July 18, 2008, 01:49pm
Israel has once again sealed off the Gaza Strip from all but limited humanitarian aid, spawning widespread food, water and fuel shortages and crippling the local economy in the overcrowded territory of 1.5 million people. By depriving Palestinians of the basic conditions of a normal life, it is assumed that they will eventually choose to leave in what can once again be sold to the world as a voluntary exodus. And if Palestinians choose to abandon their homeland, then in Zionist thinking they have forfeited their right to it — just as earlier generations of Zionists believed the Palestinian refugees had done by supposedly fleeing during the 1948 and 1967 wars. The ultimate goal of this extreme cruelty is patently clear: removal.
Israel's new historians have acknowledged Ben Gurion's commitment to "removal." As Benny Morris notes, Ben Gurion "understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst." On 24 May 1948, Ben Gurion wrote, "We will establish a Christian state in Lebanon, the southern border of which will be the Litani River. We will break Trans-Jordan, bomb Amman and destroy its army, and then Syria falls, and if Egypt will still continue to fight — we will bombard Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. This will be in revenge for what they (the Egyptians, the Aramis and Assyrians) did to our forefathers during Biblical times." The Israeli leadership therefore developed a plan for ethnic cleansing under cover of war, compiling detailed dossiers on the communities that needed to be driven out and then passing on the order, in Plan Dalet, to commanders in the field.
The Zionist forces uprooted more than half of Palestine's population, 800,000 people, destroyed 531 villages and emptied 11 urban neighborhoods of their inhabitants. Thus, the Zionist project has been from its onset illegitimate and expansionist and based on racism, hate, lies, propaganda, murder and an aberration from traditions of respect for human rights.
The events of 1948 were censored by the perpetrators from even the Israeli population. These were never added to school books and intentionally pushed out of the Israeli society's consciousness. However, these experiences are still vivid in the Palestinian consciousness, be it men or women, rich or poor, Muslim or Christian.
What is going on in Gaza now is a clear-cut case of an ethnic cleansing operation, regarded under international law as a crime against humanity. Palestinians are continuing to live the consequences of their Diaspora and forced migration in 1948 and 1967 today.
Currently, "Zionism" is not only murdering Palestinians and their homes as policy, but poisoning their livestock, and even sending their filthy sewage from the settlements into Palestinian water supplies. The use of torture against the Palestinians has been made standard operating procedure and is extensively documented.
Gaza's imprisonment has stopped being a metaphor and has become a daily reality. In fact, Gaza's condition is far worse than imprisonment: prisoners, even of war, expect to have their humanity respected and to be properly sheltered, cared for, fed and clothed. Gazans can no longer rely on these staples of life. This presages the coming of the third Palestinian exodus.
The U.N., the media, and the world in general have turned their backs on the plight of the Palestinian people. Palestine is the "elephant in the corner" that everybody is aware of yet nobody will acknowledge. Coming on the heels of the atrocities of the Holocaust, there is no stomach for countries or individuals to point an accusing finger at those who suffered so horribly at the hands of the Nazis. Even though these atrocities were allowed to happen by the founding fathers of the Zionist movement, who colluded with Nazi forces to prevent Jews from seeking salvation in western Europe and the Americas, just so their own political objectives could be realized. The heavy burden of guilt of much of the world is providing a virtual free pass for the leaders of the Zionist movement to advance their intensive cleansing activities. Palestinians have been plagued with countless restrictions limiting their actions and rights which affect almost all aspects of their lives. This is apartheid and one cannot make peace with apartheid. The Zionists' campaign is effectively "against co-existence and peace."
Israel is pursuing a self-defeating policy of sanctions and isolation that is radicalizing the population in Gaza and making the whole world become anti-Semitic. It cannot afford to forget the lessons of a brutal and oppressive history so quickly and failure to change its strategies will only lead to "Israel's suicide."
If a long term solution is to be found, one thing is clear. The West must give up its knee-jerk conditioning to embrace and defend any action by the Israelis as inherently defensible. They are not saints. Their tactics and actions are preposterous and inhumane. Allegations of ethnic cleansing and apartheid warrant examination and punishment. These methods and tactics are just as reprehensible in Israel/Palestine as in Africa, Germany, or anywhere else. Despite the objections to an open debate, there must be one. At this point in time, any criticism of Israel is summarily labeled anti-Semitism. If Israel's supporters wish to end "anti-Semitism" against Jews, they should seek to end Zionism's "anti-Semitism" against the Palestinians.
The writer is professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio.