As Israeli military pounds Gaza and kills large numbers of Palestinian men, women and children yet again, the western media and politicians are busy white-washing the Israeli crimes by repeating the same old mantra: "Israel has a right to defend itself". There's little mention of the decades-long occupation and continuing brutalization of the Palestinian people by the Israelis. Nor is there any discussion of how the West is culpable in this long-running injustice.
To put the current events in perspective, let us examine how we got to where we are today. The foundation of the state of Israel as we know it now was laid when the British government issued a public statement in 1917 called the "Balfour Declaration" in support of the creation of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine. This came at a time when the First World War was still ranging and Palestine was a province of the Ottoman Empire. The Balfour Declaration was contained in a letter of November 2, 1917 from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The text of the declaration was published in the media on 9 November 1917.
|Palestinian & Israeli Flags|
Later in 1937, famous British politician Winston Churchill disparaged Palestinians who had been living in the region for centuries as "dogs". Churchill said, "I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place." Churchill's racist comments made it clear that the Israeli settler colonialism in the Middle East was no different than the European settler colonization of America and Australia. In an Israeli cabinet meeting in 1949, Israel's founding father David Ben-Gurion referred to Palestinians as "donkeys", according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
A large number of European Jews, including victims of Nazi persecution, poured into Palestine before the end of the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven out of their land and their homes by these European Jews who had the full support of the West. There were over 700,000 Palestinians in the land given to Israel by the United Nations controlled by the United States and major European colonial powers. Only 156,000 of the native Arab population remained after the Israelis dove out or killed the rest of them. Here's an excerpt of a story about the Israeli cabinet meeting as published in Haaretz:
"The minutes of the meetings held by Mapai, which are stored in the Labor Party Archive in Beit Berl, outside Kfar Sava, attest to the deep dispute in the party over two conflicting approaches concerning the Arabs in Israel. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and his associates – Moshe Dayan (Israel Defense Forces chief of staff 1953-1958) and Shimon Peres, at the time a senior official in the Defense Ministry – urged a policy of segregation and a hard hand against what he argued was a communal threat to national security; while Sharett and other Mapai leaders – Pinhas Lavon, Zalman Aran, David Hacohen and others – promoted a policy of integration".
Miko Peled, Israeli author of "The General's Son", has detailed and documented the history of forced mass expulsions of Palestinians by armed Jewish gangs during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The following quote from an interview with The Middle East Monitor captures the essence of what Peled has been saying: "In hindsight, that was catastrophic for the Palestinians, because a lot of it has to do with why we are here today – the fact that they dropped the struggle."
|Danish Cartoon on Israel-Palestine History|
The essence of what has happened in Palestine over the last century has been caricatured by a Danish cartoonist. In the first frame, labelled as “1946” – the cartoon shows a man sleeping comfortably in his bed, with a dog on the floor near the bed. The man is marked with the Palestinian flag, while the dog is labeled as Israel, bearing the Israeli flag. In the second frame, labelled as “1947”, the dog is shown sleeping in the bed, while the man is now pushed over to one side. By the third frame, marked “1967”, the dog is seen sprawling out across the bed, kicking the man in the face. In the final frame, labelled “2000”, the man is sleeping on the floor and the dog has the entire bed to itself.
There can be no hope for peace in Israel and Palestine as long as Apartheid survives. The only way to achieve durable peace in the region is to establish equal rights of all of its inhabitants regardless of their race or religion.
A video presentation by Miko Peled, author of The General's Son: