PALESTINE: FIFTY YEARS OF ETHNIC
CLEANSING AND DISPOSSESSION*
Dr. Ismail Zayid
* Lecture given at the Conference on Palestine in Vancouver, 23rd of May, 1998.
In 1998, while Israel celebrates the 50th anniversary of its creation on Palestinian land, for the Palestinians this is the 50th anniversary of the Palestinian "Nakba" (catastrophe).
The Palestine-Israel conflict is frequently described as a very complex one, and I want to submit before you that the problem is fundamentally a very simple one which was summed up, in the words of a simple Palestinian farmer in Jericho, quoted by the late Frank Epp, the then President of Conrad Grebel College of the University of Waterloo, who told Frank Epp:
"Our problem is very simple. A foreigner came and took our land, took our farms and our homes, and kicked us out. We have in mind to return. It may take a hundred years but we will return."
This, in a nutshell, is the Palestine problem and the essence of this conflict. A country, Palestine, has been dismantled, its people uprooted from their homeland and replaced by an alien people gathered from all corners of the globe and a new state, Israel, created, in its place. This tragedy, and the ensuing conflict that brought about repeated wars in the Middle East is a direct outcome of the introduction of political Zionism into the Middle East.
Inevitably, some history is relevant here:
Both this year 1998 and the previous year 1997 bring to Palestinians many unhappy anniversaries.
It was the 2nd of November 1917, when Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, issued his infamous declaration in the form of a letter written to an English Jew, Lord Rothchild, it read:
"His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people ...., it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine".
It is interesting to note that the four-letter word "Arab" occurs not once in this document. To refer to the Arabs who constituted, at the time, 92% of the population of Palestine and owned 98% of its land, as the non-Jewish communities is not merely preposterous but deliberately fraudulent. I do not need to tell you that this letter has no shred of legality, as Palestine did not belong to Balfour to assume such acts of generosity. The words of Dr. Arnold Toynbee describe the British role, in issuing this document accurately:
"We were taking it upon ourselves to give away something that was not ours to give. We were promising rights of some kind in the Palestinian Arabs’ country to a third party".
Similarly, the well-known Jewish writer, Arthur Koestler, summed it up aptly when he described the Balfour Declaration as a document in which "one nation promised a second the country of a third".
On the 29th of November 1947, the U.N. General Assembly passed its Resolution #181, recommending the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, in 56% of the land; an Arab state in 42% of the land; and an International Zone in Jerusalem. At the time, the Jews, a large proportion of them were recent or illegal immigrants, constituted one-third of the population of Palestine and owned 5.6% of its land. In the area that was apportioned to the Jewish state, half of the population was Arab (Muslims and Christians) and half was Jewish.
It is interesting to note that times have not changed since 1947 and the United States got the General Assembly to delay a vote "to gain time to bring, by coercion, certain Latin American, Asian and African countries into line with its own views". Under- Secretary of State Sumner Welles stated:
"By direct order of the White House, every form of pressure, direct and indirect, was used to make sure that the necessary majority would be gained".
Subsequently, fighting erupted between Arabs and Jews and by the end of the fighting in early 1949, Israel had occupied 78% of Palestine and approximately 750,000 Palestinians were driven out or fled in terror from their homes.
The genesis of this exodus emanates from the inherent concept of the Zionist ideology of creating a pure Jewish state in Palestine, free of Arabs. The current powerful political agenda that exists in Israel today, as the policy of "transfer of Palestinians" from Israel and the occupied territories, is not a new one. Theodore Herzl wrote in his diaries in 1897, and that brings to mind another unhappy anniversary for the Palestinian people, the centennial anniversary of the First World Zionist Congress. It was exactly a hundred years ago, in 1897, in Basel, Switzerland, where Herzl, at this conference, presented his plans to create a Jewish state in Palestine. He stated:
"We shall try to spirit the penniless (Arab) population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country… Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly (from R. Patai, ed., The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl,
Ben-Gurion, in a speech to the 20th Zionist Congress plenum in Zurich on 7th August, 1937, stated:
"Transfer of (Arab) inhabitants happened in the past, in the (Jerzeel) Valley, in the Sharon (i.e. the Coastal Plain) and in other places. We know of the Jewish National Fund’s actions in this regard. Now the transfer will have to be carried out on a different scale altogether. In many parts of the country new Jewish settlement will not be possible unless there is transfer of the Arab peasantry… The transfer of the population is what makes possible a comprehensive (Jewish) settlement plan. Thankfully, the Arab people have large, empty areas (outside Palestine). Jewish power in the country, which is continuously growing, will also increase our possibilities to carry out the transfer on a large scale. You must remember, that this method contains an important humane and Zionist idea, to shift parts of a people (i.e., the Palestine Arabs) to their own country and to settle empty lands [in Syria, Transjordan and Iraq]. (Benny Morris. "Looking Back: A personal assessment of the Zionist Experience". Tikkun. 13:40-49, 1998)."
