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A Short History of the Colonization of Palestine

The New England Committee to Defend Palestine

Myth: “‘Israel’ was a land without a people for a people without a land.”

History: Arab people have lived in Palestine for thousands of years. Who are the indigenous people of Palestine? All of them speak Arabic. They are mainly Sunni Muslim. There are a minority of Christians, Shiite Muslims, Jews, and Druze. European Jewish settlers began to steadily arrive in 1882 but there was never anything other than an overwhelming Arab majority until the “Nakba” (Arabic word for catastrophe) otherwise known as the establishment of the state of “Israel” in the spring of 1948.

Myth: The state of Israel had to be created as a response to the Holocaust.

History: Zionism is a kind of European colonialism that began in the late 1800’s long before the Holocaust in Europe. Zionism’s goal is and has always been to establish a Jewish state on land already inhabited by an indigenous Palestinian people. Zionism as a colonial project was explained by Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky, one of its chief architects, in 1923: “We can talk as much as we want about our good intentions but they understand as well as we what is not good for them. They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux looked upon his prairie… Thus we conclude that we cannot promise anything to the Arabs of the land of Israel or the Arab countries. Their voluntary agreement is out of the question. Zionist colonization even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. Thus colonization, can therefore continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population-an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is in toto our policy towards the Arabs. To formulate it any other way would only be hypocrisy.”

Nothing in Zionist policy toward Arabs has changed, but the language that is used to talk about these policies has.

Myth: Israelis just want to live in security and peace with their Arab neighbors.

History: In 1923, it was possible to talk openly about getting rid of the native population. Today the code words of “peace” and “security” are really a call for the end of Palestinian resistance to Zionist colonialism and genocide.

Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall” has become a real Wall in Palestine which has the purpose of stealing more land from Palestinian people and destroying potential resistance to settlement by socially controlling Palestinian people. How did this happen?

In 1917, in the Balfour Declaration, the British government promised to support the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine when there were already Palestinian people living on this land. Between 1919 and 1936, the ruling British supported taking the land of tens of thousands of “fellahin” ( Palestinian villagers) and giving it to European Zionist settlers.

In response to the unfair transfer of Palestinian land to settlers, Palestinians resisted and called for a general strike from 1936 to 1939 accompanied by boycotts of all British and Zionist institutions. The strike was met with extreme physical force and resulted in a popular uprising. The uprising was eventually crushed, and the British imprisoned 5,000 Palestinians, executed 148 people and demolished 5,000 homes.

At the end of 1947, Zionists had acquired only 6.59% of the total land mass of Palestine. That year, the UN, which had an interest in cultivating Western European settlement in Palestine, voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Palestinians and Arab states rejected this (at this time Jewish people would gain over 54% of the land by UN partition).

In 1948, Joseph Weitz , director of the Jewish National Land Fund and head of the 3rd “Transfer Committee” stated “ [we] must direct our war towards the removal of as many Arabs as possible from boundaries of our state.”

Between 1947 an d 1949, there were 45 reported massacres including the Yehida Massacre, Al-Sheikh Massacre, Beit Daras Massacre, Dahmesh Massacre, and the better known Deir Yassin Massacre in which more than 250 people were murdered (25 pregnant women were bayoneted in the abdomen and 52 children were beheaded) as well as the Dawayma Massacre in which 100 people were killed, including children who were murdered by fracturing their heads with sticks.

In 1948, 935,000 Palestinians (85% of the indigenous population of Palestine at that time) were forced off their land, in some cases at gunpoint, in other cases through massacres or threats of massacres like the massacre at Deir Yassin. As a result, 530 of an estimated 550 total villages were completely destroyed or depopulated. Over 78% of Palestinian land was confiscated for the establishment of a state for Jewish people. The “state of Israel” was established in May, 1948 and the colonial system put in place by the British was transferred to the new Zionist settler state.

Myth: “Israel” is a democracy.

History: A variety of racist laws were passed soon after the “state of Israel” was established. The Law of Return in 1950 grants the right of immigration to Jews born anywhere in the world. Non-Jewish native born Palestinians who fled the massacres in 1947 and 1948 are in most cases prevented from returning. The Absentee Property Law of the same year designated the personal property of Palestinians who fled during the terror campaign of 1948 as “absentee property” and this property was placed within the power of the Custodian of Absentee Property who would distribute this land to Jewish settlers. Palestinians’ capacity to have any personal property or wages was abolished during the first decade of this “democracy.”

