April 30, 2008

The 60-Year-Old Secret That Israel Must Face

Posted in Israel-Palestine, Zionism tagged , , , at 2:47 pm by Mazin

Johann Hari, The Independent

When you hit your 60th birthday, most of you will wonder if you have become everything you dreamed of in your youth. In a few weeks, the state of Israel is going to do that.

It will look in the mirror and think — I have a sore back, rickety knees and a gun at my waist, but I’m still standing. Yet somewhere, it will know it is suppressing an old secret it has to face. I would love to be able to crash the birthday party with words of reassurance. Israel has given us great novelists like Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, great film-makers like Joseph Cedar, great scientific research into Alzheimer’s, and great dissident journalists like Amira Hass, Tom Segev and Gideon Levy to expose her own crimes.

But I can’t do it. Whenever I try to mouth these words, a remembered smell fills my nostrils. It is the smell of shit. Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements, along large metal pipes, straight onto Palestinian land. From there, it can enter the groundwater and the reservoirs, and become a poison.

Standing near one of these long, stinking brown-and-yellow rivers of waste recently, the local chief medical officer, Dr. Bassam Said Nadi, explained to me: “Recently there were very heavy rains, and the shit started to flow into the reservoir that provides water for this whole area. I knew that if we didn’t act, people would die. We had to alert everyone not to drink the water for over a week, and distribute bottles. We were lucky it was spotted. Next time…” He shook his head in fear. This is no freak: a 2004 report by Friends of the Earth found that only six percent of Israeli settlements adequately treat their sewage.

Meanwhile, in order to punish the population of Gaza for voting “the wrong way”, the Israeli Army is not allowing past the checkpoints any replacements for the pipes and cement needed to keep the sewage system working. The result? Vast stagnant pools of waste are being held within fragile dykes across the strip, and rotting. Last March, one of them burst, drowning a nine-month-old baby and his elderly grandmother in a tsunami of human waste. The Center on Housing Rights warns that one heavy rainfall could send 1.5m cubic meters of feces flowing all over Gaza, causing “a humanitarian and environmental disaster of epic proportions”.

So how did it come to this? How did a Jewish state founded 60 years ago with a promise to be “a light unto the nations” end up flinging its filth at a cowering Palestinian population?

The beginnings of an answer lie in the secret Israel has known, and suppressed, all these years. Even now, can we describe what happened 60 years ago honestly and unhysterically? The Jews who arrived in Palestine throughout the 20th century did not come because they were cruel people who wanted to snuffle out Arabs to persecute. No: they came because they were running for their lives from a genocidal European anti-Semitism that was soon to slaughter six million of their sisters and their sons.

They convinced themselves that Palestine was “a land without people for a people without land”. I desperately wish this dream had been true. You can see traces of what might have been in Tel Aviv, a city that really was built on empty sand dunes. But most of Palestine was not empty. It was already inhabited by people who loved the land, and saw it as theirs. They were completely innocent of the long, hellish crimes against the Jews. When it became clear these Palestinians would not welcome becoming a minority in somebody else’s country, darker plans were drawn up. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, wrote in 1937: “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.”

So, for when the moment arrived, he helped draw up Plan Dalit. It was — as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe puts it — “a detailed description of the methods to be used to forcibly evict the people: large-scale intimidation; and laying siege to and bombarding population centers”. In 1948, before the Arab armies invaded, this began to be implemented: some 800,000 people were ethnically cleansed, and Israel was built on the ruins. The people who ask angrily why the Palestinians keep longing for their old land should imagine an English version of this story. How would we react if the 30million stateless, persecuted Kurds in the world sent armies and settlers into this country to seize everything in England below Leeds, and swiftly established a free Kurdistan from which we were expelled? Wouldn’t we long forever for our children to return to Cornwall and Devon and London? Would it take us only 40 years to compromise and offer to settle for just 22 percent of what we had?

If we are not going to be endlessly banging our heads against history, the Middle East needs to excavate 1948, and seek a solution. Any peace deal — even one where Israel dismantled the wall and agreed to return to the 1967 borders — tends to crumple on this issue. The Israelis say: If we let all three million come back, we will be outnumbered by Palestinians even within the 1967 borders, so Israel would be voted out of existence. But the Palestinians reply: If we don’t have an acknowledgement of the Naqba (catastrophe), and our right under international law to the land our grandfathers fled, how can we move on?

