and Muslim neighbors. However, the increasingly destructive Israeli occupation, endorsed by the current U.S. administration, has made the area essentially uninhabitable.

The result is a noticeable exodus of Christians from this territory. Before 1948, Palestinian Christians made up about 18 percent of the region’s population. Today they make up less than one percent.

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

If the current trend persists, pilgrims and tourists will likely be the only Christian representatives in the region in years to come.

Causes of Exodus

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

A dhimmi kneels before Muslim leaders 

Christian Zionist media, including the Christian Friends of Israel, presents the Palestinian Christian population as a recently-formed community of Arab migrants.

In reality, Palestinian Christians are some of the most deeply-connected members of the faith, tracing their ancestry in the region back to Biblical times.

Pro-Israel sources report that the exodus of Palestinian Christians is caused by two factors.

Firstly, they suggest that many Christians convert and intermarry with Muslims as a result of declining Christian birthrates. Secondly, they argue that Palestinian migration is part of a larger, historical exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.

They believe that migration dates back to the Ottoman Empire when Christians sought jobs in North and Latin America. This exodus is largely blamed on Islamic Fundamentalism and the discord between Islam and Christianity. After the 2003 Iraq War, one theory posits, destabilization allowed extremist groups to gain power. The violence of ISIS in the region is frequently cited as evidence of this religious discord.

Some reference the ancient dhimmi system as evidence of discrimination within the Muslim faith.

This historical distinction, meaning “protection” or “protected person,” was used to distinguish and ensure the legal rights of non-Muslims living in an Islamic state. Its use today, however, is an outdated scapegoat for the real cause of the exodus.

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

While the claims of the religious-discord argument are not entirely false, the larger flaw of this position is its problematic revisionist narrative that erases the struggles of Palestinian people.

The exodus of Christians actually betrays the oppressive ethnic cleansing inflicted upon the people of Palestine by the Israeli government.

As the U.S. continues to extend a hand to the Israeli regime, Palestinians are increasingly more opposed to the U.S. than to their Muslim neighbors.

Arab America interviewed with Rateb Rabie, founder, and president of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), he revealed the real reasons of the exodus, as well as his own predictions for future peace in the region.

While some point to the religious tension between Muslims and Christians, most Palestinian Christians report that it is Israeli oppression that pushes them from their native land. Rabie cites discrimination against Palestinians as the primary cause of the exodus.

2017 study by the Dar al-Kalima University in the West Bank has found that “the pressure of Israeli occupation, ongoing constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands” has contributed to “the general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians.” Only a two percent minority of Palestinian Christians cite Muslim violence and extremism as the reason for their departure.

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

While it is true that Christians face persecution and are not guaranteed the same rights as their Muslim counterparts, at its heart the conflict is political, not religious. It is a “landed conflict,” Rabie says, stemming from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. “We are Palestinian first before we are Christian,” Rabie states.

The conflict (and subsequent exodus) is a question of identity and ownership above religious belief.

Aside from their minority status, the relative ease with which the Christian population is able to assimilate into the culture of Western host countries also accounts for their particular population decrease.

Rabie suggests that “Muslims would leave if possible,” or if the process of cultural assimilation was less draining and demeaning.

The discrimination and Islamophobia that many Muslims face is a major deterrent to immigration. Because of their shared faith, Western societies are more accepting of Palestinian Christians than Palestinian Muslims.

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

While the population of historical Palestinian (including Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel) today has increased to six million, Christians make up less than 1.7 percent. The majority of Palestinian Christians are Greek Orthodox.

Christianity itself began in Jerusalem, and the Palestinians living there were the original followers of Jesus. As Rateb Rabie says, Palestinians have been “saving the face” of the Christain faith for over 2,000 years. In spite of oppression and discrimination, they have nobly upheld their practice and traditions.

Today, the plight of Palestinians is intertwined with Islamophobia. Western Christian organizations are eager to offer charitable support, especially when their donation is inspired by a deep-seated Islamophobia that encourages them to selectively help Christian populations in Muslim-majority countries.

Other Christians in countries like Syria, Rabie points out, avoid getting directly involved to distance themselves from the Islamophobia of Western Christian donors.

Restrictions on Faith and Livelihood

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

On a fundamental level, the Israeli occupation has made it very difficult for Palestinian Christians to practice their faith.

Restrictions imposed by the Israeli government prevent Christians from accessing their holy sites, as described in the 2011 State Department “Report on International Religious Freedom:”

“Strict closures and curfews imposed by the Israeli government negatively affected residents’ ability to practice their religion at holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.”

“The separation barrier significantly impeded Bethlehem-area Christians from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and made visits to Christian sites in Bethany and Bethlehem difficult for Palestinian Christians who live on the Jerusalem side of the barrier.”

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

Physical barriers and other limitations prevent a complete celebration of faith. In addition, non-Christian settlers in Israel take out their anger toward the Israeli government on the Palestinian population. These attacks often involve the desecration and vandalism of Christian and Muslim holy sites and the targeting of religious leaders.

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has even admitted to this brand of ethnic cleansing, stating that:

“The government has been taking actions to increase the number of Jews, and reduce the number of Palestinians, living in the city”

Denied access to ancient holy sites, Palestinian Christians struggle to prove that their “center of life” rests in Jerusalem.

Without this confirmation, they are liable to have their residency rights and social benefits revoked. While the illegally-housed Jewish population has the right to move freely throughout the region, native Christian Palestinians are bombarded by arbitrary borders and restrictive permits.

It is very difficult for Palestinians to find jobs under the occupation. There is currently a 22 percent unemployment rate in the region, and many families struggle to support themselves financially.

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

Furthermore, the Israeli government protects Jewish extremists in their brutal, physically violent attacks on Palestinian Christians.

In March of this year, Israeli forces carried out attacks on Christian worshippers during a Palm Sunday procession in Jerusalem.

Bombs, guns, and knives have all been used against Palestinians, who may also be subject to arbitrary arrests.

Extremists burn farmland and destroy crops, making livelihood and sustenance impossible.

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

These attacks on Christian territory, as on the entire Palestinian population, are justified using religion. Zionists claim that the Jewish people have an inherent religious connection to the land.

This is a complete oversight of the religious ties of both Christians and Muslims. The brutality of the attacks contrast the sanctity and divinity of a religious appeal, and many wonder how faith can be used to so blatantly defend massacre.

False Narratives in Tourism

Even in tourism, an economic staple in the region, the narrative and perception of Palestinians, and Palestinian Christians is highly distortedby Israeli tour guides.

This false, damaging narrative reached nearly 3.5 million tourists in 2013. Christians taken to the Holy Land on educational tours are given a skewed version of the region’s history, one in which the role of Christianity is highly downplayed, if not entirely neglected.

 Palestinians are painted in a very negative light, and their persecution is glossed over entirely.

Israeli tour guides often completely avoid Christian holy sites on their tours, largely to prevent showcasing the abuses and destruction these areas have endured under the occupation.

Tourists have reported on the crude insensitivities of Isreali tour guides, describing how they were made to participate in role-playing simulations of Israeli soldiers attacking Palestinian “terrorists.”

U.S. Involvement: “Trump Handed Israel Policy to Evangelicals”

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

Vice President Mike Pence has been at the center of the controversy since Trump’s Jerusalem declaration last December. Pence’s Evangelical Christian faith aligns him with the Jewish Zionists. In his speech at the beginning of this year to the Knesset, the Israeli legislature, Pence stated:

“We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight…we stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.”

