The Tragedy of Zionist Revisionism of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

by Nov 8, 2013Foreign Policy27 comments

Palestinians leave Haifa as Zionist forces enter the city, April 1948

In an Al-Monitor article ironically titled “The tragedy of Palestinian revisionism,” veteran Israeli columnist Ben Caspit engages in his own shameful revisionism about the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the reasons for its persistence. In the process, he reveals his own deeply bigoted attitude, historical ignorance, and intellectual dishonesty.

This article was originally published at MuftahNima Shirazi, co-editor of Muftah’s Iran, Iraq, and Turkey pages, contributed to this piece. Visit Nima’s website, WideAsleepInAmerica.com.

In an Al-Monitor article ironically titled “The tragedy of Palestinian revisionism,” veteran Israeli columnist Ben Caspit engages in his own shameful revisionism about the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the reasons for its persistence. In the process, he reveals his own deeply bigoted attitude, historical ignorance, and intellectual dishonesty.

Caspit’s commentary—including what he patronizingly terms “a crash course in history”—is essentially an outraged rejoinder to another article published previously by Al-Monitor, a report about Acre, a “mixed” Jewish-Palestinian city in Israel, written by West Bank-based Palestinian writer and editor Linah Alsaafin.

Caspit launches his assault on Alsaafin’s article by openly denying “the ‘ethnic cleansing’” of Palestine, his use of quotation marks around the phrase signifying his belief that it wasn’t really ethnic cleansing at all. He writes that Alsaafin merely “contends” Palestine was ethnically cleansed in 1948, presenting it as though it is a completely unsupported claim rather than a well-documented historical fact.

He offers his readers a “short reminder” that in 1947, the United Nations “adopted a historic decision to partition the land of Israel between Arabs and Jews.” Even though the “area that was awarded to the Jews was much smaller than the area of the historic land of Israel,” the Israelis showed their willingness to compromise by reluctantly accepting.

On the other hand, the recalcitrant Arabs, who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, made their “first fatal mistake” by rejecting partition. Instead, they raised the Goliath force of “seven regular Arab armies” that “invaded” the “practically defenseless” new state of Israel. Playing the role of David, Israel, Caspit argues, had a “negligible” military with “neither weapons nor soldiers.”

The defenseless, weaponless Israel “nevertheless was able to vanquish its enemies and even expand the areas under its control.”

Where to begin dissecting this nonsense?

The “UN Created Israel” Myth

First of all, the United Nations emphatically did not create the state of Israel. This is a popular myth.

U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 neither partitioned Palestine nor conferred to the Zionist leadership under David Ben-Gurion any legal authority for the May 14, 1948 unilateral declaration establishing the state of Israel.

Caspit’s comparison between the Biblical land of Israel and the U.N-proposed area for the Jewish state is irrelevant. As the fact-finding King-Crane Commission appointed by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson pointed out in 1919, the Zionists’ claim “that they have a ‘right’ to Palestine, based on an occupation of 2,000 years ago, can hardly be seriously considered.”

What is relevant, however, is that the majority Arabs owned more land in every single district in Palestine, and that at the time of the unilateral declaration of Israel’s existence, the Jewish community owned only about 6.9% of the land.

The U.N. Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) observed in its 1947 report that Arabs were “in possession of approximately 85 percent of the land.” A subcommittee further observed that “The bulk of the land in the Arab State,as well as in the proposed Jewish state, is owned and possessed by Arabs” (emphasis added).

UNSCOP, nevertheless, offered its majority proposal that the Jewish state be comprised of 55% of the land of Palestine.

In other words, the committee, operating within the historical framework of Western colonialism and racism, recommended that land be taken away from the Arabs so that it could be given to the Jews.   The UNSCOP report explicitly rejected the right of self-determination for the Arab Palestinians, saying this principle was “not applied to Palestine, obviously because of the intention to make possible the creation of the Jewish National Home there.”

This rejection of Arab rights was in violation of the spirit and letter of the very U.N. Charter under which the committee was operating, which enshrined self-determination as a universal right that the organization was ostensibly intended to uphold.

Naturally, the Arabs rejected this racist proposal that explicitly denied them their rights, as though they were somehow less than human.

In his own telling, however, Caspit casts Arabs as genetically predisposed to rejectionism. “If the Arabs had said ‘Yes’ back in the day,” he writes, “what we would have seen today is a prosperous Palestinian state over more than half the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. But Arabs — as they invariably do — said, ‘No.’”