It seemed like an intractable problem — until, two years ago, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted the first study of the Palestinian Diaspora’s desires. They found that only 10 percent — around 300,000 people — want to return to Israel proper. Israel can accept that many (and compensate the rest) without even enduring much pain. But there has always been a strain of Israeli society that preferred violently setting its own borders, on its own terms, to talk and compromise. This weekend, the elected Hamas government offered a six-month truce that could have led to talks. The Israeli government responded within hours by blowing up a senior Hamas leader and killing a 14-year-old girl.

Perhaps Hamas’ proposals are a con; perhaps all the Arab states are lying too when they offer Israel full recognition in exchange for a roll-back to the 1967 borders; but isn’t it a good idea to find out? Israel, as it gazes at her grey hairs and discreetly ignores the smell of her own stale shit pumped across Palestine, needs to ask what kind of country she wants to be in the next 60 years.

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8 Comments »

  1. palestinianpeace said,

    This is bullshit. Actually in the West Bank, settlements treat the sewage that the Palestinians don’t treat.
    And also, why don’t Jews expelled from Arab states get any kind of compensation? At least for their property they had to leave behind?

    Like

  2. mazin123 said,

    What about the continuous construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands by confiscation of their lands . ?

    Israel currently has 121 Jewish-only settlements and 106 ‘outposts’ on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians do not have any settlements on Israeli land.

    [Source: According to Peace Now’s report, “Aerial Survey Settlements Summary 2006,” there are 121 official Israeli settlements. According to their report, Periodic Report, May-October 2007 there are at least 106 outposts and more than 50 of them have been built since March 2001.]

    Israel is free to flout the Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 so long as it has the backing of Uncle Sam .

    “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

    For more on this read
    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/settlements.html

    I am afraid that you are a victim of biased media coverage .
    There is a lot of distortion in the press when it comes to reporting on Israel/Palestine .
    I suggest that you visit http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

    Like

  3. palestinianpeace said,

    You are not entirely correct, there are over a million Palestinians living in Israel, they are citizens and have the same rights that the Jews have. Arab armies attacked Israel in 48 wanting to destroy us, and they told the Palestinians to leave so they won’t get hurt. Some stayed and now they are Israeli citizens.
    About the ethnic cleansing before the 1948 war, please refer to the British mandate on Palestine. Israel declared independence a day before the ending of the mandate, and Arabs attacked a few days later. Do you suggest the Jews cleansed the land of 800000 Arabs in a few days?
    Our declaration of independence states: “We appeal … to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.”. Let me remind you, Jews were always wealthy, so they bought most of the land they inhabited from its former Arab owners.
    However Arabs countries proclaimed they want an “United State of Palestine” in place of the two-state UN Plan and attacked defying the UN.
    Now about news sources: do you think BBC is biased in favor of Israel or in favor of the Palestinians?

    Like

  4. palestinianpeace said,

    One more question: If Israel is to pay compensations to Palestinians refugees abroad, do you agree that Arab countries will pay compensations to the Jews they kicked out? Let me remind you again, the Jews were rich, and their belongings and assets were taken by the Arabs. Do you really want to exchange compensations? We might be winning from this, financially.

    Like

  5. mazin123 said,

    // Actually in the West Bank, settlements treat the sewage that the Palestinians don’t treat.//

    What you are saying over here simply does not square up with the facts mentioned above.