In an interview with Vox, American politics professor Elizabeth Oldmixon explains the American Christian Evangelical support of Israel. Evangelicals see the “gathering of Jews in exile” in the Holy Land as an indication of the highly awaited “end of times,” or Christ’s reign on Earth.

As strict followers of the Bible, Christian Zionists strictly abide by the passage in which God grants the Holy Land to the Jewish people.

Religious faith translates directly into political belief. Fifty-three percent of Trump’s evangelical demographic supported the Jerusalem move.

Palestinian Christian is not evangelical, so they do not possess the same religious vision.

Israeli control, coupled with Mike Pence’s faith-based declaration of American support, has wreaked havoc on the Palestinian population and ostracized their faith.

Understandably, Palestinians are broadly opposed to the current administration.

With America’s damaging influence exacted through the Israeli government, many have chosen to flee their native land altogether, escaping oppression both locally and from the West.

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

Pence had originally planned a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, including meetings with many regional Christian leaders, but travel plans were canceled following uproar and protest about the Jerusalem move. Many church leaders felt the move would increase hatred and violence in the region. Although the protests were more muted than expected, the oppression continues for the Palestinian population.

The Exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land

“To declare Jerusalem as the capital based on some biblical argument is a dangerous thing,” said Father Jamal Khader, the Catholic parish priest of Ramallah.

 “He’s wanting to separate Christians from the rest of the community. But we are part of the community.”

This sentiment resonates in the hearts of many Christians in the region for whom removal from their native land is an absolute last resort.

Iskander El Hinn, a Christian Palestinian who fled to Ramallah with his family in 1948, is emboldened by his Palestinian identity and connection to the land:

“As a Palestinian, I am living where I belong, everywhere I go here is Palestine to me and Jerusalem is its capital…we have been living here for thousands of years; no one can take us away from here.”

Future Hopes

In spite of the exodus and the immense suffering of the Palestinian people, Rabie is encouraged by the dramatic increase in media coverage of the conflict in the past 30 years. He sees the increased exposure of the human rights violations as indicative of the “beginning of the end of Zionist Israel.”

The public has come a long way in terms of its perception of Israel and support for Palestine, thanks to organizations like Rabie’s.

He says that Palestinians at home and abroad are hopeful for peace, but he emphasizes the need for continued education of American Christians on the severity of the conflict.

He recognizes that, even within Israel, much of the Jewish population and social media influencers are pro-peace. These incentives for peace, he argues, must be implemented.

Above all, Palestinians need justice. American Christians must commit themselves to this cause. Rabie discourages them from picking a side-Palestinian or Israeli.

Instead, he encourages Christians, Americans, and global activists to focus their energies and intentions on delivering justice where it is most needed to the long-suffering people of Palestine.

Perhaps then their land will become a home once more.

“israel” is an illusion

The uncomfortable truth is that Israel is an artificial country. It was created by decree by some very powerful imperial interests. When “isreal” becomes a liability the powers will step back and leave the “israeli” people on their own against the Arab world. THAT’S an uncomfortable prospect!

Israel is a disputatious political entity which is violently occupying land in violation of all naturalistic moral and humanistic values.

They have defended their occupation with the requisite violence that emanates from their very presence on forcefully expropriated land.

Both their actual presence and their understandable survivalist violent behavior used to secure their physical safety presents an existentially paradoxical condition that defines Israel as an undesirable pariah.

“israeli” police break into Palestinian house, steal children’s piggy banks

“After vandalizing my house and terrorizing my children, who were asleep at the time, they started stealing every single shekel and the Eidiyyahs that my children were saving.”

June 3, 2020

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)– Israeli forces on Wednesday broke into the house of the former prisoner Majed Jo’beh in occupied Jerusalem and stole every single Shekel from the house, even his children’s piggy banks.

Jo’beh posted on his Facebook account that Israeli Shin Bet and border police officers broke into his house in the occupied city.

“They showed me a discriminatory order by the Israeli minister of war, Naftali Bennett, to confiscate all the money in my house under the pretext that I get money from the Palestinian Authority”, he wrote.

Occupation terrorists night raids

He noted that he is not getting any money from the PA although he had spent over six years in Israeli jails.

“After vandalizing my house and terrorizing my children, who were asleep at the time, they started stealing every single shekel and the Eidiyyahs that my children were saving.”

He added that they also stole his family’s household expenses, stealing a total of 8400 NIS (nearly $2500).

The Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla massacre: laptops, cameras and memory cards belonging to passengers or the İHH were missing. Passengers in June also complained that Israeli officers had used their seized credit cards.

Excuse Me, But “israel” Has No Right To Exist

The Zionist entity called Israel is a spurious state planted on the soil of Palestine by the British in 1948 through the illegal settlement between the two world wars of hundreds of thousands of East European Khazar Jews, who had no connection, whatsoever, to the ancient Israelite tribes.

“Monopoly Capitalism, Zionism, Communism, Nazism & Fascism: ALL came out of the Rothschild Offices in Frankfurt, Germany.”
Eustace Clarence Mullins

The claim that “israel” has a ‘right to exist’ is a contrived myth. In fact, apartheid states are crimes against humanity and must be dismantled. The pertinent question, addressed by this paper, is what are the future prospects for a democratic Palestine?

The paper begins by reviewing the foundations of the Israeli state, including its racial ideology, the character of the Palestinian resistance, the ‘moral equivalence’ and false reformist arguments of ‘left Zionism’; and then the prospects for a democratic Palestine.

The analysis identifies the key challenges of zionist military occupation, powerful western allies, a fanatical zionist mission and disunity amongst Palestinian factions and their allies.

On the other hand the strengths are ongoing Palestinian resistance, the growing legitimacy of Palestine, the commitment of regional allies and the vulnerability of Israel’s allies to exposure of zionist crimes. In sum the future of Palestine is clouded with divisions, paid and sacrifice but remains far from hopeless.’

READ PDF HERE

By Sharmine Narwani

The phrase “right to exist” entered my consciousness in the 1990s just as the concept of the two-state solution became part of our collective lexicon. In any debate at university, when a Zionist was out of arguments, those three magic words were invoked to shut down the conversation with an outraged, “are you saying Israel doesn’t have the right to exist??”

Of course you couldn’t challenge Israel’s right to exist – that was like saying you were negating a fundamental Jewish right to have…rights, with all manner of Holocaust guilt thrown in for effect.

Except of course the Holocaust is not my fault – or that of Palestinians. The cold-blooded program of ethnically cleansing Europe of its Jewish population has been so callously and opportunistically utilized to justify the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Arab nation, that it leaves me utterly unmoved.

I have even caught myself – shock – rolling my eyes when I hear Holocaust and Israel in the same sentence.

What moves me instead in this post-two-state era, is the sheer audacity of Israel even existing.

What a fantastical idea, this notion that a bunch of rank outsiders from another continent could appropriate an existing, populated nation for themselves – and convince the “global community” that it was the moral thing to do. I’d laugh at the chutzpah if this wasn’t so serious.

Even more brazen is the mass ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population by persecuted Jews, newly arrived from their own experience of being ethnically cleansed.

But what is truly frightening is the psychological manipulation of the masses into believing that Palestinians are somehow dangerous – “terrorists” intent on “driving Jews into the sea.”

As someone who makes a living through words, I find the use of language in creating perceptions to be intriguing. This practice – often termed “public diplomacy” has become an essential tool in the world of geopolitics. Words, after all, are the building blocks of our psychology.