The Zionist Military Goliath

Caspit’s claim that the Jews were defenseless, having no weapons or soldiers, is clearly a fiction as the combined Arab forces could not possibly have been defeated had the proto-Israeli forces been as weak as Caspit suggests.

In fact, the Zionists had an established and very capable paramilitary force, the Haganah (“defense” in Hebrew), which had been in existence for nearly three decades. Furthermore, the Zionist fighting forces actually outnumbered the indigenous Palestinian resistance groups between December 1947 and May 1948, when the State of Israel was unilaterally declared into existence.  From May 1948 to January 1949, when the Armistice Agreements were signed between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, as Israeli historian Benny Morris has written, “[I]t was superior Jewish firepower, manpower, organization, and command and control that determined the outcome of battle.”

There were also a number of armed Jewish militias, such as the terrorist organizations Irgun and the Stern Gang, which participated alongside the Haganah in the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population, including the infamous massacre that took place at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948.

The Deir Yassin massacre came one month before the Arab armies supposedly “invaded” the “defenseless” new nation.

By the time Israeli statehood was declared, 300,000 Arabs had already been ethnically cleansed from the land that would become the “Jewish state”.

When the armistice agreements were signed in 1949, three-quarters of a million Palestinians had already been forcibly expelled from or fled their homes in fear of further massacres.

This was not an unexpected outcome. The ethnic cleansing of the Arabs of Palestine had long been planned by the Zionist leadership.

Ethnic Cleansing and Transfer

The King-Crane Commission, for instance, reported nearly three decades before that in discussions with representatives of the Zionist movement, “the fact came out repeatedly … that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine.”

The Zionists’ military offenses against defenseless Arab villages began in late 1947.

In March 1948, the Zionist leadership formalized its policy of ethnic cleansing with “Plan D” (for Dalet, the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet), which outlined how a “compulsory transfer”, as David Ben-Gurion called it, would be carried out; namely, by destroying villages, wiping out any indigenous resistance, and expelling the Arab population.

Months later, as the prospect of an Arab response to Zionist terror and violence became a possibility, Ben-Gurion told his military commanders in the Haganah that they should not be deterred or distracted by any potential offensive measures taken by Arab armies, because “the cleansing of Palestine remained the prime objective of Plan Dalet.”

Neighboring Arab states barely managed to muster a response to the ethnic cleansing operations. It was not until after the Zionists declared the state of Israel (without defining its borders) that neighboring states sent military forces, including voluntary militias, to help defend the Palestinians from the Zionists’ offensive operations.

Most of the fighting took place in areas UNSCOP had designated as belonging to the future proposed Arab State.

Of all the Arab armies, Jordan’s Arab Legion was the strongest contingent and only actively defended the territory today known as the West Bank as part of what Israeli historian Ilan Pappé has referred to as a “tacit alliance King Abdullah had made with the Zionist movement.”

Beyond this, the Arab armies were uncoordinated, their supply lines inadequate, and what antiquated and often inoperable weapons they had were scarce due to an embargo put in place by their usual suppliers Britain and France. Meanwhile, Israeli forces were being regularly armed and equipped by the ascendant Soviet Union and in its nascent proxies in Europe.

Denying Palestinian Existence

Caspit ignorantly remarks that “Arabs have only themselves to blame” for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who became refugees as a result of the ethnic cleansing.

He continues by announcing that “Palestine is a state that has never existed”. He writes that, in 1947, “there was no Palestine, only the British Mandate.”

He goes even further with the racist assertion that “The Palestinian people and the Palestinian state are a modern invention” with “no history”; “There were never such a people”, he declares, until Israel began its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967.

While it is true that Palestine was never recognized as an independent state, the fact remains that the territory, formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, was known for millennia as “Palestine.”  The indigenous inhabitants of the land have long been referred to as Palestinians, by foreigners and natives alike.

For instance, from 1911 to 1948, a biweekly newspaper called Filastinpublished in Jaffa by the journalist and poet Issa Daoud El-Issa and his cousin Yusef, consistently called upon Christian and Muslim “Palestinians” to oppose Zionist colonization and support Palestinian nationalism and independence.