Since the 1950’s, nationality and identity laws have defined a “Jewish nationality” with special privileges above the “Arab nationality” who is subject to a special regime of “security.” The Transfer of Property Law of 1950 and the Land Acquisition Act of 1953 accomplished the transfer of confiscated Palestinian villages and private property to the Development Authority for Jewish settlement. These Israeli laws of the 1950’s resemble Apartheid South Africa’s Natives Land Act of 1913 and the Native Urban Areas Act of 1923.

In 1967, the remainder of Palestine was invaded and occupied by the Zionists and another 350, 000 Palestinians fled or were
expelled. In the 1970’s, the “Judaization of the Galilee” (the term Zionists use to describe the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians
from this area for exclusively Jewish settlement) followed the same pattern of settlement familiar throughout historic Palestine:

–the confiscation of agricultural and grazing land in the areas surrounding Palestinian population centers;
–the freezing of growth in Palestinian villages by denying building and planning rights;
–the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes and businesses
–planned Jewish settlement aimed at breaking up the territorial continuity of Palestinian areas;
–the denial of access to basic services such as water (and the theft of that water); and
–policies aimed at preventing Palestinian economic subsistence and forcing dependence on settlers.

Through the “peace negotiations” of Oslo, the Geneva Accords, and the Road Map, Zionists have pursued a policy of stealing more land and striking genuine resistance to colonial settlement with crushing force.

Myth: The problem is an age old conflict between religious groups.

History: It is a conflict between the indigenous Palestinian people and the Europeans who came with guns to steal their land and resources. Zionism is a racist ideology with the aim of ethnically cleansing Palestine of its native population through systematic methods. The Palestinian people themselves are of multiple religions—all have suffered from Zionist racism and brutality.

Myth: Palestinian resistance fighters are extremist, anti-Semitic, and do not want to live in peace.

The myth of “religious conflict” is central in propagating the notion that “dialogue” between “Israelis” and Palestinians can resolve “the conflict” and that people need to develop “an understanding” of one another. It is meant to undercut any discussion about the reality—a racist regime that continues to colonize indigenous land. This myth asks Palestinians to “put the past behind them” and build “a shared future” with the people who continue to murder their families, steal their land and destroy their homes. It implies that Palestinians should concede their basic rights, dignity and homeland.

History: Palestinian people are fighting for their survival as a people against racism and genocide. Just as a New African should not be expected to make peace with a white racist, it is absurd to think that Palestinians should be motivated to make peace with their oppressors while Zionist colonizers still occupy Palestinian land. Palestinians have been legitimately resisting racism, colonization, and genocide since the 1920’s to the present day by any means necessary: general strikes, demonstrations, periods of non-cooperation, boycotts of Israeli products and services, refusal to obey military orders, refusal to vacate land confiscated for settlers, tax revolt, armed struggle, and martyrdom operations (called “suicide bombing” by Zionists).

Any form of resistance to the settlement program has been consistently met with severe and brutal repression: aerial bombardment, military checkpoints, the “Iron Fist” policy of crushing the bones of Palestinian children’s hands, collective punishment, torture and mass detention (over 600, 000 Palestinians have been detained since 1967). Zionist propaganda blames resistance fighters for increased repression against the Palestinian people. In reality, Palestinian resistance is the only barrier stopping the Zionists from completely fulfilling their mission to annihilate the Palestinian people as a whole.

December 17, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

A Hundred Deir Yassin and Counting: Beit Daras and the Buried History of Massacres

The invasion of Beit Daras following the last battle in May 1948. (Photo: Palestine Remembered)

The invasion of Beit Daras following the last battle in May 1948. (Photo: Palestine Remembered)
By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | April 17 2013 

Few with any sense of intellectual or historical integrity would still question the bloody massacre that took place in the village of Deir Yassin 65 years ago, claiming the lives of over 100 innocent Palestinians. Attempts at covering up the massacre have been dwarfed by grim details by well-respected historians, including some of Israel’s own.

Even narratives offered by historians such as Benny Morris – an honest researcher who remained committed to Zionism despite the ghastly history he had himself uncovered – presented a harrowing version of the events that unfolded on that day: “Whole families were riddled with bullets… men, women, and children were mowed down as they emerged from houses; individuals were taken aside and shot. Haganah intelligence reported ‘there were piles of dead. Some of the prisoners moved to places of incarceration, including women and children, were murdered viciously by their captors…”

It was the Irgun Zionist militias of Menachem Begin and the Stern Gang (Lehi) lead by Yitzhak Shamir that took credit for the infamy of that day; and both were rewarded generously for their ‘heroism’. The once wanted criminals rose to prominence to become Israeli Prime Ministers in later years.