Take, for example, the way we have come to view the Palestinian-Israeli “dispute” and any resolution of this enduring conflict. And here I borrow liberally from a previous article of mine…

The United States and Israel have created the global discourse on this issue, setting stringent parameters that grow increasingly narrow regarding the content and direction of this debate. Anything discussed outside the set parameters has, until recently, widely been viewed as unrealistic, unproductive and even subversive.

Participation in the debate is limited only to those who prescribe to its main tenets: the acceptance of Israel, its regional hegemony and its qualitative military edge; acceptance of the shaky logic upon which the Jewish state’s claim to Palestine is based; and acceptance of the inclusion and exclusion of certain regional parties, movements and governments in any solution to the conflict.

Words like dove, hawk, militant, extremist, moderates, terrorists, Islamo-fascists, rejectionists, existential threat, holocaust-denier, mad mullah determine the participation of solution partners — and are capable of instantly excluding others.

Then there is the language that preserves “Israel’s Right To Exist” unquestioningly: anything that invokes the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and the myths about historic Jewish rights to the land bequeathed to them by the Almighty – as though God was in the real-estate business. This language seeks not only to ensure that a Jewish connection to Palestine remains unquestioned, but importantly, seeks to punish and marginalize those who tackle the legitimacy of this modern colonial-settler experiment.

Coming from Europe

But this group-think has led us nowhere. It has obfuscated, distracted, deflected, ducked, and diminished, and we are no closer to a satisfactory conclusion…because the premise is wrong.

There is no fixing this problem. This is the kind of crisis in which you cut your losses, realize the error of your ways and reverse course. Israel is the problem. It is the last modern-day colonial-settler experiment, conducted at a time when these projects were being unraveled globally.

There is no “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” – that suggests some sort of equality in power, suffering, and negotiable tangibles, and there is no symmetry whatsoever in this equation. Israel is the Occupier and Oppressor; Palestinians are the Occupied and Oppressed. What is there to negotiate? Israel holds all the chips.

They can give back some land, property, rights, but even that is an absurdity – what about everything else? What about ALL the land, property and rights? Why do they get to keep anything – how is the appropriation of land and property prior to 1948 fundamentally different from the appropriation of land and property on this arbitrary 1967 date?

Why are the colonial-settlers prior to 1948 any different from those who colonized and settled after 1967?

Let me correct myself. Palestinians do hold one chip that Israel salivates over – the one big demand at the negotiating table that seems to hold up everything else. Israel craves recognition of its “right to exist.”

But you do exist – don’t you, Israel?

Rothschild Imperialism

Israel fears “delegitimization” more than anything else. Behind the velvet curtain lies a state built on myths and narratives, protected only by a military behemoth, billions of dollars in US assistance and a lone UN Security Council veto. Nothing else stands between the state and its dismantlement. Without these three things, Israelis would not live in an entity that has come to be known as the “least safe place for Jews in the world.”

Strip away the spin and the gloss, and you quickly realize that Israel doesn’t even have the basics of a normal state. After 64 years, it doesn’t have borders. After six decades, it has never been more isolated. Over half a century later, and it needs a gargantuan military just to stop Palestinians from walking home.

Israel is a failed experiment. It is on life-support – pull those three plugs and it is a cadaver, living only in the minds of some seriously deluded foreigners who thought they could pull off the heist of the century.

The most important thing we can do as we hover on the horizon of One State is to shed the old language rapidly. None of it was real anyway – it was just the parlance of that particular “game.” Grow a new vocabulary of possibilities – the new state will be the dawn of humanity’s great reconciliation. Muslims, Christians and Jews living together in Palestine as they once did.

Naysayers can take a hike. Our patience is wearing thinner than the walls of the hovels that Palestinian refugees have called “home” for three generations in their purgatory camps.

These universally exploited refugees are entitled to the nice apartments – the ones that have pools downstairs and a grove of palm trees outside the lobby. Because the kind of compensation owed for this failed western experiment will never be enough.

And no, nobody hates Jews. That is the fallback argument screeched in our ears – the one “firewall” remaining to protect this Israeli Frankenstein. I don’t even care enough to insert the caveats that are supposed to prove I don’t hate Jews. It is not a provable point, and frankly, it is a straw man of an argument. If Jews who didn’t live through the Holocaust still feel the pain of it, then take that up with the Germans. Demand a sizeable plot of land in Germany – and good luck to you.

For anti-Semites salivating over an article that slams Israel, ply your trade elsewhere – you are part of the reason this problem exists.

Israelis who don’t want to share Palestine as equal citizens with the indigenous Palestinian population – the ones who don’t want to relinquish that which they demanded Palestinians relinquish 64 years ago – can take their second passports and go back home. Those remaining had better find a positive attitude – Palestinians have shown themselves to be a forgiving lot. The amount of carnage they have experienced at the hands of their oppressors – without proportional response – shows remarkable restraint and faith.

This is less the death of a Jewish state than it is the demise of the last remnants of modern-day colonialism. It is a rite of passage – we will get through it just fine. At this particular precipice in the 21st century, we are all, universally, Palestinian – undoing this wrong is a test of our collective humanity, and nobody has the right to sit this one out.

Israel has no right to exist. Break that mental barrier and just say it: “Israel has no right to exist.” Roll it around your tongue, tweet it, post it as your Facebook status update – do it before you think twice. Delegitimization is here – have no fear. Palestine will be less painful than Israel ever was.

This article was first published on Al Akhbar English on May 17, 2012. It can be read here in French, Spanish, German, Turkish and Polish.

Amnesty board member asks why Germany hasn’t banned “israel” for ‘eliminating’ Palestine

Germany’s ban on Hezbollah is a perfect illustration of how terrorist lists are tools of power politics.

Hezbollah fighting the good fight

May 6, 2020

A Finnish board member of Amnesty International has hit out at Germany’s decision to ban the political wing of Hezbollah by suggesting that the ideology of the Shia movement is no different to the racist views of political parties in Israel, including those in the current government.

Physicist Syksy Räsänen took to twitter following the news of Berlin’s ban of the Lebanese group to say that, “Germany’s ban on Hezbollah is a perfect illustration of how terrorist lists are tools of power politics.”

Explaining why he believes that the decision was politically motivated, Räsänen appeared to suggest that Israel is in fact guilty of having successfully implemented the very policy which Hezbollah is banned for merely promoting.

“Hezbollah is banned because it “calls for the violent elimination of the State of “israel” and questions the right of the State of “israel to exist.”

Substitute Palestine for Israel, he said, and this describes most Israeli parties.

“Admittedly, there is the difference that most Israeli parties have been implementing the elimination of Palestine, not just calling for it,” he continued.

Despite the very clear “elimination of Palestine”, he pointed out, Germany has remained a close partner of the Likud, Shas, Labour and every one of Israel’s major parties.

His comments triggered a predictable backlash, including accusations of anti-Semitism.

“The comments (many of them vulgar) on this post are an example of targeted insult campaigns from supporters of Israeli apartheid,” concluded the Amnesty official.

“Israel”- The West’s Ugly Enterprise in Palestine

Most of the dogs in the unit are Belgian shepherds or German shepherds, typically imported from Europe as puppies.

What a coincidence

Israel was created through violence and terror, which it continues to heap on Palestinians to this day, as it works to fulfill the dream of Zionism – a Jewish state from the river to the sea. 

How, then, does it continue to portray itself as the victim, while painting the actual victims – Palestinians – as the aggressors?

It has become a tired and broken record, one that Israel and its ardent supporters play, regardless of the rationality of their arguments.

Any criticism of Israel, or any peaceful act to put pressure on the state, draws the same outrage, expressed through carefully thought out, yet irrational, talking points.