    // Arab armies attacked Israel in 48 wanting to destroy us, and they told the Palestinians to leave so they won’t get hurt. Some stayed and now they are Israeli citizens.
    About the ethnic cleansing before the 1948 war, please refer to the British mandate on Palestine. Israel declared independence a day before the ending of the mandate, and Arabs attacked a few days later. Do you suggest the Jews cleansed the land of 800000 Arabs in a few days?
    Our declaration of independence states: “We appeal … to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.”. Let me remind you, Jews were always wealthy, so they bought most of the land they inhabited from its former Arab owners.
    However Arabs countries proclaimed they want an “United State of Palestine” in place of the two-state UN Plan and attacked defying the UN.//

    Response:

    From the Intrduction to the Booklet ” The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict ” Published by Jews for Justice in the Middle East
    **
    The standard Zionist position is that they showed up in Palestine in the late 19th century to reclaim their ancestral homeland. Jews bought land and started building up the Jewish community there. They were met with increasingly violent opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, presumably stemming from the Arabs’ inherent anti-Semitism. The Zionists were then forced to defend themselves and, in one form or another, this same situation continues up to today.

    The problem with this explanation is that it is simply not true, as the documentary evidence in this booklet will show. What really happened was that the Zionist movement, from the beginning, looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population so that Israel could be a wholly Jewish state, or as much as was possible. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never be sold or even leased back to Arabs (a situation which continues to the present).

    The Arab community, as it became increasingly aware of the Zionists’ intentions, strenuously opposed further Jewish immigration and land buying because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Arab society in Palestine. Because of this opposition, the entire Zionist project never could have been realized without the military backing of the British. The vast majority of the population of Palestine, by the way, had been Arabic since the seventh century A.D. (Over 1200 years)

    In short, Zionism was based on a faulty, colonialist world view that the rights of the indigenous inhabitants didn’t matter. The Arabs’ opposition to Zionism wasn’t based on anti-Semitism but rather on a totally reasonable fear of the dispossession of their people.

    One further point: being Jewish ourselves, the position we present here is critical of Zionism but is in no way anti-Semitic. We do not believe that the Jews acted worse than any other group might have acted in their situation. The Zionists (who were a distinct minority of the Jewish people until after WWII) had an understandable desire to establish a place where Jews could be masters of their own fate, given the bleak history of Jewish oppression. Especially as the danger to European Jewry crystalized in the late 1930’s and after, the actions of the Zionists were propelled by real desperation.

    But so were the actions of the Arabs. The mythic “land without people for a people without land” was already home to 700,000 Palestinians in 1919. This is the root of the problem, as we shall see.

    **
    I suggest you read the rest of the Booklet over here :
    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html

    You owe it to yourself to read this account of the other side of the historical record.Its very important that you read it .

    //there are over a million Palestinians living in Israel, they are citizens and have the same rights that the Jews have.//

    Israel systematically practises discrimination against its Arab population that amounts to apartheid
    Here a fact sheet as a proof of this :
    http://www.jfjfp.org/factsheets/arabsinisrael.htm

    //do you think BBC is biased in favor of Israel or in favor of the Palestinians?//

    Read the article “BBC’s coverage of Israeli-Palestinian conflict ‘misleading’ ”
    over here http://www.ifamericansknew.org/media/bbcmisleading.html

    //
    If Israel is to pay compensations to Palestinians refugees abroad, do you agree that Arab countries will pay compensations to the Jews they kicked out? //

    Its impossible and its impractical that Israel will pay compensation to those Palestinians it kicked out .
    Most palestinians have got over what happened in 1948.They are even ready for a state based on the 1967 borders . The problem is that land-greedy Israel is not . The IDF continuously demolishes palestinian homes and takes over their properties, making way for illegal Jewish settlements.

    Read this article which I posted on my blog recently
    https://mazinx.wordpress.com/2008/05/02/even-palestinian-orphans-are-victims-of-israel’s-punitive-measures/

    //Let me remind you again, the Jews were rich, and their belongings and assets were taken by the Arabs. //

    Read the first link that I wrote in this comment
    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html