The importance of the Deir Yassin massacre to historians often obscures important facts. One amongst them is that Deir Yassin was one of many massacres perpetrated by Zionist troops, including Haganah units. Another is that these militias had jointly formed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) following the official Israeli Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948 despite their supposed differences during the conquest of Palestine. David Ben-Gurion had made his decision on May 26 and hesitated little to include both the Irgun and Lehi, alongside the Haganah. Not only did the leaders of the terrorist militias command respect and enjoy prestige within Israeli society, armed forces and the political elite, but the very murderers who butchered innocent men, women and children were empowered with bigger guns and continued to ‘serve’ and terrorize for many more years. Another often overlooked fact is that what started at Deir Yassin never truly finished. Sabra and Shatila, Jenin, Gaza and many more are only recreations of the same event.

But another sad reality also emerged and crystalized in the last 65 years. Since then the right to credible narration has still largely been reserved for Israeli historians. Most of these historians, whether sympathetic or otherwise, either played no part in that history, were privileged by its outcome or were themselves active participants. Still, it would take an Israeli historian to ‘discover’ a Palestinian massacre in some village at some point in time. For example, only when Israeli journalist Amir Gilat chose to run a story in Ma’ariv newspaper a few years ago, citing the research of Israeli master’s degree student Theodore Katz, did western media acknowledge the Tantura massacre. It mattered little that the descendants and relatives of 240 victims of that grief stricken village who were killed in cold blood by Alexandroni troops, never ceased remembering their loved ones. A ‘massacre’ is only a massacre when half-heartedly acknowledged by an Israeli historian no matter how long it takes for that admission to resurface.

Even Palestinian historians, at least those who are held accountable to the rules of western media and academia, find themselves borrowing mostly from Israeli sources, aggrandizing Israeli writers and celebrating Israeli historians who are supposedly more trustworthy than Palestinians. The logic has it that a sympathetic Israeli narrative would win greater acceptance by American or British audiences than one told by a Palestinian, even if the Palestinian historian had lived the event and experienced its every gory detail.

It is a travesty for the Palestinian narrative to live on borrowed analogies, borrowed histories and borrowed historians in order to enjoy an iota of credibility. This is just the tip of the iceberg and the problem runs much deeper than this.

In my last book, My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story, I charted a detailed account of the Massacre of Beit Daras, when scores of inhabitants of that brave village, located in southern Palestine, were gunned down by Haganah troops only weeks after Deir Yassin inhabitants were massacred in a similar fashion. Beit Daras is the village from which my family was dispossessed to subsist in an impoverished refugee camp in Gaza.

Although Beit Daras was located at the north eastern part of the Gaza District in southern Palestine, it was high on the Zionist leadership agenda as early as the first months of conquest. The small village was one of a few villages and towns marked for destruction in Operation Nachshon and Harel aimed to completely cut off the Jaffa-Jerusalem landmass. The war for Beit Daras began early, as heavy shelling began between March 27-28, 1948, killing 9 villagers and destroying large areas of the village’s crops.

Several attempts had failed to drive the resilient villagers out. What turned out to be the last battle took place in mid-May. Um ‘Adel and Um Mohammed were two young girls in Beit Daras at the time. Now old women in Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza, they helped me connect some of the pieces regarding what happened on that day. I provided their historically consistent accounts in my book on Gaza. Here are few excerpts:

Um ‘Adel recalls: “The women and children were told to leave because the news of the Deir Yassin massacre was spreading and with it lots of fear. We were told that the Jews not only massacre people, but rape women. The women had to be sent away, but the men wouldn’t leave. But so many of them were killed. The men fought like lions, and many were killed as well, including Abu Mansi Nassar and his two brothers, Ali Mohammed Hussain al-Osaji, and four youth from al-Maqadima.”