Here, we go again! Expelling people from their homeland, we are now told, is a "humane Zionist idea". Professor Israel Shahak said it all:
"You cannot have humane Zionism; it is a contradiction in terms".
In a letter to his son, Amos, in 1937, Ben-Gurion confided that when the Jewish state comes into being, "We will expel the Arabs and take their places". And while visiting the newly conquered Nazareth in July, 1948, Ben-Gurion exclaimed: "Why are there so many Arabs left here? Why didn’t you expel them?"
Joseph Weitz, who was the Jewish Agency chief representative, reported in the September 29, 1967 issue of Davar, organ of the Histadrut, that he and other Zionist leaders concluded, in 1940, that there was "no room for both peoples together in this country". The achievement of Zionist objectives, he realized, required "a Palestine, or at least Western Palestine (west of the Jordan River) without Arabs". He wrote that it was necessary "to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries. To transfer all of them and only after such transfer would the country be able to absorb millions of our brethren". This, in essence, is the foundation for the policy of "ethnic cleansing" that the Zionist forces adopted in 1948 to remove, by massacre, or the threat of massacre, and by psychological warfare, virtually the entire Arab population in the area of the Palestinian territory that they conquered by military means, 78% of Palestine.
The massacre, on the 9th of April 1948, of the village of Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, where 250 men, women and children were butchered and massacred in cold blood by the Irgun Zwei Leumi terrorist gang, with the approval of the Jerusalem commander of the official Zionist forces, Haganah, David Shaltiel, as recently documented by Yitzhak Levi, a veteran Israeli intelligence officer, was instrumental in this expulsion. Ironically, the village of Deir Yassin had made a peace agreement with their Jewish neighbours of Givat Shaul. This massacre was not unique and numerous similar massacres were carried out by Zionist forces and Israeli forces during that war. A recent article in the Tel Aviv newspaper, Hair, of May 6, 1992, by Guy Erlich, documents evidence collected by the American Jewish journalist Dan Kortzman, author of Genesis 1948, and the history researcher Ariyeh Yitzhaki, of at least twenty large massacres of Arabs and about hundreds more massacres committed by Israeli forces. Yitzhaki states:
"For many Israelis it was easy to cling to the false claim that the Arabs left the country because that was what their leaders ordered. That is a total lie. The fundamental cause for the flight of the Arabs was their fear of Israelis’ violence, and that fear had a basis in reality".
History researcher Uri Milstein, celebrated in Israel as the dispeller of myths, confirms Yitzhaki’s evaluation regarding the volume of the massacres and even goes further:
"If Yitzhaki claims that there were murders in almost every village, then I say that up to the inception of Israel every event of fighting ended in a massacre of Arabs. There were massacres of Arabs in all of Israel’s wars, but I have no doubt that the War of Independence was the dirtiest".
In the village of Duweima, an Arab village near Hebron, occupied without a battle by Battalion 89 of the 8th Brigade, some 80 - 100 civilians were murdered in cold blood by the occupiers. Later more civilians were murdered. In the village of Safsaf:
"52 men were tied with a rope. Lowered into a pit and shot. Ten were killed. Women begged for mercy. Three cases of rape. A fourteen year old raped and four others killed".