What Caspit calls only the “British Mandate” in his effort to deny Palestine’s existence was in fact formally known as “The Palestine Mandate”, by which the League of Nations appointed Great Britain as the Mandatory (i.e., Occupying Power) for “the administration of the territory of Palestine” until such time as it became independent (Palestine was the only one of the formerly Mandated territories whose independence was not ever recognized, for the racist and colonialist reason already discussed).

Caspit’s argument here rests on the implicit racist logic that since the Arab Palestinians had never exercised self-determination, it was legitimate to continue denying them that right—a familiar refrain in Zionist propaganda that dates back years before Israel even came into existence.

The essence of this racist ideology was outlined by Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann. In a May 1918 letter to Lord Arthur Balfour (for whom the infamous “Balfour Declaration” was named), Weizmann railed against the way Britain was administering its occupation of Palestine during the First World War, as “their only guide in this difficult situation was the democratic principle, which reckons with the relative numerical strength, and the brutal numbers operate against us, for there are five Arabs to one Jew.” As such, he worried that “the present state of affairs would necessarily tend towards the creation of an Arab Palestine, if there were an Arab people in Palestine.”

His meaning was not that there were no Arabs inhabiting the land, but that they did not meet the criteria for a “people”, and thus their right to self-determination could easily be denied. He further noted that Palestinians—whom he described as “treacherous” and “arrogant”—would have no success in galvanizing a national movement as he deemed the indigenous peasants to be “at least four centuries behind the times,” while their moneyed countrymen were “dishonest, uneducated, greedy, and as unpatriotic as he is inefficient.”

David Ben-Gurion echoed this racist sentiment in 1936, declaring that “there is no conflict between Jewish and Palestinian nationalism because the Jewish Nation is not in Palestine and the Palestinians are not a nation.”

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir more famously reiterated this racist Zionist propaganda in 1969, “It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”

How very puzzling, then, that Ben-Gurion would refer to this nonexistent people in 1936 when describing the Arab revolt that year as “an active resistance by the Palestinians to what they regard as a usurpation of their homeland by the Jews” (emphasis added; note that in his usage, “Palestinians” referred specifically to the Arabs, even though the term was also used at the time to refer to native Jewish inhabitants of the territory).

Rewriting History

Caspit attempts to further characterize Palestinian statelessness as resulting from the Palestinians’ decision to spurn generous Israeli offers, first under Ehud Barak and again under Ehud Olmert, “to get back 95% of the area that was occupied in 1967.”

In fact, according to Dr. Ron Pundak, who was a member of the official Israeli negotiating team at the 2000 Camp David negotiations Caspit refers to, Barak initially demanded the Palestinians accept Israeli annexation of 12% of the West Bank, with no territorial compensation.

By the end of the talks, Barak was still demanding the Palestinians cede 9% of their land in the West Bank to Israel with only 1% of Israeli land as compensation.

The claim that Barak “offered 95% and an additional 5% in compensation,” Pundak wrote, “is an attempt at rewriting history.”

Barak also insisted, of course, on annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, a non-starter for Palestinian negotiators.

Similarly, as the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported, what Olmert demanded of the Palestinians in his 2008 proposal was that they accept Israeli annexation of nearly 7% of some of the best West Bank land with a less than a one-to-one land swap consisting mostly of areas in the Judean Desert.

Another condition Olmert placed on the Palestinian Authority was that it oust the elected Hamas government in Gaza. And, of course, Olmert also insisted on annexation of East Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas understandably dismissed the offer as a “waste of time.”

Such proposals from Israel are “concessions” only in terms of what Israel wants.  In terms of what either party isentitled to under international law, Israel has conceded nothing; every single legal concession has come from the Palestinian side, which has already given up 78% of the land of Mandate Palestine to the state of Israel and seeks to establish its own state on only 22% of historic Palestine.

Under international law, every inch of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are “occupied Palestinian territory.” Why should the Palestinians settle for anything less than their rights? How is it that the side expected to surrender its rights and make all concessions is characterized as the unreasonable party?

Consensus and Rejection

Caspit closes his article by declaring that the only reason the Palestinians do not already have a state is because they refuse to accept international consensus on a two-state solution, which calls for complete Israeli withdrawal and the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-June 1967 lines, with minor and mutually agreed revisions to the final border.

The truth is just the opposite: the Palestinians have long accepted the two-state solution, and it is Israel that has long rejected it. Indeed, the U.S.-led, so-called “peace process” is the strategy by which the United States and Israel have long blocked implementation of this solution.