Total impunity

One soldier is heard to say “Who’s the coward now?” as the dogs tear at the youth’s clothes.

Anyone, or any organization, who dares to criticize the self-proclaimed “only democracy in the Middle East” is accused of being motivated by anti-semitism.

Any critical act or protest aimed at pressing Israel to uphold international law, no matter how peaceful, is denounced. 

Israel’s treatment with kid gloves is not new; what is new, however, is its launching of the bullying trigger button within seconds of an attack. 

The reality is that the settlement enterprise itself is racist, because homes are only built for Jewish Israelis

While access to the nuclear button is normally reserved for the head of state, any pro-Israel civilian can launch the bullying trigger button, and they are encouraged to do so by Israel.

An army of social media trolls linked to Israeli missions abroad have their fingers hovering over this button, ready to defend as soon as they perceive an attack. It’s a button they have pressed repeatedly in recent days.

Take the case of Airbnb. The holiday property listings company enraged the bullying army by withdrawing listings for properties built in illegal Israeli settlements from its website.

Pro-Israel critics claimed that Airbnb was singling out Jewish Israeli properties, and therefore, this was anti-semitic. 

Breaking international law

The first Zionists to establish “Israel” arrived wearing Hitler mustaches.

The reality is that the settlement enterprise itself is racist, because homes are only built for Jewish Israelis.

Imagine the outcry if Britain built homes only for white Christians, banning other inhabitants of Britain from acquiring them.

Settlements are also illegal under international law.

Airbnb said it took action because settlements were at the “core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”.

A statement from the company noted: “US law permits companies like Airbnb to engage in business in these territories.

At the same time, many in the global community have stated that companies should not do business here because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced.”

Israeli soldiers photographed beating Palestinian in West Bank (Reuters)

A reasonable person would see clear logic in that stance. However, the bullying trigger button was pressed, and an illegal settler is now bringing a lawsuit against Airbnb.

Consider that for a moment: an illegal settler is suing a company for a moral and legal act.

It was then the turn of British Quakers to enrage the pro-Israel lobby. Their crime? Divesting from companies that profit from Israel’s illegal occupation.

Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain, said in a statement: “With the occupation now in its 51st year, and with no end in near sight, we believe we have a moral duty to state publicly that we will not invest in any company profiting from the occupation.”

More pressure needed

This time, it was the Board of Deputies of British Jews that pressed the bullying trigger button. In a statement, the board’s president, Marie van der Zyl, condemned the decision: “The appalling decision of the Friends House hierarchy to divest from just one country in the world – the only Jewish state – despite everything else going on around the globe, shows the dangers of the obsessive and tunnel-visioned approach that a narrow clique of church officials have taken in recent years.”

Any reasonable person who knows the Quakers would realize that they would have reflected seriously before making such a decision, and that it was based on their deep knowledge of the situation over decades.

Divesting from companies that profit from an illegal occupation is moral and legal.

Speak if you want to, they say, but the price will be high. The bullying trigger button can be pressed by anyone in defense of Israeli apartheid

Israel does not recognize that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are occupied. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has deemed it absurd to talk of an occupation, and the long-advertised US “deal of the century” will likely reflect this by avoiding a call to end the occupation. 

This will certainly not lead to peace. What is needed is more pressure on Israel to comply with international law and to finally end the occupation of Palestinian land.

Airbnb was correct to identify the settlements as a core issue, and it is time that others follow suit. 

Israel is a military force planted in Palestine for the Western powers from over a century ago.

Whither free speech?

The bullying trigger button will now be pressed regularly, judging by the number of moves to ban trade with illegal Israeli settlements.

Chile’s congress overwhelmingly passed a resolution demanding that the government “forbid the entry of products manufactured and coming from Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian territory”. 

This follows hot on the heels of Ireland’s senate passing a bill banning the import of products from illegal Israeli settlements. 

The vicious attack on CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill, fired for standing with Palestinians, shows that Israel is being singled out not for criticism, but rather for protection from accountability. 

Israel is shutting down its critics on social media. It happened to me
Richard Silverstein

Read More »

Free speech, it seems, is a value that most claim to uphold – except those who blindly support Israel. Speak if you want to, they say, but the price will be high. The bullying trigger button can be pressed by anyone in defense of Israeli apartheid. 

Arab League foreign ministers reject Trump peace plan

Also on Saturday reports on major Israeli television networks said CIA torture queen Gina Haspel had secretly visited Ramallah in recent days and met with Palestinian officials.

The foreign ministers of the member state of the Arab League unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday rejecting the Trump Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, and said that “it does not satisfy the minimum of the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

Why it matters: The Trump administration was counting on a coalition of Arab countries it has built over the last several years to prevent such a resolution and press the Palestinians to go back to the table. Those efforts did not materialize.

The state of play: The Arab League foreign ministers convened on Saturday in Cairo at the request of the Palestinians to discuss the Trump plan. The closing statement, which passed in consensus between all member states, said the U.S. plan contradicts the principles of the peace process and United Nations resolutions.

The statement also explained that Arab countries will not engage with the U.S. on the plan and will not cooperate with the Trump administration in its implementation.

What they’re saying: The Arab League foreign ministers’ statement said the Arab peace initiative is the basis for any peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, which must include a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The statement also warned Israel not to annex any part of the West Bank and underscored that the U.S. and Israel will be responsible for the consequences of such moves.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a speech at the meeting rejected the Trump peace plan and stressed he “will not go down in history as the one who sold out Jerusalem.”

  • He said President Trump tried to reach him through the CIA the week leading up to the unveiling of the peace plan, but Abbas refused to take the calls and even refused to get a copy of the plan in advance.
  • He said that he told the U.S. through the CIA and Israel by letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if the plan is implemented, there will be no relations between the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. and Israel, including security ties.
  • Abbas added the Palestinians will not accept the Trump administration as the sole mediator in peace talks with Israel, and said he would present a Palestinian peace plan soon — likely in a speech at the United Nations Security Council meeting in two weeks.

But, but, but: At Saturday’s meeting, Arab foreign ministers who spoke after Abbas backed the Palestinian position, but almost all refrained from criticizing the Trump administration.

  • The foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Morocco went further than refusing to criticize the Trump plan, giving positive statements about it while suggesting it could be a basis for talks, but not a final solution.

“The United States is appreciative of the positive remarks from many Arab countries made with regard to our Vision for Peace today at the Arab League meeting in Cairo. 

It is only by having a willingness to try a new approach that we will make a breakthrough in a conflict that has left the Palestinian people to suffer for decades.

Past Arab League resolutions have placated Palestinian leadership and not led to peace or progress and it is important to try a new approach or the Palestinian peoples’ fate will not change.”

source

From Ukraine to Palestine

“One of the best-trained, best-equipped, best fed terrorist organizations in the world. Their entire purpose is terrorism” ~ Miko Peled, son of an Israeli general

‘We are living by the sword’: The regrets of an Israel founder’s son

Yaakov Sharett

My name is Yaakov Sharett. I am 92 years old. I happen to be my father’s son for which I am not responsible. So this is how it is.” 

1946

A kibbutz in the northern Negev in the summer of 1946 (AFP)

From Ukraine to Palestine

His grandfather, Jacob Shertok – the original family name – was one of the first Zionists to set foot in Palestine, leaving his home in Kherson, Ukraine, in 1882 after Russian pogroms.

“He had this dream of tilling the land. The big Zionist idea was going back to the land and leaving the superficial activities of Jews who had become remote from land,” he says.

