It is our right to transfer the Arabs … The Arabs should go!”
– Yosef Weitz, leading Zionist figure, director of the Land and Afforestation Department of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), 1940
The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.”
– David Ben-Gurion, 1937
The main thing is, first and foremost, to hit them hard. Not just one hit… but many painful [hits], so that the price will be unbearable. … To bring them to a state of panic that everything is collapsing … fear that everything will collapse … The world will say nothing. The world will say that we are defending ourselves.”
– Current Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, 2001
GAZA — (Analysis) While Israel claims “security” and “defense of its border” to justify the recent mass murder in Gaza, the historical record of Israel’s founding fathers and government planners paints a different picture entirely. Aware that an “injustice was unavoidable” for their state to be established, the early Zionist settlers adopted a position of pure hegemony towards the Palestinians — which continues to this day. They had to be “shown the power of Israel” through the “use of force” until they were “compelled to concede” and “submit” to Israeli rule.
Yet, according to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the recent move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem marks the start of “the journey to peace,” with “a strong America recognizing the truth.”
“What a glorious day!” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the event, telling Trump “You have made history.”
Indeed — while legitimizing Israel’s colonization of Jerusalem, as well as the massacre in Gaza only miles away, all while proclaiming a dedication to “peace” and “truth” — the event perfectly encapsulates what the U.S. really means when it speaks of “peace,” and the “truth” of what policy towards the Palestinians really looks like.
The “peace” of settler-colonialism
The Embassy move coincided with the 70th anniversary of the forceful expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian population from their homelands by European immigrants and the settler-colonialism that created the state of Israel on top of it.
Describing the situation in 1918, Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion explained:
There is no solution to the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. … And we must recognize this situation. … We as a nation want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs.”
Albert Hourani, a distinguished historian at Oxford, in 1946 further explained that “no room can be made in Palestine for a second nation except by dislodging or exterminating the first.” Chaim Weizmann, soon to be the first president of Israel, agreed. According to a contemporary chronicler:
[Weizmann was] the first witness who has frankly and openly admitted that the issue is not between right and wrong but between the greater and lesser injustice. Injustice is unavoidable and we have to decide whether it is better to be unjust to the Arabs of Palestine or the Jews.”
This premeditated injustice is the reason Palestinians refer to Israel’s birthday as the “Nakba” — Arabic for “catastrophe.” It denotes the time when they were brutalized by Zionist settlers who justified their actions based upon past injustices committed against them by someone else, as an abused child justifies growing up to become the abuser of their own children.
The Embassy move made by “a strong America” was also a “recognition of the truth” of a longstanding Israeli policy, now fully endorsed and legitimized by U.S. unilateralism, of taking over and colonizing East Jerusalem, which began immediately following its seizure by Israel in 1967.
In the declassified record, we find that, as early as 1971, CIA analysts were describing how Israel was “undertaking a number of programs within the city that are clearly designed to make Israeli control irreversible.” Israel’s position that it sought full control of all of Jerusalem — “adopted immediately following the 1967 war” — was evidenced as “the Israelis have continued to make it abundantly clear [that] they have no intention of giving up control of the city.”
Read | The declassified CIA memo on Jerusalem
This is significant, the CIA analysts noted, because “the status of Jerusalem constitutes a stumbling block on which the entire peace effort could founder.” The Israeli actions therefore have “further complicated the issue” and ensured that achieving peace would be impossible, as indeed it was.
During all of this, the U.S. continuously voiced its dedication to “peace” and diplomatic resolution.
Carrying on the tradition, Trump on Monday said to the embassy ceremony that the United States “remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement,” at the same time the U.S. was legitimizing a decades-long occupation of Jerusalem that effectively nullified any slim hope that might have remained for a negotiated settlement.
Trump’s brash actions are really just a more honest face displaying what the U.S. and Israel have always pursued: full Palestinian capitulation and submission. The legitimate grievances of the indigenous population are irrelevant; what matters is the rule of force. “The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must,” as Thucydides’ old maxim goes.
A “Glorious Day” in Israel; a massacre in Gaza
As Israel was celebrating its “glorious day,” the happy faces of wealth and privilege of the U.S. and Israeli elite were juxtaposed to an Israeli massacre in Gaza only miles away, in a squalid ghetto filled with resentment and despair.
The Palestinian refugees living in Gaza (70 percent of its population) have endured 12 long years of imprisonment and blockade within one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Denied basic human rights such as freedom of movement, Gaza is essentially a “giant open prison camp,” as former British Prime Minister David Cameron described it. According to former Israeli National Security Council Director Giora Eiland, it is the “biggest concentration camp on earth.”
The enclave’s infrastructure is in collapse, due in part to repeated Israeli aggressions, colloquially referred to as “mowing the lawn” by the Israeli military. The last campaign saw the deaths of over 2,300 Palestinians — nearly 70 percent of whom were civilians (as per UN report) — at Israel’s hands.