In fact, Israel’s rejection of the two-state solution has been explicit.

For instance, in a speech to the Knesset on October 5, 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin explained what the Oslo agreements meant in declaring that “the permanent solution lies in the territory of the State of Israel made up of Eretz Yisra’el as it was under the British Mandate”, with “a Palestinian entity” that is “less than a state” serving as an enclave where the Palestinians can reside.

“We will not return to the lines of 4 June 1967,” Rabin declared, as called for under U.N. Security Council Resolution 242.

Current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu similarly outlined Israel’s explicitly rejectionist policy in June 2009, which has been reiterated numerous times since.

Among Israel’s current demands in negotiations with the Palestinians are that, in addition to ceding major swaths of the West Bank where Israeli settlements have been constructed in violation of international law, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a “Jewish state,” meaning they must surrender the internationally recognized right of refugees to return to their homeland and accept the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and confiscation of Arab land as legitimate.

The Israelis also refuse to allow the Palestinians to exercise sovereignty over their own territory. Instead, their “state”—if that is what they choose to call it—must remain “demilitarized,” meaning they must effectively surrender their right to self-defense.

Israel would maintain control over Palestinian airspace, as well as its borders, including along the Jordan River.

The title of Caspit’s article is, ironically enough, appropriate. But the real tragedy is the dishonest revisionism about the conflict offered by him and others who share his inherently racist attitude and propensity for intellectually bankrupt arguments.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

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27 Comments

  1. Peter Morris

    There are about a dozen Arab states in which Arabs enjoy self determination, but Israel is the only state in which Jews enjoy self determination. To deny self determination to Jews so Arabs can have yet another state is I think totally unfair.

    Reply
    • Jeremy R. Hammond

      Nowhere is it suggested in the above article that Jews do not also have a right to self-determination. One the contrary, the assumption throughout is that this is a universal right. It applies equally to both Arabs and Jews, and their equal rights are not mutually exclusive. Your implicit logic here is: other Arabs living in other places exercise self-determination, therefore it is permissible to deny the Palestinians this right. A non sequitur, needless to say.

      Reply
      • Peter Morris

        You say “Palestinians” are being denied self determination. But in fact Jewish Palestinians enjoy self determination in Israel so your claim is an over generalization. Conflict is continuing not because “Palestinians” are being denied self determination but because Arabs living in the Land of Israel want to build an Arab state there.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        I don’t know what you mean by saying “Jewish Palestinians enjoy self determination in Israel”. The term “Jewish Palestinians” was once used to refer to Jews living in Palestine, but obviously makes no sense anymore.

        As for your assertion that the conflict is continuing because Arabs want to “build an Arab state” “in the Land of Israel”, this is false. The West Bank and Gaza are not “in the Land of Israel”. They are occupied Palestinian territories.

      • Peter Morris

        As historical terms, the term “Jewish Palestinian” makes just as much
        sense as the term “Arab Palestinian”. However neither term is ideal
        because Palestine is the name that Roman invaders gave to the land of
        Israel and Judea after they turned it into their colony. This also
        means that the concept of “Palestinian” territory is a fiction, because
        it refers to Jewish territory that was successively colonized by Romans,
        Arabs, Ottomans etc. Thus the West Bank is in the land of Israel/Judea. Gaza may be different, because it overlaps territory that was controlled by the Philistines.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        Yes, that is what I said, historically, the term “Jewish Palestinian” makes sense, but it makes no sense today. The concept of Palestinian territory is not a fiction. The place was known as “Palestine” on the maps. Its residence were hence “Palestinians”, both Jewish and Arab, as you just acknowledged. The majority of its inhabitants at the end of the League of Nations mandate were Arabs. The Jewish population had risen by then to about a third, mostly through immigration. Furthermore, Arabs owned most of the land, compared to the Jewish community, which owned less than 7% of it. What makes no sense, therefore, is to refer to Palestine as “Jewish territory”. To call the West Bank “Israel/Judea” because it was known as such two and a half millenium ago likewise makes no sense. Shall we call Iraq “Mesopotamia”, then. Iran “Persia”?