The policy of massacre was complemented by a campaign of psychological warfare, initiating terror to force the Palestinians to flee. Leo Heiman, Israeli Army Reserve officer who fought in 1948, wrote in Marine Corp Gazette in June 1964:
"As uncontrolled panic spread through all Arab quarters, the Israelis brought up jeeps with loudspeakers which broadcast recorded ‘horror sounds’. These included shrieks, wails and anguished moans of Arab women, the wail of sirens and the clang of fire alarm bells, interrupted by a sepulchral voice calling out in Arabic: ‘Save your souls all ye faithful: the Jews are using poison gas and atomic weapons. Run for your lives in the name of Allah’".
More subtle methods of psychological warfare were used by Yigal Allon, who was the Commander of the PALMACH, an elite Haganah force, and who later became Israeli Foreign Minister. He wrote in Ha Sepher Ha Palmach in 1948:
"I gathered all of the Jewish mukhtars (headmen), who have contact with Arabs in different villages, and asked them to whisper in the ears of some Arabs that a great Jewish reinforcement has arrived in Galilee and that it is going to burn all of the villages of Huleh. They should suggest to these Arabs, as their friends, to escape while there is still time. The rumor spread in all the areas of the Huleh. The tactic reached its goal completely".
When the Arabs failed to flee, as required, a combination of terror and physical expulsion was used, as in the case of the cities of Lydda and Ramleh, which were occupied in July 10, 1948. Yitzhak Rabin, recorded in his memoirs, published in the New York Times of 23 October 1979:
"While the fighting was still in progress we had to grapple with the problem dealing with the fate of the civilian population, numbering some 50,000. We walked outside, Ben Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question: ‘What is to be done with the population?’ B.G. waved his hand in a gesture which said, ‘Drive them out!’".
Yitzhak Rabin’s war crimes are voluminous but one is relevant here. After the surrender of Lydda, a group of Palestinian men took refuge in the small Dahmash mosque. The commander of the Palmach’s Third Battalion, Moshe Kalman, gave an order to fire several missiles at the mosque. The force that attacked the mosque was surprised at the lack of resistance. It found the remains of the Arab fighters stuck to the mosque walls. A group of 20 to 50 of the city’s residents was then brought to clean the mosque and to bury the remains. When they finished their work, they were also shot, and thrown into the graves they themselves had dug. The American Jewish journalist Dan Kortzman learned of the event from Moshe Kalman while working on his book, Genesis 1948, describing the War of Independence.
Rabin and his officers proceeded to drive these 50 - 60,000 civilians away from their homes in terror, with low-flying airplanes over their heads shooting the occasional person and forcing them to run. The sight of the terror-stricken men, women and children fleeing in horror in the midday sun of the hot summer, having run approximately twenty-five kilometres to the village of Beit Nuba, where I saw them with my own eyes, is a sight not to be forgotten. In reference to this scene and countering the Zionist propaganda, that the Palestinians left their homes voluntarily and in response to broadcasts by their leaders, Sir John Glubb wrote:
"It must not be forgotten that the whole problem of embittered refugees was the result of the ruthless expulsion of all the Arabs by the Israelis in 1948. the story which Jewish publicity at first persuaded the world to accept that the Arab refugees left voluntarily is not true. Voluntary immigrants do not leave their homes with only the clothes they stand up in. People who have decided to move house do not do so in such a hurry that they lose other members of their family -- husband losing sight of his wife or parents of their children. The fact is that the majority left in panic flight to escape massacre".
It is perhaps relevant to note that this piece of Zionist propaganda was first demolished by Dr. Erskine Childers who examined the American and British monitoring records of all Middle East broadcasts throughout 1948 and reported in the Spectator 1961:
"There was not a single order or appeal or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in 1948. There is repeated monitored record of Arab appeals even flat orders, to civilians of Palestine to stay put".
The historical record clearly demonstrates that the Palestine refugee problem was created in response to a clear Zionist policy of cleansing the land of Palestine from its own people. Chaim Weizmann, the first President of Israel, described this process with a great deal of satisfaction as the "miraculous clearing of the land". However, the U.N. mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden, stated in a report to the U.N.:
"It would be an offense against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and, indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who have been rooted in the land for centuries".
