Two reports that came out at the end of last year seem especially appropriate now as we head into May and the events planned to commemorate the Nakba, or Catastrophe.
Sixty-two years ago, on May 15, 1948, Zionist Jews declared independence on land the United Nations gave to them after taking it from the indigenous Palestinians. Not content, however, with the 55 percent of Palestine they received, the mostly immigrant Zionists – under the ruthless tactics of the Hagganah, the Stern Gang and Irgun, waged war with the aim of taking land that the UN Partition had left for the Arabs. By Jan. 1, 1949, “Israel’ held 78 percent of historic Palestine. (Source: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe, Oneworld Publishers 2006; and All that Remains, the Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, edited by Walid Khalidi, Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992.)
The Nakba, however, was not a one-time, historical event. It is perpetual. Because the state of Israel was founded upon an ideology that calls for the complete ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Palestine.
Plan Dalet, adopted on March 10, 1948, was the blueprint for the ethnic cleansing and transfer of Palestinians. It is the plan upon which the Haganah – the forerunner of today’s Israeli Defense Forces – and Zionist leadership based their strategy of conquest and dispossession. The ideology is still in place today as is evidenced by the siege on Gaza, the Apartheid Wall, military checkpoints, restrictions on movement, and random arrests and detentions, to name a few of the many human rights abuses inflicted upon the Palestinian population.
It may seem hard to accept, especially to those who know nothing about Israel except what they read and hear in a mostly Zionist-compliant media. Consider these quotes:
“It must be clear that there is no room in the country for both people … the only solution is a Land of Israel … without Arabs. There is no room here for compromise … there is no way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries … not one village to be left, not one tribe.”
~Yosef Weitz, director of the Jewish National Fund’s land department and founder of the Transfer Committee, 1944.
And from contemporary history, we have former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon:
“It is the duty of Israel to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” ~ former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, quoted in the Agence France Presse, 11/15/1998.
So the reports added to the Report section of Zatar and Spinach examine two very real results of Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies. The first one, A Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2008-2009 by Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, looks at the plight of Palestinians and their descendents who became refugees – some even in their own land – because of the Nakba.
“Not only do Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons continue to constitute the largest and longest-standing unresolved case of refugees and displaced persons in the world today, but their numbers continue to grow in light of Israel’s policies and practices that result in more forcible displacement of Palestinians in Israel and in the Occupied Territories.” ~ Badil
The second report looks at the spoils of war, or in other words, the effect of Israel’s confiscation, seizure and obliteration of vast amounts of Palestinian land and property. The report attempts to quantify how much was lost during the Nakba and makes recommendations to the United Nations for a resolution to this injustice.
“There is nothing like it in the pages of history books. A foreign minority, descending upon a national majority of a country, fortified by colonial political, military and financial support and a hostile ideology, emptying the country of its people, seizing all their land and property,obliterating their landscape, history and memory, claiming that this crime is an act of divine intervention, and persisting, unchecked by force of justice in committing this crime, according to the same plan for over 60 years with no end in sight, is unprecedented in the history of the world. This is the recent history of Palestine. The records of the United Nations, and before it, the League of Nations, contain a detailed chronicle of this long, violent history.” ~ Palestine Land Society
Both these reports deserve attention. The more we understand the broad implications of the Nakba and how it is still occurring today, the better we can work to bring justice to the Palestinian people. After all, our tax dollars support these human rights abuses. If we don’t arm ourselves with knowledge and work to change the situation, we are complicit in the oppression of an entire nation of people.
~ Kristin Szremski 04/28/2010