      • Peter Morris

        It depends on whose maps. After the invasion of Israel by Rome, official maps of Rome and subsequent colonial powers indeed showed Palestine. But Hebrew maps continued to show Land of Israel. So Palestine was actually a fiction that was propagated in the hope of erasing Jewish memory of the true state of affairs, but which coexisted with maps and scripture that provided evidence of the true state of affairs.
        So there was always a possibility of Jews once again seeking self determination in the Land of Israel and when recent conditions permitted eventually they did.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        Obviously, it was these Hebrew maps you say continued to show Israel that were the fiction. But I’m not talking about 2,000 years ago, as is clear from my previous comment, to which I defer. I’ll just add that the Zionists ethnically cleansing Palestine of its Arab population and stealing their land isn’t a legitimate exercise of the Jewish right to self-determination. Needless to say.

      • Peter Morris

        I don’t see how correct Hebrew maps of ancient Israel could become fiction merely because invaders choose to call the country something else.
        Your claim that Zionists are ethnically cleansing Israel of Arabs is also false because Israel has a growing Arab population who have the right to vote in national elections.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        Israel ceased to exist before the Roman Empire even came onto the world stage. Perhaps you mean that the Hebrews called the territory Judea. It was also called that on the Roman maps.

        I was referring to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that occurred in order to create the demographically “Jewish state”. 750,000 Arabs were forcibly expelled or fled out of fear of further massacres like at Deir Yassin from late 1947 to 1949.

      • Peter Morris

        With respect to claims of ethnic cleansing, the Arab Israeli conflict resulted in large numbers of Jews being expelled from Arab countries. So I don’t think there is much point in dwelling on such claims against by Israel.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        First of all, it isn’t a “claim”. It is a well-documented historical fact that three-quarters of a million Arabs were ethnically cleansed from Palestine (“compulsory transfer”, as Ben-Gurion called it).

        Second of all, this fact is hardly irrelevant to the discussion.

      • Peter Morris

        Well, I am not interested in anti-Israeli propaganda that masquerades as “well-documented historical fact”.

        Here is a balanced assessment:

        It is true that Ben-Gurion in 1937-38 supported the transfer of the Arabs out of the area of the Jewish state-to-be – which was precisely the recommendation of the British Royal (Peel) Commission from July 1937, which investigated the Palestine problem. The commission concluded that the only fair settlement was by way of partition, with the Jews receiving less than 20 per cent of Palestine, but that, for it to be viable, the 20 per cent should be cleared of potentially hostile, disloyal Arabs. (Britain, incidentally, at the end of World War II supported the expulsion to Germany of the German Sudeten minority, which had helped Hitler destroy and occupy Czechoslovakia – for precisely the
        same reasons.) The Arabs, then and later, rejected the principle of partition as well as the specific Peel proposals.

        Neither Ben-Gurion nor the Zionist movement ‘planned’ the displacement of the 700,000-odd Arabs who moved or were removed from their homes in 1948.
        There was no such plan or blanket policy. Transfer was never adopted by the Zionist movement as part of its platform; on the contrary, the movement always accepted that the Jewish state that arose would contain a sizeable Arab minority.
        But in 1947-48 the Palestinian Arabs, joined by invading Arab states’ armies from outside, launched a war whose aim – which they (and even Pappe, Israel’s Lord Haw-Haw) have never denied – was to destroy the nascent state of Israel (and quite probably its inhabitants as well). But – what can you do? –
        the Arabs were beaten. And in the course of beating them, the Israelis drove out the Palestinians, who were not ‘totally innocent … peasants’ (a ludicrous phrase). Their villages and towns served as the bases from
        which their militiamen and armies attacked Jewish communities and convoys.
        The ‘innocent’ Palestinians were the aggressors – and dispossession was the price they paid for their aggression. In the circumstances, had the Jews not driven them out, Israel would not have arisen and its (Jewish) population would have been slaughtered – or, at the least, the Jewish state would have been established with a considerable Fifth Column in its midst and rendered mortally unstable. (Conversely, had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN Partition Resolution, refrained from violence, and gone on with their lives as loyal Israeli citizens, nothing would have happened to them.)
        Nonetheless,Israel emerged from the 1948 War with a 160,000-strong Arab minority (alongside 700,000 Jews) – a fact that tends to undermine the charge
        that there was a blanket policy of ethnic cleansing.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        Again, what you call “anti-Israel propaganda” is in truth a well documented historical fact. First of all, what you just posted effectively acknowledges that Palestine was ethnically cleansed, it just claims this wasn’t a matter of policy. But it was a matter of policy. As I said, and as you just acknowledged, Ben-Gurion expressed his view of the solution for creating a demographically “Jewish state” was ethnic cleansing: “I am for compulsory transfer”, he told the Jewish Agency Executive in June 1938. “I do not see anything immoral in it.”