Count Bernadotte paid heavily for stating this obvious principle and was assassinated by the Stern terrorist gang, on direct orders of Mr. Yitzhak Shamir, on September 17, 1948 in Jerusalem. The United Nations General Assembly proceeded, however, to resolve on December 11, 1948, in its Resolution #194:
"Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date and those wishing not to return should be compensated for their property".
The implementation of this Resolution, together with Resolution #181 of 29th of November 1947, were reaffirmed and were made conditions for the admittance of Israel to the U.N. membership in Resolution of #273 of the 11th of May 1949 which stated:
"Recalling its Resolution of 29th of November 1947 and 11th of December 1948, and taking note of the declaration and explanations made by the representative of the government of Israel before the ad hoc political committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions, the General Assembly decides that Israel is a peace-loving state which accepts the obligations contained in this charter and is able and willing to carry out those obligations"
Despite this and despite repeated U.N. General Assembly and Security Council Resolutions demanding the implementation of Resolution #194 for the return of the refugees, Israel continues to defy this international will and in essence, it can be argued that its membership in the United Nations is illegitimate, in view of its refusal to comply with the conditions that were imposed upon it. Not only that, Israel proceeded in 1967, after the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, to expel over 300,000 more Palestinian refugees from their homes or refugee camps. Many of them were in essence expelled a second time. Security Council Resolution #237 of the 14th of June 1967, called upon the government of Israel to facilitate the return of these refugees, and similar U.N. General Assembly resolutions to that effect remain unimplemented.
It is clear, for anybody, who has witnessed the history of that area, to see that the Palestinians remain determined to return to their homeland and their struggle continues despite repeated massacres and an orchestrated policy of genocide denying them their national existence. Their sacrifices have been documented and continue, despite the Israeli policy of state terrorism and continuing bombardment of their refugee camps in Lebanon and the oppressive practices that are employed against them under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. the late Dr. Frank Epp, described the tragedy of the Palestinian people in these terms:
"Rarely has a people suffered so much injustice so passively for so long, waiting for the powers that be to redress the inflicted wrong".
Similarly, it was the distinguished philosopher, Lord Bertrand Russell who stated, addressing an international conference in 1970, the following:
"The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was ‘given’ by a foreign power to another people for the creation of a new state. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their numbers increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict. No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homeland is an essential ingredient of any genuine settlement in the Middle East".
THE LAND QUESTION:
In the completion of its policy of "ethnic cleansing" in 1948, Israel proceeded, in an attempt to destroy the Palestinian national existence, by a policy of destruction of property and expropriation of Arab land. A systemic process brought about the total destruction of 378 Palestinian towns and villages.
In 1948, the total jewish holdings, leased and owned, were less than 6% of the total land area of Palestine. To enlarge this, one of the most shocking acts of plunder in modern history took place. A series of so-called laws were quickly promulgated to expropriate the millions of acres and thousands of farms and stores and hundreds of whole towns and villages that belonged to the expelled Arab refugees. These laws included the Emergency Defence Regulations, the Abandoned Areas Ordinance (1949), the Emergency articles of Exploitation of Uncultivated Lands (1947-1949), the Absentee Property Law (1950) and the Land Acquisition Law (1953). This act of plunder was not confined to the property of the refugees who had been thrown out of the country but was extended to the Arabs who remained on their land. Under one regulation, any area could be closed by the authorities for security reasons and its Arab owners barred from it. It would then be declared "abandoned" or "uncultivated". Under another law it would be handed over to others, usually Jews, to cultivate. Many Arab citizens who had never moved from the part of Palestine that became Israel happened to be away from their lands and homes for a certain period during the process of Israeli occupation, annexation, and population transfer. They were barred from their villages upon their return, thereby becoming absentees, and their property was seized. These Arabs earned the Orwellian title of "absent present"! Where else, but in the Zionist dictionary would you find such an entity?!
Moshe Keren, a Jewish writer, described the laws as:
"Wholesale robbery with a legal coating".
In this way the Israeli authorities confiscated the entire movable and immovable property of the 750,000 evicted refugees, and more than one million dunums of land, belonging to Arabs who had remained in Israel after 1948, was seized.