Israeli officials explained their reasons for imposing the siege. It is meant to keep Gaza’s economy “on the brink of collapse,” to make sure that it is “functioning at the lowest level possible” short of tipping it over the edge into a “humanitarian crisis.” That way, Israel wouldn’t have to allow “residents of Gaza to live normal lives,” as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted.
Another facet of being “totally subject to the decisions and policies of the Israeli government,” as Israeli human rights groups describe living in Gaza, is having over 90 percent of the water contaminated and “unfit for human consumption.” Since over half of Gaza’s population is under 18 years old, this means that “innocent human beings, most of them young, are slowly being poisoned by the water they drink,” as explained by Harvard political economist Sara Roy, the foremost academic expert on Gaza.
Palestinians in Gaza are trapped within an unremitting state of humiliation and agony.
Indeed, in 1948, Israeli government experts assessed that the Palestinian refugees would either have to assimilate elsewhere or they “would be crushed, … some of them would die and most of them would turn into human dust in the waste of society, and join the most impoverished classes in the Arab countries.”
Instead of standing idly by, Palestinians living in Gaza have decided to protest against their abuse. They decided to set up tents near the fence and gradually and peacefully move closer, in assertion of their internationally recognized right to return to the homes they were displaced from, in what is now Israel.
Israeli officials from the highest military and political echelons responded by deploying uniformed snipers to the fence with orders to shoot live ammunition against the demonstrators, regardless of their being unarmed or peaceful. The result was a bloodbath.
On Monday alone, Israel orchestrated “the highest number of both fatalities and injuries” since the protest began, killing at least 60 Palestinians, including eight children (one girl) and a health worker. 2,770 others were injured, 1,359 by live ammunition, with 130 others in critical condition.
Altogether, since March 30, 104 Palestinians have been killed, 12 of whom were children, while a staggering 12,600+ have been injured. No Israelis have been killed, with only one soldier being “lightly wounded.”
In short, Israel has been orchestrating a massacre, a “horrific slaughter” of “senseless violence” and “unabated brutality against civilians” meant “to stifle civil unrest,” which “has nothing to do with defense,” as U.S. Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY) wrote in outrage.
Because of Israel’s calculated policy, reads a statement by the UN’s Human Rights Commissioner:
it seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press personnel, first-responders, bystanders, and [anyone] at almost any point up to 700m from the fence.”
The reason for the slaughter: Submitting to Israeli rule
Putting official justifications and rhetoric aside, the real reasons for the carnage are not hard to understand.
As the early Zionists understood, an “injustice was unavoidable” if their project was to succeed. The founding of Israel was thereafter based on the rejection of the injustice at its inception, on its “right to exist.”
The abused Palestinians, who naturally reject having their homes stolen from underneath them, must, therefore, be crushed and forever prevented from exercising self-determination, from becoming strong enough to push their legitimate grievances.
The basic characteristic was described by Ben-Gurion just before the country’s founding. He testified before the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine that his approach to the Palestinian Arabs would be one of pure hegemony, where he would “tell them, here is a decision in our favor. We are right. We want to sit down with you and settle the question amicably. If your answer is no, then we will use force against you.”
The reason for this attitude, according to historian Charles D. Smith of the University of Arizona, was that, in Ben-Gurion’s mind, “the Arabs denied Israel’s right to exist,” so, therefore “they had to be shown the power of Israel time and again until they were compelled to concede.”
In other words, “Once they learned that opposition to Zionism was futile, they would ultimately accept it and submit to Jewish rule.”
Faced with peaceful demonstrations opposing the misery of Israeli rule, demanding the right to return to the homeland that Israel claims for itself, Israel, therefore, responded by “using force against you” since “your answer is no” to the question of submission to Israeli designs.
The protesting Palestinians “would be crushed” and “some of them would die” until they accepted their fate of being relegated to “the waste of society” in “the most impoverished classes in the Arab” world; they “had to be shown the power of Israel … until they were compelled to concede.”
Despite this inhumanity, the protesters have offered an inspiring display of courage and strength. To refrain from taking up arms or launching rockets in the face of such relentless brutality and carnage, to protest for their just right to a life of dignity and freedom when they know that it will likely cost them their very lives and limbs, is an awe-inspiring demonstration of self-sacrifice and commitment to justice.
For us in the United States and the West, Palestinian sacrifice must not be in vain. It is our responsibility to stop our government(s) from enabling this horror, lest our foot-dragging and inaction carry on for so long that “most of them … turn into human dust in the waste of society,” right before our very eyes.
Top Photo | A relative of a Palestinian killed during a protest on the border with Israel mourns over his body in a morgue in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. Israeli soldiers shot and killed upwards of 50 protesters during mass protests along the Gaza border. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast a pall over Israel’s festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem. (AP/Dusan Vranic)
Steven Chovanec is an independent journalist and analyst based in Chicago, Illinois. He has a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Sociology from Roosevelt University, and has written for numerous outlets such as The Hill, TeleSur, MintPress News, Consortium News, and others. His writings can be found at undergroundreports.blogspot.com, follow him on Twitter @stevechovanec.