        The policy for “transfer” operations, codenamed “Plan D” (for Dalet, the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet) and approved on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 10, 1948—with attacks on Arab towns and villages and expulsions of their residents having already been underway for several months—included detailed orders for how the policy of “compulsory transfer” would be implemented:

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

        This policy of “compulsory transfer” was carried out by the Zionist paramilitary organization, the Haganah, which became the Israel Defense Force after the declaration of Israel’s existence. Among the units responsible was the Givati Brigade. “Commanders like Shimon Avidan, the commander of the Givati Brigade, cleansed his front from tens of villages and towns,” recalled Rehavam Zeevi, who served with Avidan. Yitzhak Pundak, commander of the Givati Brigade’s 53rd Battalion, told Haaretz in 2004 that in the southern part of Palestine, “There were 200
        villages … and these are gone. We had to destroy them, otherwise we would have had Arabs here … as we have in Galilee. We would have had another million
        Palestinians.”

        You are quoting Benny Morris, who incidentally has criticized the Zionist leadership under Ben-Gurion for not more thoroughly ethnically cleansing Palestine of its Arab population:

        “Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.”

      • Peter Morris

        Well, I am not going to try and decide between the competing versions of historical facts which exist, so will personally stick with the balanced view that I offered.

        By the way, for thousands of years the Temple Mount has been the holiest place in Judaism, but according to:

        http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Report-Jordan-vetoes-Israeli-request-to-allow-Jewish-prayer-on-Temple-Mount-331443

        “….Abd Al-Nasser Nassar, who serves as Amman’s top legal adviser for Islamic and Christian property in Jerusalem, is quoted as telling the Jordanian daily al-Rad that his government rejected an Israeli request to allow for Jews to pray in a small, designated area atop the site…”

        Such interference into visits of Jews to their own holy site seems to me to be quite evil.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        The “balanced view” that you offered was that of Benny Morris. Yet here is the same Benny Morris acknowledging the “competing” version of historical facts that reject, that Palestine was ethnically cleansed:

        “In the months of April–May 1948, units of the Haganah [the pre-state defense force that was the precursor of the IDF] were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.” — Benny Morris

        “In Operation Hiram there was an unusually high concentration of executions of people against a wall or next to a well in an orderly fashion. That can’t be chance. It’s a pattern. Apparently, various officers who took part in the operation understood that the expulsion order they received permitted them to do these deeds in order to encourage the population to take tothe roads.” — Benny Morris

        “Yes.” — Benny Morris, in answer to the question, “What you are telling me here, as though bythe way, is that in Operation Hiram there was a comprehensive and explicit expulsion order. Is that right?”

        “Moshe Carmel, issued an order in writing to his units to expedite the removal of the Arab population. Carmel took this action immediately after a visit by Ben-Gurion to the Northern Command in Nazareth. There is no doubt inmy mind that this order originated with Ben-Gurion. Just as the expulsion order for the city of Lod, which was signed by Yitzhak Rabin, was issued immediately after Ben-Gurion visited the headquarters of Operation Dani.” — Benny Morris

        “From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created.”– Benny Morris, in answer to the question, “Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?”

        “Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist.” — Benny Morris

        “Ben-Gurion was right. If he had notdone what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would nothave arisen here.” — Benny Morris

        “I don’t think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands….There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing…. A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population.” — Benny Morris

        “There were 200 villages [in southern Palestine] … and these are gone. We had to destroy them, otherwise we would have had Arabs here … as we have in Galilee. We would have had another million Palestinians.” — Yitzhak Pundak, commander of the Givati Brigade’s 53rd Battalion

        “These operations can be carried out in the following manner: either by destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up, and by planting mines in their debris) and especially of those population centers which are difficult to control continuously; or by mounting combing and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the villages, conducting a search inside them. In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state.” — Plan ‘Dalet’, approved by the Zionist leadership under Ben-Gurion on March 10, 1948

        There is no excuse for willful ignorance.