Um Mohammed elaborated: “The town was under bombardment, and it was surrounded from all directions. There was no way out. They surrounded it all, from the direction of Isdud, al-Sawafir and everywhere. We wanted to pursue a way out. The armed men (the Beit Daras fighters) said they were going to check on the road to Isdud, to see if it was open. They moved forward and shot few shots to see if someone would return fire. No one did. But they (the Zionist forces) were hiding and waiting to ambush the people. The armed men returned and told the people to evacuate the women and children. The people went out (including) those who were gathered at my huge house, the family house. There were mostly children and kids in the house.

“The armed men came and said, ‘the road to Isdud is open, evacuate the people.’ The Jews let the people get out, and then they whipped them with bombs and machine guns. More people fell than those who were able to run. My sister and I… started running through the fields; we’d fall and get up. My sister and I escaped together holding each other’s hand. The people who took the main road were either killed or injured, and those who went through the fields. The firing was falling on the people like sand. The bombs from one side and the machine guns from the other. The Jews were on the hill; there was a school and a water reservoir for people and the vegetables. They showered the people with machine guns. A lot of the people died and got injured.

But many fighters remained in Beit Daras. Not even a massacre would weaken their resolve. The wounded were gathered in many houses, but with little medical care to count on. Some of the dead were hurriedly buried. Many others were unreachable, lying in the sun amidst the blooming fields of spring.

Ramzy Baroud’s latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).

Related posts:

  1. Film: Deir Yassin – The Agony
  2. Barghouti: Deir Yassin Massacre Has Not Ended
  3. April Memories: Deir Yassin Remembered
  4. Ben-Gurion and Massacre of Deir Yassin
  5. Sixty Years after Deir Yassin
  6. Deir Yassin massacre has not ended

April 17, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Deir Yassin massacre has not ended

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Ma’an – 09/04/2013

BETHLEHEM – The massacre at Deir Yassin in 1948 is still going on today, lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti said Tuesday, as Palestinians mark the 65th year since Jewish militias murdered over 100 Palestinian villagers.

“What happened 65 years ago in Deir Yassin was a horrible massacre which prepared the ground for the ethnic cleansing of 70 percent of the Palestinian people,” Barghouti told Ma’an.

“The same ethnic cleansing is going on today but in a different way. In 1948 they used direct massacres, now they use airstrikes in Gaza and shoot young Palestinians in the West Bank.”

On April 9, 1948, the Lehi and Irgun Jewish militia groups, the latter headed by former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, attacked the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, despite the fact that villagers had signed a non-aggression pact.

Over 100 men, women and children were killed by the Jewish fighters in the village, which was designated as part of the Corpus Separatum plan for Jerusalem as part of the 1947 UN partition plan for Palestine.

Survivor statements from the massacre report that villagers were ordered to line up against village walls before being shot by Jewish fighters, according to Deir Yassin Remembered.

Militia members looted homes and stole jewelry from villagers and there were reports of sexual violence, survivor accounts say.

“What is happening today in Jerusalem is not different to what happened all those years ago in Deir Yassin. Ethnic cleansing is happening at a slower rate today, the form has changed but the content is the same,” Barghouti added.

More than 760,000 Palestinians — estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants — were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes as the State of Israel was established in 1948.

Massacres such as those at Deir Yassin were pivotal catalysts in forcing Palestinian civilians to flee their homes for fear of being killed by Jewish militia groups.

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information released a statement condemning the massacre, calling it an “open wound” which continues to affect the Palestinian people through continued Israeli aggression.

April 9, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shamir Remembered–With Selective Amnesia

By Steve Rendall | FAIR | July 5, 2012

In death, the U.S. media remembered the late Yitzhak Shamir as “a political hard-liner who served two terms as Israeli prime minster” (CNN, 6/30/12), “the hawkish Israeli leader who balked at the idea of trading occupied land for peace with the Palestinians” (MSNBC, 6/30/12) and “a man of iron will and simple tastes” (Washington Post, 6/30/12) who

prided himself on his hard-line views, his relentless determination to hang onto every square inch of what he considered the Land of Israel, and his championing of Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, defying the demands of Israel’s most important ally, the United States.

Neither CNN  or MSNBC mentioned Shamir’s terrorist past, but the Post offered a taste of the bloody history with a couple of paragraphs on Shamir’s leadership of Lehi (AKA the Stern Gang), the most extreme Jewish militia in Palestine in the 1940s:

While mainstream Zionist groups forged a truce with the British to combat Nazism during World War II, Mr. Shamir and Lehi fought on, even offering to cooperate with the Germans to rid Palestine of British rule.