    Like

  6. palestinianpeace said,

    Looking at the main page of “if Americans knew” I can see what this site is about. It’s about body count.
    The body count charts imply that it’s _not fair_ that more Arabs got killed than Jews. However it doesn’t take into account that Arab terrorists intentionally hide in civilian areas to maximize their body count and BBC news coverage of their suffering. Here’s a link to a video footage shot by IDF drone when the family in Gaza was killed this week:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3538733,00.html
    it proves beyond all doubt that terrorists mingle among civilians. This explains the high death toll among non-combatants.
    After we clarified that Palestinians warriors’ tactics are to hide behind children, let’s get back to the sources of the conflict.
    Arabs didn’t just oppose Jewish presence in Palestine, they acted as they do now by killing Jews. In the 1929 Palestine riots, their mobs lynched 129 Jews (including children killed with swords). Do you think attacking unarmed civilians is an acceptable tactic? Back then they were the strong, and they still used terror, so no wonder now that they’re weak they continue their heritage. The mufti of Jerusalem during WW2, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was a special friend of Hitler and planned death camps for Jews in Palestine. The Brits planned to make Haifa a huge fortress that the Jews were to defend.
    Settlements: I agree that most of the settlements need to be demolished. However why future Palestine state must be 100% Jew-free? Actually the Keren Kayemet fund owns some land in Gaza strip (bought it from Arabs during the Mandate). Can Jews live there? No, because their bodies will publicly be torn apart by angry Arab mob.
    Anyway, there’ll be no disengagement from the West Bank because we don’t want to have rocket rain in Tel Aviv area.
    Until there’s a Palestinian government that accepts the very right of Israel to exist, and acts to stop terrorists, we’ll have to hold on to the West Bank and impose embargo on Gaza.
    One more thing about Jewish organizations: in Israel the government can’t arrest someone for his views, so there’s a wide spectrum of such. There are Jews that oppose the existence of Israel and go to Iran to kiss the Ayatollah in the cheek. There are semi-Jewish organizations like Bezelem that are funded by unknown European sources and all they do is demonize Israel. They don’t ever say anything bad about the Palestinians. So being a Jew doesn’t mean supporting Israel. And it doesn’t mean they always tell the whole truth.
    About BBC, I’ll post an article with my views on it some time, I’ll invite you to comment.

    Like

  7. Mazin said,

    //Looking at the main page of “if Americans knew” I can see what this site is about. It’s about body count.//

    You’ve only had a cursory look at the site and that too the statistics page only!Among other things, the organisation has done extensive research and has concluded that the western media reports the number of israeli deaths many more times that palestinian deaths .
    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/media/

    // Arab terrorists intentionally hide in civilian areas to maximize their body count and BBC news coverage of their suffering.//

    There maybe few such incidents which people cherry-pick carefully to suit their purpose but their is overwhelming evidence that israel is the real agressor and the palestinians are at the receiving end .
    Visit
    http://www.nogw.com

    Also according to Geneva conventions it is ILLEGAL to fire in densely populated civilian areas ;The IDF knows it very well yet they still commit brutalities. Human rights organisations such as the HRW and Amnesty International have all come to the same conclusion that It is nothing but collective punishment against the palestinians.

    The IDF intentionally kills unarmed palestinian protesters including children ,kill journalists , peace activists , blow any palestinian home they choose arbitrarily . Their atrocities well qualify them to be designated as terrorists , thugs , cold-blooded murderers . But it is only the palestinians that you frame as terrorists.

    Also visit here to listen from the Israeli soldiers themselves what atrocities they commit
    https://mazinx.wordpress.com/2008/05/02/breaking-the-silence-israeli-soldiers-speak/

    The Israeli settlers whom you attempt to portray as peace-loving have the carte blanche to attack palestinians , destroy their property , turn their daily life into hell and all of this occurs under the witness of the IDF’s soldiers who just stand their and do nothing .

    One very “small” example of the barbarity commited by the settlers is that on April 18 2008 there was a news of a body of 15 year old Palestinian boy found mutilated in an illegal Israeli settlement [I doubt you would have heard about this ]. These attacks elicit no repercussions on the settlers by the Israeli military. Most civilized societies wouldn’t let it’s citizens get away with doing this to an animal much less allowing this to happen to a boy without any repercussions.