“They thought that, little by little, more Jews would immigrate until they became a majority, and could demand a state, which they then called a ‘homeland’ to avoid controversy.”

I wonder what Yaakov’s grandfather thought would happen to the Arabs, who then comprised about 97 percent of the population, with Jews around 2 to 3 percent.

“I think he thought the more Jews that came, the more they’d bring prosperity and the Arabs would be happy. They didn’t realize people don’t live only on money. We would have to be the dominant power, but the Arabs would get used to it,” he says.

In case the Arabs didn’t bend the knee

Adding with a wistful smile: “Well, either they believed it or they wanted to believe it. My grandfather’s generation were dreamers. If they had been realists, they would not have come to Palestine in the first place.

It was never possible for a minority to replace a majority that had lived on this land for hundreds of years. It could never work,” he says.

Four years later, Jacob wished he hadn’t come, returning to Russia, not because of Palestinian hostility – Jewish numbers were still tiny – but because he couldn’t make a living here.

Many of the very early settlers in Palestine found working on the land far harder than they had ever imagined, often returning to Russia in despair.

But in 1902, after more pogroms, Jacob Sharett returned, this time with a family including Moshe, aged eight.

Palestinians were still – for the most part – welcoming to Jews as the threat of Zionism remained unclear. A member of the prosperous Husseini family, who was headed abroad, even offered Yaakov’s grandfather his house to rent in the village of Ein Siniya, now in the occupied West Bank.

For two years, grandfather Shertok lived there like an Arab grandee while his children attended a Palestinian kindergarten. “My father herded sheep, learned Arabic and generally lived like an Arab,” says Yaakov.

Psychology of the minority

But the Zionist plan was to live like Jews so before long, the family had moved to the fast-growing Jewish hub of Tel Aviv and Moshe was soon honing every skill – including studying Ottoman law in Istanbul – in order to further the Zionist project.

Thanks to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which promised a Jewish homeland in Palestine and ushered in British colonial rule, plans for a full-blown Jewish state now seemed possible, and over the next two decades, Moshe Sharett helped design it, becoming a key figure in the Jewish Agency, the state’s government-in-waiting.

Moshe Sharett seen seated to the left of first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion with the first Israeli government in 1949 (Wikicommons)

Moshe Sharett seen seated to the left of first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion with the first Israeli government in 1949 (Wikicommons)

Central to the project was the creation of a Jewish majority and ownership of as much of the land as possible, to which end Sharett worked closely with his ally David Ben-Gurion. Immigration rose fast, and land was bought, usually from absentee Arab landlords.

‘My father and the rest still thought that most Arabs would sell their national honour for the food we would give them’

– Yaakov Sharett

The pace of change provoked the Palestinian revolt of 1936, brutally crushed by the British. In the light of that revolt, did the future prime minister ever question whether the Jewish state could work?

“No,” says Yaakov. The leadership were “still full of justifying their ideas of Zionism. You must remember that they all thought in terms of being Jewish and how they had been subjugated by majorities in the countries in which they had lived.

“My father said this: ‘Wherever there is a minority, every member has a stick and rucksack in his cupboard’. Psychologically, he realizes a bad day will come and he will have to leave.

So the priority was always to create a majority and shake off the psychology of the minority for ever.

“My father and the rest still thought that most Arabs would sell their national honour for the food we would give them. It was a nice dream, but at the cost of others.

And anyone who did not agree was a traitor.”

Becoming mukhtar

As a young teenager, in the early 1940s, Yaakov didn’t question his father’s outlook. Quite the contrary.

“I must say,” he continues, “when I was in the Zionist Youth Movement, we went around the Arab villages on foot and you saw an Arab village and learned its Hebrew name as in the Bible and you felt the time has not divided between you and it. I have never been religious, but this is what you felt.”

By 1939, World War Two had broken out and many young Israelis had joined the Jewish Brigade of the British Army, serving in Europe. The Jewish Brigade was an idea of Yaakov’s father, and as soon as he was old enough, Yaakov volunteered, joining up in 1944, aged 17. But a few months later – in April 1945 – the war was over and Yaakov was too late to see any service.

Yaacov Sharett, 22, in Hatserim (Courtesy Yaacov Sharett)

Yaakov Sharett, 22, in Hatzerim (Courtesy Yaakov Sharett)

Back in Palestine, those young Jewish soldiers who had served in Europe were amongst those now being recruited to fight in what many knew was coming next: a new war in Palestine to establish a state of Israel.

 Yaakov – who had clearly not yet started to see that Zionism “was at the cost of others” – readily agreed to play his part.

Now aged 19, Yaakov was picked to play the role of a Jewish mukhtar, or village head, at a quasi-military outpost in the Negev, a barren terrain barely settled by Jews.  

“I didn’t think a lot about politics back then. To build this settlement was literally our dream,” he says.

His wife, Rena, has joined us, perching on a stool, and nods in agreement. Rena Sharett was another eager Zionist who claimed the Negev in 1946.

Before 1948, the Negev constituted the British administrative district of Beersheva and the district of Gaza, which together made up half the land of Palestine. Touching the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, the terrain had vital access to water.

So not surprisingly, the Zionists, who had to date succeeded in purchasing just 6 percent of Palestinian land, were determined to seize it.

However, given that about 250,000 Arabs lived in the Negev, in 247 villages, compared to about 500 Jews in three small outposts, a recent Anglo-American partition plan had divided mandate Palestine between Jews and Arabs, apportioning the Negev region as part of a future Palestinian state.

A British ban on new settlement had also hindered Zionist attempts to alter the status quo. Arabs had always opposed any plan that envisaged the Palestinians as “an indigenous majority living on their ancestral soil, being converted overnight into a minority under alien rule,” as the Palestinian historian, Walid Khalidi, summarised it.

In late 1946, however, with a new United Nations partition plan in the making, the Zionist leaders saw it was now or never for the Negev.

Now or never

So the “11 points” plan was launched. Not only would the new settlements boost the Jewish presence there, they would serve as military bases when war broke out, as it inevitably would.

Everything had to be done in secret due to the British ban and it was decided to erect the outposts on the night of 5 October, just after Yom Kippur. “The British would never expect the Jews to do such a thing the night after Yom Kippur,” says Yaakov. 

“I remember when we found our piece of land on the top of a barren hill. It was still dark, but we managed to bang in the posts and soon, we were inside our fence. At first light, trucks came with pre-fabricated barracks.

It was quite a feat. We worked like devils. Ha! I will never forget it.”  

‘I remember when we found our piece of land on the top of a barren hill. It was still dark, but we managed to bang in the posts and soon, we were inside our fence’

– Yaakov Sharett

Looking out from inside their fence, the settlers at first didn’t see any Arabs, but then made out the tents of Abu Yahiya’s village, and a few “dirty huts”, as Yaakov described them.  

Soon, they were asking the Arabs for water. “I collected our water for our settlement from that well every day in my truck, that’s how I became friends with Abu Yahiya,” he says.

With his smattering of Arabic, he chatted to others too: “They loved to talk. On it went when I had work to do,” he laughs. “I don’t think they were happy with us there exactly, but they were at peace with us. There was no enmity.”

Another local Arab chief watched out for their security in return for a small payment. “It was a kind of agreement we had with him.

He’d act as guard and every month, he’d come up to our fence and sit there quite still – he looked like just a small bundle of clothes,” Yaakov says, smiling broadly.  

“He was waiting for payment and I shook his hand and got him to sign some sort of receipt with his thumb which I gave to the authorities in Tel Aviv and they gave me money for the next time.