Mr. Shamir was the architect of Lehi’s most daring attack, the 1944 assassination in Cairo of Lord Moyne, Britain’s top Middle East official and a close friend of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.”

The New York Times (6/30/12) obituary, which described Shamir as  “promoting a muscular Zionism,” included some reporting on his terrorist past, but when it came down to calling things what they are, the Times would only report that some Shamir opponents called him a terrorist:

Many of his friends and colleagues ascribed his character to his years in the underground in the 1940s, when he sent Jewish fighters out to kill British officers whom he saw as occupiers. He was a wanted man then; to the British rulers of the Palestine mandate he was a terrorist, an assassin. He appeared in public only at night, disguised as a Hasidic rabbi. But Mr. Shamir said he considered those “the best years of my life.”

The evidence that Shamir was a terrorist is conclusive. Shamir was one of three men leading Lehi as the group carried out dozens of assassinations, including those of the British diplomat Lord Moyne, in 1944, and the Swedish-born United Nations peace envoy, Count Folke Bernadotte, in 1948.

Lehi joined forces with the Irgun, another Jewish militia responsible for terrorist atrocities, in the 1948 killing of between 100 and 250 Palestinians, including many women and children, in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. According to the Nexis news database, no U.S. news story about Shamir’s death mentioned his r0le in what would come to be known as the Deir Yassin Massacre.

The U.S. press isn’t always so delicate in naming someone a terrorist. For instance, in the Times 2004 obituary for Yasser Arafat (11/11/04), reporter Judith Miller reported that the Palestinian leader “began his long political career with high-profile acts of anti-Israel terrorism.”

It’s a double standard based on whether the terrorist was considered a friend or foe by U.S. officialdom. From the outpouring of respect expressed by U.S. officials on Shamir’s passing, one could have predicted a whitewash of his terrorist history in the press.

July 5, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Shamir Remembered–With Selective Amnesia

Deir Yassin Day in London

By Paul Eisen* | Uprooted Palestinians | April 8, 2012

On April 23 in London, Deir Yassin Remembered and The General Union of Palestinian Students will be commemorating Deir Yassin Day 2012.

Deir Yassin Day commemorates the Deir Yassin massacre of April 9th 1948.

Not the only massacre at that time and by no means the worst, Deir Yassin signaled and has come to symbolise, the dispossession of the Palestinian people and their continuing exile.

April 23 is also the birthday of Miguel Cervantes creator of Don Quixote and of Roy Orbison creator of “Only the Lonely” – and a man who, just when you thought he could go no higher – up an octave he’d go. It’s also the birth- and death day of William Shakespeare – highly appropriate for a man known for his immaculate dramatic structure and pleasing endings.

But in England April 23rd is above all, St. George’s Day. St George is the patron Saint of England and strangely, St George was a Palestinian.

George hailed from the Palestinian town of Lydda, turned into an airport in 1948 and named Lod, and named again after the great ethnic-cleanser David Ben Gurion. Like Deir Yassin itself, the story of Lydda could serve as a template for all the expulsions and massacres of 1948.

At Deir Yassin the perpetrators massacred over a hundred villagers and burned their bodies. Others were loaded onto trucks and paraded through the streets of Jewish Jerusalem, then taken to a nearby quarry and shot. Orphaned children of Deir Yassin, dragged from under the bodies of their dead and dying relatives were taken and dumped, dazed and bleeding, in a Jerusalem alley.

At Lydda the Israelis massacred 426 men, women, and children; 176 slaughtered in the town’s main mosque and the remainder driven into exile. Forced to walk in the summer heat, they left behind them a trail of bodies – men, women and children. It was the Palestinians’ very own ‘Trail of Tears’.

And, just like at Deir Yassin, the town of Lydda was repopulated with Jewish immigrants, the name Hebraised to Lod and, like the name Deir Yassin, the name Lydda was wiped off the map.

At our commemoration DYR and GUPS will be joined by the Palestinian Delegation, the Palestinian community of the U.K. and many British and other supporters. We will also be joined by Abu Ashraf, now of Azaria but once of Deir Yassin – because in April 1948 Abu Ashraf lived in Deir Yassin and, on April 9th at the time of the massacre, was a few days short of his eighth birthday.

So, it’s fitting that our commemoration be held on April 23rd, St. George’s Day; in London, the capital of England, and led by Abu Ashraf of Deir Yassin.

* (With thanks to Stuart Littlewood)

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Deir Yassin Day in London