The expropriated Arab land was passed to the Keren Kaymeth, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the laws of which prevent leasing the land to Arabs or use of Arab labour. These are clearly racist laws. Uri Avnery told the Knesset
"If we are going to expel Arab cultivators from the land that was formerly theirs, and was handed over to the Jews, we would be acting in accordance with the verse which says: ‘Hast thou killed and also inherited’".
These were only a few of the methods and laws that were used or legislated to expropriate the land of the Arabs, who remained in Israel, and to discriminate against them.
THE 1967 OCCUPATION:
Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing and expropriation continued in the territories occupied in its war of aggression in 1967, including the West Bank and Gaza. In part, this was achieved by the total destruction of a number of villages and towns in the West Bank, including my own village, Beit Nuba. Together with the neighbouring villages of Imwas (the biblical village of Emmaus) and Yalu, Beit Nuba was systematically dynamited, bulldozed and erased from the surface of the earth, on June 9 & 10, 1967, a war crime committed on the direct orders of Yitzhak Rabin, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli army at the time, and later the Prime Minister of Israel, and ironically a Nobel Peace Laureate, despite his many war crimes. To the shame of every Canadian, stands today on the ruins of Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba, the infamy called "Canada Park", paid by Canadian tax-deductible dollars.
Moshe Dayan, the Minister of Defence in June 1967, is quoted by General Arieh Bar-On, Dayan’s Military-Secretary, of declaring in a meeting of the General Command, in September, 1967, that: "at the beginning of the war and during the war we carried out operations to destroy villages, for Zionist purposes in which I fully share". General Bar-On states in his recently published book, in Hebrew, "Personal Signature – Moshe Dayan in the Six-Day War and After": "Encouraging the emigration of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria (sic-The West Bank) was indeed the policy of the entire system, which was under his (Dayan’s) dominion".
Over 300,000 Palestinians were made refugees, by the end of June 1967, and some for the second time. This was as a result of direct "encouragement" and planned policy by Israel.
Despite Security Council Resolution #237 of June 14, 1967, ordering the return of the 1967 Palestinian refugees to their homes, Israel refused to comply.
Israeli policies in the Occupied territories continue in defiance of international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention and repeated Security Council resolutions. These policies include the demolition of Palestinian homes and expropriation of property. Over 70% of the land area of the West Bank has been expropriated, since 1967, for the creation of illegal Jewish settlements. Apart from the destruction of entire villages, hundreds of homes have been demolished, as acts of collective punishment or for lack of building permits. Such permits are regularly denied to Palestinians to build on their own land.
In the Gaza Strip alone, 40% of this tiny area is expropriated to accommodate illegally 5000 Jewish settlers. The remaining 60% accommodates approximately 1 million people, making it an area with the heaviest population density in the world. The vast majority of these people are refugees expelled from their homes in Palestine in 1948.
In a systematic process of economic deprivation, over 230,000 olive and orchard trees, in the 1967 occupied territories, have been uprooted and bulldozed. This is ironic, considering that the Zionist colonists came to Palestine with the myth that they were "to make the desert bloom"!
In reference to this lie and the Zionist slogan of Israel Zangwell of 1906, "Palestine is a land without a people for a people without a land", it may be relevant to quote other Jewish Zionists."
In "Truth from Palestine" in 1891, Ahad Ha’am, the Russian Jewish writer and philosopher, wrote:
"We abroad have a way of thinking that Palestine today is almost desert, an uncultivated wilderness.... But this is not in fact the case. It is difficult to find any uncultivated land anywere in the country."
The behavior of Jewish settlers toward the Arabs disturbed him. They had not learned from experience as a minority within a wider population, but reacted with the cruelty of slaves who had suddenly become kings, treating their neighbors with contempt. The Arabs, he wrote, understood very well what Zionist intentions were in the country and "if the time should come when the lives of our people in Palestine should develop to the extent that, to a smaller or greater degree they usurp the place of the local population, the latter will not yield easily… We have to treat the local population with love and respect, justly and rightly. And what do our brethen in the land of Israel do? Exactly the opposite! Slaves they were in the country of exile, and suddenly they find themselves in a boundless and anarchic freedom, as is always the case with a slave that has become king; and they behave toward the Arabs with hostility and cruelty."