That was my only real responsibility as mukhtar,” says Yaakov, adding that everyone knew he only got this role as chief because he was his father’s son. 

Moshe Sharett, by now a leading political figure, was known as a moderate, and as such was viewed with suspicion by some military hardliners.

The new Negev desert outposts were planned in large part as centres for gathering intelligence about the Arabs, and Yaakov believes it was probably because of his father he too was distrusted and excluded by those sent to the outpost to lay military plans

“Instead I was really used just as a jack of all trades” – driving, collecting water, buying fuel in Gaza or Beersheba. He sounds nostalgic for the freedom of that arid landscape, though the settlers were always back inside their fence at night.

He came to know other Arab villages, too, like Burayr “which was always hostile, I don’t know why,” but most were friendly, particularly a village called Huj. “I used to drive through Huj often and knew it well.”

During the 1948 war, the residents of Huj reached an agreement in writing with Jewish authorities that they be allowed to stay, but they were driven out like all the other 247 villages of this area, mostly to Gaza. The Palestinians called the expulsions their Nakba – or catastrophe.

I asked Yaacov what he recalled of the Arab exodus in May 1948, but he was absent at the time as Rena’s brother was killed in fighting further east so the couple had left to join her family.

I told Yaacov I’d met survivors of the Abu Yahiya clan, who recounted being driven by Jewish soldiers into Wadi Beersheba where the men were separated from the women and some were shot, then the rest were expelled.

“Somehow I don’t remember that,” says Yaakov. But plumbing his memory, he suddenly recalls other atrocities including events at Burayr, the hostile village, where in May 1948 there was a massacre, with between 70 to 100 villagers killed, according to survivors and Palestinian historians. 

“One of our boys helped take Burayr. I remember he said when he got there the Arabs had already mostly fled and he opened the door of a house and saw an old man there so he shot him. He enjoyed shooting him,” he says.

By the time Beersheba was taken in October 1948, Yaakov had returned to his nearby outpost, now given the Hebrew name, Hatzerim.

“I learned our boys had led the army to the town,” he says. “We knew the area very well and could guide them through the wadis [riverbeds]”.

After Beersheba fell, Yaakov drove his comrades down in a truck to take a look: “It was empty, totally empty.” The entire population of about 5,000 had been expelled and driven in trucks to Gaza.

I had heard there was a lot of looting. “Yes,” he says. “We took things from several empty houses. We took what we could – furniture, radios, utensils. Not for ourselves, but to help the kibbutz. After all, Beersheva was empty and belonged to nobody now.”

What did he think of that? “Again, I must confess I didn’t think much at all at the time. We were proud of occupying Beersheva.  Although I must say, we’d had so many friends there before.”

Yaakov says he couldn’t remember if he had looted himself: “I probably did. I was one of them. We were very happy. If you don’t take it, someone else will. You don’t feel you have to give it back. They were not coming back.”

What did you think about that? He pauses. “We didn’t think about it then. My father, in fact, said they will not come back. My father was a moral man. I don’t think he was a party to the orders to expel the Arabs. Ben-Gurion was. Sharett no. But he accepted it as a fact. I think he knew something was going wrong, but he didn’t fight it,” he says.

“After the war my father gave a lecture and said I don’t know why a man should live two years secluded in a village [a reference to his time growing up in Ein Siniya] to realise that Arabs are human beings. This kind of saying you won’t get from any other Jewish leader…this was my father.”

Then, as if confessing on behalf of his father too, Yaakov adds: “But I have to be frank, my father had some cruel things to say about the refugees. He was against their return; he agreed with Ben-Gurion on that.”

Far more cruel than Sharett was Moshe Dayan. Appointed after the war as chief of staff by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, Dayan had the task of keeping back the Negev refugees and many others “fenced in” behind the Gaza armistice lines.

Moshe Dayan delivers a eulogy for Roi Rotberg in Kibbutz Nahal Oz in April 1956 (Twitter/@ProvMagazine)

Moshe Dayan delivers a eulogy for Roi Rotberg in Kibbutz Nahal Oz in April 1956 (Twitter/@ProvMagazine)

In 1956, a Gaza refugee killed an Israeli settler, Roi Rotberg, and at his funeral, Dayan gave a famous eulogy urging Israelis to accept, once and for all, that the Arabs would never live in peace beside them, and he spelled out why: the Arabs had been expelled from their homes which were now lived in by Jews.

But Dayan urged the Jews to respond not by seeking compromise but by “looking squarely at the hatred that consumes and fills the lives of Arabs who live around us and be forever ready and armed, tough and hard”.

This speech made a profound impression on Yaakov Sharrett. “I said this was a fascist speech. He was telling people to live by the sword,” he says. Moshe Sharett, who was foreign minister at the time, had been urging compromise through diplomacy for which he was called “weak”.

But it wasn’t until 1967, when he started working as a journalist for the centrist Israeli paper, Maariv, that Yaakov lost his faith in Zionism.

‘They were the majority’

In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel seized more land, this time in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, where military occupation was imposed on the Palestinians who hadn’t fled this time.

Touring the West Bank, Sharett stared at the stunned but defiant Arab faces and felt “uneasy” once again, particularly when he visited his old family village of Ein Siniya, which his father, now dead, had spoken of so affectionately.

It was here that as a child, Moshe had herded sheep and “learned that Arabs were humans”, as Moshe Sharett would say in a later speech.  

“The villagers were under the first shock of occupation. They knew the Jews were now the dominating power, but they showed no feelings of hatred. They were simple people.

And I remember that several residents came and surrounded us and smiled and told me they remembered my family and the house in which our family lived.

So we smiled at each other and I left. I didn’t go back. I didn’t like this occupation and I didn’t want to go there as a master,” he says.

“Have you heard of shooting and weeping?” he asks, with another wistful smile, explaining this was an expression to describe Israelis who, after fighting in the West Bank in 1967 showed shame, but accepted the results.

‘We smiled at each other and I left. I didn’t go back. I didn’t like this occupation and I didn’t want to go there as a master’

– Yaakov Sharett

“But I wanted nothing more to do with this occupation. It was my way of non-identification with it. I was depressed by it, and ashamed.”

The faces of the Ein Sinya villagers revealed something else: “I saw in this defiance that they still had the psychology of the majority. My father used to say war always makes waves of refugees. But he didn’t see that usually those who flee are the minority. In 1948, they were the majority so they will never give up. This is our problem.

“But it took me years to realise what the Nakba was and that the Nakba didn’t start in 1967 but in 1948. We have to realise that.”

Rena chips in. “In 1948, it was a matter of them or us. Life and death. That was the difference,” she says.

“We two disagree on this,” says Yaakov. “My wife lost her brother in 1948. She views it differently.”

‘I would leave tomorrow’

In older age, Yaakov has gone back even further in time, looking into the problems with Zionism since the very beginning.  

“Now at [92]-years-old, I realise that the story started with the very idea of Zionism which was a utopian idea. It was meant to save Jewish lives but at the cost of a nation of occupants who inhabited Palestine at this time. The conflict was unavoidable from the beginning.”

I ask if he describes himself as an anti-Zionist. “I am not an anti-Zionist, but I am not a Zionist,” he says, turning to look at Rena, perhaps in case she disapproves – his wife holds less radical views.  

On the wall beside the picture of his father are photographs of their children and grandchildren; two of Yaakov’s granddaughters have emigrated to the United States. “I am not afraid to say I am happy they are there and not here,” he says.