    Some quotes:

    “[In the early 1950s] Arab states regularly complained of the reprisals to the UN Security Council, which routinely rejected Israel’s claims of self-defense…

    “In June 1982 Israel again invaded Lebanon, and it used aerial bombard-
    ment to destroy entire camps of Palestinian Arab refugees. By these means Israel killed 20,000 persons, mostly civilians… Israel claimed self-defense for its invasion, but the lack of PLO attacks into Israel during the previous year made that claim dubious… The [UN] Security Council demanded ‘that Israel
    withdraw all its military forces forthwith and unconditionally to the interna-
    tionally recognized boundaries of Lebanon’…

    “The UN Human Rights Commission, using the Geneva Convention’s pro-
    vision that certain violations of humanitarian law are ‘grave breaches’ meritng criminal punishment for perpetrators, found a number of Israel’s practices during the uprising [the intifada] to constitute ‘war crimes.’ It included physical and psychological torture of Palestinian detainees and their subjection to improper and inhuman treatment; the imposition of collective punishment on towns, villages and camps; the administrative detention of thousands of Palestinians; the expulsion of Palestinian citizens; the confiscation of Palestinian
    property; and the raiding and demolition of Palestinian houses.” John Quigley,“Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”///

    Palestinians who fight back defensively for their rights while their- lands are being stolen by the Israeli settlers-while their homes are razed down by Israeli bulldozers – are portrayed as terrorists, thugs by the likes of you .To understand this , for instance you would hardly sympathise with the Chinese if they called the Tibetans as “terrorists” when they fight against authoritative Communist Rule of China in Tibet. Under international law It is the right of any person under occupation to fight back against the occupiers.

    Here is a summary of an Amnesty International Report which I took from the Amnesty International official site . It gives a brief summary of the atrocities commited by the Israeli settlers .

    https://mazinx.wordpress.com/israeloccupied-territories-israeli-settlers-wage-campaign-of-intimidation-on-palestinians-and-internationals-alike/

    From the horse’s mouth :

    “Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader, I would never
    make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure,
    God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not
    theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is
    that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschweitz,
    but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their
    country. Why should they accept that?” David Ben-Gurion, quoted in “The Jew-
    ish Paradox” by Nahum Goldmann, former president of the World Jewish Congress.

    More from the horse’s mouth

    “Before [the Palestinians’] very eyes we are possessing the land and the villages where they, and their ancestors, have lived… We are the generation of colonizers, and without the steel helmet and the gun barrel we cannot plant a tree and build a home.” Israeli leader Moshe Dayan, quoted in Benjamin BeitHallahmi, “Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel.”

    “The Arabs will be our problem for a long time,” Weizmann said, “It’s not
    going to be simple. One day they may have to leave and let us have the country. They’re ten to one, but don’t we Jews have ten times their intelligence?”

    Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in 1919 at the Paris peace conference, quoted in Ella Winter, “And Not To Yield”

    “I don’t know something called International Principles. I vow that I’ll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child is more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child’s existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I’ve killed 750 Palestinians (in Rafah in 1956). I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arabic girls as the Palestinian women is a slave for Jews, and we do whatever we want to her and nobody tells us what we shall do but we tell others what they shall do.”

    ..Ariel Sharon in an interview with General Ouze Merham, 1956

    Why Israel is irritated by rocket attacks ? Because then it becomes a bit difficult for them to expand settlements in those areas .
    remember: Palestinian lands are being occupied by the Israelis and they have no qualms about the violations they commit . In such a situation , it is not incorrect for the Palestinians to fight back defensively .

    Recommended Reading:
    1. A site documenting Israeli war crimes
    http://www.nogw.com/israeliatrocities.html

    2.Palestine :peace not apartheid -Jimmy Carter

    3. “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice” by John Quigley, professor of
    law at Ohio State University. Duke University Press, 1990.
    4. “The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & the Palestinians” by Noam
    Chomsky, professor at MIT and “arguably the most important intellectual alive”
    (NY Times). South End Press, 1983.
    5. “Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel” by Benjamin
    Beit-Hallahmi. An honest history of Zionism by a noted Israeli scholar who
    teaches at Haifa University. Olive Branch Press, 1993
    6. “Bitter Harvest” by Sami Hadawi. A very complete look at the documen-
    tary evidence of the creation of the state of Israel, by a Palestinian Christian who lived through that period. Caravan Books, 1979.

    Like

  8. Mazin said,

    A follow-up to this article by Johann Hari

    https://mazinx.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/the-loathsome-smearing-of-israel’s-critics/

    Like


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