24 February, 2010

Israel Palestine REMINDER OF REALITY

To keep you mental house in order, it is often helpful to read a short summary of the real -world. Here is one about ....

Understanding the Israeli and Palestinian conflict

by Marlene Sabeh

The historical facts of Israel's violence in Palestine
are so disquieting, and the ways in which they were
carried out, they simply cannot be ignored.

The violence culminated in Israel's ruthless 1947-49
"War of Independence," in which at least 750,000
Palestinian men, women, and children were expelled from
their homes - half before any Arab armies joined the
war. .. The resulting humanitarian disaster is known among
Palestinians and others as 'The Catastrophe,' or al
Nakba in Arabic. Zionist forces committed at least 33
massacres and destroyed 531 Palestinian villages and
towns. Author Norman Finkelstein states: "According to
the former director of the Israeli army archives, 'in
almost every village occupied by us during the War of
Independence, acts were committed which are defined as
war crimes, such as murders, massacres, and rapes'...Uri
Milstein, the authoritative Israeli military historian
of the 1948 war, goes one step further, maintaining that
'every skirmish ended in a massacre of Arabs.'"

It is important to note that in 1947, Jewish land
ownership was under 7%, yet the UN General Assembly
proposed partition and granted the "Jewish state" ABOUT
60% of the total area of Palestine.

Would Americans cede sovereignty and over 60% of its
land to a foreign minority, say Canadians, who actually
owned under 7% of the land? If such a plan is
unthinkable for an American, then how can one ask
Palestinians to make a similar sacrifice? Perhaps that's
why the partition agreement was not so "agreeable" to
Palestinians.

The Israeli government at the time pursued a policy of
non- compromise, in order to prevent the return of the
refugees "at any price" (as Ben Gurion himself put it),
despite the fact that the UN General Assembly had been
calling for this since 11 December 1948. Palestinian
villages were either destroyed or occupied by Jewish
immigrants, and their lands were shared among the
surrounding kibbutzim. The law on "abandoned properties"
- which was designed to make possible the seizure of any
land belonging to persons who were "absent" -
legitimized this project of general confiscation as of
December 1948. Almost 400 Arab villages were thus either
wiped off the map or "Judaized", as were most of the
Arab quarters in mixed towns. According to a report
drawn up in 1952, Israel succeeded in expropriating
73,000 rooms in abandoned houses, 7,800 shops, workshops
and warehouses, 5 million Palestinian pounds in bank
accounts, and - most important of all - 300,000 hectares
of land, ("The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem,
1947-1949", by Benny Morris)

In 1967 Israel launched its third war and seized even
more Palestinian (and other Arab) land: Sinai and Gaza
Strip were captured from Egypt, East Jerusalem and the
West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Menahem Begin noted: 'In June 1967, we again had a
choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai
approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to
attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided
to attack him.' ("Noam Chomsky, "The Fateful Triangle.")

Yitzhak Rabin: "I do not think Nasser wanted war. The
two divisions he sent to The Sinai would not have been
sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we
knew it." (Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's Chief of Staff in
1967, in Le Monde, 2/28/68)

In November 1967, the UN Security Council adopted
Resolution 242 which laid down a formula for
Arab-Israeli peace whereby Israel would "withdraw from
territories occupied in the war in exchange for peace
with its neighbors." This was never honored by Israel.

Instead, Israel militarily occupied the West Bank and
Gaza Strip - the remaining 22% of mandatory Palestine -
and began building settlements (only for Jewish
Israelis) on land confiscated from Palestinian Muslims
and Christians. It has demolished more than 18,000
Palestinian homes since 1967. In 2005 Israel returned
Gazan land to its owners, but continues to control its
borders, ports, and air space, turning Gaza into a
virtual concentration camp where 1.5 million people are
held under what a UN Human Rights Commissioner described
as "catastrophic" conditions.

We should applaud the courage of a new breed of Israeli
historians for daring to revisit historical realities of
Israel's founding. One of these historians is professor
of History at Ben Gurion University in Israel, Benny
Morris. What Morris has opened to public scrutiny are
the "original sins" of the state of Israel. Sixty years
after the event, the time is long overdue to bring an
end to a logic that has generated so much war, and to
find a way for the two peoples to coexist. This can only
be done by pulling away the veil over the historical
origins of the tragedy.

American taxpayers give Israel approximately $7 million
per day - far more than we give to all of sub-Saharan
Africa. In its 60 years of existence, Israel, a nation
the size of New Jersey, has received more of our tax
money than any other country on earth. While most
Americans are unaware of these facts (studies have shown
that media report on Israeli deaths at rates up to 13
times greater than they report on Palestinian deaths)
our governmental actions make us responsible for a
continuing catastrophe of historic proportions - and
which is, in addition, creating extremely damaging
enmity toward the US itself.

As more and more U.S. citizens across a spectrum of
politics and ethnicities become informed on this issue,
they are demanding that their elected representatives
change current U.S. policies.

In the world's recent history, the Berlin Wall has
fallen, Northern Ireland has achieved peace, and South
African Apartheid has ended.

Change is possible and justice attainable - but only
when people are informed.

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posted by u2r2h at Wednesday, February 24, 2010

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