Moshe Sharett (Courtesy Moshe Sharett)

Yaakov Sharett today (Courtesy Yaakov Sharett)

I ask if he has “a rucksack and stick” packed ready to go and join them? After all, with his views, Yaakov himself is now in a minority – a small minority – living amid a majority of right-wing Jews here in Israel.

And not only is he ideologically “fenced in” but also physically too. He talks of how he can barely move around Israel nowadays. He refuses to go to Jerusalem which he says has been taken over by ultra-orthodox religious Jews.

“This is one of the most terrible disasters. When we were young, we thought religion was going to vanish.” He says he never wishes to return to his beloved Negev because it was long ago settled by new generations of Jews “who have no empathy with Arabs”. 

He can still “breathe” in Tel Aviv, and enjoys speeding around on a scooter, but even here, feels that he lives inside a “bubble”. He chuckles again. 

“I call it the Haaretz bubble,” and he explains he is referring to a group of left-wingers who read the liberal Haaretz newspaper. “But this clan has no connection with each other except this daily paper that more or less expresses our opinion.

It is the last stronghold. And I feel very bad about it…. It’s true I do not feel at home here.”

‘Look. When you make me think about it, I would leave tomorrow. Thousands are already leaving’

– Yaakov Sharett

Yaakov says he is always thinking about leaving. If other members of his family would join him, he would.  

“Look. When you make me think about it, I would leave tomorrow. Thousands are already leaving, most have two passports. We have the worst government we have ever had with Bibi Netanyahu,” he says.

“We are living by the sword, as Dayan said we should…as if we must be forced to make Israel into a kind of citadel against the invaders, but I don’t think it is possible to live by the sword for ever.”

I ask how he sees the future for the Palestinians?

“What can I say? I feel very bad about it. And I am not afraid to say that the treatment of the Palestinians today is Nazi treatment. We don’t have gas chambers, of course, but the mentality is the same. It is racial hatred. They are treated as subhuman,” he says.

Yaakov is well-aware that he – a Jew – will be accused of “antisemitism” for saying such things, but says he believes Israel is “a criminal state”.

“I know they will call me a self-hating Jew for saying that. But I cannot automatically support my country, right or wrong. And Israel must not be immune from criticism. Seeing the difference between antisemitism and criticism of Israel is crucial.

To be honest, I am amazed how in 2019 the world outside accepts Israeli propaganda. I really don’t know why they do,” he says.

“And remember that the very aim of Zionism was to release Jews from the curse of antisemitism by giving them their own state. But today, the Jewish state by its own criminal behaviour is one of the most serious causes for this curse.”

What is his prediction for the Jewish state? “I will tell you what my prediction is. I am not afraid to say it. When the time comes, it might come tomorrow, there will be a conflagration, maybe with Hezbollah … a big catastrophe of some sort that will destroy thousands of Jewish homes.

“And we will bomb Beirut but having Lebanese lose their homes won’t help the Jew who loses his home and family, so people will see no reason to stay here anymore. All rational Israelis will then have to leave.

“It doesn’t have to be Hezbollah. The catastrophe might be the strong domination of our own rightists. All the laws enacted by the Knesset now are fascist laws. I have no solution. Israel will become a pariah state,” he says.

‘To be honest, I am amazed how in 2019 the world outside accepts Israeli propaganda. I really don’t know why they do’

– Yaakov Sharett

Surely, America and the Europeans would never treat Israel as pariah state, I suggest, but Yaakov doesn’t agree: “Their support is mostly shame over the Holocaust. But these feelings of guilt will dwindle in the next generations,” he says.

I ask Yaakov what his father would say if he had heard all this? Rena says she hadn’t even heard Yaakov speak like this before. His eyes dart under his woolly hat.

“I think my father would have to agree with me somewhat. He remained a Zionist to the end, but I think he realised something was wrong. Sometimes, I say he was too moral to be at peace with what is going on here,” he says.

“But he is disappointing because he didn’t arrive at the conclusion his son did. I don’t blame him for that. He absorbed Zionism in his mother’s milk.  If he had lived to my age – I am 92, he died at 71 – perhaps he would have seen things like me. I don’t know.”

I get up to leave and pick up my laptop, thereby lighting up the picture of Abu Yahiya’s well again. Our interview has been haunted not only by Moshe Sharett but also by the image of that “tall lean Bedouin with the sympathetic face” last seen by Yaakov, stricken and alone.

“I must say, the picture of that nice man does sometimes come into my mind,” says Yaakov, who then takes me down to the street. Grabbing his scooter, he waves goodbye cheerily and kicks off into the traffic of Tel Aviv.

My Struggle for Peace, the Diary of Moshe Sharett 1953-1956 is published by Indiana University Press. Sarah Helm is a former Middle East correspondent and diplomatic editor of The Independent. Her books include A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE, and If This Is a Woman, Inside Ravensbrück: Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women.​​​​​​​

Lead photo: Yaakov Sharett, 18, serving as a soldier in the Jewish Brigade (Courtesy Yaakov Sharett)

Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land

If you wonder how come the Israelis don’t know their history, the answer is pretty simple, they have never been told.  The circumstances that led to the Israeli Palestinian conflict are well hidden within their culture.

‘You out there, in Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa, whether you realize it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land. You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore’.

“Every Middle East expert knows that Hamas can seize control of the West Bank within hours.

In fact, PA and Fatah control in the West Bank is maintained by the IDF. Once Hamas takes the West Bank, the biggest Israeli population centre will be left to the mercy of Hamas.

For those who fail to see, this would be the end of Jewish Israel. It may happen later today, it may happen in three months or in five years, it isn’t matter of ‘if’ but rather matter of ‘when’.

By that time, the whole of Israel will be within firing range of Hamas and Hezbollah, Israeli society will collapse, its economy will be ruined.”

By Gilad Atzmon

Communicating with Israelis may leave one bewildered. Even now when the Israeli Air Force is practicing murder in broad daylight of hundreds of civilians, elderly persons, women and children, the Israeli people manage to convince themselves that they are the real victims in this violent saga.

Those who are familiar intimately with Israeli people realize that they are completely uninformed about the roots of the conflict that dominates their lives.

Rather often Israelis manage to come up with some bizarre arguments that may make a lot of sense within the Israeli discourse, yet make no sense whatsoever outside of the Jewish street.

Such an argument goes as follows: ‘those Palestinians, why do they insist upon living on our land (Israel), why can’t they just settle in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or any other Arab country?’ Another Hebraic pearl of wisdom sounds like this: ‘what is wrong with these Palestinians? We gave them water, electricity, education and all they do is try to throw us to the sea’.

Astonishingly enough, the Israelis even within the so-called ‘left’ and even the educated ‘left’ fail to understand who the Palestinians are, where they come from and what they stand for. They fail to grasp that for the Palestinians, Palestine is home. 

Miraculously, the Israelis manage to fail to grasp that Israel had been erected at the expense of the Palestinian people, on Palestinian land, on Palestinian villages, towns, fields and orchards.

The Israelis do not realize that Palestinians in Gaza and in refugee camps in the region are actually dispossessed people from Ber Shive, Yafo, Tel Kabir, Shekh Munis, Lod, Haifa, Jerusalem and many more towns and villages. 

If you wonder how come the Israelis don’t know their history, the answer is pretty simple, they have never been told.  The circumstances that led to the Israeli Palestinian conflict are well hidden within their culture.