Ethics were the heart and soul of Ahad Ha’am’s brand of nationalism, and to the end of his life he denounced any compromise with political expediency. In 1913, protesting against a Jewish boycott of Arab labor, he wrote to a friend: "…I can’t put up with the idea that our brethren are morally capable of behaving in such a way to humans of another people, and unwittingly the thought comes to my mind: If this is so now, what will our relations to the others be like if, at the end of time, we shall really achieve power in Eretz Israel? And if this be the Messiah, I do not wish to see his coming.
We see today Ahad Ha’am’s prophetic statement completely fulfilled…
The process of land expropriation and the creation of illegal settlements, while Palestinian homes are bulldozed and their trees uprooted, continue after the charade that is called "The Middle East Peace Process" and the fraudulent "Oslo Agreements", a process that has legitimized the occupation and undermined the international order and our people’s will.
Speaking of peace, it is interesting to note that Ben Gurion gave Arab leaders more credit than they deserve when he stated in 1956:
"I don’t understand your optimism. 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".
Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in The Jewish Paradox, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978, p99.
Another observation that is relevant here is the continuing reference to the need for Israeli security and the accusations of terrorism directed by Israel and Western media and politicians, at Palestinians, who are evidently expected to shower bouquets of flowers at Israelis who have expelled them from their towns and villages and continue to bulldoze their homes, uproot their trees and murder, incarcerate and torture their men, women and children. Interestingly, Canadian General E.L.M. Burns, Chief of Staff of United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), did not expect that. He wrote in his book "Between Arab and Israeli", 1962:
"It seemed to me to be symptomatic of certain blindness to the human reactions of others that so many Israelis professed not to understand why the Arabs who had been driven from their lands should continue to hate and try to injure those who had driven them out."
Lt. Gen. E.L.M. Burns, Chief of Staff of UNTSO, Between Arab and Israeli, p.162.
Commenting about the Western hypocrisy, Professor Noam Chomsky said that Israeli Labour Party policy adapted itself to Western hypocrisy, as Israeli former Cabinet Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, described their policy conducted "so that the West can pretend it does not understand".
The fate of Jerusalem is a major issue to determine the future course of peace or conflict in the Middle East.
Jerusalem has been a Palestinian city throughout history, despite periods of occupation by invading alien forces. The same U.N. Resolution #181, of 29th November 1947, that allowed the creation of Israel, stipulated that Jerusalem be an international entity (corpus separatum). Of the 41 villages surrounding West Jerusalem, 37 were destroyed by Israel in 1948. More than 80,000 Palestinians were driven out from West Jerusalem in 1948. The annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, by Israel, is illegal and in violation of international law and in defiance of Security Council resolutions. However, Israel continues its policy of ethnic cleansing and expropriation in Jerusalem since 1967.
Israel destroyed the entire Magharba quarter, a historic Islamic religious site, to create a Jewish plaza, in front of the Western Wall. The Israeli government expanded the Jerusalem municipality to 10 times its original size and annexed it.
Israel has, since 1967, systematically carried out a policy of Judaization of Jerusalem. 85% of the land annexed has been expropriated to create Jewish settlements and homes for Jews only, surrounding and suffocating Arab East Jerusalem.
Arab residents of East Jerusalem are treated as foreigners with special identity cards, as "permanent residents" in Jerusalem. These cards are being confiscated from Jerusalamites, who, with their ancestors have lived in the city for thousands of years, if they work or live outside Jerusalem. Yet, while Jews from New York or Toronto can move into Jerusalem at will.
Since September, 1993 and the Oslo charade, a strict closure has been imposed on Jerusalem for Palestinians in the West Bank, to whom Jerusalem is an economic, medical, cultural, educational and religious centre. Muslims and christians are denied access to their religious worship places. Since then, hundreds of people have been killed and injured; Over 500 families have had their homes demolished; Over 1000 people have had their rights to live in Jerusalem, the city of their birth, taken away, while Jews from Moscow or Toronto can move into Jerusalem, when they choose. Thousands have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned. Land continues to be expropriated, to create Jewish colonies in Palestinian land and thousands of people have found themselves homeless, destitute and hopeless. Students are denied access to their university and the sick are unable to reach hospitals for treatment.