      • Peter Morris

        For all we know, Benny Morris could be making things up.
        However, what is statistically certain is that ethnic cleansing of Jews by Arabs was more successful than the reverse, because the proportion of Jews in Palestine fell to 7% which is lower than the current proportion of Arabs.
        Furthermore, most Arab countries have more or less totally expelled their Jews, which represents an even greater degree of ethnic cleansing.
        What is perhaps worst of all is that Arabs have denied Jews the right to pray on Temple Mount, which amounts to 100% ethnic cleansing of Jews from the very site that is most holy to them.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        You just revealed your selection bias. When Benny Morris supports your position, you consider him reliable, but when it’s shown that he actually acknowledges the very thing you deny, the well-documented historic fact of the ethnic cleansing of Arabs in Palestine, suddenly he “could be making things up.” This is an instructive insight into your prejudice.

      • Peter Morris

        Well, if an author offers two views, I think its reasonable to believe the more balanced one:

        “…in the course of beating them, the Israelis drove out the Palestinians, who were not ‘totally innocent … peasants’ (a ludicrous phrase). Their villages and towns served as the bases from which their militiamen and armies attacked Jewish communities and convoys.

        The ‘innocent’ Palestinians were the aggressors – and dispossession was the price they paid for their aggression. In the circumstances, had the Jews not driven them out, Israel would not have arisen and its (Jewish) population would have been slaughtered – or, at the least, the Jewish state would have been established with a considerable Fifth Column in
        its midst and rendered mortally unstable. (Conversely, had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN Partition Resolution, refrained from violence, and gone on with their lives as loyal Israeli citizens, nothing would have
        happened to them.)

        Nonetheless,Israel emerged from the 1948 War with a
        160,000-strong Arab minority (alongside 700,000 Jews) – a fact that tends to undermine the charge
        that there was a blanket policy of ethnic cleansing….”

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        You’ve already revealed your prejudice, and now you are simply defining a “balanced” view as whichever view conforms with your own position of willful ignorance of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

      • Peter Morris

        I accept the following:

        1. Ethnic cleansing of Jews by Arabs was more successful than the reverse, because the proportion of Jews in Palestine fell to 7% which is lower than the current proportion of Arabs.

        2. Arabs continue to deny Jews the right to pray on Temple Mount, which amounts to 100% ethnic cleansing of Jews from the site that is most holy to them.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        It’s true that there were explusions on both sides. Some 2,000 Jews were forced out of the Old City of Jerusalem. But that was only after 30,000 Arabs had been expelled from west Jerusalem. In all, 750,000 Arabs — more than half the native population — were ethnically cleansed from Palestine to make way for the demographically “Jewish state”. Needless to say, there was nothing comparable to that in terms of expulsions of Jews, such that the population of Jews in Palestine fell to 7%, and claiming that the Zionist’s systematic cleansing of Arabs from what would become Israel was less “successful” than the far more limited and unorganized expulsions of Jews is obviously nonsensical. Israeli police actually enforce the ban on non-Muslim prayer at the Temple Mount, and Israel continues to deny Palestinians the right of return to their homeland, which, by your own reasoning, “amounts to 100% ethnic cleansing” from the homes and land most dear to them.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        No, it isn’t reasonably possible to interpret the ethnic cleansing of three-quarters of a million Arabs from Palestine from 1947-49 as an act of “self-defense” based on outbreaks of violence from nearly two decades prior. And I guess you missed from your own source all those lists of Jewish terrorist groups’ attacks on Arabs. Once again, you just reveal your selection bias, premised upon your bigotry against the Palestinians.

      • Peter Morris

        You are not being objective or fair minded. Arab attacks against Jews continued to occur and as late as April 13, 1948 Arab militants killed 78 Jewish nurses doctors and patients.
        So there is ample reason to interpret the expulsion Arabs from the Jewish areas as self defense.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        Yes, April 13, 1948, after ethnic cleansing operations had already been underway for five months and the Zionist paramilitary force along with Jewish terrorist groups had committed massacres of civilians like at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948.

        I would observe further how you have gone from denying the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Palestine to acknowledging and trying to justify it.

      • Peter Morris

        Well the thought occurs to me that the term ethnic cleansing implies removal of something that was unclean, so by applying it to Arabs you are implying that Arabs are unclean.
        I don’t think that is fair to Arabs.

        Why not rather say that Arabs fled from terrorists, or were driven out, or were expelled etc. as the case may be?
        I think such terms would also be more objective.

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