Traces of pre-1948 Palestinian civilization on the land had been wiped out.  Not only the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians, is not part of the Israeli curriculum, it is not even mentioned or discussed in any Israeli official or academic forum

In the very centre of almost every Israeli town one can a find a 1948 memorial statue displaying a very bizarre, almost abstract, pipe work. The plumbing feature is called Davidka and it is actually a 1948 Israeli mortar cannon.

Interestingly enough, the Davidka was an extremely ineffective weapon. Its shells wouldn’t reach more than 300 meters and would cause very limited damage.  Though the Davidika would cause just minimal harm, it produced a lot of noise. 

According to the Israeli official historical narrative, the Arabs i.e., Palestinians, simply ran away for their lives once they heard the Davidka from afar.

According to the Israeli narrative, the Jews i.e., ‘new Israelis’ did a bit of fireworks and the ‘Arab cowards’ just ran off like idiots. 

In the Israeli official narrative there is no mention of the many orchestrated massacres conducted by the young IDF and the paramilitary units that preceded it.

There is no mention also of the racist laws that stop Palestinians[1][1] from returning to their homes and lands.

The meaning of the above is pretty simple. Israelis are totally unfamiliar with the Palestinian cause. Hence, they can only interpret the Palestinian struggle as a murderous irrational lunacy.

Within the Israeli Judeo- centric solipsistic universe, the Israeli is an innocent victim and the Palestinian is no less than a savage murderer.

This grave situation that leaves the Israeli in the dark regarding his past demolishes any possibility of future reconciliation. Since the Israeli lacks the minimal comprehension of the conflict, he cannot contemplate any possible resolution except extermination or cleansing of the ‘enemy’.

All the Israeli is entitled to know are various phantasmic narratives of Jewish suffering. Palestinian pain is completely foreign to his ears.  ‘Palestinian right of return’ sounds to him like an amusing idea.

Even the most advanced ‘Israeli humanists’ are not ready to share the land with its indigenous inhabitants.

This doesn’t leave the Palestinians with many options but to liberate themselves against all odds. Clearly, there is no partner for peace on the Israel side.

This week we all learned more about the ballistic capability of Hamas. Evidently, Hamas was rather restrained with Israel for more than a long while.  It refrained from escalating the conflict to the whole of southern Israel.

It occurred to me that the barrages of Qassams that have been landing sporadically on Sderot and Ashkelon were actually nothing but a message from the imprisoned Palestinians.

First it was a message to the stolen land, homes fields and orchards: ‘Our beloved soil, we didn’t forget, we are still here fighting for you, sooner rather than later, we will come back, we will start again where we had stopped’. 

But it was also a clear message to the Israelis. ‘You out there, in Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa, whether you realize it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land.

You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore’.

Let’s face it, realistically the situation in Israel is rather grave. Two years ago it was Hezbollah rockets that pounded northern Israel. This week the Hamas proved beyond doubt that it is capable of serving the South of Israel with some cocktail of ballistic vengeance.

Both in the case of the Hezbollah and the case of the Hamas, Israel was left with no military answer. It can no doubt kill civilians but it fails to stop the rocket barrage.

The IDF lacks the means of protecting Israel unless covering Israel with a solid concrete roof is a viable solution. At the end of the day, they might be planning just that (link).

But this is far from the end of the story. In fact it is just the beginning. Every Middle East expert knows that Hamas can seize control of the West Bank within hours.

In fact, PA and Fatah control in the West Bank is maintained by the IDF. Once Hamas takes the West Bank, the biggest Israeli population centre will be left to the mercy of Hamas.

For those who fail to see, this would be the end of Jewish Israel. It may happen later today, it may happen in three months or in five years, it isn’t matter of ‘if’ but rather matter of ‘when’.

By that time, the whole of Israel will be within firing range of Hamas and Hezbollah, Israeli society will collapse, its economy will be ruined.

The price of a detached villa in Northern Tel Aviv would equal a shed in Kiryat Shmone or Sderot. By the time a single rocket hits Tel Aviv, the Zionist dream will be over.

The IDF generals know it, the Israeli leaders know it. This is why they stepped up the war against the Palestinian into extermination. The Israelis do not plan upon invading Gaza. They have lost nothing there.

All they want is to finish the Nakba. They drop bombs on Palestinians in order to wipe them out.

They want the Palestinians out of the region.  It is obviously not going to work, Palestinians will stay. Not only they will they stay, their day of return to their land is coming closer as Israel has been exploiting its deadliest tactics. 

This is exactly where Israeli escapism comes into play. Israel has passed the ‘point of no return’. Its doomed fate is deeply engraved in each bomb it drops on Palestinian civilians.

There is nothing Israel can do to save itself. There is no exit strategy. It can’t negotiate its way out because neither the Israelis nor their leadership understand the elementary parameters involved in the conflict.  Israel lacks the military power to conclude the battle.

It may manage to kill Palestinian grassroots leaders, it has been doing it for years, yet Palestinian resistance and persistence is growing fierce rather than weakening.

As an IDF intelligence general predicted already at the first Intifada. ‘In order to win, all Palestinians have to do is to survive’. They survive and they are indeed winning.

Israeli leaders understand it all. Israel has already tried everything, unilateral withdrawal, starvation and now extermination. It thought to evade the demographic danger by shrinking into an intimate cosy Jewish ghetto. Nothing worked.

It is Palestinian persistence in the shape of Hamas politics that defines the future of the region.

All that is left to Israelis is to cling to their blindness and escapism to evade their devastating grave fate that has become immanent already. All along their way down, the Israelis will sing their familiar various victim anthems.

Being imbued in a self-centred supremacist reality, they will be utterly involved in their own pain yet completely blind to the pain they inflict on others. 

Uniquely enough, the Israelis are operating as a unified collective when dropping bombs on others, yet, once being slightly hurt, they all manage to become monads of vulnerable innocence.

It is this discrepancy between the self-image and the way they are seen by the rest of us which turns the Israeli into a monstrous exterminator.

 It is this discrepancy that stops Israelis from grasping their own history, it is that discrepancy that stops them from comprehending the repeated numerous attempts to destroy their State. It is that discrepancy that stops Israelis from understanding the meaning of the Shoah so can they prevent the next one. It is this discrepancy that stops Israelis from being part of humanity.

Once again Jews will have to wander into an unknown fate. To a certain extent, I myself have started my journey a while ago. 

 

Israel to reinstitute ‘assassinations policy’

Despite now officially about to be investigated for warcrimes, Israeli minister boasts the israeli killer army will continue its never-ending ‘assassinations policy’ against Palestinians!

December 26, 2019

Israel’s foreign minister on Thursday said Tel Aviv would return to “the policy of assassinations” against Palestinian resistance figures in the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports.

In statements he made to Israel’s army radio, Yisrael Katz indicated that there was “an intelligence effort to identify the rockets’ launchers and work to eliminate them.”

He stressed: “Intelligence efforts are currently focused on determining who is responsible for ordering missile launch instructions in order to work to eliminate him.”

On Wednesday evening, Israel’s iron dome anti-missile system intercepted a missile reportedly fired from the Gaza Strip towards the country’s south while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was attending an election rally in Ashkelon province.

According to Israeli media, security forces transferred Netanyahu to a “protected area” while security forces responded by bombing several sites in the Gaza Strip without any casualties.

‘Drunk on power and boredom’: Israeli ex-soldiers detail abuses

Looking for amusement, his unit handwrote bogus VIP permits for the Palestinians who crossed regularly. They were legally meaningless but added some fun to the long hours in the sun.

Humiliation is the aim. A brave people, coward Occupation.

In a controversial new photographic exhibition in Tel Aviv, Israeli former soldiers detail abuses they saw – and perpetrated