This is what the Oslo charade has brought about. Illegal occupation has been legitimized, the Palestinian Authority has become a sub-contractor to do Israel’s dirty work in the few scattered "Bantustans" (or as I call them Arafatstans) that are nominally under Arafat’s control, but besieged by Israel’s troops. In essence, the Oslo agreement is another Nakba (catastrophe) that the Palestinian negotiators have inflicted upon their people and have put back the Palestinian struggle for self determination by another generation, at least.
Since the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the Israeli government has adopted a policy of systematic and deliberate discrimination against the city’s Palestinian population in all matters relating to expropriation of land, planning and building.
This is the principal finding of a report just published in Israel by B. Tselem. The Israeli Human Rights Organization. It goes on to conclude that "this policy is a clear violation of international law and the fundamental principles of democracy, with grave consequences as regards human rights".
Finally, it is true, my friends, that the Palestinian people have endured so much wrong and injustice but I assure you that the Palestinian people’s tenacity is unyielding. Our people are willing to struggle and sacrifice and you cannot defeat a people with this tenacity, when a child turns his little hand into a fist, with a stone, that defies the oppressor. The oppressed people of South Africa were able to teach F.W. de Klerk a lesson that had made Mr. de Klerk declare that the book on Apartheid is closed. I am afraid the book on the Zionist ideology is not yet closed but I can assure you that Zionism, like Apartheid, is running against the natural course of history and I am optimistic that right will overcome wrong. I am also optimistic because there are Jewish voices who are speaking out. The late great Jewish journalist, I.F. Stone, wrote a few years ago:
"How can we talk of human rights and ignore them for the Palestinians? How can Israel talk of Jewish rights to a homeland and deny one to the Palestinians?"
Similarly, Professor Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor and Chairman of the Israeli League for Civil and Human Rights, said:
"The majority of the Israeli public are shutting their eyes to the simple human cry of the Palestinian".
He warned his people "not to allow the experience of the German people between the two world wars to befall them". He went on to say and I quote: "I am not afraid to say publicly that Israeli Jews and with them most Jews throughout the world, are undergoing a process of Nazification". He went on to state that he is saying this:
"so that no one can say as the German people did, ‘I did not know’. And like Albert Speer, I am trying to act before it is too late".
The Editor of the Jewish religious newspaper "Ner" wrote in January, 1961:
"Only an international revolution can have the power to heal our people of their murderous sickness of causless hatred… How great was our responsibility to those miserable wronged Arab refugees, in whose towns we have settled Jews who were brought from afar; whose homes we have inherited, whose fields we now sow and harvest; and in whose cities that we robbed, we put up houses of education, charity and prayer, while we babble and rave about our being the ‘People of the Book and the Light of the Nations’".
This is the kind of authentic Jewish voice that I am happy to say gives me hope that, in time, there will be more people like I.F. Stone, Israel Shahak, Felicia Langer and other great Jewish men and women of conscience. For if the other voice, the voice which has come to dominate Israel and Zionist thinking, arrogant with power which thinks only of territorial expansion and practised discrimination and terror, the voice of Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu, if that voice should continue to speak for Israel, then Israel will bring, I am afraid, tragedy on herself and the Palestinians and very likely on the rest of the world.
The tragedy of the Jewish people in the crimes they committed, and continue to commit, against the Palestinian people, are highlighted in that accurate statement made by the renowned British historian, Professor Arnold Toynbee, who wrote in his great work on history "The History of the World":
"In A.D. 1948, the Jews knew from personal experience, what they were doing; and it was their supreme tragedy that the lesson learned by them from their encounter with the Nazi gentiles should have been not to eschew but to imitate some of the evil deeds that the Nazis had committed against the Jews."
The Old Testament prophets were incredibly prophetic in foretelling what would happen if the Jews turned aside from what they knew to be the truth of justice. Let me end by quoting to you some verses from the prophet Micah, who might have been writing for today when he gave this warning:
"Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the House of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with wrong.........
Therefore because of you Zion shall be ploughed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins."
My friends, there is still time to prevent that prophecy from coming true in our own day. But there may not be very much time.
The Palestinian people are calling for a modicum of justice, for without this, I am afraid, there will be no peace for Arab or Jew in the Middle East.